Westerners notice it. The clothes run slightly smaller, and a medium in Japan would be a small—or even a petite—back home. Barring the exception here or there, Japanese people tend to have smaller frames. People are, generally speaking, thin.
So what the hell is up with diet ads like these?
The above photos appeared recently in Japanese girls' magazine Koakuma Ageha. The magazine originally was aimed at young women working as hostesses in bars (even in fuzoku or prostitution), but the publication has since gone mainstream.
Koakuma Ageha models appeared in Sega's Yakuza 3, even appearing on stage at the Tokyo Game Show. The magazine's hostess style inspired the "gal" character Sandy in Dragon Quest X and even a Level-5 Nintendo 3DS game.
These ads, viewable in the above gallery, appeared in the February Koakuma Ageha and show young women who have apparently dropped up to 60.7 kilograms (133.4 pounds) in 60 days—or, you know, lost the equivalent of a six grader.
The other women in the photo supposedly lost between 28.5 kilograms (62.8 pounds) and 30.5 kilograms (67 pounds) in thirty days.
Online in Japan, the reaction to these ads has been one of bewilderment. "For someone who likes pudgy girls," wrote one forum user, "I cannot comprehend this."
"Look at her stomach! It's stretched like a rubber band," wrote another. Forum users were quick to point out that these photos were not just Photoshop disasters, but were "creepy" and "sickly". According to one, the women looked like "goblins", while another wryly pointed out that these were simply the new character designs for the manga xxxHolic.
The rest of the comment thread soon disintegrated into a discussion about "larger", curvy Japanese bikini models. Even those "larger" models would be considered incredibly thin by Westerns standards.
And while these photos are Photoshop disasters, they do further the notion that thin is beautiful—a notion that some female Japanese celebrities, such as this former Mario pitchgirl and this former Metal Gear pitchgirl, have furthered with dangerous weight loss.
It all feeds into a larger preoccupation. Clothes in Japan already run small enough. Japanese females always seem to be dieting or talking about dieting—they shouldn't be. Worst of all, extreme diets like this aren't only unnecessary, they're dangerous.