What are the top Japanese beauty standards?

Global beauty standards differ across cultures and genders. While universal traits exist, specific preferences vary by region.

In the global beauty landscape, Asian countries favor fair skin. This is in contrast with the Western preference for a tan. These trends are broad but generally align with the majority.

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Despite its down-to-earth image, Japanese society has distinctive beauty preferences. This piece explores the specific qualities that define Japanese beauty standards.

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Historical Evolution of Japanese Beauty Standards

Cultural values, religious beliefs, and societal expectations influenced beauty standards in Japan. They go beyond mere surface appearances.

Heian Era

The Heian era emphasized elegance and refinement from the 8th to the 12th century. 

During this time, the aristocracy of the Heian court set beauty standards. Society expected women to embody a specific aesthetic. They have delicate features and long flowing hair, which they keep in good condition with frequent washing and brushing.

They wore intricate, layered kimonos adorned with colorful accessories. 

It focuses on cultivating a sense of grace and poise, with a preference for a subtle, ethereal beauty.

Edo Period

The Edo period (1603-1868) departed from the aristocratic aesthetics of the Heian era. The rise of the samurai class and establishment of the Tokugawa shogunate transformed societal norms. This affected Japanese culture.

The beauty standards of the Edo period became more understated yet sophisticated. Samurai-inspired ideals of strength, discipline, and simplicity influenced both men and women.

During the Edo period, Japanese women often wore subdued colors. They also wore more straightforward, practical hairstyles. The cultural focus shifted towards a more natural, unadorned beauty. This aligned with the disciplined ethos of the samurai class.

For Japanese men, the emphasis was on a stoic and dignified appearance. It reflects the values of the samurai warrior.

Meiji Era

The Meiji era in Japan, from 1868 to 1912, marked a transition from a feudal society. The focus shifted to a modern, industrialized nation.

This period influenced beauty standards as Japan adopted ideas and fashion from other countries like China, Korea, and the West.

The era changed clothing styles, hairstyles, and perceptions of physical beauty. This reflected Japan’s openness to global influences as it emerged from isolation. This shift continues to shape modern beauty standards in Japan.

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Kawaii Culture

The Japanese are still traditional, even when they adhere to modern global trends. They prefer cuteness over anything. Gender is not an issue. This beauty standard is for everyone.

“Kawaii” culture influences Japanese beauty standards, prioritizing youthful and cute features. This trend extends beyond aesthetics. It permeates the Japanese fashion and beauty industry. There, people prefer softer facial features and playful expressions.

The cultural significance of “kawaii” lies in its rejection of traditional norms. It encourages a lighthearted and playful approach to beauty. This challenges conventional notions of maturity.

This influence is a defining aspect of contemporary Japanese aesthetics. It shapes self-expression and societal perspectives on beauty.

Caucasian Eyes / Large Eyes

In their society, they consider a cute Japanese girl with Caucasian eyes to be the epitome of beauty. Women in Japan are obsessed with having Caucasian eyes.

They are so into it that many Japanese women undergo cosmetic surgery to have double eyelids. This allows them to have larger eyes.

Besides big eyes, they also have a fixation on blonde hair.

Japanese people born with blonde hair are lucky. But, those with natural black roots and locks dye their hair to meet Japan’s beauty standards.

Significance of Pale Skin

In Japan, the preference for fair or white skin is deeply ingrained.

Traditional figures like Geishas exemplify this. They have snow-white complexions, long hair, slender or petite body shapes, and big eyes.

They emphasize their beauty by wearing Japanese makeup. They wear red lipstick and white face powder. They also wear red eyeshadow that makes their eyelashes look longer.

In Japanese media, characters often use heavy makeup. They do this to achieve a European-like light skin tone. This overshadows the appreciation for natural Asian skin tones.

In the West, a tan can denote affluence. But, in Japan, it signifies working-class status.

While controversial, Japan ties skin tone to beauty and wealth standards. Lower socioeconomic status is linked to darker skin. This reduces recognition, regardless of a Japanese woman’s inherent natural beauty. 

The beauty industry in Japan reinforces this obsession. Popular cosmetics promote lighter skin, sometimes at the cost of long-term damage.

This cultural fixation on fair skin persists in modern Japan. It showcases a lasting tradition that continues to shape beauty ideals today.

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Crystal Clear Skin

In Japan, people tie fair skin to tradition. It extends beyond aesthetics to societal class distinctions and perceptions of beauty. 

Historical depictions of beauty highlight the preference for a flawless and fair complexion. Take the iconic Geisha as an example. They embody cultural ideals of refinement.

This historical portrayal resonates with modern beauty standards. 

Skincare products targeting fair skin remain widespread. It is part of their beauty secrets to maintain glowing skin. They emphasize the enduring cultural value placed on a clear and radiant complexion. 

As you can see, the cultural significance of pale skin in Japan is not a fleeting trend. It continues to influence perceptions of beauty in the modern era.

A Small Face

Japan emphasizes having a small face, especially on Japanese women. It is a unique beauty standard that sets it apart globally. Conforming to these standards implies a Japanese aesthetic.

For Japanese women who do not have small faces, achieving beauty in Japan might mean considering plastic surgery. 

This underscores the importance of adhering to cultural norms. Specific facial features, like double eyelids, are crucial to Japan’s concept of beauty. 

Getting cosmetic procedures reflects the cultural significance of face shapes, contours, and features.

It also shows the lengths individuals may go to meet societal expectations of what is considered beautiful.

A Westerner’s Observations on Japan’s Shifting Standards

As a Westerner in Japan, I’ve noticed significant changes in beauty standards. Globalization and modernization influenced these changes.

Japanese fashion now incorporates diverse hairstyles. They also go with vibrant colors, unconventional cuts, and global influences. This is creating a more inclusive definition of beauty.

This transformation is also visible in the beauty industry. Today, there’s a growing acceptance of different skin tones.

Cosmetic products catering to a more varied spectrum have also become prevalent. It is challenging the historical emphasis on a specific pale complexion.

In media and entertainment, there’s a clear departure from homogeneous portrayals.

Advertisements and television now feature models and celebrities from diverse backgrounds. It signals a shift to a more authentic representation of beauty in modern-day Japan.

Yet, amid all the changes, Japan’s fixation on the double eyelid remains unwavering.