Remember when those photos of the Miss [South] Korea 2013 contestants made waves because it looked like they’d all had plastic surgery to get the same face? And everyone believed the Reddit user who posted them, because he claimed to live in Seoul, and because one fifth of South Korean women get plastic surgery, so it seemed reasonable that more than one fifth of South Korean beauty pageant finalists would have had plastic surgery?

Well, it turns out we were being huge cultural imperialists again, because some newly surfaced un-retouched photos of the contestants show what they looked like before being heavily made up and retouched, and they look extremely different.

Asian American women’s magazine Audrey discovered the photos on a blog called Koreabang, and it seems we were all way too quick to jump to conclusions. As it turns out, before makeup and Photoshop, the contestants all look like distinct human beings and not one glowing, adorable, humanoid Borg:



Of course, even if it’s all Photoshop, one still has to question why any Photoshopper, American of Korean (and we definitely do it in America) would feel the need to shave everyone’s face down to fit one very narrow standard of beauty. Why does society want everyone to look the same? I’m reminded specifically of the “perfect woman” someone assembled via Photoshop, and how very unsettling she was. We can go back and forth about “natural beauty” and its merits, but on a purely shallow level, I think the contestants’ individual characteristics make them more appealing, not less, if for no other reason than they look like they would talk to you instead of stealing your essence.

(Via Audrey Magazine)

Photos: Ilbe