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"The Secret of Japanese Fashion" [unedited]

[Note: I wrote this in several 5-minute segments while proctoring during midterms this year. It was written over the course of several days. The subject is the "homeless 80's girl" look that's so prevalent here (especially around Osaka). It's basically unedited, and hasn't been revised at all, so it's certainly not up to par for publication, but I wanted to type it up before the paper I wrote it on bursts into flames for no reason other than to aggravate me. Oh, and I make lots of generalizations. Lots of them. And re-reading this essay, it sounds waaaay more sarcastic and mean than it's supposed to. I don't actually hate Japanese girls as much as it sounds like I do here.]

I finally discovered the secret of Japanese fashion. At first, I thought it was a pricey, schizophrenic attempt at appearing as impoverished as possible, but--although that's what it looks like--there's a different method behind the madness.

"Cute gone awry." See, it's easy to find cute outfits in Japan. Everything you see in the clothing stores here is bent on making its wearer adorable. (Unless it's in my size, of course; then it just looks frightening.) \

So your average Japanese (late-teen to early adult, 17-35) girl takes somebody else's credit card and decides to blow it all on clothes. She's cute--big eyes, overdone makeup, and a simple, but well-coordinated, outfit of cuteness. She looks at all the clothes around her and she thinks, "What could possibly make me any cuter than I already am?!" because cute Japanese girls are, frankly, a dime a dozen. So she buys several of the absolute cutest ensembles and accessories, boots and socks, hose and neckties, that she can think of. She tries each thing on at home and marvels at her cuteness, but it isn't enough. Then it hits her: "Each item I bought has a specific number of 'cute points.' So, if I wear my pink overshirt (12pts), my black tank top (8pts), my knee-high black boots (15pts) with fishnets (10pts), a black miniskirt (16pts), and earrings (5pts), then that's 66 points worth of cute." ** Then her ill-used little brain starts cranking out digits. "The more cute things I add, the cuter I'll become! Mwa-ha-ha-haaaa!" ***

Thus, she begins to add stuff. However, she soon realizes that there's a limit to what she can add. Then suddenly, she has yet another**** epiphany: "If I wear all my top-rated cute items, then that'll end up being cuter than if I just put things together at random!" ***** So she hunts down the cutest of the cutest things she has.

Here's her list:
-black lacy bra
-red lacy bra
-Pooh Bear panties
-fishnets (brown)
-plaid tank (mostly red)
-striped overshirt (green and grey)
-purple leg warmers
-rainbow-colored arm warmers
-pink mini-heels
-yellow socks
-grey shorts (knee-length)
-plaid biased miniskirt (mostly green)
-necktie (blue)
-rings (3 gold, 4 silver)
-bracelets (3 rainbow-colored, 1 pink, 1 silver)
-necklaces (3 silver chains with large pendants)
-earrings (1 large pink, 1 small silver)
-earhook (long, dangly, with a feather in the middle)
-headband (orange)
-hair clips (rhinestone, 2)
-makeup (everything she's got)
-red Hermes bag
-white Gucci bag

Then she puts on all the items on her list, turns her toes in, and minces out the door, oozing cutification and proud of her new discovery.

And there--out on the streets, in the train station, milling through the stores--to our heroine's horror, are a million other girls who've made the same great discovery.

Thankfully (lucky for me), Japanese guys haven't hopped that particular brand of bandwagon. Then again, maybe it's only a matter of time before they come to the same realization that, on paper, sounds quite American: "MORE IS MORE."

** To be fair, she could never have added or ascribed such points, but for the sake of argument, I made her much smarter than she would be in reality.
*** Actually, only bad guys in Japanese comics say that, and only in the English versions, but Japanese girls--especially the Osaka ones--seem evil enough, so I decided to let it go.
****I say, "yet another," because the fact that she had the first one was enough for a lifetime of new ideas for her.
***** Again, her actual thoughts would never be so coherent. (Then again, neither are mine, usually.)

Reading over this again, this is probably one of the most bitter things I've ever written or read. I actually don't care either way about Japanese girls (as that crazy exchange student who was here last semester said, "I don't swing that way"), and I don't have anything for or against them. Japanese guys certainly aren't interested in American girls, so it's not like they're competition. I'm not sure what nerve what being tampered with when I wrote this (although I do know I was experiencing a lot of stress 'cuz of work and a certain dung-lover who likes Christmas music) but it was supposed to be light-hearted and funny, not spiteful. If I ever get around to rewriting it, I'll definitely camp it up a lot more and make the essay itself cuter. Maybe I'll even add pictures (that would certainly help for people who don't know what I'm talking about).

Just have to get up the balls to take them....


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 11th, 2004 08:08 am (UTC)
Is that a minority of girls that dress like that, comprable to, say, goth or something? Or is it really common?
Jul. 11th, 2004 09:11 pm (UTC)
It's actually pretty prevalent. I'd say about 10-15% of all girls here dress that way. It's horrific.
Jul. 11th, 2004 09:03 am (UTC)
That is so true. You are sarcastic in there, but I don't think it's too horrible. Has fashion gotten worse since study abroad two years ago? I vaguely remember the college students being a little more conservative about the fashion blitz... but I could be wrong.

Jul. 11th, 2004 09:27 am (UTC)
That put a smile on my face :D Should I feel evil?

I had the pleasure of dragging my cousin around several boutiques in London last July, when the city was full of Japanese tourists. I recall staring, slack jawed, at the number of Japanese girls no older than I am, grabbing items off the racks in Harrods and ending up as a pile of expensive, mismatched clothings on legs that was making its way toward the cash register.

I would never be seen dead in one such items, moreover, the cheapest one cost about two months worth of translation work >< I wonder about fashion sense, sometimes.
Jul. 11th, 2004 09:16 pm (UTC)
Japanese girls are a crazy breed.

I like the super-pig, btw. ^_^

Jul. 12th, 2004 03:23 am (UTC)
Thanks ^_^ icon made by rinslet!
Jul. 14th, 2004 08:22 am (UTC)
A more true synaposis has never been written. That "homeless 80s girl" look is HUUUUUGE here in Osaka. And layering (if thats what you want to call it) is madly out of control. However you forgot to mention the modification of clothing. More specifically, the cutting of jeans as close to the crotch as is allowed by Japanese decency standards.
Jul. 14th, 2004 08:25 am (UTC)
AND I forgot to mention your comment on Japanese guys that dont like American girls. I dont know where you are staying, but about 90% of my friends here are guys. And I have friends all over the place in Japan. And I dont know a single one that doesnt like American women. Almost to a creepy extent (IE one guy, not my friend by the way, bought an american hooker in the states once, and decided to tell me all about it over lunch)
Jul. 15th, 2004 08:40 pm (UTC)
Japanese guys like the idea of hooking up with American girls, but they don't really want a "real" relationship. That's been my experience, at least. ::sigh::

Btw, I'm in Nishinomiya, which is about halfway b/t Osaka and Kobe (just north of Nishinomiya-Kitaguchi Station on the Kobe Hankyu Line).
Jul. 15th, 2004 09:33 pm (UTC)
Ok, I could see that. But once again at least SOME of my friends want to marry an american! I dont know those lines very well. If you know the Kintetsu line at all, I live a few minutes from Kawachi Kosaka. Its by Fuse and not too far from Tsuruhashi. Today Im leaving to go to Tokyo for a night, and then with my friend from Tokyo to nearby Kamakura for a few nights. I train karate, and my headquarters dojo is in Higashi Osaka, and Im going to train at a couple dojos this weekend. Thats literally all I do here, and its why I came. Good luck with the guys!
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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