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Turning leaks into liberation

(ANN/THE CHINA DAILY) – “When you see water dripping like this, it’s usually a sign there’s an issue with the rubber hose,” says Lulu (pseudonym) in one of her popular faucet repair videos. This tutorial is part of her Bilibili channel, “Tutorials for Independent Girls.”

Since May, Lulu’s channel has skyrocketed from a few dozen subscribers to over 430,000. Her content focuses on maintenance and home improvement tips for women living alone, a demographic she is passionate about empowering.

Lulu’s rise in popularity reflects a broader societal trend. According to the 2023 China Statistical Yearbook, single-person households make up 16.77 per cent of all households in China.

A 2021 report by the Beike Institution predicts that the number of young adults aged 20 to 39 living alone will increase from 18 million in 2010 to up to 70 million by 2030.

PHOTO: ANN/THE CHINA DAILY

Lulu’s relatable and easy-to-follow tutorials offer invaluable support to this growing demographic, proving that self-reliance in home maintenance is within everyone’s reach.

“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.”

However, Lulu faces controversy because some criticise 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 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.

Lulu showcases all her tools for fixing household appliances. PHOTO: ANN/THE CHINA DAILY

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.

“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.

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