K-pop Extremes: 5 toxic beauty standards female idols endure to survive in the industry

K-pop idol and actress IU (Image via Getty)
K-pop idol and actress IU (Image via Getty)

Female K-pop idol beauty standards emphasize many things, from having a small v-shaped face and fair skin to symmetrical eyebrows, slim bodies, and double eyelids. The main aesthetic goal is to make idols look innocent and young. Over the years, female beauty standards have also been enhanced. While there are female artists who are still victims of this toxic trend, many idols have also broken these beauty standards.

The idols achieve these standards through various surgeries and practices to survive in the industry. Most idols receive backlash for not meeting such standards, and sometimes even after the surgeries, idols face criticism. One such example is the K-pop idol Jessi.

Unrealistic and toxic beauty standards have made many idols suffer, and the K-pop industry has always been harsh on the idols for making them meet such standards.

K-pop Extremes gives readers a look into the lives of idols beyond the glitz and glamor, uncovering a few hidden truths of the K-pop industry. This article explores some of the toxic beauty standards that female K-pop idols contend with to survive in the K-pop world.

5 toxic beauty standards that female K-pop idols go through to be in the industry

1) Thigh gap

The thigh gap is a space between a person's inner thighs. It is considered one of the most prominent beauty standards for female K-pop idols. Idols do a lot of routines and exercises to maintain this. However, sometimes, to meet this harsh standard, they go through surgeries.

In a YouTube video titled "Comment Defenders" with AYO, Park Moon-soo, one of the directors of a famous cosmetic treatment facility in Gangnam Moon Clinic, revealed the truth about K-pop idol surgeries. He said he has worked with K-pop stars and mentioned that many of them get liposuction on their legs, as it is often emphasized in popular media.

Their few outfits, such as skirts and shorts, are more focused on legs. While there are many idols to match this beauty standard, a few of them drew attention for their thick thigh gap, which intentionally broke the conventional beauty standards.

This includes Red Velvet' Joy as she boasts her long but a bit chubby legs. The singer had no thigh gap between her thighs but still maintained her confidence. Additionally, more idols were praised for breaking this standard, including Suzy and Sulli.

2) Hip pads/bra pads

Another toxic beauty standard for female K-pop idols is to have a certain type of X and S-shaped bodies. Unfortunately, to maintain this standard, idols go through various treatments, harsh diets, and even have to wear hip pads/bra pads to secure the proportions of their slim figure. Not many female K-pop idols have curvy bodies for similar reasons.

Idols suffer from eating disorders, and it has a vast effect on their healthy well-being. While it's true that fans love to see female idols in such features, the harsh realities of maintaining their figures is done at the cost of female K-pop idols' overall health.

Apart from hip pads/bra pads, treatments and surgeries are also used, including liposuction, breast augmentation, fat burning, injections, and popping diet pills. Idols also lose drastic weight and body volume to maintain their figure in many unhealthy ways.

The saddest part is that even after these treatments and wearing hip pads/bra pads, female idols sometimes get criticized for wearing them. A recent example of this case being ITZY’s Yuna, who was accused of wearing hip pads by a Korean forum. Many comments criticized the idol for wearing them, but some netizens also came in to support the artist.

Former Blady member Tina also disclosed in a video that it almost became the norm for female idols to wear pads that pertain to a certain standard in the industry. She also revealed that she and her teammates would wear bra pads or hip pads that were required to enhance their bodies.

3) Plump lips

Another beauty standard is having plump lips or heart-shaped lips, which are highly admired by fans many times. In this case, the lower lip should be plumper than the upper one. The standard also requires idols to have a lip line that should face upwards when smiling.

To meet these standards, idols have to go through several treatments when needed by the agencies, including lip fillers. While many female idols, such as Joy from Red Velvet, match this beauty standard, others refused to follow this trend, including Apink's Bomi and Mamamoo's Moonbyul.

4) Pointed nose

This feature has become very common among idols. A small pointed nose sometimes requires surgery such as Rhinoplasty or a nose job. For female idols, the beauty standard requires them to have a small face that goes well with a small pointed nose.

However, many idols have shied away from this aesthetic trend. A popular example being Weki Meki's Doyeon, who has beaten the beauty standard for having a wide, high straight nose bridge.

But even after opting for treatments to meet these standards, many female idols have faced backlash, such as poor work done on their nose jobs. This also affects the idols' mental health. Examples of such instances being Winter from Aespa and Nayeon from TWICE, who were criticized for the same reason.

5) Translucent skin

Another popular beauty standard among female idols is having translucent skin. The unrealistic trend of having pale and flawless skin, often dubbed glass skin, take a toll on an idol's mental health. This porcelain white skin tone is achieved through numerous treatments, making the idol's skin wrinkle, acne, and blemish-free afterward. The treatments include Botox, fillers, laser treatments, and more.

Practices such as whitewashing have also been common among idols. It has also become very common to photoshop idols' pictures to fit into this standard. Moreover, it's also common for them to have an onerous skin care routine to achieve this look.

However, due to toxic standards, female K-pop idols use excessive makeup that leads to acne and many skin problems. While it's true that many idols have such natural skin tone, including TWICE’s Chaeyoung and KARD’s Somin, many other who don't fit the common standard have received backlashes from netizens.

Still, many idols have broken these standards and even made a bold move to come out with their real skin tone. Idols such as Eunchae and Sakura from LE SSERAFIM, Winter from Aespa don't fit within such toxic standards.

Female singers go through such circumstances on a daily basis and even have to face criticism for various reasons. Many idols also naturally match all these beauty standards, including Jisoo from BLACKPINK.

But the idols who broke these standards include some of the most popular idols in the industry, including Jennie from BLACKPINK, Hwasa from Mamamoo, Joy from Red Velvet, Tzuyu from TWICE, and Nayeon from TWICE. The idols broke such rules and found a way to love themselves, inspiring their fans to do the same.

The Korean beauty standard has always been one of the most discussed issues. With the current progressive nature of the K-pop industry and idols breaking the norms, artists and fans hope for the industry to flourish without maintaining such toxic beauty standards. This would not only propagate a healthy message but help in appreciating the idols for being themselves.

K-pop Extremes is a weekly series. Stay tuned for more.

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Edited by Priya Majumdar
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