South Korea’s Girl Idols, Unrealistic Expectations, and Fried Chicken

*This was originally posted on my previous blog in 2017.

I’m flabbergasted at how businesses use (yes, use) girl idols and the image their bodies portray.

For those who do not understand Korean:

Girls of AOA (Korean girl idol group) weigh themselves in the morning. They have to weigh no more than 50kg, approximately 110 lbs. Seolhyun, one of the AOA members weighed more than that. The girls scold her for having gained weight and take away her sweet potato. Then, they go to work, where their colleagues bring chicken. Seolhyun is tempted, and others encourage her to eat just one bite. So she takes one bite. The executive of the entertainment company walks in, and scolds her for eating fried chicken when she weighs so much.

According to my Internet search, Seolhyun’s height is 167cm. It’s not uncommon for the entertainment companies to provide inaccurate stats about female entertainers, but at least to me, this seems about right. At that height, if she weighed 50kg, she would have 17.93 standard BMI, or 18.04 in New BMI. She would be underweight. Her actual weight was not revealed in the first video, but I assume she was in a healthy weight category. She was scolded for being healthy. This is not new at all, but still, what the fuck?

Few years later…
AOA girls are now “chicken mania” (the term “mania” is used to describe a person who is an enthusiast of something in S. Korea)

I’m not even going to mention the problems I have with the actual commercial, that’s whole another story. Irony is an understatement. This is beyond ridiculous. In order to be popular, they are forbidden from taking just one bite of fried chicken, and then their popularity is used to promote fried chicken.

They bite into fried chicken at the end of the 2nd commercial. How did that make them feel? Did they feel glad that they get to take a bite of chicken because it’s for a commercial? Did they just pretend to take a bite and then spit it out? Were they even given real chicken? One thing is for sure. They are not “chicken mania”, and they never will be as long as their idol careers last.

But still, they were chosen to promote fried chicken franchise. They must be skinny, but they also have to eat fried chicken, too. This is not new. The Internet and pop culture denounces those girls who are on diets and wouldn’t eat (insert fatty food) for being uncool, but at the same time they praise the “perfect” body that cannot be achieved without saying “no” to fatty food on a regular basis. This obsession about thin, pretty girls eating tons of food is unreal. JTBC even made it a competition, although it was short-lived and received a lot of criticism. Another idol group Girl’s Day was criticized for refusing to eat dumplings, among other things, and had to make an apology video. Mukbang is a popular thing, and thin girls’ mukbang gets the most attention.

This is essentially what was said about ‘cool girls’ in Gone Girl.

Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl.Men actually think this girl exists. Maybe they’re fooled because so many women are willing to pretend to be this girl. For a long time Cool Girl offended me. I used to see men — friends, coworkers, strangers — giddy over these awful pretender women, and I’d want to sit these men down and calmly say: You are not dating a woman, you are dating a woman who has watched too many movies written by socially awkward men who’d like to believe that this kind of woman exists and might kiss them. I’d want to grab the poor guy by his lapels or messenger bag and say: The bitch doesn’t really love chili dogs that much — no one loves chili dogs that much! And the Cool Girls are even more pathetic: They’re not even pretending to be the woman they want to be, they’re pretending to be the woman a man wants them to be. Oh, and if you’re not a Cool Girl, I beg you not to believe that your man doesn’t want the Cool Girl. It may be a slightly different version — maybe he’s a vegetarian, so Cool Girl loves seitan and is great with dogs; or maybe he’s a hipster artist, so Cool Girl is a tattooed, bespectacled nerd who loves comics. There are variations to the window dressing, but believe me, he wants Cool Girl, who is basically the girl who likes every fucking thing he likes and doesn’t ever complain.

The only thing I would disagree is that I wouldn’t call other women ‘pathetic’ but everything else seems pretty much accurate.

Can a girl be thin while eating fried chicken sometimes? Absolutely. However, scolding them until they are in tears for eating little bit of fried chicken on camera, constantly pressuring them to stay underweight, and then getting them to work on this commercial, trying to convince the consumers that these girls love fried chicken is just shitty.

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