Cultural Differences, or Vietnamese People Can Be Overly Rude and Polite at the Same Time

Among Asians it’s not necessarily rude to be blunt and brutally honest. I understand this conceptually but it’s hard to take when I’m repeatedly reminded about how much fatter I am now than I used to be. I get it, thanks for the news flash. The night before, the eldest son of my aunt casually mentioned how tan I was getting. Ordinarily I wouldn’t take offense but it’s meant to be a criticism in Vietnamese culture where porcelain skin is prized above all else. Also, literally translated, the phrase is “your skin is blackened,” which is considered insulting. Next he asked if I was sleep-deprived because he noticed how dark the bags under my eyes were. I guess from now on I’ll need to wear concealer at all times in case any relatives drop by. Lastly he wondered why I spoke Vietnamese so poorly compared to Tom, who was born in the U.S. and who’s barely more fluent than a trained monkey. Enough already, you are officially my least favorite cousin. This is the same cousin who brought dozens of containers of fresh yogurt because he heard I liked them and who was hell bent on paying for an extravagant feast for our family even though the cost might be some ordinary worker’s monthly income. Go figure.

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