My dear readers, here is my one and only uploaded photo so far from India. I know it's only one, but it's a pretty cool picture, isn't it? I'll share more next week if you all promise to ignore the heinous clothing I'll be sporting in all of my photos.
Before I came to India my friend Ashwini warned me that "you'll be the fattest person they've ever seen." Now I have found this to be completely untrue - there are plenty of fat tourists and there are plenty of fat Indians, but I have had some amusing experiences that I thought I'd share. It's interesting to see how fat is viewed in other cultures and how people react and what they say. A bit of fat, cultural anthropology if you will.
There's been the staring and the laughter, which I honestly don't know if it has to do with my being fat or the clothes I wear, but I get a LOT of attention - much more so than my male traveling companions and the stares don't bother me too much, but the laughter is a bit odd. When we went to the Taj Mahal groups of people laughed at me. Not my friends, but me. It was bizarre and weird, but completely harmless.
But there are 3 instances that stick out in particular that I thought you'd all get a kick out of. It's a good thing I practice self-love and body acceptance, cause otherwise these people may have brought me down. Instead I just laughed and went on, un-bothered with my day. I think my traveling companions were often more bothered by it than I was.
1) My friend and I became obsessed with a day spa near our friends apartment where we were staying in Delhi. I think they thought we were crazy cause we came 3 days in a row and showed up to a fancy place in some very un-fancy clothing. I decided to get a special massage that involved 4 hands, lots of hot oil and a tented steam cover - it was pretty fucking fabulous I must say. So I'm undressed, lying on the table in nothing but a pair of disposable underwear they've given me when one of the women performing the massage says to me "so, have you tried our weight loss massage?"
So I'm naked, supposed to be relaxing and these women are about to touch me for the next hour when they've just insulted me, not to mention that a weight loss massage is among the dumber weight loss techniques I've heard mentioned to me. Had I been in the States I would have gotten dressed, talked to the manager and gotten my massage for free from 2 other masseuses. But I was in India and I realize that it's culturally acceptable for people to say these sort of things and it's not considered rude so I just laughed and said "no, I'm happy with my body just the way it is thank you. I like being fat." And then I had a 4 handed massage. Heaven I tell you.
2) I was on a boat in the Gangas River when our tour guide asked me if I had any children. I responded no, to which he replied "well you look like you have." He then continued on "do you practice yoga?" which is when I realized where this conversation was going and I again responded no. He continued on "you really must watch the butter and red meat" which was kind of hysterical because I don't eat much of either one. I mean I bake with a lot of butter, but most of that is brought to work and sent to my friends. Either way, it's completely irrelevant since my body is nobodies business but my own.
He then told me that I was fat like his brother and needed to be careful. At this point my friends and I were laughing hysterically at his rudeness and I told the guide "you're being rude, you need to stop" but he DIDN'T. He continued on about diabetes and my health and I wasn't about to start having a HAES conversation with the man so I calmed my giggles and told him firmly that I love my body just as it is and that he needed to be quiet. He eventually shut up and then had the gall to bring us to his house to try and sell us stuff. No thank you.
3) I was at a mall - where by the way my friend got a scoop of ice cream and found a piece of chewed gum in it, ugh - when we walked into a womens clothing store. I was in there for all of 30 seconds flipping through the shelves when a woman came up to me and told me "we don't carry your size." The first 2 experiences didn't upset me at all, but this one did for some reason. She was just so rude about it and she was making assumptions - she had no idea who I was shopping for. I said "I'm still allowed in the store aren't I?" and continued to browse until a minute later one of her colleagues came up to me and again very rudely told me "we don't have your size." I once again rhetorically asked "I'm still allowed in the store, right?"
I don't know why this simple comment more than the others bothered me so much, I think because it felt exclusionary - you're not allowed in here, fatty leave. The whole thing reminded me of that scene in Pretty Woman when Julia Roberts walks into the boutique on Rodeo Drive and is told that they don't have anything for her. I didn't walk out of the mall with much of anything but I did walk out of the store and not purchase a top I had been eying for my mother.
I thought of how great it was that I was able to laugh instead of get sad or really bothered by these comments - I don't know that I always would have been able to say that. These experiences only served to reinforce my body acceptance and self-love.
Anyways, those are just some of my adventures of being fat in India. And I have to stress that it's really just a teeny, tiny part of my larger, crazy adventure that I'm having. This morning my friends left to go back to the States and I'm traveling on my own for a week so I think more of my stories will have to do with men trying to flatter their way into my wallet than insulting my fat ass, but who knows. Either way I'll be sure to keep you updated.