Stylish Chinese grannies amaze Internet users with elegance, vitality

By Zhang Wenjie, Liu Ning, Yuan Meng, Peng Yukai (People's Daily Online) 09:19, February 23, 2022

With an average age of 70, an amateur modeling team called “Glamma Beijing (Stylish Grannies),” which includes Wang Nianwen, Wang Xinghuo, Lin Wei and Sun Yang, four elegant elderly ladies from Beijing, China, has received enormous attention for a series of videos revealing their modeling activities and daily life on Chinese online video-sharing platform Douyin since 2019, attracting views from Internet users of different generations.

“Stylish Grannies,” which serves as the name of the team, indicates their passion for fashion trends. Lin Wei said that despite her limited means when she was young, she was always quite particular about her clothing. Standing at a height of 180 centimeters, she was once a professional basketball player and later worked as a nurse. But her dream of becoming a model never faded away over the years.

“Glamma Beijing” (from left to right: Lin Wei, Sun Yang, Wang Nianwen, Wang Xinghuo) outside a cafe in the upscale commercial district of Sanlitun, Beijing. (Photo provided by interviewees)

Wang Nianwei used to be a teacher and later worked as a librarian at a college before her retirement. As a fashion enthusiast, she recommended her students for translation opportunities made available during fashion weeks. With the emergence of the first batch of models in China in the 1990s, she also had the chance to participate in a modeling competition organized by Beijing TV Station decades ago.

Sun Yang worked as a teacher for 13 years and then shifted into the garment industry, which allowed her to accumulate significant experience in the fashion industry. Majoring in accounting, Wang Xinghuo has long loved reading fashion magazines.

The four ladies met at a modeling class for elderly amateurs in 2000, and soon became good friends. “Our pursuit for fashion has brought us together, and made me bright and outgoing, which is rare for people of this age,” said Sun. 

“Glamma Beijing” (from left to right: Wang Xinghuo, Wang Nianwen, Sun Yang, and Lin Wei) pose for a photo at the Yuecheng Center, Beijing, on Jan. 12, 2022. (Photo provided by interviewees)

“Our family members are incredibly supportive,” said Wang Nianwen, adding that their sons and daughters-in-law have lent great support to them, and their grandchildren have become interested in fashion because of their influence.

Without cooperating with any MCN company, their videos were shot and edited by Sun’s daughter-in-law Zhang He. Based on their daily life, and without a preset script, their videos are much appreciated by China’s younger generation. “I want to live such a life when I grow old,” commented one Internet user. “I really admire these ladies full of vitality,” said another.

At the beginning, they wondered why young people liked their videos so much, but later they gradually realized that their charm lied not only in their good outward looks, but also their active attitude towards life. “We always have curiosity to try new things, and love communicating with the young,” said Lin, adding that they perceive fashion as a way to keep pace with the times and learn new things in the information era. 

From left to right, Wang Xinghuo, Wang Nianwen, Lin Wei, and Sun Yang make dumplings together prior to a family dinner at Sun's home on Jan. 14, 2022. (People’s Daily Online/Peng Yukai)

Besides, the ladies believe it is very important to share their experience and concepts towards life with their online followers. They always discuss topics covering marriage and family, or answer questions from Internet users and provide their thoughts via live-streaming or comments. “Many young people gave us suggestions and shared their views too, which allowed the four of us to gain much new knowledge,” they said.

The ladies have also captured the hearts of foreign Internet users outside China. The scene of the four elderly yet fashionable ladies walking on bustling streets in Beijing offers a new perspective for the world to understand China. “When foreign people think of the elderly in China, square dancing was the first thing that sprang to mind,” said Zhang He. “Some foreign Internet users commented that ‘Chinese Dama,’ a nickname for square dancers, has finally been replaced,” she added.

“Glamma Beijing” (from left to right: Lin Wei, Wang Xinghuo, Wang Nianwen, and Sun Yang) at a horse club outside Beijing in Sept. 2019. (Photo provided by interviewees)

“The attention from overseas Internet users shows that we can represent the elderly in China to some extent,” said the grannies. “Although our influence is limited, we hoped to lead some people of this age in our country to show to the world Chinese senior citizens’ elegance and beauty, as well as our happy life,” they added.

The four ladies’ success has inspired many other elderly people in China, who uploaded their own videos on social media platforms or teamed up to perform “fashion shows.”

Following the rise in their fame, the grannies also began to participate in public-benefit activities. “We are seniors in our families as well as in the society,” said Lin. “We feel obliged to play a leading role,” she added.

From left to right, Wang Xinghuo, Lin Wei, Wang Nianwen, and Sun Yang wear batik qipao at the Temple of Heaven, a major attraction in Beijing, in 2020. (Photo provided by interviewees)

As enthusiasts of China’s traditional culture, the grannies also hope to carry forward and promote it to reach a broader audience. “Traditional culture is a witness to the long history of China and we all have a strong sentimental attachment to it,” said Lin, adding that “we can better show the culture of our country and our pride in it when performing in traditional Chinese clothes.”

“The world is inter-connected. We hope to, with an open and inclusive attitude, combine different elements in our performance and bring our traditional clothes to the world. There is still room for improvement for displaying China’s traditional culture and craftsmanship. We hope more people become aware of the urgent need of inheriting the culture of China’s traditional clothes, which serves as the best way to promote China’s fashion,” they observed.

(Web editor: Zhang Wenjie, Liang Jun)


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