Somehow I managed to make it all the way through puberty without body-image issues. Or, more specifically, weight related body-image issues.
With frizzy hair, bad acne, and braces I knew I wasn’t pretty, but I always kind of assumed my personality made up for it.
If I could just get the person alone and work my awkward “word magic” on them, there might be a chance of them actually liking me. Which sounds weird actually typing it out, but I swear it worked.
Still, by some miracle (and some excellent parenting), I never struggled with accepting my weight. I weighed what I weighed – and that was it. I don’t drink sugary drinks, exercise a couple times a week, and make sure to eat healthily. I never developed an eating disorder, try extreme dieting, or thought I was fat.
Moving to Japan changed that.
I had one of the lowest points last week, at a Levi’s at the Premium Outlets in Ibaraki (rural Japan).
And by “lowest points” I mean I curled up into a ball in the changing room and cried because it was the third store we had visited that afternoon and I couldn’t find a single pair of jeans that actually fit me.
At this Levi’s outlet store, the largest jean size they had on display was a size 25. Which is somewhere between a US size 2 and 4.
I grabbed a couple pairs of stretchy 25 jeans and hoped for the best. None of them fit.
Because I have a butt.
Embarrassed, I sent my husband off to ask if they had any bigger sizes on any of the jeans. He came back with a couple pairs of 26 (US size 6), one size 27, and one size 28 (US size 8).
After trying (and failing) with a couple of the pairs, I just… broke.
I was done.
Full on sobbing behind the tiny curtain in the Levi’s changing room. Because this was the third store we had been to (Forever 21 and another Japanese apparel shop) that didn’t have anything that went over my hips.
I’m so tired of always feeling fat, ugly, and out-of-place when I’m out in public. I don’t wear makeup enough (most companies in Japan require their female employees to wear makeup every single day). I’m loud. I’m not particularly graceful. I’m boyish. And apparently, by Japanese standards, I’m overweight too.
I’m tired of walking into a store and knowing that I probably can’t fit into 80% of the stuff on the racks because at 5’6 (168cm) and 125lbs (56 kg) I’m simply too large to wear all those “free size” shirts, dresses, and skirts in most apparel stores.
And if I’m being honest… I don’t think I could have survived in Japan for this long if I was single. I’m not a strong person. I’m not nearly as strong as you give me credit for.
I can look into the mirror every morning and be like “Hey beautiful, how you doing~?” but that only goes so far. I know it sounds horrible, but I also need a bit of outside validation. Thankfully, my husband is great at giving said outside validation.
I might live in a country where the majority of men thing I am boyish, loud, obnoxious, overweight, and/or ugly (and many of said men have vocalized those thoughts to either me or my husband) – but I’m married to rare breed who doesn’t. Whew.
But then on like the 10th pair of jeans I tried on at Levi’s I found one that fit over my hips.
And my butt.
So I bought two pairs of it – and cut one pair into shorts the next day at home.
Life got a little better. Now all I need is to be uber-careful and make those last another two years, so I don’t have to go jeans shopping again.
I still get overwhelmed sometimes, especially when I’m downtown in the uber-trendy places in Tokyo. But as I talked about in this comic, my husband likes my fashion style better.
And I like my butt.
It is a very pretty butt.
I refuse to let Japan give me (any more) body image issues. I’m freaking awesome the way I am, even if I can’t buy jeans in my size.