China’s formerly beloved beauty livestreamer Li Jiaqi, best known by the nickname “Lipstick King”, has fallen foul of the public over the weekend after slamming a viewer who called a product too expensive.
The furore started on Saturday when Li was promoting an eyebrow pencil costing 79 RMB (10.83 USD) from the domestic brand Florasis during one of his livestreams. After one commenter balked at the price, Li retorted “How is it expensive though? Maybe you should look at yourself and ask why your salary hasn’t increased in years. Have you really been applying yourself at work?”
After suggesting viewers were too lazy to afford his recommended products, the streamer appeared increasingly exasperated, exclaiming “It’s been the same price for sooo many years! I’m honestly about to lose my mind!”
The comments did not sit well with netizens who overwhelmingly regarded them as a slight on ordinary working people from a snobbish and wealthy celebrity. “Consumers have the right to question the price of a product, but Li has no right to judge the consumers and lash out at people’s spending power” quipped one Weibo user on Sunday.
Li’s comments are especially jarring in light of China’s post-pandemic trend of “rational” consumption, marked by shoppers carefully weighing up and researching purchasing decisions to snag a satisfactory “performance to price ratio”. This trend has only become more entrenched this summer amid record-high youth unemployment and overall economic uncertainty.
The streamer followed up with an apology video two days later, calling his comments “inappropriate” as his voice wobbled and he appeared to be on the brink of tears. Acknowledging the long-time support of his mostly female viewership, Li continued, “I shouldn’t forget where I came from or lose myself. I’m sorry for disappointing you all.”
Netizens berated Li even more following the apology, seeing it as a cynical money-making tactic. One Weibo user impersonated Li, writing “Double 11 is coming up, I must come out with a fake apology because I still have to make money off you penniless bastards”. The overriding consumer sentiment following the apology is that Li revealed his true colours during the livestream and his disdain for the ordinary person cannot be forgiven.
The Weibo topic “Li Jiaqi apologises while crying” racked up 650 million views on the day it was posted, and even more incredibly the topic “Li Jiaqi says he can’t return to his old ways” amassed over 1 billion views in less than 72 hours since the offending livestream – an almost unheard-of figure in Weibo analytics. The topic has also spawned over 20,000 original posts and has remained on the hot search leaderboard for 24 consecutive hours at the time of writing.