Did the Piggy Dolls Ruin Their Credibility?

Question of the day: What do you guys think of the Piggy Dolls?

Of course, I'm supposed to be working. But this thought just occured to me, and I wanted to bring this to a public forum for discussion. So if you read and have an opinion on this, feel free to share it here.

Two weeks ago, the Piggy Dolls released a new digital single "What Is Love" featuring Simon D. I only listened to it about 10 minutes ago, and all I could think is: this is amazing - WHY IS NOBODY TALKING ABOUT IT?

On the real though: their voices have majorly improved and matured in the year and the half since they debuted with "Trend". Vocally, these girls slay, and this song is only more proof of that. And I mean, if the mid-tempo ballad isn't you're thing, watch them out kick Joss Stone to the curb with their cover of her track "Tell Me 'Bout It". (I miss Joss Stone, by the way. Haven't listened to her last two albums. I should get on that...)

I mean, completely live with a band on top of that??? Do I have to say they're amazing one more time, or is it obvious?

So why the hell are they not getting more coverage? I mean, they're probably suffering from the usual bias towards the more prominent entertainment companies in SK. But you'd think they'd have garnered at least some sort of following. But I can't see signs of it anywhere - at least, not in the international k-pop interwebs. But then I remembered their PR nightmare from last year, where they denied, then admitted to going on a diet program for an advertising campaign before they released their second CD, Hakuna Matata. Facepalm doesn't even begin to describe my reaction. I wasn't a fan of their "concept" in the first place, but to then undermine your whole "body image doesn't matter" slogan by making the girls lose weight was just stupid, plain and simple. They were obviously pressured into it by the industry, but if their management had the backbone that they seemed to have by debuting the girls in the first place, then they should have stuck up for them and found a way for them to make it work. I mean, it's not like everyone on the idol circuit is skinny.

Piggy Doll's Debut Single, "Trend" with English subtitles

So I'm now wondering if they have undermined their credibility by that stunt, and whether that's the cause of the lack of interest. Management companies claim all sorts of things about their idols, including that they're all-natural i.e. had no plastic surgery, and don't starve themselves to keep their figure (even though it's obvious that surgery is rampant and most of the idols are underweight). And it's not new for idols to go on drastic diets. However, if you go out hoping to capture the attention of the industry with your plus-sized girl group, and then make them normal size, you lose the support of people who would originally be interested in that sort of group. You also lose the connection that idols work so hard to establish with their fans - whether it's a romantic connection or a platonic, elder/younger sibling connection. And finally, you signal to everyone else that you don't have what it takes to be a rebel, and would rather fit in with everyone else. Unfortunately, that means you disappear into the swarm of young idol groups around today, all vying for the attention of the (still fairly small) k-pop audience at home and abroad.

On a related note though, the pressure to be thin in the k-pop scene is overwhelming and disturbing. It's old news, but every time I'm reminded of it I become really upset. I just read about Brown Eyed Soul's Yong Joon losing weight for his solo promotions. This isn't a tiny girl competing with other tiny girls - this is a grown-ass man we're talking about here. And he wasn't even significantly overweight. I mean, have you seen the people on The Biggest Loser? Those dudes are big. He was slim in comparison. And with a voice like this, why do you even need to lose weight in the first place? Kim Tae Woo's a bit pudgy, and he's doing just fine. (Then again, he was in g.o.d.)

What are your thoughts? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

I hope that more people start covering the Piggy Dolls, as well as other "underrateds". Shout out to McRoth's Residence, Indieful ROK/Korean Indie, Luminosity, and all other k-pop blogs who devote time and energy to showing the world that there are more artists with great music to share outside of the mainstream idol sphere. Visit them, comment on their blogs, show them some love. And buy an indie CD!


  1. I never really paid attention to Piggy Dolls from their debut because I don't like their name.

    Thanks for the links to k-pop blogs! Also where can I buy K-indie CDs?

    1. You can buy them on www.yesasia.com, also mr. kwang.com

    2. There's also a decent collection of them on iTunes

  2. ...While the reality of it is that a lot of people in k-entertainment are being pressured to lose weight, what if they did it because it was their decision? By your logic, trying to look good makes you shallow. I have a problem with that thesis.
    ...and I hardly think such a thing would actually ruin their cred in Korea, where looks are a big part of whether you're successful or not /outside/ of the entertainment industry;) I think it's mostly in your head as a person who might be living by the idea that conforming to societal standards = untalented.

    1. Hi Sarah,

      I think I didn't get my message across clearly enough, and I apologize. Let me try to explain my position more clearly:

      The reality is that there is pressure on everyone to lose weight, I agree. However, the management of the Piggy Dolls specifically marketed them as a response and a challenge to that, with their name and their debut song "Trend" and the music video. I don't know if you've seen the video, and I'll embed it above in my post, but to sum up, the song is about them being confident in their looks despite the pressure to be skinny. The music video starts with interviews of girls who are feeling the pressure to be skinny, and how deeply it's affecting their self-esteem.

      When you start your image as that, as a defender of all those who are struggling with this issue, because you've ostensibly experienced the same and have found a way to deal with it, then turn around and succumb to the same pressure, it feels like a let down. Also, the fact that they denied it at first and then admitted it was just shady. If they'd come out and said we decided to lose weight by taking on this advertising campaign, it wouldn't look as bad. The fan culture in Korea is all about feeling close to your idols, feeling like you can relate to them. This move, however, could put distance between the group and their potential fanbase because they essentially lied about their weight loss after championing their bigger bodies. If they're looking to make fans out of young girls, a lot of whom are dealing with body image issues, this just doesn't seem like the way to do it.

      And as Katherine said below, it's a sign of the pressures that the girls in the group themselves are facing. I think their management has seriously let them down by not trying harder to protect them from that pressure, especially when the very thing that they're experiencing pressure for is what their management exploited to try and get them noticed when they first debuted. Exploit the girls' weight as a gimmick to get noticed then make them lose it? Not cool in my book. At all.

      Whether or not they've actually ruined their credibility with their Korean fans, is yet to be seen, which is why I titled this post as a question, not a conclusion. This is how I see it playing out from my perspective as an international fan, but the reality in Korea could be different. I'm open to that.

      As to your last assertion, I think if you read my post closer, and also my other posts, you'll see that that's simply not true. I don't think conforming to societal standards = untalented. If I did, why would I be listening to pop music in the first place? Pop is the epitome of conforming to societal standards. Though I suppose that's why I personally feel let down by the Piggy Dolls' image change: Here were girls who seemed to stand up for women of all shapes and sizes. Now it seems they'd rather just blend into the societal crowd and leave us not-typical beauties to deal with it on our own.

  3. There's also a decent collection of them on iTunes

    I can usually only find the big Kpop names on itunes. I recall searching for W&Whale there and coming up with nothing. Does yesasia do digital sales? I've only ever bought CDs from there (and clothes from yesstyle!).

    1. huh, that's interesting. depends on what store you're on I guess, because the US store has W&Whale's older albums. Yesasia doesn't do digital sales, unfortunately.

  4. @Sarah: ...While the reality of it is that a lot of people in k-entertainment are being pressured to lose weight, what if they did it because it was their decision? By your logic, trying to look good makes you shallow. I have a problem with that thesis.

    Perhaps, but if you get tapped to be in a group called "Piggy Dolls" that's marketed heavily (no pun intended) on the gimmick of being fat, it seems you'd have the self-confidence/self-acceptance to be okay with your body instead of losing weight. At least, that's what I would expect. At the least, it seems terribly unlikely for all three singers to suddenly backpedal like that, if it were simply a personal decision and nothing more.

    When you also consider how little self-assertion there usually is in the K-pop world, it does rather look like pressure from the outside rather than anything else.

    It's also a crap message that gets across: "There's no room for fatties in the idol industry." Because that is kind of reinforced elsewhere (the chubby girl on "Dream High" loses weight, for example).

    As for their music, I do rather like it. Should put them on rotation in the mp3 player.

  5. Piggy Dolls are awesome. They have the talent there but their image is.... odd. First they're meant to be big and beautiful and now two of them are skinny. Even the larger one has slimmed down a lot.

    They need a re-launch with a different name IMO.


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