Category Archives: Self-representation

China’s goths protest after woman told to remove ‘distressing’ make-up on subway

China’s goths protest after woman told to remove ‘distressing’ make-up on subway

Weibo users post selfies of themselves in full make-up after woman stopped by security from boarding a train

A woman in goth make-up
It is a dark time for China’s goths Photograph: Alberto Buzzola/Getty Images

China’s goth community have united in an online protest after a woman was ordered to remove her dramatic make-up before being allowed on the subway to avoid “distressing” her fellow passengers.

In a post on Chinese social media site Weibo, the woman, who remains unnamed, recounted how subway security in the southern city of Guangzhou had stopped her from travelling because of her heavy eye make-up and dark lipstick.



Writing on Weibo, the woman recounted how “a female security guard called her manager, and said that my make-up was ‘problematic and really horrible’” before telling her to remove it if she wanted to get on the subway.

“As a Chinese citizen, I’m hoping to use this relatively public platform to challenge the authorities: What laws grant you the right to stop me and waste my time?” she wrote, in a post, according to a report by Chinese news website Sina News.

“If you are able to cite one, I am willing to pay for a banner to hang at the subway station, which reads, ‘People wearing gothic lolita clothing are not allowed to ride subway.’”

In response, thousands of Weibo users have begun posting selfies of themselves in full goth make-up and dark clothing with the hashtag #ASelfieForTheGuangzhouMetro.

Guangzhou subway has since apologised and suspended a staff member involved, but it has not been enough to stop the growing social media backlash calling for a wider social acceptance of subcultures in China.


More than 5,000 people posted solidarity photos of themselves in goth make-up, which in China is often referred to a “lolita” fashion, a subculture popular in Japan and increasingly now in China which is influenced by Victorian and Edwardian children’s clothing.

“I’m sorry people of Guangzhou, sometimes I go out like this,” posted Weibo user Haruko Ekov.

Jiolaa added: “What you see as fancy dress, I see as freedom,” wrote Jiolaa.



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China cracks down on cleavage at cosplay convention

China cracks down on cleavage at cosplay convention

Story highlights

  • Women who reveal “more than two centimeters of cleavage” banned from entertainment expo
  • It’s the latest example of a government campaign for stricter morality in China
  • Expert says President Xi Jinping’s tightening grip on ideological issues

(CNN)Organizers of Asia’s largest digital entertainment expo — where scantily clad models usually dress up as characters from comic books, movies and video games — say they will levy a fine of $800 on women who reveal “more than two centimeters of cleavage.”


Men are not exempt from the crackdown on exposed flesh.
They will face the same penalty if they wear low-hanging pants or expose their underwear. If models are caught dancing in cages or around a pole they will be fined a whopping $1,600, as will anyone caught striking vulgar poses.
It’s the latest example of what appears to be a government campaign for stricter morality in China.
This year’s Shanghai Auto Show banned “car babes” — scantily clad models who in previous years had posed provocatively on car hoods to draw crowds.
And in December, government censors pulled a historical TV show off air for the ample cleavage it featured.
“The Empress of China” depicted the life of the only woman to rule China. Her reign was during the seventh century Tang dynasty — when an ample female bosom was the prevailing aesthetic.
When the series returned to air, the cleavage was gone. Instead, viewers saw crudely edited scenes where women were only shown in close-up to avoid revealing their chests.

‘We can’t use vulgarity’

New Silk Road, one of China’s biggest model agencies that said it provided showgirls to ChinaJoy and vetted other model agencies used by the show, confirmed the new regulations to CNN.
Yang Ou, a spokesperson for New Silk Road, said it set the rules.
“It’s a formal exhibition. We can’t use vulgarity to attract attention,” he said. “We ought to offer ‘positive energy’ to the public.”
It’s wasn’t clear who would be tasked with measuring the cleavage on display but Yang said more details would soon be released in an official notice.
While primarily a trade show, ChinaJoy is also known for its annual cosplay competition — participants, either solo or in teams, emulate their favorite characters and are judged on their costumes, routine and the response they received from the audience.
Last year’s event attracted a quarter of a million people over three days.

Tightening grip

Guo Weiqing, a professor of political science and public policy at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou told CNN that the crackdown on scantily clad models and actresses was linked to President Xi Jinping’s tightening grip on the media, Internet and ideological issues.
Guo said that China didn’t have the same set of unwritten conventions on what’s acceptable in public that many Western countries have.
“There has never been a public discussion,” he said. “As time passes, it all falls under the government policy, which is decided by the current leader’s ideology.”
In October last year, Xi addressed an delegation of actors, dancers and writers, making it clear that he believed “moral values” were more important than commercial success.
“Popularity should not necessitate vulgarity,” Xi told them. “Pure sensual entertainment does not equate spiritual elation.”
The ChinaJoy expo opens in Shanghai on July 30. It’s not clear whether the skimpily dressed models the show is renowned for will cover up or simply disappear.
They may want to join the car babes, who protested their ban from the Shanghai Auto Show in April by pretending to be beggars in ripped clothing.
Their placards read: “We want to survive.” Another lamented that all their efforts to lose weight were for nothing.

No Earrings, Tattoos or Cleavage: Inside China’s War on Fun

New York Times

No Earrings, Tattoos or Cleavage: Inside China’s War on Fun

The Communist Party wants to instill the people with “core socialist values.” That means winnowing out content that extols individualism or hedonism.

In an episode of “Give Me Five,” censors covered the Chinese pop star Jiang Yaojia’s pink hair with a ladybug cap, as seen in a Taiwanese-based media broadcast, CTi News.

By Li Yuan

China is waging a war on fun. The latest target: men’s earrings.

Chinese censors in recent months have blurred the earlobes of some of China’s young male pop stars in television and internet appearances, lest their piercings and jewelry set too feminine an example for the country’s boys. The ban elicited eye rolls and even some jokes, but it illustrated the Communist Party’s creeping interference in even the smallest details of Chinese life.

Men’s earrings aren’t the only objectionable material that China’s censors are blurring, covering up or cutting out. Soccer players wear long sleeves to cover their tattoos.


Women in costumes at a racy video game convention have been told to raise their necklines. Rappers can rhyme only about peace and harmony.


This sanitizing infuriates Rae Fan, a 22-year-old college student in southern China’s Guangxi region. Some of her favorite American and South Korean movies have disappeared from local streaming platforms. To make matters worse, her friends appear indifferent to it and won’t welcome anything that smacks of criticism of the government. Her parents, both civil servants, told her that she would be better off not watching those movies anyway.

In other words, the censorship is working.

“The purpose of this kind of control is to ensure everybody shares the mainstream values,” Ms. Fan said. “We will be easier to manage.”

The Communist Party’s effort to instill what it calls “core socialist values” — patriotism, harmony and civility, among others — is intensifying. Content that celebrates money worship, hedonism or individualism is increasingly removed. Material that was acceptable only a few years ago no longer passes muster.

In a few years’ time, today’s youths will have seen less unfiltered content than people even five years older. Without knowing what they don’t know, they’re likely to be more receptive to party doctrine and easier to govern.

“To cultivate a new generation that will shoulder the responsibility of national rejuvenation, we need to resist erosion from indecent culture,” the official Xinhua News Agency wrote in a 2018 commentary that criticized those it called China’s effeminate young male idols. “More important, we need to nurture outstanding culture.”

Like the internet elsewhere, China’s online community can truck in crude or inflammatory content. China’s toughness may sound appealing to some Americans frustrated by what Facebook, Twitter or YouTube allow.

An episode of “Miss Sister’s Flower Shop” censored the earring on a Chinese celebrity, Lin Yanjun.Credit

But China takes that attitude to such an extreme that it risks infantilizing the country’s culture. It lacks content-rating systems — like the American industry group that labels movies PG or R, for example — so everything has to be suitable for a 12-year-old to consume.


The sex has been edited out of the local streaming of “Game of Thrones,” rendering the plots that are often explained through “sexposition” nonsensical. The Chinese film industry put a black dress on Sally Hawkins’s nude body when “The Shape of Water” hit theaters there.


It cut the most brutal scenes out of the climactic battle between Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy in “The Revenant,” as well the brief nudity and gay content in “Green Book.”

Censorship isn’t new. For a time, the Communist Party’s conservative faction conducted a campaign against spiritual pollution. When I was growing up in China in the 1980s, the Communist Party disliked pop music, flared pants, permed hair, love stories and even kissing. The first movie kiss in modern China didn’t take place until 1980.

Still, Chinese viewers won more freedom of expression here and there over the next four decades. That’s why, to some Chinese people of my generation, the new crackdown on entertainment is alarming, even if the targets are sometimes lowbrow or coarse.

Two years ago, broadcasters and streamers began blurring tattoos. A detective show covered blood and bodies with blurs. Last year, male ponytails got the blur treatment. There’s so much blurring on the Chinese internet that there’s a term for it: “heavily applied mosaics.”

“If a male entertainer who chose to dye his hair and sport tattoos, earrings, a long ponytail … appears on a variety show, what will be left on the screen?” asked an entertainment blog named No. 3 Theater Inspector. Two years ago, the blog noted, that entertainer would have been considered normal.

The entertainment industry has no choice but to go along. Last year, regulators shut down over 6,000 websites and over two million online accounts and social media groups. When one short video app, Miaopai, was shut down and then reinstated, the founder promised to shake up the app by adhering to core socialist values and creating positive content, according to an internal letter that was published in Chinese media.

The stark loss of edge of China’s first hip-hop show, “The Rap of China,” offers another cautionary tale. It was by no means critical of society or current affairs. Still, rappers dissed one another and argued with the judges in its first season in 2017, giving Chinese viewers a glimpse of the swagger and rebelliousness of hip-hop.

Then came the crackdown. A co-champion of the show, Wang Hao, who raps under the name PG One, apologized last year after accusations from the state media and the Communist Party Youth League that lyrics in one of his older tracks encouraged drug use. When entertainment blogs accused him of having a relationship with a married actress, streaming services pulled his music.

When the second season of “The Rap of China” aired, the tone of the show changed. The contestants rapped about love, dreams and family. IQiyi, the video platform that produced the show, changed the name to “China’s New Rap,” explaining that the new name nodded to a new era for China.

To Lippi Zhao, an engineer and a fan of hip-hop music in the city of Xi’an, the second season was both lame and ironic. Both finalists that season were Uighurs, a predominantly Muslim ethnic group living in the Chinese region of Xinjiang. The authorities there have forced as many as one million Muslims, most of them Uighurs, into detention camps. “The Rap of China” didn’t touch the subject.

“They had to know what their own people were going through,” Mr. Zhao said. “But they had to do everything to avoid the elephant in the room while competing in the show.”

Chinese viewers seemed to miss the energy of the first season. On Douban, China’s most authoritative website for entertainment ratings, viewers began giving the show lower scores. IQiyi declined to comment.

Artists are self-censoring to protect themselves. Mr. Zhao, the engineer, said some underground rappers he followed had pulled some of their potentially controversial tracks from streaming platforms for fear that they would be barred from performing live.

He alerted me this month that “Underground 8 Miles,” one of China’s most famous hip-hop contests, had been canceled. The spokesman for the contest apologized to over 3,000 participants in a video and explained that the authorities believed that some of its content would have a negative impact on young people.

The retreat in freedom of expression in entertainment and culture spheres is shocking to many Chinese from previous generations. Liang Wendao, a writer in Hong Kong, wrote in an article that he had never imagined that Chinese people in the modern era would still confront the gaps in culture and arts that they faced decades ago.

“When faced with all of these,” he wrote, “we can only sigh in despair.”

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page B1 of the New York edition with the headline: China’s Fun Is Sanitized With a Blur. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

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