Asian Beauty Standards: The Real Ideals

Mar 11, 2019 | Asia, Korea, Style

What does it mean to be beautiful in Asia?

A quick look at image editing apps like Pitu, Meitu, and Snow from China and South Korea will reveal that not much has changed in terms of beauty standards in this region. East Asians, Southeast Asians, and much of the region still equate beauty with “softness,” “cuteness,” and “femininity.”

Virtual Plastic surgery

South Korea’s Snow app, particularly allows users to edit their faces right down to the ‘molecular level:’ you can change the shape and color of your eyes, the thickness of your lashes and brows, and even perform virtual plastic surgery to change the contour of your cheeks, jaws, and size of your forehead. Ultimately, the contouring process produces softer, feminized features, bordering on the fantastic and doll-like.

K-Beauty Standards

South Korean standards of beauty contrast heavily with what is considered beautiful and sexually appealing to the West. A peep at Instagram beauties would attest to this: Western beauty now means bronzed, athletic bodies, with the proper proportions from head to foot.

There is an emphasis on the “whole body package” rather than on the face. The face can be less than perfect, but the body has to ‘bring it’ before people can say that an individual is close to perfection.

K-Beauty on the other hand, places the skin as the number one source of beauty. This would explain why the appearance of putting on heavy makeup is less pervasive in Asia; the more natural look is preferred, to emphasize how well-balanced the person is. While South Koreans women do use makeup, they do so to emphasize their natural radiance. 

It is common for women in this region to use seven to eight different skincare products in the evening just to maintain their smooth and radiant complexion. With great skin comes the expression of health, which is integral to the idea of achieving life balance. The concept of beauty, while indeed superficial, is still integrally tied to traditional beliefs.