One of the photos from the shoot that was in the segment of the episode I was in.
As I've mentioned a couple of times now my Lolita comm and I were in the latest episode of Kawaii International last weekend, I said I'd watch it and write a response and finally I have a moment to do so!
First of all I really love the idea of this episode of the show, as I'm sure long time readers will know I am very much for diversity in fashion, in my opinion it shouldn't matter if you're fat, thin, tall, short, whatever you should be able to dress how you want to dress, so "Kawaii for every body" is an idea that really appeals to me.
The main focus of the episode is curvy/ plus sized fashion in Japan, also known as "Pochakawa" and how this is suddenly starting to really take off in Japan.
The first part of the episode is about the "Happy Curvy Festival" event in held a mall in Tokyo held by La Farfa magazine, a magazine dedicated to Pochakawa fashions.
One of the things I instantly liked is that a lot of the models in the magazine are readers of the magazine themselves, this isn't really something that happens very often in the UK, being in a fashion magazine is pretty unattainable for most people and the "local model" phenomenon seems to be an almost uniquely Japanese trend.
Another thing I liked that we don't see very often in the UK is that the models smiled, in my own modelling work depending on what it is I'm shooting I like to smile where possible because I like to show how happy I am to have the opportunity to wear beautiful clothing and have my photograph taken in it, but a lot of the time photographers don't encouraging smiling and prefer a neutral look so as not to distract from the clothing.
I really liked the styles of the women from the audience who were featured, one thing I noticed a lot of were patterns, something that plus sized women are often told to avoid so as not to draw attention to ourselves, but they all looked really cute, I also really liked the winner's top knot hairstyle, as is mentioned later in the show another thing we are often advised to do is to pretty much hide under our hair, so it's really refreshing to see her wear her hair all up and off her face.
Another uniquely Japanese thing I really like is that within the magazine the model's height, weight, bust and hip measurements are published alongside their pictures, this would be unthinkable in the UK, but I really like it. A while ago I joined a group on Reddit called Body Gallery (some of the links are NSFW) which aims to show body diversity by having people submit photos of themselves along with their height and weight and any other information (for example if they are an athlete, or trying to lose weight), and it's sometimes pretty amazing to see the difference height can make to how someone looks and I think that that group is one of the most important resources around for the body positivity movement, and I feel that La Farfa including their model's height and weight could become similarly helpful, also it is handy for anybody reading the magazine should they find a particular look that they like and see that the model wearing it has similar measurements to them they can see quite easily that it will look similarly cute on them.
One thing I wasn't so keen on was the body type categories, I understand why this is done, but I find it a little patronising (also I can't find my own body type, I have an ample bust, nip in a bit at the waist and then a full booty, what's that, a camel?), I guess part of it could be the east/west difference in that in Japan it could be cute to call someone a teddy bear, but in the UK it's seen as infantalising them, either way I am a little uneasy about that part.
Back to things I like in the footage of the meeting of La Farfa's staff to talk about what they wanted to put in the next issue. I like that most of the staff are themselves curvy girls, which I think has been a problem with some things aimed at plus sized people I have read in the past, a lot of the time they people who have written them haven't been plus sized themselves which I guess is where advice like avoiding stripes has come from. With the staff of La Farfa mostly being curvy girls themselves they know first hand what works and what doesn't.
The next part of the show was about Seina Goto, a model at La Farfa who has the nickname "Marshmallow Girl".
At first I was a little uneasy about the nickname as it made me think of the Marshmallow Man from the Ghostbusters films, which I have seen used as a slur against fat people in the UK, but the more I thought about it the more I decided that if she is happy to be called Marshmallow Girl, who am I to judge? After all it is not long since "Queer" was used as a slur against LGBT people, and yet now I choose to describe my own sexuality as "Queer", so I guess that words and phrases can be reclaimed.
Seina's style includes a lot of things that curvy people are often told to avoid such as pastels and horizontal stripes, she doesn't look like the shapeless, blobby beast we've been told that these things will make us look like, in fact she looks pretty amazing!
I like that her video included her pose practices, this is something I do myself and it can be harder than it looks! It's very important for models to practice new poses otherwise it's really easy to slip into doing the same handful of poses all the time.
I also like that they included part of her workout routine, as there seems to be a myth that fat people are lazy and never exercise, I myself run (I have added an extra run into my weekly routine because it's just so addictive so I now run 20K every week!) and practise yoga (which helps with my posing!), although I found it a little sad that she does it because she wants her body to be different, but I suppose when I think about it properly it would be hypocritical to judge her for that, as while I am happy with the shape, size and squishyness of my body, I want more tattoos, piercings and I would really like to have ear pointing surgery and these are all things that would change my body too.
Next we hear about how at La Farfa events fans of the models are allowed to feel their upper arms! Again this is something that doesn't ever happen in the UK, but I think that it's a cute (all be it kind of strange) idea.
Perhaps I will let people do this to me too! But only if they ask nicely first :)
Next they go to malls in Shinjuku, Kitasenju and Shibuya to see their trendy, plus sized shopping areas!
As a large busted woman myself I'm really impressed with the blouse with the hidden extra buttons to prevent gaps.
Most of the focus on this section is on the brand Punyus produced by Naomi Wantanabe.
I really like that the brand covers a range of sizes from M to 6L rather than just be around plus or regular sizes and I love the photos of bother her and a regular model wearing the same clothing so that people can see how it looks good on both of them not just one or the other.
I also think that the dress with the fried egg print on it is made of awesome, I have shied away from food prints in the past because of some of the backlash in the international Lolita community over fat girls wearing food prints, but now when I think about it I realise that's a pretty silly reason to not wear what I want to wear.
Next up was my comm's video! Arrgh I got so nervous about this! But actually it worked out really well and I feel a bit silly about worrying!
We filmed a lot more footage than was actually shown, but we knew that it would be trimmed down so I was kind of nervous about how it would be cut but I'm pretty happy with it.
I'm not sure why they called me the group's leader though, I guess maybe there was some confusion when I call them "my comm", but we all say that as the community belongs to everybody that is a part of it, the group though is Elly's baby, she started it and she organises most of our meets.
There was also a little section filmed in my sewing studio about my experiences, my handmade clothing (which featured two pictures that have previously had some quite negative anonymous comments directed at them, I guess this is extra proof that people who are to scared to say who they are online before they say nasty things don't really know as much as they claim to), and about my blog.
Next was a makeover, and what a makeover it was!
The girl featured was initially following the rules set down by years of magazines written by people with no understanding of plus sized fashion, but after her makeover she looked amazing and so much more confident!
I really liked Seina's hair and make up tutorial as well, she has such a cute face. :)
In all I really enjoyed the show and was glad to be a part of it.