After a somewhat lengthy hiatus while I relocated back to Hong Kong and started my new job (and all was pandemonium for a while) I’m back to focusing on this blog and spreading self-acceptance while taking a good, hard look at the world we live in today as a plus size woman.
Man, it’s hit me like a slap in the face being back in HK. At home in the UK I was just another (albeit slightly larger than average) young woman; going out, getting drunk, having a good time. Fast forward into Hong Kong and yet again people stare like I’m an alien from another planet. Now, I try not to take it too personally. I get it, the Asian shape is far removed from the typical Western woman’s proportions. I get it, here thin is in and image is pretty much everything. What I don’t like is the constant pressure from other people to regulate what I eat, how I feel, and what I wear.
It’s a culture thing: the Chinese remark on your weight like they’re talking about the weather. It’s a habitual fall-back, a steady and inexhaustive topic of conversation. I can understand, even if I don’t approve of, Asian women discussing the fluctuating weights of one another in conversation. What makes me uncomfortable is when those cultural norms are imposed onto Western women.
Example 1: people remarking on what I eat. “Chocolate again? Not good for you.” “You should eat more vegetables.” etc, etc. Once in a while, ok – but when it’s every time I sit down for lunch and open my mouth, this constant surveillance of my diet is more than a little wearing. In fact, it’s downright irritating. How dare anyone tell me what I should and should not eat? How can anyone feel they have the right to dictate when and where and what I should consume? Not only is it extremely damaging to my self image, it’s also none of their business. Every single person has the right to eat whatever they want, whenever they want: it’s cultural impositions like the above and the role of the media in ‘recommending’ what we should and should not eat that has so many women regulating their diets so restrictively.
Anorexia, bulimia and a host of related eating disorders are rife throughout the Far East, and I can’t help but wonder if this trend is bolstered by the custom of remarking on the weight of one’s peers. Not only do women critically survey their body image themselves, but they have friends, family and colleagues habitually do the same. This ever present sense of judgement pervades at the dinner table, and makes eating at school an uncomfortable trial rather than the socially beneficial experience it should be. I’m all for cultural exchange, but when it comes to telling what I can and can’t eat … I’ll be taking my meals somewhere else, thanks.
No one has the right to make you feel uncomfortable in ANYTHING you do. Your actions are mandated only by yourself. That applies to anything and everything: your career, your choices, your sex life, your appearance, your diet. You are in charge of choosing. It’s something we should all remember – and next time someone, however well-intentioned, tells me what I should or shouldn’t be eating, I’m going to politely tell them to mind their own business.