Isha Singh, New Delhi
K-pop or Korean popular music has gained great popularity over the years and has been playing a crucial part in the growing Hallyu wave. But when someone hears the word K-pop, some deep-rooted perceptions engulf their minds. With the increasing popularity of Korean artists, the stereotypes associated with them are moderately shattering and making people considerably more open-minded. Instead of being confined to a particular perspective or concept, various K-pop idols are making a move to express themselves in a better way. From fashion to hair and makeup, there are various contexts in which K-pop artists are breaking boundaries.
1. Breaking Fashion-Based Stereotypes
In the conservative society that we are living in, fashion is often interconnected with gender. But K-pop idols are seen challenging these fashion-based stereotypes in their exquisite ways.
(A) Wearing Skirts
Starting with the group BIGBANG who wore skirts for a concept for their fourth extended play ‘Tonight.’ Among all the members, G-Dragon is known to kick off or set up unique fashion trends or clothing. NU’EST’s Ren construes himself by wearing skirts that he is no less a man even if he embraces his feminine side. In Singles Magazine Korea’s photoshoot, BTS was seen wearing corsets, skirts, and stockings. In addition to that, BTS’ V, Suga, and RM were spotted wearing skirts on the street, for the magazine shoot, and at the airport.
Picture Credits: Vogue
(B) Wearing Crop Tops
K-pop’s 4th generation leaders TOMORROW X TOGETHER (TXT) members Yeonjun, Beomgyu, and Taehyun wore crop tops for the MV (Music Video) of their song Blue Hour. MONSTA X’s WONHO keeps on experimenting with the different lengths of crop tops and wears them with absolute confidence for years, both in real life and on stage. Other idols like EXO’s KAI, SHINee’s Taemin, GOT7’s BamBam, and NCT’s TAEYONG contributed sorely to unveiling that fashion has no gender.
Picture Credits: SMTOWN
(C) Female idols wearing Suits:
For years, numerous K-pop idols have been proving that suits and ties aren’t just for men and are seen comfortably pulling off the look. MAMAMOO’s Moon Byul kept enchantingly redefining the typical image of a girl group member by rocking suits better than men. Dreamcatcher’s song ‘Scream‘ suit version, Girls’ Generation’s ‘Mr.Mr.‘ era, CHUNG HA’s song ‘Dream of You‘, MAMAMOO’s song ‘Décalcomanie’ are some of the iconic suit performances and eras of all time. These idols are not only seen breaking barriers but are also inventing unique fashion trends by pairing them up with chokers and laced crop tops.
Picture Credits: Mnet
For years, many K-pop idols have collaborated with beauty brands like TOMORROW X TOGETHER (TXT) x It’s Skin, VT Cosmetics x BTS, Monsta X x TONYMOLY, GOT7 x The Face Shop, etc.
K-pop idols have always been known for breaking stereotypes regarding beauty standards. While smokey eyes, colourful hair, contact lenses, and lip tint look has been pulled off perfectly by the idols, unfortunately in this society some narrow-minded people consider it to be too feminine. But at the same time, some men have been inspired by these idols to experiment with makeup, unique fashion trends, hair colours, etc. Through this, some citizens are going beyond the boundaries, and are starting to express themselves freely. There’s no set concept of how masculinity should be defined. Focusing on skincare and giving yourselves time to dress up doesn’t make someone less manly.
Picture Credits: TONYMOLY
3. Breaking stereotypes regarding choreographies:
One of the most charming components of a MV (Music Video) or a stage performance is the choreography. Over the years, there are gender norms visible in this aspect. Ideally, a K-pop boy group should have a strong, masculine choreography while a K-pop girl group should be cute and less challenging. But thankfully, with the K-pop evolution, this barrier is fading away. Swapping or a mix of powerful and cute concepts is evaluating at its pace.
The issue of colourism shows the dark side of the K-pop industry. Some people don’t consider it as an issue and just blame it on the high beauty standards of Korea. Light skin is considered superior, and dark skin is looked down upon. Some narrow-minded fans tend to not support the idol because of the issue of colourism. Many idols must undergo plastic surgery to get accepted by society. But there have been many instances where K-pop idols withstand in averse to the stereotype while unveiling their true self. Idols like EXO’s KAI, MAMAMOO’s Hwa Sa, Jessi, etc. believe in setting up their beauty standards and are proud of their appearance.
Picture Credits: Wikipedia
With the increasing rise and popularity of K-pop, idols stepping forward to widen the image of a typical K-pop idol is one of the reasons why people love K-pop. Inspired by these K-pop idols, the public especially men are redefining masculinity and is no more afraid to try different fashion styles. Admiringly, how BTS leader RM once said in his UN speech “No matter who you are, where you’re from, your skin colour, gender identity: Speak Yourself.”