‘Cultivating Japanese Whiteness’ Ashikari, M (2005)

Below shows part of a journal written by Ashikari (2005), regarding the well-know Japanese beauty trend of ‘skin-lightening’. This journal in particular looks at this in a cultural, historical and social context. It also highlights how both Japanese and Western brands uses suggestive and clever copywriting and marketing within their ad campaigns. This is something which I will be looking out for during my research trip to Tokyo.

Main points raised throughout the journal:

  • Two perspectives on the ‘skin lightening’ trend, and where this has stemmed from – western influences and commercialisation, as well as traditional values and historical cultures in Japan (if you were a woman whom worked an outdoor labouring job, this seen as a ‘poor’ trade and meant you tanned naturally, whilst those in aristocracy or working inside, allowed for a more affluent lifestyle, and lighter skin).
  • Copywriting and marketing of consumer goods and magazines can be tactful and clever.
  • Opposite to the UK – tanning is popular in the UK and is seen as a sign of affluence and holiday-going.
  • Ties with traditional Japanese culture, symbols and identity – the Geisha.
  • ‘White’ skin is considered beautiful and more preferable.
  • Emphasis on ‘youthful and natural’ skin via anti-ageing and skin-lightening products, opposed to heavy makeup trends, as often seen in Western culture.
  • Allows for a feeling of inclusion and belonging.
  • Cannot escape the ‘ideal’ due to an influx of the above points.

The above points I would like to talk to about further whilst seeing Vogue Japan, and a Japanese Beauty Blogger I have made contact with in Tokyo, whilst on my trip in order to gain their insights and perspectives on this, whilst affirming the points made throughout this journal.

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Ashikari, M. (2005). Cultivating Japanese Whiteness. Journal of Material Culture. 10 (1), P. 73-90.