K-beauty: the ugly face of South Korea’s obsession with ladies looking forever ideal

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The global buzz around South Korean skincare and cosmetics belies the harsh realities of lookism and sexism confronted via Korean ladies, who can’t depart home without placing on makeup ugly face

K-beauty has to turn out to be a buzzword in current years, as Korean skincare and makeup tendencies flash across social and traditional media. From closing spring’s “zombie” face masks hype and the awful lot blogged “glass pores and skin” fashion, to the barrage of hydrating-animal-masks selfies on Instagram, marketing goals the influence that Korean ladies have ideal pores and skin.

This romanticised photograph is held to be true, now not only by using K-splendor lovers or the splendor bloggers selling it; it’s an image championed via an industry serving one of the international’s pinnacle 10 markets for beauty products, one that is predicted to be worth greater than US$13 billion this 12 months.

Global income of South Korean skincare merchandise is projected to attain US$7.2 billion by way of 2020, in line with a file by marketplace research company Mintel. With posters of perfectly made-up K-pop stars touting CC cushions and clay masks plastered at the partitions and websites of cosmetics stores across South Korea, K-beauty could appear to be a cultural phenomenon that is here to stay.
Using each manageable beauty product – K-beauty professionals recommend a rather regimented 10-step recurring regarding cleansers, toner, serum, mask, moisturizer and more – is much less an addiction than a need for lots girls residing in what’s a culturally monolithic and exceedingly patriarchal society.

“For men, the social expectation is: don’t be fats, have a pleasing haircut, get dressed OK,” he says. “If all you needed to do to be successful as a female is get dressed OK, now not be too fat, appearance all proper, you’d have plenty fewer problems. And in a subculture in which, woman splendor is so regimented, of the route you’re going to have a lot of these products.”beauty

The splendor merchandise to be had offer all forms of innovative answers, with offerings which includes V-line masks that promise to slim puffy cheeks or angular jawlines; hair markers created to cover high hairlines and widow’s peaks [for women]; body tints for rouging ashy knees, elbows and nipples; and DIY domestic facelifts that come in small vials of serum containing microneedles.

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The Beauty Myth via Naomi Wolf.
Almost 30 years ago, Naomi Klein wrote approximately this in The Beauty Myth. “Beauty is a foreign money gadget like the gold standard. Like any economy, it’s miles decided via politics … In assigning a fee to ladies in a vertical hierarchy in step with a culturally imposed physical widespread, its miles an expression of energy members of the family wherein girls need to unnaturally compete for resources that men have appropriated for themselves.”

In South Korea, as in a great deal of the arena, the beauty fantasy is still a fact for women. The pursuit of beauty is often an expectation, in particular for folks who are looking for social and expert achievement.

“If I don’t have makeup on, my colleagues will say something like, ‘Why is your face so worn-out and melted-looking?’” says a twenty-something monetary representative who preferred to remain anonymous.

“When I go to meetings for purchaser audits, my colleagues push me to put on extra make-up due to the fact [our clients] these older guys can be more inclined to speak with a ‘pretty face’,” she says.South Koreaâ€

Marie Lee, a movie buyer who studied within the UK before returning to Seoul, says Korean ladies have little preference. “The fundamental distinction is that humans here can’t go out without make-up on. The point is that every [woman] has to wear a few makeups.”

On websites consisting of April Skin, one in all South Korea’s biggest cult beauty manufacturers, merchandise like Perfect Magic Face Starter come with slogans inclusive of “Today, you’ll have a wonderfully made-up face! No more dense, rugged pores with this cover.”

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“Your pores and skin are getting weak and collapsing, you want an original method to your problem,” reads an ad for Skin1004, a skin care answer concentrated on college students in their 20s.

As some other place in Asia, pale skin is still an ideal in South Korea, but the emphasis has shifted to healthy skin. “Chok Chok-than plays,” or moisturized, younger, glowing pores and skin, particularly.

“You hear a lot approximately gwang, the glowy, dewy style of make-up,” says Lee, at the modern K-beauty basis and cushion fashion in Korea. “It’s presupposed to appear to be you just had a bath and didn’t put on lots makeup. It doesn’t be counted in case you’re darker or lighter, your skin simply appears dewy.”

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Although the Korean splendor industry has varied during the last decade, with a much broader range of colors, new strategies together with bronzing, and experimentation consisting of nude lipstick or rust-colored eyeshadow, Lee says the secret’s nevertheless about looking placed-together.

“You may be lovely in distinct approaches, but you continue to want to care approximately your splendor. You have to expose that you care approximately your look.”

This year, South Korea ranked 118th out of 144 countries in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap survey, which take into consideration factors along with wage equality and maternity depart. The nation ranked close to Japan at 114, and decrease than neighboring countries including China, Malaysia, Singapore, and Cambodia.

Beauty ads within the metro in Seoul. Last month, the Seoul government introduced it might section out plastic surgery classified ads in subway stations through 2022. Photo: Crystal Tai
In one step that might assist ease the image burden on Korean women, the Seoul authorities remaining month announced it’d section out plastic surgery commercials in subway stations through 2022. Media reviews noted a public outcry, with over a thousand proceedings and requests asking the stations to take down such advertising.
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“I think the powers that be ultimately admitted to themselves that that is a trouble,” says Hurt, the educational. “People are endorsed, nearly forced to put money into their body and cultural capital, to the detriment of other things. If you’re so involved about your destiny and face, you’re now not going to do other matters along with your money. All varieties of negative outcomes have taken location.”

He says the government is also recognizing the hassle of an emphasis on the woman frame. “[For example,] President Moon Jae-in is asking into eliminating requirements for images on résumés; they need to have done that a long time ago. Requiring that is probably considered one of the biggest drivers of plastic surgical treatment and coffee self-esteem [for women].”

The generation of whilst women might be despatched home from work for not carrying enough make-up has surpassed and girls have become foremost customers who can have enough money to rock the boat, says Hurt. “Women have more electricity, social electricity and shopping for power; ladies have more room to vote with their wallets,” he says.