Dear “K-Pop Curious” Eugene,
Thank you very much for your excellent question. While I can not say that being a consumer of K-Pop will most certainly lead to disordered eating, there are reasons to believe that media images can influence one’s feelings, thoughts and behaviors. This is similar to the current debate in psychology: Does playing violent video games lead to violence in real life? There is a myth that playing video games has no effect on the players. However, studies show time and time again that: “Violent video games are significantly associated with: increased aggressive behavior, thoughts, and affect; increased physiological arousal; and decreased prosocial (helping) behavior.”
Let’s look at some of what belongs in the K-Pop culture. It seems as if Korea is known as the plastic surgery capital of the world, http://travel.cnn.com/seoul/visit/ideals-beauty-plastic-surgery-capital-world-389581. Plastic surgery tourism is popular in Korea and this leads to a particular image of what one might see when watching K-Pop.
What happens when consumers have repeated exposure to similar images? Dr. Jean Kilburne is known for her work speaking out about the negative effects of the media on women’s body image. She’s considered an expert who has researched the impact of advertising on women’s health. You may want to consider referring to some of her videos in the “Killing Me Softly” series. Here’s a trailer so that you can get a glimpse of her eloquent facts:
Therefore, my take away message is for consumers to be informed of what they are watching. Have any of the actresses/singers/etc. cosmetically enhanced their natural attributes? Are the images that are being displayed unaltered? I hope these resources point you to your own answers. Thank you once again for your question and hope other consumers are as aware as you seem to be.
Dr. Michi Fu is a clinical psychologist licensed in Hawaii and California. She specializes in working with Asian American children and women. She has published articles and book chapters regarding play therapy, cross-cultural psychology and Asian American mental health issues. She is an Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology at Alliant International University and is the Statewide Prevention Project Director of Pacific Clinics. She also has a private practice devoted to working with those who can benefit from her Taiwanese and Mandarin language skills.