Being plus sized anywhere in the world can be difficult. However, here in Korea, where beauty standards are some of the most strict in the world, the challenges are even more vast. This is how being plus sized in Korea has affected my body image and confidence.
My Plus Sized Background
Before starting this section, I have to make a couple of things clear. This is all baised on my experiences. I am a Latina woman and plus sized, I look very different from Korean women in general. So, my experience is not going to be the same Korean women, or even other foreigners of different backgrounds face.
But the story I am about to tell you is different and it hit certain nerves that I didn’t know were there still.
To put a little more on the build-up to the unpleasant experience, I need to make sure you know that I have battled with weight loss for… well, all my life. Before coming to Korea, I was in a very happy place with my goals being hit again and again. I felt better than I had in the past. When I saw my reflection I saw myself, and not a fat girl hiding my true self.
Expectations Vs Reality
Coming to South Korea, I thought my weight loss journey would be amazing. I thought I would continue with my weight loss journey at the same pace if not faster. After all, the average Korean is thin and Korean food is known for being quite healthy. However, the reality I encountered after arriving here was very different from my expectations.
The prices of vegetables and fruit in Korea are a lot more expensive than back home. And, let’s not mention protein such as dairy products or meat. Dieting is very difficult here. Most foods people eat daily are very carb heavy, have a lot of sauce, and are very processed.
I haven’t managed to lose more weight. And since I arrived, I have been feeling more and more uncomfortable in my own skin. Turns out that people not only look at me because I am a foreigner but also because I am plus sized.
Difficult Experiences Being Plus Sized in Korea
Comments While Dating
A guy I went on a date with asked me if I was doing enough exercise, with a smirk, while I swallowed my Sundubu-jjigae. I wanted the earth to swallow me. My stomach turned into a big knot and my heart sank. Suddenly, I lost my appetite completely.
Judgment from Strangers
And then… my trip to Busan. I took only a set of bathing suits –yes, a bikini nonetheless. I had bought it when feeling pretty and that I thought would suit me. But then, the eyes. Judgemental stares and faces of shock and horror began to follow me.
I am used to people looking at me by now. I speak English and Spanish to my friends on the street and I don’t look like a typical Korean girl. As a result, I get a lot of double takes. But those eyes were different. It wasn’t curiosity, it was scrutinizing. I felt so uncomfortable that I put my shirt back on after going in the sea and refused to take it off.
Then, a guy on the subway moved seats when I sat next to him. It was as if I had a contagious disease. Then another man looked at me and my friend with something close to disgust look when we entered a McDonald’s. I felt so judged and very very ugly.
How Being Plus Sized is Judged on a Societal Level
I have always struggled with body image. However, Korean standards of beauty make it much more difficult to love my body the way it is. Everywhere you go, there are advertisements for plastic surgery and for dieting supplements…It is so normalized. They make it seem like not being thin is wrong and that you should only aim for that.
How did I end up here? That’s a question sometimes I ask myself when I find myself not fitting into clothing here. But, I am battling with it and trying to see the good part. I am different from the average girl here, therefore I am attractive in my own way.
If you have experienced any stigma surrounding being plus sized, how did you cope with it? For myself, I think counseling is a good option, you can Click Here to receive help if you feel too overwhelmed.
Let’s battle this together! I am here for you, and I am hopeful that those eyes looking are because you are beautiful. You are beautiful, and I am beautiful, no matter our size.