B-Style, or black lifestyle, derives from American Hip Hop culture and has become increasingly popular in Japan. The Japanese show their appreciation for black style by making themselves as black as possible by tanning and they use popular hip hop videos as references to develop their style of dress. As mentioned in the video, they whole point of B-Style is to “not look Japanese”. While their admiration for black people is remarkable and appreciated (because I’m black  so I respect the love) I’m also curious as to how they’ve developed their interpretation of what black style is.  This has sparked my curiosity and I think it fits in well with many of the themes we’ve discussed in class.

What do you guys think of the Japanese interpretation of black style and Hip Hop culture? How do you feel about the perception of what is considered beautiful by those who engage in B-Style? Could it be rebellious to the Japanese standard of beauty? Are they trying to make a bigger statement with B-Style? Do you know of any other examples of this in other cultures/countries?

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11 thoughts on ““B-Style” in Japan

  1. My first thought when I saw that girl tanning was MELANOMA. As a very pale person, my mind immediately went to the health risks of being that shade of tan when it is not your natural skin color. Apparently some in Japan still think that tanning beds are “safe”. The obvious physical health risks initially overshadowed any positivity about this lifestyle.
    But that aside, I appreciate their rebellion against the norms of beauty in Japan. It reminds me of punk kids in American culture, and the idea that their style is all about going against normalcy. These girls found a culture they admire, and become as much a part of it as they can. I don’t think they are trying to make any statement besides about who they are and what they like, but publicly I imagine it seems like a statement about acceptance. Japan is known for their variety of weird subcultures, including Harajuku, Lolita, gothic, Ganguro, cosplayers…they literally have subcultures within their subcultures (links to images of many of them here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harajuku). I agree with the mother in the video: you can get away with playing with your style while you’re young, so let them do what they want.

  2. As with many Japanese subcultures, I find “B-Style” to be a truly remarkable fashion trend not only because of the African American popular culture it imitates, but also because of the excessive degree to which this imitation is carried out. The heavy tanning and constructed hairstyles worn by Japanese participating in B-Style truly alter their appearance and fulfill their desire to “not look Japanese.”

    Although I do not disapprove of the B-Style fashion trend overall, I believe the excessive tanning being utilized to achieve a more “black skin tone” is an unhealthy and extreme practice. This excessive tanning may be paralleled to double eyelid surgery, as it is being utilized as a radical alteration of ethnic aesthetics due to dissatisfaction with natural appearances.

    In addition, the perception of beauty for those Japanese who participate in B-Style is a construct of African American popular culture which is not necessarily representative of African American style in reality. If anything, the perceived notions of beauty that can be ascertained from the music videos and magazines portraying African American popular culture are representative of fashion extremes and are not practical to imitate or aspire to. More recently, the African American popular culture styles portrayed in music videos and magazines have come under heavy criticism from the African American community for being over-sexualized, inappropriate, and disrespectful; a testament to the purported validity of these fashions and their being supposedly representative of a culture that does not even want to associate with them.

    • I agree, especially with that last paragraph you wrote. African American dress and other components of the culture have been so highly constructed in the U.S. as predominantly hip hop, which is obviously not true. The problem with the way that b-style was interpreted by the girl in the video is that she kept associating “Black,” the actual ethnicity, with hip-hop style, almost using both terms interchangeably. Since American mainstream media and culture has such a profound influence on the world, it is worrisome to think that not only is the construction of Black identity being falsely interpreted in the U.S. context, but now it is being spread throughout the world as well. I think if she maybe would have omitted the association of hip hop with being Black it would have been a little less problematic. However, even this approach would potentially pose complications since hip hop dress, just as many of the fashion styles of other groups and genres, is constantly evolving and being redefined.

  3. Since I am a Blacl girl, my first reaction to the video was that the Japenese girls were trying to mock Black people as a whole. However, as I comtinued to watch the video, I realized that this is nothing more than a true admiration for the Hip-Hop culture and style of dress. I do agree with a statement that someone made above which is, where these girls derived this style from. Although I am not sure how long ago this video was made, I found it interesting that the girl they were reffering to as a “barbie” was lil kim and how they admired her style. It makes me think about my recent project and how we used Lil Kim as one of our entertainers that we researched and because we came to the conclusion that her brand represented sex and lust, it was quite a shock to see that the girls found this particular style as one that they wanted to sample. I also liked to see the big fashion store that I believe was called “109”. As soon as I saw it, I thought about Forever 21. The lighting and bright colors of the store made me think about downtown Chicago and all of the fashion stores that are located there. However the only thing I did have problem with in this video was the idea of the girls tanning once a week so that she could be darker and as close to “not looking Japanese” as possible. I do think that this is a bit extreme. I don’t think making a statement in fashion calls for trying to change the color of your skin. You hear about poeple tanning everyday, but never in this instance. Not only do I think it is a bit over the top, I agree with the comments in the fact that it is not safe at all. I think that there are many health risks that are taken when engaging in getting a tan so often. I think that the mother of the girl in the video made a good point when she said “you can experiement when you are young, so you can do what you want”. I think this is a valid statement and that the girls might as well enjoy their youth. Hopefully when she gets older she will realize the heath riskd associated with frequent tanning and she will stop or limit the amount of tans she recieves. I think this was a great video and topic as a while and I enjoyed viewing it. “Black Lifesyle!”

  4. WOW! Within the black culture their is this “conversation” of people who try to emulate black culture. From language to dress, black culture is infused around the globe. I guess my only issue is that black culture is not an “act” it’s more than just clothing, skin complexion, and hip-hop. Those are just surface points, and I blame the saturation of media for this. After watching the clip, I was stunned by the admiration for black lifestyle. As a black woman, I often hear about the negatives, so it was refreshing to see something positive. I was stunned by the “Body Shop” motto which states, “black way of life” (don’t quote me on that), this signified the adoration and the challenge to “not look Japanese”. My only concern is are they ashamed to be Japanese, or are they rebellious to their culture? I would love to further analyze this story. To answer your question I think it challenges common culture just like Harajuku fashion. It’s definitely goes against the norm, and is it wrong no. I can’t think of other cultures who do the same thing, but I would love to here what other blogger’s have found.

  5. I’m still unsure how I feel about this. I think it’s really interesting however it kind of scares me that they are going to the extreme of tanning to change their skin color. I wish someone would influence some sort of cream or something that would be less damaging. But besides the skin color change I think that these people are being quite flattering towards the African American culture. I wouldn’t have guessed them to choose their culture as I would imagine maybe they would draw from India or countries closer to them. However it’s not far fetched with globalization and the wide spread hip hop industry. The hip hop industry seems to truly inspire many people such as V-nasty and Kreayshawn who clearly make a mockery out of it rather than paying respect. I always think people are interesting when they go this far to represent one race and culture that is not there own.

  6. Kreayshawn and co. definitely came to mind while watching this video! While I do feel that there are always some problems with claiming a cultural identity one did not grow up in, these young people are clearly referencing/ acknowledging the influence of African-American and hip-hop cultures (not to say that the two are necessarily one and the same) on their own style. The big difference for me is that Kreayshawn, V-nasty, and the “white girl mob” essentially claim similar elements of African-American cultures with a distinct feeling of ownership that, I think, actually centers around their own whiteness- to me, the best description of Kreayshawn’s persona is “appropriative swag” (http://crunkfeministcollective.wordpress.com/2011/06/06/on-kreayshawn-and-the-utility-of-black-women). It seems that certain young women in Japan are knowingly adopting African- American styles, whereas many young, white Americans such as Kreayshawn comfortably make claims of having had African-American life experiences, and I think there are many differences between the two.
    I am interested in how b-style may be a product of the specific context of Japan. Although Japan does have its own colonial/ violent histories, would b-style be a different thing if Japan had the same history of oppression surrounding African-Americans?

  7. This was such an interesting video! I had never heard of this phenomenon before until now, but I find it very fascinating. It brings up a few things in mind about this notion of “B-style,” and how it is perceived through the media. The first thing that struck me while watching the video is how Hina interpreted what Black fashion and lifestyle is through a 50 cent video, which was a bit funny at first, but then it got me thinking a bit more critically about how constructed discourses about Black culture are created by the media. It’s not surprising that Japan perceives what is Black culture through music videos since Western entertainment has a significant global influence, but it makes you think about how mainstream media has gone wrong in our society. Why is that Black lifestyle is predominantly assumed to be hip hop and hip hop is assumed to be Black? This is where problems of identity and who is “allowed” to wear certain styles comes about. I remember when I was younger and some of my fellow peers, who were white, would be highly stigmatized for attempting to adopt a hip hop fashion style that was supposedly “Black” and were called names like “wigger” because of it. It’s interesting the way, back in those junior high days when everyone was in that “finding who you are” phase, the African American kids in my school were actually deemed as being “cool” or “normal” by wearing this fashion style, yet those same clothes would be seen on someone of a different ethnicity, and the meaning of the clothing would automatically change completely. This same type of identity search seems to be taking place in Japan, in which the people are attempting to redefine who is allowed to wear what, but being careful to acknowledge that it is a tribute to Black culture rather than an imitation. It sort of goes back to the double eyelid surgery that we discussed in class, and how parts of Asia are influenced by Western perceptions of beauty. In this case, tanning is the physical component of the transformation, which is even more worrisome than the surgery because of how much risk there is of skin cancer. Though this adoption of B-style by the Japanese community is not as upsetting as what other people such as Kreayshawn are doing in the media, it is nonetheless still a bit bothersome that people would go to such extents be a certain way.

  8. I don’t find this a compliment at all. I would rather that they said they enjoyed hip hop style instead of black style, It is ok to love the clothes and the culture from hip hop, but I find it a problem, that it also means going to get a tan on a weekly basis, or that the point of B-style is to not look Japanese. For those reasons, it healthy to me at all. It not only degrades the japanese natural state, but it stereotypes all black people as wearing clothes in that manner, speaking a certain vernacular, and listening to hip hop. Just imagine if I as a black individual decided that I wanted to bleach my skin so that I could be more close to white-style. I know many black women wear weaves, but what if we walked around saying that we donned the hairstyle because we like white-style. It just doesn’t sit right with me.

  9. The idea of “B-Style” is really interesting to me. My first thought after watching this and reading this post, was that this is an interesting example of cultural appropriation.

    I think, unlike a lot of more common examples of cultural appropriation, this is a very deliberate attempt to look like another culture. The first example I think of when I think of cultural appropriation is the middle-class white hipster appropriating Native American culture by wearing feather extensions and moccasins. This appropriation is based mostly in ignorance of other cultures, and the people who participate in this kind of cultural appropriation do not do so necessarily to BE the appropriated culture, but to just take parts. It’s interesting to see this total assimilation.

    Ultimately, I think that this is not necessarily a form of successful rebellion to the Japanese style of beauty, but just a cultural appropriation. They are going against their own culture’s standards of beauty, but I think they are making as much of a statement as the hipster with the trust fund trying out the “fun” parts of another person’s culture for his/her/hir own personal style and entertainment.

  10. This was an interesting video indeed. I think its extremely unique to asian culture the ability to appropriate other cultures but in a respectful manner. This is an example of that. At first glance , I want to react in similar ways as my classmates but upon further examination,, i believe the appropriation of culture is complimentary

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