“Rougan”: How My Husband Helped Me Love My Curves

A shot of a woman in a short plaid skirt showing off her strong thighs
(photo from Flickr, by Emily Johnson)

Last night, when my husband rolled into bed, he rolled straight over my thighs and couldn’t help caressing them as he went by. Once he tucked into the covers and spooned me, he once again ran his hands up my thighs to my waist and pulled me in closer.

“I love your ròugǎn,” he whispered to me, using the Chinese word (肉感) that means sexy and voluptuous.

Even though I always understood his Chinese perfectly, the idea of ròugǎn as a compliment once sounded absolutely foreign to me. The first character in the word, ròu (肉), is the same word used for meat and flesh. And that reminded me of how people in English might say, “She’s got a lot of meat on her bones,” but never in same sexy and sultry way as my husband.

You might call me an “average cut,” blessed with the sort of curves that men used to admire on their posters of Marilyn Monroe — but less so in this modern age of ultra-skinny models and overphotoshopped magazine pictures. Drowning in so many images that had nothing to do with a healthy and normal size, for years I struggled with fitting into all of the adjectives boyfriends dressed me up in — cute, pretty, sexy, beautiful.

But then along came John, who not only draped me in the same adjectives, but did so for for all of those jiggly-wiggly parts of myself that I believed didn’t apply — like my thighs, waist and hips. All this, from a svelte, smaller guy. And every time I used to grimace at the mirror, wishing my waist were a tad smaller, or that my thighs didn’t appear so thunderous, he would slide his arms around me with a smile and tell me I was perfect, that I didn’t need to lose any weight or fix a single thing.

Maybe that’s a surprise coming from a Chinese man like John. After all, many Chinese women still face incredible pressure to conform to impossible beauty standards. Is John just an outlier, or one in a growing group of men in China who love women exactly the way they are?

I don’t know, but I’ll never let John go. He’s helped me realize that my “meat” can be seriously sexy — and I can’t wait until he crawls into bed with me tonight. 😉

What do you think?

P.S.: In the same vein, you might also enjoy reading Jenna Cody’s recent article, where she describes herself as curvy and adds that many Taiwanese men complimented her looks and wished she didn’t have a husband.

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40 thoughts on ““Rougan”: How My Husband Helped Me Love My Curves

  • July 16, 2012 at 9:45 am
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    “I don’t know, but I’ll never let John go. He’s helped me realize that my “meat” can be seriously sexy — and I can’t wait until he crawls into bed with me tonight. ” sounds so funny , Jocelyn. Like I said before, I love women with curves. There is just something about curves . I love it.

    Reply
  • July 16, 2012 at 10:20 am
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    A few guys I was with only liked my breasts. (My Korean special friend included, ) I never heard them compliment or say anything else, although there’s a chance I could be wrong.

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  • July 16, 2012 at 10:33 am
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    I think some Chinese men like our curvy hips…

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  • July 16, 2012 at 10:44 am
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    The opposites often attract. Western women got more curves.

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  • July 16, 2012 at 11:18 am
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    It is funny how the word rou “肉” (meat) and the word gan”感” (feel/sense) remind me of the English phrase “one man’s meat is another man’s poison”. LOL. But trust the Chinese to come up with the phrase 肉感 rougan to means sexy/voluptuous. As in 肉感的英文 ruogandeyingwen sexy/voluptuous English! But seriously, sexy/voluptuous or not is a perception of course often coloured by culture. In certain cultures as in the Polynesian, plumb is beautiful. But perception is not necessarily a uniform thing even within a particular culture. Ergo, everything works out fine between you and John whose perception of 肉感 is encouraging.

    Reply
  • July 16, 2012 at 5:11 pm
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    I like curves in the right places. You can touch and pinch voluptuous women;however, you can’t be too rough with skinny women. Just smoother and softer to feel the thighs, legs and butt 🙂 just everywhere 🙂 hahahah lol :). Maybe I’m just a big guy so I love voluptuous women or I like fitness so I like everything round!

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  • July 16, 2012 at 8:46 pm
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    i dont understand why most Chinese guys like skinny skinny girls..

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  • July 16, 2012 at 10:22 pm
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    John is definitely my hero!

    I grew up with a saying that is more or less prevalent in my culture. “Only a dog wants a bone.” Meaning that a curvy women is more desirable than one who isn’t.

    Reply
  • July 17, 2012 at 1:35 am
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    After reading this today, I asked my Chinese boyfriend about this word. I’m a beginner in Chinese, only having studied about 6 months so far, so I’m constantly texting him with a new word I come across in various places. When I asked him about this one, he was pretty happy and asked me where I heard it, because it describes me and he loves it, he says. I admit that when we first started going out a little under a year ago, I was insecure at first because although I’m short I’m not really skinny, and I’m certainly curvier in the thigh/hip/waist area than most Asian women, but he’s always told me he loves my body. I never knew there was a specific word for it until reading this, though. Thanks~

    Reply
  • July 17, 2012 at 9:25 am
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    Really, skinny or not, plump or not, curvy or not, if you are comfortable and your partner is comfortable, that’s all there is to it. How are we to say that skinny is it, or plump is it or curvy is it. A dog likes his bone, well, that what he likes and a cat likes his too bones too, although here it is a fish’s bones. That is not a problem. In fact, it becomes a problem when a cat likes a plump chicken haha for then you will have another enemy other the cobra to contend with in the coop. What I am saying is that to each his or her. 肉感 ROUGAN IS JUST THAT – how you feel. 感 gan is feel/sense and rou you know already. So no problem lah!

    Reply
  • July 17, 2012 at 9:34 am
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    I love John! LOL!!!
    I have to say that living in China redefined my concept of “skinny” and I feel kinda “big” compare to most girls…and boys… luckily my boyfriend is not that skinny…I would say that he looks like an average westerner..
    I did ask him,if he was ok with the fact that im not Chinese skinny..he just started laughing and asked me if I was ok with him not being “muscular” …
    he did explain that for Chinese being “fat” is consider a really bad thing, not that he had to explain anything, working with Chinese girls I often get advice like ” you should stop eating for a couple of weeks” my manager once told me,before she knew about my boyfriend ” if you want to marry a good chinese man you must be skinny” and “you are so beautiful…but fat” once she even touched my waist and said ” uugh…too much meat” … (-_-) no need to say how uncomfortable this situation is … and Im not even fat lol just curvier than Chinese … anyway … the point here is how we all like John even more now 🙂

    Reply
  • July 17, 2012 at 10:45 am
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    I was in a bar with a Chinese girl before. When it was time to order, she did not want beer, only a little wine. She said beer would make her fat. She was skinny already. As self-conscious as a lot of western girls are about weight, I love the fact we can always sit down have beer and a great time.

    Reply
  • July 17, 2012 at 3:41 pm
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    I think your husband is a hero… the kind of pressure most Asian women I know have for being skinny, is a bit ridiculous. Even normal shaped women who would be considered skinny elsewhere are constantly fretting about loosing weight or getting a tan…I can understand if one is sunbathing at 100 degrees on a beach, or really needs to loose weight. But most of these girls I know or came across are perfectly normal. But their ideal seems to be a stick thin long legged girl with no curves. And while I have nothing against women who look like 10 yr old boys, I guess some cultures value accepting ur bodies far less than others.

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  • July 17, 2012 at 6:43 pm
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    I know what everyone here is talking about skinny women. If you have curves in the right places to me is gorgerous/beautiful. Having your woman wearing tight shirt and pants/dress/skirt with curves, man it’s a turn on in a good way. nothing sexual but very sexy to me. Men are very visual.Of course , if you fall in love with a skinny, wonderful woman then you have to accept her but eventually she will gain some fat later on. Skinny women can have curves in the right places also. When you reach 40 yrs old , everything will go down so enjoy your curvy body while you can :).

    Reply
  • July 17, 2012 at 9:05 pm
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    I have also found there is a whole segment of the Chinese male population breaking with the traditional desired standard for beauty…my boyfriend loooves my big butt and can’t keep his hands off the curves that I have.

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  • July 17, 2012 at 9:14 pm
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    I like athlelic type of woman and hence athletic body type. Not so much skinny type. It is the active life style that is really appealing. One can be curvy but couch patato life style will make one over weight down the road. The active life style will maintain shape over time. The associated displine also shows strong mind at work. Only the strong willed can put the cookie down and keep the routine up.

    I never understand why people want to get tan on purpose. Tan is the side effect of sun burn in my opinion. Exposing to too much UV will lead to skin problem. And I just don’t see any correlation between losing weight and sunbathing.

    Reply
  • July 18, 2012 at 1:01 am
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    People get so hung up on how much they weigh but if you exercise regularly you can weigh more and appear slimmer – it should be about body shape than the number on the scales. The only downside to exercise (or upside, depending on how you look at it) is that you tend to want to eat more haha.

    I have to say that I don’t like to see really skinny women or men myself, when I see super skinny legs it makes me feel a big queasy because I think they look like they’re going to snap!

    Like someone mentioned earlier, I think Chinese men may be curious about curvier women because it is not the norm in China. Opposites do attract.

    Reply
  • July 18, 2012 at 4:35 am
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    I recall one Chinese guy telling me (Australian surfer chick) that he’d like to “fluck me like a flying tiger”. He didn’t get lucky, but I was rather flattered.

    Reply
  • July 18, 2012 at 4:56 am
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    @Claire – Agree that body shape is better measure than weight. By “overweight”, I mean to apply to those who have extra body fat, the same expression of “big bone”.
    I also mentioned active lifestyle instead of exercise, because active lifestyle including more than just exercise. It can be gardening, cleaning, oranizing, etc. If you are active in drawing and spend time on it regularly, you have less chance to gain fat than those who sit on couch watching tv all day.

    Reply
  • July 18, 2012 at 7:57 am
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    @Bogdan

    Do you have statistics to back your claim up, or are you just speaking from personal experience of rejections?

    Reply
  • July 18, 2012 at 10:08 am
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    Southern boys like Southern girls like thin high and handsome Indeed, Chinese people like a thin girl :::::Chinese men like girls 1 Kind-hearted Clever 2 Appearance 3 body weight 50KG to 60KG 4 Height 158CM to 170CM Do not make-up natural GIRL
    …..

    Reply
  • July 18, 2012 at 12:12 pm
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    I saw plenty of Asian girls hit gyms too. I am not sure the athletic type is all there is. It eventually comes down to personality. Western girls are raised to be more confident and independent. Asians girls with slim body types still won’t feel secure. Beauty is in the eyes of beholder. I know that is how western guys attract to smaller Asian girls too. Your body will need to be alive with right personality.

    On average you won’t meet a lot of bigger and tall Asian guys. Same goes to Asian women with curves.

    Reply
  • July 18, 2012 at 4:02 pm
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    Voluptuous women are just softer to hold and look sexy with more curves sticking out when they wear tight clothes. I like some meat on my woman. Just look very sexy with some cleavage. Yes, you combine your personality with your voluptuous body and you will know how people will react. Like I said before, at the end people will admire/like you on your personality and the body is just secondary or icing on the cake. Nothing more or less. Men like me will not only look at the body but we look at personality,intelligence and respect in our women. Having a voluptuous body is wonderful but is not the whole picture about a woman.

    Bruce

    Reply
  • July 18, 2012 at 4:37 pm
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    @Aussie surfer chick ,
    my english has improved since, what are my chances now?

    Reply
  • July 19, 2012 at 12:18 am
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    Harbin, Dalian, Qingdao, Yantai, Girls, most of the 165cm-175CM So the city boy like high girls

    Reply
  • July 19, 2012 at 12:20 am
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    Qingdao, Yantai, Dalian, Harbin, female high school students most of the 165CM to 175CM So these boys like tall girls

    Reply
  • July 19, 2012 at 10:12 pm
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    @ Aussie Surfer Chick
    “fluck me like a flying tiger”
    I cannot stop laughing!

    Reply
  • July 20, 2012 at 9:26 am
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    Thin really is relative–one of my former students told me that Hollywood actresses were pretty but fat. Yikes! I was discussing this with a Chinese friend, who agreed and said that many Chinese prefer to see a girl with a concave stomach and visible bones, really Auschwitz-type thin.

    I work in a fashion company, and it’s so funny because every day the girls greet each other with: Am I thinner today? Have I gained weight? Surprisingly, no one has made any comments about me, even though I could stand to lose a few.

    Reply
  • July 20, 2012 at 9:32 am
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    “fluck me like a flying tiger”
    I cannot stop laughing!”

    Sometimes, you just have to do it like that! 🙂 hahahahha lol. Just do it :)…It’s fun 🙂

    Reply
  • July 21, 2012 at 8:48 pm
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    I have the opposite problem. I am naturally very thin and most men I encounter tell me I am too thin for them. This includes the Chinese guy I am seeing. I am starting to think a lack of curves is far less desirable. All women gain weight differently. My weight doesn’t go to my chest anyways. It was estimated in a study that only 8% of women have an hourglass figure naturally in the US.

    Reply
  • July 22, 2012 at 12:00 am
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    @Lex ……….>>>>>>.Your weight and height … But most Chinese people like to lean This is true

    Reply
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  • July 23, 2012 at 7:26 pm
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    There is so much pressure on a moman to be thin especially in China because thin = beauty, acceptance and is some cases better prospects. I have a number of Chinese girlfriends who are smart, beautiful, modern and intelligent but who all crumble when it comes to weight. Nor one of them is happy in the way she looks and all wish they were thinner ( they are all thin and healthy). I have one friend who when ever we meet asks me “have I put on weight?” This is always her first question to me. I am sad to see such a wonderful and intelligent woman feel that her body weight dictates who she is and what she is. I applaud all you men who love and appreciate the curves in their wives and girlfriends .

    Reply
  • July 23, 2012 at 8:46 pm
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    I saw a skinny white woman today on the street. She has a cute pretty face but it was such a turn off the moment I saw her skinny leg. No offense, it just reminds me the concentration camp prison…

    Reply
  • August 24, 2012 at 1:08 pm
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    My boyfriend told me he loves that I am fleshy too. He really dislikes how skinny women make themselves. He grew up in the 70’s & 80’s in China when everyone was too thin from lack of food and nutrition. He too was too skinny in those days. So he finds it sad that women, and sometimes men, purposely make themselves thin.

    Reply
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  • January 20, 2014 at 1:37 pm
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    With all due respect, women are dumb about their own bodies. Only other women and men who aren’t attracted to women think that the bag-of-bones, skinny waif runway models look pretty. We men, real men, love wide hips, round bottoms, and an hour glass figure. It’s hard-wired into us genetically since those kinds of bodies are better for producing, bearing, and sustaining offspring. I know it doesn’t sound very romantic, but don’t worry. We aren’t thinking, “Wow! She could produce healthy babies!” We’re too simple and stupid for that when it comes to women. Whatever the reason, we like what we see and can’t help but to want to grab your flesh and run our hands along the curves of your hips. Now shut up and kiss me! 😉 😛

    Reply
  • July 22, 2014 at 4:10 am
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    Hey, my hubby is chinese and also loves my shape….I would be more “large” or “plus sized” as apposed to voluptuous and my hubby’s friends just don’t get why he’d want a larger lady, they all like stick insects haha he just tells them “u don’t know what ur ignorance is causing u to miss out on, she’s a wonderful woman, every bit”…..so John u ain’t alone, u got a brother from fujian over here haha

    Reply

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