Growing up in Hong Kong, I often wondered about the stereotypes that exist in this city, as well as many others in Asia. Perhaps driven by Hong Kong’s relatively conservative way of life, our society has tended towards a patriarchy with men and women conforming to classic stereotypes when it comes to roles in the home.
In the 80s I don’t think this was any different to many other places on the planet. But starting in the mid- to late-90s, we saw a gradual erosion of stereotypes in Western societies. ‘Metrosexual’ was the word of the moment for media, a short-hand way to describe men who felt comfortable being who they were without the need for all the machismo.
That trend has accelerated in many parts of the world to the point where male influencers have millions of followers of both sexes watching their makeup tips and secrets. While most men don’t apply blusher, foundation, mascara and lipstick, it does underline the point that in the West they are much freer to be who they want to be and the era of the alpha male seems to have taken a back seat.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for many Asian countries where cultural norms mean that the vast majority of men and women still conform to gender stereotypes. The simple passage of time has eroded some but it has been slow progress.
We are seeing change though, driven by the young demography evident in many countries in the region as well as increased disposable income as a result of our fast growing economies. But there is something else that I think has increased the pace of change: Covid 19.
I’m sure that just like me, you’ve spent hours and hours on Zoom calls over the last two years. With those calls comes a very direct reminder of every hair out of place, and every spot on your face. It’s made me and everyone I know so much more aware of how they look particularly in a city that until recently still had strict anti-epidemic measures in place.
This has meant videoconferencing has been the norm for us for considerably longer than many other countries. That extended time period, combined with the scrutiny brought about by all those video meetings, has impacted the mental health of many with some estimating that 61% of men currently suffer from poor mental well-being.
That’s something I want to change: I fundamentally believe that if you feel good about the way you look, it has a positive impact on your outlook on life.
However much men want to look their best, though, there are very few who want to go through the whole rigmarole of twice-daily 30 minute routines? That’s exactly why I created Cary Regimen – to make it easy for men to look their best every day.
I’m excited about what we’re doing; I think it could really help build men’s self-esteem and be more confident in who they are.