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I think many Japanese women feel that they can never live up to the refined beauty that they feel Western women strive for. So, instead, they shoot for a cute look, one that doesn’t require tall, curv

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Designer Naoto Hirooka, whose brand h. Naoto is one of the main creative forces behind Gothic Lolita. He says the whole Lolita look — like much of the anime culture with which it is intricately entwined — is an escape into a childish world of cute. (AP)

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I think that the Japanese desire to be cute has little to do with the fact that they can not "live up to the refined beauty that they feel Western women strive for." The ideals are different, but it is not as if cuteness is some sort of second best.

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He sure got that right. And from the horse's mouth too.

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timtak, I tend to agree that the gaijin complex thing isn't the main driver, but I definitely think the infantilism as a lowbrow escape from elegance is. At one time, being an educated Japanese woman meant skill in traditional arts, etiquette and posture. Gothic lolita is cultural degradation and the plots of those anime are intellectual kryptonite.

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At one time, being an educated Japanese woman meant skill in traditional arts, etiquette and posture. Gothic lolita is cultural degradation and the plots of those anime are intellectual kryptonite.

Can't say I agree with this sentiment. While I'm not going to denigrate the traditional arts, etiquette and posture, the history of "educated" women, so far as those are concerned, were essentially there as marriage bait. Women were not encouraged to excel in their field, they were encouraged to educate themselves so they'd make their husbands proud. That's not really something I'd care to return to, although the surface elements (the arts, et al) are obviously something that should be encouraged.

Gothic Lolita is not a "cultural degradation." It's a fashion. Fashion is not important. If it were, it wouldn't be called "fashion." I suppose, if you really wanted to, you could stretch that idea to say that the ornate fashion of geisha has "degraded" into that of the Gothic Lolita, but that's just what I said...a stretch.

Suicide rates, rampant alcoholism, repaving the roads every two and a half months, nutjobs stabbing people at random...THESE are cultural degradations. Gothic Lolita, et al might well be silly, but, in the grand scheme of things, there's nothing wrong with silly. It's a release valve. It's not as if they're stabbing each other just to steal a frilly hat.

I definitely think the infantilism as a lowbrow escape from elegance is.

I've really gotta take issue with this whole sentence. People don't "escape" from elegance, they move towards what they're attracted to. I'm as appreciative of high art as anyone (more so, possibly) but suggesting that everything else is a substitute is snobbery.

These people are just being themselves...and most of 'em are basically still kids. There's no need to bury them in sociological theories. They're just going through the same identity shifts that I went through as a goth in High School, my brother went through as a jazz nerd in Middle school, and you most likely went through in some form or another when you were in your late teens/early 20s. The sky is not falling, let kids be kids.

The ideals are different, but it is not as if cuteness is some sort of second best.

Exactly.

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The ideals are different, but it is not as if cuteness is some sort of second best.

While I agree that the ideals of "kawai" are not second best to "western" beauty ideals (*see note below), this infantilism is definitely not a benign fashion phase. Leaving aside (solely because it is often discussed) the dangerous issue of equating childhood with "sexy", at its heart the ideals (I would argue purpose) of "kawai" are to make a woman harmless or declare her worthless. "Kawai" directly undermines the ability for a woman to be both attractive and taken seriously - in other words: it is the perfect antidote to feminism in a society which has not yet come to terms with it.

"Elegance" has its fashions too, of course, but in any era or society, whatever the fashion specifics "elegance" is a beauty which expresses a woman's personal strength - one cannot express one's personal power or accomplishments while being "kawai". At this point I'm sure many would point to the sexual "power" that "kawai" girls have but the manipulation of the sexually feeble is a poor substitute for true self determination.

*Note: This trend toward "cute" and therefore harmless is not lost on western women, by the way. For a long time, now, the main-stream fashion trends have been toward having a tiny, hairless, curve-less, childish figure. The "curvaceous" beauty ideal is long gone from western society outside the pornography or pageant industries.

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Men like "kawaii" women because they feel stronger and superior. It is natural for men (as repesentatives of the animal world) to want to feel strong and potent next to their partner. If a woman is beautful and strong at the same time, men feel intimidated and uncomfrotably inferior. So it is natural for men to look for cute, smaller than them, undetermined, weak childlike woman who pretends to be 10 years younger than her age. They feel then like "the male", the leader.

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ExPrinceska; Utter trash. my wife(Japanese) is tall, almost my height, very opinionated and independent. Why would i look for someone small who like really young and childlike. I like women not little girls.

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Just to add, men admire tall, elegant, beautiful, gorgeous women (in th emovies, magazines) but finally they will choose cute and harmless girls because either these are the only women who pay them attention, or these are the only girls they can boast with their masculinity in front of.

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theneworder666 sorry, just my opinion based on observations...

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Perhaps a bit presumptive for a woman to know what men want and/or admire, no? Same can be said for vice versa.

Since I am a man, I think I have a tad bit better idea about what men think than most women would. I reckon it would be foolish if I told you what women think/want.

Here's what I think (in my own possibily convoluted thinking): Japanese women are popular the world over for whatever reason. If anyone has a complex issue it's probably Japanese men...

Never heard of Riyo Mori?

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Never heard of Riyo Mori?

who is she? lol

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Perhaps a bit presumptive for a woman to know what men want and/or admire, no?

It is not only my observation but i read it also in psychological and evolutional books about attraction between male-female. Women would like men stronger than them, and men would like women weaker than them, it is nature.

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Perhaps what ExPrinceska needed to do was begin her post with the word "many" - of course it is not all men, nor even all Japanese men. Many men, like theneworder66 and my own husband, prefer grown women with strong personalities and opinions but, like most fashions, the "kawai" fashion would not have taken hold so completely if it had not had the "patronage" of many, many more men with the opposite view. The desire for partnership and to be acknowledged as beautiful is something even the strongest of women desire (and most teens to early adulthood women are not at their strongest) and to deny that fashions that men don't like die a fast death and vice-versa is simply to deny reality.

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I recognize many Japanese women feel that they need not live up to the anti-feminine ideal some Western women strive for. So, instead, they happily revel in their femaninity, one that doesn’t induce bloated bodies and instead emphasizes femaninity.

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very funny how some of you begin opposing Japanese woman against "Western woman". what is a western woman? A Russian, an American, a Turkish, Italian...? And only the Japanese women are feminine? This is very childish and as a say, speaks of men's inferiority complex.

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Very funny how the quote of the day set up the opposition of Japanese woman against many "Western woman". What is a western woman? Certainly not a Russian, or a Turk. But we don't talk of the West. Only many in the West. And only in the West do we dream up fanciful forgiveness for the obesity epidemic. Now that very harmfull, and speaks of Man's folly. Sex aside.

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It is possible to be womanly and not obese and also girlish and obese - this has nothing to do with obesity, it has to do with girlish cuteness versus womanly elegance - neither of which are exclusive of any country. The designer is talking about body shape and the style adopted, not body size.

Frankly, DanManjt you prove the point that there are men whose idea of what is feminine is severely twisted if you automatically assume that anyone who is larger than a perfect example of kawai is obese. Clearly, those who hold this attitude believe that once a woman (including Japanese women) is fully grown and/or not wearing clothing to titilate men then she is no longer feminine. There is a looong way between a perfectly kawai girl and obesity which is a medical definition not just anyone's idea of "too fat" for them to be aroused by.

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I don't know anything about fashion and have not visited Japan. A friend who has says (many) Japanese women are beautiful and older ones look so much younger than Western women.

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Are we so sure that it's because Japanese women feel they can't "live up to" western women? I don't know any Japanese women who feel that they are trying to live up to a western definition of beauty. The definition of beauty is quite different from country to country and among ethnic groups. This is one guy's take and keep in mind a guy who has created a crrepy fashion style to boot.

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what is a western woman? A Russian, an American, a Turkish, Italian...? And only the Japanese women are feminine? This is very childish and as a say, speaks of men's inferiority complex.

hahahaha, you dont mind using the catch all 'western man' phrase though eh? who do YOU mean exactly? kind of childish no? speaking of women's inferiority complex innit?

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yes, it is good to teach you a lesson!

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the only thing I'm learning from you is the value of unintentional comedy

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beithsidhe

You argue against a strawman. I simply did not post what you seem to think -- judging from your post-- I did . Your misunderstanding of my position results, I fear, largely from what you bring to the issue, rather than what I wrote and believe.

I will, nevertheless, to address your points in turn:

Womanly and girlie females comes in a variety of waste lines; but to suggest femaninity has nothing to do with fitness and obesity is patently absurd. While the designer may not be talking body size talking, I am.

I am because in my country -- the US -- obesity is rampant, and becoming accepted. In her country -- Japan -- smoking is rampant and accepted. Both of these are serious health risks that should not be tolerated, let alone accepted. And it is hardly a revelation to accept that things that pose serious health risks are unattractive. And part of the reason why obesity is rampant, and becoming accepted, is because people make fanciful excuses for it.

And they shouldn't.

One of the more insidious excuses for obesity in women is that their is nothing really wrong with it, because bad bad men have warped women's ideas of beauty, blah blah blah.

Frankly, beithsidhe, you support the notion that there are too many who are too quick to slander or libel anyone who challenges the prevailing lies and myths put forth by some of the so-called feminists.

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timtak says: I think that the Japanese desire to be cute has little to do with the fact that they can not "live up to the refined beauty that they feel Western women strive for." The ideals are different, but it is not as if cuteness is some sort of second best.

I totally agree with timtak on this one.

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TPOJ, thanks for the reply. If it's just a matter of colors and hair length, that would be one thing, but it's also not the case. You deconstructed the traditional as man-catching, with which I can't agree, but why not do the same for the other. What ideals if any can be articulated from the looks, anime and music? I'm surprised you'd suggest Gothic Lolita is something more feminist than traditional arts. If my hypothetical 14 year-old prefers tea over black lipstick and Miss Moppet get-ups, I'd be damn glad. I know which is more inclined to give her the discipline and carriage to do something meaningful when she's put herself in that position. There is something wrong with silly. And skanky too.

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