I spent last week in Seoul, the modern cultural hub of South Korea, where international sensation Psy first made his mark. It's a crowded city plastered with images of celebrities on buses, billboards, storefronts, giant windows, and any other usable space. As I traversed the city, one thing that struck me was how uniform all their faces were: big eyes, white skin, raised nose bridges.
As the modeling industry here is accused of conforming to a white, northern European look as the standard of beauty, South Korea seems to be chasing a different ideal: a generic Caucasian look.
A common trope about models is that we don't eat. Well, I'm a model and I love food. I eat often and during all parts of the day—the spicier the dish, the better. Most models—at least the ones I work with in Los Angeles—do eat, with fewer exceptions than one might expect.
This season, Mad Men set in 1968, a time of powerful and exciting organizing in the U.S. feminist movement—while the fictional Madison Avenue advertising crew scribbles out new taglines for headphones, 1968 was the year feminists took to the streets to protest the Miss America pageant.
In the entertainment industry, young female stars face a unique rite of passage: the performance for which they'll bare it all. It is ironic that for a young starlet to make the transformation to a "serious" performer, she is expected to show some skin.
Television and magazine audiences are well aware that the beautiful female faces we are enhanced with a slew of cosmetics. What audiences don't seem to take into account is is that the men's faces are also dolled up—the guys just often don't talk about it or sign ad deals with Revlon.
This creates the impression—that's both incorrect and damaging—that male celebrities and models don't undergo the rigorous beauty routines of their female colleagues. How utterly false.
Feminist forums have been abuzz recently about the editor of Esquire UK's comments regarding the objectification of women in magazines. More than the content of these discussions, however, what is most notable to me is how mainstream conversation about sexuality uses a black-and-white framework: women's bodies can only be a sex object or a not a sex object. Thanks to the term "objectification," bodies are seen as either objects or non-objects—it feels like there's no wiggle room. As someone who works as a model, I think we should instead focus rather than the conversation around women possessing their own sexuality.
Television shows, movies, and other forms of showbiz are crucial parts of conversations about race and sex in our society. But ironically, the dynamics of what happens behind the scenes in the entertainment industry is not so well-known. As a feminist model and writer in eternally sunny Los Angeles, I'll be exploring issues of race, sexuality, and gender within the entertainment industry over the next two months with this guest blog.