Japanese Oh Legs

Over on fashion.3yen.com, Chidade wrote about Tokyo Street Style, a website run by the JFA – Japanese Fashion Association—Lots of fun fashion victims and quite a large showing of what is called in Japanese “O-leg“—pigeon-toed.

And there are “O-Leg Fixers” on the market such as the O-Leg Supporter 3,800 yen. Fun!

Why Japanese women walk this way is a great mystery. In the past, the low protein and low calcium diet was to blame for “tansoku” (tansoku means short-legs in japanese)
stubby legs as well as bad genes. Constant kneeing what feet folded and tucked under their butts must not help. Current theory is that Japanese think it’s cute to walk deformed.

Supposedly, NHK TV had a “science” show in this topic came up with the wild explanation that Western women have big butts so they walk with feet pointing out to draw said backside in. Japanese girls have no butts and walk with toes pointing in to push their backsides out. Yeah, ri-i-i-ight.

UPDATE: As rightly mentioned by one of readers, “Lola19″ :
There is no way to correct the O-legs without surgery. Check the www.ladisten.com/bow-legs that tells about it.

ALSO: Here’s an interesting, scientific newspaper article all about this…

(walking pigeon-toed)
JapanTimes.co.jp – Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2006

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I'm a pale, alien, quadruped who has worked for 25+ years at "Maybe-the-Largest Inc." in Tokyo.

101 thoughts on “Japanese Oh Legs”

  1. Beauty of Body according to Japanese
    This is according to the book ” BEAUTY UP: Exploring Contemporary Japanese Body Aesthetics“, by Laura Miller. Berkeley: University of California Press:

    1. Pale skin
    2. Big breasts
    3. Pale nipples – bleaching the nipples – Japanese people think that the more sexually active the woman is, the darker the nipples become, so the women would like to lie by bleaching the nipples.
    4. No underarm hair – If you have any, you break the social norms

    Beauty for men
    No hair on the body – hair is worse than no muscles or a small penis

    Review of the book from Donald Richie:

    Zoning the body, Miller draws attention to how “a few focus on the breast as an aspect of female beauty as reflected in a lucrative industry for bust products and services.” This has now reached the point where nipple bleach is a highly salable product.
    Its popularity seems based upon a native folk belief that the more sexually active a woman is, the darker her nipples become. Bleach eradicates this evidence. At the same time larger breasts, like those of foreigners, are marketed as sexually attractive.
    This mixture of Japan-inspired and foreign-inspired reasoning is found so commonly that Miller several times warns the reader against assuming that any Western ideology is behind the whole thing. Very often the ideal is nativist.
    One example is a dedicated preference since the Heian Period, among the upper classes, for whiter skin. Despite occasional tanning fads, this has maintained for a millennium. The continued need for the bihaku pale-skin look is attested by the enormous amount of whitening lotion up for sale.
    Another example of native preference is the universal aversion to body hair. Women “who exhibit underarm hair are seriously resisting social norms,” and polls on female prime dislikes find that most offensive are men with hairy bodies. This aversion ranks well above other disadvantages such as “no muscles” and “small penises.”
    This aversion is nothing new, having found a home in Japan centuries ago, particularly in relation to the “hairy barbarians.” Depilatories have long been a major sales item in Japan.
    More room for foreign influence is seen in later products. As Miller says, conformity to current beauty ideals requires more extensive body modifications, and the areas of the body targeted for beauty work have expanded dramatically.
    Now the demands of fashion and commerce have spread to cover everything from the decorated fingernail to the towering sandal. And not just outside of the body — the inside as well. The Takano Yuri Beauty Clinic sells something called “Etiquette Up,” which proposes to make your insides beautiful. This is accomplished by taking their medicine, which promises to eliminate feces odor. One Tokyo body-aesthetic salon named Grace reportedly “made more than $ 840,000 over a three-year period by giving unauthorized ‘hydro colon cleansing.’ ”

    full review:

  2. I need info on how to get the o-leg supporter too. :( Pls send them to my email address. Many thanks!

  3. This “O-leg supporter” sounds great, but how does it work? Is it simply pressing the knees together? Are bones so flexible?

  4. “Are bones so flexible?”
    After the age of six, leg bones are not that flexible but will bend under pressure of leg braces IF the braces are worn while walking and whatever 16+ hours a day for 4-9 years. After the age of 18, the bones won’t bend at all–Thus this product is a fraud.

  5. Japanese (not all) have short, bowed legs. This is GENETIC and has nothing to do with the way you sit/stand, etc. I am western, tall with very slightly bowed legs and as a dancer, it is an anathema (the preference is for excellent turn out and minimal turn in since this creates a pleasing line to the leg). Anyhow, most of the Japanese I have seen have normal, albeit somewhat shorter than average legs. This is fine, there is nothing wrong with that. The severe bow leggedness IS a deformity. Walking pigeon toed like the woman in the video looks horrible. I feel sorry for her. How anyone could consider this cute is beyond me…poor woman. The O-fixer has the right idea, it’s strengthening your hip flexor (turn out) muscles which will help a person to walk with more turn out, but it won’t correct your skeletal conformation (bow legs). I have very good turn out and my legs are still slightly bowed. Afraid, you’ll still have the O-legs.

  6. My sister was pigeon-toed as a kid. My dad just kept yelling at her to walk correctly and she eventually tried enough that it happened.

    Sometimes it’s genetic, but it can also be just laziness.

  7. It’s genetic. The self-styled One Racers know it’s true, but it kills them to admit it.

  8. It kind of reminds me of Chinese foot-binding…Only that stumpy, runty Japanese girls want to walk weird without thinking.

  9. WELCOME folks from Mari Diary
    . . . . . and ZAEEGA-oids too!

    Yesterday, Mari Diary wrote:
    3yen.com had this post “Japanese Oh Legs”. My American friends’s said about it and laugh often, he named it mango leg (I don’t know why). Also we can find videos on Youtube…wow I agree they are strange!

    What is funny is that many of the Japanese commentators on Zaeega.com (Japan’s version of BoingBoing) think walking pigeon-toed is wonderful.

    See the loony Japanese comments translated at: http://ta.gd/machine-translation-Zaeega

    However, a few of the Japanese on Zaeega, think that evil gaijin—Yikes, that’s me!—are alien “stalkers” and making fun of the handicapped even though all those photos and videos were of ‘normal’ Japanese.

    Think about it: Only Japanese females walk deformed–not Japanese men.

    BTW: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    Since 2006, this post about Japanese girls and their
    funny walking has had the greatest number of hits
    here on the 3Yen–more than 800,000!

  10. I noticed that some Indians also have O-legs – or at least they can sit with their butt touching the floor with their legs somehow bent at their sides and completely touching the floor (something which as a Westerner I really can’t do – but I’ve seen this very often in Japanese people) – so it’s probably a genetic issue. If I remember correctly knee prosthetics in Japan are completely different from the ones in the West so it really just sounds like genetics rather than environmental (though maybe Asian people’s squatting also contributes!)

  11. Tell me I’m not the only guy to find it incredibly sexy? Bow legs on a trendy Japanese girl….heaven! Obviously I don’t mean to the point where it makes them walk funny, but that slightly ‘bandy’ bow-legged stance is one of the sexiest things I’ve ever seen on a girl.

  12. You’re wrong and the Ladisten website is wrong.

    You can correct mild bow legs with postural exercises and trying and tie your legs together. That’s cause THAT KIND of bow legs are not caused at all by bone deformity but by muscular inbalance: weak addctors and tight abductors. The proof is that when sitting the legs look fine and straight. It’s when you stand that your tight muscles tilt the knees out of position.

    So this kind of device and other exercises as suggested by a posturologist can reverse bowlegs without surgery.

    Of course if you’re very bowed legs due to bone deformity like this: http://srv001.fileinput.com/download/x596w4m7?f=30_1.jpg
    The surgery is the only thing that works.

  13. I think bow legs and the O-walk are attractive. I’ve always wished I had bow legs, my perfectly straight legs are not as attractive to me. I guess beauty really is in the eye of the beholder.

  14. I’ve seen people of other cultures walk like that, too. Not just Japanese? Weird how some people love to stereotype. Every culture has beauties and “abnormalities.” Stereotyping just makes people racist and seem outdated. Maybe people judge others negatively because of a lack in education!

  15. Basically, bow legs o-shape may be corrected by exercising but it takes months for a proper result. Although your bones won’t be straightened but your knee joints and ligaments may get changed. You need some effort, faith and common sense because once you cross the line you may get problems with your knee joints. There is a website advertising American prototype of a bow legs correcting device: http://www.rxknee.com/Bowleg.aspx However you may just use a wide adjustable belt and put some shoe between your feet. Stand like that for 10-15 minutes a day slowly increasing time. You also need to work with your muscles and diet. Slowly but surely you get a good result but you have to be very goal centered and faithful. Please remember that surgery is a last resort, and it may cause infection or other terrible consequences after which you may lose your leg(s). Be careful and good luck!

  16. Hola, estoy escribiendo desde ecuador, quisiera sabeer como puedo obtener este producto y cuanto cuesta. La pagina esta en ingles y en japones. Necesito me ayuden. Gracias

  17. I think it is the result of incorrect posture and upbringing. Not all Japanese women walk like this. Being pigeon-toed is a result of attempting to be ‘cute’ – gender image role enforcement. Keeping the legs very close to each other is a sign of daintiness in Japanese culture, it goes back into Japanese history. The problem is, that Girls don’t grow up correcting their habits so their muscles are too weak to straighten. They don’t intentionally walk like that- it is a result of habit and weak muscles.

  18. This is the first time I ever read comments on the Web. There are so many, and don’t seem to be organized. A few even change the subject. Shouldn’t there be a law against that?

  19. First time you’ve read comments on the web? Then this must be the first comment you ever made too. You’re in for a very rude awakening.­.. maybe not here, but elsewhere.

  20. I’m from south africa with bow legs does anybody know if there are products available here to help

  21. girl wrote:
    I’m from south africa with bow legs does anybody know if there are products available here to help

    As I have over and over, non-surgical methods won’t work over the age of puberty (and they don’t work well even at the ideal age 4 to 11).

    That said, this Japanese company, Visiore.com, with sell to overseas markets via the link you can find at the bottom of the page…
    bow legs correctionORDER

    Visiore’s overseas sales are conducted through a proxy ordering service.

  22. hello sir or madam, i wanna ask you about japanese oh legs, if i order o legs supporter where i pay? i’m living in the philippines…or do you have store here? to get them and pay of my order? please i want to know i really interested if they can help me to fix my bow legs…bow legs gave me worse and loose my confident…i can’t wear any shorts or skirt….thanks and more power

  23. One treatment is to avoid Osteomalacia; that is softening of the bones, with Protein (Chlorella), Calcium (Oatmeal), Vitamin D (Eggs, Tuna, Sunlight).

  24. So these bow-leg zupporters don’t work
    Im 16 an have no means of getting surgery, is there reallyno way to fix without surgery?

  25. urban wrote:
    I’m 16 an have no means of getting surgery

    You’ll have to stick to wearing slacks—you are too old for non-surgical fixes.
    (If it is any consolation to you, if you parents had got you proper non-surgical treatment such as leg brace when you were under the age of 12 years old, your feet would point straight ahead but your knees still would point in a slightly odd angle that many people would still notice.
    Basically, the non-surgical fixes are useless except in helping children with very mild cases of “O-legs.”

  26. @Taro: thank you for the speedy reply, im pretty disappointed that i will have to live with my physical and emotioal pain till i grow much older and can afford the surgery. Another question, how does the surgery straighten bow legs?

  27. …till i grow much older and can afford the surgery…

    If you have a severe problem, National Health Insurance will pay for the surgery (except for the USA). If you are as unfortunate to live in an undeveloped country, you can move to country with National Health Insurance.
    If you are from the USA, you can just move to Canada for corrective surgery, or you can save a few thousand dollars and find a US surgeon who will take your case pro-bono (free), which is common.

    Alternatively, you could move to Japan were everyone has “O-legs” so nobody really notices it.

    Another question, how does the surgery straighten bow legs?

    Rather painfully.

    I have known a few people who have undergone corrective treatments and it is not fun.

    One treatment surgically changes the angles in the knees and ankles, which is quick but does not completely take the curve out of the legs. The more expensive and lengthy treatment, breaks (ouch) the bones in the legs and regrows them straight. This will have to be done more than once (ouch, ouch) because you are still growing. The final result, which can take more than a year, makes a person quite a bit taller with longer legs (some people in China have this done as cosmetic surgery in order to get high paying jobs that require people to be taller than 169cm / 5’6″).

    The non-surgical methods using leg braces and corrective shoes only works for younger children and milder cases of “O-legs.” And, the final result is only reduces the appearance of bowing of the legs and does not totally remove it.

    However as was mentioned before, You can correct mild bow legs with postural exercises and trying and tie your legs together. That’s cause THAT KIND of bow legs are not caused at all by bone deformity but by muscular imbalance: weak addctors and tight abductors. The proof is that when sitting the legs look fine and straight. It’s when you stand that your tight muscles tilt the knees out of position. This kind of device and other exercises as suggested by a posturologist can reverse bowlegs without surgery.

    BOTTOM LINE: You need to get medical specialist(s) to give you an evaluation (your high school councilor could help you to get a free medical consultation and some civic groups such as the Kiwanis and Shriners provide free care for disabled youth).

  28. I couldn’t thank you enough for your help, you have given me more information in two replys than i’ve found on numerous websites!
    Tommorow i will consult my school nurse and also search for a nearby specialist. Thank you again.

    I’m really curious how you became so educated on the bow leg subject.

  29. I’m really curious how you became so educated on the bow leg subject.

    Even though I’ve climbed Mount Fuji three times (3Yen / 2005-07-29), I have also spent years of my life in orthopedic rehab.

  30. taro, i’m not sure if you’re still checking on theses comments, but what would you consider “mild” bow leg?

  31. urban wrote:
    …What would you consider “mild” bow leg?

    “Mild” bowleggedness would be a small curvature that doesn’t harm the athletic ability or health of the person but is just an aesthetic problem.

    Here’s a mild case of Japanese bow legs where the person could run and function normally (she is accentuating her bowleggedness curve the because she thinks it looks cute and her shoes are making it worse) …

    Here’s a case of Japanese bowleggedness (somewhat self-inflicted) where the person is starting to have trouble walking/running.

  32. Please, I am interested in the product, I would like to send me the price and shipping forms for the country of Peru

  33. Sai Babba gave up his material body and attained Samadhi on October 15, 1918.

  34. Hi, I сhеcκ your blogs dаіly for the lutz.
    Your humoгous style is ωitty; keер up the good work!

  35. The rest Japanese girls walk funny is because they are “buttless”—They’re so butt-less that accidents like this happen all the time.


  36. Japanese think their enhancement of the handicap is “cute” like yaeba / snaggle teeth.
    In conversations with my Japanese orthopedists physical therapists over years, I have learned that many Japanese doctors set leg casts and leg braces to point slightly inward to “please” female patients who recovering from an injury.

  37. Japan’s historic ‘kimono culture’ has led to many women having poor posture.
    The Japan High Heel Association …”Japanese women walk like ducks,” JHA managing director ‘Madame’ Yumiko told AFP in an interview…”They waddle along, pigeon-toed, with their bottoms sticking out as if they’re bursting to use the toilet. It looks ghastly,” she added.
    —-Daily Mail Online |23 June 2016: Japan’s ‘waddling ducks’ undergo stiletto therapy

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