Sharp and Boyish: Male Aesthetics and Self-hood in Contemporary Japanese Culture

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Conference Proceeding
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One of the dominant modes of ideal male beauty in contemporary Japan differs from the generalized Western ideal of muscularity in being slender, shōnen-like (boyish), and predominantly kawaii (cute). This kawaii masculinity is omnipresent in contemporary Japanese culture, from advertising to TV programs, from magazines to fashion media, articulating its potential influence upon contemporary Japanese men. In this talk, Masafumi Monden examines a particular sector of the significance of this boyish male beauty in contemporary Japanese culture – namely the intersections between masculinity, body, fashion and self-hood. It argues that the significance of such a male beauty lies in the possibility that representations of “masculinity” embodied by these men might both reflect and shape certain ideals and ideas of gender, which are consumed by men in Japan. This was an invited talk at The Japan Foundation Sydney.
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