My story for the South China Morning Post came out Christmas/xmas eve of all days, but my research and interviews went well back to November last year. As usual, I ended up with too much material, even after I took a bit of liberty with the assigned wordcount:S I'll try to do a longform feature on this topic someday. But for now, here are some outtakes:
"Your skin is good, but your dark eye circles age you," my interviewee, a dermatologist at Gangnam's most renowned skincare clinic said.
"But in some cultures like in France, dark circles are considered sexy," I replied.
The doctor was momentarily disarmed. "Well that doesn't change the fact that your dark circles are fundamentally unhealthy," she finally said. From there she went on for another 10min explaining why I needed a stem cell facial, plus other treatments to counteract the effects.
As a younger woman I was not supposed to challenge her assessment; I took her subsequent criticisms in stride but also wondered if she could've proven her point without having to address my appearance.
Online, across the world wide blogosphere, I’ve noticed beauty tutorials and videos with titles like “Asian skincare secrets: How Korean women have such nice skin." or "Korean women and their porcelain skin".
The romanticized image of Korean women and their perfect skin is held to be true not only by Kbeauty fans and beauty bloggers; it’s an image that is championed by the industry itself. And it's one that hard to dispute, with posters of perfectly made-up Kpop stars touting CC cushions and clay masks along the walls and websites of most cosmetics stores in the nation.
Kbeauty and its vast array of products + packaging are wondrous, miraculous and cute in so many ways. But rarely do we examine the social circumstances from/for which many products were created, one where women must adhere to rigid, unattainable standards of beauty and behaviour.
Visit SCMP to read more about the realities of Kbeauty for women in South Korea.