Today, Hyphen magazine’s publisher, Lisa Lee, and award-winning actress, Lynn Chen, launched “Thick Dumpling Skin”, the first community-focused website on Asian Americans, eating disorders, and body image. By curating stories from notable guest contributors within the Asian American community and encouraging readers to share their own, they are hoping to put a cultural perspective to this silent but dangerous issue. (also see Lynn Chen’s story You Are What You Eat from Secret Identities)
In June of 2010, Chen started a food blog, “The Actor’s Diet,” after years of battling eating disorders. She stumbled upon an interview on NPR with Lee, (Listen to the NPR broadcast) in which Lee openly discussed a story she wrote for Hyphen magazine about her past struggles with food, body image, and how being Chinese American specifically played into her unhealthy quest for the perfect body. After listening to and reading Lee’s story, Chen immediately knew they had to connect. (This also sounds like Ada Wong‘s Story from The Biggest Loser.)
“I didn’t even know what I wanted from Lisa, but I felt compelled to start something,” Chen says. “I’ve been looking for something concrete regarding Asians and body image for years. When I first began my therapy in my 20’s, I had contacted various national eating disorder groups to see if there were any support groups for Asians. I was left at a dead end, and the messages I got over the next decade were that eating disorders and body image were not problems that affected people in my community. “
This myth was shattered when Chen received numerous emails from her blog readers, both men and women all over the world, who admitted their past and current struggles with food, and felt the pressure to look thin. Like Lee, Chen realized that their problems were not just about will power – they’re social, cultural, and familial.
The two women connected over their experiences and passion for wanting to spotlight this specific issue, and together, they decided to launch “Thick Dumpling Skin” to provide a space for everyone who may have felt alone in their struggle for the “perfect” body.
“We wanted to create a place for Asian American men and women to come together, to share, to discuss, and more importantly, to find support for something that has only been acknowledged on the surface, yet largely ignored in our community,” says Lee. “We want anyone who has felt cornered in their struggle with weight to grow some thicker
skins and learn to love them as well.”
Lynn Chen talks eating disorders