**WARNING: I am no longer sure what this post is about and it is very rambling. It starts out about cultural differences and ends with a bad drawing. Sorry in advance. (Not really, because it’s my bloggie blog and I can write whatever I want, but I’ll pretend I’m sorry, anyway.)**
I first started teaching, to adults, when I was 22. When I was 22, I looked like I was about 18. I had moved out to DC with my friend and I decided I wanted to teach English. Despite the fact that I had no experience, somebody decided to give me a job.
One of my favorite students was from Gabon. She was 17 at the time and had never been away from home before that point. She was incredibly sweet, naive and kind. We loved each other.
One afternoon after class she came up to me and said, beaming, “Megan, you look fat today.”
It’s always the quiet ones, isn’t it? I was like, Uh, SAY WHAT NOW?!
She continued, “You look good. You look like you’ve gained weight. You look–you know–fat,” and then gestured with her hands to indicate the width of my ginormous ass.
I was perturbed. I was not fat; I wasn’t even chubby. Most people would have called me thin, especially in the United States. I tried to maintain teacher professionality (shut up–it’s a word!), but I told her she wasn’t being very polite and walked away, trying to catch glimpses of all the junk in my trunk on the way out.
A little while later, she ran over to see me and said, “I’m so sorry! In my country, when you say somebody is fat, it means they look really healthy and good. It’s a compliment that means people are doing well in their life.”
Even though I’d spent almost a year in France and other European countries a couple of years before that, I consider the Being Called Fat Incident to be my first really shocking cultural experience.
So, thanks to a lot of therapy, clearly I got over it and am not reliving this incident 10+ years later. Now I use this story as a great example of cultural differences and miscommunications. It’s also a great opportunity to get compliments, because people always say, “But you’re not fat! You’re thin!”
Look, people, I’m not too proud to use any means possible to get people to tell me I look good, okay? At least I’m honest with myself.
Anyway, at first the rest of this post was going to be about cultural differences and how interesting they are, and how they make us better people because we understand more about the world around us, blah blah blah blah. Then I realized that lots of other people have done this better than I could and probably give actually useful information, whereas I would mainly make fun of myself and possibly other people, and then talk about potato chips or something.
Okay, so then I decided I was going to say the obligatory stuff about different concepts of beauty and fat/thin, blah blah blah blah blah, but I’m too lazy to really go into it. Plus, again, other people have said more interesting and intelligent things about it than I ever could, and there’s only so much a person can talk about potato chips (I kid! I can always talk about potato chips).
Instead I’m going to do an interpretive dance about my feelings.
Not really! I’m half Ukrainian, so me dancing at all is just painful for all parties involved.
But I am going to put up a badly-drawn picture of how I feel when I get a massage from a teensy little Thai lady and call it a day.
I don’t know, because I’m not really sure what the challenge was here.
World: 0 Megan: 1
p.s. Jason is in Vietnam until Thursday with the camera, so I am holding off on posting anything about our trip until I have the pictures.