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Japanese Beauty Standards: Everything You Need to Know
Konnichiwa! Have you ever wondered how a dash of history, a pinch of social vibes, and a sprinkle of media magic create a captivating symphony of beauty standards? Buckle up because we’re taking you on an exciting ride to the land of the rising sun – Japan!
Beauty standards vary widely across cultures and are influenced by historical, social, and media factors. One such fascinating set of standards is found in Japan, where notions of beauty have evolved over centuries, blending tradition with modern influences.
In a world where aesthetics are a window into culture and history, Japan’s notions of beauty are a mesmerizing fusion of tradition, evolution, and global influence. From dainty to enigmatic, we uncover the mysteries behind Japanese beauty standards.
So, grab your kimono – or comfy pajamas, we don’t judge – and let’s hop on the beauty bullet train to discover the dazzling world of Japanese aesthetics!
What Is the Symbol of Beauty in Japan?
In Japan, the symbol of beauty in terms of looks has historically been associated with features that convey a sense of elegance, delicacy, and refinement. Over time, these features have evolved, but certain elements remain influential in defining modern Japanese beauty standards.
Keep in mind that individual preferences can vary, and modern influences have diversified beauty standards. However, some enduring symbols of beauty in Japan include:
Clear and Pale Skin
Fair and porcelain-like skin in Japan isn’t just a preference; it’s a symbol of timeless beauty. This aesthetic fascination is intertwined with historical and cultural narratives stretching back centuries.
Picture this: a society where a light skin tone was more than just skin deep. It carried with it an association with nobility and refinement. The aristocracy often spent their days indoors in a bygone era, shielded from the sun’s rays. Thus, the coveted pale skin came to signify a life of elegance and privilege.
Today, the allure of unblemished skin is still preferred in East Asia, including South Korea and Taiwan. With that, many Japanese women buy numerous skin whitening products for a lighter skin tone. Thus, most Japanese beauty products have bleaching and whitening properties to achieve that youthful appearance.
Small Oval Face and V-Shaped Chin
In Japanese beauty standards, a small oval face and V-shaped chin reign supreme as an embodiment of grace and charisma.
This preference for a diminutive visage is steeped in perceptions of beauty that extend beyond the superficial. The small oval face is more than just a physical trait; it’s a canvas reflecting elegance and femininity. Much like a work of art, its contours are appreciated for their harmony and balance.
You’ll undoubtedly encounter the term “kogao” (小顔) in Japanese conversations about beauty. This term, which translates to “small face,” is more than a mere description. It’s a compliment, a nod to a person’s charm and poise. When someone is praised for having a “kogao,” it’s an acknowledgment of their refined presence and the elegance they exude.
To attain a V-shaped face, Japanese women practice facial exercises and facial massages, and if it’s not working, they turn to cosmetic surgery.
Large Expressive Eyes
In Japanese beauty standards, eyes hold a special place as the portals to emotion and connection. The appeal of large, expressive eyes is about the emotions they convey and the stories they tell.
Enter the stage, the concept of double eyelids. These subtle creases in the upper eyelid have enhanced the eyes’ appearance, creating the illusion of a more open and expansive gaze. This phenomenon has sparked trends, inspiring makeup techniques like adding double eyelid tape and even double eyelid plastic surgery.
Neat and Elegant Black Hairstyles
From the pages of history to the dynamic present, the attraction of hairstyles isn’t merely about aesthetics – it reflects cultural identity and personal refinement. Even old Japanese beauty standards emphasize that having long hair length represents femininity.
In Japan, a well-kept appearance is a reflection of consideration and care. In today’s bustling world, where self-expression takes on various forms, the value of grooming is preserved. It’s a nod to tradition and an embodiment of dignity and respect.
Petite and Slender Physique
Within Japanese beauty standards, a preference for a slim figure has consistently held a position of prominence. Long slender legs, a small waist, and thin arms are just a few of the preferred physiques.
Although an hourglass figure is still appreciated, Japanese beauty standards value a dainty and petite look more. To achieve this, Japanese women exercise, follow a strict diet, and even take diet supplements.
The intense emphasis on conforming to these prevailing standards has, in certain instances, given rise to worries surrounding body image and unhealthful eating disorders. The convergence of societal pressure and the desire to align with established ideals has, regrettably, at times overshadowed holistic health considerations.
Modern beauty standard in Japan values a natural look, but just because it’s ‘natural,’ it doesn’t mean you won’t wear makeup. In fact, workplaces in Japan consider it professional to wear makeup at work. In Japan, natural-looking makeup that makes you look happy, fresh, and energetic is ideal.
Many Japanese women today prefer a natural makeup routine. Japanese makeup includes slight foundation or concealer, curly eyelashes using an eyelash curler, lip balm, light blush, and brushed natural eyebrows with some added powder.
Uniquely enough, women in Japan also practice and use natural methods in skincare and makeup. Historically, Japanese women have employed specific dietary practices to maintain clear skin. These practices include exfoliation using antioxidant-rich adzuki crushed beans and rice water for skin cleansing.
Although the body images presented above are regarded as a prevailing Japanese beauty standard, it’s important to note that they might not align with everyone’s personal preferences. Rather, it represents a manifestation of beauty shaped by historical and cultural contexts. Japanese people still have different preferences, which do not conform to one beauty look.
What Are the Modern Japanese Beauty Standards in Terms of Fashion?
Japanese beauty standards are deeply rooted in history, drawing inspiration from traditional arts such as geisha culture and Kabuki theater.
In the past, Japanese beauty standards in terms of fashion promoted layers upon layers of clothes called kimono, yukata, and the like.
Modern Japanese beauty standards and contemporary Japanese body aesthetics have evolved into diverse forms as modernization and cultural exchange have taken hold. People who want to break away from strict standards usually find creative ways to show their uniqueness. These modern fashion trends include:
The kimono, a quintessential symbol of Japanese culture, is a testament to the nation’s rich heritage and artistic prowess. This traditional garment, known for its timeless elegance, carries a deep historical significance and a remarkable fusion of art, fashion, and cultural identity within its folds.
In modern times, the kimono has seamlessly adapted to contemporary fashion movements while preserving its cultural significance. Designers and artisans have ingeniously merged traditional techniques with other countries’ modern materials and styles, giving rise to a plethora of variations that cater to diverse tastes.
These adaptations, referred to as “modern kimono” or “fusion kimono,” have made this iconic garment relevant in today’s global fashion landscape.
Kawaii, a term originating from Japan and meaning “cute” or “adorable,” has become a powerful cultural phenomenon that transcends borders and encompasses a wide range of aspects in fashion, pop culture, and daily life. This vibrant and charming trend revolves around celebrating innocence, childlike wonder, and the allure of all things endearing.
Dressing in this style involves mini skirts, pink and pastel colors, frills, cat ears, and any design that creates a childlike charm.
Harajuku style is a vibrant and iconic fashion subculture rooted in the bustling streets of Tokyo’s Harajuku district. To freely express their own fashion creativity, Japanese people paved the way for Harajuku fashion. Harajuku fashion is a medium for Japanese people to break free from traditional Japanese beauty standards.
One remarkable aspect of Harajuku’s style is its ability to fuse disparate elements into cohesive and captivating looks seamlessly. Streetwear meets vintage, high fashion encounters DIY creations, and global influences merge with Japanese cultural motifs.
Harajuku subcultures include:
- Lolita – Lolita fashion encompasses a playful charm, defined by intricate dresses and unique substyles. It’s basically kawaii Japanese makeup that merges with Victorian and European dresses. It’s a community-driven style that celebrates creativity and showcases how fashion can embody elegance and whimsy.
- Fairy-Kei – Fairy kei is a whimsical Japanese fashion subculture that embraces pastel colors, cute motifs, and a nostalgic blend of ’80s and ’90s pop culture. Inspired by fairy tales and magical elements, it’s a style that evokes a sense of playful nostalgia and childlike wonder.
- Visual-Kei – Visual kei is a distinctive Japanese music and fashion movement characterized by bold and flamboyant aesthetics, often involving elaborate makeup, striking hairstyles, and a fusion of glam rock and punk influences. It’s a captivating subculture that blurs the lines between music, art, and self-expression.
Minimalist Zen Aesthetic
Traditional meets modern Japanese beauty standards. The Minimalist Zen aesthetic in fashion is an embodiment of tranquility and refinement. Rooted in the principles of Zen philosophy, it captures the essence of simplicity and harmonious balance.
At its core, this aesthetic thrives on clean lines, uncluttered silhouettes, and a subdued color palette. Neutrals like whites, blacks, greys, and earthy tones dominate, fostering a sense of calm and cohesion. The focus isn’t on excessive embellishments or ornate details; it’s about embracing the elegance of the essentials.
Textures play a pivotal role in this aesthetic, where the tactile quality of fabrics takes center stage. Smooth cotton, luxurious silks, and tactile linens add depth to the minimalism, encouraging a sensory experience that aligns with the current philosophy of being present.
However, embracing Minimalist Zen doesn’t equate to monotony. Instead, it’s an invitation to find beauty in the spaces between, to celebrate the artistry in restraint — accessories, though few, are chosen for their purpose and impact. A single statement piece, devoid of excess, can create a profound visual impact.
Japanese streetwear is a dynamic fashion subculture originating from urban areas like Tokyo. It blends urban style with Japanese aesthetics and cultural elements.
Many Japanese who prefer street wear draws inspiration from Western culture, hip-hop, skateboarding, anime, and more. Key features include bold graphics, mix-and-match styles, layering, unique silhouettes, and a focus on sneakers and accessories.
What is the Japanese beauty standard weight?
Japanese beauty standards regarding weight can vary and have evolved due to cultural, societal, and global influences. Historically, a slender and petite body type has often been favored in Japan, as it aligns with traditional ideals of elegance and grace. However, it’s important to note that beauty standards are not uniform across the entire population and can differ among individuals.
In recent years, there has been increasing awareness and discussion around body positivity and diversity in Japan, as well as a push to challenge strict beauty ideals. Some Japanese individuals and communities advocate for a broader range of body types to be accepted and celebrated.
While the idea of an “ideal weight” may have been more rigid in the past, modern Japanese society is becoming more accepting of different body shapes and sizes, influenced partly by global conversations on body image and self-acceptance.
Japanese beauty standards offer a unique perspective on the intersection of tradition and modernity. While historical notions of porcelain skin and delicate features continue to influence preferences, globalization and changing cultural narratives are expanding the definition of beauty.
Understanding these standards can provide insights into Japan’s complex cultural landscape and evolving perceptions of attractiveness. Remember, true beauty transcends any specific standard and lies in embracing individuality and self-confidence.
Alex graduated from FEU Manila with a degree in Financial Management. When she’s not busy adoring cats, you can find her raiding Watson’s clearance section.