Exercise

Beyond Meds's picture

Psychiatric Meds and Fat

(old post, just got indexed for first time..)

James Turnbull's picture

The effeminacy of male beauty in Korea

( Attack on the Pin-Up Boys, 2007. Source )

With thanks to author Roald Maliangkay for the kind words about this blog in it, see here for his short and very readable article of that title in the latest International Institute for Asian Studies newsletter, which I also highly recommend taking 2 minutes to subscribe to.

For the specific post of mine he refers to, and many more on the kkotminam (꽃미남) phenomenon in general (literally “flower-beautiful-man”), scroll down to the sidebar on the right until you come to the “My Constantly Evolving Thesis Topic” section.

True, he actually argues that the factors I cite are just some of many that were ultimately responsible for the emergence of that, but then my own views have considerably evolved since first writing about the subject over 2 years ago, and I think we’re in broad agreement really.

Alternatively, perhaps that just reflects how persuasive his own article is?^^ What do you think of it?

(Posted at The Grand Narrative)

James Turnbull's picture

Korean Photoshop Disaster #7: I Hate You Lee Soo-kyeong…

( Sources: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, & 4th )

No, not really. But after eating Special K (스페셜K) for years thinking that it was low-fat, only to just discover that it actually has more fat than regular cornflakes, then it’s high time to call Kellogg’s out on the appalling photoshopping of her that’s been greeting me every morning.

See how she compares in real life to the Barbie dolls above:

( Source )

But don’t get me wrong: while she could certainly do with a bit more sun, I still find her attractive (and love her expression at the top-left!). Yet lacking even a hint of an hourglass figure however, then why on Earth was she chosen to be the model for a product purporting to give you one? Because of Korean advertising’s over-reliance on star appeal perhaps?

Alas, more likely it’s because Korean consumers aren’t actually all that concerned with photoshopping. For not only do they regularly have it done on their own resume photos for instance, but there are even products on the market claiming to give women an “X-line” too, despite the inconvenient fact that it is physically impossible for a human to ever possess such a body shape:

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The Hips Don’t Lie…

( But is she smart too? Source )

As long-term readers will be well aware, I’m a big fan of evolutionary psychology. And why not? It usually provides both simple and extremely compelling explanations for many universal cultural features and human behaviors, such as that of the evil stepmother or the fact that 95% of killers are males for instance. So when research in 2004 found that women with hourglass body shapes are 30% more likely to become pregnant than others, it was no great surprise that men worldwide have always tended to find this body type the most attractive.

But even congenitally blind men too?

Yes, it’s true, and while feminists have frequently pointed out the sexist assumptions to many of evolutionary psychologists’ conclusions, this latest news definitely definitely buttresses the “nature” rather than the “nurture” side of the debate:

James Turnbull's picture

Hot Sweaty Korean Women

Why do I like this commercial so much?

No, not because the dancer is 29 year-old Park Ga-hee (박가희), by coincidence leader of the girl band After School (애프터스쿨) whose songs I am translating at the moment. And not because she is by no means just another manufactured K-pop idol either, once literally penniless on the streets of Seoul after running away from home. Hell, not even because of her great body.

Rather, it’s because she’s sweating.

Yes, sweating. Because as I first highlighted over 2 years ago, Korean women generally prefer passive means of losing weight to active ones like exercise. Indeed, even the ones that do attend gyms rarely seem to exert any actual effort while they’re there, and I’ve seen less than a handful dripping with sweat while on a treadmill.

A gross over-generalization? Actually, I very much hope so, and admittedly not having gone to a Korean gym myself since 2004, then I’d be happy to learn that things have changed since. But my post did seem to strike a chord with readers’ own experiences back in 2008, and in turn the underlying attitudes to exercise that they demonstrated were corroborated by one of the few English language studies of the subject: “Content Analysis of Diet Advertisements: A Cross-National Comparison of Korean and U.S. Women’s Magazines” (Clothing and Textiles Research Journal, October 2006), by Minjeong Kim and Sharron Lennon. With apologies to long-term readers for my frequent references to it, but it’s worth (re)highlighting some parts here to remind ourselves just how unique the Fat Down (팻다운) commercial really is:

James Turnbull's picture

Gender Studies 101: How the media perpetuates negative body images

( Source )

Alas, I’m still taking a break from blogging for another week or so(!), so let me just quickly pass on a Korea Times article on “X-lines” and women’s body images that I’m quoted in today. New readers who want to learn more about them, please see:

  • Here for a quick summary of all the various “lines” used to describe women’s bodies at the moment
  • Here for a much longer analysis and a discussion of how and why they’ve developed from being mere fads to become enduring parts of Korean media culture
  • Here for the ways in which even prepubescent girls are socialized to develop a concern for achieving such lines in the future
  • Here for the deep roots this Alphabetization craze has in various Korean philosophical and linguistic traditions, rendering it qualitatively different to similar sounding name-assigning in English.
  • And finally here, here, and here for more on the fact that Korean women are the slimmest in the OECD, but still consume the most diet drugs.
James Turnbull's picture

Gender Advertisements: What, boys can drink girly drinks now?

Regularly criticizing food and drink companies for marketing their products so differently to either sex, or even exclusively just to one, then I’m surprised to find I have mixed feelings about the news that one company has actually chosen to stop doing so for a change: Hyundai Pharm (현대약픔), whose Miero Fiber (미에로화이바) “diet drink” for women was ironically the first of its kind in Korea, but for which a new campaign has been launched featuring Lee Joon (이준), a member of boy band MBLAQ (엠블랙), and Kwak Min-jung (곽민정), a figure skater:

제 2의 비라 불리며 초콜릿 복근으로 팬들의 마음을 사로잡고 있는 엠블랙 이준과 밴쿠버 동계올림픽에서 괄목할만한 성장으로 모두를 놀라게 한, 제2의 피겨여왕을 꿈꾸는 피겨스케이팅 선수 곽민정, 이 두 사람이 만난다면 어떤 모습일까?

엠블랙 이준과 곽민정 선수가 기능성 식이섬유 음료의 대표 주자인 현대약품 미에로화이바의 새모델로 발탁됐다.

Called the second Rain (비), and gaining a lot of fans through his chocolate abs, Lee Joon of MBLAQ is with Kwak Min-jung, a figure skater who startled everyone with her remarkable growth as a skater at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, and who dreams of becoming the second figure skating queen [after Kim Yuna (김연아)]. What are they doing meeting together?

James Turnbull's picture

Korean Sociological Image #38: Gendered Marketing

 

With the exception of some medicines such as painkillers, presumably the majority of things that humans can eat or drink taste exactly the same and have exactly the same physiological effects on both sexes.

So why are so many marketed so differently to both, or even almost exclusively just to one? It’s really quite bizarre:

Already having deeply analyzed Korean examples of both however, and providing possible reasons for the divisions, today’s post is a light one just for the sake of providing a few more recent examples, starting with the opening commercial featuring the girl-group KARA (카라) for Pepero (빼빼로) chocolate sticks. And with 55% of Lotte Confectionery’s (롯데제과) annual sales of them being made around “Pepero Day” every November 11, then one can hardly bemoan the company for looking for ways to encourage consumers to buy them throughout the year. But still, I doubt that Lotte will go so far as to produce similar commercials featuring male groups instead, and especially not with their members pretending to make “V-lines” with the Pepero sticks in them.

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