Discover more from Flawless The Book
It's Officially Publication Year! [#3]
Check out a sneak peek of the table of contents, and the awesome ajummas who are in the book.
Annyeonghaseyo from LA, where it finally stopped raining. With the deluge we received last week, we finally bumped up in our drought classification from “Extreme Drought” to “Severe Drought.”
Over the past couple of letters, I solicited questions from you about the book, so I’ll tackle a few one by one:
Many countries have popular skincare brands... what was it that made specifically the Korean beauty products/treatments that have become so wildly popular recently, especially in the West? (I'm sure you'll have like 3 chapters on this.)
So glad you asked! Chapter 3 of Flawless is called “Hallyu has No Borders” and it answers this question. It’s about how we wouldn’t have an explosion in interest and popularity for Korean beauty approaches and products without “images of beautiful Koreans,” that is, that Hallyu (the Korean cultural wave sweeping the globe) and Korean beauty go hand-in-hand. K-pop, K-drama, etc stars are walking billboards for Korean skincare, cosmetics, and surgery.
But there are more aspects, at play, of course! Like the export-reliant Korean economy, which means business and government policies help give K-beauty a boost, the distrust that Chinese people had in homegrown Chinese products (up until recent years) which this HUGE market to Korea for skincare and treatments, and Korea’s deliberate cultivation of “aesthetic tourism,” which has helped make its plastic surgery industry the most advanced and developed on the planet.
Has Korea's messaging around women aging always as bad as ours, or has it only recently gotten that way with these trends?
Youth is prized everywhere. In Korea, one of the biggest compliments you can give is “You look young!” or “You look younger!” The proliferation in products to fight aging came with the rise in Korean affluence and spending power, so, hard to say if it’s as bad or worse than ours in the US. But since you ask about aging, one of the most fun and fulfilling bits of reporting I was able to do for Flawless was my time with ajummas (older, Korean aunties) in Orange County, CA. I wanted to know at what point they could kind of give up the quest to LOOK young, and what value they found in being out of beauty marketing’s crosshairs. They pointed a way to nurturing and caring for their bodies, but also accepting themselves, that I found really beautiful and promising. You’ll read about it …
We're at this weird time with an increasingly narrow 'standardized' version of beauty AND some messages pushing against that and telling us to embrace our authentic selves. Which message do you think will prevail (Spoiler alert, we're still capitalists after all)... basically, are we even more fucked with this than we were 5 or 10 years ago?
On balance I’m pretty hopeful, because there are so many conversations happening and so much more awareness about the insidiousness of diet culture, for example, and hustle culture, which are entwined with beauty culture and appearance labor writ large. I love that Jameela Jamil has amplified body neutrality and skin neutrality, and have been a long supporter and admirer of beauty critic and writer Jessica Defino, who has been on a quest to explain and dismantle beauty culture for years. (She is cited many times in Flawless).
This conversation should be far more global, though, and not limited to voices in the “West,” which I know is a problematic classification in it of itself. It is part of the reason I really wanted to shine a light on Korea, my time there, and my experiences as an Asian woman and a former teen model who had to grow up in the anorexic 1990s. We want as many voices to be included in the dialogue as possible.
What else would you love to see in this insider newsletter? What kind if “insidery” things are you interested in? Leave a note in the comments or write me.
Several of you have pre-ordered already, and I realize the delivery won’t come for many many months, so THANK YOU so much for reserving the copy early. If you haven’t and would like to … every order counts!
And finally, a random thought that’s neither here nor there: I was thinking about how we had to learn cursive back in the day, and if you can remember what it looks like, the cursive letter G is ridiculous. It’s not pretty, barely resembles a G, and takes all these extra loops and turns to write. So dumb!
Thanks for reading and subscribing. If you know of folks who would be interested in Flawless, please forward this on and have them subscribe! It is much more fun to go on this journey together.
Until next time,