In June, Bae Lina, a beauty YouTuber with more than 115,000 subscribers, uploaded a video titled “I am not pretty.” The video, featuring Bae removing her makeup, gained more than 3 million views, since it was unusual for a beauty vlogger to upload a video with such content.
“I wanted people to acknowledge that corsets for women still exist,” Bae said. “So, I uploaded the video, even though my channel mostly featured cosmetics and makeup.”
Her video starts with Bae showing her face with glasses and no makeup on. Critical comments such as “You’ll look better if you put makeup on,” flash on the screen, and Bae slowly puts on different kinds of makeup one by one.
However, even after Bae finishes her makeup, others still point out what they consider her flaws. Realizing that such criticism by society intimidates her, she starts removing her makeup. The video ends with comments that encourage women to love themselves as they are.
“With the video, I wanted to support those who were participating in the corset-free movement,” Bae said.
A corset is a special undergarment worn to make the body look more desirable according to society’s beauty standards. The “corset” from the corsetfree movement refers to modern corsets such as colored lenses, makeup, long and silky hair, and anything society defines as a requisite of “feminine women.” The movement of taking off corsets represents the liberation of women who had been oppressed by social perceptions people consider “feminine” and “beautiful.” Some examples of taking off corsets include not putting on makeup, cutting one’s hair short, and wearing glasses instead of using contacts. These actions all intend to free women from standardized beauty as well as wasting time adorning oneself. “There are so many women in society who can’t give up makeup because society demands them to,” Bae said.
Corset-free movement emerged with women recognizing that there are so many strains and demands that are put only on women. The movement was also partly due to media starring women who fit standardized beauty. “
"By seeing those who fit standardized beauty on media, people tend to compare themselves with those on media,” Bae said. “This lowers one’s self-confidence and eventually leads to pursuing standardized beauty.” The corset-free movement flourishes beyond social media such as YouTube or Instagram. Women are also trying to make changes in their workplaces.
For example, in April, Lim Hyeonju, a female news presenter at MBC, appeared on television with her glasses on. This was the second case where a female news presenter from one of the three national broadcasting stations wore her glasses while presenting news. Due to the big interest in Lim’s actions, “female anchor with glasses” was on the top 10 most researched word list on Daum on April 12. On an Instagram post Lim uploaded on April 12, there were more than 5,000 likes and 400 comments that supported her actions. Bae also supported people in the corset-free movement and especially shared words with those at Ewha.
“I just want to say that wherever you are, I am with you,” Bae said.