Earlier this month, I showed my Japan trip pictures, including the ones you readers are about to see to my visiting guy pal from BKK.

"OMG Rice, you're so pretty here! You should use make-up!" was his reaction.

The (in)famous pic with new fabulous hair colour I totally love!

That was one honest response from a straight dude right there that yes, once again, exemplified visual beauty works to appeal, whether it's comfortable or uncomfortable for the user itself. But then again, it wasn't me wearing make-up (I don't even to weddings). I shall introduce to you this transformation digital magic that instantly change you to be ultra 'pretty' within seconds - hello to Japanese photoboxes!

Purikura (プリクラ) or the Japanese-designed and system of photoboxes for fun, and mostly with girly graphics (or an example seen, right, from Canp) which girls can enjoy an instant 'plastic surgery' makeover within 3-5 seconds upon each shot taken.

Of course, the boys can join in the fun as well - who said only the females can have some weird or beauty fun? I went with my lovely Tokyo boys and these photoboxes with loads of designs and styles to begin with for 400 yen ($4) per session, but I broke my purikura virginity the day before with my old junior high school senior in order for me to learn how it works.

Little did I know that for photoboxes are now dead in most South East and East Asian countries with the rise of camera phones and now smartphones with dual cameras which has excellent quality of selfie-ing, Japan still flourishes in its purikura business. Competition gets all-time high with a lot of different companies designing, making, and conceptualising each box to sell a different style and focus point - really captivating that just mind boggles you and end up choosing whatever since everything is same-same but different, if you get what I mean.

The two boxes I used in April 2015:

In the first ever experience of me in the box, my friend and I chose somewhat random and chose something super girly one named USAGI from Canp. Based on the website I can now understand a little better about how each box concept work: USAGI has a thicker and kohl based make-up and mascara while the HOW TO+ has a natural or some make-up theme going on. The second box was COLOR CHART from Dekopika.

First they took our solo shots, which showed me a very fabulous option for my next passport or any ID photo in the future (below)!

Wait, who did they take a picture of, there's only just us in the box!
That explains how I have lost my own visual identity in Tokyo - in this city, you can be anyone new at anytime. Pretty fun, ain't it?

Don't even recognize myself and we both laughed so hard while editing away. We could enlarge our eyes bigger or to keep what they edit in that MAGICAL 3-5 SECONDS ONLY TRANSFORMATION

We went through a digital plastic surgery with my three Tokyo boys or monkeys or princes to get one. I start to notice the similar transformation and repetitive transformation as this is what Japanese think is the most beautiful or utsukushi:
  1.  Big eyes. Bigger, bolder, sparklier, better!
  2. Smaller jaw or chin
  3. After all this, making your face smaller by size
  4. If it's a full shot, they'll make you slimmer in an instant or longer legs
  5. They even shape your eyebrows!
  6. Fairly visible cheekbones is favoured
  7. The first and most important - the whitest, fairest, supple and luminous skin

[Readers who's done purikura and can see other details can always leave more in the comments - these are how I try to scrutinize from my small piece of photos]

This applies for EVERYONE IN THE BOX - so yes, my little princes turns into princesses with googly, sparkle-eyed eyes and smaller jaws and chin and we sort of vandalize our faces just because, its us you know.

How did we pose? We posed this cheesy by following prior pose examples shown on screen before the camera opens to take a shot. Legitly Japaneezy.

The guru teaches us how to pose.

Camera, action, shoot, taken, edited, TA-DA!

Cutie Bunny, Like A(n) Usagi Girl... Eat me?

 A night with my Tokyo princes, the new term will have only just begun! (stamp on left says something like that)

Editing frenzzzzzzzzzzzy - colors, stamps, people, faces, you name it, they have it. We're timed by seconds! How!?

Laughter aside, this picture and with my friend's remark made me think about the acceptance and the notions of beauty in Asia once again. My junior, C. Sentoso coincidentally uploaded her paper this week on Academia that perfectly stand tall with my rant, that "Body image is a central point of discussion in our media powered world" (source). With the continuous charge of mass media, ads and products for whitening in Asia, the non-Chinese ethnic females dreams to have fair skin. She buys whitening lotions, creams and night gels for it to happen. The regular Chinese descent who is yellow-white generally keeps her skin pale. Most East Asian make-up offers pale and cakey-faced white, yes, white, not peach or light beige, as their preferred tint. It just looks almost like Pantone #FFFFFF.

Body image is generally defined as how one thinks and feels towards one's body (Cash & Smith, 1992). It can also be perceived as how a person thinks their body should look... To be female,there are 6ody expectations one must fulfill which might have negative or positive impacts...Women desperately try to alter themselves to achieve the “ideal” body image. Women painstakingly go through rigorous exercise, extreme diets and even put themselves under the knife for the sake of beauty and body image. Gakley explains that we are in a never-ending pursuit of beauty ideal

I recalled once on SOAS Confessions FB page where a person messaged the admin to announce "Why SOAS ladies aren't dressing up or try to look good at all. It's alright to relax but hey, you guys are still girls so it's good to do so" and it receives comments that suggests its shallowness. What is with beauty and how we look?

According to Milestone and Meyers, women in popular culture has always been closely associated with and scrutinized in terms of physical appearance. We have been taught from a young age to be beautiful and live up to expectations physically to be successful in life - to be desirable in a patriarchal society.

The answer is, really, why bother about us? You might grow up in, for an example, Egypt, to have the females be in dark and contrasting make-up, and that is your level of beauty. If Cleopatra didn't use her kohl and eyeliner and eyebrow-liner she wouldn't be the Cleopatra we know, so that's alright. But hey, she's the queen and she's got people to do it - I don't have time and I can't be bothered to do so as I don't even know how to put them on my face. I would love to be Cleopatra if I can - if I have that disposable income, energy, and if I'm comfortable with the way I look.


 I appreciate and love seeing people with make-up if they feel that they're more confident and comfortable that way, I feel the same way without it. Contrastingly, I do feel queasy and uncomfortable if I USE make-up. Call me weird, but, if I don't see it as myself I feel that I've done a bit too much on myself. Do men expect women to deck themselves when our main purpose to college for the time being is education? Don't you worry.

Men, we're clearly above your thinking league: Women are highly mind-manipulative and they know how to hide and play their games when the time is right because they can't be bothered with men who expects them to look 150% Christmas tree fabulous bedazzle every single day, and we know better that genuine appreciation and flattery can be found elsewhere.

In another recent occasion, within my own proximity in the country I call home, expectations are high and everyone is porous to soak in trends and expectations from public. I, too, get super conscious as I DON'T want to be seen. The levels of worrying about how the public will see you is beyond a fair amount of consciousness. A friend of mine posted saying how she doesn't have clothes when she returns for a holiday to her parents' home, and her mom told her to not worry about it. She replied saying that she might be afraid how the public will remark that her mom is walking alongside with the housemaid (by the way she dresses simply with what we call, 'home clothes' perhaps). Within the same update, this too is reinforced by the fact that she is tan-skinned from her travels and "Asia loves their fair skin right, so I will totally look like a housemaid".

[Any readers have a say to this?]

Looking at the completed and edited pictures, I agree that I would look extremely more likeable and feminine and fitting in the female standards to be sparkly and pretty. I would have a smaller jaw, in real life it will be sawed out in South Korea, done some double eyelids and making my eyes bigger in a clinic, loose weight for beauty and not for health reasons, I would be more confident and not despise myself to look at my own passport images to show my eyebrows and ears and look fantastic in any photo ID.

But then, reality doesn't work that way and I've chosen to accept it long ago that I'm ugly and I'm comfortable. It makes life easier if you lower your own standards to go and be all yourself out. No expectations, focus on what you really want to do in life. If I have all the luxury and time to take care of myself, that time will come once I have the disposable income to do so and my choice to make. So far, I'm still living as a hermit as I dislike being in the spotlight and being seen - I just happen to love colours and dye my hair blue - certainly unconventional.

At the end of his tripping to hang out for the weekend at my place, my guy pal said, "All my friends would never go out from their house without make-up, except if we know them and probably see them in the morning. You're so chill," with a thumbs up.

Looks like I can have a never better conclusion for this round-up. How do you feel about the ongoing notions of beauty, does it bother you, and to what level that it bothers you? What notions imply in your country? There are so many acceptance of beauty where curves are celebrated and is adored in the African society while the American and South Korean loves supermodel quality bodies over Beyonce's curves, so I've asked and been replied. This is always an open space to care and share below, so I hope many could share their thoughts.

 Lastly - it is Tokyo, always keeps you alert with what you do in the city - get lost and what is done in Tokyo, stays in Tokyo. Irreplaceable energy and experience which works like a magnet you can't help but want to return! 
Just happy being me - the Asian pose to reduce face size

 Further topical readings: J. Frechette,
Chae J.Y.,

The takeaway in 10 words or less...
Work it until you accept yourself - self-acceptance is key.

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