Hong Kong women have the least confidence in their appearance of any in Asia, with none of those interviewed in a recent regional survey seeing themselves as beautiful. And that view may be causing them serious anguish because they believe more in the power of beauty than women elsewhere in Asia. Adding to their misery is the fact that almost half - the third highest proportion among women in 10 countries - see themselves as overweight, while statistics show less than a third actually are. The findings of the poll, commissioned by a personal care products company, were described as 'worrying' by a gender studies specialist, who blamed 'misleading messages' from beauty advertisements and fashion trends. Only a small percentage of women anywhere thought of themselves as beautiful, but the 5 per cent in Malaysia and the Philippines was well ahead of Hong Kong's zero and 1 per cent each for South Korea, Vietnam and Thailand. In Hong Kong, 88 per cent said they thought beautiful women would enjoy better opportunities in different aspects of life - compared to only 86 per cent in South Korea and 83 per cent in Vietnam. The survey of 2,100 women aged between 15 and 45 was commissioned in April and May, with 200 Hong Kong women surveyed. Forty-nine per cent of Hong Kong women surveyed believed themselves to be overweight - third highest after Japan (69 per cent) and Taiwan (63 per cent). But recent official figures show only 31.4 per cent of women in Hong Kong are overweight or obese. Wong Kit-mui, a lecturer in the General Education Centre at Polytechnic University, accused the beauty industry of having narrowly defined the elements of women's beauty as slim, young and fair complexions instead of giving enough weight to the importance of 'inner beauty'. 'It is worrying that many women are under the influence of the beauty ads, which have seriously distorted the concept and importance of beauty. Some ads even try to link beauty to competence and success of a person, which is very unfair,' said Dr Wong. Kathleen Kwok Pik-san, clinical psychologist at the Eating Disorders Centre at Chinese University, also warned that the standard of beauty promoted by the industry was unrealistic and might bring health risks to people who tried to lose weight in an unhealthy way.