I’ve just learned about the Korean ”Ulzzang” subculture from this video explaining the “Uncanny Valley“. Being a video game fan, I was familiar with the “Uncanny Valley“, but I didn’t know what connection it had with Korean fashion culture.
I think I’ve heard my college students talking about or describing some of their classmates as having “The Best Face” or using this word, but I didn’t know what it meant culturally. If I remember it correctly, it was someone with lots of makeup that took their facial appearance very seriously, perhaps a student that taught “makeup” effects to their classmates as their hobby. These students were probably the ones either using this word, or being teased by other less fashionable students with it. I didn’t know this was an entire subculture, but I probably should have guessed, considering how much my students pay attention to those presentations and how often “makeup” is someone’s sole hobby.
The word “eoljjang”, literally “best face”, is derived from the words eolgul (Korean: ”얼굴”) meaning “face”; and jjang (Korean: ”짱”) a slang term meaning “best”. The term is often used by netizens for contests competing for the title of “eoljjang”, but it has since developed into a subculture or style, rather than a competition event.
There are Tumblrs and fashion blogs dedicated to people that follow this “ideal” form of beauty. Warning, all links could potentially be [NSFW] depending on what they capture from the web: Ulzzang Cuties , Ulzzang Lovers, Fuck Yeah Uhlijjang, and UlzzangAsia all collect and promote this particular look. There are also tutorials available if you want to creep everyone else out too. I knew about “Lady Gaga inspired” eyes last year (video tutorial below), but I didn’t know there were so many fans.
The day all my students start looking like this is when I stop teaching.
There are problems with this alteration of people’s eyes. The lenses used to make eyes appear more round can cause serious problems. Ironically, looking like a Real Doll or Anime character might make you lose your eyesight. If you can’t be bothered to insert circle lenses and put on the tremendous amount of makeup required, you can also use Photoshop, of course. I think this Cracked article has it right:
Artificial people don’t need to make it out of the uncanny valley. Real people will just meet them there.
I think that having a unique style is fine, and trying to look strikingly attractive is good for people’s self-esteem too. I just don’t understand the extremes people take that pursuit, and risking your own vision to live up to an inhuman ideal seems disturbing. You aren’t meant to look like a doll, but if you want to try there are going to be consequences that are significant. If you are determined to risk those side effects and permanent damage to your eyes for the sake of fashion, you have more interest in your appearance than I think is healthy.