KAWAII is a fashion style in Japan that spread itself through anime and manga; therefore, you can now find this type of fashion worldwide. With the popularity of this, a new style or subculture was born, YAMI KAWAII. On the first hand, it’s just like KAWAII, with a darker twist to it, but there is a lot more than it seems.
KAWAII means cute. YAMI KAWAII means sick cute. KAWAII uses many pastel colors and cute elements, YAMI KAWAII does the same, but they’re adding some dark elements. Mostly medical and grotesque items like Band-Aids or syringes. Some items also contain anti-social words. The mismatch between this and the cuteness makes this style so popular, mostly among young people.
The topic of mental health is still a big taboo in Japan, which is remarkable when you know that Japan has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. Mental illness is still considered weak in Japanese culture when some others see it more as an injury. This is how YAMI KAWAII was born. Fashion is generally known as a way of expressing yourself, healing, and as a coping mechanism for mixed emotions. The word KAWAII doesn’t have a negative meaning, and therefore it brings positive thoughts. Combining this with the “sick” elements brings the topic to light and makes it more approachable to the Japanese.
Japanese culture focuses a lot on how you look in front of others. This is also a reason why showing negative emotions is not often done. They’re more tempted to keep their emotions suppressed and not talk about them with others. Talking about your emotions when you’re not feeling well is important and is a way of healing. The people who wear the YAMI KAWAII style often find other people with the same style and new friends who they can talk to about their struggles and emotions. It brings people together in a way that is unique in current Japanese society.
YAMI KAWAII is the start of a new generation, a generation where we can talk to each other even if we’re not feeling well. However, mental health being taboo is not only a problem in Japan but all over the world. We should all work together to make this topic approachable. We have to empower each other to speak up and educate ourselves to create more awareness. Only this way, we can one day live in a world where it’s okay not to be okay.