Olympic Welcome To Thick Ankles

The Chinese government has distributed millions of a thick, (sorry, but that’s what a multiple-paged document is called) pamphlet to its citizens with instructions about how to leave a good impression and co-exist with all the foreigners coming to Beijing for the Olympic Games that start today. I heard it on the CNN. It must be true.

The announcer read several of the instructions, one of which was addressed to Chinese women who had heavy legs and ankles: wear black stockings.

So, I’m thinking. Uh.Oh. The athletes and visitors are already complaining about the smog–oh, I’m sorry, that has officially been called “fog” due NOT to poor air quality but to “the heat and humidity” currently sweltering those in Beijing. So, now, Chinese women have to add to the humidity and wear black sauna stockings to cover up their disfigurements?

I’m not using the word “disfigurement” loosely here, people.

I went a-googling this morning to find out more about this pamphlet and found this. Oh, yes, don’t try going a-googling in Beijing for your search will contain fewer items than what comes up on my computer screen.

So, I went a googling this morning and found this.

The Chinese government issued an apology recently about the inadvertent insensitive language they used in the section about how to handle physically disabled Olympians.

“On the “Physically Disabled,” the guide said: “Physically disabled people are often mentally healthy. They show no differences in sensation, reaction, memorization and thinking mechanisms from other people, but they might have unusual personalities because of disfigurement and disability.

“For example, some physically disabled are isolated, unsocial and introspective; they usually do not volunteer to contact people. They can be stubborn and controlling; they may be sensitive and struggle with trust issues. Sometimes they are overly protective of themselves, especially when they are called `crippled’ or `paralyzed.”‘

The guide said volunteers should “not fuss or show unusual curiosity, and never stare at their disfigurement.” It also advised volunteer to steer away from words like “cripple or lame, even if you are just joking.”

I found no official apology to thick, heavy legged Chinese women so I don’t think they were joking.

Do the thick, heavy legged female visitors have to wear black stockings, too?

Spud Hose is totally sold out at Walmart, so she flat out can’t go to Beijing on luxurious Spud Air.

Me, either. No way I’m wearing pantyhose in summer.

In fact, I am staring right this minute at my thick ankles, my disfigurement. Haven’t been able to look away since I heard the report. When someone tells me not to do something, it’s all I do.

That would be because I am sensitive, stubborn and controlling, and struggle with trust issues.

©2008 Pat Coakley


6 Replies to “Olympic Welcome To Thick Ankles”

  1. “That would be because I am sensitive, stubborn and controlling, and struggle with trust issues.” You and me both, ah I think there is a reason why I have never won the lottery. I would surely take my butt over there and prance around with my thick ankles and take photos of it at the same time! Guess there’s nothing like a rebel with a cause but those stories are for another time. Great post hun you had me giggling through the shock!

  2. Aren’t thick ankles a symptom of low blood pressure?

    The pamphlet goes to show the Chinese aren’t the inscrutable people of the western stereotype. I’ve found Asians to be incredibly blunt and direct. In Vietnam I had quite a few women (total strangers) come up to me and rub my stomach and say, “you very fat”.

    I don’t really blame the Chinese for thinking that visitors (particularly from the west) would be offended by thick ankles. After all, look at all the stupidly vacuous things that we as a culture seem to care about. Look at the advertising that is intended to undermine people’s self confidence to boost cosmetics, diet pills and clothes ad infinitum, that the west inflicts on the world.

    I think that it’s pretty easy for us in the west to look down on the Chinese naive efforts to try and put us at ease when we spend so much effort giving noisy lip service to being politically correct when most of us are so silently hypocritical and willfully ignorant.

    As for the insensitive comments that handicapped people can be resentful etc, the Chinese are in many cases, correct, if not unfortunately blunt. When I was in Vietnam I wish somebody had told the Vietnamese that, “some westerners are very vain and don’t like having the results of their overeating and indolence pointed out to them”.

    I think that we are at last seeing the Chinese join the world community. The more exposure that China has with the rest of the world, the better. Exposure to lifestyles of other people will transform Chinese culture. It’s really remarkable how far they have come in the last 20 years and I’m optimistic for the them because I know that the Chinese want to lead lives of freedom and comfort just like everyone else and they are rushing headlong in that direction.

    It’s all going to take a little bit more time and I wish them well.

  3. First off…low blood pressure causes thick ankles?? I have never heard this but since Irish girls are prone to this condition (not just elderly Chinese ladies!), I’m going to check into it!

    The “thick ankles” cover up is to me just the tip of this issue, actually. Three weeks ago they shut down all the factories within a certain radius of Beijing in order to try and improve the air quality which is well known to be dangerous on a regular basis. So, let’s get the air up to a quality that will “look good” and then we’ll go back to having our citizens live in the soup as soon as they are gone. A biking team who wore masks when they got off the airplane in Beijing (masks were something all teams had made for this venue) caused an absolute karfuffle and were forced to “apologize” the next day for wearing them. C’mon. You couldn’t see across the street at the time. The air in Beijing this week as been terrible on some days, ok on others. Objective air pollution experts say that what the Chinese deem as “acceptable” would be totally unacceptable anywhere else. Also, the official word on this “smog” has simply been laughable.

    So, when I heard about this Cover up those thick legs, ladies, it was just the last straw. A much less egregious cover up to me, but still..offensive to the Chinese woman as well as the western one.

    And, btw, I do not think for a minute it is simply because they think the Western folk would be offended looking at them, I think it is within their own culture.

    I just say that the whole lead up to these Olympics has been a demonstration of the strengths and weaknesses of this nation. In the NYTimes this morning was an article that talked about a peasant Chinese woman who came 1500 miles to Beijing and is sleeping under bridges in order to witness it. Now, THAT impresses me. It means that much to her and in that respect I join you in wishing them well.

    Nat, This photo of spud was one I made in its first two days of life!

  4. Sanity, I was on my soap box and forgot to give you a shout out!! I would love to see the pictures you would take in Beijing. The pictures on the internet of the opening ceremonies were spectacular. That stadium is a marvel. One of the Olympic buildings was designed by Albert Speer, Jr. , the son of Hitler’s architect. I’m not making this up.

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