Can Singapore beauty be defined?

Can Singapore beauty be defined?
From left to right Rathi Menon, Rebecca Lim, Nadiah M. Din, and Kelly Latimer.

What does the perfect Singaporean woman look like?

In a multi-racial country like Singapore with its variety of skin tones, facial features and body types, it's a question that can be near impossible to answer.

In May's edition of Cosmopolitan Singapore, senior beauty writer Elizabeth Lee gave her thoughts on the local idea of gorgeousness and the "perfect" Singapore girl.

This was part of a collaborative piece featuring Cosmopolitan writers from various countries talking about the aspects that constitute beauty in their own nations.

On the Singaporean woman, Elizabeth Lee wrote:

"Looking flawless and well-groomed is a Singaporean woman's aim. We look a lot to South Korean and Japan for products and trends. Also, we stay out of the sun due to our fair, porcelain complexion. Our hot, humid weather can cause oil skin so the most popular beauty treatments here reflect that. The 'perfect' Singapore girl has big eyes and a small face with a defined jawline and feminine long hair. She's slim and petite with shapely legs. Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi and South Korean actress Song Hye-Kyo would be considered classically beautiful here."

This did not sit well with one reader who complained about the article on Facebook, sparking some debate in the process. 

Facebook user Angel Mangkai wrote of the snippet: "...I would hardly consider a woman from any one race as a classic beauty in Singapore. Like the Singapore Girl, she is sometimes Malay, sometimes Indian, sometimes Chinese and sometimes Eurasian. She is undefinable and that's what makes us Singaporean womenfolk unique as a whole."

The post struck a chord with other Facebook users who also took issue with the Cosmopolitan writer.

Many felt that the writer left the other races underrepresented in her description of the ideal Singaporean woman.

Some took Ms Lee's description to mean that anything that did not fall into her description was not beautiful.

Others disliked what they saw as generalisation.

The post caused enough of a stir for Jo Upcraft, Editor-in-Chief of Cosmopolitan Singapore to reply and try to set the record straight.

She wrote:

"Hi Angel, I apologise for the offence caused. We agree with you that beauty takes many forms and varies among ethnicities. As you can see from the entire piece, this was a collaborative article with our global editions where we were asked to express one view. Elizabeth Lee was expressing an opinion based on Cosmo's beauty surveys, reader feedback and after a discussion with our very multi-racial team. Beauty is such a subjective subject, views and opinions varies from one to another. This one view does not represent the stand of the magazine, and hopefully you'll have seen from the rest of the publication that we work hard to embrace and cover all cultures, from Singapore and worldwide."

This article was first published on May 29, 2015.
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