The Black Barbie Chronicles: Becoming “The Perfect Girl” in Self- Conscious Korea


Ahh Korea, land of such a rich and proud history with Seoul being the Plastic Capitol of the World.  It’ no surprise that having that thrown in your face on the daily can take a toll on a person. I, of course, had the luxury of heading back to my home country. For the Koreans I met and considered friends, they didn’t have that option.  Anyway, today’s topic is looking pretty in Korea. Enjoy

F. M. Laster

“I only like two kinds of men, domestic and imported.” -Mae West

Becoming “The Perfect Girl” in Self Conscious Korea

Appearance is king in Korea Land. Both men and women will travel to the ends of Seoul to keep up with the latest beauty norms that Korea has to offer. Life here in Korea Land is flooded with advice and ads on how you should look. As a result, people spend an insane amount of time and money, making sure they look the part. When I first made it to Korea, I was a little bit intimidated by the gorgeous women I saw walking around Seoul and Incheon. These bitches were rocking full face, short skirts, legs to the heavens, flawless skin, no hair out of place on a crowded subway first thing in the morning!

Now, Koreans here just don’t want to be beautiful; they already are. What they want is to fit into this tiny damn near impossible “classical beauty”. The classic beauty Koreans wish to have varies depending to the time of day, but the basics are big eyes, thin body, small face, and the piece de résistance, pale ghost-white skin. If you got some height to you, that does not hurt you in becoming a success, and having flawless makeup skills. Yes the makeup applies to both men and women. These are the assets one needs to be a success in work and life.

The Korean beauty market is an excellent investment; this stock ain’t never going down. Seoul is the Plastic Capital of the World, with clients coming from all over Asia and other parts of the world. Everywhere you look, there are hundreds of makeup and skincare companies using celebrities to endorse products. These celebrities sell everything from whitening creams, facemasks, and any beauty product they can think of.

Every place I look from subways to hospitals, mirrors are all over the place. Korea always wants you to know what you look like, no matter who you are or where you are going. On Korean TV there are countless shows with the sole intent to teaching women (and men) how to get in shape, keep your shape to keep your spouse, cover your blemishes, and finding which potion is the best to keep you young, smooth, white, and beautiful.

Now after Korea has finally taken care of whitening your skin, and fixing that ugly face of yours, now its time to move on to your weight. Weight is a huge topic here in Korea Land. I don’t mean in the sense of “OMG, I want to be thin” after stuffing your face at the all you can eat buffet. Nope, this falls more in the line of “Today is Monday and I had a banana for breakfast, so I’m not going to eat anything else for the rest of the week to lose weight.”

There have been some many times I’ve heard my female Korean teachers tell me how fat they are. They cry and say they have to stop eating because they don’t want to gain any more weight. Keep in mind this shit is coming from women who are I think 90 pounds dripping wet trying to lose weight. No matter what I say, they fail to believe. In their minds, and what Korea has told them, they are too dark, ugly and fat!

If you thought American diet trends are dangerous, you haven’t lived until you’ve run across a few Korean ones. The diets are downright criminal. However, Koreans looking up to their K-Pop idol and think, “such and such looks like this, I need to look like this too.” It’s like racism; this killer diet kick becomes normalized.

Many of K-Pop celebrities are worshiped like gods and goddesses in the country, and they popularize crazy insane diets. One of them includes the Sweet Potato Diet, which is as ridiculous as it sounds. Another celebrity stressed the 500 calories one meal a day diet combined with 2 hours of cardio. These two bitches are not the only ones I’ve given the Black Woman side-eye to. Some of the singers also have taken on some weird plans. Some do a green tea diet living off green tea for a few weeks to lose hella weight, and they feel great!

I didn’t come to Korea Land lacking self-confidence. However, after being inundated with everything around me, from time to time, I had to ask myself if I am good enough for this country. I’m a 5’4″ Black woman with a nice rack who’s good with wigs, clothing that makes me look good, and has a good makeup game thanks to years of watching Rupaul’s Drag Race. I can hold my own. Or so I thought. These Korean Glamazons put me in my place!

I think it’s a combination of bluntness and that Koreans can be some judgmental and critical about themselves that they love to point out things on others they like, envy, or straight up criticize. There has been many a day when I literally rolled out of bed and went to work, and the female co-teachers pointed out what a hot mess I was. Gee thanks, no shit Sherlock! At the same time, they have also been quick to point out when I was sharper than a motherfucker!

Now don’t get me wrong, I’d love to look good in a short skirt without it riding up and showing Korea all this ass. I’d kill for just one day to fit in and look like the others while ignoring things like genetics and the fact that I’m not Korean! However, these feelings pass. I am not they; I’m me. While I look around and see Koreans spending hard-earned money and going into massive debt to obtain white skin, big eyes, and a tiny, tiny waist, I think to myself, I wish they would just accept themselves as whom they are.

I joke and mess around with my boys because they too want to have the perfect eyes and white skin as their male K-pop idols. I just tell them, fuck, you do you and be happy with how you look. You have one life, fuck trying to make others happy just to “fit in” Well, I don’t use those words, but I clean it up a little. Methinks it’s time for This Girl to practice what she’s selling her kids and love herself the way she is with all her pretty, pretty flaws.

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