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
For the first time ever this Women’s History Month, MuslimGirl.com is teaming up with dozens of partners to designate March 27 as #MuslimWomensDay. We’re calling on our allies to pass the mic to Muslim women by centering their voices and stories online.
We’re proud to partner with Tumblr and our friends at MTV, Refinery29, Teen Vogue, Huffington Post and many more to bring this day to life right on your dashboard!
How can anyone participate in #MuslimWomensDay?
Center Muslim women’s voices: With the power of social media, we can give space to those that are underrepresented. Make an effort to reblog, RT, and plug your favorite Muslim women online and what they have to say!
Share Muslim women’s experiences: We’re flooding the internet with dope content from our partners across the web highlighting Muslim women’s stories. If they come across your dash or newsfeed, share them with your network!
Celebrate Muslim women all day! Take part in the #MuslimWomensDay convo online and share thoughts and photos of the beautiful Muslim women in your lives, or even why you’re proud to be a Muslim woman yourself!
I was 17 years old when I first struggled with bulimia.
By then I had a boyfriend who used to be at the national swimming team and was, obviously, a very athletic person. I didn’t used to like doing any kind of physical activity: I avoided gym classes as much as I could in school, and never really liked any sport.
When I was a senior, my boyfriend began to encourage me to do exercises. I guess I felt kind of bad that he didn’t have a girlfriend as athletic as he was. I even got scared that he would dump me for being so lazy and not fitting into his lifestyle, so I got myself into a gym near my house.
During that year, I used to hang out with my group of school friends; there were five of us, all of us really pretty, but mostly really thin as well. I was the only one of of five who didn’t have a rocking body and I used to feel really uncomfortable when we went out. That year specifically, I found it a great idea to start dieting and doing a lot of exercise because it was THE year: senior trip, prom, and more.
One of the five friends used to run a lot. She apparently loved to exercise, and always paid a lot of attention to her body. We became really close that year and we would constantly talk about how much exercise we were doing, diets, ways to lose weight, laxatives, and so on. It was not until she stopped eating at school and started lying about it to us and her family that we talked about it and suspected something was wrong with her.
Simultaneously, I developed unhealthy habits, consisting of binging and purging myself to lose weight because, unlike her, I didn’t have the “strength” to stop eating.
Things got really bad for a few months after that. I had the pressure of our senior trip to Cancun on my shoulders, where there would be girls in bikinis everywhere and evil comments from others about each others’ bodies. In addition to the pressure of not gaining weight in order to look “stunning” on our small prom dresses, everything went down hill and it started to become obvious to everyone that both of us had an eating disorder.
By then, I had already bought my prom dress, but I still didn’t feel thin enough despite people’s comments. After we came back from Cancun, every kind of comments came up about our bodies. My parents and my boyfriend became aware of my disorder and I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how to confront people about it and was so scared of people judging me (specially because people tend to think that girls with eating disorders are just air heads who want to look skinny).
I was referred to a treating center for eating disorders. I had to go several times a week to talk with a psychiatrist, a psychologist and a nutritionist. It was really weird in the beginning to go there and see others who were clearly struggling with disorders as I was, and it was uncomfortable to sit in the meeting when they had to explain to my parents what bulimia was about, and what I was going through. I felt like I had disappointed them, because no parent would want a kid with such problems.
However, time by and I began to feel more comfortable about it. I was no longer in denial with those around me: my family, friends and boyfriend were aware of what was going on with me, and if it hadn’t been like that, I think I would have not been able to go through it by myself. Once I finished treatment, I referred my friend, who was dealing with anorexia, for her to get some help as well.
Eating disorders are not easy to deal with. Once you’re in it, and once you’ve reached bottom, it is when you realize how easy it was getting into it, but just how difficult it is to get out. The hardest part about the whole thing was the moment of accepting and deciding to get help. Once you’re able to do that, as wrong as everything might seem, there is nothing left but to get better and better step by step. No one says it will be easy, but it is an obstacle everyone can overcome.
Today, I’m 19 years old. I still hang out with my best friends from school. I have a boyfriend (not the same one). I’m in college. I live a pretty normal life. Two years after and looking back, looking pictures, and remembering everything that happened, I now know I’m a stronger person. I learned that sometimes our mind can play some ugly tricks on us, and most important of all, I learned to love myself. Today I’m sure that I don’t need to show my ribs, or torture myself with every bite with the foods I like in order for people to like me. I’m much more than a flat belly and an underweight girl.
Considering the life-long issue I’ve had with my body and self-image, I decided to spend my journal period, listing the things that I’m grateful for about MY BODY.
Admittedly, some of these came quickly but others I had to think about. “Ample cleavage” was met with “yeah but what about how they’re too big and sagging, or the stretch marks…?”, and “gave life” was met with “what about the five miscarriages you had…?”
My point in telling you this is to demonstrate how important it is to power through the negative thoughts to find the beauty in it - to not focus on those harming thoughts about ourselves but reverse it and see the beauty in what our bodies are and can do. Because focusing on that really did help me love myself better….
The affirmation at the bottom is the affirmation for gratitude but I’ve tailored it to say “body” instead of life. Focusing on what I love about my body helps me to silence what I don’t.
And one day, hopefully one day soon, those voices won’t be so loud anymore.
❤️⭕️ - Mod Liz
“I’ve never been that comfortable with how I look, or my body. When you’re a dude, you’re not really asked to talk about that. You hear women talk about their bodies, their appearances, and how they’re uncomfortable with it. I read a lot of feminist literature. My girl is a beauty director at Elle. I read her articles and her friends’ articles. I definitely had a lot of self-image stuff I dealt with personally, but I don’t think it’d be fair to compare to women’s body issues, since it’s a lot more complex for a number of reasons for them. But I don’t hear a lot of men write or talk about positive body image.”
Duh, right? There isn’t a single show on the Food Network hosted by someone Asian, unless you count Iron Chef (and we don’t). Why must we watch non-Asian cooks who can’t pronounce “Sriracha” and don’t have a chopstick drawer show us how to make our own dishes? And how come, when they do, we have to watch as their entire family mocks it - like in this episode of The Pioneer Woman?
Come on, Food Network. With chefs like David Chang, Roy Choi, Anita Lo and Niki Nakayama out there - you can do better than this.
Landed in Boston and damn this snow storm is no joke. Just kidding. I’m from California and I think it’s beautiful! Freezing, yes, but beautiful nevertheless. Is it just me or do people become warmer as it gets colder? Oh and can someone teach me how to build a snowman?
I am looking forward to sharing the Thick Dumpling Skin story this Wednesday during the Asian American Heritage Week. I’ll be joined by Deepica Mutyala to discuss Asian American beauty standards at 6:30 pm @ Mcleod Suites.
Got questions for me? Com’on don’t be shy. Leave them here and/or tweet at us @dumplingskin.
See you soon!
P.S. Lynn and I also just recorded another podcast. It has been a while so thanks for your patience. We talk about dealing with the present, and we get to answer a listener/reader question. Coming soon!
Six-Word Memoirs is teaming up with ABC’s acclaimed series Fresh Off the Boat for a new book, Six Words Fresh Off the Boat: Stories of Immigration, Identity, and Coming to America (Kingswell/Disney Publishing 2017).
The newest book in the Six-Word series is an exploration of one of the most personal and profound elements of the American experience—and we hope to hear from you. Share your or your family’s coming to America story in Six Words and you could be in the book!
For the last couple of weeks, I’ve self-prescribed a list of things that I am happily allowed to do. The list is simple: sleeping, eating, reading, and exercising. Maybe some TV here and there.
I’ve been able to stick to the list so far (and hopefully can try to stick to once I go back to work) and have been getting to the “activities” that I’ve been putting off for a long time.
It has been refreshing to do things just because, and to encourage my own sense of curiosity rather than reading/watching/listening because I have to/should do.
So far, I finally finished watching The Wire, read Ta-nehisi Coates’ The Case of Reparations (and more by the author), and caught up with many podcasts (ahem basically everything with comedian Hari Kondabolu). I listened/danced to Bruno Mars’ new album 24k & Frank Ocean’s Blond, and also finally finished a book! The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead was a painfully beautiful read and I couldn’t put it down. Please add it to your list.
By the way, did you know that if you shop on https://smile.amazon.com, your purchase will benefit a nonprofit of your choice? Given how much I’ve come to use Amazon, re-discovering this tidbit has made me want to shout it from the rooftop. If you don’t have a go-to nonprofit, yet, may I suggest Chinese for Affirmative Action, under the network of Asian Americans for Civil Rights & Equality? It’s a social justice organization that I serve on the board of and does some really important work to represent the most vulnerable in our communities.
Speaking of which, throughout December I made a goal to give to one organization every day for 31 days. Since Lynn and I spoke about the election a few weeks ago, I have arrived at the conclusion that more than ever, those of us who say that we care about equal rights have to put our money where our mouth is. To build resistance and proactively fight against institutional racism & sexism require resources such as money. Check out my giving thread on Twitter if you want some ideas of where to start, and please share organizations that do important work with us too.
About to crack open my next book… How have you taken care of yourself in the last few weeks?
Lisa and Lynn are separate for this podcast episode, which is an interview that Lynn conducts with body positive activist Laura Burns. Laura has been creating self-love zines and working with people since her teens. More recently she founded Body Love 4 All, a body-positive nonprofit for all people, regardless of their race, size, gender expression, or ability. She also created Radical Body Love, her yoga, hooping, and body-love coaching company that helps people explore the connection between mind, body, and spirit – bringing them all together to create love for the body they have today.
Food Psych is a podcast hosted by Christy Harrison, a registered dietitian nutritionist and certified intuitive eating counselor. Each episode, she talks about intuitive eating, body image, eating disorder recovery, weight stigma, nutrition, fitness and more, all from a body-positive perspective. And guess who her latest guest is? Thick Dumpling Skin’s very own Lynn Chen. Click here to listen to the episode, and check out more of what Christy does - including online classes and nutrition therapy.
Lynn and Lisa are talking about being proud of your accomplishments but also your failures. We have an interview with Sarah Kuhn, the author of Heroine Complex - which features two Asian-American Superheroines. AND we have a giveaway of the book for one of our US Readers/Listeners! To enter, leave a review on iTunes (where you can also download the episode) or follow us @dumplingskin on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram, then email us at dumplingskin(at)gmail(dot)com. More instructions on the podcast.
My mom is 3 inches shorter than me and 30 pounds lighter. She constantly talks of how when she was pregnant, she was 90 pounds. She doesn’t realize this has given both of her daughters eating disorders. She doesn’t understand when I say I want a “slim” dress, without a wide waist. She doesn’t understand why I wear shapewear to school and suck in at the beach. This is toxic parenting, and it needs to stop.
Editor’s Note: We love this post and we get down to SKIN on our next podcast. Subscribe here!
I want to start off by saying that I found this blog today on a Yahoo News article, so thank you for creating a blog like this. I’m half Taiwanese and half Egyptian, growing up I never really cared about my body image because when you’re younger, you don’t particularly think about that, but it wasn’t until I got to middle school and high school where my thoughts have changed.
I went to an almost all-Asian school, where most of the students, especially the girls, were all slim. It didn’t help that when I looked in the mirror, I looked chubby and dark, and I looked younger than I actually am due to my baby fat. In 7th grade, I had PE class outside during the afternoon, which has given me a somewhat permanent tan on my arms. Then as I got older, my baby fat went away but my skin was still somehow dark and never a nice milky, pale white color that Asians, or rather the Taiwanese/Chinese community so thoroughly wanted. Because of my skin color and the way I look, I’ve always been called “Filipino”, “Thai”, “Hispanic”, and even “Indian”, further discrediting me and my Taiwanese/Egyptian self.
There have been times in high school where I’ve refused to go outside unless it was the late afternoon or evening because I didn’t want to get even darker than I actually am. I didn’t want the Taiwanese/Chinese community that I’ve encountered to mistaken me for a different race.
Fast forward to this year and I was in my third year of college, I went to Taiwan to study abroad. It was a norm to see women carry around umbrellas, put on copious amounts of sun screen, wear gloves that go all the way up to your upper arms, and sun visors just to preserve their pale skin. Even if the sky was cloudy with little to no sun, there were still women who carried around umbrellas.
Due to this, I’ve become self-conscious about my own skin. For years, I’ve thought nothing about my light caramel tan, I have tried to fix it, but eventually I’ve accepted that being tanned is a part of who I am. However, when living in a place where the people grasp the idea of “you NEED to be light and pale or else you’ll be ugly” in contrast to my idea of “being tan is okay, being tanned is also healthy and beautiful”, your mind and your ideals are thrown into a battle of fighting the norm or blending in with the norm.
I knew for sure that I would be fighting the norm right away due to the way I looked. I am not as petite as an average Taiwanese woman, my eye shape is already different, and my skin is not light. The insecure part of me is always telling myself that the people around me were looking at me, judging me, and ignoring me just for the way I look, this of course might not be the case, but there was always this anxiety gnawing at me that never seems to be quiet.
Towards the end of my stay, my cousin and his family took me out on an outing and the first thing he commented which I’ll forever remember was, “Mei! (Little sister) You got darker haven’t you?” I was shocked, I didn’t know that my cousin would care about my skin color, right away I replied, “Gege (Older brother), there’s nothing wrong with being dark. In fact, I think it makes me look healthier.” To which my cousin laughed it off and went on to the next conversation.
What can I say about all of this is that, I wish that Asians didn’t place a huge importance on having light skin. I wish there was more representation of all different kinds of skin tones in the Asian community to help give inspiration for girls like me that are not “blessed” with a light skin color. I hope that one day Asians will finally realize that being tan is not a bad thing. I do hope that one day, these attitudes about the standardization of girls’ bodies will change. I hope that one day I’ll finally be happy and at peace with my skin color, because I for one, think it’s a lovely shade of caramel.
Thank you Bethany Rose Lamont for including us in this awesome discussion. Give it a read!
To speak your mental health struggles into a reality beyond yourself is scary at the best of times, but when cultural constructs of ‘who’ is worthy of emotional anguish, 'who’ is capable of feeling pain, come into play this pressure builds up to bursting point. This is the intersection of race and gender that complicates the already existing stigmas and stereotypes surrounding mental illness. We brought together four leading mental health advocates exploring these intersections: Imade Nibokun (author of Depressed While Black), Dior Vargas (People of Colour & Mental Illness photo project and White House Champion of Change for Disability Advocacy), Bassey Ikpi (creator of the Siwe Project) and Lisa Lee (co-founder of Thick Dumpling Skin) to create a conversation on family, faith, first generation angst and why the myth that mental illness is 'a white person thing’ seriously needs to stop.
Growing up, two icons I looked up to were sailor moon and hello kitty. I loved that sailor moon was thin, had long legs, long hair, and pretty. I loved that hello kitty was cute, could dress up as anything, and didn’t have anything to say. But little did I know that my favorite icons as a kid would influence me as a I got older. Without realizing it, I was always wanting to look thin and thought that I would only be successful in life if I were skinny. Sailor moon was replaced by Asian female celebrities I would see in dramas, also skinny and very pretty. The notion of keeping quiet was perpetuated by my my peers and parents to not say anything when I was being made fun of or abused. Being outspoken for what you believe in was definitely something I never saw among Asian women when growing up. And when someone did, she would be thought as loud and crazy. Undesirable.
During college, I developed an eating disorder which led to depression. I started stress eating, and as a result gained weight. When I did, I thought that my life was gonna be over because I didn’t look how I wanted to look. As dumb as it sounds, I thought my life was over because I wouldn’t get anywhere in life based on looks. I was also afraid to talk about these things because Asians don’t talk about their feelings right? I got used to keeping things in and hoping things will just get better.
I’m 28 now and I’m very grateful that I no longer starve myself or voluntarily throw up; thanks to my supportive family, friends, counselors, and faith. However, the thoughts still linger on and I have a fear of what people think of me. But I am taking steps to change my view of beauty day by day, and even attempting to speak out in a loving way to people who say offensive things. But my heart does feel for the young girls who are growing up in this world. Hello kitty is still popular and sailor moon is still being aired. Those things probably will never change, but I think encouraging young girls and speaking truth to them can be just as effective. Lets not create more eating disorders for them.
“Your nose will look gorgeous with a little nose job. Care to try? Every part on your face already looks pretty, except this…”
A make-up artist at the make-up counter where I decided to have my makeup done for my senior prom told me. Surprisingly, I wasn’t pissed off at her statement (as should be expected for the average person) but stunned wouldn’t have been an understatement.
“Oh, really?” Looking at her nose to confirm her authority of this uncalled for suggestion, I asked her cordially, “Will it hurt a lot?” “No, not really,” she replied, and shrugged.
I am not a stranger to the idea of plastic surgery because it is quite common in Thai celebrity society, and the news represents it all the time. Moreover, I am fully aware that just like women in other cultures, especially Asians, Thais are really obsessed with the idea of “perfect beauty.” But since when has this become a casual, common conversation topic for two total strangers?
Thinking back to the conversation I had, I can’t help but wonder how at ease this woman spoke about this personal comment - plus a potentially harmful, invasive medical operation - which should otherwise offend her female interlocutor, as it sounds even to my forgiving ears so condescending, and on the natural appearance of another woman to boost. But she sounded totally normal, like a friend suggests another best chum to buy a lipstick.
During the past 10 years, aesthetic plastic surgery has become more and more common for people. Among the most popular for Thai ladies are nose jobs (rhinoplasty), double eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty), botox (botulinumtoxin), face-lift, and v-line surgery (if we look only on the face). The higher demand of the surgery creates the greater variety of choices, packages, and costs for people of all walks and wallets.
Sadly, this kind of ideology penetrating people’s mind does in some level affect the confidence of people. Some people will surely feel not satisfied with their own body images or even feel bad about themselves. When I was in high school, a friend of mine who visited her Korean friend’s family told me how shocked she was when her friend’s parents offered to take her to a famous surgery clinic to fix her beauty. Now, this offer can make many Thai girls squeal in delight and can even be used as bait and reward for achieving good grades or entrance into famous universities.
City people, especially teenage women, are prone to do plastic surgery, one or another type. This starts from the upper-middle class and has trickled down to the middle class and now almost everyone can just save up their money to acquire some surgeries. The main influences of this phenomena in my opinion, is media representation. Thai media often reveals photos of Thai celebrities and actors showing several stages of surgery they have gone through, aptly dubbed “before and after.” Some actors and actresses dare to talk about their surgeries publicly, adopting adamant attitude that it is a personal right to become more beautiful and a courageous, to accept what they have done. As such, in the country where teenagers usually look up to the celebrities and want to be like them, reinforced by Korean trend craze, they are quick to adopt this instant beauty trend of plastic surgery. The more people do it, the more acceptable and normal it has become in Thai city society.
That said, there are still people who go against it for several reasons, namely potential health risks, the value of authenticity, and self-image and esteem. These, however, can easily be set aside once girls listen to other women complimenting, “how beautiful she has become with that nose-job or double-eyelid surgery,” and eagerly urging one another to try.
This trend is not just happening in Thailand but also other Asian countries, and even more popular in South Korea and Japan, the origins of the world’s famous drama, pop brands, and make-up trends. A wide variety of beauty tour package choices to South Korea are widely available for Thais of all ages and genders to choose from to fit their budget. Recently, many South Korean beauty clinics have even opened in Siam Square, the most famous, high-end shopping streets and teenager meeting point to meet the ever-increasing demands for upgrading beauty in Bangkok, Thailand. Why not? From my own experience and anecdotes of others, once a knife is cut into a face, less fear one will have to change things, and at that point you have already enrolled in a loyalty program of professional, medical beauty modification services.
I was 12 or 13 at the time. We were having some family friends over for dinner. As the first guests arrived, I ambled out of my room to say hello in the way that only pubescent girls can do. Awkwardly.
“Wow!” said Auntie X. She had an almost gleeful smile on her face. “Suwen looks so… solid!”
She looked me up and down. I looked away, managing a wry smile. My cheeks were burning like I was in the fiery pits of hell. Wait, I really was.
I looked down at my lardy thighs, the fat calves that filled out my jeans, ones that had been described as “bursting out of their seams.” I looked at the skinny upper arms of women 35 years older than me and wondered if I would ever achieve that same level of thinness.
I challenge you to find any female Asian of a BMI greater than 24 who has not had similar comments made about her. They come from “well meaning” relatives and family friends. They are perhaps accompanied by suggestions that the girl take up jogging or refrain from carbohydrates and all those “heavy” fried foods, usually as the girl is reaching with her chopsticks for that spring roll she has been eyeing for the last minute or so, wondering if one more is one too many. They are said in an unrestrained manner, sometimes just as a conversation piece. The “helpful” suggestions they propose are said with a tone of deep caring and sincerity but you cannot help but wonder if they are just glad their own child is not of the same girth as you.
The Asian culture is a complicated thing. We don’t stick chopsticks in rice. We fight to pay the bill at restaurants. We force our children to play sports in school as extracurricular activities then get mad when they want to pursue a career in professional basketball. We eat tiny dried fish and congealed pigs’ blood. Many Asian attitudes are known in Western culture as too extreme, especially regarding young people. Think Tiger Mum. The Asian woman who might as well have a Hitler ‘stache. She stands around all day, ordering her four year old to practice piano and complete tomorrow’s maths homework early. He’s destined for a career in accounting or engineering after all.
These extreme notions of the level of perfection Asian parents hold their children up to don’t just apply to academic achievements. They naturally extend to physical appearance as well. Asian parents see a fat child and associate them with laziness and general ambivalence to personal upkeep. Asian parents see a fat child and also see shame and embarrassment.
For female Asians, the standard is worse. Because Asian girls are meant to be skinny. They are meant to have small wrists and delicate ankles. They are meant to fit into size small or extra small. They are meant to be the slender foil to the robustly-shaped Chien Po of Disney’s Mulan. They are meant to nibble on grains of rice one by one with their chopsticks, expertly wielded by willowy fingers. They are certainly not meant to need a size medium or size large. Or sing out their love for beef, pork, chicken in the same way that Chien Po does.
To be fair, these stereotypes are based largely on facts. Female Asians are generally slim and small sized. Proclamations of meat-based love are far and few between. But I went through many of my teenage years as a bigger female Asian. With a BMI that fluctuated around 24-26 at various points in time, I was always vastly larger than my Asian friends and peers (boys usually included). I constantly wondered what I was doing wrong. Why was I incapable of living up to the skinny female Asian benchmark? Was it because I was lazy or because I loved food too much? I wondered if I looked like an ogre next to my Asian friends. I can still remember an Asian friend’s mum telling her daughter that I looked “enormous” after she saw me in the carpark after school.
10 years later and I sit at a BMI of 22. I feel healthy and happier about my weight and appearance. But on a recent trip to my parent’s home country of Malaysia, I was exposed to the same comments by my aunties. Almost in a tone of wonderment, they said, “She’s big sized!” Suddenly, I was 13 again and feeling like shit.
Weight and physical appearance is an issue in any culture but the willingness to comment is what sets Asian culture apart. It is this willingness to comment that makes the tight-knit closeness of Asian immigrant communities both a good and bad thing. There is support, togetherness and a sense of belonging but there is also judgment and ample amounts of it. Immigrant parents expect their children to live up to the same standards their parents put on them. But to their chagrin, many of us first generation Australians (or Americans or Canadians or Brits) are rejecting these old fashioned ideals. Our ideas of happiness are not the same as our parents. The brighter futures our parents planned for us are no longer in line with what we want. We want to travel and take gap years. We want happiness, not money.
That is not to say that the beliefs and attitudes our Asian immigrant parents brought with them are bad. They exist, for the most part, because our parents want the best for us. They exist because it was that kind of attitude that allowed them to migrate to whichever Western country they now live in.
It’s easier to be fat and Asian in a Western country than in an Asian country. Here, fat is more commonplace. It’s expected and accepted. Here, I can still be considered slim or average. In Asia, I’m big. Is the dynamic changing? Probably. As generations of Asian immigrants come to pass and the Asians back home get fatter (because everyone is getting fatter, supposedly) maybe we’ll reach a stalemate. Maybe Asian aunties will be less inclined to look their nieces up and down with a critical eye. Maybe they’ll hesitate before they ask if we’ve put on weight. Maybe. One day.
Into the Wild with Bear Scientist Wesley Larson (aka @grizkid)
To see more of Wesley’s work in the field, follow @grizkid on Instagram.
“My whole life, I’ve been interested in wildlife,” Wesley Larson (@grizkid) explains. “When I graduated college, I got sucked into the idea that I needed to make a lot of money. But I eventually decided to do what I was passionate about.” Wesley, a Montana native, left optometry school and seven years later, he’s a biology grad student working with black bears in Utah and studies polar bear in the Arctic. It’s hard work, often in eyeball-freezing -70 degree Fahrenheit (-57 Celsius) weather — seriously, his eyeball froze once — but for Wesley, it’s a dream come true. His goal is “to get as much information as possible” so that no human activity — from oil drilling to park picnicking — harms endangered animals. It also means he takes in amazing views, fosters orphaned raccoons and spends quality time with bear cubs.
Lisa Lee is the director of diversity and inclusion at Pandora and is a self-proclaimed diversity geek who spends 90% of her time thinking about how to use tech as a vehicle to drive equality. Lisa is the founder and host of Legacy Code, a podcast about upgrading the tech industry by making it more diverse. She is also a frequent contributor to topics related to diversity in tech. Lisa has been featured at SXSW, presented at General Assembly, and interviewed on NPR.
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 uplifting the Asian American community, Lisa started the positive body image site ThickDumplingSkin.com and serve on the board of Asian Americans for Civil Rights and Equality and the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum.