Contextual Study: Body writing

Some people argued that dressing in girlish styles is a way to enjoy the nostalgic girlhood. Same as girlish fashion, Misha Janette, founder of Tokyo Fashion Diaries and panelist on NHK’s Kawaii International show, insists that to the Japanese, kawaii’s essence is less about gender oppression, and more about the fun of childhood. “It’s possible to never grow up in Japan,” she says, “You will see old lady lolitas here. Women dress up young because it makes them feel more free and happy. Femininity in Japan is treated very differently to femininity in the West, and here it’s acceptable for men to like kawaii stuff too, so it’s not so much a gender thing.” (Clarke, A. 2016) However, there are people argued that the reason that “girlish products are popular with young girlish that it reflects the sexist structure of Japanese culture, where women are expected to be weak and men to take care of them.”(TAIWAN TODAY. 2013)

There is a physical factor behind girlish fashion in Asian. Based on discussions with a Chinese girl who likes girlish culture, the reason she prefers this style has some connections with her actual body figure. “It is hard for me to dressed up like western girls,” she said, “I look younger than girls from Western because my face and height. Then I realized that I am more suitable to dress in girlish style.” Asians generally have natural features that make them appear younger. (Huiqio, Shao. 2017) Like Shao, many girls in Asia have similar situations. From a professional view, “The resistance to aging in the Asian patient was credited to the thicker dermis of Asian skin that contains greater collagen and the darker pigment that protects against photoaging. Although these statements are true, the authors propose a new paradigm that explains how the illusion of Asian youthfulness may be understood. The “baby model” purports that the Asian face has many attributes similar to an infant, including a wider and rounder face, lower nasal bridge, flatter midface, apparently more protuberant lips, and more receded chin. These commonalities between the infant and the Asian compel the viewer to perceive the Asian face as more youthful.” (Shirakabe, Y., Suzuki, Y. and Lam, S. (2003))For many Asian girls, the reason for their girlish passion may be influenced by the physical reason.

Though the start of girlish culture is a way to escape from the traditional society, but social concepts shape the images of girls at the same time. The way of being girlish is led by the concepts of the society. Includes to the report Girlish Images across Cultures: Analyzing Japanese versus U.S. Seventeen Magazine Ads from Michael L. Maynard and Charles R. Taylor, compare to western countries, “Japanese results is the general emphasis on youthful, non challenging innocence for Japanese girls in Japanese culture. Because Japanese culture revers age, young Japanese are implicitly permitted to act in ways that are distinct from those of older people. Hence, in view of the traditional gender- and age-based role expectations of Japanese society, messages that build girlish rapport are likely to appeal to Japanese girls.”(Maynard, M& Taylor, C. 1999) In conclusion, the report suggested that the Japanese and American publishers tend to portray teenage girls to the public in different ways and that the differences are related to each country’s central concepts of self and society.

While the ways to act of girls seem to be changeless. Many girls in Asian seems to have a sprit of dressing like others. Girls seem to prefer dressing in similar girlish styles with similar makeup and clothes like they are being members of the majority. There is a high rate of school bulling in Japan. The main reason cause this situation may be the result of education from school or authorities. Japanese education focuses on group profits rather than standing out for oneself. “A characteristic of Japan is that you should not stand out.”(The 2017) “In Japanese culture, schools are driven by a high standard of collective thinking and conformity. Students with qualities like “individuality” and “uniqueness” will be easier to be the target for bulling. In contrast, those who conformed were generally safe from bullying attacks.”(No 2017) Similar in China, there is a strict uniform standard for both men and women before China embraced capitalism in the early 1990s.

The gaining population of girlish culture may have connections with a deeper reason about sexual attraction. Girlish styles also have some characters that attract people from a sexual way. Amy Lai has said in the article Consuming “Hello Kitty”: Tween Icon, Sexy Cute, and the Changing Meaning of ‘Girlhood’, “The ‘cuteness’ of Kitty is not merely for cuteness’ sake but has turned into a weapon to increase the sex appeal of its owner. The cuteness of a giggling girl clad in a Hello Kitty jumper may not be all that innocent; in fact, this is sexually alluring to those with Lolicom.”(Lai, A. 2005) Based on the BBC documentary Young Sex For Sale, “Some high school girls in Tokyo sell their time to passers-by, while their minders hover in the background. Men pay to hold hands, go for a walk or have a cup of coffee with the girls. Some even pay to sleep on a girl’s lap. Japan is also home to 300 “JK cafes”, where adult men pay to hang out with underage girls”, Based on the documentary. (Varley, C. 2017) It is obvious that certain group in Japan has a strong nostalgia for childhood and cuteness from a sexual aspect.


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