Ready, Fire, Aim! - Mihail's Public Blog: Lipstick lads in Asia overturn stereotypes

Friday, May 27, 2005

Lipstick lads in Asia overturn stereotypes

For all our openness in this country, this veritable melting pot of immigrants and races, of lifestyles and orientations, it seems that other cultures are way ahead of us in not resorting to stereotypes (read to the end of this earlier post).

According to this Wall Street Journal story (subscription required) on the so-called "lipstick lads" of Asia, delicate men are increasingly being used to pitch cosmetics to the growing population of strong, independent women without any concern that these pretty faces will be considered gay (maybe Ryan Seacrest should head to Asia now that the latest season of American Idol is over?! :) And how come the independent women here don't want the same? Maybe they do but advertisiers haven't caught on yet...look at the success of Will & Grace, Queer Eye, Desperate Housewives etc.

Marketers aren't out to poke fun at the lipstick lads of Asia. Instead, they are pushing shampoos and makeup by tapping into a powerful shift in gender images taking place in a number of developed East Asian countries. The conservative, macho male stereotypes that have long dominated society in countries like Japan and South Korea are falling out of fashion. Women are gaining power and independence and expressing a preference for different kinds of men.

...Instead, while acceptance of homosexuality varies in Asian cultures, it doesn't occur to most Asians to assume that a man with some feminine qualities is gay. A survey late last year by Cheil found that more than 66% of men and 57% of women under 40 were living self-described "androgynous" lifestyles -- with men having more traditionally female traits, and women having more traditionally male ones, than they might have years ago. But the respondents didn't link that with sexual orientation. There's a nickname, the "flower men," for the gentler sons of Korea's stolid patriarchs, but the term carries no more opprobrium than Western terms like metrosexual.

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