“Fat/Skinny Shaming” in Filipino Culture: When Friends or Families Take Notice of Your Weight (Part 2/2)

This is a continuation of Part 1. Click here to read part 1 first.

For Those People Casually Mentioning Other People’s Weight

Alright, now for you guys.

First I would say is that mentioning someone’s weight, regardless if you had good intentions or not, is always a touchy and personal subject; you’re bound to some awkward and revealing times and reactions here. I may be ok with it, but it doesn’t mean that other people are, nor should they.

If you ever find yourself doing this in the past, maybe start trying to be critical and conscious of the things that are coming out of your mouth. Commenting on someone’s flaw is a personal subject. Personally, I couldn’t care less about you mentioning weight, but what I find is that people who are prone to saying weight comments habitually and unconsciously are usually the people who just let their mouth run unfiltered; there’s no critical thinking, filter, and the words just don’t go through the brain. So when this happens, they just say dumb shit in general. This is when/where Filipino racist traits come out (that’s an entire topic on its own) to name a few.

If you find yourself accidentally doing this in your lifetime, that’s fine. I applaud you for giving an effort (being conscious) and you should give yourself some credit. I’m sure you’re working to improve that right? So I’m not really worried about you.

Just be smart. Responding to a question/conversation is not a race. Chill. Don’t rush.

You: “I see how it can be insulting but that’s not my intent (to shame or make you feel bad)”

I can easily rebuke this with:

The end does NOT justify the means

There are so many things wrong in that statement. If you’ve read what I wrote in part 1, I’ve explained why some people would subconsciously and innocently bring up weight, but I’m NOT excusing it. Neither should you. Sure you didn’t mean harm, but that’s how it got across. Don’t worry I’ll break it down for you.

You’re used to saying it lightly and people taking it lightly? Well not everyone processes it the same way. If you think about it, were the people you commented on really ok with it? Maybe they visually brushed it off but deep inside it got to them right? How would you know right? Either way even if you can figure that out, this may be only acceptable to your circle but if you keep doing it enough, actions become habit and next thing you know you’re mentioning this to someone outside your circle and you’re back to problem #1 (which is stating that statement we’re talking about in this point).

Think of it this way: if you have a pimple on your face (for whatever reason), it’s so damn obvious. If I had one I just know that people will notice it whether they mention it or not. I know different people have different speaking styles, tone, and ways of communicating (I’ve briefly discussed this in my “Why Solo Travel” article).
If someone takes notice of it and mentions it to me, I wouldn’t offended sure, but I wouldn’t be happy either right? It’ll just remind me that I have this thing on my face. It bothers me even when I’m alone so the feeling of bothersome and being conscious just resurface when you bring it up.

It’s never gonna be a situation where you take notice of it and I respond “YES, let’s drink to that and celebrate that I have a pimple!”. At best is I just acknowledge it and brush it off. Nothing fun’s gonna come out of mentioning it so why not just skip it and talk about something else in the first place, right?

My close friend has described it succinctly for you:

“Is that it? It this where we’ve gone down to? Is this really all we can talk about?”

Sure you’ve brought up more touchy, serious, sensitive topics with your peers but think about it, most likely you brought it up because you were curious, trying to help, trying to learn from it–basically it’s a productive conversation. But mentioning someone’s weight as a greeting, especially in the neutral/negative tone, it’s just like “airing out dirty laundry”. More specifically it’s like you taking out somebody else’s dirty laundry (when you had no permission nor did they ask you to do so) and just…putting it out there. Of course they’re going to feel bad and be ashamed/embarrassed!

As mentioned too, there are other people with serious medical/mental conditions or at least some people are going through something. So is it really wise/kind of you to add more (unnecessary and unsolicited) stress to them when they’re having much bigger shit to attend to right now? You gotta be considerate.

“It was ok before, how come it’s not ok now?”

Another thing that can be easily answered with: Slavery was ok then, it doesn’t mean it’s ok now and forever.

Well if you’re asking me this, you’re probably asking this on a multitude of major social concerns right now lol. Let me simplify it for you:

Times a’ changin’ bruh. It doesn’t mean that if something was true before that it’ll forever be an absolute. We learn, we adapt, we…overcome? (lel, Bear Grylls). Way back we thought the earth was the centre of the universe and the only planet in the galaxy. Before, slavery was legal. Before, genocide was a thing. If you wanna go Jesus on me, before one would cheat on someone you’d get stoned to death (or was it nailed on the cross?). Now you’re just signing papers and paying money.

What was ok before is not a guarantee that it’s ok now (or ever)–think patriarchy and gender inequalities.

We all have to keep up with the times. We improve. We get better. That involves you.

“It’s a Filipino thing, so it’s ok within our circle. They know what I mean.”

Again, you’re just assuming it’s ok with everyone. Most likely that’s not 100% accurate. You’re also just throwing the Filipino culture under the bus here to save face. This is like when obvious and evident racists/sexists/offenders do a last ditch effort of trying to save face with “it’s just a joke”. So of course everybody can see through the lie and the effect is people get tighter with how jokes are delivered and managed (which is very logical and understandable).

So now, comedians, stand-up actors, or even just general people who wants to enjoy some humour can’t enjoy it properly now.
(nope, people didn’t just become unnecessarily overly-sensitive. Shitbags ruined it for the comedy industry and you. They threw you under the bus, and dragged the credibility of humour through the mud)

So don’t throw the Filipino culture under the bus here or else you’re just ruining it for everyone. Do you really want this as a part of our group identity? You know other cultures and countries can see from the outside too right? Do you want us to be identified that way? Fat shamers? Fuck no. I’d throw you, just you, in the meat grinder instead.

As one of my good friends have shared with me, he’s not bothered of his weight being brought up but rather he’s bothered by the fact that: “is that it? Has it (way of conversations) devolved to this? Wala na ba talaga tayong matinong mapaguusapan?

Lost in (International) Translation

It doesn’t translate well outside of “your circle” too. Sure you and your friends can be ok with it but have you thought about the negative impacts this might cause to kids/teens? The world’s getting more and more connected now and people are becoming more well-travelled so what really is a circle/culture right? Let’s assume for a moment that this trend is ok with “us Filipinos”. Let’s say everyone’s ok with it. Where and how do you draw the line then? There are Filipinos born abroad. There are Filipinos who were/are ok with it but got a little smarter now so they don’t really throw this around. There are Filipinos who are bi/multiracial (e.g.: half Filipino, half something else) so how are they to interpret that? That’s 50% “ok” at most then?

It’s hard to draw the line and it becomes subjective/philosophical, and while I know we will eventually arrive at some definition, I think if you have the brain cells and capacity for solving problems like this, I’d rather just suggest to just…~just let it go, just not comment on someone else’s weight and let’s use that brain power to much more pressing and important issues like climate change, rising tides, and how Philippines can survive the constant battering of typhoons on them.

C’mon guys. We’re better than this. I trust you. Come at it harder for the more important stuff.

Wrap Up

For the people who casually throw this around, I suggest stopping this soon due to the reasons mentioned above. It doesn’t really bring up a good conversation to start with and at best you get a neutral response. This is starting to become an international faux pas now, if not already.

If you’re congratulating and acknowledging someone’s weight improvement and you KNOW that’s the direction they want, then by all means. I’m sure they’d be flattered and they would appreciate/welcome it (see how this version creates a good/positive feel to it?).

For those people who get affected by this, if I’m being honest, you gotta toughen up. I come from a harsher environment so I’m biased with a relatively thicker skin. Yes I understand words matter, it carries weight, and in this modern, civilized society, this is how we transact. I would definitely understand and I can see how it would affect someone if you’re getting negative feedback from loved ones, husband/wives, people you’re intimate with. I would like to think that I am tact and/or diplomatic (not today though, you’re getting some tough love, street wisdom today 😉 ) because that’s just important for communication and rapport.
But if you’re affected by some words and opinions of people you don’t/shouldn’t care about, that’s just…weak in my opinion. It also kind of exposes some personal issues (e.g.: why are you so concerned about what other people think?).

One would also need to learn how to take criticism (not just constructive). Sure ideally you’d want it to be packaged as a “constructive criticism” but it’s not always going to be like that, in’nit?

You’re probably still concerning yourself about weight comments. I’m way ahead thinking about, how are you going to react with constructive/criticisms in the workplace? How can you enjoy travel when different cultures talk to you in different ways? How can you be a good person, good friend, partner, a global citizen if you can’t take criticisms?

More importantly as a general life advice, I can confidently tell you, it’ll just keep getting harder and harder. Life will just keep on piling onto you and it won’t stop and give breaks for you. If you’re going through something and you have a valid excuse, that’s fine. Go through it, wrap it up, and then level up. Enough with the excuses. If you are actually fat, you have two options: either you strengthen your mental fortitude and not give a fuck about what other people think (it’s a life principle to live by in general anyways) or toughen up, hype yourself up and start improving your physique.

…Or do both like how I did am still doing. It’s a win-win for you anyways.