Janice Jann first interviewed Lynn Chen last year when White on Rice was releasing in theaters. Here, she talks to Chen about an insidious disease afflicting so many young women.
Hollywood actresses with eating disorders are a dime a dozen. The constant scrutiny under a harsh camera lens that adds 10 pounds, the competition to out-thin the other skinny minnies, the acceptance of the fact that a big part of your job revolves around how you look — and you better look good.
After a successful debut with a starring role as a ballet dancer in the 2004 romantic comedy, Saving Face, Lynn Chen’s career seemed to be taking off. But her struggle with food was spiraling down. “When I stopped the dieting, I naturally gained the weight back. But my managers weren’t happy. My fans called me chubby,” she says. After hitting an all-time low battling anorexia, Chen decided to take time off from acting and focus on her addictions. “I wanted to address that and really deal with it and not have the pressures of Hollywood knocking on my door and telling me I had to look a certain way,” she says.
So Chen and her friend, Christy, started a blog, The Actor’s Diet, in which they post what they eat every day. Serving as both a log for the two to take note of what they put in their mouths on a daily basis, as well as a way to demystify the crazy celebrity diets found in magazines and on television, the blog is a way to show readers that “actors’ diets come in all shapes and sizes,” says Chen.
“People think that actors all eat the same thing and they don’t. I think it’s important to talk about that. Especially Asian women. People say, ‘oh, Asian women, we don’t have to worry about what we eat, we’re a size zero’ and that’s just not true.”
This issue is also addressed in Chen’s contribution to Secret Identities, the anthology of Asian American superhero comics. Chen created a female superhero who is dealing with bulimia.
With scrumptious food pictures and contributions from guest bloggers like Gilmore Girls’ Keiko Agena, Chen has managed to create a blog that both entertains and informs. “I think if we can embrace that Asian women come in all shape and sizes, we struggle, we’re human, we’re not superstars, not freaks — that’s what I want to do with the blog.”
By Janice Jann.