The Fate of Ms. Butterfly
You may remember from the Quiz Millionaire editorial a girl I christened “Ms. Butterfly” for having gone Evander Holyfield on a poor defenseless butterfly. I went in to the School of Peace one day, and the English teacher told me that she was particularly happy today because Ms. Butterfly was coming back to school.
Pardon me if I don’t notice these things. I have 1000 students spread out over 3 schools, so aside from the kids who really stick out, if one goes missing for awhile it’s a little difficult to notice. Granted, Ms. Butterfly is in the English Club, so I really should have noticed. But Ultimate Sweetness is also in the English Club, and she tends to make me forget about everything else in the world. Cute Concussion, if you will.
Anyway, the English teacher explains that Ms. Butterfly has been missing a lot of school. I asked why and got another one of those roundabout Japanese explanations that do a wonderful job of destroying the area around the bush while never actually touching it. From what I could gather, Ms. Butterfly’s little brother is a special education student. Apparently, because of this, her parents spend a lot of time caring for her little brother, and as a result she tends to feel neglected. And somehow this has led to psychological problems, which results in her not coming to school.
I accompanied the English teacher to our first class of the day, and sure enough, after a long absense Ms. Butterfly was there. However, it only took me one look to realize that there was something different about her – bitch don’t got no eyebrows!
I was a little startled at first. Perhaps eyebrow plucking was a side-effect of whatever was ailing her? Or maybe, one night while she was sleeping, an elite army of highly trained, specialized Butterfly SEALs, seeking revenge for their abused brethren, flew into her window and plucked out her eyebrows during the night. I was slightly worried for Ms. Butterfly, until I remembered that this is just a thing that Japanese girls do.
Many Japanese girls, thoroughly unhappy with the eyebrows God Himself decided to give them, shave them off and draw in new ones by eyebrow pencil. Japanese girls are actually pretty good at it – they shave them off to a point and then fill in the rest by pencil. You may not notice it until you actually see an eyebrow-less Japanese girl, realize what they do, and then take a good look around at other girls who have done the same. I first noticed it with my ex-girlfriend – after our first night together, the next morning I rolled over in bed, and politely asked the person there “Who the fuck are you and where’s the girl I brought home last night?”, only to find out that they’re actually the same person. It’s almost like being lied to. Many a guy in Japan has experienced this phenomenon – I don’t have a name for it yet, but I’ve got a committe working on it and we’ll alert you of our findings as soon as we have them.
Anyway, my suspicions about Ms. Butterfly are confirmed later as I go to the English Club. Having missed school for…however long she was gone (I don’t know), naturally she was behind the other club members in English ability. More than that though, she just seemed thoroughly disinterested. During breaks, she would pull out fashion magazines and try to show them to the other club members, who didn’t quite share her level of enthuiasm for them. When it was time to go back to practicing English, Ms. Butterfly would give a reluctant sigh as she put away the magazine, and do the exercises with the minimal amount of effort possible. At one point, she shut her book, laughed, and gave off the standard “I dunno English” that many Japanese people are prone to do. …And another one bites the dust.
To make matters worse, the English teacher kept doting on how “cute” Ms. Butterfly was. I had to ask if we were looking at the same child. That’s not to say that Ms. Butterfly is ugly, not at all. But she don’t got no eyebrows, man! The Whoopi Goldberg look doesn’t even work for Whoopi Fucking Goldberg, it certainly isn’t going to work for Japanese girls. For the record though, Ms. Butterfly would only be eyebrow-less at school. Once she got home, she’d put on makeup, including to draw some new eyebrows in. At the tender age of 14.
Women are held to high, often impossible standards all over the world. But I feel that this is especially true in Asian countries, including Japan. Here, makeup for women is considered to be not optional. And there are women who would literally not leave their houses, even if it were burning down, unless they were properly made-up. I’ve met a few. In some cases, the makeup is used to accent or highlight certain features, but in some cases its used to create almost an entirely different face. I personally don’t like makeup. I prefer natural any day of the week. Of course, my opinion is in the minority here. Take a good look at any Japanese female model or celebrity, and you can see that she’s wearing a metric ton of makeup. Which is why I just don’t find 99% of them attractive anymore. I know its an illusion, and I can’t help but to wonder what’s underneath the tapestry.
I really dislike when the makeup culture extends to children though. Ms. Butterfly wasn’t the only one to come to school one day with no eyebrows – there have been quite a few girls to come to school like that. And I’ve seen a lot of female students outside of classes with heavy makeup and what not. The sad/ironic thing about it is that the girls who were naturally cute to begin with are the ones most likely to get into the heavy makeup. I don’t like when it spreads to children, because, to me at least, it seems to spread the message “your natural looks just aren’t good enough. Here’s some Maybelline.” But again, I’m in the minority on this one.
Except for one other time, past this day I never really saw Ms. Butterfly again. Certainly, she’s skipping as much school as possible. She’ll graduate in March, as the only requirement for graduating middle school in Japan is to be alive by the graduation date. She seems to be fitting a bill I see in a lot of my female students – they give up on studying, realizing that if they focus their attention on makeup and fashion, they’ll be able to snag a guy (who may or may not already be married) fairly quickly, and have him provide for her. As an American, I have a variety of opinions on this…but ultimately, it’s just not my culture, not my place to say.