Lu Yan, the new face of China?

lu yan.jpg

Just imagine: A coal miner’s daughter, Lu Yan, the family’s “ugly duckling,” is walking down a street in Beijing when she’s spotted by a model agency talent scout. Within weeks, she is strutting across the catwalks of Paris, China’s most in-demand supermodel, perhaps poised to change the very nature of the country’s modelling industry.

This is an amazing article that looks at how modelling has become a mega-industry in China, and how Lu Yan is redefining it.

I took one look at her, and I knew she could be a world-class supermodel,” said Li Dongtian, one of China’s first celebrity hairstylists, who runs a chain of studios and a makeup school. “I was so excited. It was 1999, the turn of the century. The media was asking me who should be the new beauty of the next millennium. I would point without a doubt at Lu Yan.”

Lu was stunned. “He was the first Chinese person to ever tell me I was pretty,” she recalled.

According to Li and fashion photographer Feng Hai, who was the first to splash her image across Chinese magazines, Lu’s look and personality make an ideal combination for representing the 21st century Chinese woman. “Before, Chinese people were only interested in big eyes and feminine sweetness. They didn’t know anything about the cool factor and personality,” Li said. “So many Chinese girls are beautiful, but you see her and forget her. With Lu Yan, she is so striking, you take one look at her, and you never forget her.”

She is apparently setting a new standard for beauty around the world, though in China she remains quite controversial.

“By Chinese standards, she is definitely not pretty,” said Gao Xiaofei, 20, a modeling student at the Beijing Fashion Institute. “Just look at our class โ€” almost everyone has big eyes. But I like her a lot. The more I look at her, the more I think she’s beautiful.”

The Discussion: 33 Comments

Proof that all you have to do is look first, not think.

Beauty happens when you start to speak with someone else.

December 2, 2003 @ 7:31 am | Comment

Well, it will just go to reinforce a commonly held belief in China … that a girl must either be very beautiful or very ugly in order to attract a foreign boyfriend.

December 2, 2003 @ 1:27 pm | Comment

Good luck to her, but I don’t find her very attractive at all.

December 2, 2003 @ 3:04 pm | Comment

Hey, good luck to her. She must have one absolutely stunning personality, that’s all I’ll say.

December 3, 2003 @ 3:10 pm | Comment

I’m a sucker for the sloe-eyed look myself. Who needs round-eyed Chinese models when we have plenty of round-eyed women right here in the US of A.

December 5, 2003 @ 5:00 am | Comment

Well, i’m sure the media having the powerful effect it does, is going to shape how chinese people view beauty now. So ironically all the ugly ones are now beautiful because a few people in the media have declared it so. Shows how standardless this notion of beauty is and how flexible it can be.

December 6, 2003 @ 2:29 am | Comment

i don’t like lv yan!!so ugly!!you should introduce some pretty girl on your blog!

December 8, 2003 @ 3:11 pm | Comment

Luyan is definitely beautiful girl with natural look and great confidence…. the definition for nowaday is a person with the identity that others can not imitate and with rare look…..

April 8, 2004 @ 3:09 am | Comment

I think she not the prettiest thing in the world,but not bad to look at…but i think you could do better…like me!!!!!!

April 22, 2004 @ 6:41 am | Comment

Asian come in many varities, and she’s not the prettiest…if you want a prettier one contact me.

April 22, 2004 @ 6:47 am | Comment

the less, the more precious
people are tired of western-style model. 99% of the model are just like the same, dont you think?
Asian never can compete with Western for their bigger eyes, whiter skin……any those kinds of characteristics
Lvyan brings the fresh air to many people
yes we can beat Europeans, Americans with our dark skin, sloe-eyes,
who says that people who have bigger eyes,whiter skins are more beautiful?

May 19, 2004 @ 5:04 pm | Comment

Being 6ft tall and asain myself Im so glad that Lu Yan is out in the industry representing us tall asian women. best wishes to her.

June 9, 2004 @ 8:21 pm | Comment

“Only in the west, it appears, do we admire single-eyelidded, flat-faced models like Lu Yan, whose popularity in Europe is considered bewildering and a bit annoying by Chinese women (they say they don’t see the point of Jude Law, either).”,7369,1348347,00.html

November 11, 2004 @ 12:42 pm | Comment

Extremely ugly=beautiful

November 11, 2004 @ 1:30 pm | Comment

I am black with very demanding standards. I am significantly more attracted to oriental women than any other ethnic group. The taller, fitter, darker, smarter, slittier the eyes – the more strikingly asian the more intense the attraction. Unfortunately I live in Europe with it’s famine of beauty. I am also concerned about cultural prejudice & the lack of assertiveness/ confidence of the women here. I feel I would have to live in Asia to get what I want.

November 29, 2004 @ 5:47 am | Comment

Don’t be shallow! She may not be cute by the Chinese standard, but she can be considered cute by other people! The Chinese Standard is not everywhere you know… (I am Chinese by the way, so this is not racial discrimination or anything)
I find it wonderful that Chinese girls who are considered ugly in China are being appreciated somewhere else in the world.
Girls like Lucy Liu are not exactly “hot” by the Asian standard, but they are loved by Americans. It’s just marvelous!

December 17, 2004 @ 9:06 pm | Comment

The standard of beauty is so different in asia compared to the west it amazes me. When I went back to china in the summer, I noticed so many adverstisements to whiten skin. But here in the west, there are hundreds of types of sunless tanning products. And all the models in chinese magazines have big eyes with obvious plastic surgery done to them when most of the asian models in the west have those slanted asian eyes. Personally, I think Lu Yan is beautiful, very asian looking.

March 18, 2005 @ 7:07 pm | Comment

lu yan hello…..i was so amaze on your beauty……simply but fabulous

March 23, 2005 @ 5:36 pm | Comment

Docs.Rage.NET: /faq/tv/soaps/all-my-c/actors

This was suggested as being relevant by a visitor.

May 25, 2005 @ 4:55 pm | Comment

I just want to cheer for her. No more but just for a girl of no beauty in traditional eyes.

May 30, 2005 @ 10:46 pm | Comment

Judging by physical appearance, she makes me want to vomit.

July 20, 2005 @ 4:13 pm | Comment

Hey u gotta give it up to her, she is good at what she does… She is simply beautiful inside and out in my eyes!

August 10, 2005 @ 9:28 pm | Comment

I think she is definitely unique and uniqueness whether extremely ugly or extremely pretty is what makes someone interesting. she is definitely not a hottie in china because she does, in fact looks like a coal miner’s daughter…but Russian models are discovered that way, right?

August 22, 2005 @ 1:24 pm | Comment

OK, guys, you think slant eyes are Asian beauty but what about those Asians who were born with large eyes? Should they be regarded as ugly? Not all models with big eyes in Chinese fashion magazines had plastic surgery, many of them are just born that way. I am Chinese and I naturally have big eyes, similar to European eyes. I have been told that my eyes are extremely beautiful by many people, hehe.

Lv Yan is not ugly yet definitely not beautiful in my opinion. But I agree she has a unique, not easy to forget face. I think she is popular among fashion designers because they can achieve certain styles with her, through makeup, clothing, etc. But that doesn’t mean Lv Yan is beautiful, it simply means she is popular among those fashion designers.

September 14, 2005 @ 4:42 am | Comment

By the way, I disagree with “yingying zhou”. Don’t you find that today many European models and celebs have darker skin, even darker than many Asians? Darker skin is easy to achieve through tanning products and makeup. How can you say that Asians can’t beat Europeans in term of whiteer skin since so many Europeans look darker than Asians? ๐Ÿ˜›

September 14, 2005 @ 4:48 am | Comment

Very interesting blog!

September 16, 2005 @ 3:06 am | Comment

It’s great that ugly people are considered beautiful elsewhere, but Lu Yan is really overrated because looks like that come a dime a dozen. Certain rural farming areas in China has “hot chicks” like this from home to home. There is nothing distinct about her features at all. This Western craze about her is either a fetish or just because she’s distinct / exotic. Some Chinese consider the ugliest Caucasian to be beautiful, it’s just the NEW factor. In fact, her features look very aged and not youthful at all.

April 21, 2006 @ 9:29 am | Comment

DU MA MAI! she ugly asss hell. aint suppposed to be no damn model

May 10, 2006 @ 5:13 pm | Comment

Lu Yan looks distinct from most people. You can’t deny that. I think she’s beautiful because of that. She’s the type of person I would just give a passing glance at…no more.

May 14, 2006 @ 5:34 pm | Comment

dear lu yan,

if you want visit me in europe in germany, so you are welcome!
best regards from germany
y?all me plaese: 0049.175.1453098

August 24, 2006 @ 5:56 am | Comment

Look people, ugly is ugly, only fucking wai guo ren in the states would find this bitch hot. even more ugly than lucy liu. i hate white people and there stupid ass opinons about chinese beauty

August 25, 2006 @ 9:34 pm | Comment

I happen to know her… what distinguishes her from the crowd is the energy that erades from her and her openness. Her personality is unique, in line with her appearance.

Ni “Jon” shi ben dan… q?e ba.

October 24, 2006 @ 11:04 am | Comment

I happen to know her… what distinguishes her from the crowd is the energy that erades from her and her openness. Her personality is unique, in line with her appearance.

Ni “Jon” shi ben dan… qu si le ba.

October 24, 2006 @ 11:04 am | Comment

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