‘Swamp girls’ emerge from the forest

December 8th, 2009 by Felicity Hughes

Mori Girl (red) vs. Numa Girl (blue)

Google search report for 2009: Mori Girl (red) vs. Numa Girl (blue)

You might have seen them drifting dreamily about Harajuku or Daikanyama, dressed in floaty layers, flat pumps and earthy colors that attest to an artistic sensibility at one with nature. This is the Mori Girl (森ガール, Forest Girl), a trend that took off in fashion magazines such as Spoon, Fudge and Spur in a big way this year.

Mori Girl actually first appeared two years ago in a community on Mixi. Japan’s most popular social networking site also helped spawn a new subset this year. Meet the Swamp Girl (沼ガール, Numa Girl), a Mori mutation begging for attention and respect. Sick of being laughed at for their frilly, floaty, earthy fashions Numa Girls openly state that they embrace the Mori Girl look — for all the wrong reasons. Here’s an abridged version of the manifesto posted on the top page of the Numa Girl community on Mixi:

  • We love loose-fitting dresses, but people often ask us if we’re pregnant.
  • We like leggings, but that’s because long johns are great when it’s cold.
  • We like motifs depicting sweets or animals, not because they’re cute but because they look delicious.
  • We like flat heels not because they’re especially fashionable but because they’re easy to walk in.
  • We like fairy tales but also check out erotic fiction.
  • Short nails make us look natural but are also useful when we have to pick our noses.
  • Trying to be cute we wear our hair long and curly with a fringe but we actually end up looking more like Sadako (scary haired lady from “Ring” who climbs out of a well to menace people).

Since it’s common for women in Japan to spend a lot of money and effort on their appearance, a group that openly parodies and subverts these values is a breath of fresh air. The Numa Girl manifesto ends with: “Who calls us girls? We’re not girls at all. People often say we look like we’ve crawled out of a swamp or up from the bottom of a well. Don’t call us Forest Girls  — we’re Swamp Girls. Look out! We dare anyone to make fun of us because we got there first.”

Outside Mixi, on Kanshin Kukan, comments on Numa Girl are varied. One user theorized that perhaps Swamp Girls are evolved from young girls who wander into the forest and lose their way; after they reach 30 they can’t go back, so they become Swamp Girls. Another user said that being a Swamp Girl sounds like lots of fun and she’s going to do her best to achieve the look.

For the record, at the time of this writing the Numa Girl community on Mixi had 6,717 members, compared to 40,398 for the Mori Girl community. Clearly, they’ve still got a ways to go before they make the cover of Spoon.

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One Response

  1. SO amazing! I like the Swamp Girl style, I’m an american forest girl living the fairytale life fascinated by Mori Girls but I want I often feel like I’m stuck in the backwoods…


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