Letter From Beijing

China goes hard on 'soft boys'

But campaign to get schools to expand PE lessons draws criticism from netizens

Boyband TFBoys, whose androgynous personas are borrowed from the success stories of Japanese and Korean pop idols, has won over female fans and advertisers, including those for cosmetic brands. The masculinity debate resurfaced recently after a gover
Boyband TFBoys, whose androgynous personas are borrowed from the success stories of Japanese and Korean pop idols. PHOTO: TFFANSCLUB0704/FACEBOOK
Boyband TFBoys has won over female fans and advertisers, including those for cosmetic brands. PHOTO: LIANHE WAN BAO
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BEIJING - Whenever education business owner Xiong Xiao's five-year-old son sees androgynous pop stars on TV or on billboards in Beijing, he would point to them and ask: "Why do boys wear makeup?" or "Are they boys or girls?".

Those questions worry Madam Xiong, 32, who fears her son would come under the influence of these "xiao xian rou" and become an effeminate boy.

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