North by Northwestern Reports Back

Damn Northwestern. You’re fast! Here’s a write-up in North by Northwestern’s Julia Clark-Riddell about my keynote from last night:

When Lee got to college, she began to gain back the weight she lost, as her previous diet was unsustainable and unhealthy. She struggled to think in a positive and healthy way about food; One day she would avoid eating meals in the dining hall with friends and the next day she would binge-eat brownies from the dessert bar. Over time, Lee began to understand why she was thinking about her body in those negative ways and how she needed to change – inside, but not out.

“You have to be compassionate toward yourself,” Lee said. With the limited time you have in your life, Lee said, you can spend it obsessing about how you look or you can spend it improving yourself on a deeper level and improving your community.

Lee also spoke about how her website, Thick Dumpling Skin, can address the specific body awareness problems Asian-Americans face. With all people of color, Lee said, body issues are translated and taken to a new level when complicated by race and the fact that mass media lacks substantial representation of minorities.

“Eating disorders are not just a cause and effect of mass media, but it’s also very much cultural and very much familial,” Lee said. “Lots of Asian-Americans, especially Asian-American women, are very at the whim of stereotypes of how they are supposed to be small and they’re supposed to be petite.”

In order to improve body awareness and cultivate a positive body image, Lee said students should make a conscious decision to change the way they think and talk about weight, with the focus on health and happiness, not on superficial appearances.

Abi Koh, a Communications senior, said she enjoyed Lee’s speech because she was able to relate to the topics discussed.

“I feel like the Asian-American female voice is often not heard,” Koh said. “Usually when there’s talk about body issues, I feel like it comes from a more western perspective.”

Kody Keckler, a Medill freshman, said he thinks body image becomes more of a problem in college than in high school because of the increased pressure to approve of yourself, and that Lee’s speech informed him of new ways to look at body issues.

“It put body image into a new perspective for me,” said Kecker. “It really made me think about how race can also come into play.”

Eileen Biagi, a staff psychologist for CAPS and the main organizer of the event, said the speech was a success because of Lee’s heartfelt and genuine message.

“In the journey to loving yourself, there’s no final destination,” Lee said. “It takes your whole life.”

To read the article in its entirety, click here.

I also appreciated the tweets, like this one:

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Thank you to all the students who came, and especially the students who stayed late to chat more. Huge thanks again to CAPS (Counseling and Psychological Services), The Health Service, The Women’s Center, Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, Associated Student Government, Taiwanese American Student Club, and Sigma Psi Zeta!

Much love to you all.

- Lisa


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