Jennifer Still
April 25, 2013 4:26 pm

If there’s one thing women are familiar with, it’s pressure to be beautiful. Generally, the word assumes a few particular characteristics including clear, unlined skin, straight teeth, perfect hair, curves in the right places (but not too many!) and a myriad of other traits deemed to be aesthetically pleasing to anyone who might so much as have to pass you on the street.

The impetus to subscribe to the uniform standard of attractiveness in America is exhausting, sure, but it turns out to be nothing compared to Korea, where beauty has been whittled down to a science with a very specific formula. Of course, it’s our individual qualities that make us unique (and yes, beautiful) and offer variety as opposed to an homogenous glob of sameness. Still, recently released photos of the 20 female contestants of the Miss Korea pageant tell a starkly different tale – one that points towards an obsession so deeply culturally rooted that women will undergo drastic cosmetic surgery procedures in order to satisfy.

Take a look at the featured image and then watch the following .gif:

That’s not photos of the same girl you’re seeing on different days; that’s twenty different girls – the afore-mentioned pageant contestants – ready for showtime. There’s no denying that they’re all beautiful, just as there’s no denying that they look uncannily similar. Whether this is an effect of plastic surgery or the work of clever makeup artists, I find myself mesmerized by the blatant adherence to the cultural standard of beauty.

Of course, one could argue that such practices happen worldwide, and far be it for me to deny that. Certainly many viewing Americans from an outsider perspective might spot similar occurrences in our own population, but the emergence of these photos has brought this particular country to light. Were the girls unhappy with the face they were born with, or did they simply feel pressured to subscribe to a bigger way of thinking? Were there criteria upon which each girl was judged before being allowed to enter the pageant? And with 20 girls who look the same – and, one can assume, are probably taught to act in much the same manner – how in the hell do you distinguish between them to declare a “winner”?

I don’t look like anyone else I know, and chances are that you, the reader, doesn’t either. You probably pride yourself on your own unique tastes when it comes to make-up, clothing choices, how you style your hair, what designs you paint on your nails, etc. Those choices reflect who you are as an individual and are what makes you beautiful because there are no carbon copies of you anywhere. Imagine leaving your house tomorrow and being met by a sea of faces just like yours. How disheartening would that be, and ultimately, how scary?

What do you think of the photos, and have you experienced similar phenomenons in your own culture?

Featured image and .gif courtesy of Reddit

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