Why Do Japanese Women Look So Young?

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    A Japanese TV show asks tourists from Western countries to guess the ages of Japanese women, and finds that they tend to see them as far younger than their actual ages:

    As the picture at the top of the post shows, there were some pretty big gaps between the guesses and the actual ages, especially in the case of the 32-year-old woman. When asked to guess the age of TV announcers (23-27), quite a few people even thought the women were teenagers!

    Why do they think Japanese women look younger? A few possible reasons are provided:

    • Bags/wrinkles seem to stand out more under the eyes of Westerners.
    • Many Japanese women avid the sun by carrying parasols, wearing strong sunscreen, or covering up their skin with clothing. This makes their skin less likely to have wrinkles. (22 countries were represented in their poll of foreign tourists, and apparently tanned skin is seen as a good thing in 17 of those countries.
    • Japanese women wear make-up. Of 25 Japanese women interviewed, all 25 were wearing full make-up. Of 25 foreign women, only 2 were wearing full make-up. On average, the Japanese women were carrying 10.6 different make-up products, while the foreign women were carrying 2.7 different make-up products.

    They ask one 34-year-old English woman to go through a full course of Japanese-style “natural” make-up. Here is the result:

    After her makeover, the English woman says she now understands why Japanese women look so “flawless.” A lot of make-up is used, but the end result still looks natural.

    The Japanese woman who taught the make-up technique remarks that the English woman became younger-looking. The English woman’s response presents us with a major difference between their two cultures: she doesn’t want to look like she’s in her twenties.

    To test how Japanese and Western women have different views about looking younger, they set up a rigged “let our reporter guess your age” game and have the reporter guess that every woman looked younger. The Japanese women were happy, but the Western women were not.

    Their poll found that only 8% of the Western women wanted to look younger than their actual age. In contrast, 76% of Japanese woman thought it would be great to look younger.

    It would seem that Japanese women think it is fantastic to look young and Japanese men tend to prefer younger women.

    Cultural Anthropologist Masakazu Toki of Edogawa University believes that Japan has a long history of idolizing young women. One 18th century example is given: “three famed beauties of the Meiwa period” (明和三美人), all of whom were 14-15 years-old when they were praised as the most beautiful women in Edo. Professor Toki says things were quite different in Western countries, where religious views made society less likely to treat younger girls as objects of sexual desire.

    Note: In this post, “Western women” refers to women from Western countries. It looks like almost every tourist they interviewed was from Europe, Australia, New Zealand, or the Americas. Had they also included tourists from Asian countries, the results of their poll may have turned out differently…

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