My Autoethnography path slightly changed during my research. I was able to look into the idea that tattooing is frowned upon yet plastic surgery is common from a different perspective than I had at the beginning of my research. I found that although at first the fact that tattooing was so taboo in Korea amazed me, I could find logic in this and I was able to provide reason for it. It is not so much that tattooing is ‘illegal’, but it is more so that it is seen as something only to be done by professionals such as doctors. (Orofino, 2017) So really, it’s just taken more seriously in terms of hygiene than here in Australia and in many other countries. People with tattoos in Korea get a bad rap because they are seen as mischievous and up to no good. Perhaps this is because there are so many gang member associations with tattooing. Because of my conservative background, I was also taught that tattoos were a wreck less and permanent punishment for people who were foolish. So even though my perspective on this matter is quite different, I can still understand why many Koreans still have this mentality.
However, plastic surgery being so popular and normalised was something that was mind-blowing to me! I figured that my parents were not going to cash out thousands of dollars for my plastic surgery transformation, so I decided to take matters into my own hands. I mean, why would I go through all of the pain and trauma of plastic surgery when I can download ‘The POCO Camera – Amazing Shooting’ is available on the app store for just $1.49. I really wanted to find out how beautiful I could be according to Korea beauty standards. Unfittingly, this app was a complete scam and did not offer anything but filters (insert unimpressed face -.-). There goes my $1.49! I needed to see why Korean women are so obsessed with the idea of beauty and by what standards they are measuring this by. So my quest to become a Korean beauty continued and after scrolling through several apps I stumbled across an app called ‘Camera360’. This app was for free and offered everything that I was hoping for it to offer. Effects included filters such as the Western and Korean filter which was very interesting to analyse. I found that the Korean filter gave me a much smaller forehead, pointy chin and small lips, while the Western filter gave me larger eyes, a defined nose and darker eye-bags. I decided to give this app a try and share my results:
The first image is me as myself, hanging out in my pj’s. This is the ‘Camera360’ after result. As you can see here, I have transformed myself into ‘Min-seo’. (A common Korean name for females) Now I don’t mean to mock this standard of beauty, but I cannot help but be amused! As you can see my eyes are significantly larger and my skin in much fairer. Of course there are many other changes to my face. It is easy to see how many yound women could feel pressured into opting for more permanent changes to their face (and body) when apps like these are so common and when “high school students get handed pamphlets on plastic surgery as they left school”. (BuzzFeed, 2017) This Autoethnographic experience has really opened up my eyes (literally, see above images) to a whole new world. I never knew much about Korea let alone their sandards of beauty and taboo and this experience has been very educational for me. Seeing what other consider beautiful has helped me shape my own understanding in a way that embraces individuality.
BuzzFeed. (2017). I Wasn’t Beautiful Enough To Live In South Korea. [online] Available at: https://www.buzzfeed.com/ashleyperez/i-wasnt-beautiful-enough-to-live-in-south-korea?utm_term=.fkEBzyO2BD#.sdkzG0m2zO [Accessed 10 Sep. 2017].
Grace Neutral Explores Korea’s Illegal Beauty Scene. (2016). Directed by G. Neutral. U.K: I.D.
I-d. (2017). what it’s like growing up with korean beauty ideals. [online] Available at: https://i-d.vice.com/en_us/article/qv85g3/what-its-like-growing-up-with-korean-beauty-ideals [Accessed 9 Sep. 2017].
Orofino, E. (2017). This Woman’s Story Will Change Your View of Korean Beauty Standards. [online] POPSUGAR Beauty Australia. Available at: https://www.popsugar.com.au/beauty/Korean-Beauty-Standards-37972307 [Accessed 8 Sep. 2017].
The Odyssey Online. (2017). Why You Probably Aren’t ‘Attractive’ In South Korea. [online] Available at: https://www.theodysseyonline.com/you-probably-arent-attractive-in-south-korea [Accessed 7 Sep. 2017].