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Don’t force us to have facelifts, say S Korean women in world’s plastic surgery capital

South Korea’s women have begun to rebel against impossible standards of beauty in a country known as the plastic surgery capital of the world.

Women who call themselves “beauty resisters” have been destroying their cosmetics, cutting their hair and denouncing the pressures imposed on them by a patriarchal society which emphasises flawless beauty as the key to career and marital success.

The trend, which has spread across social media and has been dubbed the “remove corset” movement, is the latest in a series of feminist initiatives in South Korea since the MeToo campaign began.

Lina Bae, a beauty YouTuber, racked up five million views and more than 340,000 likes for a video she called “I Am Not Pretty” in which she is filmed applying false eyelashes and heavy make-up alongside comments she has received about her appearance.

“Your bare face is a terror to my eyes, LOL,” and “Your skin isn’t good for women” are among the comments that flash up on screen.

Then Ms Bae scrubs the foundation and eye shadow from her face and concludes: “I am not pretty, but it is fine. You’re special the way you are.”

Other women have made their own statements by showing smashed cosmetics on their Instagram feed and explaining why they have decided to go bare-faced. “Why did I smear these chemicals on my face?” asks one, sticking her middle finger up at her discarded lipsticks and eyeliners.

For years, South Korean women have faced huge societal pressures to look perfect, driving an estimated one in three to seek plastic surgery, while many others to go to skin clinics.

The “K-beauty” industry, which promotes pale, soft skin and delicate pink lips, is one of the largest in the world, worth some $20 billion (pounds 15 billion).

One indication of the unrealistic expectations over women’s looks came this year when a female newsreader made headlines for taking the “radical” decision to wear spectacles on air.

The “remove corset” movement has built up steam on the back of growing feminist outrage about the continuing lack of women’s rights in South Korean society.

In recent months, tens of thousands of South Korean women have taken to the streets to demand action is taken over the growing scourge of “spycam” incidents.

Voyeurs film women without their knowledge in public places or intimate situations, including public lavatories.

“There is a lot of pressure on young and middle-aged women to go to skin clinics to have wrinkle-free faces,” said Lee Mi-jeong, of the Korean Women’s Development Institute.

“But nowadays young people are starting to question why they have to care about what others think and are starting to reject all of these pressures.

“This has been initiated by the younger generation. It is just the beginning and it will have an impact in the long run.”

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