While still technically in its infancy, the vlogging (video content) industry is incredibly competitive, but while some creators rely on tech or entertainment skills to capture viewers’ attention, one young girl from rural China has become an international star by filming herself perform daily chores.
Li Ziqi is often referred to as an internet phenomenon in China. The 29-year-old not only has millions of dedicated fans in her home country, as well as the approval of the Chinese government for promoting Chinese traditional values, but she has also amassed a following of millions outside her country’s borders. And she’s done it all by gracefully leveraging an impressive array of skills that range from cooking to furniture making, while painting a perfect fairy tale image for her audience. And in a time when Chinese viewers are getting more fed up with work stress and pollution every day, Li Ziqi provides the perfect escape.
“In today’s society, many people feel stressed,” the 29-year-old vlogger acknowledged in a rare interview with SCMP. “So when they watch my videos at the end of a busy day, I want them to relax and experience something nice, to take away some of their anxiety and stress.”
Chinese rural-themed vlogging channels are a dime a dozen though, so why is Li Ziqi the only one registering this kind of incredible success (around 58 million subscribers across various streaming platforms)? Well, it certainly has something to do with her looks, and the fairy-tale quality and vibe of her videos deserves some credit, but mostly it’s her impressive array of skills and the uncharacteristic slow pace that dazzle her fans.
Most other vloggers rely on explosive content and lots of editing when producing their videos, but Li Ziqi likes to take things slow. She has been applauded for giving the phrase “from scratch” a whole new meaning, and there is definitely some truth to that. For example, when making her salted duck sauce recipe, she started out by hatching baby ducklings, which then grew up enough to lay their own eggs which were then used to make the sauce. Or when she set out to make a winter cloak for herself, she started out by cleaning the sheep wool, turning it into yarn, dying it with fruit based dye, and finally knitting the coat. Everything happens at a slow pace and people love it.
Another interesting thing about Li Ziqi is that she really lives in a remote Sichuan village with her grandmother. She grew up with her grandparents after her stepmother mistreated her, but at age 14 she went to the city to find work. But life in the big city wasn’t she had hoped it would be, and in 2012 she went back to rural Sichuan to look after her grandmother, who stars in many of her videos.
Li ZIqi says that she set out filming herself doing all kinds of chores out of a desire to show city people where their food comes from and how it can be cooked traditionally. She told SCMP that one of the things that first inspired her was one of her teacher friends telling her that some students thought rice grew from trees. So she decided to educate people by filming herself perform all kinds of things she had learned growing up in the country.
At first she was a one-girl team, setting the camera on a tripod on in trees, and showing off her skills in front of it, but despite her limited skills people liked her content and kept coming back for more. He content first went viral in 2016, and since then she has been getting millions of new followers every year. She now has an assistant and a videographer helping her, and it shows, but the vibe of her videos has remained the same, and she says she still directs everything herself.
“She displays a happy, rustic countryside life and sends out positive energy,” one fan praised Li Ziqi. “Watching her videos reduces my pressure and makes me feel comfortable and relaxed. The scenes in her videos are very beautiful.”
“Whether you question her or not, what she shows is traditional culture,” someone else wrote.
Li Ziqi will be the first to tell you that she is romanticizing her rural life, but is allowing her audience to indulge in a fantasy world, away from the stress of daily life, for a few minutes a day a bad thing? Some would say yes, claiming that she is promoting a false image, but compared to other popular vloggers on YouTube these day, I’d say she’s actually a model worth following.
With coverage of her fairy-tale portrayal of rural life in China growing every year, Li Ziqi is set to become an even bigger international star; not too shabby for any Chinese, let alone one from rural Sichuan.
Credit: Oddity Central.