Thick Dumpling Skin Gets to the Heart of the Asian American Eating Disorder

When it comes to talking about the matters of the body and mind, diagnosing the Asian American eating disorder has never been easy. American mainstream media has always identified eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia as a “white woman problem,” reinforcing the false belief that Asian Americans don’t suffer from body image issues. But now the silence is finally ending: Hyphen magazine publisher Lisa Lee and award-winning actress Lynn Chen have launched a forum and community called Thick Dumpling Skin to help get Asian Americans to talk about this largely ignored cultural issue.

The inception of Thick Dumpling Skin came about in June 2010, when Lynn Chen started a food blog called The Actor’s Diet, after battling with eating disorders for years. One day, she heard an interview on NPR with Lisa Lee, in which Lee talked about how being Asian made her obsess over staying skinny. Chen contacted Lee, and after several conversations via phone, email, and in person, they decided to launch the site.

Lee says, “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 been acknowledged on the surface, yet largely ignored in our community.”

The two women quickly learned that they weren’t alone in their struggle with overcoming eating disorders and body image issues. Emails and stories from readers came pouring in from women and men around the world about their issues with food and their unhealthy quest for the “perfect body.” Through people’s stories, Lee and Chen dispelled one myth: these issues could not simply be solved by mere willpower; they were social, cultural, and familial.

By reading the stories and sharing your experiences on the site, Lee and Chen hope that Asian Americans who suffer with eating disorders and body image issues can learn to truly love their bodies, minds, and hearts. Because with thicker skins, you’ll quickly learn that our quest for happiness and confidence comes from the inside.