Update August 11: This challenge has now been completely removed from Sina Weibo. The hashtag no longer shows any results.
Every now and then a new ‘challenge’ pops up on Chinese social media that allows netizens to show off their bodies. There’s been the A4 Waist Challenge, the iPhone6 Legs, or the One Finger Selfie hype. Now a new challenge is making its rounds on Weibo, originating from one of China’s live-streaming apps.
For the ‘Heart Symbol Boob challenge’ (桃心胸挑战), female netizens try to make a heart shape out of their breasts. The latest challenge is a risky one, because “obscene” (yinhui) or “pornographic” (seqing) images are officially not allowed on Chinese social media. Many of the images posted by netizens have already been removed.
People started talking about the ‘heart-shaped boob’ earlier this week, with many Weibo users saying: “The A4 Waist is out of fashion, now the Heart-Shaped Boob Challenge is popular!”
Their claims might be more about wishful thinking than that the challenge itself is actually a major hype just yet: the ‘Heart-Shaped Boob Challenge’ is more talked about than actually taken on. With 1.4 million views of the topic #HeartShapedBoob (#桃心胸#) on Weibo in a few days time, there were only some dozen women who actually posted photos of their heart shaped breasts.
The ‘hype’ seems to have started with a live-streamer by the name of Ayi Xi Tai Lǜ (@阿姨洗太绿). (The name’s characters literally translate as “Aunty Washes Too Green” in Chinese, but the sound of the name resembles the Japanese ‘Ai Shiteiru’ (愛している), which means ‘I love you.’)
Ayi Xi Tai Lǜ is one of the thousands of girls who entertain their – mostly male – audiences from one of China’s 200-or-so live-broadcasting platforms. Popular ones that focus on girls broadcasting for male viewers include Huya, 9xiu, or Woxiu.
According to SupChina, it is common to see more seductive and racy content on these live-broadcasting platforms after midnight. Live-streamers can earn money from viewers purchasing virtual items for them, anything from ‘lollipops’ to ‘love.’
For Chinese authorities, these platforms are a source of concern because of, amongst others, their ‘obscenities.’ Over the past six months, they have already closed 73 illegal live streaming platforms and imposed life bans on 1,879 live streamers for providing pornographic content.
An image of Ayi Xi Tai Lǜ turning her breast in a heart shape for viewers to see was shared on several Chinese message boards in July. It might have been this image that has inspired others to try and do the same.
“The A4 waist and so on are just over. The heart-shaped boob will be the next viral hit,”, some netizens say.
The A4 waist was a major online trend in March 2016, when hundreds of women posted pictures with an A4-size paper covering their waist to prove they were slimmer than a piece of paper. The trend received criticism for promoting an unhealthy body image.
Although it is said that the ‘A4 Waist’ challenge is out of fashion, the A4 photos are also still circulating on Weibo. Earlier this month, popular Chinese actress and model Zhang Tianai (张天爱) posted a photo of her tiny waist with the hashtag “I have an A4 Waist” (#我有A4腰# ). The photo received over 230.000 likes and 23.000 shares within a few days.
Not all people are happy with the alleged upcoming hype of the ‘Heart-Shaped Boob Challenge.’ Weibo user @Haoyyao noted: “If you try with small breasts, you won’t even be able to make a triangle.”
But there were also male netizens who tried to participate in the challenge anyway. Others jokingly proved that some men also have breasts and can join the challenge without any problems.
“I’ll be able to do this – with the fat on my stomach,” one commenter said.
Despite all claims, it is not probable that this challenge will actually truly go viral. At the time of writing, the topic ‘Heart-Shaped Boob’ was receiving thousands of new views per minute (nearing 1.5 million views), but as netizens try to post their own challenge photos, they show up as (censored) empty images.
As much as people say this challenge is the next big hit, it is very likely that online censors will not allow it to be – unlike A4 waists, heart-shaped breasts don’t seem to be their cup of tea.
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Meet China’s Latest Internet Celebrity: The “Vagrant Shanghai Professor” (上海流浪大师)
He is the latest online sensation in China, but what is this hype really about?
It has been nine years since “Brother Sharp” (犀利哥), a homeless man from Ningbo, became an online hit in China for his fashionable and handsome appearance. Now, another homeless man, this time from Shanghai, has become an internet sensation for his poise, wisdom, and modesty.
It all started about three weeks ago when an online video of a homeless man who eloquently discusses literature and philosophy went viral on Chinese social media, receiving millions of views within a time span of just three days. The man was nicknamed the “Vagrant Shanghai Professor” (上海流浪大师).
Soon, more information about the man’s identity started making its rounds on the internet. The “Vagrant Professor” is named Shen Wei (沈巍), a 52-year-old who was born and raised in Shanghai. Shen reportedly once worked as a civil servant at the Shanghai’s Xuhui District Audit Bureau, before he took sick leave and started roaming the streets anonymously for more than twenty years.
Persistent rumors started circulating the internet, suggesting that Shen once graduated from the prestigious Fudan University in Shanghai and that he became a vagrant after his wife and daughter had died in a car crash. Despite Shen himself repeatedly denying these claims, the rumors kept appearing in articles and on social media.
Whether he likes it or not, Shen’s quiet days of reading books and collecting garbage are now seemingly over. Within a few days after the first video of Shen went viral, hundreds of people began searching for him near Shanghai’s Gaoke West Road, the place where he usually stays, hoping to catch a glimpse of the ‘Vagrant Professor’ and take a selfie with him.
Hundreds of photos and videos of Chen started flooding the internet, all showing the same image: Shen surrounded by people, holding their phones in his face.
Shen became a true social media phenomenon, even receiving attention outside of China, with both BBC and Washington Post reporting about this man’s sudden rise to fame.
For Shen, his online celebrity status has come at a price. When the crowds became too big, the Shanghai police had to intervene and escort him out of his shelter. While the police were trying to bring Shen to safety, people were still taking his picture and tried touching him. One woman even held up a cardboard sign saying: “Vagrant Professor, I want to marry you.”
Over the past week, Shen hasn’t been seen out in public. Some recent photos of Chen show that he had an apparent makeover when attending a class reunion that was specially organized for him by his former classmates.
As the hype around the ‘Vagrant Professor’ is slowly quieting down, more critical responses to Chen’s sudden fame are surfacing on Chinese social media, asking who this hype really is about in the end.
Many netizens question the invasion of Chen’s privacy, saying that this craze was not so much about Chen himself but more about people’s needs for a dramatic and touching story, and social media users’ greed for more clicks and likes for themselves through Chen. These so-called “like hunters” will try to get as many ‘likes’ as possible to make them feel good about themselves.
Commenters also point out that if it would have been about Chen himself, his ‘fans’ should have left him alone as he requested. Instead, they disrupted his life so drastically that he had to leave the streets he once called home.
On Weibo, one person wrote: “This is how I see it: all these people who took his photo are the real beggars, begging for likes.”
Other people wrote: “Society has gone mad,” and: “Even if you don’t want to be famous, they will just make you famous.”
The fashionable beggar ‘Brother Sharp’ who rose to fame in 2009 initially benefited from his overnight stardom. He received help from social workers, but once he looked like a ‘regular person’ again, people lost interest in him.
According to a recent media report, ‘Brother Sharp’ has, again, lost contact with his family and might be back on the street, anonymous this time. Perhaps the story of the ‘Vagrant Professor’ will see a similar ending once the hype has blown over.
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98-Year-Old Hotpot and Coca Cola Lover Becomes Online Hit
Are hotpot and cola the key to longevity?
This week, a 98-year-old Chengdu resident has become an online hit on Chinese social media, after videos of her and her granddaughter went viral. The popular grandmother loves to drink Coca Cola, eat hamburgers, and is crazy about hotpot – but only if it’s really spicy.
The 98-year-old became an overnight hit because of the videos posted by granddaughter Cai on China’s popular video app Douyin (TikTok), that show the grandmother’s great appetite for spicy food, alcohol, and sweet sodas.
When the granddaughter tries to persuade her grandma to drink less alcohol (“You’ve already had five!”) she’ll pour herself another cup; while dozing off, she’ll still talk about her favorite hotpot with beef tripe; when eating her hamburgers, she’ll eat so fast that her dentures fall out – all moments that were caught on video by Cai.
The woman, who has been nicknamed “grandma foodie” (吃货奶奶), has been starring in her granddaughter’s Douyin videos since August of last year. Since then, she has accumulated a social media following of some 410K fans and has now risen to nationwide fame, with dozens of Chinese news outlets writing about her. On March 4, she became the number one trending topic on Weibo.
On social media, most netizens praise the grandma for her positive attitude. “I hope I can do all the things I love, too, when I reach her age,” some say: “Eat whatever you want, whenever you want, and drink whatever you like, whenever you like.” “Eating good food is the key to happiness,” others write.
Some also see a lucrative opportunity in the grandma’s sudden rise to fame: “She should become a brand ambassador for Coca Cola.”
Granddaughter Cai told Chinese reporters: “I think it’s the contrast that makes her so popular. She drinks Coke, eats hamburgers, loves spicy food, and all that greasy food. She’s leading the life of a young person, and it appears to be very unhealthy. But she still has longevity.”
Because Cai’s grandma does not know much about social media, Cai tried to explain to her that “many, many people” like her a lot. “Why on earth would they like me for?” she replied: “I’m old!”
By Manya Koetse
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