For those of use that have been born into a western society with multicultural values it might seem really odd and even shocking that fellow humans in countries such as Korea and Japan all try and look the same.
We were brought up in a society which promoted being and individual and unique and we celebrate differences and actually don’t want to “be the same as everyone else”. This is a distinct cultural difference that sets us apart from our Asian neighbours.
In countries like Japan and Korea which is considered a homogeneous society, being like everyone else is actually celebrated ad difference can result in heavy bullying and even suicide amongst a lot of teenagers growing up.
Here is the definition of homogenous society from ask.com:
“A homogenous society is a society where most of the community members share the same culture, language, ethnicity and religious beliefs. The most prominent homogenous societies are grouped according to ethnicity; thus people with the same skin complexion are found in the same locality. Some homogenous societies are made of people with the same financial background.”
Despite the world becoming more and more global and fluid countries like Korea and even to some extent Japan still have very low numbers of foreigners, as this is still a fairly new concept, that have assimilated into their society. Although there are increasing levels of foreigners entering these countries, they still remain fairly segregated from the main local communities.
Whereas countries such as Australia and the USA have been letting people immigrate into their countries for many years already and also try and welcome their foreigners to fit in and people of many different countries have now settled and grown up in these countries making other nationalities, unique looks and features fairly commonplace. Having the previous generation settle and fit into the country also created more mixed babies making the different looks and features of the people unique and different.
Because we are so used to seeing people with such genetic variety such as the color of eyes and hair which can span from light blue, dark blue to grey, brown hazel and green and hair being from different shades of blonde to browns, red heads and people with black hair, seeing a whole race of people with the exact same hair color and eye color seems fairly “the same” to us. However to them they’ve adapted to start telling differences between each other in more detail since hair and eye color are fairly similar, people in countries such as Korea and Japan have started to recognise people using other facial features and perhaps even more detailed measurements of the face.
This may also explain why they are so obsessed with fairly small differences in the face, leading to more instances of plastic and cosmetic surgery and make up techniques. However I can’t be certain.
The prime example of people all looks the same from Korea syndrome was the Miss Korea pagent 2013, with many Asians claiming that they look the same. Many blamed plastic surgery as the culprit to the “eveery woman looks the same” syndrome but another and less publicised reason for this is also the standards of Korean beauty.
It’s no secret that contestants to beauty pagents are picked according to their looks and features and in order to enter the pagent they have to be considered beautiful by the general population. In America nad Australia this standard can be quite varied due to the wider gene pool of the population. A brunette can be just as attractive as a blonde, and an Asian can be just as sexy as an Italian.
But think about this: What if you only had ONE beauty standard?
Korea’s Beauty Standards
In Korea there is pretty much only one beauty standard. This standard is followed by plstic surgeons, people that select Kpop group members and select the faces for the ads you see on TV etc. Now what if this one beauty standard was followed by all the judges that selected the contestants of these Korean Beauty Pagent contestants. Well yes you’d get a fairly similar standard of beauty:
- Large bright eyes with double eyelids
- Tall bridge and thin nose
- Small and petite mouth
- Small v shape face
- Tall and slim
- Round and feminine features
- A pleasant and friendly smile
These beauty standards I listed above are all agreed upon by everyone in Korea, when choosing candidates for jobs, when judging how beautiful or pretty a girls is, for selecting friends, models etc. The above criteria is fairly standard.
An interesting fact:
Kim Tae Hee is one of the most requested faces when women walk into plastic surgery clinics in Korea
Now how about Korean style make up?
Korean makeup style is fairly distinguishable as well. Korean make up artists and brands follow certain ways of doing make-up as well. And these are:
- Makeup has to look natural, almost as if your face doesn’t have much makeup on
- Your skin needs to look clear white and radient
- Your eyes must look big but keeping the colors very neutral, only using colors to enhance the contour or brightness of the eyes.
- Eye liner is very clean and natural, only used to make eyes look longer or rounder, but always natural
- False lashes must look natural and open up eyes to look more “Awake”
- Eyebrows are fairly straight with no big arches, this is to project a more friendly images and not aggressive fierce or too sexy. Brown and soft tones are preferred with no bold or harsh colors.
- Cheeks must look like they have a natural flush giving a cute look.
- Lips must look like it was “just bitten” and tinted as opposed to bold colors. As natural as possible. Also the ombre lip look is popular because it makes your lips look smaller and more delicate.
The aim of this make up is to make you look like an enhanced, cuter more friendly version of yourself. Korean men in particular don’t like women that look overly aggressive or strong, so they all prefer a cute friendly girl, and this male preference also drives women to put on makeup in a particular style. The overly “sexy” image of women are fairly rare in this country, but not non existent. They still use sexuality in kpop MV’s and ads but it’s usually done by a very young looking cute innocent girl.
I have included a picture of all the contestants before shots later on in this post
When you combine this fairly narrow standard of beauty and makeup styles together you get a fairly “same same” looking women, especially if you got to choose from a large pool to begin with. When you looked at the Miss Korea Pagent (Actually the Miss Daegu pagent) contestants without make up on, you can tell that they all looked a bit different however still satisfied the Korean standards of physical beauty, however after hair and makeup was put on them in the same style, they all looked very very similar, especially to someone who was not used to looking at many Korean people everyday.
Combined with some of the same photoshop for the media photos and you get a huge blend of VERY VERY similar looking women. This gif was created to mock this process:
What happens when we apply this narrow beauty standard to Americans and the World?
Just so we can see this in action, when we apply the same narrow concept of beauty, lets say just blondes or just brunettes with the same makeup and hair styling we can also see a similar occurrence in any other race:
Fairly similar right??
The before and Afters of Miss Daegu’s contestants
Now lets take a quick look at the Miss Korea pagents before all the make up and photoshopping 🙂
Honestly, they look all different to me, and even with the rumoured plastic surgery they all don’t look the same. I’m sure the Makeup and photoshop had a large part in it as well.
Just for the final reveal, I here is a picture of the before and after of each of the contestants:
The power of makeup and photoshop right?? Actually I’m a huge fan of the Koreans style of beauty thanks to my love for Kpop etc. I think most of the style really comes from the correct application of Korean style make up. I find that when I apply make up the Korean way, I’m more likely to be msitaken as Korean whereas if I didn’t and applied my makeup the Western way or I didn’t wear makeup people will think I’m Chinese.
Powerful stuff right :)!! Make sure you check out my Korean Makeup Basics Series as well 🙂
Link to them here:
What do you guys think of the Korean standards of beauty? Please let me know in the comments section below 🙂 (I have one for Facebook and one for Blogger)