Thursday, November 14, 2013

Will Miss #39 - dressing up for the girls (reflection)

Last weekend, my husband and I walked around a local mall and I made a conscious effort to not sleepwalk through the experience. When we first returned, I took note of people and what they did and how they looked because I was trying to acclimate to the culture again. Over time, I've come to do what most people do - tune everyone out.

I'm not sure why I decided to attend to what I was seeing, but it was fortuitous because I am reviewing this particular post this week and can say something about how different this particular cultural aspect is. In Japan, I always knew when my female students were meeting their girlfriends for shopping when they had lessons because they often dressed to the nines. They often dressed up more for the girls than for the boys in their lives.

In America, I have noticed that women do dress up, but not for each other. They tend to do it when they are with men or when they are doing something formal or public. Even then, the level of dress in public in the U.S. is decidedly lower than that in Japan. The people here just tend to dress down more often than not. There, they tend to dress up more often than not.

I do miss the way in which women took greater pride in their appearance, particularly when they were with other women. It says something about values in the U.S. when women dress well for men and not for other people. You can reach your own conclusions about that. 


  1. This is really true, but it also depends heavily on which parts of the two countries you compare. I remember how strange it was to visit my friend's crunchy college town and blend in effortlessly after so much time standing out in Tokyo. These days I can show up to my daughter's sports day and discover I'm wearing the same sort of thing as half of the mothers despite being the only white woman in the crowd. I still have strikingly similar style to what I wore a decade ago in Tokyo, but Kyushu is much more laid back.

  2. I haven't worn jeans or trousers since I was 14, and I tend to dress up a lot more than the people in my life, and when my students 'catch' me at the gym or at the weekends in something decidedly casual (a tunic and leggings or a casual dress) they're shocked to see me 'dressed down'. i really wish people would dress up more, but i'm not sure why!

  3. I tend to dress up for my sisters (I guess the girls if you thing about it) and my husband always finds it silly. He asks why I fuss when I look just fine the way I am. And in all honesty, I had to think about it because I hate getting 'dolled up'. Not that I leave the house looking like I rolled out of bed or wearing sweats like other people do in my community. I do it to be on par with my sisters. I don't want to look out of place when we are going out to dinner or a play and I am dressed like I normally do. I also hate that lipstick crap, it tastes and smells bad. Plus you have to keep reapplying it, so tedious!


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