Why are South Korean women destroying their make-up on social media?

Danielle Fowler
Freelance Writer
South Korean women are taking to social media in protest of the country’s unrealistic beauty ideals [Photo: Instagram]

South Korean women are destroying their make-up and cutting their hair in protest against the nation’s unattainable perception of beauty.

A trend dubbed the ‘Escape the Corset’ movement is sweeping the country with women taking to social media to post images of their now-smashed make-up products in a symbolic bid to bring an end to antiqued views on beauty.

According to The Independent, the average South Korean woman spends hours applying make-up every morning – with many setting their alarm early to carry out a 10-step skincare regime.

Unsurprisingly, the country is home to the world’s eighth largest beauty market which according to Mintel, was worth over £10 billion back in 2017. But women are tired of bowing down to the male patriarchy with many taking to Instagram to quite literally smash the country’s unrealistic beauty ideals.

Several social media posts depict lipstick smeared across sheets of paper alongside used eyelash curlers, smashed blusher palettes and remnants of human hair.



One Instagram user revealed that since high school she has been told that “women must have pretty lips” so she would apply fresh lipstick every hour. Now, she’s fed up of feeling anxious and took to social media to share an image of her smashed-up lip gloss collection.


But it’s not the first time our perception of beauty has been questioned. Back in July, beauty YouTuber Lina Bae went viral after sharing a powerful video titled: ‘I Am Not Pretty’.

In the candid clip, she applies make-up alongside hurtful comments she has received on her appearance in the past.

She eventually removes the make-up and talks openly about the world’s warped perception of beauty, as she adds: “In detail, women are forced to wear a corset that makes one wake up an hour or two earlier to get ready. Some are even pressured to wear make-up to the supermarket because of their insecurities of their bare face.”

“I hope that the future generations live a better life with more freedom and better ideals. You do not need to be pretty or beautiful,” Bae continues.

“If you don’t want to put on make-up, don’t. You don’t want to shave? Don’t. You don’t like your hair? Cut it. You don’t want to wear a bra? Go bra-less. You don’t want to diet? Don’t. Since I am a girl, I am enforced to follow rules, but if I don’t want to I will not wear that corset. That is all about the ideals of the non-corset movement.”

But the social media movement is just a small part of a much wider problem in South Korea.

The country is currently struggling with the growing epidemic of ‘spy cam porn’ where men secretly film women without their consent. Hidden cameras have been uncovered in public places from female restrooms to swimming pools and once captured, the explicit images are later posted on pornography sites.

In protest, growing numbers of women have taken to the streets of Seoul with demonstrators pressurising the government to bring about laws against the scandal.


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