“Traditional Chinese Women”

Stella Guan
12 min readAug 16, 2022

A mini-memoir of the complex, strong women who raised me

Growing up in a small town in China’s Guangxi Autonomous Region, I’d never felt I had anything in common with the women in my family.

As a child, I was defiant, ambitious, fiercely independent, and more than anything else, I prided myself to be different. I thought I was one-of-a-kind.

My mother and I, 2016

There wasn’t really a word in Chinese for girls like me. If there was, it would probably be the dreadful “Buguai”, a word used to describe children who dare to defy their parents. I wasn’t exactly disruptive — after all, I had never climbed a tree, destroyed my parent’s priced possessions, or punched another kid, but I did once talk back at my first-grade teacher, for which I earned a “well-deserved” beating from my mother; when I was 15, I ran away from home to my maternal grandmother’s house for a week after an intense argument with my parents, which was probably the highlight of my “rebellious past”.

I remember I often watched my mother with a slight contempt because she, in my eyes, was everything I didn’t want to be.

She is the epitome of a traditional Chinese woman — an “arranged” marriage introduced by a family acquaintance; lacks a college degree; doesn’t believe in sex before marriage; cooks and cleans diligently at home every day.



Stella Guan

Digital nomad designer and entrepreneur between the US, Europe & Asia | CEO of Path Unbound, UI/UX design school | www.stellaguan.com | youtube.com/@stella-guan