Super Sized Me: The Big Girl’s Guide to Surviving Asia

June 12, 2011

It’s not easy being big in Asia.

And not, like, big-in-a-famous kind of way, but big-in-a-we-don’t-sell-your-size-here-so-don’t-even-try kind of way.

I know what you’re going to say — “But, Sally, you’re not fat!” (You were going to say that, right?! RIGHT?!).

It’s true.

I’m not fat… in America.

As far as Americans go, I’d say I’m pretty much average. Heck, I’m considered downright svelte in my hometown of Buffalo, where people like their food portions big and preferably deep-fried. Where I’m from, deep-fried chicken wings in chunky, blue cheese sauce are considered a light pre-dinner snack. (Mind you, when served with a side of celery, Buffalo wings effectively become a salad.)

Sure, I am not a dainty little thing. At best, I could be described as sturdy. I have one of those bodies that clings stubbornly to every calorie consumed as if it suspects a plague of locusts or a zombie apocalypse is just around the corner. I do not possess visible stomach muscles. Heck, I don’t even possess visible ankles. (It’s a hereditary thing. I come from a long line of Midwestern farm folk where sturdiness is vital for one’s survival — you know, should one have to withstand cattle stampede.)

But I’m really not that big. (Well, not as big as you might suspect for someone who blathers on regularly about her couch and cookies and bacon.)

Sure, I gained some weight while I was traveling last year due to a slight shift in my priorities — namely, a shift from “attempting to eat reasonably and exercise regularly” to “attempting to eat every weird-flavored potato chip in all of Asia.” (Hey, it was a cultural experiment!)

Still, I am no Godzilla. As you can see from the recent photo below, there’s no way a girl of my size could trample Tokyo and devour innocent bystanders. There is simply no way. (Besides, I don’t even like innocent bystanders. They tend to be stringy and poorly seasoned.)

(But I did devour those pancakes. Roawr.)

In Asia, though, I am big.

Frankly, after four years of being considered fat (when, I swear, I am merely robust!), there are some days when I dream of jetting off to some hearty Eastern European country where a girl of my stature might be considered normal – heck, maybe even possibly, desirable. (I have a feeling a girl like me would be quite popular in some of the rural Slavic nations, where being able to hold your own against stampeding livestock would be considered an asset.)

But, fear not, curvy ladies, Asia isn’t all bad for us big girls.

I’m sure you’ve heard the horror stories – the unwanted comments, the stares, the almost impossible quest to buy pants.

But, really, it’s not that bad.

You just can’t believe everything people tell you.

Instead, believe what I’m about to tell you. (See, how easy that is?)

Size Matters

Sure, it can be a bummer being bigger than most of the female population of your country of residence (and, arguably, half of the male population, as well).

But being big has its advantages — especially in China. You see, Chinese people have, what I consider to be, a “can-do attitude” when it comes to the tasks of daily life, like shopping, taking public transportation and driving. By “can-do attitude” I simply mean that Chinese people believe you can do pretty much whatever you want.

Stand in line? What line?

Wait patiently while other passengers get off the train before you barge your way on? But then you might not be able to get a seat!

Allow pedestrians to cross the street before you charge through the intersection in your vegetable truck? Why would you do that? Just because the traffic light is red? How ridiculous!

Luckily as a big girl, I have bulk on my side. When someone tries to cut ahead of me at the checkout counter, I use my body like a human shield. When making my way through the crowds at the train station, I barge on through like a line-backer. And, that vegetable truck driver is going to think twice about attempting to run me over – after all, I’d do quite a number on his bumper.

What they don’t know…

In America, I was that girl who cowered by her locker while getting dressed in the gym changing room.

I would do this thing where I would change from my street clothes into my gym clothes without ever actually removing any clothes. And if I was at one of those gyms that didn’t have shower curtains for the showers, I would opt to skip the shower all together and just spray myself liberally with deodorant.

Things changed when I moved to Japan – big time. One of my favorite activities was going to the public hotspring baths or onsens. Unlike in some countries, the public baths in Japan are totally swimsuit-free. That means you’re naked… in front of a bunch of strangers… who are also naked. (Funny how that works.)

And I totally didn’t care.

Why the big attitude change?

Well, I figured, there was probably a pretty good chance that most of my fellow strangers at the public bath had never actually seen a real live foreign person up close and naked before. This meant that they had no one to measure me against. So what if my thighs jiggled? They probably just figured all Americans jiggled when they were naked.

I also found myself doing a lot of other things in Japan that I probably would have never done in the States.

I began running races and even ran a full marathon – something I would have been way too self-conscious to do in America as I am a really slow runner. (In fact, I’m not sure I would call what my body does “running” – it’s more like “an advanced stage of shuffling.”) But in Japan I didn’t care. After all, if I ran slowly, I figured the crowd would just assume all foreigners ran that slowly.

I also signed up for belly dancing classes, having never taken a dance class in my life. I was a pretty atrocious belly dancer (despite having the prerequisite belly), but, again, I didn’t care. I was the only white girl there. My classmates probably figured all white girls dance like they’re being electrocuted.

What these people didn’t know, didn’t hurt them – and, in fact, helped me. Ignorance really can be bliss, people. (And, onsens can be bliss, too. Seriously. I know what you’re thinking — “I would never hang out naked in a hot tub with a bunch of strangers.” But don’t knock it until you try it, sister.)

 If the pants fit…

Every great traveler has a quest.

Jason had the Golden Fleece.

Odysseus had Ithaca.

Moses had the Promised Land.

I have pants.

Personally, I prefer to just stock up on pants while I’m at home rather than braving the stores in Asia (and the smug shop attendants who will either insist they don’t have your size or insist they do have your size – but act like selling pants in your size is a feat akin to peddling unicorns).

It’s true that most shops in Asia don’t sell much above an American size six. Mind you, it’s not impossible to find clothes that fit you in Asia if you’re bigger than that; it’s just kind of a hassle. (I’m pretty sure Moses said the same thing about wandering in the desert.)

A lot of my friends here have their clothes custom-made as hiring a tailor in Asia can be quite reasonable. I haven’t done this yet, as, personally, I find pants-shopping rather traumatizing, even in the States. I prefer to do this activity on my own with as little human-interaction as possible – you know, in case I need to cry or lash out at the hangers or scarf down an emergency bag of potato chips for energy.

I’ve had some success at finding pants in my size in clothing stores in Asia – but usually this requires my buying them with a label that has a few too many X’s on it for my liking.

Not thinking that China would be much different from my shopping experiences in other Asian countries, I was rather shocked when I managed to find two pairs of pants in my size in Shanghai the other weekend. And they were in my real size –- not the fake, gross size that Asia made up for me.

So, umm, now that I’ve found pants, does that mean my quest is over? Like, can I go home now? Or does that mean I get a new quest? (My next quest better involve donuts; that’s all I have to say.)

 Sticks and stones won’t break my bones (because my bones are kind of big)

One of the hardest things about being a big girl in Asia is putting up with the comments about your size. Usually these comments are not intended to be malicious or hurtful – they just kind of come out that way.

Once while teaching a lesson on descriptive adjectives in a writing class in Japan, the word “fat” came up. “Fat like you, Sally!” one of my students yelled from his seat. I’m sure he didn’t intend to be mean – that’s just the way it came out. (Likewise, I’m sure I also didn’t intend to mark ten points of his grade point average – that’s just the way it came out.)

During a hike in Northern Thailand, my Thai friend gleefully informed me, “You walk like Santa Claus.” When I tried to explain to him that he shouldn’t tell a girl that she walks with the grace of an obese man in a red fur suit, he was sincerely confused. “But I like Santa Claus,” he responded.

While working on the Malaysian rice farm last spring, the rice farmer would often tell me, “You’re not fat. You’re big and strong — like a cow.” This was yet another comment I am sure was not intended to sound as bad as it did.

There’s really not an easy way to deal with these comments aside from pretending you don’t understand what the person is saying (which, mind you, is quite difficult to do should the person be speaking in English). Just remember that the person making the comment probably didn’t mean ill-will – after all, I’m pretty sure the rice farmer likes cows.

Prove everyone wrong… including yourself

When I completed the full marathon in Japan, it was one of the proudest moments of my life.

I never thought I could do a marathon.

Until I did.

You see, I had never been athletic growing up and had never thought I would be. I didn’t do sports as a kid and the only game I was mildly good at in gym class was dodge ball as it required a certain level of cowardice to be successful.

I didn’t start running until I was an adult – and, even then, I only did it because it was the only form of exercise I could do that didn’t require a gym membership or expensive equipment or, say, hand-eye coordination.

When I finished the marathon, I got to prove wrong all the people who had looked at me doubtfully when I said I was going to do it.

But, even better than that, I got to prove myself wrong.

Being big (even if you are not big – just sturdy!), you are told there are a lot of things you can’t do: run marathons, be a rock star, hang out in naked hot tubs, rock a bikini, be strong, be sexy, work on a rice farm, dance, find pants in Asia, wear short-shorts.

What if you found out you can do all those things and the only person holding you back was yourself? (Okay, and maybe your mom… because I’m pretty sure my mom would not approve of my wearing short-shorts.)

Wouldn’t that be cool?

So fear not, my voluptuous female friends, Asia isn’t all bad for us big girls.

Just as long as you don’t believe everything you tell yourself.


I've blathered on long enough! Now it's your turn!

  1. On June 12, 2011 at 1:43 pm Rachel said:

    Yours is the only travel blog I have ever come across where I know I will laugh every single time I read a post. I’m pretty sure no-one else could have written about this topic in such an entertaining way.

  2. On June 12, 2011 at 1:48 pm MaryAnne said:

    As you know already, I hear you on this one. I had spent 6 slightly deflating years in Turkey being lectured about what I ate (by well-meaning women who were adamant that I eat more of whatever marvellous dish they were serving whilst at the same time admonishing me for the scandalous circumference of my thighs) before coming to China

    It took me 6 months before I found a pair of jeans in Shanghai that fit me (and I’m a mere wisp of a size 33 in a land where a 28 inch waist in jeans is FAT!). Where did I find these amazing Dolce & Gabbana marvels? In the fakes market, which is filled with, well, fakes manufactured for the export market. *sigh* So technically I didn’t find jeans in ‘Asia’ that fit me. I found jeans in ‘Italy’.

    Maybe I need to run a marathon.

    • On June 12, 2011 at 2:06 pm Sally said:

      Sadly, marathons are not the best way to lose weight — I actually gained weight while training for mine. I’m sure it was all muscle… and not the nachos I ate during my carbo-load sessions.

      • On June 12, 2011 at 10:54 pm MaryAnne said:

        On a side note, one of the things I’ve noticed here is that I’ve got a number of, well, bigger girls in my classes here (and last year I had one girl who was bigger than me- bigger boobs, taller, wider, the works!) and I wonder about a few things:

        1. Where do they buy their clothes? They have full adorable wardrobes suitable for the 18 year old Chinese girls that they are. Do they somehow, magically, still fit into size sub-zero clothes even when they are overweight?

        2. Why don’t they have any fat on their legs? That girl I mentioned above had perfectly smooth, perfectly formed (and, sigh, totally hairless) legs that were the size of tree trunks.

        3. What exactly is overweight here? At my gym, there was a success story in their promo brochure showing a very overweight, very obviously out of shape young woman- round tummy, rolls, chins, etc. I would have pegged her as being bigger than me (I have no rolls and no extra chins, thank you, though my tummy does, er, exist, along with my hips and ass). In the After part of the success story, she says she was so relieved to have lost those pesky 7kg that had kept her from being the svelte 45kg that she needed to be to feel healthy and beautiful again. 45kg! WTF??? How did she look so fat at 52kg? I look anorexic at 60kg! Is this why a 6 is considered XL here?
        MaryAnne recently posted..Further Adventures in Chinese Baking- Chocolate Coconut Cookies

        • On June 13, 2011 at 5:20 am Sally said:

          The whole where-do-they-buy-their-clothes question has been killing me for years. While, in general, Japanese people were really small (I’d say smaller than Chinese), I still saw plenty of fat people. But there you could hardly find any pants over a size 6 — even in the Western shops like H&M and Zara. I got to the point that I wanted to accost all the bigger people I saw and ask them where they bought their pants. A friend told me that they probably had to have them special ordered, which is ridiculous. If I was any good at business, I’d go back to Japan and set up a store selling big lady pants. I’m sure I’d make a killing (and then spend all my money on new pants… hence the reason why I’m not so good at business).

  3. On June 12, 2011 at 1:57 pm Tammy said:

    This post had me laughing hysterically and calling my mother (who was in the next room) over every 2 minutes saying, “listen to this!”. You’ve reminded me of the time I tried to buy a jade bracelet in a flea market in Hong Kong. The woman, intent on making the sale, kept trying to jam the too-small bracelet onto my wrists, all the while saying over again, “Your wrists too fat. Your hands too fat. Fat wrists.” When she pulled out a tub of lotion and indicated that she was going to slather it onto my hands to force the bracelet to slide on, I pretty much turned and ran away. I was scared once it was on, I’d never be able to get the damn thing off my fat wrists.
    Tammy recently posted..Quick thoughts after a Sunday summer run

    • On June 12, 2011 at 2:05 pm Sally said:

      Fat wrists? Oh dear, one more thing to worry about. I haven’t had anyone inform me of the massiveness of my wrists & hands, but I’m sure they’re just too busy staring at my man-calves!

      • On July 3, 2011 at 11:04 am Deedee said:

        Oh yes. Fat wrists. Mine are the bane of my existence and a cause for curiosity and concern by all who come upon me. I have one friend who likes to pinch them, even. So just be glad you’re not afflicted with them!

  4. On June 12, 2011 at 2:16 pm Vivian said:

    Thank you, thank you for this post!!! It feels so great to read. Honestly, I’m fairly thin, even in Japan where I fit in Japanese sizes, but my body shape and curves make me different, therefore ‘fat’. Hips. Breasts. Living in Japan has given me such a distorted view of my own body, which is so sad. I’m working hard on that one. So yes, thanks for this post, sometimes I need those reminders to feel normal again.

    • On June 12, 2011 at 2:29 pm Sally said:

      Aww, you’re welcome, Vivian. Yes, Asia can certainly do a number on every woman’s self esteem — no matter what size she is. I had a lot of Western friends in Japan who were told they were “fat” even though by Western standards they were quite skinny. I even knew quite a few Japanese girls who were told they were “fat” simply because they had curvier bodies. (Mind you, if these girls had lived in Buffalo they would be force-fed Buffalo wings as everyone would think they were on death’s door!).
      Oddly, despite often feeling monstrous in Asia, when I return to the States, I feel like a total goddess. It’s funny — I go from one extreme to the other. In Asia, I don’t even think about attracting a guy’s attention (and if it happens I’m completely flabbergasted). But when I return to the States, I suddenly feel like the hottest thing around and just assume every man in his right mind wants me! Obviously, I need to go home to visit more often. 🙂

  5. On June 12, 2011 at 2:19 pm penguinlady said:

    If it weren’t so dangerous right now, I’d recommend a sojourn to Egypt. I am *much* larger than you, and received a ton (ha!) of positive attention there. We were on a tour, and I received a lot more attention than the skinny women. Men would yell out things at me, like “Hey Shakira!” and they’d yell to my husband, “Lucky man!”. He was also offered 10,000 camels for me – but I hope that was a joke. I’m worth at least 15k.

    • On June 12, 2011 at 2:35 pm Sally said:

      Ha ha! Fantastic! I had a similar experience in Morocco — I was quite a bit bigger at the time and traveling with a much smaller friend. She got very peeved because all the men kept on hitting on me and not her. And, yes, someone offered her camels for me… although I don’t remember how many. But I don’t think it was 10,000 — good for you! 🙂

    • On June 16, 2011 at 8:35 am alex said:

      Lol. Awesome story. It’s crazy how what is considered attractive in some parts of the world is the total opposite in others.
      alex recently posted..Layan Beach Phuket

  6. On June 12, 2011 at 2:26 pm TravelMaus said:

    I’m sitting over my Sunday-morning coffee and laughing spraying all over my nice new living-room rug ( shame on you for doing this to me – LOL ) . I loved this post! I’m not ‘fat’ either, but there are a LOT of stores, here, that don’t carry my size in jeans or pants me.
    As for the part of the post that pertains to queuing and pushing to get ahead, I live in Toronto and many, many Asians that live here still have not learned to queue or hold a door for the person behind them. As a matter of fact if you hold a door for the them coming up behind you, they’ll slip through the open door without once touching it. Of course no ‘thank you’ is ever uttered. Sometimes I yell out “you’re welcome”, but they don’t get that either! *sigh*. We often discuss this cultural difference over a beer and shake our heads. It’s not like most of them weren’t already born in Canada !!!!

    • On June 12, 2011 at 2:37 pm Sally said:

      At first, I found the whole not-queuing thing really annoying (especially in Shanghai where it is PACKED) but now I’m starting to get into the groove of it. It’s almost stress-reducing to just power through the crowds and shove people out of the way. You should try it!
      (Oh, and sorry about the rug 🙂 )

  7. On June 12, 2011 at 2:44 pm Andi of My Beautiful Adventures said:

    Haha, fabulous! The 1st time I went to China I was called a “Golden Giant.” The girls I was with didn’t know that I could speak Chinese and when I heard them say that I wanted to cry. But, it only got worse from there. I had so many Chinese call me fat and pinch my stomach. After that 1st trip though I got thicker skin and knew what to expect, so when I did return on future trips I just ignored the comments and stares. It’s so interesting though, because when I travel in Latin countries my curves are totally celebrated by both men and women!

    • On June 12, 2011 at 3:02 pm Sally said:

      Ha ha! Totally! I remember when I was in Brazil, my trainer was trying to get me to do these squats with dumbbells — and his enticement was to say, “If you do this, you’ll have a nice horse’s ass.” I just stared at him in amazement. Apparently, in Brazil that was considered a good thing! (Luckily, I come by my horse’s ass naturally. 🙂 )

  8. On June 12, 2011 at 3:20 pm gretta said:

    Oh Sally how I miss you so! This post totally reminded of my time in Japan. Even when I got fit in year three (and ran/walked races), I was still the largest in the room. I remember having dinner with my japanese teacher (also my co-worker) and his family, and he asked if I wanted sugar with my tea. Before I could answer, he says to me in Japanese: butaninaru. I was going to become a pig! (presumably, if I accepted the sugar). At least my students thought I looked like Janet Jackson (which I dont). and I remember them having nothing but love for you;)

    • On June 13, 2011 at 5:30 am Sally said:

      Oh, Lagu-chan, I miss you, too! Doesn’t this post make you want to move back to Asia so you can come hang out with me (and be regularly insulted)?
      I remember one of my first memories from Himi was participating in this parade where I had to wear a yukata & the women who were dressing me insisted I was “too big” for it. I know I was bigger than, but the yukata was HUGE. I was so not happy. (But I proved them wrong — I wore that yukata and paraded up and down the streets of Himi like no one’s business!).
      Big ladies FTW!

  9. On June 12, 2011 at 3:35 pm Camels & Chocolate said:

    My best friend from childhood is a very small size 2 in America and studied abroad in Japan when we were in college (and now is a U.S. diplomat in Tokyo). She’s half Japanese but tall (5’7″) and has huge boobs and they look at her over there like she’s a freak of nature, because she looks like them (and speaks the language) but doesn’t at the same time! I think even she has trouble buying clothes at a size 2. Like you, I’m not big by American terms (size 6), but when I was in Macau and Hong Kong last year, I *tried* to shop but even the XLs in some stores wouldn’t fit me! So depressing. The shop lady at one stop looked at me and tsked tsked and made some remark like, “we don’t carry things in that size!” Mmmm, thanks for the self-esteem boost.
    Camels & Chocolate recently posted..Photo Friday- Alliance- Nebraska

    • On June 13, 2011 at 5:28 am Sally said:

      I think even worse than the “we don’t have your size” is the “we have the size for you!” (usually accompanied by them pulling out something roughly the size of an iceberg to show you that, yes, they do have items for someone as massive as yourself.) Talk about self esteem boost! 🙂

      • On June 13, 2011 at 3:39 pm Camels & Chocolate said:

        The total lack of sensitivity KILLS ME. I think everywhere else in the world is not at all worried about being PC like in the US. When I was studying abroad in Scotland, er, eight years ago now, I was traveling to Ireland with two friends. We did the whole get-off-the-train-and-be-suckered-into-renting-a-room bit, and the woman who’s room we rented looked at us, pointed to me and said: “You’re the biggest, you’ll sleep in the single bed. The other two can share the other because they’re small.” Uh, thanks.
        Camels & Chocolate recently posted..When in Cowgirl Country- Dress Like a Cowgirl Win Some Boots!

  10. On June 12, 2011 at 4:30 pm Christina said:

    Hilarious! Great post! Reminded me of the time in Egypt when our camel guide wanted to charge my friend extra for riding the camel “for being fat”.
    Christina recently posted..Central Park and Musings on John Lennon

  11. On June 12, 2011 at 4:50 pm donna morang said:

    HA HA HA–that is so funny, but so true. My students in Vietnam told me that I was almost fat.
    I’m in Mexico, where the average Latino ladies are pretty good sized, but the stores carry the smallest clothes, like a tiny 8. Where the local ladies buy their clothes is an unanswered question. I shop for extra, extra large tank tops, but in the US I’m a medium..Shopping here or in Asia makes me feel like a real oinker in need of a diet.
    Have a happy day, and thanks for the laugh.
    donna morang recently posted..Big Backpack–Little World

    • On June 13, 2011 at 5:25 am Sally said:

      Ha ha! “Almost fat”? Well, that’s nicer than “definitely fat”, right? (I think my students would probably say “definitely fat.”)
      Glad you enjoyed the post!

  12. On June 12, 2011 at 8:21 pm The Travel Chica said:

    Love this post. So funny the comments people make without realizing how insulting they are. You have the right attitude.

    I’m only 5’2″ but I have sort of large feet for my size. I tried to buy shoes in Ecuador. Apparently, tiny Latinas also have tiny feet. When I told the shop owner my size, he looked at me like I was crazy and shook his head.
    The Travel Chica recently posted..The Worst Tourist Trap in Buenos Aires

    • On June 13, 2011 at 5:23 am Sally said:

      Omigosh. My feet are pretty big even by American standards (I wear a size 10) so there’s no chance in heck I’d ever be able to buy women’s shoes here. And the few times that I’ve tried to buy men’s sneakers, I usually have to spend 20 minutes convincing the shop attendants that YES I do need shoes that big. Uggh.

  13. On June 12, 2011 at 10:39 pm Erik said:

    This is a great article- so honest and sincere (and funny, too.)

    I just found your blog a week or two ago- can’t wait to read more.
    Erik recently posted..Hampton- Americas Story in a Mansion

  14. On June 12, 2011 at 10:56 pm Michi said:

    I love, love, love this post!! Curious and a bit hilarious – these different standards of “beauty” that exist in our world’s societies.

    We have a BUNCH of small mom ‘n’ pop stores owned by Chinese immigrants here in Spain, some of which are clothes stores. I’ve tried shopping for jeans in them, because their prices tend to be cheaper, and have the same problem – their biggest size is way too small and I’ve never had a single pair fit beyond my thighs. Bah.

    So yes, last time I was home, I went insane and bought a dozen pairs of jeans because somehow I always manage to create a massive hole in the crotch by the year’s end…
    Michi recently posted..València- ciutat de le Spanish modern architecture and paella!

    • On June 13, 2011 at 5:17 am Sally said:

      Ha ha! I always go a bit overboard when I go back to the States and buy clothes. I end up buying so many things that I don’t even wear just because it was in my size (Wheee!). But this is bad when LOTS of things are in your size. Like do I really need 5 pairs of black pants? (Okay, maybe I do.)

  15. On June 12, 2011 at 11:04 pm Juno said:

    You know what Sally? I totally understand! 🙂 Well, I was born and raised here, but still I’m ‘the big girl’. So I’ve known that about me for my entire life until… I traveled. I felt so good that I’m not big at all! I wear ‘Small’ size clothes from the US, Booya! I wanted to rub that in everyone’s face. I’m not normal in anyway in Asia. Well, my face and black hair would do but not other appearances. Maybe I need to buy some pants too when I go to America – and I will send you some! 😀
    Juno recently posted..Camping Entertainment- Video Presentation

    • On June 13, 2011 at 5:16 am Sally said:

      As hard as it is to be a big Western girl in Asia, I think it would be even harder to be a “big” Asian girl in Asia. At least, I don’t understand the Mandarin word for “fat”! Plus, most people here just assume all Americans are fat so they’re not surprised that I’m big.
      Meanwhile, I know plenty of Asian girls who have a tough time here due to the body issues and discrimination. A lot of my female students in Japan were bullied for being bigger (mind you, they were still teeny tiny by Western standards). And so many of my students tell me they want to lose weight because they’re “fat” and I have no idea what they are talking about!
      Anyway, you should be proud of your differences… and feel happy when everyone in the States calls you skinny (as I’m sure they will! Heck, they even call me skinny and I am so NOT.) 🙂

      • On June 13, 2011 at 10:58 am MaryAnne said:

        Just so ya know, fat is ‘pang’. I learned that one early on here…
        MaryAnne recently posted..Further Adventures in Chinese Baking- Chocolate Coconut Cookies

      • On March 18, 2012 at 3:56 pm Thuy said:

        (FWIW, your blog is hilarious. I have to be careful and read it alone because suddenly cracking up kinda unnerves people 😛 )

        It’s definitely harder to be a fat Asian in Asia. I’m a size 14 US and aside from the staring, sometimes the first thing people say to me is “fatty”. Unfortunately, I understand them very well 🙁

        It’s definitely a challenge to be here some times. I’m learning to take it in stride because, what can you really do, right? Also, about the secretly fashionable fat girls, I’m tempted to ask the next woman who looks close to my size and ask her where she shops. But I’m also nervous about offending them. What if she’s like, “oh, you think I’m as fat as you??” and whatnot.
        Thuy recently posted..good:

        How Oliberte, the Anti-TOMS, Makes Shoes and Jobs in…

        • On March 19, 2012 at 12:29 am Sally said:

          Thanks, Thuy. Glad you’re enjoying the blog!
          I totally agree with you. I think being a big, white girl in Asia can be tough at times, but most people expect white people (especially Americans) to be fat, so it’s almost like I support any stereotypes they might have in their heads (even though I’ll still contend that I’m not fat… just really sturdy!). But I feel like there is so much pressure on Asian girls to be thin and fit a certain mold of Asian femininity. And there seems to be a lot less acceptance of different body shapes here than there is in the West… as can be evidenced by the lack of pants in a size over size 8.
          And I’m totally with you when it comes to wanting to go up to someone and ask them where they got their pants. But, yeah, it would be an awkward first conversation to have with someone…

  16. On June 12, 2011 at 11:18 pm Valerie said:

    Perhaps one of my worst shopping experiences was buying underwear in Vietnam. I could squeeze my rear into an extra large. Like a postage stamp I tell you!! It’s a hard place to be an average sized American, that Asia. 🙂

  17. On June 12, 2011 at 11:33 pm Marie said:

    I love how they can just keep adding ‘X’s to the XL labels. It did nothing for my confidence when I had to buy something in XXXXXL (Yeah, so maybe I like it loose!) . My exercise mantra, “Must reduce ‘X’s, must reduce ‘X’s.”
    Marie recently posted..I Love…

  18. On June 12, 2011 at 11:47 pm Heather said:

    Posts like this are the reason I like you so much.

    I won’t gush more than that (unless you want me to).

    Are these the pancakes you made and promised to would be visitors?!
    Heather recently posted..Heather and Laura go to Washington

    • On June 13, 2011 at 5:09 am Sally said:

      You know, I have no problem with excessive gushing. Really. 🙂
      And, YES, those pancakes are the ones I promised. When are you coming to visit? (Just make sure you bring pants!)

  19. On June 13, 2011 at 1:13 am Odysseus said:

    You speak the truth, Sally! I constantly need to remind myself I’m not actually fat. Really, if I wanted to look like the other women here, I wouldn’t just need to lose weight — I’d also need surgery to remove a couple of ribs and maybe a few of the bulkier internal organs.
    Odysseus recently posted..Bow-Wow Soup in Korea or Whats for Dinner

    • On June 13, 2011 at 5:08 am Sally said:

      Ha ha! I would probably need to have surgery to remove my derriere… and most of my man-calves. (Can they do some kind of reconstructive surgery on my ankles? So that I’d actually have some?)

      • On June 13, 2011 at 6:38 am Odysseus said:

        Korea’s the place to go if you ever want to shop in the plastic surgery market. Heck, you could probably get 4 ankles if you wanted them, or 0. Body and facial reconstruction is wayyy popular here. In one ad I saw, the before photo was of an actual person and the after photo was of a doll — like an Asian Barbie sort of doll. Of course, I’d never really have it ~ BUT ~ rumors are there is a plastic surgery option for installing dimples on people’s faces and I find that incredibly tempting. I’ve always wanted that Shirley Temple look.
        Odysseus recently posted..Bow-Wow Soup in Korea or Whats for Dinner

  20. On June 13, 2011 at 3:01 am suzanne hurford said:

    Sally, I am a big girl traveling in asia and finding pants is a huge (ha ha, geez i crack myself up) problem. But, I just found a pair in Nepal. They didn’t have a size tag, so thankfully i didn’t have to know if they were an XL or an XXL. or something BIGGER.

    • On June 13, 2011 at 5:06 am Sally said:

      I’m sorry to hear it’s the same situation in Nepal. I was there a few years ago and, in general, the people seemed a bit bigger (especially compared to a lot of east Asian countries), so I’m surprised even there you can’t find a good range of pants sizes! I had a similar experience in Malaysia. I thought I wouldn’t have a problem finding something as the population is quite diverse and you see tons of bigger ladies around, but it took me an entire day and I ended up with a size XXL (so NOT happy about that). Unfortunately, I was pretty desperate at the time — I had ripped a hole in one of my 2 pairs of pants — so I didn’t have much options. The things travel makes us do! (Like buy XXL size pants! Urggh!) *Sigh*

  21. On June 13, 2011 at 6:50 am Richard said:

    Another awesome post! Love it. 🙂

  22. On June 13, 2011 at 11:56 am Joey said:

    Haha – once you’re pregnant it truly is a whole new ball game in Asia 🙂 Thank goodness I have online shopping to console me! Great post!!
    Joey recently posted..Japan Monopoly Do Not Pass Go

    • On June 13, 2011 at 12:56 pm Sally said:

      Oh dear. I don’t see pregnancy anywhere in the cards for me — mostly because it would probably have to involve finding someone to date me. I was never very good at that in the States — needless to say I’m even worse at in Asia. Oh well… I still have high hopes for Eastern Europe.

  23. On June 13, 2011 at 10:44 pm Katherina said:

    A good friend of mine is a chinese 30-year old girl that keeps on telling me she’s “fat” when she’s actually a size 6. I guess its all about perspective!
    By the way, I can’t imagine pants-shopping in Asia more complicated than in Spain or Italy – where women seem to have no bottom at all and are born with 2 meter long legs!
    Katherina recently posted..On The Streets of Lisbon

  24. On June 14, 2011 at 1:44 am Rease said:

    Hahaha, one of my best friends in from Buffalo and she would describe the people and eating habits the same way! She also makes an AMAZING buffalo chicken dip.

    While it is not as bad as asia, here in Argentina I can’t find pants either. I wear a size 9, so I am not a huge fatty mc fatterson so the first time I spent a day going from store to store asking for the biggest size they carried and couldn’t find a pair that went over my thighs was a little rough.

    I am glad you have gotten over a lot of your insecurities! Congrats on the run too. I ran 2 half marathons last year and before that I worked out a lot but had never run more than maybe 2 miles. I can definitely relate to the insane feeling of pride when you finish!
    Rease recently posted..From Thriller to Chills and Fevers

    • On June 14, 2011 at 4:47 am Sally said:

      Mmm…. buffalo chicken dip. I could really go for that right now!
      Good luck with finding pants. It is a hassle — but when you find the right pair you do feel quite the accomplishment (almost as good as running a race!)

  25. On June 14, 2011 at 2:29 am Cherszy said:

    You know, someone told me before (or maybe I overheard it somewhere) that the reason why Asian people are so small is that Asians are frank enough to tell their friends that they’ve gained weight For example, here in the Philippines, when family members haven’t seen their relative for a long time, they actually say, “hey, looks like you’ve gained weight! what have you been eating?” without actually intending to hurt that person’s feelings. I think comments like that help Asians regulate their weight more or something. I don’t know about the truth value of that, but I’m glad to know you’re able to find the right pants for you. But, seriously, you’re not that fat!
    Cherszy recently posted..Escape to Oslo

    • On June 14, 2011 at 4:45 am Sally said:

      Wow. I’ve never heard that theory before! (And, trust me, I’ve heard some theories!) I think probably the biggest reason why Asians are so small is just genetics. Sure, diet and portion control also have a good deal to do with it (but, trust me, Asia has its fair share of greasy, gooey, fattening food!), but I still think genetics is the biggest factor. Even when I was thinner, I was still big by Asian standards simply because I have a large body frame — a body frame that I inherited from my very-non-Asian-proportioned family. Unfortunately, genetics can’t be changed simply by having someone tell me that I’m fat. (If only it could, I’m sure I’d be a size 2 by now!)

      • On June 16, 2011 at 1:43 am Cherszy said:

        Yeah, genetics is the one to blame. Lol. But portion control? Uh… I don’t think so. Asians eat a lot! I, for one, do!
        Cherszy recently posted..Glee’s on a Break While ‘The Glee Project’ Takes Over – Hello Class of Season 1

        • On June 16, 2011 at 5:43 am Sally said:

          Ha ha! This is true! I find the family-style eating in China is particularly bad for my portion control (like I was any good at portion control to begin with!).

          • On June 16, 2011 at 1:45 pm Cherszy said:

            No one is good with that, especially if the food in front of you is as delectable as heaven! Who cares about diet? Food is the best thing ever!!!
            Cherszy recently posted..Glee’s on a Break While ‘The Glee Project’ Takes Over – Hello Class of Season 1

          • On June 18, 2011 at 3:03 am justanothergirl said:

            Nah, it’s not genetics. Chinese food isn’t full of fat but rather full of sodium, and that’s why they remain skinny. If they eat cheese, dairy, bread, and pasta on a daily basis – they wouldn’t be skinny. My husband is asian and when he ate western food – he gained so much weight…

            Many skinny people in Taiwan may be skinny but a lot of them have hypertension/high blood pressure…before the age of 30.

          • On June 18, 2011 at 4:35 am Sally said:

            The funny thing is when I eat rice with all meals like they do in Asia, I tend to pack on the pounds — like when I was living on the rice farm (and doing tons of physical labor) I still gained weight because I was eating rice at almost every meals. As soon as I left and stopped eating so much rice, I lost most of my the weight I had gained even though I wasn’t doing as much manual labor. Weird.
            Anyway, there are probably as many different factors that determine one’s body shape as there are body shapes… kind of like snowflakes! 🙂

  26. On June 14, 2011 at 12:11 pm jill- Jack and JIll Travel said:

    My mom is Asian – but she’s pear shaped – which is not a very common shape I guess in Asia. She stocks up on her pants whenever she comes to visit me in the states or else she has to have them tailor made. Pants – such tricky things to wear.
    jill- Jack and JIll Travel recently posted..Last Minute Everything Galapagos

    • On June 15, 2011 at 12:42 am Sally said:

      They ARE such a tricky thing to wear. We should probably all just stop wearing them. Although that might make for some uncomfortable moments on the bus and the like. 🙂

  27. On June 14, 2011 at 3:05 pm tanya said:

    I’m very relieved to read that I’m not the only Western-gal-in-Asia who saves new pants shopping for the annual visit home!

    In Canada I warrant a “curvy” at best, but with 5 years in Asia under my 32″ belt I’ve heard lots of comments about my body. Like you being compared to Santa/a cow, a lot of them were delivered as though they were compliments — i.e. “you’re fat, but you have large breasts so lots of men probably still like you”. Now that’s definitely an appropriate thing to say to your Western co-teacher!

    I was teaching a bunch of Thai tweens who apparently spent one morning break discussing my figure. How do I know this? They informed me of the conclusions: “You are a little bit fat.You are not fat in the middle but your arms are too fat”. On the plus side, one of the offending girls also described me as “a little bit tall” (5’5″) in a writing assignment.

    I’ve learned to take it all with a grain of salt, but every time I put on a sleeveless dress I hear Nok’s words…
    tanya recently posted..Shrunken Singapore at the URA Gallery

  28. On June 14, 2011 at 6:48 pm Uncle Ed said:

    You must have the magic gene. Yes, I was 1958 Fort Wayne city 5th grade dodge ball champion and last boy standing. Extreme cowardice (and my first real kiss)! Ha.

  29. On June 15, 2011 at 1:10 pm ChinaMatt said:

    I was called fat when I first arrived in China (mind you, I’m 5’10” and weighed about 175 at the time), and it was sometimes meant as a compliment. In the US, I’m now called skinny at 165.

    One of the more amusing experiences was trying to buy a jacket in a large department store in Shenzhen. I tried on jackets that were XXXL and were too small. And yet, I met plenty of locals who were larger than me. Where did they buy their clothes?
    ChinaMatt recently posted..Technical Plagiarism

    • On June 16, 2011 at 12:57 am Sally said:

      This is EXACTLY THE MYSTERY THAT HAS BEEN BUGGING ME FOR 4 YEARS! Where do bigger people in Asia buy their pants? I have seen plenty of women who are bigger than me in Asia, so it’s not as if they don’t exist. And they are always wearing clothes. So WHERE, I ask you, are they getting these clothes? I have gotten to the point where I have almost stopped people to ask them this question.

  30. On June 15, 2011 at 7:58 pm Barbara said:

    Your comments made me laugh…a great big belly laugh. When I was in Japan, I went to a department store and saved so much money! I could have bought a loose fitting kimona, which would have been tight on me, but the silk ones were too expensive. I stuck to scarves.
    Love you writing. Love it.

    • On June 16, 2011 at 12:54 am Sally said:

      Yes, I find myself buying lots of scarves in Asia as well. I guess it’s because I want to buy myself something pretty and scarves always fit (even if my neck is massive — which I’m sure it is by Asian standards!).
      Glad you’re enjoying my blog!

  31. On June 16, 2011 at 1:24 pm Roy | Cruisesurfingz said:

    You know the girls in Eastern Europe are generally pretty tiny too, right? Ok not China tiny but still.
    Roy | Cruisesurfingz recently posted..Accidentally In Vilnius Yes- As In Lithuania

  32. On June 17, 2011 at 7:30 pm Elise said:

    I have the opposite situation…I’m probably the same size as the rest of the tiny Asians!! which is hard in the crowds-bank lines, walking across the street-I get lost in a sea of people!! There are times i wish I was taller!! At Least Anthony is usually with me, who is a 6 foot giant and helps me through the crowds! 🙂
    Elise recently posted..My Take On Long Term Travel

    • On June 18, 2011 at 4:36 am Sally said:

      Ha ha! Yes, it is nice to travel with a really tall person in Asia. When my father (who is over 6 feet) came to visit me in Japan, I certainly had no trouble finding him in a crowd!

  33. On June 21, 2011 at 4:28 am Victoriana said:

    I just want to say that your blog really inspires me. Not only does it inspire me to blog a bit myself, but it inspires me to travel. you make living in other countries seem so much more attainable. Thank you!
    Victoriana recently posted..Masala- Dragons- Mesolithic Entertainment- Cats- and Money

    • On June 21, 2011 at 2:35 pm Sally said:

      Aww, thank you so much, Victoriana. Comments like this totally make my day! It really is one of my goals of this blog — to let people know that you don’t have to be a wonder woman to travel the world… you can just be yourself.

  34. On June 21, 2011 at 5:19 am Ali said:

    I love how hilarious this post is while at the same time inspiring people to push themselves to try new things. I’m much better at trying new things and pushing myself when I’m in another country. The mindset is sort of that they don’t know me and don’t have any preconceived notions of what I’m like, plus if they think I’m totally wacky, it doesn’t matter b/c I’ll never see them again anyway.
    Ali recently posted..We Got Married!

    • On June 21, 2011 at 2:34 pm Sally said:

      I don’t know how it is in other countries, but I know, especially in China and Japan, they just figure all foreigners are weirdos. While maybe this isn’t the most healthy stereotype to have, I found it can be very freeing. You can be a total freakball, and people just expect that kind of behavior from you. It’s great! And, as you said, chances are they’ll never see you again, anyway.
      P.S. Congratulations on your marriage! So excited for you two!

  35. On June 22, 2011 at 8:50 am Choi Kum Fook said:

    You were not the fattest, but you were the most tough size among the female volunteers at the farm so far. That’s why you could walk a quite long distance in Tioman island. And appreciate much and thinks your hardworks at the farm. Your size is quite general in western country, but a bit bigger with compare Asian. Nevertheless, Miss Sally, you look smart and confidence. I envy your size. Why worry?! How is your size now? Slimmer or more tough after a year of departure?

    • On June 22, 2011 at 1:06 pm Sally said:

      Ha ha! I’ll take that all as a compliment, Mr. Choi! I’m definitely not slimmer since leaving the farm — I think I need to come back & do some rice paddy workouts!

  36. On June 26, 2011 at 10:55 am Ceri said:

    I’m a curvy girl … but I’m also a tall girl so I can’t imagine every managing to find pants in Asia that fit me. I’m 5’8″.

    I wish I had your optimism, Sally. Before I head over to Latin America, I’m desperately trying to lose a bit of weight and tone up. My body’s gross – I have stretch marks from the constant up and down of my weight, celulite, my boobs sag, my arse is … well, generous. I’m dreading that moment of hitting the beach. 😛

    But, then again, I hear that curvy girls are quite the hot stuff in Brazil – perhaps we should relocate? 😉

    • On June 28, 2011 at 2:46 pm Sally said:

      Awww, Ceri, don’t get too down on yourself. I totally know how it feels to be unhappy with your weight, but I truly believe that living abroad has helped me become more confident with my body… even if my body is nowhere near being perfect. I hope living abroad will have the same effect on you!
      And, I’d totally recommend Brazil — even if just for pants shopping. It was the only place I could buy pants that fit me without having to get them altered. LOVED it.

  37. On June 29, 2011 at 7:48 am 2summers said:

    You should move to South Africa. I am also a sturdy girl and I fit in very well with the Afrikaaners and Zulus. I haven’t tried to buy clothes here yet though — too expensive and I’m confused by the sizing.

  38. On July 11, 2011 at 8:07 pm Sabrina said:

    This is freaking hilarious! I love the comments in the “sticks and stones” bit 🙂 Like a cow? 🙂 So, time to fess up… once I was in Guangzhou and the cab driver didn’t wanna let me sit in the front (we were four people) because it would mess with the balance of the car. Say what??? Yes! And he kept talking about that even after we were in the car. I was beyond embarrassed and wanted to run home crying – unlike you, no marathon girl here though. Ah, and my boyfriend got some boxer shorts. They were XXXXL or something (he’s very average-seized here in the US) and, get this, they said “FOR THE FATTY MAN” 🙂 Isn’t that nuts?

  39. On August 21, 2011 at 12:11 pm Tanya said:

    Sally, don’t cherish yourself with a thought that being sturdy is welcome in Eastern Europe. Post-Soviet block is famous for having beautiful girls with men all over the world seeking to have them as wives. They might be your height (unlike Asian) but still that indisputable size 6 or 8. Actually I think America (and maybe Mexico) are the only countries, where it’s okay to be overweight.

    I agree with you that big girls should dare do things like marathon, hiking etc. but when it comes to the clothes I’m totally with your mom. It’s unwise to show some part of an overweight body in a bright daylight.

    • On August 21, 2011 at 2:14 pm Sally said:

      Tanya, I appreciate your honest opinions, but I’m going to have to disagree with you on a few points. First of all, judging from my experience and the many comments I received on this post, America and “maybe Mexico” are not the only countries where it’s okay for ladies to have curves. I traveled in Morocco with a very thin friend, who was none too pleased when I got most of the male attention. I have friends who’ve had similar experiences in parts of the Middle East, Africa and South America. Every culture has a different idea of what’s beautiful — thank God for that because it would be a pretty boring world if we were all striving to look the same!
      I’m also going to have to disagree with you (and my mom) about what big girls should and should not wear. I think self confidence is a lot sexier than being a size six. If you can pull of a bikini or short-shorts with pride, than, I say, go for it no matter what size you are!

  40. On August 21, 2011 at 12:20 pm Macky said:

    Oh my… this is really funny :o) I can really relate, knowing i’m asian it does not mean i’m off the hook. When i was in my country (Philippines) my waist size was 26-27, if it become 28 surely you are considered FAT… They always make fun of me because i have a curvy body 37-28-38 before it tortured me a lot.. One time me & my friends we were in the car, someone joked that the car is not balance and it was my fault because I am heavy! But when i came in Bahrain, they admired my curvy body!! I always get attention from men & women. I like curvy women, having a straight(stick) woman figure is not woman enough for me. And I’m happy that i don’t need to spend thousands of money just to have big boobs and big butts. I love my body and I accepted it the way it is. No more hiding under a big T-shirt, I flaunt what i have because it is a blessing no matter what. And thanks to Shakira & Beyounce it helped me realized I’m not alien!! hahaha 😀

    • On August 21, 2011 at 2:03 pm Sally said:

      Macky, I’m glad you can relate & thanks for all the info on Bahrain. I’ll be adding that to my list of places to visit! Sound like they’d like a girl like me around there. 🙂

  41. On August 22, 2011 at 2:25 pm akonrad said:

    This is so true and so hilarious! I’m living in Korea thinking the same things (but with much less funny). Looking forward to reading more awesome posts.

  42. On August 25, 2011 at 5:58 am Malayna Dawn said:

    Your post was recommended by InterNations and I’m so glad it was! I can totally relate to all of it! I’ve been living in Sri Lanka and traveling around the region since 2000. You had a much more positive approach to the comments on your size than I did, though. I plotted revenge, but the funny kind. (Here’s the link to read my revenge suggestions, printed in a Sri Lankan magazine : Myself and some friends are also blogging about our adventures in travel at Women on World Excursions. We’ll be following yours now too!

    • On August 25, 2011 at 12:54 pm Sally said:

      Ha ha! Awesome. When my patience wears out, I’ll use your tips to help me plot my revenge. (The funny kind, of course!) Thanks so much for checking out my blog. Glad you enjoy it!

  43. On September 6, 2011 at 7:03 pm Deborah said:

    Oh no. I hadn’t even thought of my size as an issue in Asia!

    I’m about to move to Cambodia. I’m big. By American standards. Pants shopping is the bane of my existence.

    I just spent three years living in Egypt being admired and having men congratulate my husband because of me. It was such an ego boost!

    Apparently I’m due for an ego deflation …
    Deborah recently posted..Coming Soon …

    • On September 7, 2011 at 2:29 pm Sally said:

      Well, is there any possibility you could plan trips back to Egypt to re-inflate your ego when need be? In fact, after your comment, I’m thinking I should plan a trip to Egypt to give my ego a little bit of a boost!
      Best of luck in Cambodia! I hope to make it there myself sometime soon!

      • On September 7, 2011 at 6:15 pm Deborah said:

        Unfortunately I probably won’t make it back to Egypt, although some of my friends from there are planning to visit me in Cambodia. I’ll just have to manage. Maybe it’ll provide inspiration for that lifestyle change I keep thinking about–you know, the one where I stop eating dessert every day, start eating vegetables, and in general make healthier choices 🙂

  44. On September 6, 2011 at 9:08 pm Cheryl said:

    So True! I attempted to shop in Singapore once…. let me say that again…once. That’s all it took. I find when I go “home” I buy pants, sport shoes, bras and underwear. There is no way to find a bra to fit a regular sized American woman in all of Asia!
    My husband is about to go to the States on business and I have a huge shopping list for him including food items.

    • On September 9, 2011 at 6:33 am Sally said:

      I totally stock up when I go home too. In fact, I wish I had stocked up much more last time I was home, but unfortunately I was trying to pack light. Luckily, I only have to work 4 days a week, so it’s not a bad thing that I only own 4 work outfits. But, god forbid, something happen to one of those outfits!

  45. On January 31, 2012 at 10:21 pm Carmel said:

    I literally laughed out loud at some of these things…tough to do since I’m at work. I think I’m probably about your size and my husband and I plan to go to SE Asia for part of our RTW trip. I’ve already been to podunk Mexico where my mom went to boarding school and where I’m related to half the population. I have experienced the stares of being the largest person in the town and definitely the whitest (my dad is particularly pale and my mom’s not too dark). I can only imagine what it’ll be like. But I like your attitude. And stories.

    A friend of my host family’s in Spain once told me I was much prettier in Spain. I decided to take it as a compliment as he was commenting on how my skin had cleared up and I had lost weight…however it came out a little harsh. I think we Americans are just not used to people being so blunt…at least not without a judgment attached to it.
    Carmel recently posted..Paella and Tapas

  46. On July 11, 2012 at 12:11 am Kerewin said:

    Im in tears laughing!!! Advanced shuffling lol

    But I like Santa. . .

  47. On July 27, 2012 at 11:38 am Whitney said:

    Love the post! I’m currently living in Guangzhou and my Mandarin teacher was surprised this week to learn that American women want to be skinny (you know, since we’re not in comparison). She thought we liked to be larger. And I too want to stop every girl my size or bigger and ask them where on earth they’re shopping.
    Whitney recently posted..I Am Not Impressed, Shanghai Zoo

    • On July 27, 2012 at 11:42 am Sally said:

      Please do! I would love to know where all the lovely, large ladies of China were buying their pants. The only place I was able to get pants while I was there was at the H&M, and they were expensive!

  48. On February 4, 2013 at 12:15 am Nikki said:

    Wow, I just found this and I love it! Definitely had that experience in China. However, I’ll say that living in Morocco was much weirder, because even young women there definitely aren’t small, but you don’t find any my-size clothes unless they’re tailor-made. (Morocco is much better for body positivity, though.)

    • On February 4, 2013 at 10:25 pm Sally said:

      I had the same experience in Malaysia. Since it was such a diverse country, there were women of all different shapes & sizes — including plenty of women MUCH bigger than me. But do you think I could have found a pair of pants to save my life? No way. I ended up having to buy a pair labeled XXXL. And it was the only pair in the entire mall that I could find that fit me. Uggh.

      • On February 6, 2013 at 7:10 pm Veryberryblueberry said:

        Sally, maybe it’s too late to tell you but in Japan you can find the ‘big’ clothes (which appearantely means wider..) at those kind of shops which are for the family. These are usually not in downtown, go to the suburban. I don’t think the good Japanese brands have clothes in our size (I’m size 6-8). But you know, even if they would make or you can find the clothes in your size it will NEVER look good on you because that style is for the Asian figure. In my eyes the Japanese clothes were all look like a sack, making me look huge but it is very cute for the Japanese because they don’t have curves. At first I felt like a monster but then I discovered the Western brands, tried on those clothes and realized that I’m normal and looked pretty, and the Japanese could never look good in that clothes. Simple as it is, Asian clothes is for the Asians, Western clothes is for the Westerns, we are all different, why would we wear the same? 🙂

        • On February 7, 2013 at 6:36 pm Sally said:

          I did find some “big girl” pants when I was in Japan. But they fit me all wrong — I have a lot more butt and hips than Japanese ladies have, even bigger Japanese ladies.

  49. On March 26, 2013 at 7:09 pm Sandy said:

    Thanks for your post, I am a tall big woman 5’10 and size 2X in American, I spent a year living in Thailand where when I went to local markets (especially with my red hair and red skin due to the heat) I was more of an attraction then anything they where selling…. All the time I could hear them calling out “here comes the big fat white woman” when I started walking down aisles … I stopped the local workers calling me a sow as in Thai it means a single unmarked woman … All of this was not meant as mean … But still made me take a weekend trip to Paris and just sit and watch all the white people go buy without pointing at me and staring lol

    So it is with trepidation that I will soon be working in Singapore for the next 6 months … Being overweight in Asia is seen as being a disability and something never socially acceptable, I remember my size 12 Singaporian friend getting no end of hassle for being so fat, so I am sure at a size 20 I will give them a run for their money … This time however I am thinking of not learning the local language so I really don’t find out what they are saying …. And after reading this post ..I will be looking for a Japanese bath house !!!!

    Thanks for the post

    • On March 26, 2013 at 7:21 pm Sally said:

      Good luck in Singapore! You might have a bit better time there as it’s such an international city. I didn’t feel I stood out there as much because there were so many Westerners of all sizes working and living there — along with lots of curvier Indian and Malay women. And, yeah, not learning the local language is totally the way to go. I didn’t know hardly any Chinese when I was in China (and I certainly never bothered to learn the word for “fat”), and it was so nice not knowing what everyone was saying about me. What bugged me was when they saw fit to translate into English or use hand gestures. Uggh.

  50. On December 31, 2013 at 1:38 am Ethan said:

    Hello, I read your blogs regularly. Your writing style is witty, keep doing what you’re doing!

  51. On April 25, 2014 at 12:55 pm Kristen said:

    “Fat” is not a word I would choose to describe me, though the word “thin” is something that is quite an elusive adjective.

    I’ve also lived in Asia. Shanghai, China specifically.

    I live near Buffalo (Erie, PA!), and I love wings in ways some of my friends don’t understand.

    I hate pants shopping, I hate it so much. I left China when I was on my last pair of pants.

    It’s like you know my life.

    This comment is neither insightful nor useful. But I’m just really happy that there’s someone else in the world who is a slow running, wing loving, concerned-about-thigh-jiggling, northern girl who somehow found herself in Asia.

    It’s like a secret club.
    Kristen recently posted..Day 7 | Packing


  1. The Twitter 10: July 2011 | The Working Traveller
  2. Top 10 Dangers of Running in China
  3. This Week I Liked…Links « As Far As I Can Tell
  4. On Fireworks, Birthday Pizza, Arriving Early and Blooming Late (Yeah, I'm not really sure what this is about either.)
  5. unbrave girl | 5 Things I Miss About China (Even though I don’t remember liking them when I lived there)
  6. unbrave girlRandom Stuff List - unbrave girl
  7. How to be happy with the body you have
  8. unbrave girlRandom Stuff List - unbrave girl
  9. How To Be Happy With The Body You Have - SheRa

Leave a Reply to Sally Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge