Invasion of the Clone Army - Why We Should Have More Variance in Beauty

I grew up in South Korea until I was around 18, then moved to Japan and most recently to the US with my husband. But let's talk about Japan and South Korea for a while. As you might know, both countries have massive problems in dating, marriage and birth rates. If I had to sum up the problem in one sentence I'd say that they're deeply conservative cultures stubborn to change, while the world has changed around them. But it's a complicated issue and I think one aspect of it are beauty ideals.

Both Japan and Korea are notorious for plastic surgery. Double eye lid surgery is often given as a graduation present. Overall if you look at celebrities they look a lot more european than the average Asian person. They have a narrow face, big eyes, double eyelids and light skin. When most people in here look quite the opposite. We have more round faces, smaller eyes and darker skin. In fact I'd say the beauty ideal here is "mixed race" which is amazing for a culture that can be quite xenophobic at times (I married an American and that was a big problem for some people in my family).

In Korea sometimes it's called a "gangnam face" (Gangnam is an affluent district of Seoul). And a lot of people go through plastic surgery to get closer, others settle for make up, but either are excessive in my opinion. And yet people do it because there is intense pressure for both men and women to look a certain way.

If you ever felt that all Asians look the same, you're not racist! It's the media misrepresenting what Asian people ACTUALLY look like. Even for Koreans the girls in the first picture I posted are not easily distinguishable. But if you've never been to an Asian country you might get the false impression that we all look like that. In fact, if you ever come to here, I'm sure you would never say that we all look alike. We DO all look different it's just not what you see on TV or advertisement. And that's a shame I think.

For example, notice how all the before pictures look unique whereas the after pictures are more or less one face? And none of those women were ugly to begin with!

To be clear, surgery as drastic as in the pictures (which in includes shaving off the jaw bone) is not common. But it's not uncommon either and plastic surgery of some sort for sure IS common. I believe the numbers just over 20% for women of all ages. For women under 30 it's estimated to be at 50%. Parents give it as a gift to their children because they think their life will be better if their face looks like this.

And then of course there's weight. I've found that a lot of Americans seem to think that most Asians are "naturally slim" ... well the diet industry is booming in most of asia. Certainly korea and japan. I'm willing to bet the real reason that Asians are slimmer than Americans is because we're constantly told that skinny is beautiful. Not just by the media but by out friends and family. You know, the people whose opinion we value most.

The first year after I moved to the US and went back to visit my family, my waist went from 25 inch to 26 inch (yes I measured and I'm not proud of it) and everyone told me I was fat. That I used to be pretty when I was thin but now I'm not anymore. So as is tradition, I skipped some meals and after some very miserable weeks I got back 25 inch. I have a good friend from China and she basically tells me it's the same when she goes home. Her parents tell her she has "food baby".

If you've ever been on Asian shopping sites you'll often see the "one size" size tag. Well sometimes it makes sense, like when a dress has an elastic waist. However lots of times "one size" means US size Small at best. If you're bigger than that you don't fit in. Not into clothes and not in general. It's a relentless culture to grow up in.

I totally get that women in every culture face pressure to adhere to a certain definition of beauty. But in Korea (and increasingly so Japan), that definition is exceptionally narrow and unattainable (at least without major surgery). A lot of teenagers go through surgery just because it's expected when you turn 18. And that's not a situation that anyone really wants for their children and I don't want it to become the norm in the west as well.

So I'm always a bit surprised that there is so much push back towards different beauty standards in the west. Especially since I don't see what we have to lose by having more variance in beauty? It seems like there's nothing to lose and a lot to gain.

And yet every time a newspaper, blog, tv show or even someone on here suggests that a woman that may not fit the ideal is beautiful, people get upset. Angry even. For example when the Ronda Rousey and Ashley Graham Sports illustrated covers came out, I remember reading at least a dozen of posts and takes on here talking about how they are ugly and have no business being on a magazine cover.

And let's face it, it's mostly men. Women might have an opinion on this, but men get angry and upset when a woman that doesn't fit their preferences is in any way appreciated. And I don't understand why? No one saying that the women you prefer aren't also beautiful. It's just one other definition of beautiful. What are you so angry about? What benefit do you get out of putting someone else down?

In my opinion this beauty craze was a bit better in japan. But the whole concept of being happy the way I look or loving myself even if I'm not perfect was somewhat new to me when I moved to the US. But it's a great feeling and isn't it how it should always be? (as long as you're not putting your health in danger). And I think it'd be shame if the US and Europe lose that cultural value.

By the way the pictures below are from a project called "Atlas of Beauty" by Mihaela Noroc which is meant to capture different kinds of beauty. It's a great watch.

http://theatlasofbeauty.com/


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Most Helpful Guy

  • I've studied korean language and culture for a few years so far and found your article a really interesting read, your writing is spot on.

    ".. but men get angry and upset when a woman that doesn't fit their preferences is in any way appreciated."
    ^Are Korean guys like this towards women in SK? O_o

    Can I ask you a second question? This isn't beauty-related but rather related to conformity: Why is it that almost all koreans have the exact same events in life (studying abroad for a year, etc), exact same likes and interests (traveling, food, etc) and generally don't stand out from one another? Is there a pressure/obligation to be like everyone else in Korean society? (is it the 우리나라-thinking?) 99% of the korean people I've met online for penpalling etc. didn't stand out from one another at all and it was as if they were the same person each time. During several years of e-mail- and cultural exchange, only two people (out of hundreds of koreans) stood out by having good conversational skills, knowing their likes and dislikes, having their own opinions and being colorful personalities, etc. they expressed themselves in a way that showed that there truly was great depth in their personality.

    Why all the conformity? :o Is it because of not wanting to embrace change (in anything)?

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    • Because Korea is officially the most racist country in the world. Korean ethnic nationalism, or racial nationalism, forms the basis of Korean identity- "pure-blood", "half-blood" and even "mud-blood" are all terms which are widespread in Korean society, even more so than in the world of Harry Potter.

Most Helpful Girl

  • what i find very silly is the fact that while the eurasian face is the supposedly the beauty ideal in south korea, they don't select the half caucasian boys and girls to be in the entertainment industry. at least japan puts some in the spotlight.

    they choose korean girls who are ok with getting eyelid surgery,
    silicone nose implants, cheek bone reduction and jaw bone reduction to emulate the ”classical” half caucasian face.

    why not choose the people in korea who were actually born with that ”half” face? Lord knows they number in the thousands. and yet they are ridiculed and seen as a sorce of shame just because they are half caucasian.

    it really seems to me that they are stubbornly saying ”we pure Asians are better than you whites. we don't need you, we can beat you easily haha.”

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    • when you said that it'd be a shame if the west lost that cultural value i started to wonder... do you realize that it was like that in the west until the 70s? women were ladylike, submissive and feminine in appearance.

    • You are right, the beauty of half-white/half-Asian women should be celebrated all across the world, no matter where they are. Half-Asian and part-Asian women get a lot of screen time in America (Kate Beckinsale, Kristen Kruek, there are always half-Asian women on The Bachelor, etc), and I wish Korea was more like the US and Japan in that respect.

      I have a question for you, just curious - what do you think of Miss Japan being a hafu?

    • @GeorgeDubyaKUSH She's never on tv and not many Japanese are aware of the winner

Join the discussion

What Guys Said 20

  • True I think they may need to lower their standards a bit. but I can't say the ones who do go through all the effort are not fucking hot. I don't think it should be the standard but at the same time, I appreciate the sentiment to aim for perfection. also for the slim paragraph, i think that we need that here in America

    most Americans are fat tubs of diabetes that are an insult to this country. we need a push of authoritarian beauty not as bad as Korea but good enough to force these fat asses here to lose some weight.

    and while that conservativeness in Japan may actually be against my interest since I would like a Japanese wife I think that it's a good thing they should keep. as a white American, I can say our culture has been stripped away from us. it's why I look to outside nations for theirs. I think they should hold onto it for dear life not be too strict with it but remember and keep it as once it has gone it's gone.

    however, we have something similar here. every woman around here is fat has a blonde bob and drives a Lexis and thinks they're rich. I would prefer the clones you got then the vermin we got here.

    I do appreciate the mytake though ^_^

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  • Sorry, but women from East Asia and Southeast Asia are just hotter than the average American white girl. Like at least ten times hotter. Asian women are pretty much the most beautiful women on earth, or at least they have the highest concentration of beautiful women per capita in their populations. Only half-white/half-Asian women (and some certain latinas) can give them a run for their money.

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    • but half white half Asian women are just seen as something to be inspired by and copied through surgery and makeup.

    • @COCOCHANEL well-mixed half white and half Asian women are like angels I have to say. its like gold and silver you can't blame it for looking perfect. however, i don't think it should be the standard exactly I think they should lower it a bit.

      however our fat-ass Americans cake on makeup and go through bullshit too only they come out looking like stretched robots with rubber faces in comparison.

      while i like natural i can't deny the fact that those who do go through that surgery and makeup are not fucking hot. I have to agree with George here fuck American women all Hail Asia

  • There is different kinds of beauty it just unfortunately isn't a large group. There are quite a few groups where the standards are high as hell. Angelina Jolie was beautiful in a different way than Emma Watson is. I think the problem is that people get to bent out of shape if they aren't in one of these groups. Someone will think you are beautiful so why does it matter if the majority of people think so too? I think people should admit that a person can just be ugly to the majority of people without letting that corrupt their own beauty standards and expectations if themselves. Plastic surgery in Korea has gotten out of hand because they are all trying to look the same. But for the majority of people in the west I feel like they just want to look better. For instance I think I'm attractive but I think I'd look better with a longer nose, bigger teeth and smaller lips. Doesn't mean I think I'm ugly or even that I will get work done it's just easy for me to admit that I am not as attractive as I'd like to be. Nobody is.

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  • From what I know of South Korea and Japan, especially South Korea, they tend to have have a lot of pressure. Pressure to be beautiful, pressure to succeed, pressure to have the best car, pressure to make the most money, have the most nice things, have the best job, it always seemed like a very superficial culture to me.

    I get that that's mainly the cities and that we get that somewhat in the west as well, it just seems to me like they take it to extremes.

    For most people beauty is subjective, not standardized.

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    • Well I think it's a bit unevenly distributed. While there is pressure on both men and women to succeed and be beautiful, for women it's clearly more be beautiful and for men it's more be successful

      It's not like we have arranged marriage but people view marriage more practical than in the west. It's totally acceptable to marry for money and I think rich men with pretty wives have no illusion about it. So if you're a guy and not beautiful it's not bad since you can always still get a good match by being sucessful.
      If you're a woman on the other hand and not beautiful, well that's the end of it. If you're not successful though it's not a big deal since the expectation is still very that you will quit work when you get pregnant. So what matters is that you get a successful husband

    • I never said that it wasn't unevenly distributed, just that there's a lot of pressure on everyone.

      I remember watching a documentary about a group of people that defected from North Korea and all of them were telling their stories and about the horrors that they faced to earn their freedom and finally getting to South Korea and feeling free.

      When they were asked what they missed most about North Korea, every, single one of them said that they missed the people. Because people in Soutb Korea were shallow, superficial and cold.

  • Surgery sucks. Waste of money. If you have more, donate it to poor countries.

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  • You see the thing with "different kinds of beauty" is that you cannot force your "definition of beauty" on other people, that's the reality.
    You say "different kinds of beauty" I say "these people are ugly".
    You say those women weren't even ugly to begin with, I say they actually were ugly as all hell.

    If you want to look varied, and limit yourself to dating people who look as "varied" as you do, it's your choice.
    But if someone doesn't want to only be stuck with dating "varied" looking people then I can't really judge them for getting surgery.

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  • I don't know about the east, but here in America most beauty standards are created and enforced by women, especially fashion magazines. Guy pretty

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    • Much like what they like.

    • I don't know how to measure who is creating and enforcing beauty standards?

  • I prefer the image at the top. A whole society of hot Asian girls, so there's less competition. Seriously, the only way I could get a hot girlfriend right now is if every girl on the planet was hot.

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    • Well at least you're being realistic about your own value

  • Intriguing

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  • When I was a kid the milk man delivered milk, cream and yogurt, once a week my mother paid with a ten shilling note, there were 12 penny's in a shilling and 20 shillings in a pound, so,50p in modern money. It's called inflation. If you had a time machine and traveled back to Victorian times all women would. Be ugly. When short skirts became fashionable women started sharing their legs. In Victorian times only actresses and prostotutes wore makeup, now nearly all women wear it. Cosmetic surgery is just the next step in the beauty arms race.

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    • I disagree that people are quite like money
      Inflation occurs when either the demand for a good/service surpasses it's supply or when there is a supply shortage along with consistent demand. In the west you'll have mostly seen the first kind in your lifetime.
      I don't see how this is comparable to people?

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    • @Kayla03 what? How do you know what women looked like in victorian eras?

    • Search in Google for pictures of victorian beautys and None of them is Photoshop or makeup shit.

  • We actually all seek variety.
    perhaps because our ancient ape and many ancient humanoid ancestors where polyamorous.
    if most pepole looked the same and others different the most beautiful would probly be seen as one of the ones that was different.

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    • well that and there were a bunch of archaic human's besides homo sapiens so we seek diversity and good genetics. i think we naturally seek what we lack

  • Yes I already know they don't look alike. Not even similar. All forms of Asian beauty resides in the East, in all shapes, sizes and colors. Just like on the rest of the globe. And GOD DAMN that girl pictured in the lowest right of the top column is SUPER CUTE 😄😄!!

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  • Thank you

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  • It's cool, there's no competition... makes my job easier.

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  • Interesting

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  • cooll

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  • Lmao, clones everywhere

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  • Good points... definitely believe that the northern European standard of beauty still dominates... unfortunate...

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    • huh?

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    • @Jemini_Crocket The Kardashian bodies are hideous. Kim has a cute face but the rest of her, bleeehhh.

    • @zagor Yeah, their bodies are... overly fake looking. Natural curves seem to be rare these days.

  • We need to encourage women to look at beautiful as possible

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  • Interesting

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What Girls Said 16

  • Very interesting Take. I just posted a question about makeup to see what men and women prefer, and it's funny but in one of my options (the full, classic made up eyes, lips, brows, lashes) is the kind of look you will see EVERYwhere in the US/Canada/UK. Girls knock themselves out, all to look the same. I wish they wouldn't because it's quite obvious that people think our own natural beauty is the way to go.

    And aside from Asian, did you ever see this photo?
    Seems like even Caucasian women unwittingly go through trends to all try and look the same, even the celebrities. :)

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  • Amen!! I'm so sick of everybody doing the exact same make up, same clothes, same hairstyles, same everything! It's boring. Asians do it, white people do it, black people do it, everybody does it, and it's just crap.

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  • I live in Japan and I still think they all look alike... I mean, they're obviously different from each other and not clones, but to a Caucasian person used to a wider variety of different face and body designs not to mention colors and hair textures, Japanese people look overall very similar.

    Personally I also think that people here are getting bigger with every year and the tiny thin is probably not the standard anymore... I'm not guaranteed the L size at the stores anymore.

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  • Wow, and we thought there was pressure to look a certain way here. I wonder when Asian countries will ever settle down in regards to this? I remember learning about foot binding in history class. How Chinese women were forced to make their feet smaller because that's what was considered beautiful even though the results in that case were pretty horrifying. I think that's over but I guess I'm not sure if it still happens in places. It's just so sad like no one in these countries can be themselves.

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  • I agree! It's better to embrace ones unique beauty rather than become a clone. Not saying it's wrong to get plastic surgery. I think it's fine to surgically fix insecurities one may have but to entirely change your face to fit such a narrow and specific idea of beauty is crazy. I think media is at fault as well because it promotes such a narrow ideal of beauty that anyone who falls a little bit outside of it thinks they must be ugly and should change. I think natural Asian features can be very striking and just as beautiful as big eyes and a doll like face.

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  • Western/European beauty standards has effected us all across the world some kind of way.

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  • I agree with you. there shouldn't be so much pressure to look so similar. plastic surgery is stupid.

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  • Smooth featureless skin, perfect breasts on women, perfect abs on men, a firm butt, minimal fat, etc. are universal constants of beauty dating back thousands of years. There is a reason why Cleopatra wasn't 200 pounds with a hare lip.
    Now why is this you ask? Because beauty is just evolution's way of telling you that the person opposite is fit, healthy and most likely able to have children. That's it.
    As for the plastic surgery and other extreme things people do, that is what is known as ''competition''. Men are in competition with other men for women, women are in competition with women for men etc.
    I realize that in 2017 we have reached a point where we are meant to ignore evolution and merit and just consider everyone equal no matter how they act or what they look like, and we are meant to think that people look beautiful ''for themselves'' and are not in competition at all, but that will never truly happen because we are designed by God or random chance not to let that happen.

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    • Well the part about being skinny has changed a lot over the years. More fat used to symbolize fertility. For example in ancient Greece it was better to be round than skinny and/or fit. But it has changed many times since then.

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    • Also because more fat on the hips and thighs and chest meant fertility. It wasn't all about wealth.

    • Cleopatra was ugly, she was adesirable wife because she was the Phaero, she was also clever and educated, spoke 8 or 9 languages. Fat bottoms were beautiful in the stone age, look at the Wilendorf Venus, fat bottoms are still beautiful in parts of Africa.

  • I'd say let them do with their faces/bodies whatever they want unless they're forcing you to change too.

    If you're fine with the way you look and don't care what others think, it's perfect and that's what matters the most in my opinion.

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  • I think that's more of an issue of Eurocentric ideals seeping into non western culture due to media or colonization. It's complicated. however I think East Asian people are beautiful with their natural features.

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    • No I don't think that's true.
      I think there are some eurocentric ideals there but that's not the problem. The problem is the very definition of beauty ideals we chose to implement

  • Korea is weird. If you think of the world generally we do have a lot of variance in beauty :)

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  • Don't lump together Japanese and Korean.

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  • couldn't read everything since I'm lazy asf
    but i know its society in SK that pressures them to do surgery.
    Some businesses picks the prettier ones than the average ones etc.
    and the ahjummas there are rude asf! I'm half korean and this ahjumma came up to me and told me to lose weight and get surgery when i came to SK for vacation. its also because of idols these days too. Also pann effects a lot of youth and adults too

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  • Interesting

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  • This is interesting

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  • I agree with this

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