My Take

Erica Yuen Mi-ming's role is hardly an advertisement for feminism

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 August, 2015, 1:35am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 August, 2015, 1:35am

From a distance over a cloud, a well-dressed elderly man with a youngish woman in his arm approaches. He looks like a tycoon with one of his mistresses. But no, this being a proper television commercial, it's a father taking a stroll with his daughter up in the sky. Don't ask.

"You know whatever you do, daddy will always support you," a voiceover says in a reassuring tone.

The demure woman shyly acknowledges it. Meanwhile a young man walks towards them.

"I promise to take care of you," he declares as the woman looks up with her porcelain skin.

The old man passes her to the younger man. A new voiceover: "Synergie Skin: Promises of great skin and beauty."

This would have been one of those countless sexist adverts that typically appear in Hong Kong. Well, yes, except the actress in the advert is cosmetics impresario and People Power chairwoman Erica Yuen Mi-ming.

For a radical democracy group that has such members as Legco disrupter extraordinaire Albert Chan Wai-yip and openly gay lawmaker Raymond Chan Chi-chuen, you might have expected its chairwoman to be an angry, hardcore feminist in comfortable shoes.

As it is, Yuen has been true to her past as a former beauty queen. She is not only a spokeswoman for Synergie, but an active promoter of the cosmetic line in her "mi ming mart" website. Now, there is nothing wrong with promoting and selling cosmetics. But the advert's message seems socially regressive, not just sexist.

A woman has to be supported by a man, it implies. When she is single, it's her father. When she is older, it's her husband. The "synergy" in the TV ad is that if you have beautiful skin like Erica, you are guaranteed to be passed on from one man to another. Another possibility, that the woman may become independent and does not need support from any man, seems entirely out of the question in the ad.

This sexist, almost Confucian, theme plays in many ads today, from cosmetics to wedding gown service and even traditional Chinese cakes. But when you are head of a radical group, you might want to put your foot down and make a stand for the sisters. Alas!

Calls to Yuen for comments were not returned yesterday.