Wednesday, December 06, 2006

THE F WORD



I've found that older Asians have no qualms at all about throwing around the "f" word: fat. Now, I'm referring to Asians from all across the continent (actually, one of my biggest pet peeves is folks who insist that I'm not Asian because I'm not Chinese or Japanese or Filipino. Please people, Asia is the largest continent on the planet and includes many regions besides the Asia-Pacific region. How about flipping through an atlas every now and then? Jeez).

For example, while in the throes of an awful hip injury that sidelined me from my usual workout regimen a couple of years ago, I went to a newsstand that I regularly frequent to buy some gum. The two Indian women who worked behind the register were always sweet and friendly, until on this day, when one of them exclaimed, "Oh, you're so fat now! You were so nice and thin! But look at you! Now you're BIG and FAT!"

I knew that the clerk meant no harm. If anything, she probably felt more at ease with me than her other customers because we shared an Asian subcontinental motherland. Nonetheless, I was shocked and upset. All eyes seemed to be on me and suddenly I was that tubby kid who tried desperately to not be noticed for fear of being teased. My jaw dropped as I squeaked out a "Really?!" and then proceeded to explain my excuse for being fat: bum hip (which, happened to be a result of working out), doctor's orders to take a break from ALL EXERCISE until I was through with 4 months of physical therapy, etc, etc. I wanted to cry.

As upsetting as that particular experience was, nothing really compares to the ruthless taunting and teasing kids are subjected to in school, right? Well, imagine if you were the butt of the jokes and your tormentor was an infuriatingly clueless, FOB teacher. It makes it that much more awful when an adult hands kids a free pass to make someone cry. It was the third grade; the teacher's name was Ms. Yunis and she had recently immigrated to the US from the Philippines. She was young and energetic and fun. She sang songs in class. She taught us how to spell Mississippi by singing M-I-double S-I-double S-I-double P-I, MISSISSIPPI! I mostly liked her except she had this terrible habit of making comments about my portliness in front of the class, which was, as you can imagine, mortifying.

So, one day, she comes up with this stupid exercise in class. She went from row to row and asked each one of us what we would take with us on a camping trip (strangely enough, I think this was during Religion class). Now, I don't know how the hell this bullshit exercise was supposed to be helping us scholastically but I do know one thing: I was terrified. I was freakin' scared as all shit that she would make fun of me for my food choice. She went from student to student--each one announcing foods that were wholly inappropriate for camping trips--without making a single comment. The closer she got to me, the more nervous I became. My hands were clammy and my heart was lodged in my throat as I racked my brain for a healthy food I could take on a goddamn bloody camping trip. Marshmallows, Twinkies, ice cream--the other kids declared as my turn fast approached--a Snicker's bar, pizza, candy! And then it was my turn:

Apples, I told her solemnly.

She laughed. "You must eat lots and lots of apple! That's why you're so FAT."

And the rest of the class laughed.

So, to all you great, dear Asians of the world: stop calling people fat. It's awfully impolite. Furthermore, who died and made you great weight critic? Get off it you jerks.

14 comments:

terra shield said...

Kids can be so cruel sometimes...

Being slightyly chubby as a kid can traumatise you for life. Learnt it the hard way too.

Craig said...

This is why we are soulmates.

I feel as though something like this would happen to me too.

SabilaK said...

TS: I was a size 14 in junior high. Slightly chubby doesn't begin to describe me. But, yah, the trauma lingers. Sigh.

SabilaK said...

Craig: be glad you were spared the horrors of being the fat kid in elementary school...or that girl who reached puberty in the third grade...shudder.

I have friends now who I'm sure would've picked the hell out of me had we known each other as kids. You aren't one of them. :) That's a good thing.

mist1 said...

Apple make you fat?

Chris said...

Now, see, the best part of this phenomenon is that the only other real option other than "fat" is "not fat enough".

And, at least where family and pseudo-family is concerned, people will almost always be offering you food regardless of which category you are in.

"You're so skinny! Here, eat some of this home-made, ridiculously-bad-for-you food."

OR

"You look so chubby! You must be hungry. Eat some of this home-made, ridiculously-bad-for-you food."

Anonymous said...

I started laughing when I saw that apple picture.

Jill said...

That is horrible. I got my period when I was 9, so I can understand the puberty in third grade comment. Latinos are pretty open about their feelings regarding your weight. It is stressful, because no amount of diet and exercise can help me compete with a malnourished person. I wear a size 8 (not that skinny, but not super fat either), and once in a while I get some random rude comment that totally shocks me. Even if the person making the comment is mentally deficient, it is still really hurtful. I'm just thinking, "I'm the fattest person you can find to comment on??"

When I was in third grade my mother got angry with me and yelled, "You're too fat for that dress!" I will remember that moment until the day I die.

Anonymouse said...

uh, that must be a radioactive apple. Now we know all about 'Big Apple'. Does nobody else get it. Nextt!!

passion said...

umm if all was so uniform, the world would be so boring.

Anonymous said...

some people have absolutely no tact at all. i was told once, the reason i am not married at 28 is because i am fat. i fluctuate between a size 6/8. i workout regularly and am fit and strong. so am not what one would call fat. but then again i guess comapred to all the anorexic looking girls i look like a whale.

DC Girl said...

Like that movie says: "Real Women Have Curves."

And what exactly is it with south asian culture and commenting on others' weights? My own mother does that to me and it drives me ape shit! I'm a curvy size 4 and proud of it but to others I'm fat. The world can kiss my big brown flat ass. I think I'm sexy!

Anonymouse said...

dc girl: no, you're fat.

Matt said...

No kidding. I'm white but I know that Asians hold a nearly two-thirds majority of the world population with something like 62-64%.

My buddy from India is from an ethnic group that is Asian, rather than non-white Caucasion.

If you're not sure what someone is, just ASSUME he's Asian and chances are you might be right.

But it's not just Americans. People all over are ignorant. Ask some Chinese "peasant" (that word doesn't seem politically correct, does it?) about Ronald Reagan and you'll get a blank look.

It is possible that there are peasants in the interior who have never even heard of the United States, that podunk country that doesn't have anything to with anything.....