Beauty and its standards are very common topics of contention both in South Korea and all over the world. In particular, it seems that globally, many are highly invested in the topic of South Korean beauty standards. While they are known to be rigorous, it is slowly changing and a rehash of Sulli‘s comments on a show has proven that South Korean society is indeed revising their viewpoint on the matter.
Sulli once starred on jtbc‘s Night Of Hate Comments, a show that many believe she should not have gone on for fear of her mental health. However, in full respect of her decision to be on the show, she brought many pearls of wisdom to viewers. As someone that has been praised for her looks and beauty all her life, Sulli shared her honest thoughts about the compliments.
She believed that the way people recognize the topic of judging people by their looks needed to be changed completely.
To Sulli, even compliments could be a form of “judging people by their looks”. By “judging people by their looks”, she doesn’t mean casting a biased opinion. Rather, she means that calling someone pretty, is still a form of ranking someone’s outer appearance and placing importance on looks.
When asked about what she thinks are “compliments” that are alright, Sulli explained that it is alright to express what one has observed, but never to cast a judgement on how someone looks like. To her, “pretty” is not merely an observation.
For me, what I think is okay as an expression of what you feel about how I look, is to the extent of what you observe through your own eyes. For example, saying things like oh, you wore a white jacket today, or oh, you have dimples.
Back then, while many found fault with her way of thought, calling it “nit-picky”, the topic was rehashed more than 2 years later, recently in November 2021.
- “Even if you say something positive, the truth is that it still is a form of judgement. I agree. It’s not bad but I hope more realize that it was still a form of judgement, whether you say good or bad things.”
- “Ever since she was a child actor, Sulli did not only hear that she was pretty but also whether or not she gained weight etc. Be it good or bad, she received such judgement throughout her career like she was getting graded. So I relate to and understand her when she feels like that about being judged but for normal people, it might be different. I think that compliments should be used in certain situations but so I don’t agree that we should never ever use compliments surrounding looks.”
- “I’m learning something important from Sulli. Thank you.”
- “How hard is it to understand that compliments on how you look is still a form of judgement? It’s not like you don’t have anything else to talk about other than how you look so it’s weirder if you say she’s being tiresome.”
- [unrelated comment]
- “That’s right. I think that compliments are also a form of judgement.”
Sulli has always been a pioneer of many things in South Korea, from feminism to a more forward-looking, open-minded way of thinking. We hope she rests in peace!