Many of us have an impression that Japanese girls are slim and petite (which many of them really are), but one of the sad truths behind their stick-thin figures is a rather serious case of discrimination from society. While voluptuous women are popular in certain parts of the world, being even slightly chubby (not …
Sizism in Japan is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Here in the states, I often feel excluded when I try to go shopping because traditional plus sizes are too big for me and “regular” brands often don’t go up to my size. I exist in a grey zone which makes it hard to shop (and my height makes it worse). I’m a size 12-14 in most US brands, but it varies widely and at 5’11” most things like pants are hard to find not completely flood. Even so, I will take what I can get.
But while I was living in Japan, next to NO clothing fit me. I would seek out shops that carried size 4XL so that I could buy pants or a skirt that fit and flattered me. Lots of clothing is really flexible in size, with shirring or elastic waists that stretch a lot, but even so I was pretty much S.O.L at any given store. Most mainstream, accessible brands only carry “Free/F” size (like in the shops I frequented), and it really got me down about my body type.
But honestly, coming back to America and not being catered here to feels worse! In Japan, when I had to come back from a dressing room and apologetically tell the shop keeper than my selection was too small, they always chocked it up to being a foreigner and would even say “You are so tall and curvy, how lucky!” My being different and LITERALLY not fitting in was not only accepted, but to a certain extent it was expected of me. In the states, when I say the same, I often get reproachful glances or if I ask for a bigger size, they might reply “Sorry, that’s the biggest we carry.” It’s much harder to take knowing that my own people and the clothing industry doesn’t believe my body type is common/worthy enough to produce clothing for.
The “Marshmallow Girls” in this article are TOPS a US size 8-10. They’re usually very petite and even incredibly cute/sexy by our standards here, and would have no trouble finding and fitting into cute clothes at any shop in the states… But in Japan, their entire society has made it hard for them to love their bodies because most brands lack sizes that aren’t “free” and when something is “one size fits all” but that doesn’t include you, it’s incredibly alienating. Even more so than being told that you are slightly bigger than the biggest person they can accommodate, being singled out as so abnormal that literally everyone else can fit into one size when you can’t is incredibly painful.
Ultimately, I hope that more Japanese brands will open up to sizing at least S-L and even XL for the sake of the curvier girls of Japan. The issue isn’t about health, it’s about perception of beauty and it’s all relative.
And now I will end this rant by shouting a big EFF YOU to the person who wrote this article for saying “And there’s more to a girl than a model-like figure. I personally know a few chubby ladies who are charming, talented and have exuberant personalities.”
Is it really so hard to understand that beautiful and thin are not mutually exclusive? You don’t need to try and justify your appreciation for a fat person because of their personality alone — they are beautiful physically as well and it’s people who say things like that who really hold the biases that are most harmful to the chubbier people of the world.
Beauty is a matter of personal preference, and I’m tired of having to feel bad about myself just because I am closer to someone else’s ideal than the ideal magazines and hollywood have photoshopped and force fed the masses to believe is best. I hope the girls in this article understand and feel that way too.
Yeah, this exists in a lot of other countries too. I’m Korean-American and the last time I visited Korea, I was probably a size 8 and 5’10 and it was difficult to find clothes large enough to buy. Partly why I haven’t been back in 5 years. :/