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lifestyle

Japanese women who don’t follow mainstream beauty standards

21 Comments
By Luke Mahoney, grape Japan

As anyone with an internet connection likely knows, Japanese fashionistas are notably stylish. Many residents espouse stylish choices with unique sensibilities that comprise cutting-edge trends unique to the island nation. Take, for example, genderless influencers like Peco and Ryuchell who flash unisex outfits on Instagram. Or the numerous YouTubers embracing avante-garde street fashion such as lolita or chicana. Although eye-popping, these stylish trendsetters often require a double-take.

However, there is a dark side to this image-conscious country. Many young people report a low sense of self-worth, and poor body image is increasingly a problem, especially among young women. These negative attitudes are likely driving many to consider cosmetic surgery as the COVID-19 lockdown provides ample downtime. Indeed, many residents feel pressured to look their best, even if drastic steps are required.

Just like any culture, Japanese culture considers a handful of physical traits to be beautiful. Westerners living in the island nation have likely been confounded by compliments aimed at their “high noses.” Although they may seem backhanded at first, residents often admire individuals with a high nasal bridge. Most Japanese natives have low nasal bridges and many are envious of this trait, which they consider beautiful.

Of course, there are other common notions of beauty, several of which may also be difficult for outsiders to understand. On her YouTube channel, Ryo :3 talks about the pressures that Japanese women face to uphold these ideals, and what happens when they choose not to or are unable to do so.

Tanned in Japan

Ryo jumps right into Japanese standards of beauty. The YouTuber quickly admits that she bends the rules when it comes to what is considered attractive in her home country and thinks that it's important for others to feel the same.

Regardless, Japanese culture has long considered white, light skin to be pleasing to the eye. This norm likely developed as whitening cosmetics were imported from China in the Asuka period (the 1300s). Privileged people used these cosmetics, and the pale complexion they displayed became a cherished trait.

However, in the 1990s and 2000s, a counter-trend developed. These women had darkly-tanned skin and wore heavy makeup. According to Ryo, this trend may have been part of a larger pushback on stringent social norms. Japan is a country that values uniformity. During this period, many residents increasingly chose to express their individuality, which they did by making louder fashion choices.

Overall, Ryo thinks that this is a healthy way of thinking. Individuals need not conform to others' expectations of beauty but instead, they should do what's best for them. Ryo enjoys having darker skin, even though it is not traditionally beautiful. For her, darker skin feels healthy, and sun exposure helps her control her acne. Just because she is a woman does not mean she needs to do the same as the women of yesteryear.

Tall in Japan

Again, Ryo is taking time out of her normal content schedule to talk about beauty. Ryo is above average in height. More specifically, she is 181 centimeters tall. Unfortunately, being so tall in Japan is not particularly comfortable.

Naturally, in a compact island nation, amenities and structures in Japan are typically small. This causes trouble for tall people, who often have to crouch over and watch their heads as they go about their day. Furthermore, Japanese residents are not typically tall. Afterall, Ryo reminds, the average male is about 170 cm. This makes shopping for clothes particularly challenging for the YouTuber. Ryo often seeks out more Western garments and import stores. Unfortunately, she can only do most of her shopping abroad.

Finally, Ryo notes that tall women do not conform to typical beauty standards in Japan. Japanese culture mostly favors petite women who are considered cute. Ryo received a lot of negative attention over her height as she grew up and had difficulty fitting in and dealing with her insecurities, especially when she was a teenager. She often felt judged by others and had to deal with bullying. This was a hard experience for a young person to shrug off.

Nevertheless, Ryo is an adult who now recognizes her own individuality and beauty. She knows she must make choices for herself and cannot live to meet other people's expectations. Learning English and learning about other cultures helped her become more comfortable with herself. She thinks others should do what they have to adopt a similar mindset.

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© grape Japan

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

21 Comments
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good for her for addressing this stupid notion that you have to “follow certain rules” to be considered pretty / attractive / cute in Japan. and another thing: you don’t need to talk like you’re an animated character.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

 you don’t need to talk like you’re an animated character.

People talk the way they want, cut your bitterness, live and let live ;)

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

It’s kind of dumb really. It’s not as if by being tall she is making a conscious decision not to follow certain beauty standards. It’s more that beauty standards are pointless and out of control of most people anyway. Forget the trendy fashion mags and do your own thing.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

The difference between your average Japanese woman with and without make-up is pretty insane.

8 ( +14 / -6 )

Bernard MarxToday  08:40 am JST

The difference between your average Japanese woman with and without make-up is pretty insane.

That doesn't make any sense at all, what do you mean? How can a difference be insane?

Do you mean that there's a big difference between one average Japanese woman and another depending on whether or not they are wearing make-up? That can be true of women everywhere but IMHO less so in Japan.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

Japanese women who don’t follow mainstream beauty standards

A collection of opinions from a single person on Youtube now equals women?

5 ( +6 / -1 )

She's a beautiful girl. It's hard for me as a person of European background living in Australia to accept that for some people in Japan Ryo would be considered somehow lacking simply because of her height and natural skin colour and for not playing the paint and powder game. More power to her and to any woman anywhere, not just in Japan, who don't accept mainstream opinions of "beauty" and follow their own path. Good on you girls.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

She's pretty hot. Tan and tall is good with me. I thought they were going to show the anti-hygiene ladies with armpits hairier than mine.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

I'm not clicking on her vids, but the top freeze frame looks like strongly dyed hair to go with her natural skin.

If you fancy her, that's great, but it does not mean she speaks universal truths.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Nice promo for Ryo's YouTube channel

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Who sets the 'standards' for anything? Some people give Yoko Ono crap just for being an independent minded woman.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

This separates us from the world of animals. Human is too selfish

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The mainstream beauty standard that scares me is the entirely plucked eyebrows!

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Japanese women who don’t follow mainstream beauty standards

A collection of opinions from a single person on Youtube now equals women?

I love showing women videos of women talking on behalf of other women because it's never accurate and winds them up...

I was talking to some Japanese women on twitter and they said Western feminists don't make any sense to them because they make it seem like staying at home with their family is a punishment! One even said when Western(ised) feminists talk about Japan it's like they go to a baseball game and, instead of talking about the game, they ask why one person in the crowd was sat funny lmao

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Everyone is born beautiful but we are living on the judgmental society.

RM, BTS

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Japanese women do not need cosmetic surgery, they are a nice looking representation of their race, the people of Japan, and the Orient.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Beauty is as much about mindset as it is looks. Most average looking women can become beautiful with the right personality. Likewise, even a stunning woman will start to seem unattractive if she is always sour about something. I like woman who are comfortable in their own skin and don't really care what the world thinks. I like people like that, for that matter.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Being tanned, being tall - is this now considered against the norms? Especially being tall, it's not like there's a cream to fix that!

Let me give you a couple of examples of going against the norms I noticed this summer. None of this bothered it disturbed me at all, I just happened to notice:

1 - the cute woman in her 30s in the train with full underarm and legs hair.

2 - the other cute woman in her 20 going braless, with only a t-shirt and a skirt on.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

1 - the cute woman in her 30s in the train with full underarm and legs hair.

Oh no!

2 - the other cute woman in her 20 going braless, with only a t-shirt and a skirt on.

Oh yeah!!!

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Beauty is as much about mindset as it is looks. Most average looking women can become beautiful with the right personality

and enough beer.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Reckless- Agree 100%!

Beauty is as much about mindset as it is looks. Most average looking women can become beautiful with the right personality

and enough beer.

True, BUT I don't think it would work with ebisen's 1. NO WAY.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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