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I Want to Become a Small Cute Animal! / Cyapatsu

Painting with oil & gold leaf   89cm x 116cm


The literal translation of “Cyapatsu” is brown hair. It was once a rebellious, trendy style of hair bleaching and dying. Japanese youth started to bleach and dye their hair brown, amber, and blonde. This trend caught fire in early 90’s. It escalated at an alarming rate until 2001. In that year, 85 % among young female professionals in their 20’s (OL in Japanese) artificially changed the color of their hair. Quite literally only 1 out of 6 women kept their original black hair. This tendency is slowly subsiding with 79.7% of women and 73% of men altering their hair color in 2006.


Another strange fact in Japan is fashion models featured in well-known fashion magazines, such as “Vogue Japan”, “ Spur”, “Elle Japan”, etc… are predominately Caucasian females. To this day no Japanese model or celebrity has never appeared on the cover of “Vogue Japan”. How strange this phenomenon seems to me! In my career as a fashion designer, I have often wondered how Japanese women can envision their own looks, while looking at publications filled with Caucasian models.


I am not able to regard this superficial phenomenon as merely a passing trend. It suggests to me some deeper, perhaps even severe psychiatric disturbance within Japanese society. Professor Takashi Aso of Waseda University states that Japanese have become “Orientalist”, meaning that citizens no longer view themselves as Asians but rather as members of the white race. Therefore we prefer to see ourselves with brown or blonde hair and do not question fashion magazines filled with Caucasian models. Is this what is happening in Japan? If so, what triggered this change to take place in our society?