Thursday, January 16, 2014

The ideal woman: a Korean Heather Locklear

Having bored of idolizing French women and their beauty routines, real or imagined, we may now turn to those of Japanese and Korean women. What does it all mean? An imminent shortage (no, noooooo) of the Tsubaki shampoo and conditioner? (Actually not such a disaster - I've stockpiled.) Anyway, I like it - it's time that mainstream beauty products and advice expand beyond that which is geared to a white woman whose principle beauty complaint is insufficiently voluminous hair.

Meanwhile, others are now idolizing celebrities, as vs. nationalities, and asking plastic surgeons to turn them into their favorite stars. The NYT Styles piece about this rounded up quite a handful. Women who feel they look too much like Cameron Diaz (this is a problem???) get surgery to look more like Kate Winslet. But the people they pick are so random! Heather Locklear? An ostensibly cisgender man who wants to look like an especially feminine-looking female French singer? And the results are predictably disappointing. I say "predictably" because I've brought photos of the hairstyles of famous or semi-famous people to the salon, only to discover that whichever dare I say holistic effect this haircut had on this other person, it didn't come together in at all the same way for me. It stands to reason that plopping Heather Locklear's nose onto not-Heather-Locklear's face would be similarly futile.


Anonymous said...

The best article I've read on the "French women" trend is Zoe Williams' "Cherchez la femme." She articulates so well how the supposed superiority of French women is used to bash women from the country being compared (in this case, England).

Phoebe said...

Yes! That's excellent.

kei said...

I may have already said this somewhere, but given the described features of what tsubaki oil does and how popular that series is, it seems to provide further evidence that many Japanese women do not have that silky smooth straight hair everyone thinks they have. Anyway, I stand by my stash of Tsubaki as well!

The Korean information was interesting. Though it may have been weird to add, I wish there were photos of the features they were describing. (My theory about furry draw in eyebrows is that they're easy to fill in so that you can choose the pencil color to more closely match your dyed hair color.)

It's interesting that you pointed out that there's recent interest in both Japanese and Korean beauty routines, as the Korean one (in my eyes) had a bit of "we're really great at this!!!!!1" that I think also has a hint of "The Japanese might be good at skincare/beauty, but we're REALLY good (too)." I see this kind of nationalism between the two cultures often in other areas (e.g., food) and maybe I'm reading too much into it, but it seems to come out on the beauty side of things too.

Just pointing it out--I don't mean to be like, "Look, how Korean of them to brag!" But it was just interesting that they were brought up together. I'm still more interested in the prepubescent, untweezed eyebrows look!

Phoebe said...


I hadn't known anything about the relationship between Japanese and Korean beauty. Fascinating stuff! I'd basically thought to connect the two because they were both unusual breaks from the usual, i.e. fawning over the latest from France. And probably, subconsciously, because I've lately been buying my Tsubaki (and Japanese groceries) at H-Mart, a Korean supermarket.

But in terms of Korea and beauty, the thing that came to my mind immediately was how there's been so much discussion of the cosmetic surgery rate there. I wonder if that gives the impression to non-Koreans that these beauty products come from a particularly expert-at-beauty culture?

With European products, there's a funny divide where they're all pseudo-medicinal, but the German ones are more about being "natural" than the French ones. National beauty cultures, a wide world I know little about.

But yes, re: hair, this is incredibly interesting for me, as someone who spent high school battling frizz and envying certain East Asian and Asian-American (mostly Korean) classmates who seemed not to have this problem. (OK, some did, but not many.) My mind is now blown - maybe the problem was that I was using a Pantene made for fine, greasy hair (i.e. the opposite of my hair texture), rather than some fabulous Korean shampoo I didn't (and still don't) know about! How different those four years might have gone!