Here we go

Every time f(x) comes back to promote, this happens.

Disclaimer: Through no fault of their own, Amber haters have chosen to piss me off at the wrong time of the semester. Stress levels are insane right now and I probably shouldn’t even be posting about Kpop, but you’ve been warned: lots of expletives, straight-up ranting, bar none.

Every time some socio-cultural issue comes up in Kpop, international fans are so fast to throw down the “Damn, Korea sucks.” “Korea is so conservative.” “Korea is so sexist.” “Those are some fucked up beauty standards.” “Damn, plastic surgery sucks, girls have it so hard in Korea.”

And then Amber came along and turned a lot of those international fans into flaming hypocrites.

Yep, she doesn’t dress like a girl. Yep, she’s always been dressing like this. Yep, SM is probably exploiting that preference of hers. Yep, Amber’s voice is deeper than the rest of her groups’ voices. Yep, Amber looks like Donghae. But yep, Amber is still a mother.fucking. girl.

I’m not going to lie, I think that within Korea’s extremely precarious social norms, it would definitely help Amber if the stylists that work with her stop literally dressing her like a boy and making her take the role of a boy in commercials. But you know what, to a certain extent, I think it’s also good for social progress that you’ve got someone like Amber, who’s outright challenging the gender norms. She will most definitely get a lot of shit for it but someone needs to be a pioneer.

You think Nickhun and Alexander have it so easy because they’re just that awesome and Korea finds their non-Koreanness just that fascinating? No. Hangeng was there five years ago to wear those fucking masks so that they don’t have to, and he was there to slowly build his reputation so that he could pave the way for non-Koreans to work in the Korean entertainment industry. You think Big Bang and SS501 are doing so well in Japan because Japan just magically loves their music and their winning personalities? No. There were people like DBSK who had to suffer through the shitty sound stages that no one put effort into because no one gave a fuck about these Koreans, and the complete album failures and the complete lack of audience enthusiasm, just so they can pave the way for subsequent groups. The entertainment industry is hard for people to participant in, even for people who grew up consuming it, and it’s even harder for a foreigner and for anyone who doesn’t conform to the norm.

Amber is doing that same thing and she’s challenging gender tropes. It’s about time a female idol fucking challenged gender in Korea.

It fucking disgusts me that people insist that she would be “better” if she dressed more like a girl. Would be more appealing if she wore some makeup.

Yeah, do you also want her to get some double eyelids? Get bigger boobs? Shave her jaw? Wear dresses that drop right below her vagina? Dry hump a pole? A chair? Lee Seung-gi?

There is no BETTER. Amber is perfect the way she is. Like I’ve said before, within Korea, Amber is going to have a hard time being who she is. It would help her if SM didn’t do so much with her image all at once, but what can you do, it’s a business. People want in for the “wow” factor.

And for fuck’s sake, Kpop is 95% male idols who look, dress, and style like girls. Sometimes they even dress in drag. For fun. Why is anybody complaining that Amber looks too much like a boy and that’s the reason they just can’t “get” into her? Why do the guys get to be adorable while Amber gets to be the fucking freak?

Don’t even give me that “I don’t like her because she’s not good at what she does” bullshit. I won’t argue on the merit of Amber’s skill, but if we’re going to talk about that, then Sulli is completely irrelevant to the group besides her good looks and her girlish aegyo charm. Yeah, I said it.

It’s just so fucking offensive to me when people throw shit out like “s/he,” or even better, “it,” when referring to Amber’s gender. Are you kidding me? There are a lot of Kpop fans who are teens and pre-teens and don’t have exposure to this kind of stuff, but there are also those who are older and do have more exposure and there’s still this kind of mindless insensitivity. The international fandom likes to pride itself on being more progressive and liberal and blah blah blah, but it obviously has a long way to go. They may be paying lip service to the fancy idea of being socially progressive, but you bring up Amber and we’re back to square one.

In the future, I hope there are more girls like Amber in Kpop. Until Korean girls stop killing themselves trying to be the kind of “girl” that everyone else thinks a girl “should” be, lots of things need to change. Until everyone stops trying to achieve an identical standard of beauty, we need more people who are comfortable in their own skin despite not being what everyone else wants them to be.

Screw the haters. Rock on, Amber, rock on.

  • jaesu17

    hmm I assume based on my comment on your popfestfast post that you think I’m one of those “Amber haters.” I should clarify that my position is, simply, thinking she’s overrated and for no reason. your reference to how much hate she gets … idk, I feel like there is waaaay more love than hate. I don’t think I’ve seen much Amber hating
    I don’t dislike Amber, I just don’t understand why she is so damn popular. her and sulli’s popularity completely overshadows the more talented members like Luna or even leader Victoria

    and yes, I did mention how I feel she interrupts f(x)’s aesthetic…god knows I don’t like kpop for deep reasons. yes I’m superficial. so yes, I would prefer if Amber didn’t stick out like a sore thumb all the time. there are ways to celebrate Amber’s tomboyish style and androgyny without doing that

    >> I have no issue with androgynous girls, as I like 張芸京’s concept and it’s pretty similar to Amber’s

  • jen

    I personally think that every now and again we need to tell ourselves that what we see in kpop isn’t *real* as such. We obsess over stars we love, bitch about stars we hate – but does it ever cross our mind that what we as fans / observers of kpop see is merely a persona?

    Our judgement is constantly hampered by the fact that through marketing strategies etc., we start equating the aesthetic/image of a celebrity to the celebrity. How can we even assume that Amber’s image is a result of personal preference? While it is true that she did maintain a tomboyish image in her pre-debut years, SM (or any entertainment company for that matter) is not remarkably renowned for allowing their stars high levels of self-autonomy. It perhaps a stretch to suggest that Amber is challenging the gender tropes in Korea.

    • http://evacuatewithstyle.org/ Amy

      “SM (or any entertainment company for that matter) is not remarkably renowned for allowing their stars high levels of self-autonomy”

      I acknowledge in the post that SM probably exploited Amber’s tomboyish-ness in order to capitalize on gain. They probably exploited it a lot, seeing as they go as far as to make her fill the role of a boy in commercials. But ultimately, it helps that there is an Amber in Kpop, even if it’s a product, and even then I don’t think that she’s completely manufactured from ground up.

      • inquinn

        we all know that K-Pop is image-centric. for a comeback, ‘new’ image is one of, if not the most crucial part of it. but individually, i doubt any of these idols have much say anyway. as for Amber, them styling her in such way must have been based on how her original style had been. dressing ‘like a boy’ is perfectly fine but i cringe everytime she’s pushed into the *role* of a boy, so obvious when she’s in an all-girl group. *that*, is absolutely unnecessary.

  • http://me.astromantic.org f

    PREACH, haters to the left, stranger bitches can go ahead and stay pressed, etc.

    • hmmm

      hahaha, love it!

  • jwa

    i know this has nothing to do w the point of the article, but i love wht u said about hangeng and dbsk. i miss them like crazy. sigh. thankyou for saying what i was thinking about out loud.

  • hmmm

    i actually don’t know what the big deal about amber is…
    THE GIRL IS PRETTY!!
    and she has this like kind of off SWAGGER about her that I think is sick…
    she’s a tomboy, so why does everyone insist that she’s man, are tomboys THAT rare, hahahahaha?
    its pretty silly really…

  • jen

    Thank you!! Some international fans can get really nasty about Amber. Yes, I realize that she doesn’t add much to the group in terms of dancing or singing but that does not justify making nasty comments about her gender. These haters seem to have forgotten that the girl they are attacking is only 17 years old and she is living in a foreign country where she barely understands the language and probably feels like an outsider the majority of the time. Have some people lost all feeling? And seriously, have they never seen a tomboy in all their years of living in “socially progressive” countries?

  • Karen

    I love Amber!! She is AWESOME!! that is all i have to say.