Should we even be surprised? Apparently, spandex body suits are now the “in thing” among Japan’s weird trend chasers, building a community around it and calling it zentai, a portmanteau of the Japanese words zenshin taitsu, which literally means “full body tights.”
For some of these people who are into the whole spandex phenomenon, it’s more than just about squeezing themselves into tight body suits and being stared at by people. For some, like 20-year-old Hokkyoku Nigo, it means being “liberated” by what others think of them, since, well, you can’t really see clearly other people’s reaction to seeing you walk down the streets in the sometimes colorful spandex of your choice. “I have led my life always worrying about what other people think of me. They say I look cute, gentle, childish or naive. I have always felt suffocated by that. But wearing this, I am just a person in a full body suit,” he says. You can find all kinds of zentai groups on Facebook now, from addicts to fetishists, and yes, there are even zentai Pokemon costumes as well, just in case you’re into that sort of thing.
An England-based group called The Zentai Project says that there is a certain joy in putting on the suit and transforming into someone who elicits amusement and curiosity from onlookers. A professor from Tokyo Mirai University, Ikuo Daibo, says this phenomenon is fascinating as a study in human nature, as the people who wear these suits are showing their “deeper self” by anonymously expressing themselves through all these colorful and wacky zentais. He also thinks it is a reflection that Japanese society has a sort of “societal abandonment” that makes people feel lost and ” unable to find their role in society.” And some of them have found that sense of belonging and individuality through the zentai community. Daibo says it is a “very interesting way of communication.”
[ via Washington Post ]