Korean Beauty Standards: A Cultural Contrast on Ideal Beauty

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Korean Beauty Standards: A Cultural Contrast on Ideal Beauty

Beauty standards. They often vary according to each country’s culture and history; and serve to showcase the differences between us. In South Korea the concept of ideal beauty is far different from the western society. From pale skin to small faces, Korean beauty standards reflect a cultural contrast interesting to learn.

Korean Beauty Standards

Just like any other country, South Korea has its own patterns of beauty. The most standard ideals of beauty involve having:

  • A small face
  • Big eyes
  • Pale skin
  • A slim figure

1. Small Face

small face

Having a small face is not a glamourized trait in western society. However, in South Korea it is a reflection of true beauty.

According to Joyce Kong, the reason for that is because Asian people (in particular Korean) tend to have smaller eyes which give the appearance of a bigger face. To counter back that illusion, many South Korean women and men strive to achieve a V-shapes face. This is a delicate face with unpronounced jaw lines and a pointy chin.

To acquire a smaller face many Koreans hide part of their jaw when taking pictures. Or even use filters to depict a smaller proportion of the face. However, more permanent solutions are available in the shape of makeup, beauty utensils and even plastic surgery.

Starting with makeup, contour plays a crucial role to portray the illusion of a smaller face. Contrary in western societies, where contour is aimed to accentuate cheekbones and jaw line; In Korea it has the exact opposite objective. As a result, many Koreans shade the outer line of their faces to acquire a more slender and smaller face.

In regards to beauty utensils, South Korea holds some of the most interesting items to reduce accentuated jaw lines. From chin straps, jaw line sheet masks to massaging roles. All promise to slim the face and reduce the appearance of fuller features.

In regards to plastic surgery, being one the biggest plastic surgery centers in the world, South Korea offers cosmetic procedures to achieve a V-shaped face. The procedure is called “v-line” and aims to shave the jaw line to give the appearance of a more slim and minor face.

2. Big Eyes

big eyes

South Korea’s ideal beauty lies on a youthful and innocent look. We previously mentioned the importance of having a small face. However, having big eyes is also another important key factor to appear youthful.

As majority of Koreans hold small eyes with monolids, to increase eye size they mostly recur to plastic surgery. The most popular procedure is called “double eyelid surgery” and it aims to create a second eye crease for a bigger eye look. This procedure is also common to correct eyelid asymmetries.

Other popular procedures involve the injection of fat or filler under the eyes. The main intention is to permanently emulate the natural pockets of fat that appear under the eyes when we smile. As a result, the appearance of bigger eyes is expected; providing a more youthful and cheerful look to the face in return.

Furthermore, another way to achieve a bigger set of eyes is by using invisible eyelid tap. The latter is glued to the lid area so when the eye opens it creates a double eyelid fold.

3. Pale Skin

pale skin

Contrary to the desired golden tan skin in the west, pale skin is much more preferred in the east. The reason for so on the deep cultural roots of Asian countries.

In majority of cases, dark skin is associated with labor intensive jobs. While paler skin is associated with high paying jobs. This social class implication has been set since the royal era and transferred into contemporary society as a cultural beauty standard.

To achieve paler skin, Koreans utilize a lot of UV protection gear like parasols, protective sleeves and sunscreen.  Korean skincare products like sheet masks and face masks also provide blighting effects to accentuate paler skin.

4. Slim Figure

slim figure

South Korea holds one of the lowest obesity rates in the world. However, still 60% Korean women and 41% men are or want to go on diets. This is because holding a slim figure is highly praised and seen as a sign of beauty in Korean culture.

To achieve a slim figure many Koreans turn to diets or plastic surgery. In the case of diets, South Korean resort to weight loss clinics or try popular diets online. Dieting pills are also a common tool and are available in drug stores.

In the case of plastic surgery, liposuction treatments are a fairly popular choice to reduce weight. In particular, fat burning injections, made popular by Korean pop stars, are one of the most typical procedures to reduce body volume.

Final Thoughts

korean beauty standards

Overall beauty standards are deeply rooted in history in culture. Depending on the country and region, ideal beauty patterns vary vastly and can create some cultural shocks.

Korean beauty standards are far different from western countries like the United States. However, they should not be judge for that. After all, beauty is relative and there’s no right or wrong when it comes to aesthetics.

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