I've written before about the K-Ent's view of skinny vs fat, and I'm sure every Kpop fans know what an issue weight is, but I wanted to round up some evidence to see if this industry is any worse than the general international entertainment industry.
Because I know American celebrities the best, I will be comparing Korean entertainers to American entertainers.
1. Talking About Diets
As far as I know, American celebs don't openly talk about their diets unless they're being sponsored by a diet company to mention it on social media OR if they're being interviewed in a magazine about their lifestyle. In Korea, it seems like its almost something to be proud of to be dieting. Like, dieting is part of the job or it shows that they're being responsible and hard working when dieting (often unhealthily) for a comeback.
Luna being praised online for her drastic weight loss journey
2. Public Display of Weight/Size
One of the first things I do when I get into a new group is look up the member profiles to see birthdays, real names, fun facts, etc. But without fail, those profiles will include their height and weight as well. I have nothing wrong with posting height, since that is something you can find pretty easily too in America, but is weight necessary?
There have also been plenty of TV shows that measure female celebs' waists to talk about their meansurements constantly. In America people might be interested in that and think about it, but its pretty rare for a celeb to come out and say "I have a 20 inch waist" or something like that.
3. Public Company Pressure
I recently saw that IOI/DIA member Jung Chae Yeon explained that her company has a rule that her weight cannot "start with a 5" meaning she has to be in the 40kg range. That means her company, which publically stands by her statement, want her to be between 88 and 110lbs. Its very different in America just because we dont have entertainment companies, and a celeb's individual agent wouldnt come out and say something like this. I'm sure American celebs also have these rules (though the weight might not be as low) but to publically annouce it? I dont think so...
Now, my use of the word PUBLIC is important:
I think that the pressure and the dieting and the measuring happens to everyone in every country in every aspect of entertainment. But in Korea, I personally feel like it is so much more public. That the general audience sees the pressure they're put under constantly so that it almost becomes normal and acceptable.
Now, what does this mean for Korean society?
Girls (and boys) and growing up seeing harsh dieting be celebrated as a necessary evil, as admirable. They're seeing public critique of body image be accepted as "just part of the job." They're being given exact measurements that are "ideal."
Just like in America where we see models all the time and are definitely brainwashed into thinking certain things are beautiful and ideal, we arent given the EXACT meansurements, we aren't told its only ONE kind of pretty (for example, we celebrate curves a lot more!) and since we dont talk about it too much in public, we aren't constantly being told dieting is the best thing to do - even if its a lie and celebs say they got their bodies just from exercise and eating healthy, that sends the message that that is the healthy thing to do which is good!
Plus, I don't think everyone is affected by this. Just like in America we know the industry has ridiculous standards, I think there are plenty of people in Korea who know its not realistic. But, it still affects us all a little bit, even if we dont want it to.
I think the entertainment industry as a whole has a lot to work on, but I just wish Korea kept somethings a little more secret and behind the scenes, just for the sake of younger people growing up with these super high (and often unhealthy) standards :/