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Adaptable Allure

By: Valerie Jacobs
Posted: February 29, 2012, from the March 2012 issue of GCI Magazine.

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As online and off-line worlds collide and the line separating them becomes increasingly blurred, so will the line between avatars and real-life personas. In this context, consumers are likely to transfer avatar like qualities into beauty ideals and icons, and therefore seek to perfect both. Beauty consumers will look for tools to help them achieve avatarlike facial perfection in each area: lips, teeth, eyes, hair and skin. In Asian countries in particular, there is already a trend toward avatarlike beauty perfection as beauty and fashion ideals blur anime like traits into real beauty ideals. The Lolita trend has a pervasive presence with many niche subgenres in Japan, some of which use an anime princess as the beauty ideal with a porcelain doll appearance, including fake eyelashes and blond hair weaves. In Singapore, high-end shopping malls highlight the importance of beauty perfection, where a luxury shopping experience includes visiting beautification boutiques that each offer hyper specialized services such as trichology (hair solutions), eyebrow consultations, Lasik surgery, mediboutiques, dental art and endodontics, among other aesthetic services, with walk-in options also available for instant gratification.

Heightened Individuality

As facial recognition technology connects those with similar facial features, it will also likely prompt others to seek out hyper-unique methods to differentiate themselves from their doppelgängers. Individuality will be remade and new, and elaborate forms of temporary and permanent decoration will take center stage. Fashion trends are already showing signs of this need for augmented differentiation, often borrowing traits from other species—including mammals, birds and reptiles—and further blurring the line between human and animal. Recently, designers such as Alexander McQueen and Prada have pursued the serpent or mermaid inspired angle. Mythical symbols like mermaids, unicorns and fairies are making their way into beauty trends in the form of temporary expressions in color cosmetics, fake eyelashes, eye jewelry and nail art. Additionally, mythology is manifesting in more permanent options like tattoos and even surgical procedures like subdermal implants to create fantasy-inspired facial features.

Anonymity Revolution

During the 2011 London riots, Metropolitan Police uploaded images of rioters to a Flickr account in an attempt to identify suspects. In response, rioters were cautioned to obscure their identity, remove any distinctive jewelry and wear nondescript clothing.

As facial recognition technology becomes more widely used, anonymity will also become highly valued. Similar to heightened individuality, consumers will look to beautification techniques in order to obscure their identity and achieve anonymity. As more of this technology is deployed for real-time targeting and criminal profiling, virtual or hologram masks could see more widespread popularity, as well as extreme medical procedures that seek to erase any association between personal identification information—such as social security numbers or a poor credit score—and an individual’s appearance.

Facial recognition technology is in its ascendency. A Carnegie Mellon researcher specializing in the technology pinpointed a potential implication, saying, “Through natural evolution, human beings have evolved mechanisms to assign and manage trust in face-to-face interactions. Will we rely on our instincts or on our devices when mobile phones can predict personal and sensitive information about a person?”

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