There’s a love-hate relationship when visiting the motherland. While I love revisiting my motherland to explore where my parents grew up and learn about their lives from before they were my mother and father..I also dread going back, every single time. Mostly, it’s thanks to my relatives- my super, super distant relatives. Ones who I didn’t know existed; something along the lines of my mom’s third cousin’s husband’s older sister, or my dad’s great aunt’s son’s wife’s second cousin. Yeah..it gets a little crazier every time. Not only are they
I’m not proud to say this, but I ostracize them whenever I can.
- “Why are you so fat? You need to lose weight, no one will want to marry you if you keep being so fat”
This one hits hard because I’ve always struggled with my body image. East Asians have unrealistic expectations of beauty; ideally, a girl needs to be tall and skinny, no boobs or butt, with a waist the size of an A5 piece paper when you hold it vertically. You can even search up the A5 waist challenge, where girls see whether their waists are smaller than a piece of A5 paper that determines whether you’re beautiful or not. Insane right? Anything else, and you’re fat. My relatives always compared skinny girls to me. I’ve always been told to eat less, or only eat vegetables. They assume I don’t exercise because I’m “curvy”. “Thick” is not a term they agree with. You’re either FAT or you’re SKINNY. Just last year, when I last visited, my older cousin suddenly blasted out, “You should go to the gym with your brother. Look at those thighs. They’re like elephants.” Little do they know, I gym 3 times a week and I train to run the Sun Run every year. Of course, they didn’t believe me though, because “only skinny girls exercise regularly.” I’ve had friends that were 5’6 in height and weighed 120 pounds, but still gets called fat. I swear if they ever visit overseas, they’ll think everyone is obese. I’m literally rolling my eyes as I write this, but their expectations are the most unrealistic standards to beauty. I don’t know how many times I’ve cried over such harsh words.
- “Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend yet? You’re almost (insert age), if you don’t get married now, you’ll become a LEFT OVER”
Your relatives will nonchalantly tell you that you’re a catch and then shoot your way calling you a leftover; that no matter how great you are, you are worthless if you aren’t marry and start your own family. Asians tend to follow a hierarchy and if you don’t abide to what society deem as the norm, then you’re not good enough. There’s a literal term in Chinese that means “left over” if you are 25+ and still single.
- They think your family is prosperous and will do anything to get little perks while constantly asking for money
I promise when social media portrays the rich international students, that’s just a portion of them. It’s not the entire truth. Yes, there’s a portion that extremely rich, but there’s the other half that doesn’t get portrayed on the news or social media. But aside from that, they’re not struggling to put food on their plates, but they’ll get all the perks they can because they envision us living lavish lives overseas. In a lot of cases, it’s not the case. Our parents have to work harder and longer hours than they do to make their money. They make it seem like it’s our obligation to give them money. Sorry my dear relatives, I can’t really tell the difference between you guys and the word greed.
- Would spend entire hours at dinner comparing their children.
Whether it was grades, athletic achievement, extracurricular, or college admissions, there’s always comparisons being made. Our relatives would compliment how we (as the younger generation) are doing, and then begin to brag how well their kid is doing. The whole ordeal is insane. I find that most families going back would just ignore and smile until they get bored of talking. Okay, I’m happy that your son is always in the top three of his classes!!
The odd thing is, I’m not allowed to talk back. If I do, it’s considered disrespectful and whoever you talked back at will spread it until everyone in the city knows. To them, it’s “talking back”, but in my defense, I’m speaking up for myself and explaining to them my point of view. However, because I am younger, I cannot do that. In a previous blogs of mine, I’ve mentioned how the cultures differ, and this is one of the examples. They’re not used to people being able to express their own opinions
Going back to the motherland: A house that doesn’t feel like a home.