Start GRASP/Korea South Korean Women Smash Makeup, and Patriarchy

South Korean Women Smash Makeup, and Patriarchy


The movement is called “Escape the Corset.” Plus: Jameela Jamil’s social media campaign against those weight loss teas and remembering Harvey Milk.
“Born pretty? That’s a big fat lie.”
— A makeup advertisement in the Seoul subway
The movement began quietly, with women posting photos on social media of smashed makeup palettes — colorful messes of shimmering powder and crushed lipstick that looked almost like beautiful works of art .
But this wasn’t art — this was protest, one in which South Korean women, emboldened by #MeToo, were protesting what they see as the restrictive beauty standards of their country’s deeply patriarchal culture. South Korea has the world’s highest rate of cosmetic surgery per capita, and the beauty market there generated $13 billion in sales last year.
“We go through 12 steps just to put on the basic products before we even apply makeup,” said Kim Ji-yeon, 22. “That basically defines the problem.”
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My colleague recently delved into the movement that’s become known as “ Escape the Corset .” It is set against a backdrop of political and economic disparities. Of 34 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, South Korea’s wage gap is the widest. And women hold just 10 percent of corporate management positions.
So what are women who are escaping the corset doing, exactly? Aside from trashing makeup, which is saving them hundreds of dollars a month, they are embracing bowl haircuts and opting for eyeglasses instead of contacts — a seemingly simple protest that, nonetheless, has made the women targets of verbal abuse and death threats online.

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