From Our Inbox
I’m Korean-American, and I feel a lot of pressure from my community to lose weight. I can’t find a boyfriend because I get so conscious about my appearance that I avoid talking to men altogether. My question is to any of the men who follow this blog, how would you feel if your girlfriend wasn’t thin? Does it really matter as much as my family says it does?
Short answer: No, it shouldn’t matter.
However, I can relate to your situation. As a child of Pilipino immigrants, I’ve had similar experiences dealing with commentary from parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. They tell me I’m gaining too much weight, yet compliment me on being tall or on having light skin. It’s as if certain physical qualities (which I can’t really control) are things to be proud… or ashamed… of. Not to defend this tradition of body-shaming from family, but I also understand that these beauty standards have come from centuries of western propaganda and residual effects of colonization.
This perception of “beauty” is everywhere we look. And when you come from an immigrant family trying to assimilate and live the “American Dream,” you experience this more than most. We see this in television commercials for home exercise equipment and diet programs. We see this in magazine ads for health clubs and weight loss supplements. And we see this in the cosmetic aisle at the mall, locally and oversees. Although it’s difficult to not let it affect us, being conscious enough not to pass on these type of beliefs to other people you care about is the best solution I could come up with.
As for the pressure of finding a partner, I wouldn’t worry too much about it. It may sound cliché, but there is no rush to get involved. Do what makes you feel good. Do what makes you happy. The rest will fall into place. And if you decide to take steps towards losing weight, do it because you want to, not because you think it’ll please other people. What matters most is that you feel comfortable and confident in your own skin without thinking twice about what others say.
On more of a personal level, my wife and I have known each other since we were little kids. Our fathers were friends back in the Philippines, but we never thought of each other more than just the boy/girl next door. It wasn’t until 20+ years later that we got reacquainted through our mutual friends’ wedding. Nothing was planned. I wasn’t swiping left on a phone app or scoping out the scene at a bar. We weren’t judging each other because of our appearances. If anything, the familiarity and comfort that we brought each other held more stock than our physical attributes. And when I got to learn more about her, the more I fell in love with her her kind heart, her consciousness and her passion for social justice. To me, these are the things that set apart someone who is deemed ‘pretty’ or ‘handsome’ with someone who is beautiful.
I’ll leave you with this thought. Love happens when you least expect it. When you find the right person, you’ll know they’re the right person because they’ll have you feeling like Musiq Soulchild:
“I’ll love you when your hair turns grey, girl. I’ll still want you if you gained a little weight. The way I feel for you will always be the same, just as long as your love don’t change.”
Jerome Atendido (@JeromeAtendido) is an Account Executive at Pandora where he works with local and national advertisers on building their company’s digital marketing campaigns. Prior to Pandora, Jerome has worked at various radio and television stations throughout Northern California, including 106 KMEL, KOFY TV20 and 99.7 NOW.
Jerome is a graduate of San Francisco State University where he majored in Radio and Television, as well as a product of Youth Radio where he was a student and peer teacher. Jerome is married to his best friend Melanie and loves learning how to be a rad dad to their beautiful baby girl, Audre Grace.