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Girls Choose the Cute Look to Attract Attention (July 12, 2006)

Summer dresses with ribbons (Laisse Passe Co., Ltd.)
Young women in their early twenties are going ga-ga over pink babydoll dresses, white lace dresses, and other cute, feminine clothes. This cutesy style has become a favorite look for dates and parties alike. Because it involves pulling out all the stops to catch men's eyes, this look has been dubbed motekawa (from the words moteru, to be sought after, and kawaii, cute).

More Than Just a Look
Motekawa style is characterized by whites, pinks, and other pale colors, and by an abundance of sugary detailing. Frilled miniskirts, puffy-sleeved blouses, and ribbon-embellished dresses are among the wardrobe essentials. The standard accessory is a chic handbag carried in the crook of the arm. This style of bag is known popularly as an o-jo mochi bag ("bag carried by a well-bred young lady").

Naturally the motekawa look also encompasses hairstyle and makeup: curled hair that is just below shoulder length; heavily mascaraed eyes offset by light skin; and pastel pink blush on the cheeks. Nails are carefully manicured and painted with glittery polish. Motekawa style even extends to gestures and manners. The quintessential motekawa girl stands in a coy, cross-legged pose and carries her o-jo mochi bag with her arm crooked at a perfect right angle.

White miniskirts are essential to the motekawa look. (Laisse Passe Co., Ltd.)

Among the figures that women in search of motekawa role models can look to for inspiration are Ebihara Yuri, a model who appears in the women's fashion magazine CanCam, and actress Ito Misaki. These celebrities share the essential motekawa attributes of light skin, graceful figures that look good in dresses and skirts, and of course, neatness and cuteness.

Although motekawa style was initially popularized by conservative women who place more importance on making a favorable impression than on asserting their individuality, it has recently begun attracting attention from young women of another stripe. From Shibuya gals thirsty for a change from their standard uniform of logo t-shirts and jeans to Harajuku teens ready for something other than boyish short pants, girls in a wide demographic are trying out motekawa style.

Finding Favor Among Both Sexes
Back in the 1980s, women who imitated the cutesy fashion of young pop stars, deployed a childlike speaking style, and affected a sweet demeanor in an effort to attract male attention were known as burikko (from buru, to put on airs, and ko, girl), and elicited scorn from their gender-mates. But nowadays, being sought-after is looked upon as a good thing, and the prevailing attitude is that cute girls are naturally more approachable. Today's motekawa girls are popular among members of the same sex and the opposite sex alike.

One trend cited as being behind the motekawa craze is that in recent years the popular image of the ideal woman has reverted to a more traditional mold. Trend-watchers find evidence for this shift in the box-office success of recent films featuring cute, demure female characters. Prime examples include Sekai no chushin de ai o sakebu (Crying for Love at the Heart of the World) and Densha otoko (Train Man).

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Copyright (c) 2006 Web Japan. Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.

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