Chinese Actress Apologises For Being “Too Ugly” In New Drama

Chinese actress Mao Xiaohui, widely recognized for her roles in various wuxia dramas, found herself thrust into the harsh spotlight of public scrutiny on January 19. The 27-year-old actress, celebrated for her portrayal of the demon Meng Li in the latest installment of “The Legend of Sword and Fairy 4,” unexpectedly took to her Weibo account to issue a heartfelt apology in response to relentless criticism from netizens regarding her on-screen appearance.

The Unexpected Apology Amid Criticism

Xiaohui’s unexpected public apology was triggered by the disappointment expressed by viewers who found fault with her performance as Meng Li. The criticisms ranged from accusations of a lackluster and lifeless portrayal, with some even suggesting that her character seemed visually impaired due to her seemingly unexpressive eyes.

Dissonance Between Expectation and Reality

Complicating matters further was the significant dissonance between promotional stills of Xiaohui and her actual on-screen appearance. The promotional materials underwent heavy editing, presenting the actress in a considerably altered and arguably unrealistic light, fueling the dissatisfaction among the audience.

Weight Struggles and Beauty Standards

In her initial apology post, Xiaohui courageously addressed the criticisms head-on, expressing remorse for being perceived as “too ugly.” She candidly shared her personal struggles with weight, revealing that despite her efforts to lose weight for the role, she still felt unsatisfied with her on-screen appearance. Her poignant question, “Why is it so hard to lose weight?,” touches on the pervasive beauty standards that actors, particularly women, face in the entertainment industry.

Emotional Updates Reflecting Personal Turmoil

Following her initial apology, Xiaohui continued to update her social media with a series of emotionally charged messages. From expressing deep disappointment with her own performance to humorously suggesting that viewers should treat it as a radio drama and only watch when other actors are on screen, these updates shed light on the toll that public criticism can take on an individual’s mental and emotional well-being.

The Persistent Criticism Overlooks Talent

This incident is not the first time Xiaohui has faced harsh criticism for her appearance. In her prior role as Xiao Long Nu in the 2022 adaptation of “The Legend of the Condor Heroes,” she was similarly targeted for not meeting conventional beauty standards. Critics argued that she consistently portrayed characters described as beautiful, despite not aligning with their expectations.

Broader Issues in the Entertainment Industry

Xiaohui’s experience prompts a broader examination of the entertainment industry’s reliance on unrealistic beauty standards. The incident highlights the pressure placed on actors to conform to these standards and the detrimental impact of social media criticism on mental health. It calls for a more compassionate and understanding approach towards artists navigating the complex landscape of public perception.

The Toll on Personal Well-being

The repeated attacks on Xiaohui’s appearance have undeniably taken a toll on her mental and emotional well-being. Her public expressions of sadness, frustration, and self-deprecation underscore the human side of public figures, reminding us that they too grapple with insecurities and vulnerabilities.

Reflecting on Audience Responsibility

This incident raises questions about the responsibility of audiences in shaping the discourse around actors’ appearances. It encourages reflection on the impact of online criticism on mental health and the need for a more empathetic and supportive approach toward individuals in the public eye.

Industry Accountability

Additionally, the incident calls for greater industry accountability in promoting diversity and challenging conventional beauty norms. It prompts a reevaluation of casting decisions, image editing practices, and the overall impact of industry expectations on the well-being of actors.

Conclusion: A Call for Empathy and Understanding

In conclusion, Mao Xiaohui’s public apology unveils the intricate challenges faced by actors in the entertainment industry. It prompts a crucial conversation about beauty standards, the power dynamics between audiences and performers, and the toll of constant scrutiny on mental health. As we consume entertainment content, it is imperative to approach it with empathy and understanding, recognizing the humanity behind the characters portrayed on screen. The incident serves as a poignant reminder that every individual, regardless of their public persona, deserves compassion and respect.


Q1: Why did Mao Xiaohui issue a public apology?

A1: Mao Xiaohui issued a public apology in response to relentless criticism from netizens regarding her on-screen appearance in the Chinese wuxia drama “The Legend of Sword and Fairy 4.” Viewers expressed dissatisfaction with her portrayal of the demon Meng Li, citing perceived lack of energy, lifeless eyes, and a monotonous performance.

Q2: What specific criticisms did Mao Xiaohui face?

A2: Critics focused on several aspects of Xiaohui’s performance, including accusations of listlessness and lifelessness in her portrayal of Meng Li. Some even speculated that her character appeared visually impaired. Additionally, there were comments about Xiaohui having the same expression in every scene, and dissatisfaction with her perceived lack of charisma and beauty compared to the character’s description.

Q3: Why did Xiaohui mention her weight in the apology?

A3: In her apology post, Xiaohui addressed the criticisms about her appearance, including being perceived as “too ugly.” She candidly shared her struggles with weight, mentioning that she had gone on a diet and lost weight for the role, but still felt unsatisfied with her on-screen appearance. This highlights the pervasive beauty standards actors, especially women, face in the entertainment industry.

Q4: What role did edited stills play in the controversy?

A4: Promotional stills for the drama underwent heavy editing, presenting Xiaohui in a significantly altered appearance compared to her actual portrayal in the show. This created a dissonance between the promotional materials and the on-screen reality, contributing to viewer dissatisfaction and criticism.

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