The Picture of Ugly Women Means Powerless as Represented
The terms of ‘fat’ here gives the message to women that women should not be ‘fat’ to be beauty. This issue is one of the practices of women as sex object that demands the women to be concern about their body. In 1913, Webster’s dictionary defined beauty as “properties pleasing the eye, the ear, the intellect, the aesthetic faculty or the moral sense. ” But in 2004, the default definition of beauty has shriveled pitifully (Etcoff, 2004:4).
However, nowadays the concept of beauty more concern about physical appearance. Wood states in his article entitled ‘Perceptions of Female Beauty in the 20th Century’ that definition of beauty in the 20th century, when referring to human physical beauty, are nearly always constructed in terms of outward appearance and sexual attractiveness. Etcoff (2004) also argues that beauty is visual; in fact, it is the same visual – the eye popping features and stunning proportions of a few hand-picked beauty icons.
Orbach (2004) also mentioned that women of all ages and classes want to claim beauty for themselves, there has been an insidious narrowing of the beauty aesthetic to a limited physical type – thin, tall – which inevitably excludes millions and millions of women. Being beauty gives the women more power to reach all the qualities based on Orbach (2004) statement that women regard being beautiful as the result of qualities and circumstance: being loved, being engaged in activities that one wants to do, having a close relationship, being happy, being kind, having confidence, exuding dignity and humor.
These are the things that women want to reach by being beauty. How if the women cannot fulfill the concept of beauty? In the movie ‘200 Pounds Beauty’ clearly portrays that ugly is powerless for women. There are three reasons why ugly is powerless for the women that will be explained in the next paragraphs. The first reason is that being ugly means mediocre career, since despite the fact that Hana is talented; she could only become a dubber for untalented singer, Ammy.
Ammy is beautiful, she is thin, tall, and has the criteria of beauty that has been mentioned in the first paragraphs, but her voice is so horrible that’s why she needs a dubber to cover her horrible voice with Hana’s voice. In Korean perspective, beauty means having big eyes, a pale complexion, a sharp and pointed nose, a taller height, and a small chin and mouth. Essentially, South Korean Beauty meant looking as “white” or Caucasian as possible (Julia Yoo, beauty: the Korean Way articles).
Caucasian models in many Asian advertisements for beauty products raise the possibility that beauty ideals are or are becoming global (Li, Min, Belk, Kimura, Bahl, 2008:444). Moreover, the concept of Caucasian beauty influences Korean entertainment industry. We cannot deny that many cultural products which produce by Korean entertainment industry picture the concept of Korean beauty that more like ‘Caucasian’ through their actresses. For instance, in one of the websites soompi. com mentioned that the criteria beautiful actress is like Kim Tae Hae, Yoon Eun Hye and Suzy (Miss A).
They are the representation of ideal Korean beauty women, having fair skin, pointed nose, thin body, and wide eyes. Another case, in Korean Drama entitled ‘Dream High’ also portrays that ugly women are powerless through Phil Suk character. She has gorgeous voice but she is fat so that she cannot become the main actress in the advertisement, just become the singer of advertisement jingle. From these two cases, in the movie wants to convey the phenomena in Korean entertainment industry that sexy is acceptable and the fat one is unacceptable to be an artist.
Therefore, since Hana is fat and it is unacceptable in entertainment industry, she cannot become an artist even she is talented. We can see from the conversation quote in the movie: Sang Jun: She’s (refers to Hana) talented, but ugly and fat. You’re untalented ( refers to Ammy), but gorgeous and sexy. …. We’re just using her. Understood? Be nice to her. If she walks, it’s over. Once again, this conversation is emphasizes that Hana never become an artist because she is fat and ugly. The entertainment industry which is lead by Sang Jun is just used her like a doll.
The second reason to think that Ugly is powerless for women is that being ugly means loneliness. This is because Hana does not dare to reveal her feeling to Sang Jun, the man that she loved. She is sure that she will be rejected. For Hana, Sang Jun is one of the men who is given her a reason to live for. But Sang Jun does not see her as women. In his point of view, Hana is a worthy asset and he treats her as a doll. Other interesting case from the scene in the movie that has to be underlined here is when Hana speaks in the telephone with the man; the first thing that the man asked to Hana is about her body size.
Of course, Hana chooses to not reveal her true body size, she mentioned that her bust is 34 inches, waist is 24, and hip is 36, the ideal body size for women. The standard beauty of having ideal body as the product of cultural construction and put the women as the object where body as the property for women. In western thought bodies have been historically associated solely with women whereas men have been associated with the mind (http://www. iftr. org. uk/).
The notion of the body (and not the mind) being associated with women has served as a justification to deem women as property, objects, and exchangeable commodities (among men) (Feminist theory-bodies articles). That’s why the practice of women to be beauty somehow makes the women suffer a lot. The concept beauty in Dworkin point of view is that beauty practices as having extensive harmful effects on women’s bodies and lives (Jeffreys, 2005: 6). She explains that every part in the women bodies never be natural as Dworkin stated in quotation below: In our culture, not one part of a woman’s body is left untouched, unaltered.
No feature or extremity is spared the art, or pain, of improvement. Hair is dyed, lacquered, straightened, permanented; eyebrows are plucked, penciled, dyed; eyes are lined, mascaraed, shadowed; lashes are curled, or false ± from head to toe, every feature of a woman’s face, every section of her body, is subject to modification, alteration. (Dworkin, 1974, p. 112 in Jeffreys, 2005: 7) This shows the phenomena how the women treat their body as the sex object for the men to attract the men attention through the practice to be beauty.
Jeffreys (2005) argues that Beauty practices are necessary so that the sexes can be told apart, so that the dominant sex class can be differentiated from the subordinate one. She continues Beauty practices create, as well as represent, the “difference” between the sexes. In short, the practice of the body theory appears in Hana character. Hana is one of the examples that she put herself as an object; she want to be beauty by having ideal body so that she could be attractive for the men. And later, she is willing to do cosmetic surgery to be beauty.
Moreover, the concept of sex appeal in men perspective also influences how the women treat toward their body. Heylighen (2011) quoted in Buss (2005), we have specialized brain mechanisms for estimating the physical attractiveness of a potential sex partner. He continues that Evolutionary Psychology researchers have shown via extensive cross-cultural surveys that there exist universal criteria for sex appeal. For women, these are basically indicators of health and fertility: symmetric features, smooth skin, long legs, full breasts, a 0. waist-to-hip ratio, and a minimum of deformities, in the sense of deviations from the “standard” human shape (Heylighen, 2011: 2). These concepts of sex appeal do not belong to Hana body which is too overweight, that’s why Sang Jun does not see her as a woman instead of just a doll. The practice of women body as properties also happened in Korean. Korean brought Neo-Confucian ideology that believes the body was a sacred. Korean feminist Taeyeon Kim states in her article: “Neo-Confucian techniques of self-cultivation of the mind and body only applied to men.
Women in the Neo-Confucian view were incapable of achieving sagehood and therefore had neither the need nor the ability to strive for transcendence of the self and body. While men produced their selves through the mind (study of the classics) and body (maintenance of the family body through ancestor worship), women were occupied with maintaining and reproducing the family body through the corporeal bodies of the family. ” (p. 100) Korean women were constructed to keep their body as asset since in their ancestor era. The third reason being ugly is powerless for women means that ugly women are marginalized.
There are some scenes which is show Hanna is marginalized. First scene shows the conversation between Hana and her best friend, when Hana told to her that Sang Jun seems like her, her friends said that ‘There are 3 types of women for men. Look. Pretty ones. (Hana’s friend pointed the picture of sexy woman in advertisement) They’re a treasure. The average ones. (Hana’s friend pointed herself) We’re a present. You? (pointed to Hana) A reject! Get it now? ’. Hana’s friend emphasizes the word ‘reject’ to make Hana realizes that is impossible for Sang Jun interested in Hana.
Even those words seem harsh, but it is the best way to make Hana wake up from her dream. The second scene shows the moment when Hana invited to Sang Jun’s party. She wear a dress that does not suit to her body at all, a moment later, Ammy came wearing the same dress as Hana, and that dress look suitable in Ammy’s body. Then, the men around the party laugh at Hana. This shows that Hana is marginalized by give the message implicitly that if you are fat, you should not wearing a dress. Lee (2009) argues that body politics, epitomized by a good looking and slim body, overflowed and pervaded the whole of Korean society.
She continues since the mid 1990s, a specific joke has circulated widely throughout society: that is, “a woman with a past – in other words, a past love affair with another man – can be forgiven but an ugly woman cannot be forgiven. ” This statement gives us understanding on how Korean society treats ugly women. Ugly consider as taboo, sin, and have no place in the society. In addition, verbal violence appear in song lyrics that found by In-Sook Lim insists that, “since the latter half of the 1990s”, there has been a new trend of pop songs which outspokenly express disgust towards ugly and fat women and stigmatize these women as “bombs”.
Lee (2009) states that only young and attractive girls can have power, so women find new ways to be powerful through body politics. Thus, good looks and a slim body are considered as the pre-condition for young women to achieve their inner desires and social success (Lee, 2009:4). But ugly women, they are marginalized. However, contemporary Korean women have struggled against their Confucian cultural heritage related to the concept of the female body as they have searched for subjectivity with the “slim body” making process (Lee, 2009). In addition, there’s no universal definition of beauty (Albers, 2010).
The concept of beauty is different from one place to another place. Being ‘fat’ is not totally bad and considered ugly. In Uganda for example, fat women is beautiful and the perception of beauty does not include thinness (Albers, 2010). But, the concept of ‘fat is beautiful’ does not work in Korea even though the Korean feminist have been struggled for their Confucian cultural heritage related to the body. The power of capitalism still dominate through advertisement and media that mostly pictured sexy women as a model construct the Korean contemporary society about the concept of ideal beauty by having slim body and sexy.
Lee (2009) argues that Korean women’s vision and subjectivity have been greatly transformed by Korea’s economic success, and through their own related experience of a global culture united by capitalism. A drastic shift occurred between the 1980s and the 1990s, sweeping middle class women into consumerist postmodernity in their desire to be “charming” and “sexy” (Lee, 2009:2) . The more noticeable point is that “since 2000” men have been admiring perfectly beautiful women, and their interest in women’s “sex-appeal” images increased (“Lookism” 347 in Lee (2009)). Therefore, fat women still unacceptable in Korean society.
Even though after Hana doing cosmetic surgery and become an artist, she reveals her true identity to her fans, and her fans said that it is ok if Hana is the fat girl, she still become their talented star. Yet, this happen when she is beauty. Maybe the cases will be different if Hana didn’t undergo cosmetic surgery. She still seen as ugly women and powerless. In conclusion, in the movie entitled ‘200 Pounds Beauty’ brought up the issue of the powerlessness of ugly women in Korea. First, ugly women means mediocre career which pictured Hana could only become a dubber even though she is talented.