I’m a few days late on this. But at the end of last week, CutVideo released their first installment of “100 Years of Beauty” for 2016. Perhaps it is rather fitting that this is episode 16 in the ongoing series.
Like their last episode for 2015, this installment has shifted its gaze from the Western standards of beauty that dominated the early part of the series, and instead turns eastward. This is “100 Years of Beauty: Japan.”
It is not lost on me that the last two installments, focusing on China and Japan came after they used a white model to demonstrate Brazil, and were called out for it. To that end, like with China, they made a conscious effort to choose someone with darker hued skin which they then went to great lengths to lighten, which emphasizes that despite this being the other side of the world “lighter skin” is still the preferred standard. Check it out below.
Note the use of the same hair comb prop in both the 1910s and 1920s, but to very different effects. 1910s is the pre-World War Japanese stereotype that we imagine when we think “Geisha.” Post World War 1, the Western influences once again dominate. Which if anything, makes the 1940s “Axis power” image all the more striking, as if the country is actively rebelling against this take over of beauty standards from the intra-war years.
It is clearly short-lived, as the 1950s-80s are echos of the West again. We don’t see Japan assert its own style until the 1990s, when we start getting duel looks per decade, with the more Western contrast first with the Ganguro style in the 1990s, then the Lolita style in the 2000 and finally the Harajuku subset, over the top look known as Fairy Kei of this decade.