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The Ideal Look

By Melody Heath

            Row after row they all show the same thing; white straight teeth, long blond hair, fair flawless skin.  The glossy images on the boxes call to the women looking over the rows of dye.  Picking one up, they examine the box to see what their hair would look like after using it.  Alas, their jet black hair will not turn out like the girl’s in the picture.  So placing it back on the shelf, they examine some other options. 

            In this small department store located in Kobe, Japan, people pass behind them, not bothered by the quiet dilemma going on in these women’s minds.  I can almost see them asking the girls on the boxes, “How do we get our hair to look like yours?”  From where I am standing beside them and facing them, I can see the concentration on their faces.  It’s almost as if they know this isn’t going to look good.  Or that it may not work.  They are not laughing and playing around like I do with my friends who want to dye their hair crazy colors.  They are aiming for the image on the boxes.  Even though their complexions are not perfect, their skin is not fair, and their hair is not flowing and light in color. 

            After lifting some other boxes and examining the charts on their sides, they decide on a few and head over to the clerk.  Once they are clear of the shop I examine the shelves of hair dye.  Finally I come across what I am looking for.  Tucked away on the bottom shelves, far right of all hair dyes are some boxes with Asian women on them with very dark hair. 

            In “Urban Middle-Class Japanese Women and Their White Faces,” Mikiko Ashikari, explains that people aim for and epitomize the ideals of their society.  Whatever the dominant ideal look is for a society, its members will attempt to embody it.  This ideal look may mean paler skin, bigger breasts, or a slimmer waste.  The women saw that the most beautiful hair is blonde.  Even if it means they may have to bleach their hair before coloring it, they were going for the perfect shade.  There are many ideologies for a society, but there is one that is more dominant than another and in this case it is the need to be a blonde.  

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