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.