Through analysis of the fashion-and-beauty variety program 《女人我最大》 (English title Queen), launched in 2003 by Taiwan cable channel TVBS-G and now spreading in syndicated adaptations in China, this paper examines the pop-cultural consolidation of a new category of feminine identity: the 輕熟女 (qingshounü, lit. “young-mature woman”). Drawing on interviews with viewers conducted in Taipei in 2011, the article analyzes audience responses to the program to argue that Queen both reflects and (re)constructs a popular understanding of qingshounü as a new, transitional stage in the life cycle of femininity in urban, late-modern commodity culture. Positioned between “girl (student)” (女生) and “respectable (married) woman” (婦女) or “mama” (媽媽), the qingshounü is defined by her spending power, her relative independence from the burdens of reproductive and domestic labor, and her focus on personal pleasure and individual satisfaction.
I propose that by demarcating a woman's freedom to “live for herself” and (re)make herself within a temporary life phase, the qingshounü concept is fundamentally structured by a central ambivalence: it at once imagines postfamilial feminine identity and underscores the utopian character of such imagining in light of the still-dominant social expectation that after her youth, a woman will dedicate her energies to her family as much as or more than to herself. The uneasy coexistence of these competing frameworks marks a point of tension and negotiation between historically distinct technologies of feminine selfhood in Taiwan today.