Gaijin Smash

The Fate of Ms. Butterfly

Posted in Blog by gaijinsmashnet on March 8, 2007

You may remember from the Quiz Millionaire editorial a girl I christened “Ms. Butterfly” for having gone Evander Holyfield on a poor defenseless butterfly. I went in to the School of Peace one day, and the English teacher told me that she was particularly happy today because Ms. Butterfly was coming back to school.
…She’d left?
Pardon me if I don’t notice these things. I have 1000 students spread out over 3 schools, so aside from the kids who really stick out, if one goes missing for awhile it’s a little difficult to notice. Granted, Ms. Butterfly is in the English Club, so I really should have noticed. But Ultimate Sweetness is also in the English Club, and she tends to make me forget about everything else in the world. Cute Concussion, if you will.
Anyway, the English teacher explains that Ms. Butterfly has been missing a lot of school. I asked why and got another one of those roundabout Japanese explanations that do a wonderful job of destroying the area around the bush while never actually touching it. From what I could gather, Ms. Butterfly’s little brother is a special education students. Apparently, because of this, her parents spend a lot of time caring for her little brother, and as a result she tends to feel neglected. And somehow this has led to psychological problems, which results in her not coming to school.
I accompanied the English teacher to our first class of the day, and sure enough, after a long absense Ms. Butterfly was there. However, it only took me one look to realize that there was something different about her – bitch don’t got no eyebrows!


I was a little startled at first. Perhaps eyebrow plucking was a side-effect of whatever was ailing her? Or maybe, one night while she was sleeping, an elite army of highly trained, specialized Butterfly SEALs, seeking revenge for their abused brethren, flew into her window and plucked out her eyebrows during the night. I was slightly worried for Ms. Butterfly, until I remembered that this is just a thing that Japanese girls do.
Many Japanese girls, thoroughly unhappy with the eyebrows God Himself decided to give them, shave them off and draw in new ones by eyebrow pencil. Japanese girls are actually pretty good at it – they shave them off to a point and then fill in the rest by pencil. You may not notice it until you actually see an eyebrow-less Japanese girl, realize what they do, and then take a good look around at other girls who have done the same. I first noticed it with my ex-girlfriend – after our first night together, the next morning I rolled over in bed, and politely asked the person there “Who the fuck are you and where’s the girl I brought home last night?”, only to find out that they’re actually the same person. It’s almost like being lied to. Many a guy in Japan has experienced this phenomenon – I don’t have a name for it yet, but I’ve got a committe working on it and we’ll alert you of our findings as soon as we have them.
Anyway, my suspicions about Ms. Butterfly are confirmed later as I go to the English Club. Having missed school for…however long she was gone (I don’t know), naturally she was behind the other club members in English ability. More than that though, she just seemed thoroughly disinterested. During breaks, she would pull out fashion magazines and try to show them to the other club members, who didn’t quite share her level of enthuiasm for them. When it was time to go back to practicing English, Ms. Butterfly would give a reluctant sigh as she put away the magazine, and do the exercises with the minimal amount of effort possible. At one point, she shut her book, laughed, and gave off the standard “I dunno English” that many Japanese people are prone to do. …And another one bites the dust.
To make matters worse, the English teacher kept doting on how “cute” Ms. Butterfly was. I had to ask if we were looking at the same child. That’s not to say that Ms. Butterfly is ugly, not at all. But she don’t got no eyebrows, man! The Whoopi Goldberg look doesn’t even work for Whoopi Fucking Goldberg, it certainly isn’t going to work for Japanese girls. For the record though, Ms. Butterfly would only be eyebrow-less at school. Once she got home, she’d put on makeup, including to draw some new eyebrows in. At the tender age of 14.
Women are held to high, often impossible standards all over the world. But I feel that this is especially true in Asian countries, including Japan. Here, makeup for women is considered to be not optional. And there are women who would literally not leave their houses, even if it were burning down, unless they were properly made-up. I’ve met a few. In some cases, the makeup is used to accent or highlight certain features, but in some cases its used to create almost an entirely different face. I personally don’t like makeup. I prefer natural any day of the week. Of course, my opinion is in the minority here. Take a good look at any Japanese female model or celebrity, and you can see that she’s wearing a metric ton of makeup. Which is why I just don’t find 99% of them attractive anymore. I know its an illusion, and I can’t help but to wonder what’s underneath the tapestry.
I really dislike when the makeup culture extends to children though. Ms. Butterfly wasn’t the only one to come to school one day with no eyebrows – there have been quite a few girls to come to school like that. And I’ve seen a lot of female students outside of classes with heavy makeup and what not. The sad/ironic thing about it is that the girls who were naturally cute to begin with are the ones most likely to get into the heavy makeup. I don’t like when it spreads to children, because, to me at least, it seems to spread the message “your natural looks just aren’t good enough. Here’s some Maybelline.” But again, I’m in the minority on this one.
Except for one other time, past this day I never really saw Ms. Butterfly again. Certainly, she’s skipping as much school as possible. She’ll graduate in March, as the only requirement for graduating middle school in Japan is to be alive by the graduation date. She seems to be fitting a bill I see in a lot of my female students – they give up on studying, realizing that if they focus their attention on makeup and fashion, they’ll be able to snag a guy (who may or may not already be married) fairly quickly, and have him provide for her. As an American, I have a variety of opinions on this…but ultimately, it’s just not my culture, not my place to say.

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62 Responses

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  1. katoflu said, on March 8, 2007 at 9:54 pm

    “I personally don’t like makeup. I prefer natural any day of the week.”
    true words…

  2. Dirty Dan said, on March 8, 2007 at 10:13 pm

    Would that the freedoms of the present be able to coexist with the glory of the past. Ah, fantasy. I feel the pain.

  3. Ljufa said, on March 8, 2007 at 11:27 pm

    Oh, man. I realized two truths some time ago. One is that no matter what I do as a woman, I will always be competing with every other woman on earth. And the other is that no matter what I do, there will always be another woman out there who is more beautiful than me (or that others find more beautiful).
    Actually, I don’t wear makeup (I wouldn’t have a clue how to put it on even..) and I don’t get out much, but I still worry about those things. I feel that as a woman, you’re judged by your appearance. Very much so. Better looking woman are immediately paid more attention to, etc etc. If you look plain or have any obvious flaws, people really don’t care about you. (This isn’t to say that I’m ugly, of course. I’m awesome. See? I even made this disclaimer even though nobody here cares).
    This is also apparent online, where regardless of what your relationship may be to any person, you’re expected to show a picture and your popularity depends on what others think of it. Being part of various online gaming communities (sad, for sure) as a teenager, I was always pressed to show my photo. Let me tell you, the other girls who got more attention than me were *always* using model photos of other women. In one case, a guy found the girl’s pictures months later on a webcam porn site. In another, multiple women were used that were all at least 7 years older than the girl posting them… Every time I insulted a girl for bothering to post fakes, I was abused by all the guys for it. *grumbles* No, I’m not jealous, I have a fucking reasonable IQ…

  4. Justin said, on March 8, 2007 at 11:32 pm

    Hell yeah man, i would take no-make up any day, in fact i hate the hell out of because i encounter so many chicks who take it off and BAM! a whole other story.

  5. soumakyo said, on March 8, 2007 at 11:40 pm

    Unfortunately for celebrities, anywhere on the world they’re covered with makeup.
    Makeup should be for saying “oh you look good today with makeup” form time to time, and no “ugh, so you look like that without makeup” form time to time

  6. ViolentAJ said, on March 8, 2007 at 11:56 pm

    I agree. I prefer little makeup, especially with the plucking eyebrows thing.
    In CA, many of these latrinas pluck their eyebrows and draw with some funky crayon. When I was in Japan, I didn’t notice the panfaces doing the same thing. I’m glad that my wife isn’t like a typical panface then. I do miss her. She’s back in Hiroshima teaching little pissants how to pronounce “L”, although she can hardly pronounce it herself!!!!1! (which I find very sexy).
    I’ll be going to Hiroshima this summer to meet her parents!!!!11!one!

  7. Gennai said, on March 9, 2007 at 12:12 am

    You’re not alone, I too prefer the all natural look (No-make up) To where make-up is to say I’m natural looks aren’t good enough I must put on these material things on my face (and/or body) to look more beautiful. Which most of the time is not true with a lot of girls I meet.

  8. Shinobu07 said, on March 9, 2007 at 1:06 am

    name the phenomenon of no eyebrows after Ms. Butterfly, call it the butterfly effect.
    as for japanese girls that do it, atleast most of the time you cant tell, unless u wake up to them the next morning to find her eyebrows on the pillow next to yours.

  9. Mei said, on March 9, 2007 at 1:12 am

    My opinion of most of the girls in Japan is that they look like dirty whores according to American standards. -_-;

  10. Corey said, on March 9, 2007 at 1:41 am

    Apparently we have the same opinions on makeup.

  11. Anonymous said, on March 9, 2007 at 2:08 am

    A little make up is good for girls, but drawing on eye brows is a bit over the top. a little colour or something to highlight their facial features. of course not enough to make you mistake them for someone else in the morning, bust a small ammount to boost their confidence enough to be outgoing and fun, instead of shy and insecure.

  12. Anonymous said, on March 9, 2007 at 2:08 am

    A little make up is good for girls, but drawing on eye brows is a bit over the top. a little colour or something to highlight their facial features. of course not enough to make you mistake them for someone else in the morning, bust a small ammount to boost their confidence enough to be outgoing and fun, instead of shy and insecure.

  13. Jei said, on March 9, 2007 at 2:28 am

    Having been all over Japan, I’ve gotta say, the ones without massive amounts of makeup are rather cute! I can’t really brand them with the term “hot” cause… they just don’t have the bodies, unfortunately.

  14. Anonymous said, on March 9, 2007 at 2:48 am

    素顔万歳!

  15. Anonymous said, on March 9, 2007 at 2:48 am

    素顔万歳!

  16. Anonymous said, on March 9, 2007 at 2:50 am

    Well the no make-up idea is certainly a nice one but a totally naïve one. Lots of men say they want natural women with lots of personality but if a girl has bad skin or doesn’t measure up to a society’s idea of beauty what man is going to take the time to stop and get to know her? If he does he’s ragged by his friends for bringing home a ‘dog’ or for wearing beer goggles. Whether we like it or not people are judged on looks and the onlything the natural look is going to get you is alone.
    Look at what Ljufa wrote for example. Basically he’s saying that if those women hadn’t been wearing make-up no way would he have taken them home because he thought they were ugly. At least with make-up those women had a chance to connect with someone and even maybe make it past the looks stage. To be honest I feel worse for the women who went home with Ljufa. Maybe he should have gotten to know his bedpartner before sleeping with her.
    I can honestly say I agree with Az about this obsession polluting children but women have learned throughout the ages that natural only works if the person looking at you loves you, and sometimes it takes a little make-up to get to that point. Boys, consider it an accomplishment, a milestone in a relationship if you will, when a women lets you see her with no make-up and her ratty old college sweatshirt on. Then you know she trusts you.

  17. Anonymous said, on March 9, 2007 at 2:50 am

    Well the no make-up idea is certainly a nice one but a totally naïve one. Lots of men say they want natural women with lots of personality but if a girl has bad skin or doesn’t measure up to a society’s idea of beauty what man is going to take the time to stop and get to know her? If he does he’s ragged by his friends for bringing home a ‘dog’ or for wearing beer goggles. Whether we like it or not people are judged on looks and the onlything the natural look is going to get you is alone.
    Look at what Ljufa wrote for example. Basically he’s saying that if those women hadn’t been wearing make-up no way would he have taken them home because he thought they were ugly. At least with make-up those women had a chance to connect with someone and even maybe make it past the looks stage. To be honest I feel worse for the women who went home with Ljufa. Maybe he should have gotten to know his bedpartner before sleeping with her.
    I can honestly say I agree with Az about this obsession polluting children but women have learned throughout the ages that natural only works if the person looking at you loves you, and sometimes it takes a little make-up to get to that point. Boys, consider it an accomplishment, a milestone in a relationship if you will, when a women lets you see her with no make-up and her ratty old college sweatshirt on. Then you know she trusts you.

  18. annon said, on March 9, 2007 at 3:24 am

    I don’t wear makeup because I don’t want to attract someone with something fake aaaand I’d be too lazy to keep it up.
    I think the male preference to makeup on women is: light makeup > no makeup > heavy makeup. Although those comments are probably all honest, I highly doubt you would prefer all women better with no makeup at all more than light and natural makeup.

  19. Rain said, on March 9, 2007 at 4:28 am

    Latrinas? Violent AJ, PLEASE tell me that was a typo.
    On makeup, it can be fun like dressing up can be fun, but I don’t get the tenacity of people who put it on and style their hair every day. For the very vigorous, that’s at least 5 hours of work per week. I spend those 5 hours sleeping, I’m way too lazy for that shit.

  20. heathersuperjohn said, on March 9, 2007 at 5:10 am

    Uh, Anonymous, I’m fairly sure “Ljufa” is a woman. This was given away in the third sentence: “One is that no matter what I do as a woman, I will always be competing with every other woman on earth.”
    I take issue with the idea of competing with every other woman. Competing for what, exactly? Play nice, kids, there’s enough for everyone…
    I am a girl too, and have never found make-up, or lack thereof, to make any difference to me. I’ve found that what people find attractive varies massively from person to person. I also don’t think “bad skin” is necessarily a reason for makeup. I’ve dated guys with bad skin, and it turned out not to bother me at all. I certainly wouldn’t have felt better if they’d put make-up on to hide it. Quite the opposite, I would have been disgusted.

  21. Anonymous said, on March 9, 2007 at 9:51 am

    There are practical considerations as well – my wife is of German, French and Irish heritage and has pale, delicate skin. Significant exposure to sun and/or wind results in a burn. Makeup with a high SPF is a practical matter for her. Also, she’s old enough that evening out the color a little is not a bad thing.
    I agree that with makeup, like perfume, less is more, but none is not always better…at least not after age 25 or so, younger if she smokes (yuck).
    That said, my first Japanese prof in college (who was as hot and well-equipped as the stereotype Anime teacher) had the pencilled eyebrows. I thought it looked odd on her at the time, but was aware that historically it was a common practice for women in many cultures.

  22. Anonymous said, on March 9, 2007 at 9:51 am

    There are practical considerations as well – my wife is of German, French and Irish heritage and has pale, delicate skin. Significant exposure to sun and/or wind results in a burn. Makeup with a high SPF is a practical matter for her. Also, she’s old enough that evening out the color a little is not a bad thing.
    I agree that with makeup, like perfume, less is more, but none is not always better…at least not after age 25 or so, younger if she smokes (yuck).
    That said, my first Japanese prof in college (who was as hot and well-equipped as the stereotype Anime teacher) had the pencilled eyebrows. I thought it looked odd on her at the time, but was aware that historically it was a common practice for women in many cultures.

  23. Warui Tanuki said, on March 9, 2007 at 10:18 am

    The anonymous up there saying women need makeup has a few good points, but I disagree with a lot of things in that post. There are much fewer ugly women in the world than women seem to think and “society’s idea of beauty” is a lot different than “popular culture’s idea of beauty.” Most women seem to think they have to live up to the idea of beauty presented in popular culture (maybe “celebrity culture” would be a better term to use here?). This leads to obsessive dieting/bulimia/anorexia, hideously over sized breast implants, pancake makeup, etc. Certainly there are people who find the results of those things attractive, but most of them are either middle-aged married men, or 12 year old boys. Sure, women can use makeup to cover up “bad skin,” but for one thing, what’s “bad skin” mean? Acne? Most makeup clogs pores and CAUSES more acne. A little bit of concealer or whatever it’s called, fine, but caking on makeup is just going to make things worse. Some women seem to think the term “bad skin” applies to freckles. This is just plain stupid. Freckles are cute. I’m not naive enough to say “looks don’t matter anyway,” but piling on makeup until you look like a different person is not the way to get past shallowness. Go read Az’s essays on “nice guys” on Outpost Nine. To paraphrase the relevant part, if a woman becomes friends with a man (without growing to think of him as “just a friend” or “like a brother”), the relationship can develop to the point that the guy comes to see her as a beautiful person, no matter what she looks like. Then, the relationship can evolve into a romantic one. Now if you’re physically unattractive AND a horrible person, I can’t really help you. Well, I guess you could become friends with a horrible man and grow to love each other while kicking puppies and spitting on babies or something. Oh yeah, about eyebrows: if a woman wants to pluck stray ones, or even them up, fine, I’ll accept that, but actual eyebrows are better than drawn-on eyebrows.

  24. Genibibiou said, on March 9, 2007 at 10:39 am

    Personality does matter, but face it. A guy would take a pretty girl with a beautiful heart over an ugly girl with a beautiful heart any day of the week.

  25. hat said, on March 9, 2007 at 10:56 am

    it would be nice if all girls could get away without makeup but the truth is most people would prefer those than are plain or ugly to cover up and make a pretense at beauty. The shock of finding out girls look different under the makeup puts men off because they value looks so much which is why makeup exists in the first place… so guys, next time try not to look so surprised when your date looks different the next morning and thank god you are all so beautiful and successful that you don’t need to do the same :p

  26. Raz said, on March 9, 2007 at 1:19 pm

    It puts men off because we want the straight forward, no bull approach. We don’t like being lied to.

  27. Jody said, on March 9, 2007 at 1:26 pm

    There was a comment up there saying, “Whether we like it or not…the only thing natural looks are going to get you is alone.” I couldn’t disagree more. I will only occasionally (I’m a girl) wear make-up, and hell, I never style my hair; it does that itself. But I don’t consider myself unnattractive. I’m perfectly happy and consider myself cute (not to be self absorbed). I’m not alone – as in I have a boyfriend – and every woman looks goregous without make-up, but society has made us believe that wearing make-up is essential to looking desirable. I dunno, I think it’s crap.

  28. Anonymous said, on March 9, 2007 at 3:10 pm

    I’m a guy with two female roommates, neither of whom wears makeup, and they both look attractive without it. Of the three of us, I look most like an ogre when waking up in the morning ;p

  29. Anonymous said, on March 9, 2007 at 3:10 pm

    I’m a guy with two female roommates, neither of whom wears makeup, and they both look attractive without it. Of the three of us, I look most like an ogre when waking up in the morning ;p

  30. Ljufa said, on March 9, 2007 at 3:17 pm

    LOL! Oh dear.. I’m not a man, I’m a woman and I think I look quite nice without makeup. It all depends on the girl, really.. I’m sorry if you haven’t seen anyone who looks acceptable without makeup on? I’ve never worn it and I’ve been admired by many a guy… .. .I’ve never brought a woman home though *giggles* You must have some really vague skimming skills.
    When I said that I’m “competing” I was afraid it might be interpreted wrong. I mean that I’m not consciously competing but rather to society’s standards I’m competing without trying or asking to at all. That’s the best way I can think to describe it. Hope you understand.

  31. cutepiku said, on March 9, 2007 at 5:36 pm

    Sometimes as a girl, you start to think you need to convert to make-up, but the reason is different world-wide.
    At school, we all know “Every pretty girl has an ugly friend,” and compared to my friends, I feel like the ugly girl. I don’t wear make-up, but I get my eyebrows waxed, and I am obsessed with teeth-whitening products. Anything that reduces acne, I’m there.
    I’m also chubby. I’m not overweight, but no where in hell can you convince we that I am skinny. I have the stomach of an early pregnancy.
    But again, Japan probably does it because the celebrities do it.

  32. red said, on March 9, 2007 at 5:41 pm

    If they are so into makeup, and even go so far as to shave off their eyebrows……….
    WHY THE F*CK DONT THEY SHAVE ELSEWHERE?!
    C’mon, anyone ese noticed the au-natural thing going on with the japanese downstairs?
    vulgar i know, and i apologize, but it seems so odd to me.

  33. Jonci said, on March 9, 2007 at 5:51 pm

    “As an American, I have a variety of opinions on this…but ultimately, it’s just not my culture, not my place to say.”
    I have to disagree with that. It seems to be that the point of programs like JET is to get other cultures to interact with theirs. You are more than an English teacher, you are there to show them what Americans are, as well. Enlighten them with a few cultural beliefs. You may very well save the next generation of Japanese from endless eyebrow shaving and husband hunting careers.

  34. purplekitty said, on March 9, 2007 at 6:20 pm

    Hmmm everybody seems to be saying some good things but missing the main point.
    Yes beauty is important and Yes beauty is in the eye of the beholder but your ALL seem to forget to include one important thing.
    IT DOSEN’T MATTER ONE DAMN BIT HOW GOOD YOU LOOK IF YOU CAN’T ADD ANYTHING TO IT!
    As a person who quickly loses interest in something and that’s likes beautyiful things but doesn’t find the same things beautiful that other people do personality is important.
    It dosen’t matter how hot a person is because your not gonna want to sit and stare at them all day! A persons personality can make a person whos not so hot physically really hot afterwards. Like rockstars for example. Most of those men aren’t really what anybody would call beautiful in fact if met on the street and they weren’t who you know them as you’d probably think they’re ugly. But their personalities make them extremely sexy.
    So let people paint a mask on their face all they want. Poeple look at pretty things all the time but that’s all they do, look! How exciting is that?!

  35. Ruela said, on March 9, 2007 at 6:45 pm

    But men know we also wake up with messy hair, a horrible breath… Girls can get their chance to be amazed by how awful we look in the morning. So, maybe it’s best for both to ignore each other’s look. Put your beer goggles on, if you need to. 😉
    And I hope Violent AJ meant “Latinas”. Are there many latin girls in Japan?

  36. Justanothermom said, on March 9, 2007 at 11:00 pm

    To Ljufa: I think the Anonymous One who commented on your comment was actually commenting on what is just below your name. When I first started reading the comments on this site (starting with Az’s 1st article here), I used to do that myself.
    To Violent AJ: The more you comment, the more you show your own prejudices and appear to be a fool. If you’re trying to impress folks, it’s having the opposite affect (at least, it is for me). Please think before you key.
    To Azrael (and those who have seen/commented on shaved eyebrows): You think shaving them and drawing them on is bad? I knew a Filipino woman who actually had her eyebrows *tattooed* on! And she had to have it re-done regularly, because they would fade! OW!OW!OW!OW!OW!OW!OW!OW!!!!!
    Regarding the subject in general: Take it from someone who is probably old enough to be a mother to most of you (my own son is in his 20’s); men are always going to complain about women wearing too much makeup, but not because they don’t care how we look. It’s because, as one male posted above, they “don’t like being lied to.” Unfortunately, by saying this, they’re lying to themselves, because they truly would rather have a pretty face staring at them from across the table, than a plain jane’s. In America, real money has been wasted in studies just to find this truth out.
    And about not competing; I have been told that, for every male child born, it has been estimated that two female children are born. Supposing all grow into adulthood, and most are interested in finding a partner, competition most certainly abounds, although in most cases it’s a subtle undercurrent. Because competition does exist, no matter how hard you try to deny it or how much you hate it, women will use whatever tool they have in their arsenal to get a “leg up.” And yes, the shadows cast by celebrities does aggravate the situation.

  37. Mr. Bomberman said, on March 9, 2007 at 11:09 pm

    Have you guys seen most celebrities without makeup? Jesus!
    Not to imply that I’m for makeup.
    This is the time when I would start ranting about “the corporations” who’re spreading this to children, but I realized I’m not a hippie.
    Fuck it, I agree with purplekitty.

  38. Anonymous said, on March 10, 2007 at 8:16 am

    Makeup can work it’s just that at least 50% of people don’t know what the limit is to it (metric ton), or don’t do it well enough for it to work for them.

  39. Anonymous said, on March 10, 2007 at 8:16 am

    Makeup can work it’s just that at least 50% of people don’t know what the limit is to it (metric ton), or don’t do it well enough for it to work for them.

  40. Wayland said, on March 10, 2007 at 2:45 pm

    …Az, what have you started?

  41. Abatha said, on March 10, 2007 at 11:31 pm

    Some of these comments are ridiculous. If a girl is comfortable with how she looks, she ought to be free to wear makeup or not wear makeup to her heart’s content. It ain’t about guys, it ain’t about other girls, it’s about her.

  42. Tom said, on March 11, 2007 at 4:00 am

    The eyebrow thing may just be a swing of the pendulum. If you look at Japanese TV and manga from the 80s, all the pretty girls have huge caterpillars over their eyes (Dance Till Tomorrow is one example of 80s manga that’s translated in English). In 10 years or so, they’ll stop hating their natural eyebrows once again. As for me, I hate seeing millimeter-thin brows. They look cheap.

  43. keii said, on March 11, 2007 at 10:39 pm

    Yea. I agree with Abatha. Make-up isn’t some devil-made product. I choose not to wear make-up because its too much of a hassle. I do admit, I think I look pretty with mascara or a little eye-liner, but when I wear make-up, its for me.
    Or maybe I’m just naive. *shrug*

  44. J said, on March 11, 2007 at 11:22 pm

    From experience, teenage girls will wear atrocious amounts of makeup. It’s experimentation and whatnot. Especially at 14, when majority of the teenagers are influenced by either MTV, anime, whatever celebrity is big at the time, etc. It’s a way to feel accepted, even if it’s all a facade. Hey, they’re young.
    However, in the Japanese education system, I can see why Az is concerned about it. Children are allowed to drop out at 15, and rarely do they ever get a second chance. In fact, the ones that slack off at the end of their Middle School years are probably encouraged not to try for a higher level of education. Teenagers typically don’t know what they want to do, and if they find out that they wanted to be a doctor at age 22 or whatever, when they’ve finally matured, it’s too late. And all they have left is the makeup.
    As for the natural look vs. makeup, if you have confidence and good social skills, you’ll most probably get the respect. However, there’s no doubt that the girl with both makeup (that’s put on correctly) and confidence will be more popular. Women certainly don’t need makeup as much as they need the social skills, however, having the looks and the “refined” aspect of your appearance will most likely get you noticed faster.

  45. Kosetsu said, on March 12, 2007 at 1:52 am

    I feel really awkward commenting after all that discussion on the nature of make-up and its effects on society and women… I can’t tell if a girl is wearing make-up at all unless it’s applied so heavily it changes skin tone to a fairly unnatural color, and even then it doesn’t matter because if she’s a friend, then looks don’t matter (unless it’s my sister, in which case I claim the right to poke fun of her looks as often as I like), and if she’s not someone I know at all, then I ignore her completely. It’s horrible, but this even extends to my girlfriend – when I took her out to prom, she had put on what I suppose was a sophisticated touch up of blush and eye shadow, but I couldn’t tell at all, and simply told her she looked “especially nice” that night, rather than make her feel as if she’d wasted all that effort. But that’s just me.
    Regarding the article itself, however, I’m slightly appalled at the fact that the make-up culture extends down to middle school… but I think it’s really just a part of being Japanese. Think back to what you know about Japanese culture, Az – isn’t there a big emphasis on “outsiders” and “insiders”? Politeness to strangers, informal rudeness with those you know… In other words, put on a mask for your public, but in front of your loved ones take it [the mask] off. If they let you see their face behind the mask, then it seems to me that you’ve made it to their list of “insiders” who “deserve” to see their true selves.
    Of course, it’s still appalling to me as an American that this extends to middle-schoolers… but as you’ve said once and many a time, “these kids are perverts”.

  46. Anonymous said, on March 12, 2007 at 3:27 am

    heres a japanese “makeup lesson” on a product called “eye talk” that made me cringe
    http://www.koji-honpo.co.jp/makeup/movie/eye_talk_300.html

  47. Anonymous said, on March 12, 2007 at 3:27 am

    heres a japanese “makeup lesson” on a product called “eye talk” that made me cringe
    http://www.koji-honpo.co.jp/makeup/movie/eye_talk_300.html

  48. Warui Tanuki said, on March 13, 2007 at 10:48 am

    RE: eye talk
    AHHHHHHHHHH!!

  49. Jenna said, on March 13, 2007 at 1:33 pm

    That eye talk stuff is crazy. I’m glad I’m already white so my eyes crease naturally.
    Also, personally I think heavy makeup looks bad up close. Anyone else agree?

  50. Wil said, on March 13, 2007 at 2:16 pm

    I’ve been reading for a while, and I’m rather amused at the last line of this posting: “As an American, I have a variety of opinions on this…but ultimately, it’s just not my culture, not my place to say.”
    You enjoy poking fun at all sorts of other oddities in their culture, ranging from their inability to come straight out and state something to, well, their obsession with beauty even at middle-school age. Why is it, then, that you’re unwilling to comment on their plans for the future (which is, as you said, to hook a man that can provide for them)? It seems odd to stop your social commentary just short of something that seems, to a good portion of your American audience, to be a terrible injustice against the female population of Japan.

  51. Anonymous said, on March 13, 2007 at 3:43 pm

    i like ’em bushy downstairs, if you know what i mean…

  52. Anonymous said, on March 13, 2007 at 3:43 pm

    i like ’em bushy downstairs, if you know what i mean…

  53. David said, on March 13, 2007 at 7:40 pm

    I’m white and from Canada, but when I found out my ex-gf was plucking her eyebrows, I thought she had some sort of mental illness that was behind it!
    no joke. I was seriously worried. I googled, but came up with nothing specific, so chalked it up to some weird ‘girl thing’.
    For the record, its very unattractive, at least to me.

  54. Random Passerby said, on March 13, 2007 at 10:01 pm

    To David: Were you thinking of this? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trichotillomania
    Regarding Eye Talk: It makes me wince. But I must admit that the girl looks more energetic with creased eyelids.

  55. Svaist said, on March 19, 2007 at 8:15 am

    I remember when one of my host sisters took off her make-up in front of me for the first time, up until this point I had never taken notice to how much make-up she was putting on. She was in her early 20’s if I remember right, and she already had a face that looked like she’d been coating it in acid for decades.
    She’s going to be frightful looking in the old age of her life, at least she’ll have all that make-up to hide it.

  56. Lauren C. said, on May 19, 2007 at 3:12 pm

    that’s so sad. >: I’ve only just begun wearing makeup ocasionally, and I’m 17. 😄
    I’d like to see how a Japanese girl would react to my eyebrows. Remember, I AM Italian. Isn’t the word “hair” in the word “Eyebrow” in Japanese for a reason?

  57. Ceri Cat said, on September 27, 2007 at 5:52 pm

    I’ve personally never been a fan of girls wearing make up, most women I’ve met look better without it for one simple point, they forget with makeup less is more. Makeup is for highlights, accentuation, or masking blemishes, it’s not for making yourself look like the Cheshire Cat.
    ViolentAJ your prejudices are showing, why don’t people like you realise such nicknames are incredibly insulting and quit applying them to people who are different to you. I can assure you, a big chunk of the other readers around here find them offensive as well as they show a lack of maturity which has no place in society. I’ll let you in on a little hint from the scientists, race is an illusion, under our skins we’re identical. We just label ourselves as races to segregate ourselves.

  58. Skiba said, on November 23, 2007 at 1:39 am

    God, I HATE makeup. I absolutely refuse to wear it on a regular basis, much to my mother’s chagrin. I’m about being myself all the time, and I feel like wearing makeup is lying to everyone about who I am. And, of course, for all the time I spend without makeup, when I DO wear it, people freak out. “OHMYGOD YOU’RE WEARING MAKEUP!?!?!?” … People piss me off sometimes. Don’t they know before the 1920s, makeup was exclusive to actresses and prostitutes?

  59. NeN said, on September 1, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    I’m personally more likely to say “Screw culture, we’re all people, and I have the right to be concerned about other people”, but that wouldn’t blow over well.

  60. Lyndsey said, on April 3, 2009 at 11:37 pm

    Hello, Az! I was just wondering, does Ultimate Sweetness wear make-up too?? 😦

  61. Lynn said, on June 13, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    When I was going through chemo I lost all my eyebrows and my husband said please don’t paint on eyebrows that just freaks me out.lol

  62. Pineapple said, on July 7, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    Some here have told about girls that look perfectly fine and pretty without makeup. No one’s suspecting that. The thing is that there are girls that can only look ugly (not hideous) when they have some makeup to cover their skin problems.
    I for one have such an amount of reddish acne scars (from a time when I didn’t use make up, btw) that I at the age of 23 my natural skin looks like the one of a 40-year-old drunkard. No, I don’t leave the house without putting some skin make up. It’s the only make up I use and it takes me 3 minutes to put it. I doubt there are very few that seriously would prefer my face without it.


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