Project: Korean women and age

June 5, 2011 § Leave a comment

This week, I focused on narrowing down my main topic, “lookism”. As I was searching through the many different categories that concerned lookism, I decided to focus on age. Fashion, plastic surgery, and gender are subjects that are often dealt with when it comes to lookism; however, age is not explicitly thought of as a factor and a result of our look-prioritizing society. However, the craving for the young and beautiful has nowadays become an obvious.

As I was searching online, I realized that culture varied greatly from country to country, and the legislation laws differed from state to state. With some prior knowledge that Korea is also a look-centered society, I settled on Korea.

I was roaming through numerous blogs on fashion, beauty, and life written and posted by Korean women and came across a diary entry. It is as follows:

“Korean women of age 24. Overly well-educated, 24-year-old women, not quite welcome in the market, often have the same set of concerns. … The Korean society nowadays does not tell a 24-year-old woman that she is young but neither do they tell her that she is now old enough and therefore, should go easy on life. Some would tell her to become the model of the new generation of women with the good education and skills while others would tell her to get married to a ‘nice’ man before she goes ‘stale’. In objection to this, they may say jump into the world so that your talent and tuition are not wasted! But for graduated students in their twenties, seeking for employment, the reality that they face leaves them with little opportunity. The joy as a woman of becoming a mother and a wife and the achievement that the educated wants to accomplish anxiously and painfully clash for a 24-year-old Korean woman. As time goes on, it seems as if it is impossible to have both. My beloved friend tells me that life is dull” (www.cyworld.com/berebere21, Kimchi diary, translated).

This diary entry struck me, and I came to realize that I dwelled in the newly created version of women’s liberty. Women were always thriving to acquire equalities between men and women, but I did not think we were so far away from actually achieving it. Korean women are not accepted by the companies, the men, and the society. Korean women become overly sensitive when they come close to the age of thirty. 30 is the ominous and fearful number that ties women down in Korean culture. The majority of the customers in marriage consulting companies are women in their thirties. Some blog posts that I have read rage about how a woman in her late twenties worry about marriage and are half-forced to rush and find a husband when her male co-workers in their early thirties do not seem to show a sign of distress. The average age for women’s marriage has increased throughout history, but the age range that the general people recall as the good time or appropriate timing to marry has lingered in the mid-twenties. When did age become a sin?

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