[Ed. – Get ’em while they’re young.]
Last year in kindergarten, Yang Hye-ji developed her morning routine. Uniform? Check. Homework? Check.
“Makeup makes me look pretty,” the 7-year-old said on her second visit to the ShuShu & Sassy beauty spa in Seoul.
She was wrapped in a child-size pink robe and wearing a bunny hairband. Her face was gently touched up with a puff. Her lips got a swipe of pink gloss.
South Korea’s cosmetics industry, known as K-beauty, has become an Asian powerhouse and global phenomenon for its rigorous step-by-step regimens.
But exacting beauty norms also put enormous pressure on South Korean women, making the country one of the world’s centers for plastic surgery. And increasingly, the beauty industry is looking at younger and younger girls.
That is stirring concerns that touch on many core social debates in South Korea: how much a society should value appearance, whether messages about beauty crowd out other aspirations for young girls, and whether it’s right to add even more pressure to an already stress-packed childhood of long school hours and make-or-break exams.