"Fat for an Asian": The Embodiment of Stereotypes in an Online Asian American Community

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 09:45
Location: Hörsaal 22 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Mallory FALLIN, Northwestern University, USA
Previous research suggests that diffferent racial groups have differing ideal body types, but Asian Americans have largely been absent from this literature. Thick Dumpling Skin, a blog that focuses on body images issues and eating disorders in the Asian American community, provides an opportunity to study this unexplored topic. Thick Dumpling Skin is highly interactive and features submitted posts from multiple users. Using qualitative content analysis to code archived blog posts from 2011 to 2014, this paper studies how online users in this community come to embody stereotypes regarding the Asian body. In my analysis, I discuss how users define the ideal Asian body in ways that make "thinness" and "Asianness" synonymous. To members of this community, being a "fat Asian" is a contradiction, and threat, to their Asian identity. Using the microaggressions literature, I examine the potential psychological consequences of not fitting the ideal Asian body. This paper also asserts that Asians do subscribe to a thin ideal, but it is not the same ideal held by whites. I conceptualize the need to attain the perfect Asian body as the embodiment of the model minority stereotype.