Monday, February 23, 2009

Sweet Spot

Today was the first day back to class and one of my teachers commented on how much better I was looking after the break. Well actually what she said was that I had gained weight, and then she proceeded to use her index finger to stroke under my chin, like I was a cat. She said it was my sweet spot, and the fat that made me look cute. As you can imagine I am not used to getting complimented on my double chin, or having it pet (so you can also easily guess why there is not picture coinciding with this entry). I knew I had gained a few pounds from eating doughnuts in Thailand, but I wasn’t quite prepared to be called fat the first day back to class.

Just another local compliment to add to the list of those that aren’t very trans-cultural between the east and the west. I have actually noted quite a few over the years. I remember going into a hotel lobby once several years ago and over hearing two girls talking about me. One girl said “look at how white her skin is, she is whiter than a ghost”. The other one responded by saying “I was looking at her nose. It is so tall and big, I think it is the biggest nose I have ever seen”. As my hand self-consciously rose to cover my large protruding snout, the two realized that I could understand their conversation. They giggled awkwardly and quickly left the room, leaving me standing there feeling like a sickly pale version of Pinocchio.

It took me a long time to realize that people here think tall noses are beautiful, and that pale skin is a sought after commodity. These two strangers were not trying to be cruel or nasty in their assessment of my appearance, in fact they were looking on with awe (okay so maybe they weren’t that impressed with what they saw). But they both knew that their evaluation of my appearance was positive, where as I had perceived them to be making fun of me. The same with my ‘sweet spot’ today in class. The Uyghur people like a lady with rounded features instead of the slim lines we admire in the west. But as she continued to go on about my ‘fat’ and my double chin, I had to remind myself that it was a compliment, otherwise I might have developed a complex.


Anonymous said...

That's funny. When I was in Africa people kept telling me I was too skinny to find a husband, and I needed to fatten up :) Gotta love those cultural differences!!!

Anonymous said...

Oh, I'm sorry Karen! That's one cultural aspect I DON'T miss. To this day, I have to remember that people are no longer laughing at me or talking about me.

I hope you're doing well! I've really enjoyed your blog. Helps me reconnect with you gals and remember life over there.