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Defying Beauty Standards in Japanese Sports

Started by upamfva, 2022/10/12 11:28PM
Latest post: 2022/10/12 11:28PM, Views: 112, Posts: 1
Defying Beauty Standards in Japanese Sports
#1   2022/10/12 11:28PM
Defying Beauty Standards in Japanese Sports

The Japanese term, “yamato nadeshiko”(1) refers to the personification of an “ideal Japanese woman.” It covers a lot of ground: she’s beloved for her beautiful, pale skin (bihada), willowy hips (yanagigoshi), and her modesty (okuyukashisa), among other attributes. She’s also, perhaps unsurprisingly, considered increasingly rare. While many argue that modern Japanese culture is gradually ditching traditional gender norms such as these, the leftover pressures of embodying the ideal of being appropriately “feminine” while balancing the sometimes (seemingly) contradictory kinds of personal attributes needed to rise to the top of their fields in competitive sports can create a strain on female athletes. This expected duality seems as pervasive as ever: even the Japan women’s national soccer team is affectionately nicknamed(2) “Nadeshiko Japan.” The struggle of juggling being both “feminine women” and “athletes” is not new—but many female athletes grapple with these seemingly conflicting pressures in silence, which can have devastating effects on their mental, emotional, and physical health.To get more news about 国产va在线观看免费, you can visit our official website.

On May 3, 2020, Japan was rocked by the tragic death of 22-year-old Terrace House star and pro-wrestler, Hana Kimura(3), in what was deemed an apparent suicide(4). Kimura and her teammates openly discussed the difficulty of dating as an athlete in Japan on the show, citing concerns that they didn’t want to intimidate men. They would often go so far as to keep their careers a secret(5) when navigating the ins and outs of a budding new romance. Kimura’s wrestling teammate, Jungle Kyona, told her that, “You should want to be with someone who accepts you and your work, who likes you for who you truly are.” Kimura was an inspiration to many and was able to shed some much-needed light on life as a biracial female wrestler in present-day Japan. The beloved pink-haired star and successful second-generation female wrestler wrote to followers on Twitter that she only ever “wanted to be loved in life.”(6)
Instead, Kimura faced a wave of online cyber-bullying. In particular, she was targeted after an episode aired in which she had a confrontation with a male roommate over one of her wrestling outfits. Following Kimura’s death, there was an outcry against bullying which spanned the international community, and Terrace House was deemed “toxic” by many avid former fans. Her apparent confidence as she body-slammed opponents while decked in bright colors undoubtedly made her a role model to many young, aspiring female athletes who watched the show. Her loss was a tragedy, and some argue there is culpability in the way in which she was portrayed by producers. Pro-wrestler, Chigusa Nagayo, stated(7), “She was an athlete, a professional wrestler with a future. She just played the villain. In reality, she was a polite and kind junior professional wrestler.” In response to the tragedy, Terrace House suspended the 2019-2020 season, issued an apology, and posted a note of condolence on their website. Still, many wondered if this was enough.

Kimura is not the only female athlete to have struggled with warped representations in the spotlight. Naomi Osaka, a professional Japanese tennis player who’s been consistently ranked as one of the world’s top players by the Women’s Tennis Association, spoke out about controversial cartoon representations which have received notable backlash. Noodle company, Nissin(8), ran an animated advertisement of the Haitian-Japanese star with lightened skin and muted brown hair in “Hungry to Win” in January 2019. The company was quickly accused of “whitewashing”(9) Osaka. At the Australian open, she told journalists, “It’s obvious, I’m tan. It’s pretty obvious.” She was forgiving, saying that she didn’t think the company had “whitewashed”(10) her on purpose and that “. . . next time . . . I feel like they should talk to me about it.” (Surprisingly, this wasn’t the first time Osaka had faced this situation—in September 2018, an Australian cartoonist depicted(11) Osaka as a blonde-haired white woman). The ad has since been removed from YouTube.
Osaka has been known to push back against negative comments on her personal photos, famously clapping back at internet trolls who had made disparaging comments about her bikini body in July 2020 by tweeting(12), “You don’t know me, I’m 22, I wear swimsuits to the pool. Why do you think you can comment on what I can wear?”

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