If you are a woman with some ‘meat on de bone’, as they like to say in Trinidad, then it can be tough to find your size in Asia. In an area of the world where the average person is shorter, smaller and lighter than their ‘big boned’ Anglo counterparts from the West, someone like me, who is actually considered the average size in North America or the UK, is considered downright fat.
Men in the West Indies love curvy women, and as someone who has been curvy since puberty hit with a vengeance at the age of 13, I’ve heard it all. For example: ‘Oh gosh gyul, yuh nice and thick and sweet, like condensed milk from de tin!” However, the same does not apply here in Asia. While it all well and good to have ‘bottom in de road’ in Port of Spain, being chunky/thick/voluptuous is not considered an asset in this part of the world.
This there makes shopping for clothes a real pain in my plus sized ass. It is incredibly hard as a woman to find pants, bras, dresses, and what not. And forget about swimsuits — downright impossible. In the US you may be able to go into an Old Navy or a Wal Mart and find pants that are 3X, 4X or even bigger, here you are lucky if you find something bigger than an L!
Chinese shopkeepers here are not shy about the disparity in size between Western and Asian women. In fact, if I had a dollar for every time some shopkeeper said, “Is OK la, many fat size for you!” then I’d have enough to be able to fly to the US just to be able to buy size 14 jeans. Or even worse, “Don’t worry, I have XXXL for you!” Some are a bit more subtle, calling it ‘western size’ or ‘plus size’. But many places do just call it ‘fat size’, and say it with a big smile.
There are a few places, however, which are starting to cater to plus sizes. If you are in Hong Kong and getting desperate to find something to accommodate your curves, here’s a list of places to check:
- Stanley Market caters to tourist, and to tourist-friendly sizes
- Ladies Market in Mongkok
- Marks and Spencer — a godsend for the pleasantly plump who are not XS
- H&M can be iffy — a lot of their stuff is a bit slutty/clubby and the Ls/XLs or 40-42s disappear from the shelves almost immediately
- Li Yuen East & West — opposite H&M these little alleys are full of shops with sometimes a variety of sizes
- Wing Wo Street — just outside Sheung Wan station, this little lane has a few stores with larger sizes
- Wing Kut Street — Runs parallel to Wing Wo Street; go to a shop called Encore which has plus size designer brands for excellent prices, up to size 50 which is EXTREMELY rare in HKG!
- Rosarini — never checked it out but seems to be recommended
Many people also seem to have their own clothes made. A quick pop over to Shenzhen across the border should do the trick. That is, if you have the time to cross into China just to get clothes.
My advice if you are moving to HKG and are plus size, BRING CLOTHES. Especially pants. Or else you’ll end up like me, decked out from head to toe in Marks and Spencer, and walking down the street next to some other expat woman in the EXACT same outfit!