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China Memes & Viral

How a Boy Duped by Hair Salon Became the 2018 Internet Sensation

The footage of the awkwardly smiling and disillusioned teenager unravelled an endless stream of memes. Little did the teenager know that a few weeks after the incident, he would be the face of advertisement campaigns all over the country.

Gabi Verberg

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What was supposed to be a quick visit to the hairdresser turned into a disaster when the 18-year-old Wu Zhengqiang (吴正强) was presented with a 40,000 yuan ($5795) bill and a bad haircut. For Chinese social media users, the story became a source of countless memes this year.

Looking back at Chinese social media in 2018, one unexpected internet celebrity is at the center of one of the most meme-worthy stories of the year, reaching over 470 million views on Weibo.

It all started earlier this year, when Wu Zhengqiang (吴正强), an 18-year-old teenager, walked into a salon in Hangzhou to get himself a haircut. It looked like it was going to be a great day when he was offered a special hair and skin treatment for “free” – until the bill came.

Before the treatment was finished, the boy was surrounded by several people and was presented with a paper he was asked to sign. Only after the treatment was finished, Wu found out that he had given his approval to a staggering bill of 39,600 yuan ($5756).

Wu, who only makes a little less than 3000 yuan a month ($435) as a real estate agent, was not willing to pay the bill. When the salon employees refused to let him pay 480 yuan ($70), the original price on their price-list, Wu reported the incident to the police. In the end, Wu paid the shop a total of 2500 yuan ($363) instead.

But as time passed, Wu got increasingly annoyed about the whole incident. Not only did he feel robbed of his money, he also found his freshly plucked eyebrows looking even worse than before the treatment. So, he reached out to a local Hangzhou tv station to share his grievances (footage below).

The interview soon attracted the attention on Chinese social media, where most commenters did not focus on the story of the struggling teenager, but instead focused on Wu’s strangely shaved-up hairline, his thick characteristic eyebrows, the disillusion in his eyes, and his nervous smile – it all turned out the be the perfect ingredients for an endless stream of funny memes.

The hashtag “Hairline-boy expressions” received over 470 million views on Weibo, featuring many memes in which people captured feelings such as “I feel terrible wronged,” “Smile gradually disappearing,” “I’m puzzled,” and “Excuse me.”

But the popularity of the teenager reached further than just netizens using his face for memes; Wu soon appeared on several tv-shows including one of China’s most popular variety shows Happy Camp. He also starred in several commercials, making his face well-recognized all over the country.

Also, Wu’s personal Weibo account received thousands of new fans in his rise to fame. At time of writing, his Weibo page reached little over 400,000 followers.

How Wu’s career will further develop is hard to say. However, when Wu is asked what he will do when his popularity has faded away, he coolly answers: “I’ll just work.”

By Gabi Verberg

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©2018 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

Gabi Verberg is a Business graduate from the University of Amsterdam who has worked and studied in Shanghai and Beijing. She now lives in Amsterdam and works as a part-time translator, with a particular interest in Chinese modern culture and politics.

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China Fashion & Beauty

The Mulan Makeup Challenge: Traditional Chinese Makeup Goes Trending

Recreating the Mulan make-up look was the biggest beauty challenge on Chinese social media this July.

Manya Koetse

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Will traditional Chinese make-up make a comeback because of Disney’s Mulan?

Since Disney released the official trailer for its live-action Mulan movie earlier this month, Mulan is recurringly appearing in the top trending lists on Chinese social media.

Among all the different topics relating to the upcoming Mulan movie, the Mulan make-up challenge is one that jumps out this month.

The Disney live-action trailer showed a scene in which Mulan, played by Chinese American actress Crystal Liu Fei (刘亦菲), has a full face of betrothal makeup. The original animated Disney movie also features a full makeup Mulan.

Although there was also online criticism of the ‘exaggerated’ makeup, there are many people who appreciate Mulan’s colorful makeup look.

On Weibo, many showed off their skills in copying Mulan’s makeup look this month.

By now, the hashtags “Mulan Makeup Imitation” (#花木兰仿妆#) and “Mulan Makeup Imitation Contest” (#花木兰仿妆大赛#) have attracted over 300 million views.

Makeup such as lipstick has been used in China as far back as two or three thousand years ago.

Makeup vlogger Emma Zhou explains more about Tang Dynasty (618-907) makeup customs here; the skin would be whitened with rice flower, followed by the application of ‘blush’ (pigment of strong-colored flowers) to the cheeks and eyes in a round shape, to emphasize the roundness of the face.

A floral-like decoration would be placed in between the eyebrows.

The yellow forehead, as can be seen in the live-action Mulan, is also known as “Buddha’s makeup,” and was especially popular among ladies during the Tang Dynasty. A yellow aura on the forehead was believed to be auspicious (Schafer 1956, 419).

Although contemporary Chinese makeup trends are much different than those depicted in Mulan, traditional makeup seems to make somewhat of a come-back because of the Disney movie, with hundreds of Chinese netizens imitating the look.

Beauty bloggers such as Nico (@黎千千Nico, image below) receive much praise from Weibo users for their makeup look. Nico wrote: “I even opened the door for the delivery guy this way!”

It is not just girls imitating the look; there are also some boys showing off their Mulan makeup.

Although many still find the Mulan makeup look exaggerated and even “laughable,” there are also those who think it looks really “cool” – of course, depending on whether or not the application is successful.

Want to try it out for yourself? There are various amateur tutorials available on Youtube (in Chinese), such as here, here, or here.

The Mulan make-up hype will probably continue in 2020; the Mulan movie will come out in late March.

To read more about Mulan, please see our latest feature article on Mulan here.

By Manya Koetse

References

Schafer, Edward H. 1956. “The Early History of Lead Pigments and Cosmetics in China.” T’oung Pao, Second Series, 44, no. 4/5: 413-38. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4527434.

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©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

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China Celebs

Weibo Blows Up after Fan Bingbing Announces Breakup

It’s been a tough year for Chinese celebrity Fan Bingbing.

Manya Koetse

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First published

Two years after their engagement, Chinese actress Fan Bingbing and actor Chen Li have announced their breakup.

On the night of June 27 (China Standard Time), news came out that Chinese actress Fan Bing Bing is breaking up with her partner, Chinese actor Chen Li.

It was Fan herself who announced the separation through a post on social media, writing:

We go through all kinds of farewells during our lifetime. The love and warmth we gain throughout our encounters become everlasting forces. I want to thank you for all the love and support you’ve given me. Thank you for your care and love in the future. We are no longer ‘we’, but we are still ourselves.

The post soon received over 180,000 comments and more than 650,000 likes.

Chen Li also posted a message on his Weibo account, saying:

From friends to lovers, and now back to friends. Emotions can change, but the purest feeling between you and me will not change. The trust and support we have for each other will always be there. We are no longer ‘we’, but we are still ourselves.”

This breakup comes after a difficult year in Fan’s career. In summer of 2018, the 37-year-old actress was at the center of a social media storm due to a tax evasion scandal.

She disappeared from the public eye for months, and then returned with an emotional apology on Weibo.

The announcement of the split has triggered thousands of reactions on Weibo, where the hashtag “Fan Bingbing and Li Chen Split Up” (#范冰冰李晨分手#) had received 380 million views by Thursday night.

At time of writing, the breakup is dominating Weibo’s top trending topics, with many netizens commenting that Weibo is ‘exploding’ and that Weibo servers must be overheating due to the celebrity news.

It is often celebrity news that causes Weibo to blow up. A recent incident of Chinese teen idol smoking inside a Beijing restaurant also triggered millions of views and comments.

When Chinese singer and actor Lu Han announced his relationship with actress Guan Xiaotong in 2017, it even led to a rare temporary breakdown of Weibo’s servers.

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. Please note that your comment below will need to be manually approved if you’re a first-time poster here.

©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

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