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This Question Came to My Inbox: “If fat shaming is so ineffective, how come it seems to work so well in countries like Japan and Korea?”

Are you talking about shaming someone for putting on too much weight? There is something you need to realize: Cultures are different. In America, we have what the culture experts call “a guilt culture.” We choose not to do bad things because they make us feel guilty. However, in the east, many of the cultures are called “shame cultures.” The hide when they have done something wrong. In the American cultures, we draw the lines straight, and people don’t cross, but in oriental cultures, the lines are not always so straight, and they don’t let information out about what they do. If a Japanese businessman is in Japan, he may be very well behaved. He works hard, and he would never go with a prostitute because it would be a shame, not because he particularly thinks it is wrong like an American or British would, but because his neighbors think it is wrong. The Japanese keep one another in check while they are in Japan, but if the same man should go on a business trip outside of Japan, you don’t know what he might do. Japanese businessmen are infamous for causing lots of trouble outside of Japan, getting drunk, sleeping with prostitutes, etc. However, the same man, in Japan, may be very quiet and mild mannered and seem to have his life all together and would never do those things in Japan. The Japanese, Koreans, and some other countries from the east, keep one another in check.

In Romania, they won’t do anything that their neighbors might see, and so use to gossip about them. They are very afraid of what the neighbors might say. My grandmother was from the southern part of the U. S., and so is her kids, and they also run on shame like the Romanians. They are very worried about what people will say. Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Even in Eastern Europe, Romania has a shame culture. They shame one another into doing the right thing. The Romanians are always worried about what their neighbors are going to think about them. They sweep the court in their yard and keep it clean because people can see it, and they don’t want to look like gypsies. The parents tell the children when they are acting up, “Don’t act like a gypsy!” The Romanians even have a sign they use when they see something they think is shameful going on. The put their pointing finger to their cheek. If you see a Romanian doing that, you know they are shaming someone into doing the right thing. In Romania, they love to say, “the clothes make the man.” It matters more what is on the outside than what is on the inside like in a place like Japan.

She bows out of politeness whether she feels it or not. Photo by Malibi 75 on Pexels.com

In Japan and Korea, they may be silently bowing to their elders, but inwardly screaming. They will never tell you, though, that they don’t want to bow. They just obediently go through the motions. In both Korea and Japan, you will seldom hear anyone making a commotion or yelling at someone. They may have the emotions to make them want to do those things, but they don’t disturb the peace. It is a shame to disturb the peace.

Beauty is of paramount importance in Korea. Photo by @thiszun (follow me on IG, FB) on Pexels.com

In Korea, beauty is paramount. The Koreans are larger than the other Orientals genetically. However, I have heard them talk about how they are oriental, so they must be small, so they go on a diet. They don’t want the embarrassment of not looking Oriental when they are Oriental. The Koreans will see a child with big bones and put that child on a diet thinking they are fat often stunting the child’s growth. If their parent didn’t put them on a diet and they grow up as a big broad guy, even if they aren’t fat, the other Koreans will call them fat and shame them.

The Japanese love McDonald’s. There is one on almost every street corner. Food like this has changed what Japanese look like in one generation. There are more fat Japanese now than every before. Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

In Japan, though, there are more fat young people now than there were in the past. I put it down to McDonald’s being there for the past generation. McDonalds is very popular in Japan! The young people now in Japan are also taller than they were a generation ago. Their country became rich and the children started eating better. The same thing happened to the Koreans. My Japanese son in law tower over his parents, and my Korean son in law does the same thing. What has happened in the Korean economy since the 1950’s is known as an economic miracle. They went from the poorest country on earth to one of the richest faster than any country has ever done.

You see, different cultures are put together in different ways. Shaming Americans might work, but making them feel guilty for their choices is usually more effective on an American. However, if you are talking about someone from the east, shaming them really does work because their culture runs on shame. And by the way, shaming works better in the southern part of America than in the northern part. The American culture is different from the south to the north.

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