Sunday, November 25, 2012

Don't Give Me A Title

Blog #4

Like hip hop culture, Japanese street fashion embodies the trickle-up theory, a more modern approach to the traditional trickle-down theory of fashion.  There’s a certain allure to creating your own style, and from demure to garish, Japanese high school girls were the pioneers from hime gyaru to hardcore ganguro (Kawamura, "Japanese Teens as Fashion Producers of Street Fashion").  EGG magazine, one of the most influential gatekeepers of the youthful Japanese culture, pulls out all of the things inspired by the street – the brown/blonde hair, the magical false lower lashes, the cutesy to edgy clothing inspirations.  

What I’m interested in, however, was the origin of the ganguro style.  What in the world?  It sticks out like a sore thumb from the typical princess-y gyaru, which - as is typical of Asian ideals - values pale skin.  However, the Ganguro movement strives to darken skin tone to the point where African-Americans start quirking eyebrows.  It’s a fashion, for sure – but where do its origins come from?

Here’s a theory:  Hip hop culture.  Hm.  Interestingly enough, two of the few distinctive movements that defy traditional fashion theory is related to each other.  There is indeed a correlation between Ganguro – which translates literally to “Black Face” – and black youth culture after all.  “Ganguro reflects the global influences of hip-hop culture, commercialism, and the exploration of African-American culture as a fetish (Liu)”.  To be honest, I wouldn’t have made that conclusion by myself – I thought Ganguro was more of a cry of “I’m an individual!” in this big world.  In my longstanding belief, the objective of those who adopt this rather intriguing fashion is not to imitate black culture, but also to express individuality and go for what hip-hop was aiming to address - the displacement of the individual.  Ganguro is far away from the mainstream, and the extremely tanned skin is shock value to the rest of Japanese society.  It’s a form of expression.

Fashion is not just for the goal of aesthetics.  It’s also there to make a statement, and to define the self.  Now, this thought make me happy – ganguro girls may be looked down upon as ruffians, but all they want to do is escape the strict confines of society, just like me – and I’m sure many others agree as well.  They just found an outlet for their frustrations, and that is through the statement fashions and dark skin.  They’re brave.  I have a chicken heart – I would never dare to do such a thing, but I do applaud their boldness.

Be Green Challenge Update:

I’m guilty.  Evil.  Guilty.  I didn’t realize exactly how powerful the influence of family can be in buying things.  I will justify everything I had done from Thursday, 6PM to Friday, 2PM as ‘serving the greater good’.  I was helping out my family.  I was helping them buy things, because I was another person who could help hold a place in line, as well as swipe a credit card.  Granted, I didn’t buy anything for myself, but my mother did buy me a ten dollar sweater (much to my protests, I assure you).  Black Friday was ridiculous, by the way.  All I had to do to rile up tension was for me to point at a much-desired item fresh out of stock (in this case, a wee vacuum cleaner) that was currently housed in some guy's cart.  That was all it took for him to hurry over, SHIELD THE MERCHANDISE WITH HIS BODY and bare his teeth into something that I definitely knew wasn't a friendly smile. Ridiculous.  Consumerism, you create animals.

One thing that I was forced to think about while I stood in the snaking lines was how old all of the severely price-slashed merchandise was.  Black Friday seemed to be a way for stores to clear out old inventory and introduce new things for consumers to slobber about all over again.  Consumerism goes hand in hand with innovation.  Innovation indicates societal progression, and societal progression can't just halt in its tracks.  What a hard cycle to break.

Till next time,

Jing Mai

Outside Sources:
Liu, Xuexin.  “The Hip-Hop Impact on Japanese Youth Culture”.  Southeast Conference of the Association of Asian American Studies. 2005. Web.

Inside Sources: 
Kawamura, Yuniwa.  “Japanese Teens As Fashion Producers of Street Fashion”. Reader.
Kawamura, Yuniwa. Fashion-ology: An Introduction to Fashion Studies. Oxford: Berg, 2006. 18. Print.

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