Imagine growing up as the “ugly duckling,” targeted by hurtful comments and body-shaming remarks. That was Korean Tiktoker and content creator Eunchae’s early life. Towering above her peers with a body that didn’t conform to conventional Korean beauty standards, she rarely escaped the well-aimed jabs, even as a child. When girls her age were warding off unwanted attention, Eunchae was fighting the sting of rejection for being herself. Some of her experiences are heartbreaking.
Eunchae recalls a teenage crush that led her down the dangerous path of extreme dieting. “One day, I overheard boys having a conversation about girls’ weight and how they have the limits of weight they wouldn’t date. A lot of them said that if a girl weighs over 60kgs (130 lbs), she is too fat and is an ‘orc’ (the monsters from The Lord of the Rings) or pig.” Already over the ideal weight by 10 lbs., this conversation amplified Eunchae’s insecurity and motivated her to lose even more weight until she lost herself too.
In a world where social media and celebrity culture inform millions of people’s choices, Eunchae’s story is not unique. “We confirmed the existence of a significant association between the frequency of comparing one’s own physical appearance to that of people followed on social media,” reported researchers in a recent International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health study. “Body image’s sociocultural construct takes shape using body ideals that are broadcasted through, in particular, media, family, and peers and are thereafter internalized by individuals.”
After spreading her wings and exploring other cultures outside her homeland, Eunchae discovered something that transformed her life: the toxic notions of beauty she once faced weren’t universal truths. Armed with this newfound insight, she set out on a mission of self-discovery in the US, determined to let the world know that beauty isn’t confined to a narrow ideal.
“So many young girls in Korea and other Asian countries try to lose weight to be extremely skinny,” Eunchae laments. “Some even take drugs to reduce their weight to look like K-pop girl groups. I want to show people that it’s okay to be yourself. You don’t need to conform to unrealistic standards to be beautiful. I want to spread positivity and self-acceptance.” Her content has touched millions, resonating with those who yearn to break free from the shackles of unrealistic beauty ideals.
With over 2 million followers and a trail of viral videos behind her, Eunchae is impacting lives beyond their screens. She’s a pioneer in busting stereotypes, challenging the status quo beyond the borders of her homeland. Over the past three years, she’s shared her insights on cultural differences, beauty standards, and body positivity. “I want to be the go-to person for all things Korea,” she proclaims.
Even though her journey hasn’t been all applause and admiration, Eunchae has persisted and faced her detractors with grace. “Sometimes I receive hate messages,” she shares, “but I won’t let that stop me.” She believes in the power of open dialogue to bring about change. “Talking about issues helps our country improve. I love my country, and that’s why I want to create content that sparks change.”
In a world longing for authenticity, Eunchae has set her sights on building a brand and launching a clothing line that will continue igniting meaningful conversations that span continents. With each post and each video, she hopes to chip away at the barriers, bridging the gap between cultures and leaving an indelible mark on the world stage.