MaiMeng and How To MaiMeng

卖萌 Cuteness for Sale?

卖萌 (mài méng: sell cuteness) is a Chinese lingo that originates from Japanese ACGN (Animation, Comic, Game, Novel) culture. 萌 Méng means “cute, adorable, innocent”. 卖(mài: to sell) in this context means “to play” or “to pretend”. 卖萌 can be either taken as a complement or an insult depending on the situation. 

It can be complementary when the “cuteness” is actually “cute” and appreciated, but how do you do it right?

1. Looks Matter

you gotta look good to be 萌

颜值即正义(yán zhí jí zhèng yì: looking good justifies everything) is a trend in Chinese pop culture. Nowadays, people value physical appearance more than ever. In terms of 卖萌,as long as you’re good-looking, you can always succeed playing cute - despite your gender, age or actual personality. 

2. …But Looks Aren’t Everything

Is a pretty face all that matters … The answer is no.

      屁桃君 (pì táo jūn: butt face peach fairy) is originally from a Japanese comic book about children and farm fairies. 屁桃君 is an example of a special kind of 萌. A little weird and even ugly, but he is still cute. 

3. Don’t Try Too Hard

Selling your cuteness without even trying or pretending - that’s the best kind of 萌

When Sherlock puts on a big smile after being a jerk to Watson...

When Sheldon Cooper says Bazinga (or whatever he does, he could be the definition of a weird kind of 萌)...

When 周杰伦 Jay Chou couldn’t hide his happiness after another contestant chose him in Voice of China...these are all real and genuine examples of 萌.

Another kind of 萌 works best when it is contradictory to the person’s character. Like this crazy, violent bunny in the Secret Life of Pets who looks as innocent as a bunny can ever be - but of course, he would never 卖萌. 

4. Emoticons Help 

颜文字 (yán wén zì: Japanese emoticons) help sell the cuteness for you

  • <( ̄︶ ̄)>   Satisfied or proud
  • (# ̄▽ ̄#)shy
  • ╮(╯◇╰)╭  gimme a kiss
  • (╯‵□′)╯︵┴─┴   angry, flipping over a table
  • 〒▽〒   crying
  • ╮( ̄▽ ̄)╭   shoulder shrugs
  • o(*≥▽≤)ツ┏━┓   laughing so hard and slamming the table
  • ( ̄ε(# ̄)☆╰╮o( ̄皿 ̄///)   punching the face

and many more…

After reading this article, I hope you’re not limited by your gender or age or looks, and are ready to sell some cuteness to the world…今天就卖个萌吧!


An Yi, Emily and Maria's classmate for four years, does social media management in the U.S. for GoEast and writes for their blog. She taught Chinese in American high schools for two years and is now settling down in Texas, looking forward to be a Chinese teacher at local schools again.