Let’s continue to discover the plus-size universe in Japan! Today TSS team had the opportunity to interview one of the models of the famous magazine “la farfa”.

Let’s spread the pocchativity to the world!

First of all, could you introduce yourself?

My name is Andou Ui, I was born in Gifu, Japan and I am 27 years old. I am a model for la farfa magazine.

Since when are you a plus-size model and how did you become model ?

I became a model when I was 20, seven years ago. I started by appearing in volume 2 of la farfa. I had the chance to become a model because I applied for a la farfa announcement on Twitter that they were looking for plus-size models, and I was very happy. At that time, I was in my second year at university.

How would you define being plus size in Japan?

The image has changed a lot recently. When I became a model 7 years ago, the image of the models was already full of positive attitude and very cute; but before that, large models were not perceived as positive at all and round girls didn’t think they were cute at all and had a negative image of themselves.

Is there a reason for this change?

Do you know Watanabe Naomi? It is entertainers like Watanabe Naomi who have developed a cuter and more positive image of plus-size people. They started to wear cute clothes on TV, and plus-size people started to think: “Oh? Can I wear clothes like that too?”.

But it’s true that because of the entertainers, plus-sizes have been a little bit harassed because of the “silly” and funny image that people have on TV: so there are positive and negative images of plus-sizes at the same time.

That’s why magazines like la farfa have played a big role in changing their image: for the first time, there are not only plus-size people in the entertainment industry, but also models. It was important for me and other chubby girls who didn’t think they would become pretty. Social networks also play a very important role: chubby girls who see plus-size models think they can become pretty themselves.

Apart from Watanabe Naomi, are there other famous people who have contributed to change the image of plus-size people in Japan?

There is also Yanagihara Kanako, who contributed to change the image of plus-size people 7 years ago with Watanabe Naomi.More recently, there are a lot of people who represent plus sizes in the entertainment industry like バービ.

Do you think the lack of a larger model was a cultural blockage?

Indeed, 7 years ago it was a problem, especially compared to other countries. As there are now in Japan magazines and a diversity of people who represent plus-sizes, I think the problem is solved.

Have you been subjected to the dictates of thinness?

Yes, I became a model for la farfa in my second year of university, but from my fifth year of elementary school to my first year of university, I was on a diet! I was thinking I should lose weight. I thought that becoming pretty was like dieting, and while paying attention to my makeup and clothes, all I could think about was losing weight. I’ve been pocchari since I was 5, so I grew up feeling jealous of thin girls. I’ve tried a lot of different diets but they all failed *laughs*.

There are a lot of words used to talk about tall people: pocchari (chubby), debu (fat), plus-size… For you, which is the most suitable word? 

It’s a rather difficult question! *laughs* The words pocchari (chubby) and debu (fat) have been around for a long time, but debu always had a negative image, not very cute and too direct, whereas pocchari implies a nice way of saying that the person has a good personality.

The meaning depends of course on the person, but in our magazine we don’t use the term debu but we use the term pocchari. We have even created in words in our magazine: poccha-tive (contraction of pocchari and positive) and nega-debu (contraction of negative and debu). The terms pocchari and debu can also refer to a person’s weight (people like me under 100kgs are pocchari), but we prefer to use them in the sense of the positive attitude we want to convey with la farfa.

Do you have models or inspiration ?

I think Ashley Graham’s really great! Make it to the cover of Vogue… She has not only democratized plus-size models, but also fashion for everyone without distinction. She inspires me a lot!

Also nowadays, I see more and more plus-size models on social networks. In Japan, this is still very recent. As Watanabe Naomi is not a model, I’m inspired by plus-size models abroad.

Do you have favorite beauty or fashion brands ?

I really like second hand clothes and vintage stores! I also like to go to Zara and Hyakkaten (department store in Osaka and Tokyo) which I recommend to people from abroad because there are a lot of large-size clothes!

Do you have any advice for girls who would like to be more confident with themselves?

I do my best to be confident myself so I can easily put myself in their shoes. I think everyone has their own beauty! Without comparing yourself to others, like the way they wear make-up for example, you have to find your own way to become cute and enjoy yourself. 

Do you have any clothing advice for plus size women?

I think it’s all about getting to know each other and trying! If, for example, it’s cuter to unveil your shoulders or not… 
In magazines, there are many tips to coordinate wrist, neck and ankle accessories that are fine for everyone even if you are pocchari, and I like to be inspired by them. I also recommend wearing bright colours to release the tension!

Do you know that there are events in Europe and abroad about Japanese culture and fashion?

 I’ve heard a little bit about it!

Would you like to be invited and represent plus size fashion ?

With great pleasure! Since plus size fashion in Japan is a little different from that in Europe and the United States, it would be a pleasure to represent Japan.

Do you have a message for your french fans who follow you?

I’m really glad that people from abroad are following plus-size models like me! I would like to know more about foreign countries, and the fact that the plus-size culture is spreading abroad is a very good thing and gives me confidence. My goal in life is to be happy, I would like to share this goal with the people who follow me, whether they are thin or not! Let’s do our best!

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