As the saying goes “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder”. Just because some people don’t see the beauty in some things doesn’t mean that’s the same way for everyone. Everyone is insecure about one or more things within their own appearance. There are a few people who get bullied on a daily basis because they don’t fall within the standards of beauty. I, myself, have gone through bullying because of the way I look. As I was reading the manga on this list, I couldn’t help but feel a bit triggered; however, the more you read these kinds of manga/ Webtoons, you’ll see that beauty slowly starts to become a sub-topic rather than the main topic—which they have you think it is in the beginning. However, one thing that does stand out is how the character comes to accept and love themself as they are—no matter how weird or how low some people look at them. TRIGGER WARNING: These webtoons/manga do cover topics such as bullying, violence, and sexual harassment.
The title itself lives by the definition of the word which is “the construction of a standard for beauty and attractiveness, and judgments made about people on the basis of how well or poorly they meet the standard” (from: Oxford Languages). This is certainly not a surprise for those who know me. I am a huge fan of Lookism. I have been reading it since it was released on Webtoons. The story starts off with a middle/high school student named Daniel Park being bullied for being seen as a weak, fat, nerdy boy—to the point where he was ridiculed on a daily basis. He was often seen as inferior because of the way that he looks. One day, he woke in another body while his original body was still asleep beside him. He uses both bodies to live a double life; however, there are times where he accidentally uses one body instead of the other (like say for a day in school). Despite some people making fun of how he looks, he soon finds that there are people who accept him the way he is; they even find him quite attractive. What changes in this story is how it started off as a Webtoon that had appearances as the main topic, and it changes to one about different gangs, the illegal events that happen in certain industries (music and live streaming), and many other graphic and sensitive topics—which can be triggering to certain audiences. With that being said, please know that reader discretion is advised. Quick note: as I was looking up images for this post, I found out that there is a Chinese drama based on the webtoon.
If you read Webtoons on a regular basis, there is a chance that you may have seen this on your recommended (that or on YouTube in certain ads for the app itself). This is another school-life/slice of life webtoon that’s from Korea (like Lookism). It’s about a young high school—later college—student who wears make up on a daily basis since she looks “unsightly” for most people—her family included (in the beginning of the webtoon). This is mostly a romantic comedy with there being drama between the protagonist and two main male characters. The protagonist still feels rather insecure with her looks so I really do hope that she will learn to love herself overall and be with someone who makes her feel comfortable and fully loved.
3- The Wall Flower -OR- Perfect Girl Evolution
With a topic such as this, I had to add in the Wall Flower. This is my favorite for different reasons—one of them being how much I used to identify with the main character—Sunako Nakahara. After getting rejected by her crush and being called ugly, Sunako used horror as a coping mechanism. This ultimately displeased her aunt which caused her to ask four teenage boys to try turning her into a “lady”. At first, the main focus of the manga, anime, and live action drama (please don’t watch the drama though…it’s rather cringey) is just that—try to turn Sunako into what society views as “being a lady”; however, it is later shown that all that Sunako needed to do in order to be a lady was to just be herself. Then the manga covers the stories of the other characters and tries to give fan service with the “romance” between Sunako and Kyohei. I recommend it if you want to have a few laughs, but again, this manga also covers quite triggering topics as well as being quite controversial since a lot of it talks about how a “lady” should look, act, and live.
4- The Cursed Princess Club
What is a “princess”? How should a princess look like or how should they act? The Cursed Princess Club is about Princess Gwendolyn living in the castle with her two sisters, brother, and father. At one point, the father tells them that they’re going to be in arranged marriages with 3 princes who are also brothers. While she was preparing food for her brother, Gwendolyn overhears her betrothed talking about her behind her back and even calling her ugly. After running into the forest crying, Gwen finds herself in a strange house filled with princesses (and one prince) who were cursed. The Cursed Princess Club. Now, despite this being fantastical, this covers a lot of real-world struggles—especially when it comes to not looking like a part of what is considered “beautiful” as well as prejudices. At one point, the author even includes incels in a really interesting way. The webtoon is really interesting, however, it is also really triggering. I found myself crying a lot in the beginning because it really hit home for me.
5 – Kiss Him Not Me
Another one which I definitely had to include. Kiss Him Not Me is a classic in my book. It’s about how a fujoshi—one many people either just ignored or made fun of because of how she looked—became so shocked with the death of her favorite character, she actually locked herself in her room, not eating for days—which caused her to lose weight and have her appearance change drastically. After her drastic transformation, she got the attention of guys who never really paid much mind to her (well except her close friend). I do relate to her as a fujoshi, and while the manga and anime were great, it also kind of upsets me a bit because of how fatphobic this is to some degree—especially with how worrying her weight loss is.
With that being said, I hope you enjoyed reading this. What did you think of this list? Is there something you would like to add or something that you disagreed with? Anyway, that’s it for today. Until next time, keep your paws and bowls of ramen up, everyone! Nya! 🐾