Monday, July 12, 2010

I've seen quite a few bizarre ads over the course of the trip, but none as disturbing (to me) as some of the plastic surgery ads Ive seen on the metro in Seoul. They aren't gory by any means, but they say a lot about the kind of beauty desired in Korea and even China. I have a photo of one that shows a before and after of a young woman, where the overall goal is a 'westernizing' of her asian features. Surgeries will round out the eyes, puff up the cheekbones and forehead, narrow the nose, and even adjust the jawline. The result is eerie and almost cartoonish.

In India, I saw many ads selling skin whitening creams, which would detail specific problem spots that the ads said all Indians should be aware of, such as the darkening of the skin under the eyes. Luckily for them, Oil of Olay has a new product called, seriously, White. It doesn't get any clearer than that, does it. The Chinese also have a preoccupation with pale white skin, similarly to Victorian England, I suppose, where the wealthy spent all day inside instead of tending fields, so pale skin was a sign of affluence.

I wonder if these countries will experience the shift in thinking the West has in regards to skin tone, where now tan is the sign of affluence, or is at least a sort of prescribed beauty. When the majority of the population works inside and starts to pale, will the Jersey tan become the Shanghai tan? It's just interesting to note how ideas of beauty seem to revolve around the unattainable in many cases, and different cultures pursue completely opposite ideals. Do these cultures simply pursue the rarer combinations as their ideal? Where white skin prevails, is darker seen as more beautiful because it is seen less, and vice versa?

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