Body Image – from the perspective of someone living in the East.

Without me stating it, it’s evident that each country from either side of the world has expectations of what they would consider as the ideal body image for men and women; these being upheld within societies. The reason why I’m writing this post is due to the fact that I have become more self-conscious of my body since moving to South Korea from the UK.

Absolutely everywhere in South East Asia as a whole (please don’t get offended for me mentioning how I feel) are obsessed with maintaining an idolised body mass. I understand well that using the BMI scale (body mass index) provides a guideline for enabling people to promote a healthily lifestyle and physique in order to avoid diet related illnesses and diseases, but why should I as a healthy person who is neither fat nor skinny made to feel like I am overweight and overall just a unattractive individual?

Constantly in South Korea I see advertisements via social media, at the subway station and all over sections of YouTube for products relating to weight loss and physical appearance. Diet shakes, food substitutes and clothing for hiding or adjusting body parts are just a few to mention. The women used in these commercials barely have any so called imperfections; the slightest signs of cellulite or stretch marks suggestively need to be ‘corrected’ plus everything from thighs to calves should fit within certain measurements.

The adverts use editing and ‘tricks’ to their advantage for increasing the shock factor of how supposedly these women are out of shape. They in reel customers with emotion conjuring stories and imagery making the actors/actresses relatable to the audience, they make the actresses wear ill-fitting clothing to make their stomachs seem larger than in reality, furthermore highlighting that the women do not meet weight targets favoured in society.

Repeatedly I see that South Koreans in particular consider 46-48kg/7.2-7.5 Stone (or UK dress sizes 6-8 or smaller) being the weight women should strive: for not a kilogramme more. Height and genetics not even being an accounted factor. I don’t feel comfortable with stating my dress size or weight, just incase there is a backlash, but I can assure you that I am of a healthy body weight and far from being obese – infact almost being in the underweight category according to a doctor I saw for another reason.

I don’t see these bad habits changing in Korea anytime soon, I would just love to discover a way to live comfortably and peaceful in mind whilst surrounded by an environment that occasionally makes me feel disgusted with myself. Honestly one of the main reasons why I am hesitant to have a child or children stems from matters like this. Why would I want to bring a child into a world were he/she should be made to feel like they aren’t beautiful?

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11 Comments Add yours

  1. bae_janet says:

    As a Korean American in the US, I feel the same way too. I remember when I was in Elementary school in Korea, I was called “chubby” and my aunts and uncles would hint me (or my parents) to lose weight. I am totally comfortable in my body and with my size although my weight is definitely in that 45kg-48kg range. I just wish there are more diverse beauty standards in South Korea and other parts of Asia so that many teenagers and women don’t feel ashamed of their body!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for commenting, your experience in the situation proves that I’m not the only one who thinks that the upheld standards are existant and hard to cope with. I hope now you aren’t bothered by what people say. As long as we are all healthy, that’s what matters most.

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      1. bae_janet says:

        haha yeah that’s right!!! It’s more about how healthy you feel than how pretty or how you fit into the typical ‘beauty standard’ :DD

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Very interesting to read your perspective on this! I am Chinese and I was born and raised in Canada…Even though I predominately consider myself a Westerner, my parents and family members told me that I was overweight when I was in elementary school! I suffered a mild eating disorder and even to this day, where I am considered “slim” to Westerners, I still consider myself fat and overweight!! East Asian ideals, in general, are extremely unattainable! Consider genetics play a huge role in bone mass and structure !!! loved your post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for commenting. What I spoke about will always be controversial but let’s hope with the changing times that less and less people will have to suffer from feeling like they aren’t wonderful for how they naturally are, especially if they are actually of healthly proportions.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Please don’t be mad! Just want to let you know So.Kor is in East Asia and not the South East 😊 I absolutely, 100% agree with you though! I am still a fan of K-pop and the culture in general but I feel like it is getting more and more ridiculous with the whole body image thing. It’s sad and I’m kinda thankful I got my mind out of that before I ruined food for myself the rest of my life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah true, clearly was wrong with the geography there lol. Glad you were able to understand the whole issue, no one should have to go through an eating disorder or suffer from crazy diets.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. hoiyinli says:

    Omg I came across that IU diet months ago on someone’s Youtube. They were trying it out for a week I think, just as speculation and I remember them saying how ridiculous and HUNGRY they felt. The sad thing is that a 2 or 3 year old probably eats more than that.
    The advertisements are huge in Hong Kong as well (I have family there). Body image is massive so it’s not uncommon to see celebrities go in all fresh faced and then give it 2 years, they are unhealthily skinny. IU used to be really adorable, healthy and I remember thinking how fresh she looked but now she’s so slim! Not even in a toned way (cos of course, how could she workout on such a diet).

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    1. Yeahhh, it’s all concerning. Let’s hope that people get educated about the dangers and influences before they do something as drastic as the diets mentioned.

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  5. Oh goddess that Korean diet had me in gales of laughter! And a sweet potato for lunch?! Crazy carbs and no green leafy vegetables? The whole thing is insane and I would just hate to be a curvy woman like me in Korea that’s for sure! It’s good that you realise that weight ideals are culturally set but the picture you paint is of a very unhealthy society that shames women and gets away with really sexist and insensitive advertising that would cause an uproar in western countries like the UK, Australia and the US. I’m glad you’ve held onto your self esteem and see this BS for what it is!

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    1. I’m glad you see and support what I was trying to convey. I was hesitant to write such a thing as I know not everyone in Korea upholds a lifestyle like the one mentioned, I just thought it was important to highlight the reality that it does exist. Overall I’m just trying to break the ‘korea is perfect’ stereotypes that kpop fans have. It’s a wonderful country but like every nation they have their flaws – life in korea is not a magical dream depicted in Korean dramas or music videos.

      Thanks again for reading and commenting, I always like reading your comments in particular ☺

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