Tag Archives: beauty

On Hydration

There’s a really funny thread on Waygook.org right now that has kept my attention for the past 24 hours. It’s slightly entertaining (and often irritating) to watch strangers bicker over really mundane, though often apropos, observations of life as a Waygook. Things like if it’s cool that Koreans ask you to take pictures with them. Or whether or not this teaching gig will look good on a resume later on.

If you live in Korea, you know that looks fucking delicious

The particular topic I’m interested in today is “Do Koreans drink enough water?” The original poster simply finds it strange that Koreans don’t appear to drink much water at all, a doubt which OP and I share, and which I have long gotten over. But this person’s wondering has incensed many KOREA-CAN-DO-NO-WRONGers. Since I have no interest in arguing with people on an increasingly troll-y and uptight message forum, I have decided pontificate here, on my blog, where I am the ultimate authority.

I will be fair and make my comparisons only to the U.S, since I really don’t know how much water the rest of you English speakers drink. I suspect America overdoes it a little (though, it’s certainly not in our character to be intemperate).

Things that make me feel like Koreans drink significantly less water than Americans (possibly to their detriment): Continue reading

Passion for Pashion

Korea is obsessed with fashion (known here as “pashion”). There’s an entire Style Channel devoted to America’s Next Top Model, Korea’s Next Top Model, Project Runway, Korean Project Runway. Like fashion itself, Korea is all about Western imitation. Which is why clothes with “English” words scrawled all over them are especially popular.

As a native English speaker walking around Korea or chillin’ in your classroom, you see a lot of this:

Courtesy of Amanda M.

Shirts with English (sometimes Konglish). The English is invariably mispelled, misused, and/or completely misunderstood. Sometimes the English is all correct, but the idea is totally bizarre (see above). Most of the time it’s really funny stuff. Occasionally it’s offensive, but the person wearing it doesn’t actually know what they’re wearing, so it’s still comical.

Lately I’ve been trying to keep a record of these crazyass shirts. It’s challenging though because you can’t very well take a picture. The whole ‘must save face’ thing would come into play if you suggested to a Korean that their English shirt was wronginteresting enough to document; they’d melt into a big mortified puddle. So instead I’ve tried to write a few down and recapture them for your viewing pleasure via Microsoft Paint. Continue reading

Ugly You Ain’t Got No Alibi

Along with new lessons and new activities in this year’s English textbooks came new cartoons and animations. They seem generally improved, less 1990’s and more 2000’s, which I appreciate if only because it keeps the kids’ attention a tad longer. But then I started teaching 5th grade Lessons 4 and 5, where a bumbling pair of ginger-headed waygook tourists help demonstrate how to comment on landmarks (“What a tall tower!”) and get directions to said landmarks (“Where is Gyeongbokwuilhswgkhs?”).

Meet the Mr. and Mrs. Waygook. Continue reading

Weird Shit on Korean TV: The Pride of Mr. Bujpai

Weird Shit on Korean TV is back by popular demand! Yay!

Anyone who spends just a few minutes flipping channels on Korean cable will inevitably notice that Koreans are fascinated by strange things out of India. I can’t tell if it’s a specific program, “Strange Things Out of India”, or if it’s just a program about weird people and a lot of them happen to be from India, either way…

A few weeks ago Erin and I flipped the channel to an Indian man standing in front of a picture he was painting. It was a picture of Jesus. A picture of Jesus that he was painting with his tongue.

Apparently this guy is sort of famous, though I can’t say the tongue painting improves the quality of the art. And it’s ooky.

Then just the other day I happened by another edition of “Strange Things Out of India”. In the spotlight this time? A man with a half foot of wiry black hair sticking out of his ears. Disgusting? I think so. Continue reading

Confiscated: Princess Disease

The other day I took this cartoon from sixth grade girls because it was distracting them from my super engrossing lecture on modal verbs. I asked my coteacher what is said and meant. She could really only explain that there is a lot of laughing and she wasn’t sure what the Blobby guy in the third square is. But she did explain that Blobby accuses the girl of having “Princess Disease”, meaning she cares too much about her looks. The girl misunderstands that Blobby is insulting her and wonders, “Could I really be a princess?!”

I was intrigued by this Princess Disease business and tried to find out if it was a translation error, “disease”. I offered a few other ways to describe the concept: ‘narcissism’ and ‘vanity’.  But she assured me that in Korea it is considered a disease.

Given the prevalence of Princess Disease amongst bang-combing, mirror-wielding sixth graders, I just hope it’s not contagious.

**If anyone can tell what else is going on in this cartoon, please feel free to translate!

About Face

Prologue: I’m really ill-equipped to get up on a soapbox here and tackle issues like body image and beauty and white people fucking things up, so if that’s what you’re looking for, you are in the wrooong place – we should agree now that this is a blog of the humorous variety. I’ve never been a very good activist, even with my shady liberal arts past. (I may have attended a rally or something once… I don’t know; I drank a lot in college.) Let’s just say that I’m white and female by accident, educated-ish, and contain the perfect storm of  laziness & over confidence that can only result in complete disinterest in my own  appearance and a (bad) habit of belittling people who give a shit about theirs. I have attempted to be sensitive here, but please, everyone, have your grains of salt at the ready.

“You have small face. I envy your small face.”

I could tell it was a compliment, what my coteacher said to me after class one afternoon, but for the life of me I couldn’t figure out exactly what it meant. Small face? In comparison to … the size of my head? Is my face just scrunched and centered on the huge landscape of my head?!

Blow to your self-esteem, incoming!

Jesus, that can’t be right, that sounds bad.  So… Maybe my entire head is small and then so is my face? Like this?

please no.

I was pretty certain a “lost in translation” moment had just occurred, so I went straight to the most credible source I knew on misunderstandings in Korea: Megan.

Megan: Your face isn’t that small.

Erin: I think my feelings might be hurt, but I can’t be sure.

Megan: Does your coteacher have a big face?

Erin: Not cool, man. I don’t judge people by the size of their face. I saw that movie Mask when I was a kid.

Megan: …

Erin: Totally shaped my moral code, dude. I don’t even see face size.

When Megan couldn’t help me, I turned to the internet. Come to find out, this “small face” thing is a Korean/Japanese/pan-Asian? lady craze.  Now, I’ve seen some dubious beauty paraphernalia since I moved here – mostly related to eyelid surgeries, whitening creams and assorted eyelash goos; but this was special:

Spanx for your face, in an aesthetically pleasing shade of “burnt umber”

Small Face is a good thing here. So good and so desirable one could purchase a  girdle to wear on one’s head to squeeze it into a more pleasing oval shape if one were so inclined. But it doesn’t stop there. There are things like this. And this.  And, in case you were doubting the seriousness of this fascination, let us not forget that surgery is frequently the solution here – shave those cheekbones off ladies.


Korea’s answer to Heid Montag?

Do yourself a favor and Google this business. It’s something I never would have considered a pre req for being cute, anywhere in the world. And now I feel guilty. Guilty that in the Life Lottery, I ended up a squat, pale, short descendent of northern Europeans with tiny faces.  In other words, I’m a total fox.