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Is “Geongangmi” changing South Korean beauty standards for women?

Is it just the same repackaged toxicity?

A new trend has emerged in South Korea over the past two years. The “Body Profile Challenge” is most popular with young people who book expensive professional sessions before getting their bodies fit and then posing in their underwear. This is a trend that shows dramatic progress in fitness. Usually, this would mean that in these photos the women are as slim as possible according to traditional Korean beauty standards. But the country’s beauty perspective is changing as most women now aspire to be a geongangmi for that precious body shot.

Geongs, or “healthy beauty” is gaining momentum quite quickly among South Korean women as more and more of them choose an athletic body over a lean body. But there’s more to this new body trend than just build. Whereas the traditionally beautiful Korean woman is pale and frail, a geongs he is muscular and sun-kissed. Stars like Hioliń and Lee Si Young these are just some of the typical inspirations in this case.

Hyolyn | @ sylwia / Instagram

According to the market research company Euromonitor, geongs The phenomenon has grown steadily in popularity over the past two to three years among South Korean millennials and generations. 2020 census data show that the number of people in their 20s who regularly attend gyms has more than doubled between 2016 and 2020.

29-year-old Koo Hyun Kyung, a personal trainer at the Timber women’s-only gym, said she has noticed over the past four years that more and more female clients are interested in strengthening and improving their quality of life instead of losing weight. Despite the pandemic that caused disruptions to public companies, its gym has tripled its revenues since it opened.

The pursuit of excellence is when you want to learn a certain skill or hobby, which in this case is exercise. You can’t have a pale, lean body and be successful at fitness, so people tend to shift the standards of beauty to align with their goals.

Koo Hyun Kyung, Guardian

While this new trend overturns all existing standards of female beauty, many critics say it is just as restrictive and limited. The geongangmi This phenomenon combines female beauty with new extreme ideals. One blogger commented on this prospect saying that hunger was previously expected to be beautiful in line with society’s expectations. But now he has to starve and exercise at the same time.

Lee Si Young | @ natalia_pl / Instagram

Despite criticism, many believe that this trend corresponds to the general changing mental topography of South Korean women. According Yun Ji Yeongfeminist philosopher and associate professor at Changwon National University, the country is witnessing a growing feeling of rebellion among young women who do not want to question every existing perception that dictates their lives. Refusing to marry and going against the traditional standards of the body are part of this larger movement.


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