Not-So-Asian Figure

I am not your typical Asian…

My first ‘homecoming’ was in October 2007 after living in America for over 2 years. It was a really wonderful trip as I got to introduce our baby Lil’ A to my whole family.

But it’s not all fun and here’s why…

Stupidly I followed one of my friend’s advice to pack light as in pack little clothes for me since I was flying alone with a baby. Her idea is actually brilliant but it just didn’t work me. Why? Easy, because of my size!

If you only knew how giddy I was when Mr. X and I first went shopping after I got there – you would think I’m nuts but in reality, fitting into something with size “S” on it felt like a victory.

Pregnancy made my size went up and after Lil’ A was born my weight lingered between Medium (8-10).

Since I didn’t pack enough clothes for me, I dragged my mother to go shopping with me. That one shopping trip turned to be a nightmare all over again.

Why?

Because it brought back those unpleasant memories when I was still living there. How I either had to shell out more money to buy something with numerical sizes instead of the typical Indonesian S, M, L or I had to settle for an XL which was hanging on me in a weird way.

You see, I inherited this not-typical-Asian-size body parts from my mother’s side of the family. They are real!

While my arms have never been huge, with a wide shoulder and big bust, it’s always a pain in you know where to find the right fit for me. When I was still working, I usually bought the large size button up shirts and secured the areas between the buttons with lots of safety pins because XL fit on the chest but too big on other parts.

Okay, back to shopping with my mother, I winced when the “L” size doesn’t even fit me, I ballooned up to an “extra-large” and it makes me feels less beautiful and less Indonesian and even humiliated as the shop attendant said in her overly cheery voice that they have XXL size if the XL doesn’t fit me. Good gracious! I just wanted to storm out of that store…

I know I still have some post-baby weight to shed (probably 10-20 more pounds!) and I did gain weight too before I got pregnant but standing there weighing 150 lbs and 5’5” I felt like a giant.

This proportions may be considered average for American women. But by Indonesian fashion standards, I’m definitely not a “medium.”

At first, I don’t really understand why the whole thing bothered me so much. Besides, I don’t live in Indonesia anymore and I could always find something that fit me perfectly back in the States, where there is always room for a plus-sized woman in American fashion no matter what size you are.

Mr. X showed me an article after I ‘complaint’ about what happened.

This Asian-American girl wrote a similar situation and she wrote: “Then it strikes me… “Small” means you are cute and adorable. Small means you are beautiful. Small means you are Asian.

Her words resonated so deeply, I was trying to squeeze my self into that ‘Asian standard’ figure, I was blind!

My own body image had been somewhat distorted especially growing up in Indonesia. Hanging around my friends with their model-like proportions where everyone is so thin and small…it’s easy to feel like a giant.

I’m not one who fit into the stereotype of ‘slim and slender Asians’, I’ve never been small, although now looking back at those old pictures I realized I’m not as big as my mind told me.

I was once fat – I have to admit that –  in High School, I weigh close to a whopping 200 pounds. No, I’m not going to post pictures from high school and scared the hell out of you!

After High School, crash diets and all crazy stuff I slimmed down to 110 pounds but in my head, I’m still huge. Well, perhaps when you live amongst your slim, slender and mostly tiny Asian fellows, you’d feel like I did…a giant in the land of the small. Who knows the psychology behind it!

Here’s what I looked like last month:

Now that I realized I may never be as thin as they are, and seeing the obesity rates in this town where I live, I can say that I will never let those size tags dictate how am I suppose to feel any more or define who I am. So, I’ll try to look at my self and be proud of what I have instead of counting every single curve and flab that I wanted to change…besides like one of my friends said; “Most Asian women want to have those rack of yours!

Does your body image change after having a child?

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Maureen

Lifestyle and travel blogger, founder of Single Moms Indonesia on a quest of finding joy in everyday life and living life to the fullest with kindness, compassion, grace and a bit of sass.

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2 Comments

  1. August 18, 2010 / 5:22 pm

    Sigh, your post reminded me when I was single 🙁

    Especially now, whem am over 40, seems the metabolism going slowly.

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