I’ve been tumbling down a seemingly bottomless pit for the last year, as many around me have. From the gateway drug that is BTS, I have since discovered countless groups with incredible talent, and I became addicted right away. Kpop has taken over the music industry as of late, and I am 1000% here for it.
So what makes Kpop so spectacular? Everything from choreography to press interaction is polished, perfect, and poised, and it makes you wonder--are they all really like that? Are these idols happy? Do they get to keep those clothes? It’s an industry cloaked in smoke and mirrors, and that's the point. The more elusive and inhuman idols are, the higher the pedestal fans place them onto. In stark contrasts to American celebrities, Korean idols have an expectation over their heads to be flawless, to behave perfectly, and to be everything that everyone wants them to be. There aren’t idols like Cardi B or Bhad Bhabie who make a living off of being a mess in public, controversy is not a good thing. When your entire career and future depends on your ability to keep up an iron facade, expectations can escalate very quickly.
As a fan, I look up to idols like Chungha and Lisa (Blackpink); I admire their talent, personalities, and the space they’ve worked so hard to inhabit. As a performer, I strive to emulate their technique, I long for their abilities, and, I admit, of course I want to look like them. When you watch individuals achieve what you’ve been dreaming about for years, it’s hard not to think that you need to be at least on par with their appearance in order to find any semblance of success. Like many fans, I have had my self-esteem ripped apart by Kpop, and it’s easy to see why. Idols are expected to have perfect skin, weigh the least amount possible to survive, and maintain the elegance and resolve of a seasoned politician. For the average individual, these things just aren’t possible. There’s no way to achieve this level of perfection, it’s truly a full time job, and that’s where the Kpop idol status was born. They seem perfect because they’re supposed to. They aren’t marketed as anything less, because they’re being sold as a product-a fantasy, and that’s just the beauty of capitalism, isn’t it? To some end, they’re objects. It’s unfortunate for them, because I can imagine that it can’t feel good to be seen as nothing more than a skinny dancing machine.
While the disconnect between an idol and the fanbase can make them seem like untouchable gods or unreachable titans, it’s important to remember that they’re people. You never see their dark sides or undesirable moments because you aren’t supposed to. They struggle, they feel bad about themselves, they have acne; so remember to be kind to yourself, because you probably don’t have the luxury of every minute being dedicated to looking your best. Idols have entire teams of hair, makeup, and wardrobe artists at their disposal, so don’t fret over a bad makeup day or beat yourself up for eating too much pizza with your friends. Living life enjoyably is far more important than running yourself into the ground trying to look perfect.