It’s a short article, with much that is already familiar to regular readers. But thanks to Grace Duggan of Bust Magazine for asking for my contribution, and I especially liked her insightful point about the artificial dichotomy the term imposes on young women. Indeed, if you extend it to behavior also, then that dichotomy pretty much describes the way they’re presented by the entire Korean media really:
Sexualizing young women for having childlike features sets off all kinds of alarms, regardless of whether or not they are over 18. The “bagel girl” label does more than infantilize women. It compartmentalizes them by applying two irreconcilable ideals: looking like a baby and a full-grown woman at the same time.
On a positive note, I was happy to read that actor and model Shin Se-kyung (신세경) at least rejects the term. But I’m not entirely convinced: just that single picture above, for instance, shows that she’s quite comfortable presenting herself as innocent-yet-sexy when it suits her. I’m unfamiliar with her career beyond noticing her numerous commercials and magazine photoshoots in passing though, so if people that do know her find that she’s, say, deliberately shedding her childlike image as she ages, then I’d be happy to change my mind!