Seoul's Advice for Pregnant Women: 'Don't Look Disheveled,' Prepare Food for Husbands 'Unaccustomed to Cooking'

Seoul's Advice for Pregnant Women: 'Don't Look Disheveled,' Prepare Food for Husbands 'Unaccustomed to Cooking'
Image:Chung Sung-Jun (Getty Images)

Last week, Seoul city government’s Pregnancy and Childbirth Information Center, as overseen by the Korean Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology, published “advice” for women about to give birth. Normally, that wouldn’t be newsworthy, but it is a laundry list of archaic and sexist stereotypes so outrageous, I actually thought it was parody when I first read them. “Hang the clothes you wore before you were pregnant in a place where they are easy to see as that will motivate you to keep your weight under control and go back to the same weight you were before you gave birth. If you are tempted to over-eat or skip exercise, take a look at the clothes,” one guideline read, according to The Guardian. “And buy a hairband so that you don’t look disheveled after having the baby,” read another.

As CNN reports, the guidelines immediately inspired vitriol online, and all of the recommendations deemed misogynistic have been taken down. But this is the internet, so screenshots continue to proliferate on social media, such as “prepare instant foods like curry, black bean paste and soup, so the husband, who’s unfamiliar with cooking, will be able to conveniently use them,” and that pregnant women “should prepare undergarments, socks, shirts, handkerchiefs and outers in the drawer for the husband and children to wear for 3 to 7 days while you’re at the hospital.”

Some guidelines even suggested women lose weight by performing household chores: “extending your hand forward when wiping the floor will help with stretching the back, shoulder and arm muscles.”

According to Channel News Asia, Seoul’s city government claimed it failed to “thoroughly review” the contents of the guidelines before posting them on its website, sharing the following statement: “We will establish a foundation for regular inspection of the overall operation to prevent this from ever happening again.” Seems like too little, too late, but whatever!

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