You may think most Asians are thin. You may think it’s genetic. You may think Asians just have smaller frames. It’s partially correct but do you really know why most Asians are thin? I have come to find out this Summer in Taiwan that it is because of the cultural expectations!
I passed by this gym a lot this summer and one day I decided to try out their scale that measures percentage body fat, percentage of water and weight. The results were a bit daunting when I compared my stats to the chart below. My competitive nature could not believe that I did not score an easy win according to the charts on the percentage of body fat.
- Normal percentage body fat for women 18-30 years old should range from 17-24%. For women 30-69 years old, normal ranges from 20-27%.
- Obese for women starts at 30%.
Taiwanese Expectations for Men:
- Normal percentage body fat for men 18-30 years old should range from 14-20%.
- For men 30-69 years old, 17-23%.
- Obese for men starts at 25%.
Below is a chart that was put out by American Council on Exercise in the US. See how much kinder it is for women?
- Obese starts at 32% in the US in comparison to the 30% in Taiwan!
- Average starts at 25% to 31% in comparison to the 17% to 27%.
Interestingly, the Taiwanese expectations for men on percentage of body fat are similar to that of the US. Do the US men like their women more plump? OR do the Taiwanese men like their women thin?
Now I understand why most Taiwanese women, especially younger ones, all have stick figures. This is a culture that values thinness and possibly smallness in women. There are not a lot of tall or big men in Taiwan. I guess men don’t usually want to look shorter or smaller than their women. Being almost 5’5″, I am considered tall for women in Taiwan. Weighing in at 117 pounds, I am not thin.
Luckily because of the Asian diet and lifestyle, it appears to be easier to stay fit in Taiwan than in the US. Taiwanese eat a lot less than Americans do. The food is also healthier. Their lifestyle appears to be more active; a lot less car driving and a lot more walking on a daily basis. All this contributes to a culture of thinness.
Do you think this whole thing is a little crazy? Or do you think expectations of thinness (within reason) is a good thing? Tell me what you think.