Being ‘fat’ in China.

I’m well aware that my body shape isn’t the conventional shape of a Chinese body. I know this. Every day having to look at girls that have literally no fat on them whatsoever has definitely cemented this in my head!

So when my students say I’m fat, it makes me both a little angry, but It also forces me to explain to them that in fact, outside of China… I’m not actually fat.

During class, my 10 year old student and I had to make up a story. I was teaching her irregular verbs, so making up a story would be a good way for her to practise. I started mine off about a scary house. To make it more interesting I acted it out. I was pretending to try and open the door to run outside but of course it wouldn’t open. My student says to me…’But you are fat!’

I have no idea why she said this, my only guess is that because I am ‘fat’, I should be able to open the door. So, this abrupt sentence made me stop, turn to her and say… ‘I’m not fat.’ Her reply was ‘You are.’ In which I started to explain ‘ Yes, in China, I’m fat. But in Ireland I’m not. I’m normal’.

Her reply was ‘Really?’. Not the best thing to say to someone…..

I could as easily have said to her ‘You are fat too.’ As in China, she would be considered bigger than normal Chinese kids. But I would never say this to her. If someone told me at her age that I was fat, or this or that….. I would certainly remember it. So I held my tongue.

Compared to Chinese, I’m pear shaped, so I have bigger hips than them.  And I know this. I don’t try and flaunt them; wearing short shorts or the likes. Getting me into a bikini during summer nearly gives me a mental breakdown; the mental anguish of them seeing my ‘fat’ and ‘wobbly’ bits. The Chinese however, they have NO hips, and thats the way they like it. They also have no fat… like anywhere. No fat legs, no belly fat,  not even BINGO WINGS!  Sometimes I think ‘How the hell is that even possible??’

The bottom line is; Thin is beauty. Oh, and white skin.

I know my student didn’t mean to hurt my feelings, as it has happened to me before. For instance; when I came back to work after my trip to Mexico, my Chinese colleagues said ‘Aisling you are skinnier’. I didn’t know whether to be happy that I lost weight, or annoyed at the fact that before I was fatter.

It’s just a Chinese thing. In Ireland we wouldn’t mention anything about weight, but here it’s not considered taboo. If someone got fat, they will tell them, without meaning to be mean.

I heard that if someone is fat, then they enjoy eating and that they enjoy their life. Being plump means you are healthy. But the way people here are obsessed with being skinny, I don’t think this ideology applies anymore. Pity, the old idea definitely suits me better!

I’m slowly learning not to pay attention to these comments. It is hard sometimes though, especially as I’m not the most body confident person, so any criticism sticks with me…. for a long time!

Though once they say it in Chinese, then thats ok, as I won’t have a clue what they are saying about me. 🙂



10 thoughts on “Being ‘fat’ in China.

  1. Oh wow. This would destroy my self confidence. And most women here in the U.S. at least. Bravo that you can look beyond the comments to the reasoning!

  2. Jesus, that’s mental! This post made me mad on your behalf! I teach so many fat kids I’d be furious if they said something about my weight, ha! My pal got told she looked pregnant once…she’s a size 10!! Xx

  3. I was horrified the first time i went to a spa and they offered me pajamas in size Large – I’m a Small in Europe. And my colleagues, chinese teacher, chinese freinds, the man in the tea shop – they would all tell me if they thought i’d ‘put weight on’

  4. That was the hardest thing for me about living in Korea…it completely diminished my self confidence, I ignored it for the longest time but over time it started getting to me more. I had people telling me that I was fat, then I could barely fit into size 2xl clothes there so I started believing it myself. I’ve just moved to America and I’m feeling a million times better about myself now!

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