"Attractiveness is increasingly regarded as an indispensable requirement in professional life. Cosmetic surgery is undergoing a boom in Korea, in China baifumei – the rich white beauty – is an ideal, and Japanese youth are torn between subculture aesthetics and social norms," says Dr. Anett Dippner (Center for Area Studies, Freie Universität), who along with Prof. Eun-Jeung Lee from the Institute of Korean Studies organized the conference. These are all aspects of a phenomenon that will be addressed for the first time in the context of an international, interdisciplinary framework.
Dr. Sharon Heijin Lee from New York University will give a lecture on plastic surgery, feminist activism, and self-esteem, while Dr. Masafumi Monden from the University of Sydney will address the ideal of male beauty in Japan. Dr. Yang Jie from Simon Fraser University in Canada will discuss the background of eating disorders that are on the rise.
The increasing significance of an attractive appearance as well as the numerous practices of self-improvement in East Asia cannot be understood without considering recent socioeconomic developments as the consequence of the economic and social modernization process as the influence of a Western-oriented consumer culture or individual neoliberal strategies. A couple of key issues to be addressed are, for example, how systematic and structural changes are transferred to the micro level of body culture or how global trends are transferred to culture. The conference aims to stimulate discussions about a "world culture of beauty" and indigenous preconditions from a transnational perspective.