Bagel Heads: “New Japanese Trend” Is Neither New Nor A Trend

October 2nd, 2012 | 1 comment | Posted by Jen

Last week the Internet was all abuzz about “Bagel Heads,” this supposedly “new” body modification trend in Japan where people inject saline under their skin so their heads look like they’re exploding with delicious breakfast bread product for about 24 hours, just add schmear.

‘Bagel Head’ Saline Forehead Injections: Japan’s Hot New Beauty Trend?, the Huffington Post wondered.

‘Bagel Heads’: Shocking New Trend in Japan, Yahoo! News warned.

And the Herald Sun got a little punny with their reporting, titling their story on the fad, Bagel heads: A hole new trend.

The only problem with this “new” trend is that it isn’t new at all. The story of Bagel Heads first went viral in 2009, when the UK’s Bizarre Mag reported on it. The first line of the Bizarre post was quick to state, “This extreme body modification isn’t new, but it’s growing in popularity.” Many blogs and media outlets picked up the story then–which is when we blogged about it–including the premiere underground trendwatching paper of its time, The New York Times. Two years later, in 2011, Vice interviewed Ryoichi “Keroppy” Maeda, a photographer and journalist who’s been documenting the underground body modification scene in Japan for the last 20 years and who also happens to be the man who brought saline injections to the country. Maeda said in that interview that the bagel head thing had been going on “since 2007.” After that, still more blogs and media outlets picked up on the “new” (again) trend, with Neatorama declaring, “Bagelheads Invade Japan.”

Cut to September 2012, when the National Geographic Channel–you know, the totally edgy National Geographic Channel–puts out a video about this “new trend in body modification” in advance of a feature on Bagel Heads airing on the network’s show Taboo. And that’s when the Bagel Heads As New Trend story gets resuscitated all over again.

In other words, Bagel Heads are anything but new. The same goes for the deeply-rooted sentiment behind the reporting of stories like this, which is that everything the Japanese do is wacky and weird.

Maeda, who, incidentally, was featured in the National Geographic segment, offered a theory as to why the story seems to have found new life yet again as a trend piece. According to the Vancouver Observer–which seems to be the only news outlet to question both the newness and the trendiness of Bagel Heads by, um, actually citing Japanese people, most of whom had never heard of it–Maeda wrote:

“It seems like last year, the television crews that were in Japan for the Fukushima nuclear fallout were looking for something new to shoot about youth culture, and they jumped on bagel heads.”

Meanwhile, the Bagel Heads story comes out the same week we learn “butt-chugging”–i.e. alcohol enemas–is supposedly a youth trend in the US.

And we think other people are weird.

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One Response to “Bagel Heads: “New Japanese Trend” Is Neither New Nor A Trend”

  1. alperryman says:

    Whatever happened to hats and wigs? Can’t we just modify our heads with wacky toppers and leave the hypodermic needles out of it?

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