Because round heads are seen as ideal, Chinese parents are snapping up items that range from pillows and sleeping pads to $4,300 helmets that can help mold their children's skulls.
In China, a new beauty trend says there’s nothing better than a round head — and there’s nothing worse than a flat one. As a result, some parents across the country are seeking out items to help “round” their babies’ soft skulls.
“I think wearing a head helmet has the same function as wearing braces, which is to correct a body part and make it more beautiful,” insisted an unnamed mother on the forum Xiaohongshu, who had “head correction gear” custom made for her seven-month-old daughter.
She added, “I have a flat head, and I know how painful it is for women who are chasing beauty. I don’t want my kid to grow up and regret this part of herself.”
Since October 2021, parents in China have been snapping up items to help “correct” their babies’ head shapes. In pursuit of “ideal” round heads, they’ve bought head-shape altering pillows, specialized sleeping mats, and custom-made helmets that can cost up to $4,300.
Young children wear these helmets for hours a day, with the goal of “correcting” flatness at the back of their heads.
The fad has gained momentum online, where users encourage fellow parents, share their own shame about their flat heads, and offer styling tips to conceal flat heads.
“Your head shape determines your attractiveness. Give your children a good start and correct their head bones while you can,” one user wrote on the social media site Weibo.
Another Weibo user bemoaned their own head shape, writing: “Look at my flat head. I asked my mother if it’s because she made me sleep on my back to make my head flat on purpose. It looks like the back of my head got chopped off.”
More than 30,000 people also responded to the Weibo trending topic “How flat can one’s head get” by asking questions about molding their children’s heads, complimenting round-headed celebrities, and discussing various head “rounding” gear.
Meanwhile, sellers in China have taken note. Popular e-commerce sites like Taobao sell numerous head “correcting” items like helmets and pillows. One such advertisement reads: “Slanted heads, flat heads, sharp heads, please enter our shop.” This particular merchant sells about 200 $47 pillows per month to parents hoping to mold their babies’ heads.
The seller warned, “If your baby is three months old, there should be a noticeable change in about 45 days. The older the baby gets, the slower their skull develops.”
On online forums, some people offered support to parents like the mother who fitted her seven-month-old with a helmet.
“The suffering now is for a beautiful head in the future,” one user wrote. “Your baby will grow up appreciating your hard work!”
However, not all feedback was positive. “You do not need to go through this trouble,” another user wrote.
“When babies get older, they roll around in their sleep, and the shape adjusts back automatically… do not let your anxiety put your child through all this pain.”
Interestingly, concerned parents in China once desired the exact opposite for their children — they wanted their babies to have flat heads, not round ones. That’s because flat heads were considered as a sign of good luck.
Like some parents today, previous generations did what they could to ensure their baby had a flat head. Some even went as far as having their children sleep on books or boards in hopes of molding their babies’ soft skulls.
In that way, the recent “round head” trend in China is both new and old. Beauty standards are constantly shifting. And many parents, some of whom harbor their own anxieties about their appearance, will do whatever it takes to keep up.
After reading about the round head fad in China, see why babies in ancient Ecuador were buried with skull helmets — from other children. Or, learn about Amelia Bloomer and the fashion trend that infuriated Victorian men.