Thursday, August 13, 2009

Fat and Fresh

I knew it was coming and I'm not really sensitive about my weight, but I still cringe a bit when someone tells me how fat I'm looking upon returning from a journey. I just smile and say thank you because they genuinely mean it as a compliment.

The other expected compliment is "you look fresh," generally meaning well-rested. The only thing that really got to me this time was when people would link the two comments: You are so fat. I can tell you really rested! Well, to me fat has absolutely nothing to do with being rested. It's really easy to get fat in America. I'm afraid my rest quotient was in the negative numbers though.

In general Nigerians like to have some surplus flesh on their bones, but not to the point of obesity. I believe it literally means that you have enough money to eat well and take care of yourself. I get a kick out of it when someone tells me: "You're really adding weight. I can tell that your husband is taking good care of you."

Overall, I have to admit that Nigerians have a pretty healthy attitude towards body image and weight. It's been good for me to be part of this culture and to absorb some of these attitudes. I get right in the swing of things and tell people how fat they're looking after a vacation. I love seeing their faces light up after that compliment. Thankfully I didn't have any cultural confusion on this point in America. Somehow I don't think my American friends would have appreciated the 'compliment.'


PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

After I got back from Uganda and went to the grocery store, my overwhelming impression was how "easy" it is here to get food ready to put into our mouths. If the people here had to work at growing, harvesting, processing, cooking, and then walking to the place where they will eat, like in Uganda, they couldn't possibly be fat. Yes there were cafes and some easy food (like peanut butter) but mostly they were eating things that had to be work to get, even if purchased, like beans that had to be shelled first, or posha (ground corn, cooked.) Or roots dug from the yard. Lots of calories had to be used. I saw only a few people with lots of extra body mass.

UcheSarah said...

I too used to cringe when people said that to me. My American ears never could get used to it! Uche's grandma told him that I was beautiful not like other foreign wives who look like they could blow away in the wind. I just smiled and said thank you!