'Popping' The Beauty Bubble
The pop world is not as beautiful and glamorous as it seems from the outside. Truth is that behind these conveniently luxurious white swans are the ugly ducklings of the truth that brew the myth of perfection in the pop culture industry. So what do the flawless skin and perfect curves hide behind them? Read on to find out what Perspectoverse’s own Suhasini Mitra has to say about it.
It is no surprise that beauty has and always will be an important aspect of how a person is judged. But if commoners are so terrified of being judged, it leaves little to the imagination about what the people in the limelight go through regarding their looks. Pop culture interests people of all ages, races, origins, etc. and it is a very hot topic in today's world. Any kind of information about celebrities which is considered to be a scandal sells like hot cakes. And so these people have to always be prim and proper if they want to be accepted in the industry. This portrayal of being perfect not only goes for behavior but also for their physiques.
But these portraits of what is considered to be perfect and “beautiful” changes from region to region and era to era. What is considered to be desirable in South Korea or India might not be the same for the United States. What was considered to be beautiful in the 1980s is not what we consider beautiful in the 21st century. And oftentimes, to gain this title of “Perfect” the celebrities have to put their bodies and minds through an awful lot leading to psychological and eating disorders.
We start off with pop culture in the U.S.A. It is the fastest growing industry in the world and each day there are new and new artists coming up and too often, these new artists think that they have to have the hour-glass, runaway model figure for their work to be liked by people. This has led to a rise in the number of cases in eating disorders like anorexia nervosa which is the obsession of people with what they eat and how much they weigh, bulimia nervosa where people binge eat and then force themselves to avoid gaining weight most commonly in the form of vomiting. The next one is called Binge eating which is very similar to Bulimia Nervosa except that the individual does not want to excrete out the food in purging behaviors such as vomiting. Many celebrities namely Demi Lovato, Lady Gaga, Princess Diana, Elton John and many more have gone through these disorders. This leads to many health problems in the future.
One of the first celebrities that shook the world with the news of her eating disorder was Princess Diana of Wales. In her interview with BBC after the news of her separation from her husband she revealed that he had acute Bulimia Nervosa. She continued by saying that it was her coping mechanism when her fairy-tale marriage was breaking down. Later she received professional help and healed herself along with the millions of people she helped heal. It is believed by many that the common ground on which Elton John and Diana bonded was their health issues regarding the eating disorders.
Plastic surgery was first done after the First World War to help the injured soldiers of the war to have a normal life again. Since then, plastic surgery has come a long way and now has become synonymous with cosmetic surgery. Till date there are a number of plastic surgeries that improve the standard of living of individuals such as survivors of acid attacks. But the rising rates of beauty or cosmetic surgeries have shown us once again that people fitting into the beauty standards made up by society is more important than the danger of losing their lives and so, they are willing to go under the knives for it. Starting from rhinoplasty to surgeries aimed at bringing about crystal clear skin, in all these attempts to adhere to society’s superficial standards, people have forgotten the value of uniqueness and originality.
If we direct our eyes to the right of the world map, we see a small country- South Korea, with probably one of the biggest industries today -The Korean Pop industry, affectionately known as ‘k-pop’. Regardless of miscellaneous claims, a huge factor of guaranteed success in the industry runs on the visuals of their celebrities. Their youthful looks is what attracts viewers from all over the world. Their singers, actors, performers, models etc, are known far and wide for their ageless beauty.
The orthodox beauty standards still prevalent in Korea consist of a V-line face, porcelain white skin, spotless skin, thigh gap, double eyelid, heart-shaped lips, high straight nose bridge and aligned teeth. Many aspiring artists also involve themselves in cosmetic surgery to get selected into the big three companies which are JYP Entertainment, YG Entertainment and SM Entertainment; where their future is only sunshine and roses.
The perfect stature also involves females being 45-50 kg and males being 65-70 kg. This also leads to unhealthy means to lose weight or maintain the petite figures. Their obsession of negligible weight has led to a decrease in the fertility rate of countries like Korea, Japan etc. Bulimia Nervosa is a common disorder among Korean youth.
In the midst of all these the industries that benefit from these are skin-whitening companies, weight-loss organizations, cosmetic surgeons and other people helping the mass fit into the standards. But we have seen over the last decade that a lot of Korean Socialites like Jennie Kim, Amber Liu, Hwasa, RM etc. have broken the traditional standards by simply being themselves. Hwasa, who is a member of the girl group Mamamoo revealed that a hiring agent from one of the countries told her that she was talented but she did not fit into the beauty standards because of her healthy figure and chocolate skin. She later promised to herself after the interview- “ If I don’t fit into the beauty standards, then I have to make a different standard for myself”.
To conclude, it’s truly distressing that times have come to such a point where true talent is only valued as long as it’s accompanied by superficial and subjective beauty rules that our society sets. And it’s likely that these practices shall continue for a long time to come, as they have been in the past. How we rise above them, however, is a story for another time.
Written by Suhasini Mitra
Illustrated by Urvi Agarwal