See the interview here: TV4Newsmill med Yohio
Interviewer: We are going to talk about bullying today which have been high-topic this winter. I have YOHIO in the studio today. Welcome.
Interviewer: When you got your breakthrough in Sweden you awaken hopes of that it would be more accepted to be different. What is your thoughts about this?
YOHIO: I didn’t plan to be a role model for young people or to inspire them to do what they feel like, or be different if that’s their choice. But I began to notice this during the Song Contest.
Interviewer: How did you get aware of that?
YOHIO: A lot of children sent me mails and approached me and wanted to take pictures. So it became more clear all the time. Even on the Internet. It was perfect ’cause I want the next generation to be better people with less prejudices. I want them to do whatever they feel like and don’t look down on others that are different from them.
Interviewer: Do you think there’s any connection between the winter’s debates and the fact that Sweden hailed the most odd artist that we have seen on stage for a very long time?
YOHIO: Yes, the thing is that all these children who feel vulnerable and is bullied – ’cause they are different, they have no one that stands for all things they want to do. They have no one to look up to and no one to get strength from. But I think that when they saw me, that was what actually happened. They gained strength and they got someone to look up to that did something different. There was four 4 year old boys who got bullied at kindergarten ’cause other kids thought they had girly shoes, even though it was shoes for boys. I read that in a blog written by a mother. She and her son was in the shoe stoor to buy new boots for the kid and he was afraid to get bullied again. But then he grabbed the boots and said: “No, do you know what? I’m just like YOHIO and I do whatever I want! It doesn’t matter!” And they bought the shoes and he was really happy with them. Things like that touches me. A simple thing like that; a four year old boy gain strength from me and can wear whatever he wants and is happy with that.
Interviewer: You mentioned in some interview that you want to contribute more to a norm-breaking education of children in Sweden.
YOHIO: I don’t think the current situation works. We’re still stuck in old norms; that men has to be in one way and women in another way. When you sit down at the dinner table you can’t wear a cap and so on. All these norms are still here but we don’t live in the 90ts century any longer – it’s 2013 after all. I want next generation, they might be 4 or 5 years old right now, to grow up with other norms; they must be able to think outside the box and no one should find it weird. They should not look down on each other and not bully anyone for how they look or what they want to do, ’cause it’s natural to do whatever you want and look however you want.
Interviewer: Did you experience troubles yourself for having an odd appearance when you were a child?
YOHIO: Yes, I began to wear makeup when I studied in 6th grade. Now I only put makeup on when I’m an artist on stage, but back then I had no other means to express myself but to do it everyday at school, ’cause that was where people saw me. I got a lot of negative comments by people who went to that school. Mostly elder students from 8th and 9th grade.
Interviewer: What did they say?
YOHIO: They called me gay, emo, homo… everything possible. I’m not homosexual. I don’t think sexuality has anything to do with appearance. I didn’t care. I mostly thought that they was narrow-minded and that I pitied them. But I was never harmed by their words. But there are people who get really bullied, even physically, and in that case it’s hard to ignore ’cause they get really hurt.
Interviewer: What do you want to say to those who get bullied in school?
YOHIO: If it’s not too serious, if it’s only verbal, so try to ignore it. If anyone comments you, just smile and walk away. Or just say: “Well, that’s what you think, but I don’t.” If it’s physical violance and if the person gets abused, if it’s really serious, then you must report to the police. Some doesn’t dare to and I have seen it myself; people I know that don’t dare to report to the police ’cause they think that things will get even worse if the bullies finds out about it. But if the bullies have done something that awful, then they will get punished for that. They will end up on borstal or jail, depending on their age. Then the bullies will be gone. And if they do anything again, in revenge, they will get even harder punishment. It’s good to report to the police if it’s serious.
Interviewer: Do you think that bullies have a responsibility even if they are only 10 years old?
YOHIO: Yes. Bullies are usually not happy. You don’t bully just like that. In that case I could be a bully myself if it was a normal state of mind, but it isn’t. Bullies usually have problems at home, or they have been bullied themselves and want to get rid of their anger somehow. It can be based on anything. But they do have a responsibility for what they are doing and some bullies bully for a while and then they realise that they have done wrong and become nice again. But those who bully for a long time, they need to think, ’cause you can really harm other people. They need to think about what it would feel like if someone else did the same thing to them.
Interviewer: Your “oddness” is based a lot on your clothes and your hairstyle and if you look at how boys and girls dress themselves here in Sweden, it seem to be much more homogenous among boys. The girls have a greater selection. They can wear a skirt, they can wear pants and they can use all kinds of colors. And if you enter a clothing store for children, there’s a lot of glitter at the girls’ department while there are more dull colors at the boys’ department. Do you think there’s any room for boys to express themselves via their clothes and looks?
– Well, it’s all in this norm issue that guys must be in a certain way like always. Girls can have jeans and pants. That doesn’t matter and noone raises their eyebrows for that, while boys can’t wear skirt or dresses or any color they want, ’cause it might not be manly enough. So the border between feminine and masculine is very big. It’s really strict here in the western world. Girls have a little bit more space and can do what they want. Then there’s of course things that appear odd among girls too. But in the current situation it’s a bit harder for boys.
Interviewer: Is this a problem for boys?
YOHIO: I think so, ’cause there are many boys who want to look different, but they don’t dare too, ’cause they are not allowed to. And there is not the same amount of choices. Maybe there’s no clothes on the guys’ department that they like and they don’t dare to shop from the girls’ department ’cause people might tease them or maybe it’s just a principal they have since it’s “girl’s clothing”. Me on the other hand, when I shop clothes at H&M, Åhlens, or whatever, I usually go to the girls’ department since it have clothes that suits me. I don’t think there should be a girls’ or boys’ department. There should be a “clothing department” where you can choose whatever you feel like. Otherwise it’s the stores that decide what is manly or girly.
Interviewer: Do you think that clothes is important for expressing your personality.
YOHIO: It is for many people. To me it’s important. Otherwise I wouldn’t do what I do. Some people doesn’t care at all and it can be both boys and girls. In that case it doesn’t matter. But if you find it important to express yourself via your look, then you must be able to do so. There shouldn’t be any limitations. If you’re a boy, you can wear anything. if you’re a girl, you can wear anything.
Interviewer: It’s the same thing with jewelry and makeup. Girls have more nice things to choose from, like pears and barrets and jewelry. Boys on the other hand does not have the same supply. Do you think that is a problem?
YOHIO: Yes, as you said, there aren’t that much accessories for boys. I just wear accessories on stage. It can be rings and bracelets and such. I usually buy that at the girls’ department. If you’re a guy and want to buy a lot of rings and accessories, there isn’t much to choose from.
Interviewer: So you recommend the boys in this country to walk to the girls’ department at H&M and pick and choose?
YOHIO: If they feel like that; yes exactly.
Interviewer: Sometime you indicate that it’s more strict here in the west in comparasion to Japan which in one way is your second home. Is that so?
YOHIO: If you take a look at people on the streets in Stockholm, and now I talk about both genders, then they all look the same. Girls looks the same as well, even though they have much more to choose from. And guys also look th same way, usually. It’s not many that attracts attention. On the other hand, on the streets of Tokyo, it’s hard to find people that look the same. You really have to try hard to find them. They have had such a strict society for so long and been kept in their little world, seperated from the world around them. Now when the society is much more open, it has almost become the opposite. I mean that Japaneses have much more extreme clothing, and especially teens on Sundays when they don’t need to wear school uniform. All Japaneses have uniform in school where they look exactly the same. On Sundays they need to express themselves, ’cause they aren’t allowed to in school, and gets really odd looking. That’s how the Visual Kei culture blossomed during the middle of the 80s, ’cause suddenly they were allowed to.
Interviewer: A short question; do you look different in Japan.
YOHIO: Within my genre, no, but on the street, yes.
Interviewer: A big thanks YOHIO for coming here.
YOHIO: Thank you very much.
Categories: YOHIO / Yohio