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.)
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).
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.