Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi’s age have been a hot topic of discussion amongst netizens these days.

On Jan. 6, a fan shared about how calling Zhang “auntie” got him into a sticky situation on social media platform Weibo.

Monarch Industry

To add on, since the premiere of “Monarch Industry” — Zhang’s television debut — on Jan. 9, the actress’ age has once again come under close scrutiny.

Zhang plays lead character Wang Xuan, who is only 15 years old in the early episodes.

The Chinese period romance series sees Wang Xuan as a pawn embroiled in palace politics and manipulated by everyone around her.

Later on, she joins hands with her husband to put an end to the civil strife and unify the empire.

Here are some scenes that exemplify the youthful energy of her character:

As a result, the hashtag #章子怡少女感#, which literally translates to “Zhang Ziyi Girly Feeling”, climbed Weibo search rankings earlier in the day before Zhang lashed out on Weibo.

On Jan. 9, Zhang made a statement in response to it on her Weibo page, as translated here:

“Monarch Industry production team and platforms, stop marketing me as “Shao Nu Gan”!

There is nothing wrong with ‘Shao Nu Gan’ but please do not impose it on me. I was 38 years old when I acted as Wang Xuan, I turn 42 next month, how are these two numbers related to “girls”? I am aware of what is going on! From the moment I received the script, I knew I had to grow and change together with Ah Wu (another name for Wang Xuan), the audience requires a conducive environment to understand and get to know “her”. I have taken full responsibility to shape this character, any irrelevant opinions are completely unnecessary!”

Backhanded compliment

Since 2017, Shao Nu Gan (少女感), which literally translates to “girly feeling”, has become a buzzword of sorts in the Chinese entertainment industry.

Initially, the term was used to compliment a woman’s youthful appearance and vivacious disposition without malice.

However, as media outlets and netizens continued to use the word, it has evolved into a beauty standard, establishing the girl (“shao nu”) as the ideal for beauty. As a result, it perpetuates this excessive pursuit and admiration for girlish youth.

Here’s some pictures and the trailer featuring Zhang for research purposes:

Image via Sohu

The good and the bad

Unlike the “auntie” issue, Zhang’s Weibo statement was not as well-received, as evidenced by the negative comments on her post.

Many comments slammed her for accepting the role despite knowing that she no longer sees herself as a “girl”.

Some also argued that the production team could have cast a younger actress to play the character in her younger days, and others pointed out Zhang should be prepared to face the detractors when she agreed to take on the role in the first place.

However, others have commended her performance and praised her ability to play the role of the teenager with finesse.

Prior to “Monarch Industry”, acting took a backseat for Zhang who became more involved in variety shows such as “I Am An Actor” and “Viva La Romance” in recent years.

Later this year, Zhang reprises her role in the upcoming film, “Godzilla vs. Kong”, slated for release in May 2021.

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Top Images via Youku

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