Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Different Cultures

Disclaimer: This post is not saying that I am angry or upset with anyone who might have been involved, it's simply a story I thought my blog readers would find interesting.

With that being said, you all know that we were in Singapore last week for Chinese New Year.  I still haven't updated on all of the fun we had, but hope to do that very soon. 

Well, this story actually begins here when I read this.  I had heard from other people that the Asian culture is very honest when it comes to health and weight.  I have also heard people say things to others since being in this country, and just like sometimes in the US, I feel embarrassed for that person.  I'm not super easily embarrassed, but when someone calls someone out in a crowd of people I might get embarrassed even if it wasn't directed toward me (you know that feeling I'm talking about).  I posted a comment on here and I'm not kidding you the VERY next day someone said something.  We were sitting around the table with a group of people I didn't know very well at a church we don't normally go to and one of the ladies said, "Kimberly you have (insert blown up face and arms out body language here) since the last time I saw you."  I have no idea what my face looked like, but I simply said, "Yeah, what can I say I like the food here" and Gary added, "that's an office job for ya," just to ease the tension a little bit more because it got quite silent after my comment (note: Gary's was a nice comment and didn't upset me, just in case you were wondering).  My eyes teared up a little, but I was able to re-gain my composure and move on and act like nothing happened.  By the time Gary and I got home I was over it enough to not cry.

BUT THEN...this last week we went to visit A LOT of houses and meet A LOT of different people for the Chinese New Year.  It was the first day of CNY (Thursday) and we had already been to a couple of houses, I think, and this was one of our last stops.  Just a little CNY background...it's tradition to take the owners of the house (if they are older than you) a bag of two mandarin oranges and wish them a happy and prosperous year.  So, when we got to this house we were looking for the oldest lady.  She was back in the bedroom.  A little background on this lady...she is older and, I was told that, she suffers from dementia.  My grandfather has that so I know sometimes they might say some crazy things.  She didn't speak a lick of english so someone was translating for her.  I gave her my bag of oranges and she said some things about CNY and then looked at me and giggled and said something else.  The person translating laughed and said, "Do you know what she just said?"  and I kind of smiled and said, "No, what?"  and she replied, "She said you were fat."  I held my composure together for about 5 seconds to wish the lady a happy new year again and walk out of the room.  I then lost it and could not stop crying.  I know that she was a sweet old lady and didn't mean any harm by the comment, but at that moment in time with not enough sleep, being super emotional, and who knows what else was going on, it just hit the wrong way.  I really really tried not to make it obvious that I was crying, but once Gary started being super sweet and rubbing my back and telling me it was ok there was no going back.  One of the cousins, that I had met the night before, came over and asked if I was ok and said, "Come on let's get out of here and go outside for a minute."  Remember there a TON of people I don't know at this house right now and here I am a blubbering idiot.  I got up and walked outside with her, only to be followed by some other people.  They kind of talked to the cousin for a minute and she managed to turn around and go back in.  We found a bathroom to hide out in for a few minutes until I could regain my composure.  She didn't even ask what was wrong or anything, which I have decided is the best thing to do in a situation like that.  She just started talking about randomness to get me laughing.  This particular cousin is from Australia, but her mother was raised in Singapore.  She was telling me how her mom always hurts her friend's feelings by the comments that she says.  So, that was my opening to fill her in on what just happened.  She comforted me and told me that I was beautiful (the exact words I needed to hear) and just re-enforced the fact that this culture is different than the one I am used to.  This is not saying that Americans can't be harsh when it comes to certain things, but usually it's not people that you don't know saying things about you.  Anyway, once I went back out to the party the person who was translating did come over and apologize.  I was not mad or anything, it was just the wrong time to say something, I guess.  Anyway, nothing else was ever said about it.

I felt that my American friends and family should A) Be forewarned that I have gained some weight since being here and B) Know that you don't have to point it out once you see me.  I know I don't need to give excuses, but moving to a different country and not having the comforts of your normal routine can have some bad side effects (for some people).  On the other hand, Gary has the time to work out during the day and has gained weight in muscle. 

This story reminds me of this.  I just love that JC!!

Anyway, I didn't write this for you to all write a comment about how I'm not fat.  I wrote this to remind you that when you are traveling you have to remember that some people were raised differently and might say things to hurt your feelings when they don't mean to.  So, do your research and learn as much about the culture as you can before you go.  If you do that hopefully you will be able to blow it off and not have a break down in the middle of a celebration!!


Anonymous said...

Oh how I want to give you a big hug right now!! Love you! You are such a strong person!! You are so beautiful! You have the prettiest smile and most tender heart and would do anything for anyone at the drop of a hat!! I am so very glad to call you a friend!!!

nat said...

As Billy Joel would sing "I Love You just the way you are..." True that sister! When are you coming back to the states anyway? Did you know that Valerie (Horst) and Micah Matheny got jobs at your place of employment? You probably do because of the devil fb. If it makes you fel any better, I gained four pounds celebrating my birthday! LOL!

Kecia Wisdom said...

Sorry about that experience, It is amazing that you can be so positive about it now, we love you and can't wait to see you in 11 days!!! Aunt Kecia

Juliane McCorkle said...

I got a shout out! I'm sorry you had to go through that. I have a worse attitude about it than you do sometimes! Good blog post Kimberly! You did a good job of putting it into words!

Candy said...

Oh Kimberly! I love you and think you are beautiful!! I hate that you had to deal with that - it's no fun. Take it from someone who has dealt with weight issues all her life, words hurt! I'm thinking of you and praying that no more hurtful words are said. And I promise JC will never call you large :)

Becky Welch said...

Bless - I am a little behind on my blog reading. I was almost in tears for you! Hang in there, girl!! Know we all love YOU!!! because of WHO you are!

Tim Arnold said...

I know you weren't looking for compliments Kimberly, but all too often we think great things about people and for some reason never tell them. So, I've got to tell you that before we left for India, I was stealing, I mean, looking for ideas from your blog and looking at all the pictures you have posted. Also, Debbie and I looked at some of your photos on face book and I can't think of anyone I've ever known who exudes such positive, warm, joyful in the Lord happiness as you. You just seem to be glowing with happiness and good will all the time! So don't worry, be happy, and in no time at all you will be back into a good healthy routine. The first time Deb and I used the Skype call, she said, "you're not losing weight at all!!" She thought I might lose some of my Christmas fat. Of course, we've been married thirty years! So, she pretty much says it like it is! LOL!! Take care sister, we're really happy you are who you are and that we are your friends.