Friday, February 16, 2007

A Pigeon-toed Brain

So I don’t know if I have mentioned it much but there are a lot of women here in Japan that are pigeon-toed. And yes, when I say a lot, I mean scary high percentage. So you ask yourself why? Why in this highly developed country are so many of the women pigeon-toed? Is it because they sit on their knees from childhood and this deformity can take place? Is it a genetic trait? If it is genetic, why does it not also affect the men?
These questions have been plaguing me since my arrive in Japan, so many months ago now, and today I got the answer.
It is not a genetic condition, it is not because they sit on their knees. The pigeon-toed walk is an attractive feminine walk. Little girls, as in just learning to walk little girls, are taught by their parents and their community to walk this way, to turn their toes inward to that the to big toes touch. Their bones set in this way and that is how they are basically forced to walk throughout life.
I am. Horrified and shocked. It may not be Chinese foot-binding but it is still deforming your child to that they will be more attractive to men in basically taking away their ability to run. This might be a totally western view, and maybe I should be more culturally sensitive but I can’t help it. The Japanese society has some major failings (in my view) when it comes to the gender roles for women but this physical deformation has gone to the top of my list.
The thin stereotype that we are so obsessed about in the west (and here), and many other “attractive” qualities and pressures that we place on women are not far from my mind. Am I wrong to be so horrified by this one?
I feel uneasy about passing judgement. I have fought weight issues all my life and will continue to. Wax, shave, pluck. I wear my hair long, I straighten it, curl it, dye it. I wear high heels, I wear make up. I take pride in the fact that I have blue eyes and brown hair. I tan in the summer. Some of this I do for myself, but most for men and society in general. Beauty is necessary, its a fact of life. If walking in a "feminine" way is just another form of beauty is it that different? But then again what I do is temporary and can be changed, I can go all "natural" if I wanted though I don't think I would wear a skirt, shorts, or a bathing suit. But I can still play sports, these women can't.
Any thoughts?

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