The Urge to Become Prettier in Society

이혜진 기자, 박정은 기자l승인2012.10.07l0호

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Increased concern over appearance
The number of plastic surgery procedures done in Korea ranks second in the world per capita. Revenue related to the beauty industry in Korea has reached over 5 trillion won. Moreover, the beauty industry is taking center stage as a growth industry, and the government has established a goal to make Korea “A Cosmetic Top Ten Country.”

Why interest in appearance is increasing
The influence of mass media is a major reason. Most mainstream stars seen on television and other media outlets are outwardly attractive. Many of them have double eyelids and a prominent nose. In short, order these facial features have become idealized by the public. Secondly, the development of medical technology has made it more affordable for the general public to have plastic surgery in order to emulate their favorite stars. Furthermore, Korea has become a prosperous nation which has allowed for increasing amounts of disposable time and income.

Survey of YU students
The Observer conducted a survey regarding attitudes toward appearance targeting 160 students currently enrolled at Yeungnam University from August 2nd to the 6th of this year. The survey revealed that 75% of male respondents and 68% of the female respondents were not content with their appearance. Moreover, in the case of male students, about 24% replied they feel as if their appearance has been a hindrance in their lives. In the case of the female students, about 20% responded they feel hindered by their appearance. 40% of the male students replied that they spend 20-40% of their money to improve their appearance and 45% of the female students spend 40-60% of their money to improve their appearance. In addition, 40% of the male students responded that when they look at the opposite sex, they consider facial beauty to be most important, and 33% responded that body shape was most important. Likewise, most female students, 35% of the respondents, considered the face to be most important and their second most common response at 32% was height. Finally, most male students responded that they would consider plastic surgery for treatment, cure, and recovery, but most female students responded they would undergo plastic surgery simply to become prettier.

Social phenomena based on appearance
Many new words have entered into the Korean vocabulary due to concern over appearance, for example, “Grooming” and “Lookism.” Grooming refers to men who are concerned with fashion and beauty and spend a lot of money on it. Lookism has become rampant in our society. Lookism refers to being only concerned with your looks. Furthermore, interest in appearance is increasing with men as well as women. Sales of men’s beauty products have grown by over 7% every year. Sales of men’s beauty products rose by 900 billion won last year and an additional 1 trillion won this year. Total cosmetics sales have increased by 4%, but cosmetics for men has increased by 12.8%. One company sold over 40,000 face packs for men in a three month period. An eyebrow arrangement service for male clients has also started. In addition, more and more men’s accessories like bracelets and earrings are coming onto the market. There are also more broadcast programs that deal with appearance. For example, the “On Style” network broadcasts “Get it Beauty.” This program provides tips on purchasing cosmetics based on blind comparison tests. The “Story On” station broadcasts “Let 美人(Let me in).” This program targets women who are stressed by their appearance. Therefore, “Let 美人(Let me in)” and “Get it beauty” give tips on how to enhance your appearance. There are other indications throughout society about the increase in concern about appearance. The Gangnam district in Seoul is becoming known as a mecca of plastic surgery, and is also referred to as the “Beauty Belt.” This Beauty Belt is located specifically in Sinsa-dong and Apqujeong-dong. These areas have become hot destinations in the medical tourism trade.

Plastic surgery to get a job
We are being forced to come to terms with the reality that appearance has a big impact on competitiveness. Therefore, many people undergo plastic surgery because they believe it will help them get a job. Many people believe if all other things are equal, positive impressions given by an attractive appearance could make a difference in getting a job or not. Research done at a career fair reflects this as 93% of the students who responded said that they believed plastic surgery would be helpful in getting a job, and 79% responded that they believed plastic surgery would be necessary to get a job themselves. In addition, research done on a job portal site on August 2nd, 2012 showed that 66% of human resource directors said that applicant appearances are importantly reflected in employment assessments. In addition, about 67% of YU students who responded to our survey replied that they believed appearance is “important” for an interview to get a job. However, plastic surgery to get a job is becoming a serious problem. The plastic surgery industry is beginning to target universities for profit. For example, in June of 2012, a plastic surgery clinic in the Gangnam-gu district organized an event at a university in Seoul. These clinics are taking advantage of students’ concerns over their appearance. This event has since been discontinued. In addition, students who prepare for a job are placing too much emphasis on outward appearance instead of on inner beauty. Plastic surgery may give confidence, but competition through plastic surgery is emerging as a major issue. The Observer decided to detail these phenomena, so we met with the Frontier Press Corps who actively deal with job hunting, and we also met with a Job Support Officer who helps YU students get a job.

Interview with Frontier Press Corps
Mechanical Engineering, Junior
Oh-Su Kwon

Q) How important is appearance in getting a job?
A) I think appearance is very important. I think first impressions are especially important in an interview.

Q) Do job seminars focus on physical appearance?
A) Most employment camps employ an image consultant. They give image advice to students. For example, a consultant could advise camp attendees about the best way to wear a tie for an interview.

Q) Should college students try to improve their appearance?
A) Yes, in my personal experience attention to appearance is helpful in getting a job.

Interview with Job Support Officer
Yu-Jin Kim

Q) Does appearance impact on job interviews?
A) Yes, appearance does have an effect on job interviews. However, not in the way many people think. Employers don’t necessarily want a pretty or handsome face. They prefer faces that give a favorable impression.

Q) How does plastic surgery impact an interview?
A) I agree with getting plastic surgery when a student fails an interview based on appearance alone. In fact, appearance impacts an interview. However, I don’t think appearance is the only factor regarding success or failure in an interview.

Q) What are some alternatives to plastic surgery?
A) These include positive facial expressions, making appropriate eye contact, hand gestures, and even how you sit. Try to be expressive with your hands, but don’t exaggerate. Look the interviewer in the eye, but don’t stare at them, try not to shift in your chair too much, and most importantly have a pleasant look on your face. Don’t be afraid to smile a little.

Interview with Job Support Officer
Yu-Jin Kim

Q) Does appearance impact on job interviews?
A) Yes, appearance does have an effect on job interviews. However, not in the way many people think. Employers don’t necessarily want a pretty or handsome face. They prefer faces that give a favorable impression.

Q) How does plastic surgery impact an interview?
A) I agree with getting plastic surgery when a student fails an interview based on appearance alone. In fact, appearance impacts an interview. However, I don’t think appearance is the only factor regarding success or failure in an interview.

Q) What are some alternatives to plastic surgery?
A) These include positive facial expressions, making appropriate eye contact, hand gestures, and even how you sit. Try to be expressive with your hands, but don’t exaggerate. Look the interviewer in the eye, but don’t stare at them, try not to shift in your chair too much, and most importantly have a pleasant look on your face. Don’t be afraid to smile a little.

Excessive concern over appearance
We can see many reckless promotions regarding plastic surgery on the Internet. For example, there are advertisements promoting plastic surgery that feature anonymous university students. This kind of exposure is a problem because it just places emphasis on the advantages of plastic surgery and do not mention the drawbacks. On a subway line in Seoul, the location of a plastic surgery clinic is announced along with the announcement of train arrivals at the station. There are 153 advertisements dealing with plastic surgery found between Apgujeong-dong station and Sinsa-dong station on Seoul subway line 3. Advertisements regarding plastic surgery can be seen on the bottom of Internet pages or links below applications on smart phones. Even though advertisements related to plastic surgery do not affect our perceptions directly. The ubiquitous nature of these advertisements could lead people to regard plastic surgery lightly. The most severe problem associated with plastic surgery is irreparable side effects. According to the Korea Consumer Protection Board, the number of patients who require consultation due to plastic surgery side effects was 1,901 in 2006 and 2,984 in 2010 and that figure has increased by 57% in the last four years. The plastic surgery craze can also influence middle and high school students. Some plastic surgery clinics hand out promotional items with discount information to students in front of middle and high schools. In addition, schools are not cracking down on promotional items like wet tissue paper and fans that promote hospitals and give price information regarding various plastic surgery procedures. In short, there needs to be deliberation on acceptability standards regarding these practices. Many young female students regard plastic surgery lightly. They look at plastic surgery as a reward; they use a nose job or an eye job as motivation to get their grades up. However, they need to be aware of the side effects that could occur if students have plastic surgery before they finish growing. The human body continues to grow and change up until the age of 20. Therefore continued growth can have adverse effects if plastic surgery is done at too early an age.

The Yeungnam Observer ’s Inner Beauty Campaign
On September 19th, the Observer conducted a campaign in the Science Library and University Library. We handed out bookmarks to YU students correlated with the theme of the Cover Story of this month’s issue. We chose the bookmark as one way to encourage university students to read more books. We also hoped to raise awareness that inner beauty is more important than physical appearance through this campaign. The character on the bookmark has a pretty and brilliant appearance. However, she also has an empty look on her face and she appears to be focused on nothing. The bookmark reflects modern society’s pursuit of glamorous and sensual things, while the spiritual aspects of life fade away.

Concern regarding appearance is increasing steadily. This concern can be seen easily through products being marketed as well as through what we see on television programs. Although concern about your appearance is healthy, problems are caused by over-concern regarding appearance and anything can become a problem if taken to excess. For example, there are severe problems that can arise if teenagers regard plastic surgery too lightly. A pretty face might only last 5 years but a pretty heart can last for 50 years. We hope you to do not miss the more important things in life due to excessive concern for superficial things.
이혜진 기자, 박정은 기자  hyejin0360@ynu.ac.kr,pos99184@ynu.ac.kr
<저작권자 © The Yeungnam Observer, 무단 전재 및 재배포 금지>

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