I come from a culture where it’s socially acceptable to comment on people’s weight. Whether you have gained or lost, members of your family or the Burmese diaspora will have something to say about it. I don’t believe that there’s ill-intent behind it, just a mix of curiosity and playfulness. Don’t worry, I’m not taking the easy route and attributing it all to “culture.” Everything is political. I’m also sure that it’s not a “Burmese” or “Asian” thing but rather a prominent aspect of our greater society.
As someone who has experienced this first hand, I find that there are very different tones associated with your physical state. When you’re demonstrating the results of some excellent culinary moments there seems to be humour associated with the failure of your weight management regime. When your body is svelte there is now the worry that you may have gone too far and there are concerns about your health.
This discussion is not in anyway to disparage the very real phenomenon of eating disorders that women and men are struggling with. I just want to question how the framing of these practices as one of frivolity or concern both encroach on the individual’s agency. To put it simply, it is a process of body shaming.
Control is at the centre of these body-image projects and whether it is true or not, the fat girl apparently does not have enough while the thin girl has too much. Either way, there seems to be something wrong with the both of them. Now, this is what does not jive with me. It is simply none of your business if that person is on a diet or should be on one. Their body is very much their own and they can do what they please. Maybe instead of the shaming they could use an ounce of acceptance, support and the space to just be.