Naomi Watanabe hopes her Instagram feed can help other curvy women to feel more self-confident
Naomi Watanabe doesn’t look like most of the other women in Japan.
The comedian and Instagram star, 29, weighs 220 lbs. and lives in a country with an obesity rate of only 3.7 percent, according to the World Health Organization. (For comparison, 34.9 percent of the U.S. population qualifies as obese.)
But by accumulating nearly 6 million Instagram followers who follow Watanabe’s bright, animated and over-the-top posts, the social media star is hoping to help women who are not as small as the average Japanese women gain self-acceptance.
“You don’t see many plus-sized women around here,” Watanabe told The Washington Post. “But rather than trying to change other people’s minds, I would like to help change the minds of bigger women, to help them feel good about themselves.”
As part of her mission to help curvy Japanese women feel confident about their bodies, Watanabe launched her own clothing line called Punyus, a play on the Japanese word for “squishy.”
Her line filled a huge gap in the market — according to The Post, many Japanese clothing stores don’t carry anything above a size medium.
“In Japan, larger-sized women couldn’t wear what they wanted,” Watanabe told the paper. “They couldn’t wear skirts, they would wear only black and would never show any skin. Of course, larger women want to be fashionable, too, but there weren’t any fashionable clothes for us.”
Now thanks to her, they now have more fashion-forward clothing options.
“Sometimes women come up to me in the street and start crying, saying, ‘Thanks to you, I have clothes that make me feel cool.’”