Beauty Influencers on Short Video Platform Kwai: The Postfeminist Media Culture in Rural China


  • Mingyi Hou Tilburg University



postfeminism, rurality, Chinese social media, short video platform, Kwai, E-commerce


This study explores the postfeminist media culture in rural China. Existing studies mainly focus on subjects of young and single female professionals who work and live in metropolitan areas in China. The cultural symbols and the socioeconomic structure pertaining to urban localities hence become a context for Chinese postfeminism. Responding to a call for opening the postfeminism concept for intersectional and transnational interrogation, this study draws attention to how social media platforms and the state-supported E-commerce industry are complicating the gendered live experiences in rural China. As China’s second-generation social media, the short video platform Kwai (TikTok-like platform) attracts an initial user base from smaller cities and rural areas. Many housewives become beauty influencers on this platform where they film makeup transformation videos and sell beauty products. This digital ethnographic study examines the multimodal discursive features of these videos and explores the influencers’ business model. The findings reveal that the influencer culture manifests postfeminist sensibilities featured with a discourse of duality. Self-fashioning and economic independence are expressed as a remedy for and vigilance towards the failed patriarchal marriage. Rural women are suggested to both adhere to traditional family values and maintain autonomy. The influencers’ business model provides a seeming solution to such a double requirement. Followers are encouraged to join the influencers’ entrepreneur project, however, the multi-level marketing model behind this project only benefits the already established influencers.