HISTORY AND FORMATION

The Formation and History of Ganguro

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Ganguro literally means “black-faced” (Miller 2006, pg.30) as I mentioned on my earlier blog. “Ganguro falls into the larger subculture of gyaru (from English “gal”), a slang term used for various groups of young women, usually referring to overly childish or rebellious girls” ( Grey 2009). The culture supposedly peaked in popularity during the late 1990s to the early 2000s (Japanese Lifestyle 2009). It is easy to spot a Ganguro girl in Japan because of their dark tanned faces, covered with stickers, glitters, white eye shadow, false eyelashes, bleached hair, provocative and colorful clothing and high heeled shoes.

Ganguro Gal” look are cell phones covered with purikura stickers, tie-dyed sarongs, mini-skirts, hibiscus flower hairpins, and lots of bracelets, rings and necklaces.

For example:

Here are important information that I dug up from different websites that agree and disagree about the formation of the Ganguro.

  1. “Ganguro, with their screw-you makeup, are not trying to look black, American, or like anything ever seen before” ( Miller 2006, pg.30).
  2. Ganguro go against the grain of the usual Japanese standard of female beauty, which calls for skin as light as possible, so-called bihaku, (??, literally ‘beautiful whiteness’). The roots of the trend are said to be in the mid-1960s, starting with commercials/advertisements in which actresses emulated the California “beach bunny” look.
  3. Ganguro have also been linked to an emulation of African American celebrities and were described as such by the Editor of Fruits magazine. The term itself, “Black face”, seems to allude to that.
  4. Hip hop impact on Japanese youth culture with special reference to the ganguro.
  5. Ganguro as a new fashion style reflects the global influence of hip hop culture and affects Japanese youth ideology.GANGUROBBAL
  6. Ganguro is more than a new fashion style among Japanese teenage girls; it is an explicit expression of self- identity of those who attempt to depart from traditional Japanese cultural values and social standards.
  7. Ganguro as a subculture is in conflict with  mainstream Japanese culture, and although this subculture may not spread to the whole Japanese younger generation, it has socio-cultural and ideological significance in Japanese society.

References

1.Miller R 2006,Beauty up: exploring contemporary Japanese body aesthetics, University of California Press, California.

2. Xuexin L, 2005 ‘Ganguro’Wikipedia, viewed on 5 September 2009 < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ganguro>

3. Viewed on 5 September 2009 http://www.spiritus-temporis.com/ganguro/

BEHIND THE OBESSESSION AND FASCINATION

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Someone today asked me, why are you so interested in the Ganguro culture? and I paused for a bit and answered. “ Because sometimes I wish I could be as free as them!”. Sometimes I just want to rebel. When I turned 18, four years ago, I taught that my parents could give me the freedom that I deserved. But I guess my expectations were only fueled by watching movies like ‘A walk to remember’, and all the other Filipino movies I watched; that showed me that when you stand up to your parents they will learn  to accept that at that age  a person is mature and independent. But being a Filipina girl and the eldest girl in the family, the eldest daughter, the elders grandchild, I was not entitled to that freedom. This is how my fascination with the Ganguro girls began. Through contemporary media vehichle such as the internet and blogs, i found out about Ganguros!

The Ganguro girls were not only a product television show such as Baywatch and African American music videos, they are to me a product of rebellion, a way to escape the strict and high expectations of being a Japanese girl. Personally, it is to break away from the strict and outdated expectations of many Asian culture and parents.

In a book written by  Paul R. Spickard titled ‘Mixed blood: intermarriage and ethnic identity in twentieth-century America’ he informs the reader of why ‘white skin’ was seen as an imperative characteristic of a high-class Japanese girl.

He stated “the Japanese from very early times liked white skin, which they associated with spiritual refinement and upper class status, and disliked black skin, which they saw as a sign of primitiveness. (Spikard 1991 pg.43)

“ A woman out to have “ a small and well-shaped face, white skin, gentle manner, an innocent, charming and attentive character” (Spikard 1991 pg.43)

Here is a similar comment that a blogger made from the website ‘Ming the Mechanic:Ganguro Girls The NewsLog of Flemming Funch’ on

11 Apr 2006 @ 21:41 by Jessa @71.1.179.184 : Ganguro

“I read an article in a book years ago that said that Ganguro girls paint their faces black or use really dark shades of tanning lotion to challenge the traditional Japanese culture of girls having skin white face.Actually, I read an article about these girls in the Anime Insider magazine. It said that one of the goals for Ganguro (or Manba, or whatever) is to not only capture the California beach girl look, but to also rebel against the ideal Japanese beauty (moonlight-pale skin, long, ebony-black hair, etc.). “

Like the Japanese culture, my parents to this day are very strict on me, jsut because I am a girl. My parents too didn’t like me being outside and getting my skin dark. I was encouraged by parents to use whitening lotion and whitening soap.  I feel a strong connection to the Ganguro girls, because I believe that I too am living as a prisoner of my culture. But you would never catch me dressing up and wearing my make up like them!

References

  1. Spickard, P.R. 1991 ‘Mixed blood: intermarriage and ethnic identity in twentieth-century America’ University of Wisconsin Press, America.
  2. 2003, ‘Ming the Mechanic: Ganguro Girls’, The NewsLog of Flemming Funch,Ming, viewed 29 September 2009, <http://ming.tv/flemming2.php/__show_article/_a000010-000633.htm>

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Someone today asked me, why are you so interested in the Ganguro culture? And I paused for a bit and answered. “ Because sometimes I wish I could be as free as them. Be able to have the freedom and rebel. When I turned 18, four years ago, I taught that my parents could give me the freedom that I deserved. But I guess my expectations were only fueled by watching movies like ‘A walk to remember’, and all the other Filipino movies I watched; that showed me that when you stand up to your parents they will learn  to accept that at that age I will be matured and independent. But being a Filipina girl and the eldest girl in the family, the eldest daughter, the elders grandchild, I was not entitled to that freedom. This is how my fascination with the Ganguro girls began.

The Ganguro girls were not a product television show such as Baywatch and African American music videos, they are a product of rebellion, a way to escape the strict and high expectations of being a Japanese girl.

In a book written by Paul R. Spickard titled ‘Mixed blood: intermarriage and ethnic identity in twentieth-century America’ he informs the reader of why ‘white skin’ was seen as an imperative characteristic of a high-class Japanese girl.

He stated “the Japanese from very early times liked white skin, which they associated with spiritual refinement and upper class status, and disliked black skin, which they saw as a sign of primitiveness. (Spikard 1991 pg.43)

“ A woman out to have “ a small and well-shaped face, white skin, gentle manner, an innocent, charming and attentive character” (Spikard 1991 pg.43)

Here is a similar comment that a blogger made from the website ‘Ming the Mechanic:Ganguro Girls The NewsLog of Flemming Funch’

11 Apr 2006 @ 21:41 by Jessa @71.1.179.184 : Ganguro

I read an article in a book years ago that said that Ganguro girls paint their faces black or use really dark shades of tanning lotion to challenge the traditional Japanese culture of girls having skin white face.Actually, I read an article about these girls in the Anime Insider magazine. It said that one of the goals for Ganguro (or Manba, or whatever) is to not only capture the California beach girl look, but to also rebel against the ideal Japanese beauty (moonlight-pale skin, long, ebony-black hair, etc.).

Like the Japanese culture, my parents were very strict on me, most especially because I am a girl. My parents too didn’t like me being outside and getting my skin dark. I was encouraged by parents to use whitening lotion and whitening soap. There is a strong connection to the Ganguro girls, because I believe that I too am living as a prisoner of my culture.

BIBLIGORAHY

Spickard, P.R. 1991 ‘Mixed blood: intermarriage and ethnic identity in twentieth-century America’ University of Wisconsin Press, America.




2003, ‘Ming the Mechanic: Ganguro Girls’, The NewsLog of Flemming Funch,Ming, viewed 29 September 2009, <http://ming.tv/flemming2.php/__show_article/_a000010-000633.htm>