Posts Tagged ‘Clothes’

Size matters

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

I had to both laugh and nod in agreement when I read Julie’s post. At 5′9″ there is no reason for me to have bought some size extra small shirts during my latest trip to the US. Sure, I have a slim build, but what about the slim 5′2″ people? Where do they find clothes? Have I just missed out on the new US fashion – perhaps inspired by the recession – of using your t-shirts as both dresses and sleeping bags? Either way, it’s a far cry from what I’m used to in Chile, where my 1.75 meters pretty much make me a giant. Let’s just say shopping is tricky in Santiago.

That said, I don’t know if I agreed with Julie’s point about the portions in the US being bigger. Yes, I know that we have an obesity epidemic, and I know that both our dinner plates and our restaurant meals are far larger than any person needs to survive. But if you think that the average dinner in the US is bigger than the average Chilean almuerzo, you clearly do not have an abuelita, a grandmother.

As an expat, you of course won’t have your own Chilean grandmother, but you can latch on to a significant other or close friend – abuelitas are usually happy to welcome another hungry mouth to the table. My boyfriend’s usually tells me that I’m too skinny before loading my bowl with cazuela, a Chilean soup that’s a meal in itself, what with the large chunks of chicken, vegetables and potatoes. But it’s not a meal, just your appetizer. My plate then comes piled high with more chicken, steak, more potatoes and a variety of salads.

Because abuelitas tend to be good cooks, and my surrogate abuelita is no exception, I finish my portion through sheer will – I’m never actually hungry enough for all of that food, but it’s too good to stop before my plate is clean. And then she asks if I want seconds. And remarks that I eat so little when I explain that really, I might explode if I take another bite!

I’ve seen the statistics on US portion sizes. But I think that when it comes to the biggest portions out there, Chilean abuelitas could give US restaurants a run for their money, and at least the restaurant doesn’t guilt trip you into eating more. And who knows, if I stay in Chile for the long term, maybe some day I’ll work my way up to a US size medium!

Emily Williams wrote this article for where she talks about expat life.  She shares more about life as a US gringa living in Santiago, Chile on her personal blog, Don’t Call Me Gringa, and loves hearing from readers!

In What Universe Am I a Size Small?

Saturday, June 20th, 2009

In What Universe Am I a Size Small?

I’m visiting in the U.S. for a while, and I feel like Alice through the looking glass who has eaten that part of the mushroom that shrinks her. Everything is bigger in the U.S. than in Buenos Aires.

Cars are bigger. My mother’s car is huge, and everyone keeps so much space around them, compared to the crowded streets in BsAs where the tiny cars squeeze as many as possible into a street, ignoring painted lanes.

Clothes are bigger. I went into Target and tried on a dress that was too big, and ended up with a small. I’m not small. I’m 5′6″ and a little overweight right now. But the small fit me. In BsAs, the sizes run from 1-4, and I’m a 3. Go figure.

Food servings are bigger. There are some places down South where one can get a huge plate of milanesa napolitana, but those in the know generally share it. People eat out a lot, but I routinely see men eating a salad or soup for an evening meal. The few places I have eaten out at in the U.S. have given me enough food to feed three people. THREE.

People are bigger. In Argentina, people tend to be more petite. At least half of the women I see on the street are a full head shorter than me. This is part of the reason for the smaller clothes… but not all of it. There is definitely an obesity epidemic in the United States. After being away for a year, I definitely see it everywhere I go. There are overweight people in Buenos Aires, obviously, but not at the scale I see here.  Granted, Argentine culture tends to pressure women to be thin, perhaps going too far at times. But I am 15 pounds overweight, and fit in a size small? The U.S. is definitely on the opposite end of the spectrum.

This is scary. I’m definitely motivated to get outdoors and get some exercise, and eat more salads.

Julia Evans wrote this article for where she blogs about her life as an expat.  She also writes a personal blog Evans’ Gate about living as an American expat in Buenos Aires, where she lives with her husband.  Comments on both blogs welcome!

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