Who needs a scale when you’ve got ao’ dai`?

garfield3A while back there was a debate on Mamamia about our love / hate relationship with scales. Which reminded me of Garfield (love that cat!) and his obnoxious, opinionated weighing gadget.  I remembered agreeing with quite a few people on there about using our clothes instead of a scale to gauge our size. We know well enough that weight can be misleading – muscles being heavier than fat and all that jazz. But volume! Now to me, volume is the true measure of it all. And how do we judge that? Save for doing an Archimedes by jumping into a full bath and calculating the amount water getting spilled out, which apart from being quite messy, is also a very bad idea considering our water restriction (“I’m still at 3A, I’m also at 3A, we’re all at 3A!”), the only other option we’ve got is using a few favourite items of clothing for this task.

I’ve got a pair of jeans, one of only 4 pairs I own (yes, it is quite shocking, but more on this later), that I would put on from time to time to assure myself that the circumference of my butt hasn’t exceeded its, er, legal limit. I’m not so obsessed with the top bit because frankly, much to my chargrin, on me weight just refuses to go up there. Mass heads down South, Newton’s has long established that, didn’t he?

But tell you what, I’ve just found a better tool. You might have heard (!) that I made a point of wearing (or at least trying to do so) my old áo dài for Tết. I’ve got two sets, one made in 1998 and one in 2001. So yeah, they can now be called senior citizens, are entitled to pension, and have the right to go around calling everyone “darling” and starting their sentences with “Back in my days…” But they still look quite new and cute, even if I may say so myself.

Anyhow, I put them on this morning. And it was a good thing that m’ and our housemate weren’t home because if anyone’d heard the guffawing coming out from my room, they’d have thought I was losing it. This is how it went:

aodai-trangI took out the white set. Poked my arms into the sleeves. They fit all the way through. Thank goodness, so the arms are cleared! But elbows could NOT fold into an angle smaller than 90 degrees. Which made doing up the snap buttons rather difficult, especially around the neck! Finally did those up after a bit of struggle, phew! So the neck’s good. Then working down around my right underarm. Proving to be quite tricky but YES! The tiny furthermost hook slid in its place. Good girl! Then down the side, snap snap snap hook hook. All done. YAY!

And then I suddenly remembered to breathe in. Oh sheesh!

The peachy pink set was a little more “accommodating”, except for the sleeves which are a little short. WHAT? So I have not gained any height since ’98 but my arms have grown longer? WTF? As if my monkey arms needed any extra length! I’d have to check myself in a little apartment in the Parkville park land that has a sign next to my door saying “Please Do Not Feed the Animals”, if that were the case. Seriously.

aodai-camAnyhow, as for the pants. (Or pantaloons, as the wiki entry suggested. Does it have anything to do with pants & balloons, I wonder? Rather apt too, don’t you think?) Well, the pants are ok except that they used to come up to my waist, which is how pants should be, I reckon. And now they’re all the way up near my armpits! Which I’m sure tells you something about my waistline but I’d rather not hear it, you and the pants can have that discussion to yourselves, thank you very much.

Do I even need to tell you that as much as I love it, áo dài has to be the most unforgiving of all outfits? The pinnacle of torture? The essence of self-scrutinizing thoughts? I mean, forget strapless frocks that squash your boobs all the way up to your chin, forget bandage dresses that reveal even the silhouette of your belly button, forget even the skimpiest bikinis. It’s our lovely áo dài that takes the cake, baby! Because if you want to look good in it, the only thing you can do is stand dead still — tums in, tits out, bums sticking all the way to the back — and you do not inhale. Not a single breath! Quite a breeze, aint’ it?

And now you know why on the streets of Melbourne, we see Indian women wearing their gorgeous saris, we see Chinese girls in their sexy cheong-sams, we even see a kimono here and there. But except for traditional events like wedding ceremonies or cultural concerts, you’d find a hen’s tooth before you spotted a Vietnamese girl parading around in her áo dài here in Aus.

Hey, I’m not bitter ok? Nope. I’m also surely not exaggerating. (Okay maybe just a little.) I’ll still wear one of my áo dài sets for Tet. Or both of them, for that matter. (Of course not at the same time, silly!) I’m determined to be that hen’s tooth. Even when it means that if my plan to hold my breath for a long stretch of time don’t work, I may have to surgically remove a section of my ribcage. 🙂

Stay tuned. I’ll keep you updated.


(Tune of the day: Hunter ~ Dido)


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