The Portrayal of Black People in Manga and Anime

by Allan Kastiro

UntitledI have been a big fan of Manga and Anime for as long as I can remember. I always admired how the Japanese style of drawing cartoon characters was different from that of popular western comics and animations. The characters in Manga and Anime have always stood out because they are unique. That is, many of them have exaggerated and flamboyant features and this always stood out for me and many other fans alike. Never did it ever occur to me that the way the Japanese creators illustrate their artistic work had significance on how race and ethnicity is viewed or construed in Japan.

As I began to read and watch more Manga and Anime, I began to notice how non-Japanese characters (people of color, specifically of African origin) were drawn and represented and many of them had very stereotypical characteristics. This can be seen in their dressing style, behavior, speech patterns and activities they are engaged in.  One such character is ChocoLove McDonell (pictured above) from the manga and Anime ‘Shaman King’. Where do I even start with this … His name is CHOCOLOVE!!! The character is an African American who has his hair in an afro, has exaggerated lips and wears an African wrap on the lower half of his body. Ohh and his animal spirit is a Jaguar! Many other non-Japanese characters are as controversial for example Mr. Popo from Dragon Ball and Jynx from pokemon who both appear to be in black face, Staff Officer Black and Killa from Dragon Ball, Bugnug or ‘dark eyes’ from Crying freeman et cetera. The characters mentioned are all African American with the exception of Bugnug  (which means Ant-Eater pokemonapparently) who is the leader of the Askari (Swahili word to mean soldier) which is an African revolutionary organization.  Bugnug is first introduced to Crying Freeman manga readers when she launches a surprise attack on Yō Hinomura who is the main character.  She is illustrated to look ‘exotic’. She is beautiful with long curly hair but is muscular and masculine in her behavior. It is  impossible to compare her to the other Japanese females in the same manga as they seem more fragile and feminine.

bugnugDuring the battle with Yō Hinomura (Crying Freeman), Bugnug is completely naked and only carries a blade. When she is finally defeated by Yō Hinomura, the two become allies and she later on gets his assistance to defeat a coup d’état in her organization. It seems as though the creators of this manga and anime went all out to display Bugnug’s supposed ‘Africanness’ by naming the character Bugnug which they go on to translate as Ant-Eater, having her fight naked, which I believe represents a kind of primitiveness and then including a coup d’état in her storyline which occurs within her revolutionary organization. So this leaves me to question why some characters of African ancestry are represented in this manner in manga and anime.  Do all the people of African ancestry have these characteristics and why have these stereotypes been continuously perpetuated?

When trying to answer these questions, it is important to note that Japan has always been a homogeneous nation and this has created a kind of distance between them and other cultures from many parts of the world. Thus, a lot of what Japanese people know and perceive has been spread through western media which is dominated by America through entertainment, news, music et cetera.  In the article ‘What does “American” Mean in Postwar Japan?’ by Yoshimi Shunya (2008) he writes that,

From the late1950’s onward, “America” was distilled as a uniform image with even greater power than before to gain people’s hearts. ..Until the early 1950’s the word “America” was simply invoked as a model to be emulated… “America” also came to be associated with the “pop-culture” of Japanese youth. As “America” became less direct, more mediated, and increasingly confined to images, it conversely became more interiorized and its effect on people’s consciousness became deep. (Yoshimi Shunya, 2008)

slamdunkThis exposure has been both positive and negative in that it has opened up Japan to other cultures and has made the Japanese people more aware of the differences between their cultures, traditions and those of people from other parts of the world but has also promoted the adoption of negative stereotypes thus most of what the Japanese know are imagined racial distinctions that have been created and promoted by the western media.

As I come to the end of this blog post, I would like to point out that not all black people are represented stereotypically in some of the Manga and Anime works and some Japanese characters have even been made to have darker skin tones or even display several characteristics that one would categorize as being black. An example that comes to mind is  Takenori Akagi from Slam Dunk!

In conclusion, I believe that as Manga and Anime continue to spread and attain wider audiences, their popularity will help raise awareness on how race and ethnicity is viewed in different parts of the world and this will in turn create a better understanding of these different cultures and ethnicities.

Reference

Shunya Y. (2008). “What Does ‘American’ Mean in Postwar Japan?” Nanzan Review of American Studies 30:83-87

Echoes of female transnational migration: Care-giving jobs in Korea

by Yoon Jee Hyun (JeeJee)

According to United Nations (2013), female migrants represent about half of all transnational migration. Among women migrants, there has been an increase of number of women migrants working in care-giving jobs and health-care workers (Pyle, 2006).

Pyle’s article reminded me of Korea’s current popular phenomena of having care-givers who are transnational migrants. Since domestic workers do not wish to work as care-givers (due to the low wage compared to working times and the low social standing), a great portion of care-givers are transnational migrants. Also, with the increasing number of double-income families, wealthy Korean families have started to hire migrants from developing countries to take care of household chores at a cheap price.

In Korea, the role of care-giver is not only for household affairs but also for educating children of Korean family. At first, female migrants were wanted as they already have skills to take care of basic household chores learned from their own country. Yet, recently, as language ability has been highly encouraged, wealthy Korean families have started to look for hiring female migrants who are capable of speaking foreign languages such as English and Chinese. Many female Filipinos and Chinese are working in the care-giving industry in Korea, as they can take charge of both housework and language education.

This care-giving job system using female transnational migrants can benefit both sides; Korean families can get cheaper labor, and migrants can get a job which pays higher salary compared to the situation in their nation, and earn foreign currency, which they can bring back to their own country. Despite these merits, this phenomena echoes throughout the world, creating an endless circle of female migrants engaging in care-giving jobs.

Care-givers who are working in a foreign country can send money to their own country and family. However, as the ‘mother’ does not exist in migrants own family, the family needs to hire another cheap labored migrants as care-givers. Thus, this female transnational migration in care-giving labors echoes the phenomena of hiring care-giver migrants from a poorer country, a poorer country, and a more and more poorer country, and so on. The endless circle of becoming and hiring care-givers is created and the continuous circle traps female transnational migrants under its re-echoing system.

Reference

Pyle, J. L. Globalization, transnational migration, and gendered care work: Introduction. Globalizations 3:283-295.

Refugees and assimilation

Map showing destination countries of refugees ...

Map showing destination countries of refugees /asylum seekers (= people fleeing abroad) in 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by Naresh Kumar

Different countries receive thousands of refugees every year. All of them come from different religions, cultures, and share different moral values that makes them identical in the host countries. Many are vulnerable to the crimes and human rights violations in the host country. They try to assimilate themselves in the society but instead of being accepted, many end up being the victims of different crimes (Ferenchik, 2012). Assimilation is always seen in an optimistic way with eventual integration of newcomers and it is expected that the process will end over time when foreigners and natives are merged (Portes & Rumbaut, 2001).

However, the facts about victimization are ignored. The situation is even worse in the developing and underdeveloped countries, where refugees find it very hard to integrate into the host society. Refugees who migrated to different countries are asking for help to keep up their culture, language, religion, and other things, to keep up their identity. If we look at the numbers then it is global south that holds so many refugees. The number is increasing everyday. It is the responsibilities of the international community to provide support for the refugees and help them integrate in host countries.

Poverty, crimes, discrimination, human rights violations are some of the issues in societies that holds refugees. Coping with uprootedness, adversity, and assimilation into new social landscapes has always been a challenge. There is always a clash between different cultures, religious values, political ideologies, etc. After the end of the Cold War, nation states have carried out more restrictive policies, which makes it difficult for refugees and asylum seekers to enter the host country.

The rise of nationalism is another issue. In different countries in Europe, immigrants are becoming victims to so called “national movements”, which is simply to push back foreigners and immigrants out of the host country. The European Union only grants EU citizenship to citizens of member states, which is described as “fortress Europe” by many advocates of refugee rights.

The Global South lacks the ability to provide basic needs and lacks to assure certain rights, whereas those who can looks away from the issues. Europe is the only continent which receives thousands of refugees every year, but integration into the society depends on one’s abilities of language and education levels. Refugees who enter into different societies of different countries are not well protected. Their voice is less heard and are constant victims of crimes and human rights abuses.

 

References

Ferenchik, M. (2012, June 19). Nepali refugees struggle with life in city. Retrieved from http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2012/06/19/nepali-refugees-struggle-with-life-in-city.html

Portes, A., & Rumbaut, R. G. (2001). Legacies: The story of the immigrant second generation. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Transnational migration of people and capital

by Curran Cunningham

This first blog is intended to set the parameters for my forthcoming analysis of International Migration. As a keen reader on economic matters, my focus will be primarily on the impact of remittance flows on economic growth of both host and recipient countries.

My research kicks off with preliminary readings from Peggy Levitt and B. Nadya Jaworsky’s paper, ‘Transitional Migration Studies: Past Developments and Future Trends’. The paper’s focus is on three modes of transformation which migrants experience when they move to another country: socio-cultural, political and financial. I will concentrate on the financial aspect which looks into viewing transnational migration as a by-product and indeed victim of the later model of capitalism.

Transnationalism is the catalyst which is generating rapid globalisation. The increased interconnectivity between people and institutions has broken down the economic and social barriers that had once sheltered nation states. Multinational corporations are taking advantage of the opportunities of transnationalism to manufacture goods in a production line spanning the globe. Those processes oftentimes pass through a number of developing countries, with companies maintaining strict quality controls, minimising costs and thereby maximising profits. This can certainly have positive results for the countries concerned, helping generate employment and investment there.

A spin-off of this globalisation is the growth of migrants working abroad in industrialised and emerging markets, providing services locally at minimum wage costs, such as in the construction industry in Dubai or housekeepers in Europe and the United States. They are joined by a growing number of more educated personnel who are migrating, sometimes only temporarily, to enjoy better wages and living standards for their professions in the developed world, including doctors and nurses.

The paper, published in 2007, shows how a doubling in remittances worldwide in the last decade is leading to growing interdependency between the developed and developing world. The concern is that large industrialised countries are becoming over-dependent on cheap foreign labour while non-industrialised countries survive on remittances that their workers abroad send home rather than creating jobs and growth in their own economies.

The costs and benefits of this can be exploitative at times for less-developed and competitively inadequate countries compared to economically top notch developed nations or economic blocs. Critics have argued that globalisation has led to transnational capitalism increasingly monopolise and centralise capital by leading dominant corporations in the global economy. Scholars critical of global capitalism have argued instead in favour of a grassroots’ transnationalism by workers and co-operatives as well as through popular social and political movements.

William I. Robinson reveals his concerns about growing remittance interdependence in his 2010 paper ‘Global Capitalism Theory and the Emergency of Transnational Elites’. He objectifies capitalist transnationalism as the pursuit of facilitating the flow of people, ideas, and goods between different regions of the world in the belief that it has increasing relevance for the rapid growth of capitalist globalisation. Pro-capitalism critics argue that it does not make sense to restrict migratory workforces, globalised corporations, global money flow, global information flow, and global scientific cooperation. However, Robinson believes this is the very reason why there is a widening gap between the rich and the poor and has led to a corresponding rise in exploitation to the detriment of ‘true’ sustainable development at an international level.

Countries such as Cuba have been used by researchers as an example of worsening economic conditions and increased inequality due to remittance flows. At the extreme cases, some non-industrialised countries have had such a reliance on remittances as a source of economic revenue that without them, their economies would crash. These countries are said to be at the mercy of “foreign migration policy makers”. This trend may be also bad for the host country, as their dependency on migrants leads them to plan development policies based on migrants’ future contributions, seeing them as the answer to solve their state problems while otherwise being unable to solve it themselves (Levitt & Jaworsky, 2007).

On the flip side, Min Zhou, in her 2004 paper “Revisiting ethnic entrepreneurship: convergences, controversies, and conceptual advancements,” looks at the positive elements of international migration in breaking down social barriers and allowing further integration even while under the veil of discrimination.

Zhou brings into light the benefits of ethnic entrepreneurship. In accordance with McEwan Pollard, Henry argument, Zhou also believes that ethnic minority economic activity has a positive effect on a nation’s future economic development in increasing the range and diversity of both actual goods and foreign business know-how, whether it be ethnic food manufacturing or Chinese business networks (2005).

Transnationalism in itself – and cross-border ties in general – allows ‘valuable social capital’ to be instilled in ethnic communities to help them in their horizontal and vertical integration with the aim of breaking the inequality trend. This ‘social capital’ can help also the second generation to integrate better and start climbing the social ladder (Ruble, 2005).

Guarnizo brings to the table the notion that predicting remittance revenues are a measure of credit worthiness and secure loans for a state (2003). With these arguments, many governmental and non-governmental bodies have jumped on the “remittances-as-development-panacea” bandwagon (Kapur, 2005).

Having looked at the cost and benefits of remittances to economic growth, my next blog post will assess under what circumstances education does or does not succeed in socially integrating migrants.

References

Guarnizo, L. E. (2003). “The economics of transnational living.” International Migration Review 37:666-699.

Kapur, D. (2005). Remittances: The new development mantra? New York: United Nations.

Levitt, P., & Jaworsky, B. N. (2007). Transnational Migration Studies: Past Developments and Future Trends. Retrieved June 9, 2014, from http://policydialogue.org/files/events/Levitt_Jaworsky_Transnational_Migration_Studies.pdf

McEwan, C., Pollard, J., Henry, N (2005). The ‘global’ in the city economy: multicultural economic development in Birmingham. Blackwell.

Robinson, W. I. (2010). Global Capitalism Theory and the Emergency of Transnational Elites. UNU-WIDER.

Ruble, B. A. (2005). Creating diversity capital: Transnational migrants in Montreal, Washington, and Kyiv. Washington, D.C: Woodrow Wilson Center Press.

Transnationalism – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (n.d.). Retrieved June 13, 2014, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transnationalism

Zhou, M. (2004). “Revisiting ethnic entrepreneurship: convergences, controversies, and conceptual advancements.” International Migration Review 38:1040-1074.

Refugeeism and Denizenship

by Asuko Sugino

First of all, I’ll talk about the definitions of “refugeeism” and ”denizenship”, secondly I’ll refer to where refugees or denizens might belong to instead, and then finally I’d like to mention an example of one refugee in the Philippines who made the organization working for equality and social justice.

The word “refugee” in Precarious Japan by Anne Allison is used in a broad sense. That is to say, it indicates everyone who doesn’t have the place where they can feel comfortable or a sense of home, rather than the people who live in a tent in a refugee camp. She declares to us that this refugeeism has become “ordinary” in Japan which can’t provide “ibasho” for the citizen, citing many examples of “net café refugees” or “temps”. These refugees cannot be equal to non-refugees in various ways (shelter, stable salary, guarantee for future).

On the other hand, “denizen” in this article doesn’t include the above-mentioned examples such as Japanese net café refugees or temp workers. Refugees don’t have “ibasho” but “citizenship” at least. “Denizen” lacks not only secure job, where to return but also their own citizenship, therefore they are not regarded as citizen but resident alien. I think that “denizens” lacks both of equal status and rights, while “refugees” lacks just equal status. To make the worse, according to Anne Allison, denizenship is made use of and exploited by global capitalism because denizens have no choice but to stand working at low wage, with short-term contract and few benefits. Additionally, this system using denizen labors is plotted on purpose and the number of them will increase.

Now, where do they find alternative “ibasho”? In my opinion, both of refugees and denizens tend to seek it at anti-social organizations such as gangster organizations or crime syndicates, because society robbed them of essential status and rights. Some decide to soak themselves into drugs or alcohol without seeking alternative “ibasho”. However, some people try to alter by themselves the wrong social system, facing the reason why the society failed to give them the benefits to be granted. The following is one example.

In the Philippines, 10 years ago, one 16-year boy named Eflen Penyaflorida living in a slum in Manila was worried about the future of his hometown. The children surrounding him supported their families’ living by gathering garbage, so most of them don’t receive an education and become gang members as they grew up. He hoped the gangs in Manila would disappear by receiving enough education to gain ordinary jobs. He established “DTC (Dynamic Teen Company)” and started teaching the children by himself breaking down their parents’ opposition. Now, the scale of the organization is as large as the school and it was awarded a prize by CNN. Eflen didn’t look for his new “ibasho”, but create it by himself.

Everyone cannot make their own “ibasho” by their hands, still we have the responsibility for trying to make the proper place for “refugees” or “denizens” instead of anti-social places, as a member of the society.

Reference

Allison, Anne. 2013. Precarious Japan. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

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The trend of Japanese whiteness

by Yusuke Shiga

For women in modern society, whitening the skin by cosmetic products is so prevalent, and this trend is becoming more significant in terms of racial discrimination today. The influence of colonialism on not only developing, but developed countries is incalculable in various aspects. Still today, one’s appearance, especially skin color, plays a tremendous role in one’s access to essential stuff, from necessities for life such as housing, food, and clothing, to social security and social welfare. By lightening the skin color, people can more easily get these kinds of advantages and live more comfortably in a society. This social structure promotes the preference of whiter skin, however the skillful advertising and marketing strategies of cosmetic firms also affects this social inclination to white skin. Evelyn Nakano Glenn (2009) argues that the giant multinational corporations have grown by meeting the needs of women in each nation, thus the market for cosmetic products has expanded. When you focus on the Japanese case, the complicated contents can be seen.

Recently, Japanese women have sought white skin, as they think that white skin is beautiful or healthy and they persist in trying to to have whiter skin. There are some arguments about the reasons for this tendency, and some claim that Japanese ideal image of women is almost Caucasian because of the advertisements of media and companies. They insist that in most cases, whites are chosen as the models of cosmetic companies, and regarded as beautiful women, and therefore Japanese women try to mimic Westerners. On the other hand, others claim that whitening one’s skin color is part of Japanese traditional culture, because even in the Nara period, people already had customs to whiten their skin tone by using “Oshiroi” (White powder). However, in my opinion, these arguments neglect some important points toward this question “Why do Japanese women seek white skin?”.

Of course, we cannot define the main cause of Japanese preferences for white skin, since there are lots of causes and all of them are associated with each other. Through the discussion of my class, many of the interesting, persuasive ideas are came up and I consider this issue deeply, then I came to the conclusion.

In my opinion, we Japanese all share the misleading idea “Japanese must have nearly same white skin tone naturally”. Therefore, we sometimes discriminate against “Jiguro people (people who naturally have blacker skin compared to other Japanese)” regardless of their birthplace, and draw the line between “naturally white Japanese” and “naturally black Japanese”. Furthermore, because of this premise, “skin whiteness” symbolizes one’s youth or health. Having white skin implies that you make an effort to keep your youth by caring for your skin condition.

In Japan, a proverb says “stand out from the crowd and you just invite trouble for yourself”. Not to be “others”, to keep one’s youth, and to become healthy, Japanese women are paranoid to have white skin, I guess.

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Beauty Standards in the White Imagination

by Shinoko Itakura

The phenomenon of changing skin color has been happening all over the world. Some attempt to get lighter skin and some attempt to get tan skin. The reasons behind those two attempts seem opposite yet, the purpose is the same, “high class”. The symbol of high class depends on where you are, and how the standard of the beauty has been created in your society, because the standard of beauty  includes class status.

But who created the standard of beauty and how? We tend to describe people who have straight jet-black hair, and large, double lidded, almond-shaped eyes as “Asian beauty”. Even though we are Asian, whenever we see people who have those facial features, we say, “You are beautiful like Asian beauty!” In fact one of my colleague just described another colleague as an “Asian beauty” the other day. It just feels weird when Asian people describe another Asian as an “Asian beauty”. This is because the idea of Asian beauty has been created in the white imagination. We do not say European beauty or Latin beauty, because the standard of beauty is already based on European (white) features. What is more, something which is called a “universal standard” or “universal beauty” is just not universal. It always based on physical features of white people.

The standard of beauty seems to be controlled by mass media and the marketing of cosmetic products. Cosmetics companies use many strategies to gain more and more profits. “Relatable” is one of the important key concepts; if consumers find any similarity to the advertising models, for example “Asian-ness”, they believe that they can achieve those models’  look, and the universal standard of beauty. Those advertisements do not directly say “you guys can be like this model, if you use this products!” yet they are implying this by using racially ambiguous models. In order to sell the products, they also give us images of dark skin as dangerous, unhealthy, bad, and wrong by using terms such as aging or skin cancer. But what really matters is “skin color”.

I feel wrath about how skin-lightening products are marketed. It is so depressing that somehow we have to feel pressure of skin color or looking, and have to try to look like someone else, just because we are not white. This situation must be stopped and there should be the world which do not judge you by your skin color.

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“Making a choice” or “forceful separation”?

by Kyungyeon Chung

On the walls of immigration bureau offices in Japan, one can easily spot posters regarding dual citizenship. As the Japanese government does not recognize dual citizenship of its citizens, these posters usually say something along the line of  “let’s make it clear: choose your nationality,” “make a choice: no more duality.” Somehow, the rhetoric of posters seems to suggest that dual citizenship is unclear, undesirable, and duplicate, and thus a negative thing.

Today, in the face of increasing immigration and the growing flow of goods, services and persons across state borders, the concept of dual citizenship has arisen as a politically hot topic. While some argue that the recognition of dual citizenship is simply a legislative act that allows freedom, many believe it means more than granting of an extra passport. Opponents for the recognition argue it will complicate bureaucratic administration for the government. However, the most prominent argument behind the opposition is that the concept is not compatible with what “citizenship” entails. Citizenship has long been associated with state-control over its people – ‘citizenry’ – and, as T.H. Marshall defined, “a claim to be accepted as full members of the society” (Bloemraad, Korteweg & Yurdakul, 2008). Dual citizenship effectively challenges this idea of state-control as it allows the person to be a member of two separate societies, eligible for two separate sets of privileges, and obligated to two separate sets of duties.

Screen Shot 2014-05-26 at 1.17.07 PMThe confusion it causes is understandable. However, forcing one to choose one citizenship over another – the father’s over mother’s, the birth country over the country of residence, or vice versa – is this reasonable? In an opinion article from the New York Times, Mark Krikorian, the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies argued that, for US nationals, engaging in dual citizenship basically means renouncing US citizenship, and is an absurdity that should be prohibited (2014). However, having two passports cannot possibly mean that one is betraying their ‘native’ country. For many immigrants, their children, and expatriates around the world, dual citizenship is about having freedom of association. Just because a person has moved from his/her native country to another, it does not mean he/she automatically renounces, forgets, or even wants to distance from the past. As time passes their emotional attachment and/or political participation can grow in both countries. In such situations, denying the chance of dual citizenship forcefully imposes what a person’s identity should be or where his/her allegiance should lie – does this not qualify as an infringement on freedom of personal choice? It effectively forces them to officially renounce their past so that they can be ‘loyal’ citizens of the present country of residence. If that’s what opponents want to achieve by invalidating dual citizenship, how effective could this possibly be anyway in forming allegiance?

It is more likely that dual citizenship is an irreversible and unavoidable occurrence in the face of globalization. Multiple national, racial and ethnic identities will continue to grow unabated no matter what governmental policies are in place. Recognizing multiple nationalities may be a nuisance for many governments, especially the ones who believe in their perceived ‘homogeneity’. Yet, eventually, the time will come that they have to admit the presence of diversity within the artificially set state borders.

References

Bloemraad, I., Korteweg, A., & Yurdakul, G. (2008). Citizenship And Immigration: Multiculturalism, Assimilation, And Challenges To The Nation-State. Annual Review of Sociology, 34(1), 153-179.

Krikorian, M. (2014, January 30). An exclusive relationship. International New York Times. Retrieved May 18, 2014, from http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/05/14/can-dual-citizens-be-good-americans/citizenship-should-be-an-exclusive-relationship

法務省 (The Government of Japan Ministry of Justice). (n.d.). 国籍選択について (About choosing nationality). Retrieved May 18, 2014, from http://www.moj.go.jp/MINJI/minji06.html

 

Skin whiteners and beauty: the impact of global markets

Royal Siam natural skin whitening products

Royal Siam natural skin whitening products (Photo credit: RoyalSiamBeauty)

by Jiyang Shin

Skin bleaching has become such a steady market across the globe that without even trying, one may end up purchasing a skin product that contains substances that make your skin tone lighter, brighter, thus “healthier”, as some cosmetics companies advertise. What this phenomenon signifies is that the majority of society values whiter skin over their natural skin tone. 

A colleague of mine, who is Japanese and has a relatively darker skin tone, once went to a cosmetics corner of a department store and asked the store clerk which shades of eyeshadow would match her color. However, instead of getting her an eyeshadow that she expected, the store clerk recommended her a product that will make her skin glow and bright. I was stunned when she shared her story because the beauty industry (and other political factors) not only succeeded in creating the image of beauty, but it has come to a point where it is socially acceptable for a store clerk to force her skin bleaching worship on individuals who are perfectly confident with their natural skin tone. Skin bleaching has established a firm position in our society that it is almost as if we are given no other option but to turn white.

It is a common theory that the phenomenon of global skin-whitening obsession largely is due to colonial occupation by European nations, and this could also suggest the possibility that our perception of beauty is significantly determined by the distribution of power and wealth among the various racial groups (the whiter, the superior). In recent years, tanning has become a new trend among the young population in the US, and even politicians such as Mitt Romney. Karen Sternheimer (2010) argues that the emergence of the middle class and the automation of labor after World War I re-identified being outside as more with leisure than with work. Being able to afford a vacation in tropical islands is the new richness, so to say.

However, I believe that the current wave of tanning trend, although still dominant, is more complex than the shift in social perception of being outside. Ethnically ambiguous models are frequently featured in advertisement of fashion retailers such as H&M in recent years. It is reasonable to argue that being multiracial is becoming the new definition of beauty, signifying that having white skin will no longer be a necessary criterion to be perceived as pretty.

Reference

Sternheimer, Karen. 2010. “Lightness and whiteness.” Everyday Sociologyhttp://nortonbooks.typepad.com/everydaysociology/2010/05/lightness-and-whiteness.html

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Seeking stability, but how?

Note from Editor: Students are reading Anne Allison’s book Precarious Japan, and sharing their thoughts on how their own future plans are impacted by the instability and insecurity that Allison describes.

Anonymous student post

“Stability” is what I would look for in my future work. With whatever job I would have, that will be the top priority I would expect from my work. As Allison pointed out, “stability” seems to be fading away from today’s Japanese society, in terms of economy and social relationships. Therefore, it is possible that this phenomenon will make it very difficult for me to find a job which would meet my expectations for my future career. In addition, because of this phenomenon, there is currently a serious competition in job hunting among the younger generations. Certainly, I will have to be part of the job competition as a competitor in a few years and somehow I will need to find a way to get around the barrier to have a secure job. Now the question is “How?” It can be said that there is no perfect answer for the question, whereas, there are two things which I believe are very important to work on in order to answer the question.

Firstly, it is to have a few but good qualifications. I am aware that it sounds so predictable, on the other hand, my point is that I belive I should be careful not to underestimate the importance of having qualifications. At a job interview, qualifications will play a big role in representing how you can contribute to whichever company you are applying for. Without them, you would be judged as a person with no potential to dedicate yourself to the company and a society around you, even if you are a skilled person with a strong will to utilize it for them. Hence, I appreciate how important it is to have some qualifications for myself and I have been working on this since I entered my university. I believe that being a university student gave me a privilege to have a lot of free time that I can spend on however I would like to, therefore, I consider it as a great opportunity to spend those free time on investing in myself.

Secondly, the other thing I consider is crucial to work on is to develop communication skills. Again, this may sound predictable, however, it is one of the most important skills to enable yourself to express what kind of person you are to the others. For example, Japan, with its slow pace, seems to be transforming into a more global nation, and therefore, there are more chances for us to meet people with different nationalities and backgrounds nowadays. To be able to interact well with those who have different cultures and perspectives, I have been striving to learn about some other cultures, languages, religions, politics ,et cetera in my course. If I had proper knowledge about them, I would know how I should talk to the people in an appropriate way. Hence, the way how you communicate with people show your personality in a sense ,and that is why developing a communication skill is believed to be very important.