Despite Feminism being an almost taboo topic in South Korea, MAMAMOO as artists and individuals never shy away from showing their support for women’s empowerment.
Celebrities who are contemporaries of the girl group have often received immense backlash from Korean netizens for engaging in any sort of feminist discussion whatsoever. Red Velvet‘s Irene, Apink‘s Naeun, and soloist & actress Bae Suzy are only some of the many public figures who had to endure malicious attacks for this reason.
58.6 percent of Korean men in their 20s said they strongly opposed feminism, with 25.9 percent marking the intensity of their opposition as 12 on a scale of 0 to 12.
—Men in 20s, a book by journalist Cheon Gwan-yul and data scientist Jeong Han-wool
So, it is understandable why most celebrities, especially female celebs in Korea choose to not be very open about their views on these issues.
MAMAMOO however seems to truly not care for the negativity. The group never shies away from discussing difficult topics or facing questions related to women’s issues.
Since all four of them live according to their beliefs very openly and freely, almost every MAMAMOO moment can be on the list of their best feminist moments. But here are the top 10 instances where they were especially empowering:
1. When they were not afraid to be seen with body hair on camera
Wheein proudly embracing her body hair is so empowering and beautiful pic.twitter.com/m3QHX5NSdC
— Naya (@queens_mmm) November 8, 2020
Wheein has often posted pictures that clearly show her arm hair. This is a rarity for not only a K-Pop idol but for any female celebrity in any part of the world. Solar, too, has openly showed her body hair on camera for a video on her own YouTube channel!
2. The time Solar raised awareness about the female genitalia mutilation issue
On February 6, 2020, Solar uploaded a very well-researched video on her YouTube channel to raise awareness about the harmful practices of female genital mutilation (FGM). The UN recognizes February 6 as the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM. FGM is most prevalent in African, Southeast Asian, and West Asian countries. But the way Solar used her platform to talk about this issue only proves further how sincerely she supports and cares for gender justice everywhere.
3. When Hwasa did not care about the critics and dressed however the F she wanted
remember when hwasa showed up braless at the airport on july 9th which happened to be no bra day. pic.twitter.com/Xd9rqKYonF
— jack in the box 🃏 (@xbtsissevenx) July 18, 2021
Hwasa has always been picked on for not being skinny enough, pretty enough, and for dressing the way she wants. But she has never compromised her identity in fear. Not only did she turn up at the airport with no bra or unbuttoned jeans, she even addressed her fashion choice in the songs “I’m A B” (“I just want to breathe, so I go no-bra“) and “HIP” (“Stained shirt Panty sticking out/Greasy hair If I do it, it’s hip“).
4. The times Moonbyul decided to disregard gender norms
For her second solo comeback, Moonbyul chose to portray a more masculine concept, from the lyrics down to the makeup, looks, and even choreography.
This is, however, not her first time challenging gender constructs. During photoshoots or concerts, she often wears hanboks (traditional Korean attire) that were historically reserved for men!
But Moonbyul does not really stick to the stereotype of tomboy women. She acknowledges her femininity as much as her masculinity, a feat that takes a refreshing maturity of mind!
MAMAMOO Moonbyul wearing traditional male clothings pic.twitter.com/KtuMmw8BSI
— ❖Cruzabeth Yong (@mmm4plus) September 12, 2020
5. When Hwasa described their group’s concept as “woman” during their K-Con interview with MTV
In this same interview, Solar touched upon the topic again, explaining “But our lyrics, there have been a lot of women who tell us that our lyrics have become a source of strength for them. So I hope that those women can become strong and confident women like our lyrics“.
6. The times they created songs to celebrate every kind of woman
In the music video of “HIP” the group celebrated womanhood in its different forms with the four members portraying different female characters with distinct personalities. On the other hand, “Yes I Am” talks about self-acceptance and love, no matter what your personal preferences are.
remember when @RBW_MAMAMOO wrote 'yes i am' promoting self-love and confidence in 2017? it was based on their own personalities, styles and physical features. bonus is hearing the fans singing along to these empowering lyricspic.twitter.com/jEzJWinlFh
— ᗪ.🌻 (@itsmoonbyule) September 8, 2020
What most well-meaning empowerment discussions get wrong, but MAMAMOO seems to get right, is the fact that there is no one correct way to be an empowered woman. As long as you are making your own choices and enjoying life on your own terms, you are the definition of a strong woman!
7. When they frequently featured drag queens and genderfluid artists in their work
The mainstream conversation around feminism, at least in K-Pop, often misses out on intersectionality. But you can trust MAMAMOO to take care of it too!
In 2016 they invited a South Korean genderfluid dance group to perform on stage with them at the Melon Music Awards, which left the audience in shock. Later, the music video for “HIP” also featured drag queens, and Solar collaborated with a drag queen in a video for her personal YouTube channel!
8. When fans asked for weight loss tips and Hwasa had the best reply
South Korea’s strict beauty standards are infamous for imposing unhealthy dieting practices on its young women. All of MAMAMOO have been through the ordeal themselves as idols. But instead of taking this toxicity forward, they choose to break the cycle! Now that is a boss move.
9. The times when Solar stood up for herself against attacks for going barefaced on camera
Though all of MAMAMOO get hate for not wearing makeup when they are off-cam, Solar particularly has addressed these hate comments on different occasions. And every time her reply has reflected nothing but self-confidence and grace.
10. When Wheein created a music video talking about sapphic love
MAMAMOO’s support towards the queer community was made clear once again when Wheein’s solo song “Goodbye” portrayed a lesbian relationship with all its honesty and pain.
After watching the MV, fans immediately understood the storyline. Later, the theme was confirmed by Son Chaeyoon, the actress featured in the video.
Though being a boss or a savage is a common concept for girl groups in K-Pop currently, it is still hard to come across celebrities who seem to understand the concept of intersectional feminism with its nuances.
But the way MAMAMOO supports marginalized communities, initiates important conversations around toxic beauty standards, and breaks gender stereotypes truly proves that they are a group that walks the talk!
A previous version of the article said that MAMAMOO invited drag queens to perform with them at the 2019 Melon Music Awards. They actually invited a gender-fluid dance group to perform with them at the 2016 Melon Music Awards.