Throughout the semester we have been asked to engage in autoethnography practices in relation to Digital Asia. Our group project was an opportunity to put our learning into practice and truly undertake autoehtnography research and present it in a digital artefact.
As a group we all have a collective interest in make-up, beauty and the online beauty community, making us passionate about educating ourselves about the beauty scene in South Korea. We each have been raised with a similar cultural framework that translated into all members having similar views, beliefs and experiences.
In relation to our group artefact we collectively chose a topic we all heavily understood and engaged with in our Western context – make up. We frequently engage in the beauty community online through social media sites. The interactive platforms and YouTube are major influences on our buying habits of make-up products. Through online tutorials this expands to application methods and full looks or styling.
There are a multitude of differences between Australian and Korean makeup and beauty standards. Australia’s makeup trends are often heavily influenced by Youtubers and the online beauty community. South Korea also have a vast beauty community with a large online following.
Beauty in South Korea is seen as a commodity and there is immense pressure to achieve the ‘perfect’ look. South Korean women are encouraged to aim for pale skin, big eyes, a high nose bridge, skinny legs, cherry-like lips, a small face and a nine-to-one body ratio, where the body is nine times as long as the face. (Guardian, 2018)
Undertaking this DA meant extensive research into the reasoning and history of South Korean makeup and beauty standards. The research helps us deepen our understanding of the culture and consider how the history of South Korean beauty standards influences modern practices.
Recently South Korean beauty has had an immense impact on western beauty trends. Australians are now opting for more ‘natural’ and ‘glowy’ makeup looks- a trend that has been ingrained in South Korean society for years. The famous ‘10 step skincare regime South Koreans use to achieve their ‘glass-like’ skin has made its way to Australian waters and is now praised by Australian beauty bloggers and makeup gurus such as Shani Grimmond and Cartia Mallan.
In Australia, government trade figures show Korean cosmetic imports had almost doubled from 2014 and 2015, reaching almost 18 million dollars and are estimated to reach 7.2 billion US dollars in global sales by 2020. (Guardian, 2018)
Drawing on our limited experience and knowledge about South Korean makeup and beauty we had a number of preconceived ideas about what our experience would be like. Overall we all knew that South Koreans favoured pale skin and big eyes, but were unsure about the reasoning behind this.
We decided to present our DA in the form of photos and a time-lapse videos to demonstrate the process of learning Korean makeup techniques. We each chose a different Korean makeup tutorial or photo to follow as this gave us a variety of inspiration to draw from. We also searched Pinterest for similar inspirations.
As a part of the experience we decided to visit Asian stores that sold popular South Korean beauty products and cosmetics around Wollongong. We all visited Bubbleberry- a store that sells bubble tea, frozen yoghurt and Korean cosmetics. We all took note that the store had a large focus on bright and fluro colours, which can also be seen in the cosmetics they sold.
Ellis (2011) defines epiphanies as “remembered moments perceived to have significantly impacted the trajectory of a person’s life.” Throughout this experience each member experienced epiphanies that correlated to their cultural framework and past experiences.
I attended make-up school a number of years ago as I was extremely passionate about make-ip. I consider myself well versed in make-up trends and techniques and had a solid knowledge of the latest and best products. Throughout make-up school they taught techniques that would enhance the appearance of the traditional ‘western’ appearance. They lacked education about cultural techniques and trends.
I didn’t know that Koreans prefer to have straight brows and do their eyeliner in a downward motion to widen the eyes, as I had always been taught to flick the eyeliner upwards. Overall, this experience educated me on different trends and techniques that I will implement in the future.
This interest really came to light in 2017 when I went on a family holiday to Cairns. With it being a hot spot for tourists there was a variety of people. One thing I really kept noticing throughout my adventures on my holiday was how different their make-up looked to mine.
The rosey/peach tones mixed with porcelain skin was almost the opposite of anything I had ever done in my experimentation with make-up. Being bronzed and sculpted were the key elements. The Korean method of having vibrant colour was thing aspect that definitely stood out to me which is usually located on the lips, eyes and cheeks.
While doing my korean style makeup timelapse, I had an epiphany where I have created a look like this before for dance concerts when I was younger; the bright red lip, light coloured eye shadow and pale foundation were used on me when I danced to a Japanese style cultured dance.
Probably would not do this again as my makeup is of a different shade than the natural korean look and the powder made my skin very dry. The lipstick was also of a low quality and took a few attempts to fully cover my lips.
I found an image on Pinterest when I searched ‘Korean makeup’ a common theme was light, pale, peachy and highlighted looks with little emphasis on brows and eyelashes unlike Australia/western makeup trends. The blush in many images was what stood out to me when attempting to recreate the look. I also picked up a Korean gold mask and applied this before the makeup to give me the glow that is achieved with many of the looks.
There is a reason why different cultures do their makeup differently not just relating to beauty standards. Various makeup looks do generally suit races and face shapes etc. I feel without the beauty standards present in Australia i.e contouring my face almost looked flat and I also think the peach colours brought out the redness in my skin.
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