Mary's View of S'pore - Vol 4

Mary's View of S'pore - Vol 4

Welcome to the world of facials, pedicures, manicures, waxing for unwanted hair, spas, foot reflexology, massages, weight loss programs, tummy "trims" and breast enhancement schemes. I'm sure there's more but I can't think of them. There is, however, no body piercing or tattooing.

Small, petite, skinny, and anorexic are all adjectives I would use to describe the general population here - not expats. There is an incredible amount of time, energy, money, and advertising aimed at keeping the "body beautiful". Of course, the general population (Asian) is naturally all of these adjectives anyway. So, I'm not sure what the big deal is. However, it is. Way too much emphasis is put on physical appearance.

Take, for example, Gretchen. She attracted unwanted attention wherever she went. Shopkeepers would all comment on "how beautiful and so tall." One day we were at the MRT station and a young man passed, took a quick look, stopped in his tracks, turned around and openly stared at Gretchen. Gretchen turned around and disgustedly said, "It's going to be one of those days." I know it is really a complement but at the same time it is very disturbing and tiring.

One young woman we know exercises constantly - stationary bike riding, tennis (hours at a time), etc. She is hardly in danger of being over weight.

One aspect of the perceived "body beautiful" that does not come naturally here is large breasts. There is a lot of emphasis placed on this body part in particular. Padded bras are the norm in all the stores. If there's one thing I don't need it's a padded bra! Ads on TV promote a bra insert that will enhance your cleavage. These inserts are guaranteed to not move or fall out. But the one I'll never forget was an ad on one of MRT trains. It was an ad for breast enhancement cream, thigh reduction cream, and a weight loss patch. All of these products could be bought at a certain pharmacy. Gretchen and I stared in amazement and then wondered what would happen if the wrong cream was put on the wrong body part. Could be a big problem. How do creams do all that anyway? One thought - if all these Asian women got big boobs all the clothes would have to be redone because what's in the stores now wouldn't fit!! A clear case of never being satisfied with what you've got. Somehow, I've got to believe that men are behind it all.

So, what does the little woman do all day to keep busy? All of the above activities plus playing bridge (as many times a week as one could want and more), reading, doing needlework, exercising, traveling, and of course, shopping. And because your life is so full of appointments - weekly facials, etc. you have no time for cooking and cleaning. Therefore, a maid is a necessity. It's a hard life and a vicious circle.

I leave you now to contemplate a culture and society that offers a product called "Smelly No More".