Japanese Beauty for the World
Thursday, August 17, 2006 Posted: 07:14 PM JST
Anthropologist Sawa Kurotani, director of Asian studies at the University of Redlands in California, explains in a Daily Yomiuri special how Miss Japan, Kurara Chibana, became the first runner-up in the 2006 Miss Universe contest that was held in Los Angeles on July 23. She is only one of four Miss Japans to be among the five finalists in the pageant's history.
In the past, Caucasian--and more particularly, Northwestern European--facial features and body dimensions dominated the world's beauty standard. In the past two decades, there has been a shift away from the typical Northwestern European look represented by blond hair and blue eyes and toward more "mixed" looks. While maintaining some of the Caucasian features (the height and body dimensions, preference for a straight nose, large eyes and wavy hair), beauty has become "deterritorialized." That is, it has lost its specific regional association to include features from other parts of the world (dark hair, olive skin, straight hair).
Globalized beauty is beauty that cannot be pinned on the map, that cannot be traced to a single racial or ethnic origin. It is no coincidence that Latin America has been so heavily represented in Miss Universe in recent years, where racial and cultural mixing has taken place for generations. Kurara-san's good looks--she is tall, leggy, dark-haired and olive-skinned--fit perfectly with this new standard of globalized beauty.
The visual impact of the group shot of 10 finalists speaks more eloquently than a thousand words; Kurara-san blends in so perfectly with this group dominated by mestiza (mixed) Latinas that you have to look closely to be able to tell which lady is Japanese.
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