The HAFU Obsession – In quest of Japan’s weird beauty standards

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In quest of the Japanese „Hafu” obsession – why so many Asian girls want to look half- Japanese

And pay tons of money to achieve it

This will be a blog which may prove to be too big of a challenge to write but the topic is so interesting I’ve been wanting to write about it for a while now because this is way more complex than one would think. The Asian women’s plastic surgery obsession, which particularly concerns women living in Singapore, Hong Kong, China, South Korea and Japan is way above Asian women wanting to look like Caucasian women. This whole craze points to one country the culture of which has greatly affected the youth culture of most Asian countries and which has helped to create a large and still flourishing subculture all over the world. Yes, this is Japan and the particular culture I’m talking about is the culture of Anime and Manga.

What is a Hafu?

Japanese do have the tendency to stylize everything that they are keen to welcome in their own culture. Let this be gardens, buildings, letters, fashion and looks. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Anime where let’s be honest, noone ever looks Asian. The girls have a particular stylized look, a collection of re-stylized Caucasian characteristics which also bear with Asian qualities, especially behavior-wise which give Anime a very particular flavor. Anime cartoons have caught the fantasy of the whole world. And the over stylized Caucasian look has become the goal, the so-called Holy Grail and they are ready to pay a lot of money and learn all they need to learn about Photoshop and other feature altering apps in order for them to be able to change their appearances. This gave way to the particular phenomenon that’s been making so many women and girls obsessed. The phenomenon is called „ Hafu” (ranging from the Japanese word that derives from the English „half” or „ halfie” referring to someone who is half Japanese and half Caucasian preferably European).

The expression itself was born in the 70ies when it still was absolutely uncool to be only half Japanese but since the sound success of animes Hafu now is someone, especially a girl who has all the positives of both Asian and White Caucasian features. Someone who is ever present in tons of anime and manga.

Animes, such as Sailormoon are largely responsible for today’s Hafu craze

All in all, many people like to simplify this whole thing and say, Asian girls want to look like Caucasian girls. This is not true. They want to look like a so-called Hafu. Asian women are obsessed with the Japanese fashion world and beauty ideal and their weird world of stylized sweets, make-up, dresses, the Harajuku subcultures because all these still represent such novelty, such difference to the Asian „norms” that simply make most girls crazy to achieve or to get closer to it. Then comes the ever burgeoning desire to look „white” (and in real whiter) as most Asian girls unlike the Japanese anime ideals with a flour-white skin do have a rather tanned skin, one of the most wanted treatments is the skin lightening.

What is an Idoru?

Based on the good female warriors in the Anime such as Sailor moon, an Idoru is a woman girls can look up to. Perfect in her looks and in her manners there is nothing negative about her and she is the idol of the young generations. Idoru is a word being transformed from the English Idol (Japanese do not have a letter „L” although they spell their „ R” as we spell „L” in return). Idoru is a key component in Japanese youth culture.

What makes so many Asian girls want to look like a Hafu?

The double trend of both Japan and Caucasian/Japanese look being extremely trendy, looking way more elegant, sophisticated and unique in many ways. Due to it’s genetic heritage Asians have specific characteristics which are some of the most challenging to get changed or altered. I guess this challenge is what keeps so many going. As an extra, many of these surgeries are extra cheap in South Korea.

The Hafu / Idoru business

the Japanese Tsubasa Masukawa advertising large coloured contact lenses next to her own line of false eyelashes

Since Hafu has become so cool, the „Hafu-business” has started to flourish in Japan. Let me say a few words of „Idoru” too. Taken from the word „idol” this means stars who are idolized by the young girls for their looks and inner qualities. That’s also why Japanese stars will not share anything about their personal life, or their plastic surgeries ever. They want to look like a fairy tale or anime figure.  This means the selling of:

  • Wigs: particularly those featuring light brown to blonde, wavy hair. Thanks to anime, colorful wigs such as pink or rainbow colors are also incredibly popular.
  • False eyelashes: nowhere is the use of false eyelashes more important than in Asian countries, since thanks to the ethnic heritage, the Asian eyes are tighter than the Caucasian ones. This is the genetic feature that has led to the boom of double eyelid and other eye-enlarging surgeries, both in Japan and in South Korea.
  • Colored, eye enlarging contact lenses: a very particular piece which was clearly inspired by animes these contact lenses can make eyes appear almost double as large as they really are. This is particularly important for Asian girls.
  • Eye make-up especially eyeliner: eyeliner also has the tendency to make eyes look much larger.

The overall use of all these products plus one or more surgeries can lead an Asian girl to sport a pair of eyes which can look double as large as they really are. With the use of wigs with makeup and lenses any Asian girl can look like a proper Hafu. And not just Asians but that’s a story for my next blog.

Becoming famous for her gothic Lolita style Wylona Hayashi has fantastic makeup and Photoshop skills and represents the ideal look for tons of Asian girls

As you can see Hafu is a very important word in the Japanese and Asian beauty and fashion business and it has a determinative effect on today’s plastic surgery business, flourishing in South Korea, one of the first countries whose youth was infiltrated with the Hafu phenomenon.

The list of the current most popular plastic surgeries, fillers, Botox purchased by Asians to look similar to an Idoru or Hafu (who is half Japanese)

  • Nose surgery
  • Jawline contouring
  • Face-shaping ( for leaner face)
  • Multiple eye enlarging surgeries
  • Cheekbone fillers
  • Lip fillers

The most popular Japanese beauty ideals for tons of Asian Girls

Tsubasa Masuwaka ( 3rd bottom row and above): famous Japanese actress and also head of her fake eyelash brand that’s since became worldwide famous mostly thanks to her Hafu appearance. There are several Tsubasa lookalike beauty contests in Japan and Asia-wide. So you can guess how much Asian girls want to look similar to her.

Tomomi Itano: Another popular Japanese actress. She must have had tons of transformations because you wouldn’t be able to actually realize that these two are the exact same person.

Rina Fujii – original Hafu (1st photo)

Rina is an exception a little bit because she is ALREADY a “Hafu” and you can clearly see this on her features. But this was not enough for her and she still had her own fair share of plastic surgeries to look even more Caucasian.

Ayumi Hamasaki (3.rd on top) : a famous Japanese singer who, by the look of the photos had so many plastic surgeries she barely looks like her old self and her look is more like a Hafu, which can also be thanked to the light hair and blue contact lenses.

Erika Sawajiri (2nd bottom row) – original Hafu

Being half French/Algerian and half Japanese Erika is ideal to thousands of women both in Japan and elsewhere in Asia.

Emi Takei (1st bottom row)

Another Japanese beauty who represents the standard for many young girls all across Asia We don’t know how many plastic surgery she did have, apart from the ever so apparent double eyelid surgery She is one of the most popular stars in Japan and does tons of advertisements.

So, all in all while most Japanese would love to become Hafu or Caucasian themselves, there are millions of Asian women who would love to become Japanese AND Hafu themselves.

To enlist the Japanese standards of beauty to which most Asian girls want to adhere to:

  • Porcelain white skin
  • Small face
  • Flawless skin
  • Big eyes ( double eyelid)
  • Straight defined nose
  • Light brown hair

The concept of the Anime Hafu

We’ve been through the concept of Hafu and Idoru. But let’s see those who want to take the concept some steps further and want to look like an Anime Hafu altogether.

Most popular Models, Bloggers, Actresses who would like to look like an Anime Hafu.

Wylona Hayashi

Wylona Hayashi

Now, this is not her real name and it’s questionable she was ever a half Japanese. Considered as some of the biggest scams it has since come out that „Wylona” was the master of not only make-up” but Photoshopping too, which is a skill tons of Asian bloggers do in fact exercise. Look at her pics and you will see they look utterly unrealistic. She has since disappeared from the internet, which is another telling sign of the character being unreal altogether. The only thing important here, is that she is the ideal look to MANY-MANY Asian girls. I believe this is what also envisions the future where Asian plastic surgery is headed.

XiaXue – Wendy Cheng

XiaXue -Wendy Cheng – Singapore blogger, media personality, actress, etc. : tons of plastic surgery paired up with great Photoshopping skills she is a real revolutionary as she was among the first who dared to speak about her plastic surgery journey and she is not ashamed of her Photoshopping skills either. Clearly wanting to resemble to an Anime Hafu she has great pics paired up with a harsh but honest and humorous style she is very famous in Singapore.


QiuQiu: Starting as a blogger then becoming a host on a popular YouTube channel the Clicknetwork I didn’t really think she had plastic surgery but look what drastic changes she had done with her face changing its whole structure, with forehead and undereye fillers and shaving off from the jawline.


Angelababy: Chinese model and actress one of the first pioneers of the Japanese –look plastic surgery. Her surgeries turned out so well, today tons of Asian girls want to look like her.

Jacqueline Koh

Jacqueline Koh: another Singapore-based blogger who did her best to hide her original South Asian looks in return for the Japanese white skinned Hafu look. She is particularly famous since documenting her plastic surgery procedures.


Dawn Young

Dawn Young: And another Singapore-based blogger (see the pattern that’s emerging here?) who had tons of plastic surgeries to attain the Hafu look.

There are tons more to enlist, most of them are not known to the non-Singaporean audience. I think plastic surgery still has a lot to learn and I also hope that the number of non-abrasive possibilities will grow with time. I also hope everyone accepts their own characteristics and beauty instead of wanting to obsessively follow a trend of self-transformation. However, I don’t count on this happening anytime soon.

I hope you all liked this blog, I think this is a topic which is great discussing. In my next chapter I will also write about those who are Caucasians yet want to look Japanese themselves. As a follow up I will also plan to post some of the Youtube channels where one can see some incredible transformations into a Hafu.