Shrouded in Memory: Time, Desire, and Emotions in Iwadate Mariko’s A White Satin Ribbon

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Dress has featured strongly in shōjo manga (girls’ comics) since the beginning of the genre in the 1950s. However, the roles of dress and fashion in manga have received scant scholarly attention. This is possibly due to its ubiquity but perhaps also because of a bias that considers these items as “feminine vanity.” Exploring the varied uses of dress in shōjo manga has become even more important with the rise in popularity of female manga artists.

This article focuses on a popular work from the 1990s, A White Satin Ribbon (Shiroi saten no ribon, 1994). Created by Iwadate Mariko, the manga tells the story of a girl’s infatuation with her grandmother’s dress, which she sees as an embodiment of shōjo (girlish) identity. I argue that by combining concepts such as romantic fairy tales and aging with shōjo, Iwadate’s work enacts a complex and more nuanced version of girlhood that is constructed and embodied through a feminine dress. While many female artists have aesthetically objectified shōjo manga, Iwadate subtly subverts the fulfilment of the desires of both the protagonist and, by extension, the readers. I propose that Iwadate’s manga offers a platform to critique the role of dress in fiction in evoking emotions of desire, affection, and jealousy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76 - 104
Number of pages28
JournalUS Japan Women's Journal: English Supplement: a journal for the international exchange of gender studies
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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