Nice body? Bad image

A nice body never fails to get people talking.

And for K-pop idol Hyomin's new track, Nice Body, the talk has come fast and furious.

In the song, which is part of her first solo debut album, the 25-year-old member of Korean girl group T-ara, sings about going on a diet and enduring pain to achieve a nice body so that she can get the guy she wants.(See report below).

The chorus of the song from her newly released EP, Make Up, goes: "I take note on everything I want to eat/ I live noxiously everyday/ I endure all the pains/ I'm going to be prettier".

The lyrics did not sit well with listeners, with many netizens slamming her for propagating the wrong values to her young fans. YouTube user Kelly Nguyen commented: "What happened to idols being role models."

Another online user ageekinthecommunity added: "Body image is something you do for yourself, not for the pleasure of others. "Unless you're at a point where it's life-threatening, you shouldn't change your body for the sake of pleasing others."

He added: "The video felt very superficial and though I admire Hyomin as a talented K-pop idol, this is just uncomfortable to see." The music video to this song has so far received 7,500 likes and 5,300 dislikes, indicating that there are many fans who do not agree with the song.

K-pop music videos usually receive far more likes than dislikes.

T-ara's previous hit Roly Poly, which was posted on YouTube in 2011, garnered 44,300 likes and only 3,000 dislikes, while Girls' Generation's recent song Mr.Mr. has more than 350,000 likes and 30,000 dislikes.

The music video for Nice Body starts off with a fat woman stuffing her face with doughnuts while daydreaming about being slim.

A lean-looking Hyomin then shows up in a tiny outfit with the numbers 34, 24 and 36 labelled on her bust, waist and hips respectively. She performs a sultry dance while holding a measuring tape and steps on a weighing machine which reads "Nice Body".

Hyomin told Korean media that she felt "really pressured" by the song's title, which is why she went on a strict diet and also exercised to prepare for the music video.

She said: "I did crossfit exercises and diet side-by-side... I also did the lemon detox diet and lost 4kg in seven days."


Local K-pop fans that The New Paper spoke to expressed disappointment in her new song.

Student Tamana Mulchand said: "Young kids who are K-pop fans are going to listen to this song and think that they have to be stick thin to be beautiful. Idols should use their power to influence their fans to do good things, instead of promoting such superficial stuff." The 17-year-old added: "Even though I am chubby, I've never had a problem with guys. If I listened to this song when I was 12, I would have felt very demoralised and insecure."

However, music industry insiders feel that the song could be about looking good and attractive.

Mr Ngiam Kwang Hwa, managing director of Rock Records Singapore, said: "The message 'starving to lose weight' is of course not healthy and shouldn't be encouraged. From another angle, we could read the message as staying slim and looking attractive." He added that audiences should be discerning enough to see it as merely a catchy song.

"Just enjoy the song, the good look and the sexy images, isn't that what they are selling?" he said.

Mr James Kang, artists and repertoire director of Warner Music, said: "I think the message is more about looking your best and achieving your full potential. The song is fun with an interesting message that I think all girls (and some boys) can relate to."

He added: "Who wouldn't want to look better with a hotter and healthier body - all we need is a little push and encouragement, and MVs like these could actually drive us to make that first step to achieving our best."

Fans and industry insiders divided over K-pop video about body image The video felt very superficial and though I admire Hyomin as a talented K-pop idol, this is just uncomfortable to see. - YouTube user ageekinthecommunity


Translated lyrics from a few verses of Nice Body: 

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

(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)

My body is a nice nice body

Everyone is shocked, everyone falls for me

Now no one can look down on me


This article was first published on July 14, 2014. Get The New Paper for more stories.