A giant in a yellow land

I am above average height for a girl but I think most people who have seen me would not describe me as “big”. However, here in Asia, where your average woman has the bone structure of a 12-year-old girl in the West, BIG is indeed what I am. Trawling the clothes markets can sometimes make one feel rather obese, or at least like one is shopping in the children’s section.

I’ll never forget that time at Mongkok Ladies’ Market in Hong Kong, with an English friend of tiny proportions. We were hesitating over whether the clothes would fit us, when the girl at the stall, no doubt in some misguided attempt to make us buy her wares, stretched out her largest pair of shorts to its maximum elastic capability and said matter-of-factly, “Look, so huge”. Ouch.

Also I don’t know how shoe sizes work here, because they seem to follow the European system, yet I am a size bigger here than my usual size in Europe. At least I can still (just) find shoes that fit me; not so for the girls with feet upward of a size 6 (39). Women with feet that size don’t exist in China, apparently. Buying tops is not generally a problem, though trousers are a shady area, with waistbands that look more like wrist bands and jeans that look like they’re for holding chopsticks, not human legs. My very skinny Spanish friend today was struggling with a very tight pair of shorts she bought at the market, the biggest size in stock. WOW this is just great for a girl’s self-esteem…

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