The winter months in Turkey have been very kind to me. The fine dining, copious amounts of beer and my desk job have all combined to bless me with a spare tyre and a couple of extra chins.
I don’t need people to tell me that I have put weight on. There are six pairs of trousers sitting in my wardrobe that I cannot pull over my hips.
The English ex-pats have been diplomatic to me. They remember our culture background that is rude to discuss a person’s weight and they tactfully steer around the subject while still telling me that I look great.
However in Turkey, any weight gain is shoved into the conversation like you are discussing the time of day. Don’t be surprised if you go to your favorite restaurant and the waiter recommends with a toothless grin that perhaps you should be drinking diet cola instead!
Turkish People Tell You if You are Fat
Now my weight has always been like a yoyo while I have been in Turkey. I remember the first time a Turkish person remarked on my weight gain and I ran home, threw myself on the settee and cried my eyes out. I settled on the idea that they was having a joke at my expense and therefore swore never to talk to them again. However the very next day, I did see them and they were talking to me like nothing had happened
That was also the first time that I discovered a difference between the Turks and the Brits when it comes to conversation topics that are socially accepted. The literal translation from Turkish to English is that you have taken kilos. To me this is the same as saying “you are now fat”. Your weight gain will be openly discussed in public and at times you will feel like waving your hands around like a mad woman to let them know you are still there.
It was explained to me once that Turkish people can talk so freely about a person’s weight gain because it is irrelevant. The important aspects are your character, personality and whether you have a kind heart. Material looks have nothing to do with day to day life and therefore your weight is not an issue.
Ok, I can see where they are coming from on that but at the same time, I was bought up in a society where telling someone they are fat is perfect grounds for the biggest cat fight ever seen.
I like the English diplomatic manner of not discussing extra chins, spare types around the waist and my bulging hips that now swing from side to side as I walk down the street. Ok, so it is said behind my back instead but it still saves me the embarrassment of being the topic of conversation.
This morning I sat down for breakfast with a table full of Turks. I had not seen one of them in quite a long while. After the standard social greetings of “hello” and “how are you?” I heard those words that make me cringe.
Shoving their face full of bread and olives, they declared to the whole table that they could see I had gained kilos and everyone had a good laugh. I shrugged my shoulders and said nothing. My only thought was that this is one aspect of Turkish culture that I will never get used to.