You are fat.

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There.  Now that the big announcement is out of the way ;) I can post this blog I’ve been wanting to write for the past month! :)

When we arrived back in Beirut, I was about 8 weeks pregnant.  I hadn’t seen a doctor yet, so we hadn’t told anyone yet except our immediate family in the States.  I’m one of those really fortunate girls that doesn’t get morning sickness when I’m pregnant (so far!).  I feel really nauseous, especially in the evenings, but that problem is solved if I eat.  Continually.

So, the continuous eating combined with three months of amazing Mexican food while in the States meant that I came back to Lebanon carrying an extra 7 or so pounds.  I was feeling a bit self conscious about it – if you’ve ever been pregnant, you understand… I was in that “looking fat but not yet obviously pregnant stage.”

And everyone felt the need to comment.

Doorman at building I frequent often: “Wow!  You got fat in America.”

Guards that we pass by every day, to my husband: “You still look the same – thin.”  And to me:  “You, not really.”

I know this is totally a Lebanese thing.  When I lost the baby weight after Isla, everyone commented on that as well.  But what I can’t figure out is which one is a good comment.  In the States, people often congratulate you on weight lost, especially if it is something they know you have worked really hard to do.  But here, the comments about my shrinking frame were mostly accompanied by a “tsk, tsk.”

So, does that mean that it’s a good thing that I “got fat” in America?  I’m not so sure.  In a country where 70-80% of the women have had plastic surgery (!!!), it seems contraindicated that gaining weight would be a good thing.  And I’ve definitely heard my fair share of negative comments about other people who are overweight.  But would they really tell me such a negative thing about myself to my face?  I’m leaning towards yes, but I’m not quite sure.

I do know that in many cultures, being heavy is actually considered a very good thing – it means you are wealthy, or eat well, or are blessed by God, or many other things.  I’m just still trying to figure out what it means here.  For now, let the comments continue…. at least I have a good excuse (for the next 6 months at least)!

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20 thoughts on “You are fat.

  1. Hi! I think it might not be a positive or negative thing – maybe “fat” isn’t as big of deal there as it is here. We often tell our friends, “No! You’re not fat!” when, well, they kind of are.
    OK, let me turn that around. My friends tell ME, “No! You’re not fat!” when I kind of am!! (More than just seven pounds, lol.) We pretend that we are not fat because we don’t want to feel bad, but really that just keeps us from working at getting thin and healthy. Other cultures tend to not beat around the bush. It’s just a statement of fact. Why should it be offensive if it’s true? I know that I’m overweight. That doesn’t make me ugly or unlikeable. Does that make sense? If somebody comments that I gained weight, I say, yep, I eat too much pizza! However, I am changing that fact over the course of the next year ;)
    Nice blog!
    http://fifteenaquarter.wordpress.com/

    • Hi, and thanks for your comment! I agree – it is a statement of fact. I definitely did gain weight over the summer! And I don’t think it’s meant to be offensive, necessarily. But I still get the feeling that it’s a bit more than a neutral statement of fact. Maybe I’m bringing too much of my own American culture into it. :) I also find it curious that in a culture where many cover up completely in order to draw attention to their bodies that so many – of both genders! – have comments to make about mine.

      Lebanese are famous for stating their opinions very bluntly… and it’s not only about weight. “Your hair looked much better before you cut it.” “The salad you made for dinner tonight wasn’t very good – it needed more salt.” are both things I’ve heard more than once. Yes, a statement of fact… but there is criticism mixed in there as well… at least I think there is! :)

      Checked out your blog…. good luck with your weight loss! Also, where in NL did you grow up? I lived there for a few years when I was young, too!

      • I grew up in the province of Noord Brabant :) I grew up in a very international setting, and so many cultures – most, really – were much more heartless than Americans! Haha. I’m not sure why that is. Good luck with the pregnancy and raising two little ones! My kids are 16 months apart. Having them close is awesome, but challenging!

        • Nice… we were near den Haag. I have such fond memories of the years I lived there.
          16 months is brave! I’m a bit nervous about 2.5 years, but I am excited about having them grow up together :)

  2. Hi Nicolette,

    You don’t know me, and I don’t know you, but I follow your blog because our babies are both Oct. 09 babies (I found you at babycenter on the birth board).

    I just wanted to say that when I say the picture of Isla in that shirt I nearly screamed out loud I was so excited for you and your family (and I’m at work, so that would have been pretty embarrassing).

    Congratulations to you all, and I can’t wait to hear all about the new little one growing up as well.

    • Aww, thank you so much for being excited with us!! I love hearing about the random connections that brought people to our blog. :) Happy birthday to your October baby!! :)

  3. OH MAN! Congratulations to you both! Now I’m gonna have twice the amount of time giggling at pictures on your blog. Yes. I’m a grown man who giggles at his friends’ kids. I am not ashamed. haha

  4. In my experience being told you’re fat in Lebanon is not a positive thing. I had one woman look down her nose in disdain and tell me I was “quite big” less than two weeks before I had Ailíse!!! Having said that, I also got the “harram” reactions when I was nursing, and the baby weight just fell off me.

    Congrats on the pregnancy. You’ll be in your super-cute stage by the time we get to see you – yipppppeeeeee!!!

    • Oh, Naomi, if you were “quite big” then I will be quite a whale, haha! :)

      Thanks for the congrats! We are excited, too!

  5. Hi;
    As a big Lebanese woman , I have been hurt a lot by such remarks and looks , a fat person for them is an alien who is not allowed to live in any sense…. unfortunately Lebanese are impolite and rude towards “difference” in people….if they stop shoving their nose in other people life then we could have had a better country …there I had my rant….
    now if someone ask me why i don’t loose weight (yes they would ask that) I simply reply that i paid a lot of money for that fat that is “haram” to let it go….:)

    • Hi Hala, thanks for your comment! I LOVE your response to peoples’ rude comments! I hope it gets them thinking… or at least shuts their mouths for a bit! :)

  6. Loved the post! Just read it out loud to Mark and we laughed! I remember the comments in Poland that I could never quite decipher. Enjoy eating for two!

    • Oooh, I have no problem with the eating for two part! Just wish there was more “eating tacos for two” going on around here…..!!! :) :) :)

  7. I. Love. You. Fat. (or thin, or blue, or yellow). Congrats on the blessing of a new baby entering your family! Such fun!!! I can’t believe Isla is already two…

  8. A bit slow here but just catching up with life in general… Congratulations! Local mores and manners is a topic I love to delve into and now you’ve got me thinking again. Too verbose for a comment though… time to blog again!

  9. Pingback: Weighing in on weight » ginger beirut

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