Failing the Squeeze Test

Aug 25

Failing the Squeeze Test

I mentioned before how Mom scrutinizes her kids’ weight. Last October I visited Michigan, and from a self esteem standpoint the trip didn’t go well. Not only did I find out that my visit was poor timing due to Mom’s pepper obsession, my little Korean mother obliterated any positive body issues I had in just four short days.

By the time I flew into Detroit, and picked up my rental car, it was pretty late. I drove to my Mom’s new house in the sticks and got there close to midnight. She was expecting me, yet I still had to endure her paranoid peering out the window when I knocked on the door and rang the doorbell. Finally, after I passed the KRS (Korean Retinal Scan), she let me and my boyfriend inside.

Normally, most mothers would be thrilled to see their child who lives on the other side of the country, and they’d greet their daughter with a smile and a hug. My mom is not like most moms. As soon as I walked through the door, she narrowed her eyes and gave me the Larry David stare. She then looked me up and down and, I kid you not, squeezed my arm a few times like the witch from Hanzel and Gretel who was trying to determine whether her captors were fat enough to eat yet.

Then she drove the dagger straight into my heart with this:

“You look…you look…you look chunky.”

I hadn’t seen Mom in nearly a year, and those were the first words she uttered to me face-to-face. Her little Asian foot just kicked me square in the proverbial balls. Admittedly, I had gained a few pounds, but I was still pretty average-sized according to People Who Aren’t My Mom. I swear, even though I live far from her and only see her a couple times a year, she has a built-in Fat Child Radar that can detect whenever any of her kids gains an ounce.

Later, I was getting ready for a high school friend’s wedding. I had a nice dress and bought new shoes. After I had gotten all purdy’d up, I emerged from the guest room and asked my mom, “What do you think? How do I look?”

She studied me before responding with a curt, “Good. Big.”

I said, “What?! Jesus, Mom, that’s it?”

Mom sighed and said, “Okayyyyy, fine. You look nice…and big.”

I gave up and trudged out the door.

This year, I’ve lost about 20 lbs from eating better and training for an Ironman. When I see her this fall, one of three things will happen:

  1. She won’t say anything about me looking thinner and fitter
  2. She’ll still say I look fat, yet feed me ridiculous amounts of food
  3. She’ll now say I’m too skinny and will feed me ridiculous amounts of food

No matter what happens, it’ll end with me feeling sick after being force-fed ridiculous quantities of food. I can’t win with her.


  1. My mother is Korean too. Visits consist of the following:

    – Comment on how terrible my hair looks.

    – Force fed dinner with four or five courses such as chili dogs, mussels, and kimchi.

    – Comment about weight.

  2. shinjinny /

    I’m a Korean-American medical student (both parents are Korean, so I get Korean Mom and Dad…yay) who was referred here by my friend. Oddly enough, I find this cathartic because although we have finals in a week, my Mom does that special thing she always does where she implies I’m not studying hard enough (because she snooped my credit card bill and discovered I had been to the grocery store TWICE in a week…*gasp!*…you MUST be slacking if you can get groceries twice!!!) and also not to get fat, because “No one likes a fat doctor.” You gotta love those Korean Moms.

    • Rebecca /

      Hahaha, scrutinizing two trips to the grocery store in one week is pretty crazy. My mom did that with an account we shared when I was in college. “She take out $20 here, $20 there, leaving mommy flat broke!” It was a shared account she put money in so I could pay for books!

  3. Caroline /

    I’m half Korean also. I’m 29 years old and know that the first thing that happens when I see my mom is she is going to comment on my weight. Now it just rolls off my back. I’m glad to see I’m not the only one. Your blog made me laugh out loud.

    • Rebecca /

      Ah, I’m glad you can relate! We Asians seem to have an unspoken bond when it comes to scrutinizing moms.

  4. Ingrid /

    Ah, the big weight debate. And then they force feed us large amounts of bulgogi and kimchi with a hefty serving of rice. It’s an uphill battle with no end in sight.

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