Mei Lanfang, the internationally renowned male player of female roles, astonished those who were concerned about his personal and professional well being during the Second Sino-Japanese War by growing a mustache. At the empirical level, the mustache signaled a dismissal of the androgynous glamour for which Mei’s body was best known. At the allegorical level, Mei’s wartime mustache foregrounded an unyielding and unmistakably masculine Chinese body.

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