No, I’m not talking about myself. I had a short business meeting on Friday, where we didn’t talk about beauty, but about selling microscopes in Korea and the upcoming fair. Beauty came to mind later on, when I took the metro to Apgujeong to meet up with Hyojin. First I couldn’t help but notice how young Korean women seem to pick clothing less for comfort and more for looks and fashion. In some cases the results are amazing – amazingly beautiful or amazingly funny. Then, over dinner, Hyojin and I got to talking about the ideal that Korean women feel the need to live up to, that of super-slim, petite, cute and put-together youth, and pointed out a few passersby that I would have classified slim but that she believed probably thought themselves fat. That reminded me of the obviously similar Japanese ideal that had Janet receive both the epithet of “fat” and of “beautiful.”
Now, Janet is not fat, but she is beautiful, and I trust she knows both. But I’ve noticed that although I appreciate her facial features and overall shapeliness, those are things that can be appreciated also in other women. What makes her beauty unique in my eyes are the things I know to watch for, the looks, the smiles, the animation, and the delightful passionate liveliness these express.* It’s the constant personal interaction that makes her beauty stand out to me, that makes it somehow mine to enjoy, and allows me to acknowledge physical beauty in other women (and also men) without threatening hers or her standing in my eyes. More than that: it allows me to acknowledge their presence and personhood instead of spending my summers either staring at sidewalks or getting a stiff neck from all that swiveling. Yes, they’re there – they’re pretty, or not so; well-dressed, or just plain lacking in sartorial discernment – but they’re not Janet, and they never will be. She’s my real beauty – they can be someone else’s.
But back to the Korean ideal, which if it indeed mirrors Japan’s that closely must not be far from Audrey Hepburn. So I found it funny that I was to spot a poster for her famous musical, which in Korean is pronounced “My pear lady.”
Therefore, my pear ladies, take heart. Even if you’re neither Audrey Hepburn nor Marilyn Monroe, if your man loves you, he’ll see both in you, and more.
*not an exhaustive list 😉