‘Muscles look cooler’: South Korean women reshape idea of beauty | South Korea

When Yoo Wonhee was youthful, she experienced a frail physique and didn’t believe of herself as potent. She says in the previous, a lot of Koreans would starve them selves to be skinny. Now, Yoo spends time constructing her muscle tissue and says her chiselled physique is the envy of her friends.

“I just imagine having muscles seems cooler. I don’t want to be skinny, I want to be more substantial. Social benchmarks do exist of system, but for me, there is no better normal than being satisfied with by yourself,” the 26-12 months-previous suggests.

Yoo is just one of a increasing amount of South Korean ladies chasing a new magnificence excellent that focuses on athleticism and toughness. Regarded as “geongangmi” or “healthy beauty” it marks a shift away from a classic strategy of elegance that prioritised becoming slender and pale. A geongangmi is muscular, lively and solar-kissed. Well known women who are deemed geongangmi consist of pop star Hyolyn and popular actor and amateur boxer Lee Si-younger.

“If white tanning was well known in the previous, there are a good deal of persons now who want darkish-toned skin, as quite a few celebs these days have a brown tan as effectively,” Yoo says.

Pop star Hyolyn, previous member of female group Sistar. Photograph: Han Myung-Gu/WireImage

Marketplace exploration business Euromonitor claims the “healthy beauty” phenomenon has been picking up speed amid Korean millennial and technology Z over the final two to three many years. Individuals in their 20s who regularly attend gyms more than doubled in the 4 years to 2020, census details clearly show.

‘Functional’ physique

Koo Hyun-kyung, 29, owner and personalized trainer at Timber, a gals-only health and fitness center that specialises in strength schooling and weightlifting, states that for lots of clients, priorities have shifted from shedding pounds to improving their good quality of lifestyle.

Above the very last 3 to four a long time, she has seen a substantial maximize in the quantity of consumers who are intrigued in receiving stronger at her health club. She claims revenues have tripled due to the fact it opened, inspite of challenging limitations imposed on fitness centers through the pandemic.

“There is an aspiration towards excellence when you want to understand a specified talent or pastime, that currently being physical exercise in this case. You cannot have a pale, skinny overall body and be effective in health, so people have a tendency to change their splendor standards towards aligning with their ambitions.”

South Korean actor Lee Si-Young
South Korean actor Lee Si-younger. Photograph: Han Myung-Gu/WireImage

She suggests ladies aiming to boost their look to attract males has specified way to a motivation to have a “well-working body”.

Yet another aspect of the geongangmi look is the body profile shot, where professional photos are taken of persons looking their ideal. The “body profile challenge” has taken off in Korea around the earlier two yrs, where younger persons e-book costly, qualified-quality photoshoots a number of months just before getting as suit as attainable and posing in their underwear. Body profiles have come to be a standing symbol for youthful folks as a usually means of demonstrating achievement through constructing muscle.

Shifting expectations

Inspite of the rising recognition of the geongangmi appear, becoming pale and skinny continues to be the dominant beauty great for gals in South Korea.

Some critics argue that geongangmi has merely replaced previous natural beauty requirements with new, equally slender beliefs. A remark from 1 woman blogger reads: “I utilized to have to starve. Now I have to starve and physical exercise.”

Shifting cultural expectations about women’s job in Korean modern society has also motivated how several imagine about elegance.

Yun Ji-Yeong, feminist thinker and affiliate professor at Changwon Nationwide University, says because 2015 there has been a increasing motion of girls who refuse to marry and want to obstacle perceptions about their lifetime in South Korea.

“Lots of gals have gotten exposed to feminist strategies, and which is certainly impacting Korean women’s drive to search for actual wellbeing, rather of just wanting skinny and gorgeous,” suggests Nikki Kim, 32, an place of work worker.

Lee Seoyoung
Lee Seoyoung, viewed listed here in her human body profile shot. The 23-calendar year-old university student and aspiring health product is one of a escalating selection of geongangmi girls in South Korea. Photograph: N2 Studio

Kim thinks the extensive-reigning “pure and fragile” suitable has early roots in the Korean instructional ecosystem that doesn’t really encourage ladies to be energetic.

“In physical education class, the boys are all actively playing soccer and basketball, although the women aren’t anticipated to do a lot in addition to chit-chatting in the corner,” she claims.

“Sometimes I would be part of in as the only lady to play basketball and the boys would convey to me to go back again and chit-chat in the corner. When I researched abroad in New Zealand, I was so shocked to see how everyone is expected to participate.”

“It’s just all erroneous from the commencing,” Kim added.