Dreams Never Die: Women Flock to Hyped Beauty AidsTraditional Korean ideals of beauty had nothing to do with being 175 centimeters tall and weighing 48 kilograms. Korean women in the 21st century, however, are aspiring more and more to a body shape like Cindy Crawford's and submitting to the same obsession with slenderness now so prevalent in the West.
Now many new gadgets on the Korean market promise what may seem physically impossible － to give Korean women supposedly Western features. And Korean women － who only months ago were buying Lee Young-ja's videos in droves, only to feel betrayed when her cosmetic surgery was revealed － are now saving their pennies for these gadgets.
Currently one of the hottest items in Korea is called the AB Slider, imported from the United States. The blue object, which resembles a set of plastic bicycle handlebars on wheels, is sold on the premise that it will tone up eight parts of the body, mainly the belly, said to be the most resistant to weight loss. The formula looks so simple － all you have to do is to get on to your knees, grab the bars and push back and forth. However, refrain from being too energetic － recently there were reports that a housewife had been injured using the fitness aid. Concentrating on thrusting forward vigorously, she lost her balance and knocked her several teeth out on the floor. It's not always good for your health.
However, this AB Slider is downright respectable compared to other goods of the same ilk. The "jaw belt," in Korea better known as the teok belt or ddaeng-gimi, is a nylon product that aims to appeal to those Korean women who long for a narrower, more "Westernized" visage. Wear it in the sauna or while sleeping, its makers say, and your face will get smaller.
A similar type of body belt claims to work wonders for your calves. Yoon Seok-woo, who works at the online sales center for the product, Sale Today, explained, "If you stretch the belt over both legs while sleeping or working out, your legs will gradually get thinner." But he allows that the product takes time: "Don't expect a sudden magical change. You have to wear the belt for at least six months."
So, don't panic if you see your wife or girlfriend sporting a pink belt on her jaw, a black belt on her legs, or zealously wearing away the floor tile with a little blue gadget － it's all part of the pursuit of beauty.
by Chun Su-jin