Why Asians are thinner: On Cultural Reduction and Health

On Oct 22, 2015 In Tags: , , , , , ,

burntpotRecently, a very prominent website published an article on why Asians tend to be thinner than what I can only presume to be Caucasians (as the writer is Caucasian). It’s not the first article on this topic and it won’t be the last (there is, after all, an entire field of study on comparing cultural behaviours and “health”. Whether this is a worthwhile field or not, I have yet to decide), but the treatment of the material was so completely out-to-lunch racist, that I could not fight posting about it.

The colonial narrative is healthy and strong, even in the fitness world. Other cultures become exoticized and romanticized as though they are not really part of the world of the writer. It’s both disappointing and amusing to read until you realize that the entire premise of such stories is to separate, perpetuating a ‘them vs us’ mentality, particularly when based on a thoroughly inadequate experience of what it means to be of another culture (This petition was created in response to a newspaper article on Filipino cuisine as experienced by a naive Caucasian traveller). It results in the inappropriate homogenization of many cultures under a single, reduced label. This essentially invalidates the richness of what it means to experience any one of those cultures expressed in a myriad of combinations.

This is not an issue of a narrative “not mirroring MY experience” as a Canadian-born Asian (Chinese), but an issue of reducing both health and culture to the point of being a charred remnant at the bottom of a pot that’s been left on the stove too long. As one of my friends messaged to me after reading it, “OK, so should I just throw out my toilet bowl or learn kung fu first?

However, it’s clear that the author of that article has no understanding how to properly homogenize Asians, or the real reasons why Asians are thin. If you’re going to misappropriate a swathe of cultures, you should do it properly (warning on language, as I wanted to keep it in the same “bro”-vein as the original article):

Eight reasons why you are fat and Asians are thin (because the number 8 is Asian)

1. Traditional Asian cultures don’t fucking care where their meat comes from

Fuck eating whole animals; Asians eat all animals, including unborn animals. They don’t care if it has a face, or if that face has a crazy number of eyes, or if it has eyes at all. Jellyfish? Done. Brain? No problem. The tail of a cow? Gelatinized blood? Insects? Sure. Embryonic ducklings? Easy. The reason why this will make YOU thin is because you would rather nibble on the lemongrass garnish on the side than put this shit in your mouth.

2. They also eat it raw.

Anthropologists theorize that the evolution of cooking food allowed our ancestors to spend less energy on extracting nutrients from food, thereby creating an energy surplus to grow stuff like bigger brains. I don’t know how Asians are so good at math because they must be spending crazy calories just digesting all that raw shit that they eat. That’s why they’re so thin. Anthropologists must be stupid.

3. Chopsticks

Who the fuck can eat with these things? No wonder Asians are so skinny. They can’t get the food from their plate (oh wait, sorry, BOWL—since Asians don’t use plates) to their pie-hole (oh wait, I mean RICE-hole since Asians don’t know what pie is)

[Also, this reason was ACTUALLY in that article, I shit you not. Because obviously Asians can’t fuckin’ put it away with a lifetime of experience with chopsticks. Mr. Sheridan, you have obviously never watched an Asian family (in any time period) eat.]

4. They venerate their ancestors

They leave FOOD at shrines. FOOD. Sometimes they burn it! That is food that is not going into their rice-holes. A whole 7-course meal gets burned at a funeral. That’s at least 3000 calories, man.

5. Traditional Asians prioritize a lunar calendar

Yeah. The MOON. What the fuck is up with that? It means they age faster since a lunar month only has 28 days in it. So when some old wrinkly Asian dude says he’s 100, he’s probably only like…80 in real time, tops. They don’t really live longer, it’s a fucking shorter calendar.

6. They fold paper

You’ve heard about NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis), right? Well, try taking a 4-inch by 4-inch square of paper and turning into a LION. Or a CRANE. Or a crazy mask. They say most people are strong enough to fold a piece of paper only 6 times max. Those Asians though; it’s like 100 folds. They must be strong. And thin. That’s probably at least three times non-Asian NEAT.

7. They play video games

Have you ever tried League of Legends or Warcraft? Those games NEVER END. What the fuck is the point of a game where you never run out of lives? I went on a raiding party to kill Arthras. It took us 6 hours and I didn’t even get up to use the BATHROOM. By the time we gave up, I was pissing toothpaste, I was so dehydrated. These Asians aren’t just not eating sweets, they’re fucking fasting on a video game.

8. They speak Asian.

What do all thin Asians have in common that non-Asians don’t have? They all fucking speak Asian. Every time I try to speak it (some dude taught me some swear words) people just make fun of me. The amount of energy it takes to contort my mouth into forming these fucking sounds is crazy. NEAT, mother-fucker. N. E. A. T. It adds up.

Bonus reason 1: They’re short

More jumping to see things in crowds. Right?

[Addendum: A lot of the “blowback” from the publication’s moderators has been about how the article is about “traditional” Asian cultures. Because there are SO MANY pockets of uncontacted Asian tribes… Sheridan, this isn’t a story about the Mashco-Piro of Peru/Brazil (who, by the way, aren’t untouched). If you wanted to talk about “untouched” Asian cultures, then by definition, you would have no idea of their cultural practices because…they’re UNTOUCHED. There is no such thing as a “non-Western-influenced” Asian culture any more than there is an example of a non-Asian-influenced action movie. Fucking STAR WARS takes place a long time ago in a galaxy far away, and it’s STILL Asian-influenced.]

  • r_s_g

    I couldn’t find the original article. Did it really mention chopsticks? Far more Asians don’t use chopsticks than do (i.e. South Asia, the Middle East, and most of Southeast Asia do not regularly eat with chopsticks)…

    • evidencebasedfitness

      Yes, it really did mention chopsticks. And yes, I’m aware that many Asian cultures don’t use chopsticks regularly. Still, if you had been raised to use chopstick since the age of..I dunno…I’m gonna say 4, because that’s when I learned to use chopsticks, I don’t think chopsticks are the limiting factor of getting food in.

  • Michelle Jaelin

    LOL, love this! I can’t read the original article – as it would make me angry. Btw, I am CBC too 😀

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