Concepts: 2007 - 2014
Some see the images presented by the group as playing into the most basic of female stereotypes. For example, Lizzie at Beyond Hallyu criticizes SNSD's 2013 release, "I Got A Boy," for negative images: "Both the video and the song consistently portray women in numerous different examples as vain, petty, manipulative and incompetent." SNSD is the only K-pop group who has spawned a named anti-fan club, S.T.A.N.D (Stand Till All Nine Disappear), as well as scores of anti-SNSD sites that critique the group’s image. For example, one anti-SNSD tumblr complains about what it perceives as SNSD's failure to promote female empowerment: “Someone who is proud of being a girl and shows she can stand up for herself and is strong doesn’t go around like ‘oppa oppa look at me.’”
However, an examination of their concepts reveals a range of images of femininity, suggesting that young girls have choices in terms of femininity. SNSD’s early concepts reflected a “girl-next-door” quality. 2007’s Into the New World concept and 2009’s Gee concept feature casual outfits for the members. The 2010 Run Devil Run concept (also referred to as the Black Soshi concept) features dark clothing and the iconic 2009 Genie concept shows the members adopting a military theme in shorts and heels. For the most part, the members have recently adopted more mature styles with couture-quality fashions and heels. However, they also routinely adopt more themed concepts, especially with their Japanese releases, such as the 1960s airline stewardess theme for the 2012 Girls & Peace Japanese Concept and the cheerleader theme for the 2012 Oh! Japanese Concept.
The most consistent element of SNSD’s images is change, which the group’s legions of fans appreciate. Sun Jung and Yukie Hirata argue that fans actually recognize and embrace this range of images: [At SNSD's first Japanese showcase] there were a number of female fans who cosplayed (costume play) SNSD. Some mimicked SNSD’s innocent teenage girl-like images from “Gee” and “Oh!,” while others replicated their cool, sexy and more empowered images from “Genie” and “Run Devil Run.” It appears that the fans demonstrate their yearning to exhibit a range of female sexualities via mimicking (cosplaying) SNSD." (8). Judy Park suggests that this range of femininity is expressed through their range of fashion, something unique to K-pop: “One singer can wear [a] look like a rocker for one song, and wear a completely different hip hop style for another song. There are hardly any countries where singers completely change their look for each song” (30). It is this ability to change images that endear them to their audience: “The approachability of the looks is an important factor as it is what allows the audience to make a connection with the celebrity” (Park, 33).