I lead diversity initiatives at Pandora. Every day, I have the privilege to help a beloved company reflect the diversity of its listeners, artists, and local communities.
I'm a self-proclaimed diversity geek who spends 90% of her time thinking about how to use tech as a vehicle to drive equality. I'm a frequent contributor to topics related to diversity in tech and I've been featured at SXSW, on NPR, and in Al Jazeera.
Prior to Pandora, I worked at Facebook. I am also the cofounder and curator of Thick Dumpling Skin and the former publisher of Hyphen magazine.
THICK DUMPLING SKIN
Thick Dumpling Skin is a community forum dedicated to discussing body image issues and eating disorders in the Asian American community. In February 2011, after writing about my unhealthy quest for thinness in an issue of Hyphen, I cofounded the site with actress Lynn Chen. In April 2013, Lynn and I were profiled in Marie Claire magazine. That same year, we were also honored with About Face's Embody Award (Rashida Jones is the 2014 honoree).
From 2008 - 2011, I was the publisher of Hyphen magazine, an award-winning Asian American arts, culture, and politics print magazine + website. I joined the organization in 2007 and doubled the organization's annual budget through development and fundraising efforts that I implemented and supervised. During that same period, Hyphen also doubled its readership.
Prior to joining Pandora, I was an early employee of Facebook and worked on user operations, product operations, and diversity programs (all while running Hyphen). At Facebook, I launched & chaired the AAPIs @ Facebook employee resource group.
Lee is a dynamic speaker and facilitator on social media marketing. She
has a remarkable compassion for helping people in underserved
communities understand the power of new technologies... Lisa is a thought leader of her
generation." - Janice L., Development and Communications Director, Urban Solutions
"Thought Lisa from Pandora was the only panelist that really dug deep to push us on assumptions and the staid programs we've been doing in the past." - Anonymous
Partial list of where I've spoken:
SXSW Interactive '15
UNCF's Social Innovations Summit '14
Udemy's An evening of HR Innovation: How to Foster Workplace Diversity '14
Organization of Chinese Americans National Convention '13
I think positive body image encompasses all of it – not just the “Rah rah rah I love my body” stuff but also the days when we don’t want to embrace every part of ourselves. That’s okay, too. I think the acknowledgement of the up/down nature of it all is the acceptance, and what I strive to remember every day.
Try to be as kind to your body as you are to other’s bodies.
We see blemishes, imperfections, fat rolls, and cellulite on others and think nothing of it at all. We don’t give a second thought, or if we do, it’s sometimes because we think they look better with these “flaws” then we do.
What we don’t realize is that we are that person being looked at to someone else. We are the person who they think looks better than them.
Love this Instagram on the #idealasianbody feed - share yours by tagging @dumplingskin @fightingobesity!
My #IdealAsianBody is not a destination but a journey.
It’s easy to subscribe to the “ideal” look. I have definitely ran blindly towards that image, but slowing down and walking off that path, I’m finding fields of flowers. I can see how history blooms in and on my body. And perhaps, if I take a step back and observe, I would find that I am my own #IdealAsianBody.
As easy as it is to write that, it’s not quite the same in practice. Especially for someone living in hyphenated spaces. I feel hatred for my body more often than I do love.
They say traveling opens your mind. Maybe exploring the curves and valleys on my body can be #justasgood.
The healthiest way I have to cope is through writing. Have a poem about my wobbly journey with body image that accompanies the pic: http://bit.ly/1ZIi7GQ.
As someone who still struggles with putting my demons to rest, thank you @dumplingskin and @fightingobesity for opening this space. And also @connieklim for dope music that inspires~
I was a skinny child. My relatives would always coo at me to “eat more, eat more” while simultaneously reassuring me that at least I would have a “pretty” body when I grew older. “She has a fast metabolism,” they’d say. “She’ll be pretty when she grows up.” Unfortunately, I haven’t quite fulfilled my relatives’ expectations. After hitting puberty and gaining weight in all the expected places, I gave myself up for “chubby” and resigned myself to wearing unflattering clothes to hide my “fat.” This resulted in even worse body issues, which in turn resulted in an unhealthy relationship with food. I’d force down copious amounts of carbohydrates, somehow both relishing and hating the feeling of being full to the point of nausea. After a few weeks of overeating, I’d combat the bloating and inevitable weight gain with restrictive dieting, sometimes eating no more than a bowl of soup and some fruit per day.
I could very well say that binging and purging has overrun my life. The weight gain has taken a toll on my confidence and social life, and the lethargy and near-starvation has negatively affected my performance in school.
I’m still on the path to recovery, but I feel optimistic about the future. Being active in the online community has helped me realize that my story is not uncommon. Some of the same forces that affect my favorite bloggers and Internet celebrities are responsible for my eating habits–pressure to look a certain way as an Asian American female, pressure to follow the doctor-lawyer-accountant prototype, pressure to keep up the facade that everything’s perfectly ok. While in my family it’s an unspoken rule that issues such as depression and disordered eating are private, I’ve recently opened up to my parents and discovered that my mother experienced her share of food woes in college. I’ve also met a boy who’s both understanding and supportive of my journey. This past year has marked such amazing progress for me, and I can only hope for the same this coming year.
We always say that body image and eating disorders is a larger extension of one’s overall physical and mental health. Did you know that college age and senior Asian and Asian American women are at greater risk of living with depression or attempting suicide?
Starting next Tuesday, January 19th, please join the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and community groups for a week of action to help Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) across the country #GetCovered through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Get involved in-person and online as we remind the AAPI community to take control of their #AAPIhealth and #GetCovered!
My name is Nicole Tan and I will turn 20 this year. I am from Singapore and currently an undergraduate. Since I was a kid, I have always been chubby or as my parents would kindly put it, “big-boned” which I don’t exactly deny, my build is definitely bigger than most Asians. My parents loved me as I was and I never thought of myself as different from my friends or peers until I went to primary school. This one incident that happened when I was 7 (which I still very vividly recall up till today), scarred me for life. I was sitting by myself on staircase watching some of my friends playing and suddenly this one kid ran up to me and said: “You look at yourself and look at the rest of us. You are fat.” In addition to that, when I was 11, I ate a lot of rice due to poor nutritional education and gained a lot of weight. Looking back at all my school photo-taking day, it’s pretty apparent I was at least 1.5X bigger than my classmates and it didn’t help I was not exactly tall.
When I was 16 and studying for a final examination that was extremely stressful on me, I overate every meal and would have almost 4 meals a day, all of which would be fast food or Chinese food (which involved a lot of rice). Needless to say, I gained a lot of weight that year to the extent I fell under the quota for “Extremely Overweight”. It never struck me as that severe until the letter from the Health Promotion Board arrived to drop by the hospital for a check-up. I was so terrified I never went despite the letter being sent twice. So the following year, I decided to lose weight for good.
I wish I could say that I lost weight the right way but instead I resorted to extreme measures by fasting and subsequently fad diets. I grew scared of food and obsessed over the number on the scale each morning as well as the number of calories I consumed each day. In addition to eating very little, I made sure to run almost everyday or skip rope. Eventually with this routine, I did manage to lose quite a lot of weight where my classmates would comment behind my back about how much weight I had lost. That only spurred me to be more motivated.
When I was 18, I went to a private school and became close friends with a girl that suffered from anorexia. We ended up becoming very nervous about our diets and as we grew closer, our fear of food did too.
Somehow along the way, around the time of late 2014 to the whole of 2015, a new uprising of plus-sized awareness was sweeping across social media and slowly enough, I became more accepting of my body. I wasn’t plus-sized but I was in between plus-sized and average. I tried to change my friend and bring us to recovery and it did work for a while but as I learned, it was not something that could be achieved overnight or by a stipulated timing; it was going to take some work. I never got to accomplish that goal, we drifted apart by May of 2015.
When I started using Tinder, I was so afraid that when I met guys from online, they would be disappointed by me in real life and feel like they have been shortchanged by my pictures. It really affected me when I didn’t get second dates or got rejected after first dates; I would always attribute my failure to my looks, more so on my body than my face. Even those who I never met in real life, have insulted me. Once, I was spotted by someone I had matched on Tinder and he told me online after he saw me that I “was fat, get over it”. Another one told me that he thought I was quite a catch after talking to me for a while but once I changed my profile picture from a face one to a full-body one, he told me that I was not what he expected and “guessed he was wrong” about me being a catch.
I did think about it, why was I so focused on losing weight. If I were to subtract the obvious reason of a slim body being the ideal image in society, I would be left with a reason many Asian countries fail to include: our culture. Asian women are always portrayed as svelte, slim and delicate. Skin as white as snow with seductive slits for eyes and long straight black hair. In many South-East Asian countries, this is not the norm; although the silhouette of many girls would indeed be slim and slender. Compared to the majority, I would stick out quite a bit with my bigger build, tan skin and brown curly hair. In addition to that, I have round but long eyes, a small nose and a thick but very defined cupid bow for lips. A classic Oriental beauty I am not. When I wanted to buy a Cheongsam (a traditional Chinese dress) in Chinatown, my mother discouraged me and instead suggested I should have one tailor-made to accommodate my body type which was pretty much a euphemism to prevent any embarrassment.
My story has no satisfying conclusion, but if it consoles my readers, I now make an active effort to eat healthfully and exercise regularly while allowing myself chocolate and cake. I can’t say that I have stopped sporadically fasting or feel on edge when I have been eating too much but I can safely say that I have learned how to mute that nagging voice at the back of my head when I get too anxious. What I need to emphasize is the need to communicate feelings to people you trust about your concerns and know that self-improvement can only be effective after self-love.
Nicole Tan | Singapore
Nicole Tan is currently an undergraduate, is passionate about helping others and hopes to be accepted to graduate medical school. She lives in Singapore with her miniature schnauzer and reads political commentary to destress.
Lisa Lee and Lynn Chen teamed up to speak on prevailing body issues, specifically within the Asian community on their blog, Thick Dumpling Skin. Topics like dieting, body shaming, and other societal/cultural struggles are addressed on a public platform by the duo to spread visibility and body-positivity.
I spent this last week in Maui, trying to squeeze in the last bit of mental sanity before work officially kicks into high gear. I slept, ate, and exercised. In addition to the usual hiking and swimming, my travel mate and I tried out Qi Gong, which we really enjoyed. I was pleasantly surprised to have worked up a sweat over deep breathing and gentle movements. Does this mean I am getting an early start into my old Chinese woman qi-gong-in-the-park self? Yes.
One other thing that we tried together is sunrise SUP, which stands for stand up paddling with Paddle on Maui. Tiring, but so worth it. It wasn’t my first time doing it, but uh, doing it in the ocean is completely different, especially if you’re meeting, let’s say, new friends.
Saying hi to my new whale friends in Maui.
I SAW WHALES! !@#$%^&*
Here’s the fucked up thing though: as soon as I got my hands on our pictures, the first thing I stared at was my mid-section. My mom’s voice rang in my ear, “suck in your stomach.” Nevermind the whale tail that’s so clearly captured next to me, nevermind that I am like, SO CLOSE that the freaking whale’s head could’ve been underneath my board, and nevermind that I fulfilled a dream of mine, which is to be close to what I would consider to be one of the most amazing wonders of our world, in that moment I could only focus on how unattractive I looked? Shit.
I mean, who’s even looking at me? NOBODY. And how dare I compare myself to a humpback whale?
Even more preposterous, I remember the moments of being photographed, on the sea, WHILE THE WHALES WERE NEXT TO US, and thinking to myself, my body is going to look bad in these photos. It will. I already know it.
How many amazing moments in our lives have we missed because we let ourselves get in the way? And how many more moments are we willing to lose because we can’t stop obsessing over how “beautiful” or “ugly” we look?
The ideal body is YOUR body. You’ve only got one, and it’s yours forever. So this year, thanks to my whale buddy (or buddies, since there were two of them and maybe even a baby that we didn’t get to see), I am pledging to be more present.
I don’t want to let anymore beautiful moments go to waste, and neither should you.
i wish people would stop romanticizing not eating breakfast and not getting enough sleep and being dependent on coffee to function and always being in a bad mood and treating yourself poorly because that behavior is very unhealthy for you
Juliana Chang shared her story over at Everyday Feminism (originally published at xoJane):
I’m lucky in that my westernized parents never forced any sort of “girls should be docile and fragile” ideal on me, but that didn’t protect me from family and friends who still thought I ought to look the part. Aunts who clucked their tongues at my round thighs. Family friends who would take my mother aside and mutter in low concerned tones about how wide I was getting.
And I’m sure almost all of you can relate, it is a terrible, terrible thing to have people openly dissect the changes in your body that you feel powerless to stop.
I lived with two standards of beauty, neither of which told me any part of my body was worth loving.
I continued to struggle with my weight all throughout middle school and high school, oscillating between hating how I looked and hating how I felt about how I looked.
I knew I had body image issues, but that didn’t stop me from wanting to obtain my distorted ideals of beauty anyway. By age sixteen, I had tried fasting, juice diets, cutting out rice, calorie-counting, lettuce diets, kickboxing, and more.
Some methods, like exercise classes and eliminating soda, certainly made me healthier, but I never got my weight down to the number I wanted. Other methods, like starving myself, only added to the colossally fucked-up web of low self-esteem, perfectionism, model minority mayhem, impostor syndrome, and distorted body image that was my mind.
There was a point in this past year where I was eating about 800 calories a day. I would come home, do my homework, guzzle a giant can of green tea with a yogurt, and then go running.
I lost weight, but I was also absolutely miserable. Then I would snap, binge-eat everything I could get my hands on in the fridge, and then restart the cycle. I ate when I wasn’t hungry, then restricted myself when I was.
Food stopped being nourishment to me. It wasn’t even a reward or punishment, but a lens through which I viewed every aspect of my life.
I hit rock bottom sometime in March. I had skipped lunch that day in favor of studying for my biology and English tests. By the time I got home after speech practice, I was absolutely ravenous. One moment of indulgence led to another, and by the end of it I had eaten four bowls of pesto pasta, two red bean cakes, and an entire pint of mango ice cream.
I ended up rubbing the back of my throat bloody that night, trying to make myself throw up with the back of a tooth brush. When nothing would come up, I curled up on the bathroom floor and cried for two hours.
I told no one. Not my mom, not my boyfriend, not my closest friends. I don’t know what I felt more ashamed of at the time – the incredibly dangerous methods I was trying to lose weight with, or the fact that they weren’t working. Maybe it was both.
Slenderness is part of the beauty standard for most cultures. But part of the reason the pressure to be thin in East Asian culture is so suffocating is because it’s assumed to be a natural given.
You’re not alone, Juliana. I am a third-culture kid too (now woman) feeling all of the things that you’re feeling, frequently. The journey certainly is a process — the road is bumpy and the light at the end of the road feels dim sometimes. But, you are not traveling this road alone. Thank you for sharing your battle.
We’re teaming up to bring you the #IdealAsianBody Campaign!
For the last couple of months, we’ve been in conversations with APIOPA (Asian Pacific Islander Obesity Prevention Alliance) about how we can build healthier and stronger Asian American communities. Through our chatter, it was clear to us that APIOPA embraces the same ideals we have - that our bodies come in all shapes and sizes, and that health (both physical AND mental) should be our priority.
So in this season of New Year’s Resolutions, we’re challenging all of us to participate in a social media campaign. Here’s a way for our amazing readers to take action and raise awareness about how body image affects all of us.
We want you to ask yourself: “WHAT IS THE IDEAL ASIAN BODY?”
Yes, we tried this before, but this time we mean business! Lisa and I spent twenty minutes chatting in her car after lunch, so we recorded this on her iPhone. Future ones will be done via Skype, since we don’t live in the same city (sniff).
We want to hear from you! Let us know your stories, or any questions you may have that we will try to answer. Record a voice memo on YOUR iphone and email it to dumplingskin(at)gmail(dot)com, or just send a regular letter that we will read on the air.
I decided to create a blog to call out the fetishization of LGBT Asians. This blog offers support for all LGBT Asian people.
We are looking for mods who are Asian and identify as LGBT. The mod application is here.
Even if you’re not Asian or LGBT we encourage you to reblog this to help bring exposure so those who wish to apply may apply. If you have any questions about what this blog will be or what we are looking for in mods, please ask here.
This blog will be run to hear your stories of your experiences, to call out and explain anti-Asian racism and homophobia/transphobia, to bring support to LGBT youth, etc.
I know that it’s the holiday season and everyone is full of joy, but can I be honest and say that I’ve been crawling towards this month for the last three months? Now that December is here, I cannot wait to say goodbye to 2015. The year was good… decent… ok fine it was just meh. I don’t regret anything that happened this year — in fact, this is my moment of cliche, “what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger,” — I just won’t, well, miss it when it’s gone.
97,888 unread emails?! WTF?
Now that that’s out of the bag, I’m sorry that I haven’t been around. Ever since race, gender, and other aspects of our identity became the core of my work, or day job if you will, I have found it hard to not be constantly involved in it. And boy am I deeply involved. From the moment I wake up to the time I fall asleep, I’m thinking about how bias and stereotypes dominate our lives; unfairly, they prevent us from our true callings in life. Some of us manage to get past it and forge a path nevertheless, some of us never manage to absolve ourselves of expectations. I suppose it also doesn’t help that I am also innately curious about anything that has to do with these subjects, so most of my past time are reading/watching/listening to topics related to these discussions.
Yeah I know. I need better hobbies (if you have suggestions, please help a sister out).
I remember vividly one weekend where I laid on my couch, so mentally depleted from the week, and finally having some free time to listen to President Obama’s eulogy for those tragically killed in the South Carolina Emanuel AME church mass shooting. I processed it, and found myself crying because I couldn’t understand the hate.
I wish I could say that was a one-time breakdown. The truth is that it happened multiple times this year. We do live in an incomprehensible world sometimes (except it’s not incomprehensible - a discussion for another time over wine).
At this point, you might be wondering why I am writing about all of this, what any of this has to do with Thick Dumpling Skin, and the absence of my voice. It doesn’t mean that my self-love all of a sudden skyrocketed, and it certainly doesn’t mean that my struggle with what I look like changed. In fact, those nasty feelings are still alive and well. What it does mean, is that I I had very little time to devote to myself and my imperfections.
In the world of struggles, my struggle with self-esteem was so, so tiny compared to others. It felt selfish to spend time in front of a mirror, picking myself apart.
Back when I was 19, the one thing that got me out of my depression of feeling fat and unattractive was my desire to care for others. I mentored, tutored, and worked with others to build what I felt would be a better future. This is what I have been doing for the last year. It’s incredibly meaningful. But I am tired.
Perhaps it’s time to take my own advice. Or the advice of any airline. Only when you take care of yourself first, can you take care of others. Amen to that.
So, here’s to a healthier year of putting yourself first, SO you can give your heart to causes that might need it more. But don’t wait too long. It can be a chicken/egg kind of a game. Find something that you care about, and go after it. Maybe that’s when you can realize your worth and why it’s important to put yourself first.
There were many times this year when I met people who told me how much this site meant to them. I always smiled sheepishly because I knew I had been away. Thank you, for your support. Thank you, for your love. Lynn and I look forward to bringing you new content that we’re excited about.
Merry Christmas everyone! If you’re feeling sad and alone today, you might want to check out #JoinIn on Twitter, started by comedian/writer Sarah Millican:
I started #joinin four years ago. So this Christmas Day will be my fifth. It started because I’m a big softie and can’t bear the thought of people being alone on Christmas Day. And I don’t mean those who choose to be alone. Good for them. They like being alone, they want it, they have a smashing time.
This is not for them. This is for those who don’t choose to be alone, but who are, for some reason, on their tod/bob/lonesome. Be it because they have no family, are estranged from their family, it’s not their turn to have the kids, even just that their partner is at work, whatever. Alone and would rather not be. This is who #joinin is for.
By using the hashtag #joinin, you can join a community made up of those alone, those not alone but lonely (I know that’s a thing because it was in a Bon Jovi song once – and I used to work in an office), those who wish they were alone (who often tweet the horrors of being with other people to make the lonely ones feel better, adorable) and me. Just loads of nice people chatting with me and then each other. As soon as I see conversations start without including me (I’m still watching on the hashtag like a SantaGod), my heart fills with warmth (possibly an overflow of the gravy) and I know it’s working.
We could all use some Holiday cheer, right? In the spirit of this time of year, Haikus with Hotties is sponsoring a giveaway! You have the chance to ring in the new year with some of our favorite friends, like Eugene Yang, Dante Basco, Chris Dinh, and Randall Park. Plus, poetry, of course. More about the calendar:
Audrey Magazine’s popular “Haikus with Hotties” series is now a 2016 calendar! “Haikus with Hotties” is both a tongue-in-cheek spoof of the hot man calendar and a sincere celebration of Asian male hotness in all forms. Launched in 2013 with Godfrey Gao, “Haikus with Hotties” is releasing its first calendar after a successful Kickstarter campaign featuring Yoshi and Peter Sudarso.
They’re giving away THREE calendars signed by Randall! To enter, all you have to do is 1. Follow us on Facebook and 2. Leave a comment on this post saying you want to win. We will pick the winners next week.
I Feel Like I Don’t Know What It Feels Like To Be Hungry
I’m so glad there are people working to raise awareness of eating disorders among minority groups. The messages I received from my Asian parents and grandparents have developed into many disordered eating habits. The guilt of “when I was young, I was poor and didn’t have the food that you have” to my mother’s face when I didn’t finish everything on my plate, asking, “so it wasn’t good?” to the way my parents use food and snacks as comfort, to my grandparents continuously giving me more food and saying “you didn’t eat anything” and “you’re too skinny” when I can’t physically eat anymore and am objectively not skinny at all – all of these things have led me to eat for reasons other than hunger and enjoyment, which later lead to stomach discomfort, digestive problems, and feelings of guilt and shame.
When I watch my white friends eat as much as they want and leave the table comfortable and satisfied, I ask both “How did she do that?” and “How could she waste so much food?” It is much more nuanced than a desire to lose weight and become thin. It’s a mentality that says I’m not eating for myself, to respond to the needs of my hunger, but for others, to satisfy them, show them I love them, respect their struggles and show my appreciation for an abundance of food, to show solidarity by eating when I don’t want to. My empathy has made me more sensitive to these messages; my brothers have no issues with declining food when they don’t want to eat, yet I have struggled for years. I have an intense fear that others will comment on what I eat, disapproving if I decline food, criticizing my healthy choices for being too high strung, or taking it personally as if it were a personal attack on our relationship. I feel like I don’t know what it feels like to be hungry, to eat in a way that responds to hunger, and to finish when I’m full. How can I relieve this anxiety and get back in touch with my natural hunger cues?
If you do a quick search of eating disorders among Asian American women, most of it discusses perfectionism, the pursuit of the “Caucasian ideal,” and family pressure to be thin. The disordered habits that I have have nothing to do with any of this, although I do admit I am a perfectionist. I love my body, I’m in love with my body, my size, my ethnicity, my appearance. And that’s why I’m struggling to undo the harmful messages that have made me feel compelled to eat when I don’t want to. I feel like I’m being reduced to a silly Asian girl who wants to lose weight to please her parents and be beautiful like the white girls. It’s not true. I love food and I love eating, and I want eating to be a pleasurable experience. I want to be me eating when I am hungry and/or want to eat, eating good food, and not eating past the point of comfort. And that’s where I struggle the most.
What the “perfect body” looks like varies greatly from country to country. Superdrug Online Doctors created a project called “Perceptions of Perfection” to highlight the different views of beauty from 18 different countries. They hired a designer from each of the countries included and had them all photoshop the same image to reflect the beauty standards of each country.
The series starts with the “original” photo and changes drastically from there.
By Jeanette Suros–Eating disorders are a serious and complex disease, but those who don’t know much about eating disorders look at them as a set of behaviors. It’s important to understand that eating disorders aren’t really about food or weight, but are a way to mask deeper issues.
During my sick days, I was triggered by others saying that eating disorders are a life choice or wishing they had an eating disorder to look like an A-list celebrity. They had no idea that I was destroying my body from the inside out. Now that I’ve found my voice, I’ve chosen to use it to spread eating disorders awareness. Here’s how you can get started, too!
Fundraising for eating disorders awareness increases understanding and education. You’ll have the chance to explain to others why NEDA’s mission is so important. You can create flyers and pamphlets and recruit passionate volunteers. Remember, those who volunteer are also getting educated! You never know who you might encounter at these fundraisers. Most likely, you’ll meet people in recovery or inspire others to seek help.
2. Form a support group.
There aren’t a lot of support groups out there, especially on college campuses. Forming a support group can be a good way to inspire students to start speaking out about eating disorders and sharing their personal experiences. Eating disorders thrive in secrecy, but when there is an open door for help and support, those suffering can start the recovery process. Talk to your counseling/wellness center to find out how you can help start a support group on your campus.
3. Start a Proud2Bme On Campus group.
Creating your own Proud2Bme On Campus group requires time and commitment, but it is so worth it! Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how you can join the Proud2Bme On Campus network. You’ll be on your way to educating students and faculty about eating disorders and helping students on campus become more confident in their own skin. Isn’t that awesome?
4. Participate in a NEDA Walk.
NEDA Walks are a great way to bring people together to spread eating disorders education and awareness. You can create and post promotional NEDA Walk flyers in your town and school, talk to your network about donating to NEDA and recruit teammates for a NEDA Walk. To find a NEDA Walk in your area, click here.
5. Blog about eating disorders recovery.
Writing can be an essential tool in recovery. Whether you start a free blog on WordPress or Tumblr or decide to submit a piece to Proud2Bme (contact email@example.com to find out how you can get started), blogging is an excellent way to speak out about eating disorders and share your personal story. The more blog posts that are out there, the more supported those who are struggling will feel—and there is nothing more worthwhile than using your voice to help others!
Do you guys listen to “Dear Sugar?” This show, hosted by Cheryl Strayed (”Wild”) and Steve Almond (”Candyfreak”), answers questions of all shapes and sizes. The last one talks about the issues of body image + relationships.
From their site:
The Sugars explore the fraught relationship between body image and romance.
In one letter, a married woman reconsiders her priorities after losing 100 pounds. In another, a young man wants his girlfriend to lose weight, but does not understand why she’s so upset when he broaches the subject.
They’re joined by the writer Lindy West, who has much to say on what it means to be a fat woman in our society.
What an honor to be featured in NPR’s Food Blog, The Salt:
Lynn Chen, 38, wants to change that. She co-founded Thick Dumpling Skin,
an organization that aims to “create a community for Asian-Americans to
discuss their past, present, and future relationships with their
bodies,” as the group’s website puts it.
Chen, a Cresskill,
N.J., native raised by Taiwanese parents, says she received mixed
messages as a child: She was encouraged to eat large quantities of food
but remain skinny.
Growing up, she struggled with binge eating.
During the worst times, Chen, an actress, would have what she called
“last supper” days. She’d make sure she didn’t have anything scheduled
and would begin eating starting in the morning and ending in the
“It could have been carrots and hummus or cookies,
whatever was easy to eat. Some days, I was on a set where there were
snacks as far as the eyes can see. I’d be eating my feelings all day
long,” recalls Chen. She wouldn’t purposefully purge, but there were a
handful of times she began involuntarily throwing up for days.
This blog is making me cry because it is so beautiful. I have felt so alone with my eating disorder. Some of my friends who are white have e.d but it wasn't the same. Being an Asian, I see all these photos and can't help but feel I'm a failure compared to my true race as an Asian. I don't have twig legs, I'm very muscular and have some fat around my thighs. I'm so self conscious about it especially around my close friends who are Asian. This blog is wonderful to read though. Keep going please <3
Have you ever been fat-shamed? Check out this article by Kara Waite over at xoJane.
At 4:02, my phone rang. At first I thought it was time to wake up, but when I looked at it, I saw “unknown” flash across the screen. I thought it was a hospital or a police department and I was so scared I waited for it to go to voicemail.
When I listened, this is what I heard:
I just wanted to let you know that I don’t have any respect for you as a teacher, not a professor, I refuse to call you that. And the reason I don’t have any respect for you is because you obviously have no self-respect at all. How am I supposed to respect you if you can’t respect yourself at all. And you know what really kills me about it is that you don’t feel bad about how you look or how you .. put yourself out there. You don’t look good. You need to take better care of yourself. And people do care what you look like. You’re a slob. You’re the size of a car, Kar-a. Now fuckin’ fix it. And I just gotta say that you’re not good as a teacher … you’re not confident. You can’t be confident being fat. Fuckin’ A. I hate you and everything you stand for. Your fuckin’ feminism is autistic. Nobody thinks it’s cool. You’re not special with your fuckin’ feministic beliefs. Go do something original and stop being a trendy whore. Bye-bye.
At first, I laughed like a maniac. Because no one in my family was dead or hurt or wanted by the CIA, I found the ridiculousness of a student calling me to say mean things hysterically funny. I laughed because he called me KAR-a when my name is actually pronounced KAIR-a. I laughed and I laughed and laughed.
In 2011, I went on a 12-hour road trip with a few friends to explore the quaint, small town of Woodstock, NY. Personally, it was still a time of piecing myself back together after having gone through my divorce a few years before. Walking into this one store, my eyes were immediately drawn to a decorative block of wood that said, “Strength and courage aren’t always measured in medals and victories. They are measured in the struggles they overcome. The strongest people aren’t always the people who win, they are the people who don’t give up when they lose.” So, I bought it and took it home with me.
This quote struck a chord as I feel like my life has been a series of struggles. So many times I felt like I kept losing and failing, yet here I am—still standing and breathing, and I have overcome each and every one of those challenges. Above all, with my strong faith, I am able to acknowledge that all my struggles have been part of a “bigger plan” for me, and I appreciate and celebrate all my small victories today.
I was diagnosed with depression when I was 22 years old. My life stopped and everything turned upside down. A repressed memory of molestation from when I was 6 years old resurfaced, my anxiety grew and my depression worsened. I lost my drive, my passion and myself. For about 6 years, I lived in denial and my world revolved around medications and hospitalizations as I tried to figure out what was wrong. I spent another 4 years finally accepting my illness, searching for the right treatment and getting to know myself again. I felt estranged from my own life for 10 years.
I was born and raised in the Philippines and moved to the United States when I was 17 years old. My life was shaped halfway between embracing my Filipino culture and adapting and loving the American culture. Suffering from mental illness felt like an added insult to injury, as I grew up in a culture where such an illness does not exist (and yes, to this day!), where overall self-image and reputation are crucial. There are no mental disorders in our vocabulary. From what I knew, “it’s either you’re crazy or you’re not” and there’s nothing in between. So, I remained silent, not daring to shame myself nor embarrass my family. Unfortunately, the suffering in silence continued year after year, even in the midst of my deep battle with depression, body image and anxiety.
My personal, love-hate relationship with food was also a struggle and became an extension of my other battles going way back to my childhood. In my culture, every gathering, every celebration, every holiday is defined by a bounty of food, representing blessings, abundance and love among family and friends. Yet, every struggle and every difficulty seemed to be defined by the comfort of food as well, “eating all our feelings and emotions” (pun intended!) instead of dealing with them. And food and self-image continued to be part of our lives… Eat this, according to some. You looked like you gained weight, said others. You need to go on a diet, said even more. You’re beautiful when you’re light-skinned, said the Filipino family and friends. You look gorgeous with your tan, olive skin, said the Americans. The confusion of it all, and the struggle was real!
Growing up, I remember getting teased for having darker skin and that alone became an insecurity. For Filipinos, the lighter skinned you are, the prettier you are, hence, I never once felt good about my body nor myself. And to this day, the battle continues with my overall body image. The only difference is now, I know better. I realize now that there is more to me than just my body and my skin color. I have learned to develop a certain level of self-awareness, and am currently focusing more on valuing my self-worth. Over the years, I have come to realize that this body does not define who I am, yet this body deserves love and care. What people think and say (even my own family and close friends), do not really matter. My mental illness, my struggles nor my past do not define who I am. What matters most is how I feel about myself and for me to acknowledge that all these challenges in my life have shaped me to be the strong woman I have become today. I know now, and I know better.
We all go through our own struggles and it’s never easy. Very often, we feel alone when we are struggling when in fact, we are never alone. We are not our struggles. We are who we decide to become. With a strong faith and the strength gained from overcoming our trials and not giving up, we can be anything we want to be!
We all have stories, and each story matters. I believe sharing your story can be powerful, because you never know how it can impact and help someone. So please keep sharing and keep inspiring. And remember, you are not alone, because I am here sharing my story with you.
I leave you with this, a verse from one song that helped keep me going all those years, “The Warrior is a Child”. I hope it inspires you just as much as it has helped me, and I hope you can take comfort that you are not alone in whatever it is you’re going through and that it is Okay not to be okay at times.
“Lately I’ve been winning battles left and right But even winners can get wounded in the fight People say that I’m amazing Strong beyond my years But they don’t see inside of me I’m hiding all the tears And they don’t know that I go running home when I fall down They don’t know who picks me up when no one is around I drop my sword and cry for just a while ‘Cause deep inside this armor The warrior is a child.”
Elizabeth Tiglao-Guss is a social entrepreneur and founder of linkofhearts.com, a gift & lifestyle brand raising awareness for depression and making inspirational, handmade products in Los Angeles. She is also a mental illness survivor of about 10 years and now, as a result, is a big advocate for Mental Health. You can connect with her via Instagram and Facebook.
We don’t like to use the word “fat” in general, but that’s the name of this clothing swap and we can get behind the sentiment:
Halmoni presents Fattyland (cousin to Fatty Winter Wonderland)–a clothing swap event focused on building community for bay area women of the plus size community–a community that continues to be underserved in the fashion scene of San Francisco and Oakland.
FATTYLAND kicks off on December 6th as a clothing swap for fat femmes. Come meet new friends, trade clothes and have fancy drinks in a supportive and nurturing space that promotes a body positivity, community building and fashion!
It’s hard for me to believe that around the same time last year, I had so much going for me. I received a new job after working at a company for 3 ½ years that I did not enjoy and shortly thereafter I received a gift of being in a relationship for the first time. I felt as though the world was offering me so much all at once and I couldn’t have been more grateful.
However, 6 months after, as quickly as these brand new experiences became a part of my life, they quickly faded. My new job was overwhelming and stressful and to make matters worse my heart got broken simultaneously. While the job was more manageable to deal with, my broken heart took a while to heal. The person I thought I fell in love with turned out to be a person I never really knew.
The outcome of my breakup did not help with my innate low self-esteem. I grew up with a family that upheld the importance of physical appearances and the definition of physical attraction. Physical beauty equated to a guy liking me, regardless of my personality. When I was little, my grandmother told me that I wasn’t pretty because I didn’t have double eyelids. Her mind changed when I became ill and (I guess an angel heard my prayers) the double eyelids appeared. Ever since then, I’ve always wondered why there was such an important focus on outer beauty. However, if we look at society, television, magazines, books, and newspapers splash images defining outer beauty - by your height, weight, the color of your skin, the texture of your hair, and the clothes you wear. Everywhere we go, we are constantly reminded of what society perceives as beauty.
What if we detracted our attention away from this “ideal” and defined beauty ourselves, inside and out? Can you feel lucky to look just the way you are? So what if you have blemishes on your skin or you have curves? Do those things really define who you are as a person? My response - you are much more than how you appear physically. I am a firm believer of natural beauty because what’s more important other than just being you? Wipe off all that make up, take out those hair extensions, and what is left is just you and only you. Sure if wearing make up makes you happy or buying a new skirt or shirt makes you feel good about yourself, go fot it! Just remember that even without those things, you are just as perfect. I take pride in not ever wearing make up, nor curling or straightening my hair, dye-ing my hair, or changing anything about my body. And guess what? I still have people in my life that care so much about me. So, please join me!
“I have been binge eating my whole life,” Chen says, adding that she also struggled with anorexia after being cast in a soap opera in 2004. “The dieting became anorexia. I’d go through a period of binge-eating and a period of starvation.”
I’m glad to have stumbled on your blog! I’d like to share my story of how I got heartburn partly triggered by binge eating. The story is in video form with music and illustrations that I made at heartburnart.com.
Isabel, Jess, and I are all examples of people who used to struggle with food on a regular basis and are now able to enjoy this holiday fully (pun intended). If you’re struggling, there is so much hope. So much.
LisaLee leads diversity programs at Pandora and is a self-proclaimed diversity geek who spends 90% of her time thinking about a more equitable society. She is a frequent speaker on topics related to diversity in tech and has been featured at SXSW, on NPR, and in Al Jazeera.
Prior to Pandora, Lisa started her career in tech as one of the early employees at Facebook. During her seven years there, she led initiatives in user operations, product operations, and diversity.
Passionate about Asian American issues, Lisa founded and chaired the Facebook AAPI Employee Resource Group, is formerly the publisher of Hyphen magazine, and cofounded positive body image site ThickDumplingSkin.com.
Lisa graduated from UC Berkeley in Mass Communications and Theatre & Performance Studies. She also serves on the board of Asian Americans for Civil Rights and Equality. You can follow her at @rrrlisarrr and at misslisalee.com.