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In chapter 1 of the 2014 Revised TR/AP (pp. 22-25), I noted and analyzed an interesting
trend among photographers, ad producers, and editors of high fashion magazines.
They featured, subconsciously it would seem, women with an Asian look. The models,
in accordance with the times, were all Caucasians, but their eyes and their eye
make-up caused them to have an Asian look.
The editors confined this look to highly fashionable women. The ordinary females
who appeared in toothpaste ads continued to look like majority Americans. I found
this provocative because during the war GIs created a clear contrast between the
American-but-really-Japanese Tokyo Rose and the all-American girl back home. But
lest I get ahead of myself, take a look at the following pictures, all from 1940-41, and
decide whether you see what I see. For example, this ordinary shoe ad:
In theory, the ad shows two women who differ only in their taste in shoes. One likes
simple shoes and the other, fashionable unusual shoes. So in theory any two models
would do. In fact, to my eye the woman who "seeks simplicity" looks American and the
woman who "demands drama" looks Asian. Obviously she's not, but her eyes
especially make her look as though she could have come from Japan.
I have not developed this thesis based on one shoe ad. Below are 7 covers from
Harper's Bazaar and Vogue in 1940-41. (Several exhibits on this page also appeared in
TR/AP but the website allows a much larger, clearer image.) To me the cover models
all look Asian except for the very first, the woman with the long blond hair. But she's
pulling her eyes back as if she hopes to appear that way anyway.
The designers of these covers, in my opinion, were conscious of their intentions,
whereas the pre-war photographers and editors were not. But I will let you decide.
Consider these photographs from inside the fashion magazines. "Vogue's eye view of
Vogue 1941" set the standard. In other issues, Caucasian models stared into mirrors
and pulled their eyes back to see how they'd look with less round eyes. Makeup
artists and photographers conspired to disguise models' epicanthic fold (the fold that
separates the eyelid into upper and lower), which gave the women the appearance of
young Asians. Even mannequins looked Asian to me.
I do not mean to suggest these are the first "Asiany" models to appear on the covers
of American fashion magazines. In the 1920s, under the influence of Art Deco and
Japonisme we find these two Vogue covers:
One photo, a model choosing LP records in front of a map (of military maneuvers?),
could be a pre-war portrait of the future Tokyo Rose. It's almost as though Americans
had pictured her before she existed.
You may wonder, what does this trend mean? To find out, read my book! Ha!
Suffice it to say here, there is obviously no direct cause and effect between this
subsconscious fascination with the "Asian Look" and the creation of Tokyo Rose.
However, one aspect of this phenomenon I find important is that this look is
associated with a certain kind of woman, namely the rarefied models comfortable in
the world of beau monde. An Asian appearance does not manifest itself among
models in ads for new cars, washing machines, or living room furniture.
So why fashion models? I will allow readers to search their own minds for their mental
associations with such models. Speaking personally, I would not expect to meet a
Vogue model, fully dressed, coiffed, and made up, ordering fried chicken at Popeye's.
I can't even imagine being married to such a creature.
Vogue models are exotics. They appear, to me at least, to be haughty, distant, and
self-absorbed, which tends to make them seem untrustworthy, unforthcoming,
secretive, even possibly pernicious. Why exactly Americans would associate such a
type with women of the Far East and not with German, Italian or females of some other
nationality is not obvious to me. But I believe I prove in TR/AP that American
servicemen took from pre-war culture all of the ingredients their imaginations needed
to create Tokyo Rose. This fashion trend is one of those ingredients.
Two images especially capture the distinction between two kinds of women that
would dominate the case of Tokyo Rose. I reproduced both in 2014 Revised TR/AP,
along with a full page analysis of each image (pp. 25-27). I will not repeat myself here,
except to point out the obvious. The drawing on the left, the evil mermaid who lies in
wait at the bottom of the sea and who is controlled by a dark power, is an archetype of
the femme fatale, who in World War II was Tokyo Rose. The drawing on the right, the
woman of propriety endangered by the storm raging beyond her control, represents
the girl next door for whom the GIs will fight and die, and whom Tokyo Rose will
demean as unfaithful. Both images appeared before war began for the United States.
Together they represent the yin and yang of the Tokyo Rose mythology.
Tokyo Rose /
A Dual Biography