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My English Club has been obsessed with dancing lately. It started when they said they wanted to learn a simple dance, and I suggested “The Cupid Shuffle” and “The Cha Cha Slide” because it just doesn’t get any easier than dancing to songs that give you directions. They learned these and remixed the Cupid Shuffle quite a bit. They then taught these dances to junior high school students at this year’s Open Campus.

After that came the Halloween party. When the club captain was told that throwing pies at people was out of the question, she turned to me once again for a dance. Of course I suggested the “Thriller” dance, and the club members had a blast “dancing with Michael.”

Now that that’s done, they turned to the next thing: preparing for the next culture festival. Since they want to sing and dance, they figured they’d start practicing early. This time, the inspiration is the 2007 movie Hairspray. Specifically, the song “Welcome to the 60s.”

As this scene takes place in what would now be called a “plus size” store, Mr. Pinky’s Hefty Hideaway, I found myself explaining what “hefty” and “hideaway” meant, and why the store in the movie is called that. I told them that even when I was a growing up department stores tended to put their plus size sections in the back, far from the main entrance, and that there were few shops that sold larger clothes. But even as I said that, I wondered if the club members were getting the impression that now shopping for larger sizes was easy and that being fat wasn’t frowned upon by a lot of people.

Interestingly, this all was going on around the same time I was discovering more of the “big size” specialty shops on Rakuten. The Japanese Amazon is completely useless for plus size clothes, but Rakuten’s specialty shops are well organized and often have detailed sizing AND dimension info per garment in centimeters, not made up vanity sizes that mean who the hell knows what. The only bad thing about these online shops are the models.

Is this really a “big size” specialty shop?

Fashion-wise, the above shop, Gold Japan, is my favorite. A bit pricier than the shop Queen which I had mostly been using before, but the quality of the garments is also higher, so I think it’s worth it. But these models, I think, don’t look like they would be considered “big” even by Japanese standards. Well, some of them seem taller than average, but otherwise too little for the clothes they’re selling. (That is to say, the garments often aren’t even offered in the smaller size the model must be.) It doesn’t bother me that there aren’t plus size brick & mortar shops in Japan; there isn’t a big enough market here for such stores. (No pun intended.) But it is a little disappointing that even online plus size specialty shops use only thin models. Not only because it feels like a slap in the face, but also because then it becomes harder to know if the garment will look the same way on me as it does on the model.

Great piece, but what if you’ve got more sand in your hourglass than the model?

I’ve gotten pretty good at picking the right size by measuring myself, measuring garments I already have that fit me well, and taking into account what fit the garment is supposed to have (e.g., if it’s something that’s meant to be worn big as was extremely popular here back in 2009-2010, I actually order it one size smaller than usual as wearing baggy clothes usually isn’t flattering on a bigger body). But as with the shirt above, it’s harder to tell. If the top of the black part of the shirt ends up at the bust line it can be a good look, but if it’s in the center of the breasts you end up with button nipples.

Sometimes in the shop Queen I’ll find clothing modeled by a woman who looks to be just a wee bit bigger than what’s considered fashionable in Japan–but her face is always cropped out. From what I can see of her face I think it’s the same woman in all the shots where the face is obscured.

Mystery Model

I assume this was done with the model’s permission, if not by specific request. Given the pressure to be thin, especially in Japan, I wouldn’t be surprised if bigger women would be ashamed to publicly model plus size clothes. Then again, who knows, maybe plus size Japanese women prefer to shop with thin models.

From Ashley Stewart’s site, for the sake of comparison. It’s not so hard to sell plus size clothing with plus size models, is it?

おまけ!

An article I came across and the inappropriate ad to the right. *Headkotatsu*

FAIL Mercedes Benz, FAIL

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