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Eating Disorders in Korea

April 29, 2015

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So, we’re back to handling serious topics for TL;DRs! We felt the need to address this topic in response to the conversations from our Mukbang video. Now, this is a very complicated topic, I think, so the best we could really do is try to give as many stats as we could find and talk a bit about our experiences. Hopefully we can keep the conversation going here, and see how comparisons with our own experiences can shed light on Eating Disorders, not just in Korea but elsewhere.

For starters, we have difficulty understanding common Korean perceptions of weight management and weight loss. We talked about diets and eating disorders, but we notice a bit of it with fitness as well, particularly at all of the gyms we’ve been to. Maybe we’re just at the wrong gyms, but we’ve been to four different ones, and the experiences are all the same: we haven’t really seen a lot of Korean women busting arse at a gym. All of the weights that are used are the lightest possible, and all of the cardio is really, really slow. I’ve seen only one girl run on a treadmill, while everyone else we’ve seen just walks on them. Most of the Korean girls we’ve spoken with (except for Soo Zee) have the fear is that if they pick up a weight that’s a bit heavy they’ll instantly bulk up Hulk-size. Since they don’t want to get too muscular, it’s best to not over exert themselves with challenging weights. We’re not saying all Korean girls are like this, but if you’ve ever been to a gym in Korea you will know exactly what we’re talking about. Martina looks like the She-Hulk when she goes to our gym in Korea and a tiny sissy baby when she goes to the gym in Canada.

Now, I’m not trying to get into a big discussion about weightlifting and the science behind it, but it seems like most of the discussions about health and weight loss in Korea are more rooted in concepts of just not eating rather than in the science of how bodies work. When we hear someone say, “I’m trying to lose weight so I’m eating only three sweet potato a day because it burns fat” it makes us feel very upset. Yes of course you will lose weight but you’re also starving your body of an important range of vitamins and minerals. There is a way to limit your food intake in a healthy manner as well as pair it with exercise, but it doesn’t seem like tons of Korean people talk about it. It seems like the discussion about losing weight comes up very frequently in Korea, but the discussion on how to do so in a healthy manner does not.

A discussion we had in the studio was about how Eating Disorders in Korea are probably under diagnosed. The criteria for diagnosing an Eating Disorder is both behavioral and psychological, but it seems like in Korea, the focus is more on dieting and losing weight, not on the physical and mental harm their diets may have. Food restriction diets seem to be talked about in more pragmatic and straightforward terms, like “oh! Seems like I have to lose some weight. Time to eat less!” Diets in Korea, and the language used for them, doesn’t seem like an anxiety about food, you know? And, let me be clear: I’m not saying that it doesn’t exist. It’s just talked about with a different attitude than we’re used to.

Again, this is difficult for us to classify, because we know that there’s huge pressure that goes with dieting in Korea, which we talked about before in another video, but it feels like that pressure is received differently in Korea than it is received in North America. Our personal concern is that the pressure to lose weight in Korea is very real and affects many people, but perhaps because dieting is such a common and seemingly innocuous topic of conversation it hasn’t been acknowledged as problematic.

So, let us know what you think. Do our experiences in Korea match up with yours? Both Martina and I have been told to “go on a diet” or “to lose weight” by Korean friends, has this ever happened to you? How different it is where you’re from?

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  1. This is Martina here but I saw a great comment on YouTube that I wanted to share on our blog post as well!

    ——

    Simon and Martina- Thank you for making this video.

    I am a foreign English teacher living in Korea who has dealt with an eating disorder for 17 years (first anorexia, then anorexia + bulimia, and then just bulimia). Although I am now technically in “advanced recovery”, it is still something that I deal with on a daily basis. I wanted to tell you guys about a few doctors in Korea that may be able to help English speakers here that are dealing with eating disorders.

    Seoul:
    -Dr. Kim (Mike) at the Itaewon International Clinic. Dr. Kim provides GP services, along with counselling, and can write you a prescription for anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medication if needed. The clinic also has a nutritionist on staff and is very foreigner-friendly.
    -Eunice Ra at Adaption Human Solutions (AHS). AHS is a counseling center that has several English-speaking therapists. Eunice and a few of the others have experience working with eating disorder patients.

    Daegu:
    -Dongsan Medical Center International Clinic. The clinic has several English-speaking doctors and the staff there can help direct you to the right doctor. This clinic works with U.S. military personnel, so they are very foreigner-friendly.

    I hope this can help!

    4 years ago
  2. I know this might be out of topic but it has to do with women, social media and how women see themselves in some sort of way. How is feminism in Korea? How is it viewed? Are there any feminists in Korea? Are there woman’s right if a women get raped etc? Because I see a lot in Korean media that they are always pointing out the girls and how girls should be and that women are not that valued in Korea they are just some type of trophy etc. Can you please make a TLDR about this because I’m really curious. Because here in Sweden we are very gender equal and many people are feminists. And i want to know how it is in Korea

    4 years ago
    • I think they already did a TL;DR on that called sexism in Korea or something like that.

      4 years ago
      • Yeah I know about that one but I was thinking more of a deeper look into feminism in Korea and women’s rights and if there are any changes etc you know?:) My english isn’t that good so its kinda hard for me to explain.

        4 years ago
      • Yeah I know about that one but I was thinking more of a deeper look into feminism in Korea and women’s rights and if there are any changes etc you know?:) My english isn’t that good so its kinda hard for me to explain. But things they didn’t talk about so much in that video maybe.

        4 years ago
  3. AHHAHAHAHAHH!!!!!!!! My question was chosen!!!!

    I am the chosen one this week….

    4 years ago
  4. Having survived an eating disorder (but sometimes still strugggling with it) this makes me really happy that this is touched upon. I think in my country people know about eating disorders but they don’t KNOW about eating disorders. It’s all really just on an extremely subversive level. People don’t tell you in the face that your body is “weird” the let you read between the lines. They don’t know that just like people, eating disorders come in all different sizes. We’ve got counselors for this and anonymous hotlines and a really good system, but most people don’t care or don’t know about it. When I went to school I only realized after graduating that there actually was somebody to talk to about body image issues and EDs. Nobody informed us. Nobody teached us about how to spot an eating disorder or what an eating disorder was. So consequently all we ever knew was from the mass media that hypocritcally make reports about skinny models being anorexic while plastering their entire program with extremely skinny good looking people. I wish that would change completely in Germany.

    Also I read some translated Korean news stories a week ago with the name of “The 10 quirkiest idol diets” and one had Dasom from Sistar describe her “1kg diet”. Being worried so much that every kilogram that she might eat, is going to show up immediately on her body as extra fat, Dasom explained how she only chews food and then spits it out without swallowing. That was not quirky, that is not a diet. That is clearly the decription of an eating disorder and somebody having an extremely poor image of their body. I was really upset reading that.

    4 years ago
    • “eating disorders come in all different sizes” I love this summary. I’ve known many girls who have eating disorders, and they are all very different. One girl was borderline OCD and had nothing with social standards of beauty. She would only take a bite of food every x amount of seconds, or when the hand on a timer was on a certain number. One friend was a ballerina and is still in denial about her eating disorder (and no she isn’t just “skinny”, she is a size 00 and 5 foot 8, and probably weighs less than 100lbs) She has so many control issues with her eating and food, and worse was that she worked in a restaurant, and it would drive me nuts that people would ask her dieting advice, when she literally ate once a day, in private. The most we’ve seen her eat was a bloody mary, I worked with her for 3 years.

      In the US I think we are coming a long way with eating disorders, but I am still not very happy with how they are taught in schools. We were kind-of taught that anorexia stems from dieting gone wrong, which it can. But it isn’t always the case. So I always figured just make sure I diet okay, and the more I learn about eating disorders, I found out that I use to not have the healthiest relationship with food. I am trying to get better with it, but I had never been in “danger” with my health (or rather I didn’t have any odd food behaviors compared to other females).

      I am loving this summary from Crash Course on eating disorders, because they kind-of hit them all. And they present them to include problems that men have as well. I know they only have 10 minutes to give a lesson, but they did leave out a bunch of other eating disorders. Like pica, when you eat unusual items, like dirt, paper, etc, this is usually common in kids and pregnant women. Orthrexia is a newer disorder where people obsess over certain foods being healthy. this is an important one since there so many self proclaimed health experts on the internet, this is when you restrict your diet so much because you think certain foods are making you sick. This is of coarse is on a scale where your life is dominated by food choices, and can control your life and decisions.
      https://youtu.be/eMVyZ6Ax-74

      4 years ago
  5. Hey ~ I have a eating disorder since I’m 14 and I suffer of bulimia. This is really hard to tell if you are or not suffering of any disorder. My mom and my sisters were all very thin when they were young but I’m the big one, since my childhood people compared me to my sisters saying “You’re not like the others..there’s a problem! ” or even “You might be adopted who knows!”. I talked about it with my doctor who said “Maybe it’s genetic” and I passed many tests after school. I was only a child ! I was 55kg for 1m64…

    Now I’m 18, 4 years passed. Since a year I started a new diet. I eat healthier and I grow up mentally, I failed in many ways during those 4 years. I’ve lost friends because I stated to be depressed and a guy rejected me because I was too fat..but I was alright ! I’m alright ! Now I know that people can say what ever they want I’ll not care about it ! I just have to care about myself even if I have no friends, I have my hobbies and my family with me ! And of course my cat (sounds cheesy >0<")

    Anyway I really hopes that people who suffers of eating disorder could heal it and be more healthy in their lifestyle and in their mind because that's important!
    I want to thanks you guys because you helped be when I was struggling by making me laugh and smile (even if I was alone !) I love you and stay as you are !! <3

    4 years ago
  6. Holy cow, thank you so so so SO so much for what you said at the beginning! I get a little uneasy when people talk about weight because my whole life I was always very small. My grandma used to tell me to hold onto other people’s hands when it was windy or I’d blow away. And, while that was cute, comments that made it sound as though there was something wrong with me because I was skinny was not cool. I grew up embarrassed about my size and then, as I entered my late teens, I started to gain some more weight (literally, not a lot, just a little more than before) And suddenly I’d get lots of positive comments from people who meant well, but it was frustrating because they’d say, “Wow! You’ve gained weight! That’s great!” And, being a teen, I heard “wow, you are getting pudgy! I’m so happy about you looking different!”

    People mean well. I truly believe this. But I swear I really think that some people get eating disorders from some of these well meaning people… I’m just thankful that my parents are really great. And, I’m really happy to hear you guys say this too.

    OH! And it’s so hypocritical that we (in North America) are not to mention other people’s weights, because it ONLY APPLIES IF YOU ARE OVERWEIGHT. I was in a store with my mom and I quietly complained because I was frustrated that I couldn’t find any clothes that were in my size and a COMPLETE STRANGER said, “well, maybe you should gain some weight then” ?!?!??!? Complete mood spoiler. So, yeah, I don’t believe that weight is the taboo topic here, I think “overweight” or even the potential to be overweight is what we aren’t allowed to talk about.

    tl;dr Thank you for acknowledging that people who are skinny aren’t necessarily unhealthy.

    4 years ago
  7. When I was studying in China, I noticed that I was considered “big” (even though in the US I am not considered overweight, with a BMI around 21). At first, there was just some off handed comments about it from my Chinese friends. But once I started my summer internship, my coworkers (who many had never interacted with a foreigner before) would straight up tell me “you need to go on a diet” or “you are fat”, etc. I was a bit shocked but as they continued to mention it over and over, I got pissed off and told them I was the perfect size and they could shut it. Unfortunately, even after my internship was over and I moved to Japan to continue my studies for another year, those words stayed with me and even in Japan started to pop up again. Even telling myself that they have different body shapes and ideas than me could not help me shake the feeling maybe I had gained some weight. I ended up drinking vegetable powder and limiting my food and started an intense at-home workout – which all helped me lose some weight but now I was in a cycle where I was still unhappy with my body. Thankfully, I had many good international friends that reassured me I wasn’t overweight and I eventually I returned to the States. It was as if a huge pressure had been taken off my chest when I saw the girls at my university, at the local Walmart, etc. – I no longer felt like I wasn’t skinny enough. I am happy with my body once again, but that is one of the main reasons I don’t think I can live in Asia – I would never feel as comfortable in my own skin as I do in the US, were all different shapes and sizes are accepted.

    4 years ago
  8. I’ve been overweight pretty much my entire life. I’ve had a couple of bouts of anorexia via depression, but otherwise, yeah, overweight. I accept it. I mean, I go to the gym and work out a home to stay healthy, but I’m not purposely avoiding certain foods/drinks in order to lose weight. When I used to do that, I felt pretty miserable and felt judged. But when I started weightlifting again, the weight came back both in muscle and fat, but I’m happy. Could I stand to be a little smaller? Sure. But again, it’s not a life goal anymore.
    I often think about how I see my fat-ness as happiness since I was always unbearably sad during my smallest weights as a teen/adult. And I remember being told that I looked better for being so small during those times, but I didn’t think it was worth the sadness to “look better” in other people’s eyes.
    I took that attitude back with me to Korea, which is interesting when you have a Korean mother, but no matter how many times she brought up my weight, it didn’t stir me. She finally “settled,” for lack of a better word, with my size-happiness when I wouldn’t budge. But I was glad to be told a couple of times that the “healthy” way I ate was considered beautiful. It was weird, but… interesting. LoL.

    4 years ago
  9. What really grinds my gears is how people believe that not eating food is considered as some sort of diet, even though your diet revolves around actually eating food. So, not eating eating food is the absence of a diet, not the following of an actual diet.

    All those celebs talking about their “diet” where they only eat 1 meal a day etc. THAT’S NOT DIETING FOLKS! That’s not having a diet at all! Which is usually very unhealthy and I think should fall under the category of self-harm, and should absolutely not be promoted for that reason.

    4 years ago
    • This. Yes. Good grief. It makes my skin crawl when I see those articles and I think about the young girls reading about how their favorite celebrity eats half a piece of celery a day. It sets a very bad precedent for young people when they are already in a difficult stage in life.

      4 years ago
    • That’s actually a great way to put it. I’ll remember that for conversations. Thank you!

      4 years ago
  10. Hi lovelies^^ I’m been pondering about this topic for a long time. Thank you for whoever mentioned this because it’s a topic I’m been wanting to be talked about.
    To start off, I am a mental health advocate and for a while now, I’ve been working and going to school to become a psychologist. I personally have my own experience with an eating disorder, and recovery for me was not so easy.

    Treatment for eating disorders are a bit more complicated to find. If one is looking for more intense treatment, it gets harder to find. Any mental health treatment is costly as well so ofcourse it will be more expensive. In my own experience i had to find a residential facility to start treatment. Now, residential treatment entails that one lives at the place with others while receiving helping from eating disorder specialists. It varies in different facilities too. After these facilities, you step down to less intense care which can include intensive outpatient treatment which makes you more able to receive care while partaking back into a more normal life you did live in before. Specialists can include psychiatrist, therapists, nutritionists, and group therapy/ support groups help. One of the major setbacks in finding this type of treatment (residential treatment in particular) is insurance. I’ve heard horror stories of this from my friends I’ve made and sometimes insurance will only grant you a certain amount of days and that’s it. I’ve had a friend who needed to stay longer and they only let her stay for three days.Insurance companies also complicate how one will receive care and won’t usually grant you treatment especially if you have to receive more treatment.Other people know more about insurance but they claim they don’t grant you days because it will cost you but people need treatment anyways so as much as you will be up to your neck with bills why should people not be granted help. insurance companies are really tricky and annoying because they are not the ones assessing and checking on people. I’ve had professionals fighting for more days while the insurance agents would be like nope Another setback is distance. Now, I’ve had to be three states away from my family to receive intense care while my other friends were like across the country or from another country.
    But nonetheless, I do advise people to research places to get treatment and take other peoples’s advice from their experience with certain facilities.

    One thing I’m really sad to say but eating disorders have the highest mortality rate and are the least talked about in the mental health field. Anyone can have an eating disorder; it does not discriminate race or gender. This also means any body type can have it. With that also said, it doesn’t mean skinny people just have eating disorders because you can’t just look at a person and say she/he has it. There isn’t a definite reason why someone would have an ED (it might be because of trauma, stress, etc etc there are many reasons why).
    Onto Korea and people struggling with eating disorders, I feel like their is A LOT of pressure amongst people to be skinny. One of the main underlying key features are being a perfectionist and low self-esteem. I do feel as there is a pressure to be perfect and i don’t feel their is enough ways to boost self-esteem. Now i do also feel that their aren’t adequate role models for young people in particular considering k-pop idols and actors boast about their diets which are horrible. The media in Korea plays a key role in young people’s self esteem considering it everywhere. I do wish their were more ways to help Koreans understand this underlying issues especially considering the high suicide rate and the lack of awareness and talking here. but i do understand that I personally haven’t been exposed to Korean culture and I’m not fully aware of everything , coming from talking a cross cultural psych class, culture does play a role on how certain subjects are talked about .
    My advice for those who are recovering, take it one day at a time. Find people who support you during this hard process, find a higher power, learn about yourself so that you can work on your issues. Talk to your therapist counselor and professionals who are there to help you. And always ask for help! I’m here too and I know this is a hard process!I did make it out alive lovelies^^ You deserve so much^^ Thank you again guys^^

    4 years ago
  11. I had an eating disorder when I was in my early teens. It was such a secretive time of my life. No one ever knew about it, but I was obsessed with counting calories and exercise. No one ever even mentioned to me “hey, you need to lose weight.” It was my own perfectionistic self that said this. Definitely the pressure in the US to be thin in order to be beautiful must have contributed. We don’t say it out loud to people, but behind their backs or on the media…those who are overweight get made fun of.

    I basically went through recovery by myself…secretively…I sadly didn’t even seek professional help with it. I gained all the weight back rapidly and more and it was then that I had relatives asking me “what was wrong”? I was for the first time NOT caring about what I ate and trying to break out of my obsessive thoughts of food and it was then that people were telling me I was “getting fat”. So it was hard to go through. But I made it eventually. It evolved into a full out existential depression, now unrelated to food, where I did need to seek professional counseling…but I made it though.

    It has been many years since then and for the first time, I am trying to diet (but more like a lifestyle change). I was scared of trying to change my diet in any way because I knew how easy it can be for me to fall into a disorder, but my parents were getting sick due to their eating habits, so I wanted to change for them, to help them change too. With the most logical nutritional research I have ever read, I have begun trying to cut out all sugary drinks and trying to cut back on refined carbs. I am approaching this less sugary/less carb diet “cautiously” because I know I can go overboard, but I actually feel like I am not starving, that I am eating healthier (lots of veggies/fruits) and am slowly seeing better results than when I was a teen trying to count calories/starve/excessively exercise.

    I think the key is to know the most healthiest way to lose weight for oneself, so that it isn’t such a huge struggle and therefore, you don’t end up obsessing over it. Turns out I may have been “carb sensitive” and so too much sugar and refined carbs made me gain weight rapidly. Once I knew that, I think weight loss became less of a brick wall kind of challenge. I think the harder it is to lose weight, the more I am likely to get “obsessed”…so finding a way that makes it easier and healthier, I think will help protect me from getting another disorder in the future. That is my hope and resolve, to do this in a way that is right for me.

    4 years ago
  12. What is a typical Korean hobby? Is there a lot of DIYs, and is knitting and sewing a big thing?
    I like your videos a lot! No, I mean I really, really like your videos they are so informative, and fun.
    That is why i became a subscriber. Keep up the good work.

    4 years ago
  13. I’ve been asked if I eat food in first year university. It was only because we had a point system for the dorm food, and I always had more points than everyone else. I eat food, just not that much. I just dont eat breakfast…
    I also had an aunt tell me I’m fat and proceeded to poke at me. Jokes on her I lost body fat and weight after that. Also, she’s just a bitch in general.

    My mom is from HK and she still has some ideas on weight. She has told me that if I get fat, she will disown me. Maybe it’s just HK, but it is normal to be skinny and being “overweight” is considered bad. It is also normal to tell people (subtley or not) that they are fat. She’s been told that she shouldn’t shop in a store because the clothes won’t fit her. But, she told the shop owner that she was shopping for me and that I was a lot smaller. Only then did the shop owner let her shop there. Especially in family, the first thing said when I came back was “you lost weight”. I was a little chubby before university, but lost body fat during university. I don’t like being told I lost weight because, I cant tell if I lose weight or not. Also, I dont like being told that a lot. It get’s annoying.

    My bf is from northern China, and women there are seen as muscular and strongly built. Might be the reason why my bf’s mom has said that I should eat more. However, she hasn’t said that in a long time. Most likely because she sees that my bf is the one needing to lose body fat…

    I guess being in an Asian background for weight doesn’t phase me anymore. I’ve been told that I’m fat and I’m skinny and it’s just kinda accepted. It’s like those free size clothes. You know that all forms of self-confidence are destroyed, but you learn to ignore it and go ahead.

    4 years ago
  14. My sucky internet erased all I’ve wrote, crap!
    I was just asking if you could do a TL;DR about what’s up with your channel and your overall plan for the next few years. I’ve ssen a few people that live in Korea for a while going back to their country for many reasons and I wanted to ask about it, what’s your perspective on this. Also if it’s still in your future plan to go live in Japan and do Eat Your Sushi or something like that. And maybe take the opportunity to update us on EYK project for the channel (except, of course, the American Tour that we already know about). Like talking about the way the channel has evolve, if it’s still in your plans to do some videos about music here and there or not, that kind of stuff.

    4 years ago
  15. Woah, interesting statistics. I know every culture has its beauty standards, but I didn’t know that S. Korea had so much eating disorders until I read articles about celebrity interviews praising how these K-idols- females, in particular- maintain such reedy figures. So many of them quote that they stick to something like 200 calories A DAY,liquids-only diets, and fasting. I’m wondering, “So where’s the meat? Where’s the protein!?” But why is Korean media celebrating such destructive health maintenance? I struggled with my weight in high school, but since starting university, I’ve resorted to better methods of weight maintenance. I love boxing, so I’m at my boxing gym in between work and school, and eating far better than I used to. Dieting is not about starvation. Eating properly is about eating little bits of everything for a full-balanced diet. And no diet is complete without exercising our hearts! Boxing may be my thing, but for you it might be bike riding, swimming, or simply walking. Strengthen your mind, body, and heart, not deprive it.

    4 years ago
  16. TL;DR Hello, I was wondering if there are any good thrift shops or if they even exist in Korea? I have been to Seoul and I love the street shops, but I don’t think I saw a thrift store on my trip there. Since thrifting has become a huge trend currently and there’s that whole issue with recycling clothes because many people just throw them away, I was curious if there are any places to recycle clothes and buy? I will be visiting Korea in a couple summers and I want to thrift alot! Thank you!

    4 years ago
  17. I’m from Finland and because I’m from a very small town I’ve always had amazing school lunches but I know that’s not the case all over Finland. I’ve been told (not sure how accurate this is) that the lunches are planned so that students could get a lot of the daily nutrients at lunch to make sure that every student gets at least one warm good meal a day. Some kids aren’t as fortunate as others and there are some students that only get their warm meals at school and have to survive the weekend on something like bread etc.
    I also think that there was a story on the news resently about schol lunches and that school should have one day a week when they serve food that is fit for vegeterians. How cool is that?

    So about eating disorders…I have no experience personally but students in Finland are taught about eating disorders in like 7th-9th grade and in high school so you know a lot about the disorders and we are encouraged to turn to someone like a teacher, close friends or our parents if we need help.

    I also have a story for you. We were discussing about bulimia in class when our teacher asked that “Which doctor is most likely to notice that a person has bulimia?”. A dentist. Then she told us that another teacher at our school went to the dentist once. The teacher loves lingon berries which are sour and she eats them almost everyday so when the dentist was examining her he started to ask questions like “what have you been eating lately” to “are you eating regularly”. Our teacher was a bit confused and then she realised that the dentist thought she had bulimia. So she explained to him that she didn’t have it and that the shape of her teeth was because of the berries. But I found this fact to be quite interesting so I thought I’d share it with you.

    4 years ago
  18. i just wanted to let you guys know that in the video you linked this page wrong. you linked it korean-eating-disorders rather than eating-disorders-in-korea
    also, in the Arab world generally, eating disorders exist but ways to treat them don’t because its not really recognized as a “disorder” more like a “good diet”. girls are encouraged to lose weight and moms and grandmas constantly tell the girls to do so as fast as they could. I had an eating disorder once and i was actually praised for it. one of my sisters is going through something like this as well and when i tell my mom, she just says “just let her.” its really messed up :/

    4 years ago
  19. I’m from Singapore, and I’m about 60kg or so, and I get pressurised by family members to ‘lose weight’. It’s difficult to not let it get to you sometimes, especially when everyone around you is slim and petite, especially my younger brother who can eat 5 bowls of rice a meal, still be hungry and NOT gain ANY weight, even LOSING weight, (dang you, recessive metabolism genes!!!) while I gain weight even when I eat way less.

    It’s also pretty hard and quite damaging to your self esteem to be chubbier or heavier as a student in school because there’s a ‘height-and-weight’ session the first PE lesson of each term to check fitness levels. In most schools in the past, if you were overweight, you had to participate in a programme called F.I.T. which stands for ‘Fit and Trim’. There’s a very strong sense of shame, therefore, that’s linked to being overweight, even if it’s done with good intentions. Most students would have to participate during their recess, and they’re only given 10 minutes for recess to change out of their PE uniform, queue, eat and assemble with the rest of class in the school hall after the sessions. Although, if I’m not mistaken, most schools have now adopted an improved programme, where you only have to participate in F.I.T. if you’ve failed NAPFA (National Physical Fitness Award), so there’s a stronger sense of fitness being more important rather than just weight.

    I also find it harder to get clothes that fit me as compared to most of my friends, especially when we’re shopping at local street shops or locally-based stores that cater to Asians as I’m a bigger size than most of them. It’s harder for me to get a mini skirt that won’t show off most of my butt cheeks at Bugis Street, and I usually have to get shorts/shirts/skirts from stores such as Forever 21, Pull and Bear, etc. which is considerably more expensive than street stalls, which suck. :(

    Then there’s also the relatives who complain about my weight every time they see me, to my face and are pretty blatant about it. I don’t usually mind this until they point out other cousins and compare us, either with “look she’s so skinny isn’t she pretty you should diet so you can be as pretty as her” or “look at her do you want to end up as chubby as her???” which really divides relationships because there’s a constant comparison. It’s something I always dread at family gatherings because I know I’m going to end up hearing my Great-Aunt or something tell me, at a 7-course wedding dinner, that “Oh, darling, I think you gained weight! Need to go on diet already yeah?” then tell me, ironically to “eat more, eat more!” xD

    4 years ago
  20. This is a very interesting topic!

    At first I was going to comment about how I felt dieting and beauty standards create eating disorders, but then I read a comment from someone with an eating disorder, writing that it’s not really about that so much as all the other stresses in their day to day life that creates a disorder related to food.

    I mean, from here in Canada, losing weight and going on diets is a very broad topic, but eating disorders not so much. Comparing to Korea though, I feel like there’s a little more education and seriousness behind discovering if someone has an eating disorder. Not eating enough or at all is a no-no here. And there are a lot of odd diets I’ve seen, but the most popular here is the juicing or “paleo” food trend. Exercise is valued too. I feel we care more for health than beauty when it comes to dieting, even if media doesn’t make it seem that way. Still, like all mental illnesses, it can be very complex. How much does our dieting and celebrity culture really influence a person? That isn’t to say that standards of beauty don’t contribute to eating disorders though, because it definitely does affect all of us (especially women) in a usually stressful way…

    That said, I feel awful that people would just stop eating altogether to lose weight. When you get to your goal, are you really just going to keep eating nothing? Because you’re going to gain weight again if you start eating normally. It’s not a good thought process, when your dieting isn’t focused on health but on this lowered magical number that will supposedly make your problems disappear. That’s not something you want to foster.

    4 years ago
  21. I think that kind of mentality exists in most parts of Asia. I’m Filipino but I was born and raised in Brunei Darussalam for most of my life because my dad works there, and am currently staying in Singapore and I’ve had my weight commented on by random strangers no matter which country I was in. And it certainly didn’t help that my two older sisters and mother were naturally slimmer than I, who inherited more of my father’s stockier frame.

    When I was growing up, my siblings gave me nicknames like “Piglet” which would sound cute to anyone else, but it never failed to hit a nerve in me. Growing up, I was referred to as the chubby one and was constantly scolded by my parents to control my weight or teased by my siblings for being pudgy. Even as young as the age of six, I remember my mom telling me to suck in my stomach in order to hide my belly. Grownups around me were constantly comparing to my older sisters and advising me to be more slight like them which, ironically, made me turn to food for comfort.

    A few years ago, I decided on my own that I wanted to better my health for myself because at the time, I was just eating garbage everyday and not caring for my body. I cut out all the junk food and started eating more proper meals. Although I am still not as slim as my sisters, I have lost a considerable amount of weight and will continue to do so until I reach my target, but even now, at the most confident I have ever been, I still feel a sense of inferiority when I stand next to my sisters at family gatherings. I still feel like I’m constantly being judged for my appearance every where I go so now I’m trying my best to care for myself mentally.

    My point is that I don’t think that this mentality is exclusive to Korea. It can be found in other Asian countries and I feel like people should practice being a bit more sensitive because you never really know how deeply affected they are from one just shallow comment.

    4 years ago
    • Yes! I feel you. I was picked on for continuing with Ballet when I was younger because I was heavier, and was once called ‘princess elephant ballerina’ by my tuition classmates when I was late because ballet lessons had dragged on. I also get commented on by relatives, strangers, and even close family members; my mum never fails to remind me that i ‘need’ to lose weight, even though I’ve cut down on junk food and carbs (no rice why ;w;) to try and lose weight.

      It sucks, big time.

      4 years ago
  22. Yep, this was exactly my experience in Korea. My first day there, I got to my school at like 6PM and met my new boss, who greeted me with, “You’ll be much cuter once you lose weight.” I constantly had students (older man students, I taught adults) telling me to go on diets and eat less because I’d be “prettier if I lost weight.” I considered myself healthy, I’m just 6′ tall and curvy – big chest, curvy butt and hips, all that. But since I wasn’t skinny, I was constantly told I needed to lose weight. I mostly didn’t take offense to it, though, because I knew I was big by Korean standards, and because my Korean friends in college had told me people in Korea made a lot of those comments to everyone.

    4 years ago
    • It’s weird how used we are to it though, don’t you think? I mean, imagine if someone said that to you in the US? “AYY GURL YOU’D BE AIGHT IF YOU LOST SOME WEIGHT.” It’s just…so insensitive. AH!

      4 years ago
    • To a certain degree this is unheard of in the US, at least with older people. I had a very overweight co-worker who wasn’t ashamed of her body, was very pretty, and dressed nicely. So I think a lot of 65+ men and women would always say “You would look so pretty if you lost some weight” like STRANGERS guys.

      4 years ago
  23. As a person who is struggling with eating disorder, it makes me really sad to hear that kind of statistic. It really is a horrible experience – it leaves you unhealty in mind and body. I wish we could educate people that it is way much more important to be healthy (eat “normal” and do active things you love) than fit beauty standarts. Some people are naturally super skinny, others have a more athletic build – it is not right to promote just being super skinny as the only beauty option. Seriously we should have a massive international day “beauty is being healthy” (or something like that). I would definitely participate :D

    4 years ago
  24. Meg

    I was very petite most of my life. I didn’t even break triple digits until senior year of high school. I would have so many people comment on it, doctors would do tests on me and it made me really self conscious. I used to feel really left out when the school would have a blood drive because I was one of the only people who couldn’t participate. I finally became a healthy weight about 2 years ago when I was 22. But now when my family see’s me or old friends from high school I actually feel fat because they’ll make comments like “oh you’ve gained weight!” and bring focus to it. I think it’s so unfortunate how much emphasis is put on weight now. It’s like no matter what you weight, you’ll end up feeling bad about yourself at some point or another in your life.

    4 years ago
  25. Van

    Alright, so this is going to be a doozy.
    In the video, you guys mentioned North American high school lunches, and how they’re unhealthy. And I just want to say, I was a student council member, so we (somehow) got a major say in what happens to school lunches. Well, a few years ago, my school got a new lunch menu. Things started to get healthier compared to the extremely unhealthy foods and snacks we got the year prior. I mean, rather than the “snack bar” that had hot cheese over cheetos, we got a salad bar. Not only that, but the lunch was so much healthier also, adding on vegetables to the menu. However, the year we got the new lunch thing implemented, EVERY STUDENT (that wasn’t on STUCO) COMPLAINED. I can remember vividly what they said which annoyed the heck out of me because they didn’t understand how hard the school worked to get them healthier foods.
    “Why are they doing this?”
    “This is so stupid!”
    “They should’ve left it with the old system!”
    I remember, a year after we got the healthy lunches, the main guy in charge of what to do for lunch was sitting there, asking what the students wanted. And so, he added more vegetables. I was friends with a girl at that time, and she wouldn’t stop complaining about it. Like, seriously? I am soooooo sorry that the school is trying to take care of your health, and although there is AN UNLIMITED SALAD BAR WITH SEVERAL TYPES OF VEGGIES that there’s “less” food.
    But anyways, that was my rant on the school system lunches. I think the problem with North American lunches is that it’s been unhealthy for so long, that any changes for it to be healthy will result in nothing but endless streams of complaints by students and maybe parents.

    So, on to diets. I’m asian, and in asian families, it’s always “You’re too fat” and “You should loose weight”. This year, I’m at my first year of university, and my first semester, I rapidly lost weight by accident. I mean, I spent all my money on school projects, and for rent, so I had very little money left over for food. Yes, I could have gotten more hours, but my job led me to my situational depression, so I really did not want to, even if that meant starving myself. Everyday, I would eat just a bag of edamame and chips because that’s all I could really afford. Like, I visibly, to myself, got thinner, and I was scaring myself because I knew that it just wasn’t healthy. But whenever I would go home to visit my family, they would just compliment me. And then, I lightly said that I lost weight because I didn’t have enough money for food. My aunt, oh I cannot forget this, she said, “Maybe you should keep this up! You’re looking so skinny, you’ll find a husband soon.”
    Like, I get it. I’m not the skinniest of all asians, but I’m not overweight. I’m the right weight for my height, but I’m overweight for my family, and since I’m a girl, it’s even worse since I “have to find a husband” (Even though I’m far from interested in marriage)

    IT was the same thing in high school, where my friend’s mom (She was asian) would tell me that I was fat, and that I should lose weight, and she occasionally came into my room (she was also a family friend) and give me dieting advice on what to do. I mean, I was 14 at the time when she was telling me all this, I was still growing, what do you expect?

    And during high school/middle school, I was entirely obsessed with kpop and korean singers and their weight where I wish I looked like them. I was still in my adolescent years, and so I kept on researching the SNSD diet where it was like a watermelon all day everyday (I can’t remember) and I remember being willing to starve myself to look like them just to stop all the comments that I was getting for my weight (And also for the hopes that if I ever went to South Korea and meet Kyuhyun, he would think I was pretty. But hey, I was a kid at that time that didn’t know better)

    Argh, this got a bit of my teenage frustrations off of my chest. But seriously. I’m absolutely tired of the Asian thinking that skinny is beautiful. I have overweight friends, and they extrude confidence, and that makes me wish that I was them. I sometimes think, “Maybe if I grew up in their homes, I wouldn’t be this timid about my weight”

    And to be completely honest, I would have been a wreck if it wasn’t for my American friends. I guess it’s a good thing to be born in two different cultures, because despite one culture telling me that I was fat, the other one told me that I was “okay” and so on and so forth. Although I’m more asian then I am American (As in, I wasn’t afraid of being Vietnamese growing up in America, unlike a lot of kids), I’m so thankful for the American ideals that were installed in me at a young age–and that school was my sanctuary from all the harsh comments I got from home. I mean, I wasn’t just at school for 7 hours, I was there for 8, maybe 9 hours because of extracurricular activities just to get away from my family who would judge me.

    4 years ago
  26. I had the dubious pleasure of staying for a week in a mental health ward in a seoul-central korean hospital. I was put in an open ward room with I guess the “younger girls”. 6 beds, all women between 13-25 or so. All of them had severe anorexia. It was heartbreaking. One 14 year old girl had to be force-fed in the evening through a tube in her nose, and she fought the doctors every step of the way. Her father and mother switched shifts lying in a cot by her bedside all day and all night. The mental health ward had lots of programs to generally manage depression and do activities like dancing and painting, and each person had one on one counseling once every couple of days. it seemed like there could have been more group therapy sessions or something to support the women with these disorders. They seemed to bond with each other during the day, but the result was they were strategizing how to hide food/refuse food/vomit without the nurses or doctors finding out

    Out of the hospital, my family gym down bundang way is full of incredibly fit and seriously heavy-weightlifting women. They are typically in their 40s to 50s, and really into it. There’s even a trainer in her 70’s who does personal training with many of them, and she is some kind of ahjumma bruce lee. They are way into spinning, cross fit, body pump, and heavy circuit training with heavy weights. But I also noticed it’s definitely not popular with the younger women at the gym in their teens/twenties. They seem more half hearted/self conscious and kind of do a walkie jog for a bit then wander around looking self conscious. I’m not sure if this is related but I do not see many middle/high school age girls enjoying team sports, and one of my students said that no students really have time for team sports. That’s a real shame, especially for the girls as it can provide a foundation for enjoying exercise for the rest of your life, as well as the confidence to pursue it. I’m wondering how the women in their 40s and 50s developed that confidence, or is the stigma against exercise and serious fitness (i.e. training and fitness knowledge) only recent?

    4 years ago
  27. Interesting topic. I don’t know much about eating disorders in France. Of course they exist, but I think we have a cultural habit of eating ealthily. When people diet they usually do it intelligently.
    However I do think that we, and probably a lot of other countries, are lacking information about what to eat to be healthy. The benefits of each category of food and nutrients should be taught in schools, along with sex ed and this kind of things.

    4 years ago
    • That’s interesting what you say because In English schools we are taught about how many calories we should be consuming in a day and the percentages of the different food types that we should be consuming within a day. We actually get taught throughout Primary School and the earliest I remember being taught this was when I was 6/7. Although this could be just limited to the schools that I went to but I’m pretty sure that this is the same throughout Britain.

      4 years ago
  28. I have had anorexia and bulimia in the past (not at the same time) and this topic is very interesting. Thank you for talking/writing about this.

    OT: Thank you. Your videos have helped me me get better from severe depression/anxiety/being scared of social interaction and I am very thankful for having found your videos. I have been able to feel more social and not so scared about social situations, through thinking how brave you two are. (I also live in a country that is not where I grew up). I always think of you two when I feel particularly bad and have managed to counter blacking out and panic attacks with this. Just thank you with all my heart.

    4 years ago
  29. I can totally relate to your sister Martina. My mom and I are both petite and most of the other women on her side are also. When I went to Korea to visit my fiancee’s family his mother constantly told me to eat more food because she thought I was too skinny. She would buy me extra food and even give me more rice even when I didn’t ask for it. I didn’t want to be rude so most of the time I would have to force myself to eat even though I explained to her that I was a smaller person genetically. In contrast, when I met my fiancee’s brother-in-law, he told me I looked like I’d gotten fat over my stay and I needed to lose weight. I think it’s difficult for foreigners to deal with such blunt expressions of weight and it can take a toll on your self esteem.

    4 years ago
  30. I’ve had kind of a mixed experience with this. My mother is Hmong, a first generation Hmong woman in America. So she has no problem saying “you need to lose weight” and “stop eating so much.” But I, as a very Americanized Asian, didn’t see my friends’ parents saying the same thing to them. I would see my friends’ parents encouraging them and accepting them for who they are, and that made me really bitter and sad towards my own mother because she didn’t treat me this way. Over time, as I’ve grown, I’ve realized that it’s not my mother being hateful towards me, but she cared about me, even though it’s a pretty sick way of expressing it. I’m sure in Asia, these comments are perceived as such.

    4 years ago
    • I watched my friend struggle with that, as well. Her mom came from the Philippines, and would always tell her she needed to loose weight, and I always saw how it affected her attitude and how she perceived herself. Now she is very thin, and I can only hope she did it in a healthy way (we lost contact for a couple years). It’s a bit upsetting to see it finally got the best of her though.

      4 years ago
  31. Here’s a tl;dr questionbomb for you: (sorry for the somewhat unrelated nature, I just read about that 42 year old actor, Bae Yong Joon, marrying a 29 year old actress, Park Soo Jin, coming fall, and I was curious about it. I know it’s not too uncommon to see couples with large age gaps in other Asian countries but from what I understood it is quite uncommon in Korea?)

    In Korean celeb world there are some pretty large age gaps between couples. How does this compare to normal society and what are the perceptions of large age gaps for couples within Korean society? When is a guy too old for a girl (and vice versa), and what are the images of these couples respectively?

    4 years ago
  32. TLDR Question: When I was in Hong Kong, at 7:00pm people started to set up booths of questionable novelty items. I asked my professor if this was common and he said it happened every night at the same time. When I went to Japan, entire buildings(huge ones with 7+ floors in Akihabara), would be dedicated to just this. I was wondering if these shops are also in S.Korea, and if so, is it an open-to-the-world-to-see-party? “COVER YOUR EYES KIDS!” How do people view this? And what’s your opinion on it? The windows are blacked out here in America and you have to be over 18 with ID to go in.

    4 years ago
  33. Yeah. In the U.S., generally there isn’t a correlation between weight and wealth. Actually at the moment media is trying to be more “accepting” of weight, whether you are healthy or not, no matter your wage level. I notice, material possession is a bigger gauge of wealth. I see so many poor families with have fancy gadgets and brand name clothes for appearance sake, but live in broken homes.

    Also, I kinda understand how Martina’s sister feels. I’m 22, 5’1″ at around 37-38kg (83-85lbs). My size is a genetic trait. Finally filling out, now. I grew up with a few people bringing up the topic of anorexia. Never really bothered me though since I knew I was perfectly healthy.

    4 years ago
  34. I actually have a similar case with your sister, Martina. I’m not petite, not at all (on the contrary, I’m 5’8), but I am really skinny. My whole life people have been saying I’m too skinny and I should eat more, or I have no meat on my bones, and I’m malnourished, which is far from the truth. I have a small stomach and a fast metabolism, so my meals are usually quite small before I am legitimately full, but people around me would think I’m dieting or trying to lose weight, when that’s far from the case. It can become burdensome, especially when you hear it from the same people over and over again. I’ve just learned to ignore those comments or tell people that no, I’m not on a diet, and yes, I am very well-nourished. It’s good to know that it’s not just me who gets those kind of comments, though.

    4 years ago
  35. When I lived in Mauritania, beauty standards were very different. Heavier women were considered the most beautiful, and the implication was that if your wife and daughters were larger, you were very well off and successful, since they clearly didn’t have to do much work and had plenty to eat. And indeed, the emphasis on bulking up their daughters prior to marriage varied widely from family to family depending on economic status, and only more wealthy families were able to devote the time to procuring high fat foods like milk and dates for their adolescent daughters. There were even some “fat camps” – villages in the desert where girls would be sent to basically do very little except eat and drink a lot of milk. The goal was to gain weight fast enough to develop stretch marks. Obviously, the poor families had neither the time nor income for that, but women still tended to be heavier than their husbands. My village thought I was too skinny (and I wasn’t thin, I had a pretty average figure) so they kept trying to get me to eat more, because they wanted me to gain lots of weight so everyone would see me and know “Ah, the village of Jidrel Mohghuen is so hospitable, look at how well they feed their white woman!”

    4 years ago
  36. TL;DR hi i would like to know if its hard to live in Korea if your Muslim, because we don’t drink alcohol or eat pork etc.. for example if I wanted to go to a samgyupsal like could i order beef to grill (if they have any ) or if i was with my friends which are drinking soju for example and one of my older friend pours me a shot and i say sorry i can’t drink. would it be disrespectful? and if there are Korean muslims i would like to know and i’m not saying just Muslim religion also other religions u could talk about THANK YOU.

    4 years ago
  37. I think people in Korea (and everywhere else) think of thinness in terms of body volume (overall size) and not in terms of body fat, which is really what it’s all about. That’s why different people have different notions of what thin is, when in fact thinness is something that can be objectively measured. In Korea thinness means being petite, having a body that doesn’t occupy a lot of space. That’s why someone who is actually (very) thin, let’s say a woman with 15% body fat, but isn’t petite because she has a large bone structure and some muscle, will still be considered big (probably fat) in Korea. What’s ironic is that studies have shown that “on the basis of the available data in Asia, the WHO expert consultation concluded that Asians generally have a higher percentage of body fat than white people of the same age, sex, and BMI. Also, the proportion of Asian people with risk factors for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease is substantial even below the existing WHO BMI cut-off point of 25kg/m2.” (source below). So, a person from Korea might actually be fatter than a white person even though she looks thinner (or in this case, smaller).

    The truth is, Koreans aren’t the only ones who think like that. Many people have no consideration for body composition, when in fact being fat is about body fat. The health risks of being fat are related to too much body fat, not to weight or size. In terms of aesthetics, Koreans, as well as other Asian populations, simply prefer their people to be more petite than Western countries do. To be fair, they actually are more petite (smaller bone structure) than the majority of people in the West, so that attitude is not surprising. That’s why Korean women don’t use heavy weights in the gym (a lot of women in the West don’t either for the same reasons). The tiniest amount of muscle will indeed make them look like She-Hulk because to them that tiny amount is already too much. It’s a matter of aesthetic preferences. I see female fitness trainers tell other women all the time that lifting heavy won’t make them bulky (under normal circumstances it won’t), but the problem is those trainers are too bulky for most women, even if they themselves don’t think they are (and “normal” women will never look like that unless they want to). So in the end, women will still believe lifting heavy weights will make them look manly (again, it won’t) and miss out on the many benefits of doing so.

    When it comes to dieting, I’m personally against it unless someone needs to lose a good amount of weight. The issue with dieting is that it’s usually temporary and then people go back to their normal way of eating and gain all the weight/fat back, and maybe even some extra. There’s also the problem with many diets being very unhealthy. The best way to be lean and healthy is to have a healthy lifestyle. Lifestyle, unlike diet, is meant to be permanent. The point is eating healthy food and leading an active life as long as you live, and in doing so maintain a healthy weight (percentage of body fat) throughout your entire life. A beautiful body is a healthy body.

    In my country (Portugal, Europe) eating disorders exist like they do everywhere else, but I don’t believe it’s a widespread problem. Or better yet, it is if you consider eating too much and/or too much unhealthy food an eating disorder. About 60% of the Portuguese population is overweight, we have the fattest teenage girls in Europe (teenage boys come in 3rd) and among 7-year olds, 40% of boys and 35% of girls are overweight. As you can see, we certainly don’t have a problem with excessive dieting. There are, obviously, people who do suffer from eating disorders and while I don’t think they like to talk about it, society in general will openly discuss the problem. I don’t know much about how eating disorders are treated here, but I believe our national health service has ways of helping those who seek it.

    Here in Portugal people will very casually tell you you need to gain weight, but telling someone they need to lose weight is kind of rude, unless you’re very good friends, or the person brings it up herself. I’ve been told I’m very thin by a lot of people, even complete strangers. The funny thing is I’m not too thin, I’m barely thin. My BMI puts me right between the normal weight and mild thinness categories (http://apps.who.int/bmi/index.jsp?introPage=intro_3.html) and my body fat percentage is relatively low (normal for athletes) but still within healthy values. I run 6 miles at a fast pace several times a week, I lift heavy three times a week, I eat healthy and satisfying food and I feel strong, healthy and fit. I might be thinner than most people walking around the streets but I’m definitely not too thin.

    source: http://www.who.int/nutrition/publications/bmi_asia_strategies.pdf

    4 years ago
  38. Well, the other day I was having a parent-teacher conference with one of my student’s mom and she just casually asked me “you look like you’ve lost some weight, have you?”. I don’t know her, we’ve met a handful of times in the last month. Seemed inappropriate to me. I know that would never fly in Canada. I agree that weight loss is not seen the same here. I have one close Korean friend who recently got married and for months before her wedding she talked a lot about how she should loose weight so she would diet and do pilates classes. In my eyes she definitely did not need to loose weight but when I asked her why she just said she was a bit fat and she said she should for her wedding. I suppose brides at home do that too at times. Though with her it was more “matter of fact” and not a self esteem thing. Surprisingly though, I feel less self conscious about my weight since I’ve moved to Korea than any other time in my life in Canada. I wonder if not having a television and not being able to relate very much to K-pop artists’ look has anything to do with it. Also, my friends here don’t walk about weight as much as my Canadian friends seemed to.

    4 years ago
  39. I myself have never had any issue with my own body weight but I’ve known way too many people who struggle with theirs. The thing is, most of them have got the wrong idea about diet, probably similar to that in Korea. For most of them, dieting means to cut back the big meals, especially rice. And of course most of them stay fat, if not get even fatter. Some people tend to avoid eating big at all cost for a few days, but when the body starts protesting for the nutrition it’s deprived of, they fling back to pigging out. Some other people reduce the portion of their meals or skip few meals, but they keep snacking (unhealthily) throughout the day. They would say that even water would make them fat. But truth is, they forget all the chips and cakes they have been indulging the whole day. And all that is not accompanied by regular exercise. Worst of all, most of them want an instant result. They wish they could lose up to 20 kg in a few days. So in the end it’s just a vicious cycle. My close friends often joke about how I hate fat people. I don’t, but I do raise an eyebrow at those who whine about their weights but they keep doing the wrong thing about it.

    4 years ago
  40. I think that teaching nutrition is important. I wanted to lose weight but I didn’t where to start. I had some people tell me to lose weight, and I wanted to, but they never told me how to. I learned about a calorie counting app, started counting calories and realized that I was eating too much calories! Even when I was eating healthy food, I had too much of it. I lost weight at a steady pace while eating the right amount of food and feel so much better.

    You mentioned anorexia and bulimia a lot, but you forgot about binge-eating disorder. Binge eating disorder is “characterized by compulsive overeating in which people consume huge amounts of food while feeling out of control and powerless to stop.”

    You also talked about the pro-ana cafes. I noticed a trend online that’s the opposite called feederism. It’s where people intentionally gain a lot of weight or where “one partner (the feeder) feeding the other, both to obtain sexual arousal and to encourage weight gain in the feedee,” even to the point where the feedee becomes immobile. They share their progress online with others.

    And our perception of who is over/underweight in the U.S. is different than from South Korea. I had people tell me I look average, even though I’m actually overweight while someone else who is at a healthy weight is told that they’re too skinny or anorexic.

    To my understanding, the BMI for Asians is different than to everyone else. Theirs is lower because they are more prone to diabetes.

    Sorry for my rambling.

    4 years ago