Two South Korean models are tackling their country's body shaming head-on with their body-positive messages.
In a country where curves are taboo, these girls are redefining beauty in an inspiring way. They're ready to become the Ashley Grahams of Korea, and we are here for it!
Body standards in South Korea are pretty extreme, and it can be VERY difficult to shop for plus-size clothing.
“In Korean society, there are categories for only ‘normal’ or ‘average’ people," South Korea's first plus-size model Kim Gee-Yang said to Korea Herald. "The rest don’t belong anywhere, and fat people are just mocked. They consider being fat as lazy, disgusting and unhealthy."
Gee-Yang, who is a size 14, is on the lower end of plus-size modeling in the United States, while in Korea she's not even included in stores, much less seen as a model.
“It has been a long time since I’ve shopped in Korea because there are not many sizes here I can try on," Gee-Yang said.
However, South Korea's plus-size representation may improve thanks to competitors from the J Style plus-size modeling contest.
"Skinny models can become the subject of idolization while plus size models can become role models to the average people," they said.
They hope to become the next curvy supermodels for South Korea and find inspiration from body-positive icons Ashley Graham and Iskra Lawrence.
And the duo has basically won the hearts of everyone on Instagram.
"I really love what you girls are doing! Korea really needs this, like girls don't have to be almost anorexic and with eating disorders to look pretty, and you two are the example of that, two pretty girls with healthy looks," one user said.
"Thank you girls for spreading such a motivation to us. You're both so pretty," another user said.
"I always liked Korean style clothing and when I was in Korea I felt sad. I had a hard time finding styles in my size but now I don't have to worry when I make my next trip to Korea! I hope more girls in Korea will feel as beautiful as your models look," another follower said.
However, their journey to the catwalk hasn't been an easy one, since they were often bullied.
Both were harassed by boys while growing up.
Hyun said to AllKpop that her male classmates would taunt her while she was eating in the cafeteria, and that she would usually eat by herself in the classroom.
Hye said that her friend openly ridiculed her body, even saying she had "elephant legs."
It's great to see two plus-size models embrace a movement that's still in the beginning stages in Korea.
Hye said that modeling helped her embrace her body.
"When I think about it now, I tried to dress cute but was unconsciously avoiding items such as off-shoulder tops to cover my fat. But lately, I realized that I'm way more beautiful than I thought while trying on various outfits," Hye said to AllKpop.
Kickstarting body diversity for the masses? Truly inspiring.