1.Prologue: Behind the Scenes
Our topic for this show from June 2018 was #NationalSelfieDay, which is June 21st.
Americans love designating unofficial “national" holidays. (The Japanese are the same in this regard.) Once upon a time in America days of observance were proclaimed by the president, but these days the calendar seems overrun with frivolous holidays that are nothing more than gimmicks. But at the same time, I can understand that this comes from a certain carefree attitude that Americans possess—a sense of having to enjoy the little things.
For this episode of the show we received a special video message from Instagram celebrity “Selfie Dad"—someone who certainly knows how to enjoy the little things. Selfie Dad first became active on Instagram when he noticed that his daughter was posting sexy selfies. Seeing that there were men posting inappropriate comments to her photos, he thought he would shock them by posting photos of himself recreating the daughter’s pics, clothes, pose, tattoos and piercings and all. Those pics quickly spread, and currently he has even more followers than his daughter.
Along with the video he sent our show, Selfie Dad also sent a photo of him imitating a photo of our MC, Kato-san. The existence of this photo was, of course, kept secret from Kato-san herself, and we even conducted dress rehearsals without her. So the reaction she gives to the photo is completely real. What’s more, Selfie Dad didn’t just imitate Kato-san’s pose but also her dress. Because he did not have a yellow skirt in his possession, it seems he wore a yellow t-shirt upside-down as a skirt. When Americans joke around, they go all out.
2.Where Did Selfie Culture Come From?
These days you can encounter people taking selfies and tourists with selfie sticks on every street corner. The act of taking a selfie has become not something you just happen to do at a destination to commemorate the moment, but rather an end in and of itself—it’s not a stretch to say people go places specifically for the selfie.
Where does this drive to take selfies come from?
In order to survive in America, you absolutely need to have unwavering confidence in yourself. For better or for worse, to be American is to be overconfident. There’s no one else like you in this world, and your uniqueness is to be celebrated, broadcast to the world, even—that sentiment manifests itself in the form of a selfie.
Even when you look at a counterculture like the hippie movement, which strived to break free of the trappings of mainstream American society, the mantra of “love and peace" inevitably circles back to loving yourself for who you are. So it’s hardly a surprise that the children of the hippie generation would take to posting selfies on social media.
In this way, everybody is a protagonist on social media, but when that goes too far people start to fall under the illusion that the universe revolves around them. When that happens, the slightest hiccup or deviation from expectations can make you very unhappy.
And it is way too easy to look at overproduced selfies posted by celebrities and feel like your own life is lacking by comparison.
Selfies may have once been a celebration of what makes you unique, but these days they sometimes seem like a tool to inspire envy—a way to plant the seeds of jealousy in another.
3.This Week’s Wardrobe
●Get yourself a full-body mirror for home
This past spring, right around the time the show was about to start, Scarlet suggested that I buy myself a full-body mirror to have at home.
For the longest time I was fine with checking my hair and checking for stubble in the mirror over the bathroom sink.
With a full-body mirror I can check to see that my upper body and my lower body are in balance—stylistically speaking—not to mention check how I look from the side. I can make sure my shirt’s properly tucked in and that I don’t have any flecks of dust on my pants.
Ever since I started to use this full-body mirror, I’ve come to a realization. Not going to the trouble of checking how your outfit looks in the mirror is like printing out important presentation documents but only checking the cover page before heading off to your presentation. What if there was something in the rest of the document that didn’t print correctly or is the wrong order?
Side note, ideally I’d have two full-length mirrors—one by my closet, and another at the entrance of my apartment, where I put on my shoes. Alas, my apartment has a very narrow entranceway, without the space for a mirror.
Green shirt by Azabu Tailor
Given the season, I felt like wanting to undo a button of two in front, and ordered this shirt with a two-button collar—Italian style. The slightly higher collar works wonders for people with longer necks.
And instead of getting my usual front placket, I ordered this one with no fold back front placket—what’s known as a “French front". For dress shirts in the U.K. and U.S., a front placket is standard, but fashion-savvy men in Italy and France wear shirts with no placket to give off a cleaner impression.
Green socks by Tabio
Double-breasted suit jacket by Universal Language
There are double-breasted suits with six buttons and with four (apparently some have eight, and others have two), but in recent years six buttons seems to have become the standard. With the basic two-button jacket, you should only fasten the top button, but with the double-breasted suit, there are a variety of buttoning formations.
The suit I had made at Universal Language Shibuya is a “6×2", which basically means that the middle button is fastened while the bottom one is usually left undone. There is also a third button on the inside that is fastened in order help the suit hang correctly; I find I’m having trouble getting this button done—I end up fumbling around quite a bit in frustration. (That button, incidentally, is called a jigger, or anchor button.)
The other defining trait of double-breasted suits is the peaked lapel, which should be self-explanatory. This shape makes the chest look wider, giving you that coveted hourglass shape. The only problem is that you need a sturdy frame to begin with, otherwise you end up with a very unflattering look. In that sense, the double-breasted suit looks great on baseball players and athletes in general.
Black suit trousers by GlobalStyle
Avignons by Paraboot
Black glasses by Zoff
4.Epilogue: Child-Rearing in the Social Media Age
In the social media age, the issue of helping children form a healthy relationship with social media platforms has become an incredibly important issue. A child’s digital footprint will stay with them through their entire lives, and as such there are even parents who register their child’s social media accounts while they are still a baby.
While the child is still very young, parents can limit the amount of access they have to digital devices and the internet. Once the child reaches adolescence, however, they are increasingly being put in a position where a smartphone is a necessity—whether it’s for convenience or for social activity. After all, they are a generation of “digital natives", for whom digital and social media literacy is an absolute must.
It’s also important to remember that for teenagers nowadays live in a world where one mean comment can be devastating, or one accidental “like" or “send" can feel like it’s the end of the world. The actions of someone like Selfie Dad are a silly, silly way to remind us of the dangers of taking ourselves too seriously.
And then there are also those for whom posting to social media has become so normal that they don’t give it a second thought. But what if their dad were to do to them what Selfie Dad does? Some reverse psychology might come into play—if your father is on social media, maybe it isn’t as cool as you thought it was.
In that sense, what Selfie Dad is doing may be a new approach to parenting teenagers in the social media age.
Judging from Selfie Dad’s still-active Instagram account, it appears he's still up to the same old zany antics.
LANGUAGE & EDUCATION #006
Selfie Culture and Child-Rearing in the Social Media Age － "SNS Eigojutsu" (ep aired 2018/06/28)