Tiger Mother Revisited: Hey Fatty, Lose Some Weight


“The fact is that Chinese parents can do things that would seem unimaginable—even legally actionable—to Westerners. Chinese mothers can say to their daughters, “Hey fatty—lose some weight.” By contrast, Western parents have to tiptoe around the issue, talking in terms of “health” and never ever mentioning the f-word, and their kids still end up in therapy for eating disorders and negative self-image.” (Chua, 2011)

I took a paragraph from an article “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior” in Wall Street Journal, which I used a lot for my dissertation. Why am I still talking about this when my dissertation is already over? Well, maybe in a way, I haven’t felt that the dissertation days was over. Maybe I am not yet convinced that I have done all I could, so a part of me was still trying to save a little of memory so when I had to do it again, I could do that better. Or, because it was just relevant to what I’ve been trying to tell Mr Fix It. It’s just a different kind of parenting style, in a different culture.

It’s a bloody cultural thing all over again isn’t it?

So, once more I told Mr Fix It that I need a diet again, because I feel fat. I think it made sense if I said that. Firstly, it’s because I am a girl. Girls generally always feel fat anyway no matter how close they are to the match stick. So feeling fat is permitted. Totally. And secondly, it’s because I put on so much weight since I came to this place. It might be the food, or the lifestyle, but anyway, 10 kilograms is no joke. So yes, I went to the mirror and said the exact same thing with what you saw in the quote above, “Hey Fatty – lose some weight.” Just as what I know what my mum would have said to me if she knew it.

The reaction of Mr. Fix It, however is more or less predictable. I mean, of course it is so unthinkable in this culture to come to a girl and tell her that she’s fat and should lose some weight. But I think my parents have protected me with their own way.

My father once said to me that the world is cruel to women – especially to those who could not meet the standard of beauty which was set from the society. Don’t start to mention the media and advertisement and shit, because if you look back, the standard of beauty was set long before the media plays their role. Media just reflects what people believes deep inside, magnify it, and emphasise the idea. Some people felt disturbed by it.

It is not about the male domination crap as well. Girls can be as cruel as boys in terms of making fun of the fatties – and most of the time, they are even crueler, by what they said, or what they did. And this is what I said that my parents have protected me from.

Some parents have different idea of protecting the kids. Some of them making a bubble for their kids so they would stay safe inside until they’re ready to face the world. Some of them believe that making the kids aware of the reality is the only way they learn to deal with it. It is some kind of mental training, and I also believe in mental training.

What does not kill you makes you stronger. I believe this does not come from the Asian culture, unless of course you’re talking about the Saiyans. However this idea has been practiced for centuries in the Asian parenting style. The Tiger Mother, The Wolf Father, and I believe many traditional Asian (or should I say East Asian?) child rearing philosophy is based on making a solid foundation for the kids so they would be able to do no less than EVERYTHING.

The same with losing weight.

Confidence, and self appreciation doesn’t come free. Complimenting and praising children with no apparent reason would not automatically makes them more self confident than before. Give them something to be proud about, give them something to achieve and win, and the self esteem will follow with the hunger to achieve more. That was the idea. And the path to success is never smooth.

I will tell you a story to support my argument above:

There are two girls in about the same teenage years, studying in a junior high school. Both of them are overweight, and was being avoided by their friends at school because they’re not ‘pleasing to see’. One of them was raised by a Tiger Mother, and the other was raised by the totally opposite kind of mother.

The Tiger Mother told the Girl1, to lose some weight because she’s fat. She made her a diet plan she had to follow, and literally called a fitness trainer to get her on shape. The Girl2, got a hug when she came home crying because no one wanted to play with her, and her mother would tell her that she loved her nevertheless, and that she was a princess and beautiful as she was.

In the end of the Junior High School, the Girl1 finally lost some weight and start making some friends. She learned that the friendships could be fake anyway because those people used to avoid her when she was fat. But she could not care less, she gained social skill and was asked to the prom with her size 6 (UK) dress. Of course, the Tiger Mother would ask her to come home before midnight, but oh well… Girl2, well… she might lose some weight, or not. In American teenage drama she might get someone who can actually see her inside and being asked to the prom as well, but in reality, she did not. She came to the prom alone, or stayed at home with her parents who loved her nevertheless, and watched “Carrie” and pretended to be glad not to go to the prom.

I am not saying that fat is ugly. Every girl is beautiful in their own way (and there are fetishes and alternate beauty too) and I have no right to say what this is better than that. I was talking about the different kind of parenting that some people would not understand. They would think how cruel a mother who said to her daughter that they’re fat and had to lose some weight. I say, nobody would know how it feels to be a tiger daughter unless you are a tiger daughter.

To be honest I took this a little bit too personally. But I hope I got my messages delivered right >_<


2 responses

  1. Trying to get your point but still cant get it but ur post remind me to what Kopi told me few months back.
    According to her the best way to teach kid is by saying positive words rather than negative words. I agree if a mother told her daughter to go for diet for health issue, sayin it all in a positive way rather than sayin it in negative way such as “fatty, fatso, etc” im a “big” girl as well and im glad that my mom till now never stop encouraging me to diet without sayin somethin that hurting my feelin 🙂


    • I know this is a little bit extreme for an example, but I believe that the strength of character is built from home. Of course, I quoted the author itself, that this kind of parenting is not everybody.
      Showering kids with positive words is a good idea in paper.


      It’s just like vaccination. You injected weak virus to your body so your immune system would be ready to protect you when the real virus come. If the baby is weak or sick, you’re not allowed to give them vaccination, why? They wouldn’t be able to take the weak virus and instead of activating immune system, it might even kill the baby >_<