Girl Talk · Lifestyle · Travel

Thoughts while Living Abroad: Body Positivity

Body Positivity

By: Jasmin Anderson


Thanks to Kaldi, an international food store popular in Japan, I sat down to a rather robust Tex-Mex meal last week. There were pork chops marinated in salsa verde and lime, slowly simmered black beans and chorizo, crispy corn tortillas, an avocado cream, and some way over-priced cilantro and some charred cherry tomatoes for garnish. I was more than satiated after consuming a slightly-larger-than-average serving….but then there were the leftovers. Now a sane person would have waddled over to the kitchen and Tupperware them them to be conquered tomorrow, perhaps for breakfast with an over-easy egg on top. You can guess that that is not what happened. In my defense my Tupperware was dirty, so like, what, am I supposed to wash it just to get it dirty again with my leftovers, and then wash it AGAIN tomorrow? I think not.

So now positively bursting with a south of the border food baby, I began reviewing articles for tomorrow’s conversation class. And whadda ya know, it’s about the diets of Japanese women and how they are on average some of the trimmest little ladies in the world. Well la di da, for them. Some of us (me) have no self control, and didn’t want to wash her Tupperware! I quickly abandoned reviewing the article and wandered down a dark internet hole.

I remembered watching a Buzz feed video about the prevalence of plastic surgery in Korea. And living here in Japan, Korea is just a hop, skip, and a jump away, and awfully cheap to travel to. On a whim I just wanted to see how much liposuction is. Guys. It’s not that expensive. I caught myself absent-mindedly budgeting out the cost of the surgery, travel, and the hospital stay. Was I actually considering getting a completely unnecessary and superficial procedure, that would yield the same results as a little diet and exercise? In hindsight, I’d like to say ‘Ha! Of course not, these were the rambling internet searches of a food-addled brain. Pish posh!’ But honestly, at the time, it seemed so easy. So plausible. A little nip tuck never hurt nobody, right? (Wrong. Super wrong. I’ve watched E!’s ‘Botched.’ I know some things about some stuff.)

Photo Credit: Find Your Beauty.Com

It wasn’t just my temporarily bulgy stomach that brought this on. Living in the countryside of an already very homogeneous country, I typically don’t see a lot of diversity. This is to be expected, I know. But I guess it was taking a toll on my psyche. Being 5 foot 2, and 120 pounds is considered fairly petite in the States. And even in European countries, I was decidedly average size wise. But here only the largest shoes and clothes fit me. (It reminded of my first time shopping in American Apparel , where I can barely stuff myself into an extra-large).

Me on the right circa 2015

Now I know I am never going to ‘fit in’ physically here in Japan. I’m black, have a head full of tightly spiraled curls and kinks, and have yet to find a pair of pants that account for an ass. I know I won’t ever have curtains of jet black hair, (even if I bought some, who would sew it in for me?) or a thigh gap (sometimes if I stand real pigeon toed, you can see a wee tiny bit of space), or a waist that looks like it’s spent years in a corset. And guess what? That’s ok.


It seems as if the waves of body positivity have not yet hit the shores of Japan, and maybe they never will. The J.Lo curves, or Ronda Rousey muscles, or general Nicki Minaj thickness are not the norm, nor are they celebrated. And that means the next time the food baby blues hits, instead of googling the price of fat sucking in Korea, I’m going to shake, jiggle, and wiggle (some people call it dancing) around to some India Ari circa Video until I feel happy with myself again. Could I be fitter? Sure. But if I do decide to tighten up, it should be because I want to. Not because Uniq Lo doesn’t make pants in my size.

As women, it is so easy to fall down the rabbit hole of comparing our bodies with that of the majority in any country we live in. Living in a country where a certain aesthetic is more pleasing than your own can leave you second guessing your own beauty. In those times of fleeting bouts of insecurity remember to love the skin that you are in. Who you are on the inside shines brighter than who you are on the outside. In a world where superficiality is celebrated remember to stay positive about YOU.

Photo Credit: New Foundation.Org

20 thoughts on “Thoughts while Living Abroad: Body Positivity

  1. I love this!! I was actually googling some cosmetic procedures in Korea the other day and I’m currently in the US LOL I’ve never lived abroad, but I imagine that it must be hard to be in a homogeneous society. So I love your positive message embracing you for you! Thank you for this! 🙂

    Happy International Women’s Day!


  2. I love this post! I still struggle with body issues. I thought as I got older, had a baby I should be wiser but the media makes you think you are never enough!

    I have good days where I feel strong and confident and days where I beat myself up. I just have to remind myself that what’s inside me- a compassionate and kind person matters more!


  3. It is easy to get caught up in what the ideal body type is, but the truth is we all have something to offer and are all uniquely made. Thank you for sharing your experience and research with us about body positivity!


  4. Thanks for the article. Body image is a huge problem in today’s lifestyle. Well done putting a story together about it.


  5. Wow such a powerful article and so important. If I am honest I don’t generally worry about my body, it’s everything else I worry about!!! But completely understand the importance of this so excellent. 🙂


  6. This is such a great post, and important message. What a fun photo of you & your friend jumping in the street! There can be a lot of pressure out there about body image, but we are all beautiful in our own way.


  7. Love your style of writing! Very real, and easy to identify with. Body image is certainly a huge issue in our world now. I can definitely sympathize with living in a country in which you don’t ‘fit in’ with the standard appearance!


  8. I’ve never been to Japan but I’ve often heard that trying to buy clothes as an American is extremely challenging. A friend of mine from college taught English in South Korean for a couple of years and had to order all her clothes from overseas because she couldn’t find anything that fit. Thank you for sharing.


  9. I love this post. Many girls and women as well struggle with body issues. From complexion and fats to stretch marks and weight, body shaming doesn’t just harm an individual physically but also mentally. Everyone is born unique and we should just celebrate our bodies and be proud for who we are rather than how we look.


  10. Every time I visit Hong Kong, my home town, I’m told I’m tall and need to wear large sizes. I’m a size 8 and of average/ short height in England lol. I’ve learnt to ignore those comments and just embrace what I am and what I have 🙂


  11. A beautiful article with such a positive message. I love each word you said n this post. I feel each woman is beautiful in her own size, shape, and form. But our society still needs to learn so much about it. Thanks for writing this up.


  12. Such a positive message! It’s sad that so many feel that they’re not conforming enough. Since having kids I will never be the same and I am still dealing with it. Your post is a reminder that it doesn’t really matter.


  13. I so love this post of yours. It is very timely since we recently celebrated International Women’s Day as well. I must say that coming from Asia, people here are so obsessed with being not thin, but skinny. Not only media influences this, but even commerce. Why is it not common to have curvy mannequins and models of clothes?


  14. Thanks to the life that you are not all the same, everyone is beautiful in their own way. Unfortunately, a lot of people can’t be happy with their body not because they don’t like but because what the other people think. The best thing in to be happy about body and everything doesn’t give a shi* to what the other people think 😀


  15. I LOVED this! I’m always intrigued by articles on body image and body positivity, and it was interesting hearing your perspective while abroad. It’s amazing how beauty standards can change between cultures…and equally amazing (and scary) how the pressure to fit them remains the same.


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