ITZY‘s Lia recently received criticism over alleged colorist comments toward fellow member Chaeryeong.
Recently, ITZY appeared on the July 19th episode of Kim Shin Young’s Noon Song of Hope.
ITZY at Kim Shinyoung Noon Song of Hope FM !! pic.twitter.com/wznKaqHkAw
— timi ≷ (@itztimi_) July 19, 2022
There, Chaeryeong revealed that she had considered getting a tan after Ryujin mentioned that she always stands out in thumbnails due to her paleness compared to the other members. Chaeryeong had actually wanted to tan since pre-debut.
Chaeryeong: Actually, I considered getting a tan.
Kim Shin Young: Really?
Yet, Chaeryeong revealed that Lia had discouraged it. And her explanation for why was a bit awkward.
Yeah, but Lia was like, ‘If you do, you’re going to be neither fair nor sexy. You’ll be kind of awkward, in the middle somewhere.’ (Laughs) That’s what she told me to my face!
Lia attempted to explain her reasoning better. Instead, she tried to imply that she believes Chaeryeong is already very pretty.
Lia: I said that because she’s really prett– I meant that Chaeryeong is very fair-skinned, and it really maximizes the unique aura that she has as a person.
Chaeryeong: She told me that, too.
Kim Shin Young: Good that she explained that, too.
Chaeryeong: Yeah, so I appreciated that. Now [that I think about it], I’m grateful about it.
Still, netizens found Lia’s words to be problematic and allegedly colorist. “…neither fair nor sexy. You’ll be kind of awkward, in the middle somewhere” can be interpreted negatively. Some may believe that she is saying that fair and tanned are both attractive, respectively, but in-between complexions are less attractive.
For context, in Korea, tanned skin is often associated with sexiness. Idols such as MAMAMOO‘s Hwasa, Lee Hyori, Girls‘ Generation‘s Yuri, and Jessi are just a few examples.
Another interpretation could just be that naturally fair or pale people struggle to tan, which may result in an uneven or “awkward” tan.
Chaer: i thought about tanning before, lia unnie told me "if you really did, you might not look pale or either sexy, (since chaer mentioned before she is really hard to get tan,natural pale skin) you'll just be ambiguously in the middle"
Lia: chaer has her own atmosphere which(1) pic.twitter.com/BWtfupDxkG
— 베어²¹² (@COZYxBEAR) July 19, 2022
or we could admit that many idols are colourist. theres a reason they whitewash themselves in photos and are terrified of a tan. lets not flip the script, what she said was out of order. https://t.co/HyZ2CYyWsB
— laur (@cypherosie) July 19, 2022
So, basically, for Chaeryeong, there may be no point in an attempt of tanning, as she wouldn’t be either fair-skinned or tan-skinned.
And Lia’s additional statement on the radio show, “I said that because she’s really prett–” may imply that “fair-skinned” and “pretty” are synonymous. Yet, Lia had stopped herself before finishing this statement to clarify. Lia’s clarification may have been worded poorly. So, we can also see that she meant to say that Chaeryeong is already beautiful naturally and doesn’t need to change anything about herself.
Still, idols are also consistently whitewashed by media and some of their fansites. Let alone even social media apps automatically lighten one’s complexion.
KMEDIA NEEDS TO STOP WHITEWASHING IDOLS 😭 pic.twitter.com/IIOE4kQ4nW
— nicole ❄️ STREAM #GIRLS (@mywinterland) June 28, 2021
STOP WHITEWASHING IDOLS OMFG! ITS FINE TO BE TAN! I KNOW THAT SOME KOREANS LIKE THEIR IDOLS TO BE WHITE BUT WE NEED TO ACCEPT THAT THEY ARE NOT PERFECT.LOOK AT JISUNG! F*CK U JYP. pic.twitter.com/M3hKSX13wT
— Kiely💀 NEED SKZ ( ꈍᴗꈍ) (@Kielymrnd) November 19, 2020
*me stealing the girls' phones to delete the snow app* 👀 pic.twitter.com/KNJM5ygscG
— val⁺ NEW JEANS (@newjynz) April 29, 2021
No matter what, any form of colorism is not okay, and the only way there will be progress towards the issue is through education. So, recently, MIDZY (ITZY fans) spoke to Lia via a video fanmeeting.
Lia revealed that she was unaware of the controversy surrounding her comments but was concerned when it was brought to her attention. She clarified that she had not intended for the comments to be colorist. Still, she apologized sincerely, realizing it may have negatively impacted others.
First of all, I’m not really sure about this issue at the moment, but if that’s what people understood, I’m so sorry for that, and that was my mistake. That was definitely not my intention. So, I don’t want any more people to get hurt.
Additionally, she implied that she would self-reflect and educate herself while also thanking the MIDZY for informing her regarding the issue.
And I think that’s something I need to do… take more time and kind of maybe have a chance to speak out again. Thank you for letting me know.
This isn’t the first time an idol received criticism for allegedly colorist comments about a fellow group member.
Earlier this year, BoA and aespa‘s Karina were under fire for allegedly making colorist comments toward Girls’ Generation’s Hyoyeon.
GOT members BoA and Karina underfire for colorist comment made in the group’s recent YouTube video. pic.twitter.com/QlxyRuudSx
— GLOBAL면 (@globalmyeon) February 12, 2022
Likewise, despite being confident in his appearance, NCT‘s Haechan has been the subject of allegedly colorist comments even from his own members.
Excuse me…? pic.twitter.com/0Tes0dlIdC
— ʕ •ᴥ•ʔ (@HCbodyguard) June 8, 2022
Watch Lia’s full apology below:
ITZY 220720 Soundwave Video Call
Lia from ITZY addresses the comments about Charyeong's skin color and apologizes:
"If that's what people understood I'm so sorry for that, it was my mistake, that was definitely not my intention." pic.twitter.com/5zWKxONCaA
— n ♡ (@cutiesjisu) July 22, 2022