Being Fat in Japan
by Kevin R Burns
"Many Western residents - as well as anyone from abroad who has a long-time association with Japan - confess to having experienced yo-yoing between a love-hate relationship with the country they have chosen to stay in or remain deeply connected with. Although the extremity of the feeling depends on the individual, Japan is like a sea with a Western surface but hiding a mysterious and to the student - foreign - abyss."
--Yuko Kawanishi, "Mental Health Challenges Facing Contemporary Japanese Society, The `Lonely People`"
Being Fat in Japan
Being fat in Japan: the trials of being overweight in this slim conscious Asian nation.
In Japan, being fat remains noteworthy, something that makes you stand out in a shameful way in a conformist society. Even now, despite government statistics and anecdotal evidence that Japanese people are getting heavier, I can go days without seeing a single fat person in Tokyo.--David Nakamura, the Atlantic
In my wife`s family, her aunts are sometimes told they have gained weight by their brothers and sisters. Some interpret this as a kind of closeness. Japanese are very earthy people, and in some ways this can be nice.
However I wonder how many people feel when they are told that they are fat?
No one ever tells me I`m fat in Canada. My brothers I think have told me I could lose a few pounds which I agree with.
I hate being told I`m fat though, and it happens every
month or two in Japan. I am now trying to channel the anger I feel when this happens to spur me on to lose weight.
As I have aged (I am 47 now) I have put on weight and Japanese frequently tell me I am fat. Often it is told in a jokey kind of way but the message is clear: "You are fat."
Being Fat in Japan -- What do Japanese think is okay?
My Japanese wife Ikumi thinks it`s rude to tell someone you are fat, so she would never do it, however a friend of ours said today that it is okay to tell men they are fat, as a kind of joke, but you shouldn`t tell women this. I wonder how Japanese men feel when they are called fat or "jumbo," as in Jason Taisha`s video (link below)?
I don`t think many like it.
Perhaps they are being caring and perhaps they hope I will lose weight. Currently I am 6'2" and about 200 lbs. I know I can lose some weight too,I just don`t like hearing about it on the tennis court, at my children`s sports day, have my stomach pinched by a female nursing student at a party--and let`s be honest here, were I to do the same thing to her, I would be at risk of a sexual harassment charge.
Double standards abound.
Taisha Jason on Being Overweight in Japan
Taisha Jason talks about being overweight in Japan