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South Korean women are smashing their makeup in protest
courtesy of Instagram/@6_feminist_9

South Korean women are smashing up cosmetics to protest beauty standards

TextAlex Peters

In a country where one in three young women have undergone cosmetic surgery, the social media-based “Escape the Corset” movement is revolting against an appearance-based society

A new feminist movement has been stirring online in South Korea. Dubbed “Escape the Corset”, the Instagram campaign was first reported on in The South China Morning Post and is being pioneered by women who call themselves “beauty resisters,” who are taking to social media to protest what they feel are impossible beauty standards by smashing up their cosmetics, filming themselves while removing their make-up and even shaving their heads live online. Type in the hashtag 탈코르셋 and already you find nearly 10K related posts.

One post, for example, from @6_feminist_9 shows an image of smashed-up make-up with the caption: “I hated my ugly face. I had low self esteem and wore make-up like a mask...We don’t have to do it. [I realised] we don’t have to be pretty.”

While @urib_feminist wrote below a similar image of destroyed cosmetics: “Think about why you are made up. Was it your own subjective choice from the beginning?...There is a man who secretly squeezes the corset behind me."

South Korea has the highest per capita ratio of cosmetic surgery in the world, according to a study by the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, with an estimated one in three South Korean women between the ages of 19 and 29 having undergone some form of cosmetic procedure - the majority of which are eyelid surgeries . A 2017 study by the Korea Herald, SCMP report, found that most girls between the ages of 10 and 12 owned an average of three beauty products.

This latest movement is part of larger feminist protests happening in South Korea. The anti-molka movement protests against hidden cameras which have been used increasingly in recent years for everything from upskirt photos and images taken from inside public toilets, to revenge porn. Earlier this month, an estimated 60,000 women took to the streets of Seoul to protest these spycam sex crimes and wider gender discrimination. 

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