[K-drama therapy] Always wear your bangle » Dramabeans Korean drama recaps

[K-drama therapy] Always wear your bangle

By Night Owl

“Why should I dress up?” I am a lazy dresser at heart. I spent most of my teenage years living in jeans and t-shirts. When I became a working adult, dressing up to the office was simply a tool in my mind to compete; much like the uniforms we wore for school, a necessary evil.

However, when it came to my social and personal time, I wanted to just lounge and dress lazy. This was in direct conflict with the style sensibilities of my family members, and they could not understand me. For me, clothes were meant to serve as a protection against the weather and other elements. It was utilitarian as far as I was concerned. So, then why was a woman expected to fuss around with makeup and fashion? Was it not some imposition by society and culture? Was it not some grand conspiracy by the market to boost capitalism and drive greed? Wasn’t it all just frivolous and shouldn’t we focus our energy on more important matters?

Looking back, many of the fights played out like in those comedy movies where the parents are both confounded and flabbergasted by these questions and say, “What on earth is she saying???” It makes me laugh now but at the time, it was irritating for all of us. I would reluctantly dress up when I accompanied my parents and my attitude frustrated them. It took a K-drama moment to get me to understand my family.

At first glance, Temptation of Wife (from 2008) is the definition of silly nonsensical plot. A woman plots revenge on her ex-husband by pretending to be someone else. All she does is get a haircut and a mole. Somehow, people buy the lie that she is someone else. Her ex-husband, who had tried to murder her, even trips over and falls in love with this “new” woman. It is hysterical to watch and made me laugh out loud.

The scene in the drama that stood out to me was when Eun-jae tries to get a job at a leading salon. This is part of her journey to create a new identity as a makeup artist and get revenge on her ex-husband and ex-best friend who are now a couple.

During the interview, Lady Min, the owner of the salon asks, “What does makeup mean to you?” Eun-jae answers that makeup is armor and it hides the inner wounds. She is then asked to demonstrate the concept and her personal style with her own face as canvas.

Lady Min and her team are not impressed with the results of Eun-jae’s work and it is deemed as not up to the mark of their salon. But just when it looks like Eun-jae is failing the interview, she does something very interesting. She lifts her skirt and starts applying makeup remover on her leg.

The interview team is aghast to discover behind the makeup lies a burn scar. Eun-jae then explains how makeup gives her the psychological tool and courage to walk around in society and not be defined by her burns. Lady Min, impressed by her answer, gives her the job.

Eun-jae’s demonstration of how makeup is armor made me really think about how people approach style and clothes. It gave me context to the various styling tips I have received from family. My grandmother used to gently tell me, “Child, always wear bangles when you step out of the house. Never step out with bare hand; it is not good.” When I was younger, that advice seemed like outdated and antiquated thinking. However, put in the context of armor, her advice took on very different meaning.

Gold jewelry, especially bangles, was the first thing pawned when a family was in financial distress. It was something my grandparents had to do many times when finances were tight. Even today, it is common in my place; Many families pawned or even sold their jewelry as jobs were lost during the global pandemic. Bare hands are a very visible sign that the family is in a period of mourning or going through tough times. It can be an invitation for others to take the opportunity to mock or deride you as they can tell at a glance how your family is doing financially. Dressing up with bangles, albeit in different material such as plastic, glass or silver or other metal, was a visible sign of resilience as well as style.

This K-drama scene was in many ways a pivotal point in my journey to find a style that suited me. It helped me to better understand where my family was coming from and the choices they made when it came to clothes and dressing up. A potentially embarrassing and awkward social situation like a wedding that no one wants to attend but has to? Even more attention was paid to the outfit and jewelry. It was all about finding the confidence to face tiring social situations.

With the idea of ​​armor deeply reverberating in my heart, my style journey became more fun. I experimented with colors, cuts, fabrics, designs and willing took on advice from friends and family. Rather than cumbersome, shopping for clothes and fabrics became entertaining. I was happy to see what would work for me and make me comfortable as well as be stylish. It was also easier to explain why I liked something better than others when I could understand where others were coming from. The idea of ​​armor helped me to better understand how clothes can be reflective of lives and people’s journeys.

While I still have lounge clothes for those lazy days, my style can mostly be described as smart casual and minimal fuss makeup. And yes, I do remember to wear a bracelet or a bangle when I step out of the house. A woman needs all the armor she has to face the world!


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