The idol group that wants to break the “fat” stigma

Members of Asian idol groups are known to have porcelain skin, nice hair, and petite frames—the kind of impossible standards that some fans look up to. You won’t even believe the diet regimens that they have to achieve this and maintain their low weight count. K-pop stars eat only watermelon and lettuce, among other things, to curb their appetites and lose weight fast. Meanwhile, those in J-pop eat small portions and have strict calorie intake.

Then, there’s Big Angel, a Japanese music group consisting of five plus-size women who embrace their bodies and sing about being overweight. They confidently call themselves a “fat idol group” and the members are “angels who fell from heaven from eating too much.” But they’re more than happy to spread positivity to fans who are struggling with their image through their performances.

Michiko Gotochi, who’s the angel in charge of karaage (deep-fried chicken) and the leader of the group, said in an Asian Boss video that she was formerly part of another idol group. She was told that she would be promoted to a model if she’d lose more weight. “Truth be told, I used to be in really good shape. But even then, I couldn’t pass any modeling auditions… I weighed 54 kg (120 lbs) then,” Michiko said, noting that she tried to lose 5 lbs by consuming just yogurt and water for six months. She also said her agency always made her stand on a weighing scale to track her progress.

After that time period, Michiko quit her modeling job and relapsed, feeling the urge to eat to make up for the months she starved herself. She later realized that she probably had an eating disorder because she turned to food when she was feeling down about her weight. “Mentally, I just couldn’t deal with dieting anymore,” she said. Michiko then started modeling for Japanese magazine La Farfa, which is for the plus-size market, because she saw that chubby girls like her can still be confident and stylish, and she wanted to bring the same encouragement to others.

This story is all too familiar for many men and women. And while people are concerned about Big Angel “glorifying obesity,” the group promises that they’re not. Michiko told Asian Boss that they want plus-size people to diet if they want to, but do it in a way that doesn’t make them unhappy. Her co-members also aren’t required to maintain their weight just to stay in the group—they are free to lose weight when they want or are ready to. It’ll open a door for new members to join Big Angel as well.

Aside from their cheery outlook and singing about going on a diet, Big Angel is progressive as well. They want to remove the negative connotation of being fat and that most people don’t choose to look the way they do—most of the time it’s their health and anatomy. They also have a song titled “B.B.G.” (Big Body Girl) that reminds people that touching women, regardless of their body size and shape, without consent is bad. “They too are feminine and care about being touched, just like their skinnier counterparts,” Japankyo noted.

Big Angel hasn’t reached superstar status yet but their gigs so far are mostly successful. They also have a YouTube channel where they update fans, do fun challenges, and enjoy food in Japan. This is where they upload their music videos, too.

As far as society’s reception goes, their presence is pretty much welcomed, especially with the emerging “chubby trend” in Japan. Ideally, plus-size shouldn’t be seen as a trend for it to be accepted. But Big Angel are definitely making big (pun intended) steps in promoting self-love and we hope that they get the recognition they deserve.

 

Art by Marian Hukom

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