Clad in a black dress and red coat, college student Wang Zifei was snapped by photographers sitting behind Obama during his townhall forum last week in Shanghai and her photos have ricocheted online, turning her into a minor Internet sensation.
She has become China’s version of the “Obama Girl,” as online forums gushed over her beauty and poise. Photos of her taking off her coat in slow motion have been uploaded and spread widely.
Even a week after Obama left China, the buzz about Wang is still going strong. The official newspaper China Daily reported Thursday that Google searches for “Obama girl in red coat” in China turned up nearly 7 million results.
Most of the comments posted online have been positive, but a number of Internet users have been less flattering, with some speculating that she had actively courted the attention. In the United States, an aspiring model and actress rose to fame as “Obama Girl” after being featured in a music video (“I Got A Crush On Obama) supporting him when he was still a candidate. The sexy video featuring Amber Lee Ettinger became a hit on YouTube.
But this Obama girl has been a reluctant celebrity. After Wang’s identity was unearthed by persistent Internet admirers, she broke her silence this week on her personal blog, saying angrily that she did not welcome the public interest.
In a piece titled “What has President Obama brought to me?,” Wang urged netizens to stop delving into her personal life.
“I don’t want to be popular in this way,” she said on her blog.
“After noticing some comments online, I thought it would soon be quiet if I kept mum about it. I even told my friends not tell anyone else my personal information. However, it turns out that my silence brings more suspicion.”
Wang, a student at Shanghai Jiaotong University, said she is studying business management. Though she has performed violin, acted in plays, and even hosted shows, she has no interest in entertainment as a career, she said. “I never wanted to go into the entertainment circle, therefore I rejected many TV stations’ offers and contracts.”
This brief bout of celebrity has “totally disturbed my study and life,” she wrote. She did not respond to an AP request for an interview.
“I’m hoping to quickly restore it to normal,” she said in her blog. “I hope that after all this I can continue to be my simple self.”