While she might not be known much in the United States, you may have seen the viral clip of Naomi Watanabe’s amazing dance routine:
We even shared it on our Facebook page, and it was a hit there — but that got us wondering: Who is Naomi Watanabe?
Her career first took off in 2008 when Japan went wild for her impression of Beyoncé — Watanabe’s even known as the Japanese Beyoncé. But, of course that’s not her only trick — though even if it was, it’s some trick.
We recently fell in love with this video, where Watanabe does her own version of Lady Gaga’s 2017 Super Bowl performance:
While the most astute viewers might notice her lipsynching isn’t perfect — who cares when her dancing is so good. While the joke could be “oh, look, it’s an overweight woman dancing,” Watanabe’s act never devolves into such shallowness — she’s good.
This isn’t Watanabe’s first Super Bowl tribute, either — last year, she did a version of the Super Bowl 50 show with Bruno Mars and Beyonce:
As it turns out, she’s a quadruple threat — not only is she an amazing dancer, she’s an actress, comedian and fashion designer. These videos are done to promote her fashion label, Punyus.
Punyus, which translates to “squishy” in English, caters to Japanese women of all sizes who want to be sexy and fashionable. That’s right, in addition to all that — she’s also an activist against size-shaming.
Where in Japan, most fashionable shops only sell to the very slim — the most fashionable rarely stock sizes above a Japanese medium (which is the size of a small in the US) — Watanabe wants Japan (and the rest of the world) to know that a larger size doesn’t mean unhappiness. As she told the Washington Post, “Rather than trying to change other people’s minds, I would like to help change the minds of bigger women, to help them feel good about themselves.”
She’s always been open about her weight — she weighs around 220 pounds, and is proud of it. She’s also appeared as a cover girl for La Farfa, Japan’s first plus-size women’s fashion magazine.
Watanabe told the Post she’d seen success:
Japanese women are changing, and there are loads more women who can express themselves and many fewer women who just say yes to everything like before. I see more women becoming superstrong and confident, and it helps me grow, too.
Beautiful, talented and fighting for a better world? Could we love Watanabe any more?