Monday, May 01, 2006

FAT

Meandering through the 'hood in the sweltering heat typical of this time of year, I made a startling new discovery about my home town. Brace yourself: there are fat people in Tokyo. Maybe not Super Size Me Fat, but definitely not cut from the same triple-zero Gap Jeans cloth from which 95% of Tokyoites came a decade ago.

It shouldn't be that surprising to me that chubby people live here. I mean, I live here. I can't buy T-shirts in this town because the shoulders don't fit, and when I returned from college packing the freshman fifteen, I found to my dismay that J.Crew in Japan only imported items up to a size 6. It was like a national conspiracy to get me naked.

But it is surprising. It's shocking! I never saw fat people on the street before. Now, they're everywhere.

I guess the diet is changing, with all manner of American grease chains sprouting up on every street corner. (As disparaging as I sound, my favourite dining experience in Tokyo is KFC. Don't be thinking I'm some food snob. No amount of protesting by Pink will get me off the KFC.) But it's too easy to blame all the world's ills on America. I can't say that America doesn't make some hefty contributions to the cause. But the larding up of Japan isn't due solely to the recent emergence of Krispy Kreme, surely.

Besides, Japanese food can be just as deadly as any other. Perhaps more deadly than some, even, because it's just too good to stop. One thing I never understood was how Japanese cuisine ended up with this "healthy, low-calorie, heart-friendly" rep. I remember when sushi was suddenly the craze, and people were like, "No wonder Japanese women are skinny and youthful! And I hear heart disease isn't a big problem there? Rice is soooo good for you."* P.S. Ask the average Japanese person how many times they have sushi in a year and then we can talk about how it is the ancient Oriental secret to beauty and long life. Or not.

*This is just one of the misconceptions about Japan, held specifically by people who have never been here. Another one I get all the time is, "The Japanese are so respectful!", which damn near makes me piss myself every time.

First of all, Japanese women are at a very high risk for osteoporosis, even with all the fish we supposedly eat. They also give Lancome, Chanel, Clinique, Estee Lauder, and a host of other western-owned cosmetics companies some very good business. Heart disease does exist here, although, in all probability, it's brought on more often by overwork rather than over-McDonald's. And as far as rice being good for you, are we comparing its nutritional value to powdered potatoes fried in genetically modified animal fat?

It must be a combination of things, but I'm one of those hippy-dippy, New Age people who believes that all issues are psychosomatic. When something is upsetting, many people seek comfort in food. Then again, maybe I'm reading into this too much and all the skinny people went to Hawaii for Golden Week, while the bikini-phobic contingent stuck around to meander through the 'hood.

At any rate, I'm happy if they start selling clothes based on a normal sizing system.

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