South Korean Beauty Norms and the Women Who Defy Them


Kim Ji-yeon of South Korea knew she wanted plastic surgery since the age of seven, and she spent the next thirteen years destroying all photos of herself until her parents paid for double jaw surgery. In a moment of self-reflection, Kim questioned why she put so much money and time into her appearance, eventually joining the growing movement called “Escape the Corset.” Born out of the global #MeToo movement, “Escape the Corset” is actively challenging the misogyny promoted by South Korea’s beauty industry. The country has the world’s highest rate of cosmetic surgery per capita, and the pressure for women to wear makeup is higher than ever. The feminist movement born in the beauty industry has grown to be even more passionate and aggressive than in many other countries because of the complete lack of female representation in the South Korean government. The need for a female positive space has found home in the South Korean beauty community and continues to be a political force to be reckoned with.

For Further Reading

Read more about South Korea’s “Escape the Corset” movement here!

Discussion Question

How much money and time do you put into your beauty routine? Do you do it because you enjoy it, or because you feel you must? Consider and reflect.


Action Item

It requires an immense amount of bravery for a woman to exist in the world without wearing makeup. Next time you notice a woman embracing her natural beauty, make sure you extend a compliment their way! A little confidence boost can go a long way.


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