Himika Akram reporter
If you like to read about other cultures around the world, you might have a few ideas about the South Korean drama and Pop music, which are popularly known as K-drama and K-pop. Did you notice how Korean celebrities appear to look a certain way? Whatever Blackpink wears, that takes the fashion industry by storm. BTS members’ haircuts and style statemen set a whole different standard for the Gen-Zer’s. Have you ever felt those beauty standards are unrealistic? Well, you are not alone.
Korea is known for having one of the strictest beauty standards in the world. This standard is set by the Korean mainstream media and people around the world are going berserk to get those looks by plastic surgery or buying expensive beauty products. This is one of the main reasons why K-beauty products have been so successful since the last decade.
The most prevalent trait of Korean beauty is innocent look featured by V-shaped face, or a tiny face, large eyes, silky hair, straight eyebrows, slender body and the world-famous, “Korean Glass Skin.” Glass skin is skin which glows, looks youthful, and pore-less. Korean beauty standards are so high, that not only do people invest vast amounts of money to get that look, but it is also not unusual to see people with masks on their faces on public transport. In 2018 Korean earned $13.1 billion only by selling beauty products worldwide, according to Mintel, a global market intelligence agency.
Korean people believe everybody deserves to look good and that good looks are so important, that young and old everybody feels the pressure to maintain a certain standard in terms of look. Beauty salon services are sold like hot cakes. The look we get to see on the Korean media, let’s face it: it is quite unrealistic. It is something set by the community, who now entrapped themselves by setting the bar so high. Good looks are considered strength and a symbol of power there, which puts an elevated level of stress on ordinary people.
Getting privileges based on good looks is a problem everywhere. But sadly, South Korea took it a little bit too far. Looks are “everything” there. Looks are crucially important there and they become a person’s identity, sets their career, determines their success – essentially controlling their lives. For example, it is quite common to see that the South Korean youth are offered double eye-lid surgery as their graduation gifts. Having such high bars for appearances might have a significant impact on a person’s self-esteem.
Korean beauty has not only affected women, but it has also reached the standards of men. The beauty standards for males in Korea are like that of women.
Apart from the face, they have exceedingly lofty standards for the body as well. “Thigh gap” is one of the most important beauty criteria for the females. The wider the gap between the two thighs, the slenderer and taller you look. To maintain the X-shape and S-shaped body they must sacrifice their general health because it not only requires a strict diet and exercise, but also requires the use of many other artificial tools as well.
Despite going through so much arduous work to maintain good looks, bullying celebrities only based on their looks is very prevalent in that country. South Korean celebrities are bullied if they do not conform to this remarkably high beauty standard, but if they take the help of any enhancing tools to achieve those standard, then they too will get trolled on the virtual media. Overall, I feel K-beauty standards and practices have created a revolution for the beauty industry, but caused many toxicities as well, even for the common people.