Overweight in Taiwan: A Multicultural Perspective

by Liangyu Yang

I weigh 88kg and am 180cm’s tall. I didn’t realized I wasn’t fat until I moved from my home in Taiwan to the U.S at the age of 16. Ever since Iwas little, I am always a little bit chobby. As I was growing up, my weight increased like some expontial function---I was never skinny nor a normal weight my entire life while I was in Taiwan.

When I was only a little boy, I use to live with my grandparent and my uncle’s family because both of my parent were busy working and didn’t have time to take care of me and my uncle thought that I would be an exellent playmate for his son. I and my cousin got along really well. But when it comes to the meal time, there was some sort of competition between us. The grownups always rewarded the first one that finished his plate, and I was the one always got rewarded. I got a sense of accomplishment because I was the first who finished my plate. Over time, I developed a habit of over eating. I would finish my food very fast and didn’t feel really full. The habit of over eating resulted in my weight gain. I became the chubby kid as I mentioned before. While I was in school in Taiwan, classmates often made fun of me because of my weight, and they wouldn’t pick me to be on the team while playing sport activities just because I weighed more than most of the rest of the classmates. They thought I was dumb and didn’t know about anything besides food. Things changed after I moved to the U.S. In the U.S I rarely was called fat. No one would make fun of my weight or think I'm dumb.

In Taiwan, height of an average person is about 175cm, the average weight about 75kg. There aren’t that many people who are obese. Most people have very simaliar body weight/body image. Those who weight more than the average often feel bad about themselves. They often have very low self-esteem. Poeple’s ideas about weight are very strict; and the general public thinks that there is something wrong with you if you look different. Strangely, the general public in Taiwan don’t like overweight people, but they sympathize with those who are underweight. People in Taiwan tend to assume that fat people are just wasting food/resources and it almost made feel like it’s a crime.

However, in the U.S, it is more diverse. People comes from in different sizes and shapes. It amazes me that they all feel good about themselves and the general public treats them just like everyone else. The kind of stereotype and discrimination doesn’t exsit (at least I can’t feel any).

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