The Hips Don’t Lie…

( But is she smart too? Source )

As long-term readers will be well aware, I’m a big fan of evolutionary psychology. And why not? It usually provides both simple and extremely compelling explanations for many universal cultural features and human behaviors, such as that of the evil stepmother or the fact that 95% of killers are males respectively for instance. So when research in 2004 found that women with hourglass body shapes are 30% more likely to become pregnant than others, it was no great surprise that men worldwide have always tended to find this body type the most attractive.

But even congenitally blind men too?

Yes, it’s true, and while critics have frequently pointed out the sexist and/or (ironically) culturally-based assumptions to many of evolutionary psychologists’ conclusions, this latest news definitely buttresses the “nature” rather than the “nurture” side of the debate:

…Notwithstanding the significant scientific evidence in support for the ubiquitous male preference for the hourglass figure [a waist-to-hip ratio of 0.68 to 0.72], social constructivists doggedly hang on to the position that our preferences are due to arbitrary socialization (e.g., advertising teaches men to prefer a particular body type). Well, in today’s post, I discuss a new study that yet again kills the apparently immortal socialization dragon!

In a recent paper published in Evolution and Human Behavior, Johan C. Karremans, Willem, E. Frankenhuis, and Sander Arons explored men’s WHR preferences with one twist: the men in question were congenitally blind! Needless to say, this largely removes the possibility that these men were taught via media images to prefer a particular female body type. You might wonder how one would go about eliciting such preferences from blind men…via touch of course! The researchers had two mannequins dressed in exactly the same way but who varied in terms of their WHR (0.70 or 0.84)…

Read the details at Homo Consumericus, and the typically acerbic comments section there is also interesting. Meanwhile, on the same day I read that I happened to pick up the June 2010 edition (no.21) of cosmetic store Aritaum’s (아리따움; “Charm”) free advertorial magazine (as one does), and the contrast with the wholly photoshopped, physically impossible “X-line” body type being promoted in it couldn’t have been any greater:

( “Find your X-line”? Good luck! )

I’ve already discussed the X-line concept in an earlier post, almost literally tearing to shreds a Korea Times report – nay, also an advertorial – that uncritically reported on the “new body trend” in the process. But you may also be curious to read the advertising copy for the X-line slimming drink above however: what does persuade Korean women to buy such things?

아리따움 슬리머

울여름, 꿈에 그리는 비키니를 위한 당신의 다이어트 플랜은? 운동하기엔 많은 시간과 노력이 필요하고, 어디서 왔는지 모를 다이어트 방법은 믿을 수 가 없다. 그렇다면 올해도 무조건 굶는 것이 최고? 굶어서 빼는 다이어트는 단기간의 체중 감소는 느끼겠지만 얼굴 혈색을 나쁘게 하고 피부 탄력을 떨어뜨리며, 얼마 지나지 않아 요요 현상을 불러온다.

슬리머 DX는 간편하고 즐겹게 이용할 수 있는 슬리밍 제품으로 식약청으로부터 체지방 감소 기능을 인정 받아 믿고 섭취할 수 있다. 또한 휴대가 편한 앰플 형태라 언제, 어디서든 자신의 라이프스타일에 따라 쉽고 간편하게 다이어트가 가능하다. 아리따움 슬리머 DX라면 올 균형 있는 X라인으로 비키니를 입는 데 주저함은 없을 듯!

Edited slightly, to make it sound better in English:

Aritaum Slimmer

This summer, what is your diet plan for getting into your dream bikini? Exercising takes a lot of time and effort, and you can’t believe in diets if you don’t who came up with them. This year, is simply being hungry the best solution? If you diet this way, it is true that you will soon feel that you’ve lost some weight, but at the same time your complexion will become bad and your skin will lose its elasticity and bounce, almost inevitably resulting in a yo-yo effect as you crave foods again.

Slimmer DX is a simple, convenient, and enjoyable to use slimming product that you can take with the confidence that the Korean FDA has recognized and approved it as a slimming product. Also, it is portable and in a bottle that has more than enough for any occasion, ensuring you can easily use it to diet whenever and wherever you choose according to your lifestyle. This summer, you shouldn’t have any hesitation to use Aritaum Slimmer DX to wear a bikini that shows off your balanced X-line!

Sound familiar?

Diet advertisements in Korean magazinesappear to promote more passive dieting methods (e.g., diet pills,aroma therapy, diet crème, or diet drinks) than activedieting methods (e.g., exercise). Results further indicatedthat women may be misled to believe that dieting is simple,easy, quick, and effective without pain, if they consume theadvertised product. This study suggests that there is an urgentneed to establish government regulations or policies about dietproducts and their claims in Korea. Magazine publishers alsoneed to recognize their role in societal well-being and acceptsome responsibility for advertisements in their magazines.

Finally, a question for readers: I picked up the Aritaum magazine partially because I couldn’t tell if Lee Na-young’s (이나영) neck above in a bus-shelter advertisement near my apartment had been lengthened or not? She’s a tall woman; I honestly can’t tell. Meanwhile, the woman in the first picture is Shin Se-kyeong (신세경) for those that you that are curious (whom I’m well aware will also have been extensively photoshopped; in the original image, her legs appear to have been lengthened), but, alas, the identity of the ant-like figure with the X-line escapes me I’m afraid!^^

Korean Gender Reader

Lee Byung-hun Sienna Miller

( Source. See here for the details )

1) A much needed American woman’s guide to dating Korean men.

2) Transgender model Choi Han-bit (최한빛) reached the final round of competition in the 2009 Asia-Pacific Supermodel Contest in Seoul, which will be held on September 25. See AllKpop for more pictures and videos, and FeetManSeoul translates an article that questions if contest organizers are simply making a poor attempt at imitating the sensation caused by Isis King from America’s Next Top Model.

Meanwhile, Lee Na-young (이나영) will take on a transgender character in her next film role, called Dad Likes Women (아빠는 여자를 좋아해).

3) Sexual harassment on the Seoul subway (such as groping and taking upskirt photos) has risen 26% since last year.

4) According to the latest statistics, 3 out of 4 naturalized Korean are female (hat tip to KimcheeGI). And in other migrant-related news, one Filipino bride was assaulted by her husband and thrown out of their home for becoming pregnant (by him), and also a large number of mixed-race children are withdrawing from school once they reach middle or high-school age.

On a positive note, SBS is investigating both issues (via Diffism).

Finally, looking at the supply-side, Robert Neff discusses Koreans’ role in human-trafficking in Mongolia.

5) Recently, a civil organization called Citizen’s Movement for No Prostitution published an “escort businesses map” of Gangnam, a wealthy part of Seoul; see here for an account of a visit to one.

Chris in South Korea has an inventive solution for what to do with the business cards that such businesses litter the streets with every morning.

6) Mnet, a Korean music channel, is to launch a program for 20-something women called Men Who Come From the Sky Like Rain (하늘에서 남자들이 비처럼 내려와) in which the hosts will find out from the requester the criteria that they are seeking for their ideal man, and then head to the streets themselves to find him. Somehow I doubt that it will “try to solve problems or issues that women in their twenties face” as claimed though.

Lee Hyori Kiss Wilber Pan7) Lee Hyori gave her first on-screen kiss, to American-born Taiwanese pop star Wilber Pan, with whom she is also rumored to be dating. Good for her, on both counts, but given that she is easily Korea’s number one sex symbol, and in a country where – to put it mildly – the media frowns on relationships between Korean women and foreign men, then the relative lack of media attention is quite bizarre really.

But not new: as Korea Beat noted of a 2004 article that waxed lyrical over the Hong Kong media’s fascination with her breasts for example:

…frankly I find it bizarre to see Korea — a nation noted for its dedication to the maintenance of pure bloodlines — going ga-ga over a pretty crude overseas reaction to one of its biggest stars.

Any thoughts on what accounts for the contradiction?

8) Naked News Korea suspends operations after just one month of operation.

9) As Robert Koehler aptly puts it, “Adamu unleashes some fact-checking fury on Lisa Katayama for her piece in NYT Magazine on Japan’s “thriving subculture” of men who prefer 2D women to the real thing.”

10) Unusually for a primetime show, MBC’s new horror drama series Hon (혼, or Soul) is to be given a 19+ rating.

11) A great guide to “Korean attitudes towards being fat, skinny, and everything between” from KoreanClass101.

12) Presumably because of the slave-like contracts which Korean celebrities often have with their management companies, actor and model Yoon Eun-hye (윤은혜) is forming her own managment company.

13) In a warning to never underestimate the power of teenage girls, fans of boy band TVXQ block the street outside the group’s management company, with whom they are having a legal dispute.

14) Both paralleling and the result of women’s reactions to similar groundbreaking movies in the 1990s, the movie My Wife Got Married (아내가 결혼했다; below), about a woman who has two husbands much like a married man might have a mistress, proved to be surprisingly popular among women…especially among those whose husbands have had affairs!


( Source: Unknown )

15) Andrei Lankov writes a potted history of sexuality in North Korea.

16) Two dermatologists in Seoul have been accused of causing facial injuries to 10 women by applying a skin-peeling treatment which they had developed themselves. Not only did were patients not informed of its origins, but it was also non-tested. No mention of the KDFA is mentioned in the article, which implies that mere, biased, in-house testing would have been acceptable?

17) A commentary on the teenage runaways and the recent news that 2 in 3 Korean men feel the urge to flee home as a result of the stress of keeping their jobs during the recession.

18) Baek Young-ok, “a renowned chick lit author, delves into the dark side of diets and women’s fanatical obsession with the slim bodies” with her new novel Queen of Diet.

19) With apologies for the poor quality of the scan, this illustration on the packaging for a food container I bought this evening must be the singularly most unappealing use of Photoshop I’ve ever seen:

Tak 탁 Photoshop

See here for a famous recent example involving a Korean celebrity.