Let’s talk about bloggers, specifically those who have a significant platform on YouTube and other outlets showcasing their talents in an authentically tasteful and classic manner. Recently I ran into several videos on YouTube from a Chinese blogger with the username 李子柒 LiZiqi. 李子柒 LiZiqi is not a beauty blogger, nor is she involved in covering celebrity gossip or showing off her latest haul from a designer brand. She does something totally different from anything I’ve seen before. Well, let me take that back! I have seen something similar on Netflix in the form of a show called Flavorful Origins season 1. This show takes viewers on a journey showcasing various dishes in the Chaoshan cuisine. It is very well edited and follows multiple ingredients and how they are prepared. The cinematography is excellent and offers a bit of autonomous sensory meridian response or ASMR for short. When the food is laid out, chopped up, fried, poured, drizzled, or manhandled, you can hear every interaction between the food and the person preparing it. These elements are what drew me to 李子柒 LiZiqi videos, while they might be drastically different from Flavorful Origins the overall aesthetics seems the same to me.
Chinese Traditional Papermaking (November 18, 2017)
The first video I had ever seen was of her making paper from start to finish. Let me start by saying she unloaded this masterpiece on 18 November 2017 and to date, it sits at 6 million views. The episode begins with her cutting down a Paper Mulberry tree, and from there she walks us through the process for about 5 minutes and 17 seconds. In the end, she accidentally rips the paper, and we see her get comically frustrated and throw it on the fire. As I watched hours of her videos, I recall seeing a video in 2017 of her making natural lipstick, eyeliner, and blush so this wasn’t the first time I had seen her work.
Since I am not engrossed in Chinese social media and culture, it was hard to find information about her printed in English with translations that weren’t confusing. Regardless, it appears that she is very popular as Wikipedia has a page with a small bit of information about her. Based on the google translations, I uncovered articles giving bits of information about her life. Many articles call her Li Zikai and describe her as a traditional quiet village girl who had to drop out of school at age 14 to support her family. It seems that her childhood was one fraught with struggles with the divorce of her parents, the death of her father and grandfather, and being forced to work to support her family. There are even stories which seem to say that she was homeless and slept in a cave under a bridge but also worked as an electrician at one point. It seems she had a big city life where she also worked as a waiter and DJ for some time, but once her grandmother became ill, she returned to her village. I am sure doing this caused her to find unique ways to support her family, which resulted in her making videos. When you hear stories like this and see what she has accomplished now, you cannot help, but want the best for her.
While I would like to say that life is drama free; Li Zikai who appears to be a simple girl making videos about cooking and traditional Chinese tools and crafts has also drawn scrutiny. As I later uncovered that just like in Western society, a person will always be judged once they put themselves in a position for public consumption. All I see here is a woman trying her best to display her talent, but others see it as something else. I uncovered talk about viewers questioning her ability to perform all the tasks she showcases and commenting about her using a team to produce her videos. I guess the overall idea is that she isn’t genuinely doing this organically. Once she was back by a larger company, then the comments got worse as they usually do once a YouTuber grows from nothing to something. I guess the haters want to believe that she is acting a part because while she is easy to look at, they think a woman of her beauty and size isn’t capable of having original thought or the ability to do what she does. This is a deplorable and silly way to view her work. I can see how gossip bloggers and makeup gurus can suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous ridicule for the mere fact that they promote vanity, self-absorbed behavior and encourages belittling others, but to do the same to Li Zikai should be a crime.
In the end, I still standby my opinion, and that’s one that shows support for Li Zikai and her work even if I am not Chinese or a part of any Asian ethnic group. I wish her the best and hope to see her move on to more prominent outlets that will respect her work and allow her to be herself.
Name: Li Zikai (LiZiqi)
YouTube Channel: 李子柒 LiZiqi https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoC47do520os_4DBMEFGg4A
DOB: 6 July 1990
Location: Pingwu, Mianyang City, Sichuan Province, China
Blogger Genre: Oriental Lifestyle Foodie