Historically, Asian women have been held to a standard of feminine beauty. In other words, they are expected to be sweet and gentle. You’ve probably heard such words as “aegyo” and “kawaii”, haven’t you? The first one comes from South Korea while the second one is used in Japan and they both convey the notion of an attractive woman who looks very cute and soft. However, opinions about beauty differ in the Eastern and Western worlds. But before we dig deeper into what distinguishes them, let’s have a closer look at the reasons why Asian views on beauty are so unique.
According to the survey conducted in 2020, about 20% of young Korean girls have already undergone some kind of cosmetic surgery. This number is significantly above the average rate in the United States. Another study revealed that nearly one-third of South Korean women at the age of 19-29 have had plastic surgery. Researchers found out that Korean women are extremely critical of their body image. Compared to the women from the United States, they are also more prone to low self-esteem and poor self-satisfaction.
These terrifying statistics can be explained by a huge social pressure to uphold a certain standard of beauty, which naturally causes chronic stress. Can you imagine that this pressure is felt even within the job market? To proceed with a hiring process, many companies require a photo and height of applicants. Hence, beauty is often perceived as a tool for socioeconomic success in Korea. Some people view investments in beauty, such as plastic surgery and cosmetic products, as a means of capital to get an edge over competitors for economic advancement. Unfortunately, a lot of this pressure also comes from family members as well as books and media that uphold this kind of beauty perception.
Beauty standards in Asia haven’t changed throughout the ages. Women should be very slim, have long legs and tiny hips, so they usually do whatever it takes to achieve this body shape. Girls follow strict diets, which quite often leads to eating disorders. If you decide to buy any kind of assignment on Psychology, you will see that anorexia and bulimia are some of the most common mental health issues in eastern society. Apart from a slim body, Asian women seek to have flawless white skin.
Talking about face standards, a V-shaped chin and double eyelids are two main features that make a girl beautiful. Just look at Fan Bing Bing, a Chinese model that is considered by many to be a feminine ideal. She has a heart-shaped face, porcelain pale skin, and large Bambi’s eyes.
Today, the western world is becoming more body positive by promoting plus-size models and clothing brands. As beauty standards in the United States are evolving, women strive to look quite different than before. Just a few years ago, the ideal woman looked athletic, slim, and healthy. However, now the fashion icons of the United States are the Kardashians, so what once was muscle has already transformed into the silicone. Women used to love to have hips which consisted of muscles but now it is preferred to have implants or injections. Along with that, large breasts are also an ideal feature. Girls often go under the knife to get nice curves.
Another big trend in the United States is plump lips. After Kylie Jenner’s debut with her new lips, women of all ages decided to get lip injections or fillers, while those who can’t afford plastic surgery started opting for an excessive lip liner to create the illusion of big lips.
American vs. Asian Beauty Standards
This view on aesthetics in Asia contrasts greatly with Western standards. A quick browse through Instagram pages of models can reveal a dramatic difference between East Asian and Western feminine ideals. While supermodels like Gisele Bündchen are praised for their athletic figure, bronzed complexion, and sexual aura in the United States, people from the Asian continent celebrate slim body shape, white skin, and child-like appearance.
However, both in the United States and Asian countries, most women seek to look like each other instead of being proud of their natural features and bodies. Sadly but true, there is not a great sense of diversity in the world anymore.
The perception of beauty changes very rapidly in modern society. Celebrities keep setting new trends every few years. But the main tendencies remain relatively the same. In Asia, women do their best to be slim, have pale skin and thin chin, while in America, they strive to have curvy bodies, tanned skin and plump lips. Nobody knows how things are going to develop in the future and whether women will keep conforming with today’s ‘ideal’ image or they will rebel and become themselves.