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Monday, July 4, 2011

Why living in Korea is good for my self-esteem...

The more I read, the more I feel like this is going to be a very long post. I wanted to talk about the Korean standard for beauty, and how it's working out for me because I have all the bits and pieces to be beautiful in Korea. And I'm told so often. But while it's working out well for me, it's not for millions of other Korean girls who get a lot of plastic surgery to try to reach that ideal.

Unfortunately, most of my resources are other blogs, as I can't bring myself to pay to read dry research papers, and searching in Korean is harder then it sounds. (grrr... who knew celebrity beauty wouldn't translate well...). My only other source is some personal conversations that I won't be gauche enough to reference here. My only comment to my Korean friends will be that I strongly object to plastic surgery on your face, (unless you've been in an accident or something and then it's reconstructive surgery) whether you believe it or not, you're beautiful in your own way. I've rarely seen any truly unfortunate looking girls and you do not rank amongst them. Besides, no one in the rest of the world thinks my nose is attractive, don't do it!

It also looks like this post might develop into a feminist rant at some point, but let's take it slow and hope I don't get to that.

First off, why I'm hot by Korean standards:

1. Small Face
I know you can't read the numbers on my ruler (cause it's a sweet clear blue ruler), but Shannon and I both agree I'm an awesome 19cm. lol!

This is Koh Ara... a famous actress and model known for her small face has a 19cm face (contrary to what the article claims... count the cm's yourself, lol)

Having a Small Face in Korea is a huge prerequisite for beauty. The smaller the better.

When I first got to Korea I got told "Oh you have such a small face!" Over and over again. I kept saying Thank you becuase they didn't seem like they were trying to be insulting, but thinking 'Geez, you don't have to keep pointing it out!' Turns out it was a compliment. A huge one.

I don't know how well you can see this (click on the pic to see it bigger), this is the search results for 작은 얼굴 (small face). Notice that the first result is for plastic surgery. You might be wondering, how do you make your face smaller? Turns out the plastic surgeon shaves your jaw. Similar to Jaw surgery in the US for TMJ, your jaw is then wired shut until it heals, leading to what a lot of Korean girls consider a double benefit. A smaller jaw and a smaller waist as you're forced to go on a liquid diet until your jaw heals.

In the middle of the page is an article about Korean "Small Face" beauty's in Japan, and how having a small face is a prerequisite.

2. Double Eyelids

Like my small face, I can't help them I was born that way. But millions of Asian girls get plastic surgery to "correct" having almond eyes. Like these (notice the ages of the women):

Or they use Double Eyelid tape... which Simon and Martina demonstrate here:
Love love love!! EatYourKimchi!

Seriously though, I really love Asian eyes. The almond shape is so exotic and pretty. Don't surgically alter your eyes, or you might end up like the lady that couldn't close her eyes anymore!

3. "Western" aka Big Nose

I get complimented on my nose a lot too.... something which has never, ever, ever happened before Korea. My nose is something the Bieser side of my family jokes about being our "inheritance" and something I always hoped I wouldn't pass onto my children (but always knew I, regrettably, would).

I've joked about getting a nose job, but never seriously considered it. Why? Well, because it doesn't hinder my personality, my intelligence and it doesn't make people stop and stare or run away in fear. So no, though I don't like my nose, I would never get it surgically altered.

Celebrity Plastic surgery photos.

4. White Skin (or as pale as possible)

I can't believe I haven't taken any pictures of the crazy huge visors that are for sale or that old lady's wear constantly around here.
Like this, only much much bigger.

Not only that, but all the lady's wearing tons of clothes and scarves, bundled up in the heat to keep the sun off has caused a serious Vitamin D deficiency, according to a study done in 2004. This contributes greatly to the rampant osteoporosis. You might think I'm exaggerating about the osteoporosis but I'm not.

In fact, we've got a joke going that the further bent over an old lady is the older she is. The oldest old lady we ever saw was 800years old. She was touching he toes. I swear.

This joke is a little sad in context now.....

Also, skin whiteners are popular. Either in cremes for home use or a treatment at a salon.

A lot of BB Cremes include whitener and a heavy sunblock. What is BB Creme? Almost the most awesome cosmetic invention ever (in my humble opinion). I'll do a full review on it some other time. Let's just say I wish I could send samples to all my friends out there, because once you put it on the skin you can tell it's different from anything else you've ever used. When I move back to the US, I will be ordering BB Creme because I've already decided I can't live without it.

Some things that don't work in my favor as a Korean beauty:
1. Not skinny enough. 
From a study done in 2005, a survey among Japanese and Korean college students say that the ideal BMI is 18.4, which would put me at about 120lbs. I'd have to lose about 45lbs. I don't think so...

2. Small Calves
I don't have huge calves, but as Shannon says, my calves are "womanly". lol. Still, I would never get calf reduction surgery that's so popular here in Korea.

That's about it, after all, I'm pretty darn cute!

Just a couple more things. American plastic surgery standards are not better by any means, just different. The fact that I can think about a lot of american plastic surgery's without shuddering just means that I'm immune due to years of exposure.

And look, I didn't go into a crazy feminist rant after all!


  1. Hehe, i suppose you got #4 down :P
    Also... how does calve reduction surgery not leave you limping for the rest of your life?!?!

    BTW, the river picture, from artsy fartsy 5, is pretty classy.

    And congrats on the non-rant

  2. Thanks Jamaal. >.<
    I have no idea.. especially since they describe it as removing muscle... bleh!!

    Thanks and Thanks!

  3. Hey! Very informative and would it be wrong of me to say I chuckled a bit?

  4. I, sometimes think, Korean has low confident about their physical appearance. I'm Indonesian, but I never thought of plastic surgery to my face (unless I had accident). But well the definition of beauty in Asia, America, Africa and Europe are different. Like in Asia (I find it sometimes quite annoying), they like long straight hair, white skin, nose like caucasian so forth. That's why whitening is best seller than tanning cream :P

    Anyway, I think I talk to much. I like your article. Nice writing and what a beautiful face of you :)


  5. My face is 17cm!! I also do have the big eyes and pale skin. The weight thing is an issue though, and my height. I'm only 5'2. Sadness.

    1. Me too! :) I'm the same about the face, skin and the height! :P

      Although you shouldn't let the height thing get you down if you look at how popular Taeyeon is out of "Girls Generation" it goes to show that people don't mind height it's more the proportions of the body.

      I hate my weight, but it's something everyone will never be happy about! :P

    2. OH! I have a 18.5cm head... People have told me I have a small face but I never acknowledged it. Wow, that means I have at least 2 friends with a face that is likely to ACTUALLY be 17cm (or less). My features are larger though because I am an indian, white and black mix. Thus, also darker skinnee, curvy and short! Well, one thing is better than nothing.

  6. oh shit..u will never become succesful to imitate those traits..sad..HAIL KOREA!!

  7. Well, I found my face is 18cm, and I've got the eyes and nose naturally, but I'm naturally 'tan' (I've no problem with that, although I do like some bb creams) and I would have to to loose ~15 lbs to be at 18.1 bmi. I am trying to loose 5-7 so I can go back to 102 (I'm just under 5', so 102 is actually a good weight for me), but 93 lbs is waaay too skinny for me.

  8. What a coincidence XD I'm Indonesian and I have small face around 17-17,5 cm, and small eyelids. First I though it was silly that my face is the smallest than my other friends but after I read this, I feel so confident now.I think I just need some skin care to make it bit lighter and gain some weight cuz I'm so skinny >.< Nice article and I love your eyes! :D

  9. You're fat and hideous by any standard. Quit trying to assume Koreans want to look like someone like you. You're the furthest thing from the Korean standard of beauty.

    1. And you're probably an overweight, unattractive and socially awkward Koreaboo.

    2. i agree and her face looks big.

    3. It looks big because she's chubby and maybe taller compare to Koh Ara

    4. She never said that Koreans want to look like her. She just said that she has similar measurements to what koreans want

  10. Not to sound rude or whatsoever, I'm Korean but I don't think just because you having a small face etc makes you automatically pretty in Korea. Yes, we always saying to foreigner that 'You have a small nose' 'your eyes is so big' but it doesn't means that we thought that you are pretty.

    1. Well she never said she was pretty, she used 'darn cute' which she is and if she has a cute personality, that might make her look more cuter but i agree just because you have a small face doesn't mean your pretty. I've seen people with small faces who aren't attractive and I've seen people with large faces who are very attractive

  11. noone in korea thinks you're pretty. calm down. you're a plain white girl and will probably always remain so -- don't act like just because you come to a foreign country, people are blind or something. geez.

    1. someone's butthurt lolz

    2. Don't put race in this as if saying white girls aren't pretty. I've seen a lot of white girls who are very pretty and attractive as well as other races. And you don't know what everyone in Korea thinks so you can't speak for everyone in Korea so don't say 'none in Korea thinks you're pretty'. I do agree that she's very plain-looking but that's her decision how she wants to look, 'to each his own'.

  12. small face make attraction so that why i am using face smaller tool that is face thin which is make my face thinner and smaller.

  13. Very interesting, thanks for the post! I've been wondering myself what they mean about having a small face, didn't know about some of the other beauty standards, the calf reduction surgery sounds very scary!

  14. I have an 18 cm face. Is that small? I am also 5 ft 6 inches in height.

  15. Oh my then my face is way too small. 16cm!!.....I'm 25 and 5.3 inches height. Weighing just 39 :( I'm an Indian... Looks like I should have born in Though I'm criticised for being lean, evrybody says I'm cute and doesn't look much age. (Love that part). I.

  16. My face is 18 cm long, and 17 cm wide. Lol. I have no idea if I qualify as beautiful or not because of that.

    I do know I'm a fatty mc fatterson since I'm 170.18 cm tall and am 61.2 kg ;_; How do Korean girls stay get so thin? Guess I'm going to do more cardio and eat better haha.

  17. You mentioned "I know you can't read the numbers on my ruler (cause it's a sweet clear blue ruler), but Shannon and I both agree I'm an awesome 19cm" but i CAN see the black lines maybe not the numbers clearly and it looks more like 21cm or 22cm to where your finger is at. Are you lying just like the article claimed on Koh Ara saying she's 17cm instead of 19cm