The thing that irks me to death about this, really, is that this incident was a repeat of what happened to me last January in the exact same coffee shop, but with another server. It’s also ironic that I was with the same friend then that I was with this morning. It was an eerie de ja vu.
Filipinos have a despicable habit of greeting someone, be it a relative or close friend or god forbid, an acquaintance(!) with “Oh, you’ve gained/you’re gaining weight!” (Tumaba ka/tumataba ka!) or “You’re losing weight/you’ve lost weight!” (Pumayat ka /pumapayat ka!).
There was this gay (bakla) guy (one of those screaming parlor queens) who used to cut my hair, and on only my second visit to him, felt that he knew me well enough to comment on what he perceived to be my widening girth. When I chided him for being so rude, he says, “Ikaw naman, chika lang!” (Can’t you take a joke? I was just making conversation!) I never went back to that stylist. Another time, some deservedly forgettable contact remarked (again!) that I’d gained weight. It just so happened that I had lost five pounds, and told the person so. Moron.
In other countries, a person could get sued for remarking on another person’s physical state, but here in the Philippines we’re supposed to accept it as part of our culture: an incident that we should shrug off and let in one ear and out the other. An older and supposedly “wiser” relative once told me, “Oh Lori, it’s just cariño!” (affection).
Yeah, right. It may be part of the culture, but I think it’s just plain rude. And it has to stop.
If you think about it, what’s someone supposed to say when she’s been told that she’s gained weight? Smiling sheepishly and offering some lame excuse is the expected reaction, but I think what’s more appropriate is giving the offender a well-deserved smack on the side of the head. The unforeseen bonk to the cranium is not what the offender expected from you, but then again, you didn’t ask for their dazzling insight, either.
And what if the person has gained weight, say? Frankly, it’s none of your business, really. I’m sure they look at themselves in the mirror and they know. They know. Mind your own fat. You may not look so hot yourself.
Unless you’re in an industry where your paycheck depends on how waif-like you are, then I implore you to please refrain from rendering such repulsive remarks. It’s hurtful, unkind, and ultimately, unnecessary.
So, did I merit that comment that I received this morning? Have I gained weight? Am I, oh, god! fat??? Well, let me put it this way: I’m at the gym four times a week; I run 5K twice a week; I work out with a personal trainer twice a week; and I also mountain bike. If you’ve seen photos of me, tell me if that’s a fat girl you see. I’m certainly no twig, I eat like a man (especially when it comes to dessert), and I don’t fit the average Pinoy male’s idea of a skin and bones dream girl,but I’m stronger, sexier, and fitter than I’ve ever been.
Remember, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it. Barring that, if you have nothing nice to say, then it better be funny.