As a frequent visitor of J-Blogs and J-Vlogs, I am constantly bombarded with this word. I was first introduced to the term while browsing Yonasu’s blog and encountering his Gyaru Wednesday photo posts. My assumption was that any girl that wears circle lenses, trendy clothes and talks the Japanese equivalent to American Valley girl or Mexican Fresa slang was a gyaru.
Soon after, I completely forgot about the word and continued on in the virtual J world. Then two of my favorite Youtube vloggers posted Gyaru videos.
Victor of Gimmeaflakeman:
Lindy Tsang of Bubzbeauty:
So, I thought to myself… What exactly is a GYARU?? Why are American J-B/Vloggers constantly bringing them up? Why are we, bloggers and readers alike, so fascinated? I decided to do a little research of my own…
It turns out that being “Gyaru” is not about having a certain hairstyle, outfit or using their slang… it’s all that and more. Gyaru is a lifestyle. A true gyaru will dedicate hours of her day to perfect her look and make many sacrifices to keep her wardrobe up. I’ve even read accounts of gyarus dropping out of school in order to have the time to dedicate to this lifestyle. This is serious business! And there is definitely no one type of gyaru. There are tons! For example:
HIME GYARU (Princess Gal)
“Hime Gyaru is a street fashion which originated in Japan. The literal translation of Hime Gyaru (姫ギャル) is Princess Girl. It is a fashion subculture which centers around dressing and (depending how seriously you take it) living life like a princess.”
Kawaii!!! But… It seems like a very expensive style to keep up! I’m sure with enough creativity and patience, this is recreatable even with the most modest of budgets. However, for those who have the cash to throw down, Jesus Diamante is the go to brand for himes. Regardless of how large a hime’s bank account is, TIME is needed to make sure her pouffy mane of curls is in top condition!
Ganguro Gyaru (Black Face Gal)
Now this one is a bit alarming to me, but it seems to have gone out of style a few years ago. Orange hair and very tanned skin are the trademarks of this style. Why am I alarmed? As the name suggests, it’s a black face style. I found an interesting wiki article about Japanese blackface in particular. The “Guro” in ganguro means “grotesque” according to the article. It’s a way to rebel against the beauty standard of pale skin and neutral makeup. But, I mean it’s wiki. Could be true, could be false. I happen to think dark skin is beautiful, so perhaps these gyarus agree and that’s why they love to tan their skin. If anyone reading this knows where the style originated from, please enlighten me in the comment section below :)
These are only a few of the MANY styles of Gyaru. Men can even be gyaru, and are referred to as Gyaru-Oh. Older women who tone down their gyaru style graduate to “Oneegyarus” (Older Sister Gal) and gyaru mamas. What is most interesting to me is that this trend doesn’t seem to be as prevalent as I thought, considering the coverage it gets. Yes, it’s fascinating, but is this another case of people around the world exaggerating Japan’s “weirdness”?
I do admire Gyarus for standing out and being so passionate about their styles. Seriously… I would never have the guts to go out in public looking like they do. And while I’d never turn gyaru, I’m probably going to be picking up some of their magazines on my next visit to Mitsuwa :-) After doing some research… I still can’t really define what a gyaru is… the term is so broad! Would celebs like Kana Nishino and Ayumi Hamasaki be considered gyarus? Should a non-gyaru like me even be concerned with defining them?
For more info on gyarus, here are some of the blogs I consulted for this post:
Violet Le Beaux - Australian (?) Hime Gyaru (Link to her FAQ page, which I quoted from for my Hime Gyaru definition)
Universal Doll – Guide to being a Gyaru
Ha… I used the word “Gyaru” over 30 times in this post :-P