How many of you admit you’re chunky? Maybe have a few extra pounds?
How many of you call yourself fat?
How many of you don’t like talking about it?
Most people would agree.
In America, we all know we have weight issues; whether too big or too thin. We constantly strive for healthier lives. We eat better, work out, and are active. We know eating out is terrible and expensive; therefore, we save by cooking our own healthy meals. It may be hard, but it’s always a work in progress.
People are constantly bullied or have a fear of being bullied about weight issues. Talking weight and confronting a person is taboo. To tell someone they’re fat is one of the rudest comments. It’s a social standard that we don’t go straight up to someone we barely know and say they’re fat.
But Thailand, they’re a bit different…
Thais openly converse about your weight; especially, when they’ve seen you pack it on. Eating in Thailand is a social affair. Attendance at markets and restaurants is almost mandatory it seems. You find the cheapest food there. All fried and covered in sugar.
Any healthy food you find or want to cook is expensive. Buying ingredients to prepare a home cooked meal racks up in price. Sometimes you can end up spending 4-500 baht on groceries for a couple meals, when you could spend 20-40 baht on a decent meal at the market or a restaurant. Plus, you wouldn’t have the cleaning up to do or the cost of electricity to cook.
Meaning, my fat ass got fat in the beginning and continues to do so…
The main component of meals here are rice. You will have rice with everything, and you will get sick of rice. It’s a quick filler, but is loaded with calories and will quickly burn off. Meaning, you eat twice as much because you get hungry soon after eating. The way everything is cooked is meant to make you yearn to eat more in order to fill you up and pack on the pounds.
Thais are used to their food, and they know it has a lot of calories. They’re bodies have become accustomed; therefore, it’s easier for them to handle it and lose weight. Some can eat for days and never gain an ounce. On the other hand, there’s some that watch their weight and refuse to eat. You’ll rarely see them touch food.
Being an overweight teacher, like me… you’ll eventually have someone comment about it. Heaven forbid you should gain weight, you will be notified immediately! Thai teachers joke with you about it. They’ll call you fat, say you look pregnant, and so forth. For the most part, it’s part of their nature. They don’t always mean it negatively. They know you need to lose weight, but they won’t bully you about it. It’s a normal part of their culture.
They find no fault in pointing out that flaw.
It took me awhile to get used to it. To this day, I still struggle with the concept. My fat ass has gotten bigger with all of the food here and lack of satisfyingly healthy meals. I’ve had kids say I have a big butt and smack it, some have said I’m very heavy, I’ve had a teacher tell me I look pregnant, and I’ve had another tell me I shouldn’t be eating too much. They don’t help the weight issue when they see it as offensive if you deny their offers for food.
In a sense… they’re enablers!
Westerners get fat with Thai food, but westerners have made Thais fat. With the introduction of KFC, McDonald’s, Burger King, and Texas Chicken to Thailand, we have returned the favor. Obesity is a growing epidemic among Thais over the past decade. Their bodies can’t process western style food like our bodies can’t process Thai food.
There have been times when the criticism of weight has become a bit much and it starts to hit home. If you’re not used to openly joking about your weight get ready. You will have to get used to it here.
Believe me, my fat ass has gotten larger, and I have had numerous comments about it. For a person who struggles with weight, this was a hard thing to get over. I still cringe when people comment and attempt to eat healthier or exercise.
Despite the efforts, I continue to gain weight even with how little I eat…
Another thing which doesn’t help fat ass Westerners is the size of clothes and shoes here. Westerners have a broad, stocky build, and Asians have a thin, petite build. That means if you were a medium back home, you might be a large, XL, or even XXL in Asia.
My fat ass has trouble finding clothes here. I’ve had to go to XL or even XXL. Once I wash them, they shrink down to a medium or small which means they no longer fit. It’s a waste of time and money. They’re not meant for Western builds. It’s by far easier if you bring your own clothes.
Same goes for shoes. If you have large feet, you need to buy online or bring a lot from home. They roughly go up to a size 8 in women’s shoes over here. That means anything larger is extremely rare. I’ve had a few friends who have difficulties finding proper shoes. They’ve resorted to purchasing from online stores back home and getting them shipped all the way over.
If you’re a Westerner about to live in Thailand be ready to feel like a huge fat ass.
It’s not always a bad thing, but be ready to confront the talk of weight or not being able to find your size in anything. Thais don’t always mean to be rude if they comment on your weight, so remember it’s part of their culture and be nice. Believe me, my fat ass had to get used to it. It took a lot, but it’s doable!
Just remember if you are in Thailand and gain weight or are already fat… soak it up! Have a blast and forget everything they say. You’re the one able to eat your heart out and taste all the new foods!