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Vietnamese love to body shame

By Dieu Minh   November 19, 2021 | 06:00 am PT
"What have you been eating to get so fat? You're not gonna fit in that dress."

I overheard this conversation from a table over at a local café. I don't know if it was a playful joke or a malicious slight, but the girl was clearly uncomfortable and tried to steer the talk in a different way after a round of laughter.

I feel like we Vietnamese don't know how to mind our own business. We have this annoying habit of scrutinizing people and letting out insensitive comments at the expenses of others. To be more specific, we pay too much attention to how others look. We are no strangers to random remarks among friends, colleagues and family members about how thin or how fat someone is, even in public.

My company used to have a female employee who was a bit on the chubbier side. Her colleagues used to make fun of her all the time.

Being the optimist that she is, she didn't pay much attention to that and kept her upbeat attitude. Or at least, that's how it looked like.

She later told me she was tired of all the comments, which she's heard since she was in high school. She suffered bouts of anger, insecurity and depression in her younger years, before deciding to pay no mind to people's words as she felt powerless to drown them out anyway.

Those who are thin feel that powerlessness too. My brother, a tall guy whose weight never exceeded 65 kg, was frequently told that he looked like "a drug addict", that he suffered from "starvation" and that his family "did not give him enough food."

I don't get how people could utter those words, even to our closest ones. Is it for the gigs and laughter, or because people could only feel good about themselves by putting others down?

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