Produce 101 contestant Wang Ju is redefining what “beauty” really means. CFP
It’s like a modern fairy tale, in which the princess wins the hearts of everyone, except that the “princess” in this story isn’t thin, fair-skinned and shy. Quite the opposite – she’s sturdy, tanned and outspoken.
She is Wang Ju, a contestant on the ongoing reality music competition show Produce 101, which premiered on Tencent Video on April 21.
Wang, 26, had her moment of glory on May 29 when she ranked No 1 in an internet voting round, defeating her fellow contestants who could be considered more traditionally “attractive”.
“It’s time to embrace a new generation of girl groups who stop succumbing to the male gaze,” wrote Global Times reporter Ke Rensi. “Beauty comes in all shapes, sizes and personalities.”
But there’s more to Wang than just the way she looks.
With her motto – “It’s better to change the wind than to wait for it” – Wang displays the qualities of being independent and ambitious, unwilling to give in to mainstream standards that girls should be obedient and quiet and play cute all the time. Instead, she makes it clear what she wants, and fights hard for her goals.
These are, in fact, qualities that are increasingly becoming more common in females, even though they used to be considered unattractive in girls and women.
For example, in a letter of advice to a friend who had just had a baby daughter, Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie wrote, “Teach her that ‘gender roles’ are absolute nonsense. Do not ever tell her that she should do or not do something ‘because you are a girl’, because ‘you are a girl’ is never a reason for anything, ever.” And Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, also said: “A gender line helps to keep women not on a pedestal, but in a cage.”
It looks like by staying true to the way she is, Wang is already breaking free from that “cage”. Or, in her own words, she has successfully “changed the wind”.