A magical word かわいい has changed some stereotypes.

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May 19, 2010 01:21 japan situation new words
In Japan, かわいい is frequently used in various situations. It means cute, pretty, adorable and so on. Actually, the word is so ambiguous that I cannot clearly define it.

Culturally, being かわいい has been an important element for women to attract men in Japan. It represents not only appearance but also character. The adjective is sometimes used to describe reserved women. Some men use it to describe immature or less smart women in a positive way. I think this is because men still tend to prefer women who want to depend on men or often need men's help, although more men like independent and smart women than before, and then are willing to have a give-and-take or fifty-fifty relationship with these women.

All in all, かわいい usually conveys positive images and nuances. By taking advantage of it, new words by using かわいい, such as エロかわいいand 大人かわいい, were coined and successfully used to introduce new concepts to fascinate women especially in the fashion business. 

Here, with the economic development, people have become a flexible attitude toward life and seemingly accept various lifestyles. However, since the society and people sometimes stick with conventional ideas and stereotypes, some people feel uncomfortable and have to struggle with them. In fact, I often hear that you should or shouldn't do something because of your age or gender. Under these circumstances, these new words seem to help you be free from some conventional ideas. As a matter of fact, the popularity of them has changed some stereotypes.

I'll talk about popular new words by using かわいい-- エロかわいい and 大人かわいい-- in my next entry.