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Is Eileen Gu a good role model for Chinese women? A blogger speaks

On February 10, Chinese social media influencer Chen Xiaoyu posted a six minute video on Weibo, raising concerns about the danger of calling Olympic gold medalist Eileen Gu a role model for Chinese women. Gu captured the hearts of millions in China for winning an impressive two gold medals and one money in three different freestyle skiing events on her Winter Games debut.

Chen, who is almost the same age as Gu, centers his speech on the so-called “myth of meritocracyand argues that public discourse around Gu has been “misleading and even dangerous.”

She argues that average individuals simply do not have access to Gu’s elite educational resources.

“It feels more like the success story of a second-generation middle-class American woman, rather than the story of a Chinese feminist or a self-made woman,” she says. in the video. (Gu was born in the United States to a Chinese mother and American father and chose to represent China at the 2019 Olympics – with considerable backlash.)

Both women have expressed their feminist beliefs in the past. Gu addressed gender issues since high schooland Chen leverages her influence to highlight women’s rights issues, including a recent incident of human trafficking in China.

However, Chen points out that Gu’s privileges make it difficult to see her success as significant for Chinese women as a group, as it would be hard for other women in China to replicate.

For example, she points to the “secret of success” that Gu sleeps 10 hours a daysomething that just isn’t doable for most people in China, probably due to the demanding work culture in the countryside.

“It’s not like we don’t want to sleep 10 hours a day,” she adds. “Our lives just don’t allow us to do that.”

The blogger’s video has been viewed over 3.9 million times and has racked up over 5,000 comments.

Chen Xiaoyu in the viral video. Screenshot via Weibo

Below the video, many echo Chen’s message.

“Indeed, Gu’s family is wealthy and supportive, and she is also good at sports. Not everyone is so lucky, ”commented a user.

Another one job: “I resent the over-glorification of Gu as a symbol of female empowerment. By ignoring structural inequality and the sad reality of marginalized women, it creates an illusion.

Chen’s video also sparked conversations about the danger of meritocracy.

“Meritocracy makes people believe that others are failing because they don’t work hard enough, and these ‘lazy people’ don’t deserve to be helped,” said one commentator. wrote. “That’s why we have to be careful about meritocracy.”

from her makeup routine to what kind of dumplings she eats to celebrate, “Eileen Gu’s fervor” has swept Chinese social media since the start of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympicswhich ended yesterday.

Nevertheless, many have congratulated her to be a diligent student and an impressive athlete. Chen herself is a fan of Gu, as she mentions at the start of the video.

Her speech, however, offers a fresh, albeit cautious, perspective on Gu’s story: many simply don’t have the resources she enjoyed to become the superstar she is today.

Cover image via Depositphotos