Monday, October 31, 2005

Halloween Ramblings With No Relation to Halloween

I've got a headache that came out of nowhere. Anyone who has known me when I have a headache knows what this means. The rest of you are about to find out.

I saw a goat today. Actually, I think it was a ram. It had the horns to be one. It was just hanging out by a tree eating some leaves. I called it goatface, making reference to a very funny segment on homestarrunner dot com. He was sitting near the Muslim restaurant, and no one was paying him any mind. I just hope there weren't plans to eat him. He seems like such a good goatface.


Another thing I would like to mention is another illustration of the pressures to be thin in China. We read a rather sad text today written from the perspective of a "pang ren" (literally translated to "fat person"). I think the text speaks for itself in terms of what the opinions are about being overweight, so I'm just going to translate it.

A Fat Person's Worries

Going along with the improvement of people's lifestyles, people have gone from not eating very much to eating alot. Now, they only eat really good food, like food from Sichuan or Guangzhou, and duck. Anything like that they'll certainly eat. However, in all of this time that they're feasting, they'd better not forget that they can become fat. Look at me - I used to be a handsome young man. I really don't know when this all started. My nice figure has been replaced with a huge potbelly.

And don't think that being fat is irrelevant. If you were fat like I am, you'd have alot of worries, too. Just take stairs as an example. Every time I try to climb them, I can't even make it to the third floor before my face turns red and I'm sweating all over until I can't even move. And sometimes when I go over to friends' houses, I sit on the couch and no one else can fit. Then everyone stares and it hurts my feelings. Sometimes when I'm walking down the street, groups of girls look and laugh at me. And these aren't even the biggest of my problems.

This year I'm 28 years old, and I still haven't had a girlfriend. Really nice people have introduced me to girls, but as soon as the girls find out how heavy I am, they get scared away. It's so hard to find a girl doesn't want to run away from me. I was really happy this one time that I was going to be meeting a girl, but then it turned out that she was fatter than I am! Ugh.

I've tried everything: dieting, running, taking pills, drinking diet teas, etc. None of it has worked, though. I haven't changed except for the fact that I now have less money as a result. It's all not enough. So if you find yourself eating in a restaurant the way I used to, you should know how hard I have it now. Being a fat person makes life really difficult.

I was kind of dumbfounded when I read this in class today. The guy sitting next to me is from Mexico, and during the break we talked about how we thought people from our home countries would react to hearing someone talk like that. Then we both mentioned various shopping experiences we've had, and how they've made us feel like we must be monsterous. This guy is on the lean side of average weight for the states, and he has to buy XXL clothing here.

After the break, our teacher talked a little bit about the passage. She looked around the room and said, "Ah, there aren't any fat people in our class. That's good." I could feel the shock in the air coming through from some Westerners. She continued, "You see, it's very difficult to be fat. My friend just gained weight and is trying to lose it now, and it's very hard."

"What is she doing to lose weight?" someone asked.

"Ah, good question. She drinks alot of water, and only eats one apple a day. I think it should help."

I bit my tongue on screaming about a culture of anorexia. Starving yourself isn't a disease here yet. This economy isn't quite developed enough to start labeling disorders like that. It's difficult for me to watch some of the ills of development come here. When I think about how recently in the history of this country that the famines of the Cultural Revolution occurred, I can't help but be a little surprised that it's looked upon as good to deny yourself food. There are still thousands of people alive who lived through that period. There are people three hours out of this city who still don't have consistent access to clean water and food. I could go on and on about this, but I'll spare you because I'm confident that you can see where this is going.

The big businesses have moved in, and with them have come the advertisers. With the advertisers has come the goal of selling a product, which in turn has become selling an image. All of these slogans on red banners tell people to build society, build the economy, and make Beijing an international city. People are buying into status symbols, both materially and physically. I wish that wasn't such a cosmopolitan concept. Please, Beijing, stay down to earth.


At 7:54 AM, Blogger Nick said...

Whoa, this is crrrrazy! Thanks for taking the time to translate that. I am amazed.


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