Meet Produce Pandas, China’s First Plus-Sized Boyband

Sick of the skinny bodies and perfect faces of K-pop boybands like BTS? Looking for something more ordinary? Check out Produce Pandas, China’s first chubby boyband.

As their band name suggest, the five members of Produce Pandas all resemble cute pandas – “huggable, chubby shape, relaxed and happy attitude. At least that’s lead dancer Mr 17 claims. Although their mission is very similar to that of the hundreds of cookie cutter boybands in China – to promote positivity and act as good role models – they have adopted a very different look. Instead of the anime-inspired looks and eyeliner usually associated with Asian boybands, Panda Produce members just look like average joes, and that’s apparently by design.

“This is a plus-sized, all-singing, all-dancing idol band, which has never been seen before in the whole world,” Mr. 17 said.

The five members of Produce Pandas were selected out of 300 candidates and were  put through a grueling regimen for several months before their debut, last summer. Some of them got injured, and one member, Husky, actually passed out, which prompted management to hire a team of trainers and physical therapists, just like professional athletes have. The work paid off though, as their debut single ‘La la la’ was a massive success, both in China and abroad.

Otter, DING, Mr 17, Cass and Husky not only look different than most boybands, they are also significantly older than other boyband members, on average. Aged between 22 and 31, the five plus-sized boys would all be considered veterans by industry standards.

To be a part of China’s first plus-sized boyband, the five members of Produce Pandas gave up their steady jobs and some even risked disownment by their families.


“[My family] know I love dancing and singing, but they doubt at my age, and with my overweight body shape, that I can ever succeed,” Mr. 17, the oldest ‘panda’ said. “I want to prove to my family that I can do it.”

Produce Pandas is considered a true anomaly in China’s, as most boybands there pretty much adhere to the same unattainable beauty standards. But the whole point of their existence is to inspire others that they don’t need chiseled physiques and perfect hair to make their dreams come true.


“Mainstream male idols sell the idea of being cool and handsome. We are more approachable, and are able to play with the audience to make them happy,” 25-year-old Husky told SCMP.

With only 9,000 followers on YouTube (at the time of this writing), Produce Pandas have yet to match the success of boybands like BTS, but they are confident that they can leave a mark on showbusiness.