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In Comparison: Japanese, Caucasian, and African American Perceptions of Beauty


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Title: In Comparison: Japanese, Caucasian, and African American Perceptions of Beauty

In Comparison Japanese, Caucasian, and African
American Perceptions of Beauty

Japanese Beauty Philosophy
  • Beauty in Japanese thought "is not limited to
    physical beauty, i.e., beautiful flowers,
    beautiful women, but involves spiritual beauty
    also because Japanese ideology demands purity of
    mind, refinement of tastes, of individuals and
    mutual love.
  • Extremely aesthetic culture

  • Zen-like philosophy which emphasizes tranquility
    with external. In other words, negates the idea
    that all beauty and knowing is not out there
    waiting to be discovered, but within each moment.
  • Natural, ancient way which emphasizes simplicity.
  • All things are impermanent.All things are
    imperfect.All things are incomplete.
  • When accepted, these three tenants, allow for the
    maturation of contentment and happiness found in
    the unvarnished life. (Powell)

Tatemae and Honne
  • Tatemae literally means the outward structure of
    a building
  • Honne refers to the true and inner voice of a
  • Japanese society recognizes these two might
    conflict due to the fact that society values
  • This idea of face as it is called or tatemae is
    important to society which would make outward
    appearances important.

Past Present
  • Japan has more of a mixture of traditional and
    modern styles in an everyday context. It is not
    abnormal to walk down the street and see people
    wearing kimonos in Japan.

  • Uniforms are common in Japan. To the trained
    eye, it is possible to tell where everyone
    belongs based off of their uniform.
  • Each school and company has a different uniform
    which everyone wears. In companies the
    presidents wear the same uniform as the factory
  • This is due to the fact that group unity is
    essential to Japanese culture.
  • The Japanese view social harmony as vital and
    frown upon selfish individualism. It is expected
    that everyone is different, but social harmony is
    difficult to attain.

  • Bihaku An expression which means 'beautiful
  • The Japanese have long been derma-obsessed.
    Tanned skin is traditionally looked on with
    disdain in the Orient, where poets and writers
    idealized fair-skinned women in their work. Even
    the Japanese icon, the geisha, was rated by the
    condition of the skin on the back of her neck -
    the paler and softer it was, the more beautiful
    she was deemed to be.
  • Japanese today will use chemicals to lighten skin

  • Harajuku is a place in Tokyo where, on Sundays,
    Japanese youth will gather to exhibit their
    personal style wearing all sorts of odd clothing
    combinations. Additionally, there are sometimes
    informal music performances
  • Considered to be the hottest new source of
  • This new fashion even more outrageous when
    juxtaposed with the uniformity or traditionalism
    typical of Japanese fashion.

Japanese Beauty Regimen
  • According to the Challenging Beauty, a study
    conducted by Dove relating to differences in
    perceptions of beauty in different countries, the
    data illustrate that Japanese women are least
    likely to consider using deodorant, facial
    products, skin care as enhancing their beauty.
    This is considered a normal routine. Japanese
    women tend to turn more toward color enhancers to
    feel beautiful.
  • The data collected for challenging Beauty also
    indicated that Japanese women felt that taking
    good care of themselves was the best way to feel
  • According to the study, an important aspect to
    feeling beautiful is having a sense of style.
  • The study showed that Japanese women do not feel
    pressured by society to look a certain way, in
    other words, the emphasis and strive for beauty
    is extremely internalized.

Hip-hop culture in the U.S. and Japan
  • The European standard of beauty still applies to
    African-American women today despite the negative
    self-opinion it tends to promote.
  • Hip-hop culture, despite its frequent
    objectification of women, seeks to break-down old
    gender roles and therefore gains a wider
  • In Japan, female Hip-Hopers use the genre to defy
    gender restrictions for women

Idealized Features Japanese
  • Pale skin
  • Straight hair
  • Clean complexion
  • Personal sense of style
  • Slim and cute kawaii
  • Despite amount of western models, retain a sense
    of national identity in terms of what is
    considered beautiful i.e. pale skin.

  • Men not considered part of the equation in terms
    of beauty
  • In the past, men primping or being overly
    concerned with their looks was not attractive at
    it was un-masculine.
  • Having a good physique is essential to the male
    model of physical attractiveness. ?

Men Past and Present
  • Men who are admired at present tend to be more
    androgynous than in the past
  • Men starting to take beauty into account and
    spend more time thinking about fashion and
    grooming etc.
  • These men have been dubbed metrosexuals

Metrosexual Japanese Men
  • Japanese men have overwhelmingly gone for the
    metrosexual lifestyle.
  • Average 20 something males in Japan spend more
    time in a salon than average 20 something females
    in the U.S.
  • Japanese men are using a range of products
    including Clinique etc.
  • Men are spending exorbitant amounts of money, a
    man might spend 5,000 for a casual outfit
    consisting of only the most notable designers.

Ideal Features African-American
  • At present
  • Light skin color
  • Styled hair
  • European features
  • Thin

Idealized Features Caucasian-American
  • toned build
  • Tanned skin
  • Long, shiny hair
  • As tall as possible
  • Clear complexion

  • Japanese and African-American culture prefer
    lighter skin.
  • White people prefer tanned skin
  • Japan everything goes (more of a mixture
    between traditional and modern)

Comparisons cont.
  • Both Japanese and African-American women desire
    straight hair however, they utilize different
    methods of obtaining it.
  • Especially important in African-American women,
    in Japan it is just a preference

Three different cultures not extremely varied
either in what is considered beautiful, nor how
to obtain beauty.
  • If all our women were to become as beautiful as
    Venus de Medici we should for a time be charmed,
    but we should soon wish for variety, and as soon
    as we had obtained variety we should wish to see
    certain characteristics in our women a little
    exaggerated beyond the then existing common
    standard -Darwin

  • I say let me never be completeI say may I never
    be contentI say deliver me from Swedish
    furnitureI say deliver me from clever artsI say
    deliver me from clear skin and perfect teethI
    say you have to give upI say evolve, and let the
    chips fall where they may
  • Beautiful. Freaking beautiful.
  • -Tyler Durden, Fight Club (inadvertently
    advertising the principles of wabi-sabi)

  • Once there was an ugly barnacle, he was SO ugly
    that everyone died. The end.
  • Patrick Star

Works Cited
  • Non-Digital Sources
  • Aint I a Beauty Queen?  Black Women, Beauty,
    and the Politics of Race by Maxine Leeds Craig,
    Oxford University Press, New York, 2002. 
  • Contemporary Japan. McCargo, Duncan.

Works Cited
  • Websites (Data)
  • http//
  • http//,7369,11853
  • http//
  • http//
  • http//
  • http//

Works Cited
  • Websites (Pictures)
  • http//
  • http//
  • http//

Works Consulted
  • English Japanese Dictionary. Harper Collins
    Publishers. Glasgow, Great Britain, 2003
  • Making Out in Japanese. Geers, Todd Erika.
    Tuttle Publishing, Tokyo, Japan, 2003.
  • Oshare. Shiro Hana. Japan. (Its a Japanese
    fashion book, I cant read any of it!)
  • http//
  • http//
  • http//