Every so often the Korean kids, especially young ones, like kindergartners, will point at my belly and say, "Baby?" Baby is just one of those words that translates so well that second language learners get it the first time they hear it. Hamburger is another word.
I am in fact fat. The polite term is overweight, but I don't hedge on this. I usually weight 95 kg which is 211 lbs. I'm five foot five and a half. That half is very important to me. Its both a genetic thing and an eating thing.
The genetic part is this. I like things like pizza, friend chicken and hamburgers. Actually, I don't just like. i love. I've met people who absolutely love veggies as much as I like fries and fried cheese sticks. The other genetic component is a love of eating. I find it a most relaxing and pleasurable act. And I've always been this way. I didn't talk as a young child for the longest time and then suddenly, at dinner time I said "Please pass the mashed potatoes."
Anyway, sometimes when overweight people come to teach in Korea the struggle. When you are a child surrounded by size 0 adults, the plus sized stand out like a sore thumb and the only word you know for it is fat... well, one better grow a thick skin. The kids aren't being rude. By 3rd, though sometimes 4th grade, they know better. But even then they want to talk about it. Not because they think you are bad, but it's strange as curly hair or blue eyes. With blue eyes, you'll hear, "Pretty, and for curly hair they ask, "Perma?" which is perm in Korean. They understand, "Natural."
They also understand, "Hamburger belly." It's not exactly true. I don't eat that many hamburgers and anyway, pizza, fried chicken, cake, cookies, gimchi, gamjatang, and thousand other things are to blame for it. But it's honest. Refreshingly so, that I never fail to get a smile an break the ice even with adults. But what I'm really saying is that I'm okay with my body.
This isn't to say I've given up and just eat whatever I want. For the most part I simply don't buy the things I'll really overeat. That keeps temptation low on days like today, where I've had a healthy dinner of boiled cabbage, meat, mint leave and broth. It's a new Korean dish my friends mom made. When I first came to Korea it was the kind of the dish that made being here so hard. But now I really enjoy this kind of food.
Nevertheless, I'd really love something sweet to chase it down with.
Mariel R. is an ESL teacher, horse trainer, writer, editor, sporadic blogger, and lover of beer. She lives in South Korea with two house cats, three horses, a German Shepherd and three barn cats .
Bear (Gom in Korean) )
Geumbi (Goldy in English) R.I.P February, 23, 2018