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I was always intrigued by the K-town style, the hair, the make-up, the clothes; it didn’t make sense to me. I was always brought up to dress in an appropriate manner. My mom used to yell at me for wearing slippers, due to the exposure of my feet. I never understood why and how some kids were able to walk out of their house, looking the way they did. My knowledge of the Korean culture was very narrow and oblivious. However, my first experience in Koreatown was shocking! I was encountering a tough intimidating appearance that was completely different from my knowledge of other Koreans. Nevertheless, I have also seen a gradual change of style in Koreatown. This gangster tough image is not prevalent in Koreatown anymore, and has changed to a more chic and trendy look. I wanted to see what kind of reactions I would receive if I brought this character back into Koreatown. I thought that this was my one and only chance to re-capture what I had seen, and on what I might have missed out on.

The heavy make-up and the casual sporty look is something I would never consider wearing. Although my interpretation of the “K-towner” look is weak, it was the best that I could do.

Some would not have recognized an extreme change, but my uncomfortableness and embarrassment was very overwhelming. It was genuinely hard for me to step out of the house looking the way that I did. I felt as though everyone was staring, and criticizing me. I had never experience such an emotional breakdown over my appearance.

During my day as a “K-towner” I decided to go visit my friend Grace. She had lived through and experience the “K-town” style, and have been a friend of mine since high school. She was impressed with my portrayal, but thought that I needed to take it another step further.

AH! After Grace re-vamped my look, I was speechless, stunned, dumbfounded, and incredibly disorientated. It took me a while to step out of her house. I didn’t know what I was complaining about before, I would have loved to go back to my original look.

REFLECTION: This whole experience has been quite an adventure. Through this brief transformation I have learned how dress truly influences and interprets one’s personality and character. I have also learned that although breaking out of our comfort zone is daunting and traumatic, an outsider or stranger wouldn’t notice any different. I was surprised to see how much I cared about what other people thought of me. These people were strangers, people I probably wouldn’t see again, but their impression of me was so valuable. The majority of the reactions that I had received were scared and distant. I had never experienced that before, I was always branded as being innocent and approachable. This look was extremely hard to portray, but I’m glad I went through with it. This experience is something that I will remember for the rest of my life. Overall, it was a lot of fun.

“Why are fashion models still called mannequins?”

To answer this question, fashion models are considered to be mannequins due to their impeccable similarities. The mannequins that I have come in contact with are incredibly accurate to real life human beings. Also, fashion models have a reputation of acquiring a distinct appearance; extremely skinny, beautiful, flawless, and immortal. Fashion models are considered to be above average, who are given better and greater opportunities than the rest. This is why many women try to conform to this image, due to the rarity and acknowledgments.

“the public dream spaces of the fashion world”

I believe that the public is unusually intrigued with the fashion world. The fashion world portrays itself as a glamorous untouchable society, in which acceptance is only granted through invitation. There is an invisible line in which one cannot cross; unless you uphold to a certain level of status. We hate the idea of fashion, and yet we cannot stop ourselves from conforming to it. The desire for acceptance and appearance is too strong to break the fascination of the fashion world.

“The desire for the right image…alienates women from themselves, turning them into automatons.”

I strongly dislike the idea of women abandoning their own individualistic ideas for acceptance. I am guilty of acting in this way, and I hate it. I wish our society was more open to uniqueness. We are so quick to judge others, and women have paid the price. Women have to deal with discrimination in all aspects of life; work, school, relationships, family, etc. Society has voiced a “right image” of women, and it has spread like wild fire.

“The message put across to women reflects the eternal conflict between the need to appear sexually attractive and being condemned for adopting too obvious an approach to achieve this goal.”

I believe that women are always struggling with the idea of how men perceive women, and how women perceive other women. Which do we care about more? When we go out to a club or to a bar, women tend to dress more provocatively and erotically. The majority of women dress to grasp the attention of men, while insinuating jealousy towards women. However, women are caught in a “catch 22.” If we dress overtly unsophisticated we are called “sluts,” but if we dress innocently we are given the cold shoulder. The underlining problem with this issue, is that there is no balance. Women are punished for being openly sexual, but criticized for being prude.

“…nudity is a negative state, a privation, loss, dispossession…being unclothed meant finding oneself in a degraded and shamed position, typical of prisoners, slaves or prostitutes, of those who are demented or cursed.”-Mario Perniola 

Nudity has become a taboo in our society; it makes us feel uncomfortable, awkward, and surprised. When we talk about sex, or even watch a sex scene from a movie, we seem to get unusually delicate. Americans are known to be one of the most sexually active, but seem to find it necessary to keep it behind closed doors. As many tend to say, “Don’t kiss and tell.” Nudity has categorized itself as a shameful act. Whether it is put into terms of entertainment, personal enjoyment, or even art, many desire to identify nudity as a private disclosed act.

“Woman is never so seductive as when she adores herself….The woman becomes her own fetish and therefore, a fetish for the other.”-Mike Gane

Women have gradually lost the value of self-esteem, and self-respect. We try to beautify ourselves with clothes, make-up, cosmetic surgery, and so forth. We have twisted the idea of beauty. Although many have said that personality is the key, does it really? Male or female we all want to look good, and we want others to tell us that we look good. Women has taken the idea of beauty and correlated it to looking younger, skinnier, and fashionable. This is also why women lust over money. We cannot achieve all of the necessities to become “beautiful” without money. If we could love ourselves first, then the portrayal of our security will be natural.

“I don’t like standard beauty – there is no beauty without strangeness.-Karl Lagerfeld

I was excited, and became slightly arrogant when I noticed that the exhibit related to a lot of what we talked about in class (androgyny, mastectomy, Orlan). It was interesting to see the various visual expression of beauty. The documentary that was also shown was extremely eye-opening and intense; it made me question a lot of things. What is true beauty? Is beauty appearance? Self-esteem? Power? I couldn’t figure it out. As I was walking around, staring, and reading about how one defined or interpreted beauty, my definition of beauty became distorted. As I drew closer to the end of the exhibit, I had realized that beauty resides with culture. I always believed that beauty had an universal definition. However, I learned that through one’s particular lifestyle and norms we are able to create our own unique conception of beauty.

http://www.rbvincent.com/BibleStudies/pastorburnout.htm

We have seen a transformation in apparel of leaders in churches. Traditionally a Pastor would be distinguished by wearing a robe with a suit, but now we have seen an unique contrast of modernized clothing. Even for an authoritarian figure, the accustomed manner of dress has evolved into comfortable revived attire. It is interesting to see this progression of dress in a religious setting.

http://blackchristiannews.com/news/2009/03/the-tragic-scandal-of-todd-bentley-and-greasy-grace-by-j-lee-grady.html

Todd Bentley was a renowned Canadian Pastor of Lakeland Revival. He was initially known for his controversial ministry that attracted over 10,000 members. His modern approach to religion caused him to be approachable and relatable to non-believers. He incorporate rock music and colorful light shows which was unfamiliar and refreshing to believers, and non-believers. Although the controversy that surrounded Todd Bentley caused him to be well-judged, and known by other ministries and Pastors. Many reported incidents of violence from Todd Bentley, which caused him to kick, smack, and knock over visitors of his church. He responded to these allegations by saying, “the Holy Spirit led him to such actions, incidents were taken out of context and adding that miracles were happening simultaneously.” Todd Bentley also claimed to be a healer, with healing powers, which increased his popularity. However, a scandal of infidelity, divorce, and remarriage forced Todd Bentley to leave his ministry. He was accused, and later admitted to having an affair with his ministry intern, Jessa Hasbrook. He soon divorced his wife, and remarried to Jessa Hasbrook. This story makes me question about the modernity of religion; does it work? I believe that if it is addressed and handled within the guidelines of morality, the chances of effectiveness is high.

Description: K-town is also known as Koreatown; it is located in between Downtown and Hollywood. The majority of Koreans seem to maintain their residence in this area. Due to the tremendous amount of Koreans occupying this region, an invisible foundation of competition has formed. This invisible competition has caused many to turn against one another, which in result has activated the appearance of different gangs. The image of a “K-towner” is portrayed as being tough, and better than the rest. The make-up is intense; high arched eye-brows drawn, heavy eye-liner, and lip-liner. The apparel is fitted with tight fitted jeans, with an over-sized sweater, along with men athletic shoes. The overall concept of a “K-towner” is a Korean gangster.

Why: I have always been fascinated by the “K-town” imagine. I didn’t understand it, nor did I follow any of these trends. As I have briefly mentioned before, I was brought up in a non-Korean environment, so being exposed to this culture was shocking. I wanted this image to be my alter-ego because I have seen a progression toward a more chic look in Koreatown. Although a few continue to adopt this “K-town” image many have turned away from it, and began to dress in a more appropriate manner. I wanted to see how people would react to the re-birth of this style.

Different: This look would be the complete opposite of who I am. I am a very shy and simple person. I do not like a lot of attention, nor would I look for it. This appearance would attract major attention and notice. This image is also very character revealing, the overall appearance (dress) gives the impression that you are someone not to be messed up. I personally feel like I do not dress, or represent myself like this in any sort of way.

Execution: I would divide this into two days. I would portray this image in K-town for 6 hours, and I would also portray this image in a non-Korean environment for 6 hours. I would use pictures and videos to display my adventure. I would also like to interview people who have transitioned from having a K-town image to having a more trendy look, and why they had transformed their look.