Note: If you want to get a handle on everything that happened with this story, why I added the point below, read the comments.
This is something that people need to take in.
If you can’t Japanese,
Viz Major provided a translation (with extra clarification in the comments) [Viz Major’s post was taken down; a translation appears in the comments]. This is important stuff.
The girl in the picture is Kuromiya Rei, mostly known for her work in Ladybaby but also of Miss iD and Brats fame. She shared this photo as a celebration of her 16th birthday.
The image belies real emotional damage being worked out by a young woman who’s been an object of sexploitation since she started modeling at an age in the single digits. Her history has been covered here and extensively gone over all over the J-music world. It in no way should be considered an indictment of Rei, but of the adults who exploited and failed her.
There’s a lot of pain in her message, and the emotional and psychological damage are written plainly on her face, but she also shows hope and happiness with where she is now.
Editing to clarify: The updated translation paints a different picture of Rei’s current state; she is happy with where she is now, and doesn’t feel dead inside the way she did before. Her biggest issue is the mounds of haterade from people who want to hold her responsible for the choices made for her by her parents and agents when she was a child. Basically everybody that I just mentioned who isn’t named Rei should be thrown off a bridge.
Returning to original: Her story is working toward a much happier ending than I’m sure she sometimes feels.
That happier ending, as if this somewhat-buried lede weren’t fairly obvious, is a lot of forward movement in her musical career. The Idol Formerly Known as Ladybaby are releasing their first major single with King Records (full MV here), and her band, Brats (Facebook fans!), is on the move again, with the theme for Slaveman:
TY Ringo for the tip!
That’s only slightly weirder than Haruno Megumi’s thing! But Brats is an interesting band; I’ve always preferred them to Ladybaby/The Idol Formerly Known As.
Note to like every other teen band; this is edgier than you, with none of the irony
Which does remind me to eventually get around to playing Idol or Not Idol, but I digress.
Rei’s situation isn’t unique in idol*; most of the girls who are used the way she’s been don’t have her prospects or level of support, either. It’s cautionary in the sense that what we see publicly may be masking deep trauma, and that the industry chews up and spits out young people at a shocking rate; while we can see situations like Sakura Yuki’s for what they are, the fact remains, for instance, that the Alice Project has had plenty of accusations hurled against it and is just one example.
For now, we can support Rei (and other girls like her). Acknowledge where she’s been, congratulate her on where she is and celebrate where she’s going. You don’t have to be all about the creative product itself to support the performer, but give the music a listen and buy it if you like it. Tell other people about it. Build support on top of your own.
*Seriously, a lot of the things that people try to pin on idol as some kind of singularly nefarious entity are prevalent across the arts all over the world. Talk to people who work in fashion about the treatment of teen models. Dancers. Actors. Athletes. Basically, creeps are attracted to places that put them in proximity to vulnerable young people who implicitly trust the adults in that circle, and they can and will take advantage. It’s tragic that I’m pointing out how prevalent this is, because it is that prevalent.