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    The Invisible Women: China’s Middle-Aged Actresses

    Is ageism against Chinese actresses as bad as it appears? We analyzed China’s top 100 TV shows to find out.

    Ageism isn’t unique to Hollywood. In China, many actresses feel that when it comes to TV roles for women, 30 is the new 50. Some of the country’s biggest names have gone public in recent years to call out the TV industry’s discrimination against middle-aged actresses.

    “Dear directors,” said Hai Qing, the then-41-year-old star, calling three other actresses to the stage at an awards ceremony this past August, “time has given us much fortune: our experience, the wrinkles on our faces … Please give us more opportunities.”

    According to the stars, there are fewer jobs for women over 30 when compared with their male counterparts, and the female roles available are usually stereotypical supporting characters. Actresses often find themselves playing mothers and grandmothers — even when they’re only a few years older than the male actors playing their children.

    How serious is the problem? Sixth Tone analyzed the 100 most popular Chinese TV shows from the past five years to find out.

    Editor: Dominic Morgan.

    (Header image: Zhu Yuqing and Ding Yining/Sixth Tone)