88-year-old grandma has become China's fashion icon
Updated 17:47, 08-Dec-2018
CGTN
03:51

CGTN

CGTN

Sheng Ruiling, 88, is an active senior model.

Photo courtesy of Sheng Ruilin

Photo courtesy of Sheng Ruilin

Senior models are not a rare group at the online shopping sites. Unlike other peers, however, Sheng can also be seen with celebrities together on fashion magazine covers, which makes her one of the few best senior models in China.

She stepped into the modeling industry in her 70s.

Being in the medical field, her job had nothing to do with fashion. In the 1960s, she and her husband went to work in Tibet Autonomous Region's Nagqu City for 12 years. It is China's highest city with an altitude of 4000 meters. She often rode on the horseback to the patients on emergency calls. Being an internist, she had to work as a general practitioner and nurse whenever they were short of hands. The problematic environment made her quite introversive, yet with a persistent disposition.

Before (left) and after(right) Sheng started her workout routine.  /Photo courtesy of Sheng Ruiling

Before (left) and after(right) Sheng started her workout routine.  /Photo courtesy of Sheng Ruiling

After retirement, she's sustained a wrist injury in a car accident. Being bed-ridden for three months, she ate all kinds of nutritious food as per her family's wish. She stood up again, at the expense of both her shape and her health, with diabetes. 

"I was so upset that I didn't want to get out anymore, didn't feel like doing anything," she says. She didn't bother to dress up, "because life was boring."

Her children decided that things had to change. They encouraged Sheng to lose weight and keep fit. When she started to work out, she couldn't endure the tough tasks. Then when she found that fast walk suited her, she walked 6000 to 10,000 steps per day, which helped her lose 10 kg (22 pounds) in one month.

Sheng seen working out at the gym.  /Photo courtesy of Sheng Ruiling

Sheng seen working out at the gym.  /Photo courtesy of Sheng Ruiling

Sheng's son is a photographer, who frequently sends photos to newspapers and magazines. Sheng offered to do the courier job so that she could walk more. "I can fast walk anywhere. No matter the distance, I can get there on foot with the address and the phone number," says Sheng.

After getting back in shape, Sheng' health and complexion improved. As she got acquainted with the agency, the art editor offered her the chance. She gladly accepted it and became the cover girl of the magazine Elderly Chinese.

Sheng feels younger working as a professional model: "I do see the wrinkles in the mirror, knowing that I am old. But other than that, I feel like a young girl."

Photo courtesy of Sheng Ruiling

Photo courtesy of Sheng Ruiling

Models may look fancy in public, but it's a demanding job. Although at such an old age, Sheng always works as if she did when she was young, with persistence and meticulosity. "Sometimes I have to change nearly 100 clothes in a day for the photo shoots. So I get up at five or six o'clock in the morning, leave at seven, and get back home at about seven or eight in the evening."

Aside from posing for advertisements, she also takes part in some TV dramas. "It is far more interesting than when I was a physician," she says. She is more than happy to try different jobs.

Photo courtesy of Sheng Ruiling

Photo courtesy of Sheng Ruiling

Being a model for over a decade, and after taking part in more than 400 advertisements, Sheng feels that beauty is not the most important thing for the modeling career. "What matters is the spirit of a senior," she says. "I'm not doing it for a living, but for myself to be happy. So I look really positive in the photos."

"I'm too busy being beautiful, I don't have time to grow old." This fashionable old woman perfectly interprets the vitality of an ageless flower that has just started blooming.

Photo courtesy of Sheng Ruiling

Photo courtesy of Sheng Ruiling

Director:Zhou Qiansa

Editor:Lu Gengrui, Gao Xingzi

Filmed by: Wang Yunfei

Designer:Qu Bo

Article Written by: Zhu Siqi

Editor: Keely Stanley

Producer:Wen Yaru

Chief Editor: Pei Jian

Supervisor:Pang Xinhua

The story is one in The 1.3 Billion series exploring the diverse lives that make up China.

The story is one in The 1.3 Billion series exploring the diverse lives that make up China.