As a treat for our loyal readers, we have given two perspectives (male and female) to this less-discussed but very important topic: Being Skinny. Enjoy!
Asian Guy Perspective
When I hit the 50 kg mark in 3rd grade, my mom responded appropriately, just as any concerned parent would:
“It hurts me to look at you! It must have been that one time I fed you American food last year.”
Asian parents have an amazing aptitude to find specific things to blame, and specific things to be angry about. My A- in math class resulted in a swift beating, a 3-week grounding, and no more playing in the sand–”the American sand is dangerous.” My playing too many videogames was seen as a rebellion against the classic Chinese values I should be upholding, especially growing up in New Mexico–”too much hanging out with those Amigos.” And while my parents forgave the sand and the Amigos, they never forgave the fact that I was overweight for most of my childhood–”do you know how ashamed I am of you?”
I never really minded being overweight. I was softer, gave better hugs, and could run around outside just like all the other little kids. But as I grew older, and continued to be a source of shame for my parents, I began to feel ashamed of myself as well. After my parents refused to let me eat dinners anymore in 7th grade, I decided that I had to go on a diet. I lost about 22 kilos over the course of the year, seeking the approval of my parents, and approval of myself. Unfortunately, when I did reach my weight goal, my parents did begin to approve.
I became disillusioned. Do my parents only like me now because of how I look?
Thankfully, I was wrong. Raised in the US, I’m not used to how Asian parents treat their children. The first day of kindergarten, I watched all the parents say “have fun!” when dropping off their kids for the first time. My mom said to me, “Alan. Today is the first day of school. You will do well. Go to Harvard. Become good doctor. Make money.” I was always raised in an environment of shame. I’m studying Symbolic Systems and Computer Systems Mediation of Medicine. I didn’t go to Harvard, but chose Stanford because of the superiour CS programme. Both decisions were huge embarassments to my parents. I watched in envy as my friends would go out with their families to celebrate their entrance into New Mexico State. There was always a higher bar to reach, and I felt unloved. But now, I see how this constant disapproval was really constant love from my parents. I didn’t deserve to wake up to breakfast everyday. Have a car ride to school everyday. Receive the best of every endeavor I took on. I certainly don’t deserve to be at the unchallenged mecca of computer science.
As for my weight, my parents just wanted me to be healthy–they were never ashamed. Asian parents really just go about things differently. In our western view, we might think they are taking things too far, but it is this hyperbole that characterises love in the Asian culture.
Written by Alan Sien Wei Hshieh
Asian Girl Perspective
The skinny Asian girl has become a stereotype. Asian parents (specifically mothers) are critical in general and usually call their skinny daughters fat. You may be thinking, “What in the world?!” The reason may stem from their constant worry for their daughters to “have a happy life,” in other words, find a wealthy husband to take care of their daughter, have a family, and give them many many grandchildren. In Asian culture, having many grandchildren is a measure of prosperity, so Asian mothers are constantly matchmaking in their heads (save for later post). If the guy has any label of “doctor,” “engineer,” or “lawyer,” they will approve with a big grin inside. And if their daughters are fat, that makes them less attractive or plainly-put “ugly” so “no guy would want to marry [her].”
Asian mothers start worrying at the earliest signs of what they believe to be obesity which is equivalent to average according to American body mass index. They have their own Asian body mass index. Once their 8 year old girl starts showing a little bulging tummy, rosy cheeks, and maybe cannot fit her jeans anymore, the mom will start yelling, “You fat girl! Look what you did! All you do is eat and now you can’t wear any of your clothes. I’m not letting you eat anymore.” And so the mother starts to feed her girl less food, not realizing this may just be the normal signs of healthy growth, and her actions might just stunt the girls height and health in general. Asian parents do all this out of love and worry for their child’s future, and Asian kids are just used to being called “fat”.
My friend told me a story about his sister. He said, “She’s only 90 lbs, and my mom still says she’s too fat.” I’ve heard countless stories in college where without the supervision of Asian parents, the girls can eat whatever they want. After holiday breaks, they usually come back to campus complaining that their parents told them to go on a diet immediately, and that they are way too fat. I looked at most of them and wondered is 115 lb and below considered fat? Asian parents confuse me. Anyways, telling their child to go on a diet by starving themselves is really not the way to go. They should really encourage their girls to pick up a sport, be more active, and be more informed about nutrition.
Asians also have an Asian Superiority Complex (I mean…we really are superior), but if we want to be better, why not be bigger instead?
Written by Kvietgrl
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