Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Jessica Simpson's The Price of Beauty: Memoirs of a Day Spa

Tonight on Jessica Simpson's The Price of Beauty we land in Tokyo - a place I would LOVE to visit!

Japan's high price of beauty.

Jessica tells us she's been to Japan before but she didn't get to experience the culture. She must have been on tour. CaCee notices that, like India, Tokyo is very crowded. She sees tons of people milling around the streets and wonders if they're all going shopping.

"There must be tons of stores here."

See CaCee, some people actually work for a living. And by work I don't mean "assisting" their best friends in their traveling careers. Jessica and Ken try to trick CaCee into believing that Jessica studied in Japan for four years. As if she's ever studied anything besides her face in the mirror.

Let's meet our Beauty Ambassador for the week. This is Riyo Mori, Miss Universe 2007. Oh goody - a Donald Trump fave. I'm not even really sure I get the point of these Beauty Ambassadors. They show up in the first scene and have tea with the gang, then maybe make an introduction. It's all very silly. Anyhoo Riyo towers over all three of them in a very un-Japanese height.

"Anyone for tea?"

Sure enough, we head for a tea house. I get that a tea house is actually very cultural in Japan, but still. CaCee's about to wet herself because Memoirs of a Geisha is one of her favorite movies. I saw the movie and read the book. Then I read an autobiography written by an actual geisha for a less sensationalized version of what goes on in that tradition and we have nothing American to compare it to. It's very different and involves leaving your family at a very young age (5 or 6) to spend years training to be a living work of art. Then being paid to appear at functions as that work of art. There is extremely strict protocol to follow and intricate time-honored traditions. It's literally something you devote your life to and give up everything for. So naturally Jessica and CaCee are going to crap all over it.

Riyo starts by telling the girls that reserve is considered beautiful in Japan (good luck, Jess and CaCee) and that plastic surgery is fairly common, but very secretive. The most common procedure is creating a fold in the eyelid to make eyelids look less "Asian" and to make the eyes appear larger. (I once saw a television special on this, too.) Riyo then tries to teach them a couple of Japanese words and it's off to the spa!

I have to admit, this spa looks incredible. They go outside to a Japanese garden complete with a little man-made stream that they are supposed to walk through. The stream bottom is covered in rocks that are meant to massage pressure points in your feet as you walk over them. Of course our gang finds it extremely painful, so they make a huge scene of squealing and tripping, falling all over each other, and finally abandoning the rock walk all together.

Serenity now!

The locals watch them with confused smiles. Interestingly, many of the locals are sitting on the edge of the stream dangling their legs in. I wonder why Jessica and pals didn't just try that.

The next item of business is a pedicure. The gang is instructed to sit and dip their feet into a pool of tiny fish who will nibble the dead skin off of their feet. I've actually read an article about this and it's also done in American day spas. It's called globalization, people. Of course, Jessica and CaCee are completely sickened by the idea of this, so they dip their feet amidst major convoltions, screams and wretches.

Tickley, maybe. But I don't see any blood gushing.

Come on. I guess the idea is a tad unsettling, but please. Get a grip. These aren't piranha. Finally the kids are each buried in a pile of sand that is meant to serve as an exfoliant and a sauna. But they have to lie there for two hours. Easy enough - I'd be sound asleep in no time!

Time for geisha school!

"Crap. What did we get ourselves into?"

Each of our stars gets to put on an entire Japanese kimono ensemble, which involves many steps and layers. Then they get their faces painted white. When they ask what the paint is made of they learn that traditionally it was made from nightingale poop. Just as the girls start to lose it (again) we are told that now it is made from rice powder (phew). When they are all done up with wigs and everything, the geisha try to teach them how to walk pigeon toed in a straight line and then the elaborate details of a tea service. A couple of Japanese bussinessmen have agreed to come in and sit for Jess and CaCee's tea service to see if they learned anything.

Need a bathroom break there, Jessica?

They mess up a lot, which is expected, but they aren't very respectful of what they are trying to emulate here. They giggle and tease each other, doing almost an exaggeratedly bad job. When asked if they would ever have these two serve them again, the men are like, "uh, no."

"We'd like PRETTY geisha next time."

I think Jess and CaCee are used to men thinking they are charming because of how they look, but these guys aren't messing around. They pay top dollar to have geisha perform for them - like I said, there's nothing American to compare it to, so it's a little hard to fully appreciate. But these men don't seem to think Jess and CaCee are very cute or charming.

The next day it's off to the Harajuku district to go shopping and experience the modern day version of Japanese beauty. So this is a Japanese fashion trend that inspired Gwen Stefani in her LAMB album. These girls dress in very exaggerated doll-like costumes as an expression of style.

The Shirley Temple Good Ship Lollipop. Or something.

One of the sales girls explains that this is a response to the traditional idea of a Japanese woman being very submissive. The Harajuku girls wear extreme fashions to show their strength and individuality.

Love, Angel, Music, Baby.

Later, after trying on a few outfits, Jessica decides to barge in on a lady in the middle of a cosmetic surgery consultation to try and figure out what she's thinking.

"Doesn't that door have a lock on it?"

This lady is considering the eyelid surgery, which Jessica can't understand because Japanese eyes are so exotic. Yes, to YOU, Jessica, who wasn't born in Japan. To them it's what they were born with and everyone around them has the same, so they want something different. After talking to the lady for a minute Jessica comes around because she's been told she's a fat pig, so she understands being self-conscious about something and wanting to change it. Yeah, this doesn't seem like that big of a deal to me. It's like boobs in America. There's hardly a group of 10 girls where several of them haven't had boob jobs anymore. The shock value isn't really there. I guess in Japan it's the eyelids, which actually seems much less invasive than boobs.

Now Jessica has the idea that they should put on a fashion show to celebrate the different ideas of beauty they've seen in Japan. Uh, okay. They invite a bunch of girls from Harajuku and Ken does hair and makeup. Our Beauty Ambassador Riyo returns to open the fashion show and then we see several different Japanese fashions including CaCee in a kimono, Ken in some goth Jedi outfit with high heeled boots, and Jessica dressed like a baby doll. All righty then!



I don't think so.

Next week we head to Brazil to find out the truth about the Brazilian bikini wax (maybe). See you then!

So what did you think of beauty in Japan? And Jessica's attempt at participating?

Thanks for reading!
-Honey Gangsta

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