[ANOTHER VIEW]Going overboard to make up for lost high school adolesenceWhen taking a close look at a university campus in Korea, there are some obvious divisions amidst the crowd.
For example, like any other place, the freshmen are always the easiest to spot. Be it their gawkiness or an exaggerated confidence that shows through as an imbalanced insecurity, they are the ones that stand out, for better or for worse.
With Korean university freshmen, there is an added weight that makes their visible presence even more unnatural.
Since most high schools in Korea do not allow color-treated hair and make-up, as well as having a school uniform or a strict dress code, once these adolescents get to university, their repressed dynamic as teenagers bursts out like the juice from summer fruits.
As a result, the “freshmen fashion” in Korean universities is quite a visual spectacle. And I mean “spectacle” in the purest sense of the word, in that their fashion is a loud exhibition concentrated on the desire to be fashionable and to stand out. Of course, it would be ridiculous to take out this flaunty characteristic that exists in fashion all together, but the “spectacle” portrayed in the fashion of this particular category of people is very obvious in terms of what they want to portray, which results in an unoriginal, loud redundancy.
When walking along a campus, it is easy to see bright red, green, and purple heads of boys rushing into lecture halls.
One rarely sees a subtle highlight in these heads. This is quite funny because their clothes are quite plain most of the time, usually consisting of khaki pants and casual button-downs or jeans and random T-shirts, which do not match the attitude of their outrageous hair color.
As for girls, the first thing that one can’t help notice is their makeup. Instead of accentuating their features with carefully selected, necessary makeup for themselves, these girls go “all the way.”
This usually means that they follow the beauty book guides step-by-step, starting from primers, various shading techniques, and even using fake eyelashes.
The clothes follow in similar lines, in that full-on outfits are the rage for these girls.
There is a theme or mood that the outfits try to convey, and the girls carry out this theme from head to toe. For example, if one were to go for a “casual” look, plain old jeans and a t-shirt wouldn’t suffice. There would be matching hats, necklaces and other accessories to go with the outfit.
In other words, just like the boys, the girls are trying to differentiate themselves and get as far away from their high-school look as possible.
Without having had a chance to develop their own unique styles and having room to change their looks as adolescents, these freshmen charge toward an abrupt growing pains pattern in terms of style.
However, I can’t help but wonder if these people are actually as free as they want to be from the constraints of their past.
The measures that they take to separate themselves from their old-selves are fragmented and unnatural, with no congruence with who they really are.
by Jainnie Cho
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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