THE BEGINNINGS OF KAWAII
No, no, you have no idea. It actually IS the beginning of the whole so-called “kawaii culture”. And it started because girls started using mechanical pencils, which provided fine handwriting. After being banished (more precisely, during the 80s), this kind of writing started being used in products like magazines and make-up. And, during this time, icons we usually associate with the whole kawaii industry (like the characters from Sanrio) came to life too.
And what many people don’t realize is that this subculture was born as a way for young girls to express themselves in their own way. And it was also used as something against the adult life and the traditional culture, often seen as dull and boring and oppressive. By embracing cuteness, these young girls (and adult women, after a while) were showing non-conformation with the current standards.
So yep. Kawaii is important, and it all started with cute, simple handwritting a few hearts and cat faces in some girls’ school notebooks <3
NO OK THIS IS SO IMPORTANT!
This is also how the kawaii fashions started! Girls began dressing in cute and off beat styles for themsleves, they were criticized by adult figures telling them “you’ll never find a husband if you dress that way!” to which they began to reply “Good!”
All the Japanese subcultures and fashions that evolved out of this became a rebellion to tradition and the starch gender roles and expectations the adults were forcing on the younger generations. As early as the 70s and still to this day you’ll see an emphasis on child-like fashion and themes in more kawaii styles and the dismissal of the male gaze with styles like lolita (a lot of western people assume lolita is somehow sexual due to the name of the fashion, but ask any Japanese lolita and they will tell you that men hate the style and find it unattractive which is sometimes a large reason they gravitate towards the style - they can express their femininity and individuality while remaining independent and without the pressure to appeal to men)
Its so so so important to understand the hyper cute and ‘odd’ fashions of Japanese girls carry such a huge message of feminism and reclaiming of their own lives.