Please don’t judge me by ‘idol standards’: The dangers of expecting perfection.
Korean idols; we all have an opinion on them. From the lovers to the haters, each person has their own views on the way stars are viewed both within and outside the ‘fandom’ world. Many of these views can verge on the extreme and even the use of the word ‘idol’ says a lot about the unquestioning beliefs of many fans that their favourite stars are an embodiment of perfection. But by viewing idols too highly, do we place idols on a dangerously high imaginary pedestal and does this have an impact on the way we view ourselves and others?
Many will deny knowledge of doing this but often fans do. This can lead to them becoming trapped in a mind-set by which they will measure their own personal lives and achievements against idols. This can affect the way in which view not only their own body image but also those around them. Many times I have been at events filled with young fans having conversations solely surrounding the way they look. A normal topic between teenage girls, yes, but often shadowed by the inclusion of what they would have ‘fixed’.
From my own experience I have seen many examples of people becoming disappointed when they meet with Koreans in an everyday situation. I was once told by a very distraught friend that he had become confused when confronted by a young female who had told him he was ‘far to average looking’ to be Korean. Within the past two years in which the Hallyu Wave has made its biggest international impact, more Koreans than ever are undergoing simple to complex surgeries in order to improve their looks and confidence.
The Hallyu wave has in its immense flourish created a deeper darker side. Talking to one girl at a language meet, I was told that for her eighteenth birthday she had asked for double eyelid surgery and a ‘slight’ nose job as she had become uncomfortable with the way she looked after visiting London and spending some time with fans of K-pop. However, it is not just women who have become affected by this as many men are now opting to endure procedures in order to live up to the idolised and polished image that has been set for them. Is it not unfair to have to review yourself and feel the need to improve one’s self in order to live up to an image that has been set by others?
I realise that in this world many things can impact the way in which we view ourselves and that the media also has an effect on how we view and crave ‘perfection’, but within the world of K-pop this seems to be getting more and more dangerous.
Whatever happened to just being yourself? The standards by which K-pop idols are viewed and set should not be a guideline to defining everyday people. Attempting to be ‘good enough for them’ is a bad way to live but also pushing that judgement onto others is wrong in so many ways. If people were to judge you on the basis of your skin colour, this would automatically be viewed as racist and ignorant. Is it not the same concept to judge a person’s standard of beauty simply because they are Asian?
People should remember that not every Asian person they come across is Korean nor are they an idol. To want every Korean to match up to the image that has been created for idols is incomprehensible to say the least, but also potentially very damaging.
This is part of a series of posts about body image in K-pop and Korean society.