Do K-Pop Stars Suffer From Eating Disorders?

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In this blog, we will discuss K-pop stars and eating disorders, and also cover all about K-pop, what are eating disorders, K-pop stars who have eating disorders, treatment of these disorders, and also answer frequently asked questions.

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Do K-Pop Stars Suffer From Eating Disorders?

Yes, K-Pop stars like Seo, IU, JinE, Sojung, Jang Na Ra have all opened up about their struggles with eating disorders.

After all, they are also humans and they are not immune to mental health issues like eating disorders which can affect anyone at any point in their lives.

We will discuss the above-mentioned K-Pop stars and their eating disorders in the later part of the blog.

K-Pop and Their Fan following

Around the world, K-pop stars are adored and even worshipped. The “Army” of BTS fans is a very large group of people and numbers in the millions.

BTS fans once overwhelmed a Korean restaurant with one-star Yelp reviews when the owner stated another band was superior.

Other die-hard K-pop fans come together to buy gifts for their stars, including billboard ads in Times Square, in a tradition inspired by the Korean tradition of giving tribute and gestures like these to honor their favorite K-Pop stars.

Fans often idolize famous personalities and celebrities like K-Pop stars and think that these people are perfect and they lead perfect lives which are too far from reality.

Many members of the K-Pop culture have confessed to suffering from eating disorders but before we come all about k-pop stars having eating disorders, we should understand eating disorders a little better.

What are Eating disorders?

Eating disorders are mental illnesses marked by significant and persistent changes in eating habits, as well as disturbing thoughts and emotions. They can be life-threatening illnesses that disrupt physical, psychological, and social functioning. 

Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, avoidant restrictive food intake disorder, other specified feeding and eating disorder, pica, and rumination disorder are examples of eating disorders.

Statistics about eating disorders

Eating disorders impact up to 5% of the population and are most prevalent throughout adolescence and young adulthood. Several, particularly anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, are more prevalent in women, but they can afflict anyone at any age. 

Eating disorders are frequently linked to food, weight, or shape obsessions, as well as anxiety over consuming or the repercussions of eating certain foods. 

Restrictive eating or avoidance of particular foods, binge eating, purging by vomiting or laxative overuse, and compulsive exercise are all behaviours connected with eating disorders. These behaviours can become triggered in ways that resemble addiction or obsession.

In Asia, it is estimated that 10% of young individuals suffer from an eating disorder. Both boys and girls are experiencing an increase in this number. Since the mid-late 1990s, the number of people diagnosed with eating disorders in Asia has increased dramatically. 

Young people across the world between the ages of 15-34 are the most likely to be diagnosed with eating disorders. In the last ten years, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of young people seeking therapy for eating disorders and body image issues. 

Toxic culture of K-Pop

K-Pop, or Korean popular music, is gaining popularity around the world. K-Pop not only has a distinct sound, but it is also accompanied by compelling visuals such as choreographed dance routines, colourful clothing, and brilliant music videos. 

K-pop’s fans connect online and in-person to tell stories about their favourite “idols,” or K-pop stars. Many followers try to imitate their idols’ physical looks, including attire, hairstyles, and body forms. This is concerning, because, for all of its brilliance and originality, K-Pop has been criticised in South Korea for promoting increasingly stringent beauty standards.

Conventional beauty standards

Male and female idols are expected to be conventionally attractive and thin, with females’ body sizes and shapes being scrutinised in particular. They face heavy criticism from management agencies and the public if they exceed culturally desirable proportions, with some contending that being thin is simply a requirement of the profession. 

Media and interviews about their fitness

K-Pop stars are frequently questioned by the media about their food and fitness habits, which are known to entail hard choreography training, stringent gym routines, and strict diets.

Some idols even go into great detail about their dangerously inadequate diets, including strict regulations about when and what to consume. Young followers have been motivated to try these diets and share their experiences and results on Tik Tok and YouTube as a result of this trend. 

K-Pop often encourages social comparison and run the risk of normalising and even promoting disordered eating. The challenges these young K-Pop stars face in terms of looks and performance have resulted in a variety of mental health issues, ranging from eating disorders to suicide. 

Effect of K-Pop on young fans

Setting exaggerated beauty and perfection standards can have repercussions not only in South Korea but also for K-Pop fans all across the world. Young fans who compare their appearance in the mirror to their celebrities’ carefully manicured and dangerously slim bodies may develop harmful restrictions and exercise habits.

These habits to maintain a perfect figure, stay slim, maintain a specific structure of the body, etc., can be the start of a downward spiral into an eating disorder, low self-esteem, anxiety depression, and other mental health- issues.

Gruelling gym routines and restrictive diets of K-Pop Stars

“Gym, studio, bedroom — that’s my life circle,” said Ho Ryeong, one of the band members of Great Guys, an up-and-coming Korean boyband.

“Honestly, we don’t have much time for eating,” he said. “Nor are we free to eat what we want.”

Another member, Jae I, added his two cents: “That is the most difficult aspect. It isn’t simple to stick to a diet, but it isn’t impossible either.”

It’s a tribute to the demands of keeping up with the K-pop industry’s stringent aesthetic standards: stars must appear and remain gorgeous, young, and in good physical shape. This frequently leads to strict diets and workout routines.

Paper cup diet

The “Paper Cup Diet,” as it’s known in K-pop, entails the daily consumption of nine paper cups (the size of those found by water coolers) worth of whole grains, fruits, and veggies. This diet is also discussed frequently on pro-anorexia message boards. K-Pop memebers have also told how they at times had to sneak food into the bathroom to eat it.

Their gym routies are tiresome. They are made to dance with 4 kg (8.8 lbs) of sandbags on our feet for several days. Their trainer wants them to get used to the sandbags, so without the bags on stage, the dances would look lighter in the performance.

It’s worth noting that such beauty standards have an impact on other businesses in South Korea. The flight attendants in the country frequently have cosmetic surgery in order to be attractive and slim to boost their chances of landing a job. Last year, a news anchor made headlines when she refused to use contact lenses or fake lashes and instead chose to present with her glasses on.

K-Pop Stars who have confessed to suffering from Eating Disorders

  • Seo In Guk

Seo In Guk talked about his battle with bulimia nervosa in an episode of News and Issues-Issue and People. 

He talked about in an audition, he was asked to shed a few pounds and his struggles with weight started then as he got so preoccupied with weight loss that he would vomit after eating to keep his weight in check. 

After losing weight, he auditioned again but got rejected due to damage in his vocal chords that was caused by all the vomiting. 

That rejection made him want to change what he was doing every day and he worked through his issues and gained confidence after he won the Superstar K show. 

  •  IU

It may seem strange that Korea’s sweetheart would have an eating disorder, but she has been quite open about her battle with bulimia. On an episode of Healing Camp, IU began talking about her experience. 

She claimed that she felt a lot of pressure to succeed after her debut. When she began to eat food to make herself feel better, she began to spiral into bulimia. 

As a result, she would become worried and continue to eat until she passed out. She sought counseling, psychotherapy and eventually healed, and she continues to speak up about her journey.

  • JinE

JinE received a lot of remarks calling her overweight when Oh My Girl made their debut. JinE went too far while the other females dieted for promotions. Her health began to deteriorate, and she was admitted to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa.

WM Entertainment issued a statement shortly after she was diagnosed, announcing her break to pursue treatment. She opted to end her contract a year later so that she may continue to work on her problem.

She has been candid about her ordeal and continues to upload images of herself eating to let her fans know she is improving.

  • Sojung

Sojung is popular for her work in Ladies’ Code and she talked about her eating disorder on an episode of JTBC’s spirit girl. 

She talked about her battle with anorexia nervous and losing around 20 pounds before her debut and losing more weight after it. She opened up about how she was at a very unhealthy weight and her face looked skeletal and she felt her body could break due to her weakness and malnourishment. 

She has been on her healing journey and eats healthy now, exercises regularly, and takes care of her body. 

  • Jang Na Ra

Jang Na Ra may appear to be a cheery girl, yet she has struggled with various anxiety-related disorders and bulimia. She first discussed the problem on a Healing Camp episode.

She originally developed bulimia as a result of the tremendous pressure she was under and due to that feeling of being under pressure, she developed extreme anxiety. She later stated that after speaking with her parents and receiving counselling, she began to regain her mental health.

Conclusion

We covered all about K-pop, its toxic culture, unrealistic standards of beauty, K-pop stars who have struggled with eating disorders, and we also covered what are eating disorders. It is sad to see how our society pressures young people into being a certain way to be appealing to others and how it can risk someone developing an eating disorder. 

Frequently asked questions (FAQs): Do K-Pop Stars Suffer From Eating Disorders?

Do Kpop stars have eating disorders?

Yes, a lot of K-Pop stars have talked about struggling with eating disorders that is often a result of the pressure on them to look a certain way and this deeply impacts their mental health.

Does Blackpink have an eating disorder?

No, Blackpink does not have an eating disorder because they has not revealed anything about it openly and it is wrong to assume she has an eating disorder just because she seems to be very thin and even underweight sometimes because that is how most of the K-Pop stars also appear. 

Why are Kpop idols malnourished?

Kpop idols are often put on very strict diets, extensively active lifestyles and exercises to maintain their slim bodies and performing well in the shows and movies with lots of dance trainings, practices, weightlifting, etc.

Did IU have eating disorder?

Yes, IU had an eating disorder and she opened up about her journey with bulimia. She suffered with bulimia after her debut due to all the pressure she felt that led her to eat uncontrollably and then vomit it out. 

Why do K-pop idols eat so little?

Nutritionists have prescribed elaborate diets for the majority of Korean pop artists. They follow a strict diet and have very active lifestyles in order to maintain a slender body and petite features.

What’s the most serious eating disorder?

Anorexia nervosa (anorexia) is known to be the most dangerous of all eating disorder as it makes a person very weak and malnourished and can even lead to death if left untreated. 

References

https://www.billboard.com/music/music-news/kpop-body-image-diets-eating-disorders-essay-8030059/
https://www.scmp.com/magazines/style/well-being/article/3116079/k-pop-star-ius-battle-anxiety-and-eating-disorders-and
https://www.insider.com/kpop-dark-side-gym-diet-dating-great-guys-crayon-pop-2019-10
https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/eating-disorders/what-are-eating-disorders

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