Sunday, August 04, 2013
The 11 top-ranking models of Popteen: Nana Suzuki / The self-esteem of a bonafide gal
As some of you already know, I'm a subscriber of the gyaru lifestyle, which endorses coloured (usually lightened) and very well-styled hair, sexy-cute make-up especially focused on the eyes, skin-baring clothing styles, insanely high heels, equally insane nail art, and an over-all image of being nouveau riche to the point of being garish about it. I find that it compliments my desire to enjoy being a grown-up, and it reinforces my positive nature because its focus is on having fun. :P
However, one of the terrible things about it is, as most Japanese fashion styles are, it's got a clique-ish vibe among purveyors and enthusiasts, and these cliques are vicious. You need to look a certain image, to play a certain role, and of course Japan being Japan, even in fashion "the nail that sticks out gets hammered down." It's essentially being stuck forever in high school -- definitely not the most fun of moments.. In fact, this video from leading Japanese gyaru magazine Popteen illustrates exactly what goes on.
The video starts with some "what's in my bag" stuff, and then it displays make-up from gyaru models like Hekiru Shiina; this part is actually a continuation of a previous video, part of a full show. Then Miku Akiyama, Mari Murata, Miki Kawanishi, Rui Kotobuki and Nana Suzuki are introduced, with their outfits of the day scrutinised. The five then play some form of timed getting-to-know-you/trivia/Q&A game using the iPhone.
Poor Nana gets a dare: she has to prove she's attractive even without full gyaru make-up -- an idea which is unthinkable for a young, up-and-coming model like her. Because again, like I said, gyaru is about using make-up to radiate a sexy-cute image, basically the game is making her remove all those layers she can hide in. Now when you get to see her sans make-up (or most of it, anyway) on 8:50 at the video, she actually looks cuter than Tsubasa Masuwaka, who has been seen with the most minimal of make-up recently, and whose eyebags are just HUGE (she looks like my college classmate Be, funnily enough, but still, those eyebags are GINORMOUS to the point of being scary). Nana has the benefit of youth (Tsubasa is just a year younger than I am, and I'm pushing 30 very soon), so even if gyaru is all about looking young and fresh while still having a touch of sexy charisma, she still looks very pleasant in her "plain" face. As the puppet that looks like a monkey at the bottom-right side of the screen says, she radiates "moe". When used in this context, it means that while Nana's not breathtakingly beautiful or even conventionally lovely, she's definitely cute enough to turn a good number of heads. But still, you don't need a translator to know that she's feeling apprehensive about having to reveal how she looks like under those false lashes and all that foundation, what with all that nervous giggling.
While I find it strange that these Japanese fashionistas are not vain enough to resort to facial surgery (apparently surgery is still more acceptable in Korea, where presenting your "best face" or ulzzang style is an absolute must), they are still vain enough to contour their faces and use various make-up tricks to achieve the desirable cute-sexy look. They also consider other equally invasive techniques, such as the use of circle contact and false eyelashes to fake the facial structure of dolls. This is a sobering reminder for me that the only way I can step my glamour game up is to spend time meticulously putting on make-up and styling my hair. Honestly, that's a lot of work and a lot of time! If basic make-up for the office takes me 30 minutes to an hour, gyaru make-up takes at least 2 hours especially because of the difficulty in applying false eyelashes. And with the humidity of this country rendering most hairstyles useless, you need a lot of spray product to keep every curl, wave or strand in place for a few hours.
I feel so bad that a rising star among models like Nana Suzuki feels terrible about herself and her looks. That doesn't bode well for followers of gyaru style, or for followers of her and models like her at large, because if a model like her hates how she looks then who else would like her for herself? Unfortunately, it seems like a fact of life that won't change anytime soon.
Posted by Ligaya Diwata at 8/04/2013 02:28:00 AM