Superficiality Matters #2: Jessica Alba

(This post is part of the “Looking Past Korea” series which is a run down of all things I think are superficially important, culturally important, and things foreigners think are important but I think are pretty over rated. This is the 4th of 5 posts about Superficial things that stand out to me.)

Superficiality: Jessica Alba seems like the only American actress Koreans universally find attractive

Why it happens:

Aside from the obvious answer of “because she is attractive,” I think it has more to do with style than anything.

It goes back to the cute Korean girl syndrome that I mentioned in my last post. Despite stereotypes to the contrary Korean girls generally do not fall into the seductive Asian temptress mold. Jessica Alba seems to maintain a little girl cuteness in all of her movies that matches with the Korean ideal of how a girl should act.

Even when she plays a stripper in the blood drenched misogyny that is “Sin City,” she is juxtaposed against her childlike self, both literally and figuratively. You see her one instant grinding a pole in a cowboy outfit, and the next jumping off the stage to bear hug the police officer who saved her life. It’s an endearing quality that either you have or you don’t. This is opposed to someone like Angelina Jolie who fits into the seductress template.

What it says about Korea:

Korea has nothing if not a defined sense of beauty. Since most people are relatively thin, face takes on a new importance. Anybody with a large ass need not even try; Juvenile was never popular here. High nose, big eyes, thin/small face: these are what make a Korean girl stand out against the crowd. No wonder plastic surgery is so popular.

In the end, I think this ends up saying more about Jessica Alba than it does about Korea. I find it interesting none the less.

Koreans think Lucy Liu is hideous.

Visual Example:

Lee Hyori and Jessica Alba sell makeup in Korea. If you want to see the ideal in Korea beauty this is the commercial to see.

Added bonus, Jessica Alba’s Korean voice over.

Also, I thought I’d throw this video in where Lee Hyori decides she is fat and so she should consume nothing besides some black bean drink. I wonder what eating disorders are like in Korea?

I also like this commercial because I can pick out almost half of the words that they are saying.


Filed under Culture, Videos

4 responses to “Superficiality Matters #2: Jessica Alba

  1. Pingback: Superficiality Matters #2: Jessica Alba

  2. That black bean juice commercial is just weird b/c it has a foreigner doing the voice over.


    Intelligent design

    The Korean government are forward thinkers. Some bright spark at the internal affairs office realised that instead of buying costly street sweepers they could just use bored middle aged women. Thusly every Korean mother or aunt is bowlegged, shaped like a question mark and smells of bins. But those street corners, wow.

    …more at:

  4. You probably wont see this for a bit or not comment back but…in my experience here and being an adopted Korean I think your observations on the Koreans super use of the superficial are really good. I’ve come to notice the Korean ideal of beauty isn’t really Korean anymore. They’re western traits on a Korean girl…which is sad because there are a lot of natural beauty that isn’t from surgery.

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