Tuesday, May 31, 2005

what price beauty

I know Ellie's going to be really pissed at me for posting this picture of her. But for the sake of introducing an important social issue, and because I subscribe to no standards of journalistic integrity, I propose the question: "At what price beauty?"

Yesterday we were at a hair salon outside the campus of Ewha University (literally the college of "plum blossoms") a school notorious for its svelt undergrads. The streets in front of the school are wall-to-wall hair and nail salons, makeup and clothing stores. Around the corner is also an avenue devoted to wedding dress boutiques. Korea is a society preoccupied with appearances. This is a problem. Women especially are first judged by how they look, then by where they went to school, and what sort of family they come from. While most people know that Koreans are leaders in eyelid surgeries, most don't know that they are also world leaders in hymen reconstruction and other weird plastic surgeries (jaw chiseling, leg muscle reduction). All of which I find seriously grotesque. I once met a woman who I was secretly told had her hymen redone seven times. Seven times? Not so secret, huh. Not that America doesn't have it's own freak shows and surgical obsessions but I think Koreans prioritize physical beauty on a much more universal scale. At least in America there's good entertainment value in seeing people get bad boob jobs on TV. They haven't gotten to the point of being able to laugh at themselves here. It is all too serious and socially accepted. Which is scarier. "Stepford Wives" is already the norm and soon "Gattica" will be realized without even so much as a blip on the critical radar. This should strike fear in the hearts of all women if not men. It's no accident that stem-cell research is being pioneered by Korean scientists. Someone really needs to write a book on this. I'd do it but, um, I'm writing my dissertation. And even while I wish to have nothing to do with it, I find myself buying into this beauty myth, have sat in that chair, with an octopus on my head, futilely trying to be better, faster, smarter. Maybe it's even related to wanting to be pinched in the ass, though I can't see the connection yet. And Ellie, if you're listening, you were beautiful before and still beautiful after. The "digital" perm came out lovely. (And um, just for the record Ellie, no one reads this blog so hope you're not too mad about the picture okay?)


Fehlleistungen said...

that woman on the left looks like she's pissed off because she can't afford whatever ellie is having done to her head.

minsuhson said...

no i think she was pissed that we wouldn't shut up!