Black Faces, Witches, and Racism against Girls

  • Sharon Kinsella


Between summer 1998 and summer 1999 kogyaru suntans began to get darker. The personality of the style veered from that of the slatternly coquettishness of dropout schoolgirls toward that of moody punk divas. Girls involved in this climactic phase of Shibuya, Center Gai street fashion used self-tanning crème and tanning salons to tan their skin as dark as they could, if possible to a chocolate brown color. Dark skin was highlighted with pearlescent colored eye shadow and lipstick, which, until the beginning of the decline of the look in late 2000, was used to paint thick white rings around the eye sockets and over the mouth. White-socketed girls redefined their eyes with dark eyeliner and false eyelashes cemented with lashings of mascara. The glamorous big hair of kogyaru style, streaked or dyed light red brown, made way for heavily highlighted whitish-blonde hair arranged in shaggy dos, and in some cases tonged and piled-up into bouffant arrangements. This powerful assemblage was overlaid with colors: metallic lame face glitter on the cheeks and around plucked arching brows; glittering face stickers in the shape of tear drops, stars and hearts; and equally well-encrusted fingernails and painted extensions. White-on-brown was accessorized with any of a range of generally theatrical props, from ubiquitous clusters of artificial tropical flowers strung on bracelets, necklaces, and hair slides; to colored contact lenses; temporary tattoos; cowboy hats; character merchandise and bulky ethnic jewelry.


Teenage Girl Japanese Girl Male Press Black Face Young Japanese Woman 
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© Laura Miller and Jan Bardsley 2005

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  • Sharon Kinsella

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