Jane Chung talks to Bird about beauty, Korean culture, and her best piece of advice.
How does Korean culture value beauty compared to the US? Is it very different?
Yes, absolutely. In Korea there’s a very strong standard of what beauty is and it’s a very homogenous one. For example, the quintessential Korean beauty would have creamy-white flawless skin, big ‘doe-like’ eyes. She’d be very innocent with a slim figure and long straight hair. She’s this wispy ethereal kind of girl.
The culture emphasizes “natural” beauty but a lot of times it’s not very natural. There’s a lot of plastic surgery involved.
Her eyebrows, interestingly enough, unlike the US where they celebrate different kinds of eyebrows, in Korea they like the very straight horizontal eyebrow because it makes you look “youthful”. They don’t like the arch because it makes them look sharp and too sexy. ‘Sexy’ is out in Korean culture.
A lot of plastic surgery happens with the nose because we don’t have that strong bridge. They like to slim it. There’s also a lot of jawlines being shaved in surgery. The smaller your face is the better it is for pictures. There’s a lot of blepharoplasty, the double eyelid surgery, going on. It’s when they put the crease in your eyelids. It’s very normal for a girl to get that as a high school gift from her parents.
In the US your unique qualities are celebrated, from your outfits to your physical appearance. In Korea it’s all about looking feminine and sweet. In New York you’ll see that beauty is celebrated in so many ways. The more different you are the more people are fascinated.
I grew up in Texas where there’s a lot of celebration in the beauty pageant girls. It’s about the big hair and that typical “cheerleader” look. I always wanted to be white because I was so different and everyone looked at me strangely.
When do you feel the most beautiful?
I think I feel the most beautiful when I don’t try so hard and surround myself with people that make me feel good.
What’s the best piece of advice you could give?
I think beauty comes from not comparing yourself to anything or anyone. Just really embracing everything around you. It really comes from appreciating what you have.
Learn more about Jane at janelikesme.com.