Carman Lee opens up experiencing discrimination as single and childless woman

By Nguyen Huong   April 5, 2024 | 05:00 am PT
Hong Kong actress Carman Lee, famed for “The Return of the Condor Heroes,” has disclosed her encounters with criticism for being single and child-free at the age of 58.
Hong Kong actress Carman Lee. Photo from Lees Weibo

Hong Kong actress Carman Lee. Photo from Lee's Weibo

According to Sinchew, Lee was present at the 2024 Female Influence Awards in Shanghai on Tuesday, where she was honored and also served as a guest speaker. During the event, she highlighted the challenges she has experienced in her life’s journey.

"Encumbered by societal expectations placed upon women, subjected to harmful media portrayals of being an older woman devoid of a husband and children, and facing the judgmental gaze of society, I questioned if I truly embodied such a failure," she said.

Lee also discussed her battle with depression in 2009, a challenging period marked by the end of a decade-long relationship and the loss of her father.

Describing her relationship with depression, Lee said: "It was as though we [Lee and her depression] were in a relationship, enduring hardships, arguments, periods of silence, escapades, and living together, until we finally separated amicably."

At her depression’s pinnacle, she recounted spending an entire week secluded at home, even neglecting basic hygiene practices such as brushing her teeth, bathing, and combing her hair. She described her state during this time as robotic, where she performed only fundamental activities like eating, sleeping, and breathing.

"Nothing else seemed of significance to me in the world," she shared.

The actress then turned to physical fitness as a means of escape, which she praises as critical in her recovery from the depths of despair.

In reflection of her experiences, Lee imparted to those gathered: "It is crucial for women to remain autonomous, irrespective of their circumstances."

"Even in solitude, one must sustain their zest for life and determination to thrive," she emphasized.

Before embarking on a career in the entertainment sector, Lee was employed as a flight attendant for the Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific. Her inaugural foray into acting was in 1990.

Her role as Xiao Long Nu, the fictional lead female character from Chinese author Jin Yong’s wuxia (martial arts) novel "The Return of the Condor Heroes," in the 1995 TV adaptation of the novel, has received widespread acclaim. This includes praise from the author himself, who has stated that Lee is the actress who personifies Xiao Long Nu in his mind’s eye.

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