ZB

'Hurt in his eyes': Nadia Lim's emotional post on racist abuse her family endured

Author
NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Fri, 6 May 2022, 12:05pm
Nadia Lim (right) and Nadia's grandmother and father (right). (Photo / Doug Sherring / Nadia Lim)
Nadia Lim (right) and Nadia's grandmother and father (right). (Photo / Doug Sherring / Nadia Lim)

'Hurt in his eyes': Nadia Lim's emotional post on racist abuse her family endured

Author
NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Fri, 6 May 2022, 12:05pm

Celebrity chef Nadia Lim has opened up on why she feels the need to speak out after she was the target of nasty derogatory comments from businessman Simon Henry.

Last month, Henry, founder and CEO of a chemicals company, criticised My Food Bag for including a photo of Lim in their prospectus, calling her "Eurasian fluff" and claiming her "cleavage" was the reason for the company's underperforming results since entering the market.

"I can tell you, and you can quote me," he said, "when you've got Nadia Lim, when you've got a little bit of Eurasian fluff in the middle of your prospectus with a blouse unbuttoned showing some cleavage, and that's what it takes to sell your scrip, then you know you're in trouble."

Initially, Lim was reluctant to talk about the incident saying she's a "tough cookie" and doesn't "like being the eye of the storm".

But in an emotional post on social media, Lim opened up on the heartbreaking reason she decided to change her mind and speak out against Henry's comments, referencing a conversation she had with a young Asian woman and the hurt she vividly remembers seeing in her own father's eyes from previous racist incidents.

Alongside a photo of her Chinese grandmother and her father as a little boy, Lim wrote: "This is my Ah Ma (Chinese grandmother) and my dad. I can just imagine my Ah Ma getting up in arms and wagging her finger fiercely in the air and shouting at the dismissive, racist and sexist comments made about me just recently.

"I don't like being the eye of the storm, and was initially shying away from all the reporting on it. But it hit me yesterday when I was sitting opposite a young woman of Asian blood, like myself, on the plane and we both smiled at each other.

"Then what came over me was a feeling of sadness when I started thinking about what she might feel when reading or hearing comments like that and how, over time, it could potentially be so damaging to someone's self-confidence and idea of their self-worth."

Lim then opened up about the hurt and abuse her father faced as an Asian man growing up in New Zealand.

"And that's why I decided to speak up about it. Because it's not about me, it's about standing up for and protecting those at risk of hurtful actions like this. Over time, lots of little can add up and have damaging effects.

"My dad used to get it A LOT when I was growing up, however he'd always put on a brave face and brush it off, but even when I was as young as 4-5 years old I could see the hurt in his eyes."

Despite the widespread backlash, Henry has not yet contacted Lim to apologise.

Lim finished off her emotional message by thanking those who supported her.

"Thank you to the people who do make an effort in their everyday lives to make everyone from ALL walks of life feel comfortable, welcome and valued. It doesn't go unnoticed."

The celebrity chef has received backing from many around the country including those in the business industry.

In a piece for the Herald, My Food Bag co-founder Cecilia Robinson said attitudes like Henry's are a blow for women in business.

"I frequently hear things are pretty all right for women in business. But then you hit your head against a misogynistic wall and you realise we've still got a long, long way to go.

"In my opinion, even addressing his remarks is making excuses for racist, sexist and degrading commentary.

"Put simply, this is egregious and disgusting behaviour and we can't afford to be permissive about this kind of misogyny in business.

"If we're going to succeed as an economy and diverse nation of people, we need all hands and brains to the pump. Not just ones Henry seems to prefer."

My Food Bag co-founder and brand ambassador Nadia Lim as featured in the company's IPO product disclosure statement. Photo / My Food Bag

My Food Bag co-founder and brand ambassador Nadia Lim as featured in the company's IPO product disclosure statement. Photo / My Food Bag

Thousands of Kiwis also backed up Lim, expressing their admiration for the celebrity chef deciding to stand up against Henry and racist, misogynistic beliefs in Aotearoa.

"You have impact in the way you hold yourself - you are so well respected that I think many of us felt deep shock at the words spoken about you. Please consider me an ally - one of a huge number who are upstanders and refuse to accept racism in any form," one wrote.

Another said: "Unbelievably ignorant behaviour has only shown how magnificent you are my lovely. Good on you for unleashing your inner voice and saying that it is not ok. We stand beside you and your strong words."

Lim said she wasn't looking for a personal apology, but hopes Henry would learn from his mistakes.

"What would make me happy is if he really does internalise it, and think deeply about it, from other people's perspectives."

And, she says, if Henry wanted her to explain the potentially damaging effect of his attributed comments on vulnerable people, "I would be more than happy to make him a cup of tea and sit him down and have a korero with him - and I think he'd very quickly discover I'm not a little bit of Euroasian fluff".