Topic: What are the ideal body types for men and women in Hong Kong society? In what ways are these body types perpetuated through mass media, technology, and medicine? According to Bartky (1999), is body modification a form of self-empowerment or self-punishment?
Human body is one of the elements used to assess the attractiveness of a person. Since the aesthetics theory varies in different countries and regions due to different history and cultural background, the description of general accepted aesthetically pleasing body will be different between communities. In this essay, the discussion will be focus on the ideal body types in Hong Kong society, how they are promoted and affect the society. Also, body modification and its effect on individuals will be discussed base on the Sandra Bartky’s study.
Ideal body types in Hong Kong
Due to its special history, Hong Kong is at the cultural boundary between Western culture from England and Asian culture, especially Chinese culture. The hybrid culture makes the standard of ideal body type a mix of beauty concepts from different cultures.
Affected by Western culture, men in Hong Kong often perceive a more muscular, heavy male body as being ideal. Bodybuilding mainly focuses on large muscular arms and chest, broad shoulders and slim waist. Fats and muscles should be distributed more on the upper body. The muscular body helps to deliver a sporty feeling and show that the man willing to take care of his own body and can maintain self-discipline for exercises. A masculine image is developed to attract others by the protection, resources and high social status showed by the regular trained body.
Height is another factor that determines the physical attractiveness of a man. The volume-height-index is a reliable measure of body attractiveness for man. In Hong Kong, the optimal volume-height-index for man equals 17.5 to 18 liters per square meter (THE PERFECT BODY MEASUREMENTS FOR MEN). Somehow affected by the man-taller norm, in Hong Kong taller man will be praised because of his height and it is often to hear someone being regarded as attractive since he is tall and handsome. A tall and muscular male can give a feeling of security to others.
Besides of Western culture, the Asian culture also affects the concept of ideal body type for male in Hong Kong. Unlike in Western culture, which prefers more masculine traits such as chiseled jaw, defined cheekbones and broad forehead on the face, in Hong Kong less masculinity are preferred on male’s face. A face showing kids features such as supple skin will be preferred. Man’s face with feminine features is also praised by the public. Singer Leslie Cheung is a typical example of the preference on feminine face traits. In 1993, he played as a Chinese opera performer who was trained to paly female roles in the movie called “Farewell my Concubine” (Farewell My Concubine (film)). The movie was a great hit at that time and Leslie Cheung was praised by his acting and beautiful feminine appearance.
Also affected by Japanese and Korean pop culture, where pop stars have muscular body and young, feminine face, the ideal body type or appearance of male in Hong Kong is to have a masculine body and a face with gentleness or even femininity.
Women in Hong Kong mainly consider light weight and being slim as the ideal body type. The slimming trend becomes very popular in Hong Kong in the past few years. It is reported that more than half of respondents think they are overweight and show intention to lose weight (AC Nielsen, 2004). In 2011, there are about 280 slimming and weight control services providers in Hong Kong (InvestmentHK).
Ideal body types and the society
In Hong Kong, mass media plays an important role in the productions and publications of ideal body types. Slimming advertisements appear everywhere, magazines, newspapers and television programs. According to some estimation (A, 2006), 30% of the...
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