The Svelte Thai Females And The “Won Sigh” Foreigner

I came to realize early on in my keep in this beautiful country of Thailand, that Thai females had been not only completely groomed and gracious, but they were completely “svelte.” I imply, how many a lot more attributes do they get? I felt like Gulliver in the land of the Lilliputians.

As a newly-arrived expat in Thailand, I looked forward to seeing almost everything from the Reclining Buddha to the gold-encrusted temples. But 1st, I told myself, I had some serious buying to do. With the temperature at 100 degrees and the humidity fighting for best billing, I believed the best place to kill two birds with 1 metaphorical stone would be at an air conditioned purchasing mall. Shopping has often had a way of lifting my more than-sized spirits. I’d hoped to discover a cutesy tiny sundress that could transform my 38DD bust line and my 30 inch waist into anything that looked “svelte.”

But this wasn’t just for me, this purchasing company. No, no. I produced it a prerequisite to constantly support the local economy. I was directed by our hotel’s concierge to try Robinson’s Department Retailer in downtown Bangkok. “Extremely good garments foh you, MaDam.”

Wow, Robinsons? Appropriate right here in downtown Bangkok? It took me thirty minutes on a hot tuk-tuk ride in the piercing heat, but I made it, unscathed and ready to invest, spend, commit. As I sauntered into what I thought was the Women’s Division, I stopped quick. Oh, no, these must be the teen’s clothes. They’re a lot as well little for an adult. I scanned the racks. Who wears a size two? Exactly where am I, in the Barbi and Ken Department? I couldn’t get these styles around my thigh, a lot significantly less my back-side.

I could see a person walking towards me, but she looked like a teenager. Certainly she’s not the salesgirl? She stopped in front of me. “Gootmoanin.”

“Oh.” I felt my face get hot. She looked like a sprite. She wasn’t a tiny girl right after all she was at least in her 20s and naturally the salesgirl in this division. “Uh, I, ah, was… Is there a Woman’s division in this retailer?”

“Yeth.” She smiled and waited expectantly.

“Oh. Nicely, I, ah, could you point me to it?”

“Mai kow jai ka.”

I yanked my Thai-to-English conversation book from my pocket and handed it to her. She pointed to a Thai phrase and handed the book back to me.

“Oh! You don’t realize?”

She smiled.

“Okay. Positive. Sorry.” I pointed to my properly-fed physique, while she watched expectantly. I then yanked on the waistline of my dress and said, “Garments. For me.”

“Yeth,” she smiled demurely even though looking at her feet, “preze foroow me.”

She led me to a tiny alcove, exactly where some effectively-fed vacationers were grazing about. Sidling up to a rather rotund shopper, I asked if she knew why we have been led to this separate location. “Is it since we’re foreigners?”

She puckered up her mouth as if sucking on a sour gumball: “Yeah, honey, it is cuz we’re foreigner’s all right, bigger-than-life foreigners!” She threw back her head and guffawed at her cleverness.


“The only sizes you are going to uncover out there,” she cocked her head towards the tiny clothing I’d just left, “are size twos to fours, and honey, that ain’t us.” She had herself one more great laugh.

I snuck a peek around the room whilst she chortled, and realized that each body standing in this area was years previous those proportions.

I knew I wasn’t going to like these svelte, tidy small females. They have to be bulimic — that is it. Binge, purge, binge, purge – they’re not fooling me. Dream on, lady.

As I toured and shopped the city in the following weeks, I came to realize that the Thais had been also neat and tidy in other elements of their lives. Every division store I visited in Bangkok was unbelievably pristine. Shirts and pants, towels, linens and sportswear were not only folded and stacked, but truly looked as even though folded by automation. All the garments concealed cardboard inserts to give them shape. No pins showing, no uneven edges, just as if it were a picture on show. The dresses, blouses and shirts had been neatly hung on hangers according to sizes and colors. Wonderful, thinking about the litter I’d witnessed outside on the streets of Bangkok, where every single tiny nook and crevice harbored some sort of debris.

For us, ahem, larger sizes, I located that something imported was deplorably higher. An imported name-brand in Thailand could be four occasions larger than one particular might spend in the States. Paradoxically, Thai garments are very economical and really stylish — if you are much less than 5 feet tall and weigh amongst seventy and ninety pounds.

I produced a selection then and there: Ahead of I left this nation I would diet program, quick, quit eating, quit breathing whatever it took to look as svelte as these Thai girls.

Yet another eye-opener I identified was that every spot I shopped, there were at least three salespeople hovering over me, smiling, waiing — a Thai greeting. So useful! I will be very cranky when I return to the States and do not get the exact same service.

But — back to reality. Right after living in Thailand for a few months, I discovered the secret of the segregated clothing. The salespeople have the excellent solution for us larger sizes. It really is called “Won Sigh” — which means Enormous. You enter the clothing department, and unless you are built like Twiggy, the sweet, smiling, ever-helpful salesgirls — who all appear pre-pubescent –steer you toward the “Won Sigh” division. This is where you are going to find all the loose-fitting, baggy, beachy, gauzy, hippie-hunting outfits, and all claiming to match 1 SIZE from size eight all the way up to Mama Cass. This is their way of saving face – yours. They would in no way dream to insinuate you were massive, fat, obese, or chubby. You just happen to fall into the category of Won Sigh.

As I departed Robinsons in my new muumuu, practically tripping more than the hemline, I got a glimpse of my reflection in the show window. YIKES! Picture Hilo Hattie in strappy sandals.

(Excerpted from A Broad Abroad in Thailand by Dodie Cross, with permission).