Ask the Yangxifu: Chinese Boyfriend Thinks I'm Fat | Speaking of China

71 Responses

  1. Holly~
    Holly~ June 10, 2011 at 3:31 am | | Reply

    Ah yes. Sounds like a Chinese boyfriend alright lol.
    Seriously though, he shouldn’t be caring so much what other people think. Sure, being fat is a big deal in China. You’ve seen a lot of Chinese guys right? They are naturally stick-like. Even being average, Chinese people will still say you are fat. And then if you lose weight they will say you look unhealthy and try to stuff you with food. You can’t really win. My Chinese boyfriend weighs 62kg and he thinks he is overweight. Compared to the girls here yes I probably do seem like a whale. The bf does tell me I have a big butt but he doesn’t seem to complain about my rather buxom chest. Haha~ He loves me the way I am and wouldn’t tell me to lose weight unless it was a serious health problem. Really. I used to think Chinese women just stuff their faces and never gain weight, but actually a lot of them watch their diets, like anywhere in the world many even suffer from eating disorders, as Jocelyn referred to. Asians have naturally lighter bones and many of them have less bulky frames than other races. The ‘ideal’ weight over there for a girl is like 36-40kg which sounds absolutely ridiculous to me. You shouldn’t let this guy make you feel insecure over something which obviously bothers you a lot. If he keeps harping on about it, I’d say ditch him and find a guy who loves you & isn’t going to feel ‘ashamed’ of you no matter where you go together.

  2. Kath
    Kath June 10, 2011 at 4:07 am | | Reply

    This is one of the things that bugs me the most about living in Taiwan – the emphasis on body image and the stupid pressure on women to be tiny. It’s the same as China – if a girl weighs in the 50-60kg range then she is consider chubby. Over 60kg and oh have mercy, that’s enormous.

    I have always been a more substantial build. At one time I was an unhealthy weight and so I lost 20kg but that was nothing to do with any pressure from my then boyfriend, now husband. At the time we were living in New Zealand and the weight I got down to (and the weight I still am now) makes me look very normal. Medium. Here, however, I look Amazonian.

    I moved here after hubby had been living here for 2 years. I was the same weight I had been since my weight loss, no more, no less. Basically the weight I had been through the majority of our relationship. Suddenly, his perspective had changed and he now fond me too big and less attractive. Very large fight ensued with me pointing out if you were happy to marry this then nothing is going to change, buddy. He found a way to re-adjust his thinking back to pre-Taiwan days and he’s now fine again but it’s proof that this kind of awful attitude can infect the most open-minded and westernised Chinese/Taiwanese guy.

    For me this is less of a cultural issue and more of a relationship issue. I know how I felt when my husband told me he thought I was too big and it still has an impact on my body image to this day, despite my best efforts to not let it even though he no longer thinks that way. The point is that you should feel loved and accepted in your relationship. If he loves you for the way you are then he wouldn’t say this. Loss of face or no he should be proud of you. You should feel like you’re being proudly shown off not that you have to apologise for your size. You are who you are and the only time you should ever want to lose weight is on your own terms for your own reasons. Can you forgive him for this? Is this going to be a non-negotiable issue? Only you can tell. What I can tell you is that no-one can make you feel less than awesome.

  3. Tait
    Tait June 10, 2011 at 5:03 am | | Reply

    To answer the question “is the weight issue truly that big of deal in China”, yes, the weight is a big issue in China. It’s also a big issue elsewhere. The difference is that in China they may tell somebody about it directly. In most other places, people would either not mention it or make up a white lie.

    As for “no man…should ever make you feel unattractive”, I disagree with that. If a husband loves his wife, he should be honest with her, especially if it were to involve a potentially life-threatening health issue such as obesity. (Stop. Read those last two sentences again before commenting. It’s carefully worded and only relevant to one portion of one sentence of this blog post.)

  4. Jessica
    Jessica June 10, 2011 at 5:20 am | | Reply

    I’m the one whose ex-boyfriend was griping about be being 55kg, and what they said is true. Girls weigh in the 45kg range and still think they need to lose weight. China can be absolutely disgusting when it comes to body image and there is great pressure to be absolutely unhealthily tiny. I roll my eyes all the time at female Chinese friends who moan about how they need to diet when they are at weights that would probably land them in hospital back home.

    I’m now married to a guy who loved my 55kg body and even now after 2 kids, where 55kg seems a lifetime away, he still appreciates my body and tells me I’m beautiful. We poke fun at each other about needing to lose weight (luckily he’s not a stick insect and while not fat has a stockier figure) but as long as we’re both healthy we are not going to complain. And this is in China, not America, and my husband is not really particularly Westernized or acclimated to Western body types. He has never set foot abroad. And, I mean, we’ve been married for 5 years and both of us are in our 30s (he’s nearing 40). We’re well past caring what other people think about us, and having two kids, I now tend to get a free pass from Chinese folks anyhow.

    So, in short, yeah, I think your boyfriend is being an ass. If he cares that much about what other people will say, he shouldn’t be dating a Westerner period, because people will talk. They’ll talk about how fat you are (even if you’re thin), they’ll talk about how much money you probably make, they’ll talk about how cool/stupid/rich/smart/lacking in self respect/English speaking/good in bed/etc. your boyfriend is for being with a foreigner. They’ll ask him what his secret is and wonder, sometimes out loud, whether or not he can quench your sexual appetite. They’ll mistake you for a Russian hooker. They’ll wonder if he’s just in it for the green card. Basically, dating someone non-Chinese in China is not for the thin skinned folk who can’t take the staring or the whispering.

    And further, if he loves you, he should realize how hurtful it is to be told to lose weight so you’ll look better in front of random Chinese strangers. If he isn’t proud to walk the streets of China with you, head held high, no matter what size you are, then he’s not the man for you.

  5. Gerald
    Gerald June 10, 2011 at 7:44 am | | Reply

    The cultural anthropologist-part of me wants to tell people who say “he should just be proud of you” that they really need to work on understanding (or at least accepting) China, but the (much) more important point is the fact that Chinese obviously see apparent, obvious things as those that you are quite free to comment upon, no matter what. And such issues will be found, whether you are male or female, Chinese or foreign (but in the latter case, even more so), chubby or stick-like…

    My wife is truly petite, just over 40 kg, but with a healthy figure – and if I didn’t tell her so when she complains about her having to be thinner, I’d be in for a world of trouble… Maybe remind your bf that he, as the man, should be there to care for you, make you feel and be comfortable.
    Also, don’t forget that self-worth in China is much more bound up in other’s opinions and statements (or supposed opinion) – hence my introductory remarks – but will also change again with context, e.g. getting back out of China.
    I’d recommend making an effort, preferably also telling him to bulk up a little (in muscle 😉 and not worrying too much – the ideals are totally unattainable (and would be unhealthy if attained, anyways)…

  6. Michelle
    Michelle June 10, 2011 at 8:23 am | | Reply

    I think that also depends on where in China you are. In big cities such as Beijing, I’m surrounded by girls who complain everyday about how they need to go on a diet. It gets really old. But the first time I went back to my boyfriend’s village in Henan, his aunt approved of me because I looked, in her words, “healthy.” I turned to my boyfriend and asked “So….is she really trying to say she thinks I’m fat?” I was half-joking, but he assured me that having a healthy figure and big butt, such as mine, meant that you could endure the pain of childbirth without any harm to yourself or the baby (I’m sure all you mothers would beg to differ on the “without ANY harm” part). If girls are too skinny, he explained, it’s not good for having babies.

    I think you (Elizabeth) might want to talk to your boyfriend again about why you felt hurt by his comments. He may think that he did nothing wrong because he was just being honest with you. I agree with Kath that you should feel loved and accepted in your relationship, and that means that he shouldn’t care what other people think, even if weight is an issue in China. Besides, you’re just going to visit! And why would you want to be losing weight and on a diet with all this good food around? ~_^

  7. Brian
    Brian June 10, 2011 at 11:14 am | | Reply

    The perception of beauty is a strange thing in China. With our filial piety system (family system) mentality people of higher ranking, such as grandparents, may harp negative comments varying from facial blemishes, physique, to academics. This has been maintained for countless generations to a point that it is even socially acceptable for strangers to comment.

    Growing up in Canada as Canadian Born Chinese (Hong Kong), I too experienced the harsh tone from my parents and grandparents. They would pick on my facial blemishes as a teenager growing up. I was outraged. How could one little pimple be such a big deal?

    Even my Asian friends also experienced this primarily through their parents and grandparents. Not only were they controlling aspects in our academics, but also our family could also control a portion of our appearances as well. Our decision became the family’s decision.

    One of the most important things I have learned about Chinese and Asian culture is how shame and not guilt regulates our social behaviour. This is explained in Ruth Benedict’s “The Chrysanthemum and the Sword”, but in essence what separates shame from guilt was the fact that Asians had a tendency to regulate behaviour from society and not from their own conscience. With guilt, one would feel remorse over a particular action and would take action for atonement. Shame is more of a generalized feeling that often attacks the person as a whole.

    In regards to the weight issue, it is a perception of beauty that Asians tend to treasure. It is easy to maintain a very slender figure at a commanding 5 foot nothing, but at around 5’5 and higher our bodies must grow radially or face malnourishment. It is truly unfair to impose a 4’11 physique onto a woman that is 5’7, but Chinese and Asian Culture is inherently unfair like that. Yes here in North America we still mock the festively plump individuals, but Asian families take it to the extreme. Teasing is for fun, but Asians (even I was guilty of this growing up) will insult or claim to be brutally honest about the obease person at an adjacent table. There often is no emotional support for Asians, and the insults continue for the rest of our lives. What’s worse is that we believe it also to be an effective way of parenting and we continue propagating the abusive tendencies because our Asian peers and Asian society are doing that, therefore it must be acceptable to do so.

    This is a harsh reality of Chinese and Asian Culture that often is never discussed. Instead we are exposed to a vast multitude of media. Television, tabloids, and internet are many examples of this. We see the glitz and glamour and want to be as beautiful as the agumented faces of Asian celebrities, but by doing so we submit (and integrate) ourselves into societal pressures and behaviours of Asian Culture. 🙂

    – Brian

  8. Brian
    Brian June 10, 2011 at 11:16 am | | Reply

    I totally realized I even forgot to mention our Chinese foot binding for women. Thank goodness that law is abolished. 🙂

  9. ordinary malaysian
    ordinary malaysian June 10, 2011 at 12:08 pm | | Reply

    Chinese people are naturally smaller sized than their western counterparts and so their idea of what is fat naturally differs too. And it is true that the Chinese people will sometimes tell you to the face that you are fat with nary a worry or concern that this may offend or be offensive. But often they don’t mean to hurt or demean, they probably mean for you to look good according to what they perceive, rightly or wrongly, according to Chinese societal perception. Of course on a personal level, your Chinese bf should accept you for who and what you are, unless of course you are really over-weight and need to shed some pounds because of health reasons. It is rather unfortunate that the Chinese people are so societally pressured to look thin to look good.

  10. George Ja-Xin Yu
    George Ja-Xin Yu June 10, 2011 at 12:20 pm | | Reply

    Proportions matter FAR more than a raw measurement of mass. Go with what your eyes tell you, and not some scale.

  11. Eileen
    Eileen June 10, 2011 at 12:38 pm | | Reply

    I remember I was in a Chinese restaurant and a Chinese waitress came up to me and said, “Your face looks great. You lost weight.” I was dumbfounded the fact that she even noticed. Usually only family members bring up my weight – not strangers unless I talk about it first.
    It’s the one thing I kind of dread about moving to Taiwan is the whole weight issue.
    You gave great advice. =o)

  12. Nathalie
    Nathalie June 10, 2011 at 12:59 pm | | Reply

    I think everyone has given great advice and agree with most of what was written, especially Kath and Jessica. If it is a concern of his, it should be about your health and not about the image you will project onto him. I don’t believe it is worth the insecurity, but you have to listen to yourself as well and see if it is something you can live with or if it is something he can change.

    Also, thank you Elizabeth for writing about your problem and to Jocelyn for answering. It confirms what I went through almost two years ago when I briefly dated a Taiwanese guy. He did the exact same thing to me. He was taller than me, so this was never brought up an issue, but the need to lose weight was. I was already working on my weight before we met (for myself and no one else) and lost 7 kg (15 lbs). When I told him I was working on losing weight and how much I lost, he seemed proud of me and encouraged me to reach my goal, which I thought was nice. Two weeks passed and after losing another 2 kg (5 lbs) and being proud of myself, his own words were: “That’s it? You need to exercise more.” I won’t go into all the details, but needless to say, I stopped seeing him mainly because of his views on weight. Up to this day, from what I can see, he is still single.

    My Chinese boyfriend now doesn’t think this way at all and loves my body just the way it is. After meeting his parents who also live in Canada, but originally from Shanghai, as well as the rest of the family back in China, all I heard was: “When is the wedding?” and “When will you two have babies?”, but never how fat I am and how I need to lose weight.

  13. Susan Blumberg-Kason
    Susan Blumberg-Kason June 10, 2011 at 2:16 pm | | Reply

    Uhh. This topic really boils my blood. I dated aa Hong Kong guy once who ordered me only vegetables. He was my height and probably weighed a little more just because muscle weighs more than fat. I got so upset and he said he just wanted me to look nice. He aassured me that my weight didn’t have anything to do with what he thought of me.

    Then I married a mainland guy and he told me I was fat, but he still loved me. Sometimes he would tell me I shouldn’t eat dessert. After we divorced, I felt so insecure for years. But even when I dated non-Chinese guys, they all made comments about my weight and I’m not overweight. I think men know this subject makes women feel insecure and use it to make them feel like they’re dependent on them. Whatever. I’m so over that.

  14. BRUCE
    BRUCE June 10, 2011 at 2:52 pm | | Reply

    Most of my Chinese guy friends want to gain muscles and MASS ,so I don’t know what to say :(. I ‘ve taught about 5 people on lifting wieghts and they looked great and felt great. They really appreciated me on helping them to lower cholesterol and built some muscles and strength. Normally, I would make a sacrastic remark when I see skinny Chinese male friends. I might say ” you guys are bunch of weak asses. How can you make ASian men look proud? : ). Do you know that I really hate guys always tell me that they want to be fit but not muscular ? I’m 6’1″ 94kgs(205lbs). and my wife is 5’7″ , 145 lbs (65kgs). When I met her , she was 125lbs and I guess she was happy so her weight went to 175lbs ( She had curves, big juicy butt 🙂 lol , didn’t look fat). With 5 yrs, I change and watch everything she eats and now she’s 145lbs. I just like women with curves period. It’s just me. As a bf or a husband , you have to have support for her usually it’s about mental rather than physical. All of my Chinese male friends and my own brothers LOVE women with big curvy butt and or big breasts ( chest) BUT we love the personalities FIRST and the body is secondary ! All of my brothers are over 170lbs and the shortest guy is 5’9″ tall so we like our women to be big :). I’m telling you here that your bf really has some issue ! If I’m still single , I will pick a woman with meat over a skinny woman anyday and anytime ! I LOVE IT!!!

  15. Woman
    Woman June 10, 2011 at 7:54 pm | | Reply

    Gerald said it best. In China self worth is all about (for the most part) how other people see you. One of my students said it best, you can leave China, but you will never stop being Chinese (in regards to Chinese people). And for the most part in my experience, most Chinese people after a time, your close friends and boyfriends stop seeing you as a foreigner, and start seeing you as part of them and their way of life.

    My advice to you Elizabeth; is to sit down with him and tell him how you are feeling. Take the bull by the dick and face this one head on. Because these feelings you are having are NOT good. If you are anything like me and the millions of women out there, you probably ate something, felt better, then felt even worse by eating it. Vicious cycle and I am trying to break free of it. And with you not wanting to enjoy the feeling of a naked hug with him because you are afraid he finds you unattractive? These are not good. Talk to him. Explain how his comment had made you feel.

    Because when you are in China with him, you are going to be faced with every almost every person you meet in China telling you you are fat. That cannot be changed. But maybe with him knowing that this is causing you some grief, he can help you with it.

    Chinese version of beautiful is such an unhealthy “less skin and no bones” (meaning less than a toothpick in terms of looks), that in order to enjoy themselves, they have to literally torture themselves to get the desired effect of looking like a twelve year old boy.

    And at the end of the day, grab his hand and go for a brisk walk after dinner together. Not only will you get some exercise but it will start to prepare you for China. The Land of the Neverending Stairs.

  16. sam
    sam June 10, 2011 at 8:17 pm | | Reply

    @Elizabeth,
    your guy probably has an inferiority complex. if he thinks you’re overweight, he shouldn’t have dated you in the first place. by the way, if you’re not over 60kg, you’re not considered overweight, just my own opinion.
    one more thing. i date white women and the reason i date white women is because they are not tiny and looking like sticks. i mean, where’s the fun in dating tiny as sticks women ?

  17. Jessica
    Jessica June 10, 2011 at 11:59 pm | | Reply

    Just fyi, a woman who is about 165cm (or roughly 5’5″), is not considered overweight until she is about 70kg. 60kg is a perfectly healthy weight unless you’re really really short (like less than 5 feet …).

    (http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/healthy-living/Pages/height-weight-chart.aspx)

    I know the commentor above was trying to be supportive but it sort of goes to show how skewed perceptions of what is a healthy and normal weight are in China.

  18. cautious
    cautious June 11, 2011 at 2:07 am | | Reply

    this is pretty simple. You pick the wrong type of asian man to be your bf. why would you steep so low just to meet their whims.? You’re either in the wrong country or you just need to find someone better.

  19. George Ja-Xin Yu
    George Ja-Xin Yu June 11, 2011 at 3:49 am | | Reply

    Women naturally prefer men that are at least somewhat larger and taller the same way men naturally prefer women that are daintier. Of course, there are some couples out there that are more enlightened and have transcended some of their primal mate-selecting instincts, but these people are not the norm. We deal with pressure not just from our own primal instincts but also from social pressures. Those two forces working together are too much for most people to overcome.

    Just as most women tend to prefer more masculine men, most men tend to prefer more feminine women. That’s just the way things are. There will always be exceptions but the pressure to confirm to what is “normal” will always be there.

  20. HAM Lover
    HAM Lover June 11, 2011 at 8:03 am | | Reply

    T.I.C – This is China…unfortunately….”You can take the person out of China…but you can’t take the Chinese out of them…” It’s just the way things are here. I can’t tell you how many times people have said to me how fat I am. I am fat. Living in China has made me realise what an unrealistic perception I had of myself. Although I’ve been trying to lose weight for the last 8 months, old habits do die hard. Yes most Chinese people are quite skinny but after you live here a while, even you’ll jump on the bandwagon and think to yourself, “Wow…she’s really fat!” However, a year or so ago you were thinking she was “skinny or normal”. It’s just what they’re used to. If your bf’s relatives live in a major city like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou etc..They would more than likely have seen foreign people and maybe seeing you is not going to be anything new to them. If they’re from a smaller city, then yes, they will make comment. The best advice I can give you is, DO NOT learn the word for fat in Chinese…Then you can be oblivious to any comments going on around you. I guess you need to cut your bf some slack too. My guess he’s probably quite stressed about his visit home and he wants things to go aswell as they can. Def let him know how you feel. Tell him that it’s going to be a difficult experience for you aswell and he needs to be supportive as he can be. Be prepared for him to have a change of behaviour once he gets to China….It could happen. Good luck and I hope you end up having a really great trip!

  21. Alexis
    Alexis June 11, 2011 at 8:12 am | | Reply

    Tait says:

    June 10, 2011 at 5:03 am

    To answer the question “is the weight issue truly that big of deal in China”, yes, the weight is a big issue in China. It’s also a big issue elsewhere. The difference is that in China they may tell somebody about it directly. In most other places, people would either not mention it or make up a white lie.
    ================
    I find this is very true. Talking about someone’s figures is very common and open among chinese families and friends. People talk about “oh, you look fat, you need to lose weight”, just like they talk about “oh, your hair is too long, you need a haircut”. They joking and talking of losing weight all the time. It is just quite frank and direct. But it is really not a big deal or meant to make you feel less attractive or insecure.

  22. Holly~
    Holly~ June 11, 2011 at 9:16 am | | Reply

    LOL I agree.
    Most places in the world, looking like an anorexic 12 year old boy = not hot.
    But for some reason it is in China…weird.

  23. 舒国阳
    舒国阳 June 11, 2011 at 12:49 pm | | Reply

    我看了Jocelyn Eikenburg的建议我就特别来气,特别恼火,我不知道这个问题是不是我女朋友提出来的,但我不得不承认她所说的问题跟我们俩目前的情况99%的相似,我觉得Jocelyn Eikenburg 的分析完全没有说到这一问题的本质,而且建议也不可取!我认为这基本上就是一中文化冲突,暂且不论这种文化的正确与否,在中国讨论体重和减肥是那么普通不能再普通的一件事情,不管是男女,都希望不要长太胖了,反正我觉得至少在我们这些年轻人里是这样,而恰好亚洲人又天生瘦些,还有其他原因,所以我们都习惯了‘瘦’,自然以瘦为美,自然大家都很自觉保持瘦一点的身材,不知不觉中这就像一种文化!我以为美国也有这种类似文化的东西,再加上她是比我重一些,然后我就不以为然的跟她讨论起就像跟亚洲人讨论减肥的样子跟她说起减肥的事,我根本没料到会有这种文化一样的冲突,根本没想到会给她带来这么大的压力,我现在知道了也很后悔,我并不觉得她因为胖而不好看,而是有一种习惯性地叫她减一点肥,我一直是用的一点这个词,可能她看来都一样!而且我也是出于她健康原因才这么说的,太胖了对健康和人的灵活都有影响。现在我也理解她了,我也不是一定要她减肥,我真的没想到事情会成这样子!然后Jocelyn Eikenburg 你在不知情很深的情况下就建议她跟她男朋友分手,这实在让我很上火!至少我认为像我们这种情况不至于建议人家分手吧!我很郁闷!她就是不减肥我也觉得她很attractive !真是郁闷!反正我觉得这篇文章的分析深度不够,建议不太可取!

  24. 舒国阳
    舒国阳 June 11, 2011 at 1:15 pm | | Reply

    and i never think that being fat would be looked down upon in China,i am afraid that almost all couples who a american girl with a asian boyfriend would break up according to your advice .sorry ,no offense ,i just what i think about this problem!

  25. ordinary malaysian
    ordinary malaysian June 11, 2011 at 3:44 pm | | Reply

    @国阳,这样没问题了. I think you misunderstood Jocelyn.

  26. Kin
    Kin June 11, 2011 at 4:38 pm | | Reply

    Despite women in China get pressurised about the way they suppose to look, the men seems to give very little concern on their own appearances. Probably with the exception of the younger generations. Maybe you could do an article on this Jocelyn.

  27. BRUCE
    BRUCE June 11, 2011 at 11:05 pm | | Reply

    The diet in China is different from the western world and Chinese usually walk more . I’ve been back to China yrs ago and my cousins from China said if they had my diet , they would be the same size like me. The culture and the society there are different so you can’t blame how they think. I just need to satisfy myself on my image. I really don’t care what other Chinese say about me. I always want to stand out from the rest. What I like , they may not like at all.

  28. BRUCE
    BRUCE June 11, 2011 at 11:29 pm | | Reply

    No wonder when I walked on the street in China , people stared at me . Everyone was just slim. I tried to blend in but it was so obvious that I was bigger in body size than them. They could tell by the way you look , smell ( use different shampoo , soap), the color of your skin even if you look Chinese. Seriously, do you guys get turned on when you have a woman with flat , skinny butt or a round, curvy butt ? See my standards of beauty are different from other people ,too. A skinny woman doesn’t give out that much heat during the winter lol hehheheheheh.

  29. Sarah
    Sarah June 12, 2011 at 12:40 am | | Reply

    I commented on Jocelyn’s article about vanity. It is true that I feel that my situation similar to this one. I am obese and I started dieting and exercising before I met my boyfriend and have lost some weight already. He knew this, which is partially why I was pissed when he said about me getting fatter. I have always been fat, I grew up fat, I’ve never had a problem getting a date, I guess I’ve just been fortunate enough to always run into chubby chasers or guys who aren’t concerned with my weight. So I’ve always felt pretty/beautiful. Which is why I was hurt by my bf’s comment. I just think that if weight is an issue, the guy or girl, should stick to dating people they will be proud of, rather than trying to make their “love” become something they aren’t and may never be. Regardless of whether it’s for their health or not.

    My boyfriend said he didn’t mean to hurt me and I have accepted his apology, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t still feel bad about the whole situation.

  30. Caseyorourke
    Caseyorourke June 12, 2011 at 10:13 am | | Reply

    I’ll admit I am overweight and my wife would like me to lose some of the gut, but at least she isn’t demanding I lose it all overnight. But in the last year we have been living in NE China, I can say I have seen some fat Chinese, both male and female, that outdo even me. On the other hand, my wife who may be all of 5 pounds heavier than what she wants to be constantly castigates herself for being so fat (with which I fervently disagree with) then starves herself to lose it. I would never call he fat because in my eyes she is the same girl I married and no matter what will always be beautiful because it is the person on the inside I love and the shell on the outside has no bearing on my feelings.

  31. Janet
    Janet June 13, 2011 at 8:52 am | | Reply

    Look don’t go trying to be something you’re not. If sounds like he’s worried that they will say something about your weight. He knew what size you were when he met you. So why is he acting like a butt now. Let me tell you I’ve been to China three times and everytime I’ve gone, I was FAT! and you know what I’m also BLACK! And yes they stared, because I was Black and had my hair in corn-rows down to my butt. And everybody wanted to know how to braid their hair like mine. Picture that! I had a great time I was treated nicely and with respect. They already know Americans are overweight. And now they are even trying to make more off the rack clothes for us. If you see something you like and it’s not in your size see if they can make it and ship it. Also check out the men clothese. Have fun and let your boyfriend deal with his own embarresment. Don’t forget to make deals when buying things there, they love it.

  32. Rebekah
    Rebekah June 13, 2011 at 11:14 am | | Reply

    I am a very, VERY large women…But I have come to learn that my bf mentioning to me about weightloss is his way of caring. His entire life he has been the “fat one” in his family…and his parents were always very worried about him so he was constantly told about his weight – NOT because his parents were mean spirited, but because they cared about him and didn’t want him to be unhealthy. I have come to understand his worry for me, it is not about saving face, it is also because he loves me so much he wants me to be around longer, so we can spend more time together. I say if you are overweight, but a healthy overweight(low BMI), then it should be fine. If however you are as grotesquely overweight as I am, then it is an issue that needs to be worked on.
    @Elizabeth…I wish you good luck, hopefully your bf is the caring type, and only said something for your benefit, not the face saving type….

  33. Bruce
    Bruce June 13, 2011 at 2:37 pm | | Reply

    You know maintaining your health and weight is a LIFETIME COMMITMENT!!! I love to sweat and work out all my life. I initiated everything from A to Z just to lure my wife to work out with me. Turn on the threadmill for her to walk while I bench press next to her. It’s not easy. Some women have very weak health so after 15 minutes of walking they will feel like fainting ( can’t breathe). Number one is all about portion control and they type of foods you eat. Eat more fibers like oatmeal , fruits , vegetables. Band all sodas ( stick with water /green tea). Cut down on starchy food like potatoes, pizza. Eat more fish and chicken w/o skin. You really need to sweat and stay active around the house . You have to promise yourself that this is for LIFE. Don’t give up just because you don’t see result this week or this month. Just do it! I just jump started a friend’s home project last month. I helped him dug a koi pond by hand 9′ x 22′ x 4 ft deep. Sweat like hell!!! damn what a work out! YOu know what I LOVE IT!!! I like to help friends for free. Do you guys have that kind of mind and heart to do intensive labor for free? It’s not about money, it’s about exercise and forming a bond between friends and families. They will help you in return if you need help later in the future.

  34. ChinaMatt
    ChinaMatt June 14, 2011 at 6:55 pm | | Reply

    My wife is a bit thinner than she was when first met (mostly because we’re busy and we don’t have her mom stuffing us with ridiculous amounts of food anymore). She now claims she’s too thin. I tell her to go ahead and eat more, as long as it’s healthy.

  35. lifebehindthewall
    lifebehindthewall June 16, 2011 at 2:02 am | | Reply

    Being a fellow big girl that lives in China .. with a husband that is about 100 pounds all wet… I deal with the weight thing all the time. I am a good size 14/16… and in china that might as well be size 50… everyone points out the fact that I am “fat” or “strong” their way of saying fat in a nice way… I think you need to understand how most traditional chinese men think. In china .. face is number one.. he lives in america and most chinese will think he is on a higher level because of that.. that he is richer, and smarter… so that is the personna he needs to present when he goes back home.. especially with his parents bragging to everyone about him. Whether you like it or not.. in Chinese thinking.. if you have a wife or girlfriend that is bigger than you .. it makes you look bad. Period… it has nothing to do with whether he loves you or doesnt love you… it has to do with fact. I feel your guy is trying to help you avoid the comments and stares that you are going to get. I honestly dont think he means anything bad. My husband gets a lot of flack from me being twice his size… but he trys to be strong and deal with it… It is really bad for a man in China.. a lot of pressure. So, I think he is thinking ahead. I honest had the same situation with a guy i use to date from Japan.. he told me if i wanted to find an Asian guy I needed to lose weight… i was upset for months… but he was right… body image is everything to Asians.. whether they say something to you or keep it inside… all of you that say… find another guy.. or he should love you the way you are…. are not being realistic.. it is a visual world… and what is acceptable in America is not always accepted in China… even it it is a vacation.. try to lose a little weight… and look your best… it will only make your holiday a little easier.

  36. namenotgiven
    namenotgiven June 16, 2011 at 7:41 pm | | Reply

    @Janet
    Loved your comment. Lifebehindthewall I understand what you are saying.

    Elizabeth I think that your boyfriend needs to understand basic differences in body structure. Westerners are larger. Now having said that–only you can make the decision rather it is worth it to continue the relationship, and/or lose weight. Personally, I would throw in the towel. I think that a woman should not have to tolerate abusive behavior, or quasi abusive behavior from the man she is in a relationship with. Perhaps the reason you are feeling upset about what happened, even though he apologized, is because something about this situation is not right, and subconsciously you are picking up on this. How do you feel about yourself? Do you feel you need to lose weight? Do you feel that your boyfriend has a valid point? Only you can decide. I personally think that the people who successfully lose weight and keep it off, do it for themselves, and to get healthier, not for someone else. Good luck with whatever you decide to do. I hope that everything will work out for the best.

  37. Mayte
    Mayte June 16, 2011 at 11:29 pm | | Reply

    Hi Elizabeth,

    I am sorry to hear about how you’ve been feeling. I’ve had similar experiences and am writing because your account struck a chord with me.

    I am a large woman by any standard (18/20–22/24 depending on the time of year). I’ve dated foreign-born Chinese and local Chinese and have been living in China for a while now. Some men have been fine with my size and find themselves wide open to public displays of affection (I am normally not accustomed to this) and others operate in stark contrast to this. Ask yourself what you want and what you are willing to put up with. There are men who conform and there are also those who see themselves as strong enough to deal with nonconformity and happy to do so if they find the right woman. I CAN say that even with my “strength”, I rarely feel lonely. There are lots of great people here.

    As far as your boyfriend changing gears as he plans for this trip home, it’s upsetting because he’s not acting like the guy you met and had your relationship with. He accepted you as you were when he met you and you began dating. The fact that he is changing to such a degree now is going against his normal behavior as well as doing a 180 on how he made you feel.

    The point he made about expectations in China is more about him than about you. The wording used in your question made it sound like this was about you. Which might be another reason it stings but in China, face is big. Jo was right on that. But that means his argument is more about him than you. A female is expected to be younger, smaller, and talented/educated, but not more educated than her husband, etc. Anything that doesn’t fall in line with this makes him look bad. His family and friends may comment on your size to him and they may look down on him because of it. He is Chinese, so here, he has to conform. It’s the culture and is engrained from a very young age. School systems thrive on making sure everyone is working toward the same standards in every regard. Individuality is not encouraged here. It’s a group-think mindset. That said, he is preparing you for the worst-case scenario. You may be approached and it sounds like he may not be prepared to come to your defense.

    If you don’t speak Chinese, there’s a lot that you’ll miss as far as insults, etc. unless people are bold enough to come to you directly and tell you in English or use body language to express themselves. (It’s not uncommon to see this either but it never happened when I was here as a tourist.)

    Having been through my share of direct and indirect insults from English speakers and Chinese speakers alike, I would recommend thickening up your emotional skin to prepare for the trip. If you want to lose weight, that’s your call. It’s up to you and you should do it for yourself and not for anyone else. The weight you lose should be done in a healthy way (no extreme dieting, purging, etc.). It came on one pound at a time, so take it off that way.

    I would also recommend talking to your boyfriend. I think it’s important that he knows how his comments are affecting you. Maybe he’ll step up and talk with his family and friends (in advance) to ask them to lay off the commentary while you’re there. (That is, IF he suspects that they will react in such a manner.) If he’s not willing to do that, or you see that he’s unwilling to support you, then I think you can easily drop a hundred pounds of man right there…. I can’t make that decision for you but I only know that if I built a relationship with a man and it was heading toward meeting family and potentially marriage, then it would be difficult to see myself going further with someone who was not supportive. It works both ways. It’s a situation I’m dealing with right now.

    If you do decide to go, then be yourself. Do what makes you feel and look beautiful and it will come through. People get it. On days where I spend time doing makeup, hair, and clothes, a big-ass smile, and come walking (strutting, really) through the office door, I think it shows. Those are the days where people walk up to you and offer compliments in English and Chinese. Do you, girl. Do you. (Enjoy China, it’s a beautiful place…and if you’re in Shanghai, feel free to stop by and say hello.)

  38. lifebehindthewall
    lifebehindthewall June 17, 2011 at 12:29 am | | Reply

    @mayte…..That is exactly what I was trying to express.. you stated it perfectly… Toughen your skin.. because China will come at you hard…. I have become much stronger since i have come here… by necessity.. it is a beautiful and wonderful place.. but it can also be .. daunting… I am not far from Shanghai… so you can also drop me a line…

  39. Mayte
    Mayte June 17, 2011 at 5:21 am | | Reply

    @lifebehindthewall … Thanks for that. China does come at you hard (if you are living here). I think for the most part, tourists have a completely different experience and Elizabeth should look forward to a nice trip if she decides to come. If she stays on…then that’s another marathon she has to prepare for. Preach it! I love your blog too by the way. =) We could definitely trade stories.

  40. Grace
    Grace June 21, 2011 at 8:58 pm | | Reply

    I can totally relate to the article. I visited my boyfriend in Beijing for the first time, one of his friends’ Asian girlfriend thought it was her business to kindly “suggest” to me that i should “lose some weights” and “brighten” my skin to blend in with the Asian crowd.

    First of all, being a 5″3 and 54kg Asian girl, i never thought i was overweight by today’s western standard. Obviously being a Malaysian Chinese (but grew up in Australia most of my life) and my love of the beach, i have what Caucasians considered as naturally “tanned’ skinned (an envy among my Caucasians friends). Apparently, all those physical attributes which I have always proud of are the reverse in today’s Chinese standards! *sigh* Well, needless to say, I was crushed by her suggestions.

    Just wondering, are there any OBC (Oversea Born Chinese) who went through the same soul crushing experience as i did??

  41. Ivy
    Ivy July 28, 2011 at 12:36 am | | Reply

    I’.m coming late to this conversation, but thought I’d reply anyway.

    I thought the response up earlier in Chinese was interesting- it was from a Chinese boyfriend who wondered if it was his girlfriend who sent in the question. He was very upset that Jocelyn recommended that they break up. He thinks it’s a cultural misunderstanding; that he did not suggest his girlfriend lose weight because she’s unattractive but that it’s a very normal thing for chinese people to talk about and bring up; Chinese people are used to a think look and commonly discuss losing weight.

    Anyway. I think one issue is that Chinese bodies are different than the typical American body (even Asian ones, due to different environment and food). The shapes are different, and Chinese peoples sometimes view a curvier Western shape as “fat”; I’ve also once saw a TV show with a muscular Western man on it, and he said he is often called “fat” by Chinese people.

    secondly, “fat” is kind of a neutral word in Chinese, or at least does not ahve the strong negative connotations it has in english. It also covers a range of descriptions, from plump to chubby to really overweight, whereas we use different words for those in English. So a Chinese person calling someone “fat” should not carry the same weight; it sounds much better in Chinese.

    As for the notion that Chinese men only think skinny girls are attractive, I have to say that this is not exactly true. Or I should say, it doesn’t really apply to western women with, ahem, boobs and butts. Chinese men like those as much as any other man; I have personal experience.

    So, I guess my main points are to the western women in China:

    a.) don’t be too offended if you are called “fat”, it could mean so many different things; and

    b.) Chinese men DO like curves

  42. lifebehindthewall
    lifebehindthewall July 28, 2011 at 1:02 am | | Reply

    @Ivy.. i do not agree with you in the point that fat means something different to Chinese… I have lived here for awhile now… and I do not think “fat” is a term of endurement… expecially when it i combined with hand gestures and laughter…. fat in China is the same as fat in any culture.. it is just .. rude to tell anyone that… in any language… if you ask the larger chinese women.. they will tell you the same… they hate it .. and they will try to starve themselves… to avoid even the slightest amount of weight.. to avoid.. being called it.

  43. Sarah
    Sarah July 28, 2011 at 8:37 pm | | Reply

    Mayte,

    I just wanted to say that what you said makes a lot of sense. I know you weren’t talking to me but it definitely felt like you were. I’m about the same size as you, so it really made me very pleased to read what you had to say. To be quite honest, I had forgotten about his article because I forgot to click the notify box but my boyfriend had been keeping up on this article and told me that people were still commenting on it.

    I feel very fortunate that Elizabeth felt the same as I did at the time I was doubting my relationship. I believe this made my relationship stronger. Because of this, it forced us to talk about it. More than he would have liked but enough for me to think and decide what to do.

  44. Sarah
    Sarah July 28, 2011 at 8:46 pm | | Reply

    @lifebehindthewall

    I have not been to China yet but I have friends who are Chinese and living in China. One in particular tells me that her mother yells at her a lot because she will not get a husband if she’s fat. Another friend told me that while my boyfriend is lucky to have me, he most likely would never ask me out if I was not a foreign girl.

    It makes me sad for my “fat” friend who is probably half my size and I’ve took what my other friend said with a grain of salt. After all he doesn’t know my boyfriend.

    I have a feeling that the road is going to be pretty rocky on both our ends but I also believe that if we both truly love each other, we will be respectful and treat each other well and sincerely take a couple steps back when crossing lines.

  45. Ivy
    Ivy July 29, 2011 at 1:14 am | | Reply

    @lifebehindthewall: Well, I guess my experience is different. I have lived in China for 8 years and also speak Chinese, so I’d like to think I have some insight. I never said that ” fat” is a term of endearment in China, I just said it does not always carry the same connotations as it does in English. As the Chinese poster upthread said, talking about who is fat and who is thin is as normal as talking about the weather in China. It’s jjust not considered rude (to CHinese people). I fidn that Chinese people are realistic about what they look like; if they are what Chinese culture deems “fat”, they know this, so when someone points it out it is almost the same as someone pointing out that they have black hair or freckles.

    Now I don’t doubt for a second that Chinese women in particular are under a lot of pressure to be thin, and this is totally unfair, but American women are under pressure to be thin, too! It’s a similar pressure (how many female American sex symbols can you think of that wear above a six 6?) but the difference is in American it is not polite to speak directly of people’s appearance, especially weight.

    The other thing is, a lot of Chinese men don’t even think it’s attractive when women are too thin. So I am not even sure where the pressure is coming from (but I think that is true in the US too, and women still feel pressure to b e thin).

  46. lifebehindthewall
    lifebehindthewall July 29, 2011 at 4:00 am | | Reply

    @Ivy… i guess your experiences are different… and I considered what you said… and asked several of my chinese colleagues male and female .. about it .. and they said… it is very rude… in Chinese also… especially to Chinese women. So.. maybe you are thin .. or maybe you live in a part of china that is different than where I am…. but it doesnt take speaking the language well.. to know.. that when someone is calling you fat… being you are chinese or western.. it is not polite or nice at all. As for the pressure.. i do agree with you… it is something that is really sad… and most men do not like a super thin girl.. this is true… As for American women feeling pressured… I cant not agree that the pressure is the same… although many want to be thin… or wish they were thinner.. they are pretty accepting of the body they have…. now this maybe a different view because I am Black american .. and we like to be a little heavier than other races.. or what…Be that as it may… I do agree with some of what you say.

  47. Mayte
    Mayte July 29, 2011 at 7:51 am | | Reply

    @ Sarah,

    If something I said in my earlier response worked for you, then I’m happy. I wish you and your boyfriend well as you work through things. It’s never easy. But from the sound of it, you’re both keen to work toward understanding each other better, and that’s an excellent start.

    @ Ivy,

    I tend to agree with LifeBehindtheWall on the use of the word “fat.” I think it’s one thing to spin the word as neutral or less offensive because people talk about weight here like they talk about their favorite type of tea. However, and I’ve also been in the country for several years, and to say it’s not offensive and sounds better in Chinese is quite a different matter.

    I’ve watched friends obsess over their weight because someone pointed out that they had gained weight. I’ve watched adults hit kids (or join in with them) as they ridiculed someone for their weight. I’ve been insulted myself and apologized to by others. It’s as rude here as it is anywhere. To try to downplay how the comments are received is silly. The issue is teaching respect for all. With kids you have lots of “teachable moments” and with adults behaving in this way, I think there’s an opportunity to teach and correct hurtful behavior. Especially when it concerns someone you claim to love (as in the question we are attempting to answer).

    As far as Westerners not being realistic about their weight/size, I think that’s also false. People who are large, know that they are large. There’s no missing that when you have to shop for yourself or when people point it out. Knowing that they’re big doesn’t mean when they are talked about, that it’s just like talking about freckles or hair color. They hear it all the time, they think it quite often, and they don’t necessarily want to focus on what other people see as a flaw. There is often contempt held in a tone, or a look, or simply in the way they’re treated by others. That’s not there when people speak of freckles and hair coloring.

    Back to the question at hand… Elizabeth has some work to do with her boyfriend before she spends the time, money, and energy trying to impress people her boyfriend isn’t sure she will ever successfully do. The fact that she has the weight on, may ruin what she originally believed to be a decent relationship. I doubt freckles or hair color would have done as much damage.

  48. BRUCE
    BRUCE July 29, 2011 at 1:11 pm | | Reply

    You need to please nobody but yourself! I want to change my body all the time but it’s hard because I don’t have the time like I used to. When I work out, there are some parts of my muscles grow faster and bigger than other parts. I haven’t used supplements for over a decade already. I have never used HGH or steriod either !! The key to your weight loss is sweating and watch what you eat. Stay away from Carbs like bread ,pizza etc and watch your portion. For example, don’t eat 100% full and try to eat 70 % to 80% full ONLY. You MUST have commitment and be active at all times. Walk more , do yard work, go hiking, do some wieghts training ( the more muscles you have, the more fats you burn) . It’s a long process or maybe a lifetime process. Sweat, sweat , sweat! good luck

  49. Sarah
    Sarah July 30, 2011 at 12:05 am | | Reply

    Mayte-

    I didn’t mean a rocky road about weight but we are still new and I imagine that there will be differences that seem very ok with one of us but not the other. And thanks for replying. ^_^

  50. Mayte
    Mayte July 30, 2011 at 4:33 am | | Reply

    Sarah,

    No worries. I wasn’t assuming that the issue concerned weight. I’ve read your previous comments and it sounds like you two are ok there. Nonetheless, I’m happy to have helped wherever I could have.
    And thanks for writing back. =)

  51. Ivy
    Ivy July 30, 2011 at 5:57 am | | Reply

    If calling someone “fat” is so incredibly rude in China, this begs the question of, why do Chinese people always do it? Are they just rude people? “you got fat!” is a common greeting in China, and can be synonymous with, :you look healthy” or , “You are eating well.” (true, mostly for men, not women.) I CONSTANTLY hear Chinese people greeting each other after not seeing each other for a long time with, “you got fatter!” , and no one seems offended. It’s taken as a fact of life, that yes, peoples’ weight fluctuates, esp/ when they go home for spring festival.

    Look, I never said I think being called fat is NEVER offensive in China; I also never said that Westerners don’t know how large they are. And I think the pressure on women in any society to remain a certain weight is TERRIBLE. However. I have heard the nicest, sweetest Chinese people comment on another person being “fat”, even to that person’s face. Obviously this kind of commentary is seen differently in China. My other point was that people say so and so is “fat”, they might mean chubby, they might mean stout, they might mean obese. It depends on context. Whereas in the West, calling someone fat is ALWAYS very rude, and only rude people will call someone fat to their face.

    Look, I am about average for a western woman, and I used to be heavier . When I was heavier (I lived in China then too), people called me fat all the time and I was very, very hurt by this. Some of the people saying that were friends or students who I know would never say something like that to me if they knew how much it hurt, because otherwise they were very sweet and friendly to me. After awhile I concluded that telling someone they are fat to their face must not be as rude in CHina, otherwise all these nice people would not say that to me.

    Is there pressure for women to be thin in China? Absolutely. (the pressuure on men seems much less). And this should change! But I think this is separate from the fact that people’s body shapes and sizes are frequently discussed in the open; it’s not a taboo subject and if you watch TV and listen to people talking around you, you will realize that calling someone “fat” is not always an attack; often it is a very mundane conversation peice.

  52. Ivy
    Ivy July 30, 2011 at 6:06 am | | Reply

    By the way, I think this converation is very interesting and I don’t disagree with what most of you are saying. I think it is good to think about this from different perspectives 🙂

  53. BRUCE
    BRUCE July 30, 2011 at 7:33 am | | Reply

    Fat could mean wealth or it could mean healthy. Do you see skinny Buhdda figurine in China? Whatever it means don’t get too personal.

  54. Lifebehindthewall
    Lifebehindthewall July 30, 2011 at 7:47 am | | Reply

    I think it all boils down to context….. and who is saying it…. if your family and friends are telling you and smiling and joking with you… you may not feel as offended as when .. total strangers are telling you and pointing and laughing. For the most part, Chinese people dont censor themselves … as for not taking it personal… that is easy to say.. but very hard to do. .. when you live here.

    Living in China full time is difficult.. very difficult…

  55. Ivy
    Ivy August 3, 2011 at 6:03 am | | Reply

    sorry to keep talking about the subject and going a little off-topic, but I was out walking today and saw a clothing STORE called 胖太太 (which means “Fat LAdy”). This is not just one store, but a national brand. Now, if the use of the word “fat” is insulting in this context, I doubt they could use it in the name of store as a way to attract customers. Just something to think about.

    In America we’d say “plus size”, or whatever, but they just use “fat “for everything, and also do that when they speak in English, without softening it up. But it in the end, it means the same and can sometimes just be a way to describe someone’s body without being insulting (though not all the time).

  56. Mayte
    Mayte August 3, 2011 at 9:26 am | | Reply

    Readdressing old hash…

    Ultimately, the point is that the girl is not a local Chinese. Nor is she intending to move here. She is simply pointing out that she is feeling uncomfortable with coming to China based on how her boyfriend is pushing her to lose weight. I think that speaks volumes right there. He KNOWS she’s going to hear it and probably not going to take it the way that “locals seem to accept it”. Whether or not it’s polite or rude for whoever says it to say it, is another matter.

    As far as the “Fat Lady” store Ivy mentioned, I think it wouldn’t be anything that Elizabeth has to concern herself with unless her boyfriend points it out to her. And to address the general idea of the store name being insulting…it’s not so offensive when it’s not directed at you personally, is it? It’s the name of a store, not someone talking to you–about you. There’s a big difference right there. Hogs & Heifers is a great place to go for a drink with the gang, but if someone ever called you a hog or heifer, that wouldn’t produce the same experience.

  57. Ivy
    Ivy August 3, 2011 at 9:35 pm | | Reply

    @Mayte, respectfully, people were debating whether calling someone fat was always intended offensively in China; I was trying to point out that her boyfriend was probably not intending to insult her. Yes, I do agree that Chinese people should know that it is really rude in Western cultures to point out that someone is fat. I do remind my Chinese friends of that a lot! I have been hurt by it too.

    Regarding “Hogs and Heifers”, that is a restaurant for everyone, and the name is not calling its clientele fat. People of all shapes and sizes can go there, so it’s just not offensive. “Fat Lady” is targeting overweight, middle-aged Chinese women. I’ve also seen a brand called “Fat SIster”. Be honest: Can you EVER imagine a clothing store for women in the US called “Fat LAdy”??

    I would also argue thatr “Pang” is sometimes mistranslated as “fat” (i.e. sometimes you can translate it directly as “fat”, but sometimes that is not the appropraite word choice, but most Chinese people don’t know other words for fat like “chubby”, “plump”, heavy”. so they sound much more offensive when they say it) , which is a much harsher word….hence the name of the store and the offensiveness when people translate “pang” into the English word “fat”.

    All that said, being a larger western woman in CHina IS HARD. I definitely understand that.

  58. Mayte
    Mayte August 3, 2011 at 10:24 pm | | Reply

    @ Ivy,

    The debate about the use of that word is off topic. The question was whether or not the weight issue was a big deal in China. The fact is, that it can be. The debate about the use of the word fat being always offensive is a side conversation headed down a slippery slope. Simply put, for some people, it is always offensive. For others it isn’t…or at least not publicly.

    Fat Lady and Fat Sister stores are targeting a demographic. Lane Bryant did the same years ago with their advertisements. Maybe you’re too young to remember or haven’t seen any of these old advertisements. They advertised their stores as being for “chubbies”. So, Yes, I do know of stores in the US calling their clients fat, albeit in a softer way. Along with that, stores and restaurants are there to sell a product and make money. People (thin or heavy) are welcome to enter and buy what they like just as they’d all be welcome in restaurants. Lingerie stores market for men and sell to them as customers just as well as they would women, though they’re not exactly offering men’s products. To my knowledge, no one assumes they’re being called Bali, or Cacique, or Victoria’s anything when they enter the store.

    Anyhow, I think this has been rehashed to the n-th. I see where you’re coming from am sure that people out there will make their own decisions when it comes to pass. Thanks for your viewpoints and for listening to mine as well.

  59. lifebehindthewall
    lifebehindthewall August 3, 2011 at 11:26 pm | | Reply

    Mayte is correct… Ivy… I agree with everything she has said in the comments above. I just wanted to add… that all people put a little focus on how people look on the outside… but in China… they dwell on it, and live for it. I had a class today on weightloss… and showed clips from the biggest loser TV show. You would be amazed at what these students…(adult students) said and did…. One girl even said she would have killed herself if she had looked like that. That just tells you how focused they are on the cover of the book.. and not the inside. I wish the young lady much luck and I hope her visit to China is enjoyable. I feel… the fact that she is just visiting that there wont be so much of a problem .. only the normal staring and pointing. But living here… and I am speaking from experience…. you need to have very thick skin… I questioned everyday… by people Chinese and foreign on how I can stand to live here…. because even my friends that walk with me down the street can see, hear, and feel … how I get treated… and not only because I am a size 14 but also because of my skin color. So you and justify it all you want… that “fat” is common and normal to say in China. But I know… from personal experience… and other expats that have come to the city i live and left quickly…. that rude is rude… in any language.

  60. NextCreativity.com » Advice to a Reader September 4, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
  61. Ernest
    Ernest November 28, 2011 at 5:24 am | | Reply

    I am a chinese man, it is totally a sick opinion of chinese people about women body shape or size. God damn it. I have been in that sick condition for about 20 years, then I met my girlfriend, she is from American. I am truly sorry at the beginning I felt she is fat in chinese size or measure, but as long as I know her, I love her more and more, the body shape thing did not bother me that much. And now, I think her body shape is perfect, very good. Chinese girls are too skinny, with all due respect, really, some chinese girls are like a skeleton. I do not like chinese so called sexy. If you ask me which one is more beautiful between a American normal stardtand woman and a Chinese beautiful thin girl, without doubt, I will choose American, it is beautiful and healthy. And for the man who ask their foreign girlfriend to lose weight, why did not they make themselves stronger?

    And Elizabeth: It is a big issue and deal in china, but I really do not agree that chinese opinion about woman size. But your boyfriend probably do not have a choice to choose where to grow up, so I think he do love you, and he do think you is attractive, but chinese people really are collectivism, sometimes, a man care more about what other people think about him and his girlfriend. So I am thinking, if you love her a lot , and you think it is okay and willing to, you can try to lose weight, but you totally do not have to.

  62. Belle
    Belle December 13, 2011 at 8:22 am | | Reply

    I had my Chinese boyfriend tell me recently that I was everything that he was looking for, except that I was overweight. And that he wasn’t sure he would be able to get past it, if I wasn’t able to lose the weight. He told me his mother would never accept me how I am now. That like him, she had a certain expectation of a women who might become his wife. Unlike Jessica I am overweight at 5’3, 185 pounds. What hurt was that while I knew I was overweight, and was in the process of working to bring myself to a healthy weight, that it was such an issue for him.

    He apologized plenty of times for bring it up and for hurting my feelings in the process. But that he wanted us to solve the issue now instead of waiting and potentially hurting me down the line. He said he only wanted me to do it, if I a really want it to lose the weight. That he would rather me be happy and us go our separate ways then me do something that would make me unhappy to be together.

    He told me he would support my decision either way. He would support me losing the weight healthy and asked if there was anything I wanted him to change for me– that he would try his best to do so. I told him I wanted him to work on loving me for me, while I worked on becoming healthy.

  63. Bruce
    Bruce December 13, 2011 at 9:10 am | | Reply

    Being healthy is a choice. Why do we eat some much fruits and vegetables? Why I have to work out 4 to 5 times a week? It’s so painful . why go thru such work? We are able to lose weights and maintain our physique is all about commitment and staying away from the hospital. this is a life time commitment until you die.

  64. Sarah
    Sarah December 18, 2011 at 12:39 pm | | Reply

    I like what Ernest had to say.

    Although at the moment, my boyfriend and I are fine now, I have yet to go to China and truly see first hand if it is.

    I do agree that eating right and exercise is important, however, there is a difference with wanting your loved one to be healthy and wanting your loved one to be thin so that you can save face.

    I am actively trying lose weight but I know that when I am able to afford to go to China, I will still be excrutiatingly fat to Chinese and I hope by then both my boyfriend and I are strong enough to make it through. It’s really important that we can have a good time rather than spend however many weeks being concerned with what other’s are thinking.

    On a side note, if Elizabeth is still reading this:

    I hope it worked out for you and I’m dying to know if it did. ^_^

  65. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth July 8, 2012 at 7:03 pm | | Reply

    Hi! Thank you to everyone who commented to my question. I know it’s been a long time but I’ve been so busy and a little embarrassed. I did try to lose weight but didn’t lose much. When we met his family and friends everyone was nice. I had a lot of fun but when we flew back my boyfriend was really quiet and I could barely get him to talk at all. Eventually, when we got back, he told me that his family didn’t approve of him being with such an “unhealthy” woman. He said he didn’t know what to do because he didn’t want to make me upset again and he didn’t want to break up. Then he said the decision was up to me. So of course i was upset again and we broke up. I guess that’s the embarrassing part, I feel like I should have just let him go in the first place rather than going and looking stupid.

    I guess the pressure was too much.

    Thanks again for the support.

  66. Rebekah
    Rebekah July 9, 2012 at 9:40 am | | Reply

    @Elizabeth
    I am so sorry to hear this! I know it is for the best though, as I have encountered this from my boyfriend MANY times. I always say even if I lost the weight, finished school, and my son becomes an angel he STILL will be this way.
    Good luck to you and I hope you find someone as amazing as you are! 🙂

  67. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth August 9, 2012 at 11:41 pm | | Reply

    Thank you. And thank you for directing me to the “Rougan” article. I really enjoyed reading it. 🙂

  68. Jan
    Jan September 24, 2012 at 11:15 pm | | Reply

    Hmmm, yes, my boyfriend is 57 and has a very nice, fit body. Because of this, I have been excercising and dieting for the last 6 months or so! We live in seperate cities so I use the time apart to work on my figure. I know that without this, there would be no future for us….but he has such a nice body it is worth it and I am a better person for it. I feel better about myself and it increases my attractiveness to other men as well.

  69. CBC Guy
    CBC Guy January 21, 2013 at 8:43 pm | | Reply

    Hi, just my two cents. I’m a Canadian born Chinese who is “average” (5 foot 10, 190 Lbs) by Canadian standards but “XXXXL” in Hong Kong and China, so in HK this one time I was minding my own business going across a footbridge (in Wan Chai), when like these guys selling exercise programs went up to me and told me to my face in Cantonese (which I understand) “you are fat, you should join our gym”, blah blah blah and I was like “WTF man I don’t even know you” in Cantonese and just walked away, like who the hell do they think they are? Besides I play hockey, and while I dont have a 6 pack I do have muscle under there, like a Sumo wrestler (LOL).

    I make no bones about it, I enjoy my food, especially in Hong Kong. All my HK friends say stuff like this too, although I cut them some slack as they’re usually said in a joking manner and not meant to offend. I can see how some would be offended though. There are many things in Chinese culture which I will defend to the end, this isnt one of them.

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