In every culture and society, there is an ideal beauty standard that millions of people try to live up to. Living up to these ideal beauty standards can be very damaging at times for one’s mental, emotional, and physical health. A country where the beauty standards seem to be quite strict per say is South Korea. The ideal facial standard is mainly defined by the following: pale flawless skin, double eyelids, double lidded eyes, v-line face shape with a small chin, and a nose with a thin bridge. In terms of body-shape, women are also preferred to have a tall and thin figure.
If individuals don’t necessarily meet this standard especially in terms of the body shape, then they are met with so many forms of body shaming from people all around them, their family, friends and overall just society.
South Korea’s first plus-size model Vivian Geeyang Kim told Korea Herald, “In Korean society, there are categories for only ‘normal’ or ‘average’ people. The rest don’t belong anywhere, and fat people are just mocked. They consider being fat as lazy, disgusting and unhealthy.”
Geeyang also mentioned that “It has been a long time since I’ve shopped in Korea because there are not many sizes here I can try on.”
To support the campaign of accepting curvier women as beautiful, Geeyang decided to start her own publication catered to curvy women.
Alongside Vivian Geeyang Kim, these two individuals continue to defy the beauty standards of their country. Yeom Yoon Hye and Bae Kyo Hyun, two individuals who wanted to show South Korea that one can be plus size and pretty as well. The two fashion models made their official debut after winning the 1st and 2nd place at a model contest that was held by ‘J Style’- a plus size online shopping retailer.
Out of the 170 contestants, Yeom Yoon Hye took first place and landed a modelling deal with ‘J Style’. Bae Kyo Hyun, who had a speciality in digital production, was eliminated at 2nd place but was luckily offered to be the social media manager for the brand.
Yeom Yoon Hye and Bae Kyo Hyun always wanted to become models and it was a life-long dream for them but their dream was often ridiculed and looked down upon because of their size.
Hyun mentioned to AllKpop that while growing up her male classmates would mock and taunt her while she was eating in the cafeteria and that she would usually eat by herself in the classroom because of that. Hye said that her friend openly ridiculed her body, even saying she had “elephant legs.”
“There are weapons that only plus size models can have, and that is healthiness and friendliness. Skinny models can become the subject of idolization while plus size models can become role models to the average people.”
Despite the insulting remarks and taunting from their peers, they didn’t let their size bring them down. Yeom Yoon Hye and Bae Kyo Hyun claim that they’ve now overcome the prejudice and dream to become the ”prettiest fattiest” in South Korea.
Yeom Yoon Hye and Bae Kyo Hyun now want to work hard and bring to light that there is nothing wrong with being plus size. Everyone is beautiful in their own shape and form and the ideal beauty standard should not dictate how one should look. Yeom Yoon Hye stated, ”I want to give confidence people who are stressed by their physical appearance.” Bae Kyo Hyun also said, “I’ll use my major to create many contents inspirational for the plus sizes.”