Think mummies are hot? How about pirates?
What if they were scantily clad women?
This week, Japan’s Weekly Playboy magazine reported that the otaku (geek, ?????????) community is starting to lose interest in eyeglasses and maids. Although these two styles have dominated the geek-friendly Tokyo neighborhood of Akihabara in recent years, ‘one-eyed virginal maid mummies’ is the hottest new fashion.
This increasingly popular style is known as kegadoru (????????????), which roughly translates as ‘injured idols.’ The look popularizes women who wear cute, frilly Lolita-style dresses, and then accessorize with bandages and eye patches.
Only in Japan could gauze and Band-Aids become the latest must-have fashion item!
The idea is simple.
“When you’re covered in bandages, everybody pays attention to you and worries about you. They also provide a chance to start talking to guys, who’ll ask you how you hurt yourself, so the bandages are really, really good. One guy told me he likes seeing a thin woman’s body wrapped in bandages because it made him think about bondage, and made him want to protect me from harm.”
But not everyone is convinced that mummies and pirates are going to be taking the catwalks in Paris and Milan by storm. According to psychologist Yu Yuki, the rise of kegadoru is a sign of rising gender equality in Japan.
In an interview with Weekly Playboy, Yu Yuki states:
“Women feigning injury but still swathed in bandages and eye patches look as though they’re weak. This makes the men want to protect the women. In our age of gender equality, the number of strong-willed women has increased. Men still want to protect and look after women, so they seek out those who seem to be in need of help.”
As strange as it may seem to Westerners, the Japanese obsession with cosupre (costume play, コスプレ) has recently exploded in popularity, particularly amongst teenagers and young adults. In a country where individual thought and expression is frequently squashed by a society that values conformity and order, dressing up in bizarre fashions is one of the few outlets that rebellious teens have.
In the teen-fashion district of Harajuku in Tokyo, cosupre has even become a weekly scheduled event, taking place every Sunday in front of the bridge leading to Meiji Shrine. For most of these teens, who grow up in sterile, concrete housing blocks that are typical of much of urban living in Japan, the Sunday street show is sadly their one chance to break away from a repressive culture.
Like most pop fads in Japan, kegadoru is not likely to maintain its popularity for too long. In greater Tokyo, which numbers upwards of 30 million souls, fashions wax and wane in popularity with frightening speed. However, even if kegadoru is short-lived, it’s almost certain that another equally shocking fashion trend will replace it soon enough.
For more on cuteness in Japan, check out Hello Kitty and the Culture of Cute.
For more on the weird, wacky and wonderful world that is Japan, don’t miss the feature column Big in Japan.
For pictures of Japanese fashions, from kimonos to costume plays, see the photo gallery below.
**Special thanks to stock.xchng user Shibuya 86 for the picture of the Harajuku girl **