Just by looking at this song’s title alone, “Skinny Baby,” it should be enough to understand why some fans are quite upset with this new release by BEAST and A Pink.
I myself am not too impressed with it either. So many wrongs with this track it’s not even funny. First and foremost, whose idea was it to auto-tune Yoseob’s voice?!
As irksome as that is, let us all try to brush it off our shoulders for now and focus on the most disturbing issue at hand: the implicit, or even subliminal message this sends to not only BEAST and A Pink fans, but the general consumer audience of Skoolooks, the brand that this video serves as a promotion for.
Asides being the name of the song, “Skinny Baby” is also the newest collection of school uniforms released by Skoolooks. Unlike in Western education systems, where school uniforms are usually given by the school, Korean students purchase their clothes from outside. The manufacturing and distribution of school uniforms is actually a business. All the schools do, in fact, is provide a checklist of what is required (ie. a gray vest, a black skirt/pants, and a white button-up), and it is up to the students to go out and purchase their uniforms from the many different competing brands that exist out there. As a result, students of the same school end up wearing different labels of uniforms, though I guess all standardized by color, pattern, etc. And of course, what better way to promote one’s brand than to have the nation’s biggest celebrities endorse for them? At the same time, it’s killing two birds with one stone — more popularity for the idols, and more greens for the label.
(An old advertisement for the brand Elite, with SNSD as their models [image src])
On a side note, what is strange is that there has been recent debate about ceasing the usage of star models for uniform brands, but evidently that decision was dropped (see The Grand Narrative for more information on this).
Going back to Skoolooks and Skinny Baby, it seems that what this whole promotion is implying (or being interpreted as, at least) is that: skinny people are hot (the chorus is a big giveaway), and if you purchase the Skoolooks line, you’ll look skinny, and therefore be the talk of the town (or the target of jealousy or admiration among your peers). Not saying that skinny people should not be seen as physically attractive, of course. They are, but just as long as we understand that the multitude of body types that exist out there are as well.
(f(x)’s Victoria’s “S-line”, accentuated by SMART’s uniform, brings all the SHINee boys to the yard [image src])
A pretty twisted way to reel in attention (and money) from the youth of a society that emphasizes a uniform (no pun intended) ideal in physique, isn’t it? As if students don’t have other things to worry about — they have to keep their grades up and their waistlines small as well. It’s quite ironic when you think about it, because the Korean secondary education system pretty much guarantees the nonexistence of one’s social life. Or is it a way of compensating for it? Anyways. ”Real Skinny Look,” as their official blog places it. And the fact that two of the most loved K-pop idol groups are strutting around over-glamorizing slim bodies doesn’t make things any better. Corporate advertising is indeed very ugly.