Child Influencers Stoke Cult of Materialism

  • By Kim Eun-gyeong

    March 18, 2023 08:11

    Children as young as 10 are setting themselves up as social media influencers stoking the Korean cult of beauty and luxury labels.
    Little wannabe Kardashians post videos buying and rating luxury products costing an arm and a leg or preteens coaching others how to apply makeup. Some attract up to 800,000 views.
    One 24-year-old elementary school teacher in Busan said, "YouTube and TikTok videos have tremendous influence on elementary schoolkids. Some children copy influencers who use special-effects filters and end up putting on too much makeup."
    The fixation on physical appearance is increasingly spreading to younger kids. According to a 2020 study by the Korean Women's Development Institute, 54.7 percent of teenagers said they started wearing makeup in elementary school. Some 1.8 percent of elementary school students had plastic surgery, while 15.3 percent said they wished to go under the knife.
    The institute said the fads spread among teenagers through social media and trickle down to elementary schoolkids.
    A similar trend is pushing sales of luxury labels. According to a report published in January by global consulting company Bain & Company, the average age Gen Z person bought their first luxury fashion product at 15, three to five years sooner than millennials.
    Lim Myung-ho at Dankook University said, "Teens who are prone to copy their peers end up believing the social media hype that buying luxury products and wearing makeup is normal. They are persuaded that the bling they see is everything and end up with feelings of inferiority and dissatisfaction."
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