An 80-year-old actor, artist, and grandfather is challenging the way the Chinese, and the rest of the world, view the elderly after his latest venture into modeling went viral.
Photos and videos of Wang Deshun strutting his stuff confidently down China’s Fashion Week runway quickly captivated the world and gained him the nickname, “China’s hottest grandpa.”
But while his toned body might be what everyone’s talking about, the 80-year-old’s swagger and outlook on life have gained him many admirers too. “Nature determines age, but you determine your state of mind,” Deshun told the New York Times.
Elderly But Not Old
In China, the grandfather has gained a cult-like following. The Times reported that admirers post comments like, “Grandpa, your stomach is so gorgeous! Incredibly handsome!” and have nicknamed him laoxianrou, or “old fresh meat,” which is a play on the word for a teen idol, xiaoxianrou, which translated means “young fresh meat.’’
The status he’s gained as an elder in the community is unprecedented in China — as the elderly comprise a group that is respected and doted upon. While admired greatly within the culture, China’s hottest grandpa is changing the status quo.
Attitude is Key to Deshun’s Popularity
The maverick didn’t just stumble onto the catwalk, though. Deshun told the Times he believes he might have put on China’s first fashion show back in the 1980’s — when he says fashion amongst the working class was unheard of. “I went to the city’s biggest department store and told the sales clerks, ‘Give me your nicest clothes, and I’ll organize a show.’”
In his earlier years, Deshun was a streetcar conductor. The actor-turned-model says he’s always stayed fit throughout his life, whether he was swimming as a kid or hitting the gym. He eventually went on to pursue his dream of working as an actor and eventually became a performance artist upon moving to Beijing. “People can change their life as many times as they wish,” he told the Times.
Perhaps his popularity around the world stems from just that: the fact that the young, the old, and those in between admire his zealous outlook on life, as well as how he flaunts it — and his pecs.