Canadian Anthropology Society (CASCA)
Oral Presentation Session
As is the case in most industrialized nations, female body ideals change dramatically over time. Throughout its long history, Japan has proved to be no different. From the post-WWII voluptuous womanly figure, to the prepubescent, flat-chested girliness of the 1970s and 1980s, to the current body ideal with nearly unattainable proportions achieved only with extensive aid from the booming weight-loss industry, Japanese women have struggled throughout history to achieve the “perfect” body. This paper focuses on plus-size, “potchari” women and Japan’s shift in body ideals over time. I present evidence of Japan’s burgeoning body-positive movement and analyze the current climate of female body image and societal perceptions of Japanese plus-size women. I highlight this theoretical analysis with my 2019 visual survey of plus-size fashion availability in Tokyo’s Shibuya fashion district as well as the present social media commodity discourse regarding plus-size Japanese models and plus-size clothing brands. This paper draws conclusions about female body identity, shifting women’s fashion markets, community-building, and shared struggle.