Thick Dumpling Skin

[It's what's on the inside that counts]

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GIRLS Star on Eating Disorders and Body Image

(Photo from

Actor Zosia Mamet recently wrote about her experience with these subjects for Glamour Magazine.

Here’s how I think of my eating disorder: I’m an addict in recovery. We’ve brought other addictions into the light; we’ve talked about them, dissected them, made them acceptable issues to discuss and work out. We need to treat eating disorders just as seriously. (What’s different about eating disorders, of course, is that you can’t just avoid food for the rest of your life. You have to eat to live.) Nobody is addressing the fact that so many women wake up in the morning, look at themselves in the mirror, and, out of habit, attack what they see. Maybe that’s not an all-out disorder, but it’s certainly the seed of one. I read a study once that said that more than a third of casual dieters develop pathological eating habits (and of those, up to 25 percent wind up with an eating disorder). Of course, not all of those people will end up deathly ill, but obsession—and doesn’t every diet require some degree of obsessing?—is a slippery slope. Did you know that only one in 10 people who are suffering gets proper treatment? And that eating disorders have the highest death rate of any mental illness?

Read the full article here.

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R.I.P. Robin Williams

Photo: Ken Hively/Los Angeles Times/

It’s really hard to know the “right” thing to say about death - I know this firsthand because my own father passed away, two years ago today, and the mourning/grief process has been complex and difficult to summarize.  

The news of Robin Williams is shocking, upsetting, and still new.  When it comes to suicide, I think we as a society still have a lot to learn.  Depression and addiction are very real (I myself have struggled with both) and it’s important to acknowledge that we’re all in this together.  How to write about a subject like this isn’t something Lisa or I are experts on - and we know the risk of suicide can increase during coverage on this topic.  However, this is also a good time to change common misconceptions about mental health. 

We encourage everyone - not just those of us feeling vulnerable - to check out these resources, compiled by The DART Center:

Active Minds empowers students to speak openly about mental health in order to educate others and encourage help-seeking

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is the leading national not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education and advocacy, and to reaching out to people with mental disorders and those impacted by suicide.

The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network strives to assure that each member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.

IMPACT: The LGBT Health & Development Program’s mission is to conduct translational research taht improves the health of sexual minority people and to increase understand of hte development of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The International Association for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to preventing suicidal behavior, alleviating its effects and providing a forum for academics, mental health professionals, crisis workers, volunteers and suicide survivors.

The Jed Foundation’s mission is to promote emotional health and prevent suicide among college and university students.

The Suicide Prevention Resource Center is the nation’s only federally supported resource center devoted to advancing the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention.

The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth. 

Hug to everyone and ourselves,


Filed under suicide depression mental health robin williams death

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My Chinese-Japanese Heritage and Body Image Struggles

Long story short, I was born and raised in Japan from Chinese parents, and spent several years of my childhood in Oklahoma and Finland. And while it all fits in a single sentence, this background of mine has brought about many challenges, some even risked my mental and physical health. I have practically spent most of my 19 years of life trying to figure out what was so “wrong” with me. My all-time goal was to be “the same” as everybody else, and belong somewhere, wherever that is. We don’t have a Chinese-Japanese community here.

I’ve always felt myself being insufficient, that I was not Japanese enough but not enough to be Chinese either. Though I was born and brought up in Japan, I hold a Chinese passport because that’s my mother’s home country. This is how it works in the Japanese system; your mother’s nationality automatically becomes yours, and China doesn’t allow for double citizenship. So on paper, I am just “Chinese” even though I speak elementary school-level Chinese and have never really lived there except for few visits to my grandparents’ house.

Everyday I look at my alien card (foreign resident card) in Japan and wonder who this person is. Since this convinces me everyday that I am not one of them, i have tried every other attempt to force myself to believe that I am a perfect Chinese. But every attempt has failed in various ways.

In middle school, I begged my parents to allow me to go to school in China, which they were very happy about. But this ended up exacerbating my identity crisis, because I literally was shut away from China. My Chinese was not sufficient to go to a local school, and I was denied enrollment to an international school in China because enrollment there requires a non-Chinese foreign passport, and the only passport I have is a Chinese one.
So I went on to a Japanese middle school, where together with my relatively shy personality, I was alone most of the time. I spent most of my time binging on sweets, crying myself to sleep, or trying to find out what was wrong with me. I would finish the lunch my mom made way before lunch time, together with a whole lot of other food, and go to first period bloated everyday. Almost all of my allowances went to snacks, which replaced proper meals. I even habitually stole my younger sister’s snacks, which I secretly replaced with new ones I buy after eating them. Whereas I spent most of my time eating, I was at the same time malnutritioned because I only ate sweets every day. They were the only things that kept me mentally alive.

In high school, I went on to a school with many native Chinese students doing study abroad in Japan. I had thought that this is going to end all my challenges. I was certain that i would find a place I belonged, because since I was “Chinese,” they should find me as one of them. What I didn’t know was that this experience would further worsen my situation. I didn’t blend with “real” Chinese. They openly showed me how different I was from them, convincing me that I have nowhere to belong. I felt then like I had lost my imaginary and spiritual hometown.

This was also when my physical health started to be even more at risk. It was when I developed anorexia nervosa losing half of my weight and most of my energy. On the two hour train ride to school everyday, I would very often faint, and find myself in the emergency room in the station. I couldn’t concentrate. I was always cold. I was wearing sweaters in July, and in the hot August, the heat deprived the very little energy I had left.

The somewhat stereotypical image of Chinese women in Japan is long legged, tall, slender women, none of which I fit with my height. Neither do I actually identify with the petit image of Japanese women; I am short but always saw myself to be overweight. Adding to this is my Chinese relatives’ remarks about my body. They would openly call me fat and overweight, and still force me to eat when I was not eating “enough”.

It was a gradual process, but when I realized, I was scared of the food that I had loved so much. But thinking back, I may have needed a better fashion sense, or a better hair dresser, but not a diet. Thinness is very valued in Japan, which was very stressful to me.

To be honest, I still suffer from my identity crisis, and while I now have enough food to keep me active, the anorexic mindset still haunts me at times, and I would resort to binging to deal with whatever stress. But I try at least to change the way I deal with those negative thoughts. I used to spend my nights crying because of questions about my nationality. Now, when someone asks about my nationality, I try to answer that I am a very proud citizen of Earth. And when old eating habits haunt me, I try to remember how beautiful and powerful Lynn and Lisa are, and maybe I can reclaim my life as well.

Together with their dumpling skin (I am also a reader of The Actor’s Diet), I hope that I would be able to enjoy food the way Lynn seems to.

This Fall, I will be studying in California, and as a big fan of The Actor’s Diet, I hope to explore many of the places Lynn shared.

I am extremely grateful for having found Thick Dumpling Skin, The Actor’s Diet, and the inspiring Lynn and Lisa. Theses really kept me alive.
Thank you.

H. | Tokyo | Japan

Share your story

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"You need to lose weight." 

I thought I heard wrong.

Did the stranger I just walked by tell me that I need to lose weight? 

My steps slowed from its usual morning commute hustle. I felt my face starting to burn and my heart beat speeding up. 

I temporarily thought about turning around to give this man a hard look, but I picked up my gait again and continued walking.

I felt so angry. 

How dare this man, who I didn’t even know, say this to me? What right did he have? And what kind of a world do we live in where our bodies are at the whim of other people’s contempt? 

I just wanted to share this. I’m still processing it, and don’t have much more to say. 

I can shake this off, but I don’t want to. Because it is not ok. 

- Lisa

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Art for a Cause!

Are you an artist?  If so, you may want to submit to the National Eating Disorder Association’s Birthday Card Contest, running now through July 31st.

Contest Details:
Birthdays are special and we are giving you the opportunity to help the National Eating Disorders Association celebrate the birthdays of our wonderful supporters.  Here is the chance to have your creative artwork or photograph featured in NEDA electronic birthday greeting cards.  NEDA intends to send electronic birthday wishes to our supporters using the top five winning birthday card designs on a rotating basis.  Only individuals who have submitted their birthdates to NEDA will receive birthday wishes featuring one of the winning designs by email. In the future, our plan is to have the winning designs available for our supporters to purchase from the NEDA online store.  Spread the word to everyone you know and get involved in this exciting contest!

This contest is open to everyone.  Experience in arts or photography is not required.

Enter via the form on their website.

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Save the Date! M.O.M. March

The first ever Mothers and Others (M.O.M.) March will take place in Washington DC on September 30, 2014:

The inaugural M.O.M. March will be a historic unification of moms, families, advocates, sufferers, and eating disorder organizations collaboratively marching on our Nation’s Capital. The mission of the M.O.M March is both simple and powerful: raise awareness of the prevalence, stigma, and devastating consequences of eating disorders; unite people from around the country to advocate for those affected by eating disorders; honor those who have lost a loved one to an eating disorder; celebrate those who have struggled and recovered and unite our voices to educate Congress and influence federal policy related to eating disorders.

The M.O.M. March  is about collaboration and our goal is for all eating disorder organizations to unite with moms, families and advocates in the fight against eating disorders as we demonstrate to Members of Congress that we are a large, united and powerful force that will continue coming to Capitol Hill, raising awareness of eating disorders and their devastating consequences, until change is effected.  The M.O.M. March culminates on October 1, 2014, in a day of advocacy at EDC National Lobby Day and their Congressional Briefing that will be dedicated to moms. The time has come for us all to join together in the fight against eating disorders. Together, through the M.OM. March and advocacy, we will make a difference and ensure that not one more precious life is lost to these treatable diseases.  

For more information, visit their website.

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