I’ve been on Tumblr for a few years now, and a while back I started to notice a trend. There were girls in what I would have thought to be life-sized doll outfits with eye makeup designed to make them look like a cartoon character, girls in exaggerated bronze and white makeup with pastel colored extensions and unnaturally large contact lenses, and girls who adhered unwaveringly to an imagined identity, like a club-kid engaged in cosplay. I finally stumbled upon a word: Gyaru.
Since the East-West communication is much more consistent in the age of the Internet than it was when this style first emerged in the ’70s, Gyaru, meaning simply “gal” in Japanese, initially grew from a Japanese brand of jeans called “Gals” which bore the slogan, “I can’t live without men.” After you wash your hands from that one, it’s interesting to see where gyaru has landed today. Sociologically, it’s followed a similar path as “emo” in the sense that each generation seems to emulate an idea of the word and recreate it like a big game of telephone, so that the original idea bears almost no resemblance to its initial meaning. Gyaru has leveled out lately, it seems, and has come to represent an exaggeratedly sweet “prettiness” in the realms of Disney princesses and the like. It has also caught on strong in China.
So, I’ve become pretty enthralled by this subculture, and it’s crazy to me that it can be summed up into one word, considering all of its evolutionary derivations that have come to pass in recent years. Take a look at this glossary of terms, via wikipedia.
Pretty staggering. My art history studies taught me that, since the beginning of time the East and West have been exchanging ideas in a way that distance caused a morphing of ideas in transport. It’s easy to see that this is still in play, and to such an interesting result!
What do you think about gyaru style? I know I haven’t covered everything there is to know about gyaru; does anyone have any insight to share?