Profile: A life in beauty: portraying a bright future with hair scissors
CHONGQING, May 23 (Xinhua) -- Nie Feng has cut off around 1,800 km of hair throughout her career, roughly the distance from Beijing to the 29-year-old hairdresser's hometown in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality.
With more than 100 combs worn and thousands of head moulds practiced, Nie is a gold medalist in the WorldSkills Competition, a vocational skills excellence event hailed as the "Skills Olympics."
Like many teenagers, young Nie would always make sure to keep up with the latest trends. "The head can be broken but the hairstyle can't be messy" was her favorite line. In 2007, while still a junior high school student, she stepped inside a barber shop and spent half of her monthly pocket money on her first ionic perm.
"I was a huge fan of styling shows at that time. Hairstyles could vary in the magical hands of hairdressers and I couldn't stop imagining that one day I could give people a makeover like they did," Nie said.
Driven by her interest and the pursuit of her passion, Nie went to Chongqing Wuyi Technician College to study hairdressing after junior high.
"My academic performance was average, so I decided to learn something more practical and something I really like," Nie said.
To improve her skills quickly, Nie did after-class training in her teacher's studio, practicing at least 12 hours a day, with few breaks throughout the year.
Arduous efforts pushed her to hone her skills. Nie soon stood out from her peers and represented her school in 2011 for the qualification trials of the 41st WorldSkills Competition.
"While with the national team, I had the opportunity to meet the world's top hair technicians for the first time as well as skilled masters who can turn a hairstyle into a work of art," Nie said. "My skills were rough but I believe diligence makes up for dullness. For every hour I spent in class, I would practice for 10 hours on my own."
Though not being selected that year, Nie said her mind and skills both greatly benefited from the experience, which helped her prepare for the competition in the next four years. In 2015, Nie represented China for the 43rd WorldSkills Competition, becoming the country's first gold medalist in the hairdressing championship.
"Standing on the highest step of a world class podium and looking toward a bright future with hair scissors, I want more students to know that with hard work, all roads lead to Rome," said the stylist.
In 2016, a national-level skill master studio named after Nie was established, which can provide teaching services for up to 120 students majoring in hairdressing every year, with the trainees achieving excellent results in various competitions at home and abroad.
"I hope to introduce the standards of the WorldSkills Competition into teaching, train more technical talents in line with international standards, and promote the development of vocational education and the whole industry," Nie said, adding that she also dreams of integrating Chinese elements into the international standards of the industry in the future.