読モ高橋奈々 for elianegigi
“Dokumo” Nana Takahashi
To be a model, one is usually blessed with natural good looks (see the law of symmetry in attraction), a chameleon-like ability to transform according the theme of a fashion shoot, and they work on their craft full-time by getting into agencies and attending auditions left and right. There are high-fashion models in Japan for sure, but the domestic girls, usually of mixed Japanese and western ethinicty certainly get enough work to have lucrative careers.
But there’s another type of model out there, very inherent to Japan, similar to the domestic models above from the outside but they are fundamentally different.
Welcome to the world of DOKUMO!
“Doku” means “Reader” and “mo” stands for “model” so literally it means “reader model”. Now that makes them sound like girls who read books to children for charity or something, so I would translate it more like “street-style models” or “amateur models”. Basically, these girls get scouted on the streets by magazines for their street-style which will usually correspond to one of the popular subcultures that has a magazine dedicated to it. So KERA will look for Harajuku girls, Egg will search for Gyaru and Popteen will look for mini-idols. The girls are already secretly hoping to get their photos snapped for the street-style pages in their favorite magazines so they get all dolled up and hang out in Harajuku or Shibuya. After they’ve been snapped for a few issues by a magazine and proved they’ve got style, they might be asked to become a “dokumo” for that magazine and are invited to professional photoshoots to get pages dedicated to her style and makeup techniques.
“Dokumo” Sayumin of Koakuma Ageha 小悪魔アゲハ読モさゆみん
If we were to compare it to a phenomenon in the west, it would basically be…BLOGGERS! Girls with awesome street-style becoming superstars, right? It’s especially interesting since there’s no phenomenon of bloggers becoming famous in Japan, since they just go straight to being dokumo instead (and all dokumo have diary-like blogs anyway).
I learned about this somewhat strange world of dokumo when on assignment with CNN a few years ago I was asked to follow a Koakuma-Ageha dokumo “Sayurin” on a photoshoot all day. I was shocked when I saw her bring her own suitcase of clothes, and she did her own makeup as an editor hovered like a helicopter just inches away. “What brand of eyeliner is that? How thick is that line? 2mm? Are you drawing it differently this month compared to last month?” So basically for “dokumo”-heavy magazines the girls themselves are filling the pages contents themselves!
DOKUMO are the subject of this weekend’s episode of Kawaii International on NHK and for an hour it follows the ins and outs what it takes to be one, why someone would want to be one (do they get paid? What’s the point?). So definitely check it out. Melody and I talked to 6 **VERY** different dokumo from different genres so its very fascinating (hime-gyaru, akiba-mix idol, gyaru, harajuku fairy, gyaru punk and japanese-gothic)
As for the phenomenon I don’t think it’s going away soon, despite the blog and digital revolution. Said a model friend of mine, “I feel like dokumo might be taking our jobs someday. Afterall, they don’t have to pay for stylists or makeup artists!”. Look out, world!
My “dokumo” episode snaps! By Kawaii.i
Dress by REEM, wig by PLUMB, tights by FUGAHUM
In UTC or Universal Time Coordinated, timings are as follows:
February 22, Fri. 23:10 February 23, Sat. 3:10/ 7:10/ 11:10/ 15:10/ 19:10
日本時間（オンラインストリーミングのみ）or Japan Standard Time:
February 23, Sat. 8:10/12:10/16:10/20:10/ February 24, Sun. 0:10/4:10
※Available on internet for free for everyone to watch
※Same episode will be streamed in a total of 6 times once in 24 hours
※only available for streaming, not for downloading