Friday, August 23, 2013


How much do you make a year?
How much do you pay for rent monthly?
How old are you?
How much do you weigh?
Why don't you have kids?  
Why aren't you married?

Do those kind of questions make you nervous?  If you had asked them as a kid would you have gotten slapped in the face?  Yeah, me too.  As it turns out, though, those questions form part of the cultural divide between Americans and Latinos.  Ever since I moved to Spanish six years ago I've been bombarded with questions of this sort, and somehow, I'm the one that comes out sweating and nervous instead of the person asking this very inappropriate question.

Here's some examples of exact statements people (both JWs and non) have made to me within the past month:
1.  Wow, you really filled out when you went to the U.S.
2.  Be happy you got sick, Shawn.  You lost weight.
and the kicker from my elderly neighbor I saw on the street this week....
3.  You look fatter today! which I responded "I don't even know what to say to that."

How are you dealing with these questions?  Laughing?  Crying?  A snarky reply?  I think I need to grow a tougher skin.


  1. That happens around here too (South Africa), only difference is that being called fat is actually a compliment on this side of the world.

    1. I think it is here too but I've heard it both ways. It makes me happy though that word the dictionary translates as beautiful "hermosa" here means hefty :)

  2. Yeah, I don't think being told you're fat, or fatter, is a bad thing here in Nicaragua, it's certainly not viewed as an insult. Someone was just asking me the other day if I'm happy with being slim, or if I'd like to be a bit chunkier. And they seemed surprised that I said I was fine! I just try to take those things in my stride - why do you have short hair? why don't you let it grow? I just answer the question and move on! I'm sure there are things we do or say that they think are strange too!!

  3. Dear Shawn, I know you don't know me, but I so enjoy following your blog as well as Charley y Rachels. I feel your pain about the latino directness. I served in Diriamba, Ticuantepe, Piedra Quemada and in Managua over the years. It never seems to get easier. I agree with Rachel that you can just answer the question and go on or tell them you don't answer those types of questions. At the same meeting I was told by one sister that I looked fatter and then by another that I looked thinner. Oh and by the way if they tell you that you are "hermosa" (beautiful) it really means chubby since for them plump is prosperity. You've seen all the plump hippy paintings of women in the market. So enjoy your blog, even tried out the sweet and sour ckn with asian rice and it was a success with my husband!!! Thanks again!

    1. Thanks for the advice. Honestly, the weight ones don't bother me as much as the money ones. I just never know what to say!!!

  4. Greetings from Mexico! Just started reading and have enjoyed the blog!

    Our favorite question is "why do you only have one child?" I usually smile and reply with something about Jephthah's daughter. If we feel the question is too personal for us we just feign ignorance and say " lo siento, pero no entiendes". Sometimes it pays to be the extranjero...

  5. Oh, I need to chime in on this one...

    I can't tell you how many times I've been asked:

    Is that your real hair?
    Are you sad that you don't have kids?
    Why don't you straighten your hair?
    Would you marry a Nicaraguan?
    Why don't you get extensions?
    Have you met "brother-lives-with-his-momma-and-ten-others?"

    It's a learning experience...for both sides. I have to remember where they're coming from and what their culture is. Most of the time I'm not offended so much as annoyed. I get the same questions in the States sometimes too though so...there you go.


    1. I'm guilty on this one too, Shelina. Can I touch your hair?