The Whitewashing of Korean Artists
From SuperM to BTS, Whitewashing is still a problem.
The fact that in the year 2020, whitewashing is still a thing…why!?! Any person whose skin is darker than flour is in danger of being photo-shopped. Of course, this isn’t the only thing that’s edited in photos but this discussion is very important.
A terrible reminder of bleached skin and over-edited photos occurred on April 8, 2020, when TMRW revealed their surprise photoshoot with SuperM. Normally, fans are excited when new content is released. But the celebration was cut short when Novas (Spermies, Mpire, Supporters; whatever our fandom name is) started pointing out mistakes in the photos. The SuperM Idols now had pale white skin and they even edited Kai's Jawline!!
Fans even attempted to fix the photos themselves. A lot of the comments seemed to be focused on Kai.
Even groups like BTS have their fair share of skin bleaching edits. There are plenty of jokes about fansites that whiten their Idols' skin.
Many global beauty standards are high and wrong but some believe South Korea takes it to another level.
Lightly tanned skin can be acceptable but white, glass skin is still widely praised and preferred. It’s not just an issue in South Korea, but globally. You have many idols getting their photos edited immediately so they have lighter skin. Fansites are the main perpetrators of this but also magazines, Photoshoot editors, the Press, stage/music video lighting, etc are culprits as well.
Han Hyun-min (한현민), a Nigerian-Korean model, has been whitewashed on a few occasions.
Here are more examples:
Maybe these photos were created due to certain lighting choices, but that still wouldn't explain why Kai and Lucas's skin is so white. Then add in the fact that they smoothed out Kai's jawline unnecessarily.
For most Idols, their appearance is everything. From having a round face and big eyes, tall thin bodies to white clear skin. Fansites greatly contribute to this but many fans are upset about it.
But some fans feel that people will darken an idols’ skin a little too much to fix the bleaching.
“I think some of the non-whitewashed photos are darker than their normal skin colors. Some people re-edit the whitewashed pictures, making them a lot more tan than they originally were.” -Foreign netizen
There are fans who become very upset in Idols’ comment sections when other fans criticize their edited white skin. To be honest, some “fans” are a bit harsh because they make fun of the idol’s picture. They should instead help them understand why editing their skin is unnecessary and can be harmful. But the fans who are against the critics make false equivalences like “Lightening your skin is the same as getting a tan. It’s okay if they don’t like it and want to edit it. Let them do what they want.” It’s possible that those who say this are light-skinned individuals and thus don’t understand why idols shouldn’t edit, hate, and/or make fun of dark skin. We have seen the videos of idols making jokes about dark skin and even picking on their darker-skinned members which they don’t do with lighter skin. Some have even been called the N* word.
Now, many of you may think tanning your skin is the same as bleaching your skin. "If someone wants their skin to be lighter, why is that bad? People tan their skin too." The problem with this is wanting a sunkissed glow to your skin isn't created due to the universal thought that your light skin is less compared to dark skin. The belief that "white skin is better" has created colorism/racism around the world for years. Fair-skinned people are presented as more educated, clean, peaceful, desirable, etc. Lighter-skinned persons are not pressured to heavily darken their skin due to the extreme hatred & criminalization of their skin. Wanting to get a tan is not the same as trying to live in this world with dark skin, especially when combined with having non-European features. While tans can be natural, some darken their skin just for trendy aesthetics, costumes, and/or for comedic purposes. (For example: Blackface)
Those with a darker complexion are seen as dirty, ugly, evil, uneducated, poor, inferior, and much more. They are compared to monkeys, rats, roaches, etc. This can cause them to hate their appearance thus destroying their self-esteem. Plus, this has caused negative perceptions of darker persons; creating unfair/unjust judgments and treatment. These children and adults alike deal with racist/colorist harassment, both verbal and physical. Many countries still heavily produce and advertise Skin Bleaching Products that can contain harsh chemicals which can damage your skin/health.
Will whitewashing ever end?
It seems like we've tried everything and have been waiting for change. The little change in this world took so long to happen. We must continue to take a stand and uplift. Let companies know we no longer need skin bleaching products and stop advertising them. Darker skin needs more representation in the media. They shouldn't be harmed, erased, nor fetishized.
What are your thoughts? Let me know on my socials: https://linktr.ee/sharvastudio
Here are some articles to check out:
A Kpop fan wrote an article giving their opinion about Whitewashing Idols:
Korean Fans VS International Fans Over Color of Idols' Skin
Sam Okyere talks with Han Hyun-Min about being Black in South Korea.
Han Hyun-min’s Makeup artist used a foundation that was too light.
An interview with Taylor, Being a Black model in South Korea: