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Marshmallow Baby

Talvez você nunca tenha ouvido falar em NAOMI WATANABE, mas ela é um enorme sucesso no Japão. A comediante é conhecida como a "Beyoncé japonesa" (por causa das imitações que faz da cantora) e participa das versões locais do Saturday Night Live e X-Factor. Com mais de 5 milhões de seguidores no Instagram, não é só o seu humor que a torna uma estrela: Naomi também é uma importante representante da moda plus size em um país em que há relativamente poucas mulheres gordas (para fins de comparação: enquanto no Japão a taxa de obesidade é de 3,6%, nos Estados Unidos esse número é de 67%).

Naomi é o rosto da La Farfa, uma revista plus size e tem a sua própria linha de roupas, a PUNYUS – que também é uma das únicas feitas exclusivamente para esse nicho. Ao site Refinery29, ela disse que no Japão é extremamente difícil achar roupas que sejam maiores que o tamanho M.

O trabalho de Naomi também é muito importante para que outras mulheres que nunca se viram representadas na moda japonesa sintam-se mais confiantes. Tanto que por lá, existe agora uma tendência chamada "pocharri", que encoraja as mulheres a abraçarem o termo "meninas mashmallow" e mostrarem que não há limites para serem bonitas e fofas.

Naomi Watanabe is the coolest damn bumblebee I’ve ever seen. Clad in a plunging yellow-and-black-striped flapper dress (complete with fringe), the Japanese comedian and plus-size fashion icon steals the stage as she pops, locks, and drops it under a disco ball at L.A.’s Union Nightclub.

To say Watanabe is a star is an understatement. Having risen to fame for her spot-on Beyoncé impressions (she is literally known as the “Beyoncé of Japan”), Watanabe has since earned a spot as a cast member on Japanese SNL, a judge on X-Factor Japan, and the most-followed person on Instagram in the country (5.2 million, thank you very much). But her sparkling sense of humor — a quality that’s made her a star — is only half of the story.

The 28-year-old is also lauded for her curvaceous figure and for being a champion for plus-size women in one of the world’s thinnest countries — Japan has one of the lowest obesity rates in the world at 3.6% (compared with the United States' 67%), and the average woman weighs 115 pounds. However, these women obviously deserve representation in the media, and they're finally getting it thanks to Watanabe, who, alongside music groups like Pottya and La BIG 3, are attempting to overturn Japan's current lack of size inclusivity.

Aside from being a spokesperson and cover girl for La Farfa, Japan’s premier magazine for plus-size women (which uses animal shapes to help women identify their body type — i.e. pigeon for bustier women, penguin for bootylicious women, teddy bear for women rounder in the middle), Watanabe also has her own clothing line, which is one of the country’s only plus-specific labels. PUNYUS, which loosely translates to "chubby," launched in 2014 with the goal to provide women of different sizes with the opportunity to embrace fashion, rather than having to hide behind pieces that don’t fit (typically, she says, in Japan, it’s nearly impossible to find pieces in larger than a size medium). Though other plus-size retailers in Japan exist, Watanabe, and her U.S. representative and translator, Rei, explain that they are all very specific to a genre, like tomboy or ultra-feminine. PUNYUS however, with its red satin bomber jackets and tartan skirts, caters to everyone; Watanabe describes its aesthetic as “kind of Harajuku style, but can be dressy, and can be sexy.” Her line offers both regular and plus-sizes and has a penchant for bright, colorful designs and prints influenced by '90s hip hop, '60s style and, of course, all things kawaii.

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