(Trigger warning: eating disorder)

What is the ideal Asian body? The hashtag #IdealAsianBody wants to find out.

Thick Dumpling Skin co-founders Lynn Chen, a Taiwanese-American actor, and Lisa Lee, former publisher of Hyphen magazine, created the campaign to promote body positivity within the Asian Pacific Islander community early January.

Chen and Lee partnered with the Asian and Pacific Islander Obesity Prevention Alliance (APIOPA), which is an organization that wants to build healthy Asian and Pacific Islanders in Los Angeles, to spread the hashtag.

They started Thick Dumpling Skin to give Asian Americans the opportunity to share personal stories about navigating body image, including the dual cultural pressure to be thin and to also share and eat food with family.

Uyen Hoang, a first year graduate student in the Asian American Studies graduate program at UCLA, shared her story on Instagram recently.

A photo posted by Uyen Hoang (@epicuyen) on

Title: -back to you-

the hardest thing for me

is cultivating healthy habits

on being healthy.

i don’t like what i see

that’s reflected back at me’

the lumps, bumps and curves

in all the wrong places.

and although i have an obsession with perfection,

i’m not sure i can recall

when i started hating my body

and in what language

did it first speak to me.


when do you realize

perfection is a poison

that chains you down,

clouds your vision,

and feeds you

sweet sick dreams?


i’ve been fed pills and potions

that claimed,

poof, like magic

you’ll become beautiful.

everyone said,

just 10 more pounds,

and you’ll be perfect.

whispers of blame

served along with my meals,

flavored my food


so hungry for approval

yet so bloated off of shame,

how is it possible to be ravenous

and full at the same time?


i am full.

i am full of squishy parts and chub rub.

i am full of anxiety around dressing rooms and malls.

i am full of slow distorted thoughts swimming in a dull ache when i’m hollow.

i am full of guilt in the shape of food that i hate to love to eat.

i am full of panic, trickling upwards from my chest, spilling from my mouth, and dripping from my lips.

i am full of intersections in identity which causes me to be full of grating, confusing jealousy for something i was told to want.

i am full of self loathing that was seeped into my mind and heart by others


i am full




i am full.

i am full of stories and memories, both sweet and sour.

i am full of terrible puns and bad come backs.

i am full of laughter that rings loud and distinct.

i am full of dimpled smiles, appearing like lightning, but lingering like the last rays of the sun.

i am full of trauma with its ghostly presence and soft edges.

i am full of opportunity, gently lined in silver.

i am full of dreams and musings, both vague and vivid.

i am full.


i am


spilling over,

and not just on waistbands.

what spills over

creates a path of flowers

that i travel on,

where i find refuge and solace

in the fullness of myself.


but as i am brimming,

others keep tipping me over,

pouring more out

to a lesser level of myself,

dissolving and disintegrating

the essence, my being

until i am nothing but empty.


i am holding my own,

but i still wobble.

there are rings on the table

where this cup is set.

place a saucer underneath me,

and catch me when i fall

back into my murky mind

because it is inevitable

that i’ll sip the poison i am given.

after all,

a healthy body starts

with healthy thoughts.

and mine has been polluted.


one day,

i’ll stop drinking from the chalice

handed to me.

i’ll stop chasing the perfection

that seeks to whittle me down,

physically and mentally,

and be nourished off myself.

one day.



Karin Chan is the Editor-in-Chief for Pacific Ties Newsmagazine.

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