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by Jessica Yu
Kpop, also known as Korean pop music, is a genre of music that has grown to be a worldwide hit. There are hundreds of Kpop artists and groups, each with fandoms and supporters. The music is catchy, and members of these Kpop groups are attractive, what’s not to love?
Behind all the hype and fangirling (fan-guying?), the Kpop culture and industry in reality is extremely sexist, fat-shaming, and colorist while also exploiting young artists for profits. Female Kpop groups are treated so differently from male ones. If female members of a group wear slightly scandalous clothing, they are immediately deemed as “sluts” or “attention-seeking”. Many fans remark that girl groups are annoying, or that they all sound the same. On the other hand, when boy groups take off their clothing and are basically half-naked on stage, fans seem to have no problem with it at all. Boy groups in all honesty have similar concepts but fans do not bash on them like they do with female groups. In Kpop culture it seems that females are more likely to be bashed on and criticized, while also having to work twice as hard to achieve the same status and boy groups.
Another problematic aspect of Kpop culture is it’s intense fat shaming. There are blogs dedicated to calling out celebrities when they’ve gained 1-2 kg. These idols, mostly females, are already lightweight, and they are forced to go on dangerous diets. Fat jokes and fat shaming are constantly directed towards Kpop idols, and they have no choice but to lose weight in order to please fans. This kind of behavior sends a message to young Kpop fans, who may struggle with their own body image because of the lack of positive body image in the celebrities that they look up to.
Apart from fat jokes, skin color jokes are also prevalent in the Kpop community. Anyone who doesn’t have pale or fair skin is deemed ugly. Photos of tan celebrities are photoshop and white washed so they seem paler. Korean idols promote whitening beauty products and camera filters and discourage tanning. Racist comparisons to African skin are frequently made along with jokes making fun of black people. This stigma towards darker skin has been around for a long time, and can seriously be detrimental to fans with darker skin.
Perhaps the most toxic thing about Kpop is the fact that most fans live in denial of these problems, and defend their idols instead of facing the truth. Having previously been a Kpop fan, I understand that it’s hard to see the negative aspects of a community that you have been apart of for so long, but these problems need to be fixed. The community needs to change its attitude towards many things, and it first starts with the fans. It is crucial to realize that idols and celebrities are not perfect, and it is important to let them know if they have said something offensive rather than defending them. Until fans realize that, the Kpop community will remain toxic and problematic.