When I first moved to Kyushu I could fit into most Japanese clothes labelled “large”. I had subsequently gained a large amount of weight, and it is now very difficult to find clothes that fit me. While I thought that this was something of a “gaijin” problem, I’ve actually talked to a lot of Japanese women who also find it difficult to find clothes they like. There are “big size” speciality stores, which sell clothing that in Australia would be a “medium”, but they tend to carry floral monstrosities with unflattering frills and cheap lace. And diamantes. On everything. Fashionable clothing in larger sizes just doesn’t exist (at least not in my rural backwater). I’m not talking about seriously big sizes either; you need to go to a speciality store for an Australian 12 (US 8). Many regular stores don’t even stock a Japanese “L”, only XS, S and M. It isn’t just about size, either. Everything seems to be made for slender limbs and no curves. A teacher I work with told me a really sad story about taking her high school aged daughter shopping as a birthday treat. Her daughter is by no means overweight, but she has the proportions of her farming heritage: a stocky frame and sturdy, muscular limbs. She wanted a pair of jeans, but after trying half a dozen shops she couldn’t find a single pair that would fit over her thighs. The birthday treat turned sour and the deflated teenager told her mother that she didn’t want anything after all, and could they just go home please.
I’m pretty sure there is a fortune to be made in flattering, fashionable clothing in larger sizes in Japan. Someone should get on it.