My Big Barbados Butt — Comments Allowed

My Big Barbados Butt — Comments Allowed

In the United States, the extreme of political correctness is bestowed upon those “putting on weight” (i.e., getting fat).  And in the US, who isn’t? Have you been to a shopping mall there recently?  Oy vey.  We Americans talk about diets and weight-loss endlessly – but when a friend or co-worker is plumping up, we say …. nothing.   It’s way too touchy a topic to broach with someone who’s chowing down Ding Dongs.

Gorgeous Bajan butts at last year's Crop Over.

Gorgeous Bajan Butts at Crop Over 2005. Photo by Keith Clarke

Indeed, in the States, someone you know could gain a hundred pounds and NO ONE would say a word (to their face). Someone takes off five pounds and everyone says, “Hey, you’re looking terrific … “

We Yanks Just Don’t Talk About It.  Not about that, not about getting fat. Legendary for our puritanical views of sex, we will ask about your sex life before we ask why you’re fattening up like Christmas goose. Obesity is our individual — and our national — shame.

So I was surprised when someone I barely know said to me one day last year, “Since you been comin’ to Barbados, girl, you’ve put on size.”

I glared at her. “Whaaaaaat did you say?”

She clarified what I had just heard clear as a bell: “Your ass gettin’ bigger,” she said.

I couldn’t believe the audacity!  I looked behind me as though my behind were standing back there like a sorry third party unable to defend itself.

Never mind that it was true, I pushed back, “Did you just say I am getting fat?”

She looked me as though I was making a big deal about nothing.  “Yes,” she glared back, “that’s what I said.”

I had never heard anyone mention my putting on size, as the Bajans call it.

Flash forward to yesterday: I ran into this woman again.  I hugged her.  I reminded her of this exchange and apologized for being so touchy.  It was a trigger response, I explained, because No One in America comments on another person’s fat, either being or getting.

In the year and 3 months I’ve lived here, I’ve learned that Bajans call a spade a spade .. and a fattie a fattie.

Now that I’m accustomed to it, I have to say, I love it — not getting chubby, which, of course, I hate … what I love is the freedom to say the obvious.  Taking it out of the dark, silent place it’s hidden removes the shame of picking up a few pounds.

It’s really No Big Deal here in Barbados to talk about fat.

Interestingly, my weight is more stable here in Barbados – even with all the Bajan sweets I love so – than it ever has been in my life.

P.S.  On, ahem, the same topic …. Have you had the Coconut-Rum Creme Brulee at Little Arches restaurants?  I did last night … so rummy, so coconutty, beautiful crust on top … it was sooooooo good … SO good in fact that I’m tempted to compare it to ….

Oops, almost forgot: we Americans don’t talk about sex.



19 Responses to “My Big Barbados Butt — Comments Allowed”

  1. edie says:

    Hi B.F.F.
    What an insight. I would be totally offended if someone commented on my size going up, however we all need that affirmation when we lose any weight at all. As if that five pounds really shows. To be open enough to talk about weight might help all of North America deal with our ever GROWING girth. Its like we hide behind ourselves and hope no one else can see our problem because we can’t. In Barbados we noticed the woman wearing very tight shorts and jeans to accentuate their booties. Why hid behind sweat pants and moo moos if there is something to see. They most likely think you need to put on weight to “fit in” . Go for that decadant dessert. Love your blogs.
    cheers edie

  2. jdid says:

    so true. bajans do not mince matters with regards to weight. Its either ya like ya fall away (lose weight) or ya put on size. and yes you’re not supposed to get touchy about it and rush out for the latest fad diet, it just is what it is.

  3. Greg says:

    Of course, Bajan men like ladies’ butts in all sizes and shapes anyway, so we’re all fans!

  4. rainy says:

    My mother is west indian. Having a few extra pounds on you was never ever mentioned in our family. My father thought my mother was lovely. Weight was never an issue in their marriage. My mother is a plus size and I think she is beautiful, as are my sisters. I was alway taught that no one wants a bone except a dog. I hate all of the focus on what society believes to be beautiful. I myself have gained over 25 pounds this past year and my family thinks I look great. I wish I could get back into my size 6 jeans, but what the heck. I love your blog here. I check it every day. You do a wonderful job writing about living in Barbados. Keep up the good work, it is a pleasure to read.

  5. Jo Ind says:

    On my most recent trip to Barbados I was told two things: some people (usually the younger ones) said: “You’ve lost weight.” Others said: “You’ve put on size.” From this I deduce that people say what they think you want to hear and there are those for whom putting on size is a thoroughly good thing.

  6. planetbarbados says:

    There’s freedom in that attitude. At least for me …. with this attitude all around me, I’m more comfortable in my skin since moving to Barbados. Thanks!

  7. planetbarbados says:

    Thank you for this lovely contribution, Rainy. Thank you so much for visiting. I love your comments, too …. “Having a few extra pounds on you was never ever mentioned in our family.” And “my father thought my mother was lovely.” Love it. It wasn’t that way in my (American) family. So much of my worth as a human being (and a female one, especially) was about the slimness of my body! What a yoke around a young woman’s neck – ugh! Yesterday I had lunch at Chefette and watched beautiful young women (of varying size) indulging in their food – without guilt. Loved it!

    Again, thank you, Rainy.

  8. planetbarbados says:

    The point of my post was the freedom to discuss size, not size itself … but your comment is so true! Like Rainy said, “No one wants a bone except a dog.”

  9. planetbarbados says:

    Good point! A Bajan friend mentioned to me that just two generations ago in Barbados — even ONE generation ago, he said — getting enough to eat was a concern in Barbados and when someone had put on weight, comments were very affirming, “You look good” (i.e., “You’re doing well”) …

    Today, of course, Barbados is quite an affluent society with a large middle class and everyone exalts in this “land of plenty” with liberal portions. Hence, the pendulum very quickly swung in the opposite direction.

    I wonder if this provides some insight into why the topic of “putting on size” is so openly discussed and why, in part, it’s seen, per your comment, as a good thing in Barbados culture. There’s also the issue of ample behinds being seen in Bim as aesthetically desirable … hallelujah!

  10. planetbarbados says:

    Hi, Edie! Thanks. Yes, it’s strange at first to have one’s size commented on. BUT (no pun intended) … it’s the way it’s commented on that makes the critical difference.

    Let me try to explain: No one here really cares whether I’ve picked up a few pounds or not. In the States, if anyone ever dared mention my increasing weight, it would be with 1) concern, 2) derision, 3) judgment, 4) rudeness, 5) unpleasant teasing. Here in Barbados, it’s … nothing. Just a comment. Nothing behind it. Neutral. Most likely, my putting on weight would not be commented upon at all.

    Same with beauty, I’ve found. In North America and (most of) Europe, we all receive comments about our attractiveness and appearance on a daily basis, i.e., “You’re a pretty woman.” “You look great today.” “New outfit? Looks fantastic.” “What’d you do with your hair – looks great.” Etc. Here, no one comments! When I first moved here, I felt invisible! Now that I’m used to it, though, I feel freedom from what tended to be an unhealthy obsession.

    Truth is, picking up or losing a few pounds just doesn’t matter. So, hell yes, bring on the occasional decadent dessert. And on your next visit to Barbados, Edie, you just gotta try that Coconut-Rum bit of paradise over at Little Arches.

  11. rainy says:

    Size does not make a woman beautiful her spirit does. I developed Chrohn’s disease and lost alot of weight. I went from a size 10 to 2 in 10 months. My family hated my weight loss, they thought I looked like a sick chicken. In our family beauty was not only defined by outer images, but by attitude. My Dad used to tease my sister about her poor attitude and told her it made her ugly. We girls were taught than inner beauty was the most important thing, because looks come and go, but a beautiful spirit will shine no matter what you look like on the outside. My family thinks I look alot healthier now with the weight back on. No more scared chicken look anymore. I was happy with the extra weight when I fell ice skating with my little niece this winter. We as women cannot let society brainwash us into believing what is pretty and what is not. Having a beautiful spirit is always best.

  12. So funny. I’ve had exactly the same comments on my last two visits to Barbados , “Barbara you’re putting on size girl” and one of those comments was from a real big beautiful fat lady. But the nice thing is you can say it back without offence, which is exactly what I did!!

  13. homegrown says:

    I too have experienced the “…put on size…” remarks, mostly at the airport after waking up in NYC at 4:00am to catch a 6:30 flight to BB with a 1.5 year old. The funny thing is that these comments were made by my bajan female inlaws that change their appearance, mainly hair, so often that even I, let alone my 4 year old son, don’t recognize them. So I figure that the only thing you can do is ignore them and realize that they don’t realize their own identity…oh I am rambling…

    My point is that we are here in Barbados, we should embrace all it gives us and all we are, frizzy hair, big butts, hot weather, beautiful breezes. Just be yourself!

  14. planetbarbados says:

    Beautifully expressed, Rainy, and I’m sorry you were ill. Your and your dad’s belief that a beautiful spirit makes a woman beautiful reminds me of what my mother used to say, “Beauty is as beauty does.”

  15. planetbarbados says:

    Ha! At the very least they were making an observation that carried no judgment. But my hunch is that the people who made those comments were complimenting you, Barbara! … (If you’re shy about putting on a little weight, remember what Rainy said .. the “sick chicken” look is not appealing or healthy-looking. Esp to Bajan men!)

  16. planetbarbados says:

    Love your words …. just be yourself … I’m still a work in progress on getting to this place, but trying. And being in Barbados helps, where comments are out in the open and not meant to give offense. Thanks. Safe travels .. I remember flying with very young children — now that’s a challenge!

  17. Random guy says:

    Barbados have some of the most attractive women..
    they have pure sex appeal.
    ive been around the world and seen beautiful women
    but none as sexy as those in barbados..

  18. Eldridge says:

    My wife is from Barbados and has this sense of pride ’bout her size and wants to lose 25lbs. from her already girlish figure with all sorts of diets, crazy right ’cause she already has that

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