Meet China’s Latest Unlikely Gay Icon

Female pop idols in China typically fit a very narrow mold: Young, slim, and sweet-mannered with dreamy, dewy makeup. But Wang Ju is cut from a different cloth.

Tanned, curvy, glamorous, and “old” by idol standards at 25, the Shanghainese talent show contestant has taken China’s social media by storm. In particular, Wang has secured a firm fan base of gay men and feminists through her stint on “Produce 101.”

“Produce 101” is an online reality show produced by internet giant Tencent that premiered in April. It’s an authorized remake of a Korean show by the same name that brings together 101 contestants who compete for a chance to join a girl group. Wang started off as a misfit who lagged behind the field of contestants and drew harsh criticism for her rebellious image.

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But the latest episode turned the tide: “Some say I’m not suited to being in a girl group,” Wang had said during Saturday’s show. “When it comes to me, I’ve swallowed the standards along with the wrapper. You now have the chance to redefine China’s No. 1 girl group.”

Suddenly, Wang became an internet sensation for her candid comments and unconventional charm. To her fans, her self-deprecating sense of humor and unshakeable charisma — forged from her rich life experience as a headhunter and modeling agent — are an inspiration amid the cookie-cutter cuteness of pop music. Her difference has won her admiration in the queer community: “Minorities see themselves in Wang Ju; they see fresh possibilities,” one user theorized on Q&A platform Zhihu. Continue to read the full article here.


-This is original content by Sixth Tone and has been republished with permission.