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Susan: [00:00:00] so I go home that winter break and that’s the first thing.

Susan: It’s not like, Hey, Susan like, wow, you like, you did it. You got to the school you wanted like, how’s it going? Like, how are you feeling? It’s like, you look fat, dang, hello, fat dude. You should, you should lose weight. And I’m like, oh, thanks for letting me know.

Kate: Welcome to model minority moms, where we talk about the complicated meaning of success in career, family and life.

Kate: I’m Kate Wong,

Susan: Jeanette park, and Susan.

Kate: Harvard classmates and Asian-American working moms to Little’s who get real about the pressures of fitting in while standing out.

Susan: So today we are talking about the post partum body. We all have a body and it’s been through a lot.

Susan: So welcome back to another episode of model minority moms. And I mean, it’s, it’s bodies and beauties. [00:01:00] It’s, it’s something that we want to feel a certain way about like, oh yeah. But beauty is on the inside, but the fact of the matter is, is things have changed and we may not always feel sexy in our outfit known as our body.

Susan: And so I just kind of curious with you too, like, how’s your bodies recovered from childbirth? Like where are you with your body in the here and now, did you have a struggle? Did you feel like, oh, I’m going back to orange theory, like two weeks postpartum, or like where, where are you now?

Kate: So funny, I just had a conversation with a guy friend.

Kate: Some guy, friend recently and you know, I’m like a year and a half postpartum and he was like, wow, you look really, really great. Like, you know, postpartum, it’s like, you look totally normal. And on one hand, you know, it is a compliment. But, I think it’s a little complicated for me because the reason why I look quote unquote good, or I guess in this particular case, normal, like back to my postpartum [00:02:00] body is actually because I have some like health problems that have made me lose, like a lot of weight.

in fact, I’m now skinnier than I was before my daughter, but that’s not because of like anything I did postpartum to like lose the weight. It’s because of my kidney problem, which I’ve mentioned before. So I think it’s, you know, I think what I’m trying to express here is that. The, this sort of postpartum body image situation is fraught because in some ways, you know, to the naked eye, it seems like Kate has bounced back.

Kate: You know, she’s lost the weight she looks good. She looks healthy, but you don’t have an X. You don’t have x-ray eyes. You can’t see inside her body and see all the things that are going wrong. Right. And so I think a lot about that. I think of, you know, sometimes they’re women who maybe like, are still, look like they’re a little bit more postpartum, but actually maybe internally, like they’re, they’re super healthy.

Kate: They’re like much healthier than I am. Right. And so I guess I wonder why we can’t talk more about, are we healthy postpartum mentally and physically it’s versus like, how do we look postpartum? Right. And I even find that slightly annoying because [00:03:00] even though Instagram, mommies have now embraced that, oh yeah.

Kate: Look at me like, this is my post-partum bod. Like I embrace all the, you know, changes, et cetera. And that’s great. I think that’s awesome. But people don’t really talk about how healthy is your body actually. Right. Because, I think that’s what really matters. It’s not how you look externally. That’s not always correlated.

Kate: In fact, not really generally correlated in many cases with whether you’re physically healthy or not. Anyway. Sorry. That’s my, that’s my spiel. I be thinking about that a lot and, and I think it’s, yeah, we don’t talk about that.

Susan: Hmm. Wait, quick question. Follow up, Kate. Yeah. At what point did you, when you were like, Postpartum when you laughed or coughed, you stopped peeing

Kate: oh, I

Kate: took a few months, like completely, maybe like, five, six months, which I think is actually quick. I know I have some friends who, you know, more than a year. Later are still, and that’s very

Susan: normal. [00:04:00]

Kate: I can see normal. I mean, normal isn’t it is common. I don’t know if it’s normal because I took that back because I remember my physical therapist is saying it really depends.

Kate: Like for some women that it’s not normal and after a certain point, it’s definitely not normal. So I think that’s the other thing I also would like to point out is that while we are, it’s great that we, women are, you know, saying, oh, it’s good to embrace your bodies. It’s good to like, you know, talk about a peeing a little, because your pelvic floor is messed up as postpartum, but there is a point which you really should get medical help because it’s not normal medically.

Kate: Right. So I think we need to talk about that too. Where the line is, there is a line.

Susan: Yeah. I mean, and okay. Kate is our overachiever, a resident overachiever amongst overachievers. You had done a lot of pelvic floor exercises before you gave birth. Like you, you had his schedule, you were telling me about it.

Susan: And I was, I was pretty overwhelmed. Never looked it up after our conversation. But like you actively did all these exercises, like [00:05:00] Kegels you did Kegels right?

Kate: Actually not really. They’re like these other exercises that you could do that kind of work on your muscles. I did do Kegels too, but you know, secondary just generally exercise.

Kate: I think I did a lot of exercise in general, various kinds of exercise. I think that actually helped as much as any specific stretching or childbirth specific exercise that I

Kate: did.

Susan: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, so I mean, you prepared and overall you felt like you, your recovery process was quick or seem quick on, on average, but what I’m hearing you say is that what you see is not necessarily the truth, right?

Susan: Because you have other health stuff and I think that’s the problem, right? Moms is that we are always looking at each other, looking for signals of, am I, am I doing it right? You know, can I be better? And, and, but we’re also just making a lot of assumptions and that’s not very helpful. [00:06:00]

Kate: Yeah, for sure.

Kate: I mean, you look at me. Okay. So I have now high cholesterol, I have proteinuria, which has been your PR like protein, basically leaks from your kidneys as a result, actually of preeclampsia that I had during childbirth and not to mention, you know, other things. So, but you don’t know any of that, just looking at me when it’s not like I’m walking around crippled or, you know, like I’m dying.

Kate: I feel terrible. I don’t actually feel anything, but things are going on in my body that I can’t actually feel on a daily basis. Right. And it, and it happens and we could even extrapolate it to outside of childbirth in general, when we look at other people, we as humans, like I think Jeanette’s mentioned a few times, we just like to assume the easiest thing, you know, the simplest thing about people, right.

Kate: It’s just okay. If that person’s large and they must be fat, therefore they must be unhealthy. Oh, this person’s like slim. They must be really healthy because they’re toned and you know, they exercise. Right. I mean, but that doesn’t necessarily tell you very much at all about that person’s health,

Susan: but it’s so messed up.

Susan: Like I was at your house, the other. And yeah, I think you were wearing like a tight fitting shirt and you were trendy clothes and I’m just like, [00:07:00] I’ve got this jelly roll that I’ve had before I had a baby and it has come back now. I think I went from now three jelly rolls to one jelly roll. So I’m back on, on even jelly roll status, but like, I’ll look, I look at your body and I’m always like, damn, like Kate canwear stuff and fabrics and things like that that I could never wear.

Susan: And I do feel sad inside because I go like, wow, like one day, one day, maybe I’ll have that body, you know? And it’s just like intense longing when really it’s like, actually we have really different body types, but I can, I still do the longing. And I still go like, dang, like we, we essentially had babies at the same time.

Susan: Like how, how did Kate get to look like she’s not postpartum? You know? And like, and, and so what I’m trying to say is like jealousy still happens. Even if we can still, all these things, like jealousy still happens and, and, and that we need to have room for that. But also to, I love that you share with us what’s going on [00:08:00] in the side, because it’s like, why make assumptions?

Susan: Why live in this prison? You know, Jeanette, how are you? I mean, you had your second.

Kate: Yeah.

Jeanette: Oh yeah. yeah, as usual, I’m just internally processing,postpartum body. Yeah, I think

Jeanette: externally I’m

Jeanette: look pretty much back to pre-kids it’s. But, you know, like Kate said I mean, it’s not,my health issues are not as acute as Kate’s, but like, yeah.

Jeanette: I feel things like when I’m lying down and I’m trying to get up, I just , don’t have , the same strength in my core. And there’s something weird going on with my shoulder where like, if I have, it’s really painful for me to roll a certain way. And every so often, if I do a squat, in a weird way, I will feel like something’s just off with my pelvis

Jeanette: right. And that just like happens. There’s these flashes that come out of nowhere that just remind me that [00:09:00] my body is not like it was before. And I think a part of that is just age. But the bigger part of that. Yeah. Is not just carrying and having kids, but also frankly, like taking care of them.

Jeanette: Right. Always bending over and carrying them and hovering, you know, it’s like, it’s, it’s very

Jeanette: physical. So I think that, I still feel it. I mean, I think even if, if you see me walking down the street, it might not be like, oh, you know, she’s had two kids, but still, when I I’m living my life and my body, I still feel it.

Jeanette: and the other thing that I did notice is my belly button looks a little different. I mean, it looks different now, right. It just looks

Susan: like how, I mean, okay, now I’m going to move. No, it, it didn’t move, but like where you an innie, and now you’re an outtie no, I wasn’t

Jeanette: any, you know, I was kind of like an outtie before, but like now it’s like, it’s gonna sound so weird, but it looks like, you know how, if you look at your belly button and it looks kind of like an eye, it looks like it’s like the eyelid is like more over the

Susan: eye.

Susan: It’s like the [00:10:00] ho interesting.

Jeanette: It just looks like the top part is a little bit more loose. So it just looks like it’s like a half closed eyes. Sorry. That’s just like such a weird way to describe it. But that’s how I feel like my belly button looks. but yeah, no, I mean, so those are the things

Jeanette: that I feel,

Jeanette: Susan.

Jeanette: I want you to talk about where you are with your postpartum body. But then I also have a follow-up question to this whole idea of beauty and how it, what role it plays in our self esteem and what, what is like the message we want to communicate to our kids?

Susan: Oh yeah. We have to talk about that.

Susan: Of course. We’re going to talk about, yeah.

Jeanette: And you go first, like, where are you? Like, I know you were suffering with, you know, a fractured tailbone that was super painful.

Susan: The term was a bruised tailbone. I, it was, it was not fractured, but it was so I am now 15 months postpartum. and I would say all the way up until 12 months postpartum, I had a tailbone, a significant tailbone injury.

Susan: So like when we first gave birth, [00:11:00] you know, getting in and out of the car was hard. I always had to have a special pillow and I couldn’t even sit longer than 20 minutes. I was very fragile, which is, it’s so interesting. Cause I feel like my whole life I’m like, go, go, go. Like I I’m very, I pushed myself a lot.

Susan: And then all of a sudden I had no choice. Like I could not push myself. So I, I kinda think of it’s the universe’s way of trying to teach me. Patience and grace, but for a good 12 months, I didn’t care. I was like, I hate patience. I hate grace. so I had to go through a lot of physical therapy. And for all you ladies out there, there’s actually a postpartum physical therapist that specializes just in the pelvic area.

Susan: And I did not know that. And I went to, a PT that was just a normal PT that I was going to be for, for six months before she gave me a referral. And I was like, there was a referral the whole time. Like, why didn’t you send me there? I mean, the, all the, the central part of this is the core, which you were talking about Jeanette.

Susan: And so I had to do exercises and also [00:12:00] like, hate, I didn’t want to do the exercises. I didn’t do them a lot of the time. and the whole secret was I just had to rest. I was like, what? Anyways, the point in all of this, I did a lot of PT, did a lot of exercises, did a lot of walking and would go back. It would be like, now it’s time for the Nike app. Now I can do orange theory.

Susan: And it’s like, I would try the Nike app and during COVID, you know, gyms weren’t open and I would kind of injure myself even. I didn’t think I was doing anything that hard, but my body was so weak. I just, I didn’t know it. You know what? I look at my body. I, I can’t tell where my organs are. Right. I would say.

Susan: Just like two months ago, I saw the peeing the erratic peeing stopped, but I did go hard in orange theory today and there was like lunges or something and I was holding weights and now my hips kind of feel funny. My pelvic area feels funny and I’m like, okay, got to take it easy, Susan. But for me, exercise is management mint, [00:13:00] my mental health also like, and I strong, I actually feel pretty strong.

Susan: You had, do you ever do like jumping pictures in front of something? Well, during my mom’s gone mild weekend, I was in Fort Collins and there’s a giant Campbell soup sculpture signed by Andy Warhol at Colorado state university. And of course I went to go buy some maracas at a thrift store. And so I did a big jumping picture with maracas and I looked at my muscles and I was like, damn girl, you got it going on.

Susan: Yeah. Like I feel like now I would say it was a good solid year before I felt like. I’m in my body. I can feel my body when I eat. I can feel when I’m hungry. Like the, the, the, the, the alignment with my body is finally happening. But I think, I think it’s because I’m finally getting to a place where I don’t want to be beautiful anymore.

Susan: I just want to feel beautiful. And I think that distinction is like really helping [00:14:00] me finally move to a healthy place. Like I’ve always been unhappy with my body. I mean, I remember since sixth grade after my mom died from plastic surgery, malpractice, no less. I remember that summer. I kept a food and exercise journal.

Susan: And for like two weeks, I was trying to minimize how much I would eat and like how far would run and all that stuff. And who would do it at the beginning of every summer? Because this idea of having this like one day a bikini bod, what was like, that was like the holy grail for me, you know, because it was, it felt so unattainable.

Kate: totally feel you Susan, about the food diary, you know, you had one too. Well, cause I was anorexic in high school and like starting from when I was 16 and I would obsessive really track every single thing I ate, I kid you not like five spoonfuls of yogurt, you know what I mean? And like all fours, a piece of whole wheat toast, which the whole thing is, you know, 120 calories.

Kate: So [00:15:00] a fourth of a piece would be like 30 calories, you know, to that extent. And and then I actually went the other way. I like with like, like semi bulimic in college. And so I totally get the struggle with, you know, the, the, the eating. Right. And, and I think about, you know, this whole, like, it’s like a life I’m.

Kate: Sure. Well, you know, Susan, because you’ve talked about it in your shows, it doesn’t just go away. Right. If you’ve endured any kind of like eating disorder, it is a mental. like illness, right? And so you can’t just like, here you go. Here’s like a shot or here’s a pill by like, it haunts you in many ways for a long ass time.

Kate: Like, even though I had officially was like at a healthy way, you know, in my twenties, but I would say I still had a really difficult relationship with food and body image until actually after I had my daughter, you know, all these years from 16 until age 36, that’s 20 fucking years of like struggling with a relationship with food.

Kate: It doesn’t matter how I look like on the outside. I could have looked really great or not [00:16:00] great or whatever it didn’t matter. Right. Susan. I mean, that’s the kind of shit that like really stays

Kate: with you. It’s

Kate: hard. It doesn’t, it doesn’t just go away.

Susan: Wait a minute. Wait, go for it Jeanette

Jeanette: oh yeah. I just wanted to share that.

Jeanette: I also had, anorexic tendencies in high school. To the extent that my house counselor, you guys might remember that, you know, I was in boarding school. So we had house counselors who lived with us in the dorms and she referred me to, basically like the school clinic. And I had to keep track of how much I was, what I was eating, because just to make sure that I was eating healthily and enough.

I think for me it was a little bit more of a control saying then I’m strictly like a, I want to lose weight thing. Although, well, other, I think it’s related to the fact that I was like super, super like skinny, I think just naturally, like that’s just my body type. but then I went to high school and, you know, my diet completely changed from like a pretty light [00:17:00] Asian diet to brownies and Mac and cheese and ice cream, you know, every night.

 so that first year I probably gained like 10 or 15 pounds. When I first came home, my brother, the first thing that comes out of his mouth, my younger brother, he has like 12 at the time. Right. I don’t hold them to this, but he’s like, Dane, Jeanette, you gained a lot of weight.

Jeanette: Right. And I think, that change and, you know, the change in my body, but then also the change in my environment and everything else that was going on, it just felt like this was one thing that I might be able to control. And so, I think that that’s kind of what triggered, and I don’t think I had full blown anorexia, but like it triggered kind of that tendency

Kate: actually, Jeanette, I would say mine was not because I actually wanted to look skinny because I was already pretty like thin it was for the exact same reason and it was all about control.

Kate: And I can actually, I know exactly what caused it as well. Like I can. I can very specifically remember the series of events that led to this. just like you were saying with you. Right. And so, yeah, I think, I mean, all of us tend [00:18:00] to all three of us tend to kind of have these like control tendency that we’ve talked about in past episodes with regard to various aspects of our lives.

Kate: And so I’m I’m, as I think sad as it has been that we’ve all had to go through this, but I’m altogether, not that surprised that we have, and I’m sure many of our friends and peers and other people who are listening to this will identify with that. If you have similar personality traits, right. Yeah. Yeah.

Kate: And I think the hard part, at least for, I don’t know. And I would love to hear from your perspective, being, you know, Asian, Asian American with immigrant parents is how did your families respond? Because I remember one of the hardest things for me at the time was that my parents didn’t know anything about eating disorders.

Kate: I mean, friggen grew up in the cultural revolution. Like they hardly had anything to eat. Why would they be like diet? You know what I mean? So they, they were very concerned because I was losing weight obviously. And they saw my obsessive behavior, but I thought they thought it was cause I was super stressed.

and then they wanted, they wanted to treat it like a physical disease. Right. So they like hauled me off to my pediatrician’s office, made me do a bunch of blood tests. and then I had lost my period. I had, I had amenorrhea at the time cause I [00:19:00] was so thin. I couldn’t, I, my body couldn’t couldn’t menstruate.

Kate: And so they saw it as a, it was interesting. They saw it as a physical disease and they tried to control me, but they tried to force me to eat more food. Which if, you know, if you’re, if you have anorexic ideation, somebody’s trying to force you to eat more food. It makes you even worse actually. Right. And so, and then I remember one time they almost called the ambulance because I was so skinny.

Kate: I had like no fat. I started shivering uncontrollably, like at dinner time, like, like for 10 minutes, like I had no control over my body.

Susan: How old are you at this point? I’m like 17. Oh my God.

Kate: Yeah. But it was interesting. Right. Cause that was their reaction. Like they didn’t understand anorexia as a mental illness.

Kate: They try it. It’s not their fault. I think they, they were as responsive as they could. Did any of your family members notice and like how did they respond or to your situation if they knew about it?

I think to be honest, I don’t really, I think my parents were aware. but because I was also not living at home and it wasn’t so severe that [00:20:00] I was being sent home from school.

Jeanette: I don’t actually remember having that many conversations with my parents about it. , the other thing I just also wanted to add is that, so from middle school, high school and college, I,I was a dancer, so I did mostly ballet. And so, yeah. And, and I think that, that was the other thing that definitely didn’t help.

Jeanette: Right. Just like seeing yourself in tights and a leotard with a bunch of other girls who were really thin, right. Like all the time and the whole point of those two hours or whatever of being in class is to make these beautiful shapes with your body. Right? Like these idealized figures that , even though I was thin I was not really the exact proportions of an ideal ballerina.

Jeanette: Right. Like my legs were pretty muscular. I was a little short, you know, my torso’s kind of longish. And so I think that that definitely also was a contributing factor. Like just that time. Spent in the studio with like, four-sided your mirrors? [00:21:00] so I loved dance and I wouldn’t say like girls shouldn’t dance or anything like that or, or do ballet, but I definitely feel like that is a, that was a risk factor for me,

Jeanette: for me.

Susan: It’s like, I, I, I, I guess I didn’t have a emotional or an eating disorder per se, but for me, I was an emotional eater and, and there was so much approval intertwined with eating or not eating. You know, like if you have a whole bowl of rice, you should finish the whole thing because if you don’t eat it all, then one grain of rice means one worm in hell.

Susan: So how many worms in hell do you want to eat? And it’s like so scary. Or it’s like, if I eat all. And I want more, maybe I’m showing them that my aunt or my mother or grandmother or whoever the dish was so good. And I appreciate you and thank you so much for loving me. Or like, if I, if I eat a second bowl of rice or more than it’s like, oh no, one’s going to ever love you because [00:22:00] you’re gonna be so fat.

Susan: And so you were unlovable, but then it’s like, I wanted the food so bad that I was like, I guess I’m just going to be an aunt. I’ll be a spinster, whatever. So I don’t care about makeup. I don’t care about how I look. I’ll be frumpy. I’ll be a tomboy don’t care because I guess I’m already pretty screwed already.

Susan: And I’m like 13, right? Like I think. Food is so complicated. And for me, especially after my mom died and our family didn’t talk about what happened. That’s where I dealt with my emotions because we just don’t talk in our family. And so for me, actually trying to have a healthy relationship with food, like during mom’s gone mild, I hung out with the girlfriend.

Susan: She’s a functional. She doesn’t care. Oh my God. It’s fascinating. Cause I was like, wow, like you’re a Soylent candidate. Like, whoa, your grocery bill was so cheap. If you’re a functional heater, like for me, I’m just like, you know, it’d be great right now. If we just have this little sauce on top of this cucumber and I get these [00:23:00] smoked oyster, like I get really intense about food because I’m trying to communicate to my guests.

Susan: I love you. You know, I’m trying, if, if my mother-in-law makes me food, I want to really show her. I appreciate it. So I’ll eat sometimes even, or, if there’s a certain dish that isn’t being eaten as much, maybe I’ll eat a little bit more, even if I don’t like it. And it’s like, I don’t think my husband is thinking about all this stuff.

Susan: I don’t think my girlfriend who I hung out with thinks about all the stuff, but I do. and it’s dangerous. It’s dangerous. Then it’s not about me and what does my body need and what is it saying? And what does it feeling it’s really about? Okay, who’s here. Who do I need to show approval or, connect with.

Susan: And it’s, it’s scary. It’s scary because I, I, for me, that’s my loss of control, but then I just, and then if I’m anxious about it, then I’ll just eat. Hm. yeah.

Kate: You know, this, this reminds me of a couple of things about how generally I’m going to say Asian, Asian cultures. There’s definitely [00:24:00] regional variation, but I’m just going to make a

Kate: generalized

Kate: statement.

Susan: But if we were one

Kate: county, if we were one council, Asia, the country like Africa, the country, you know, like one thing that you pointed out Susan is about sort of like the very black and white attitudes Asian elders have about your body. Like for me, I felt it was, I either got the comment you’re too skinny growing up, or like I gained 20, almost 25 pounds, freshman year of college, which you can imagine if you started off at 97 pounds, A lot.

Kate: Right. And I knew it. It’s not like I’m dumb. I look in the mirror, I’m like, yup, that’s a lot of weight, but I was very self-conscious. So then I went to China after freshman year and my godmother, I mean, I don’t blame her. She’s like semi ignorant in this way, but she like saw me and she was like, what happened to you?

Kate: And then worse. She turned to a friend and who she was introducing me to. I was like, oh, this is my goddaughter, Kate. She usually doesn’t look like this. So, so I feel like, you know, in at least in Chinese culture, you’re either too skinny or you’re too fat. Like no one ever says, oh, you look good. It’s either you’re too skinny.

Kate: You’re too fat, right? I mean, [00:25:00] it’s not kind of sounds like that’s the case for you too, Susan, like you just never

Kate: good enough.

Susan: Oh my God. Oh my God. I got so going to Harvard, there’s this like buffet in Annenberg and like, it’s like, oh, chicken clam. Shouters

Susan: buffet,

Susan: freshmen 25, like beautiful. Like at the waffles on Sundays, like it was like American food explosion.

Susan: Like I remember the first few weeks I just, my friends with my, my, my dorm friends would just kind of leave me. Cause I would just like, want to get a little bit of everything. I just, oh my God. It was just, it was a playground for me. And then, and then, and then I was preparing to go home for winter break and it was freshmen 15.

Susan: And I gotta tell you, I was, I was getting acne. I was so anxious and insecure. I started thinking. Slim fast shakes.

Kate: Oh my God. I bought those from CVS, but I couldn’t chug that. They’re so disgusting.

Susan: So disgusting. I like, I [00:26:00] like had so much pity while I was drinking it for like the first two days. And finally I just, I couldn’t do it, you know, and so I go home that winter break and that’s the first thing.

Susan: It’s not like, Hey, Susan like, wow, you like, you did it. You got to the school you wanted like, how’s it going? Like, how are you feeling? It’s like, you look fat, dang, hello, fat dude. You should, you should lose weight. And I’m like, oh, thanks for letting me know. I didn’t know things, you know,

Kate: but they still try to cram you full of fucking food over the holiday.

Susan: Yeah. Yeah. Well that too. But the point here is like, I tell him I’m about to see my family in one week. I I’m like preparing, but that’s the first thing my aunts are gonna say. And about whether they’re going to say something about my body and I know there’s no malintent there, but even as a 36 year old, I’m like almost like anxious about what they’re going to say.

Susan: You know what I mean? Like, and, and like, I almost want to like [00:27:00] talk to my therapist and have her like coach me through it, but it’s still a thing which is like, why are you telling me about my body? Like, why don’t you ask me about me? You know? And, and I know it’s, it’s just a blunt culture. We’re very observational, but it’s, it’s, it makes me feel very sad.

Susan: And, I’ve been trying to make it a practice. Now, when I, see anybody never to comment on them, You know, I just saw a girlfriend. I think she lost a lot of weight. She looked real good. Like I know she’s been struggling about it for a long time. Guess what? I didn’t say anything. I don’t want to say when.

Susan: Cause, cause I know what dieting is like or like, okay, I’m going to be paleo or whatever. It’s like, it’s just pendulum and it’s so mental and I just don’t want anyone to comment about bodies even when someone’s like, Hey, did you see his body? Like tell him he’s looks good. And I like, I can’t, I don’t want to sit.

Susan: I don’t want to use that as currency because it’s very hurtful to me and I don’t want to do it [00:28:00] to anybody else, even though they probably, I don’t know, maybe they want to hear it, but I just, I don’t, I don’t like it. I just, it, it, it still gets under my skin literally under my skin to this day. And I just, I try to be careful about the words we use in our house.

Susan: And, and that’s when I will also stand up to my mother-in-law and talk about like, Hey. We don’t talk about bodies in that way. Yeah. Right. I haven’t done that yet. I can’t wait. I’m like, I’m like geared up for it though. I’m like, I’m going to do a one day, Marvin. You, you tell her. Yeah,

Jeanette: no, it’ll come out.

Jeanette: It’s come out. Like not about bodies, but it’s come out a few times with like my mom or my in-laws were just like this tiger. Jeanette will come out and I’ll just be like, no, like, I’ll just be like, no, you don’t do that. We’re

Jeanette: not going to do that. and I go,

Susan: wait, wait, wait, give me an example.

Jeanette: Like, so like, you know, my mom, I think like a lot of our parents, generation, like folks from that generation who are in our lives, that [00:29:00] that culture is like you said, it’s much more blunt.

Jeanette: It’s like a lot more teasing, right? Like teasing in ways that make me feel uncomfortable. That I feel can leave scars. And, my mom can sometimes adopt that tone. I don’t think she’s really aware of it, but she was adopting that tone with my son. maybe he was like crying or something about something and she had what I felt was a mocking tone.

Jeanette: And I just told her like, no, mom, we’re not going to do that. You know? And I was just like dead serious. Like there’s going to be , no argument about this. Right. I mean, and I think that those, those things happen with kids. And I think they happened with the things that really cut, cut to the

Jeanette: core of you.

Susan: Wait, wait, what’d she say?

Jeanette: I don’t even remember , exactly. I mean, there’s been a few instances where I feel like growing up, I did something or I was trying something out and she essentially kind of mock me and it really hurt me.

Jeanette: Right. and, and I think at the time, at that time he could like being a kid you just are stunned. Right. You kind of like, you’re stunned, you’re hurt. And then you just move [00:30:00] on because really, what else are you going to do? But I think in hindsight, as an adult, I just realized, oh, that was really hurtful for me, like in my confidence.

 and I, so I think when I saw even a hint of that happening with her interaction with my kids, I was just like, no, you’re not going to do that.

Jeanette: Right.

Kate: the other thing I was going to, you know, our conversations reminding of, and again, not to say that this is positive, but I think that a lot of, a lot of Asian cultures and other cultures, I’m sure as well, tend to put a lot of, like the way in which older generations show affection or concern, I think is intimately related to this sort of relationship with food and also,physicality, right?

Kate: Like, you know, my mom, she expresses her love for me through making lots of food, buying lots of unnecessary things at Costco that I ended up throwing out like 50% of, you know, I don’t know, a few months down the road and I have to do. The pantry cleanse every year because of her. but you know, I’ve noticed that even with, with, my daughter, my parents will both say things like, oh, [00:31:00] she’s so small.

Kate: I mean, she is, but like, come on. Me and my husband are like, not tall people, right? Like, can she, and then my dad is always like, literally every other week, he’s like, Hey, can you feed her more milk? And like, like, like dairy and meat so she can get bigger and taller. Right. And I’m just like, guys, I thank you.

Kate: But like the pediatrician says she’s normal. She’s normal for her age. She’s normal for what she, where she was when she started. Can’t we just all like, accept that. But it’s interesting. Cause it’s just like, it doesn’t matter if I say that they’re just like really fixated on she’s small, she’s lean. Like, can’t she like, you know, be more, but I think it’s in their mind, that’s how they show their love.

Kate: Not saying that’s the correct way, but it’s very hard to change that mindset in the older generation. Right. And so, You know, I guess it’s down to us in terms of how we model it, and, and approach it with our kids. Cause we can’t certainly, we can’t necessarily change our parents comments or our grandparents and their approach, right?

 [00:32:00] well I was going to ask Kay, like how she is thinking about it for Raya like thinking about body image and this perception, this idea of beauty. I mean, I think it applies to men and women, but, you know, for girls is tends to be more,

more salient.

Jeanette: And so, you know, that’s something that I’ve been also thinking about, with Ruth and for Isaiah too, it’s like, how do I give her a healthy relationship with her body? What is like the right lens through which to look at this issue, right. In a way that’s empowering to her, but also realistic, I mean, like equips her to deal with the real world, which is what we have been talking about.

Jeanette: Right? People look at you and say, Hey, you look great. Like whatever, you know, you look great because you look, you conform to these standards of [00:33:00] beauty.

Kate: Right? Well, you know, the way that I think about it, it’s, I don’t think about it specifically with regards to her body image. And I think about it with regard to the kind of things that I want her involved in.

Kate: Right. So, you know, I, I’m not against. Girly or feminine things. I mean, you all know, I like to do my makeup and I wear like dresses and stuff, but I think for Raya very early on, I wanted to be very open-minded to understand what things she was actually interested in rights. She’s a very physical, gross motor kind of kid.

Kate: She loves climbing, loves like grabbing things like running around she’s very fast. And so we’ve always encouraged her by getting her either like gross motor toys or enrolling her in like toddler soccer, toddler, dance, et cetera, things like that. So, so I just tried to think of my approach as not thinking of, okay, she’s a girl, she should do these girl things, but rather Raya what is she interested in?

Kate: Let’s, you know, have her do these things, but you know, I’m not going to say that I haven’t bought a lot of. Dresses,

Kate: you [00:34:00] know,

Kate: fucking Q and like I do mommy and me shit. Right. But then I also realized, you know, my daughter is not going to be a girl that probably enjoys or it’s practical for her to wear dresses.

Kate: Cause she just frickin like, you know, she’s got skin knees up the wazoo and like, she just is so active. So I think it’s an ongoing process of even though I, I know, theoretically in my head that I want. You know, to be a response, I want to be receptive to what she’s interested in, but I also have these natural inclinations, right.

Kate: Whether they’re my own or have been drilled into me by society. So I just try to be aware of those things. And, you know, I know there’ll be comments from family. Like, you know, it was hilarious. I remember I had that postpartum nanny who was so awesome, the, the, the Chinese one. So she came to visit us a couple of months ago and she saw Raya for the first time, since she was a newborn.

Kate: And then auntie was like, oh, she’s so beautiful. She’s like, in Chinese, black rose. So I know this sounds totally offensive in English, like super offensive. Right. But to Chinese people, it is like to call a girl like a rose is very. [00:35:00] Positive. Right. But then she added the descriptor black because Raya is darker skin because she is half Indian, half Chinese.

Kate: And you know, like at first I was kind of like, Hmm. But then I realized it came from a place in her heart. You know, my auntie is like, she’s not super well-educated and she means really well. So I think it’s like, I, I also have to remind myself to not be too reactive to things that family or friends who are, you know, like Asian, who may say, but at the same time, I think within when Ryan’s a little older and she hears these things, I can kind of then explain them to her because I don’t want her to become intolerant of.

Kate: Cultural practices or habits because people practice them because that’s what they’ve been used to. It it’s not, may not be right, but it’s, again, we’ve talked about this before, especially do you, Jenna, I think you’ve got a really good perspective on it. It’s that you just can’t change the way that some people are.

Kate: So, you know, being angry at, at all the time, just isn’t that helpful? So, so I think it’s, you know, it’s going to be kind of like a work in progress and as she gets older, we can, you know, filter things through the lens of our [00:36:00] own own households. So I don’t know, that’s not very good answer, but that’s kind of how we’re approaching it.

Susan: Yeah. When you were talking about your parents earlier and the things that they would say about Raya and about eating more like a meal and elk and stuff, I’m like, I hear that. And I go, huh. And then, and then I’m like, wow, what if one day I could get to a place where parent elder, whoever says something and then we go, oh, we go through our country, cultural sensitivity, translator machine.

Susan: And we’re just like, oh, concern, thank you for concern. And like, not even trying to get them to change their language or, you know how they’re going to behave. We’re only here for a few hours, whatever we’re going to allow this to happen, but how do we change our own internal reaction to it so that it’s, we can, can understand the essence receipt.

Susan: And then that’s it like not taking it so personally.

Kate: Yeah, no, no, it’s really hard. By the way I [00:37:00] take it super personally, even my husband is like, you need to stop being so reactive to your parents. Like, okay. Recently, the, the shit that my mom pulled, I know that’s out of love, but because she’s concerned that Ryan is so small for her age, actually, she’s totally normal.

Kate: My mom, my mom’s told, she told her pediatrician, Chinese friend about it and the pediatrician Chinese from somehow obtained like Pedialyte, you know, that like insure for baby kids and gave a bunch to my mom to give to me. And I’m like, mom, Raya doesn’t need

Kate: no, not Pedialyte. Sorry. Yeah. Yeah. Keosha stuff.

Kate: Pedialyte is like the game,

Kate: the Gator. Exactly. So like, basically it’s like, if you’re a malnourished child or whatever, you need to drink this, this gross and stuff. And I was like, mom, I, you know, instead of thanking her, cause I know it comes from a place of concern. I just got really annoyed. I was like, mom, seriously, like Raya does not need to drink PediaSure.

Kate: Like she’s fine. And I got all reactive and my husband’s like, why don’t you just thank her for bringing it and then just throw it away or donate it. I was like, oh, I don’t know. I know what I’m supposed to do. The filter, you know, the little algorithm that [00:38:00] Susan described, but I just can’t. I just had this like gut reaction to things that my parents say.

Kate: It’s like conditioned in me.

Jeanette: It all just goes back to the attachment, I think.

Susan: Yeah. Seeking approval, seeking to be seen. Wait. Okay. So wait, at the top of the episode, Kate, you said I had all this body stuff and it changed post Raya so I want to talk about you. how did your relationship with your body and how you see it and how you care for it?

Susan: How did that change once you had it?

yeah, I don’t actually think about food anymore. I know this sounds so crazy. Okay.

Susan: Wait, wait, wait. That’s all right. Well, I have a no pictures on the different restaurants. You show me, I’ll be barking at it and I’ll be like what you’re like, and it’s this restaurant in New York, but you can’t get reservations, but maybe I could get you one and I’m like, oh my God.

Susan: You’ll show me like a picture of a dumpling with your sauce around it. And I’ll stare at it. And we’ll talk about it. Don’t tell me. Okay. Okay. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry.

Kate: So I think about it. I don’t think about the calories. I don’t think about [00:39:00] when it goes into my body, how much am I consuming? It’s going to make me gain a pound or whatever I actually do.

Kate: And I think part of that, weirdly enough, it’s actually very intimately related to the fact that I was actually trying to consume a lot of calories postpartum because I was pumping. And then, you know, you guys, I was like an, like an over producer. I just, it was just so much, I had a lot of milk, which actually in retrospect is really bad because I think it took a lot out of my bodily reserves.

Kate: Made me really emaciated and in a really bad yeah. Way, but I was just like desperately just trying to, you know, like get nutrition. And so weirdly enough, I think it just kind of, it really changed. I don’t, I don’t think about calories, you know, I don’t think, oh, should I eat this pastry or should I not eat this pastry?

Kate: In fact, I’m probably on the other end now, like, oh, I probably shouldn’t eat this pastry cause I’ve already eaten like two pastries today, but not because I think I’m gonna gain weight. It’s more like, oh, I shouldn’t eat this because it’s not healthy. And then also, you know, now I’m on a low sodium diet because of my kidneys.

Kate: And so I, and I was just complaining to my husband. I was like, what the fuck for the first time in my life? Or? Well, since I was 16, I’m not worried about calorie intake anymore, but now I have to still be [00:40:00] obsessive about my food intake. For other reasons. I’m like, damn it. Why don’t I get a fucking break?

Kate: Like now I can’t eat chips. I can’t eat. Like, I need to make sure I don’t eat this sodium that, you know, because packaged foods are higher in sodium. So in some ways it’s like been really great, you know, to not have to worry about calories. But now it’s just like this other thing where I have to be really worried about sodium.

Kate: Okay. But it’s a different kind of worry it’s like for health, not because of my weight, which I think is a much better focus.


Jeanette: Yeah. I think for me, it’s kind of also time, right? I would say I eat breakfast usually. I eat half of my own breakfast and then I eat the rest of whatever my kids left, left over.

Jeanette: Right. Which is like oatmeal and whole milk yogurt, which I otherwise would not eat. And then for dinner, I’m so busy feeding my two kids that I usually eat, half of my dinner, you know, I think it’s just also time it’s time

Jeanette: and what’s available

Jeanette: because you’re just so time and energy constraint.[00:41:00]

Susan: I go through, cycles of how I feel about my food. if you catch me right after a silent meditation retreat, I’ll be like, yeah, let’s eat, but do you mind if we don’t talk so much and then like, I’ll chew each bite like 20 times and, and I’ll like slowly swallow it. And if I burp, I’m like, it’s a practice of doing, I throw on my food after I burp and then I’ll go to the compost and like really like slowly put it into the compost lovingly.

Susan: And like, that’s like, that’s only for like one week passed a silent meditation retreat where I’m like, totally feeling my body and like, oh, okay. This is what I need. But like, usually it’s about time, just like Jeanette said. And I’m just like, ah, we gotta do this and this. And let me just shovel it as fast as I can.

Susan: And, and I’m not really feeling it as much, you know, or I’ll just I’ll eat what’s on the plate cause I don’t want to waste it. And it’s I just go through ups and downs. I have a book called mindful eating that, my acupuncturist had referred to me. She’s, the [00:42:00] person who wrote it, is a nutrition, no list and Seattle, and it’s really cool.

Susan: It’s just like, she directly talks about the emotional intertwinement of a food and like, let’s really break it down instead of just like, be paleo, beat Keto and somehow you’ll lose weight, you know, and, and put your body in like some type type of stasis that’s super unhealthy for you so that you can drop these pounds.

Susan: Like, how do we, how do we recognize what we’re doing on the emotional level? So I’m still on the journey.

Jeanette: And how do you, do you think about it for art? I mean, you’ve mentioned something about relatives. If they say something like it’s some, some issue there. So how do you think

Jeanette: about it for you?

Susan: I mean, okay.

Susan: We haven’t even seen relatives yet. We’ll finally start seeing them in a few weeks. for art, I am so excited to feed him because he knows when, when he doesn’t want anymore, [00:43:00] you know, he’s just like, no, and then he’ll throw one piece on the ground and I’m like, if you do that one more time, I’m going to take the food away because that means we’re done, but we don’t put food on the ground and he’s like, and then he’ll do it one more time.

Susan: And I’m like, okay, that means, no, we haven’t done the sign language thing. And then, and then that’s it. You know, I had like, wow, I’m learning so much from this kid that is very aware of feeling in their body. You know, I’m, I’m very, I learn a lot from art actually of like how, how, what was our original state as humans?

but I think for him,you know, This is great that you’re asking me this question, because I’m going to see my aunties in less than a week, and what’s the cost benefit? What am I helping to get out of this? Like, do I really want to have them do a one-on-one crash course on like shaming language?

Susan: Or is it like, well in our houses is what we do and we really try to work on it. I’m not sure what I’m going to do.

Jeanette: Why do you feel [00:44:00] like there’s going to be shaming language directed at art?

Susan: Oh yeah. I mean he’s 15 months and he’s not walking yet. So they’ll talk about his body in different ways. And he he’s, he’s a leaner dude, you know?

Susan: So maybe they’ll say things and, it’s different. It’s, it’s such a different turf when I’m speaking in Vietnamese. Cause maybe my Vietnamese is so broken. Like I don’t practice it that much. Who am I going to talk to in Vietnamese right. So like me trying to communicate everything I want to say in Vietnamese is different.

Susan: If we were doing it all in English, I think that would be better. I I’ve, I found some major success with texting with my dad in English about trying to communicate, how I feel about things. That’s been the big breakthrough for our relationship. so with my aunts and they’re going to be there in person, it’s all happening so fast, you know, I, I don’t, I’m not sure.

Susan: I mean, if they did something really outright, maybe I’ll pull them aside and just say, And get firm about it. And then, and then later [00:45:00] there’ll be like just said, young Yale, which means like, wow, you’re a little, little cry baby. Or like, she’s really sensitive. Or like, I just, I don’t want people to tiptoe around me and have them like, change who they are.

and so I’m just kind of, I don’t know if we’re just going to hang out for three hours. Do I let it slide? but you know, it’s 20, 21. You can’t predict what’s going to happen. Anything could happen this year. So maybe, maybe it’s the time for the teachable moment. Maybe it’s the time for the two generations to just be like, I’m just going to stay with my truth.

Susan: You know what, here, let me, let me make a little, a little oath here. I’ll try it. I’m going to try it. I’ll report back. I’m scared, but I’ll report back.

Jeanette: I do think there’s a different reservoir of energy and courage on behalf of your kids versus yourself.

and I think even from like other people, there’s more of a respect, right? Of say, standing up for your kid versus like saying something [00:46:00] for yourself. Maybe that’s not the healthiest way to deal with issues, but I mean, it’s just a different dining. It can be a different dynamic and an

Jeanette: opportunity.

Susan: Yeah.

Susan: I mean, I do have a relative who repeatedly calls art lazy because he is not walking yet. And now I just say, well, the pediatrician says he is, this is an average point of time. Or like our, his PT person says he has great progress. And this is all because he has a broken collarbone when he came out of birth.

Susan: So are we gonna fault him for this? Sometimes I do, but I blurred it. Sometimes I blurted it out really awkward and be like, we don’t say that word. He’s not, or I just go, he’s not lazy. And then I feel like I’m like on the kind of spectrum. I not really, like, I need to have a, I need to be a mature adult about it too.

Susan: So sometimes I think I’m thinking about Kate and you talking about being reactive. It’s like, how do I not be [00:47:00] reactive? How do I come from a place of, this is my child. And this is how we do it here. If you would like to hang out with my child, this is how we do it here. That’s what I read all these Korean mommy’s Facebook group of like how they deal with their mother-in-laws is some of them they just draw boundaries.

Susan: Like, would you like to see your grandchild? This is how we do it, or this is okay, and this is not okay. And then the grandma ponies up, you know, and I’m not saying that. Necessarily the case with my mother-in-law yet, but it’s some people really lay it down and they’re like, mama bear about it.

Jeanette: yeah, I think that’s totally appropriate.

Susan: And

Susan: like, I can do that all the time.

Jeanette: Yeah. I think you have to, because you’re just like, what are you, what the fuck are you going to do? Or are you going to like lay over backwards so that you can make somebody sound like grown up person feel comfortable and like harm your kid? No, you’re going to tell them like, what you think is best for

Jeanette: your kid.

Jeanette: And I’m going to play that recording of Jeanette [00:48:00] saying that 20 times before I walk into my relatives house. Thank you, Jeanette.

Jeanette: It’s just like, you have to weigh costs, right? And now the cost is your kid

Jeanette: being hurt

Jeanette: and that’s like a harder cost, I think, for most moms to take them that they then themselves being hurt or even a relative feeling

Jeanette: uncomfortable.

Susan: True. I mean like, how do you, how many childhood memories do you have of this one person saying this one thing to you? That fucking scarred you. Yeah.

Jeanette: And you’re just like, no, I’m sorry, but no, you’re not going to do that.

Susan: That’s the new bumper sticker. I’m sorry, but no,

Susan: all right. Jeanette just taught me how to grow some balls today. Thank you, Jeanette.

Susan: [00:49:00] Can we talk about like, just beauty in general? Like, do you feel beautiful? Do you love what you look like? Do you? I, I had, I had a vaginal birth, so I have stretched or no, even without this, the vaginal birth, I have like major stretch marks, you know, like, and so I look at them and I went to a body positive workshop and they were like, these are the tracks of your son.

Susan: This is the war scars for you to be, you know, to have this like a miracle. And I’m like, I got it. I got it. But, I don’t think I am beautiful, but right now I’m really actively working on feeling beautiful. So for me, that means like Eileen Fisher, stretchy pants, which I get from,an upcycled store.

Susan: So it’s a little bit cheaper, but I buy clothes now that make me feel very comfortable in my body. that’s like one new thing I’ve been doing. I, I work out because it does make me feel beautiful. I’m wondering, like, do you feel beautiful? [00:50:00] How are you with that? How do you work on feeling beautiful?

Jeanette: I think for me, I feel, I think I focus on feeling more powerful and capable in my body.

Jeanette: And that’s what, that’s what I like to feel. maybe that’s just a way for me to avoid the whole beautiful question, right. Because the, and this is like, you know, just the fact that it’s difficult for me to like talk about it.

Jeanette: I feel speaks to how loaded all of this is right for women. But, you know, growing up, like I I’m Asian American, like I have freckles every time I would see my relatives in Korea, they would say, oh, Hey, you know what? There’s like a laser procedure. You could get to get those freckles off your face.

Jeanette: You know, I tan super easily. So it’s just like, every time I go out, you know, my, my mom, or like other Korean women around me, wouldn’t say like, you should wear this gigantic ass hat that, you know, and I’m like, I don’t want to wear that hat. You know? Like I just want to like go out and use my body to enjoy myself or like, I like to [00:51:00] cook.

Jeanette: And sometimes I will like burn myself a little bit right. On my arm by accident. And then my mom would get like, super upset she’s like, that’s going to leave a scar. I’m like, what? So what, like, you know, like my body, like to me, my body is here to be used to do things that I want to do. Right.

Jeanette: But there’s always this tension of

Jeanette: like,

Jeanette: you know, like I’m not, I’m not like saving myself for this. Like, I don’t know to be like this. Marble statue. Right. so there’s like that, that kind of aspect to it. And then I think there’s just like the other aspect, which is, yeah. Like I don’t look like the Korean ideals of beauty or the American ideals of beauty,

Jeanette: you know, I don’t think I’m ugly,

Jeanette: but I also don’t think like, that’s my strongest suit.

Jeanette: Right. And so, I mean, I think my husband thinks I’m attractive and that makes me happy. But like,

Jeanette: I,

Jeanette: I, I once read this article in the New York times, written by this woman and her [00:52:00] argument was we shouldn’t tell our daughters that like, they’re, they’re, they’re as beautiful as anybody else or that everybody is beautiful.

Jeanette: Right. The realistic approach is to say beauty is one aspect of , of a lot of different strengths somebody can bring right. Like you can honestly say, like, maybe you’re not the most beautiful girl in the room, but you have a lot of other things to offer. Right. And, to put it in that light is, is a more healthy way.

Jeanette: And it’s a way to like grounded in the reality of that is makes women more secure than just arguing like, oh, everybody is equally beautiful or , you know, or, or kind of putting yourself down that you’re, you’re not beautiful. You know? I don’t know. So my thoughts are a little bit convoluted here, but that’s kind of how I think about it.

Jeanette: And I think thinking about it a lot, because, you know, with Ruth, it’s just kind of like, how do I, what do I teach her about beauty? What’s the message I’m going to send to her about beauty. I mean, I think

Jeanette: she’s a beautiful little girl, [00:53:00] but,

Jeanette: but even if you’re beautiful, you still have to struggle with these things.

Jeanette: Right. And I’m sure, I don’t know when she’s grown up. Like, I have no idea, like for she’ll look like, hopefully she won’t be terribly disfigured by some accident, but you know, I’m just saying like, how do I, how do I teach her about beauty? And like how, what role does it play in her life and her perception of herself?

Jeanette: Does that any of that resonate with you guys

Susan: or my snarky answer is like, of course a brainiac would say that beauty is an attribute amongst many types of attributes that you could have. You could, you could see which one you want a power button. And I’m like, oh, of course us brainiac. Moms would say that, but it’s and you know what, oh my God, I got to say this.

Susan: I watched the friends reunion, the trailer on HBO. You know how they got back together again. Two of the women, friends. They have very clear plastic surgery because I think they want to [00:54:00] still look like what they look like in the night nineties. And it’s really obvious. And it’s like this professor, this fixation that we have on perfection, it’s like, what is perfect?

Susan: Like, is it always to look like you are still on friends? No. Like, I, I actually, Lisa Kudrow did not get plastic surgery and she looked the best chiefs still look like her. She’s a little aged and she looks great. The other people kind of look morphed and that freaked me out because I’m like, why are you, what are you clinging on to?

Susan: You know? And I want to also add to this discussion. So anyways, I think that New York times article sounds great. And I will also use that with art too, because Asian men have a lot. Pressures around their body too. but the other thing I want to mention here is like, is it hard for me to feel beautiful because of internalized racism and that I’m not a white [00:55:00] blonde woman, you know what I mean?

Susan: It’s like, I’m not the thing that I grew up playing dolls with and seeing on TV. And like, I’m not that, but because it’s so unattainable, it’s like, like I’m never going to become a white woman. I’m just not, but because of that, like I know Susan, you’re not, it’s like, wait, I’m not. And because it’s so unattainable, it’s like, I, for, for me, sometimes I think being beautiful is out of reach.

Susan: I really do. And I, and I think a part of it has to do with the racism. That’s so internalized on a really deep level of like, I w I didn’t ever feel valued because I w I didn’t ever see myself. And, and I remember I heard this argument when I was in my twenties. I was like, is that really true? Like, whatever, but now I’m starting to really believe it that it, it, it comes at a really young age.

Susan: I don’t know if either of you have a take on that.

Kate: I think definitely. He says you have a point, a lot of what you [00:56:00] think of as the standard of beauty is influenced by who is around you and what you’re seeing. And media, I asked when we were growing up, it was mostly magazines and movies and TV shows.

Kate: Right. And where we lived, I think about that a lot, not specifically with regard to beauty standards, but more with regard to the kind of people, how people look like around. my daughter, as she’s getting older, we live in a very white. place and, her daycare is a bilingual daycare. And actually there’s, no, there are no white kids in her daycare.

Kate: They’re all either, Chinese or Taiwanese American or half, like she is. And, and I actually would like to continue immersing her in a school environment where she gets to see people who look more like her, because I think that will shape not just how she sees herself in terms of a cultural identity, but also physically what is normal and what is, maybe desirable, not saying of course.

Kate: I mean, there are also negative Asian standards of beauty in Asians, but I, I mean, you know, like [00:57:00] she’s got like the almond shaped up, like, you know, east Asian eyes and her nose is a little more like my nose than her dad’s, which is the, you know, the more higher bridge nose. And I just want her to see other people be like, yo, everybody else looks like me.

Kate: You know, they’ve got those eyes, they’ve got those noses and that’s cool. You know, I think that that matters a lot from a macro perspective.

Jeanette: Yeah, I think about that too. I took Isaiah too, Remlinger Farms. And if you guys know where that is, it’s kind of like a, like a carnival meets meets a U Pick farm. anyway, but like they have this boat ride for toddlers and Isaiah was getting in and the, I think girl, I was helping him in, who was operating the ride and like helping him get in, you

Jeanette: know, she commented.

Jeanette: He’s like, she’s like, oh, I’ve never seen her color

Jeanette: like that. Which I was a little bit confused by because Isaiah’s hair color is. It’s like the darkest shade of blonde is how I think about it. Right. I mean, but like he’s, he’s half Korean and half white. and I, I was, [00:58:00] well, I only, I went with him.

Jeanette: Right. So like Jake wasn’t there. So I didn’t really know what she meant. Like, does she mean, she’s never seen that this girl was white, that she never has. She never seen that hair color in an Asian person before, or like, she literally had never seen this hair color before, because that seems implausible.

and, you know, just my kids being,

Jeanette: biracial in a way that I think doesn’t correspond with, like a traditional ethnicity, right. Makes me think about, okay. You know, their identity and like, because so many people will judge them by the way they look. I mean, there’s now a lot of half white, half Asian biracial people,

Jeanette: but, but I think it’s still.

Jeanette: Pretty like exoticized, like, you know, like it’s still relatively uncommon, especially in many areas of the country. And so how do I equip them to,

Jeanette: feel comfortable and feel accepted? Even if [00:59:00] a lot of people around them, like most people don’t look like

Jeanette: them.

Jeanette: and how do they deal with like those comments?

Jeanette: Like, oh, your hair color. So interesting. You know, like you look so interesting. You have like an Asian face, but like blonde hair. Yeah.

Susan: Yeah. I want to just say right back while you were so interesting, you look like the Aryan race.

Jeanette: No, but like, I mean, just to, yeah, but that’s sorry. Yeah. That’s a little bit of like a triggered kind of response.

Jeanette: Right. And I, I can, I can sympathize totally with what, where you’re coming from, because there’s a side of me that feels that way too. But some of it’s like just genuine curiosity, right? Like this girl, I

Jeanette: don’t think she meant anything by it. And she’s just

Jeanette: like, literally like, yeah, it’s very interesting.

Jeanette: Your hair color. Like I’ve never seen anybody who looks like you. I think the part that’s triggered is like, there’s a part in that comment that feels othering, right? Like, oh, like where are you from that kind of

Jeanette: question.

Kate: Yeah. You know, this reminds me of this incident. one of my friends actually, who also Susan knows she’s white, and her [01:00:00] husband is black and their son is half black, half white.

Kate: I mean, his hair is curly. Right. So, she was saying that even as he goes through this like tumbling gym class for toddlers, even at this age, the other toddlers are going up to him and touching his hair. Cause they’re all like white. Right. And he’s got this. So in, and, and at this age it’s not like other toddlers have, okay.

Kate: So I understand the, they, they, they just think distinguished race at a young age, but they’re not racist. Right. at this young age. So there is an inherent curiosity. And I think like you were saying with the. Person who commented on Isaiah’s hair with the little kids. There’s no mal intent there, but so, you know, and, and I’m sure as you know, this little boy gets older and as our kids get older, they’re all mixed.

Kate: And, they’ll get comments, you know, they’ll get people doing things. And I think this is sort of where we, as the parents become the most important people in filtering that for them explaining right. You know, for example, if an elderly [01:01:00] relative says, oh, you got kind of fat, you know, or you should eat less or you should eat more is to kind of appropriately with their developmental phase.

translate certain things for them. So that I think as they grow up, they understand they have an understanding of what is appropriate, what is not, but then also what is an appropriate reaction to various people depending on their intention. Right. And I think that’s very hard. It’s, there’s no perfect way to go about it.

Kate: I mean, obviously I’m still reactive to my mom, but I would love to be able to teach my daughter to understand that if her grandma makes some comment, it’s, it’s, it’s out of love. Even though we in our family, we would not want to make those comments to other people. It’s not right to do that. But grandma says it because, you know, that’s who she is and it’s different generation, but she loves you, you know?

Kate: And I think it’s hard. It’s going to be really hard to do that. It’s it’s, it’s like the shades of gray. but I think that’s our work, you know, as parents too, to be the filter and the translator.

Susan: Yeah. Yeah. I, I, I’m wondering at what age am I going to talk to art and be like, oh, [01:02:00] you caught this comment on the playground.

Susan: Okay, great. Let’s like, let’s debrief it. Let’s talk about it. Let’s I I’m excited for the day where, we, I can teach them those skills to process instead of just like feeling othered and then shut down. Yeah.

Jeanette: Well, yeah. So we’d love to talk about that more. I think it’s like such a big topic with, I don’t know if there’s clear answers, but really important.

Susan: Well, ladies, I think all y’all are fucking hot.

Kate: you’ve just listened to a confessional of model minority moms. If you loved this episode, please give us a rating. Follow us on Instagram at model minority moms and tell a friend about us. If you have a suggestion for a future episode or questions, send us an email@modelminoritymomsatgmail.com