‘Ugly outside, funny inside’: Human face phone cases, brain hats, gaudy princess jackets make ugliest item list on Chinese shopping site, spurring buyer interest

Taobao’s annual top five ugly things list has been released and prompted a surge of buying interest in the items. This year’s top-five list included a brain-shaped hat, a human face phone case, a green horse head costume, a frog outfit and a garish princess down jacket. — SCMP

An annual list of the “top five ugliest things” by Chinese shopping website Taobao has unexpectedly led to a surge of interest in the items listed among mainland consumers.

This year’s top five published on Feb 22 were brain-shaped hats, a clay phone case in the shape of a human face, a green horse head costume, a frog outfit and a gaudy princess down jacket.

The brain hat is jokingly referred to online as an item for lovesick couples and distracted workers. Photo: Weibo

The ugly things list had been viewed more than 90 million times on Weibo at the time of writing.

“They are so suitable to be sent as birthday gifts to friends,” commented a user.

The maker of the clay human face phone cases says each one takes hours to make. Photo: Weibo

Another observer said: “They are ugly outside but funny inside. Anything that can bring us joy is good.”

The brain-shaped hat is reportedly intended to mock people in loving relationships and those with poor work performance because they “have no brain”.

The comedic value of the items has lent them an ironic sense of cool among younger consumers. Photo: Weibo

One online commenter joked about the hat: “Wearing it seems to make me clear instantly. I will not be derided for not having my brain on at work.”

The human face phone cases have been popular with consumers from Generation Z, who jokingly refer to them as their second face. An online store owner told the news site The Cover that her workshop was busy throughout last year to meet the high demand for the cases. She said it takes many hours to make them because the clay needs time to dry.

The frog outfit has reportedly been popular with street hawkers in China. Photo: Weibo

The green horse head costume is based on a stuffed toy derived from bronze horse artefacts from ancient China. The toy, made by the Gansu Provincial Museum, was a hit with consumers last year. Many people online said the head costume, like the stuffed toy, was “ugly but cute” and “very stress-relieving”.

The frog outfit was popular last year, with many street sellers dressed in the costume while hawking items like toys.

One Internet commenter quipped: “Frogs are so lovely. Do they know that they are on the list of ugly things?”

The gaudy and brightly coloured princess down jackets come with a chiffon skirt. One person said: “It is the style that I might have liked when I was in primary school.”

Another person added: “Such a weird combination. It shocked me that many people bought it.”

The princess down jacket was another top-five item that some thought was good enough to die for. Photo: Weibo

An unnamed executive from Taobao said the list of ugly things is not intended to mock the items but to salute creativity, thinking outside the box and to embrace beauty in all its forms, reported The Cover.

The Alibaba Group-owned company, also the owner of the South China Morning Post, has been publishing the list since 2021. – South China Morning Post

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