Ariana Miyamoto faces a critical public after being crowned. Photo courtesy: YouTube
The face of beauty in Japan is changing, quite literally.
In March, Nagasaki-born Ariana Miyamoto became Japan’s first hafu Miss Universe after beating 44 other contests, but a critical public awaited her.
According to Kotaku, Byokan Sunday and Naver Matome had many comments about her on twitter. Some examples, “Is it okay to select a hafu to represent Japan?” or “This is Miss Universe Japan, don’t you think hafu are a no-no?”
When not wondering if this was “okay,” others said things like she didn’t look Japanese, her face was “too gaijin” or that the country deserved a “pure-blooded Japanese” (“junnihon”) beauty instead.
Elsewhere online, one commenter wrote, “It makes me uncomfortable to say she’s representing Japan.”
However, not everyone was of the same opinion.
According to Kotaku, one commenter on Girlschannel website said said, “Even if you are hafu, if you have Japanese citizenship, then you’re Japanese.”
Miyamoto, 20, was born in the Sasebo, Nagasaki to a Japanese mother and an American father. Miyamoto spent her childhood in Nagasaki, but after junior high she finished the rest of her education in America. She then returned home to Japan, deciding to use her unique look to become a model.
Western features have always been alluring to the Japanese, so Miyamoto decided to use them to her advantage. In an interview Miyamoto said she believes her body and smile are her best features because of their American looks.
Having American features many have helped her stand out from the other contestants, but they also caused her a lot of work. Due to her body’s size she was more muscular than most Japanese women. Before the competition she lost 15 kilos, which equals to about 30 pounds, in weight.
In an interview from Maidigitv, she said that being hafu, Miyamoto hoped to represent those who are mixed-race, or hafu, and don’t have confidence.
And in her contest video, she says she was concerned if she could actually be Miss Universe Japan because she is hafu. Miyamoto says that she wants to gives courage and confidence to mixed-race people, so they don’t have to face the same challenges that she has living in Japan.
According to website HafuJapanese, Japanese government statics in 1980 reveal that there were only 5,545 recorded international marriages. That number has grown significantly since.
In 2004 there were 39,511 international marriages, 5.5 per cent of all marriages were in Japan. Most of the interracial marriages included countries that were in closer proximity to Japan. Most couples were: Japanese and Chinese (13,019), Philippines (8,517) and Koreans (8,023).
Although with Japan being far from the western world, international marriages were less frequent. Only 1,679 American Japanese, 524 Brazilian Japanese, and 403 British Japanese marriages are on record.
Although there seems to be an increase in international marriages, there still seems to be some uneasiness from Japan’s mostly homogeneous society.