This Wall Street Journal article titled "For Asian Women, Weight-Loss Rule 1 Is Skip the Gym" reminds me why I used to be so unhappy with my appearance.
"The traditional Chinese ideal of beauty emphasized not just pale bodies but tiny feet and hands. Today, the feminine ideal of weak and wan remains, even as women gain independence through their jobs. For some, staying slim is a way to reconcile that, psychologists say. In some women's magazines, slimming products and services make up 50% of the ads, according to a new study by the Hong Kong Eating Disorders Association."
In Southeast Asia, women are obsessed with being skinny. No matter that they can't climb a flight of stairs without running out of breath or have a high % body fat, they just want to be stick thin. They'll do almost anything to lose weight: ingest diet supplements, e.g., teas, gels, pills, or use electrical impulse machines to firm up muscles. Anything, that is, except for eating a well-balanced diet or exercising.
In case you're wondering just how thin these women aspire to be, let's just say that the Fancl House beauty and slimming center uses movie star Gigi Leung in their advertisements. Gigi is 5'10" and weighs 120lb and has a BMI (body mass index) of 17.2. Given that the normal BMI range for Asian populations is 18.5-23 kg/m2, Gigi is underweight. It's no wonder that "In the past eight years, Dr. Sing Lee, founder of the Hong Kong Eating Disorders Center, has seen a 20-fold increase in eating disorders, including anorexia." How sad.