ha. the title of this post is a line (or, part of a line) from kiki's delivery service. the english version, of course. anyway, the other day, on this post, mojavi left a comment and asked this question:

Question: have you noticed any people being rude to you about your weight in Japan? My MIL is 70 yrs old and is Japanese and she is CRAZY with the weight comments. My husband always says it is a cultural thing... so wondering if you see that?

good question! thanks for asking. let's see, there's been many instances over the years. the first i really remember being offended by was my old boss. he was the head of the board of education, an old retired teacher who was about to retire from being the kyoikucho. he used to tell me that i should clean the floor (that is, sweeping and mopping the entire third floor of the town hall) because i needed exercise. or, that i should go for a walk outside on nice days, because i was fat and needed to get moving. what do you say to that? i mean, when you're an over-paid guest assistant teacher who was under-used and didn't really have anything to do and the crazy teacher at the junior high was so annoying but you didn't feel comfortable going home (though most ALTs you knew did that) so you went to the board of education because they were the one paying you? i usually just ignored him, or gave him a token laugh and pretended he was kidding (even though he wasn't.)

there were those kids at the pool once, who called me 'debu', which is a rather rude way to call someone fat in japanese. a friend of mine even told me it means 'worthless'. these kids in swimming class are screaming this at me, and the teachers didn't even say anything to them. and all the other people in the pool heard them. i was mortified. i just had to leave.

the first time i met my MIL, the family went to an onsen. i had to go with her, while yoshi went with his brother and father. afterward, when we were still in the lobby of the onsen, she said to them (all three of them, in front of me), 'everyone was staring at her because she's so FAT!' i pulled yoshi aside a bit later and said, 'people stare at me because i'm a gaijin!' i just cannot find it in me to really like her.

sometimes it hasn't been so hurtful. like the teacher's friend (a woman) who wanted to touch my breasts to see what they felt like (hey, everyone was drunk, and she wasn't rude about it. work drinking party.) or the lady who laid her head on my bosom and said i was 'kimochii, like mother.' yes, she was drunk, too, and i like her. but still.

even in this past year, i've had a few negative encounters. *sigh* once was at a BBQ. this old guy, who had been drinking, commented on how cute my daughter was, but too bad she was going to be fat like her mother. even if you're drunk, who says that?? and you may remember this post. in that post's comment section, L. wrote something that i think is very true:

My husband always notices that Japanese people ask me questions and make personal observations about me that they would NEVER, EVER make to a fellow Japanese person -- it's like, "Whoa, it's a gaijin! So the usual rules don't apply! We can ask her how old she is, how much she weighs, what her bra size is, how much she pays in rent!"

i think that is so true. yes, it's cultural, but i think the 'foreigner factor' is a major reason these questions are asked. also, most of the comments directed toward me have been from older people. i think (and i may be wrong) that older people in japan are 'entitled' to say what they want, when they want. there's a strong feeling of respecting one's elders, the whole 'kohai' and 'sempai' mentality. also, comments on my weight have overwhelmingly come from people who were drunk. from what i understand, what one says or does when drunk (in japan) is forgiven. no matter what. (except drunken driving. that's not so forgivable, if not always enforced.) all but two of the examples i've given in this post has involved drunk people. my old boss, i think he was just a jerk. and my MIL didn't want me as a DIL and was trying to get yoshi to not marry me.

one last thing: the idea that fat = unhealthy is VERY strong here. that really bothers me. i have been nothing but healthy all my life. yoshi gets sick more often than i do! i understand the health implications of being overweight, but really, i don't need people, especially people who don't know me, telling me i need to lose weight or i'll die young. ugh.

so, that's about what i experience in japan. anyone else want to comment?