In Clothes Called Fat by Moyoco Anno, translation by Vertical, Inc.
Holy moly, what a difference a book makes … creator Moyoco Anno’s last title-in-English-translation was Insufficient Direction, a playful meta-memoir about her relationship with her husband, the legendary animator and film director Hideki Anno (Neon Genesis Evangelion). Insufficient, I admit, is the only other Anno title I had read before Clothes in spite of her renown as one of the top artists in the manga industry.
If Insufficient is a celebration of true love enhanced by creative, goofy inspiration, Clothes is a nightmare-inducing exposé about romantic dysfunction and toxic relationships. Who needs enemies when you’ve got friends and lovers like this …?!
Noko is rapidly putting on weight: “It’s like I’m wearing a leotard of flesh that can never be removed,” she observes. Food is the only reliable comfort in her life. Men randomly berate her for her size, women dismiss and belittle her, and even her handsome boyfriend of eight years hides her away, especially since he’s cheating on her with the gorgeous alpha-girl from her office.
The abuse Noko endures from her feckless lover and her bullying coworkers finally morphs from miserable resignation to angry desperation. Between bouts of uncontrolled violence and obsessive bingeing, Noko finds temporary reprieve with a fellow office pariah, an old man with a size fetish, and the promises of slenderness at an expensive slimming salon. She risks her health and sanity to drastically change her life … and in shedding the pounds, loses much more than her “clothes called fat.”
Before being published as a complete edition in 2002, Clothes was originally serialized 17 years ago in a first-of-its-kind weekly newsmagazine for adult women; the main characters here are in their mid-20s, and the story is often sexually graphic, reflected in its “ages 18+” cover designation. And yet in the almost two decades since its publication, detrimental body image issues seem more rampant than ever, claiming younger and younger victims. That ubiquity among today’s tweens and teens dons Clothes with a sense of grave immediacy. Yes, you should to be very, very scared. Scared enough to learn here, and hopefully choose otherwise.
Published: 2002 (Japan), 2014 (United States)