You know when you are having one of those days and you feel like everyone is staring at you, judging you and making comments in their minds about how you look? I have that every day. And those comments? Not just in their heads.
For the past eighteen months I’ve been volunteering in a remote part of the Solomon Islands. How remote you ask? I didn’t know Osama was dead until a couple of weeks after. We’ve only just gotten limited internet access to the island. Did you guys know Prince William got married!? I read it on the internet…
If you happen to drop by you can tell who I am – I’m the only one who gets sunburnt with this highly inefficient white skin of mine and who stands out like a neon bulb at night. I’m practically the village light house. I’m the odd one out with my different culture and strange mannerisms; of course people watch me.
Here’s a couple of things about the Solomon Islands:
Solomon Pijin – the lingua franca – is a remarkably direct language. It doesn’t go for all this gentle-subtle-roundabout-way-of-suggesting-something-stuff that English does.
Also, in the Solomons it is perfectly reasonable to comment on people’s appearance even if you don’t really know them that well.
So not a day goes by when I don’t receive at least three comments about my appearance. Normally these come out of nowhere, like a shark or Chuck Norris, and I’m never expecting them.
Sometimes they’re just thrown at me: “Claire! You look fat today.”
Other times they’re a little more sneaky:
“What are you two doing?”
“Just going for a walk. Exercising.”
“That’s good. Especially for Claire.”
Sometimes they’re just plain bizarre:
“How are you today, Mary?”
“Good, Claire…You’ve cut down. When you first came here you looked like your thighs were about to explode.”
I’m not going to lie to you – at first it got to me. I’m not the most slender creature on this earth but I’m not Jabba the Hut either. My man-friend says I have a body like a Spanish guitar. I think this is boy-talk for exceptionally childbirth-worthy hips. Like most girls I know, I spent a fair bit of my late teens eating apples, jogging long distances and unhappily chewing on air. So initially having all these people call me fat to MY FACE? It was enough to put me off my rice and kumara (like sweet potato and a staple food in this culinary limited part of the world.) But then I sat down on my cushy Greek rear and took a good hard look at what was going on.