America is a very weight conscious society. I am always extremely careful when discussing obesity issues with patients, friends or family.
My fiancée, Lisa, is a size 0 and weighs in at a staggering 105 pounds. Although she is the most laid back woman that I have ever met, if I said the wrong thing regarding her weight, I might be in the dog house for a night or two.
As is usual, things are different here in Africa.
I was walking with a doctor yesterday and he saw one of his larger female friends. She was looking in the opposite direction, so he called out for her. He didn’t say her name or even “hey you”. If you can believe it, he yelled, “hey fat mama!”
She turned, smiled, greeted him and went about her other conversation.
Just a few hours later, one of the physicians assistants next to me greeted his plus sized friend as “big woman”. Again, I was very surprised.
Later in the afternoon, I shyly said to both of them, “I don’t want to change your tradition, but please don’t call a woman from the United States big or fat. That will not go over very well”.
They both laughed and thanked me for saving them a little embarrassment. But they finished by saying, “it’s a complement here. It’s really no problem”.