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Model Wang Deshun reshapes China’s views on ageing

Before cranking up the techno at his 80th birthday party, the man known as China's hottest grandpa paused from his D.J. duties to poke fun at the staid traditional celebrations for the elderly in a country that venerates old age.

在自己80岁的生日派对上,这位被称为中国"最帅爷爷"的老人亲自担任DJ,在把音响开大之前,他先拿这个尊崇老人的国家为老人们举办的古板的传统庆祝活动开玩笑。

"I should wear a long robe, with the word 'longevity' embroidered on the front," the birthday boy, Wang Deshun, said at his party in September. Far from looking old and frail, the silver-haired actor, model and artist wore a crisp white shirt and black jeans, his back straight and his eyes glittering with humor.

"我应该穿着长袍,正面绣着'长寿'两字,"生日老人王德顺在9月份为他举办的聚会上说。这个银发的演员、模特和艺术家穿着一件洁净挺括的白衬衫和一条黑色牛仔裤,他的背很直,眼睛闪烁着幽默,看上去没有一点衰老的样子。 

"Two young maidens should help me into an old-style wooden chair," he continued, pretending to dodder. "On a table in front of me there should be peaches," a symbol of longevity, "and my students should kowtow, wishing me a good birthday."

"两个年轻的姑娘应该扶着我坐到一个旧式的木椅上,"他一边装出步履蹒跚的样子、一边继续说着。"我前面的桌子上应该摆着桃子,"那是长寿的象征,"我的学生应该给我磕头,祝我生日快乐。"

"So, what am I doing today? My students from 30 years ago are putting on a fashion show, and I'm the D.J.," he said, signaling the start of the show with a thudding techno mix.

"但你们看我今天在做什么?我30年前的学生在办一个时装秀,而我是DJ,"他说。随着一段砰砰响的电子混音,时装秀开始了。

Determined to avoid mental and physical stagnation, Mr. Wang has constantly explored new skills and ideas while devoting ample time to daily exercise. Last year, at 79, he walked the runway for the first time, his physique at his age causing a national sensation. He takes obvious joy in subverting China's image of what it means to be old.

王德顺下决心不陷入心理和身体的停滞,他一直在不断探索新技能和新想法,同时每天拿出充足的时间锻炼身体。去年,79岁的他第一次上了T台,他在这个年龄的体格在全国引起了轰动。他显然为颠覆了中国人心目中老年人的形象而感到喜悦。

And old age in China begins relatively early. The legal retirement age for women is 50 for workers and 55 for civil servants, and 60 for most men. Mr. Wang is having none of that.

中国人的老年开始得相对要早。女性的法定退休年龄为50岁,女公务员为55岁,对大多数男性来说,退休年龄为60岁。王德顺全然不顾这一切。

"One way to tell if you're old or not is to ask yourself, Do you dare try something you've never done before?" he said in a recent interview at a Beijing hotel.

"判断你老不老的方法之一是问问你自己,你还敢尝试你从未做过的事情吗?"他在北京一家酒店接受采访时说。

"It's about your state of mind. It's not about age," he said. "Nature determines age, but you determine your state of mind."

"这是关于你的心态,而不是关于你的年龄,"他说。"大自然决定年龄,但你决定你的心态。"

Being older in China typically means being respected, but also, often, sentimentalized. Someone as young as 50 may be addressed as "yeye" or "nainai" — grandpa or grandma — regardless of whether they have offspring. Retirement homes are known as "respect elder homes."

在中国,年长通常意味着受尊重,但这种尊重也点过分渲染。年龄只有50岁的人可能被称为"爷爷"或"奶奶",不管他们是否有后代。退休后住的地方被称为"敬老院"。

Mr. Wang has not escaped being called grandpa — he has two children and a 2-year-old granddaughter — but the honorific is accompanied by accolades for his vigor and embrace of the new.

王德顺未能逃脱被称为爷爷,他有两个孩子和一个2岁的孙女,但这个称呼也伴随着对他的活力和接受新生事物的赞誉。

"Mr. Wang's attitude is very much needed today," said Lu Jiehua, a sociologist at the Center for Healthy Aging and Development Studies at Peking University.

"如今非常需要王先生这样的态度,"北京大学健康老龄与发展研究中心社会学家陆杰华说。

"Many old people drop contact with the outside world and curtail their involvement in society, which is dangerous," Mr. Lu said in an interview. "Providing elders with opportunities to be active in society is as important as caring well for them."

"许多老年人放弃了与外界的接触,减少了他们的社会参与,这很危险,"陆杰华在接受采访时说。"为老年人提供积极参加社会活动的机会,与很好地照顾他们同样重要。"

"China's hottest grandpa," as many call him, was born in the northeastern city of Shenyang in 1936, one of nine children of a cook and a stay-at-home mother. At 14, a year after the Communist Party came to power in 1949, he began working as a streetcar conductor.

被许多人称为"中国最帅爷爷"的王德顺,1936年出生在东北城市沈阳,他是九个孩子之一,父亲是厨师,母亲是家庭主妇。他在14岁那年,也就是共产党1949年上台一年之后,开始当有轨电车的售票员。

"I liked acting, singing, dancing, playing musical instruments so much that I joined my work unit's band," he said. At the Workers' Cultural Palace in Shenyang, he took free lessons in singing, acting and dancing. He later took a job at a military factory and joined its art troupe. Sometimes they entertained soldiers.

"我喜欢表演、唱歌、跳舞、演奏乐器,所以我参加了工作单位的乐队,"他说。他在沈阳工人文化宫接受过免费的演唱、表演和舞蹈培训。他后来到了一家军工厂工作,加入了部队的文工团。有时他们为士兵表演。

"Even if there was just one sentry, say, at the top of a hill, like once in Dalian, we'd surround him and perform," Mr. Wang said.

"即使只有一个哨兵,比如有一次在大连的一个山顶上,我们也会围着他演出,"王德顺说。

Radio, film and theater work followed. In the early 1980s, Mr. Wang, who would later teach runway modeling at a Beijing fashion school, staged what he believes was the first modeling show in the northeastern city of Changchun.

后来他还参加了广播、电影和戏剧工作。20世纪80年代初,王德顺在北京时装学校教模特如何走T台,他还举办过他认为是东北城市长春首次举办的模特表演。

By 49, Mr. Wang was eager to move to Beijing, China's cultural capital. He wanted to be a "living sculpture." He also needed money.

49岁时,王德顺很想搬到中国的文化中心北京去。他想成为一个"活雕塑"。他也需要钱。

He began working out, determined to have a lithely muscled body that would allow him to interact, almost naked and covered in metallic paint, with copies of Auguste Rodin's and Camille Claudel's sculptures of women. The idea, he said, came from his wife, Zhao Aijuan. The two have been married for 48 years.

他开始形体训练,决心练就一副肌肉发达的身体,这能让他用几乎赤裸、只涂有金属色的身体,与奥古斯特•罗丹和卡米尔•克劳德雕塑的女性塑像副本搭档。他说,这个想法来自他的妻子赵爱娟。他们两人已经结婚48年了。

Last year, at age 79, he appeared bare-chested in a fashion show in Beijing's 798 arts district featuring designs by Hu Sheguang.

去年79岁时,他光着上身出现在北京798艺术区时装秀上,展示了胡社光的设计。

His appearance on the runway earned him a cultlike following. Some fans call him laoxianrou (老鲜肉) — "old fresh meat," a play on the word for teen idol: xiaoxianrou (小鲜肉), or "young fresh meat.''

他在T台上的亮相为他赢得一种类似崇拜的追捧。有些粉丝称他为"老鲜肉",这种说法用了青少年偶像"小鲜肉"的说法。

So has old fresh meat replaced young fresh meat?

"老鲜肉"取代了年轻的"小鲜肉"吗?

Perhaps not, but Mr. Wang is a phenomenon. Not just for his physicality — notable in a society where men rarely highlight their beauty — but also for the example he sets in a society that is growing older fast.

也许还没有,但王德顺代表了一种现象。不仅是因为他的体格,虽然这在一个男人很少突出他们的美的社会值得引起注意,也因为他为一个正在快速老龄化的社会树立了榜样。

"People can change their life as many times as they wish," he said. Having a goal is important, which is why he constantly learns new things.

"人们可以按照自己的意愿改变自己的生活,"他说。有一个目标很重要,这就是为什么他不断地学习新东西的原因。

For Mr. Wang, fulfillment comes in many forms: acting, modeling, exercising and creating art.

对王德顺来说,可以用多种形式得到满足:表演、当模特、锻炼,再就是艺术创造。

And one day soon, he said, parachuting. That's the plan.

不久的将来还有跳伞,他说。这是计划。

Source: newyorktimes

2016-11-08

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