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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