Monday, November 2, 2009

Please put on your mask at home

How cute and subliminal is the most recent poster? Despite this being recycled material I do love the personal grooming manner posters, although perhaps they could run one with a man doing some, well, man-grooming. I hope one day these are either released for sale or I grow some balls and permanently borrow one because I wouldn't mind a few of these adorning my future walls. Do you think we can expect more repeat themes from now on? I really don't think they've exhausted the possibilities as my new pet train peeve is men's jackets. Why must they allow the hems of their suit jackets to drape over my lap? Or worse, leave them trailing on an empty seat so that when I sit down I have to sit on the offending portion, thus pinning them down and making me feel like I have an ass made out of lead when the salaryman in question has to do a little jerking movement to remove the suit from under me upon exiting the train. Le sigh.

After pondering the cuteness of this poster and the superman-like transformation from dowdy OL with freckles (or spots of dirt on her face from the night before in Roppongi) to a rather fashion-forward, if not severe, young lady about town. Although the message seems to be don't apply your make-up on the train, I can't help feeling that it's actually saying don't show that face outside the house until you are so made up you look like a different person. This poster reminded me of a somewhat nasty story I have heard repeated about the gaijin guy who takes a hot Japanese girl home one night only to find the next day that she has a freaky-in-a-bad-way face after removing the make-up and had misrepresented her assets using various forms of undergarment trickery. I realize I am only perpetuating this story by repeating it but I would be fascinated to know if it has actually happened to anyone. I don't wear a lot of make-up nor have I had any friends who wear so much they look completely different with a naked face so I may not be in the best position to judge, but it does seem like there is a lot more transforming going on with make-up here in Japan. Rather than "accentuating your best features" as we are told in the West, the mantra here seems to be "make yourself look different."


Take for example, this nose shaper to help you achieve a "higher" nose. I have seen this and a similar device that fits inside your mouth (god knows what for) at most drugstores. I suppose this and eyelid surgery, and Japanese women think they look Western, when what they should do is appreciate the features they already have. I've never seen a group of women more interested in appropriating the physical features of another ethnic group as here. It seems a shame that some Japanese women are preoccupied with the much-touted high nose and big eyes, when similar arguments could be made for the beauty in their small noses and almond-shaped eyes. If (and a very big if) I ever have some half-babies of my own in the distant future, I would hope they won't feel the need to look more European or Japanese. Can anyone offer some insight on their own or their children's self image here in Japan?


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14 comments:

blukats said...

While I don't think it's the norm, I did notice while I was there and now more so in the beauty magazines the emphasis on a certain look. That is long curly hair that has been lightend and perhaps has added falls or weaves. Colored contacts to no end, and a bit of a tan. And definitely using make-up to contour a face.

I won't even get into the number of models that have had bust enhancements also.

It's kind of sad to see people who want to change themselves so much. I was astonished by a couple articles where the women went through so many changes in their daily make-up routine they no longer looked like themselves.

I really hope not all Japanese women think this is the way to go. And yes on the men grooming. I watched one guy on a train spend ten minutes fussing with his hair while staring into a Nightmare Before Christmas mirror. People watching on the trains is rather fun at times =)

RMilner said...

My wife's Japanese. Our daughter is 10 years old.

Her hair is fairly straight and dark brown. She has green eyes, inherited from me. She definitely looks more European than Japanese though you can see she is mixed.

I don't think she's old enough yet to have really noticed 'racial' issues and she goes to an international school where discrimination would be very unlikely.

She speaks perfect Japanese so any discrimination would hopefully be dissolved quickly except if it came from a proper racist.

Tokyo Moe said...

Blukats, I love watching excessive public male vanity. Beyond hair "biggin'ing," what other man grooming have you witnessed on the Tokyo Metro? GEG, surely you've seen some excesses!

Beth said...

The first poster confused me, and so does this one -- I don't know why it bothers people when girls put on makeup on the train. They don't bump anyone and everyone knows how to not look at each other if they don't wanna watch. I think you're right, the actual message must be "Don't make us see your real face." Hahaha.

I work around Akabane and take the Saikyo home. I LOVE LOVE LOVE watching the yankii girls get trussed up on the way into the city. They start off all haggard but by the time we get to Shinjuku they're fluffed and flawless and sparkling. I'm super creepy because I'm always staring at them sidelong to see how they do their makeup, but I can't help it, and that's how I finally learned to shape my liquid liner!

And ALSO, regarding public grooming in general, I used to never put on makeup in public, because I am too haha dignified, but lately I've been caught rushing between engagements and having to whip out my mirror and sticks wherever I can find a place to crouch. I don't think it's my imagination: as SOON as I start touching up my face, young Japanese guys start hitting on me. It makes me think a lot of the public touch-ups are for show, like, look how girly I am. Kind of like in the 20s in America when it was hip to take out your mirror and do your lipstick right in front of everyone. Of course, the featured ragged hag to OL Barbie would be a special case...

RMilner said...

The reason why it bothers people when women put on make-up on trains is because making up is normally something done in the privacy of your own home, possibly in front of close family members.

To do it in public mentally relegates the other passengers to the category of furniture.

Jen B said...

I don't think that there are that many norms regarding make-up, they all vary according to culture and time.

I LOVE being a girl, I LOVE that I get to be part of something so strange and enchanting as painting your face with colours, drawing lines, laquering, I LOVE that women (and some men) have been doing it in one form or the other for thousands of years all over the world.

I can't understand why anyone, and it seems to be women mostly, need to have an opinion on why women wear make-up or groom to whatever extent they like.

Please continue to enjoy not applying make-up and leave me with my eyeliner without feeling the urge to enlighten me.

Thanks.

Green-Eyed Geisha said...

blukats: There seem to be several beauty camps one can choose from here (mountain witch, princess, older sister, dancehall queen), which provides great eye candy for the train ride.

RMilner: I'm glad to hear about your daughter. I was thinking more along the lines of how biracial children perceive themselves here, rather than discrimination from other people. I am curious how this would differ between those brought up in Japan and those brought up overseas (if at all).

Tokyo Moe: "biggin'ing" love it! I saw a guy once spend 15 minutes on the same chunk of his bangs, making sure it sat just right (gotta love attention to detail), and he was perfectly unapologetic about it too. I think some parts of Tokyo are vainer than others, what say you?

Beth: Haha! I love watching them too, it's fascinating! I definitely feel like a creepy whitie though staring at them, kind of like creepy-sweepy's wife in the poster above. Maybe sunglasses are the answer. I never thought of it as being "for show" but now that you mention it, it is a bit like a peacock preening it's feathers, no?

Jen B: I'm not sure if the last comment was directed at me or not but if it was, I should probably clarify. I wear make-up every day (not a lot = nothing that hides my skin), get my nails done regularly, love dressing up and care about my appearance. Maybe this is no different from Japanese women trying to change how they look, I haven't given it that much thought. I guess I have always felt you should work with what you're given and the nose gadget in particular seems ridiculous. I think Japanese women should own their beauty, and from what I've seen, many of them do. Either way, thanks for your comment, it has gotten me thinking...

selena said...

Hi GEG. I'm a halfie and I feel pretty comfortable being one. I have a so-so decent body self-image and don't feel the need to try to be more one or the other.

I think other people sometimes feel inclined more than I do to point out the things that don't fit about me in one regard or another. Being told that this feature or that belongs to another ethnicity loses its charm after the millionth time.
Besides which, Japanese people have so many faces, and any time you try to say that one set of features defines a Japanese look, you'll find so many exceptions that you'll have to start all over again.

Mine is one of those faces, and people are just going to have to suck it and accept it. Or don't. I don't care.

Jen B said...

GEG: not directed at you! Just going on one of those rants about society :-D

Jen B said...

Just re-read my comment; so sorry, it totally sounds like I'm telling you off!

Anonymous said...

I like Selenas post about not worrying about her identity. My wife is Japanese and I have pondered over kids but dont have any. I think Japan did this to me, I dont know. Ive worked with so many halfs in Japan who seemed to have identity issues. One guy wouldnt let me talk English at work, others just acted weird. Seems a tough life for the half person in Japan. The women look great but I dont know why Japanese got to make an issue about being half.

Green-Eyed Geisha said...

Selena - Thanks for posting, it was interesting to read your response. I enjoy hearing about the experiences of people who are biracial, although I would imagine you must get sick of talking about it, especially with the "fascination" that seems to surround it

Jen B - Now I feel like a dork! Haha but honestly, your comment gave me pause to reflect and wonder if I was being hypocritical, so thanks

Sandra said...

Shoulda entered my poster contest - I gave one away last month! I love your blog. It's making me late for work as we speak.

Green-Eyed Geisha said...

Sandra - If only I had known!!!! Care to disclose how you got your hands on one? :)