x - There is a kind of pretty boy other than bishonen that takes the androgyny thing to a whole new level. Girly boys or sissy boys look so feminine that they are in fact just like girls in appearance. More often than not, it's a fairy-like femininity that reminds you of the princesses and fairies of picture book stories. Once more, there are many of these 'sissies' to be found in Asian pop culture.
Now in the west we've had our share of androgynous metal bands in the 80s with glam bands like Poison, Cinderella or Whitesnake to name just a few. But, as far as femininity is concerned, they were nothing compared to some of the J-rock band members: These boys wear elaborate and colourful dresses with frilly petticoats or mini skirts with knee-length boots and suspenders, making them clear winners in any sissyboy contest.
What I find interesting is that it seems not only perfectly acceptable for boy band members to be feminized, but it's also loved by the fans. It's quite common for most visual kei bands in that part of the world to have at least one sissy member. Of course, everyone in that genre is heavily dressed up but those who I call girly boys are deliberately and intentionally feminized into a sissy. I wonder if they protest when their managers decide who gets to be the sissy. Some look so convincing that you can't believe it's a boy until you hear his voice.
How to tell if it’s a boy or a girl
There are some clues to look out for:
Favourite Girly Boys
Here are some examples from various j-rock bands and links to their official websites:
Shinya from Dir en grey
Bou from An Café
Mana-sama from Malice Mizer
What about the rest of the world?
Many people say that this girly boy popularity is just a local (in particular Japanese) cultural phenomenon but I think there's definitely more to it. In recent years the influence of this trend has started to spread to other continent. Bands like Tokio Hotel (see Bill Kaulitz) have begun to incorporate their own style of androgynous visual kei. The rapidly increasing popularity of such bands speaks for itself.
So it looks like we'll be seeing more sissy fashion among boys and men in the future. Nevertheless, I think girly boys will remain a small minority but that has a good side:
It stays special!