The sheer number of advertisements for plastic surgery wallpapering any subway station in Seoul should speak for the pressure women are under about their looks.
But not everyone seeks a makeover to achieve stunning beauty; for some it is a desperate solution to live a normal life. Producers of channel Story On's new show "Let Me In" promised to help such women at a press conference in Chengdam-dong, southern Seoul, Wednesday.
Beauty icon and actress Hwang Shin-hye, 49, will host the show with Korea's top make-up artist Lee Kyung-min and stylist Kim Seung-ill. Women on the show underwent a vigorous screening process to reach those in need of helping hands. One of the contestants, Choi Young-hui, 24, had traumatizing experiences being bullied as a child and even attempted suicide.
The pain the participants suffer is not limited to their physical appearance; sometimes there really isn't any problem with their looks. Producer of the show, Park Hyun-u said. "We don't offer plastic surgery to every woman. Actually, you will see in the show that there are women we just helped with counseling, makeup and style. The program attempts to provide a holistic makeover; not just plastic surgeons, but psychiatrists, a dermatologist and a dentist will diagnose and treat the women to heal them inside as well. These women will stay in a halfway house where they will receive constant assistance including post-operative care.
Hwang said "I am meeting people who suffer so much through this program. It's so fulfilling to watch those women restore their self-confidence through the help we provide and change their lives, I'm learning a lot".
Although the show's goal is noble, whether it will shed light on our superficial society remains questionable. "It's not necessarily social pressure. One participant could not walk around with her head up because she thought everyone was staring at her face when no one was; that paranoia is self-inflicted", Park said. But many question whether clinical insecurities that hinder many women's lives are self-inflicted or a result of the innate "feminine" desire for beauty and glamour. If "Let Me In" wants to distinguish itself from the rampant makeover shows, a look into the deeper roots of the problem is necessary.
"Let Me In" will go on air Dec. 2 on Story On.
By Noh Hyun-gi
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