Tuesday, April 19, 2011

My Little Fatso (is really a compliment)

There is a part of Chilean culture that takes some getting used to for those raised in the good 'ol USA. To explain it, I'd like to have you imagine a physical feature of yours that may or may not be your favorite. Are you a little overweight? Have curly hair? Darker skin? Maybe you're underweight. Or a little on the short side. Most of us can probably think of something.

In our American culture, I daresay the polite thing is never to purposely comment on that physical characteristic. Here in Chile, however, it's all up for grabs.

It is quite common for a woman to call her husband, "Mi guaton" - which literally means, "My fatso." It's equally common for a husband to call his wife, "Mi vieja" - which translates to "My old lady." In both cases these are truly terms of endearment. (The latter carries more the sentiment of "my longtime companion.") As crazy as it may sound!

A man whose wife has dark hair and possibly darker skin tone will be affectionately called, "Mi negra" or "My black lady." A small child will be lovingly called, "Mi enano" or "My midget."

Growing up in Chile, I dreaded the frankness with which I knew I would be greeted upon return from every furlough. "Volviste gorda!" ("You returned fat!") and similar comments were the bane of my teenage existence. For the most part, I think it is one cultural characteristic that I never quite adopted despite my many years here.

With one exception. Neither Pedro nor I can help but call Alec " mi gordito" or "gordis." Perhaps it is because we hear it so frequently from others (Chileans absolutely adore chunky babies!) Only time will tell if this is a nickname he'll outgrow. Meanwhile I only hope he realizes that "my little fatso" ... is really a compliment. :)

5 comments:

Away2me (Deanna) said...

I absolutely LOVE this aspect of latin culture. It is not exclusive to Chile. Mexican culture also uses those same terms of endearment. As a child I was called "chaparrita". (among other words Americans would consider less flattering).

Brenda said...

I remember the first time someone called me "gordita", I was not impressed until I realized that is was a term meant affectionately. Admittedly it still catches me off guard every once in a while and I have to try not to be offended by it.

Melissa said...

Hmmm, I think I would rather not know what people think of my physical appearance.

daniel said...

Nuestra Rebekah es grandecita y algunas personas le dicen "gordita" y "cachetona" y ella se enoja. Como su mamá cuando era chica decía "no soy gordita, soy flaquita!" jajaja

Terri Fisher said...

Thus the impetus to always lose a little weight before returning to Chile...