Tuesday 2 June 2015

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder but...

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Porcelain skinned Far Eastern icons.
Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi (left) and South Korean actress Song Hye-Kyo (right)

At a time when people are resorting to solariums to fake a tan, it is strange to be told that in a perpetually sunny country where glowing sun-kissed skin can be had naturally, women are shying away from the sun instead because of their 'fair, porcelain' complexion. This, if one Singaporean magazine writer is to be believed, that is.

Last weekend in one corner of social media, women were up in arms about this writer's definition of the 'perfect' Singapore girl.

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it may be necessary 
from time to time to give a misinformed 
beholder a black eye." – Miss Piggy, The Muppets

The main problem with her soundbite is that it purported to represent an entire nation's view of what female beauty means. The nation in question has long prided itself as a multi-racial society. Singapore’s population of more than 5 million consist of Chinese, Malays, Indians and Eurasians (the four official ethnic groups) plus a whole lot of other ethnicities in recent times, no thanks to migration. 

The tirade of responses to the writer's opinion came largely from bonafide Singaporean women - unfortunately for her, it is the very same group of females she had attempted to speak on behalf of. Given the country's culturally diverse population, one will be hard pressed to single out a typical Singaporean beauty. Her inference that female Singaporeans desire to look like their far eastern counterparts could not be any further from the truth. Need I even ask if you really believed fair, porcelain skin is the classic complexion of a sunny island's inhabitants?

Miss Singapore Universe 2002, Nuraliza Osman
(Photo credit Pujangga Malam)

Miss Singapore Universe 2014, Rathi Menon

Singaporean Nadia Rahmat. One of 11 fresh faces picked by popular American fashion label
Marc by Marc Jacobs in a global talent hunt to star in its spring 2015 advertising campaign.

Affectionately known as The Singapore Girls. Cabin crew from one of the world's top airlines, Singapore Airlines

It is the writer's prerogative to subscribe to her own ideals of what 'beautiful' means but she should not have pinned it up like it was a consensual national standard. Above all, she has let slip a golden opportunity to educate the world on Singapore's unique cultural mix which has produced an eclectic mix of beautiful faces, quite unlike the homogeneity of the two countries she seemed to be hero worshipping.

The ensuing uproar on social media was therefore understandable.

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