With people wondering why Amber from the KPOP group f(x) is frustrated with what’s been going on with her, many don’t understand exactly why what she has to say matters. After all, she’s not Korean, she wasn’t born in Korea and she has admitted that her Korean isn’t the best. Yet, she has meant a lot to so many fans of KPOP around the world. So why does a Asian American rapper matter so much to so many people?
Korea’s Image of Women
The view of women by many Koreans can be very driven by the perception of beauty. I remember that when I started learning Korean, a big deal was made because one of my friend’s wife was considered for a job with Korean Air. Why was this considered such a big deal? It was because only beautiful women were considered for this job. The reason I was given was that the first thing that many people see before they go to Korea was the flight attendants on the flight to Korea. Therefore, they did not want people to think that Koreans are ugly. That is why it is so important that good looking women were flight attendants that were hired.
The standard of beauty in Korea has messed with the self esteem of many young Korean women. Women who would have an average body type in most countries are called fat in Korea or in Korean American communities. Years ago, there was a Korean group called Big Mama. They were signers who were very talented, but considered to be “too big” to be pushed as solo stars. So they were always put in the background, while signers with less talent, but that were skinner, were pushed to the front. To avoid this trend, many Korean women go on extreme diets, some even dieting for many years. Plastic surgery has also become expected of some who want to make it big in entertainment in both the U.S. and South Korea. Companies spend billions of dollars each year marketing diet fads, workout routines and other methods to try and make women look more beautiful.
The consequences of this is very sad. One of the saddest things a young Korean women wrote me was that she was afraid that she would never find someone to love her due to her not being pretty enough. She was taught by others that she wasn’t good enough to marry due to her looks, and she was only 20 at the time. The image of what a woman should look like, or what body she should have has had a horrible effect on many young women. Even after getting married, a number of Korean women that I know still feel like they are fat and never will be beautiful.
Why Amber Matters
Then along comes Amber Liu. If you see a picture of Amber, and you compare it to pictures of other women in KPOP, she would not fit the image of a traditional entertainment beauty. In fact, some people have had trouble telling if Amber is really a man or a woman. This is due to her short hair and not wearing 20 pounds of makeup on her face. And yet, Amber never let that stop her. Amber was simply unapologetically Amber. She wasn’t in Korea to try and fit in with what everyone else was doing. To do that in Korean culture takes a lot of courage, and that’s what Amber has.
What was the result of Amber simply being Amber? She became a voice to a large number of people in the Republic of Korea, and around the world. She taught many young women that you don’t have to fit a certain mold to be beautiful. You just have to be yourself since true beauty come from within. She showed people who may have been viewed as outcast or as being weird that they are perfectly normal and can accomplish anything. Amber proved to be truly beautiful, even though she was going up against the establishment as a non Korean.
No matter what happens between Amber, f(x) and SM Entertainment, Amber will always be remembered as one of the most important voices of her generation. Her messages has traveled farther than a record label can ever cause her music to travel. We will probably never know how much hope and encouragement she has given to people of all backgrounds all over the world. But no amount of money, fame or influence will ever be able to stop what she has done. That is why to so many people, Amber is and will always be the true standard of beauty. And that is why no matter what happens, Amber will always matter.
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