Does this country make me look fat?

Tales of a travel addict

Photo courtesy of Tales of a Travel Addict.

“You are very beautiful, Jennifer teacher, but you are a little fat.”

I wanted to end class then and there. I wanted to run home, bury my face in my pillow and cry. But the tears wouldn’t wait. I dropped my scissors, put down the construction paper turkey and sobbed.

I suddenly missed America—the land where a size six was normal—a place where every retail store sold clothes and shoes to fit my body. But alas, I live in Korea, where normal is a size 0 and a 6 is, well, apparently fat.

Last weekend I finally visited a jjimjilbang, or a public bathhouse. For two months I had heard nothing but amazing things about these hot spots—how the large baths contained healing ingredients like ginseng, green tea and clay, how some of the saunas reached up to 160 degrees. One of my Korean friends even told me about a special kind of egg you could only get at one of these places.

I couldn’t wait to rip off my clothes and relax.

But it’s hard to relax when hundreds of chopstick-thin women are eyeballing your naked body—watching your thighs rub together with every step.

It was humiliating.

There was, however, a bright spot…like a moth to a flame, a heavy-set American woman swam up to me as I was cowering in the corner of the carbonic acid pool. “I hated my first jjimjilbang experience,” she said. “But now I can’t get enough. Trust me, you’ll get over the whole being naked thing and learn to love it.”

She shot me a reassuring smile and walked toward the green tea hot tub.

Her butt jiggled the whole way.

5 thoughts on “Does this country make me look fat?”

  1. Okay, I am coming to Korea. My butt will jiggle, you will laugh at me, but I won’t care! I am an American and not even a size 6. Can’t wait to freak them out! Mom

    Sue Loveday is sitting right here and is thankful she isn’t getting naked with the natives. She hasn’t been a size 6 in years and never was a zero. Good luck, Jen. We both love you. Sue and Mom

  2. you are beautiful no matter which part of the world you are in Jen — I loved this post, and if anything, women in Korea should be inspired, if anything I’m sure they feel some kind of complex being that skinny!

    Miss youuu xoxoox

  3. I love your comments. I am a Korean American and I visit Korea every year. For most people, Korea will grow on you. Really, there are plenty of foreigners who have hard time leaving the country. Also, I see lot of caucasians in Korean restaurants who used to live in Korea. They really miss Korean food after leaving Korea.

    A few noteworthy things about Korea

    1)It has a very low crime. People walk around at night without worries.
    2)The healthcare system is top notch and always available.
    3)Public transportation in Korea is wonderful. Seoul subway is just fantastically convenient and they are EVERYWHERE.
    4)Seoul is not only vibrant but also very clean.
    5)Seoul is truly a mix of the modern with the old. Most of the old is disappearing.
    6)Korea’s education obsession is something to behold. Kids aged 7 studying 3-5 hours a day AFTER school isn’t uncommon.
    7)Korea is affordable. Public transportation makes personal automobile almost an unnecessary. The healthcare is cheap and universal. Food is cheap and mostly healthy.
    8)Sorry about your bathroom experience. But I have found most of the Korean bathrooms to be clean and modern. In fact, I think they are cleaner than the ones I see in the US.
    9)You may want to audition to be a model in Korea. I am not kidding. You have a fair shot and they will give you a serious consideration.

    I hope you enjoy your stay in Korea. I always do. =)

  4. Thanks for the comments, for the insight, and especially for telling me I should audition to be a model, lol 🙂 I have a ton of observations to post, and promise to update more often!

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