Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Misleading photos

I don't take taxis very often. I prefer walking. But I have noticed in every Korean cab I've ever ridden in that the driver's picture on the laminated copy of his license does not even vaguely resemble him. When I had my photo taken for my alien registration card, the photographer touched up my picture in photoshop, whitening my skin, erasing wisps of hair and elongating my neck. He also opened up a folder full of what appeared to be printable paper doll clothes and selected a frilly blue shirt to match my eyes. Last week I had new passport photos taken and the prints just arrived. My skin has obviously been whitened, which is not the look I'm seeking.

Koreans' obsession with appearances has been the biggest cultural hurdle for me. Plastic surgery here is rampant. Whiteness and round eyes are revered. In some extreme cases, parents even have their children endure leg lengthening surgery, in which children's legs are surgically broken and stretched. Complications probably account for the number of young people I see limping around. Thinness is another important asset in Korean culture which I couldn't forget even if I tried.

One of my Korean friends told me that she is afraid to eat a lot in front of men because they might make critical remarks. Well, yesterday I devoured most of a pizza at my desk. But even though the coast was clear as far as men go, a female teacher criticized my eating habits. Trying to see the humor in this situation and not get annoyed, I said, "One slice is not enough." She cocked her head to the side, thinking, before offering what she thought was a good solution. "One slice and fruit!"

I'm definitely becoming a more patient person here in Korea. My last New Years' resolution was to be more patient and be better with money. I'm not tearing my hair out and I'm not penniless, so I must be doing okay.

1 comment:

  1. re. the article on leg extention - the one I read was in Russian, alas.