A young woman who was living in South Korea while working as a teacher got so overwhelmed by the country's beauty standards that she quit her job and moved back to America.
Ashley Perez, who is Cuban, Filipino and Korean-American, said she was ridiculed for being "very big" and having "too dark" skin tone and "plain features."
"I quickly learned that despite sharing the genetic traits of many Koreans (round face, high cheekbones), I would not be accepted as a true fellow Korean," she said.
"In a culture where so many people strive to look the same way, any slight difference in appearance rapidly singles you out."
"In my case, I was too tall, too fat, and too dark - traits that are not typically considered beautiful by Korean standards. In many ways, being partially Korean actually made my experience more difficult than that of my foreign white friends. Whereas Koreans admired their white skin, small faces, and upturned noses, I remained a vaguely Korean-looking girl who didn't quite stack up."
The country has been in the news lately for the pressure put on its citizens to look a certain way.
It was recently revealed that many South Koreans have undergone double eyelid surgery to look more Caucasian. They have also made popular a dangerous double jaw surgery to make women's faces more "delicate."
Twenty percent of women between the ages of 19 and 49 in Seoul have admitted to going under the knife.
The most common surgical procedure, according to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, is the double eyelid surgery. Next up is lipoplasty and nose jobs.
"I think South Korea has a very rigorous and narrow definition of beauty because we're an ethnically homogenous society and everyone looks pretty much the same," said Joo Kwon, founder of JK Plastic Surgery Center.
Before Perez decided to leave the country, she attempted to tell her students not to worry about their appearance, but that only confused them more.
"When I told my students they were all beautiful on the inside, I was met with nothing but blank stares. Eventually, I realized they couldn't understand what I was saying, they had no idea what 'inner beauty' even meant," Perez said.