Since its first performance 100 years ago, Japan’s Takarazuka Revue has been the country’s most respected theater company. While the troupe is known for its lavish costume and set designs, as well as its bombastic musical performances, its most distinctive characteristic is that the group is composed entirely of actresses, with women playing both male and female roles.
To their fans, Takarazuka actresses are the epitome of grace and poise. There are a lot of pitfalls that have to be avoided to maintain that pristine image, though, as shown by the company’s list of the 25 marks of ugly women.
Recently, a number of former Takarazuka actresses were interviewed on the NHK morning talk show "Asa Ichi." Among those who appeared was Mizuki Hashimoto, who has gone on to a career in acupuncture since leaving the stage.
Like many respected organizations in Japan, Takarazuka takes its traditions very seriously, and has established several of them in the century since it came into being. Hashimoto explained that the company has a set of 25 things that make a woman ugly, which veterans of the troupe pass down to new members.
Let’s take a look at the list, which states that ugly women:
- Never smile
- Never say thank you
- Never say something tastes good
- Have no energetic spark
- Have no confidence
- Have no hope or faith in their hearts
- See the negative in everything around them
- Don’t know they are ugly
- Speak in a small, timid voice
- Let themselves get hurt over trivial things
- Are jealous of others
- Have no light in their eyes
- Shift blame to others
- Hold grudges
- Look at everything in a tragic light
- Either can’t or choose not to realize when they have a problem
- Don’t give their all for others
- Don’t trust others
- Have no desires in their personal life or career
- Are boastful and lack humility
- Don’t accept advice
- Assume they’re always right
- Darken the mood just by being present.
We have to admit, none of these sound particularly appealing. Even No. 3, never saying something tastes nice, can be a downer for those around you if your standards are so high you can never show any joy in social dining situations.
A couple of these seem like a bit of a paradox, though. For example. No. 9 tells us that ugly women don’t realize they’re ugly. Of course, women who aren’t ugly, by definition, don’t realize that. What’s more, if we accept that not realizing you’re ugly makes you that way, shouldn’t it follow that doing the opposite, realizing you are ugly, makes you, in fact, not ugly?
No. 17, taking a tragic outlook on life, also seems just a teeny bit hypocritical, considering that many of Takarazuka’s best-loved plays are romantic tragedies.
Overall though, most of the items on the list make sense. As a matter of fact, taken as a whole, it’s such good advice that saying it’s for those aspiring to be beautiful seems like an unnecessary limitation, as does dumping all of these maxims on one side of the gender line.
It’d be a lot more accurate to say these are simply 25 things to avoid if you want to be a good person, regardless of whether you’re a woman or a man (or just play one on the stage).
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