Anime has always been known for it’s specific art style and the various artists with their own take on it. But what we don’t often think about is how that style can sometimes be portraying real stereotypes we find within out own society. The squad here on Ashley’s Anime, Adam Barba, Becca Davila and Allison Wolch, discussed what being body positive in anime really means and what it does for its audience.
I’ve seen this happen a lot in anime, but after last season I sort of saw the need to host a podcast discussion about body positivity in anime. The recent show Kiss Him, Not Me was an anime that really did plus sized women no favors in the portray of Kae, the main character who’s a large woman that loses weight and gains the attention from several of her peers. Now, sometimes when people lose weight, it can change a person’s attitude in a positive way and that brings more people around. But that’s not really the case with this anime. Kae stays consistent in her personality and thinks very little about her size and figure; the attraction is purely physical.
I’ve heard a few arguments in defense of Kiss Him, Not Me. It usually revolves around how some of the characters realize how they like Kae regardless of her size, even though there are a few characters who already liked her no matter her size. But that doesn’t really stop some of the unnecessary attributes that are given to Kae; her voice is a perfect example of this. As a plus sized woman, I can confirm that I too always sound like I have inverted hamster cheeks (this is sarcasm for those in the audience who are not mature to view this blog).
But Kiss Him, Not Me is only one anime amongst the many that give poor portrayals of plus sized people, not just women. As you’ll hear in the podcast, the squad had some pretty interesting points to bring up about the issue at hand, but we all came to the agreement that this issue can be seen in almost every anime show, especially one’s that have plus sized characters. It’s a trope you can find happening often, and one that makes me feel like a I just ate a tub of acidic slime.
For anime that doesn’t portray any plus sized characters, the narrative still plays off of an ideal image that men and women “need” to conform to. Men are always extremely muscular (sometimes to a ridiculous size) and women are always big in areas like breasts, but skinny in their waist. This isn’t just a part of an art style; the look is too much like the stereotype and it still causes the same damages.
We might not think that an animation can cause any sort of damage to people’s mentality, but it very much can. It still perpetuates and idea amongst the populous that people need to fit a certain size in order to be desirable. And if that wasn’t enough, just look at how it effects the cosplay community. Plus sized cosplayers can be met with scorn for not looking like a character because of their weight.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. By criticizing and calling out anime that pedals certain ideas of plus sized people, we can start to critically think about how we chose to consume anime and what sort of bottom line messages it’s trying to tell us.