The Toxic Side of K-Pop Beauty Standards
By: Devika Sunand
Korean pop, commonly known as K-pop, has taken over the world with its catchy songs, billion-dollar boy bands, and mind-blowing dance moves. The Korean economy has grown richer over the last decade thanks to the export of K-pop. In 2018, the South Korean music market experienced a 17.9% increase in revenue growth and ranked at No. 6 among the top 10 music markets worldwide, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry’s Global Music Report.
With increasing global appeal and popularity comes an uptick in pressure and competition. K-pop idols usually join large record companies as trainees, starting as young as 11-years-old, receiving training in singing, rapping, dancing, and foreign languages.
While K-pop can be glamorous and upbeat, Korean society often emphasizes unattainable beauty standards. Per Korean beauty standards, a slim figure, small face and V-shape jawline, pale skin, double eyelids, flawless skin, and larger eyes are often considered a must to be beautiful.
K-pop idols and trainees are put under strict diets that can get to extreme levels. A former member of the girl-group Crayon Pop told Insider that they were not allowed to eat midnight snacks or things like candy and chips, so they would have to sneak them in the bathroom and eat there.
The struggle doesn’t end after an artist’s debut, however. K-pop stars are under constant pressure to maintain their weight and appear attractive to their audience. Artists can have back-to-back performances and rehearsals for hours and these rigorous schedules and lack of proper nutrition put them at a risk for health issues. In an interview with K-Pop Herald, BTS’ Jin shared he was previously malnourished as he only ate a total of four chicken breasts a day for a year, with no vitamins. BTS’ Jimin also revealed that he had a diet of eating only one meal a day for ten days
While K-pop stars have won the world over with their stunning performances and catchy songs, we can’t fail to ignore what goes behind the scenes. K-pop stars are humans too and the moment we forget this is when they are most vulnerable.