I’ve never had things not made for me.
That’s a lie.
The original plans in the engineering building at my university did not call for a women’s bathroom. The school compensated by converting the one on the first floor into a ladies room, much to the chagrin of the men.
And the entire thing about being a female engineer is really a bit abnormal in the first place.
Then there was that period of time- my entire teenage years- when I was too tall and skinny to fit into normal jeans or trousers. Everything was just a few inches too short leaving my socks showing and submitting me to high school mean girls shouting “There’s a flood!” when I turned the corner. Although the bully experience was scarring, you don’t get much sympathy for being too tall and skinny.
And then I gave up eating meat, so there was that. But I lived in Austin, and then London so that wasn’t too much of a problem.
But mostly I fitted in. I’m right handed. I’ve never had a disability, unless you count being severely clumsy.
Then I moved to Singapore where my average height self and husband stand up tall over the rest and not eating meat is something the Hindus do, not the Ang mos.
But the daily struggle is the clothes and the beauty products. My friends back home were shocked to hear that in Singapore I was an XL.
Sure you can get the same high street items as you get anywhere like Gap and Zara, but they aren’t guaranteed to stock your size.
For the record, I’m not overweight.
And the beauty products are to lighten skin and smooth the hair, while I already get pretty pasty and have hair so smooth and flat that it will hardly hold in a ponytail.
The sales ladies don’t understand and in their aggressive nature proceed to tell me how their smoothing serum is great for Caucasion hair.
“But lady, look at it. It doesn’t need to be any straighter. It’s already limp and lifeless,” I try to reason with them.
They can’t seem to answer my question as to why the skin product they are pushing is allegedly good for Caucasians. I then realize I am only being placed in one category: white.
This is the portion of the post where I apologize to all my black female friends and acquaintances whom I did not take seriously enough about their hair and beauty product struggles. Obviously my problems are not the same, and yet I still feel traumatized.
I’m made to feel racist when I request a hair stylist who can deal with REALLY fine and thin hair. “All of our stylists our good with Caucasion hair.” That’s not what I was asking, and by the way I ask this question at all new salons. That includes in the US and Europe. So really, please don’t take offense!
These are first world problems, I know, but you don’t mess with a girl’s hair.
My last haircut left me feeling pretty sad. At the end of the haircut, I had to ask for more product. And more product. “My hair is so fine it’s falling in my eyes,” I had to point out.
“Oh sorry,” she said. “Most Singaporean girls don’t wear product in their hair.” I tried to smile, but couldn’t help but think about how I had just paid her $70 to teach her how to cut my hair.
I know there must be very talented hair stylists in Singapore, I just have to learn where to look.
I walked straight out of the salon- one I found on expat forums described as being cool and chic and good with fine hair but ended up being for the over 40 and not working expat wives who like to tell their nodding stylist over and over again how things are in America- and straight into a plate of cheese fries.
If you are going to engage in emotional eating, might as well do it full force.
I guess I should be grateful that there are some things you can get everywhere.
Author’s note: In case you are desperate for a reminder of home, there’s a Chili’s at Tanglin mall and Clarke Quay in Singapore. Normally I wouldn’t condone this behavior, but hey, there’s really no shame in it from time to time. I know a foodie friend who once drove 2 hours in the UK just to go to a TGIFriday’s. Think about how desperate he must’ve been.