This semester I was assigned a new roommate who is an exchange student from Japan. I was very excited in hearing all about her background and culture especially since I was going to actually see her culture for myself in a few months. She even taught me a few words (which I ofcourse forgot after a couple of hours).
However, there is one particular conversation we had that will always stick out to me. She was telling me about how majority of the young Japanese women at her college back home will applying make-up is a part of their every day routine and many of them will wake up 1-2 hours before class in order to prepare themselves. Wearing lipstick is especially big and if for some reason it is not worn, then a mask will be used to cover the mouth area. Women will also apply lighter colored foundation or other whitening products and use contour to make their noses seem narrower. Many also wear blue or green eye contacts and even go as far as getting double eye-lid surgery.
The standards of beauty in Japan are somewhat different than the standards in the United States. There is a collective desire among Japanese women to have very white skin, to be as light as possible, while in the U.S. tanner skin is more preferable. In the summer (no matter how hot it is), Japanese women will cover themselves from head to foot primarily for skin protection and avoidance of getting darker. “Japanese media and cosmetic industries install in women the idea that only small amount of sunshine can damage their skin” (japansociology). Like in the U.S., the media strongly affects women and their idea of beauty. Bihaku (Japanese marketing term and often used for representing skin whitening products and cosmetics) have become very popular especially among teenagers and young women in their twenties.
In addition, there is a strong appeal to double eyelids in Japan and is considered very highly on the beauty standard list. Many women will use numerous products and/or procedures to achieve the desired double eyelid which ultimately creates bigger eyes.
Having a slim face/figure is another beauty standard Japanese women sought after. The slimmer, the better, and the more beautiful. Japanese women strive for slimmer body features since in their culture, a skinny frame makes you more desirable. A specific body part that is very desireable in Japanese culture is long, thin legs. Similarly to creating double eyelids, there are also procedures designed to give women longer legs.