Korean women are smashing up their makeup to fight beauty norms


If women wear ‘too much’ makeup or too often, they’re asked to tone it down. If they hardly put it on, they’re advised to make more of an effort.

For a lot of women, it feels like there’s no winning.

South Korean women have felt the brunt of stringent beauty norms, made all the more explicit after the first female anchor on Korean TV to wear glasses received backlash for doing so.

Now, Korean people have ushered in a new social movement, called escape the corset, which has seen people smash up their makeup products, to fight the pressures on women to look a certain way.

The women pulverising expensive eyeshadows into dust and turning lipsticks into mush are fighting a strong and rigid industry that’s been commonplace for centuries.

As with other societies, women have been conditioned to smother themselves in creams and foundations in an attempt to achieve flawless, dewy skin and are encouraged to invest in rigorous skincare regimes to keep their skin supple and young. Now the tide is turning.

Women have been filming themselves tearing apart their beauty items, creating art with it, and then throwing it all away.

South Korea-based Cha Ji-won, a woman taking part in the change, said she used to spend 100,000 won/£68 a month on makeup alone. ‘There’s only so much mental energy a person has each day, and I used to spend so much of it worrying about being “pretty”‘, she told The Guardian.

‘I liked pretty things. I wanted to be pretty. I hated my ugly face. I didn’t go to school on days when my make-up didn’t look good. ‘Now, I took off the mask that was ruining my life.’