Fat.

Date: July 30, 2014
Location: Dallas, Texas

It's only been a week, and I'm already missing Uganda like crazy. Don't get me wrong, it's great to be home and see my peeps (s/o to grandma and Ellie/Kirby and all you crazy dtown kids), but there's nothing quite like Uganda. I haven't talked to Aggie in 12 full days, and as a result I'm kind of dying on the inside. Ags, I know you're in Mbale right now and you won't have internet access until you go back to the university at the end of August, but whenever you finally get to read this please know that I love you and miss you like CRAZY. You're like a sister to me now, and I know that even though we are continents apart we are always connected in heart. Okay, that was probably the cheesiest thing I've ever written, but for realz Ags I LOVE YOU and can't wait to see you again one day (I know I will).
So yes, I miss Africa a whole lot. Kinda dyin' over here in TX, to be quite honest (just kidding mom I do love being home with ya). And another thing, reverse culture shock is DEFINITELY REAL. After our two months in Uganda, David & I went to Amsterdam for about three full days. One of the first things we noticed were the paved roads. So so weird. Also, malaria-free mosquitoes - that was WEIRD. Speaking of which, someone please remind me to take my last malaria pill tonight, k thanks.

Anywayyyyy, something else I noticed our very first day in Amsterdam was changes in body sizes. It seems like a really simple detail, but I noticed it immediately. When I was in Uganda, I noticed that the word "fat" was tossed around like nothing. Our first week there, one of my Ugandan friends was describing an UMU professor to me and said, "Oh yeah, he's the fat one!" Now of course this was just casual friend-talk, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't shocked when she described our professor like that. She couldn't understand why I found that word so offensive, and I went on to explain that in America, you can't just toss that word around. Maybe you can say, "Oh, he's a bit heavier," or "Yeah, he's kind of big," but first of all, you shouldn't call someone fat and second of all, that shouldn't be the very first word you use to describe someone. If anything, weight should be the very last thing you describe, perhaps if that minor detail is essential to understanding about whom you are speaking.

Even at the end of the summer, when David, Fiona, Lily, and I had dinner with some pretty significant people like the mayor of Entebbe, for example, I realized just how differently they view the word "fat" in Uganda. I sat by the mayor during dinner and had a side conversation with him towards the end of the meal.

"You know," he told me. "You should be fatter."

Hah! That's funny! Oh...wait...he's serious? I thought to myself.

"You would look so much better if you were fatter. You don't look good. Get fat."

Um alright bro this is weird can you just let me eat my rice and beans in peace? You just told me I don't look good please stop talking to me...

Needless to say, I didn't exactly know how to respond. Other people have said similar things to me in the past, but never has anyone used the word "fat" to describe how they want my body to be (also side note, don't ever tell someone how their body should be/look because that's NOT cool, especially for a girl).

I talked to Aggie about this topic at length one night before we fell asleep beneath our mosquito nets (another side note it is SO weird sleeping without one...I actually miss it a lot for some reason). "It's not supposed to be an offensive word," Aggie said. "God made everyone, and the only thing that is offensive is when we tell God we are ungrateful for the bodies He has given us."

Preach, Ags, preach.

So, again, one of the first things I noticed when I left Africa was the changes in body sizes. In Uganda, it was so so obvious that being "fat" was something that was celebrated - coveted, in fact. The wealthier were fatter. The more weight you gain, the more money you have. Curves were praised and adored.

Sunday morning (July 20th), David & I landed in Amsterdam at 8AM and immediately went to our first Starbucks in 2 months to grab a cup of coffee (blonde roast with hazelnut, my fav). Three minutes after placing our order, in walks a stick-sized girl who was probably in her early 20s like me. I didn't mean to stare, but I honestly couldn't help it. There was not a curve on her body. She was skin and bones, not (I'm assuming) because she was poor and didn't have any money to feed herself, but because in her culture (unlike Ugandan culture), fat = ugly and skinny = beautiful.

I used to be friends with someone a long time ago who actually used to tell herself every day, "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels" (she obviously had never tried Ugandan avocados before). Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels. She honestly believed it, and now it makes me sick just thinking about it. At the time, I didn't know how to respond to her constant negative comments about her body and her endless desires to change every single thing about her.

When I was in Uganda, Aggie and I spent many days and nights discussing our past, our families, our friends, etc. so of course my past friendship with this girl eventually came up in conversation. As long as I live I'll never forget the day I asked Aggie...

"Ags, do you know what 'anorexia' or 'bulimia' are?"

"No. Are those names of other countries?"

What. Did that really just happen? She has to be kidding, right?

Nope, she wasn't kidding.

My sweet readers, did you know that 8 million people in America have an "eating disorder?" 7 million women and 1 million men. And while we're sitting here struggling with disorders of all kinds, there are hundreds upon thousands of people in Africa who have never even HEARD the words anorexia or bulimia in their entire lives. Really puts things into perspective, doesn't it? And you wonder why I keep saying that many people in America are people who HAVE way too much and LOVE way too little - love others and especially ourselves way too little. And of course, any kind of eating disorder is a result of loving ourselves way too little. Or being so consumed with our own lives and our own problems that we start creating problems for ourselves and inflicting pain on our already seemingly-perfect lives.

Alright enough of my rant, you get the point. I'm 100% sure at least one girl out there will find this post offensive, but my goal here is to get you to realize that the emphasis on being skinny is such a cultural thing. Yes, I'm a decently skinny person, but there's about 20 different people in Uganda right now who told me to my face that I don't look good because I'm not fat enough. So why are we trying SO hard to achieve this American ideal of being stick-thin if it's such a narrow-minded cultural viewpoint? Just something to keep in mind.

Another thing...I definitely did not plan on writing a novel about the word "fat" tonight. I actually went into this post planning on blogging about how much I miss Africa and how I've realized that the God I loved and served in Uganda is the same exact God as the God holding me and guiding me in Texas at home and in Indiana at school. "Different Place, Same God" - that was the original title of this post. And in less than 10 minutes it changed to one word: "Fat." Sometimes, you just have to let God use you. Forget your plans and do exactly what He wants you to do instead. His ways are above your own. I've had a blog for almost 2 years (woooooo!), and I've successfully avoided discussing this topic every time I've posted. Even when I started to talk about this topic in past posts, I stopped and erased what I had written and started writing about something else instead. Why? Because I was afraid. Like I said, it's a controversial topic. But, in my opinion, the more we keep quiet about an issue like this, the more widespread the issue will become. Let God use you, whether that's in your next blog post, next conversation with a friend, or next big decision in life. Let Him use you.

I'll leave you with three things: 1. An awesome Bible verse that is related to everything I've just ranted about in this post; 2. My new favorite song from Hillsong United; 3. Yet another picture of me and my African babies because hey, what's a blog post about Africa without a picture of me and my peeps?!?!

"You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you." Song of Solomon 4:7


I love youuuuu for reading!
Hayhoy

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Faith is Not a Feeling

Surrender

How to Overcome Depression (Step One)