Role reversal –

In stark contrast, it’s the men who want to be slender, vulnerable and protected. Young males between the ages of 18 and 30 make up the slimmest segment of the population and the ideal fashion weight as decreed by the apparel industry is 57 kilograms, or about 125 pounds, for a height of 175 centimeters, or 5 feet 8 inches. Many men try to adhere to that figure and some claim they want to be even skinnier.

Both Shirakawa and his girlfriend like the fact that she weighs more than he does, and is the leader of the couple. “She’s a lot stronger than I am, can lift heavy things and go drinking until dawn. I admire that about her, and feel protected when I’m around her,” he said. Older than he by five years, it was Shirakawa’s girlfriend who made the approach, started the dating process and decided what course their relationship would take.

“Frankly, I think women should be in the driver’s seat. Society and relationships work better that way,” he said. Shirakawa likes to wear his girlfriend’s clothes and often shows up for work wearing her blouse and jeans, to the general approval of his co-workers.

Hirayama said: “For young men, wearing women’s clothes has almost become a status symbol – a confirmation of being slim and pretty and, therefore, desirable. Young women, on the other hand, are less interested now in looking beautiful for the benefit of young men. They dress up for themselves, for their own satisfaction.”

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