Sunday, 4 November 2012

Slaves to Beauty

Hong Kong women are keen on any beauty tips they can get
Most young Hong Kong women are obsessed with their appearance and beauty companies have done very well here, providing every conceivable product for the skin to either make it flawless looking, get rid of acne, disguise blemishes, add colour or give the look of a double eyelid or thicker, longer eye lashes.

And the media fuels these women's insecurities with a proliferation of magazines promoting all these companies and giving information on how to use them all.

One makeover TV show on TVB is hosted by two women who look very severe, one even with a right red patch of hair on her right side and the rest of it slick back. She seems to give off a very masculine vibe, while the other is not very feminine-looking either even though both are wearing form-fitting skirts and dresses. I keep wondering if they are going to break out a whip any minute.

They then invite two starlets on the show to chit chat about a particular issue about women and last night's topic was because they were married, did they have time to socialize with friends. The two guests were more girly looking and while one said she did carve out time from her busy schedule to meet up with girlfriends, the other said she'd rather spend time at home and also admitted she had a child to look after.

Now that the warm-up conversation was over with, it was time to bring in Cindy, a 25-year-old who looked more like a teenager with her severe bob, long sweater, short fluffy skirt and sneakers.

They also showed a video of her at home, and while she showed off her wardrobe, she also admitted she didn't wear much makeup and talked about her fashion style. Her two friends also gave their opinions, saying that Cindy was too skinny and that she didn't wear makeup.

It was at this point I realized how shallow many Hong Kong women are -- I already knew they were pretty self-centered, but her talking about herself in front of a camera was a dream come true. Cindy said she wanted to be like those beauty pageant girls and thought they were so beautiful...

And everyone else on the show thought this thinking was normal. In fact the encouraged it by then inviting three experts -- a fashion stylist, a hair dresser and a makeup artist to give Cindy a makeover.

The hair dresser started first, hardly cutting her hair and instead twisting it into tight curls that were pinned back so that hair did not frame her face anymore. It looked more like a messed up do than a stylish one, but everyone on the panel, including the guest starlets seemed to think Cindy looked great. She even got a chance to go to the mirror and exclaim how cool she looked. I also wondered if that hair dresser also worked on the two hosts as well since the three of them now looked similar.

Next was the makeup artist who worked very fast, covering her face with foundation and then painting dramatic cat eyes. He then glued fake eyelashes on her lids, but not just one, but two layers. Needless to say Cindy was constantly blinking under the weight of those lashes.

With the hair and makeup she was already transformed into someone who wouldn't be wearing sneakers anymore.

Finally the stylist took Cindy to the store to pick out some clothes. The end result was a blouse, swing jacket, gathered skirt and high heels, that contrasted significantly to the Cindy we knew before.

Cindy admitted she didn't have the budget to buy the stylish clothes she was wearing which hinted she wouldn't be continuing this sophisticated look much longer. Nevertheless it made her feel like a star for a day... which is what many young Hong Kong women dream of... really?

Really.

At the end of the show the two hosts and two guests even graded Cindy with a maximum of four kisses each. Kisses? Really?

Even on the bus there are short videos of makeovers of ordinary-looking women. For the most part it's hair and makeup, but while these are less dramatic, they do make the person look somewhat better.

But need we be so obsessed with how we look? Whatever happened to acceptance and confidence?

Or do Hong Kong women really have no clue how to dress and style their hair?

That said why not do the Hong Kong version of What Not to Wear and get the Chinese Stacey London and Clinton Kelly to be bitchy and handle the worst cases of dressing they've ever seen and transform women into people who wear clothes according to their shape and get tips on how to look after their faces.

Then instead of platitudes and everyone looking the same, we'd have more compelling TV viewing at least.

But with Chinese people not wanting to lose face or embarrassing others, we're stuck with these two domanitrix wannabes making idle chit chat with young women who just want to look pretty on TV.

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