TvN’s True Beauty which starred Cha Eun-Woo, Moon Ga-Young and Hwang In-Youp has recently concluded with a personal best rating of 4.458% in nationwide South Korea.
The show has captured the hearts of a lot of Filipino K-drama fans especially those in their teens primarily because of the effective chemistry of Cha Eun-Woo and Moon Ga-Young with Hwang In-Youp adding to the ‘kilig’ factor of the drama.
Fan teams were made based on the show with Lee Suho (played by Cha Eun-Woo) and Han Seojun (played by Hwang In-Youp) as the teams’ aces.
In fact, because it was trending, we made episode rundowns of the show as to who between Suho and Seojun won every episode. You can read that here in the K-drama section.
The show, being based on the Webtoon of the same title, may have contributed as to the traction it got especially here in the Philippines as the original story has already a huge following.
However, as it was received so warmly here in our country as well as in Korea, the show apart from the ‘kilig’ it made us feel, has some really ugly truths in it. Ju Kyung’s character represented the face of that truth – that the standard of beauty developed by society is brutal, harmful and unattainable.
At the beginning episodes of the drama, Lim Jukyung (played by Moon Ga-Young) was bullied around by her classmates because of how she looks. The intensity of the bullying has forced her to almost commit suicide; that part of the narrative is a clear picture of what happens in South Korea albeit it is not isolated there.
Bullying based on looks is a universal problem encountered by teens around the world. This same standard has also forced Ju kyung to develop a fixation for make-up to hide her true face when she transferred to another school, though her make-up fixation turned out to be something she can capitalize later on.
The collective experiences of Ju kyung in the drama are manifestations of the brutal realities that girls are forced to fight from.
A research conducted by Dove in 2016 revealed that only 4% of women around the world consider themselves beautiful. The pressure to always look made up, ‘pretty, and ‘perfect’ drives girls to immerse in the capitalist world of cosmetics which basically does not help validate inner beauty in the long run.
Furthermore, since physical attractiveness has become a social ticket to fit into society, plastic surgery become a thing and as what we are witnessing, a very lucrative and a booming industry.
We have seen how Ju kyung was brought by her mother into a plastic surgeon to have her face changed; though it was not pursued since her mother was more impressed with Ju kyung’s make-up skills than the surgeon.
Plastic surgery is a thriving business in South Korea. In fact, 1 out 3 South Korean women have had plastic surgeries. This is 31% of women between the ages of 19 and 29.
This desire to have something fixed sprung after the Korean War where American soldier doctors performed surgeries to fix the single eyelids of Koreans. At present, cosmetic surgeries have transformed into graduation gifts.
This is one of the drawbacks of the beauty industry. It tells us that we need to spend more; that we always need something fixed; that they can help us fit in. The industry exploits our insecurities and our inferiorities. As much as it allows us to feel good and ‘beautiful’, it also gives birth to discrimination and hate.
The discrimination and hate that one may get becomes harmful as it may interfere with one’s social and psychological interactions. It makes one feel more inferior and insecure thinking that they can never attain the standard face or body set by society. So, to achieve this, one resorts to do the things Ju kyung did.
The intentions that drove her to cover her face with make-up was not entirely for herself. She was doing it to please others. Fortunately for Ju kyung, she has people around her who made her understand to embrace herself and be confident about it. But not everyone has her family, not everyone has a boyfriend like Suho who sees beyond what the eyes can see.
There is nothing wrong with looking good. But if this brings us woes and struggles just so we can fit in, then that becomes harmful socially and psychologically.
The validation of true beauty must always come from within. As cliché as it may sound, it speaks truth. The intention to look good should always be for ourselves first. There is no absolute form of beauty because no person is the same. Our individuality is what makes us beautiful.
To everyone who relates to Ju kyung, may the day come that you begin to embrace your true self and that you learn to love yourself more. Image is superficial; but true beauty is one that you carved for yourself and not from the expectations of the people around you.