November 26, 2008
Skinny and cute
Kaori Shoji informs us in the International Herald Tribune that "in Japan, it's the men who want to be skinny and cute."
Young males between the ages of 18 and 30 make up the slimmest segment of the population and the ideal fashion weight as decreed by the apparel industry is 57 kilograms, or about 125 pounds, for a height of 175 centimeters, or 5 feet 8 inches.
This strikes me as one of those deeply-researched MSM pieces based on a sample size of "me and my two best friends." The business about the girlfriends weighing more than their boyfriends is physically improbable. But in general I think she's onto something.
A recent episode of NHK's "Cool Japan" program polled Japanese women to create a composite of the "ideal man." He turned out to be the twin of popular enka crooner Kiyoshi Hikawa. According to his record label, Hikawa is 177 cm tall and weighs 62 kg (5'9.5" 136 lbs).
Those are my approximate dimensions, and I'm a beanpole. Before looking up the actual numbers, I'd assumed from watching his variety show that Hikawa was around six feet tall. But that's because his guests are usually so much shorter than he is. So we may be talking about tastes governed by situationally-relative dimensions.
To be sure, as an enka artist, Hikawa is most popular with the forty-plus crowd. Though the boy band idols on NHK's Pop Music Club (think American Bandstand) that have thousands of teenage girls screaming their lungs out every week look pretty much like teenage Hikawa clones.
Then consider yaoi and the Takarazuka theater troupe. In Takarazuka productions, all the male roles are played by women. The willowy, porcelain-skinned Takarazuka "leading man" looks exactly like the typical yaoi protagonist, and an awful lot like Kiyoshi Hikawa.
But the most annoying aspect of contemporary male fashion in Japan is long bangs. I can't abide my bangs getting into my line of sight (pragmatics, not aesthetics). Yet you see it even on suit-wearing businessmen and news anchors. It brings out the old geezer in me. I want to throw things at the screen and shout, "Cut yer darned hair!"