Sunday, 22 September 2013 Filed in: Shanghai | Little A | People We Meet
Honestly, if I see another Chinese man walking around with his shirt hoiked up and his belly poking out, I’m going to walk up to him and rub it. No, actually I’m not, because that’s icky but I really don’t understand this need that Chinese men have to walk around with their tummies on display as if perhaps they might suddenly break from the crowd, pull their shoulders back and start doing the Carebear stare in the middle of downtown Shanghai. If you don’t know what the Carebear Stare is, see photo below, that’ll clear it up (I’m all about the pictures this week).
For some reason, I find the pulled up shirt more disturbing than no shirt at all (I also see plenty of this). And it’s not the young, lithe, Sino-pop youth that are flashing their pot-b’s to all and sundry…it’s the paunchy and the elderly than are most prone to this kind of behaviour. I think they ostensibly do it because they are too warm and it seems like a quick, convenient way to cool down without having to invest in a hand fan. My view is that it’s some kind of middle-aged mating call. “Look at me, I have many dumplings.” Some ladies might like that kind of thing.
That said, Chinese fat bellies are not shunned by society - quite the opposite in fact - to be chubby seems to be quite the attribute - a source of pride. Maybe it’s because Buddha is a portly, half naked, man figure. In China, it’s ok to say that someone is fat. People tell me that Baby A is fat all the time. Baby A smiles and nods cheerfully so I don’t think it’s giving him a complex. It certainly hasn’t put him off his food anyway. He responds to the compliment by intermittently pulling up his t-shirt on the bus, thus allowing older ladies to admire his well-tended tum-tum.
I’m waiting for the day when Mr Oh starts roaming the streets with his t-shirt knotted half way up his torso and his solar plexus exposed for public viewing. I might have to fatten him up a bit first, no point showing your belly if you don’t have a substantial offering. A bit of fake tan should sort out the milky sheen too.