Most of the news we receive about China in the States is baaaaaaaaad news. And almost all of that news pertains to the Chinese government, making it easy to forget that there are actually people in the People’s Republic. Who are these people? What are their hopes and dreams? What kind of music do they listen to? What do they wear?
The last question, at least, has its answer in Stylites in Beijing, a two year-old street-style blog by Nels Frye that I only recently discovered, much to my delight. Back in the mid-90′s, when I was teaching in China, Beijing was pretty cool and cutting-edge compared to the rest of the country, but it was still rare-ish to see people there with unique style. I was rocking a Jenny Shimizu buzzcut and regrettably dark lipstick at the time, and most people mistook me for either a boy–despite the lipstick!–or Japanese (because looking different equaled Japanese, apparently). I definitely stuck out like a shorn thumb.
But the times, they are a’changing, and Frye is documenting it all. What I love about Stylites, though, is that it doesn’t just show fabulous people roaming the narrow hutongs of Beijing, it tells mini-stories of their lives, why they’re in Beijing, what their professions are, what they’re shopping for in the food markets, regular people-stuff that you’re just not going to hear about on CNN.
And that is very good news indeed.
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