Neo-Kawaii (ネオカワイイ)

Updated: Nov 21, 2019

Perhaps you have heard of the Japanese cultural code word ‘kawaii’ (かわいい・可愛い)? It generally means ‘cute’. When applied to a woman, it connotes a number of other desirable attributes. Now, have you heard of the word ‘neo-kawaii’ (ネオカワイイ)? Maybe not. The Japanese band CHAI is challenging the traditional notion of kawaii, which they think is quite limiting, and is seeking to re-appropriate the term with their neologism: ‘neo-kawaii’. From their website:

"NEO KAWAII" means that all girls are pretty from the moment they were born, and that there is not a single girl who is not KAWAII. You don't need to have big eyes or have skinny legs to be KAWAII! Not everyone needs to follow the stereotypical image of KAWAII. There should be many more types of KAWAII, and everyone is KAWAII in her own way. You should be who you are. We all have our own worries, but that's fine. Our insecurities make us who we are. The insecurities become art. KAWAII is a never-ending journey!

So, neo-kawaii is somewhat analogous to body positivity in the West: expanding a rather narrow definition of beauty to include more body types and features, typical to more women.

Learn more about CHAI and neo-kawaii in the video below:

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