Recent controversies towards advertisers using models featuring potential non-traditional beauty characteristics have led to debates about what defines Chinese beauty. Despite these current campaigns, China is seeing a rise in the acceptance of "beauty diversity," according to Carol Zhou, Shiseido China's vice president of innovation and investments.
"I'm quite excited about how Chinese women have become more confident, giving rise to more diversity in beauty," says Zhou. "Even 10 years ago, it was all about being very white, skinny, pale when everyone needs to look the same. That was the time all the girls would get surgery to look more like actress, Fan Bing Bing (范冰冰). But I think now women are starting to embrace their own individuality."
Carol expects more brands to embrace this trend in 2022 and will feature campaigns with actresses or KOLs who may not look perfect but are closer to real women.
But Zhou mentions that brands celebrating beauty diversity need to come from an authentic place and avoid just "putting it out for display" for the sake of being controversial. With recent controversies, brands can create a debate about the definition of beauty diversity, as was the case with Dove's famous Real Beauty campaign in 2004.
Carol also mentioned the diversification of medical beauty as a growing trend in China as medical treatments are becoming less evasive and moving away from traditional plastic surgery. "Plastic surgery is still big, but the non-evasive part of medical beauty is growing quicker, said Zhou. "Before, women would bring in photos to the doctor of someone they wanted to look like, but now they want to maintain their original features and improve them."
Carol Zhou’s full interview is available on the Shanghai Zhan podcast, a "raw, lively, and regular debate about China tech, advertising, creativity and the intersection of it all", hosted by Ali Kazmi and Bryce Whitwam. The podcast is now available now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, Stitcher, Amazon Music, Xiao Yu Zho and via RSS.