After researching the concepts behind the ‘autoethnography’ study, I feel much more confident in analysing and researching Japanese fashion and the way that it is produced and consumed on Instagram. This week, as mentioned in the Week 7 blog, I will be focusing on the Japanese social constructions of the “ideal body,” the fashion model and the way that it contrasts with my own feelings about body image.
What were my feelings at the time?
When thinking about my feeling towards what society considers the “ideal” actually just makes me so disgusted, because of the mere fact that there can be no ideal but for the purpose of this autoethnography, I will push through and think about the way that society pushes us to look and be like. In Australia, when thinking about the ideal body image, a thin, surfer looking female comes into my head and the muscular surfer dude comes into my head and I straight away feel this stereotype pushing through my brain to force me to believe this is what I should look like in order to fit in. When thinking about these images in my head, I begun to question how different or even similar this ideal body image was, or even how important this was in Japan.
What are the assumptions that I bring to the investigations?
I had never really thought about body image, or the ideal when thinking about Japanese culture, which is kind of odd. I guess I initially just loved all the unique clothing and bright colours, that I just could not pull off, and the way that it is just so entirely unique that I kind of did not even think about the Japanese ideal. When I first started researching the Japanese body ideal, it did not surprise me that whiter skin was the most ideal feature because of the different articles and blogs that I have read in the past. This was also conveyed by the models and advertisements that I found on Instagram that showed extremely pale skin.
An assumption that I bring to the investigation was that I thought being skinny would be an ideal feature from a Japanese culture perspective because of the images that I have come across on Instagram, as well as the beliefs that I have because of my own culture.
What did I learn from this investigation?
According to Miller (2006), author of the book ‘Beauty Up;Exploring Contemporary Japanese Body Aesthetics,” the ‘ideal’ for a man and woman in Japanese is as followed, and when doing my own research on this idea of body image, it is very much conveyed as can be seen in the images throughout this post.
Women: 1. Pale skin
- Big breasts
- Weight below 45kg
Men: 1. No hair on the body (hair is worse than even no muscles or small)
- Weight below 55kg
“Japanese ideals for body proportions differ from Western ideals. The most prominent example of this is characteristics of which include large eyes, small noses, tall irises, thin limbs, large heads, and neotenized faces.” (Miller, 2006)
When thinking about this data and research that I have come across, it can be quite clear that the stereotypical ideals and feelings towards body image can be very much seen in the way that models are depicted across Instagram. Although there are differences between Western ideals and Japanese ideals, as stated by Miller in the quote above, there are also many similarities especially in the way that there seems to be a global ideal of the ‘thinner model which can be clearly conveyed in the two screenshots of Google images where I searched “Japanese model” and “Australian model.”
Next week I will delve even further into this idea of the skinny model by looking at the universal notion of the selfie and the way that models are depicted in both professional and amateur photography.
Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview’, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1. http://www.qualitativeresearch.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095
Miller, L 2006 “Beauty Up;Exploring Contemporary Japanese Body Aesthetics,” University of California Press, California