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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Koreans have an interesting perception of what is beautiful and what is not -- and it's diametrically opposed to the Western standard of beauty.

Today in Hair Salon class (straight hair, curly hair, long hair, short hair, etc.) I began talking about beauty with my students. Part of the class involves demonstrating different hairstyles by showing pictures of celebrities.

When I held up a picture of Cate Blanchett as an example of wavy hair, all of my students started laughing.

"What's so funny?"

"Teacher, she is ugly." "Teacher, she looks funny."

The students couldn't believe it when I told them that Cate Blanchett is considered absolutely gorgeous by Western standards and is a movie star.

Why is she ugly?

"Her face is bad." "Funny head." "She is not so ugly but not so beautiful. Just okay."

The next picture was of Avril Lavigne.

"Oh, teacher, she is very beautiful."

More beautiful than Cate Blanchett?

"Yes, teacher, she has very nice face."

Next photo: Justin Timberlake.

"Ewwww... Not handsome." "Very funny." (I must confess that I, too, actually don't see the appeal in him. Something odd about his face.)

So who is attractive by Korean standards? The Wonder Girls (you can't go more than a few hours here without hearing their infectious hit song "Nobody"), Rain (of the infamous Stephen Colbert rivalry) and Big Bang.

The upside is that by whatever skewed perception of beauty Koreans have, most of my kids consider me beautiful. It's rare a day goes by without students saying, "Oh teacher, you are very beautiful. You have very pretty face."

Whether or not it's just to suck up, I don't care. A little boost of self-esteem to get through the day can't hurt.

2 comments:

  1. I too think Cate Blanchett is a hideous witch. Maybe all Asians think alike?

    ReplyDelete