Bust Magazine on “Bagel Girls” (베이글녀)

(Sources: left, right)

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.

Read here for the rest, and here and here for some wider context. Also, here is my post about the “X-line” referred to in the article.

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!

10 thoughts on “Bust Magazine on “Bagel Girls” (베이글녀)

  1. G.Na seems equally perplexed by this ridiculous term (@6:40):

    Surprised she hadn’t heard it thrown at her, though.

    I have no idea how Shin Se-Kyung maintains her image, but she’s an action star in the recently released movie ‘Blue Salt’. Otherwise famous for dating and breaking up with a Shinee member!


    1. Me too about G.NA, especially with so her larger than average breasts being raised (no pun intended) in so many interviews. Surprisingly though, she would generally cover them up rather than take advantage of them, so much so that I was going to use her example to talk about clothing standards and modesty etc. in Korea (as Eat Your Kimchi did here). Just as I was about finished writing that post though, she did those notorious (to me) Juvis Diet ads, and more recently has been doing things like Calvin Klein ads in nothing but jeans and a bra. There went at least 6 hours work down the drain then (I covered all her MVs too)…sigh…


  2. I don’t want my girlfriend to look, sound, or act like a kid – I want her to look, sound and act like a sensible adult. Maybe I’m showing my age (31), but guys anywhere near my age and beyond who like their women to act, look or sound like a teenager have some issues.


  3. Is there a difference between looking young and acting young? Because I’d be willing to step up and say that I don’t think there is anything wrong with having a baby face combined with an adult body. It’s how you act that is important. I enjoy looking at cute women, but at the same time, I’d never want a girlfriend who acted like a kid. I also don’t mind the odd bit of 애교, but only when it’s within reason.


    1. Agree and disagree. Yes of course there is a difference, and there’s nothing wrong with looking young per se.

      But consider who the label is applied to: not, say, women in their 30s and 40s and older, for whom – let’s be real – wanting to look younger than they are is understandable (hell, for a 35 year-old guy like me too), but rather it’s women barely on the threshold of adulthood that are being praised for looking like children. And, not to put too fine a point on it, what the FUCK is great about a 21 year-old looking younger than she is? And when her body is simultaneously praised for being developed? That is a seriously flawed ideal to aspire to, and, moreover – as I hint at in the post – it’s no coincidence that it occurs in an environment with strong expectations of childish behavior from women too. Indeed, the end result strongly reminds me of child and teenage female manga characters, with personalities appropriate for their age, but somehow the sex drives and physiological development to act on them of women 10-15 years older.


      1. Not that you personally want a girlfriend that acts like a kid of course, like you say. It’s just that Grace Duggan has made me realize that the term is far more objectionable than I first thought.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s