Not All Black Girls Know How to Eat by Stephanie Covington Armstrong
Not All Black Girls Know How to Eat by Stephanie Covington Armstrong

Not All Black Girls Know How to Eat by Stephanie Covington Armstrong

Stephanie Covington Armstrong does not fit the stereotype of a woman with an eating disorder. She grew up poor and hungry in the inner city. Foster care, sexual abuse, and overwhelming insecurity defined her early years. But the biggest difference is her race: Stephanie is black.
In this moving first-person narrative, Armstrong describes her struggle as a black woman with a disorder consistently portrayed as a white woman’s problem. Trying to escape her selfhatred and her food obsession by never slowing down, Stephanie becomes trapped in a downward spiral. Finally, she can no longer deny that she will die if she doesn’t get help, overcome her shame, and conquer her addiction to using food as a weapon against herself.

The Body Liberation Project: How Understanding Racism and Diet Culture Helps Cultivate Joy and Build Collective Freedom By Chrissy King
The Body Liberation Project: How Understanding Racism and Diet Culture Helps Cultivate Joy and Build Collective Freedom By Chrissy King

The Body Liberation Project: How Understanding Racism and Diet Culture Helps Cultivate Joy and Build Collective Freedom By Chrissy King

From author and wellness personality Chrissy King, an exciting, genre-redefining narrative mix of memoir, inspiration, and activities and prompts, with timely messages about social and racial justice and how the world needs to move beyond body positivity to something even more exciting and revolutionary: body liberation.

The Body is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love
The Body is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love

The Body is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love

The Body Is Not an Apology offers radical self-love as the balm to heal the wounds inflicted by violent systems of oppression

Pork Belly Tacos with a Side of Anxiety by Yvonne Castaneda
Pork Belly Tacos with a Side of Anxiety by Yvonne Castaneda

Pork Belly Tacos with a Side of Anxiety by Yvonne Castaneda

In Pork Belly Tacos with a Side of Anxiety, Yvonne Castañeda shares vibrant stories of her childhood growing up in Miami as the daughter of humble immigrants from Mexico and Cuba . . . and how she came to develop an unhealthy relationship with food.

Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia By Sabrina Strings

An important and original work, Fearing the Black Body argues convincingly that fat phobia isn’t about health at all, but rather a means of using the body to validate race, class, and gender prejudice.

Decolonizing Wellness: A QTBIPOC-Centered Guide to Escape the Diet Trap, Heal Your Self-Image, and Achieve Body Liberation By Dalia Kinsey
Decolonizing Wellness: A QTBIPOC-Centered Guide to Escape the Diet Trap, Heal Your Self-Image, and Achieve Body Liberation By Dalia Kinsey

Decolonizing Wellness: A QTBIPOC-Centered Guide to Escape the Diet Trap, Heal Your Self-Image, and Achieve Body Liberation By Dalia Kinsey

Become the healthiest and happiest version of yourself using wellness tools designed specifically for BIPOC and LGBTQ folks.

Belly of the Beast By Da'Shaun L. Harrison
Belly of the Beast By Da'Shaun L. Harrison

Belly of the Beast By Da’Shaun L. Harrison

In this book, Da-Shaun takes on desirability politics, the limitations of gender, the connection between anti-fatness and carcerality, and the incongruity of “health” and “healthiness” for the Black fat. Harrison viscerally and vividly illustrates the myriad harms of anti-fat anti-Blackness. They offer strategies for dismantling denial, unlearning the cultural programming that tells us “fat is bad,” and destroying the world as we know it, so the Black fat can inhabit a place not built on their subjugation.

It's Always been Ours: Reclaiming the Story of Black Womens' Bodies by Jessica Wilson
It's Always been Ours: Reclaiming the Story of Black Womens' Bodies by Jessica Wilson

It’s Always been Ours: Reclaiming the Story of Black Womens’ Bodies by Jessica Wilson

In It’s Always Been Ours eating disorder specialist and storyteller Jessica Wilson challenges us to rethink what having a “good” body means in contemporary society. By centering the bodies of Black women in her cultural discussions of body image, food, health, and wellness, Wilson argues that we can interrogate white supremacy’s hold on us and reimagine the ways we think about, discuss, and tend to our bodies.

meganjaynecrabbe

Megan Jayne Crabbe (she/her) is best known for changing the narrative of how women feel about their bodies. She is the author of Body Positive Power.

bodyreborn

Eating Disorder Support for POC

your.latina.nutritionist

Dalina Soto RD LDN (she/her) is an anti-diet dietitian. She founded Your Latina Nutritionist because she’s passionate about building nourishing new narratives for us that don’t include depriving ourselves of the foods we grew up eating. Her work is about supporting you to reclaim the flavor and enjoyment of your life by celebrating the foods you love and incorporating them into your daily life with education and awareness.

whitneytrotter.rd

Whtiney Trotter, MS, RDN/LDN, RN, RYT (she/her) is a Registered Dietitian and RN, Anti-racism Educator/Consultant and Human Trafficking Activist

melissadtoler

Melissa Toler (she/her) is a former wellness coach turned writer, speaker, and educator

thrivewithmeg

Meghan Watson (she/her) is a licensed psychotherapist, writer & consultant. She is the founder of the group practice Bloom Psychology & Wellness — a therapy collective of Black, Indigenous, South Asian, and Multi-racial therapists with a focus on building connection and fostering emotional growth in communities of colour. She shares reflections, skills and tools on how to show up as your whole self through a self compassionate and growth focused lens on her Instagram page

thethicknutritionist

Natasha Ngindi is a non-diet nutritionist helping you find peace around food, love your body, and move in ways that bring you joy!

thenutritiontea

Shana Minei Spence,MS,RDN,CDN (she/her) is a non-diet, weight inclusive dietitian who created this platform for an open discussion on nutrition and wellness topics considering all the information circulating around these days.

thefriendIneverwanted

Nia Patterson (they/them) is a queer, fat body Liberation Coach, consultant, writer, speaker, activist, and author

the_bodylib_advocate

Patrilie Hernandez is a self-described culture examiner, knowledge sharer, weaver of relationships and ideas. higher-weight, multiracial, neuroatypical, bisexual, genderfluid femme of the Puerto Rican diaspora. They have worked in the health and nutrition sector as an educator, advocate, and policy analyst for over 15 years, which has shaped their understanding of how the pursuit of “health” seamlessly intersects with the built environment, equity, and social justice. It wasn’t until they were diagnosed with an eating disorder in December 2017 that they realized how much of their own disordered behaviors and thoughts around food, health, and bodies infiltrated all aspects of their personal life and career.

the.lovelybecoming

Mimi Cole is an intersectional, trauma-informed, therapist. She is the co-author of A Body Image Workbook For Every Body, and she speaks about her own lived experiences in therapy and work to bring awareness to marginalized voices within mental health spaces. Her work is informed by a feminist, compassionate, and attachment-based lens.

pinkmantaray

Schuyler Bailar (he/him) is the first trans D1 NCAA men’s athlete. He is also in recovery from an eating disorder and self-harm.

jessicawilson.msrd

Jessica Wilson, MS, RD (she/her) is a clinical dietitian, consultant and author, whose work focuses on her experiences navigating the dietetic fields as a Black, queer dietitian

blackandembodied

Alishia McCullough (Pronouns: she/her) is a millennial Licensed Clinical Mental Health Therapist and Owner of Black and Embodied Counseling and Consulting PLLC. She specializes in somatic therapy, trauma healing, and eating disorder treatment with a focus on cultivating embodiment and fostering anti-oppression.

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Dr. Sand Chang (they/them) is a Nonbinary Somatic Therapist & DEI Consultant. Their work focuses on body liberation, trans health, and eating disorders

The Lovely Becoming Podcast

Mimi talks with storytellers, therapists, activists, humans about complex, relational trauma, naming intrusive thoughts that nobody wants to say out loud, bringing education + awareness to various mental health conditions, what it means for our bodies to be our homes and how to come home to ourselves, + more

Eating Disorders in the Asian American Community: A Call for Cultural Consciousness

Written by MEDA Undergraduate Intern, Lauren Kim 

If you’re Asian American, you know that there is nothing good about hunger. Many of our parents, whether they came to the country as immigrants or refugees, know real hunger. They make sure that we never leave the house without full bellies and greet us when we return with heaps of warm homemade food. Food is our love language – the one thing that transcends the language barriers, the cultural differences, the generation gaps, and all the other things that keep us from saying “I love you” out loud.

But by twisted logic, food is also the enemy. If you’re Asian American, you also know that being fat in an Asian family is tantamount to falling short of making the honor roll. It is understood as an indication of personal weakness – a lack of discipline, laziness, failure. When you’re “fat” by Asian standards, it can be hard not to feel like a burden to your family because you’re told, either implicitly or explicitly, that the shame is not only carried by you, but by your family as well. And so, the burden of shame begins to feel even heavier.

What makes things exponentially more complicated is this idea of familial duty. Because so many Asian Americans are commonly raised on the rhetoric of hard work and sacrifice, we are ingrained with a deep desire to express our gratitude to our parents by fulfilling their hopes and dreams for us. For some, that might mean becoming a doctor or a lawyer. But for others, it could mean losing weight to get closer to the ideal Asian body – small, pale, and willowy thin.

One thing that sets Asian culture apart from others is the level of brutal honesty with which people speak. Time and time again, I’ve noticed that there is a general willingness to make comments, especially on other people’s appearances, which can be so abrasive that they sometimes err on the side of cruelty. When you are taught that being thin is a virtue, and that being heavy and being happy cannot be feasibly reconciled in one body, “fat” becomes the worst thing you can be called. So whether we want to or not, Asian Americans cannot help but internalize our culture’s guidelines on what a desirable body looks like, and by default, what its converse looks like.

Growing up, I resented the unreasonable expectations placed on me by my family and my culture and I looked to every family gathering with anxiety and dread. Being around extended family always meant one thing: that I’d have to bear hours of being force-fed excessive amounts of food by the same people who would tell me to my face that I had gained weight since the last time they saw me. And through it all, I would force a tight-lipped smile and try to maintain my composure. If I was ever so bold as to politely refuse the food that was offered, I’d be urged by my mother to “just be polite” and eat. And if I did accept the food and finished it, more would immediately be piled onto my plate, pressuring me to eat way past the point of fullness.

As my fellow Asian Americans know all too well, there is no winning when you grow up in this contradictory culture. The only thing that never seems to change is our culture’s steadfast commitment to a singular definition of beauty. In a world that has begun to promote loving yourself and finding beauty in your flaws, Asian culture has not managed to keep up. There’s an overbearing pressure to be perfect naturally, or to constantly be improving yourself if you’re not. This mentality helps to make sense of why plastic surgery is so prevalent and even normalized in Asian countries. Why love your flaws, when you can remove them, right?

It’s easy to see how these dangerous messages can encourage body dissatisfaction in the Asian American community and eventually manifest as an eating disorder. According to a statistic cited on the National Eating Disorders Association’s website, Asian, Black, Hispanic, and Caucasian youth have all reported attempting to lose weight at similar rates [1].

But there’s no way that you would know that, judging by what is commonly portrayed in the media. Eating disorders continue to be an issue that is typically attributed to white, straight, cis-gendered, able-bodied women of high-income backgrounds. Though we are slowly making progress in challenging this narrow-minded view of what someone with an eating disorder looks like, there is far more work to do. The lack of Asian Americans represented in the national discussion on eating disorders seems to indicate that many are still suffering in silence. According to Dr. Szu-Hui Lee, a clinical psychologist and director of training at the McLean Hospital at Harvard Medical School, Asian Americans tend to under-report mental health issues. She explains: “There’s a big stigma with seeing a psychologist. [Asian American] parents are more likely to send their kids to an academic counselor than a psychologist.” [2]

In a culture where optics matter so much, it is not hard to see why individuals with eating disorders struggle to speak up and ask for help. The stigma attached to mental illness is so severe in our culture that our parents are likely to respond to our pleas for help with fear, denial, blame, and anger.

As someone who has struggled with and recovered from my own eating disorder, I am familiar with this kind of reaction. When I found that I could no longer keep my suffering at bay, I rehearsed the words I wanted to say before mustering up the courage to tell my parents. Their response was dismissive at first, eventually evolving into frustration and then hopelessness. As much as they wanted me to get better, they didn’t understand why I was doing this to myself, and had no clue where to go for help. And when I tried to learn more about treatment and recovery on my own, I found that my background bore little resemblance to the movies I watched and the stories I read online. For a long time, it seemed like nobody understood quite how I felt.

While eating disorders certainly span all cultures, the way they are experienced can differ drastically depending on the culture in which an individual is raised. For me, being Asian felt like an obstacle to my recovery because I had trouble overcoming my shame and locating the resources I needed to get better. It is evident that the Asian American community is in desperate need of greater awareness and more resources catered to our experiences. Hiring people of different backgrounds and making efforts to provide intercultural awareness trainings for clinicians is a good place to start.

And to those who are recovered from or currently struggling with an eating disorder, don’t be afraid to talk about it. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable with someone you trust could be the first step to healing. It was for me. Uprooting a stigma that is so deeply entrenched in our culture can’t be done overnight, but we can start to chip away at it by exposing our suffering and finding strength in our shared experiences.

Like what you read? Check out Lauren’s final MEDA project, an E-Zine on the topic of eating disorders and body image in the Asian American community: https://issuu.com/kimlauren97/docs/eating_disorders_in_asian_america

[1] https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/people-color-and-eating-disorders
[2] http://www.mochimag.com/article/diagnosing-the-asian-american-eating-disorder/