Bagel head - a "supposedly" new popular fashion trend in Japan which Western social media sites have glorified thanks to the National Geographic "Taboo" episode that studies and scrutinizes the bizarre beauty saline-injection. But according to many Japanese social media sites, such Western reports on "bagel heads" completely distort and fabricate a "wacky Japanese fashion trend" which doesn't even truly exist. According to the popular subculture blogger and television host La Carmina, many Japanese people didn't even know about "bagel head" until reports from overseas began hitting the net.
Here is a quick recap on bagel head, which hit the cyber world by storm this past week: basically, approximately 13.5 oz. of saline are injected into the forehead to create a large blob. The saline-administrator then places his/her thumb into the large mass to create the indentation. The procedure takes two hours and the bagel head look last less than a day (about 16 hours). The look was pioneered by Japanese artist Keroppy and has been deemed "one of the newest, biggest trends in Japan's body modification art scene" by many Western news outlets. The Japanese fashion trend was featured on a recent episode of "Taboo," a series which takes an "educational look into 'taboo' rituals and traditions practiced in some societies, yet forbidden and illegal in others."
But according to Japanese media, this is the first time many people actually living in Japan have even heard of the bagel head trend. According to a blog post on Japan Times, the Western media have merely "yet again conjured up a 'Big in Japan' trend."
La Carmina and her multimedia team "the Pirates" actually did most of the heavy-duty work involving the "Taboo" episode on bagel heads. According to La Carmina, the trend was extremely exaggerated in the popular television series: "It is not a trend even among the most hardcore body modification types. It's expensive. It takes specialized equipment. Most Japanese people don't even know about it."
While La Carmina has blogged about the bagel head and other Japanese fashion trends for years, she insists, "There's a strong, supportive subculture in Japan who are into trying new things. It's just another method of expression, like piercings or tattoos, but it is certainly not a trend. It is absolutely not permanent. It lasts for a night and then you pee it out."
A reporter for Excite News agrees, stating, "Having never heard of 'bagel head' I was as surprised as anyone to see these pictures of young people. A perfectly cute forehead transformed by a grotesque swelling. It looks quite like a space alien. I shudder to think, but according to news sites all over, this is Japan's latest trend?"
A pal of La Carmina was hoping the National Geographic study on the bagel head trend would help lead Westerners to a greater understanding of underground, Japanese cultures. But it seems like "understanding" just means glorification and amusement - "If you say something on the Internet about Japan," he points out, "people tend to believe it."
Source: Mstarz, National Geographic@YT