Male beauty vlogging in China: a masculinities perspective’ by Dr Derek Hird, University of Lancaster, 15 January 2020 @4pm

Location: Room 214, 29 Bute Gardens, University of Glasgow


Key developments of the 21st century—the spread of digital social media, China’s “rise”, the boom in the creative industries, rapid growth in the beauty economy, and widening horizons of gender expression—come together in Chinese male beauty vlogging. Focusing on conceptualisations of creativity and masculinity in Chinese male beauty videos on Weibo and Bilibili, this article analyses (i) discourses on copying and creativity; and (ii) different forms of male makeup effects. Drawing on translation studies, it views vlogs as creative translations and vloggers and viewers as creative translators. By dissolving the original/copy binary, it opens fresh perspectives on the process of reproduction. It argues that products, designs and ideas translated into new contexts contribute to emergent creative practices.However, creative practices in Chinese male beauty vlogs do not necessarily challenge existing normative gender categories and stigmatisations; in some regards, they perpetuate discrimination and power imbalances between different masculinities. From the evidence presented, Chinese male beauty vlogs strive for aesthetic revolution yet leave patriarchal privileges intact.

Derek Hird is Senior Lecturer in Chinese Studies at Lancaster University and Deputy Director of Lancaster University Confucius Institute. His research interests include transnational Chinese middle-class masculinities, Chinese male beauty cultures, and happiness and health in Chinese populations. He is co-editor of the Transnational Asian Masculinities book series for Hong Kong University Press. Recent publications include “Smile Yourself Happy: Zheng nengliang and the Discursive Construction of Happy Subjects” in his co-edited Chinese Discourses on Happiness (HKUP 2018), and his co-edited The Cosmopolitan Dream: Transnational Chinese Masculinities in a Global Age (HKUP 2018).

The Scottish Centre for China Research Seminar Programme gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the MacFie Bequest.

First published: 17 September 2019

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