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beauty standards

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    The Impossibility of South Korea’s Beauty Standards

    Korean Beauty Standards

    The Impossibility of South Korea’s Beauty Standards

    South Korea is notorious for its impossibly high beauty standards.

    Take a look anywhere in Seoul, and you’ll see makeup shops proliferating the streets. There are advertisements for everything from advanced moisturizers to long-lasting lipsticks. Above all, western features are highly desired. For instance, double eyelid tape is commonly used for achieving enlarged eyes. Tinted lenses transform brown irises to bright blue. Skin-lightening products are everywhere. In a society as fast-paced and conformist as South Korea’s, companies and consumers thrive on adopting the latest makeup trends.

    Ironically, South Korea’s competitive drive is both a blessing and a curse.

    Because of this drive, Korea gave birth to technological powerhouses such as Samsung and LG. Likewise, this constant push to be good, better, best, permeates throughout Korean beauty standards. Korean society expects women to look their best to keep up. Everything from shedding glasses in favor of contacts or having surgery. Often, this helps to better employment prospects. A tapered jaw suggests femininity and a high nose bridge implies elegance. These societal standards encourage women to strive towards the same aesthetic ideals.

    In response to unrealistic beauty standards and broader cries for women’s rights, South Korea is currently undergoing a feminist awakening.

    Sparked partly in the wake of the #metoo movement, South Korean women have been taking to protests and the Internet to voice their cries. The initial backlash against feminism was unusually vitriolic, steeped with anger. Economic discontent compounded this backlash. However, to many people, the response was expected. South Korea has a tradition of being culturally conservative, and its Confucian society is, subsequently, deeply patriarchal. The Korean hoju system was a family register system making men the legal the head of the household. In 2008, the Korean government abolished this law.

    In the face of opposition from both men and women, Korean feminists remain undaunted.

    One new movement, called “Escape The Corset,” calls for Korean women to fight unrealistic beauty standards, some of which require 10-step skincare regimes and hours applying makeup. Women in this movement often adopt short hairstyles, comfortable garments, and, above all, no cosmetics. Apart from being a time and money-saver, Escape The Corset is a broader challenge to Korean patriarchal views that women. These views, are that women subordinate to men and thereby must expend more effort to be acceptable. To many supporters of Escape The Corset, freeing themselves from their cosmetic “corsets” is a form of liberation — a step towards greater freedom in all aspects of Korean society, from employment to appearances.

    Like any other deep-set ideology, progress takes time.

    In conclusion, it will take time for Korean beauty standards to change: to embrace monolids, to stop idolizing Western features, and to accept people as they are. However, I have faith in South Korea. As a country, they believe in strength and harmony. Korea unites in times of need, and values progress above all else. I believe that change will come — one corset at a time.

  • Body Image, Health

    Society and Unrealistic Beauty Standards

    Society and Unrealistic Beauty Standards

    Nowadays, it isn’t uncommon to see how a young woman’s body standards can be so easily influenced by outside factors. Ever see a girl scrolling through celebrities’ Instagram pictures and hear them say, “They’re so flawless, I want to look just like her”? This scenario happens every day with teens and young women. Although some might express this as a light-hearted and innocent comment, some truly want to change their appearances to please society and their peers to be more desired and fit in better.

    This isn’t to confuse with wanting to improve someone’s appearance for a positive reason, such as a healthy weight goal or changing the way one does makeup to enhance their beauty more. The problem arises when a girl wants to change how she looks due to seeing unrealistic perfection or because of the constant pressure from society’s standards of beauty.

    It is no secret that, for years, the beauty industry has given this idea of looking flawless 24/7 to impressionable young women. We grow up looking at beautiful magazine covers, gorgeous makeup ads, and perfect looking hair, nails, body, etc. Although it’s understandable for a company to want beautiful models to sell their products, it gives off unrealistic beauty standards. Why? Because regular people on the street don’t usually look how companies and social media portrays women to be! If you don’t have an hourglass shape, that’s okay! If you don’t have white, straight teeth, that’s okay! Everyone is unique in their own way and should not change who they are because of what society says is “the best.”

    Since social media is so prevalent among celebrities and young people, it worsens the problem even more. Different types of apps allow filters, editing, and photoshop. If a girl wanted to improve her appearance online, she has the tools to do so. This applies to physically altering one’s appearance as well, whether it be through plastic surgery, injections, fillers, etc. Of course, most celebrities do not like to admit that they have used certain measures to make their appearance seem better, but the girls viewing their content can easily think that “this is what perfection looks like, society likes this type of look, and I want to obtain it too.” These types of thoughts usually make girls compare themselves to others, and that is not a healthy thing to do, self-esteem wise.

    Thankfully, companies are starting to realize the self-deprecation girls and can feel while looking at beauty ads or models selling clothes. More and more companies are allowing diversity into their ads, and this gives off a very positive message to young women who do not always fit the “perfect body type” or other types of standards that society has deemed to be “perfect.” Many people, including myself, are applauding these companies for their realistic models that look like the majority of people and not the small niche of beauty and fashion models that have a very specific and hard to obtain look.

    This is a great step in the right direction for the beauty and clothing industry, and more companies should follow their example. The good thing for girls is that if you are aware that today’s beauty standards are unrealistic, then you won’t be as influenced. You can recognize that there are so many different looks of being beautiful. One person’s ideal may not be someone else’s. Don’t be focused on pleasing everyone else. It’s okay to focus on yourself! Self-love is very important for self-esteem and one’s mental health. Sometimes we’re so focused on little details, like always covering up your body or always covering up blemishes that they can take over our lives. Just be yourself, be happy with who you are, and everything else will fall into place.