So we are hosting a student from Japan who is here in the city to learn English. A delightful young woman of 20 years old. We are eating supper today and as we conversed; me, using as few words as possible to help her understanding, her in her halting English, she commented on how healthy the meals I cook were. She then commented on my physique that I “had a nice shape”. When I am given a compliment I always accept it by thanking the person and leave it at that. I violated that today by thanking her and commenting back that “she is nice and slim”. She shrinked back, the look on her facing indicating she has just been insulted.
After awhile, forging through our language barriers, we came to an understanding that slim in her culture is not a flattering term while it is here in North America. She related better to fit, which she told me means ” you have a nice shape and are just right”.
I couldn’t help but think about how many North Americans are willing to do anything to be slim. While half way around the world, there are many others from different cultures willing to do anything not to be slim. Funny how different we are but are still the same.
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