Young at heart, elderly Taiwanese couple have gone viral
I never would’ve thought at my age so many people would want to look at pictures of me,” says 84-year-old Hsu Hsiu-e. For 70 years, she and her husband, Chang Wan-ji, (83) have been washing clothes. They do laundry of the people in Houli District, Taichung City, in central Taiwan. Over the decades, hundreds of pieces of clothing have remained with them that customers had forgotten to pick up. Recently their grandson, Reef Chang, convinced them to have fun by modeling the abandoned clothes and posting the pictures on Instagram. To their surprise, their posts have become viral. Their account ‘WantShowAsYoung’ has now 130,000 followers from around the world.
Their grandson Reef Chang set up their account
Reef Chang says he wasn’t aiming to make his grandparents famous. He simply wanted to help them fight boredom as they grew old in Houli. It only has around 50,000 people. “Their business is not always busy. They would fall asleep in the shop and their spirits weren’t high. So I thought since our family has these clothes, I can remind people to pick up their clothes. And remind my grandparents their life can still be great even in old age,” he told the BBC. Reef took advice from friends with good fashion sense. He helped his grandparents mix and match shirts, blouses, and skirts, accessorizing with borrowed purses, hats and sunglasses. The grandson then took fashion magazine-worthy pictures of them posing in front of the washers and dryers in their old shop.
The Taiwanese couple have become style icons
Grandpa in shorts and shirts made him look like he was going to Havana, Cuba for holiday. Grandma dressed in blouses and skirts that show her slim figure. The looks surprised the elderly couple. “Dressed like that, I feel 30 years younger,” said Wan-ji, happily. Hsiu-e’s favourite outfit is one of her wearing a plaid skirt from her closet and blouse left behind by a customer and a hat. “I like the way I look in that outfit,” she said.
Wan-ji’s story behind the dry cleaner
Wan-ji, who started the dry cleaner at the age of 14 to help support his family, says people began leaving behind unwanted laundry in recent years when clothes became cheaper. “In the past, clothes were very expensive,” Wan-ji recalled. “When I got married, it cost an ox-cart loaded with 20 bags of rice to pay for my suit. And back then clothes were so valuable that you could take them to the pawnshop if you needed money.”
The reason people abandon their clothes
Wan-ji says some people left clothes behind because they were from out of town and forgot to pick them up when they moved. Others passed away and their families didn’t care about the laundry. Others had major changes in their lives, including a divorce that made them forget to pick up their clothes. The couple has donated hundreds of items of clothing to charities, especially after natural disasters, but they are still left with a few hundred.
The love they receive on social media from young people
They now happily listen to their grandson’s translations of people’s reactions to their posts. “You two are sooo cute, keep stylin’,” wrote a woman from London on Instagram. “Wan-ji and Hsiu-e’s love make me think it’s not so scary to grow old,” another fan wrote. What makes the couple happiest is inspiring others to think that age is no obstacle to looking trendy and having fun. “Many people are not really old, it’s just their heart is old. They say they don’t have any energy and they rest and rest till their health declines,” said Hsiu-e.