updates: my coworker is rude to Uber drivers and more

Here are three updates from people who had their letters answered here in the past.

1. My coworker is rude to Uber drivers

I did say something to my coworker. The next time she started yelling at an uber driver I said, “Would you please let him do his job?” And she sort of giggled and said, “I know, I’m a bad back-seat driver.” And I said, “I know, but please don’t yell at the driver. You know [big city] traffic is always bad.” And she did calm down. 

We did have to have a work dinner recently, and she ordered a plate of bread for the table  – even though the restaurant didn’t offer bread as an appetizer, and then complained about the price of it. I calmly said, “Well, you did order off-menu.” She said, “It was just bread,” and I said, “Yes, but it’s probably restaurant policy to charge for extra items.” After that she got really quiet. 

And I got the org to get an Uber for business account, so I don’t have to use my personal anymore. So, not perfect, but getting better. 

2. Political speeches at staff meetings (#4 at the link)

I wound up taking your advice and raising the issue with my immediate supervisor expressing my concerns. Nothing changed in the short term, but then one of our of board members announced their candidacy for the mayor’s race, another announced a run for city council, and both left our board. Then it stopped. I’m guessing some of it was coming from them but I may be reading too much into that confluence of events.

3. Chairs won’t support my weight when I visit our other offices (#2 at the link)

As some of the comments guessed I am from the U.K., but I live and work in another country. The laws and culture are completely different than in places such as England or North America. Being overweight here is more stigmatizing. In the time I have lived here I have never seen anyone close to my size save for a rare tourist. What is considered overweight here would be considered not close to overweight back home. People do not hesitate to tell others they know that they are getting fat. No one percieves it as rude. There is pressure from companies and workplaces to not be overweight and those who are get sent to health coaches in an attempt to help them lose it. I have been exempt from this because I’m not from here and no one really says anything in public because they assume I am a tourist.

My chair had to be specially ordered and flown in from out of country. All furniture and items in my flat as well as my clothing, suits and ties are from out of the country as nothing here fits me. My chair has a metal frame and has a reinforced wide seat. I can use it comfortably. My colleagues can sit 2 or 3 at a time in the seat of my chair and it has become an inside game where more than one person sits in my chair and they take, post and share photos. The other locations I attend to do not host clients or visitors. So there would be no need for them to have such a chair in every office. I could see the need if I was back in the U.K. but it is not needed here. The solution has been for me to video call into sessions at other firms. The odd time there are other who do the same when they are from locations more than a days drive away. I do the same now and it has eliminated the chair issue.

I have not been offended by any of the things re: weight here as it is just how the culture is. If I was back home it would be a different story but I enjoy living and working here and just things let roll off my back. My colleagues have been welcoming to me, cultural differences aside. If I ever decide to move back home I will certainly keep your scripts in my back pocket should I needed them. I do appreciate your response and all the nice comments also.

{ 272 comments… read them below or add one }

    1. CoveredInBees

      And for sticking to it! People who think being obnoxious is somehow charming cause me to flee them as quickly as possible.

      Reply
      1. Hildegard Vonbingen

        They cause me to want to punch them in the nose. An urge which, of course, I stifle. But, seriously, ARGH for people who think being obnoxious is cute. Of course, they only think that when THEY are the ones being obnoxious. Somebody else? Those bastards!

        Reply
        1. (Different) Rebecca, PhD

          As I sit here, listening to music I did not choose as it wafts through the floorboards from my downstairs neighbor, I seriously fantasize about a requirement, nay, a commandment, for moving away from home. Something like “thou shalt not get thine own apartment until it is demonstrated that thou aren’t annoying af on a regular basis.”

          Reply
          1. Alli525

            Although, I’d rather an obnoxious roommate get their own place, rather than my having to continue to deal with it! Sometimes I wonder if -I- was an obnoxious roommate (I can get lazy with cleaning), but I live alone now and try to own my bad habits. (Although I hope that my neighbor across the hall would knock and say something if I ever played my music too loud!)

            Reply
          2. eplawyer

            Please no. I have to listen to my downstairs neighbor’s music. It’s a guy who still lives with Mommy. He will always live there because the two of them are as annoying AF.

            Reply
          3. Wendy Darling

            I live in a place where basically no one has AC, so everyone keeps all the windows open all summer. A guy moved in upstairs from me who loved playing the guitar. Every night he sat on his balcony and played the guitar. Which would be lovely, except he only knew one song.

            And that song was Wonderwall.

            Every year as the warm season approaches I pray that Wonderwall Guy has moved out.

            Reply
            1. Anion

              Our previous house had a sort of courtyard area behind it, and across that courtyard lived a guy who played drums. Badly. Often. With all the doors and windows open.

              He liked to play along to records (especially Guns’n’Roses’s “Appetite for Destruction,” which I always used to like). So when the weather was nice, anyone sitting outside (like me) would be treated to the same few songs over and over, for hours, accompanied by his off-rhythm drumming.Any time of the day or night, there he’d be, plugging away at “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” Sometimes he’d get the urge at one or two in the morning, which might have given others pause, but not our illustrious neighbor. Neither wind nor rain nor dead of night would keep him from sharing his dubious gift with the world.

              Last year the illegal wiring he had set up for the lights in his (also illegal) hydroponic marijuana-growing operation started a fire, and the whole place burned down. He disappeared; he even left his car behind, presumably because he knew the police were keeping an eye out for him–they were very interested in speaking to him, as you can imagine.

              We moved, unfortunately, so I don’t know if they ever caught him or not. I do know all of us living on that street/near the courtyard were secretly thrilled with out newfound peace and quiet.

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            2. Bryce

              Someone near me got a drum kit last summer. They only play during the day, so it’s not like it’s keeping me up at night, but it can be a bit jarring.

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            3. Typhon Worker Bee

              Glasgow, 1999-2001.

              Bagpipes.

              Now, bagpipes can be great, when played well, and preferably outside at a rugby game or other large event. In a small flat, played by a beginner? Not so much.

              Reply
      2. Lumen

        Same. I had a roommate for a year who, it turned out, loved to giggle as she talked about how passive aggressive she is! And how lazy! As though being aware of it and treating it like a ‘quirk’ made it cute, rather than infuriating.

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    2. Adlib

      Agreed! She calmed down after that first story and then got quiet on the second story. I’d say those are wins! Sounds like you’re getting through, OP.

      Reply
      1. Lil Fidget

        So true. It might not feel like a big moment, but this is actually ideal *because* it wasn’t a big thing and yet a couple repetitions can really drive the point home how this is coming across – without ruining your work relationship. I do my best thinking (later that day, usually) when I didn’t feel put on the spot or called out but I was helped to see a problem I was making.

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        1. Lumen

          I agree. It sounds like the person described by OP #1 isn’t doubling down and digging in their heels (which would make me think they’ve been called out before but have developed an intense defensiveness about it). If they are getting quiet and withdrawing a bit, that might just mean no one’s ever suggested to them that yelling at drivers and getting huffy over bread is… not great behavior. Maybe they didn’t learn as a kid and now is their chance to get better instruction. :)

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          1. TootsNYC

            my thought exactly!

            I vote for keeping it up.

            Channel your inner daycare worker, and just calmly point out how the world works.

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          2. Traffic_Spiral

            Yup. Sometimes people legitimately don’t realize how bad their actions are to others, and can change it pretty quickly if their peers or superiors point it out.

            Reply
  1. Just Peachy

    #3 – Just curious, are you offended by your coworkers sitting 2-3 at a time in your chair and taking photos? That sounds awful cruel.

    Reply
    1. Marie B.

      +1.

      I’m surprised 2 or 3 people call sit side by side in the chair to be honest.

      I know the letter writer says they aren’t offended because that’s just how the culture is there but I would be so hurt and would never want to work in a place where people do that with the chair, or tell people they are getting fat, or send their employees to coaches for weight loss. I feel for the letter writer.

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      1. Sylvan

        I used to live with a girl who was extremely large and had special furniture. I didn’t test it out (or take pictures!) but yes, there is furniture out there that can fit two people of my not-small size. I can understand the other cultural differences, and I don’t want to tell OP to feel hurt or offended if she doesn’t, but I’m wondering about the point of taking pictures.

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        1. Rae

          When I was sitting with a family member in the ER (I’m in the US) the only wheelchair available was the larger one. Two people of my fairly average size could have sat in that relatively easily.

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      2. Sleeping, or maybe dead

        Op3, Quick question about the “culture” thing and the weight loss coaching…
        IS THIS JAPAN???
        because in my experience, Japan is like this.
        You don’t have to answer if it is too probing.
        AlSo, this is not an attack on Japanese culture in it self; it’s just Japanese society has very problematic aspects, like any other, despite some people picturing it as some sorte of perfect magical wonderland, and I wish we could be more upfront about it, so people could avoid some disappointments before it is too late.

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        1. LT

          I was thinking Asia, too!!
          I’m American-born but of Asian descent, and whenever I go visit relatives in Japan, I realize that I need to buy clothing a size up in order to get my US equivalent.
          I don’t mean to imply superiority/inferiority, either, but you raise an accurate issue- as globalized as we are becoming, there are still countries where the majority of the population is homogenous. Naturally, someone who doesn’t fit that type will stand out. Diversity brings its own challenges, but it’s a great asset to have in the US.

          Reply
    2. JustaCPA

      and am I the only one who is curious to know in what country the OP is working?

      Because wow that would be so rude here in the US and I appreciate knowing these cultural differences.

      Reply
      1. Annabelle

        I’m also wondering this. I might be totally off base, but I thought OP might be in China. I have a friend who worked there for a few years and she had similar – though notably less cruel – experiences with differing norms surrounding weight.

        Reply
        1. Danger: Gumption Ahead

          I was thinking Vietnam or Thailand. I worked in both for a while and my height, weight, and shoe size were always entertaining to my coworkers, neighbors, random old ladies in the markets. It never bothered me, but I am also not a weight that people in the US considered an issue. I am just a whole lot bigger than women in Vietnam and Thailand.

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          1. Anonymousaurus Rex

            I immediately thought of Thailand as well. When I lived there in my early 20’s I was called fat a number of times (not to my face, and in Thai, so I assume they thought I didn’t understand them. I was 5’8″ and 125lbs–so on the small side of healthy BMI. An overweight friend of mine came to visit and she was openly stared at and made to feel very uncomfortable.

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              1. Red Reader

                BMI was never intended to measure individuals, it’s supposed to be a broad (pun not intended) population measurement.

                Signed, a 5’5” size 6 Midwestern corn-fed farmgirl who’s medical documentation all says “obese” :-P

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                1. Forrest

                  What do you think those populations are made up of? Trees? Dolphins?

                  Individuals make up these populations and some those people have to be obese by BMI standards to make up this population measurement.

                  And the fact that you’re a size 6 doesn’t mean anything, especially with vanity sizing. So why is something that varies all over the place a more reliable determination if you are obese or not and not actual measurable things?

                  BMI gives people a healthy weight range of 30 to even 40 pounds. People don’t seem to get it – it’s not “you need to be 135 pounds or you’re obese.”

                1. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)

                  Maybe not obese, but the BMI cutoff points for the overweight/obese categories are lower for Asian people.

                2. Sylvan

                  MJ: They’re lower, but by about 1-2 points, which isn’t enough to move someone from “healthy by BMI” to “obese by BMI.”

              2. JB (not in Houston)

                That is some pretty wild generalizing and stereotyping there (not to mention the word “Asian” describes literally billions of people from many different countries and ethnicities), and it’s not true.

                But you’re right that BMI should be thrown out the window.

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                1. Mabel

                  I agree! I have to get a biometric screening tomorrow (or pay more for health insurance), and they still take into account BMI. So f-ing ridiculous!

              3. Forrest

                How did you come to that conclusion?

                A healthy BMI for each individual can range 30 to 40 pounds. As a 5’5″ woman, my healthy BMI ranges from 115 to 150. If I’m 150, I’m obviously going to look bigger compared to a woman who is 115.

                Additionally, as a taller woman in a country where the people tend to shorter, Rex is going to look heavier. That has nothing to do with BMI either.

                Just because someone thinks you look fat doesn’t mean you are fat. The measurable BMI is more accurate than some random person’s opinion.

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              4. Indoor Cat

                Whenever people critique BMI, I always wonder what they want to replace it with.

                As someone with the opposite problem (underweight due to congenital illness), it has been useful throughout my life to aim for a weight in the “green zone,” so the doctors had a safer basis for administering medications and having the safest possible transplant procedure. It’s one thing to know that, “Being 5’4 and 86 lbs, you are too underweight for this organ transplant to be safe, so we’re going to look into [putting in a peg tube / an oral, high-calorie liquid diet / a protein-rich diet] so you can get to the weight you need by the deadline in two years.”

                Without data across the board from many patients over time, how would a doctor know how to begin to figure out what would be a reasonable goal weight for someone like me? I would be much warier if it was all guesswork without any kind of map.

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            1. Jam Today

              I thought of Thailand also, my Thai aunt brought be back a pair of silk pajamas sized “large” (thanks, auntie), and even then — when I was 25lbs lighter than I am right now — I could get the waistband over one leg and that’s about it.

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              1. Elizabeth West

                I bought a mermaid blanket that was made in China and I could only get one leg into the tail part (I’m not obese, but I’m 5′ 11″). It was the adult size but clearly made for someone much smaller and thinner than I. Gave it to my five-year-old great-niece, who loves it.

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            2. LadyL

              I visited China briefly and peopled definitely gawked at my height (also 5’8″). Cultural norms are an intense thing, because since being tall in America is seen as a good thing it never occurred to me until this moment that the gawking may have been less complimentary than I was imagining.

              (also I’m a similar weight to you, so now I’m also wondering if they were calling me fat too, but my host just knew better than to translate that part)

              Reply
              1. Keep Your Eyes On The Prize

                A flaming red hair, blue eyes and tall 5’10” friend went to China for business and he stood out. People came into the office to peek at him. His host had warned him that it might happen and he was amused by it.

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                1. Lefty

                  A female friend of remarkably similar description- flaming red hair, blue eyes, 5’10”- said that she was called “Nicole Kidman” regularly during her trips to China & Japan. She also had many people ask to touch her hair, which was long enough to sit below her shoulders. She was flattered and fascinated by it- she’d been teased as a child for this hair and now she was a faux celebrity!

                2. Typhon Worker Bee

                  My (female) 6 foot tall, bright orange haired, very very very pale skinned Scottish friend caused quite the stir in China, too. She said she was asked for dozens of photos a day and that it was like being a celebrity!

                3. whingedrinking

                  A friend of mine is quite similar – tall and red haired, with large hazel eyes. She worked as an teacher in Korea, and one time a cabbie tried to rip her off when taking her home. She started scolding him in Korean, which he was not expecting, especially since she used the kind of tone teachers use with naughty children. (Rough translation: “This is very shameful! You are embarrassing your parents! You must show more respect!”)

              2. Enough

                The median height for women in China is 5′ 2″. The median height for women in the US is 5′ 3″. Therefore, your height was no more exceptional in China than it is in the US.
                They were likely gawking for other reasons. We don’t need to propagate the stereotype that ‘asian people are tiny’.

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                1. Julia

                  And Asian people in general don’t hate tall people. Sure, one of my taller Japanese friends said it was hard to find a boyfriend who was taller than her – but I’m pretty sure I’ve heard my tall German friends make the same complaint.

                2. TL -

                  Average height in USA is 5’4″-5’7″ for women.

                  I am 5’3″ and I assure you, I am considered short in the vast majority of the USA.

                3. LadyL

                  I don’t mean to propagate stereotypes, I only know what my host, a Chinese woman, told me. When I asked why people were staring at me and taking my photo, she told me that it was because I was so tall. But like I said, maybe there were other things going on and she edited a bit. Unfortunately I don’t speak Cantonese or Mandarin, so I had no way to verify for myself why people were looking at me that way.

                4. ainomiaka

                  ‘I’ve always seen 5’5″ or 5’6″ what is your source for the median height for women is 5’3″?

                5. Cristina in England

                  Source please on your median height info. That doesn’t ring true for me.

                  I don’t see how it is helpful or sensitive to dismiss someone’s personal experience and say they’re propogating stereotypes. I’ll also bet you’ve never been to Asia. I have and all of these perfectly reasonable comments along the lines of “I was stared at or commented at for being a US-normal height and weight” are in line with my own experience there. This policing is getting pretty silly.

                6. Arya Snark

                  My MIL, who is white/American and tiny by any standards, lived in Japan for a while and absolutely loved it because everything fit her. Furniture was sized perfectly but not having to shop in a special store for clothes was especially awesome for her.

                7. Yorick

                  But is the standard deviation similar in both countries? No matter what the median is, it may be much more rare to see a 5’8 woman in China.

                8. SL #2

                  Height/weight/hair color is usually right on the nose for why people are staring, and especially in China, most people have no issue with openly taking a photo of someone who stands out from the norm. I cannot buy clothes in Asia at all, and I’ve gotten my share of smirks from shop owners all over the dang continent when they tell me that their sizes won’t fit me. That’s just how the culture is, and getting offended by it, as the outsider, isn’t really worth my time or emotions.

              3. Else

                My dad is 6’5″, and BIG. When he used to visit Japan and China for work, people would definitely stop and stare and turn around to look. I think I would not have done it so openly (being from a culture where that is both rude and threatening), but I would likely have wanted to look twice, too. He just stands out so much from others in that environment, even setting aside the different race/national origin aspect.

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          2. Falling Diphthong

            That was my guess. My blond niece lived in China for a couple of years as a child, and shows up in the photos of many vacationing Chinese people, because she was an interesting piece of the surroundings and happy to pose for pictures.

            Cultural differences in what you comment on and what is sturdily ignored are a thing. (I heard of an American living in Africa asking her villagers to greet her with “You look thin!” even though the accepted cultural greeting was “You look fat!”)

            Reply
            1. pandop

              I was very blonde and blue-eyed as a child and this attracted a lot of attention from little old ladies in Spain when we went on holiday in the early 1980s (as this attention often took the form of trying to give me cake/sweets I was all for it).

              More recently, still blue-eyed but no longer blonde, I got a lot of requests for photos when I was visiting Egypt, particularly from children, I said yes, even though I normally hate having my photo taken, as at least these photos I wouldn’t need to ever see again! I asked our guide why they wanted a photo, and sadly it seems to be because of the decline in tourism after the revolution, I was now a novelty :( There were a lot of requests to practice English too, which I was quite happy about, as my Arabic is very, very limited.

              Reply
          3. LizB

            I had a college roommate from Vietnam, and we had fascinating conversations about clothing sizes. When she went clothes shopping in the US she’d fit in size XS or S, but back home in Vietnam the clothes her size would be labeled L or XL. There’s just a huge difference in average body size.

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            1. LKW

              My mother is very tiny – under 5″ and tiny frame and has difficulty finding petites. When I went to Japan I called her and said “The entire shopping mall is your size!”

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            2. Pebbles

              I went on vacation to Vietnam once. The airline misplaced my luggage for 4 days. I ended up washing my clothes in the sink because I could not find anything to fit my 5’9″ U.S. size 10 (at the time) body.

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        2. LouiseM

          All of this speculation is ridiculous and borderline racist. First all of you naming every country in Asia that you or somebody you know once visited, then the people below debating whether it’s Israel or Western Europe. People in the US tend to be much fatter than people in many other countries and people in many other countries tend to be blunter than Americans. This means that someone could have the experience OP is describing in a very large number of other countries. Not just whichever Asian country your sister happened to visit where someone gawked at her.

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          1. Cristina in England

            Could you please clarify exactly what comments you find offensive? The part of the discussion I find most problematic is that we generally try not to jeopardize letter writers’ anonymity and often agree not to speculate on details.

            But apart from that, I am not seeing your beef. I’m not seeing anyone saying anything disparaging or otherwise mocking other cultures. In fact most people are going out of their way to note that the people in their anecdotes aren’t malicious in intent.

            Discussing cultural differences isn’t racist!

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            1. LouiseM

              Discussing cultural differences isn’t racist. Wildly speculating on how only in Asia would this happen…no, only in Israel would this happen…well it would never/definitely happen in France is. Actually it could happen in a great many countries. Clearly people just have experience in one country that they are eager to generalize their experiences. There are cultural differences between most every country on earth. It’s racist to act as though only Asia is SO different from the US or the UK that this could happen.

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              1. JustAWarning

                But it IS the case that Asia is substantially different from Western Europe, and Israel.
                What I was hoping for in these comments was more discussion of how these business attitudes play out in other parts of the world, like the Middle East or perhaps the former USSR.
                My brother-in-law works at a large multinational company (think Fortune 100) that regularly sends representatives for work in the Ural mountains. He’s never mentioned his colleagues facing discrimination due to obesity, but there has been significant pressure on him and his coworkers to imbibe heavily. As someone who chooses not to drink for health and ethical reasons, he views this kind of business culture as inherently toxic and a cultural impediment to doing business.

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              2. Annabelle

                It’s not inherently racist to discuss differences in cultural norms. My family is from the Middle East and there were most assuredly growing pains trying to navigate a different set of norms and mores when they immigrated to the US. Sharing similar experiences doesn’t equate to disparaging other cultures. It’s not like we’re sitting around saying “wow Western culture is so much better!”

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                1. cutUp

                  Well, except everyone in this thread is casting judgments on these “cultural differences.” The entire point of these comments is that people in these countries engage in fat shaming. That’s not the same as saying, in parts of Thailand, the food was very spicy!

                2. Cristina in England

                  People have mostly been sharing first hand experiences and saying things that were said to them. The vast majority of commenters on this tread have simply been making statements of fact and haven’t been judgmental at all. And half of the commenters have actually been taking pains to say that the locals were not fat-shaming, rather that they were saying the same sort of thing as “you’re wearing a blue shirt”.

                3. Sylvan

                  cutUp, the way we talk about weight and appearances differs between cultures. I don’t think mentioning the differences people have seen is a judgmental thing for them to do.

              3. LT

                If anything I find this thread enlightening. It has the potential to steer very off topic for an AAM post but we’re all sharing experiences we’ve had first hand, or of people we know, where countries outside of the US/UK have different norms about clothing size, or physique. Turns out what might be common in Asia, based on the experiences of people who have been there, could also be common in the Middle East, based on the experiences of people who have been there. I’ve been to Asia, but I haven’t been to the Middle East, and I’m learning that what I experience in Asia could also be similar to some people’s experiences in the Middle East, which is broadening my view of the world.

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            2. bonkerballs

              Not commenting on the is it or is not racist part of this, but I think there’s a big difference in speculating on “does this OP work for X specific company” which may jeopardize their anonymity and “does this OP work in China” where there are literally millions of people and companies. Is it really any different than when we speculate based on certain word choice whether OP is American or British? The reason people do that is because location of the OP can oftentimes change the advice given. Sometimes drastically.

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          2. JustAWarning

            You’re completely missing the point, Louise.
            People are speaking from their own experiences. There’s no need to nitpick language.

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        3. Marie

          I was thinking some east Asian country. I have lived in South Korea and Japan and travelled through China. I recognise this behaviour.

          I am average for both my height and weight for my country (UK) and my shoe size is under average size for my country. Yet I could not find shoes to fit me in these countries and only a few clothes. My roommates in Japan (who were Japanese) were always amused by my bras which were far far bigger than theirs (but just above average size for the UK)

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          1. Kate

            In Japan, really? I lived there and I was usually a medium in clothes, same as the U.K. And every shop I bought shoes in had the equivalent of size five shoes (which I think is the U.K. average)

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            1. Marie

              according to google (which may or may not be accurate) the average woman’s shoe size is 8 I am a size 7. The highest shoe size I could fine was the equivalent of 5. I split my trainers open while in Japan and I was able to buy a new pair but I had to go into the men’s section, this is not a big deal for trainers but if I wanted smart work shoes I would have struggled. I believe there are more options in the larger cities like Tokyo and Osaka but I lived in a smaller city where foreigners are rare.

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          2. SystemsLady

            I weigh in the low 100s (low side of BMI scale for my average height) and felt like an XL/XXL trying to shop for cute clothes in Japan.

            (T-shirts still fit fine but yeah)

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          3. Elan Morin Tedronai

            Yes, South Korea is one of the judgiest places on earth. Some of their comments would make a Southern Evangelical blush. Why else do you think plastic surgery is a matter of course there?

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      2. Millennial Lawyer

        I assumed South Korea, because in college I had two friends who were foreign exchange students from there and friend A would always discuss friend B’s weight, and they both explained how being overweight there is way more stigmatized and it’s considered normal and not rude for a stranger to remark that someone is too fat, for example. Please correct me if the above is not true, that’s just what I’ve heard.

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        1. Julia

          I’ve heard different things from different Korean friends. One said it wasn’t that bad, the other said her family members told her to get plastic surgery. I guess it really differs from person to person!

          My experience with Japan (which is pretty long by now) is that some people will tell me I’m too fat (like, someone at WORK asked if my boyfriend liked chubby girl) whereas others won’t. But then again, some people in Germany told me I was too fat – some people are just mean, no matter where you live.

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          1. Elizabeth West

            I have some Dutch friends and acquaintances and they tend to be VERY direct also, at least compared to here. It can be cultural–but one of them is just very very blunt to the point of rudeness, and the others’ aren’t. So it’s also personality.

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        1. Phoenix Programmer

          Huh. 35 or less is considered healthy in US by Mayo clinic. So that is pretty obese in Japan.

          Frankly I would not mind this in US if it were paid for.

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          1. Mb13

            I think that unarguably not being over weight is healtheir for people. However, “over weight” fluctuates from person to person. Would you tell a short body builder they are overweight because they exceed their BMI? There’s also the added cruleness and disgust people have towards those who are over weight that a government policy about weight loss would quickly turn into a tool of oppression.

            I would personally like it if there were government policies that helps people live a healthy life but nothing like “round up fat people and send them to camps”. I would personally love it if there were higher taxes on sugar based products, back of labeling were clearer, public schools were forced to not only provide healthy food but also mandatory classes on healthy eating, re create cities and communities so they were more rewarding for walking than driving, etc

            Reply
            1. Jules the Third

              Actually, there’s studies that show people who are ‘overweight’ (eg, BMI 25 – 35) live longer now, and that this has changed since the 70s, when people with BMIs under 25 lived longer. They haven’t figured out correlation vs causation, but it’s not ‘inarguable’ anymore. BMI is a horrible measurement, of course, for the reasons you state.

              But schools do give healthy eating classes now – my 10yo just had lessons on reading food labels and calories. Higher taxes on sugary foods isn’t needed, just stop subsidizing corn (corn syrup), and put those subsidies into leafy greens.

              Google ‘Scientific American extra pounds help live longer’ for the science on living longer.

              Reply
        2. Michael Angelo

          I haven’t had a 33 inch waist since I was in my early high school years and mine is nowhere close to that now. I would be so screwed under that law.

          Reply
      3. RandomlyGenerated

        Kind of sounds like Japan? I only spent a little time there, but I was told about waist limits that some companies have for their employees (something like 33 inches for men before they’re sent to the weight loss coaches). In a more uniformly-distributed population, it does make a little more sense to have one standard than somewhere more diverse like the US, and people didn’t seem to find it insulting/oppressive.

        I counted approximately 10,000 people that I saw during my trip there, and there were only 8 who were larger than me (at 5’5″, 160lbs/size 8-10 US).

        Reply
        1. Elizabeth H.

          Interesting, I didn’t experience this! This was #2 of the three things my ex-boyfriend and I were warned about when going to Japan, that we would stand out as large size Americans, and I have an eating disorder history and was really worried about comparing myself to other people and feeling bad while I was there. The funny thing is that my boyfriend and I were both on the thin side for Americans and we actually felt like we fit in physically way MORE in Japan than in the US. Even though I was quite thin at the time (size 2-4 US) I’m 5’7″ and I’m absolutely not the same level of petite that many Asian women are so I was surprised that I didn’t feel look and feel more out of place. I felt like people varied a lot and even though there were a lot of slim young people, many people were average in body type and I saw a ton of variety. What I saw as the big difference is that it varied from extremely petite to average rather than thin to extremely overweight as it does in the US.

          One caveat is that we were there in August during Festival season when a lot of people travel around the country so we might have been seeing some kind of different demographic selection than usual. We did also go to a conventional clothing store once and I had a hard time finding stuff that fit, but it could have been a more teen oriented store.

          Reply
          1. Elizabeth H.

            Actually, I reread the comment above mine and realized I missed the point of it and my experience isn’t really that discrepant! I do think that I saw a large number of people in Japan who would be size 8 or so in the US, but perhaps not really many larger than that. I guess it’s probably the absence of the higher end of the weight range that we have in the US that’s the bigger difference I noticed, not that literally almost everybody there is insanely thin.

            Reply
            1. RandomlyGenerated

              Yes, I think we had the same experience! I did also see a lot more tall people than I had assumed – there were plenty of women taller than me, and you’re right, there was a lot of variety in the 0-8 size range, but that was it for the upper end.

              Reply
              1. Enough

                Yes, this is because the average height for women in Japan is 5′ 2″, and the average height for women in the US is 5′ 3″. This means that you will see a fairly similar number of 5′ 8″ women in both countries.

                Reply
                1. Pollygrammer

                  You are really, really hung up on this.

                  Also, that’s not actually how averages work. The average is ~not at all~ predictive of the likelihood of outliers.

                2. Cristina in England

                  Upthread you said median. That is actually different than average. Can you provide a source, as those numbers don’t ring true. Also I don’t think you understand how medians and averages work.

                3. Mahkara

                  Just going to note that “average” can mean mean, median, or mode. All three of these are different, though. (I believe you’re using “average” as “mean”.)

          2. Julia

            No, I live in Japan and I pretty much agree with you. Maybe people are a little chubbier than they used to be ten years ago (as am I…) because, well, fast food is spreading and cheap and no one here has time to cook due to work being so tough. Vegetables are getting more expensive as well…

            Reply
          3. sacados

            Yeah, I live in Japan and that’s a pretty accurate experience. Many women’s clothing stores don’t carry sizes above an 8 or so — even something like Uniqlo typically will only have a 10 at most (though sometimes larger sizes online only). The only place I’ve ever even seen a number like “12” or god forbid “14” on a piece of clothing is at H&M (aside from dedicated plus size stores of course, of which there are a few). I tend to be somewhere in the 14 ~ 16 range, so I can usually find tops just fine, and sometimes dresses, but bottoms are out of the question. Mostly I just order from places that have international shipping like Modcloth and stock up on jeans whenever I go home at Christmas.

            Reply
      4. Jesmlet

        I’m half Chinese, this all rings true to Asian culture in general. I’d be surprised if it was anywhere outside of Asia.

        Reply
          1. lulu

            OP made it sound like a very different place from the US and the UK legally and culturally, I’d be very surprised if it was in Western Europe.

            Reply
          2. Trig

            Yeah, France was my thought too. Some serious cultural fat-phobia there. I read an article recently about a woman who lost her job as a teacher because she wouldn’t/couldn’t lose weight.

            But from the line about locals always assuming OP is a tourist, I get the feeling it’s for more reasons than just their weight, so somewhere with with a non-white majority might make more sense.

            Reply
          3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

            I was thinking parts of sub-Saharan Africa—but Belgium/France sound believable to me. There are lots of places in the world that meet OP’s description beyond east and southeast Asia.

            Reply
            1. Marie

              I think its because OP said the country is very culturally different to USA and UK. Western European countries do have differences but not drastic ones. I assumed the assumption OP is a tourist came from the fact she is obviously different (like a white person in an Asian country).

              I suppose it could be sub-Saharan Africa. But I suspect the fact most commentators on this website are from the USA or other western countries in general westerners have more dealings with and know more about east Asian countries than sub-Saharan countries this is the assumption people make. I admit I wish OP would tell us what country it is I’m curious.

              Reply
            1. Isabelle

              I want to know too! I’m frequently in Belgium and I’ve seen plenty of fat (and tall, too) Belgians and no-one seems bothered about it. Is there really a lot of fatphobia in Belgium?

              Reply
              1. Chapeau

                You can find rude people anywhere. So yes, as a person struggling with weight, I have experienced two-three occasions where people were jerks about it. But those are really rare.
                So no, I can’t speak of fatphobia here in Belgium.

                Reply
        1. Mb13

          Yes but Israelies also fluctuate by drastically weight. And its a lot more likely for israelies to be over weight than someone form south east Asia. What can I say we love our falafel

          Reply
        2. Legal Beagle

          Israel is full of Americans/Anglos. I just don’t see the average Israeli being so amazed by the presence of an overweight person that they would joke about it, take pictures, and all that. Also, I’ve lived there and never felt the intrusiveness was about mockery; it’s usually well-meaning (but unsolicited) advice.

          Reply
        3. Smithy

          I worked in Israel for 5 years – and while my professional experience involved all sorts of intrusiveness – the issues of not finding furniture to support the weight would not be an issue. While obesity among native born residents doesn’t mirror the US – it is still present. Not to mention the incredibly high numbers of North Americans and Europeans who have long term stays in Israel and require such furniture.

          Reply
        4. Enya

          Oh, no no no. There are plenty of fat Israelis, and we don’t make a habit of making fun of people’s weight (except for the mean people you find in every country). It’s definitely not OK to shame someone for their weight. I assumed OP was talking about an Asian country.

          Reply
      5. Jaybeetee

        My first thought was South Korea too, as I have spent time there, but really, many Asian countries have this particular attitude towards obesity – especially overweight women. I have a Singaporean friend (ethnically Chinese) who is, as one would imagine, quite petite, and even she talked about her mother constantly nagging her over any weight gain.

        Reply
      6. Old Jules

        My vote is for Asia. I’ve had locals say, “I’ll stand beside her in pictures and will look so thin.” I kid you not.

        Reply
      7. Hildegard Vonbingen

        My immediate thought was she’s in an Asian country. I’m 5′ 11.5″ tall, average-athletic build with fairly broad shoulders, and have a women’s size 10B shoe. I felt like a freak, especially at first, when I was in China and Japan. I got the impression I looked like the Jolly Green Giant to them. The difference took a bit of getting used to, and I’m pretty sure I would never feel comfortable living there permanently. Love the food, love the culture, but I think I’d always be regarded as somewhat freakish (especially since I’m a woman – I might be perceived differently if I were a man).

        Reply
        1. Plague of frogs

          My brother lived in Japan for several years. He is tall, muscular guy. Other men often discussed the possible size of his– *ahem* –member, right in front of him. They assumed he couldn’t speak Japanese.

          Reply
        2. JustAWarning

          A 5’11.5″ woman is taller than 99% of women in the US, BTW.
          I’m sure people in China have the mental capacity to imagine someone that tall – especially since Chinese people are that tall themselves.

          Reply
          1. teclatrans

            I don’t think that was the point. In my early 20s, I dated a man 6 inches taller than me, and spent most of the first few dates repeating, “whoa, you are TALL” in a wondering voice. There is imagining someone of different proportions, and then there is being next to someone so far outside your sense of normal.

            I spent some time in China and — also at just under 6′ with size 10 shoes and blondidh hair — I constantly had people asking to take pictures with me, really emphasizing how I towered over them. I think this is the experience many people are describing.

            Reply
          2. NaoNao

            It’s more like, in Asia, which I lived in for three years, because both men and women are substaintially shorter on average than the average American, you stand out *more* than in the US. In the US, I stand out, but nowhere *near* as much as I did in Asia, where I *towered* over people by over almost a foot at 5’10”. And not just like, half or 3/4 of the population. Like 99%.

            Reply
      8. Elizabeth H.

        In the last letter the OP mentioned it was a Commonwealth country. A few are in East Asia like a lot of people are speculating about, but I think there are lots of places where having different attitudes toward openness about commenting on people’s weight differs from the UK or the US.

        Reply
      9. Former Prof

        The thing that worries me is in the original letter, the OP characterized themselves as “weighing 30 stone.” That’s 420 pounds. And people here in the US WOULD probably say something, as they would in the UK. I agree that accommodations should be made so people can do their work, but honestly, OP would be so much better off if they could try to get some of that weight off and focus on that, for their own sake.

        Reply
          1. Else

            Yes. That isn’t something for strangers to comment on, unless the OP specifically asks for that (e.g., a doctor or physical trainer or tailor or something). I think we can assume that they know what they need to know about that aspect of their life.

            Reply
      10. Meliza

        I’m American, but have been living and working in Thailand for a year and a half, and I immediately identified with OP #3. I’m kind of petite by American standards, but by Thai standards I’m absolutely on the heavier side, and people are generally much more open about discussing weight (their own and others’) here. Sometimes it drives me crazy – people will walk up to me and discuss my “big farang butt”, but in some ways it’s actually kind of refreshing? It feels less malicious somehow, and I’ve never felt like people were trying to ridicule me or bully me for my weight. It’s just a different attitude toward weight and the discussion of it.

        Reply
      11. Traffic_Spiral

        Like everyone else is saying, probably East Asia. I spent my childhood in Taiwan and Japan and I never saw a “Plus Size” person until I visited the USA at age 10. I remember just staring and being like “I did not know there were humans shaped like that.” Also culturally, in the China/Japan/Korea area it’s not seen as rude to comment on someone’s weight. Personal comments in general are far more acceptable. Also, due to western culture having more direct communication habits for a lot of things, there’s a stereotype that western people just aren’t offended by any old thing you say to them.

        So between the “OMG I’ve never seen that before” factor, the “it’s not rude to talk about people’s weight” culture, and the “Westerners don’t take offense” assumptions, there’s gonna be a lot of comments to and about overweight people.

        Reply
    3. Kramerica Industries

      That struck me too. OP, your positive attitude is one of the most refreshing things I’ve heard in a while.

      Reply
      1. Hildegard Vonbingen

        I was struck by this, too. She seems pretty unflappable and even-keeled emotionally. She’s handling things, including her own reactions, really well. I admired her even more after reading her update.

        Reply
        1. Kelly S.

          From the “suits and ties” comment I’m assuming OP is a man. But either way I agree they are handling things really well and with a great attitude.

          Reply
      2. Falling Diphthong

        Yes! Cultural differences are a thing, and you aren’t going to change the entire nation by sheer force of will. Best you can do is be that great person from Other Place.

        Reply
    4. Lil Fidget

      Ugh. There is someone in my office who asked me the other day “when I was due” (I’m not even overweight according to my doctor, but I was wearing a flowing shirt that day). I was pretty embarrassed. Everyone I’ve confided in has said she’s from another country – true – and that maybe it’s not rude there to say things like that. I’m trying to be understanding but, uh, she lives here now, and I wish I’d told her to cut it out.

      Reply
      1. Anon for this

        A woman from Colombia worked at my agency for a while. I don’t know if they have significantly different cultural norms but she brought it up on a regular basis. She was a pretty unpleasant person to work with in general. She would do things like constantly prod people for personal information but then get snotty if anyone tried to get to know her. She’d been in the US for over a decade but always said things like “in my country blah, blah, blah happens”. She used that either as “You are all wrong. You should do it like we do in my country.” or to write off her crappy behavior. That went over about as well as you’d expect.

        I went from about 175# to around 185# and out of the blue she asked if I’d gained weight. I was taken unawares and I *had* gained weight so without thinking I answered yes. Normally I think I would feel a little awkward about something like that happening but she was so rude and weird to everyone that I wrote it off as her problem.

        We have plenty of weirdos working at our place but even she was too much for us. We all breathed a sigh of relief when she left.

        Reply
    5. saffytaffy

      It’s hard to explain, and this doesn’t work 100% of the time, but when you see people do things like that and you know the culture well enough that you know it’s not rude, it just… It stops feeling bad.
      When I lived in China, people would call me ‘fat’ all the time. Just walking down the street, “ah, fat foreigner.” Sometimes “fat beauty” but whatever. And from them it was just a description. “The sky is blue, this bubble tea is delicious, the foreigner is fat.” It was the same when people would hold up my clothes and go, “so biiiiig!” From an American I’d be horrified, but it’s just different over there.

      Reply
      1. Marshmellin

        I wonder if “fat” is not as associated with “lazy, unkept, slothful, gluttony, etc” as it is in the west?

        Reply
        1. Falling Diphthong

          A lot of places it’s associated with wealth–only the wealthy have enough food to become fat.

          Or as someone put it, “You want a thin girlfriend, but a fat wife.” Meaning that thin is beautiful had penetrated on the level of what makes a beautiful fashion model, but not at the level of what looks like a comfortable member of the professional class.

          Reply
          1. Triplestep

            Yes, this letter – and the responses – has me thinking about the wealth/fat association. My ex-husband grew up in rural western Europe, and when we were married, he used to greet people he hadn’t seen in a while and comment about their weight gain. But always with a slap on the back and a big smile on his face. I told him *repeatedly* it was not a compliment, but he kind of flew in the face of convention in general, so it took him a long time to internalize this.

            Reply
        2. Olivia

          I think the term ‘fat’ really is a “neutral” description in other cultures. My American friend who grew up in Asia is 5’11” and pretty average sized for an American, and she told me that when she went into shops in Asia, as soon as she walked in employees would say “We don’t have anything that will fit you here, you’re too tall/big/fat!” She said you just get used to it.

          Reply
      2. Danger: Gumption Ahead

        Exactly! It never felt mean spirited, just factual. Yes, I am significantly bigger than pretty much anyone, man or woman, in Thailand or Vietnam. Calling me big/fat isn’t wrong.

        Also, when people are operating in a second language you can’t always expect the most nuanced delivery of things. I had one woman exclaiming, “Your arms are so fat! You must be so strong” at a gym in Chaing Mai because she didn’t know the word for “muscular”. I know I have been equally, if not more inelegant, when I made attempts to speak Thai or Vietnamese

        Reply
      3. Bleeborp

        OOh I’m I really like “fat beauty”- if someone called me that on the street I’d probably laugh and blush!

        Reply
      4. Annabelle

        This is a really interesting perspective. I try to look at the word “fat” as a value-neutral descriptor, but it’s generally so loaded that it never really feels like one.

        Reply
        1. Fluffer Nutter

          Peace Corps Africa veteran here. My host country roommate had commented when looking at my photo albums that my father was “so fat”. I explained that Americans will take a lot of offense at any fat reference. Roomy: “Well if you see someone who has gotten fat, and you can’t tell them that, what do you say to them?” Me: “NOTHING! You don’t say anything! Why would you have to comment (negatively) on someone’s appearance each and every time you see them?” It was just part of the culture- people had no problem telling each other “that [item of clothing] doesn’t look nice on you. You shouldn’t wear it again.” On the positive side, if you got a compliment, you really knew it was sincere.

          Reply
      5. Sparkly Lady

        I’m not sure what language you were speaking, but when I lived in another country and spent most of my time speaking that country’s language, I realized insults in another language don’t affect me. I understood them, but the emotional link wasn’t there.

        In an amusing twist for this thread, I was in a country that traditionally considered plumpness to be beautiful. So I was regularly told that I was too thin to be pretty.

        Reply
        1. saffytaffy

          Sparkly, I know that feeling that a foreign language doesn’t quite ‘count’ somehow, the way one’s native language does. I’ve seen it with students who feel freer speaking English, but also for myself I can tell secrets in Chinese and they feel safer than if I’ve told them in English.

          Reply
  2. Millennial Lawyer

    #3 – I’ve never had to work out of my home country, but I would imagine that while you have to integrate into cultural norms, your colleagues would also have to respect it’s employees from various other cultures as well. I understand the chairs becoming a logistical issue, but it’s unfortunate that your colleagues are acting like that. If you *do* feel uncomfortable, I think you have a right to mention it and to expect being treated 100% respectfully, even if there’s a cultural difference.

    Reply
    1. Just Employed Here

      When in Rome…

      If you are the one foreign person at your office, you’re better off just following the cultural norms of the country and not expecting others to change. If,on the other hand, you’re in a diverse office in a bigger city, sure, the locals will adapt, too.

      But what is 100% respectful in one culture comes across as quite something else in another, so it’s not as black and white as you seem to suggest.

      Reply
      1. Millennial Lawyer

        I totally agree with you that it’s not black and white, as OP explains. My suggestion is fully dependent on how uncomfortable it makes OP and what OP’s office culture is like. If there are a lot of foreigners in the specific industry or office, I would expect that there should be some workplace ground rules about acknowledging when something you do might be considered rude. Like in a corporate environment, Chinese and American businesspeople (for example) attempting to learn about each other’s cultural norms as to not insult the other party.

        On the other hand, if OP is an expat in an office where that is uncommon, I understand having just to have a positive attitude and not take it personally like OP is currently doing.

        Reply
      2. Nacho

        “When in Rome” doesn’t excuse the Romans from being dicks. I don’t go up to my Chinese coworker and make fun of her for being smaller than the rest of us.

        Reply
  3. Lady Phoenix

    #1 Yes yes yes. I am happy you not only called her out the moment she turned sour, but continued to explain that her behavior is inexcusable. Some people think that if they cone up with a witty comeback, then they become the victors and continue acting like assholes. I am glad you proved her wrong about how her behavior is so not ok.

    Also glad your company got their own Uber. You can repair your own Uber while they deal with Miss Silver Spoon Brat

    Reply
  4. LadyL

    I hope the understanding of why fat shaming is unacceptable spreads farther as time goes on, because it’s just nasty to poke fun at someone’s body. OP3, you are a paragon of grace and dignity, good for you.

    Reply
    1. HS Teacher

      Well said. I don’t know that I’d be as understanding as she is, even knowing it’s a cultural thing.

      It would be nice if her supervisor addressed it so she wasn’t subject to people sitting in her chair and taking pictures, though. That sounds like crossing the line to me.

      Reply
    2. Anon This Time

      Absolutely echoing the praise for #3 – would that some other people were as understanding and forgiving of cultural differences as you are. I am very much in awe of your poise.

      Reply
  5. Bea

    I’m so glad you got the courage to speak up to her, #1. She sounds less snobbish and just generally intolerable now that she just thinks she’s a backseat driver, doh.

    Super happy they got their own Uber account, it’s cheaper anyways and less paperwork than the reimbursement route.

    Reply
      1. Elsajeni

        I think the original problem was that the bad ratings from this coworker were starting to affect the OP’s ability to use the app outside of work, too — they may still have to deal with bad ratings on their business account, but at least OP’s personal Ubering shouldn’t be affected anymore.

        Reply
  6. Mary Anne Spier

    #3 – My heart is breaking for you picturing your coworkers making fun of you. I’m so sorry you have to deal with that. you’re handling it much better than I would.

    Reply
  7. Myrin

    Yay OP #1! While your coworker still sounds like a gigantic pain in the butt (and a predictable one at that!), you handled those situations really beautifully! Maybe she’ll come around once you’ve done it often enough (or she might at least tone it down in your presence, which is also a win).
    (And as an aside, as someone who works at a restaurant kitchen, yes, extras – especially if they aren’t even offered! – do cost extra. Not by a lot and always in relation to prices that are on the menue, but still, it’s a thing.)

    Reply
  8. Myrin

    OP #2, I have to say, I like me a good update that includes the sentence “Then it stopped”. No matter the issue, that’s just delightful to hear.

    Reply
  9. Augusta Sugarbean

    #2 Thanks for the original letter and the update. I must have missed it the first time around. I work for a non-profit and over the last few months the admin office sent out 3-4 emails about a state measure here. It’s tangentially related to the non-profit mission but I was still feeling like it was wildly inappropriate for them to try and sway our votes. The emails did all say “I hope you vote yes but please just vote” but it still read as “Hey, no pressure! (But you still should vote this way.)” Ick.I could have lived with one email about but 3-4 was pretty bad and most unethical was the link in the email for “information about the ballot” which was to a “Yes on X” website.

    I debated talking to someone about this but it’s pretty clear our entire administration has drunk the Kool Aid. There is an allegedly anonymous ethics reporting website but I can’t pin it down to a specific violation of the code of ethics. I’m not sure I can report “this “feels” like an overreach”.

    Reply
      1. Tiny Orchid

        You can be a 501(c)(3) and engage in some lobbying, but it can’t be a substantial part of your activities. Most nonprofits I’ve worked with didn’t want to dip their toe in, so would engage in “advocacy” instead (basically, the same as lobbying but not connected to a specific piece of legislation).

        Reply
      2. Anna

        Non-profits can’t fundraise or stump for a specific candidate or party, but if something relates to their mission, they can “raise awareness” around that thing.

        Reply
      3. Natalie

        It’s a little more complex than that, but short version is that some limited activity around specific issues or measures (not specific candidates or parties) is allowed. I’ll put a link with a slightly longer explanation in a reply.

        Reply
    1. Ladybugger

      I could see that if the state measure was related to the non-profit org’s mission, in which case I think it would be fair to assume employees would be in support of that mission. (For example, no shocker if Planned Parenthood encouraged employees to go vote against restrictions of choice for women, but super weird if it came from the United Way.) I don’t know the legalities of it as I’m not in the USA and we don’t even do “state measures” here in Canada.

      That said if it’s outside something that directly affects your organization I would say that’s incredibly off-putting.

      Reply
      1. Ainomiaka

        That would be my cutoff line too. It’s reasonable to assume that the people agree with the mission, don’t make assumptions about politics beyond that.

        Reply
        1. Cristina in England

          Ok I just Googled your name. A video game about a lady bug! Bugger means anal sex in UK/Aus. Sorry for going off topic on this, I was just a bit shocked when I read it.

          Reply
    2. Augusta Sugarbean

      Does anyone know what the argument is to prohibit campaigning for a specific candidate but allowing campaigning for a ballot measure?

      Reply
      1. Perse's Mom

        A single ballot measure is one thing that could relate to the specific mission (ex: an animal rescue encouraging their staff/volunteers to vote for X pro-animal welfare ballot measure). Presumably if you work for an animal shelter, you’re pro-animal welfare and would be highly likely to vote Yes on X anyway.

        Whereas a candidate generally has multiple things as part of their platform and it’s unlikely that all of a given company’s employees will agree on all of those stances, so it’s an overreach to try to guide people to vote for A-D when they may only agree with B and be totally against C.

        Reply
    3. Emily Spinach

      Was your organization potentially one of the endorsers or related to them? In my state our only ballot measure was widely popular (bipartisan in support, though the only major opponents were from one party) and every org even loosely related to health, unions, and children signed on in support, so I’d imagine their employees were encouraged to vote yes.

      Reply
  10. Nanc

    “It’s just bread.” Sigh. Restaurants have to pay for it. Unless Hermione Granger works there and applies her O-level Transfiguration OWL skills to the one measly piece of bread the establishment purchased when they first opened.Do you go to the grocery store, toss a loaf in your cart and tell the cashier “it’s just bread!” and not have to pay for it?

    Reply
    1. Evan Þ

      I read that as her complaining about how much it cost. That’s not quite as unreasonable, but even then the restaurant probably needs to charge a premium for plating it, for overhead, and then for ordering an item not on the menu.

      Reply
      1. Lady Phoenix

        Pretty much. She wants to trouble the restaurant with off menu shit? Well, girl better pay for that trouble because that is some serious bullshit.

        Like, didn’t the previous letter for this have Adult Veruca essentially demend for a goddamn pizza of all things? Bread is hard enough but pizza? That is multiple components: dough, specific cheeses (mozarella, gouda, and/or others), tomato sauce… plus to have it good, you have to look it up and monitor it—which slows the restaurant big time—and take up the oven in place of someone else’s ON MENU ORDER.

        And if you don’t get a tip out of all that? Yeah, fuck that witch. Eat at a goddamn Pizza Hut if you want fucking pizza.

        And same with this restaurant. If you are not gonna tip for bread not on the menu, than fuck that witch. She can eat at a sub shop or a bakery or the many place that do have bread.

        Reply
      2. Turtle Candle

        Yes to all of this! Plus, it is totally legitimate for businesses to charge more for things that are a pain in the ass and/or that they want to discourage–it’s sort of like freelancers charging higher rates for problem clients, so that either they make enough money to be worth the nuisance or the client goes away. And ordering off-menu is totally a pain in the ass.

        Reply
    2. Cat owner

      1+ for your Harry Potter scenario adhering to food as an exception to Gamp’s Law of Elemental Transfiguration.

      Reply
      1. Fake old Converse shoes (not in the US)

        Damn, I was about to said the same thing! However, in the FMA univers Gamp’s Law would be against the Law of Equivalent Exchange.

        Reply
    3. Bea

      Also bread isn’t always necessarily cheap. Especially if they’re not offering it and keep a minimum amount around.

      Reply
        1. Knitting Cat Lady

          Yeah, bread making can be a kind of involved process.

          Especially if they keep their own sourdough starter* around. Which is the world’s most boring pet…

          Sure, if you have a machine for kneading it is easier but it still takes up a few hours!

          *I don’t. I buy mine.

          Reply
    4. Paleo enthusiast

      But in the US, it is common for restaurants to offer complementary bread, or tortilla chips in the case of Mexican restaurants. (As someone who’s gone Paleo, I often have to tell them “no bread, thanks” when they offer it up.)

      Reply
      1. Bea

        Certain kinds of restaurants offer bread but it’s not so common these days. I rarely see it honestly and I go out a lot.

        Reply
      2. Annabelle

        I think there’s probably just as many restaurants that don’t offer free bread as there are that do, though. And common or not, it’s pretty rude to order something off-menu and complain about being charged for it.

        Reply
    5. nonegiven

      Maybe she just expects most every restaurant to put bread and oleo spread on the table, like when going to a Mexican restaurant, they always put out a basket of hot corn chips and little bowls of salsa and queso.

      It may not be as common now but I remember almost always getting bread and butter on the table with glasses of water back in the day. Most of them now, you have to ask for water and the bread is a lie.

      Reply
      1. Evan Þ

        My grandma’s upscale retirement home has a fancy restaurant (that actually has really good food!) They still give free bread baskets, but you need to ask.

        (Most of the time, you don’t need to ask for water there, but there’re exceptions.)

        Reply
  11. Jaybeetee

    LW3, I hear ya just a little bit. I had an ergo assessment done awhile ago, and I’m still waiting on my new equipment, but one recommendation (that was in the report but not directly mentioned to me at the time of the assessment) was that I need a plus-size seat – Oof! I’ve always been a “borderline” between regular and plus in terms of clothing, so hearing that I’m technically too large for the regular seats (even though I’ve never felt “squeezed in” – the assessment put me at 1 inch width over a “regular” chair design) was a blow to the ego. Moreso because it turns out the specific chair recommended for my physical needs actually doesn’t come with a plus option, so my org has to pay out the nose for a customized chair to suit my measurements. No one’s been mocking about it here, but having to be CC’d on the zillion emails back and forth between HR and the ergo company about my million-dollar special-build plus-size chair is rough.

    I’m sorry to hear you’re being mocked so much by your colleagues about it. Sounds like you’ve developed a thick skin!

    Reply
    1. Incantanto

      Thats really good you got an ergonomic assessment though! Wish my company did that.

      I’m a 5’9″ fat woman in a company if small indian men. A lot of safety equipment in the lab had to be ordered for me: hazmat overalls and a lab coat because large women do not fit mens labcoats in the frontal area.

      Reply
  12. Former Hoosier

    My husband used to work overseas and he is well over 6′ tall. He used to have strangers stop him on the street to take their photo with him. It was exhausting for a non-celebrity and he grew very very tired of it. No one meant anything unkindly but it happened enough that he did not like it all.

    Reply
    1. Tuna Casserole

      My brother got the same treatment when he was in the Philippines. He’s 6’2″ and he said he felt like the tallest guy in the country.

      Reply
      1. Fiennes

        I went to Manila on business a few years ago. As a 5’8”, almost-but-not-quite-plus-size woman with very pale skin and flaming red hair, I looked and felt like some kind of mutant. It didn’t actually bother me much save for the constant knowledge I was being noticed/observed.

        Reply
    2. Enough

      Actually, your husband would be in the 99th percentile of height in the vast majority of the world. What he experienced is likely a difference in attitudes in taking pictures with strangers. No need to propagate the stereotype that ‘asian people are tiny.’

      Reply
      1. LouiseM

        SO MUCH THIS. Thank you. I’m not sure why a group of people that typically tries to be culturally sensitive is doing this, but a) the OP’s situation is clearly more about their weight and not their height and b) all these stories, in addition to being irrelevant to the situation, are reinforcing a lot of stereotypes about people in Asia. Come on, AAM commentariat, aren’t we supposed to be better than this?

        Reply
      2. tangerineRose

        Where did Former Hoosier say that the people in that country are tiny? She said her husband is tall, and strangers would stop him on the street to take their photo with him.

        Reply
      3. NaoNao

        However, if we’re looking at the math, in the US, someone who is 6’2″ is only 2-3 inches taller than the average man, despite being the 99th percentile, because it includes people who are 4’11”, up to 6’1″ and there is a *wider range* of heights, with the average or median height falling much closer to his height. If he is in a country, perhaps Thailand, Japan, or the Philippines, he is now about a FOOT taller than the average man. This is a dramatic difference and isn’t a comment on how “tiny” “Asians” are. It’s that HE is taller by a much higher mathematical factor than the average person and in fact, most persons. It’s about the scale, rather than the absolute.
        As an aside, I’m 5’10” in my bare feet and I’m in the 99th percentile for women’s height and every single one of my friends and family members poo pooh’s that stat when I complained about it being difficult to date as an *extremely* tall woman. Their attitude was “but you’re not actually that much taller than the average man, so…”

        The 99th percentile sounds dramatic, but it’s a difference of like, an inch. Not a foot. And therein lies the drama.

        Reply
  13. Chunky Anon

    I’m overweight and went to Thailand for a vacation. I used to be much, much more overweight and wouldn’t have been able to have a fun adventurous trip prior to losing 100+ pounds. Now I’m fat in that way that you can tell I’m plus sized by looking at me, but it doesn’t stop me from fitting into airplane seats or doing all sorts of vacation type activities.

    In Thailand, almost everyone is small. And they aren’t cruel people, but they are blunt and will say things about fat bodies. I had to toughen up for my weeks spent there. Massage menus would say things like “double price for fat” and the boat driver when we paid for a day of kayaking and snorkeling said “you will kayak? your butt too big, you don’t fit. you sink.” (for the record, my butt fit just fine and i didn’t sink.) But i couldn’t get too hurt or offended because my size – while a sensitive subject for me – is unusual in a country like Thailand and I couldn’t worry too much about what people thought of me.

    I know that I’m on a long journey of health and weight loss. They would’ve had a field day with me when I weighed 350 but I’m 220 now and still working my way to a healthy weight.

    I can understand the not getting too offended because you’re in a different culture. If someone at home in the US told me I’d sink a kayak, I’d flip my lid!

    Reply
    1. Myrin

      “If someone at home in the US told me I’d sink a kayak, I’d flip my lid!”
      You could also try and flip their kayak! If nothing else, it would be memorable.

      Reply
      1. Chunky Anon

        ha!

        A word of advice for anyone kayaking in southern Thailand though – when I kayak in lakes in my region of the US, I get a very mild workout in certain parts of my arms but otherwise, very low impact activity. Kayaking around the giant rock formations in the ocean in Thailand, I was wobbling on land for the rest of the day and felt it the next day too. I worked every part of my body keeping that kayak steady, upright, and facing the right direction! :)

        Reply
  14. Lora

    Another vote for Asian countries are blunt to the point of nasty about weight, and often health issues in general.

    Like, I never want to ever discuss my personal swimsuit areas at work if I can possibly avoid it, and then REALLY not with my boss, but I had to learn the hard way that personal medical things, religion and politics are fair game for work conversation in China.

    There’s other things they considered incredibly rude that were normal to me, so I guess turnabout was fair play…

    Reply
    1. Nye

      I’m also curious, as I’ll be traveling to China soon – what did you consider normal that your Chinese colleagues considered rude?

      Reply
      1. Cristina in England

        Yes I would love to know this too! I haven’t been to China in a long time but I have always wondered if I had been a really rude American guest.

        Reply
      2. Lora

        The way Americans, Germans, Swiss and Dutch folks give feedback is considered wildly rude.

        Example: we had a process we were transferring from the US to China which was persnickety and required strict adherence to the SOP and was very technique-y. Learning the technique means someone has to stand over you and tell you what you’re doing wrong, and takes months to learn to do well. Like, you touch the edge of a flask to anything and it’s all ruined. When we would say, Wait, wait! Stop what you’re doing! Or when we would sit down and troubleshoot what had likely gone wrong and say, “so it’s very likely that the edge of the flask touched the thing because that’s the most tricky part of the process” people would be heartbroken. Just miserable, to the point that we couldn’t move on to the question of “how do we make sure it doesn’t happen again?” And we couldn’t just say, “don’t do that, do this instead” because that was also rude. To them it’s like you are throwing failure in their face and saying “you! You fked this up, it’s all your fault!” What we had to do instead was demonstrate very carefully and say, do exactly as I do, not walk them through the process like we would do to train Westerners. It was more about demonstration and letting them practice on their own on non-critical materials rather than hovering, whereas in the west we would have it be much more hands on the real thing.

        Another thing was saying no thank you for drinks or food. It doesn’t matter if this is the 15th drink you have been offered, you take it, and take a tiny sip, even if you discreetly dump the rest in the bathroom sink. Even if it is positively the worst thing you have ever had in your mouth, you choke down a tiny bit and say how good it is.

        Reply
        1. Kramerica Industries

          There’s literally a term in Chinese that basically means that refusing something for the sake of being polite, which is seen as rude.

          Example:
          “Take the last piece of cake!”
          “Ohh no thank you…”
          “No take it, stop being so [term that means you’re being rude by refusing for the sake of being polite]!”

          Reply
        2. Anion

          It’s interesting to me that you/your company went out of your way to learn how not to offend the non-Western people you were training, but there seems to be no expectation (from the commenters here) that the non-Western people in the letter (or in general) should make any effort to not offend Westerners who are coming to work with them.

          I’m not saying it mean anything in particular, just commenting on what is, I guess, another cultural difference.

          Reply
          1. TL -

            I’ve actually noticed that Americans tend to place more cultural importance on accepting/understanding/respecting others’ cultural norms, even those who are in the country, than other places I’ve lived, and they’re all Western. (“more” here is a VERY relative term; I don’t know that you could say we’re good at it. )

            It is increasingly being considered rude in America to deride someone for their cultural norms – see: stinky foods discussion and how quick our commentors are to point out that smelly is a cultural norm and that needs to contextualize our kitchen conversations.
            Or this: if I’m proofreading a paper written by a non-American English speak, this is what I say “In American English, this is the norm; if your audience is mostly American, I would use this phrasing.” And then agree if they say the transition between two dialects is confusing!

            In NZ and Aus, I get this: “This phrasing is wrong.” Me: “Oh, it’s ok in American English – I’ll fix it, thanks!” Them: “Our English is the correct English; yours is inherently wrong.” Me:…kewl story, brah… I’ve heard similar exchanges for other countries as well, sigh.

            Reply
            1. Traffic_Spiral

              Yeah, maybe it’s because (apart from “politically correct” values) the USA kinda has this comfort with weird bosses and weird office cultures. So for an American this is just one more wacky office culture to learn. His old boss that wanted everyone to do TED-talk affirmations, he had an office where everyone Loved Jesus, and now the office is Chinese. No biggie. Better than the office that made everyone do Trust Falls.

              Reply
              1. Anion

                That’s a good point. We’re a lot more “You fly that ‘you’ flag! Be your own fiercely independent weird quirky self,” than a lot of other places; that whole “rugged individualism” thing. Personally I find that delightful, and it’s one of the things I love so much about America/ns, but I know some don’t.

                Reply
            2. Anion

              Lol, yes, we had many similar experiences living in the UK. (Although there, my husband worked with people who thought the n-word was perfectly acceptable to use and that it was hilarious how much it upset my husband to hear it, because it’s “just a word,” groan. You’d never see that in a US office, not in that fashion.)

              I was thinking more specifically of Anericans in my comment, but since the LW is from the UK and I’m not sure which country Lora is from, I tried to play it safe. :-)

              (Your way of giving feedback sounds excellent, btw, re US vs. other English. And I seem to recall reading that the NZers & Aussies are wrong, because our language/dialect is more advanced? I may be thinking of table manners, hee.)

              Reply
            3. Khlovia

              I think that, in the US, possibly also Canada, cultural relativism is more a CULTURAL NORM than in other countries! Well, it makes sense; we’re not so much a melting pot as we are a stew, in which you can still taste the difference in flavor and texture between the carrots and the onions and between the chicken and the potatoes. If there had ever been native Antarcticans, I am quite positive that there would be at least one neighborhood in New York City, another in Chicago, another in Los Angeles, and another in San Francisco, populated entirely by Antarcticese-speakers. Americans are more likely to bump into hyphenated Americans than, say, Norwegians are likely to bump into hyphenated Norwegians. So it should not be surprising that North America is the native ground of cultural relativism.

              Reply
        3. TL -

          That lines up exactly with several of my Chinese/Taiwanese coworkers! (though not all)
          They observed very, very closely and would learn a method very thoroughly and with great attention to detail before being comfortable doing it.

          That being said, corrections happened a lot and because we were in the States, I think they all adjusted fairly quickly and didn’t take offense to blunt but kind feedback. Also, when they were training, people would ask them for very specific feedback – am I do X step right or do I need to Y? – and I think that helps show a cultural norm, too.

          Reply
    2. BePositive

      I’m a size 4 or 5 and was called fat and told to lose weight. I’m Asian and my background is Chinese. You can’t win when ones culture is blunt on such things. They did get offended when I took that as far game and nit picked the flaws back. Goes both ways.

      Reply
  15. Fiona

    To the other commenters: I wouldn’t feel horrible for the OP with the custom chair. I lived in China for a year and people are surprisingly frank about weight, but it never came from a malicious place. It always appeared (to me, at least) from a place of curiosity. I wouldn’t go so far to say that Chinese comments about weight are value-neutral, but they are FAR less sinister than in America, where fatness = stupidity, laziness, lack of self control, etc. People in China sometimes gave me a little poke or commented on my fatness, and it didn’t bother me. They are also very forthright about things like disclosing your salary, rent, marital status, etc. (Meanwhile, I’m sure I offended people all the time without even realizing it, as there are surely cultural things that are taboo there that I was simply unaware of!)

    Basically, I think the OP is handling it all excellently and I imagine that despite these goofy pictures, her colleagues do respect her.

    Reply
    1. Turtle Candle

      I had a coworker, when I was visiting our office in China, say over lunch, “Oh, you don’t eat nearly as much rice as us. Maybe that’s why you’re fat?” I was stunned into silence, but noticed that he was looking me with an expression of polite curiosity and so was everyone else at the table. It was almost as if he’d said, I don’t know, “Oh, you’re from Los Angeles, is that why you’re so tan?” or even, “You’re from a colder climate so is that why you wear short sleeves when you’re here?” It took a major mental rearrangement, though, and it still took me a while to get used to the casual mentions of my fatness.

      Reply
  16. LouiseM

    I already said this in a thread, but now that I’m reading all the comments it seems like they’re all in the same vein. So, here goes:
    All of this speculation is ridiculous and borderline racist. First all of you naming every country in Asia that you or somebody you know once visited, then the people whether it’s Israel or Western Europe or Eastern Europe or… People in the US tend to be much fatter than people in many other countries and people in many other countries tend to be blunter than Americans. This means that someone could have the experience OP is describing in a very large number of other countries. Not just whichever Asian country your sister happened to visit where someone gawked at her.

    Reply
    1. LouiseM

      The racist part = everyone seems to think China, Japan, wherever their guess was is the only place that’s so culturally different from the US that this could happen. The whole world is different from the US!

      Reply
      1. Cristina in England

        I replied to you above asking for clarification on which comments you found offensive. I’m still not exactly getting your beef here. No one is making the point that other cultures are “so culturally different”. People are noting their experiences with other cultures on this very specific subject and are limiting their comments to first hand accounts, mainly.

        Have you done extended travel in other countries? It isn’t racist to discuss cultural differences. The more places I live (I am on my third or fourth country depending on how you count it) the more I discuss cultural differences, not less. It isn’t a shameful topic!

        Reply
        1. LouiseM

          Yes, I’m familiar with the concept of cultural differences and yes I have travelled quite a lot. However, since I haven’t lived in every single country in the world, what you will not find me doing is saying “This definitely has to be in Asia” which some people are doing. Just because I went to Luxembourg and Chile and noticed X attitude toward fat people doesn’t mean I concluded based on this that a) this was a relevant anecdote to tell (it’s not) and b) that the exact same thing couldn’t have happened many other places.

          Reply
          1. Cristina in England

            I think the detail that is causing some people to be curious and guess is that the OP says he isn’t considered even overweight in the U.K. but has to get all this special stuff and also has a chair that will fit 2-3 locals in it. Americans and Western Europeans are taller and perhaps wider than people in many countries, on average, but this is a level of difference that has piqued interest.

            Reply
            1. Marie B.

              He said that was is overweight in his current country is not considered overweight in the U.K.

              The letter writer himself has a chair for people who are 30 stone (or 420 lbs). He sees no one his size among the local residents or tourists, except for the odd tourist. If he was overweight based on where he was living but not overweight in the U.K. he would be seeing many people of his size, especially among tourists.

              (No shade or disrespect to the letter writer, these are the facts as stated by him)

              Reply
          2. Danger: Gumption Ahead

            I lived in Vietnam and Thailand for 6 years. I was reporting how people commented on my being taller, bigger, and having bigger feet than people were used to seeing. And it was true. I was taller, bigger, and had bigger feet than 95% of the men and women around me.

            Reply
            1. Enough

              You likely are taller/have bigger feet than at least 90% of people in the US as well. Heights are much more evenly distributed globally than stereotypes would have us believe.

              Reply
              1. Cristina in England

                What is the point of this comment? You’ve said it at least three times now but how is it helpful to dismiss people’s first hand accounts of their travel experiences.

                Reply
              2. NaoNao

                But again, it depends on how you look at it. If you’re in the US, your size 11 feet are on the top end of the scale, but you’re only, say 1-2 sizes bigger than the average. If you’re a woman who’s 5’8″, you’re only a few inches taller than the average woman, and the average man is either your height, or taller by a few inches.
                Many people on this thread have stated that when they visited X country, they were called out specifically as “so tall!” meaning the difference was remarkable.
                Someone with a size 11 shoe who is 5’9″ and a man is not going to be stopped by strangers and asked how the weather is up there or where they get their shoes. That’s for people who are like, 6’4″ and above.
                The drama lies in the scale.
                In a land where *most* people are in a very tight bell curve of only a few inches, someone who is taller by many inches will be dramatically different.
                Also, one thing I think a lot of people aren’t directly mentioning is *frame size*.
                Someone who is a willowy, small framed 5’7″ can look much more petite than a larger frame size (meaning just their bones and musculature). Much of the US has big-framed (not neccessarily overweight) people–their rib cages, femurs, arms, shoulders, hips, etc are *physically larger* than other people of the same technical height.

                When I was in the Philippines, I did occasionally see people who were my height, and they looked very different physically because their measurements were like, 32/22/34 or something.

                Reply
          3. Alli525

            But that’s simply not always logical. For example, Asian cultures have a stronger “take off your shoes when you enter a home” norm than Western cultures do. That’s just TRUE. It’s possible to state a true fact with grace and cultural sensitivity – and forgive me for saying this, but it almost sounds like you’re trying so hard to prevent even the merest whiff of what some extremists could call racism, that you’re refusing to acknowledge that some countries and regions have legitimate cultural norms that they generally adhere to.

            Reply
      2. Annabelle

        But no one is saying that? No one said “this is literally the only place that would happen.” People were just sharing their experiences with specific countries, including a handful of European ones.

        Reply
      3. VCK

        Thanks for posting all this LouiseM! As a woman of Asian descent (and whose family members run the gamut of sizes, shapes, and heights), all the generalizing has been really bothering me. I appreciate that you’re saying something about it.

        Reply
    2. Lumen

      +1. If it mattered where OP #3 was working, they would have said so, or Alison probably would have asked. What’s relevant is that there IS a cultural difference, not which culture it is.

      Reply
    3. Mother of Cats

      I’m Filipino, worked in South Korea, traveled in Asia, and have worked with many Asian colleagues. Asians can be very frank about size and weight. It isn’t necessarily mean-spirited (although I have cringed and felt for relatives and colleagues who got comments), and people eventually get used to it. I would get comments on my darker skin; didn’t faze me.

      I’m on the smaller/shorter side myself, and when I worked in South Korea I was so excited about shopping because everything fit me better. Whereas my expatriate friends would sometimes be told upfront that they were too big to shop in certain stores. No one I knew took it personally because it was a cultural difference and not worth getting upset over.

      Also, I wasn’t offended to read people speculating about the letter writer working in Asia. I do hope the letter writer tells us which country he or she is working in, though. Now I’m curious!

      Reply
    4. Cucumberzucchini

      Commenting on cultural differences in a non-judgemental way is not racist or borderline racist, it’s not even bigoted. The word racist is seriously getting watered down. I think it’s really interesting to hear the experiences of others as they travel or work in different countries and I appreciate them being shared.

      Reply
    5. Traffic_Spiral

      Yeah… I get that you mean well, but you’re coming across as incredibly ignorant and misguided. Culture *is* a thing. Cultural norms *do* exist, regardless of whether or not you think it’s racist to acknowledge them. The LW described a cultural norm that exists in east Asia, so commenters recognized it as such. It’s not “enlightened” to ignore other cultures – it just means you don’t really know what you’re talking about.

      Reply
  17. Lumen

    #1 – So happy for you! And grateful, too. Oftentimes people say and do things that are out of line not because they are bad people, but because they’re operating under the assumption that if they were in the wrong, someone would tell them. In those cases, they interpret silence as consensus. The firm but respectful way it sounds like you’re speaking to her at least raises in her mind the idea that not EVERYONE thinks her behavior is A-okay.

    Reply
  18. Observer

    Another thumbs up for speaking out in the moment. It will never be “perfect” because humans are not perfect, and she’s on the more imperfect side. But speaking up seems to be having a noticeable good effect, and that’s all to the good. I’ll bet that the people who she’s being rude to appreciate it, too.

    Reply
  19. Sarah M

    That’s great news, OP #1. It sounds like you’re getting through to her in the moment, which is great. And I really like your method of using the facts at hand when you address her behavior.

    Reply
  20. MoinMoin

    #3 I definitely appear to be in the minority here, but as a taller and chubbier woman, being in a culture in which being bigger is seen as a matter-of-fact novelty sounds kind of… freeing? refreshing?… compared to being in the US where weight often feels very tied to one’s worth and morality (e.g. fat people are lazy or have no self-control) and most references to one’s size or body is malicious and objectifying. But perhaps I’m misreading OP’s tone on this. Regardless, OP, I applaud you for handling this so professionally and wish you well.

    Reply
    1. Turtle Candle

      I think it can be simultaneously freeing to have that kind of societal approach, and frustrating to literally not be able to sit down places.

      Reply
      1. PhyllisB

        The only Asian country I’ve been in is Japan, (in the late seventies) and though I didn’t get comments about weight, my family got lots of attention. My sister and her husband were very large by Japanese standards, (over six feet for him, close to it for her) and both were not slim. I’m not really tall, 5’4″, but I sure felt tall there. My mother was closer to their size at an even 5′. She and I got so much attention because we were fair-skinned blondes. And they loved our Southern accents. I wasn’t offended, but for the few days I felt self-conscious but then got past it because everyone we met seemed so delighted with us.
        I actually felt more self-conscious when I visited relatives in New Jersey and everyone laughed about my Southern accent and asking me say yellow and window and other words that Southerners tend to slur. Somehow it seemed more mean-spirited than friendly. Of course I was only 17 when the trip to New Jersey happened, and when you are a teenager you feel self-conscious about everything.

        Reply
        1. Enough

          Actually, the mean height for women in Japan is 5′ 2″. It is 5’3″ in the US. This means that when you were in Japan, you were equally likely to see someone your height as your mother’s height, and the women you saw were extremely similar in height to the women you see in the US.
          It is a stereotype that Asian people are exceptionally short.

          Reply
          1. Julia

            Yeah. I’m 5’2” and almost everyone is my height, a little shorter, or taller. My Japanese husband is the same height as my German brother. And the younger generation is really tall, from what I’ve seen teaching in schools a little.

            Reply
          2. Alienor

            Average height for women in the U.S. is around 5’5″, which is a significant height difference from 5’2″. No, not all Asian people are short (my former husband was Asian and 6’0″ tall) but as a demographic, people across various Asian countries are, on average, shorter than people of European descent, just like people from the Netherlands are generally taller than other Europeans. It’s not a value judgment or a stereotype (as opposed to something like “Asians are good at math”) it’s a statement of fact.

            Reply
            1. Book Lover

              I had always thought it was about 5’4’’ in the US, and when I google (great reference…) I am finding the average height of women in the US is just under 5’4’’ and just under 5’3’’ in Japan, for what it’s worth.

              Reply
            2. Y

              but as a demographic, people across various Asian countries are, on average, shorter than people of European descent

              Though, a lot of that is due to differences in nutrition, not genetics, which means that lumping all people in, say, China into one pool and taking the average is significantly misleading: there will be very different height distributions among the poor, undernourished rural population and those who live in the affluent cities, which will totally muck up your statistics if you just do a simple ‘add them all up and divide them to get the average’ calculation.

              Reply
              1. Y

                (And also, there are epigenetic factors in nutrition — basically, your height depends not just on how well-nourished you were, but how well-nourished your mother was as a child — which take a couple of generations to even out, so even among city-dwellers of similar genetic make-up you will find significantly different distributions depending on whether it was their parents or their grandparents who moved from the country to the city. And in the specific case of China, of course, there are also Mao’s famines to take into account, which as well as killing many tens of millions left those who managed to survive across vast, unevenly-distributed areas of the country starving.

                So, you know, there are certainly sections of the Chinese population who are, on average, much shorter than other populations; but it’s a lot more complicated than just ‘people across various Asian countries considered as a single demographic’.)

                Reply
            3. Y

              people from the Netherlands are generally taller than other Europeans

              That’s so they can keep their heads above water when the little boy takes his finger out of the dyke.

              Reply
          3. Cristina in England

            Upthread you’ve repeated this but have interchangeably used mean, median and average. Could you please cite a source? You aren’t using these terms credibly.

            Also, are you including all of China? When most Americans think of Chinese people they think of Han Chinese which is one of China’s many ethnicities. Mongolians are much taller on average. Do your figures include Mongolians?

            I have reached this point of silliness to illustrate how futile it is to complain about commenters generalizing with… a generalization. And a dubious one at that.

            Reply
          4. Taggett Strange

            You don’t understand the difference between mean, median and average. Why is it important to you that everyone is the same as Americans?

            Reply
  21. PhyllisB

    The only Asian country I’ve been in is Japan, (in the late seventies) and though I didn’t get comments about weight, my family got lots of attention. My sister and her husband were very large by Japanese standards, (over six feet for him, close to it for her) and both were not slim. I’m not really tall, 5’4″, but I sure felt tall there. My mother was closer to their size at an even 5′. She and I got so much attention because we were fair-skinned blondes. And they loved our Southern accents. I wasn’t offended, but for the few days I felt self-conscious but then got past it because everyone we met seemed so delighted with us.
    I actually felt more self-conscious when I visited relatives in New Jersey and everyone laughed about my Southern accent and asking me say yellow and window and other words that Southerners tend to slur. Somehow it seemed more mean-spirited than friendly. Of course I was only 17 when the trip to New Jersey happened, and when you are a teenager you feel self-conscious about everything.

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