TSS had the chance to interview many GLAPOCHA Plus Size Models!
Today, let us introduce you to MARIANA, one of the women who wants to share plus-size fashion in Japan with the world. After living for 6 years in the US, she wants to bring her own vision of body positivity in Japan to the world!
1. First of all, could you introduce yourself?
My name is Mariana, and I have been modeling since October 2018 [2 years at the time of the interview]. I am also a PR consultant in addition to being a model. I joined Glapocha because as a 30-something, my shape has been a part of me for the majority of my life, has grown with me and has had a strong impact on my self-esteem.
With this background, I hope that the concept of body positivity will develop positively among people of my generation and people who have had children, and that body shaming will disappear. Also, beyond defining the terms plus-size or pocchari, I would like to abolish the prejudices about plus-size, and I would like to become a model who can prove people who make prejudices about plus-size wrong with my own body.
2. How would you define being plus-size in Japan ?
As Elly said, plus-size people here in Japan are either extremely admired or extremely ridiculed, it’s very opposite. For example, every New Year’s Day in Japan there are comedy shows that are on TV and this year, for the transition from 2020 to 2021, and so the first thing I saw on TV as I was thinking “Finally the start of a new year, this only bodes well”, was a shrouded person making a joke about the bulges coming out of her pants when she sat down. And really it made me uncomfortable.
I think that yes, it can be nice to make people laugh but to reduce plus-size people to being just the token clown is not a good image. That’s why here at GLAPOCHA, we make sure to bring courage and support to each other in regards to these discriminations on a daily basis. I think, and this is only my opinion, that all plus-size, overweight people have a negative image in the world but in the case of Japan, our society discriminates them even more intensely. And the reason for this is that in Japan, and in general in Asia, verbal discrimination about a person’s weight is the norm, whether it is from parents or classmates from a very young age. In my case, I lived in the US during my childhood and parents are used to say that their child is the most beautiful, that they are proud of it. Except that when I compared to mine, I realized that I had a different situation, I thought that my parents didn’t think I was beautiful as I was.
And this habit of commenting on people’s weight is deeply rooted in our Japanese society. For example, I want to go to the beach but society tells me that my weight is not ideal so I should not be proud of it, so we end up not going to the beach. In the end, our life and activities are defined by our weight and we no longer live for ourselves on a daily basis.
It’s by putting such limits on ourselves that we don’t live anymore and my mentality today is to show people that no matter what their weight is, they can see a new world and have a lot of beautiful experiences. I sincerely think that Japan must break down its limits for plus-size people so that their quality of life will improve over time, for themselves and in the eyes of society.
I’ve talked too much, excuse me (laughs).
3. What does body positive means for you ?
As Moka put it well, everyone is different. In English, this notion is very much related to being “in shape”, playing sports and being conscious of your appearance. Whatever your body is, it’s a nice movement to bring to love your body because it’s different for everyone according to each situation, and it’s a real process.
Before, society used to put aside bodies that were different from the average, and I think that now more and more people realize the diversity of bodies and accept it more easily thanks to this movement. Body positive is even more than a movement in my opinion, I think it’s a lifestyle. Thanks to this, people who had talents hidden by their weights assert themselves more and more and create new ideals to change things.
4. Has modeling had a big impact on your personal life?
I’ve had a lot of positive feedback from both young men and young women about body positivity. When I see people outside of work, for example at the izakaya [Japanese bar], people are often surprised when I say that I am a model, and I hear very often that I am a little too fit to be a model.
I am glad that in my close circle, especially with my parents, the notion of body shaming is starting to disappear more and more.
5. How do you feel the influence of plus-size people from abroad?
Since I grew up in the US until I was 12, I am lucky enough to speak English and interact with plus-size influencers abroad in private messages. I release videos with these influencers, and I try to bring their vision of body positivity to Japan and try to transmit the vision of plus-size in Japan.
I really hope to bring my vision of plus-size in Japan to the world, it’s like a dream. Unfortunately in Asia, like many minorities, we don’t really have a strong representative.
6. Do you think social media has played a part in the way people view models of different sizes and races?
The one that immediately comes to mind is our director, Momoka Ai. Many people stop at the fact that she talks about fashion, but she does much more than that. She represents us and gives beautiful messages, for example on Youtube or Twitter.
If I have to look further, I’ll switch to Taylor T, a Korean plus-size model. She manages to highlight the beauty of plus-size shapes and gives good messages about issues going on in other countries like the US and Europe. She has a concept where she conveys a lot of passion, and I think it’s an inspiration for you.
7. Do you have any role models or inspirations?
I don’t know about other countries, but in Japan, once you’re a mom, it’s common to put everything aside for your children and your home. That’s why I think it’s important that there are more Mama models, to show another, stronger image of a mom. Even if we have a child, we don’t give up our life.
8. Do you have a message for people abroad who are plus-size, who are interested or don't know about this category?
In the plus-size, there are not necessarily only people who want to lose weight. There are certainly people who have a complex about it, but there are also plenty of people who love themselves thanks to the body positive. That’s why GLAPOCHA exists, we want everyone to love their body!