Dressing Up As a Marshmallow Girl in Tokyo by Tiffany Lim

Hi! I’m Tiffany, or Tifa for short, and despite being often mistaken for Japanese,

I’m actually from the Philippines. (-‿◦☀)

I moved to Tokyo last year for grad school, and am currently taking up Interdisciplinary Information Studies. (A lot of people get the idea that this is an IT program, so let me clarify that this is actually more like a media studies program, with a very little bit of IT.) I’m graduating in September 2015, and until then, I’ll be doing my best to balance academics, part-time jobs, and leisure time, to make the most of my stay in Japan. This is my second time to live in Tokyo, after spending 5 months here from September 2009-January 2010 for a short-term exchange program.

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I’m not exactly slim, and, living in Manila, there were times when my appearance made me insecure, especially when I was younger and a lot chubbier. Aside from the rude remarks to my face, I felt that my clothing choices were severely limited, and so, I didn’t think that I could be fashionable. I mostly stuck to safe clothing choices like shirts and jeans.

However, the first time that I studied in Tokyo, I became a bit more conscious about fashion. It’s difficult not to, as people here don’t merely wear shirts and jeans/shorts – perhaps they may during the summer, but even then, people still usually dress more than the bare minimum. Even when it comes to everyday wear, the Japanese still seem to make even a bit of an effort to dress up. And besides, Japanese clothing really appealed to me. I found the colors and designs adorable, and I liked the use of lace and ruffles. I also like plaid patterns, which perfectly describes a lot of tops here. Despite some insecurities, I decided that trying a dress on wouldn’t hurt, and the rest is history.

I don’t know why, but even though I’m chubby, I can fit into Japanese clothes just fine. (Well, I’m pretty sure I can’t fit into all of them, but it still surprises me how I can walk into a shop and find that a lot of clothes fit me, and not just a certain few.) Perhaps it’s because many of the dresses/tops aren’t zippered, so they can accommodate a wider range of sizes.

It made me happy to find clothing that I liked and suited me. While I’m still no fashionista today (for one, I normally don’t wear makeup), and still have a lot to learn when it comes to coordinating and style, I’m no longer a mere shirt-and-jeans person. My style now is usually a dress or long top worn over leggings.

Lately, I’ve become interested in mori fashion. My favorite brand is Wonder Rocket, especially because it’s relatively affordable (by Japanese standards), with the average clothing there being about JPY2500-3900 (about PHP1125-1755). But since I’m not that well-off as a student, I tend to go for sale items, as prices can drop to as low as JPY1900 (about PHP855). If you’re particularly lucky, you might even catch some dresses or tops at JPY500 (about PHP225) – I managed to buy one dress at that price! I have yet to wear mori clothing that’s super loose and flowy, but maybe I’ll try one day. I’d say, though, that mori is worth looking into for the plus-sized, as the loose, flowy, layered clothing can hide your figure.

Here’s me in a coat from Wonder Rocket:

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Wearing kimono and yukata also has a slimming effect, as the obi tends to pull the waist in. I don’t wear kimono or yukata every day, but I like joining events that give me the opportunity to do so.

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As for swimsuits, there are also swimsuits targeted towards chubby women: they look more like cute tops than swimsuits, and they tend to be flowy or have ruffles, to draw attention away from one’s midsection.

More importantly, did you know that Japan has a magazine that caters to plus-sized women? It’s called La Farfa, and its writers were the ones who coined the term “marshmallow girl” to refer to plus-sized women.

It’s encouraging to hear that they’re trying to promote the idea that chubby women can be cute, beautiful, and fashionable, too. Looking through the magazine, you can see a lot of cute, nice plus-sized clothes, which I really appreciate. In the Philippines, the malls’ plus-sized sections tended to focus on business attire, so it was refreshing to see fashionable plus-sized clothing.

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The magazine has a street snaps section, and I was featured in one issue. (Please pardon the awkward expression, as I was happy to participate but was also feeling a bit self-conscious!)

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They once held a mini-fashion show, and it was nice to see the models strutting their stuff confidently.

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I’ve come to learn that I can dress up, too, without looking unflattering. I also appreciate how, even though people here dress well, no one’s been catty or rude enough to make side comments to my face or within earshot. People here just tend to mind their own business.

While I’m currently trying to lose more weight for health reasons, it’s been quite empowering to learn that being chubby doesn’t mean that I have to wear plain clothing all the time.

(~ ̄▽ ̄)~

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Article Contribution by Kawaii Marshmallow Girl Tiffany Lim

Illustration by Dolly Kaye

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  • Oz

    I can totally relate with you! I belong to the chubby (but cute! chubby but cute!) spectrum, and here in the Philippines, my style tends to lean towards loose clothes and boyish outfits. But when I visited Japan during Christmas, I found that my insecurities were nothing but just that: insecurities. I loved how I could wear dresses and shorts and didn’t have people judging me! That’s one of the many many things I love about Japan! Anyone can dress however they’d like. I can’t wait to go back! >V<