There is no doubt beauty is in the eye of the beholder and every culture has its own unique definitions of beauty. Visit the land that brought the world Sony, Hello Kitty and Harajuku girls, and beauty takes on an entirely different face.
In Japan, the quest for beauty goes beyond the norm. Who could forget the geisha facials, loved by celebs such as Victoria Beckham and Tom Cruise, where nightingale poop is slathered on the skin, and the snack in which Hello Kitty collagen marshmallows are chased with a collagen-infused Nescafe.
This is a culture that embraced the "bagel head", where saline is injected into the forehead to resemble a bagel, or the "Yaeba" or "snaggle-tooth" trend where young women get crowns on their canines for a vampy Twilight effect, because crooked teeth are considered cute and innocent.
This is a culture where the quest for perfection is taken to ridiculous lengths, a culture that promotes Pinky Queen to change the colour of nipples, and in which Vicyaclady Shoes are the Crocs equivalent to achieve the Japanese dream of nicely shaped legs.
Are the women of Japan being forced to take the idea of beauty too far? Is their desire to look more Western risky and at times downright dangerous?
Here are five of the most frightening, freakish and questionable popular Japanese beauty trends. You be the judge.
The F Cup Cookie
Boost your boosies with two bickies a day! Available in chocolate, strawberry or soy-milk flavours, the F Cup Cookie's magic bosom-boosting ingredient is Pueraria Mirifica, which, according to the website, "enables plump and resilient breasts in three to five weeks". Not to mention "it looks nice, it smells good and it is tasty!" The product's mantra is "helping women become more feminine".
Pop a Pupeko
Forget the fillers thanks to this anti-ageing mouthpiece by Japanese housewife Chikako Hirama. The Pupeko resembles a giant cookie cutter. Simply pop it in your pie-hole and suck and puff your cheeks while breathing through the mouthpiece to tighten cheek and jaw muscles... Hmmm whatever!
Non-surgical nose jobs
Cosmetic surgery can be costly - hence the staggering number of contraptions on the market that could be mistaken for medieval torture devices, or psychedelic insects, that claim to straighten, narrow and refine one's nose.
The "beauty lift high nose" claims to vibrate your nose to perfection in just three minutes a day. Then there's the "beauty nose" - a giant clothes peg in the shape of a butterfly.
The Beauty Voice Trainer
Once you've boosted your bust and straightened your snoz, you need a pretty voice. In Japan, softly-spoken women are considered beautiful. So if like me you sound more wharfie than wallflower, this product is for you!
Looking like the love child of a giant dummy and a gimp gag, this odd apparatus restricts the throat, holds down the tongue and helps with breathing from your diaphragm, a must for singing. It also comes with its own tuning fork to help you perfect vocal notes, so you can be sounding like Mariah Carey or Tinker Bell in no time.
The Uniface Mask
If all of the above fails, then the "Uniface Mask" is the ultimate solution. It's made from bionic-skin technology, and, according to its makers, is "a dream fulfilling face that satisfies today's beauty standards, an all-in-one product for a lifetime worth of confidence".
You can talk, make facial expressions and sleep in it, although how one drinks, eats or scores a sneaky party-pash remains undisclosed. Just spray on the cell-binding glue and you too can look like an instant freak!
The only warning - don't remove the mask yourself, or you could end up looking like Nicolas Cage in Face/Off. The glue can only be "deactivated" by the scientific team at the clinic.
So next time you find yourself grumbling about getting a Brazilian, or a Botox boost, or touching up your roots, or suffering through another laser treatment, spare a thought for our Japanese sisters. Maybe we Western women don't have it that bad after all.
- Sydney Morning Herald
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