Muscular beauty

Muscular beauty


Looks no longer centre only on the face in beauty-obsessed South Korea, where more women are hitting the gym to improve muscle tone and physical health.As the ideal of beauty evolves in a country that is a trendsetter in cosmetics and the pursuit of plastic surgery, women’s fitness has become a growth business, say purveyors of health products, from diet supplements to dumb-bells.”Women used to starve in order to lose weight. Now they exercise,” said celebrity trainer Ray Yang, who leads a workout session during the Body Show, a weekly television event targeted at women that is now in its second season.South Korea is a beauty powerhouse, with a $12-billion cosmetics industry and home-grown brands from the likes of Amorepacific Corp and LG Household & Healthcare riding a wave, or “hallyu”, of cultural exports, from television dramas to pop music.In July, Olive Young, a health and beauty chain owned by CJ O Shopping, began selling health products targeted at women, including dumb-bells and a mini gym ball.Lotte Shopping’s rival chain LOHB’s said annual sales of items such as gym balls, jump ropes and dumb-bells were up 9 percent this year by Oct 15.

As in other Asian countries, the popular depiction of Korean women has tended toward the slim, fair-skinned and demure, reinforcing gender stereotypes in a male-dominated society.Until recently, physical fitness was not much of a priority for Korean women, despite an emphasis on appearance that has fueled a $5-billion plastic surgery industry, which accounts for a quarter of the global market.Thinness was so prized that young women often steered clear of sports such as hiking and cycling, for fear they would leave them with thicker legs.”Women used to think muscles would have side effects, or negative effects, on their body type and looks,” said Kim Min-jeong, a professor of global sports science at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies.


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