We love BTS' Jungkook the way he is; no need to make him thinner

Sunday, May 23, 2021 Stef dela Cruz, MD 0 Comments

After an exhilarating day of trying to stream the music video of Butter on YouTube and play the song on Spotify, I woke up to good news: BTS has broken its own record as the top spot holder for YouTube's All-Time Top 24-Hour Music Debuts, with Butter amassing more than 108 million views on YouTube. (Dynamite, also a BTS song, used to hold that record at a little over 100 million views.)

Jungkook water fast

Expecting my feed to be filled with good news about BTS' comeback song, I felt blindsided when someone in one of our Facebook groups shared an article by a Korean entertainment website. It explained how Jungkook, the band's youngest member, survived on water for five days right before the group shot their music video.

“Talk about commitment,” the article said.

Living in a thin-obsessed world

Perhaps I shouldn't have been as shocked as I was that the article lauded the extreme diet as “professionalism.” Diet culture is everywhere: It's in the fitness and entertainment industries – hey, it's even in the health industry – and sadly, many people still believe to this day that they would look so much better if they lived in smaller bodies.

I was triggered by the way the article painted his extreme diet as “commitment.” It was a painful way for a talented young man to try to meet beauty standards, and diet culture is to blame. It's not a question of whether or not it can be done safely; it's a question of why it has to be done at all.

I remember one of the group's other members, Jimin, having gone through a similar phase. He went on a one-meal diet that made him feel faint during practice. The other members were worried about him at the time, as they should have been.

As a vegan who has been posting about body neutrality for a few months now, I was reminded about how much work needed to be done.

Jungkook is golden the way he is

While other sources say it was a mistranslation of what he said -- that he simply stopped drinking soda and other beverages for five days -- it is still disturbing that a website would frame his alleged water fast as a feat of professionalism.

Dieting hurts more than it helps. The way the article romanticized Jungkook's five-day water diet broke my heart. It also made me a little angry at the world for perpetuating the idea that thinner is better.

The group's maknae is called golden for a good reason. He doesn't need to look a certain way for ARMYs like me to keep supporting him.

Dear ARMYs, let us show Jungkook and the boys that they don't need to be thinner for us to love them. Having bigger cheeks is okay. Having extra fat pads around the trunk is okay. Jungkook and the rest of BTS are golden, and we love them the way they are.

BTS Butter YouTube record

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If you're struggling with body image issues, disordered eating, or eating disorders, know that you are not alone. Many health professionals and other people who have struggled with these same issues in the past are more than happy to help. For more information on why dieting defeats the purpose of better health and why weight loss as a health goal has a socio-moral context we need to talk about (it's a social justice issue), feel free to look into body neutrality and the Health At Every Size movement.

Stef dela CruzAbout the blogger
Stef dela Cruz is a vegan doctor and writer. She received the 2013 Award for Health Media from the Department of Health. She is the editor of The Manila Bulletin's Animal Scene Magazine. Get in touch if you want to invite her as a speaker!