Thursday, July 14, 2011

no have big size!

There's a snarky blog, Stuff Aid Workers Life, that makes me laugh - often at myself. Recently, they teased about women expat aid workers (EAW) who moast about marriage proposals while working in developing countries. But my favorite part of the blog wasn't all the teasing about the very real phenomena of men in developing countries (and not necessarily FROM that country) continually asking how many children you have and about your marital status. It was this:

When going from, say, the DRC to Thailand, the EAW will notice a sharp drop in marriage proposals and related attention. This will be a huge relief on the one hand, as she finally feels free to move around in peace. But ironically she may also be alarmed at herself for being a tiny bit dismayed that she's suddenly become invisible to local men. Or worse. When the initial reaction of market sellers changes from up-and-down looks followed by sly smiles of approval in one country to, "Madame - very sorry... no have big size!" in another, the romance of being the 'exotic other' tends to fade very quickly.

In India, at times, I felt like a goddess. But if you are a size 12 USA or more in most parts of the world, you are a BIG GIRL, and a lot of foreigners won't hesitate to tell you so. "Madame - very sorry... no have big size!" is one of the kinder things you will hear! It's really hard to maintain that placid demeanor demanded of you as an EAW when a local says, "You are so fat!" in a loud, happy voice in the middle of a community meeting.

Yes, that happened.

1 comment:

  1. I had a mahout in Thailand cheerfully tell me that I was as big as the elephant. And he clearly meant no harm by it.