Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Day of Dramas

What a day I had yesterday. And not in a good way. I had promised to go to Shanghai to help out at a German clothing company who needed a girl of size 38 to try some clothes on. I have done this sort of work before and it is fairly easy, so when a friend called me and asked if I was interested in the beginning of last month (she knows I am a size 38 –I always have been, or OK, I wasn't born like this.. but almost!) I said yes.

If I would have known how stressful this week was to be, however, I probably wouldn’t have gone, but how could I have known, almost 2 months ahead? Anyways, I had lessons in the morning then caught the train (didn’t have time to eat lunch but thought to myself that I would order something at the company), arrived to Shanghai, caught the metro to where the company is located, went in, met my ‘fitting lady’ and started fitting clothes. It went quite well until the lady asked me about my measurements.

-You seem a bit tall to be a size 38?

-Sure, I am taller than your average size 38 (which is around 168cm to this company’s standard, not 175 like me).
-What about your measurements? Hip, chest, waist?

-Eh… I don’t know. Last time I was measured I was a spot on size 38.

-OK, do you mind if I measure you?

-No, sure, go ahead.

I stripped down and was measured and everything seemed fine until we came to my hip. I could tell by the look she gave me.

-Something wrong? I asked.

-Your hip is a bit bigger than our standard. 2 cm bigger.

-Oh…. (face going red). I am… ehum.. sorry?

-It’s OK. Just good to know.

It didn’t sounds as if it was OK. And I felt deeply ashamed. My hip has NEVER been referred to as ‘big’ before.

I put some new clothes on and at the same time another lady from the company arrived.

-Jonna, did you want to order some lunch? How about a sandwich?

Me and the fitting lady looked at each other.

-Eh… no… actually, I grabbed something on my way here! I am not so hungry!

-But… before you said….?

-Eh, no! It’s fine! No lunch for me!

I couldn’t believe what I was saying but at the same time I couldn’t see myself eating anything in front of a lady who already had called me ‘too big.’

We finished all the clothes, and despite my big hip we didn’t have any big problems. Once we were done I said to the lady:

-I am sorry, I really didn’t know that my hip was bigger than your standard. It didn’t used to be. I guess I have been sloppy with my eating habits lately.

-Oh it’s OK. Sometimes we have plus-sized fitting girls.

Plus sized. Plus sized. Plus sized?!?!??!?!

Oh my god. This is the end of my relationship with chocolate for good. Someone just called me plus sized.

I said my goodbyes and walked out. It was 5pm and I was starving (hadn’t eaten anything since 7am –very stupid, I know, and trust me, I am not the kind of girl who skips meals). I headed to the first café I saw, Costa Café to grab a sandwich.

Although they only had cakes. Big no-no.

So I went to the convenience store next door and picked up a ‘sushi set platter’ for 7 kuai. By now I was so hungry I could have eaten the plastic cover.

It was a bit chilly outside (and I had only brought a small cardigan –yeah I know, stupid me) so I went back to the Costa Café (which was completely empty) and asked if I could buy a drink and sit in one of their hidden corners for 5 min and eat my sushi.

-Eh, absolutely not!! Said the girl, with such attitude that it made me annoyed on the spot. Relax lady, I only asked!!!

So, I skipped the drink and went outside and sat on some miniature park bench and ate my sushi pieces, feeling kind of low. It was around 5.30pm and my train wasn’t until 7.10pm. Although… maybe I could catch an earlier train? Wasn’t there a train to Suzhou leaving already at 6.30pm? For some reason, my nut-sized brain started to believe this and I got up and headed to the train station to try and swap my 7.10-ticket for an earlier one from the ‘train ticket black market’ which is taking place around Shanghai Railway station’s metro exit one.

Although my brain had been wrong. There wasn’t any train at 6.30pm. But there was one at 6.20pm.

-You can still make it if you run! Said the woman trying to sell me the ticket. It was 6.13pm.

OK, what the heck I thought, gave her my 7.10pm-train ticket, took hers and RAN.

Oh my how I ran. I almost killed a baby on the way (I feel deeply ashamed about this It is not in my normal behavior but for some reason I really wanted to catch this train and get home). I skipped all security checks and stuff and headed straight into the packed ‘train-waiting lounge’ and ran to my gate. Although… the gate was closed. And there were no train people around to open it.

-Open the gate, open the gate! I yelled in Chinese. The people that were sitting close by were staring at me, wide-eyed.

-Climb over it! One suddenly said.

I did.

Then I hit the thick, closed glass doors. All locked. I didn’t get it. It was still 6.17pm. I could still make that train! I started banging on the doors. By this time I believe everybody in the waiting lounge were following my little ‘adventure’ and an old lady got up and told me to ‘try this door! Try that one! And that!!’ –dircting me around with a pointing finger. I ran where she pointed and tried them all but they were locked. Then I saw the big, yellow sign on the one door, saying ‘all doors close 5 minutes prior to the train leaving.’ It was still 6.18pm. But I couldn’t get to the platform.

I had to climb back to the waiting lounge and sit down and endure 498623498639 people staring at me, giggling, and laughing (I can totally understand why, what and idiot I had behaved like… so this time I didn’t mind it). When I sat down I also realized I was dripping wet from my little ‘run’ and ‘climbing adventure’ and the fact that I had missed the train and now didn’t even have any valid ticket made me want to cry. Some people came up to me and offered to help me to get onto another train… yeah, in fact, people were very friendly and helpful. But I still felt like ‘The Biggest (yeah, biggest!) Loser.'

In the end, however, there weren’t any ‘earlier trains to Suzhou’ so I ended up catching the 7.10pm train to Suzhou. I went on my expired ticket. Nobody said anything. I guess that can be considered to be my first luck of the day.

Today I have an exam (which is one of the reasons why I wanted to get home earlier last night) and I don't even dare to think about how it's going to go. But let's hope I have a better luck than I did yesterday. 


Diane said...

Oh Jonna, you are sooo hard on yourself . . . and not hard enough on the fitting lady. You might have told her to get a new tape measure or move her finger out of the way while measuring or that you only wear clothing from the first/best cut. You are so bright and funny and witty but . . . definitely too tough on yourself.

Yang said...

awww cheer up Jonna you shouldn't let someone else's opinions get to you! It's hard sometimes to just filter out the "negative" comments but people have different standards so for this lady size 38 was probably already "plus" in her mind.

btw what size was she? You should've made a cynical rebuttal and make her red faced too HA!

Hope your test thingy went well =]

Anonymous said...

So funny! I laughed aloud!! I hope that you never stop telling us about your experiences!

Emmy said...

So sorry! There is a kids book I like called "Alexander and the Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day", it sounds like that was your day.
And girl, never ever in a million years would you be considered plus size!! You have just been in a country with small people for a long time so your prescriptive is skewed. You are beautiful!

Johan Rusli said...

It's such a nice experience. :-)
Right now, I almost have read every post you made. hehehehe...
I read your blog while eating, waiting, standing, etc. :-)

flyingfish said...

Oh, man, Jonna, that sounds awful! I am so sorry! No wonder you were practically in tears -- it's very hard to keep your perspective when you haven't been fed properly in a while. :)

I still remember how bad I felt when my ex-boyfriend from Shandong told me I had gained weight. This was, like, 12 years ago. I was a pixie back then -- now I am much too used to being, ahem, "like Yang Guifei" to care. When, just last week, a friend suggested I change my profile picture because it makes me look fat, I was mainly just like, "So? Last time I checked I wasn't auditioning for the New York City Ballet!" And personally I think one of the perks that should go along with NOT being in the New York City Ballet is that nobody says to you, "Oh, but, dear, you were always heavy." Or, if they do, you can tell them exactly what they can do with their toe shoes!

I realize that you were fitting clothes for a company, but that's hardly the same thing as modelling. And after all, they said it didn't matter that your measurements were a bit atypical. So cheer up! You are a dedicated runner (by most people's standards), and that's just what you look like. Surely that's good enough?

Does it ever seem to you like the whole "fat" obsession is reaching epidemic proportions in China these days? Back in the States, I just don't seem to hear much about it anymore. Maybe it's my age -- my friends have grown past it by now -- or maybe it's the free-to-be-you-and-me type crowd I seem to hang out with, or maybe it's just that being fat is so common in the States that nobody thinks about it anymore, but, anyway, very few of the women I know seem to think it's their responsibility to be as thin as possible: "that's just SO last century."

Veronique Renard said...

I have been reading your blog for a while and I must admit, despite your busy life you still find time to post almost every day, and be very funny. Bravo.

As a Dutch girl, I have lived in India for 7 years before I moved to Thailand 2,5 years ago. Stories about the cultural differences and habits of the people in the foreign countries we live in and how we respond to that as Europeans always make a good read. Writing down my own experiences in India and sending them to a publisher made me a published writer in the Netherlands and USA!

I have a request. I would like to read a story from you about all the things that you love about China and Chinese. And can you figure out what the Chinese love most about themselves and their country?

I often hear Chinese complain that the western media often focus on negative aspects of Chinese society. So I want to know the opposite. Could you do that for me, please? Can you write a “love post” about China and Chinese?

Veronique (Bangkok)

Yann Le Berre said...

You really shouldn't feel that way! There's a big different of bone shape structure between Asian and Caucasian, and especially in the hip size.
These wider hips enhance body sensuality!

Chong Hum said...

Ummmm, Jonna, look at it this way ... you did tomorrow's training run already !!!!! LOL ... sorry, very funny post today !!!!!

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear your unhappy experience of yesterday. However, just as you said, you still had a little luck to catch the 7:10 PM train. Be Happy. Hope you can have good performance in the exam.

Nanciful said...

Sorry to hear about your rough day I think you need a **HUG**. Also, don't feel bad about the sizing J! You are very fit and look great!

Anonymous said...

That's one bad day alright... *hug*

Chris Wolf said...

So sorry for your rotten day. As a real plus sized lady, it does hurt. Every time. Perhaps the bigger question you can ponder after exam is why her opinion mattered so much so much to you?

A Lady Reveals Nothing said...

When I was in Shanghai, I went shopping in a dress shop and was trying on beautiful gorgeous dresses. Felt like splurging I guess. Ready to spend money. Well I tried on several dresses and they were all too small, the lady couldn't zip them up for me. I laughed, she laughed, we sort of bonded over the dresses not zipping up. Which I didn't think was a big deal. I figured that if I found one that I liked, we could worry about sizes later. Surely they would have more sizes in the back. Well, after the fourth dress not fitting me, and being too small to zip, I pointed at another dress I wanted to try on. The lady sliced her hand through the air and said "SMALL" and stuck her nose up in the air and wouldn't look at me anymore. Meaning, you're too fat to wear these dresses, get out of my store.

Colleen said...

What a crazy day! I would have probably been crying in the train station. I hope today goes better for you.

♥♥♥♥♥ Jennifer™® ♥♥♥♥♥ said...

your blog is very fine

Kate said...

Chin up, Jonna!!! You are a beautiful girl and I would hate to see you become one of those girls who measures her worth by her body. You are more than a set of measurements!

I know a teacher who has some good definitions for "pretty" and "beautiful"

"Pretty"= looks good

"Beautiful"= IS GOOD

Make sure you measure yourself by the right set of standards, and strive for beauty, not looks!

I am sorry the fates conspired against you, I hope the rest of the week brings more joy.

Jonna Wibelius said...

Thanks everyone for your nice comments/hugs :) I never expected such a big response, I thought this post was too long for people to even get through... but I'm really glad I made some people laugh w this blog post... then the whole day wasn't a waste :)

As for the fitting lady... it's OK. I know I have maybe gained a few unwanted kilos this spring (still not sure how but I assume from eating too much and not exercising enough -that's normally how it happens) and that she was expecting a perfect size 38 fitting girl, not a size 38 + 2 cm hip girl... It's OK though. I am working on it. Like I said in the beginning of this post, I have always been a size 38, not bigger, not smaller. And I intend to stay that way. So I'll be fine. Just some more running and I am back to where I should be :) Not planning to get all obsessive, although what Flying Fish pointed out is probably true... "the whole "fat" obsession is reaching epidemic proportions in China these days" because it sure does!!! My Chinese girlfriends always complain about them being 'fat'. And they are chopstick thin. So it's kind of hard not to feel like a giant when I am around them.

Office Pantau Foundation -that's a great idea!! I'll do a post like that sometime in the near future! :)

Christopher said...

Oh my god, that sounds incredibly stressful Jonna. It seemed everything was against you on that day...must have been in the stars!! As for the assistant saying you were plus size, that's insane. A couple of days ago one of my fellow foreign teachers came to work and the first thing one of the Chinese teachers said was, "You look fatter today". He's completely thin too!!

Veronique Renard said...

Thank you, I am looking forward to that already. I am happy for you that your writings get so much reponse. I started blogging not long ago and wished one day I'll have a following like you. You posts actually inspired me and I wrote something about your post and how this affected me.

Good luck and enjoy,
Veronique (Pantau in Bangkok)

Jim said...

Sorry about your bad day, Jonna, seems like it just went from bad to worse.

Chinese people see no offense in telling someone that they are fat or have got fatter etc. It reminds me of a funny story.

I am married to a Chinese lady in Australia. Not long after coming to Aus from Beijing she was working in an office job. A colleague bought a document to her desk for signing and said to her that she would wait so she did not have to make another trip from her office to collect it later. My wife said "well if you walked a bit more you would be less fat" her colleague said "I BEG YOUR PARDON" my wife repeated louder because she thought she had not heard properly "well if you walked a bit more you would be less fat" the other lady said "I BEG YOUR PARDON!!!" my wife, convinced by now that she was hard of hearing said louder "WELL IF YOU WALKED A BIT MORE YOU WOULD BE LESS FAT". Her colleage ran off in tears and my wife was puzzled (until others explained the situation to her) as to why she was upset.

As a western guy married to a Chinese lady I can say the Chinese looks are more different to that of western girls and differences attract. The more Chinese looking the more attractive in my eyes. This works on a subconcious level as well as people find partners with less genetic simularity to themselves more attractive because genetic diversity leads to offspring with stronger immune systems. Chinese women also have beautiful smooth skin, glossy black hair and are elegantly petite. Lovely!

(Having said that you don't scrub up too badly yourself, Jonna!)

lost said...

I really don't know what to say...u are called too big for 2 cm? and plus sized?

what's called standard sized? all bs...

big hip only turns a woman hotter!

Jonna Wibelius said...

Jim -oh, the lady who called me plus sized wasn't Chinese. She was German. Oh and trust me, I know that Chi people telling you that u r fat is as common as snow during a Scandinavian winter.. Trust me, I've been told many times! :)

Veronique (Bangkok)-I'm sure u will get a lot of readers, being a published author and everything. Gosh, that's my biggest dream! :) Good on you!

Henry -haha. Not sure if I agree about that... but yeah, I also think plus size was a bit... harsh.

she said...

haha, the way you describe your longest day is so cute:D It is kind of relaxing time when reading your story.

J said...

Sounds like your life might have been accidentally scripted into a black comedy film for the day. I find it quite amausing that (in the provincial backwaters of the Shiz anyway) women's clothes are often packaged in boxes decorated with a picture of a Caucausian woman who in most cases wouldn't actually fit into the clothes sizes as they're sold. It puzzles me though, I see lots of Chinese women who aren't the skinny straight up and down stereotype, but heaven knows where they buy their clothes! Ok, rambling here, sorry!

Pete In Syracuse said...

You seem surprised that there were so many responses to this entry. I think when a person is open & honest it touches peoples hearts. Most people want to present an image of a better person so people will like them, but making yourself vulnerable is an openess that is appealing. The only thing hard about it is that you open yourself up for criticism & or being called a winer. I prefer to call it bravery, character & strenght. Every new days a new beginning with or without hips ;o)

yan+starla said...

Jonna, don't every give up chocolate!

Chocolatesa said...

Like others said YOU'RE NOT TOO BIG!!! It's true that you're very hard on yourself, you eat healthy, do lots of exercise, and you live in a country of tiny people! So don't take any notice if you don't live up to other's (totally unrealistic and impossible) standards. You're beautiful!!! Don't let anyone make you think otherwise!

Janet said...

In Korea, if you don't look like a lollipop (giant head, stick body), they consider you fat. I think Asians look mean when they are so skinny; it's not attractive.

Americans are too fat, but it's not good to go so far in the other direction, either.

Most men will tell you they like a little meat on the bones, anyway. A happy, confident chubby woman wins over a mean, miserable skinny b****! Not that you're chubby. You look & sound perfectly normal to me. Don't let Asians' skewed weight issues get you down.

mtl said...


This is a great post, one of your best!
What? They wouldn't even let you eat the sushi? That's ridiculous, just don't ask next time.

I just finished an exam today... 3 more to go, so I know how it feels. Hope you did well!

Little Tiger said...

Oh dear!it's days like those that are best spent curled up in bed.

Jonna Wibelius said...

She -another 'she' :) Glad u enjoyed the post :)

Pete In Syracuse -hehe, I was actually waiting for someone to call me a 'whiner' but so far so good. Well, I believe everyone has good days and bad days, no point trying to keep a brave face on all the time.

yan+starla -hehe... no, it sounds crazy doesn't it? Giving up one of the best things in life... well, I won't give it up for good, maybe just for a while though.

Chocolatesa -ah thanks :) Well, yeah, I am quite hard on myself, but then again, for the last weeks I haven't done as much exercise as usual... but but. Nothing to whine about. Better just go out there and run! :)

GiGwriter -hahaha, I def don't have the 'lollipop' look :) But u r right.. I shouldn't let small things like this get to me. I guess it was just one of those days... it is true though that I am much more weight-obsessed here in China than I would be back home.

dfvxc -hehe, glad u enjoyed it :) and u r right, next time I will just sit down and eat it, like I've seen so many other people do over here.

little tiger -yeah it sure was!!! This week has been pretty full-on, or actually, it started already last week.. I haven't had a day off for ages, but on Sunday... oh, sweet Sunday, I am going to stay in bed all day long and just relaaaaax! ahhhh!

MJF said...

Aww, thats one sad day for you, bad Fengshui it must be, haha, poor Jonna.