Debbie, Mika Kobayashi and I (with help and advice from Rebecca Jennison at Kyoto Seika University) are writing an article on body image in Japan and the United States for the online academic journal, Asia-Pacific Journal:Japan Focus. The article will include both text and images. The images will be photographs from all three of my projects (Women En Large, Familiar Men and Women of Japan), along with examples from media and other sources illustrating various cultural attitudes toward body image. We’re excited about writing it, since it gives us a chance to explore these issues complexly and at length.
We sent this set of questions to our Japanese mailing list and I thought some folks would find them interesting.
The questions were structured and written for people whose first language is Japanese and who read English. Unfortunately we couldn’t arrange for either the time or the resources to translate Japanese language responses.
If you would like to answer these questions from your own cultural background and experience, please feel free to do so. Instead of answering them in the comments, email your answers to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
All questions refer to both either women or men, or both.
Answers can be as brief or as long as you like. Please answer as many or as few questions as you want.
The phrase “body image” refers to the way we feel about and perceive our physical bodies. It also refers to how the way we look is reflected in the eyes of other people and Japanese culture.
1. In general, what are the most important aspects of body image in Japanese culture and how do you feel about it?
2. What aspects of your perception of body image comes from Japanese culture and what aspects come from Western or other influences?
3. How do you imagine body image is different in Japan and the United States?
4. How are body images different for minority people? For example, hisabetsu buraku, disabled, Okinawans, and zainichi gaikoku-jin? How is it for people from different economic or social classes? How are majority people’s perception of body image different for these groups
than for themselves.
5. How do people develop a sense of their body image? How do they learn about it? Please give examples of how you learned about your body image.
6. What are the most important things to you about your body image? What would you change?
7. Is there anything else you’d like to say?