The Rise of Jirai Kei, fashion and lifestyle

CW: mental health, suicide, self-harm

地雷系 Jirai Kei is a fashion trend that gained popularity on social media platforms like TikTok around 2019/2020.

It literally translates to „landmine-type”, stemming from the from phrase 地雷を踏んだ (“I stepped on a landmine”). It is also a Japanese slang term for “trigger” and describes a person that is easily triggered over minor events, keeps exploding with abusive behaviour, which makes interacting with them as if you’re walking around a minefield.

Stylistically, people who dress in Jirai fashion place a heavy focus on their eye make-up, with the goal to exaggerate their eyes to simulate the teary state of the pleading emoji. By applying red and pink eyeshadow to the under-eye area, using downturned black eyeliner and brown contacts to make the eyes look bigger, it creates a look as if the person is always near tears or cried already.

While there is definitely nothing wrong with having a distinct fashion style, one that in this case can be best described as “dark but cute” with its mostly black and pink colour palette, the public
image towards the Jirai Kei aesthetic in some areas of Japan is extremely negative because the fashion originated in Kabukicho. The entertainment district in Shinjuku, Tokyo, is mostly known
for its many host-, hostess-, nightclubs and love hotels. In the last years it also became a temporary home for many toyoko kids (teen runaways), whose behaviour is highly associated with binge drinking, heavy partying, self-harm, suicide, sex work and other “shocking” or
“rebellious” behaviour.

Therefore, at least in Japan, Jirai Kei as a fashion style is hard to separate from the lifestyle, due to the prevalence of overlap between the two. And there are sadly arguments for the trendiness of Jirai Kei contributing to real life consequences, such as increased rates of self-harm amongst teens. However, this cannot be seen as an isolated phenomenon and reveals more about the still silent treatment surrounding mental health and the ongoing lack regarding awareness and support of those who suffer from it in huge parts of Japanese society.

I thus find it very fitting that a part of the population who is desperately in need of help but seems to be disregarded as just going through a “rebellious phase” look like they are constantly on the verge of crying.

@yume.chii on Instagram

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