|Four elderly female models, members of the SilverHair-Besties' Group, pose for a photo.|
In the video, four elderly female models, who wore cheongsam and ceremonial dresses, were on the street-side catwalk, and they were accompanied by music. The video, with more than 50 million hits, topped the Douyin (TikTok China) search list on July 15, 2019. The women, members of the SilverHair-Besties' Group, became the spotlight of many media outlets within a short time. Many netizens offered positive comments about the women. "Seeing you age gracefully, I'm not afraid of getting old," one netizen wrote.
The group is composed of four "granny models:" Liu Dongfeng, Xie Yunfeng, Fan Qiyang, and Zhang Shuzhen. Their average age is 65. During the past few years, the retirees have participated in many elderly models' fashion shows in their communities.
|Liu Dongfeng on the catwalk during a fashion show|
In early 2018, Liu was invited, as an honored guest, to attend the LORTUI (Love Retirement You & I) International Fashion Week (Beijing Division). During the event, hosted by letuizu.com, she became acquainted with the other members of the SilverHair-Besties' Group. In July 2018, organizers shot a video of the four splendidly dressed women. Within a short time, the video went viral. Numerous viewers have been impressed by the women's unique Oriental beauty and charm.
To her surprise, Liu noticed the group had a greater influence on young people than on her contemporaries. "I've been working as an elderly model for six years. Although many people my age consider my job enviable, they do not accept my lifestyle. Why? They usually spend much time taking care of their grandchildren.
Unlike most women her age, Liu takes delight in dressing up. Given her excellent cultural competency and artistic taste, Liu dresses in a simple, elegant style. She prefers to keep her hair undyed, as she considers white hair to be part of her true, natural beauty.
Liu dresses neat, even when she is taking a stroll. Given her silvery and shiny hair, tall figure and elegant dresses, she is a delightful sight wherever she goes. Many passers-by look at her admiringly.
Liu retired from the bank several years ago. Within a short time, she began studying how to perform tea and incense ceremonies, and how to portray images lively through her lens. "I had devoted all of my energy to my work. Now that I have retired (from the bank), I have more time to enjoy life, and to try new things. How wonderful!" says Liu.In August 1977, Liu became a university student, after she passed the university-entrance exam. As she had been a senior manager with a bank (in Beijing) for many years, she had always worked rigorously and acted swiftly and resolutely. Liu has been a member of the Beijing Municipal Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) for a dozen years.
Six years ago, she became an elderly model. Within a year, she not only lost 10 kilograms, she also became a coach of elderly models.
As a member of her community's singing group, Liu takes delight in participating in the weekly vocal training. She and other members of the group often discuss how to improve their singing skills. Sometimes, Liu attends concerts and musical shows with her friends.
"I'm a curious woman. I take delight in developing my potential, as I try new things," says Liu. When she was young, she learned how to knit sweaters, with different patterns, and to drive a car. In recent years, she has "fallen in love" with watching Douyin videos and chatting online (with others). She is highly observant, and she is good at imitating professional models' postures and paces.
Liu, a strong-willed, articulate woman, is a key member of the Silver-Hair-Besties' Group. Every time she leads the group's members during the recording of a video, she communicates with the video makers, telling them about the members' needs. Liu also acts as the "spokeswoman" of the group when the group accepts an interview with a media outlet. Given her rich experience in training and performances, she often offers guidance to the other members.
For Liu, modeling is a pleasure rather than a way to make a living. With that in mind, she cares little about fame and wealth. "I hope we will have more opportunities to display elderly women's unique charm," says Liu.
Despite her advanced age, Liu is full of youthful vigor, as she remains enthusiastic about life. She leads a regular life. Every morning, she gets up around 6:30 am. Then, she takes her dog when she exercises outdoors. After that, she participates in model training or offers guidance to other group members, as they practice modeling.
The other three women's lives are full of ups and downs. In the late 1990s, Fan was laid off by a factory (in Beijing) where she had worked for dozens of years. Despite the setback, she never gave up hope. Within a short time, she began working for a company.
Xie had been an engineer with China Academy of Space Technology, before she started her own business a dozen years ago. Zhang had performed her job conscientiously before she retired from the CAAC (Civil Aviation Administration of China) North China Regional Administration.
"I admire both Xie and Zhang, who had suffered from serious diseases. Despite their aliments … they stayed strong and optimistic," says Liu.
Being models has enriched the women's lives. When you watch them walk the T-shaped runway, you will no doubt be fascinated by their unique charm and beauty.
Photos Supplied by Han Shuwen(The Beijing News) and Liu Dongfeng
Executive Editor: Gu Wentong
(Women of China English Monthly January 2020 issue)
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