Single mother Aki, 27, is the head of “Brilliant Lab,” a "gyaru-mama" circle with 450 members. They have voluntary get-togethers once a month, for things like Halloween and Christmas parties.
Can you explain what a gyaru-mama is?
I think it describes a mother who’s proactive and always trying her best—as a mom, as a wife, and as a woman—in whatever she does, whether it’s raising kids, keeping house or looking good.
When did you become a mother yourself?
Six years ago, when I was 21.
What inspired you to start the Japan Gal Mama Association?
For a while now, I’ve been the head of “Brilliant Lab.” Over time, the number of members grew, and we exchanged a lot of information within the group. I wondered if I could do something for parents and children all over Japan, so I set up the association. I also know what a headache it is trying to hold down a job as a single mother, so I thought it’d be good to help single moms look for jobs, too.
What does the association do?
We have a consultation service on the website to prevent and protect against abuse. We make original T-shirts, donating a portion of sales to [child abuse prevention network] Orange Ribbon, and we’re also helping promote long-term employment for mothers. We now have chapters around the country, and we’re working to give a leg-up to parents and children who are struggling or feel isolated by holding events where they can meet others and have fun.
What kinds of feedback have you had?
Personally speaking, I used to get normal mothers talking behind my back about my flashy clothes and nails, but now people understand that this is a gyaru-mama’s right. There was one magazine survey where junior-high and high-school girls picked gyaru-mama as their number one dream occupation. Being a mother isn’t an occupation, but… [laughs]
Do you coordinate your child’s outfit with what you’re wearing?
I get a kick out of coordinating things, so I’ll give us the same hair, go out in matching colors or styles, or sometimes with exactly the same outfits. I’ve got a daughter, so I do "osoro-koode" [outfit matching] a lot.
What are the go-to places for a self-respecting gyaru-mama?
The main ones are Shibuya 109 and—I live in Yokohama, so—Yokohama Cial or Sakuragicho. I often go to Sakuragicho, as it’s a really nice place to take a kid. Yokohama gets called the Mecca of Gyaru-Mama, you know.
This story originally appeared in Metropolis magazine (www.metropolis.co.jp).© Japan Today