It was really interesting to read this article, particularly because of the image that the Japanese female is given in general. Stereotypically, the Japanese girl is seen as "cute" more than anything else, from the way she looks all the the way down to the accessories that she posesses. Everything is "cute" because it is colorful, small the style is innocent and rebelious.
I sort of feel like the way the author attacks the youth culture in Japana is a bit excessive regarding the claim that "cute" culture is destructive and "is anti-social; it idolises pre-social" pp. 251. Supposedly the way that Japanese youth has been embracing "Cute" innocent culture negative particularly because the values that this sort of culture embraces evade the important values of responsibility and social progress.
I guess if I were to call it anything I would say that it's just a fad, like the way that America has embraced mainstream hip hop culture; sooner or later something else will take its place. In my opinion, this Japanese "cute" culture is a bit more complicated than it being just a way for youth to avoid the responsibilities of adulthood in the competative work environment of Japan society.
I think the importance of gender roles in Japanese society are something valued more than gender roles in contemporary American culture. This can be something that the common American would overlook, in analyzing another culture simply because what is deemed normal in the U.S. is far more liberal than many other nations, no matter how industrialized their society. I remember in a previous article we had read for this class, it talked about the way that women were portrayed in advertising in the United States in comparison to the way that women were portrayed in advertising in foreign countries. In the United States, women were viewed as objects, as the body of the female was glorified more than anything. In Japanese advertising, there was a great emphasis on the female face more than the body, while simultaneously focussing on portraying women in house, and fulfilling conservative female gender roles. This sort of image is what we, in America associate with 1950's culture where the woman's primary obligation was within the home while the man was out working a 9-5 job. This sort of "cute" culture could easily be interpreted simply as a reinforcer for gender roles. I don't believe that this culture is "threatening" to the future of Japanese economy and society whatsoever, considering that even if this childish fad overwhelms youth, the professional working world in Japan and other industrialized nations will draw the line to the point where youth will have to "grow up" to live on. With all the talk in sociology classes and ASA classes about conservative hegemonic and social structures, I feel that this article gives little credit to the culture that exists in the professional working world, which will, if anything crush non-progressive culture like Japanese "cute" culture.
Yes, it's true that this cute culture started all the way back in the 1970's. But as this culture was first identified by the way teenage girls in school would write with "mechanical pencils that produced very fine lines" (outside source) and drawing of "smiley faces and hearts", we can see how this sort of rebelious culture is tamed. Any sub culture or fad absolutely HAS TO fall within a particular larger social structure. Even though we notice small trends and changes here and there started by an underground youth movement, the social structure with which we live in that have developed over years and years are dominant.
So...basically I say its just a fad...a very big fad but it's tamed, so don't trip.
As far as the compact challenge goes, I have yet to buy any clothes since the challenge started at the beginning of the quarter. It's not that I'm really really trying not to buy anything, but it's been a combination of me "sort of" trying and also me being too lazy to go out and buy any clothes. BUT if I do find something that I want to buy, I'll definitely make sure to see whether or not it was made in the US, because I think it is really important to help support product production in the U.S.
PICTURES WON'T POST SO USE THE LINKS
Reading: Sharon Kinsella. "Cuties in Japan."
Outside Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuteness_in_Japanese_culture