Reality TV show gives wrong impression
Winky Lai Wing-ki, Marymount Secondary School
The gender imbalance in Hong Kong has left many women worried about finding a husband. TVB hoped to highlight the social issue with Bride Wannabes. The reality TV show follows five sing lui - or 'leftover women' - a term used to depict women of marriageable age who can't find a partner.
The goal of the programme was to help those single women with different backgrounds, educational levels and careers find their 'Mr Right'. With the help of so-called experts, they had makeovers and personality coaching, and they were even taught 'proper texting methods'. The public has criticised Bride Wannabes for labelling single women 'leftovers' and 'trampling on women's dignity'. While the negative term sing lui is not used in the show, its producers have made mistakes.
Firstly, Bride Wannabes gave the wrong impression that a single woman is a burden on society. It presented oversimplified definitions of beauty and success, and put more emphasis on appearance and materialism. In the process, the show ignored the true value of love and relationships.
Secondly, there are doubts about the show's 'life coaches'.
They often told the women that they would only do well if they presented the image created by the programme. This would have had an adverse effect on their self-esteem.
Thirdly, the programme was originally meant to be a documentary, and so it should have presented an unbiased view, tackling the social and cultural aspects of the issue. Instead, it was a marketing vehicle for advertisers, from dating agencies to beauty salons. They promoted their products by claiming a woman's appearance was key to finding a partner.
As one of the most influential media groups in Hong Kong, TVB should think about its role in society. While pursuing profits and commercial interests, the broadcaster should not neglect social responsibility.