When trying to decide on something to investigate I changed my mind a couple of times before finally deciding on the Japanese subculture Gyaru. Gyaru translates in English to ‘gal’ and has been a popular movement in Japan from the 1990’s” (Ayaya, 2014).
But what are these ‘gals’ all about? The more I looked into it the more apparent it became that it was more then just a fashion style, becoming a Gyaru means devoting ones entire life to the trend, “Some have even dropped out of school to maintain this lifestyle” (Nihonamor, 2011). This is just so bazaar to me, their dedication to a style, the more I looked into it the more questions I had.
As I was researching Gyaru and what they are all about I took down some dot points on my thoughts and questions that arose. I really want this post to just be about my earliest understanding and analysis of this subculture, so my epiphany moments can be observed through my writing. Epiphanies through research will shape my artefact and understanding of Gyaru as a subculture.
- Wow sooo much makeup, that must take almost half the day to apply!
- They seem to be making a statement against something • More then just a fashion statement these girls live a different lifestyle
- The style gives them confidence
- Lots of bedazzling!
- Found the show ‘girls life Gyaru Shakurina’. A drama based on the life of a Gyaru. Difficult to understand what’s going on without subtitles, needing to concentrate more on body language
- Getting frustrated by lack of subtitles, wanting to know what they are talking about
- Are they prostitutes? Or some kind of hostesses? Even with all the makeup and everything they look too young and innocent to be hostesses?
- Decided to search the term Gyaru on reddit, mainly finding threads on Gyaru porn
- Black diamond, Gyaru movement making a comeback
- The movement has influencer personalities who promote the fashion and lifestyle
- They undeniably Stand out in the crowd
- They can all be grouped together but still have an individual style
- Young girl power group wanting to “conquer the world”
- Go to tanning salons everyday? Need to devote life to this look to maintain it
- Starting from a young age to get the look
- Only wear brand DIA- most popular of 1-0-9 brands • Selling their clothes on Facebook for those who cant access them
- They seem very friendly- want everyone and anyone to join them in their lifestyle
- Some more casual then others
- There are different types of Gyaru some more intense than others
- Men can even be Gyaru, and are referred to as Gyaru-Oh
- Lots of effort to maintain this look- trying hard to take on this style
- Gals identify each other through aesthetics- very material based culture
- Always room for improvement
So after my initial thoughts from googling the subculture I had many questions and needed to find out more. So where did this whole subculture begin? “Shibuya is now famous as the birthplace and mecca of modern Gyaru style As Shibuya became the social destination for Tokyo youth in the late 1980s” (Marx, 2012). This subculture and trend has grown since it originated and there are now many different types of Gyaru, while they look the same in terms of their out there style, they are all very different. Below are a few of the main styles I repeatedly came across;
Ganguro; they love fake tan, bleaching their hair and wearing extremely bright fashion
Hime Gyaru; translating to princess, going for a more ‘cute’ look lots of whites and pinks
Kogal/Kogyaru; The schoolgirl look.
Black diamond; the newest Gyaru movement similar to Ganguro(all images from google images)
Getting back to autoethnography. Ellis, 2011 explains the importance of looking at experience analytically “Otherwise [you’re] telling [your] story—and that’s nice—but people do that on Oprah [a U.S.-based television program] every day. Why is your story more valid than anyone else’s? What makes your story more valid is that you are a researcher. You have a set of theoretical and methodological tools and a research literature to use. That’s your advantage. If you can’t frame it around these tools and literature and just frame it as ‘my story,’ then why or how should I privilege your story over anyone else’s I see 25 times a day on TV?”
Using YouTube and blogs as my main field sites for my autoethnographic research. To present this autoethnography I’m going to write three blog posts, each exploring a certain element about Gyaru’s and their culture. Russo and Watkins (2005) discuss how digital communication “seeks to build a co-creative relationship between the cultural institution and the community by using new media to produce audience-focused cultural interactive experiences”. I want to create a digital artefact that is easily accessible by all and encourages engagement in Gyaru culture. “When researchers write autoethnographies, they seek to produce aesthetic and evocative thick descriptions of personal and interpersonal experience” (Ellis, 2011).