Home Interview: Miminaru on Why Representation Matters, Regardless of Size

Interview: Miminaru on Why Representation Matters, Regardless of Size

Miminaru describes herself as a plus size monkey VTuber who frequently streams to her over 8,000 Twitch followers a variety of content such as Apex Legends, Genshin Impact, chat streams and the like. She debuted with a new model last February.

There’s quite a lot to Miminaru than just bringing chaos and gremlin vibes on stream though—she underwent model changes and other challenges, leading to who she is now. On this feature, the VTuber Section asks her questions about her origins, her strive for representation, and her outlook on VTubing.

VTubing Before Even Knowing It

How did you start VTubing? What made you want to start VTubing?

I started VTubing by accident! Back then I didn’t know it was called VTubing. I just wanted a way to bring my streams to life without a webcam for my friends to enjoy the streams. I remember getting scolded when a friend talked about Nijisanji and I asked who was that? That’s the day I learnt what VTubing was and realized I could make my own character. It opened up a whole new world for me.

Who is your inspiration?

I have many inspirations but what really made me want to grow was watching VShojo members, specifically Ironmouse! I have PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) and for me it causes immense pain and many other symptoms that make living harder. It’s a condition that many women have but it isn’t talked about enough, it can be very severe depending on the circumstances. 

When I saw her have so much fun and bring life to those around her despite her circumstances. It really settled in, if she can do it why can’t I? I haven’t gotten to her level yet but I know one day I will! Hard work always pays off even if it isn’t right now. I have hope!

Who is your favorite VTuber/streamer to watch?

I have quite a few actually! The list could go on forever but we’ll go for the top 5 at the moment. My top 5 favorites are Ironmouse, Elly_VT, Wintercataru, Skelliebunneh and Benjy! Some of the cutest people ever really know how to make a stream theirs!

Miminaru on Representation

A VTuber’s model can be anything the personality desires, which lets people be anything they wish—however, this also lets them represent parts of their identities and take pride in them. Regarding this, what was your thought process in creating your design?

I went through multiple VTuber personas before I became a plus-sized monkey. I couldn’t connect to any of them, I had spent so much time, effort and money that I barely had tried to create the perfect me, the happiest me, the me that I hoped others would adore but it just never clicked. Something always felt off, and then suddenly the idea of a plus-size me came about. A way to have more of me, the real me, and with the help of my friends, Monkey Miminaru was born.

Many people choose to represent aspects of their identity in their VTuber identity—such as beliefs or the use of assistive devices. What are your thoughts on this?

I think it’s a great way to spread more representation! There are many kinds of VTubers but more often than not we only see one type of VTuber persona/model grow. However, within this community alone you can see VTuber models on wheelchairs, amputees, continuous glucose monitoring (CGM), hearing aids, and many other aspects of a real person, real representation that truly showcases the wide variety of people who are in this space.

Seeing the amount of representation that has been born in recent years really puts into perspective how this community has been growing and how diverse it can be. Even though most of us who represent something not found in mainstream VTubing are not as known we’re still here making a difference in the day-to-day life of others.

It’s important to have representation in whatever field of media you fall into, no matter what we tend to see ourselves in others, so it’s important to have some of us in them. Regardless of how your body is and what makes you different when we see representation, it makes us acknowledge that while we may be different, there are always others like us. It’s important to have this in a growing community like VTubing!

What do you feel the current state of plus-size representation is like in the VTuber scene? Where do you see that heading in the future?

While it is growing, there’s a huge lack of representation, not only plus-size but plus-size in different shapes and sizes. Often times we tend to see the same type of “plus-size” which is unusually curvy with big breasts, very tiny waist and huge butt. There is no apple, pear or any other shape for that matter when we talk about plus-size. This is primarily because we tend to sexualize bodies.

If a body shape is found not conventionally attractive it often gets ignored or neglected, while there is nothing wrong with making a model with these features. At the end of the day, most models tend to be a fantasized version of ourselves. It speaks volume how these models are allowed but a model with a different shape would be looked down upon. A model with accurate proportions, regardless of it being hourglass or not, will be criticized. It’s fine so long as it can be sexualized.

That’s an awful truth that the plus-size community is currently fighting, not only in the VTubing community, but as a general stance. While I don’t know where it’s headed, I hope to be a guide that helps open the gates to diversity within the community. I hope to be at the forefront of it all!

An ugly truth about the VTubing scene is that, because people can make idealized versions of themselves, people’s designs tend to echo the same beauty standards and reinforce them. What are your thoughts on that?

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be an ideal part of yourself or a fantasized part of yourself, it’s fictional so you really can be anything you want! That being said, there’s also nothing wrong with wanting to be true to yourself while also bringing to life an ideal version of you.

Often times, however, creating a fantasized part of yourself tends to create a rift between you and your persona. There’s a disconnect that happens because you will look at this version of yourself more and more as you stream and grow. It can be hard to accept who you are in real life as well as the person you’ve created. This, along with other factors, can for some make them feel like an impostor.

They don’t know who they really are, their fantasized version of themselves slowly becomes a persona, and it becomes harder to be true to yourself. You often tend to admire the model and idolize this version of yourself that you’ve come to create. Grounding yourself to whether your VTuber model is you or a persona, and basing the creation of the model around this, has helped me combat this.

While oftentimes, models tend to echo the same beauty standards, we neglect to realize that this happens because the industry can be so hard and combat-bringing in something new. That’s not to say there’s no diversity. It can seem crazy how everyone seems to have similar ideas to what beauty standards are even with a fictional character. Despite this, you’ll see there’s more diversity than what most people realize.

Are you treated differently from other VTubers for being plus-sized?

Unfortunately, yes. I’ve gotten 3 reactions after coming out with my plus size model. One is very strong fatphobic comments, degrading and demeaning and suddenly making me in charge of the health and well-being of the entire human population correlating weight to every possible health problem possible. The second is sexualization, my size is now someone’s fetish and I’ve been made aware of that a lot with “interesting” comments shot my way quite often. 

The third is my favorite, support of my strive to represent myself and others who are plus size, kind comments and overall cheering me on. I’m grateful for those who support me and help me by stopping by my streams or just liking a post or giving kind words of encouragement. It’s something that not many people have.

Have you attracted fans who are drawn to you, specifically because you are plus-sized?

On the Twitter space yes, I used to get very random DMs talking about what they would do to me or just overall sexual remarks. However, I’m a small streamer on Twitch, my average view count is around 20, and those 20 tend to be long term people that have been supporting from the get-go, so my Twitch space is safer than Twitter because of this. 

Miminaru’s Thoughts on Streaming

We also noticed that you stream more on Twitch. Why did you choose to stream on Twitch versus YouTube?

When I first thought about streaming, I didn’t know you could stream on YouTube at all! I associated Twitch as the only site that you could live stream, but that was due to my lack of research and internet knowledge. 

Would you recommend new streamers/VTubers start on Twitch, YouTube, or try to balance both?

To new streamers, don’t do like I did and only focus on one platform, vary your content and streams between multiple different platforms so that your audience carries over wherever you go! 

What mistakes have you made in your streaming career that you think others should learn from?

I got too close to others too quickly. I didn’t know how people interacted as streamers. I didn’t develop a schedule nor did I have consistency (I still don’t). I streamed for fun, so I was unaware of all the right ways or the etiquette that people had. 

No one sat me down and told me that people may use me or that consistency and variety really help you in the long run. I had no plan or knowledge and no one to guide me. Those were my mistakes.

What is the moment in your streaming career that you’re most proud of?

When I debuted my plus size model, I was scared people were gonna disappear forever, no one did! Everyone supported me and was nothing but kind to me. To this day it is one of my highest average streams. While I usually average 20 or less, this one day I averaged over 100. 

It made me feel like I could one day reach (Twitch) Partner and make it. I don’t wanna be super famous. I just wanna be able to stream for a living, it’s my dream job! Maybe one day I’ll get there! Hard work will pay off!

If you could stream all over again, what would you change?

I think I wouldn’t get so close to people who are so focused on growth. I would set up a streaming schedule and stick to it and I would set up clear boundaries between my viewers, my mods, and myself.

Where do you think the VTubing scene is heading in the next few years?

The VTubing scene has exploded in recent years. It’s now a mainstream form of media. I see it entering national television as a daily normal, becoming an even bigger industry than people realize. However, I see it becoming harder and harder for indie VTubers to blow up or grow from scratch. 

What advice would you like to give to other VTubers/streamers?

Believe in yourself more than you believe in others. Don’t give up when you see people starting who (will eventually) succeed you. Your timeline is not theirs and vice versa, your time will come. It just won’t be in the time you might want it to be. Your ups and downs will shape you and you will get there, but never forget everyone who got you there, those who supported you despite everything, every hiatus, every form or shape you took. 

Be thankful and grateful for each and every one of your community members, but also to yourself you’ve worked hard for what you have and it’s something to always be proud of.

We certainly enjoyed asking Miminaru questions about her VTubing career, and I hope you enjoyed reading her answers. Thank you very much Miminaru for sharing your time with us. You can follow her on Twitch, Twitter and YouTube.

This interview was made possible in cooperation with Project Lune.

Also read our past VTuber interviews:
How VTubing Gave Kimie Her Voice Back · Hololive Indonesia at Comivuro 2
Aozora Kurumi of Project Kavvaii · Liliana Vampaia of MyHolo TV

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