Thursday, September 10, 2009
Fat Bottomed Girls Really Do Make The Rockin' World Go Round
It's hard to be a fat bottomed girl in Japan. If the commercials where stick thin girls wear voluminous dresses doesn't make you want to throw something at your t.v., the shopping will. Here in Japan, the home of fashion capital Tokyo, where a large size is a medium in America, I went shopping for pants for school.. and all hell broke loose. Picture it, Nagasaki city, famous around the world, Mecca for tourists, the home of YouMeSaito- well known shopping mall with three levels of shopping all under one roof. And I can't find one pair of pants.. or a shirt.. or shoes. I am the antithesis of everything Japan. I am not small, petite, girly, goth, lolita, businesswoman, or mom. And it seems here, if you are not one of those, you don't belong. Can you imagine- I never felt that way in American-(coff,coff- excuse the cough,folks, had something stuck in my throat- feels like sarcasm). I am definitely used to not being the norm-but here it felt like more than that. It was like everything I am; big, black, sometimes bold (not often enough sometimes), was somehow offensive here. I could feel myself trying to be smaller, quieter-less me. Around the island, I noticed that I smiled less, and talked less, and excused myself more than I ever have before- a fact that I'm not comfortable with in review. It's the Japan effect. They have a saying here-"the nail that stands up, gets hammered down." Japan is a society where people try their best not to stand out, to draw attention to themselves. The homogeneity of their culture is a strength...for them. It makes everyone equal- no one feels less, because someone else is a success. The success of the team is success for all. But I am not one of the team- and never will be. I am "gaijin"-foreigner ( a rather rude term for foreigner, by the way. In politically correct terms, I am America-jin- an American. )But by my nature, and presence I am not and cannot be Japanese. Which made me the "nail"- and the atmosphere of Japan really was beginning to hammer me down. Until, back at the mall- a discovery. A shop called Bitter Syrup- which ironically enough is also called XL- as in extra large. It's a retail shop that caters to women who aren't the typical Japanese size- meaning normal like the rest of us. How appropriate for me, I thought. At this point, I felt mentally larger than ever, like my skin didn't fit, and I was definitely feeling bitter about the shopping(less) situation. But then I found- Glory, Hallelujah!- pants! In fact I found three pairs of pants, and shirts and..well, not undies. That's a problem for another day. But all of a sudden I could buy clothes and dress like a professional. There's a biblical verse which talks about "putting on the whole armor of God." Well, when I found those pants- I about did a jig-singing, appropriately enough Fat Bottomed Girls, You Make The Rockin' World Go Round- (my school plays Queen during cleaning time so it had been in my head for days- go figure). If I may be stereotypical, I am a girl and if I can't have diamonds ('cause diamonds are a girl's best friend, you know) at least let me have clothes. Clothes that fit my figure, and make me feel like an adult, and less like a student in hand me downs. Cloths that make me feel feminine- and less like an American freak- (and since all of the men here have stereotyped American women as aggressive, I have not been feeling the love). Clothes that remind me that, I although I don't fit the Japanese mold-- I don't have to. I needed a physical reminder that, with the right clothes and attitude, the world will mold itself to me. So while it seems like a small accomplishment, I count finding those pants a victory- that I can overcome the world's perception of me.. and my own. That I can remember in the worst times that I have something to offer- and if there is more of me, that that is all to the good. That being large and in charge, and standing out, is not the worst punishment in the world, but a blessing given to few- to be more than just a member of the masses. Consider me the biggest nail in Japan- they will not hammer me down. Picture me in new pants, dancing. I have decided that I will be a bold, aggressive American. One who struts her way through town, wears sunglasses like Princess Di, and heels that make her three feet taller than everyone else in town. And one who knows that fat bottomed girls really do make the rockin' world go round.