While we continue to debate how damaging persistent beauty standards are, often pushing people to seek out dangerous procedures (like setting your ass on fire), there are inevitably those that continue to perpetuate them. In one such instance, K-pop sensation NCT 127 was recently hit with a huge amount of online hate for a new series of editorial images.
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The ultra successful band that only recently concluded their first global tour, is receiving criticism for a black-and-white photoshoot for Dicon magazine, where members Taeyong, Taeil, Yuta, Jaehyun, Mark, Haechan, Johnny, Doyoung, and Jungwoo appear without excessive photoshop.
To those wondering what exactly is wrong with the images, you're not alone. Korea remains notorious for its extreme beauty standards that are often unforgiving of any "flaws," and therefore glorify an almost plastic doll-like look. The issue with NCT 127 seems to lie in parts of the shoot where you can see extremely faint marks, spots, and pores on their skin.
Since the images were released, Korean social media platform Theqoo has been inundated with angry comments from fans. "Everything came out ugly," one comment read. "Why didn't they correct the skin," another added while some questioned if it was a "mistake" and the publication accidentally uploaded "raw" images.
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Although most of the comments on the Theqoo followed the familiar negative trajectory, there were a few voices of reason on Twitter. "Things that DON'T make you ugly - acne- being over/under weight- scars- stretch marks- body hair- hair loss- fat rolls- amputations- physical abnormalities," one user said. " Things that DO make you ugly- hating nct for having an unedited photoshoot and showing their natural skin."
Another added, "Wasn't gonna say anything, but I am disgusted at the people criticizing NCT for their Dicon magazine photoshoot for having SKIN. We should be celebrating an unedited photoshoot that goes against the strict standards of the beauty industry, also they look GOOD so fuck RIGHT off."
At a time when body positivity and diversity-related conversations continue to gain traction, an instance like this also provides a reality check on how far have we have really come in dismantling beauty standards. Social media and Facetuned images of influencers, who otherwise shoehorn the message of inclusivity, still dominate our feeds as we continue to idolize unrealistic images of beauty.
Stream Awaken by NCT 127, below, and follow them on Instagram (@nct127).
Photography: Felisha Tolentino for PAPER