Help! Cuteness is everywhere.

I had the privilege of flying on one of Eva Airlines’ Hello Kitty planes today.

Screen Shot 2013 12 30 at 3.09.37 AM 600x492 Help! Cuteness is everywhere.

 

Everywhere you turn on the plane, you see signs of Hello Kitty: from the pins on the flight attendants’ uniforms, their pink aprons, the pillow covers, to the air freshener in the lavatory.

13 1 600x600 Help! Cuteness is everywhere.

 

I started chuckling as I stepped onto the plane. It’s cute and adorable. But soon I grew weary. [Yes, I tend to overthink. Are you even surprised?]

There are obvious social and cultural reasons that girls, and in fact, women under 50, are encouraged to be cute, to find cutesy things desirable, and also to screech in delight whenever such cutesy things are encountered: In a patriarchal, male-dominant society, men prefer women that are dependent and docile (or at least seemingly so) and find them to be more attractive.

A nation of young women marching to the drumbeat of cuteness. Some critics have even gone so far to call it the “infantilization of women”.

There is the voice that many women here speak in. High-pitched and nasal. 

The facial expressions: eyes blinking deliberately with eyelashes a-fluttering, better yet if they appear to be watery & starry. Verisimilitude of manga characters.

I imagine myself a reject from the Hello Kitty factory.

I’ve never been able to be cute – partly because I am 5’7″ and not starving myself. By Taiwan standard, I am enormous. I also cannot fake Jennifer Tilly’s voice. Just imagine Lucy Lawless feigning cuteness. That. Did you throw up in your mouth too?

That being said, I begin to lean towards + on the cuteness scale when I arrive. It’s as if when I speak in Chinese, I assume a different personality. Or maybe they’ve spiked all the food here.

I tilt my head. I blink my eyes. I smile vacuously.

I know tomorrow I will start making a bunny sign when having pictures taken.

This is like an emergency note written by a survivor before the inevitable Borg invasion.

 

 

 

 

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{ 10 comments… add one }

  • alejna December 29, 2013, 2:24 pm

    “This is like an emergency note written by a survivor before the inevitable Borg invasion.”
    This totally cracked me up. Resistance to the cuteness is futile!

    (In addition to being amused, I am also intrigued by your “blogger as ethnographer” thoughts.)
    alejna´s last blog post…an eclectic row of hedges (friday foto finder: hedge)

    • Absence Alternatives December 29, 2013, 7:01 pm

      So happy when I saw your comment because I thought of you when I was writing this. I feel that I take on a different personality when I speak Chinese. I become… more agreeable for instance. ;-) I wonder whether it’s me over think ing again or whether it’s some known linguistic phenomenon?

  • Naptimewriting December 30, 2013, 12:15 am

    You’re hilarious. Verisimilitude in a blog post is why I love you.

    Look, you’re playing a part. Linguistically it’s called code switching and it means you fall into cultural norms that fit the situation you’re in. It usually applies more to changing language, but the vacuous smile and the agreeability fit into the phenomenon, too.

    Don’t worry. You can be resistant and thoughtful and feminist when you get back. It wouldn’t do you much good to be your brilliant, feisty self over there. Not going to change much.

    Do you put on the infantilized mask of yourself in Taiwan if your boys are watching?
    Naptimewriting´s last blog post…Longer days

    • Absence Alternatives December 30, 2013, 10:00 am

      I switched back and forth between English and Chinese when the kids were here with me and by day three I was completely drained. When I had to translate, I guess that forced me to modify and reflect.

  • Dufmanno December 30, 2013, 1:27 pm

    WHY can’t I be your sidekick on one of these home visits?
    One look at my big, fat, stupid head and overblown caricature facial expressions and they will throw you a parade for resisting becoming exactly like me.
    Also, I need to eat the food there.
    Someday…someday..
    Xo
    Dufmanno´s last blog post…Today I Almost Choked to Death on A Mini Tootsie Roll

  • Ameena January 4, 2014, 8:58 am

    This is hysterical…I’ve never heard of a Hello Kitty themed plane before. Fascinating.

    And I’ve never been cute either…and I’m 5’8″ and pretty thin. Not sure I can relate to the cuteness factor either.

    Happy New Year!
    Ameena´s last blog post…a non-event

    • Absence Alternatives January 7, 2014, 11:19 pm

      You are 5’8″??!! I could not tell from all the pics. Wow. Ok, Maya must be very tall for her age then. You are well proportioned, that’s why you don’t look 5’8″ in pictures. No, you are not cute. You are gorgeous. :-)

      Happy New Year!

  • Velva January 7, 2014, 11:08 am

    Happy New Year Lin! May 2014 be everything your hope for-

    Being is cute is overrated. It is great at 20 but, I am not impressed with a “cute” 50 year old when I encounter them.

    Stay warm.

    velva
    Velva´s last blog post…Destination San Juan Puerto Rico

    • Absence Alternatives January 7, 2014, 11:15 pm

      I saw a picture of Tiger Mom Amy Chua (remember her?) yesterday – she and her husband published a book talking about how there are 8 groups of people destined to succeed… Yup. That lady loves her some controversy. Can’t stay away. Anyway, I saw a picture of her with her teenage daughters and I was not able to tell which one is the mother, and she is 51! I don’t know why I am telling you this. My brain cells are frozen shot it seems.

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