Skip to main content

Dr. Gladys CHONG

B.A. (HKU), M.A. (University of Amsterdam), Ph.D. (University of Amsterdam)

Associate Professor, Department of Humanities and Creative Writing

Collaborators:

  • Dr. Yiu Fai Chow (Project Applicant) is Associate Professor of the Humanities and Creative Writing at Hong Kong Baptist University. 

  • Prof. dr. Giselinde M. M. Kuipers (Scientific Advisor), Research Professor of Sociology, Catholic University Leuven, Belgium. 

    Prof. Giselinde Kuipers’ ERC-funded research, entitled “Towards a comparative sociology of beauty: The transnational modelling industry and the social shaping of beauty standards in six European countries”, started in 2010 for a period of 5 years with a research budget of Euro 1,202,611. For more information of this research, please check https://erc.europa.eu/projects-figures/erc-funded-projects/results?search_api_views_fulltext=Giselinder. Prof. Kuipers has also given a Tedx Talks on beauty and inequality in Brussels 2016, please check https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9krpWj8L4Bo 

Funding:

  • Hong Kong Baptist University – Dr. Hung Hin Shiu Development Fund (HKD 100,000)

Introduction

  • Considering the increasing importance of beauty in today’s society, it is astonishing that very little is done to investigate and educate how beauty leads to social inclusion and exclusion. This project aims to connect expertise and experience on facial beauty with students’ creativity ultimately to facilitate youth and larger communities to reflect on beauty and social problematics. In terms of international scholarship, Prof. Giselinde Kuipers’ prestigious European Research Council (thereafter ERC)-funded project was the first major comparative research project to analyse social differences in the evaluation of female and male beauty. Due to earlier collaborations, Prof. Kuipers has invited the applicants to build on her successful project and extend it to the Asia context.

Abstract

  • So far, no such research is ever conducted in Hong Kong, or elsewhere in Asia. Prof. Giselinde Kuipers’ ERC-funded was the first research project that analysed the social differences in the evaluation of female and male faces in France, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and the UK. Due to earlier collaborations, Prof. Kuipers has invited the PIs to build on her successful project and extend it to the Asia context. The proposed two-year project will take Hong Kong as a pilot study to examine to what extent the appreciation of facial beauty is related to social and cultural backgrounds and how this may engender social exclusion in the Asian context. This project is divided into two stages: First, combining Q-methodology** and interviews, 30 individuals of different social background characteristics (age, class and sex) are selected for this research. Interviewees are asked to sort four sets of pictures, of female and male faces and bodies, according to beauty. The data collected will be analysed to develop their evaluative repertoires, which reflect distinctive perspectives on “beauty”. Second, the project will recruit 12 students from HKBU and Lee Shiu Kee school of Creativity (thereafter LSK) to join the creative phase. Three workshops will be organised, presented respectively by 2 artists, 2 beauty industry professionals, and the PIs and the Co-I, to share their experiences surrounding facial beauty from perspectives of creativity, beauty industries and research. Under the guidance of the PIs, participant students will be paired up (one HKBU + one LSK) to six teams, ultimately to deliver six creative outputs of their choice ((for instance, visual artefacts, installations, literary products). The outputs will be presented through three channels: a/ they will be curated into an exhibition installed at HKBU and LSK; b/ they will be developed into six feature articles to be published in a youth cultural magazine ssissue (香港中學生文藝月刊) ; and c/ they will be posted on online platforms, including social networks, online media, HKBU platforms and Prof. Kuipers’ ERC website (www.sociologyofbeauty.nl). These ways of dissemination will ensure a wider reach of the creative outputs as well as the academic knowledge gathered from the project, to provoke young people and the Hong Kong public at large to critically and creatively explore facial beauty and social inequality. 

Methodology

  • Combining Q-methodology** and interviews, 30 individuals of different social background characteristics (age, class and sex) are selected for this research. Interviewees are asked to sort four sets of pictures, of female and male faces and bodies, according to beauty. The data collected will be analysed to develop their evaluative repertoires, which reflect distinctive perspectives on “beauty”. Q-methodology seeks to examine, standardize and compare subjective viewpoints (Brown, 1993). It employs a diverse set of items to encourage respondents to express their personal viewpoints and to identify all possible relevant aspects (Kuipers, 2015). For this research, Q-methodology and interviews can effectively replicate the Co-PI’s previous research, with development of an instrument that is fitting for the Asian context both in terms of physical type, and forms of grooming/adornment/posing, 30 individuals of different social background characteristics (age, class, sex) are selected for this research.