by Ewa Nowogorski
Before you start laughing, I know, I know. I know these AFTER photos are clearly photoshopped, but I had to show them anyways. In the country of relatively short people, everyone looks smaller by default. And when everyone is small, there’s always pressure to be the smallest in the small bunch. Everyday and in every store, you will see ads for diets, and products that supposedly help you lose weight fast.
People who are thin are popular, and people who are fat are outcast and bullied. There are so few people who are overweight in Japan that overweight people stand out quite a bit. And society is constructed physically in a way that simply does not accommodate heavier people. Everything is smaller, from food portions to toilet stalls to train seats to homes. Everything is so narrow and so small that you really cannot be heavier than what is considered normal in order to be comfortable.
Weight is something that is very casually talked about and harsh words like “デブ” (fatso) are thrown around so easily, and it hurts people. SO many people have eating disorders in Japan because of this pressure to stay thin, and if you are not thin, to lose weight fast. People will starve, use food as a reward, and sometimes even binge and purge in order to keep themselves from gaining weight. But it’s accepted as normal, and many people drink alcohol exessively during binge sessions to help facilitate the later regurgitation. Japan is not a safe place to be for people who already have body image issues, or who are very self-conscious.