Why Hyomin’s ‘Nice Body’ is Offensive to Women

For the past few weeks, Core Contents Media hyped up T-ara member Hyomin’s solo debut with Nice Body like it would be the song of the summer. They said the music video would be rated 15+, while the dance version would be 19+, making fans and the general public’s anticipation grow. Articles on different news sites revealed teaser pictures of Hyomin in a fat suit with prosthetics on her face to look the part. With this, and the song’s title, the first red flag glared. However, everything was still pretty hush hush, so criticism couldn’t surface without knowing the music video’s plot and the song’s lyrics.

But then the video for Nice Body came out last Sunday, raising more red flags than anything else seen in K-Pop in a while. Realistically speaking, the only reason why Nice Body should be rated for people over 19, with its distasteful plot line to its objectifying costume and its absurd lyrics, is because no impressionable youngster should be sold such an offensive message towards women.

I know what you, as a fan, are thinking: You’re wrong, Hyomin unnie is singing about her nice body and not trying to impose hers as ideal. There’s nothing wrong with loving your body and being comfortable in it. If it were a man singing about his body, this wouldn’t be a problem… No, Hyomin singing about her body being ideal nor being comfortable in her skin nor with her sexuality are not the issues in question.

The problem starts with the lyrics. While I may not know Korean, I know how to use Google, and Google found for me this English translation of Hyomin’s Nice Body. But where do I even start? The beginning seems to be the best choice:

All girls want to show some skin
All girls go on a diet at least once
All girls want to be loved
A prince of my dreams will appear for sure

Ok, ok. This is true. It’s because of the beauty standards and gender roles set by the patriarchal society we live in, but ok, it’s reality.

(Not eating what I want to)
I will be strong
(I will endure through the pain)
I will become pretty
I will fall in love, I will show everyone
I will change
You do deserve it
My body is a nice nice body
Long legs, sexy waist
(Give me love, give me love, give me love)

Obesity is a real problem — I get that. There’s nothing wrong with wanting and trying to be healthy. What’s wrong is when you bring beauty into the equation and say that if you’re skinny, you’ll be pretty and thus, deserving of love. Yes, because gender roles have long established that women’s sole purpose in life is to appeal to men, get married, and have babies. To make matters worse, people glorify these notions by making it news out of what Hyomin ate or didn’t in order to have that nice body.

While I may be getting ahead of myself with this one, it’s important to spot even the littlest references to these sexist gender roles to understand the larger picture. It’s never just about saying skinny is pretty or just about whichever example is the ideal body type, it’s about reinforcing destructive ideas that “put women in their place.”

All guys want a girl like this
All guys like pretty girls
All guys think dirty thoughts at least once
I want that to be me, I want that…
It was so hard for me
You have no idea how much I worked for you
Good style, feel good, smile
I am confident now

As previously stated, women’s purpose in life is not to serve men. It’s 2014, people! We work, and not just as teachers or secretaries; we go to school, where we pursue different sciences. We raise children, sometimes on our own. We lead countries like Argentina, Germany, and, yes, South Korea, for crying out loud! Women should not conform to be a certain way based on what men want.

And while women and men alike are shallow; again, that is only the surface of the problem. The deeper, more embedded issue is when you put it into context, which, up until now, is: “I need to be skinny so guys like me and that way I’ll be worth something.” Do I really need to go into detail about how a woman’s worth is measured? It’s certainly not over how many men fancy you or how small your waistline is.

Speaking of waistlines, let’s address Hyomin’s leotard with different numbers on it. These numbers (34 at the bust, 24 at the waist, and 36 at the hips) are actually inches representing her measurements. Furthermore, at the chorus, she uses a measuring tape as a prop for her little dance. Again, look at the bigger picture; this does not represent Hyomin being comfortable in her body and being proud about it. As if packaging women and selling them in the name of pop wasn’t enough, Hyomin is now reduced to three numbers –to an object — perpetuating the notion that women are sub-human and thus not equal to men.

Hyomin Nice Body MV

But things get worse with the music video. Hyomin has a nice body, we know that; she makes it very clear. What’s not so clear is her fat suit costume whose sole purpose is to body-shame. Girl, you can have the best, hottest body, have all the guys at your feet telling you you’re beautiful, but how will body-shaming and ridiculing someone who doesn’t look like you serve you?

The scenes were packaged as a joke, something cute and funny, imagine if Hyomin, who has a great body because her only job is to look hot all the time, were to look fat? Omo! That would be funny because she’s not really fat, and fat is funny… I feel like I’m reiterating myself over and over again, but here goes: Look at the bigger picture. A girl whose body meets the beauty standards set by society in a fat-suit singing about a woman’s worth depending on how good she looks like is offensive, to women and men alike.   

Hyomin Nice Body MV Fat

And then we have this little gem. Does the girl in the top picture seem familiar to you? That’s because she starred in the music video for the rape culture appreciation anthem known as Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke. I would say this little tribute is the cherry on top of the sundae, one blatantly offensive music video and song to another.

Hyomin Nice Body Blurred Lines MV

In a world where idols are ostracized over who they date, how sexy their concept is, or if they left their company and bandmates hanging, it’s really fascinating how a song, music video, and concept that offends women and their struggle against sexism goes unnoticed. If netizens have proved something time and time again, it’s that they have the power of taking an idol down; even though I am not calling for this fate for Hyomin, I do wonder where the outcry is for something that actually matters.

Lastly, to take that sour taste out of your mouth, here’s a song by Sunny Hill with a message completely opposite to Hyomin’s. Please enjoy and pick better K-Pop songs.

What did you think about Hyomin’s Nice Body? Share your opinion with us! Make sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Bloglovin’ so you can keep up with all our posts.

  • Ric

    I’m very confused by people like you. You fight and fight for women not to be shamed by expressing themselves sexually, then when they actually do it, you shame them. WTF?

    You take a bunch of things in the video, and then exaggerate them so much that you make silly conclusions to fit your silly feminist agenda.

    Most men like skinny sexy women. Not because of “the patriarchy” but because from an evolutionary standpoint, it says “this woman is fertile and healthy.” People like you can try and try to get shame men for liking the most obvious body types that are attractive, but it won’t change biology, and it won’t work. Men will like what they like because they are wired that way.

    Most normal women know this, and they dress in ways that will attract men. And it works in the reverse as well. Men will act and dress in certain ways to attract women. It’s reality.

    People like you for some odd reason feel that it is necessary that men HAVE to like and be attracted to all body shapes. Well sister, just like women aren’t there to serve men, we aren’t here to cater to how you think we should feel and what you think we should be attracted to.

    Deal with it.

    • Roxie

      First, your claim that men like skinny women because evolution has taught them that skinny women are “fertile and healthy” is incorrect. Traditionally speaking, in Africa heavier women were considered to be more likely to be fertile than thin women.

      But we’re not in Africa…though there is scientific evidence to prove that all humans are descendants from Africa.

      ANYWAY. Nowhere in this post did the author try to “shame men” for what they find attractive. You find skinny women to be attractive? That’s fine. Good for you. And you are right, “men will like what they like because they are wired that way”. And that’s fine. But to go ahead and say that ALL men find skinny women attractive is a big fat lie. And last time I checked, feminists aren’t trying to force men to change what they are attracted to. We are trying to get men to treat us with a little respect, listen when we say no, and to realize that women are not here to fulfill your desires. This song sends a strong message that women exist to fulfill men’s desires and THAT, dear sir, is the problem that this article is pointing out, not that we are trying to change what you find attractive. So take your silly little ideas, insulted masculine dominance, and find a sad little corner to cry in because no women with any self respect will ever find man with such a need for control and dominance like you attractive. Those who subscribe to the distasteful, old-fashioned ideas depicted in the song discussed above however, just might. The poor souls.

  • karen