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This Korean-American Girl was Shamed for her Looks so She Called Out South Korea on Their Unrealistic Beauty Standards

I’m proud to call Julianna Haahs a personal friend of mine. She’s always had an air about her that was genuinely sweet (extra emphasis on genuine) and selfless. Julianna is also beautiful on the outside as much as within, so when she visited Korea and her own family criticized her looks (which is a more than common practice in our culture) she became vocal in a very important way.

Julianna took to social media and wrote a public post about her experience and relationship with the unrealistic and detrimental beauty standards in South Korea, which is not a singular tale. This body shaming goes on too often, especially in South Korea which is the capital of cosmetic surgery on the planet.

Read below to see what Julianna had to say.

My name is Julianna Haahs. I’m Korean-American, 24-years old, and I have a message.

Currently I’m in Korea on summer break and today 3 family members, some of whom I’ve only met a handful of times in my entire life, ganged up on me saying:

1) I gained weight
2) My appearance has “deteriorated” from the last time they saw me and
3) It’s a shame because I was actually pretty the last around

Excuse me?

They did not say this just at the initial encounter, but repeatedly over the whole night. To make things worse, they went from saying this to my face to talking ABOUT me as if I wasn’t there. Despite them being generations older than me, I confronted them boldly and told them that:

1) They can NOT talk to me like this
2) What they said is hurtful and wrong
3) I, in fact, have lost weight from the last time they saw me (it’s true).

[To note, I am 5’4″ and a size 2-4. I swim, dance and run 5-6 miles a few times a week. I am not skin & bones- I have muscle and I like it. I am naturally tan and I like it.]

They responded by telling me that this is the American flaw: that we only flatter (which couldn’t be further from the truth – Americans can often be way more candid), and that I should be eager to hear such critique because it will “stretch me” as a person.

I told them I understand their logic about critique, but I don’t agree with it in this context. The truth is what they said hurt me deeply because my health has indeed taken a toll ever since 2012 when I had a one-year work experience in Korea. It was during that time I suffered from overwhelming stress, intense bulimia, weight gain and acne. Ever since then, it’s been a slow but sure process of restoring my health.

After their insensitive comments, I ended up crying in a separate room because rather than telling me “the truth in love,” they jabbed at the very heart of my insecurities. And this isn’t the first time. Many girls [and I’m sure boys as well] know the feeling of being judged on sight. Of that first encounter, of those first words stating how you look rather than asking how you are.

I’m sharing this personal story because I want to change culture. Currently South Korea has the highest rate of plastic surgery per capita. Numerous sources state that an estimated 1 in 5 Korean women have received some sort of alteration under the knife. I personally took into my apartment a random girl I met in the subway who had come from the countryside, used all her savings, and decided to get her entire face changed (eyes, nose, jaw…she even had fat removed from another part of her body and placed in her forehead to make her profile more distinguished since Asians have flatter faces). I told her she was beautiful and she didn’t need anything done, but when she decided to go ahead with the procedure, I insisted she stay with me during the recovery process rather than a motel, since I didn’t think it was safe for her to stay alone and unattended after such a major operation. At first she was alarmed. She probably thought, “Who is this COMPLETE stranger inviting me to stay with her post-operation?” But she felt my warmth and sincerity, understood the logic and since she really did not have money to spend on a motel, agreed. Her and I became good friends and when she went back to the countryside, I emailed her asking about how everything looked (before she was still swollen and taped up). She responded by telling me that despite all the work she had done, she still feels ugly.

I personally am not trying to condemn anyone who has had work done. I just cannot help but point out that that an epidemic on beauty has totally swept this nation. People’s eyes are being plagued, and an already relatively homogenous culture is being pushed and shoved into an even smaller box of standardized beauty. And if you’ve ever just sat and people-watched in Apgujeong, it’s eerily similar to a scene from Stepford Wives. Where did all the nuances of Korean faces go? I like thin, narrow eyes! I like wide faces! I like different nose shapes. I like different body structures. Now everybody is striving to be a size 00, porcelain-skinned, double eye-lid, V-jaw-shaped clone!

News flash! Health can mean skinny but skinny doesn’t always mean healthy. And because the physical body does often reflect one’s emotional/mental/spiritual state, it isn’t a crime to perceive something with your eyes. I’m just saying, if someone’s appearance has “declined”, isn’t it better to ask the person what he/she may be going through? What if work is stressful? What if he/she is sick? What if someone in the family died? What if he/she is undergoing depression? What if it’s a natural process of aging, and it’s beautiful in its own right? Anyone can see the flesh. Only those who love can see the heart.

This is my little manifesto urging Koreans to break past tradition when it undermines a person’s very inner being. Ask God for new eyes because the way he sees people is clearly not the way my relatives saw me. He sees beauty. He sees distinction not disgust. And because he has crafted everybody in the womb with detail and originality, he certainly doesn’t want to look down and see all of that carved away.

Love,
Julianna

 



About

Acting accordingly, just not according to you.


'This Korean-American Girl was Shamed for her Looks so She Called Out South Korea on Their Unrealistic Beauty Standards' have 104 comments

  1. July 23, 2015 @ 4:41 pm John Smith

    Oh please.
    Family members, REGARDLESS OF RACE OR NATIONALITY, will crudely point out your looks and your clothes. This is not restricted to you. You are not special in this, and you most certainly do not get to blame an entire nation of 50 million people for this. If others’ comments get to you so easily as to condemn a whole country, it surely says something about you. Quit your whining and grow up.

    Dressing up pure, unadulterated racism as some martyr story about body image. You’re sickening.

    Reply

    • July 24, 2015 @ 4:27 am Sam

      John, while I do appreciate your opinion. Was it necessary to attack the author by calling her “sickening”. Do you know what the word EMPATHY means? Since you’ve read the article, I assume, you already know that she has gone through a lot of emotional/mental stress. How are you helping by telling her to “grow up”? In fact, you sound just like one of the “family members” that you described in your post; I guess that makes you a bully. Do yourself a favor and check yourself, because REGARDLESS of what RACE OR NATIONALITY you are, trying to defame and humiliate her isn’t the answer.

      Peace.

      P.s. You should refer to the other posts to see how they graciously address their opposing opinions in a peaceful manner.

      Reply

      • July 24, 2015 @ 11:23 am JeffK

        Hi Sam,
        I think John Smith is one of her relatives and is responding as she expected. This is a perfect example of what she would like to change, and I wish her strength.
        Grow up John, you are making our point.

        Reply

      • August 6, 2015 @ 3:56 pm John Smith

        Looking back on my comment now, I do agree that I came off as overly and unnecessarily harsh. I was already upset at the time of writing it, and my unrelated anger accidentally bled into my post. The author didn’t deserve such a tone after what she went through, and no change will be accomplished through rudeness.

        I still hold by my opinion, however.

        Reply

        • April 7, 2016 @ 2:55 pm Julianna Haahs

          I think it’s nice that John Smith wrote that follow up comment. :) Takes a good heart to acknowledge you might have gone overboard or brought out “unrelated anger,” as he put it, to someone else. And I always appreciate someone who disagrees but can articulate it in a calm way that allows the counterpart to respond, not flee for cover! :))))))

          Reply

    • July 24, 2015 @ 4:57 am Jae

      I do agree with you that you do get this regardless of your race or nationality, BUT as someone of Korean descent, she is completely spot on. Korea is overly infatuated with an idea of “being beautiful”. If you ever spend time in Korea, you notice a few things. 1. As you ride the subway/train into Seoul from the outside, the girls become progressively prettier. 2. Many of these girls look very similar. 3. Near Apgujeong, which she mentions, you see lots of women with parts of their face covered. Usually because they’ve had a certain procedure done.

      Two very attractive Korean-American girls that I know went to Korea to spend a little time working there. Both of them (they don’t know each other) told me that they’ve never felt so fat in their lives (neither of them were fat, and one was actually very thin), and that they’ve never felt so ugly. In Korea, it’s not just family members. Random strangers will tell you that you’re fat. One of those girls was at the market buying groceries, and the cash register lady told her she should eat less because she’s too thick.

      There are many good things about Korea, but their obsession with outward beauty and money is at a disgusting level.

      Reply

    • July 24, 2015 @ 7:56 am Kim Chi

      Agreed

      stop whining… stop complaining…

      Reply

    • July 24, 2015 @ 9:53 am "John Smith"

      You are not getting the point of the article if that is your opinion. I do not know what your background is but it seems as if you are unaware of the differences Korean and Korean American culture and backgrounds. This is not a post to complain and whine but rather to point out the immense peer pressure to be exactly the same in order to be considered acceptable. And how does this relate to racism in any way? You are showing your own ignorance by claiming that this is “pure, unadulterated racism”

      Reply

      • July 24, 2015 @ 11:08 am John the Moron

        John , your post lacks compassion or empathy, just another asshole on the Internet. Just a bunch of blah-blah-‘s and “look at me, I am going to belittle a girl!”.. Go rot.

        Reply

        • September 17, 2015 @ 4:26 am Rina

          Take that, John.
          You’re the one who’s not getting the point actually.

          Reply

      • May 4, 2016 @ 8:39 am Paula

        What a pity doesn’t anyone see the heart only the outside of a person I’ve always wanted to visit Korea but now not so sure iam not that pretty on outside and noone pays attention to me here in America you might say iam a living ghost but I believe that what I do in this world is what truly counts and when I face God he will call me a good and faithful servant

        Reply

    • July 24, 2015 @ 1:07 pm Sharon

      John, you sound like an emotionally stunted bully. It seems like you have your own personal insecurity and is lashing out at a stranger over the internet. Projection is a serious mental issue. I hope you get professional help, and grow up.

      Reply

    • July 24, 2015 @ 3:10 pm JC

      John,

      You obviously did not take any time to verify your viewpoint. I am a SME on Korea and can assure you that this is indeed a problem; depression rates, suicide rates, even daily news stories carry significant evidence of the undue Korean aggression against physical appearances that don’t match their unrealistic and ridiculous ideal. Spend three minutes in Gangnam Station and look at the plastic surgery ads plastered on the wall. Of course, not every Korean citizen has this negative thought paradigm, but it’s undeniably a cultural issue.

      But I suspect that facts don’t have much impact on your opinion. I sincerely hope that you start taking the time to validate what you say in the future. We all appreciate legitimate differing opinions and a good discussion, but your comment was just factually inaccurate and unnecessarily offensive.

      Reply

      • July 24, 2015 @ 3:46 pm Danny Chung

        i’m relieved people can reply to john smith with a more level head than i. appreciate you, jc.

        Reply

      • July 24, 2015 @ 5:28 pm mintoreo

        But he’s not wrong. It’s Korea’s culture. Not HER’S. Where does she get the audacity to change a culture because she was butthurt about being called ugly and fat? That’s so pretentious of her and you know it. You can come up with all of the figures and “facts” you want. The reality is, that’s how they do things and this idiot has no right to go around changing things because SHE felt she was victimized. We have a word for that in America. It’s called feminism. And it’s a terrible, terrible sense of entitlement women have for no reason other than being a woman.

        What she’s doing essentially is a lower form of fit-shaming. Oh ,someone looks better than her? She doesn’t quite meet the standards of wherever she is? Better attempt to change how they do things instead of realizing that she’s different and accepting it or do something about it. It’s hilarious that this girl is standing up for standards of beauty, when in different parts of the world, women can’t even show their face, can’t walk out in the streets without a man present and are sometimes killed for something physically wrong. How about she stands up for that, since she’s on this social justice train? Oh.. no. That didn’t come up and call her fat, so of course she won’t bother.

        I’m actually pretty impressed with Korean standards. Unlike America, with all of the hyper sensitivity on political correctness and the dumbass idea that beauty is subjective with their “Oh, you’re fat? That’s okay. You’re still beautiful! But those models, however, are oppressed!” mentality. The reality is, beauty is not subjective. It’s not something society has engrained in us. Models are attractive. Being thin is attractive (not necessarily skin and bones though) A healthy hip to weight ratio is attractive. Having a pretty face is attractive. I WISH American women, especially the ones who let themselves go in the name of their own delusional sense of “beauty” worked a third as hard as Korean women do, at least in just working out and getting in better shape, if only to be healthier. But no. That’s not the case.

        This girl is full of crap. The fact that she wanted to validate her opinion by drawing someone else and trying to convince someone to do what SHE wanted, makes her a disgusting human being. Let a different society do as it pleases, kid. Don’t push YOUR ideals onto them.

        Oh, and the writer to this article is your typical WK. How sad.

        Stay hot, Korea!

        Reply

        • July 24, 2015 @ 5:57 pm Jessie

          Hm. Someone seems upset that hot chicks in America won’t date him. Even if all the fat girls did lose weight, the widening of the dating pool wouldn’t be much help to you; not with such a shitty personality. Don’t talk about her being entitled in your own entitled rant, OK? I’m sorry you find the mean feminists scary, but you don’t have to bring them up ALL the time. They can smell your fear, after all, and ranting like this on an article not even ABOUT feminism is basically just a giant neon sign pointing to the piss stain on your jeans from Big and Tall.

          Reply

        • July 24, 2015 @ 6:57 pm Sam Tehero

          So what you’re saying is, you’re only pretty if you’re 5’8″, size 00, blonde hair, blue eyes, Caucasian skin?

          Reply

        • July 24, 2015 @ 10:52 pm JC

          Um. What. Did you just say. I won’t tell you why I’m a SME on Korea, but I will tell you that Korea is not my only area of operation and I can say without reservation that cultural norms are not acceptable by virtue of the fact that they are pre-existing cultural norms. By your own argument, it’s acceptable to massacre an African village with machetes because it’s a cultural characteristic we just don’t understand. There are certainly cultural norms that exist that are not acceptable for the health and welfare of the people that the culture professes to protect.

          But it’s not your concern, you stay happy and oblivious in the land of the free, because people like me who make sure you can enjoy that right.

          I’m done here, those who have listened listened, and I have no doubt the ignorant will abound.

          Reply

          • July 27, 2015 @ 4:12 am Julianna Haahs

            JC, you’re good at writing! My favs:

            “There are certainly cultural norms that exist that are not acceptable for the health and welfare of the people that the culture professes to protect.”

            “We all appreciate legitimate differing opinions and a good discussion, but your comment was just factually inaccurate and unnecessarily offensive.”

            “I’m done here, those who have listened listened, and I have no doubt the ignorant will abound.”

        • July 25, 2015 @ 1:43 pm m

          your post literally made zero sense

          Reply

          • July 27, 2015 @ 4:14 am Julianna Haahs

            M, I read through his post again just to make sure that what you said was indeed, true. And indeed, I found not a single sentence that made any sort of sense. :)

        • July 26, 2015 @ 6:25 pm Just. Wow.

          Holy mother of hell, that has to be the single most ignorant thing I have ever read, and I’ve spent a good majority of the last ten years online.

          Reply

        • September 17, 2015 @ 4:55 am Rina

          Hey, if you give a opinion, even if it’s your own opinion, you gotta have some objetivity. You can’t just go and think what you say it’s a fact because it means you’ll be totally wrong.
          Why in the earth is called feminism what she wrote?
          She has a good point.
          He’s right because is Korean’s culture? That’s actually a full of crap and a poor excuse to make up a reality.
          She shared a personal story and she had courage enough to told us what her own family members had to said about her looks when it supposes family is there to cheer up and love.
          It’s totally unbelievable and that kind of things can affect people but she was strong enough to write this and want her country changing this dangerous mind.
          Because yes, its dangerous since it comes in bulimia or anorexia or keep trying on plastic surgery because you dont like how do you look.
          I think you dont have the right to come and turn her words in such bad interpretation.
          You’re putting your ideals in your words too so next time try to put yourself in the others shoes before making this kind of comments to people.
          You’ll be treat how you you treat.

          Reply

        • December 9, 2015 @ 10:37 pm Rachel McGee

          I found your comment very offensive.

          Reply

        • March 12, 2016 @ 2:34 pm Cholicco

          Well, there will be always people like John Smith or Mintoreo. And yes, it’s not only in Korea, in my country those standard is similiar. But, I do agree at some point with Mintoreo statement, about weights, but the reason I agree isn’t because I think being thin is attractive but due to my own concern that being fat is unhealthy and can lead someone to death because of obesity, it also necessary to keep our weights balanced (not too fat, but not too thin) but if the feel comfortable already with their looks, why not letting them be?
          Then how about having plastic surgery just to make you acceptable in society? Hell no. Everyone’s beautiful in the way they are, and we shouldn’t change that. Because it’s what makes them different and unique. After all, beauty can come in any form even the one you can’t even imagine. If you’re the ones who can’t and fail to see it, then it means you just someone who’re hating yourself, because you can’t accept yourself for who you are. You just indulge yourself in this beauty things, for your own selfishness. Because you, of course, don’t know that beauty can’t last. Some day we will grows old, no matter what we do by injecting botox or do anything just to slowed down the aging process, at some point we will reach that stage and becoming wrinkly too, so what’s the difference?
          Then after you died, will there’s someone in a years in the future time, will remember how beautiful you are when you’re alive?
          Not so many people, I guess, unless you have accomplished something meaningful like getting an award for Oscar or contribute in something then rewarded with a Nobel prize, everybody definitely will remembers you. Or maybe you can just create an unforgettable international scandal, if you wish to be remembered (in a bad impression, of course)
          And, even majority of people who looks pretty or beautiful never sastified with their own looks. This just leading them into bullimia, or having a plastic surgery to enchancing their looks which make them look worsen in my opinion (just look for the Donatella Versace, and she’s just one of example of these kinds of people) And after all, beauty standard, is always constantly changes from decades to decades, so what if a fat/extemely thin people, also having a black skin, is becoming the beauty standards? So it really means you should grow your body just to be some fat thin woman/guy? Or you will letting yourself suffers from anorexia or bullimia just for pursuing an extremely thin body for the beauty standard? And then you will tanned your skin until achieve the result you want? Or become the barbie doll?
          Okay if you want to fulfill those standards to the point you will become the plastic barbie doll, then no one will hold you back, even me. Because, It seems you’re the thick-headed people, who will still hold your opinion. And you may said something like “What’s this person is trying to say? Why would you care?” Or anything then nothing more I can say anymore, the decision always up to you, but really, you just need only to be yourself or just be someone you’re comfortable.

          Reply

      • July 27, 2015 @ 4:10 am Julianna Haahs

        JC, me you and Danny need to have a toast. :)

        Reply

        • August 6, 2015 @ 4:58 pm JC

          Hey, just saw this. Absolutely! You guys have my email, I’d love to hear more about your story. Hope to hear soon.

          Best,
          JC

          Reply

    • July 24, 2015 @ 6:44 pm Sheri

      In Chinese culture, it’s very similar. Random acquaintances or family friends will do the same. Most people in our society would find it ill-mannered to voice your opinion on someone’s personality, esp their appearance. That’s a no-no. It’s not whining. And if you know about Korea, you’ll know beauty is so engrained into their society that it affects every aspect of their life.

      Reply

    • July 25, 2015 @ 12:43 am l./;&a

      THANK YOU FOR THIS COMMENT

      Reply

    • July 27, 2015 @ 3:54 am Julianna Haahs

      Hey “John Smith.” Just wanted to say that despite your really mean comments, I really do wish the best for you. Hoping your life is blessed, that you’re happy, healthy, and above all, full of love.

      Love, Julianna

      Reply

    • July 29, 2015 @ 10:31 am DS

      John Smith, you do know this is a young girl you’re trolling here, right? And a brave young girl at that. Having spent four years in South Korea, I can confirm that what’s she’s talking about IS a cultural phenomenon (just look at the plastic surgery rates if you want quantitative data). It may not be limited to South Korea, but pressure to conform to limited beauty standards is particularly pervasive there.

      Unfortunately, cruelly insulting those you disagree with is a global phenomenon, and it is sickening.

      Reply

    • July 31, 2015 @ 11:29 am Mike Park

      This is a good article and an excellent depiction of the Korean culture. I am Korean and I think we all need a lesson in sensitivity.

      @ John Smith – you have no clue as to what you are talking about.

      Reply

  2. July 23, 2015 @ 6:18 pm Alisa

    This was a great read! We need more people to be comfortable with who they are, and not have them feel as if they don’t have a place to belong. Julianna’s so brave for standing up for herself and calling out her elders. She’s beautiful too, and I think you can feel her positivity and strength from these images as well.

    Reply

  3. July 23, 2015 @ 7:28 pm twix

    A lot of people have crappy families. Person goes on a racist/paternalist rant about a different society because they have issues with their own relatives and you think this is something to be LAUDED? Danny do you think that projecting/bashing an entire culture due to your own personal insecurities/issues is a step FORWARD for humanity or the rhetorical equivalent of farting in a windstorm?

    It seems a bit of maturity… something as simple as saying “hi uncle, aunt I know things might be different in Korea but the things you are saying are sort of rude to Americans and it’s hard for me to listen to.” OR understand that no matter how inflated a sense of ego you have, that some people are not going to like how you look… and that can be the mean black lady on the subway or your own relatives?

    If “superficiality” about looks is Korea’s cross, the thing we struggle here in the US, manifest by you and Julianna is our paternalism and moralizing, particular to those people and cultures we think are subordinate to our own. I mean rant about the EPIDEMIC of PED usage among American males supported by a vast sports entertainment complex, huge feeder systems of high school and college athletics and the “unrealistic” portrayals of athletes and actors in Hollywood media. Where the steroid-infected abnormalities of men who have nothing better to do than spend 6 hours in a gym a day is portrayed as the “ideal.” Or the “dangerous” and “unhealthy” promotion of tanning, which has lead to millions of deaths via cancer, supported by a multi-billion dollar corporate enterprise pushing skin care and tanning goods. Both these things actually entail HARMING YOUR BODY longterm, not just some distasteful social preference for less fat on the eyelid or less BMI.

    You don’t have to go to Korea to find dangerous there’s plenty of it right here in the US. I guess bashing white ppl, black ppl, jewish ppl, however isn’t as low hanging fruit and prone to the pats on the head like bashing whatever the Asians are doing.

    If you want to talk about body image, the HARMFUL thing isn’t skinny Asian women… tiny Korean and Japanese are the longest-lived people in the history of the planet. They are generally HEALTHIER than Americans. In fact VERY LOW CALORIE DIETS (calorie restriction) has been clinically proven to EXTEND HUMAN LIFESPAN and it’s been known for 100 years. The MASSIVE ISSUE is that tens of MILLIONS of Americans consider themselves “normal weight” but are in fact overweight. The #1 cause of disease and early death in Americans is directly related to being moderately to grossly overweight. If you are actually interested in helping ppl be more healthy instead of bashing relatives, and projecting immaturity a better article would be to write about all the overweight Asian American girls and how people GENETICALLY SUITED to smaller BMI “suffer” in fat American society and get acculurated into a unhealthy Western lifestyle… lose their way, get sick, live shorter, unhappier lives etc

    Reply

    • July 24, 2015 @ 3:34 am H

      Woah, woah, WOAH. I think other readers will agree that you may have missed the point of this commentary entirely. This article in no way bashes Korean culture. Julianna is stating matters of fact in Korean ideology and the way that many Koreans, foreign or not feel as a result. Not all Koreans or Asians are slim. Like any people group, Koreans come in various shapes, sizes, heights, and skin tones. Comparatively, American media and brands have gone through great lengths to debunk unrealistic beauty ideals. Korea only has one well known plus sized model, Vivian Kim (do look her up). To be honest, Korea does not even have a plus sized fashion industry. And a large portion of Korean clothing is only available in “one size fits all.” The issue noted here is that South Korea overwhelmingly demands physical perfection when perfection is no where near genetically possible. This has catapulted a fierce cosmetic industry. Korean parents may even use plastic surgery procedures as rewards for good grades. One can argue that being comfortable with who you are and how you were made is an “American thing,” yet that also mitigates the psychological scarring induced by the concept of “ideal body types”. Koreans (male or female) are subject to criticism of their natural, God made appearance by family, peers, and content consumed via TV, movies, magazines, music, and advertising. Suicide rates in Korea are extremely high. Plastic surgery rates are extremely high. Psychological abuse should not be sanctioned because it is a part of culture.

      ““hi uncle, aunt I know things might be different in Korea but the things you are saying are sort of rude to Americans and it’s hard for me to listen to.”” — This is more than likely how Julianna spoke to her elders. I doubt that she would voice differences in opinion disrespectfully or immaturely. “Boldness” can be communicated with taste. I personally could not detect a whiff of flippancy in her post.

      Again, I think the word “bashing” was falsely applied to Julianna’s words. Her writing is a clear reflection of her experiences and a mirror of the same body-image turmoil that Koreans and foreigners are dragged into while in South Korea. Research shows that fantasy portrayals of men and women in media increase self-depreciation and mental health disorders such as bulimia and anorexia—all of which can lead to life long health defects and possibly death. This is NOT just a family problem.

      I doubt that this young woman, courageous enough to reveal personal episodes with bulimia, is immature. Take note that she is utilizing this testimony so that others will not have to experience the world of hurt that she did.

      We’re all entitled to our opinions; however, I do find your judgments out of place.

      Please take the time to inform yourself of the larger concerns at hand.

      Cheers,

      H

      Reply

    • August 13, 2015 @ 1:35 pm Sans

      Twixy! Twixy! Twixy! Additionally, Mintoreo, and the other ignoramuses that are speaking of which they seem to know nothing (or at least very little). Where do I start??? Ok, let’s just have a go then shall we? Admittedly, I’m a Korean American that’s never been to Korea (but I’ve traveled extensively to other parts of the world) but my family is “old school Korean”. I’m talking yangban (nobles/upper class society) Koreans that have been this way since waaaaaayyy back. And while this custom/ideology is mostly in Korea, it bleeds over into American society’s views as well. Yes, Americans have been way more accepting of the “fat” culture and either very comfortable about it (for the most part). But seemingly, since I’ve become an adult (READ since my generation), I’ve noticed that kids don’t go out to play in the neighborhoods any more. It’s safer to stay inside and play video games and have play dates. On the other end of the coin, Americans are also obsessive about the “workout and dieting till you drop” thing. Julianna, on the other hand is commenting on not just an observance of this practice in the Korean culture by some ppl but in society as a whole. She uses a personal experience of her own “family” attacking her with the excuse that it’s for her “own good”. That they wouldn’t say those things if they didn’t love her. But if you read on, it seems that it’s not just family that does it, it comes from strangers too. Ppl at church, the random stranger waiting in the grocery line, the lady who helps you in the clothing store (you know, the one helping you w/your size 60+dresses), the person sitting next to you on their yoga mat, etc. The problem is that it’s just accepted but hurtful and mean! People don’t say things like they do in the US like “mind your own business” even to strangers.

      Let me give an arbitrary example that may of may not apply to some of you. Let’s just say you have naturally curly hair (think stringy and uncontrolled, maybe even an afro (yes, Asians have afros too!)). “No One Else” in your family has curly hair because they’ve either permed, changed, cut, braided, or done whatever to theirs. Some of them were even lucky enough to have been simply born w/the “straight/pretty” kind of hair (so lucky! right?!). You decide that you like your hair and keep it “natural”. BUT every time your family sees YOU they insist that on making you listen to how you need to change it, on how massive, messy, and terrible it looks! If you just went and got it done this way or that way you would look so much better! They beg you to use this product, that cream, or that they’ll buy you a special straightening iron that just came out. They press on you how if you did this it would make your face and body so much more perfect! And wait a minute, while they’re talking about your face why do you have so many pimples on your forehead? Are you eating too much sugar? You know grampa has high blood sugar and diabetes, if you’re not careful you could get it too! (Oh man! You’d better watch out!) On second thought, your aunty just remembered that ppl in grampa’s family have the curly hair too! The barrage is too much, it’s like whoa!

      LET’S EXAMINE THIS EXAMPLE: The comments started w/with the way you keep your “natural” hair in the style that YOU like and want it but how it’s “unattractive” to them (in essence, you shame them w/your nonconformity), then it went on to your skin, and then on to your would-be non blood sugar/diabetes situation and how your hair and skin are ruining your life! Do YOU decide (like many ppl do in Korea, as in the context of the article) to conform to the beauty/health standard that your family and society have thrust upon you? Or do you just keep nodding your head while you’re with them, trying very hard to not get angry and just leave or cry outright, or lose your temper (and god forbid curse them out!). Because you know, letting them alienate and humiliate you for the sake that they’re your family is right, right? Then you go home and cry into your pillow, or call and bitch to your friend, or whisper to your kitty about how your family doesn’t understand you and your need to be natural (and perhaps different) and how they seem to ignore fact that you are happy and healthy! OMG! This is the point that Julianna is trying to make in her article! She’s healthy, she’s happy with herself, and was probably happy to see her relatives until they started barraging her about her appearance, weight, etc. I don’t give a shit what the everyone says about how healthy the ppl in Asia seem to be or how long they live. We have ppl here in America that have lived just as long while saying they’ve drunk liquor, smoked god knows what, and ate what they wanted! Julianna stated it well when she said: “Health can mean skinny but skinny doesn’t always mean healthy.” What we’re talking about is something major that’s happening in a culture/society that’s obsessed w/beauty and money (not that the US isn’t). These kids start in their adolescence, moaning about how they don’t like they way they look or their parents (their own PARENTS!) tell them how ugly and fat they are and help them go fix some physical part of themselves ie. moon face, small eyes, no chin, no neck, overweight (READ-not size 2 or below), etc (for their own good, of course!). Also, you may have missed the part from Julianna’s article that the “country” stranger- girl that she helped, who did all of that surgery, still didn’t feel pretty afterward. The takeaway was suppoed to be that just because we change our outside to be “pretty”, doesn’t mean that it matches the “ugly” on the inside… That mental change takes some intense psychotherapy which is still somewhat taboo in Korea. (Only crazy ppl see therapists, right?) This has led to bullying, depression, suicide, etc…

      Dudes! I’m not saying I meet the Korean standard or even the American standard. What I’m saying is while I’m far from perfect but my attitude, my wittiness, my practicality, and my smarts are offended by those attacking this woman because it seems to have some kind of racial (READ attacking Koreans/Asians) overtone to it… Really!? HERE ARE SOME RATIONALIZATIONS THAT PPL LIKE TO MAKE: You can’t seem to fathom or just don’t get what Julianna’s talking about or excuse it because “everyone’s” family does this or we have the same here in the US, etc (so what? get over it? grow up? how about you get a life and stop attacking ppl for having an opinion!). Or perhaps you think you’re some kind of expert because you’ve lived in Korea (seemingly forever) and have seen first hand how it is (or isn’t) there and you don’t see “everyone” do this (but you’re not a Korean!). Perhaps you think you’re some kind of an expert Asian/Korean culture, society, people studies major but haven’t gotten to that chapter in your Asian/World studies class a (it says nothing about this phenomenon in the books so it’s not happening or they would write about it right?). OR maybe, you have some Asian/Korean relatives and “they” don’t do that (to you)! Listen, go kick some rocks… I’ll tell you what though, if/when this happens to you here in America, or if/when you can help Korean society change so that “plus size” (meaning over size 6) is acceptable, or if/when you become Korean and your family does this to you, come back, I’ll be standing by w/a fist bump just for you.

      Reply

  4. July 23, 2015 @ 10:25 pm Asian Grandparent

    We are just being asian grandparents who hasn’t seen their precious grandchild in forever.

    Reply

    • July 27, 2015 @ 3:58 am Julianna Haahs

      This one was super cute. My grandpa is in the hospital. He had a stroke and is paralyzed. I go to visit him a few times a week, and am these days his only company. My grandma is very tired, sometimes depressed, and I hang out with her…take her to , movies, lunch, shopping. So I have full love for my grandparents. She loves me too. I know this about her, which is why I can forgive her when she “by cultural upbringing” criticizes my every perceived flaw. But the fact is, those comments are skewed, wrong and hurtful. And I have told her many times, and will keep telling her, so she start seeing the gold in people. Until then, I will still keep calling out the good in her, and keep taking her to movies, lunch, shopping, etc. :)

      Reply

  5. July 24, 2015 @ 12:54 am Reb

    While I agree, pressures in Korea for a homogenous* standard are probably higher than parts of other societies across the world, it might be unfair to only address Korea in issues such as beauty standards. Korea is a small country, with condensed cities. It might have a high percentage of individuals who seek and receive plastic surgery, but the cities are so small, and foreigners often do come to get procedures done in famous and well known facilities, due to the growing popularity of Korean entertainment on a National level.
    The culture of Korea is also a little different from countries such as America. Whereas Korea, especially older parts that are still more integrated with other parts of Asia, place value on things like unity and togetherness, Americans, tend to place value on individuality and independence. The spread of American culture and culture clashes with older traditional Asian values is much of the reason why older generation Asians don’t always see eye to eye with the younger generations (more commonly now integrated with other cultures or hold dual citizenship such as the writer of this letter, a Korean American girl)(globalization effect).
    Also, I find from personal experience, whereas Koreans (Korean citizens) and cultures of Koreans might cause its members to be more up front and, perhaps, brutal in their honest opinions, Americans can also be just as damaging, if not worse, when agitated.
    I’ll show you a contrast on how Koreans might address beauty standards, and Americans:
    Korean: You should consider getting your eyes done. Everyone is getting the double eyelid procedure. Some don’t even consider it surgery. Your eyes will look brighter and more welcoming, and your job opportunities may improve. (Many Koreans look at this like an American might consider braces)
    American: Did she get work done? I bet that girl got work done. What a fake girl. (many parts of America are more spread out and plastic surgery in rural areas, especially, is not as common or as accepted as it might be in a larger city or wealthier area, although it is becoming more common too). (insert different slang terms like fugly ugly, and racially based comments: flat face, slant eyes)
    Korean: You should lose some weight! You’re getting chunky here (some might be teasing, others say it more seriously. In all honesty, they are probably thinking it is for your benefit, although irreversibly, it can be damaging your psyche). You look unhealthy being overweight. Why are you so fat!
    (urban girls will use b-tch language too)(Koreans also tend to be more critical of weights that might be considered normal in America, in other words, prefer much smaller sizes than a typical American girl)
    Americans: (there are typically two extremes) What a fat b-tch. Did you see what she is wearing?
    Oh, she gained weight. Fat people have no excuse to be big.
    She is WAY too skinny. I bet she has anorexia or an eating disorder! She looks SO unhealthy.
    —— on the flip side. It goes to an extreme opposite direction. ——–
    Americans: That girl is NOT fat. How dare you! Don’t fat shame. You’re going to cause her to have an eating disorder. Fat woman have curves! Embrace your shape! Love yourself and your body! Different body campaigns! All women are born with different body shapes, no one is the same! Plastic surgery and photo images are falsely advertising an impossible beauty expectation! That is WAY too skinny. Look unhealthy that looks! Skinny isn’t healthy!
    Diet, history (wealth, war, etc), and genetic trends are also probably a reason why Asians tend to be on the skinnier side as opposed to Americans, and thus being overweight is a greater outlier in the country, whereas being super skinny might be more uncommon in America. Men are also expected to go into the military in Korea for a few years too. (against the law not to!)
    I appreciated reading this article, and was happy to see someone standing up for themselves and for being able to be proud of who they are, and accepting of her own self, despite negative comments against her, so thank you for sharing. I just wanted to shed light on some opinions I have on this topic.
    Maybe with time, and more people standing up and being accepting of themselves and others, beauty standards won’t be held with such difficult expectations.

    Reply

    • August 13, 2015 @ 1:51 pm Sans

      @Reb – *fist bump*

      Reply

  6. July 24, 2015 @ 1:03 am Reb

    I will add though, as a side note, the pressures of being in a city, and being around people constantly criticizing something about your look is immensely difficult, especially if you are at a vulnerable age when you are still growing to accept who you are and what you have been born with. I hope, as I am guessing Julianna is hoping with her letter, that these pressures and expectations on others won’t be held so high. And reminders of not living up to these expectations, lessened and more understanding.

    Reply

  7. July 24, 2015 @ 3:18 am Ibby

    Seriously? You’re a petite, attractive girl by both American and Korean standards. I highly doubt what you perceived to be your family “ganging up” on you was anything more than your oversensitivity to cultural differences in expression. Literally every single Asian person, especially Asian women, have received overly blunt/critical comments about their appearance. It’s not an “unrealistic standard” because it’s just objective, blunt comments. If anything, your Korean relatives should be going on a rant about how Americans are too damn sensitive, need everything sugar-coated, and think everyone else is responsible for boosting their self-esteem.

    I say this as an Asian woman who has (1) gained 20% of my body weight since high school and received no shortage of comments about it; (2) been criticized for tans that I (being used to American standards of beauty) was quite happy with; and (3) been told repeatedly by family and strangers alike since the age of 3 (at least that’s how far back I can remember) that I should get plastic surgery for my hideously inadequate single eyelids. None of this bothered me very much because I accept that cultural norms make it acceptable to bluntly state those things when it would be rude to do so in North America. Also, standards of beauty are different in Asia. Not unrealistic, just DIFFERENT. What Asians consider too fat, Americans call too thin. What Asians call too tan, Americans call too pale. One way or another, I’ll be judged negatively by at least one culture, if not both (it’s usually both). The ONLY difference between Asian and American culture is that Asians will be more blunt in pointing out your perceived flaws. That’s not a bad thing; it doesn’t mean they place more emphasis on your appearance, just that they’re more honest about it.

    Reply

  8. July 24, 2015 @ 8:09 am Korean American

    As much as this may seem like just a rant by a women that experienced adversity in the face of a completely different culture, she does bring up some very valid points about the nation of South Korea. Unfortunately, most of the people who commented on this post already are clearly either completely uneducated in the culture of South Korea or simply are to lazy to actually read between the lines. Understand that South Korea is a very “young country”, only being independent for a little over 60 years and before they were their own nation, they always were at the back hand of her occupying neighbors. They had so much of their time wasted at the expense of others that creating a completely introverted society is the only way they envision the future. They entered the “Boy Band” era with the United States and haven’t left it sense. That is an example that they are as a nation, immature at the heart. They refuse to account for their enslaved brothers to the north and base job interviews strictly off of looks alone rather than qualifications. Their sense of security is founded on the US Military and are simply just a thriving spoiled grandchild that has been locked in the closet for so long. Think about companies such as Samsung and LG, a decade ago, these companies were nothing compared to American giants such as Sony, but now they are exponentially growing. Their potential is clearly limited to technology and lacks in human growth and development. Millions of their brothers are starving at the hands of one man to the north and they simply could care less.

    Before just blasting this women for speaking out, do your research first and read between the lines. I mean, do any of you even know how many abandoned babies their are in South Korea due to birth defects??? Do any of you understand that if babies are not born perfect, they abandon them on the streets in large numbers? So actually, yes, South Korea does have an issue when it comes to their views the importance of “beauty”.

    Reply

    • July 24, 2015 @ 4:57 pm mintoreo

      Please reply without using so many straw man arguments. And it would do you some good to learn how to not write like a second grader.

      Reply

    • July 25, 2015 @ 2:44 pm Jiyoung

      Excuse me, young country? Who exactly are you to call Korea a young country? Our two thousand years of history and war, is that what’s constituted as young ? We have been around just as long as anyome else has, from G.B.S. to Balhae to Corea to Josun, and I find it extremely narrow minded and in fact, racist of you to deem our country as some immature child when its history dwarfs yours by centuries. Korea was colonized for 30 years out of 2000 and I hope the next time you post an immature and misinformed comment you crack open a Google tab before you show how foolish you are.

      Reply

      • July 26, 2015 @ 9:09 am Mike

        She said “South Korea” is a young country, not “Korea”. And South Korea IS a young country. Maybe you should take your own advice and look a little more closely at stuff. Of course that’s not to say that “Korean American”‘s comment isn’t extremely misguided and ridiculous. By the way, “Korean American” Sony is a Japanese company not an American company.

        “Korean American”‘s comment is an example of culture bashing, not Julianna’s. Do you see the difference, Jiyoung?

        Reply

      • July 30, 2015 @ 11:59 am Another Korean Girl

        whoa, don’t get offended by this. I grew up in Korea too, and yes, South Korea IS a young country. We Koreans do learn all the history starting from 2000 years ago, but as a country, it is still pretty young. And it’s true that South Korea hasn’t really developed a “character” or maybe I should say an “identity.” I think that’s why South Korea is suffering in both politics and social dynamics.

        Reply

  9. July 24, 2015 @ 9:09 am diana pham seng

    I have the opposite problem…

    I am naturally a zero, I have pale skin, small nose, v shaped chin, perfectly large almond eyed, double eyelids …. so I look like the perfect example of what Koreans and other Asians strive for… naturally… I look like a “perfect asian”

    But since so many people in asia and Asians get surgery, Americans, Asians everyone who does not know me always talk about how wow you must have done some surgery as you look so perfect. Where did you get surgery at, at korean restaurants I can hear whispers… like man she looks amazing… wonder who her surgeon is…

    These occurrences happen all thr time and especially when I travel abroad to asia I can hear people whisper. It’s very sad to always feel like you must look good because you must be plastic… I wish I just looked a slight bit less “ideal” Because constantly defending yourself or feeling as if you need to defend yourself sucks…

    Bu

    Reply

    • July 27, 2015 @ 3:59 am Julianna Haahs

      This was really interesting to me. Thanks for posting this. Never even thought about this…!!

      Reply

  10. July 24, 2015 @ 9:39 am Dave

    While I applaud the concept, a 24y/o American trying to shame an entire different country’s older generation is like trying to put out a forest fire, one cup of water at a time.
    Her concentration should rather be focused on getting girls of this and the next generation to feel better about themselves, so that when these comments are inevitably made, they’re confident enough to brush them off.

    Reply

  11. July 24, 2015 @ 11:52 am Kim

    Stop crying about it; Grow up, learn to respect your elders when in Korea and just accept the fact that they are culturally embedded to think this way, not from a random array encounters and historical events, but rooted in our sociology and homogeneous society.

    Reply

    • July 25, 2015 @ 3:36 am Elena

      ……

      Reply

      • July 25, 2015 @ 2:48 pm Jiyoung

        Why, are you honestly of the opinion that a single article will change a deeply rooted elder generation’s thought processes? I do agree its a problem but she needs to help the newer generations if shes concerned not whine about her own parents and grandparents who are set in their ways.

        Reply

        • September 17, 2015 @ 5:05 am Rina

          That’s what she’s trying. You would know if you were really read the post, did you?

          Reply

      • July 27, 2015 @ 4:00 am Julianna Haahs

        haha Elena I love you

        Reply

    • July 30, 2015 @ 12:01 pm Another Korean Girl

      uh… what? hahaha No, I can’t accept it because if they are culturally embedded to think this way, then Korean culture is SHIT. Can we please stop calling this “the culture”??? This isn’t the culture! This is a beauty OBSESSION.

      Reply

  12. July 24, 2015 @ 2:04 pm KorAmerican

    I do agree that the pressure is there. Korea is one of the countries in the world in my opinion that values outer beauty to the extreme. Just as you’d experience any cultures in any counties, all has its unique value and standards.

    It is though very natural for families to be cruel to you or be very judgmental on your looks or etc… It’s similar to many of other Asian cultures.

    I’d say this. Stick to your own culture. No need to hate saying Korea does this and that. Apparently the culture you grew up with does not align with one in Korea. If you hate being there, don’t be there.
    There are lots things to appreciate in Korean Culture that American one does not have. It’s not too late to start getting to know one by one.

    This is almost insulting for someone to say ‘its time for this tradition to change’ on such a rich culture. Yet I understand it could be shocking, you are Korea descent. Your parents were Koreans. It’s time to re-think about your roots.

    Reply

    • July 25, 2015 @ 2:49 pm Jiyoung

      This.

      Reply

    • July 30, 2015 @ 12:07 pm Another Korean Girl

      I don’t get why you guys get so defensive about it. The article isn’t about degrading Korean culture. And please, this whole beauty obsession, HAD NEVER BEEN KOREAN CULTURE. If this is actually becoming part of what Korea really is, and you guys are totally fine with it, something is wrong with you. You said think about your roots. Do your traditions tell you to value outer beauty as the most important thing in your life? Are you okay with being judged by your weight, looks, skin color because that’s what your roots are telling you? I was born and raised in Korea, I love the country, but we gotta admit that some things are crappy. If you seriously think all those plastic surgeries and insecurities are actually Korean culture and therefore should be respected, well, I got nothing to say.

      Reply

      • August 18, 2015 @ 4:20 am Danaid

        I agree with your post. Saying this is all “traditional” culture and therefore relative and should not be questioned, is a lame argument. Cultural relativism just isn’t an excuse. The fact is – and I’ve lived here for over a decade and work in education where I encounter students of all ages – that the pressures to look a certain way have gotten increasingly worse and increasingly unrealistic. And anyone who says that one need not understand the modern history of Korea, doesn’t understand the Korean mindset of today. Korea is a very young nation, and a very young democracy, coming out of centuries of highly authoritarian rule. Koreans in the main cannot stand to be criticized for any apparent weaknesses and will tend to fall back on the cultural relativism argument or the “go back to where you came from” argument. No one is arguing that Western culture is perfect. All cultures have their strengths and weaknesses but unfortunately, many Koreans are very thin skinned when it comes to criticizing any aspect of their culture. This makes the process of open dialogue almost impossible and at best, very difficult.

        Reply

  13. July 24, 2015 @ 5:56 pm J

    You look stunning to me! And what a workout regime, I gotta get on your level! As long as you are happy with who you are, that’s all that matters. I’m Chinese-American and understand what you’re going through (kinda). It may be different cuz I’m a guy (and I think that makes the world a little easier?), but I’m not Chinese enough to be Chinese and not American enough to be American? Well, I’m just happy being me and hope you can be happy being you as well. :)

    Reply

  14. July 25, 2015 @ 1:32 am Lolly Molly

    ”John Smith”

    Is it really fair to call this article racism?

    I wonder how many Korean women (and men) enjoy having their personal appearance (and/or personality) being judged so harshly? If a significant number of Koreans are upset when they are criticised in this way, then it is a problem. If a significant number of Koreans are anorexic, bullemic, depressed or suicidal because of this, then it is a problem. If a significant number of Koreans feel that this is an aspect of their culture that needs to change (and I suspect that many do), then it is a problem. Chances are, she is not only expressing how *she* feels, but she is also expressing how a significant number of Koreans feel about it, too. No racism in that. Chances are, she is just in agreement with the majority who do not opt for surgery to change their apperance.

    Reply

    • July 25, 2015 @ 2:51 pm Jiyoung

      Not really…don’t assume so much. And it is racist because China and Japan, most east asian cultures at least do this as well. Why hate just on Korea?

      Reply

      • July 27, 2015 @ 4:01 am Julianna Haahs

        Hi Jiyoung, Just to clarify, I love Korea. What I hate, on the other hand, is verbal abuse disguised as “love” and accepted by conformity. :)

        Reply

  15. July 25, 2015 @ 4:18 am Sally

    this post resonated with me so much. As a korean-american, I too have always, ALWAYS felt this way especially when visiting my family back in korea year after year. It really does not matter if I have indeed lost weight or not, my own family members-distant relatives will always comment on how much weight i’ve gained. But this is the kind of general mentality here in Korea. There tends to be more of a focus on outwardly appearance, and the ‘outer’ aspects/achievements of a person as well- what university they went to, what job they have, how much money you earn…etc. But kudos to Julianna for speaking out. I can appreciate how people are pointing out that this kind of mentality is imbedded into the culture and that she should suck it up, but I feel like we as individuals need to have the utmost respect for ourself first. How can you respect others if you cannot respect your own self? Instead of hiding behind a conditioned-habitual way of thinking, if other people are disrespecting you- bringing your self esteem and moral down- you stand up for yourself.

    Reply

  16. July 25, 2015 @ 8:05 am Nellie

    Thank you Juliana. The same thing happened to me when I was back in Singapore when my dad passed away. My relatives came to visit in the hospital and even though my dad was hanging my life support, they still commented about how fat I had gotten since I moved to Australia, about how much weight I had put on the last they saw me, about how big I had become etc. That went on for two days from various different relatives who were there.

    I struggled from bulimia when I was younger and had always been insecure about my weight and looks. Thankfully, at this point in my life, I had already learnt how to not let people’s comments get to me and I was obviously not in the mood to entertain any of their comments. I understood that as elders in an Asian community, it is hard for them to comprehend how comments like this can hurt us. But at the same time, there is always a tinge of pain and a sudden wave of insecurity that overwhelms us when comments like that happen out of nowhere.

    In that situation, all I did was to just nod my head in agreement and ignore any more contributing commentary. I know it’s hard, especially when people gang up on you. I had about 3 relatives at a time discussing about my weight in front of me when I chose to ignore them.

    Unfortunately, changing the way society was shaped in the past, especially with people who do not understand the consequences of their words, is near impossible. Nonetheless, there will still be those who get it and stop. So, keep doing what you’re doing, change the world one post at a time :)

    Reply

    • July 25, 2015 @ 8:12 am Nellie

      And for those who tell her to “stop crying and grow up” and to “accept how Korean culture is” –

      Mindless sheep accept the way things are,
      But winners seek to improve lives and change things for the better.

      Who do you want to be?

      Reply

      • July 25, 2015 @ 2:55 pm Jiyoung

        And losers fail in accomplishing change as they focus on things that can not be changed, but not on things that can. She does need to stop crying and grow up. There are many worse things than being called fat. Which I have been called. As a Korean. If she wants to change things, she needs to accept the elders and focus on educating the younger generations. You need to realize some cultures are different, and also the extent to how this impacts the thought processes of those within. Korea is 2000 years old. It’s not going to change just because you made a cliched comic on a singlr article.

        Reply

        • July 25, 2015 @ 2:56 pm Jiyoung

          *comment, *article

          Reply

          • July 26, 2015 @ 6:59 am mike

            I feel compelled to challenge you Jiyoung. I notice all your comments on here. You said that losers complain about things that can’t be changed and that the writer does need to quit crying and that she needs to grow up.

            First of all, let’s not pretend that you yourself don’t cry and complain about stuff that offends you. For example, one could perceive your multiple comments on why Julianna and others are not respecting a 2000 year old culture as “crying and complaining”. Do you think it would be fair for people to say that about you? Not to mention I’m sure you cry and complain about stuff. Who doesn’t? We all do. So to say she’s crying and complaining is not very logical if it makes you look like a hypocrite.

            And secondly, you accuse her of culture bashing. I’ve lived in Korea for six years. You’re absolutely right. It’s an old culture. It’s not going to be changed by this article. I completely agree. BUT… I for one shared her article on my facebook page. It’s gotten “likes”. Not many but it got a few. And those people who liked it could very well share it with others and talk about it with others and it would spread to more people that never would’ve heard about it if I hadn’t shared it. My point is that it can make a difference, even if it’s a small one. No, it’s not going to change the culture completely. I’m sure Juliana doesn’t think that it will completely change the culture, even though she wants to urge people to break from tradition. My point is what’s the problem with trying to reach a few people and influencing them? So that idea of her not being able to change the culture with her article is not exactly a valid argument.

            And lastly, explain to me, by using logic, how an elderly person being as rude as they want to be and a younger person calling them out for it is wrong. Now, I said I want you to use logic. Saying Korea is a 2000 year old culture that effects how people think… okay, yeah, that’s logical, I guess. But at the same time, the few Koreans and in this case older Koreans who do not abide by those rules and choose NOT to criticize his or her granddaughter for her weight because she disagrees with her 2000 year old culture is much much MUCH more worthy of respect than the Korean elderly person who does it because they know they can get away with it because it’s embedded in their culture. Saying it’s embedded in your culture falls more on the “excuse” side than the “explanation why it’s okay to be rude” side.

            And that’s essentially what you’re trying to do. You’re trying to say that there’s nothing wrong with being rude as long as you’re at an age where your culture allows you to be rude. But here’s the problem with that. You’re still rude and condescending. And since when is that a positive that should be embraced? It’s only okay if you use abuse your age while hiding behind your culture? Is that your point. That’s kind of unfair to Americans who want to be abuse the hell out of their age. They can’t do it because their culture doesn’t allow it?

            What’s more you seem to have somewhat of a theme in your comments in which you view Julianna’s disgust with her relatives’ behavior as a weakness or her inability to grow up. So the next logical jump is to assume that you think you have some kind of monopoly on strength just because you don’t take offense when your grandmother calls you fat as if that’s supposed to impress me or anyone else who has read your comments. You’re naive if you think that I for one should be impressed. Because I’m not.

            It seems to me that it takes a lot more strength to break from a the normal practice which you say is embedded in the culture and stand up for herself and demand to be respected. What you do by comparison is respond to your grandmother by saying, “Ha ha ha gee willakers HAL MOH NEE (grandma). You are absolutely right. I am fat as a cow. HA HA HA!!! You’re so funny. By the way I’m not disrespecting you, am I? I am doing what I’m supposed to do by agreeing with your comment that I’m fat and showing that I’m not offended. HA HA HA. I love you grandma because you’re too old for me not to love you. HA HA HA HA.” And what Julianna did was say, “No. I’m not gonna stand for this. You can not talk to me that way.” I’m paraphrasing of course but you get the idea.

            So you tell me? Which response shows the most amount of strength? Yours or hers? I think it’s pretty obvious. So what if you don’t take offense when your grandma calls you fat. That doesn’t mean that you should criticize others if they take offense to it. You think she’s not being understanding of Korean culture? Maybe you’re not being understanding of her sensitivity to being berated about her weight. Why is it okay for you to be insensitive but it’s not okay for her to be insensitive?

            So why don’t you get out of your ivory tower and take your misguided views and throw them back in your grandmother’s face the next time she calls you fat and start taking after Julianna, who is a person who apparently has a lot more courage than you. You’ve been challenged. Post if you have something relevant and logical to say.

          • July 26, 2015 @ 9:05 am mike

            I feel compelled to challenge you Jiyoung. I notice all your comments on here. You said that losers complain about things that can’t be changed and that the writer does need to quit crying and that she needs to grow up.

            First of all, let’s not pretend that you yourself don’t cry and complain about stuff that offends you. For example, one could perceive your multiple comments on why Julianna and others are not respecting a 2000 year old culture as “crying and complaining”. Do you think it would be fair for people to say that about you? Not to mention I’m sure you cry and complain about stuff. Who doesn’t? We all do. So to say she’s crying and complaining is not very logical if it makes you look like a hypocrite.

            And secondly, you say she can’t realistically change a culture through her article. You’re absolutely right. It’s an old culture. It’s not going to be changed by this article. I completely agree. BUT… I for one shared her article on my facebook page. It’s gotten “likes”. Not many but it got a few. And those people who liked it could very well share it with others and talk about it with others and it would spread to more people that never would’ve heard about it if I hadn’t shared it. My point is that it can make a difference, even if it’s a small one. No, it’s not going to change the culture completely. I’m sure Juliana doesn’t think that it will completely change the culture, even though she wants to urge people to break from tradition. My point is what’s the problem with trying to reach a few people and influencing them? So that idea of her not being able to change the culture with her article is not exactly a valid argument.

            And lastly, explain to me, by using logic, how an elderly person being as rude as they want to be and a younger person calling them out for it is wrong. Now, I said I want you to use logic. Saying Korea is a 2000 year old culture that effects how people think… okay, yeah, that’s logical, I guess. But at the same time, the few Koreans and in this case older Koreans who do not abide by those rules and choose NOT to criticize his or her granddaughter for her weight because he or she disagrees with his or her 2000 year old culture is much much MUCH more worthy of respect than the Korean elderly person who does it because they know they can get away with it because it’s embedded in their culture. Saying it’s embedded in your culture falls more on the “excuse” side than the “explanation why it’s okay to be rude” side.

            And that’s essentially what you’re trying to do. You’re trying to say that there’s nothing wrong with being rude as long as you’re at an age where your culture allows you to be rude. But here’s the problem with that. You’re still rude and condescending. And since when is that a positive that should be embraced? Maybe you would say it has been embraced for many, many years. My response would be, so it’s only okay if you abuse your age while hiding behind your culture? Is that your point? That’s kind of unfair to Americans who want to abuse the hell out of their age. They can’t do it because their culture doesn’t allow it? Why is it okay for Koreans to say whatever they want if their older but it’s not okay for Americans to do it? Because the cultures are different? That’s weak. Seems to me like the rules for being insulting to others ought to be the same for everyone across the board… because you’re being insulting to others. Let’s not act like Koreans aren’t hurt by the same things that hurt Americans and vice versa.

            And let’s face it. She’s not disrespecting the culture. Respecting older people is part of Korean culture, yes. But what exactly does that entail? Well let’s see if we can outline a few things. In my six years of living in Korea, I can say that respecting your elders according to Korean culture involves the following things: putting the honorific “yo” or “요” at the end of every sentence, offering a gift or any object for that matter with two hands instead of one, greeting an older person with a bow, and not being a dick, etc. These are the kinds of things that you should do in order to show your respect to older people in Korean society. The notion of respecting your elders does not give older people license to say whatever the hell the want. That is a perversion that has been attached to the notion of respecting your elders and is yet to be something that Korean society has yet to shake. Case in point, there’s no doubt that within the Korea’s vast history, other perversions have been attached to the notion of showing respect for your elders. For example, backhanding a younger person across the face when they speak out of turn or perhaps even raping a younger woman when she speaks out of turn. There’s no doubt that older people probably used their age as an excuse to do these things. Does that mean it’s okay if they pull the age card? Would you be defending these actions today if many older men and women adopted these actions as being acceptable ways to teach a young person that they thought was being out of line simply because they are actions that have existed for hundreds and hundreds of years? I should hope not.

            And let’s not act like talking about a granddaughter’s weight is something that is 100% permissible in Korean society. I’m sure that the scenario that Julianna has written about happens more often than you realize in Korea among native Koreans (even though unfortunately there aren’t enough Juliannas out there as there should be).

            What’s more you seem to have somewhat of a theme in your comments in which you view Julianna’s disgust with her relatives’ behavior as a weakness or her inability to grow up. So the next logical jump is to assume that you think you have some kind of monopoly on strength just because you don’t take offense when your grandmother calls you fat as if that’s supposed to impress me or anyone else who has read your comments. You’re naive if you think that I for one should be impressed. Because I’m not.

            It seems to me that it takes a lot more strength to break from the normal practice which you say is embedded in the culture and stand up for herself and demand to be respected. What you would do by comparison is respond to your grandmother by saying, “Ha ha ha gee willakers HAL MOH NEE (grandma). You are absolutely right. I am fat as a cow. HA HA HA!!! You’re so funny. By the way I’m not disrespecting you, am I? I am doing what I’m supposed to do by agreeing with your comment that I’m fat and showing that I’m not offended. HA HA HA. I love you grandma because you’re old so therefore I’m supposed to love you. HA HA HA HA.” And what Julianna did was say, “No. I’m not gonna stand for this. You can not talk to me that way.” I’m paraphrasing of course but you get the idea.

            So you tell me? Which response shows the most amount of strength? Yours or hers? I think it’s pretty obvious. So what if you don’t take offense when your grandma calls you fat? That doesn’t mean that you should criticize others if they take offense to it. You think she’s not being understanding of Korean culture? Maybe you’re not being understanding of her sensitivity to being berated about her weight. Why is it okay for you to be insensitive but it’s not okay for her to be insensitive?

            So why don’t you get out of your ivory tower and take your misguided views and throw them back in your grandmother’s face the next time she calls you fat and start taking after Julianna, who is a person who apparently has a lot more courage than you? You’ve been challenged. Post if you have something relevant and logical to say.

        • July 27, 2015 @ 1:09 am B.BarNavi

          You can’t be serious. Most Koreaboos I know aren’t even Korean. Why do you keep implying that the modern materialist status-driven pseudo-culture has anything to do with the Three Kingdoms, King Sejong, Yi Sunsin, Chunhyang+Mongryong and the like? It’s complete sophistry. You can criticize one (extremely corrosive) part of a country’s modern culture without disparaging its entire history. It’s not as if I’m pissing on Confucius’s grave every time I call out China’s nihilistic anti-humanism. I find it highly ironic that you claim that Julianna and people like her are somehow “insecure” because they can’t stand others disparaging their looks, but it seems like you’re the most insecure of them all, lashing out at anything you perceive as anti-Korean.

          Reply

          • August 13, 2015 @ 2:15 pm Sans

            @Mike – Damn boi!!! *fist bump*

    • July 27, 2015 @ 4:06 am Julianna Haahs

      Nellie this is AWFUL and should never have happened to you. What you needed at that time was love and support from those nearest to you. I’m truly sorry for that horrific experience. I guess at this point the only options we have is to love, forgive, never repeat what was done onto us, and try to change culture. :) By the way, it IS possible to change society. My post has been republished by over 7 online journals, viewed by at least 100,000 people in less than week, been shared [I don’t even know how many times], and the amount of inbox messages I have been getting from people is OVERWHELMING. Who says we can’t change culture? ;) Love, Julianna

      Reply

  17. July 25, 2015 @ 9:18 am Josh

    I’m Korean American too. I don’t know much about Korean culture because I was adopted and raised by American parents. Would love to visit South Korea when the timing is right. I do have several Korean friends who have have said that Korea is a very status-driven society. Appearances, status, and money = respect. These do not equate to “value.” Pardon my American raised view, I think what she has had to endured from her own relatives is wrong. Julianna is beautiful, both on inside and outside. Stay strong and stand your ground. At some point, someone needs to take a stand and say this is enough and this needs to change. Surely they understand that exterior beauty don’t last forever, the inner beauty does.

    Reply

    • July 25, 2015 @ 3:06 pm Jiyoung

      As a Korean American who is disgusted by a lot of American culture and loves Korea’s vast history, I do think this is wrong. I don’t however think it is easily changed. She is welcome to try. But what I am despised by is the comments in this thread that berate Korea as if its culture immature, young, idiotic and materialistic. This happens in all East Asian countries, China and Japan included. It’s wrong and indeed annoying to see our country be flamed like this by a nation whose film industry is dominated by stars who starve themselves in order to fit into a size 0. People need to try to understand the nuances of a culture, and if theyre offended by it, talk to their families. If that doesnt work accept it. One article will not change Korea nor your family, if truthful conversation did not. Dont single Korea out as though its some sort of evil spawn.

      Reply

      • July 26, 2015 @ 12:18 am Josh

        I believe you may have misinterpreted my perspective. I am not hating on Korean culture. I do acknowledge that there are many things that are beautiful and amazing about Korea as a country and as a culture. I am not saying that our American ways are better nor am I singling Korean out neither. Every country has its own ugliness, Korea is no exception. In all of Korean’s glories as a country and as a culture, it also has its own flaws. I believe this kind of rigid mentality is one of them.

        Reply

    • July 27, 2015 @ 4:07 am Julianna Haahs

      Josh you rock!

      Reply

  18. July 26, 2015 @ 6:24 am DR Korea

    The emphasis on physical appearance isn’t the main issue, it’s the insecurity of outer appearance, social standing within society, what others think of others that is the main issue in this country. I would go as far to say that people’s identities are formed by what others think of, or judge them by here. That is how important showing others that I am well off is, and the main reason why trends are ever so popular and sensitive here. Not to mention Korean media, there is a reason why K-pop is doing so well, and it’s because they are so good at making everything look so good, and because they are very smart (which I will follow up), they are very good at it. Following the current trends of the world and making it their own, ending up in a very attractive result. I used to work in one of the top media companies in Korea and my colleagues agreed that even news anchors, the girls are just always pretty, the men look like they are of substantial social standing. But like all social issues, it is not the people who should be judged and treated like they are the ones with problems, but the main disease of it all, the societal mechanism which causes the people to act that way.
    Korea is one of THE most competitive countries in the WORLD. Since birth, they are thrown into this hierarchic society where even the form of language changes when talking to a person a year older. Their entire grades in school are publicly displayed for the whole world to see as they are ranked among each other throughout their entire youth. That’s also one of the reasons why Koreans are so obsessed with rankings, because they have such an urge to become No.1, and if they aren’t, they are of no significant use to the related matter. No matter how crule and ridiculous this sounds, living here, I can feel it in my bones that it is no further from the truth. Because everyone is trying so hard to reach the top, and everyone has been trained to do so since birth, the competition is just ridiculous. That is why Koreans tend to do so well in so many areas, even though it is such a small country that was wartorn, shit poor only 60 years ago, now it is one of the top 10 economies in the world. To cut it short, I had the same problems as this girl Julianna, but I started realizing that the fault wasn’t on the people, but in which the system of this society revolves around and continues to perpetuate. This is how commenting on a persons size isn’t necessarily a negative criticism here, but a casual remark on the persons standing in society because ultimately, what others make of them is what creates her identity. I really need to shut up and start losing weight. My family gives me shit every week!

    Reply

    • August 13, 2015 @ 2:20 pm Sans

      @Dr. Korea – #truth. Speak it dude! *fist bump*

      Reply

  19. July 26, 2015 @ 7:15 am A korean girl

    Hi, I am Korean. That’s just a cultural difference. Nobody is offended by that in Korea. We think the person is concerned about us. People usually say we lost weight flattering and if they are concerned about us they tell what they really think so that we try to lose weight. If you are not Korean it won’t be easy to get used to it. What I am wondering about is if the writer really did not know about that culture. If she knew it what’s the point to do this?

    Reply

    • July 27, 2015 @ 4:09 am Julianna Haahs

      Then how do you explain the hundreds of messages I’m getting from people who have felt debased, shamed, hated, bullied from family, “friends” and by this very cultural habit that you say is in love? Pointing out someone gained weight or got acne is not the problem…it’s when you do it without love, by habit, failing to recognize that this person is probably already insecure about this, and could be going through some very serious things. My point is to care enough to ask them HOW they are rather than describing HOW they look, which is very often a skewed perspective anyway.

      Reply

      • July 28, 2015 @ 11:31 am A Korean girl

        If it is that offending, it couldn’t be ‘the culture’. I’ve lived here from birth. And I’ve never heard someone got offended by those words. But I’ve heard that from foreigners. Anyway you said you want to change that culture. I think that idea is quite dangerous. For example, not bowing to older people saying hello is not polite in Korea. And we know many people in other countries don’t bow. Do we say foreigners should change their culture because not bowing is rude? We know we should respect other countries’ culture even though we don’t like it.

        Reply

        • July 30, 2015 @ 4:53 am Jack Burton

          It isn’t the entire culture and tradition of Korea that she is commenting on. It is a growing subculture in Korea that should be changed. The obsession with external beauty and the ill placed priorities on outward appearance is the focus. Insecurities and fear are the driving forces behind this obsession. For any ethnicity or culture of humans, when something is driven by fear and insecurity, it manifests into a negative outcome that doesn’t promote love towards one another. Think about the author Ms. Haas here.
          The true beauty is her inner strength and heart to be able love herself and express herself. A woman should be this strong and confident to speak up against something that causes her pain and injustice. Would the subculture of this beauty movement allow such a woman to have this voice at all?? Any part of culture that suppresses the heart and beauty in character of a human should be changed.

          Really, people are going to defend the aspect of culture that sends their children to physically cut themselves and then alter the way they look from their own families?!?! Being a Korean dad of two daughters, I can whole heartedly tell you that this part of Korean culture should be changed because it isn’t about love. The culture would be better if we understand that love is seeing the true beauty in them.

          Reply

          • August 7, 2015 @ 8:51 am Lee

            You do realize that this is not solely a Korean “problem,” right? The whole beauty issue is also a “problem” in China. And as if Western culture doesn’t have a slew of its own problems regarding beauty. Hello, Anorexia and Bulemia. Hello, Photoshop and Plastic Surgery (breast implants, various types of injections, face lifts). Yeah, last time I checked, people in Western countries did loads of plastic surgery too. Love is the true beauty of seeing within? I’m sure your own country has problems realizing this.

        • July 30, 2015 @ 11:50 am Another Korean Girl

          Since when did plastic surgery become “the culture” in Korea? It’s rather an obsession. It’s like you’re basically saying “being obese in America is the culture so we should respect it.” This article is talking about how ridiculous beauty standards in Korea are actually hurting people. Has nothing to do with not respecting a country’s inherent culture. Read again.

          Reply

  20. July 26, 2015 @ 10:57 pm yeppun boi

    Self esteem movement.

    Reply

  21. July 27, 2015 @ 3:50 am Julianna Haahs

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading all these posts, even “those” ones… :)
    Thanks to everyone who got the heart behind this message. <3
    Love, Julianna

    Reply

  22. July 27, 2015 @ 10:33 pm Hyun

    I’m Korean American currently living in Korea. Been here for a couple of years, my cousin is a plastic surgeon, and have many friends in the entertainment business.. So, I completely understand your frustration. As much as I wanted to tell Koreans the same things as you, to be honest, it won’t even make a ripple. Sorry to sound so grim. They have certain standards for what they consider attractive and it’s became part of their culture. But hey, we’re in Korea.. So, when in rome. When you live here long enough, you start not to take these neggative comments to heart. The good news is, even though the media is all about beauty and many Koreans have gotten plastic surgery because of their insecurities, there are still a good number of Koreans who as you consider imperfections and differences as beauty. Those good friends constantly give compliments to each, and trick me when they tell me they have a pretty friend they want to introduce to me, but when I see their pictures, I have no words but just say “she… looks.. nice…” Hahaha.

    Reply

  23. July 30, 2015 @ 11:44 am Another Korean Girl

    I’m a Korean too, and my mom/aunts say exactly the same. So far, I have heard:

    1. Your hair is too straight, you look like a ghost.
    2. Your glasses don’t look good, you look DUMB in those.
    3. Your butt is too big. (She said this like 100 times. I mean, big butt is a good thing mom!!!!)
    4. Why don’t you consider getting a boob job?
    5. OMG, your boobs are too small! You gotta do something about it before you get married. (wtf?)
    6. You would look better if your nose wasn’t crooked.
    7. I think you’re getting fat. (I’m not fat at all. I’m 5.5 120lbs.)
    8. You’re too tanned, you look like a poor African kid.
    9. Ask your boyfriend, he’ll say he doesn’t like those glasses too. (mom my boyfriend loves it when I wear these.)
    10. He’s only saying it not to hurt your feelings. But I’m the one who’s being honest with you. Get new glasses.

    No jokes.

    Reply

  24. August 4, 2015 @ 10:41 am OOGEEWOOGEE / Korea’s First Plus-Size Model Responds to the “Korea’s Unrealistic Beauty Standard” Article

    […] a week ago, Julianna Haahs, the brave Korean-American woman who shared her anecdotal story about Korea’s body shaming and unrealistic beauty standards, rode the fickle wave of support […]

    Reply

  25. August 4, 2015 @ 5:06 pm Whiskey Bob

    Actually, the US beats out Korea by FAR on the rate of INVASIVE plastic surgery operations per capita. An American is more likely to have breast enhancements, botox, or a nose job than a Korean, statistically. Majority of ‘statistics’ claiming otherwise do not factor in the massive amount of foreign medical tourists doing operations in Korea, and also count things like LASEK / LASIK eye correction as ‘plastic surgery procedures’ – those are indeed very common in Korea. And while it’s true that Koreans often go somewhat overboard on being critical (and self-critical) of appearances and their perceptions of ‘healthy’ bodies, I’m not sure if it’s really so bad compared to a country like your beloved US where over 30% of people are classified as clinically obese and a further 30+% are overweight, yet insist there is nothing wrong with ‘having some curves’.

    Of course finding some middle ground would be great, but when did people ever settle for middle ground in anything.

    Reply

  26. August 6, 2015 @ 6:26 pm Lee

    I think one of the things that’s important to remember about Korean culture is that it is an overtly superficial society. I think as human beings, superficiality is ingrained in our DNA somewhere, but different cultures show this in different ways. In America, people treat you differently if you look nice, but they don’t really put a big emphasis on looks because vanity is not considered to be a good thing in the culture, so people check the way they look in private. In Korea, usually there is at least one mirror in every room (even in bathroom stalls), and people are constantly checking their looks on their phone or in a mirror. That’s just the way things are here. That’s how things work.

    I understand why Julianna felt so terrible, especially with the health problems she had, when she heard that from her relatives. For any Westerner, I’m sure hearing those kinds of comments are a shock since we usually tend to keep these sorts of comments to ourselves, but she should know that her relatives are only saying those honest comments because they care about her. They wouldn’t say those sorts of things to anybody else. In Korea, if they care about you, they are bluntly honest to you. As an American, I usually would prefer not to hear stuff like that from people here, but I always have to remind myself that they are only saying those kinds of things because they care about me. She also should remember that her grandparents are old, and she should just brush off what they are saying. It’s not going to be easy to change the way old people think. She doesn’t need to take what they say so seriously. Just nod and smile is what I usually do when I hear stuff like that. Don’t take it so personally.

    Having lived in Korea for five years, I have often heard foreigners complaining about Korean culture. For the newbies, I understand and listen, but for the ones that have lived here for many years, I just wonder, “Why are you still here? If Korea bothers you so much, just get out of here already.” Korean culture is not going to change for one person. In the beginning, you might ask why things are like that in Korea, but after several years, you learn that this is just how the country works. This is how the country is. This is the culture. If immigrants in the US complained about aspects of US culture, do you think Americans will give a shit? No. It’s the same in Korea. They’re not going to change just for you.

    Reply

  27. August 6, 2015 @ 6:56 pm Whitney

    We hear you + are behind you 100% Julianna! We are both Korean adoptees + have experienced the ugliest side of this issue from family as well as strangers. It’s our least favorite thing about going back to the motherland.

    Reply

  28. August 8, 2015 @ 3:11 am Alain

    I live in Korea, not korean, and I’ve seen, heard and to a certain extent experienced this. This issue stems from a lot of reasons. Ultimately, I feel this sort of cultural “shortcoming” will only change if younger Koreans are willing to change it. From my time here and interacting with young Koreans, it won’t.

    Reply

  29. August 10, 2015 @ 9:26 pm LEE

    Everybody’s a victim these days. Not every culture wants to be overly politically correct. Thank you whitewashed “Koreans” for your advice.

    Reply

  30. August 16, 2015 @ 10:45 am KOREA’S FIRST PLUS-SIZE MODEL RESPONDS TO THE “KOREA’S UNREALISTIC BEAUTY STANDARD” ARTICLE | Beauty is being the best possible version of yourself…

    […] a week ago, Julianna Haahs, the brave Korean-American woman who shared her anecdotal storyabout Korea’s body shaming and unrealistic beauty standards, rode the fickle wave of support but […]

    Reply

  31. August 24, 2015 @ 3:27 pm Weekend Links, Vol. 78: covering cultural imperialism | Bluestockings Magazine

    […] Vivian Geeyang Kim responds to Julianna Haahs’s article about Korea’s unrealistic beauty standards […]

    Reply

  32. September 16, 2015 @ 6:41 pm OOGEEWOOGEE / 100 Years of Korean Beauty Shows the Politics of Division in One Minute

    […] image in the Asian community. Julianna Haahs’s story was a piercing indictment on the unrealistic Korean beauty standards; and our exclusive interview with Korea’s first plus-size model demonstrated the evolution […]

    Reply

  33. October 12, 2015 @ 5:03 am [Opinion] That K-Pop Booty & Other Carnal Cliches: 5 Music Videos That Grossed Me Out | KoreanEngSub.com

    […] of beauty is very real, spreading into culture and straight into hurtful words that might come from your own family, feed insecurities, and take effect in the form of netizens ripping apart a woman’s appearance […]

    Reply

  34. October 12, 2015 @ 5:27 am [Opinion] That K-Pop Booty & Other Carnal Cliches: 5 Music Videos That Grossed Me Out | All K-Pop

    […] of beauty is very real, spreading into culture and straight into hurtful words that might come from your own family, feed insecurities, and take effect in the form of netizens ripping apart a woman’s […]

    Reply

  35. October 12, 2015 @ 11:03 am JKarpenko

    So, I came here due to an article on Soompi.com and read with interest.

    Hi Julianna,

    Just to share something totally unrelated to S. Korea (the culture being talked to death here) but totally related to the issue (rudeness of elders, plastic surgery, etc).

    Am ethnically Chinese, born and raised in Malaysia, currently residing in CA, USA. Grew up learning English so am what they called bananas except I can speak several conversational Chinese dialects (yay for multi-ethnic community growing up!)

    The whole “elders calling you out” being considered rude is not new, nor confined to S. Korea culture, so this is not a S. Korea specific issue but more of an Asian ethnicity issue. My own mother commented on varieties of “Stop eating so much, you’ll get fat,” (weight) “Stop spending money on clothes, buy some skin care products,” (pimples, I never had acne) to “You’re lucky I gave birth to you with double eyelids, otherwise you’ll have to go under the knife like your sister.” (plastic surgery) … Mind you, this is in the late 80s (yea, am old), in SE Asia, BEFORE S. Korea plastic surgery boom. Heck, I wear a US size 7 shoe (average size), my mom & friends said “You got big feet! People will think you work in the field growing up!” (Since, as a Chinese, tiny feet is the thing).

    Like Nellie, I went back for my brother’s wedding in 2012 and I was at first greeted with “OMG! How many months along are you!?” I laughed and said, “No, I just got too happy being married and ate my fill!” and we all laughed but they still commented “Well, you need to lose it! You’re getting to be like a pig!” My dear hubby, raised an American the whole way, was extremely offended and told my relatives “She’s fine the way she is! Stop saying she’s FAT!” I laughed at that, my relatives laughed at that, but you know one of those awkward laughs when things get uncomfortable? Yea, those kind of laugh. Oh, I shall mention, “Why are you so dark?! Living in the states should’ve make you fairer!” AGAIN, a little backstory to those who don’t know yet, being pale are perceived as being rich/affluent enough because you don’t work under the sun in the old old days, so being pale is always much preferred. Westerners on the other hand loves being tanned, tanned means you got time to just lie down and get tanned, or pay for tanning, or take a vacation to one of those exotic countries and get tanned. I told my hubby white guys are called ‘gwailo’ roughly translated as white ghost due to their pale appearance. He simply made the comment “I’m white ghost? I’ve more color than the Asians in Asia!” So yes, we love being pale.

    Julianna, I’m sorry you had to go through this, the story resonates with me. God knows, I spent enough time in front of a mirror in my (younger) youth comparing my tiny pooch of a stomach fat wondering if I’m overweight, prodding my eyes and wondering if I should get bigger eyes. You have relatives who criticizes you. I have my mom.

    The cultural difference that (I hate to say this) is rude to you, because you lived in a country (USA) that was very nicely pointed out by REB, just vastly different in how opinions are voiced. It’s just such a norm there, that it’s not considered rude or out of norm. Youngsters, especially those who had been outside of their nest homes will realize this is not the ONLY way to be, and slowly we can be the change. But in all honesty, while your post was written with great and noble intention, I can see why some are blasting your good intention. It’s deeply ingrained in multiple societies/cultures that it’s okay for them to say whatever they want. It’s not always okay, but being the elders they are, usually youngsters are expected to shut up and bow their head (as in meekly accepting the ‘care/love/thoughts’). One good news is, with globalization, slowly but surely, this norm will soon be abnormal and will phase out in generations to come. I think some people were just shocked that you would dare to speak against your elders (a big no no in Asian culture), which when my mom was alive, she would chide me for being so (like she’ll die from shame) disrespectful. Which I had done. Like your relatives, she said “I knew I should’ve stopped your father from sending you to those non-Chinese schools!” (we have schools where it’s mainly taught in Chinese, somehow she thought that will make me more “Chinese”.) Meaning I was too “westernized” and has no “Asian” values. Thank God my dad was more ‘western’ thinking!

    Ironically sometimes I wish my American friends and hubby would tell me when I gain weight… because I gained 40 lbs since I moved here in the course of 6 years and my doc (in USA) told me to lose weight because by USA standard, I’m overweight, by Asian standard I’m obese (yup, the health check up has Asian scale) but my friends said “You need to change your doc, I think he got problems calling you fat.” Truth is, I AM obese. So, ‘rude’ might be good as well (if you get what I mean).

    I do agree in S. Korea the need to not stand out is ridiculous (children with red hair/blue eyes are ridiculed and bullied) and be uniform as others is boring, but perhaps we are pushing our opinions on what they are totally happy with? I sometimes think it as this way…. and please bear with me. Is it really okay for us to push our ideology of what is ok/wrong on other cultures, i.e. just because some Muslim countries punishment for theft by chopping off the hand is considered barbaric to us, we try to force them to change their laws because we live in that country at that time. In that case, are we wrong/right to do so? Well, everyone has their own opinion… and that’s the beauty of minds.

    I know my mom certainly voiced her concerns out of love, and sadly, I think a LOT of asian (who are raised in Asia) parents don’t know how to express their love in ‘western’ ways because they are raised on Asian values, education and mentality. You are really beautiful. And in time, I know with what I’ve read so far, you’ll grow into an even more beautiful and mature person, and comments like this won’t hurt you anymore.

    All the best,
    J

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    […] of beauty is very real, spreading into culture and straight into hurtful words that might come from your own family, feed insecurities, and take effect in the form of netizens ripping apart a woman’s […]

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