FACES OF KOREA - Model KIM Geeyang

by M.L. Ahn, 23/11/2016

In South Korea, a woman who wears a US size 10 is considered fat and will often be looked on with disgust. Women who weigh 50 kg or more think they are fat and will go to great (and dangerous) lengths to meet an impossible body standard. bestintimes.me

Featured in a Huffington Post article, model Kim Geeyang (Vivian) has launched a campaign against the body shaming that is prevalent in Korean society. Kim, who is a US size 10, has worked as a plus-size model in the US but was also considered ‘too skinny’ for some full-figure fashion show work there. Having discovered, on her return to Korea, that there were no such opportunities in this country, she now runs an online clothing shop (site in Korean only) and publishes a fashion magazine – 66100 - specifically for plus-size Korean women.  

The name of the magazine – 66100 – stands for the sizes that are considered to be a plus size in Korea. For women, Korean size 66 is considered to be XL, while 100 is the men’s XL.  The quarterly magazine offers fashion and styling trips for plus-size women as well as how to deal with bullying. Kim also models for the magazine. As a result, she has been under attack by online trolls who believe ‘fat’ women should not be seen in public or on social media. The online backlash has apparently included death threats and such vicious abuse, that she has felt it necessary to respond to some of the postings with lawsuits.

"I hear heartbreaking stories from so-called 'fat girls' all the time -- being constantly abused and mocked by their own families, bosses, friends and strangers on the street or on the Internet," Kim said. "Honestly, some of them are not even that fat. But here, the standard of 'thin' is just way too cutthroat and only women as slim as K-pop band members can satisfy that norm." 

A 31-year old US size 10 client points out that Kim’s store was the first to produce pretty, well-fitting clothes in larger sizes instead of the "dull, baggy, ill-fitting sacks local brands call plus-size clothes." She describes also being mocked by her own mother, who once refused to take the same bus with her because of the shame of being called "mom" in public by a chubby daughter. "Regardless of my size, I am a human and a woman who wants to feel pretty and to love myself...and Kim is the person who started this conversation in this country.”

The majority of expat women complain about the difficulty of finding clothes that fit them in this country. While this is an inconvenience for us, it is a reflection of a strong force in Korean society that is having a harmful impact on the self-esteem and physical health of Korean women. 

Kim Geeyang’s moto: “Beauty is not about whether a person is fat or not. It’s about having the confidence to know you are beautiful the way you are.”

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Source: Huffington Post

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