Breathe in and Zip
The first time I went shopping in Japan, I thought I kept wandering into the children’s department by accident. I stumbled across size 22 jeans and figured they were for teenyboppers, but apparently fully-grown women really are that small there. It’s like living amongst The Borrowers.
I’m a regular sized chick; 5’9” 140 pounds. I have these things called ‘hips’, which are apparently unheard of in Japan. Japanese women, beautiful as they are, tend to have the bodies of twelve year old boys. Luckily, I don’t have any body issues, I’m happy the way I am, but it would’ve been quite easy for me to feel obese in that nation of Twiggies.
Not being able to buy clothes there wouldn’t have bothered me so much if the clothes weren’t so damn nice. Tokyo is, by far, the most fashionable city on earth, streaks ahead of London, Paris or anywhere else that matters. Everyone there has a built in sense of style, from the Harajuku girls with their verging-on-comical costumes, to the designer divas of Ginza. Virtually every woman you see has a designer handbag; Dior, Fendi, Prada, Gucci, Louis – all so common there they’d throw their laundry in them. I never saw a badly dressed person there. I kept hoping I’d see someone break out a shell suit to throw everyone off, but it never happened.
As a ‘big girl’, shopping in Tokyo is a cruel form of torture. Occasionally, if I searched hard enough, I could find a top that could contain my swimmers shoulders, but anything for the bottom half was pretty much a no-no. I once tried on a pair of trousers in one uber-trendy Shibuya store, but I couldn’t even get one butt cheek in them. Handing them back to the assistant, she said in her broken English “Ahh, you’re too big!” with a slight smirk. I gave her a polite smile and thought about the day she’d be giving birth. Bet you wish you had my childbearing hips now don’t you, bitch?!
Another store, where I was being forced by the sales assistant to try things on, despite me trying to explain that I was too big for anything in the store, she actually resorted to getting me men’s jeans to try on. That’s not embarrassing at all. The only store where clothes fit was Zara. I wasn’t a big fan before I went to Japan, but I single handedly kept that store afloat while I was there.
What’s crazy is that as tiny as Japanese women are, they have all the same body issues as western women. I lost count of the number of women I knew on diets and various weight loss programs. When I was younger, I hated how I was taller and a bigger size than all my friends. These days, I’m happy to have hips and not just hip bones. I have an actual stomach, as opposed to a concave space between my chest and pelvis. I embrace my lovely lady humps for better or worse!
So, if you ever find yourself shopping in Tokyo, don’t lose sight of the fact that you are a normal sized person. Forget the ‘I’ll just lose a couple of pounds’ culture, love your curves and take your fat ass to Zara.