I love it when male idols are asked who their ideal types are. It makes me absolutely giddy. It makes me want to call up my best friend and tell her exactly how I sorta, kinda fit into my bias’ ideal box. It’s embarrassing, yes. But before the rational, analytical part of me goes crazy coming up with reasons why the concept of ideal types is ridiculous and frivolous, I remind myself that it’s okay to fangirl because K-pop is just that: ridiculous and frivolous. It’s what we love most about it.

For those not down with the K-pop lingo, an ideal type is an idol’s perfect significant other. For males specifically, it’s the dream girl whom he can take home to mom. The girl who posesses all the qualities he’d like in a girlfriend. Whenever an idol reveals who his ideal type is, it’s usually accompanied by predictable adjectives like “cute,” “nice,” and “pretty.” Idols rarely have anything particularly mindblowing to say about their ideal types but fans get invested in knowing who their favorite male performers could fall in love with.

But why? What’s the big deal surrounding an idol’s ideal? Why does it matter and why is it such a pervasive question during interviews?

There are a few reasons why it’s such a big deal, the most obvious being that fans feel closer to an idol who lists qualities that they possess. When idols give answers like “I want a girl who is understanding, loving, and sweet” they (inadvertently or not) make it easy for fans to point to themselves and say, “That’s me!” It’s exciting to be able to label yourself as your bias’ ideal girl. Who doesn’t swoon at the fact that Big Bang‘s T.O.P. wants a woman who knows how to dress herself and who doesn’t swear? For those of us who can’t tell polka dots from zebra prints and who swear like sailors, we know that we’d have no chance with him. But for others, there’s hope. There’s a teeny tiny chance that if they one day sat next to T.O.P. on a bus, he’d instantly fall in love with her because she fits cleanly into his ideal type.

Sure, it never works like that but it doesn’t hurt to dream.

But more than just what his ideal type says about his relationship with his fans, his ideal says  a lot about him. For example, when JYJ‘s Jaejoong was asked his ideal type, he answered:

I like those without double-eyelids. A lot of people do surgery nowadays, but I like women who don’t have the double eyelids…It seems that as time passes by, my ideal woman changes. Before it was, ‘I like those with pretty hands and feet’, but it changed a lot now. I would like it if her personality was random. I like a woman who plays hard to get.”

Jaejoong’s answer suggests that Korean beauty standards don’t appeal to him. And that a personality trait that could be regarded as a flaw (a girl who is random) is something that interests him. His unconventional ideal type says a lot about what he prioritizes, and endears him to fans that have heard other idols give generic answers.

His response also shows that his ideal type has evolved over time, which is something that happens frequently. For example, this past week, Nichkhun shared that his ideal type was actress Soo Ae. However, during his stint on We Got Married, his answer to that oft-asked question was, of course, Victoria. I’m going to go out on a limb and say labeling Victoria as his ideal type was his way of avoiding the awkward inappropriateness of naming another woman other than his “wife.” It really makes you wonder how much of what these idols say in regards to their ideal types is true and what isn’t.

And even if they don’t have an answer to that question, they’re still obligated to answer. In one interview, Taeyang‘s anxiety over the question was clear:

This question has been asked too many times…’Who is your ideal type in the entertainment business?’ I really don’t have one. That’s the truth. When reporters ask me about my ideal type, I can’t answer them accurately. Even though there have been girls that I’ve really liked, I haven’t thought about any of them being my ideal type just by judging from appearances because it’s different every time. There’s no reason to complicate things any further.

I’ve been in situations where my heart suddenly started to beat faster so it’s hard for me to talk about my ideal type. It’s only in the official interviews where I’m always asked about that. Like, ‘What are the basic requirements needed to understand me?’–those kinds of obvious things. I have a lot to learn. If my ideal type appeared now, that would be great and then reporters can ask questions about my specific type.

After the interviewer continued to prod him to answer the question, he finally just responded lamely that his ideal type is “Someone who gives off a westernized feeling.”

Taeyang brings up a good point when he says he has a lot to learn. Most of these idols are too young to even know who their ideal types are! Imagine becoming a trainee at the age of 9 and debuting at 18 and then performing tour after tour until you’re into your mid-20s. Add in the fact that most idols aren’t even allowed to date. How exactly are they supposed to know who their ideal types are if they’ve never had the time to explore that?

Take SHINee‘s Taemin, whose ideal is “Someone who only looks at me, like a sunflower.” Or EXO‘s Chen, who says his ideal is the noona type who can take care of him. A lot of younger male idols list traits in their ideal that sound more like older sisters or mothers than actual girlfriends. It wouldn’t be far-fetched to attribute this preference to a lack of experience in real boy-girl relationships. It’s no wonder most idols just stick with the standard list of “nice, pretty, and cool.”

We can never be too sure about whether or not our male bias’ ideal is really his ideal. But it’s still interesting to hear what they answer when asked the infamous question.

(Nate 1, 2, My Daily, MBC, Daily K-pop News)