I felt "fat for an Asian" for a lot of years in my life. Thirteen long years to be exact. That's like over a decade. For most of my teenage years and twenties when I was suppose to be having fun being wild and free, I was instead dealing with two auto-immune diseases, had nine packs of blood transfusion at the Children's Hospital and well on my way to developing a binge eating disorder and severe depression.
I so so so relate to the writer of the article I shared at the bottom of this blog. My mom used to tell me I have "thick" legs and I'm "big" boned. I would obsess over my "thick" legs and I was so ashamed of them that I never really wore short shorts. I squeezed my wrists all the time as if it will make my bones grow smaller. And oh I constantly rubbed my jaw wishing it would become less squary because I was also told that my face was too square and fat and big compare to the oval face shaped Asian girls. Even now and I feel a lot fitter than in my twenties, compare to Hong Kong actresses I am just average on the thin scale. That's why it was so important for me to share my struggles with weight and food in my one woman show even though I felt ashamed and I should in a Chinese traditional sense not talk about it or just "pretend" it will go away, like my parents told me that I was stupid for thinking so much about my problems. And I hate it when people tell me it's my good Asian genes! No, I'm not fit and ageless because of my good Asian genes! I work at it. I started putting Clinique eye cream on my face when I was 13. I use three types of Argan oils and serums, creams, sunscreen, three types of eye cream, eye gel, eye serum and diligently follow a 6-10 step beauty regimen night after night. I exercise and stretch and I don't smoke anymore, drink excessively or take drugs (yes, not even Tylenol) or drink coffee which dehydrates my skin. I pray and practice yoga to maintain peace and balance for my hormones. I try to get 8 hours of sleep every night. I eat pretty clean and drink smoothies and take vitamins. So I know it's not some magical "Asian genes" that keep me fit and look ten years younger than my age. It's just good ol' habits of self-care that I have been practicing for thirty something years. Thanks to my mom for showing me how to take care of myself and my face.
Making peace with how I identify myself as being a "fat" Asian took years of dedication in reprogramming my mind and beliefs. I read dozens upon dozens of self-help, diet, and spiritual books. I challenged all beliefs that were passed down to me by my parents, friends, teachers, and society. It took many trials and errors to rebuild my identity and feel like a healthy woman who loves the way she looks, and enjoys tasting food again. Eating disorders are rampant among Asian women and is often a taboo subject. We are shamed into pretending that we accept these impossible standards and in doing so, we fool ourselves into aspiring to become this impossible standard of weighing less than 100 pounds, possess white, flawless skin (freckles free for sure!), can eat whatever we want and never age or gain weight (LIES! LIES! LIES!)
I think a lot of times us Asian girls just don't feel like we have the right to feel what we wanna feel and say what we wanna say without repercussions and punishment. But fuck it! I'm not here to please everyone. God isn't pleased by the sight of my lukewarm feelings and flickering light. He wants me to SHINE and now I'm finally giving myself permission to do just that.
Check this article out!
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Love Yourself Champ, Transformer on Screen & Stage, Mommy of Sky, Asians in Media Activist, Producer.