Parents slammed for forcing heavily overweight 3-year-old daughter to gobble plates of food for social media likes
A Chinese couple is facing intense backlash after allegedly forcing their little daughter to perform eating shows online and exploiting her to make money.
The three-year-old girl, nicknamed Pei Qi, appeared to be heavily overweight in viral footage and pictures that showed her gobbling plates of food for the camera, the Daily Mail reported.
Her parents were criticized by millions of social media users after they shared the content online, with allegations that they were "abusing their daughter" and "using her as a cash cow."
Screenshots of Pei Qi's eating videos went viral on the internet and sparked heated discussions on Chinese social media this week, per the British newspaper. It later emerged that Pei Qi's mother had been uploading videos of her daughter since 2018.
Footage shared on Xigua Video, a Chinese streaming platform, shows the little girl sitting in front of the camera while consuming sizeable portions of noodles, dumplings, or cake.
According to the report, the clips used a similar concept as Mukbang – a social media trend that originated in South Korea and translates to "eating broadcast."
Pei Qi's videos are said to be very popular among the masses, with several of them garnering more than half a million views. You can see screenshots here.
Netizens first raised concerns when they noticed the three-year-old child looked much larger than her peers, and the title of one recent upload claimed that Pei Qi weighed 84lbs. In one video, per local media reports, Pei Qi allegedly begged parents to "stop feeding her" but "her plate was immediately filled again."
The concerning incident started trending in no time on apps like Weibo, the Chinese equivalent to Twitter. Millions of users on the platform accused the parents of exploiting their daughter to generate revenue.
"The parents are using the child as a cash cow. They don’t care about the child’s health and wellbeing at all!" one reportedly wrote.
"This is child abuse! Some people don’t deserve to be parents. This is making me so angry!" another added.
"The authorities need to investigate this and severely punish the parents. Are you sure they are the birth parents?" a third chimed in.
Following the deafening uproar on social media, the little girl's channel was removed from the video-sharing site.
Responding to the outrage, Pei Qi's parents have strongly denied the accusations. According to them, their daughter had been healthy throughout and they filmed the videos just for fun.
"Our videos not only included her eating food, as well her losing weight and dancing," the mother told reporters. "[She’s] my birth child, why would I intentionally feed her that much? She has always been a big child."
Meanwhile, Pei Qi's father admitted to Chinese media that they "did make a little bit of profit, maybe a few hundred yuan, but that is just a number to us."
That said, the All-China Women’s Federation has reportedly launched an investigation into the incident. Officials from the organization -- that protects the rights and welfare of women and children -- told Chinese media that the family lived Guangzhou of southern China and a local branch is investigating the matter.