Friday, October 16, 2009

How to (quickly) get out of a weight-discussion

Not sure if I’ve told you guys but I’ve gotten myself a new language partner at my new uni. This girl, Feng, is by far the youngest Chinese friend I’ve ever had and she’s really sweet. Although we’d only met once before the October holiday, this week when we caught up she gave me a mooncake. Friendly indeed.

Feng’s English is quite bad and most of her study material is written in academic English. When we meet, my job is to help her translate the texts to Chinese and explain some hard words (which sometimes isn’t easy). Since none of us has a lot of time to spare we are always rather straight to the point and mainly chat about study materials, rather than other things. However, just the other day when I was in the middle of explaining the word “significant” to her, she suddenly asked:

-Have you ever undergone a successful experience of weight loss?

Was all I could master. Not only was her wording quite funny (she sounded like an essay), but the question was totally out of context.

- Have you ever undergone a successful experience of weight loss? She repeated.

-Eh…. No? I answered, unsure of what else to say and not really keen to move into this never-ending, completely overdone topic.

-Why not? She urged.

I sighed. I knew this wasn’t going to end here. I could either pick up the ball and throw it back, and we could talk about a woman’s lifelong wish of being thinner. Or, I could simply end it here and now.

-Well. I don't think I need to. I said. I don’t want to lose weight.

Feng’s eyes were suddenly big as bowling balls.

-Really?! You know, here in China women are supposed to be so thin! So thin!! The thinner the better! Maybe it is different where you come from?

I said. I don’t think weight loss is interesting.

-Well, I have successfully lost weight once! Feng went on, eyes shining.

-Oh… Okay.

-Yeah, I stopped eating breakfast… and no rice! But I hate it, because I love rice.

-That’s not nice then.

-No, but I want to be thin….

-OK, so back to the essay…
. I tried.

-Do you think eating a sandwich will make me fat?

(Oh lord, there is no end to this topic is there?)

-I don’t think eating one sandwich will make you fat, I said (the girl is, as you all might have guessed, tiny).

-Do you eat sandwiches?


-But you have never lost weight?

-Never. Ever.

-And you don’t want to?


Those big eyes again.

-Well OK, so back to the essay….

And believe it or not guys, but then we actually went back to the essay! Topic closed. The fastest close on a weight/thin/fat discussion in China I’ve managed so far, even though I had some difficulties getting there. Still, I can’t believe I didn’t think of this earlier.

From now on I’m always going to say I don't want to lose weight.


Anonymous said...

Good on you Jonna !!!!


Jess said...

I will have to try this next time I have the misfortune of getting into a conversation about weight.

Igor Prawn said...

Very funny! I enjoyed reading that. :)

BioniKat said...

Those girls (and probably guys) need some serious deprogramming about being thin! Is anorexia a big problem there?

Jonna Wibelius said...

fei - :)

Jess -yeah. I tend to end up having to have those discussions over and over again.

Igor -great to hear, thanks :)

Momcat -I don't think so. The ideal over here is just to be super thin. So girls are always saying that they look fat even though they are tiny. I'm a bit fed up as u can tell...

Pete In Syracuse said...

I thought back in the Day weight gain was to signify Prosperity!? Ya Ya I know.... Great story I hope your new technique works. Keep us posted! Maybe when you see the look like I'm going to bring up the subject of weight you should test out just blurting it out at the beginning of the conversation and see if that seals the deal... hehe

Zhe said...

I don't like thin girls, and I think there are lots of Chinese like me don't. Some of them are just too thin and they look sick. I think the Scandinavia girl's bodies are the good example of being healthy and good-looking, Chinese girls just try to lose weight by cutting down their food.

But I think she is just shy and wanted to have a conversation.

Dingle said...

A friend in Japan once told me that one of her Japanese friends went to the doctor because she couldn't lose weight, the doctor looked at her like she was stupid and asked why she didn't just make herself sick after eating like a lot of other girls do. Apparently it's quite normal out there..

马麟 said...

Hi, Jonna, I've checked your posts for several weeks, they are interesting. I'm in Lund now by the way.
This weight post remind me a funny story happened in our corridor. There is a girl, whenever I saw her in kitchen, she was eating(just coincidence). So I just said "Oh, hi, it seems you are eating all day long, aren't you afraid of growing weight?" And she got angry. Well you should know I was not aware this is offensive in western custom, it's just a regular joke in China. So after some explanation, she learned this, and use similar manner to fight back whenever she could T_T... like call me beard instead, play happy when I said I'm exhausted by study. Though it's a very "Chinese" kind of behavior among good friends, once she's still caught by her parents. Then she complained to me that I taught her bad habit...

Jonna Wibelius said...

pete -that was a long time ago in China.. also, I'm not sure if it's ever been considered "good" for a woman to be fat... Don't see it happen anytime soon either!

Zhe- yeah maybe she just wanted to chit-chat... it's fine. All people have different preferences when it comes to bodies. Some like skinny, some like normal, some like chubby, curvy, etc etc... I don't care too much as long as noone calls me fat, haha!

Dingle -that's just... scary... and crazy. Going to the doctor because you cannot lose weight sounds kind of strange too. It's not really rocket sicence.. eat less, exercise more ...-tadaaaaaa! And it happens! Cannot believe the doctor didn't tell her that instead.

马麟 -My little brother is also living and studying in Lund, he loves it over there. Hope u like it too. Lund is close to my home town. I can totally understand why your friend too offense. Fine if you would have simply told her: "man, everytime I see you you are eating, don't u have any other hobbies?!" with a smile, but the fact that u said: "aren't you scared of putting on weight" (with a smile??) makes it different. Putting on weight is simply not considered to be joke material over here... Still, I can understand u find her reaction a bit funny seeing that in China it would be such a normal thing to say. I have to admit that I kind of hate all the weight comments I get in China... But that's just me :) enjoy Lund!