China censors women modeling lingerie on livestream shopping

April 23, 2023 written by

Donning a sassy piece of silk lingerie, a male model grooves to the beat and forms a heart shape with his fingers during a livestreaming session on Douyin, one of China’s most popular video-sharing platforms.

His modeling performance is the latest illustration of the kind of entrepreneurial innovation sometimes needed to bypass China’s rigorous internet censorship, a dragnet that can ensnare seemingly innocuous activities — in this case retailers selling women’s underwear online.

China deploys one of the world’s most stringent censorship regimes, with a track record of blocking out not just politically sensitive information but images of women’s bodies deemed marginally racy.

Several businesses specializing in selling lingerie through livestreaming have had their sessions cut short after they featured a female model and their brush with internet censorship came to light in January.

Hence the use of men instead.On one of the sales channels, a man is seen dressed in black lingerie, standing next to a mannequin showing a similar outfit, in what appears to be a screenshot of a livestream broadcast on Alibaba (BABA)’s Taobao Live, a streaming platform for the e-commerce giant.

In another image, a different male model put on a pink slip dress and silky shawl, accessorized with cat ear headbands.In one livestream clip, carried by multiple state media outlets, an owner of an online venture said he was simply trying to play it safe.

“This is not an attempt at sarcasm. Everyone is being very serious about complying with the rules,” the man, who identified himself as Mr Xu, said.
The emergence of male lingerie models has caused mixed views online in China, from merriment and annoyance to reluctant acceptance.

“So what should I do if I want to promote and showcase lingerie in the live broadcast session? It’s very simple, find a man to wear it,” read one comment on China’s microblogging site Weibo
Massive industry

Livestreaming sales of products is a multibillion-dollar industry in mainland China, and was given a major boost during the three years of the country’s strict Covid lockdowns that battered many bricks and mortar businesses.

As of June last year, the number of livestreaming e-commerce users in mainland China is over 460 million, according to the Academy of China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, a body affiliated with Beijing’s commerce ministry.

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