Mother or Girlfriend? Chinese Fitness Fanatic Liu Yelin Responds

After the 49-year-old Chinese fitness fanatic Liu Yelin made headlines in Western media, she became a top trending topic on Weibo. But not all Chinese netizens are charmed by her looks.

“I am Liu Yelin (刘叶琳), the person in the news. On Weibo, I am Yewen LyL (@叶问LyL). My son does have a girlfriend, the headlines are wrong. Recently, the Daily Mail featured an article about me with photos, and I received much praise from women through the foreign media. I’ve received over 20,000 messages. I’ve been working out for 20 years, taking on various extreme sports. I swam across the Strait of Malacca. For the past 20 years I’ve been a donor, donating blood and bone marrow.”

On May 17, Liu Yelin (1968) made news on the Daily Mail under the headline “Son of ‘the world’s most youthful mother’ reveals how it feels to have a super-fit parent (and how it’s wrecked his love life).”

The article focused on the youthful looks of the China-born Liu, and the fact that people often mistake her son, age 22, for her boyfriend.

Liu at the age of 15 (left) versus her looks at the age of 49 (right).

The article did not make headlines in China until May 31st, when it was posted by Sina News. This post pointed out that Liu’s son had difficulties in finding a girlfriend, because women would assume his mother was his partner. The article soon became a trending topic on Weibo and received over 24,000 likes and nearly 10,000 shares within a day.

The 49-year-old Liu and her 22-year-old son.

Ms. Liu and her son.

Despite the alleged praise in Western media, on Weibo, not all netizens are charmed with Ms. Liu: “Come on, if you walk hand in hand together, how can you be surprised [to be mistaken for his girlfriend]?!,” one netizen wrote.

One of the more popular comments said: “This is not a normal mother-son relationship, there might be a mental problem or even incest.”

Despite the criticism, there are also many netizens who support Liu. Within days, her fanbase has grown with thousands. “Hey, it’s not easy being a female role model,” one person said: “Drawing your conclusions based on this only shows how empty you are.”

As for Liu herself, she seems more concerned with beauty than with the rumors surrounding her and her son: “You can be beautiful at any age,” she writes about herself on Weibo.

– By Manya Koetse

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