A Fijian Life, An Indian Heritage

Big Cars and Tiny Women on My Island

Let’s talk about size today, dear reader. More precisely, the size of women.

Working on construction sites in Sydney is a bit like wandering through a global food expo. You’ll find subbies working in packs from all corners of the world. You’ve got your Italian form-workers, Czech crane-operators, Greek steel-fixers, Vietnamese welders, Samoan concreters – you pick. Being a young cadet and usually the only female on sites, I got in on a lot of conversations happening around. And when men are not talking about work at work, it’ll be either about sports or women. Whether it’s the Italians hammering on 6th floor or the Vietnamese welding on the 3rd level North-East corner facade, all men’s brains are wired the same.

And the size of a woman is a robust subject matter, dear reader – one that is discussed with zest and vigour. I’ve always belonged to the larger end of the measurement spectrum (which unfortunately increases a dress size every 2 years) so these discussions were always of great interest to me. Do men really prefer skinny women? One afternoon I was walking around ticking the OH&S checklist for the ‘checked’ lead wires (ahh the life of a minion) when I walked past old Sanchez and the site foreman talking about…women! Nah mate, I prefer mine meaty…something to grab on to yah know, drawled Sanchez spreading out, holding an imaginary pair of plump hips in the air with his mortar splattered hands and thrusting it to his pelvic region. She gotta be the right kind – the one who looks into your eyes and you know. Since then Chilean men have a special place in my heart and firmly on my travel list. Over time, I’d been part of many such conversations at work, in pubs, over BBQs where a healthy number of straight men from different ethnic backgrounds expressed their desire for the ‘right’ woman not particularly determined by their physical size. And so my early twenties was spent in the quiet confidence of being perfectly okay with being a plus size female (how I hate that term though – plus size).

Then I moved back to my island nation. Where size of things matter.

Actually we Fijians are obsessed with sizes.  The bigger the better. Big cars, big houses, big fridges, big TVs – everything big. Corporates play on this ‘big’ obession of ours big time. Big shopping complexes tenanting the same bloody shops 10 minutes away, bigger cinemas screens, big new food franchise from over the seas that everyone will pay $20/meal deal for but would complain when the local lovo guy puts his price up from $8 to $10 a serve.

Press Releases announcing ‘big’ building and development blue prints and 4-lane roads, turn people on here. Announce a small cafe opening up in Martintar – who gives a fuck. Review it, a badly designed building with poor ventilation & shitty parking – so what. Will have to cut down 50-year old trees to make way for the civil machinery and equipment – just do it. As long it’s ‘big’, it’s good.

Telecommunication companies throw ‘Double Ups’ and ‘Triple Ups’ on the weekends that causes servo stations to jamb up near the cashier. Burger joints offer double fish patties for limited time only, driving families to race in to try their ‘biig begger‘. Big Win Promotions are waved under your noses in supermarkets – where should I ever ‘win big’, I shall give the money back to them to clean the 5-year dust buildup on their shelves as my contribution to fellow countrymen.

Unfortunately though our obsession of big, doesn’t extend to women on this islands. Especially for our desi indo men. It was some 6 months since I got back when I went on date to a newly opened then popular bar in Nadi with this banker guy. 2 drinks later, this fellow slowly starts with ‘you’re a great girl’ while it’s not me who thinks like this but a lot of Indian men might get put off by…your weight. But not me. I’m just telling you so you can do something about it. You’ve been with me for while, dear reader so you know I don’t get insults. Till 5 hours later. Yes I’m slow like that. In this case, I even offered to drop my insulter home who lived in the opposite direction. Only after dropping him off and on my long way home did it hit me that I had just been played the ‘fat’ card!

Fijian men’s ‘bigness’ extends as far as their cars. Women – they like tiny. And not tiny as in only in size. Tiny as in quiet. Tiny as in not opinionated. Tiny as in not independent. Tiny as in controllable. Men on this islands don’t see women as a bigger, better extensions to themselves. No. Fijian women to many are still possessions to acquire, own, parade and quash whenever they deem necessary. A ‘woman of size’ is just not yet desirable on this island home of mine.

But with Easter around the corner, how about truly being big men? Like giving your insecurities away to the Easter angels and feeling vulnerable for once? Like downsizing your ego to feel what your heart is really after? Like stopping with the double standards and choosing a ‘woman of size’?

This Easter, let your heart free. Go choose the bigger woman!

whereisshyamni@gmail.com
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