Japan beauty goals: Tall noses, small faces & big feet
“Your nose is so tall!”
No foreigner lives in Japan for long without encountering this strangest of comments, delivered with an inexplicable tone of admiration. But having a big nose is not the only Japanese compliment that sounds like anything but. Here are five Japanese beauty standards that will have you checking to make sure it’s not Opposite Day.
1 – Nose Tallness
Those of us who have spent the better part of our Instagram years trying to find ways to minimize the dominance of our schnozzes might be delighted to learn that we could be living our best lives in Japan, where nose size is a feature, not a bug. Sadly, what they’re actually hankering after is a well-defined nose bridge and narrower flanges, rather than overall beak magnificence, but they’ll go to amazing lengths to get it.
Surgical alteration isn’t popular in Japan because permanently altering your looks with cosmetic surgery or tattoos is frowned upon because it’s seen as an insult to your parents, who gave you your body at birth. But if you don’t want to wear a facial torture device every night, there are countless makeup tutorials for both men and women, giving step-by-step how-tos for faking it by using contouring techniques.
2 – The Neverending Quest for a Smaller Face
Face smallness was the most puzzling compliment I encountered, until someone finally explained that it doesn’t have much to do with faces at all.
Japanese people generally agree that the ideal body proportion is for the head to be 1/8 of total height.
That unalterable fact doesn’t, however, keep the beauty industry from trying to cash in on a burning desire for a diminutive visage.
3 – Big Feet
You know how in the West, shoe stores display the smallest size of women’s shoes, to foster the illusion that all of us have feet of Cinderella-like daintiness? Well, in Japan, it’s just the opposite. Both men and women tend to have short, wide feet, but they aspire to feet that are long and thin. So much so, that many Japanese shoes are designed with acres of real estate beyond where their toes actually end!
May is when increasingly bronzed models start appearing in Western ads, but in Japan it’s the season when everyone ramps up their purchases of whitening creams. Countless Japanese products—from cosmetics to UV-rated umbrellas—are snapped up every year to protect people from getting an unsightly tan.
Hair Removal…for MEN
From stinky depilatory creams to Brazilian waxing, women all over the world are used to being pitched products and services that promise to make our faces and bodies a shrine to babylike baldness, but in Japan, men don’t escape the tyranny of fur management either!
Did you enjoy this? Subscribe! It’s free!
More Why, Japan, Why? features are in the JAPANAGRAM ARCHIVE
The Last Tea Bowl Thief was chosen as an Editor’s Pick for Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense on Amazon
“A fascinating mix of history and mystery.” —Booklist