Staged street modeling all the rage on Chinese social media

China 24

Staged street modeling all the rage on Chinese social media

It’s one of the most popular trends on Chinese social media — people being photographed on the street.

CGTN’s Frances Kuo reports.

Here’s what looks like a spontaneous fashion shoot is actually staged – some strike model models while others play the comedian.

One of the more popular – and unexplainable – trends is people trying to attract attention by drinking water and then spitting it out.

Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of and follows social trends in China from her base in the Netherlands.

She says netizens are seeking to become “wanghong,” or internet celebrities.

“This is an interesting and new phenomenon of people making themselves look more interesting as a social media strategy,” explains Koetse.

She said it’s all driven by both social and commercial factors.

“Lately, in China, everything is about E-commerce. And E-commerce and social media are tied together, are really tightening together,” said Koetse.  “So they are doing this to gain more fans and to potentially sell the clothing they are wearing or to place online advertising. And the other reason is we are talking about the post-95-generation here. And in China, this generation is quite unique in that they are self-focused and they like expressing themselves and they like to be different from the others.”

Some of them make money from companies through advertising.

And it’s not just urbanites that have turned into online stars – rural residents are making social statements.

“They are also mocking this urban culture of these online influencers who are so self-absorbed. So, in a way, it’s also a little bit ridiculing it and making fun of the trends,” said Koetse.

Some are betting their posts will turn into professions.

In a 2017 survey by Chinese tech giant Tencent, 54 percent of college students said their dream job was to become an online celebrity as opposed to more traditional careers.

Those dreams are fueling the booming “influencer industry.”

According to a survey last year from CBNData, the field was estimated to be worth more than $17 billion – double what it was just two years before.

“I think this trend will be here to stay because people really like to see and to be seen, and I think that won’t change, predicts Koetse. “Small trends may change but I think this bigger trend is probably here to stay.”

Afra Zhao Wang discusses Chinese social media trend of staged street modeling and photography

CGTN’s Roee Ruttenberg talks with Afra Zhao Wang, a writer focusing on culture in the U.S. and China, about the Chinese social media trend of staged street modeling and photography.