2 years ago1,000+ Views
Shadeism: Celebrating Skin
This is the first segment of Acceptance August where we can discuss more serious topics:

1. SHADEISM - The discrimination that exists between the lighter-skinned and darker-skinned members of the same community.

Idols with tanner skin still don't have it easy in the Korean entertainment industry. They are often forced into sexier roles, told they are "dirty" (even if it is meant as a joke) and are constantly having their skin color altered in photos.
All cultures have shadeism. Darker skin in America has been associated with working outside and thus being from the poorer working class. It was 'less elegant' and at best 'exotic.' This is not exclusive to Korea.
Do not blame Korean idols that make ignorant comments - its cultural influence and simply not knowing any better. That being said, things need to change. Rather than telling Hongbin he's a horrible person for drawing a picture of N with dark skin, find constructive ways to tell him why that is hurtful. Like with Rap Mon, dramatic threats and anger are not going to change people but understanding and explanation will.
This is a post celebrating the idols that are helping break down the negative stigma related to a tan complexion, I didn't include everyone so please contribute in the comments!

Sistar's Hyorin

Sistar19 was promoted as a "sexy dark duo" because of Hyorin and Bora's skin tone. Hyorin is constantly being called sexy even when she's promoting a completely un-sexy ballad. She's been lucky enough to have music video directors lessen their color correcting so she actually looks her natural color, but she is still the subject of many "bleached" photos and videos to make her paler.
She's very proud of her body and natural skin tone which is doing great things for tan women in Korea, but she still hasn't been able to shake "sexy" label.


Hakyeon is often thinking about his skin, to the point where he encourages fan sites to lighten his skin. It's not because he has anything against tan skin, he just views himself as more beautiful with lighter skin. In many photos you can see that his face is significantly whiter than his arms or legs because of the amount of whitening makeup he wears. He's slowly transitioning out of that and celebrating his skin, but is still the butt of many jokes.

EXO's Kai

He is often called black by his band members (PLEASE READ: when someone translates the name from Korean, they are literally using the term for the color black, or the shade dark. This is not the same as using Black to describe someone of African descent in America - they are literally talking about the darkness of his skin not comparing him to another race)
He is in charge of the "sexiness" of EXO not only because of his dancing, but because of his skin.
Kai is actually very sensitive about this, I ask you all as a fan to not use that term when talking about him, even if you think its out of love.

Lee Hyori

Lee Hyori is the queen of Kpop, hands down. She often had her skin altered in the past with makeup or photo editing (most often not by her own choice) but recently has come back tanner than ever and loving it. She's powerful and stands up for women of all shapes and colors in the entertainment industry and will not let her skin color be lightened in her own photos any more.

Wonder Girls' Yoobin

Again, Yoobin is linked to being a sexy gangster not because of her incredible rapping and onstage presence but because of her skin tone. She was never one to let that bother her and JYP is pretty good at lessening the photo editting with his idols.

Big Bang's Daesung

Another victim of skin lighting in photos, Daesung's natural skin tone is rarely seen in photos and video.

C-Clown's Maru

Maru was picked on constantly for his skin tone in C-Clown. He wouldn't even hide how upset the jokes made him - you could see on his face that he was near tears or extrememly uncomfortable. In photos he is shown as darker not because they're celebrating his natural tone, but because they want him to come off as a tough rapper.

2PM's Taecyeon

Like I mentioned before with Yoobin, JYP is much better at not letting his idols' skin tone affect their work. Yoobin and Taecyeon's skin isn't discussed, made fun of, and they aren't pushed into overtly sexy roles because of their skin (just because of the fact that Taecyeon is damn sexy!)
So please, know that this is a problem that is being worked on, but like in all other countries it is a slow process. If someone makes a joke about skin tone remember that it is probably not malicious. As Kpop becomes more and more international, we as international fans need to help them understand and grow, rather than shutting them down and telling them they're bad people.
I know on Vingle we're an understanding bunch but reminding your other kpop friends of this when another incident comes up (because it will) will help not only the idols grow, but the fandom as well.

1. What were the moments that made you angry about this topic?

2. How can we, as fans, help this!?

If you have more ideas please add them to the original Acceptance August thread

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@daisyzheng02 Nothing, that's what we're trying to address in this card! There is no correct size, shape, color, etc that a human should be at all.
2 years ago·Reply
I just want to say what's been passing through my mind. Korea is a VERY cultural country, they have a LOT of pride for there country. Sure, they were ruled by Japan and then fought with North Korea, and have only been free for around sixty years, but they still have a little bit of there own history. Back before South Korea was its own place, they were probably mostly farmers and were lower in society, while the lighter skin toned Koreans were probably higher up in the food change. It's a cultural hairchy that we haven't used in centuries. -.- Being accepted for different skin tones is still probably new to the new country. I really think as they grow they will become more accepting of skin tones in there country. They are already becoming a much more open and friendly country. Plus, many countries think darker skin is better fashion, and Korea likes fashion so they might become more open minded to it sooner then later. :) I REALLY hope this post doesn't sound bad or dumb. I don't mean to sound mean.
2 years ago·Reply
Wow that's so awesome I never knew this. It makes me love them more!
2 years ago·Reply
*just seeing this now* It boggles my mind how anyone is of these people are criticized for being "dark". Like to me, they're all still lightly skin toned. I'm actually probably the same shade as some of them and considered light skinned compared to others of my ethnicity!
2 years ago·Reply
Rapmons death threats about skin tone made me mad. Too many misunderstandings and too many stigmas were associated with that. And seriously all of these "dark skinned" idols LOOK AMAZING!!! Yes light skin is the ideal beauty look in Korea and it's going to be hard to completely change that culture because even from the olden days light skin meant you were high class because you didn't have to work in the fields. The cultural stigma on darker skin is an underlying layer of the ideal beauty standard that all cultures have. It's easier for us to accept and say that these idols LOOK good because America has standards of tan being healthy and vibrant. It's a different standard, so we judge differently.
2 years ago·Reply