East Asian beauty standards impact American ‘Korean-Pop’ fans

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by Caitlin Whisby, Staff writer

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If you decide to change your interests to one with different standards, it doesn’t mean you have to change who you are.

Korean pop music (K-pop) is a musical genre originating in South Korea that is characterized by a wide variety of audiovisual elements. At the beginning of the 21st century K-pop rapidly grew into a subculture among teenagers and young adults of East and Southeast Asia. The global spread of K-pop and Korean culture is known as the Korean Wave.

“When I first started listening to K-pop, and I learned about East Asian beauty standards; I was a bit shocked to learn about how different they were from American beauty standards,’’ junior Keiara Hester said.

K-pop is gradually growing in popularity amongt Americans. When American K-pop fans stumble upon East Asia’s beauty standards and their individual definition of ideal beauty, it might cause fans to question if they’re exceptional enough.

Fans shouldn’t worry about East Asian beauty standards, even if they don’t fit the archetype, instead they should understand the history of how Asia came to this understanding of an ideal type and how East Asians feel about it.

“East Asia’s beauty standards are actually becoming a trend for other countries worldwide,’’ Andrew Park, a Korean senior who moved to America five years ago, said.

Modern day Asia’s ideal type of beauty for a woman is: Pale white skin, preferably having double eyelids, a thin, healthy looking body, a high nose bridge, an innocent look to your face that’s almost childlike, a small v-lined shaped face, and luxurious thick hair — no matter what the length.

Often you’ll find that some Koreans don’t obtain this look naturally, in fact South Korea is the plastic surgery capital of the world. South Korea has the most plastic surgeries per capita on earth, with over 980,000 recorded operations in 2014. In the South Korean city of Gangnam alone there’s over 500 plastic surgery clinics. Men and women alike from all over the world travel to South Korea just to get facial procedures done.

The most popular of these procedures amongt East Asians are Blepharoplasties (double eyelid surgery), jawline shaving, and rhinoplasties.

According to Business Insider, as of 2014, 1.4 million people are reported to have gotten double eyelid surgery. East Asians typically have monolids, while most Americans have double eyelids. People also shave their jawlines to give themselves a v-line shaped face or a sharp jawline.

“East Asian beauty standards are normal in their world. American beauty standards are always changing and mostly everyone in America has the mentality of, ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder,’’’ Anime club sponsor Nekiba Mayes said.

East Asian beauty standards have been set for hundreds of years. The famous Korean artist, Hyewon, who lived during the Joseon dynasty, paintings contributed to setting the beauty standard of Koreans. The women in his paintings are shown to have white skin, white teeth, a youthful face with thin crescent-shaped brows but with no double eyelids. They have a modest nose, with narrow, cherry red lips, and a thin, long neck line which sits on a set of narrow shoulders.

“Determine who’s definition of beauty you’re following,” cosmetology teacher Shavon Cherry said. “As hard as you’ve worked to follow that definition, work just as hard to discover your own.’’

Most American K-pop fans actually don’t mind the beauty standards, and don’t feel pressured to meet them. Fans realize that these are the beauty standards of East Asians and there’s nothing you can do to change it since we come from such different cultures.

“Their standards are normal for them and you can’t just ask a whole race of people to change standards that have been set for years,” senior Dionna Gainer said. “I don’t feel pressured to look like them either since I know they’re set to accommodate their specific traits.’’

American K-pop fans shouldn’t feel pressured to change the way that they look for the sake of fitting in. Instead, they should work to accept themselves and embrace the skin they’re in.

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