I am an average size women. 5’3 and 123 lbs (160cm and 56kg). I’m rock in’ that Italian booty and hips my momma gave me. Back home, in America, I can find clothes in my size easily but living in Japan I feel fat! I have been told by Japanese doctors that I need to lose weight, and my Japanese friends have no issue calling me fat. When I go shopping, it’s nearly impossible to find anything in my size unless it stretches. Living and shopping in Japan can truly kill your confidence but you can work around it.
I was very skinny when I first moved to Japan because I had hurt my back and was unable to move for several months. My muscles atrophied and I was sickly looking when I looked at myself in the mirror. But somehow not a single doctor saw a problem and everyone thought I looked great. I could go into any Japanese women’s clothing store and fit into the clothes. But it wasn’t long before that quickly changed. Physical therapy helped me to get back on my feet and my muscles and weight normalized, giving me back my unescapable budonkadonk. Then reality hit me like a slock (sock with a lock in it, seen in Orange Is The New Black) and it hurts bad. I couldn’t get my butt in any pants that I liked or even the ones I didn’t like. My thighs wouldn’t fit in anything but men’s pants and men’s pants always leave me with a bulge in the front. The only places I could find pants that might fit me is Zara, uniqlo, and H&M. And at all of those places I am the largest size available and sometimes those sizes don’t even fit unless I get the stretch type. It truly left me feeling frustrated and obsessed with my weight. Unless you have Japanese tiny stick legs, no butt, and no thighs, you are not going to fit in any of the fashionable Japanese jeans or pants and maybe even the underwear like me.
Finding underwear that fits is another battle but the same war. In America I would wear small or medium sizes, even at stores like H&M. So when I went to the H&M stores here in Japan, I thought I would have no problem fitting in the M size panties. When I got home and put on my cute new underwear, the reality hit back again with the same slock. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me because panties are not cheap! The largest size that I could find was L and I tried it out for a while but those never fit right and I still had the four butt cheek thing happening. Eventually my wife told me uniqlo has XL sizes but online only. We ordered a bunch and finally I got the right fit for my tush, and my tush thanks me for it. Bras were never an issue however. I’m what you would call a pear shape. Not much on top but a lot on the bottom. A shape I never liked about myself however, buying tops and bras are not an issue for me here in Japan. But for my friends with the bigger lady lumps, I’ve been told finding bras that fit properly are a struggle and online shopping is better but not much better. Most of my experience is in the lady department, but I have been told that finding the right size for foreign guys is difficult as well. We all are shaped very differently than average Japanese men and women, but different IS sexy. Although, I didn’t feel very sexy when I went hat shopping.
I am not sure if it is common knowledge but Japanese have large heads. I don’t mean that metaphorically. The size of the average Japanese head is larger than the average size in Europe and America. I never noticed, it’s not carnival freak size large, just an average large size cap. However, they don’t make hats in my size, my head is considered the same size as Japanese toddlers. I felt like a freak with a small head and a big body. Like I was the one that belonged in the carnival freak show. I went hat shopping many times with my wife. At first it was hard to accept that my head was tiny but then it became a hilarious joke that we enjoyed together. It became a fun ritual for us to stop at a hat store and try out the hats on my hilariously small head every time we went out. We loved it and eventually we did find some that actually fit my head or had adjusters on the inside of the rim. It’s still a struggle but I embraced my freak.
The lessons I have learned from living and shopping in Japan as a non-Japanese are the following;
1) Unless I’m sickly skinny, I will never fit in small boutique Japanese women stores’ pants. Especially the non stretch variety. They are made for sticks not butts and hips!
2) Shop at American or European stores, UNIQlO, H&M, Zara…etc. but get the largest sizes available, and check on the online stores for larger sizes. Undies especially.
3) When visiting family in your hometown, always go shopping for some jeans and pants, and bras and panties, not just for snacks for friends.
4) My head is smaller than Japanese heads, who cares, embrace your freak!
5) And most importantly, You aren’t fat, you’re a gaijin!