[SICAISM] Why she fascinates
This is my second take on Jessica. I’ve added some thoughts that I’ve been processing. Jessica puzzled me, but I think after some long study I have a handle on her. She has that initial impression of coldness, but really, that goes no deeper than her skin. I’m still working some things out in my head about Sica but I’m so glad she’s part of Soshi.
Jessica flusters people. She’s either a cat or a goddess. I haven’t decided. She’s such a strange combination of cool, warm and odd. Here’s the thing about her though. She doesn’t care if you care. She doesn’t care if you understand her. She doesn’t care if you approve of her, or think she’s hot. YOUR concerns? No thanks. Not that she means to be rude about it, but Jessica is a finite resource that she apportions with care.
When Jessica looks out at the world, she sees two classes of people. Family. Others. Looks simple, doesn’t it? But it’s her attitude towards these two groups that makes her unique in the idol world.
First of all, why do we care? Because she’s cool. She’s James freaking Dean reborn into a female sexpot. Her friends know that they’re a small group of blessed people because she’s picky! We WANT her approval, because we know on some subliminal level that it’s a rare commodity. And here’s something else that she has over James Dean. She’s female. Why is that necessarily superior? A man who as an established public persona risks a lot going against type. Call it reverse sexual discrimination. But Jessica has the allure of ‘too cool’ and she can switch it up at anytime and become whatever she wants and we are STILL captivated. James Dean couldn’t do that. She can flake out and scream, she can be girly or violent, she can be too cool or smoking hot, icy or sentimentally warm and she still draws our eyes, if only because her divergence from the initial impression is so very interesting. But why?
Certainly she’s sexy. In terms of raw sex appeal, within Soshi, Jessica and Yuri are the top two. I say this from as detached a viewpoint as I can make it (*caveat, I am a breathing human, so it’s not tooo detached. . . sorry). Yuri loves the attention her hotness brings but tempers it with just enough goofiness to not stray into arrogance. Jessica, on the other hand, well, she has pride and professionalism, and the normal vanity of any 20-year-old woman in wanting to look her best, at wanting to present her best angle to the camera, but I don’t think she understands just how attractive she is. I think when she looks in the mirror she sees a funny smile, decent eyes and a cute nose, but that’s always balanced out by the normal insecurities that any 20-year-old women would have. We understand she’s fantastically sexy, but she doesn’t care about that.
To put it another way, Yuri enjoys that she drives men to distraction. Jessica doesn’t care. The irony, of course, with her rampant sex appeal is the fact she can’t even hold hands with a man, much like Yuri. This is attributable to the SM contract that forbids dating, and an ever vigilant and obsessive public that sees the girls as jealously theirs. I wonder sometimes what these pressures do to them. By any definition, it is unnatural, and I very much hope not unhealthy in the long term.
Being with Soshi has let her shine. Up on stage, wearing the Soshi costumes, performing in front of screaming fans, she’s happy. Not because she’s wearing Soshi costumes, not because of the screaming fans, but because she’s a performer. That’s who she is. That’s what she trained seven years to do. It is her chosen profession. To sing and dance well, to be acknowledged for it, to be respected for doing her job well is rewarding. Getting to do it with her beloved sisters is the icing on the cake. She appreciates the fans from a professional viewpoint, but she never loses sight of the personal/professional divide. She likes fan attention. She’s doesn’t live for it.
When you see all those clips of her spacing out, you have to understand, Jessica’s delicate. She runs her body with really low reserves. I think she has the lowest body mass index in Soshi, with perhaps the exception of Sooyoung, who’s just blessed/cursed with an abnormal metabolism. Think motorcycle. Agile, fast, incredible handling, but a very small gas tank. Her endurance is the lowest in the group. This is why she sleeps so much. She’s tapped. This is also why she’s apt to space out. It’s not because she doesn’t care. It’s just that she chooses to spend her physical energy wisely. She has to.
This carries over into her interactions with people. She has an extremely low tolerance for idiots of any stripe. Unless she has something invested in a person or situation, they get one, perhaps two chances before they are dismissed in her mind. This isn’t to say she’s going to be mean about it or that she’s deliberately hurtful, it’s just that she has to spend her emotional energy wisely. If it’s something she cares about, she gives it her all. If it’s for Soshi, of course she gives it everything she has. But when the cameras are off? She can go dormant or spacey and not care.
Another aspect of that freedom by belonging to Soshi is best understood by knowing that Jessica is an intensely private person with incredible defenses and some deep ingrained fears. I don’t know what those fears are, but she’s not a very trusting person. Consider it blind luck that sometimes those defenses slip. Pre-Soshi, they were impenetrable. I think that she has to carry a lot of hurt from making the transition from California to Korea. At the very tender age of 11, she left her friends behind and dove into an intensely JUDGMENTAL world. This I feel is the germination point of her icyness. She met that challenge by becoming James Dean with pigtails. Cool to the nth degree. In an uncomfortable situation Jessica shuts down. She circles the wagons and withdraws all emotional attachment to the situation. Her face goes very still. Haughty, arrogant. You couldn’t hurt her if you tried. Simply, Jessica is a reserved person, hesitant to try new things without hard won trust.
But we can be thankful that she’s in Soshi. Why do I say that? As much as she does for the group, contributing incredible depth, flavor and personality, Soshi has really let Jessica free herself from her defenses. When Soshi debuted, there was a struggle for success and recognition. Long hours and incredible strain were part of that. You’ve all seen the GGTS footage where Jessica was close to collapsing from heat exhaustion. She knows the value of dedication and hard work, and she knows the fear of failure. Still, comparing what Soshi went through with say a group like Kara, who is now reaping the rewards for their long persistence, Soshi sort of had it easy. But ‘easy’ is relative and ‘easy’ doesn’t really exist in K-Pop idoldom. Even inured to indifference because they were part of the SM juggernaut, Soshi dominated because they were the best, and by being the best they lived up to Jessica’s needs. Her fragility, her brittleness if you will, needed the protection of strong walls, but by being the best, by being recognized as the front runner, with an enormous lead and a surfeit of earned respect, Jessica could forgo the walls. She could come out from behind them and do Naengmyun, or Legally Blond or anything else now.
Within Soshi, she’s found a refuge, and she’s become comfortable with showing who she really is. Where ever Soshi is, that’s where Jessica can be the bright, adorable, unintentionally hilarious, captivating and loving person we know is the true her. That’s what Soshi has done for her. She gives back endless depth and entertainment.
If Soshi were 9 girls made of bubblegum, candy canes and sweetness, we’d get pretty sick of them pretty damn quick. That’s just human nature. It doesn’t matter how good something is, we can’t have too much of it. Eat your favorite meal for a solid week, you’ll know what I mean.
This is one facet of the strength of 9. Add some Sica chill, Hyoyeon spice, Sooyoung silly and you can’t get bored. There’s just too much to appreciate. If you’re not drooling, you’re laughing, or crying or just rapt. Soshi fascinates because the members are fascinating.
We can thank our lucky stars that she is part of Soshi, in an environment where she can show her true self. Otherwise, we mortals would never have seen this star.
Happy birthday Jessica, you odd goddess.