Body Acceptance Week speaker addresses Asian American body image

Lisa+Lee%2C+former+publisher+of+Hyphen+magazine%2C+gives+the+keynote+presentation+for+Northwestern%E2%80%99s+Body+Acceptance+Week+in+Harris+Hall+Monday+night.+Lee+talked+about+creating+ThickDumplingSkin.com%2C+an+online+forum+for+discussing+eating+disorders+and+body+image+issues+in+the+Asian-American+community.%0D%0A
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Body Acceptance Week speaker addresses Asian American body image

Lisa Lee, former publisher of Hyphen magazine, gives the keynote presentation for Northwestern’s Body Acceptance Week in Harris Hall Monday night. Lee talked about creating ThickDumplingSkin.com, an online forum for discussing eating disorders and body image issues in the Asian-American community.

Lisa Lee, former publisher of Hyphen magazine, gives the keynote presentation for Northwestern’s Body Acceptance Week in Harris Hall Monday night. Lee talked about creating ThickDumplingSkin.com, an online forum for discussing eating disorders and body image issues in the Asian-American community.

Annabel Edwards/Daily Senior Staffer

Lisa Lee, former publisher of Hyphen magazine, gives the keynote presentation for Northwestern’s Body Acceptance Week in Harris Hall Monday night. Lee talked about creating ThickDumplingSkin.com, an online forum for discussing eating disorders and body image issues in the Asian-American community.

Annabel Edwards/Daily Senior Staffer

Annabel Edwards/Daily Senior Staffer

Lisa Lee, former publisher of Hyphen magazine, gives the keynote presentation for Northwestern’s Body Acceptance Week in Harris Hall Monday night. Lee talked about creating ThickDumplingSkin.com, an online forum for discussing eating disorders and body image issues in the Asian-American community.

Erin Bacon, Reporter

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To kick off Northwestern’s Body Acceptance Week, Lisa Lee, Facebook’s former diversity program manager, spoke at Harris Hall Monday about ways Asian-Americans can develop a healthy body image.

Lee is creator of the Tumblr blog “Thick Dumpling Skin,” which focuses on issues of body acceptance in the Asian-American community. She asked an audience of about 50 people, “What are Asian girls supposed to look like?” She shared her work on this question, advocating for “active analysts” of societal norms about beauty.

“We’re still living in a society where we’re given limitations based on our gender,” Lee said. “From a young age, we’re told what’s socially acceptable and what’s not.”

Lee drew from her own experiences growing up as an Asian-American, from as early as age four when she said her parents stopped her from climbing a pole, saying “girls just don’t do that.” Growing up, she questioned why she had a different body shape than her cousins. In the three months before starting college, her mother brought her to a specialty spa in Taiwan where she lost 30 pounds drinking powdered mixes and receiving stomach massages. Within one year of school, she had gained the weight back.

Lee said her college friends staged an intervention after seeing her develop unhealthy eating habits, leading her to question her own diet. She shifted her focus to treating herself positively, sometimes skipping visits back home to keep herself on track.

In her post-college years, Lee worked as a publisher for Hyphen, an Asian-American magazine, where she published a first-person account of her journey with her body and weight. Later teaming up with actress Lynn Chen in 2011, Lee created Thick Dumpling Skin.

“The way we can change the status quo is by changing what we say and do, by actively changing the way we talk about weight and body sizes,” Lee said. “I’m a huge believer that the mind is very powerful.”

Lee recently left her job with Facebook after seven years with the social network and shared advice about how activists can further their causes using social media.

“Social media becomes a voice for people who didn’t have one,” she said. “What do you want to use your voice for?”

She said the recent death of her aunt caused her to value the time and influence she has, especially as it relates to combating body image issues.

Eileen Biagi, a psychologist and the eating concerns team coordinator at Counseling and Psychological Services, organized the event. Lee was the keynote speaker for the week.

“With Body Acceptance Week, we’ve tried to do programs to better understand issues for different groups,” Biagi said.

Students approached Biagi asking her to invite Lee to speak, and she was open to the opportunity for an Asian-American perspective, following last year’s focus on men’s body issues.

“The general focus is turning away from weight to health at every size,” said Elizabeth Gobbi, a staff psychiatrist at CAPS.

Lee offered a similar message in her talk.

“The journey to love yourself has no end,” she said. “It’s a lifelong process.”

Weinberg freshman Linda Yu, who attended the event, said she was interested in how the media portrays body image.

“Lee was really relatable, and I like how she ended with positive notes, like how to be content with yourself,” Yu said.

Body Acceptance Week will continue with more events this week, including yoga and workshops.

Email: erinbacon2017@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @erindbacon

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