• Ria

    K-pop idols have to deal with the scrutiny of the public mainly because it is their job profession. They are public figures and therefore have to suffer scrutiny from their employer and from others who notice them. Since the South Korean society has such harsh standards on appearance, idols are forced to conform to the pressure and keep the extra weight off it they want to become known, and continue to stay noticeable by the public. Considering how quickly music is consumed and discarded in Korea; the quick, extreme, unhealthy dieting fits exactly how the public is consuming the music.

    • kiki

      Oops sorry wrong comment ><

  • sleepyneve

    The fact that celebrities freely talk about their diets and worrying over their weight just goes to show how deeply ingrained being thin is in the entertainment industry. If you look at their profiles for female celebrities, their weights are listed, and they are almost always between 45-48 kg whether that’s true or not. That’s mainly because anything that’s over that makes you fat for some twisted reason. You have a point. Celebrities talking about their insane diets do help expose that their bodies stem from extreme diets.

    Is a K-pop fan doomed to feel a little bit worse about themselves when seeing their idols?

    I’m going to answer yes for the question above. It’s not hard to really see what the standards of beauty are in South Korea. We know the popular and praised features that pop up in comments and articles that get translated. I have read comments in which fans wish they had so and so feature or that they’ve become more self-conscious of their own features that deviate from the standard in South Korea. I mean, it’s understandable. Fans get immersed into K-pop, and K-pop isn’t just about the music. There definitely is a visual factor in play.

  • intheshort

    From my personal experience on other KPop sites, I feel as if scrutiny regarding KPop dieting and body image tend to center on female idols. And though I do not dispute the fact that I have often worried about Sooyoung or Gayoon (and many others), I think it’s important to remember that disordered eating can also affect men. For example, if you watch some BTS or Exo interviews, you’ll notice that both Jimin and Xiumin (both of whom admit to losing weight) seem a little too focused on dieting and eating. T.O.P famously dropped 20kg before his debut, and BAP’s Youngjae looks a lot slimmer since their Warrior days.

    I’m not saying that these male idols have eating disorders, but it’s possible for men to also engage in unhealthy eating habits.

    • Courie

      Youngjae seems to work out to lose weight and keep it off whilst Himchan admitted to starving himself at times to lose weight.. That scared me.

    • Iro Mage

      It’s actually painful to watch with Xiumin as his members have actually called him out on his eating habits.

  • severely

    This was interesting to read while I polished off my cupcake.

    Anyway, I think there’s a balance between admitting that you keep to a strict diet to look a certain way and offering up tips on how to mirror their own diets. An example of the former is Anne Hathaway’s drastic weight loss for Les Miserables, which she refused to talk about how she did it, because she didn’t want people to do the same. And an example of the latter is the way some articles have detailed “this is exactly what we do and here’s a picture and an explanation of how frequently we can eat.” (Not wanting to pick on any one idol, because there are really a lot that do it.) I understand that it takes strict portion control and limited food options for them to look the way they do, but I’m not sure showing off how you get to eat half a cup of food a day is really something to be promoting.

  • maríe

    I can strictly recall the first idol’s body I ever felt “jealous” of was Miss A’s Jia right after they debuted. I’ve always been conscious of my weight, but after discovering kpop, I began to compare myself to all these pretty, thin idols, and it made me feel awful.
    As someone who’s pretty tan and definitely doesn’t have a naturally slim/petite frame, this whole thing with idols and their weight is one of the many things that have shied me away from kpop. It’s just too much to hear comments like “I’m worried how my legs will look without shoes on” (a la Sunmi) and “My legs are short but at least they’re white” (Hyosung). Love both of those girls, but hearing comments about weight and skin color non stop actually started getting to me after a while.
    Definitiely a downside of kpop, I would say.

  • Nate Broadus

    All diets are unhealthy. Your body doesn’t need one thing in abundance — it needs variety. Getting the essential amount of vitamins and minerals to keep your machine functioning tip-top is about balance, not fad dieting.

    You need fats, you need protein, you need agua, you need Omega-3, you need Vitamin A, you need iron and so forth — each in the correct amounts.

    I would much rather see an idol refrain from indulging in a fad diet than to have them put unnecessary strain on their heart, kidneys, liver, etc., by neglecting to balance out their meals just for the sake of an S-line. I could give a rat’s ass if someone learns what not to do by watching an idol’s unhealthy dieting habits — underneath the glitz, glamour and pop sheen, these are still people. I might just be crazy here, but I don’t want an idol to put their body through the ringer just so they can look a smidge better in short shorts. Maybe that’s just me.

    It’s sickening that such methods are encouraged in the first place.

    I don’t envy idols in the slightest. They’re overworked, aren’t all paid appropriately, have to live away from their loved ones and are encouraged, whether indirectly or otherwise, to practice unhealthy eating habits all in the name of shedding a few pounds before hitting the stage.

    Idols shouldn’t be serving as examples of what not to do — they are in a position to be examples for how to properly nourish and strengthen your body.

    • Sarah Stephen

      “I don’t want an idol to put their body through the ringer just so they can look a smidge better in short shorts. ” I certainly agree, even if idols had something approaching my level of body fat I literally would not care. I got into kpop for the dancing, music, and colorful mvs- not because I was blown over with envy by how thin they are.

    • find_nothing_here

      Especially since they get photoshopped to hell in magazines eventually.

  • Acapella

    In a way I’m glad that these idols talk about their diets and the crazy exercises they do, because it shows the public that these people do not just magically become the way they are. That they go through a strenuous process, and it takes a whole lot of work. It also shows us what actually goes on behind the scenes in the life of an idol star and that all isn’t as glamorous as it appears to be.

    • Judy El Zein

      I totally agree ! However , they shouldn’t be telling their fans the way they loose weight since fans would be even more encouraged to do the same !

  • Sarah Stephen

    You guys do realize that it’s not just ‘idol culture’, it’s Korean culture, right? Koreans in general are thin (although obesity is on the rise, as it is everywhere else), and they expect everyone to be relatively thin, not just idols. Westerners who are considered quite healthy here get told to lose weight by their Korean coworkers and friends. The ‘one size’ of clothing that’s available in most shops is the equivalent of a US extra small. Dieting is endemic and expected. I read somewhere that one of the leading health concerns for young women is malnutrition- in a first world country, no less. You can’t change idol culture without changing Korean culture first. And that’s hard.

  • find_nothing_here

    This is really horrible. I wish people would just realize that they need to take care of themselves.

  • Sarah

    I love this article!

    Actually, I feel the same. When diets and plastic surgery are ‘secret’ it promotes a false sense of normalcy and can damage “society”. But when it’s out in the open it allows us to recognize what we expect is not natural (which can be hard to accept!) and it can also lead to change :)

    Unnatural is not necessarily bad, though! Your body is your canvas :D Love yourself and accept yourself. Know your options, and also your limitations (and accept those as well!)

    For me, I have to go to a place where I recognize how I perceive myself, and how other’s perceive me can be very different. I love myself without change AND with change. If I want to diet to improve other people’s perception of me… that may seem shallow. but I love myself EITHER way.

    And I love my idol’s either way <3

    (ah, but i didn't really think this through… i could be missing something)