Chinese ‘chubby’ idols Produce Pandas gain fans looking for relatable celebrities

Produce Pandas boy band

Idols deviating from the traditional “picture-perfect” image of celebrities have been gaining popularity in China. 

Ditching the abs: Produce Pandas, a music act touted as the country’s first-ever “plus-size” boyband, made its debut in July last year, reported the BBC.

  • The group’s recent rise in popularity follows the Chinese government’s extensive crackdown against “vulgar internet celebrities” and “effeminate” male stars.
  • Members of Produce Pandas mostly sing about acceptance and self-confidence, as heard in one of their hits, “Stand Up,” which contains the line, “Don’t hold back. If you’re chubbier, you’re more eye-catching.”
  • “We can’t say we represent different people. We just hope that our attitude can give out good vibes,” member Chen Dingding was quoted as saying.
  • Chen also talked about a “plumper” female fan who gained confidence and positivity from the group’s own story. 
  • “I feel we can bring everyone joy and positive energy, and this is what we want to bring to everyone,” he shared. 

Stars that look like us: Chinese fans’ fascination with “relatable” celebrities started with online influencer Papi Jiang, who became a viral hit in 2016, according to Chinese social media specialist Manya Koetse.

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  • Koetse said Papi Jiang was among the first women who became famous “without being covered in makeup.”
  • She was known for being “very straightforward in speaking out her opinion and talking in a funny way about social issues.”
  • Plus-size filmmaker Jia Ling, who wrote and starred in the hit film “Hi, Mom,” also recently gained recognition. The drama became this year’s highest-grossing film in the world, turning Ling into the highest-grossing female filmmaker, surpassing “Wonder Woman” director Patty Jenkins. 

Fans’ newfound adoration for “non-perfect” celebrities has led to talent shows capitalizing on the trend, such as “Sisters Who Make Waves,” which features female contestants older than 30 competing to form a five-member female singing group.

Featured image via Produce Pandas

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