Teen who disguised herself to join a boyband is our modern-day Mulan

Teen who disguised herself to join a boyband is our modern-day Mulan

In a modern-day Mulan tale, a Chinese teen has apologised for pretending to be a boy in order to participate in a boy band boot camp.

Taking to the major Chinese microblogging site, Weibo, 13-year-old Fu Jiayuan revealed that she lied about her gender in order to compete in the boot camp organised by YNG Youth Club – a popular boy band in China made up of 11 to 16 year olds.

“I was young and ignorant. I hid my gender from the company and deceived my fans. I’m sorry again, and hope everyone will give me another chance,” reads a screenshot of one of her posts.

modern day Mulan

Fu’s good looks and youthful persona won the hearts of fans during her stint in the boot camp. Her subsequent confession has now gone viral on Chinese social media.

Reactions were a mix of shock over her convincing deception, and Mulan-related jokes surrounding the teens concealed identity.

For those who are unaware of the Disney character Mulan, she is an iconic Chinese heroine who disguised herself as a man to replace her elderly father in China’s war against the Huns.

Fu successfully participated in the boot camp, but ultimately did not end up joining the YNG Youth Club.

statement released on Monday by Yiguangnian Media, the company behind the boy band, claims that Fu and her parents had concealed her gender from the company during her virtual audition.

According to screenshots of the apology on Fu’s, now deleted, social media accounts, the 13 year old promised to never appear in the entertainment industry or on any video platforms in the future.

The apology comes in the midst of a campaign by President Xi Jinping’s Communist Party, on “common prosperity” and a push to “cultivate masculinity” in boys.

In January, China’s Education Ministry published plans to tackle this particular aspect of gender identity in boys from kindergarten through to high school.

The campaign is also targeting the entertainment industry, with regulators setting their sights on androgynous pop idols and those who do not conform to Chinese gender norms. A derogatory slur has been used in the messaging that has warned media companies away from men who express a more feminine style.

The National Radio and Television Administration used the word “niangpao”, which roughly translates to “sissy men”, in guidance messaging, instructing TV companies to “strictly control the selection of program actors and guests.”

The criticisms of gender non-conforming men can also be seen as a continuation of the actions against China’s big tech companies, said Shuaishuai Wang, a lecturer in new media and digital culture at the University of Amsterdam. 

“Video streaming sites owned by these tech giants are the main force of this ‘sissy’ cultural trend,” said Wang. “Gender and sexual issues can draw mass attention, and it’s a safe target for regulators.”

It might be time for President Xi to pop Mulan in the DVD player to see how badass a person can be, regardless of falsely constructed gender norms.