Recently I ran across this Audrey Magazine article about the new Japanese trend of calling plus-size or overweight girls ‘marshmallow girls’. (I think it’s a really cute name… It makes me think of pastel marshmallows and marshmallows ropes and things I want to hug…!) For once, we got to see some bigger girls in cute fashion magazines, and I thought they looked adorable!
In the November 20 edition of the fashion magazine la farfa VOL. 4 (published by Bunka-sha), a magazine targeted a plus-size Japanese women, they introduced Goto Seina in a new feature called “marshmallow girl”. La Farfa is the first plus-size Japanese fashion magazine and recently threw the first plus-size Japanese fashion show with readers models. In her blog, Goto Seina said about the new nickname: “Of course there will be different opinions — people who say ‘you’re a pig’ or ‘you’re a fatty’, but for me, [marshmallow girl] makes me really happy”.
Particularly refreshing is the above cute image of Goto Seina wearing the same tiny shorts and thigh highs look that is popular for thin Japanese girls (Though… Puffy coats and tiny shorts still aren’t practical for winter, Tokyo… In New England we have this thing called snow, see.) I was pleased that they didn’t try to put her in something to ‘cover’, ‘flatter’, ‘minimize’, or other code words for hiding her shape.
It was also nice to see a cute style face that wasn’t all about emphasizing her V-line, the Asian term for a sharper jaw which has become very popular. Round faces can be cute, too. Goto Seina’s marshmallow girl selfie game proves that well! Below, she poses with a giant blow up of La Farfa magazine.
Lately I’ve also seen several people use the term “Japanese girl skinny” when they reference tiny figures, as though plus size Asian girls don’t exist. The media presents the ideal small girl as the Japanese average, when really there are plenty of girls in Japan and other East Asian countries who aren’t all size 0s. Most of our exposure to Japanese culture comes indirectly from media like magazines and books, giving the West a skewed representation of Japanese bodies. Just like our fashion magazines prefer tall thin blondes and enforces that stereotype abroad!
Noel Duan wrote this piece, Fat for an Asian Girl, on xojane which I thought was particularly enlightening about the extra pressure from Asian culture. Like lolita, the personal is political and featuring a chubby Asian girl in a magazine not only fosters feminism and body acceptance for all sizes, it’s a bold counterculture decision. Now all we need are more chubby and plus-size Asian models besides Seina!
Changing the language may seem like a small step towards sending positive love towards chubby girls, but the words and connotations we use shape our perception. I hope we see more of Seina soon, and hopefully she brings some marshmallow friends with her!