The WANT Women: Lynn Chen On Feminism, Self Worth, And The Power Of Time
Sitting down to chat with actress and activist Lynn Chen was like sitting down with an old friend. Probably because technically, it was. Lynn and I have only met maybe twice in person, but we became friends through blogging when we both started up our own “Healthy Living Blogs” back in 2009. And while mine fizzled out after a couple years, Lynn kept going.
The Actor’s Diet is now one of the most influential food blogs on the web, with the most longevity at that. And what I love most about it is that the title is so deceptive. While Google might lump it into the category of dieting, TAD is about what it’s actually like to live as an actress. Started as a sort of journal in order to help Lynn make peace with her food after years upon end of eating disorders, it became a way for Lynn to not only dispel the myths surrounding what an “actor’s diet” needs to be, but it propelled her into the kind of body image activist work that makes her one of the most badass, pragmatically positive feminists I know.
Lynn is now an ambassador for National Eating Disorders Association, worked with the National Organization of Women, and is a founder of Asian-American body image blog Thick Dumpling Skin. She’s also the voice behind The Actor’s Diet Podcast, and most recently, a food host (makes sense!). Side note, she’s been called the Asian Parker Posey – I mean, do I really need to say more?
I, along with women across the globe, can’t help but love Lynn for her honesty and transparency, her courageous vulnerability, and her upbeat yet always entirely grounded personality. Many WANT women have talked about how their definition of positivity is seeing the good and the bad, the clouds and the rainbows. Lynn is the embodiment of this.
Name: Lynn Chen
What I love about myself (and why): Life has dealt me some crappy hands and I’ve been able to turn lemons into a triple layer Lemon Chiffon Cake.
What is your definition of “positivity?” Listening and responding with kindness.
When did you start to love yourself – did you have a self-love “turning point?” It was somewhere in the middle of my eating disorder recovery and while I was trying to have a baby. I think I realized that I had to stop equating my self worth with what my body was able/wasn’t able to do. For so long I thought it would be great to be pregnant, to use that as an excuse to eat whatever I wanted. Three years of infertility later, I realized nothing outside of myself was going to make me feel like I was enough. I had to start believing it myself, and made a conscious effort to change the way I was thinking and speaking to myself.
I had to stop equating my self worth with what my body was able/wasn’t able to do. -@mslynnchen Click To Tweet
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How/where negative talk shows up in my life: As self-doubt, in the silence of rejection – whether it be for an acting job or not being included in something socially.
When I talk negatively about myself, it’s usually… Thoughts like “This is too hard to keep going.” And you know what – usually when I think that way, I’m right. It may be too difficult in that moment, but after a little recuperation, I’m fine.
When others talk negatively about themselves… This is a really hard one for me, because I know where they’re coming from. I’ve been there. But when someone I know well casually calls themselves fat or puts down their body, it makes me feel like they are not being respectful of who I am as a body image activist. That even when I’ve asked them to remove those words from their vocabulary and they choose to still use them in front of me, I’m not being heard. So I’ve started saying nothing now, but that doesn’t feel right, either. I’m still working on it.
It baffles me that women still…think that saying they’re “feminist” means they hate men.
I wish that more women… Wouldn’t talk shit about other people. This goes for men, too, but I do find that gossip circles arise the most when I’m with my female friends.
The coolest thing about women is… Our public restrooms are always cleaner! But then there is always a longer line…
My favorite way to shift a negative into a positive: I’ve never gone out for ice cream and not felt better afterwards.
My top female role models: I really enjoy learning from/watching Oprah, Nigella Lawson, Ina Garten (especially with her husband Jeffrey) and listening to Terry Gross and Starlee Kine.
Men can help women crush their negative talk patterns by… Gently saying, “Stop.”
Favorite negativity-busting activity: Reminding myself I’ll feel better eventually. I always do.
Fave self-love ritual: Once a month, I get a massage.
Favorite feel-good food(s): Ice Cream. Cake. Pie. Basically, sugar.
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Favorite movie(s) to watch when I’m feeling down: Usually something from the 80’s. And it helps if there are Muppets involved.
Favorite empowering book(s): Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret by Judy Blume. I still re-read it every few years. A good reminder of how things can shift and lose their importance.
My feel-good playlist: My Baby Just Cares for Me (Nina Simone), Not Too Soon (Throwing Muses), Combat Baby (Metric), Call Your Girlfriend (Robyn), Can I Kick It (Tribe Called Quest), Debaser (The Pixies)
Advice I would give my…
…4 year-old self: There will always be more cookies.
…14 year-old self: There will always be more boys.
…24 year-old self: There will always be more.
5 Things, personal or professional, on my bucket list: I haven’t made a bucket list. I think I used to have one, but setting long-term goals is something I’ve given up on. I will share 5 things I intend to do this week, though, and if I accomplish all five it will be a miracle:
- Give myself a pedicure that doesn’t look like a five-year-old did it (I haven’t been to the salon since this article came out)
- Spend quality time with one of my favorite people, Anna Gilbert Zupon, who recently had a baby.
- Clear 50% of my DVR queue (mostly Food/Cooking shows).
- Pack everything for an upcoming trip to Taiwan in one carryon.
- Stay healthy while traveling – I have a weak stomach, lower back, and sensitivity to heat stroke so I’m a little nervous.
My best tip on self love: Stop comparing yourself to others - and that includes past/future versions of yourself. Click To Tweet
When I truly love all of myself… I’m able to truly love all of others, which is really all I want to do.
Right now, I am most excited about… the aforementioned Taiwan trip! I’ll be making YouTube Videos, and posting all my adventures on The Actor’s Diet/Instagram.
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Three words to describe me: Happy. Go. Lucky.
Current mantra: So what?