Published: 11:09, July 10, 2024
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Empowering solo living
By Li Xinran

DIY tutorial channel teaches practical skills for independent living and challenges gender stereotypes, empowering a growing audience of young women.

Lulu showcases all her tools for fixing household appliances. (PHOTO / PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

"When you see water dripping like this, it usually means there's something wrong with the rubber hose," Lulu (pseudonym) explained in a video on fixing faucet leaks.

The video was posted on her channel, "Tutorials for Independent Girls", on the Chinese platform Bilibili. Since May, Lulu has been regularly updating her content, and her subscriber count has grown from a few dozen to over 430,000.

Focused on maintenance and improving functionality for women living alone, Lulu primarily shares videos catering to this demographic. She has been creating similar content on other platforms for several years, but the topic has only recently gained significant popularity.

According to the 2023 China Statistical Yearbook, one-person households now make up 16.77 percent of all households. A 2021 report by the Beike Institution, which studies the internet and housing market, projects that the number of young adults aged 20 to 39 living alone is expected to increase from 18 million in 2010 to between 40 million and 70 million in 2030.

Even if you want to believe women are no less capable than men, the reality is that women often face distinct and sometimes greater challenges in society

"There's a growing demand for tutorial videos of household repair tasks," Lulu said. "I've been living alone for 13 years, and I've learned how to fix many things. My hope is to help as many people as possible, especially girls."

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However, Lulu faces controversy because some criticize her for potentially stirring gender divides by only targeting "girls" as the channel's name indicates.

"I didn't choose this name to attract attention or create gender division but to make sure that my videos reach my target audience more easily via algorithms," Lulu clarified.

"Even if you want to believe women are no less capable than men, the reality is that women often face distinct and sometimes greater challenges in society."

Lulu drew from her own experience as an example. She has had a passion for dismantling machines and gadgets since childhood, though her parents had different ideas. "Growing up, my parents often told me what girls should or shouldn't do. However, I believe I should be the one choosing what to learn," she said.

She decided to teach herself useful skills that her parents and society hadn't encouraged her to learn. Although video platforms weren't as vibrant 10 years ago as they are now, there were still basic instructional videos available online.

Lulu feels a strong sense of responsibility as a content creator.

"Most of my followers are Gen Zers who are just starting out in the world. Although not all repair tasks are familiar to me at first, I'm committed to learning and practicing so that I can master them and confidently teach my followers," she said.

Lulu (pseudonym) fixes a ceiling fan light in her apartment. (PHOTO / PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

Lulu admitted that she has faced failures too. Once, she tried to connect a washing machine by converting a single faucet into a dual outlet faucet and made a mistake. She had to hire a professional to fix it, during which she learned the correct method. "Learning is a process for everyone, including myself," she said.

In fact, Lulu has recently been studying for an electrician certificate to expand her knowledge and provide more diverse content for her audience.

She acknowledges that electrical maintenance can be dangerous, and her followers may not be able to replicate it themselves. "They may still need professional assistance, but understanding the basics can save them money and trouble when hiring someone else to do the job," she said.

Lulu's most viewed video to date, posted on May 6, shows how to replace a car's windshield washer fluid and it has garnered over 774,000 views. In the video, Lulu not only demonstrates the procedure but also shares useful tips, such as recommending freeze-proof washer fluid for those living in northern China, where temperatures can drop below freezing in winter.

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"Some comments question why I teach such basic tasks or if it's even worth making a video about them," Lulu said. "I admit that some of the tasks are simple, but the truth is that many girls find them intimidating because they are not familiar with gadget internals."

Lulu mentioned that she's not naturally comfortable on camera but decided to film videos to inspire other girls with the message that "we can do it".

Lulu spoke of one follower who said that she, too, had faced discouragement and criticism from her parents and society. She even began to wonder whether being a girl inherently meant she wasn't capable of fixing machines in the first place.

"I was heartened to know that watching my videos gave her the confidence to try," said Lulu.

While her channel aims to empower women, Lulu noted that some male followers also watch and learn from her, even addressing her as "sis".

"I welcome everyone to engage and communicate with me. I enjoy learning and growing alongside my followers," she said.