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The Japanese Girls' Obsession with "Huge Eyes" - Newspaper Column
This is a short article/commentary I came across in Asahi Shinbun (29th January 2011). It talks about the Purikura machines in Japan (known to Singaporeans as 'Neoprint' or photo-sticker booths) having an automatic eye recognition device which recognises the eyes and make them appear bigger in the print-out. This function was first introduced in 2007. Current functions allow users to choose the desired size of their eyes in the print-out.
Despite such functions, many girls still find the necessity to wear heavy make-up to 'enlarge' their eyes (using lots of eyeliner, eye shadow, fake eye lashes, fake double eye-lids.. you get the idea) before taking Purikura. This 'need' to enlarge their eyes is due to their belief that 'big eyes (盛れてる) are cute (かわいい)' and by posting big-eyed pictures of themselves on social networking sites they would have a better chance to meet guys (or get a boyfriend).
While Japan has many 'new' gender categories, it still remains a country with heavy gender stereotyping. I thought this article is really interesting since it highlights the fact that many Japanese girls, regardless of age, are conditioned by the 'Ideology of Beauty' (キレイ・イデオロギー) though mass media. These girls often take what they see at face value and 'over react' in their response to it. The interviewee in the article, 17 year-old Erina, used much make-up to make her eyes look twice as large. She claims that she wants to be cuter (that means having larger eyes) because life is about the face, and that no matter how much you change your personality, getting a boyfriend depends on the face ( だって、人生は顔だと思う。男の人とつきあえるかどうかは顔で決まる。中身なんて、いくらでも変えられるじゃないですか？)
This article coincides with my recent exchange experience in Japan. While i did not understand the Japanese girls' obsession with Purikura, I must admit that I was impressed by the technology of the Purikura machines; one could add coloured contact lenses to the photos, dye their hair, add on fake eye lashes, the works! I was rather annoyed that the machines automatically enlarged my eyes for the photos though. Imagine how it would look like for girls who have naturally large eyes? During my stay with a host family, I noticed that the anime (Japanese cartoons) my host sisters (8 and 11years old) watched were full of gender stereotyping: they taught young girls how to dress well and use make-up to become popular (盛ってる). Imagine! At ages 8 and 11, hardly near puberty and the girls are already taught to 'look pretty' and 'dress well/fashionably' to get the attention of boys. True enough, the girls added fake eye lashes and eye shadow to their photos with the Purikura machines (since they were too young to wear make-up). With heavy advertising by the cosmetic industry, Japanese girls have become conditioned to believe in the necessity to doll up. Going to school everyday is literally walking into a fashion runway, where girls wore ridiculously short shirts despite the cold winter. Remember, cute is the way to go in Japan; and the face is everything.
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, Feb 16 2011, 12:30 PM EST
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|グラディス様||re: Interesting...||0||Apr 14 2011, 5:19 AM EDT by グラディス様|
Thread started: Apr 14 2011, 5:19 AM EDT Watch
@Otonashi: Thanks for your comments. Yes the 'big eyes' phenomenon is not only within youths. Many Japanese women up till the age of 30 are obsessed with 'big eyes'. I believe the phenomenon is also greatly influenced by the idea of the 'glamourous hostess'. Hostessing, a job that used to be scorned have become one that is respected and envied among Japanese youths. It is the 'dream job' of many young girls: getting to dress up in beautiful clothes, wear make-up to look pretty and earning lots of money (to buy branded labels) by drinking and entertaining customers (without the sex, though it does happens in certain cases). The 'big eyes', 'curly blond hair' and 'pouty lips' are typical of a hostess, and these are highly publicized in girls' fashion magazines and on television. There are numerous game and talk shows discussing the lives of single mothers who work as hostesses in Japan. The glamourization of the selected few who made it make in the industry (few of them have become so successful, they started clothing retail businesses [selling hostess-styled clothing of course!]) has resulted in many young girls idolizing these hostess.
I guess one of the reasons why this 'big eyes' culture is so sort-after by youths is due to the fact that it can really be done while one is young! Most of these Japanese women realise that they simply do not have the time to enlarge their eyes for work after marriage (especially once they have children).
|Otonashi||Interesting...||0||Feb 17 2011, 9:44 AM EST by Otonashi|
Thread started: Feb 17 2011, 9:44 AM EST Watch
@グラディス様 : That is an interesting article. While I am pretty amazed at how gender stereotypes are propagated through Purikura, I have noticed that this could be another form of peer socializing effect. I suggested this because of the way the interviewed girl spoke. She said "やばい" (which could carry negative connotations similar to the usage of "oh my god" in english) instead of "かわいい" and the columnist have to give the reader an explanation of what the interviewed girl meant. This was probably "youth slang" and prompted me to think about the acceptance of "big eyes" in the more matured women. As much as importance of looks is stressed/constructed, the particular importance of "big eyes" may be commercially constructed or originated amongst youth and generated a new gender characteristic. While the readings we have read so far covered mainly children "becoming" male or female, the same could be said about people from all ages. In this case, "big eyes" may be sort after only by youths (just suggesting and stand to be corrected)
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