Meet The Ladies Of The "Chubby Maid Café"

Illustration for article titled Meet The Ladies Of The Chubby Maid Café

There is a place in Akihabara, Tokyo, called Pomeranian: The Chubby Maid Café. It's a restaurant run by "a bunch of not-so-thin girls" and the waitresses dress in maid costumes. Vice interviewed a few.

Ichigo (pictured at left), who came up with the idea, says: "I used to work at a regular maid café until I realized that all of the other girls were much thinner than me. I guess I felt a sense of inferiority, but then I considered how I could turn that around and actually make it work for me." Vice's Tomokazu Kosuga asks Ichigo if she thinks being chubby makes people treat her differently, and she answers: "I find that people find me easily approachable. When it's raining and I don't have an umbrella, old ladies let me go under theirs. Also, I get asked for directions a lot. I suppose they think I'm friendly, but whether that's an advantage, I don't know! In any case, people tend to open up to me more."


Another employee, Kaya (pictured below), tells Kosuga she used to obsess over dieting before she started working at Pomeranian:

I always said to myself, "I must lose weight, I must lose weight," but since working here I now think, "There's nothing wrong with being fat." Being able to accept myself in that way has been a huge change. I'm a more confident person, and other people have said I've become more positive.

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On the one hand, this restaurant basically caters to a fetish, like a Hooters with a weight minimum, and its entire point is to focus attention on the physical appearance of the female employees. Is it just another example of women being treated as objects? On the other hand, all of the waitresses interviewed (click to read more) seem to have a great relationship with their bodies in a culture that's extremely diet-obsessed and where a woman is "supposed" to be tiny and slender. Should we be accepting of a place like Pomeranian?

Ichigo says:

"I wish [girls] wouldn't take their chubbiness as a negative thing. There are tons of girls out there who are chubby and attractive, so they should regard them as role models. Also, even if you notice that someone's chubby, you shouldn't comment on their weight so much [laughs]. It's a unique trait of theirs, and that's an important thing to have."

The Warm Embrace of the Japanese Chubby Maid Café [Vice]

Illustration for article titled Meet The Ladies Of The Chubby Maid Café
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Photos via Vice by Takaaki Tanaka

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DISCUSSION

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Hoo, boy. Cultural context here matters a LOT. First, Japanese culture is rife with fetishes. Lolly fashions are a part of that, but it can be used to subvert the "young girl" fetish in different contexts. I mean, whatever else, those fashions take a lot of time and work and much of it is handmade by the girls themselves. There's a lot of sharing and a community built around it.

That said, it's not all harmless. Much like...I guess "willing" objectification. I mean, these girls feel better about themselves in a culture that consistently objectifies women and perpetuates the idea of "small". This is true in many Asian cultures, and women go to great lengths to maintain that...like those calf reducing surgeries and other fun stuff.

So, embracing their size and uniqueness IS positive. Being objectified for it is not.