WHITE: A Video by SuHyun Choi

am Korean by blood and have been raised in Korea and the Philippines throughout my childhood (from birth until I was 13). I was talking to some of my friends about internalized racism, and so I decided to make this video in terms of my personal experiences. Growing up, I consumed visual media through television and Youtube and other means to understand notions of beauty. Beauty has been taught to me in association to economic gain: the well-packaged (com)modified body. In Korea, cosmetic surgery is a fairly reputable industry, known to be one of the best in the world. I do not want to push my morals about ways in which people modify their bodies, but to step back and look at Korean history, and note the exchanging notions of beauty through Korea’s relationship to U.S. and Japanese colonialism. I want to show what kind of representations we are provided through these dialogues, who has access to defining what is the correct eyelid, and what processes we endure to assimilate our bodies. The sacrifices we perform on our bodies to make living easier, acceptable, in the gaze of everyday fascism and classism. To understand the compromises we have to make in order for us to endure the stigma, the shame; to reject it, to annihilate it, but to see it unfurl in our everyday interactions, how we see ourselves, how we see others, is where the true pain, loneliness, and alienation arise. From fetishizing how we imagine others to be, we are preserving a dialogue of commodifying narratives, extracting the aesthetics but divorcing it from the struggle and pain that comes from specified forms of oppression. “Whiting” myself out has been a practice I have understood as a child to ease myself into the social practices that permeate my being, my relationships with people, and how I see myself. Hidden under a guise of hyperfeminine aesthetics as subtle, subdued; from understanding its origins, I can understand the hegemonic structure it creates and the damage it has done to replicate an internalized violence.

WHITE from Sonia Choi on Vimeo.

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