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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.

Manya Koetse

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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

©2017 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Mani Bhardwaj

    April 29, 2018 at 6:57 pm

    people who say that she cannot walk in hand in hand are the people wgo have a dirty mind. i ask u if u walk hand in hand with ur mother and someone says what u said about her about ur relationship with ur mother how will u feel…..ur jealous because a mother dared to look fit n beautiful at the age of 50 and u people can not digest that fact….she is not doing any obscene things thus u have no right to comment on her. each n every person has the right to look fit n beautiful at whatever age they are be it 50 or even 60 or 70 n no on3e has any right to comment on it just because they r behind the times…

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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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