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Body Image in Sailor Moon: Skin Tone Edition

The term “body image” encompasses quite a few facets. In this post, I talked about weight and height. Body image also includes skin tone.

In many cultures around the world, light skin is considered more beautiful than dark skin. In fact, Japan is Asia’s largest market for skin lightening products and global sales of these products are expected to reach $20 billion by 2018. Unfortunately, the quest for bihaku or “beautiful white,” is not always so simple. These products can cause skin damage:

I’ve talked about how Sailor Moon tries to expand the definition of beauty when it comes to atypical body types, but what about skin tone?

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Does Sailor Moon Promote Fat Hatred?

Kim Kardashain wears a black outfit with shorts and low neckline. She sticks out her hip.Beyonce has blonde hair and wears a short top and panties. She's sticking out her butt.Kate Upton stands in white panties and white winter jacket.

Kim Kardashian. Beyonce. Kate Upton. These women epitomize the beauty ideal in the United States–light skinned, thin, no tattoos or piercings, preferably blonde hair, big boobs and big butt—and no fat anywhere else. According to the ANAD, up to 24 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder in the U.S. Women are much more likely than men to develop an eating disorder. So why should we care about this? Because eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. No only does our beauty ideal severely limit our concept of health and beauty, but our obsession of keeping women small and delicate literally kills.

Knowing that, how does Sailor Moon do with body image?

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a woman hugs a man in a red suit. They are the same person.

credit: http://bishounen.info/

Sailor Moon has gay villains and lesbian heroes, but what about trans characters?

There aren’t any truly trans characters in Sailor Moon. However, in the final season of the anime, we meet the Sailor Starlights who are female, but take on male bodies once they arrive on Earth. We even see their male bodies change to female when they transform into the Sailor Starlights. Again, the Sailor Starlights aren’t trans, but I think there are some interesting parallels to be drawn. For example, in episode 189 of the anime, the sailor guardians are shocked to learn that the members of their favorite boy band are the Sailor Starlights. This means that the cute boys they drool over are also women. This leads to fascinating scene where the sailor guardians have to confront their heterosexuality and what it means when a person’s body doesn’t meet your gender expectations. I think this scene does a somewhat decent job of showing that trans people should be treated with dignity.

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Otakon 2013: Cosplay, Music and Loot, Oh My!

blue background with 20 years otakon written in white

Otakon 2013 was my third Otakon–I first went in 2006 and again in 2010. I was able to see Home Made Kazoku in 2010, so when I heard they would be at Otakon again, I knew I had to go! Not only that, but a massive amount of Moonies from twitter would be there too! Moonies Unite!

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Sailor Moon graces a two page spread in ROLa magazine

Credit: Miss Dream

It’s been 11 years since Naoko Takeuchi, creator of Sailor Moon, sat down for an interview so I was super excited to read Miss Dream’s translation. One of the things I think about as I reflect on Sailor Moon is how Naoko developed her story and characters. In other words, how intentional were her choices? How did certain decisions come about? Thankfully, we do get a new glimpse of what it was like sitting in the Kodansha’s offices 20 years ago.

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Kick Heart: A Feminist Movie Review

a female wrestler in red stands versus a male wrestler in blue

At Japan Cuts 2013, this animated short, Kick Heart, played just before the AKB48 documentary. Kick Heart is brought to us by Production I.G who has been behind works as such as Ghost in the Shell, FLCL and many others. What’s notable about this project is that it began as a Kickstarter project in October 2012. They explained their rationale for using Kickstarter as such:

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Mars, Venus, Moon, Jupiter and Mercury stand, smiling, ready to attack

This past week this video turned up on my Facebook news feed. It’s a compilation of clips about Sailor Moon–some of which I had never seen before. The very first clip, which is about 4 minutes in length, is an old Dateline  special–a weekly “news magazine” program that airs in the evenings here in the States.

While to the average viewer this clip may seem innocuous, there’s a lot of sexist and racist bullshit going on here. Let’s walk through this together, shall we?

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So there are gay villains in Sailor Moon, but what about gay heroes? Folks, Sailor Moon has THEE baddest lesbian superheroes EVAR! (What can I say? I’m totally biased.)

Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus!

A blonde woman has her arms wrapped around a woman with aqua hair

 

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Live Your Dream: The Taylor Anderson Story

A Japanese girl and a white woman in yukata smile for the camera

Back in March 2011, Japan and the world were reeling from the effects of the Great Earthquake and Tsunami that killed over 18,000 people and obliterated the Tohoku coastline. The Nightly News with Brian Williams reported the death of Taylor Anderson, a young white American woman who had been teaching English in the area. Her smiling face with her bright pink yukata filled my TV screen. After the broadcast ended, my phone immediately rang.

“Did you see the Nightly News tonight? Did you see it?”

It was my Mom.

“Yes, Mom. I saw it,” I replied.

The story had hit home–I had taught English myself near Kyoto right out of college from 2006 to 2008. Here it was, my parents’ worst nightmare, on their TV screen. So when I heard that a documentary called “Live Your Dream: The Taylor Anderson Story” was screening in New York City, I knew I had to show my support.

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At my panel at Senshi Matsuri, I started with the representation of women/girls in Sailor Moon and moved on to LGBT representation. Now you might be asking yourself what does LGBT representation have to do with feminism? Well, a lot actually! Since LGBT people don’t fit “traditional” definitions of family, sex, and femininity/masculinity, many issues fall under the movement to end “sexist oppression.”

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