Beauty standards redefined by advertising students


Led by Chew (first row, seventh from right) and Ang (first row, fifth from left), these advertising rookies set new standards for the industry to recognise more forms of beauty. — LOW LAY PHON/The Star

TRADITIONAL beauty standards are being challenged by 22 Gen Z students through a photography presentation at Tunku Abdul Rahman University of Management and Technology (TAR UMT).

Led by TAR UMT advertising programme leader and lecturer Cindy Poh Huay Yuet, the session titled “Beauty Reimagined: Through the Lenses of Gen Z” was part of the “Advertising and Society” course.

Four groups of first-year students from the Bachelor of Communication in Advertising presented critical analyses on contemporary beauty standards and body image through the medium of photography.

One group promoted the idea of embracing inherent flaws as beauty.

Chew: The presentation shows deep understanding of advertising.Chew: The presentation shows deep understanding of advertising.

One of the group leader Chan Weng Yen, 22, shared, “We believe everyone has insecurities they once wished to change but now accept with self-acceptance and self-confidence.

“We hope to inspire others to break through the contemporary beauty standards and become their authentic selves,” she added.

Another group highlighted the concept of embracing true emotions as the beauty of humanity.

A group leader Chin Jia Yin, 20, said, “In a world where societal pressures often dictate how we should look and behave, it can be incredibly challenging to face and express our true emotions, especially in an Asian environment where repression of emotions is regarded as maturity.

“We hope to remind everyone that it’s okay to have emotions and to express them.

“Our emotions are what make us human, and they are indeed rare, precious and beautiful,” she added.

The third group explored the idea of tattoos as a form of art rather than a taboo.

Ang is a guest judge for the session.Ang is a guest judge for the session.

Its group leader Keivin Yap Feng Yuan, 21 said the old beauty standard was that the body should be unmarked.

“But, as society progresses, our thinking should also progress, and we should be more accepting of tattoos.

“People shouldn’t be judged for them as beauty is without judgment,” said Yap.

The fourth group tackled the concept that beauty was not superficial.

Its group leader Soo Sharine, 22, said that in today’s fast-paced world, people often sought validation from external sources and overlooks the profound beauty within themselves.

“Beautiful is not about aligning with the beauty standards of others, it’s about appreciating your own inner beauty and discovering your unique essence.

“Beauty is about focusing on doing what makes us happy and being ourselves,” she said.

Guest judges, Havas Malaysia chief creative officer Donevan Chew and creative director Shireen Ang praised the students’ efforts and shared their thoughts on their presentation.

Chew noted, “The presentations showed not only creativity but also a deep understanding of the societal impact of advertising.

“It’s heartening to see the next generation of advertising industry professionals approach the industry with such a conscientious mindset,” he added.

Poh said the session aimed to dissect evolving societal views on beauty, drawing attention to the role of social media and advertising in shaping public perceptions.

“This session is not just about academic achievement but also about urging our young creators to look beyond traditional beauty narratives and embrace a more inclusive perspective,” she said.

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