It is not too much to say that most of Japanese people, mostly young women are cursed by lookism. In 2019, there was a trend on twitter that shows “93% of Japanese teenager girls are not confident in their appearance.” As well as this, a company was criticized because it prohibited to wear glasses for women because women wearing glasses give a cold-hearted impression. Even more, a girl posted a video of her dancing on Twitter and she got so many replies saying “you are so ratchet and ugly”, “DIE you ugly” or “You are not cute enough to show yourself to the public”.
Nowadays, we are automatically included in social media thus it is not that easy to survive under this kind of circumstance, especially for women and girls.
One of the biggest topics of lookism discussion is “eyelid”. In modern Japanese society, it is generally said that people who have double eyelid are much more beautiful than people who have mono-eyelid.
You can see this trend in a lot of advertisement or magazines. If you get on a train, you will see some advertisements about plastic surgery. And most of them recommend people to do Blepharoplasty, also known as the double eyelid surgery. Those advertisements say that “CORRECT your mono-eyelid into double eyelid” or “You can make your eyelid from mono into double while you are sleeping”. If you take a glance on fashion magazines for young Japanese girls, you will notice that most of models, which are representing of “ideal girls”, have double-eyelid. And some of them always feature how to make your eyes look bigger.
Tracing the history of beauty standard of eye, we can figure out that this trend showed up in Meiji-era, when the westerners came to japan and tried to search their wives. Chicago Tribune, an American newspaper publishing company, asked Jiji-Shinpou company, a Japanese news agency at the time, to hold this contest as a part of world beauty contests. And one of the beauty standards that had been applied was to have bigger eyes. (not to have double eyelid though.) The first winner was a girl whose name was Hiroko Suehiro and she also had double eyelid. It is said that this is the start of the spreading of this beauty standard.
However, most of Japanese people do not know this story but they actually FEEL that to have double eyelids is better than to have mono-eyelids.
But from where this subconscious standard came?
“There is a subconscious notion that double eyelid is better than mono-eyelid. It is not okay for me to have mono one. I really do not know why I am insecure about mono-eyelid very well. I guess it is because the people who are said to be cute or cool have double eyelids in general.”a father of a daughter said.
There is another story, a 23 years old woman said that she has an experience that she broke her ex-boyfriend up and one of the reasons was he had mono-eyelid. But now she feels so guilty about this and is worried if she is a lookism. “I have double eyelid, and so do all my family members. As well as this, the condition to be a beautiful person is to have double eyelid and I prefer boys that have double-eyelid. I think it is because we have been imprinted having double eyelids are better since we are kids. I think it is right that people say that we need to recognize the diversity of beauty and I do agree that it is a good thing to have such society, however I just cannot like people who have mono-eyelids. Is it wrong to feel in that way?”
Actually, she is not a rare person to have this kind of way of thinking, there are so many people who have the same opinion as her. A Japanese cosmetic company made a survey in 2019 and figured out that 1033 people out of 1065 people agreed that people who have double-eyelid are much more popular than the people who have mono-eyelid.
As mentioned before, many women in Japan have lived in an environment that is forced to be obsessed with their appearances. A 42 years old woman says “I was told to do make up when I was a college student by professors. It was not only one time but several times. Also when I was a elementary school student, it was very common for boys to call girls as “ugly”, not only to me but also all the girls in the class. My teacher at the time, who was supposed to stop those abuses, only asked girls to be calm saying that it is no use to ask boys to stop those things, you girls need to let them say it because your mental ages are older than theirs.
How should we deal with this issue? How can we overcome this lookism?
A TV program director says that it is especially important to share that we are in the environment that is filled with unconscious lookism and innocent appearance judges. Also it would be an effective mean to bring the sense of values of diversity into fields of education. We should realize that the beauty standard is to be diverse depending on communities and industries. We need to know that it is okay to say NO to current situations. We need to know that this “Double-eyelid myth” is made by media and the concept of beauty has became an obsession to people. Media is responsible to this issue so much.
Also, a Japanese comedian says that we should see the reality that we adults still make fun of people’s appearances in some scenes and we accept this situation. We always need to keep in mind not to force people to have an uniformed beauty. In Japanese society, it is quite easy to use binomial oppositions when we explain or recognize something and it may be the cause of this situation.
Apparently, lookism is fundamentally difficult to solve because most people actually feel those preferences and unconsciously judge people based on their lookismistic perspective, not recognizing that those lookismistic perspectives are made by our surrounding, but we misunderstand that it is a natural thing to feel. It is not an exaggeration to say that some people truly believe that the conception of beauty belongs to the shape of eyelids. Also there is no superiority or inferiority between mono-eyelids and double-eyelids. It is not only about eyelids but also the shape of body and color of skin as well.
However, nowadays we have those beauty standards and they are basically made by media and our preconceptions. And we know that there are many people struggling with this issue. The myth of double eyelids is not an exception. Can Japanese people be able to be free from the curse of lookism in the future?