First Asian American curve model for SI Yumi Nu speaks out about fatphobia in Asian culture

·2 min read

Yumi Nu, who recently became the first Asian American curve model for Sports Illustrated, has spoken out about fatphobia, revealing how bullies used to call her “Godzilla” and “Yao Ming.”

On representation: Speaking to NBC Asian America about her cover feature, Nu explained how as a child there was hardly any representation of women who looked like her. Among the few Asian American women in the media, she noted that there wasn’t any diversity with respect to their sizes.

  • “Growing up, I didn’t have someone that looked like me,” said Nu, who is of Japanese and Dutch descent. “Being able to fulfill this representation role for other people who see me as a role model and to also fulfill that for myself has been super healing.”


On beauty standards: As the 24-year-old cover star went on to talk about body image, she noted the way Asian Americans are often subjected to both Asian and American societal expectations and said she believes fatphobia is ingrained in patriarchal Asian cultures.

  • She listed off some of the comments made by Asian elders that many Asian women might find relatable.

  • “There’s a lot of shame like, ‘Cover up,’ and, ‘Don’t eat so much,’ but also, ‘Don’t waste food.’”

  • She said that these sorts of comments are often disguised as concern for wellbeing but carry a much more harmful message.

  • Having experienced fatphobia growing up, she said that “living with that little voice of how I should be, at least for my Asian side, was really difficult” and eventually led to her rejecting her Asian background.

  • “I felt like I was less worthy for being Asian because I felt like an outsider being so tall,” Nu said. “All I wanted to do was be white, to be white enough to fit in and not be called Godzilla.”


The cover: Back in March when the cover was announced, she shared inspiring words to her followers, NextShark previously reported.

  • “For Asian American women, there’s a lot of shame in flaunting your body and feeling sexy. And I think for me as a plus-size model, we’ve had to evolve and battle this like, inner voice that hasn’t evolved,” Nu said. “I’m plus size and Asian. That’s why I’m like, this is important. I want to do as much as I can to show other people that we don’t have to be dainty and little. I can say, I know that in myself, I’m beautiful.”


Featured Image via CBS This Morning

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