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Is Appearance Everything?



July2, 2022

Saki Nakamura


Do you like your face? Do you like your shape? In Japan, a lot of young women seem not to be confident in their appearance. It affects their daily life and even harms their health when they conduct the excessive diet or unbalanced diet. It seems to closely related to the spread of “lookism.”


What is Lookism?

Lookism is to judge a person simply by the appearance or to discriminate on the basis of appearance. For example, it is still common in Japan to put a photo of one’s face on resume, thus, it is widely said that some companies determine the successful candidates of job seekers by appearance. According to Hamermesh Daniel S, a US economist and professor, lifetime wages would differ by 36 million yen between the good-looking women and the bad-looking women.


Current Situation in Japan 

According to an international comparative survey, it is clear that Japanese people have a strong tendency not to affirm their appearance. About only 30% of the Japanese answered, “I am proud of my appearance,” which was the lowest among the seven developed countries. In particular, young women are not confident in their appearance. According to the 2017 Dove Global Girls Beauty and Confidence Report, which interviewed 5,165 girls aged 10-17 across 14 countries, 93% of Japanese teenage women say they are “not confident” in their appearance. Also, it is the highest number. Also, 59% of Japanese teenage women answered that they think beauty of appearance is so important to live life.


How Serious the Biased Lookism Is

For young women in particular, a serious problem is an eating disorder as a result of trying to lose weight. There are some students who are strongly afraid of being bullied in class because of their perception of own appearance. While some women become withdrawn and abandon any positive efforts for their lives, some cannot express their opinions nor wear their favorite clothes because they are not confident about self-appearance. What is common to them is they feel inferior as women. The feeling of inferiority is likely to reduce a woman’s sense of well-being and life satisfaction.



Internet and Lookism

There are some reasons behind this issue. Due to the spread of the Internet and SNS, opportunities to compare oneself with others has been increased, which is one reason for the birth of lookism. Another reason can be dramas and animations emphasizing the beauty. For example, there sometimes are such scenes as women are bullied for being fat or unstylish. There are many scenes in which only well-styled, slim, and pretty women are fawned over. All of these practices promote lookism among the youth.


Changing Perspectives

A long time ago, it was natural that the ads were filled with slim models and actresses. But society is changing little by little. First, a cosmetics brand Shu Uemura has appointed a plus-sized comedienne Naomi Watanabe as the Japanese brand ambassador of the popular liquid foundation that represents the brand. Also, the movement to accept one’s body size as it is has been spreading, deviating from the conventional definition of beauty; being slim equals beautiful. Women’s underwear company Peach John has developed a product in collaboration with another popular comedienne Barbie, who is an icon of body acceptance. Peach John produced underwear series lined up from very small size to very large size to fit all women. These campaigns will surely be a catalyst for people to love themselves as they are.

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