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or: betel nut girl

Chinese name: "binlang xishi"

Betel nut beauties are young women who sell betel nut from booths on the streets of Taiwan. These young women have stirred up controversy because of their racy attire. Standing in glass, neon-lined booths, the girls attempt to attract their share of the millions of Taiwanese users of the stimulant by dressing in anything from short skirts to string bikinis. Needless to say, the majority of betel nut-chewers are male.

Taiwanese politicians are continually making noise about cracking down on the girls' choices in wardrobe, citing issues of public decency and traffic safety. Thus, some girls have been charged with indecent exposure and prostitution. There are additional concerns about spitting, as betel nut is chewed without swallowing, much like tobacco. Also like tobacco, the drug is known to cause mouth cancer.

The powerful betel nut growers lobby, not to mention fans of the girls and their wares, have kept anti-betel nut advocates from getting very far. However, in 2002, officials in Taipei and the nearby county of Taoyuan succeeded in legally requiring the local betel nut girls to cover up. The girls, of course, were not happy, as this hampered their sales. Many women's rights groups have pointed out the hypocrisy of forcing the betel nut beauties to cover up while ignoring the overt sexuality of supermodels, pop stars and other (evidently more legitimate) figures, suggesting a class bias against the predominantly low-income girls.

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