Women are protesting the restrictive beauty standards set on by Korea’s deeply patriarchal culture.
South Korea is the 8th largest cosmetic market in the world and represents nearly 3% of the global market. In 2018, the market is estimated at $16.68 billion. In Korea, this is a market that includes both males and females.
South Korea has been at the forefront when it comes to beauty and beauty standards: skincare routines, cosmetic surgery, and makeup. South Korean women have shared that their routines can take up to 2 hours. At times, they will give up time to sleep or eat in order to get ready for either school, work, or even just going grocery shopping.
“Escape the Corset” is a movement that started off quietly and slowly. On social media, women were posting photos of their expensive makeup completely smashed and destroyed. The name of the movement stems from a protest from 1968 against the Miss America beauty pageant where women were throwing away makeup, bras, corsets, eyelashes, etc. Women are continuing their protest and encouraging others by posting to social media of them cutting their hair into the short bowl cut style and ditching their contact lenses for glasses.
The movement is a way to challenge their male-dominated society. South Korea ranked 115 out of 149 countries in terms of the gender gap between men and women in 2018. Among the OECD countries, South Korea has the highest gender pay disparity. Only 3% of executives in the top 500 South Korean companies are women. Among the National Assembly members, only 17% are women. In such a male-dominated society, women who don’t conform to the beauty standards set on can be found at a disadvantage. A survey showed that 76% of men in their 20s and 66% of men in their 30s were against the feminist movement happening. In order to see more progress, women knew that they needed to change men’s mindset.