This story is an interesting one because it is a modern view of what’s going on in Japan. If you are already confused about fashion in Japan, school rules about hair coloring, and what people think of all the bleached blonde boys and girls running around the streets here, this story is not going to help you understand anything.
The following tweet on Twitter caused a stir in Japan:
A concise translation is that “motyli” the author of the tweet was riding the train and a very cute young girl was standing in front of motyli. The girl was telling her friend that her mother had said, “These days girls with black hair are being targeted by strange men. Just go bleach your hair,” and handed her some money.
If you come to visit Japan, especially during the summer time, you’ll see a lot of girls with bleached hair, or at least highlights in their hair. Some will even have this unnatural orange color. However the Japanese idols that seem the most popular with men are ones with straight black hair. As the schools tell the girls not to color their hair, often claiming that girls with their hair colored are more likely victims of assault (I don’t know how common this claim is, but I’ve heard it on more than one occasion), this mother is using the same logic as a reason for her daughter to color her hair.
The idea behind the hair bleaching seems two-fold. One is that she won’t seem so innocent and attractive to the “otaku” types or the older men who lust after the young teen idols. (I am referring to the kind of guys that say they are going to kill themselves or someone else when a manga character they like gets a boyfriend, or it’s implied that she’s not a virgin… god forbid an actual human teen idol singer gets a boyfriend or is seen smoking.) The bleached hair sort of destroys the image of innocence. Another reason this mother may think her daughter should bleach her hair for her own protection is that mom may think it’ll make her daughter look like a tough girl.
My opinion is that in a country with a NEED for women’s only cars on trains, hair color is not going to be a big preventative weapon in the battle against sexual harassment and “chikan” or gropers. I think, as I’ve mentioned on this blog before, that the problems need to be dragged out into the open. The girl with black hair being stalked for looking pure and classically Japanese is only going to be changing the demographic of her stalker when she changes her hair color.
What we need is for Japanese men AND women to start educating Japanese boys and girls about being proud of themselves, loving themselves, and protecting themselves. Maybe Twitter and blogging and the like are the kind of anonymous places that can kick start a revolution of openness in Japan, or maybe I’m too optimistic as usual.