Monday, 15 February 2010

Mayu Endo, Miss Universe Japan 2000

In April or May 2000, the owner of Tokyo Journal, Dr. Stephan Hauser, asked me to do an article on Mayu Endo, the new Miss Universe Japan. As Hauser was desperately trying to sell advertising space, he also roped in Dr. Andy Wong, a skin care specialist, who had treated Ms. Endo's skin. This made the interview a three-cornered affair with Dr. Andy occupying an interesting intermediate role between interviewer and interviewee. Hauser's hope was that Wong would be so flattered by the experience that he would gladly start advertising in our magazine. Needless to say, this underpowered scheme by the crafty German didn't quite work out. Quite satisfied with the free exposure he got through the article, Dr. Andy sensibly decided to advertise elsewhere.

CBL: Why do you think you were chosen to be Miss Universe Japan?

MAYU: This is something I heard afterwards. That I wasn’t even in the top five until I started speaking. Before the pageant I had 20 days together with the other 20 finalists. The more I spoke to them, the more I saw each girl’s allure. Some girls had the perfect body, some the perfect inside, some the perfect intelligence... It’s not like I became the top out of everybody, but I think its something we built up together. I got a lot of tactics to be Miss Universe Japan during those 20 days, because I learned so much from them. That was one of the reasons I won.

Dr. ANDY: I was first invited to the pre-party at Yokohama, the first time that me and my staff saw you, and all of a sudden we said number four will be the winner. You were number four, right?

MAYU: Oh my goodness!

Dr. ANDY: It’s because she’s well-balanced, has beauty and intelligence, and a vision of a borderless future, so she’s the right person to represent Japan. Notice her sense of ease and grace. It’s because you spent so many years overseas, Mayu, and you understand the different ideas of beauty between East and West.

MAYU: I think an important difference is the idea of healthiness, with the beauty coming from the inside out, not from covering the outside in. So, it’s very important to have the kind of treatment Doctor Andy does, to make the skin itself better instead of covering it up with make up. I think Asian beauty tends to be more in the way of covering up, but I think we have to consider all things together: what we eat, what we do, exercise, what our habits are, our daily life, as well as how to get good treatments before we start searching for make up goods.

Dr. ANDY: How do you understand the treatment I’m giving to all my patients here?

MAYU: It’s really very medical. You revitalize from inside, bringing up the energy of the skin so the beauty comes from inside.

Dr. ANDY: From every cell, because we tackle the biochemistry, the anatomy, the physiology of every cell. Every skin cell is one life. What I’m doing is aesthetic dermatology, which is an advanced form of cosmetic surgery where effectively we do facelifts, rejuvenate the skin, and resurface the skin without using a scalpel. We believe that if the skin is damaged even if you do an operation it won’t last long. It will just come down again. We use micro-derma abrasion which is popular in Europe. Actually, I learned it from Italy back in 1988. We exfoliate a layer of the most superficial part of the common strata of the epidermis and then apply the skin lotions and vitamins directly to the skin and it gets down there.

CBL: Micro-derma abrasion, how does that work?

Dr. ANDY: It is pressure and suction of 100-micron crystals hitting the skin at a certain angle, exfoliating the cell then sucking the dirt from the cell; always under micro stimulation.

CBL: A little like a shampoo vacuum cleaner.

Dr. ANDY: Yes, that’s right. So, we rejuvenate the skin by giving it the natural essential ingredients. After the skin is rejuvenated, then you get your elasticity back, then we decide if you need an operation or not. In most of the cases an operation is not indicated. So, Mayu, how does it feel on the skin?

MAYU: At first, because I wasn’t used to it, I felt first that it was crushing my skin, the very old cells. But it is more important to build up the skin that to maintain it. Now with my new skin, I have to take care of it with special make up.

Dr. ANDY: The medical cosmetics.

MAYU: That’s right. I realize that the treatment is the most important, more than the peeling. People always talk about the peeling, but I think that the aftercare is the most important.

CBL: Was the treatment painful when you first tried it?

MAYU: It wasn’t really painful. It was more like ticklish. It felt like cats’ paws. But after the treatment I used the products that Doctor Andy offered to me, and I also try to be careful what make up I put on. Anyway after two weeks of treatment, it’s getting much better than before.

CBL: I can’t help noticing that you have a very nice suntan. Earlier Dr Andy was saying that he never goes out in the sun. He’s afraid of the sunlight.

Dr. ANDY: Well, yes, because I want to look young.

CBL: When he said that, it sounded like Dracula to me.

Dr. ANDY: I should have opened the blinds.

MAYU: He said that to you?

CBL: Yes, that the Sun was his enemy.

Dr. ANDY: Speaking of the Sun, when are you going to Cyprus?

MAYU: On the 20th. I'm very, very excited. I have a very dark skin because I do various sports all through the year. I think I'm pretty ready now. I was just in New York and I met the other delegates, so I know how it's going to be, who I'm going to meet, and the atmosphere.

CBL: The delegates?! It sounds like a diplomatic conference, or the United Nations.

MAYU [laughs]: That's true. I'm never called Mayu anymore, I'm called Japan because it's the least confusing way and we don’t want to mispronounce the girls' names. I got to know some of the girls very closely already, but 85 girls are going to be living together for 20 days and it’s going to be pretty confusing, so, whenever I have the sash on with Japan people will just call me Japan. Although it sounds political, I think it’s common sense.

CBL: Do you feel like you are really representing your country?

MAYU: Oh yes, because people are watching me. They ask me a lot of questions about Japan and they judge Japan through my attitude and what I say.

CBL: Japanese people especially seem very aware of themselves as a distinct nationality. Doesn't this make you feel stressed?

Dr. ANDY: That's what we are worried about because once you get the stress that usually affects the skin. It makes it more vulnerable to sunlight, sun damage, supplementary spots develop and dryness and wrinkles. And I have to take responsibility for that.

CBL: If you win, you'll have even more stress.

MAYU: Well, I should be honest and admit that I’m a little bit scared about being there with 85 women, but I know that there is a very good part of Japan that is very open-minded and which still has its own character because we are an island country and very much one race. I think this is a strength because now the world is getting smaller and people tend to be very similar like per se European countries. They try to maintain their cultures but it's getting more unicultural. Japan has a better chance of keeping something different, of carrying themselves in a unique way. I hope that we will find some unique beauty and originality.

CBL: Although you're obviously proud to be Japanese, you have features which are very attractive anywhere and, indeed, you look in some ways quite Western: you have a long face and your character, of course. You're not shy! What do you think about the different ideals of beauty between the Orient and the West? What's the difference?

MAYU: There are many differences like in Japan I am probably too talkative. People think its better to be silent and modest, rather than be outgoing and doing whatever you want. Because I studied in Europe and the States I know how society is different. But, also, because I was abroad I learned much more about Japan. When I was there living in different countries, I always felt like 'Oh my God, I'm so Japanese inside.'

CBL: Which European country were you in?

MAYU: I was in Denmark when I was 17 years old without knowing any words except, "Hi, my name is Mayu," and I lived there and went to school there for one year as part of an exchange program. I was also in Boston for one year, going to college. I will always have my base here in Japan and it'll never be replaced that's why I'm confident to represent Japan. Living overseas let me see different countries but it also helped me see Japan by the contrast.

CBL: Your English is very good for such a short time overseas.

MAYU [laughs]: I still need to brush up more.

CBL: Maybe I could I interest you in some half-price English lessons?

Dr. ANDY: I was surprised to know that Maya was one of the Rotary Foundation exchange students in her high school days. The Rotary Foundation choose the most brilliant students to represent their country as a civilian ambassador, so she has been an ambassador since she was 17 years old.

MAYU: And Dr Andy is a Rotarian, which I didn't know. The Rotary organization gives the students funds for one year and lets them choose which country they want to go to, and my choice was Denmark.

CBL: Why Denmark?

MAYU: Because one of my biggest dreams is to become an architect, and my mom used to be an architect. When I was little I would sneak into her room and look at all the interior design magazines and all the beautiful furniture was from Denmark, so that was my image. Also another reason I chose Denmark was because I wanted to be the normal height. I hated my height. I told my parents that even just one time in my life I wanted to feel normal with my height, so they said go to a Scandinavian country.

CBL: A lot of people say Orientals have better skin than Western people...

Dr. ANDY: I have written a book about this difference. Of our patients, 50% are Japanese, and we also have a black patient coming in today, as well as Indians, Indonesians, and people from all countries. Northern European skin is more sensitive and vulnerable to sunlight than Asian skin. There's a lot to say about it and I'm still doing research into skin care for different types of skin, so, Mayu, I hope that when you go to Cyprus you get some information from the delegates from other countries on how they keep their skin fit.

CBL: Suntans are a big topic nowadays, what with the gonguro, and gyakupanda fashions where young girls tan themselves to excess as part of a fashion. What do you think of this phenomenon?

Dr. ANDY: The message that it is harmful to the skin has not yet reached these young people. I’m afraid that when they are in their late 20s they will be sorry for that. Everybody knows about sun protector which protects against ultra violet (UV) rays. Most sunscreens that you have are for protection against UV-B, but UV-A is more penetrative. It travels through clouds and glas, and can affect you even indoors. Once it gets to your skin, it gets to the deep part, where it produces free radicals which are harmful to the entire architecture of the skin by breaking down the bonds between collagens, elastina and proteoglycans, and many biochemical properties inside the skin.

CBL: How about the conditions in Cyprus?

Dr. ANDY: It’s a beautiful country, but it’s the worst place in the Mediterranean with all the sunrays. Mayu, I believe your family’s going to go with you, right? Your parents?

CBL: Will you be staying with your parents?

MAYU: I will be sharing a room with another delegate I met when I went to New York recently, Miss Ukraine. We talked and clicked very well and decided to share a room.

CBL: When they get all these beautiful women in one place doesn’t that create problems, like driving accidents, etc?

MAYU: There are going to be guard men all the way. People who are coming to Cyprus to meet us can’t even see us except at certain times. Were going to have a curfew.

CBL: Doesn’t it feel strange?

MAYU: I feel like going back to being a high school student because we’re all together. We eat at the same time. Whether we want to be or not, we have to be happy and confident. It’s also similar to being in high school because we have to be ready when people ask questions. It think it’s very funny to be doing this when I’m 24.

CBL: So, it’s strictly no men allowed?

MAYU: Yes, I believe so. All the girls want to keep their best reputation. For 20 days we are good girls [laughs].

CBL: Dr Andy, you have to work with many beautiful ladies on a professional basis, of course, day in day out. If I was doing your job, and I had to do skin treatment on such a beautiful girl as Mayu my hands would shake. How do you stay calm and get that professional distance?

Dr. ANDY: Professional touch, professional heart, so I don’t get tense, I don’t get shaky hands.

CBL: It comes with practice?

Dr. ANDY: Yes.

CBL: A lot of practice?

MAYU: How many years does it take before you get this professional?

Dr. ANDY: It’s my secret. I can’t say anymore.

CBL: I know, it’s because he’s scared of his wife.

Dr. ANDY: I’m not married.

CBL: Mayu, Tokyo Journal has a lot of handsome male readers. I’m sure a lot of them would be interested in your idea of male attractiveness, male beauty.

MAYU: I think that health is the first thing [laughs]. Among Japanese people, women are starting to understand that health is connected to beauty, but Japanese men, compared to Western society, are more backward about health. They don’t really care what they eat. They drink a lot, smoke a lot.

CBL: So, you like healthy guys?

MAYU: Yes, guys who are healthy and know intelligently how to carry themselves, and how to make their own living. I’m not talking about guys like body builders.

CBL: I always heard it was sense of humour that girls liked.

MAYU: Oh really?

CBL: Healthy guys? That's still a little abstract. Could you maybe tell us which movie actors you like?

MAYU: I don't have any special preference.

CBL: So, you don't care for Tom Cruise?

MAYU: I see many celebrities and they each have their own style. I like the man who knows what is important in his life and has a strong style based on this intelligence, because we live only one time in our life and every single small choice is going to change our life.

CBL: That sounds very philosophical, but it wasn't a very philosophical question. Okay, then, how about DiCaprio, or my own countryman, Ewan McGregor?

MAYU: I like all of them, sorry.

CBL: You're so diplomatic!

Dr. ANDY: That's why she's the right person for this job.

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