14 August 2006
Actual conversation today with the person I work most closely with:
Person: Are you getting fatter?
Me (attempting not to be offended because of culture and all that): I don’t think so. I’m wearing a skirt that is a bit tight.
P: Does that make you look fatter?
M: Generally, yes.
M: By the way, you might want to be careful about telling North American women that they look fat. We all want to be skinny. We really hate being told that we are fat.
P: Oh. [thinks for a minute] Is that why [insert name of prominent person/author in the field we work in] got so upset when I told her she was getting fat? She tried to argue with me.
M: Yes, probably. We all want to be very thin.
P: Really? Like that girl who was just here? [meaning very skinny but feminine girl who just left]
M: Yes, like that.
P: Like me?
M: Are you particularly skinny?
P: Yes, I’m skinny.
M: Okay, fine, then, like you. We all want to be as thin as possible. We all want to be thinner than we are.
P: Do YOU want to be thinner than you are?
M: Yes, of course.
M: Well, our culture tells us that we have to be as thin as possible.
P: That’s a terrible culture.
M: Well, that’s the culture we are stuck with. You just might want to be cautious about telling North American women that we are fat. We don’t like it.
P: Okay, that’s good to know.
I generally only bother having this conversation with men. With women there is a sort of camaraderie about the insult and they generally poke you in the stomach or some other such irreverent but affectionate gesture and I tolerate it in much the same way that I would tolerate an aunt doing the same thing, because I know I could do the same thing back to them. Anyway, women who say this to me are usually much fatter than me.