It is not difficult to find content promoting make up for girls. On a public TV channel, an entertainment show of a father taking care of his children sent footage of his three-year-old daughter using make up last year. She swiped her face with a cosmetic brush. The show’s graphic camera lighting effect brightened the girl’s face and panel members told her she probably likes make up, just as expected for girls.
On YouTube, the situation is similar to the TV show. A kid toy reviewer who has about 1.7 million subscribers uploaded several videos – aimed at children – about using cosmetics. The highest number of views on the YouTube video hit about 12 million. An animation channel for children uploaded a video that shows how to apply make up like popular animated characters.
Businesses are being developed around this idea, and thus are encouraging lookism. Beauty spas for girls appeared in 2013 offering ‘healthier’ cosmetics for kids. The beauty spa is filled with cosmetic products for children. Girls can try the basic course, including getting a face mask pack and nail care for 15,000 won.
These types of services and business can cause a social problem. Many people are concerned because of the negative influence on kids. Critics are worried about the social atmosphere geared towards girls, that they should wear makeup. This reinforces learned stereotypes, to obsess about their appearance and to use make up from an early age in order to be more “beautiful” as forced and deemed by society. As early as age even, and before children’s ego has been established, children are beginning to objectify themselves.
In addition, society and business are creating this idea of lookism in girls more powerfully than before. Popular social media influencers are promoting appearance-orient videos and content, and the number of views this content is getting has soared since anyone can make videos, and upload them on YouTube. Digital Natives – the generation that grew up in the digital age – can access easily videos without any restrictions or protection from parents.
Of course, sales for cosmetics aimed at the younger generation have increased over the years. Nevertheless, cosmetic companies are benefiting from this increased market and do not concern themselves with the larger social problem. If they do take issue related to it, they merely worry about any damage caused to childrenʼs skin from using adult cosmetics, not about the psychological effects.
Unfortunately, there has been no way to impose sanctions against marketing these types of products. It is difficult to sanction media content, as anyone can be a producer. We have no choice but to rely on the producersʼ sense of responsibility. Consumers should demand that producers and media recognize their huge influence and strive to make a healthy society.