I’m A Tiny Asian Woman: Eating All the Cheetos in the World Isn’t Going to Make Me Grow Bigger

by ; Cross-posted with permission from xo Jane
When it comes to body sizes, “normal” is often person-specific.


I’m 40 years old. I don’t think about my body too much anymore unless I’m scheming on ways to get rid of organs that seem to no longer serve any useful purpose. Like ovaries, for instance.

I did notice recently that after all these years, my ass is still insanely flat. Like shriveled up dead bagel flat, and I thought, “Meh. Don’t care.” Right after I heard Big Sean and thought, “Make that MFer Hammer time.”

However, growing up and probably until I made it to my 30s, I thought a lot about my body and how I could make it more “normal” looking. You may be sympathetic to the tragedy of men/women/strangers at the club suddenly being inspired to pick me up and twirl me above their heads a la whirly bird. Maybe you will tolerate my 30-year quest for boobs.

whirly bird

Beyond that, though, I hear you. No one wants to hear boo-hoo stories about how tiny I am, how I am known for eating six doughnuts for breakfast at my last office job, or how no matter what I do, including birthing a full-sized baby human, I am still the same size I was in junior high school.

But here’s the thing. While the personal view of my body has evolved and I no longer waste my time on blowing eyelashes into wishes for breasts, one thing that hasn’t changed is the idea held by those around me that I could just eat a ton of food and grow bigger in order to become a “normal” size. Like I’m a sea-monkey or something.

I grew up hearing family members and friends ask my mother if I ever ate — if I had an eating disorder. People said I must certainly have a tape worm. Like that isn’t the grossest most inappropriate thing to say to a kid. Recently, Yale student Frances Chan was told she needed to gain weight or leave Yale because her size fell outside of what is perceived to be a normal size and Yale officials were sure it was because of some kind of Asian-y health problem instead of just being Asian-y. Chan resorted to gorging on a diet of Cheetos, ice cream, and cookies.

I’ve done that before for no reason other than I wanted to, and without putting my measurements on blast, I am nearly the same exact size as Chan. I could have told her the Cheetos diet wasn’t going to work. Not only that, the Cheetos diet long-term could have resulted in more problems than whatever the initial health concerns were. (I don’t get along with dairy, for one. I would have probably died just from the ice cream part.)

Sometime in my 20s, whilst making fantastic decisions that made absolutely no sense, I decided I would join the military. I contacted a recruiter, took the ASVAB, listened to his pitch on how I could have ANY JOB THAT I WANTED, and was ready to rock and roll. Although my father had served 20+ years, I didn’t really have any idea what rocking and rolling in the military actually meant, I just knew I was going to do this thing.

My dream came to a screeching halt, however, when the recruiter told me I had to gain seven pounds. Bless his heart, he called me almost every day for weeks asking if I had done it. Finally, he had a plan — why not drink and eat seven pounds of water and bananas before weigh-in?

“Um. Is there some way I’m supposed to hold all of this in?”

“You just need to hold it in until after you’re weighed.”

Well, OK. Except when I told my mother about the brilliant plan, all hell broke loose because thank God she was way smarter than I was back then (and still is most of the time). All I remember after that is hearing my mom tell the recruiter when he called, “NO, SHE HAS NOT GAINED SEVEN POUNDS YET!” and that was that.

We spend so much time thinking about trying to be “normal” that normal doesn’t even make sense anymore. I admit, in the past I have looked at people and thought to myself that they might be healthier if they were bigger or smaller.

But when it comes to body sizes, “normal” is often person-specific, and telling someone to simply eat more, or eat less, is almost always the wrong-est, least healthy, and most harmful advice. The sooner we can look at ourselves and others (outside of real health concerns) with the attitude of “Meh. Don’t care,” the better.

Also, since we’re here, can we stop whirly-birding grown ass adults? Thanks. I appreciate it.


2 thoughts on “I’m A Tiny Asian Woman: Eating All the Cheetos in the World Isn’t Going to Make Me Grow Bigger

  1. Thank you for writing this. You have no idea how this has put some of my own issues into perspective. Your article has been SO helpful, as I am struggling with learning to accept what I look like as just, that’s how I am . Thank you.

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