posted by mshehe
I’m 5’3 without shoes, and wear sizes XXXS – M depending on the store. I grew up in North America (New Jersey and Toronto, to be specific) and have always felt tiny.
What’s funny is that although I was small by North American standards, every time I visited my grandparents in China, I was greeted with: “Wah, fei jor wor!”. That essentially translates into: “Wow, you got fat!”. Of course, grandparents love to fatten up their grandkids so they genuinely meant it in a good way. However, I couldn’t argue with the fact that I was still bigger than the other girls I saw on the streets. It seemed like everyone around me was super thin.
In most parts of the developed world, there is pressure for women to stay thin. However, is this pressure heightened in Azn cultures?
In street boutiques in China, clothes are one-size-fits-all. That is what girls use to benchmark themselves against – if you can’t fit into one of those dresses, you’re too big. If you turn on the television, actresses from drama series are almost always a size 0 or 2. The ideal beauty is tall, thin, fair skinned, thin, has shiny hair, and … oh did I mention thin?
Diet ads are everywhere, from subway stations to shopping centres, and I don’t mean diet and fitness programs. These are full-on diet pills (often harmful) and slimming centres. During my trip back to China this summer, I was approached by a girl on the street advertising $500 diet pills. Our conversation went something like this:
Girl: Hi there, would you be interested in our diet pills?
Me: (politely) No thanks.
[Girl keeps talking and conversation goes on for 5 min.]
Me: Seriously. I don’t think I need to diet.
Girl: Why not? Everyone does it. But honestly, I think you do. Your arms and legs have a bit of fat you could get rid of with these pills. They will make you so much prettier. Only $500!
Me (offended): Miss. Did you listen to anything I just said?
Needless to say, I left. This conversation was offensive and amusing at the same time. I was surprised she was so open in commenting about my weight even though she was trying to get on my good side to sell her product.
Hence, what I did realize this summer is that there isn’t the same stigma associated with talking about weight. In Canada, it is kind of taboo to comment on someone’s body. The same can’t be said in China. When having dinner with a family member or friend you haven’t seen in a while, you can be assured that they will make a comment on whether you got skinnier, fatter, or stayed the same. So after they make the verdict that you are fat, they will spend the entire dinner convincing you to eat more. While they are just trying to look out for you, this does make you more conscious of your weight.
So would I say that Azn women have more pressure to be thin than other ethnicities? Slightly. (1) There is the stereotype that all Azn girls are skinny, and (2) the fact that everyone around you in Asia seems to be skinny.
In fact, the magic number in China seems to be 110 lbs before you need to start losing weight.
What do you think? As an Azn, do you feel more pressure to be thin?
*Note: My opinions are only based on my background (Chinese) so I don’t know if this is just a Chinese thing.