You a little fat


It’s 6 p.m.

Wayan Sie, the only masseuse in the world that I allow anywhere near me, arrives and I strip, stretching out on my stomach on the bed. The aroma of nutmeg scented oil swirls in the room. She strokes my back with long, sweeping movements, ahhh. Muscles let go. I melt. “That feels so good, Wayan,” I croon happily.

“Ya, Sherry,” she replies. She’s quiet for a moment then says, “You a little fat, ya?”

Wayans hands have been all over my body. Many times. If anyone could detect a few extra pounds, she could. Damn Balinese honesty! “Am I?” I ask.

“Ya, it’s good,” she says.

I meditate on that for the remaining 70 minutes that she kneads, pokes, pummels, and prods me. First I think about the comment another friend made just a month ago. “You’re scrawny,” she said. Okay, who do I believe? No contest. Wayan knows. Then I think about my body. It’s become muscular with all the yoga and walking. It’s that new muscle, I tell myself, as if Wayan doesn’t know the difference between fat and muscle. Right. I wonder why I haven’t noticed. My clothes aren’t any tighter. Of course the loose fitting garb I wear here wouldn’t be tight if I gained 200 pounds.

Wayan finishes. I thank her and she leaves to cook dinner for her husband and son.

Fat. I don’t relate to fat. I’m not fat. I’ve never been fat, well, aside from pudginess prior to puberty, but that doesn’t count. Why am I obsessing about this?

In the U.S. we wouldn’t dream of telling someone what we think when it concerns negative body image. Bali is a different story. In this culture you say it like it is, whether you’ve gained weight, grown a zit the size of a grapefruit, gotten a bad haircut…the Balinese notice and comment. It can be a bit off-putting at first, as is their propensity to want to know your business.

“Where you go?”

“What you buy?”

“How much you pay?

Then I remember. The last massage Wayan gave me was on the heels of a ten day siege of Bali Belly. I had done nothing but puke and poop. There wasn’t much left of me. By comparison I am now, indeed, ‘a little fat’. Okay. I can live with that.

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. shanemac
    Mar 24, 2014 @ 19:25:25

    I wouldn’t call you scrawny. Not even if I thought it, which I don’t. But good grief, anyone calling you a little fat is like saying Bali is a little bit arctic. Now I know I’d better not let Ibu Wayan’s hands on my body. She’d faint in horror.



    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Mar 24, 2014 @ 19:35:53

      Oh Oh! Did that sound like a fishing expedition? I really wasn’t looking for reassurance…but thanks for offering it! I haven’t owned a scale for decades, and I can pick the ‘fat’ mirror or the ‘skinny’ mirror in my house depending upon my vanity level for the day. The reflection offers at least a 9 kilo (20 pounds for my U.S. readers) difference! I’ve learned to accept both, not knowing which is closer to the truth!



  2. sageblessings
    Mar 25, 2014 @ 00:15:02

    Once again, the Balinese leave things open to interpretation. I’d guess your second theory was correct and she was complimenting you on coming back from being sick. Fat!!!!???? NOT.



  3. Joyce Grimsbo
    Apr 27, 2014 @ 18:27:52

    It is so interesting to read about your house building. How different things are there. Hope you have many years of enjoyment in it.



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