what’s wrong with you today?

If you’ve never been to Asia but are planning on coming, let me warn you about something.

Asians are very very comfortable talking about appearance, weight, and bodily functions. Not just about their own; they feel perfectly fine asking you why you look like you gained weight, why your skin is so bad on a given day, or if you have diarrhea.

They certainly aren’t doing it to be mean, so don’t take offense. It’s natural and everyday for them. Health and personal wellbeing are extremely important, so they like to watch out for each other, and weight, skin, and bowel movements are all indicators of the bigger, interconnected picture of health. I’m not sure if they’ve ever even considered that we might feel hurt, or if they have and they’ve toned it down for us.

A few examples;

“Your skin is so bad today! Did you sleep okay? Do you not like this weather?”

“Your face is puffy, were you crying? Did you sleep well?”

“You look so thin today! Like here, right around the side [she rubs my waist].”

“Ah, be careful! I have diarrhea, so it will smell!”

…and so on and so forth.

Notice that not all of it is negative. After coming back from vacation, all the teachers thought I’d lost weight and commented. But like everything else, they’re more likely to notice when something is wrong, and they’re concerned. Or they’ll commiserate with me, pointing out their awful outbreak or their fatness.

At first this really bothered me. No one in America does this except my mother, and even she knows when not to. But the culture here is so different you really can’t get offended. You’d end up doing more damage that way.

Now that I’ve lived here for a goodly length of time, I’m getting used to this, and have even taken part in it myself. Um, yay?


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