Friday, March 14, 2008

Korea’s Obsession with Beauty

Korean women always fascinated me. Their extreme attention to beauty is just over the top. As far as I have seen, they won’t leave the house without make-up. Another alarming trend going on now especially with college girls is anorexia. Statistics showed that the reported clinical anorexics are on the rise. The now accepted or considered ok for most women is size 44 (extra small or size 0). Health clubs, beauty clinics, dieting salons are abundant. It is even propagated by the entertainment media where most young singers and actresses are of that size.
There was also a recent article (Korea Times) about women job applicants, who spend some years before their actual application, recovering from surgery and making sure that they look good for that day. Beauty is considered one of the qualifications for a job. The writer asked the government to abolish the said discrimination and move beyond the looks aspect. Apparently most companies base their hiring on that. If they look good in person, they can get a second interview.
But looks are not the only reason for cosmetic surgery. Marriage, getting a husband is also a factor in a woman’s decision to go under the knife. It’s been said that a woman needs to be acceptable to her future husband (physically), while a man needs only to be financially ready.
CNN even had a feature on cosmetic surgery here in Seoul. Almost a third of the women population go under the knife to have eyelid surgery so their eyes would look bigger. Second most popular is rhinoplasty. I think their natural nose is beautiful enough but they go for perfection. The nose had to be in perfect size and shape.
Try going to a sauna here and you’ll see them without make-up. I have met few women who live in my neighborhood but failed to recognize them because they looked so different without the make-up.
Another thing I noticed here are the ads on TV. Most of the ads feature beautiful, skinny Korean women. Be it a car, insurance, appliances, or anything. One time when I was bored, I tried counting how many of the TV ads consisted of women. It was women after women so I just gave up (realized it was a waste of time... hehehe...).
I might never understand their obsession with beauty and for sure I will not agree with them. I guess all I can do is watch from a distance the society I belong to now.

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