Cover How will the Metaverse impact the body positivity movement and young womens' mental health? (Photo: Getty Images)

Gen.T honouree and beauty entrepreneur Shelley Hon discusses how the Metaverse may impact perceptions of beauty in the future, and what brands can do to ensure young women grow up knowing that real beauty comes from within

“Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.”

Plato’s words have never been truer. With beauty consumers increasingly seeking diversity, inclusivity and gender equality from brands—and new perceptions of beauty more freely accepted than in the past—leaders in the industry have more opportunities than ever to develop a deeper understanding of many cultures and embrace them in our products and services.

And this is happening all around us, as we see in the embracing of Asian influences––such as K-pop––in the West, the multitude of cosmetic shades now available for different coloured skin from brands like Rihanna's Fenty Beauty, and Dior’s announcement of Korean celebrity Jisoo as the company’s global fashion and beauty ambassador in March 2021.

Now, with the advent of the Metaverse, some are wondering how virtual reality and technology will change women’s perceptions and acceptance of not only what is real, but what is beautiful (assuming the Metaverse isn’t just hype!).

Some could argue that virtual reality and even artificial reality will make outer beauty less important. After all, what does it matter how you look in the real world if you can create an artificial self to interact with others in virtual reality? Isn’t this the next step beyond using the photo and video editing techniques common on social media and virtual reality platforms?

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My belief is that as leaders in the beauty industry, we need to do all we can to show our clients that inner beauty must shine even brighter than in the past through the virtual faces we are creating. No matter how we alter our virtual selves, what we can’t change is our soul and our personality.

Many teen girls spend hours every day using editing apps to make themselves look however they want to look. They are growing up in a world where this is ubiquitous. It is on us to remind them there is a life outside of digital platforms, one where it’s possible to spend time outside, in nature, with real people, as their true selves. It’s only by embracing real life in the real world that they will develop self-confidence.

It’s crucial that we do this through our marketing and advertising, and our brand messaging. Otherwise, when these girls come back from the Metaverse to reality, they will inevitably be unhappy. It’s not surprising they are suffering record rates of depression and anxiety, particularly after months of pandemic life lived virtually.

In case you missed it: 5 Asian Women on Beauty, Wellbeing and Loving the Skin You're In

But there is a way to counteract this. The more we focus on messages of female empowerment, the more these young women can feel confident, free, powerful—and intrinsically beautiful, no matter what the conventional standards of beauty are at that moment.

At the same time, we need to accept their personal preferences, even if they are different from our own. Perceptions of outer female beauty and body types have changed a lot in the past 100 years, and it’s up to each woman to decide how she wants to look. Some may prefer a natural look. Others may want to get cosmetic surgery or breast implants. As long as the procedures they use are safe, I say more power to them.

That said, if they are changing how they look only to please others, these actions become a slippery slope. As we interact with our customers, it’s more important than ever to remind them to really dig in, know themselves and focus on the inner spiritual side before they alter how they look. Only then can they make a decision that comes out of love for themselves.

Regardless of how much time and money women spend on beauty products, treatments and classes, those things won’t bring true happiness. What will is self-acceptance. Even if a woman is beautiful by conventional standards, if she doesn’t feel that way, it’s all for naught.

Fortunately, more and more women are breaking free from cultural pressures and expectations and are pursuing their own perceptions and understanding of beauty. As leaders in the beauty industry, we can play a central role in reminding women of the never-dated message that beauty really does come from within, even if the rules of the Metaverse evolve to have them think otherwise.

Gen.T honouree Shelley Hon is the Managing Director of Austasia Holdings, an omni-channel cosmetics company distributing international brands to more than 2000 spas, retail stores and e-commerce platforms across China. Her beauty collection store, Her&Shelley, uses interactive retail to offer customers a real-time, cross-border e-commerce experience, with brands from Japan to Switzerland. She is also the founder of cosmetics brand, ODELE, which aims to integrate beauty concepts from East and West.

This piece is part of a collaboration between Tatler Asia and Young Presidents’ Organisation (YPO), a global leadership community of chief executives, which counts more than 30,000 members from 142 countries among its members.


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