Armpit fat & body dysmorphia: London-based artist discusses Asian body-shaming culture

Too relatable.

Natalie Teo |
July 13, 2023, 6:54 pm

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Ever had a relative make unsolicited comments on your body?

If you grew up in an Asian household, this was probably not an uncommon experience.

Kar (@sketchykarr), a London-based artist, discussed her experiences of being body-shamed in an episode of Asian-based podcast, Outcasts 外人.

The 32-year-old moved to Hong Kong when she was 10, and uses her page to share educational illustrations on Cantonese terms and slang.


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“Too uncomfortable” to wear sleeveless tops

Kar told hosts Paji and Iasmin, who are half-Filipinas that grew up in Macau, that she only started wearing sleeveless tops in the last six years.

“Asia… gives you f*cking massive body dysmorphia,” she continued.

Iasmin agreed, saying that people would comment on her armpit fat when she wore sleeveless tops even though “it’s normal”.

“It’s like, do you want boobs, or no boobs? Because if you want boobs… then you have to have the armpit fat, no?” Kar questioned, to the agreement of the hosts.

Kar and Iasmin shared their experiences of being shamed for having armpit fat.

On the other hand, Paji shared that even when she lost weight, her aunts would comment that her breasts had shrunk.

“That’s when I realised, there’s nothing you can do to satisfy everyone,” she said.

Paji added that ever since moving to the U.S., she’s felt “weird” receiving compliments.

“It makes you think, like: ‘You’re lying, you’re just being nice,'” she said.

Kar, who moved to the U.K. 10 years ago, agreed: “I’m like, are you gaslighting me, or was I gaslighted before?”

Asians can relate

The clip from the podcast was uploaded to Instagram, where users have taken to the comments section to share their own stories.

One shared how she was shamed for her skin tone and asked to purchase brightening masks to become paler.

Her outfit didn’t escape scrutiny either, and her aunt even tried to get her to buy new clothes after deeming her tank top unacceptable.

More were able to relate to Paji and Kar’s discomfort with accepting compliments, after being body-shamed by family growing up.

Meanwhile, another shared that the body-shaming continued into her adulthood, and that it took her a long time to be “okay” with the way she looked.

“This is why I can’t live in Asia.”

Other than their experiences with body-shaming, the trio also spoke about the brutal honesty they were often faced with while living in Hong Kong and Macau.

“Our families right… Filipino or even Asian, we joke a lot.. also banter you know. The way our aunties talk about us too is like so straight up,” Paji said.

Kar elaborated that she didn’t just experience this from relatives, but also from her colleagues.

“This is why I can’t live in Asia,” Kar said, saying that her mother would try to pacify her by saying that it was their “culture” and that they didn’t mean anything by it.

“I’m like, it’s their culture to be hateful and to be like, c*nts? I don’t understand,” she continued.

Creating Cantonese content as third-culture kids

Paji and Iasmin also spoke about their experience with creating content as third culture kids and some of the negative comments they’ve received.

Paji recalls receiving a comment that said: “Who would want to learn Chinese from a non-Asian person?”

She’s a Sri Lankan-Filipina while Iasmin is Brazilian-Filipina, and both their families immigrated to Macau when they were children. They are now based in the U.S..

Both women went to local schools growing up and speak Cantonese as their second language.

“People say… Asia Asians don’t get our stuff, but I don’t think that’s 100% true,” Kar added, sharing that her account is also popular with those in Hong Kong or who have recently immigrated from the island.

Iasmin made the point that their content is inclusive, saying that she’d met a fellow Filipina who did not understand all of their content, but was still able to relate to certain aspects.

You can watch the full episode here:

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Top image via outcastsfromthe853/Instagram.

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Armpit fat & body dysmorphia: London-based artist discusses Asian body-shaming culture

Too relatable.