EFTROU Season 2 Episode 10 is 1 hour, 33 minutes, and 13 seconds long. (1:33:13)
Chavonne (C): Hello there! I’m Chavonne McClay (she/her).
Jenn (J): And I’m Jenn Jackson (she/her).
C: This is Season 2 of Embodiment for the Rest of Us. A podcast series exploring topics within the intersections that exist in fat liberation!
J: In this show, we interview professionals and those with lived experience alike to learn how they are affecting radical change and how we can all make this world a safer and more welcoming place for those living in larger bodies and those historically marginalized who should be centered, listened to, and supported.
C: Captions and content warnings are provided in the show notes for each episode, including specific time stamps, so that you can skip triggering content any time that feels supportive to you!
J: This podcast is a representation of our co-host and guest experiences and may not be reflective of yours. These conversations are not medical advice, and are not a substitute for mental health or nutrition support.
C: In addition, the conversations held here are not exhaustive in scope or depth. These topics, these perspectives are not complete and are always in process. These are just highlights! Just like posts on social media or any other podcast, this is just a glimpse.
J: We are always interested in any feedback on this process if something needs to be addressed. You can email us at email@example.com And now for today’s episode!
(C): Hello there to you lovely listeners and welcome to the 10th episode (and penultimate interview!) in our 2nd season of the Embodiment for the Rest of Us podcast. On today’s episode, we have Kymber Stephenson (she/her) here to plant seeds and explore conversation about embodiment for real people in real life.
(J): Kymber Stephenson is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist living and working in Colorado. Her experience began with a love of food which led her to pursue a degree in Culinary Arts from Johnson & Wales University. As her love of science and helping people wove with that initial path, she continued on to a Bachelor of Science in Culinary Nutrition with a dual concentration in clinical dietetics and culinary food science. From there, her background spanned diverse roles across the food, nutrition, and healthcare sectors as she went on to ground in medical nutrition therapy.
(C): Kymber is especially passionate about disordered eating management and prevention. In this vein, she focuses on educating clients about the multi-faceted ways history, marketing, food systems, culture, psychology, and body image affect health and relationships to nutrition, food, and body. She works with clients to restore & build their relationship with food, acknowledging not only its nourishing properties, but truly embracing its comforts, tradition, and fun! Kymber is a strong believer in a whole person approach, embracing integrated body image counseling which often goes far deeper than simply body or image.
(J): Working in a client-guided manner and Health at Every Size®-informed, she strives to help each unique person reach their idea of peace and satisfaction in their bodies and their overall lives. Kymber’s driving philosophy is that all people deserve equitable access to quality food, evidence-based nutrition education, informed consent, and bodily autonomy regardless of status or background.
(C): You can find links to Kymber’s social media in this episode’s show notes. Thank you so much for being here, listening, and holding space with us dear listeners! And now for today’s episode!
J: Our second season keeps going with Kymber Stephenson (she/her), who is joining us from the greater Denver area in Colorado. Kymber and I are involved in a weight-inclusive toolkit together and her perspective stuck out immediately and I knew we wanted her on the podcast. Let’s get started. How are you doing today?
Kymber (K): I’m doing so well and I’m so excited to be chatting with you both.
J: We are so excited.
C: So excited. I’ve only heard good things from Jenn. I’m so excited to get to know you a little bit today.
K: You know what I love already? I feel like y’all are both really enthusiastic people, and it’s standing out to me. ’cause I’m like, is that rare that I like real people who are excited visibly?
J: We are very excited and excitable, wouldn’t you say, Chavonne?
C: Yes, I would. I would definitely say that. Absolutely, we’re always up here. Well, actually not always, but often so most of the time.
J: That’s correct, yes, exactly. Well, thanks for being with us in this super excited and excitable space about serious things too. We can, we can hold this and serious things.
C: Absolutely, absolutely. Great, thank you.
C: As we start this conversation about being present with and within our bodies, I’d love to start with asking you our usual centering question about the themes of our podcast and how they occur to you. Can you share with us what embodiment means to you. And what is your embodiment journey been like if you would like to share?
K: Well, I feel like for me, embodiment is such a wonderfully complex concept because I think it’s almost trying to like find language for something that may be used to be intuitive for more of us. So we often, I think, hear about this concept in our work of like body images or relationship. Or I’ll often be talking to someone about like you and your body, like separate entities. And, and when you think about it, you know, that’s something that I hadn’t had language for or thought about really until I got into the eating disordered space because I, and I don’t know if this is like also probably a cultural things, but most people just say like I or me, I think, when you’re not repairing a relationship with your body. And so for me, I think embodiment is kind of being one with yourself in that way and feeling not like they’re separate, not like you’re like a brain in a little booth looking out in your vessel, but more so that you just are. Umm,, and so my journey with embodiment has been, uh, I don’t know, I don’t know if I really necessarily had to have a journey, if I think of it from that perspective. Uhm, but one thing I think that has been really important is starting to bring more like body respect and awareness to my body. As I started to do this work, it was very much having to think about it. And so yeah, I think I’ve been through a lot of different relationships with my body, but one thing I notice for myself is it’s never necessarily been like a lot of negative self talk or unkindness towards my body. And so the times when I feel most disembodied for me, I think, are times when I’m not comfortable with what’s going on in my brain and you just don’t know how to like direct that. Yeah, it’s, it’s interesting that that concept of having not necessarily felt like I had to have a journey, but understanding it from a different perspective.
J: Hmm. Sorry, I’m like furiously writing down notes because I–
C: No, this is good, this is good.
J: Uhm, when you were talking about, uhm, me and I language, and then you talked about being one with yourself, I had a feeling and I thought at the same time, like a sensation in my body, a spark kind of feeling. I was like, ah, embodiment is we. As a way of saying a complete experience. Yeah, we’re talking about being aware of, umm, and I actually really love that, umm, because, alongside putting, you said putting words to something that was just intuitive or used to be intuitive, I think was what you said and, and I thought an intuitive we. And I’m just kind of sitting with that. That’s where I was like, I’m writing this down ’cause I, I don’t know that I processed it yet, but I was just sitting with an intuitive we in thinking of the purpose of body as relationship. Uh, right relationship that might feel supportive. I love this intuitively. It’s some–I really want to like think about that and sit with that from what you said it was, it was really lovely.
K: Well, as you like mentioned that, I think of embodiment right, as the noun, but it’s originating in a verb, to embody, and so I picture like almost a cartoon soul going into a body. And of course, if you were inhabiting a new body, you’d have to get used to that and have a relationship with that. And so that’s when I think of embodiment like as part of a healing process that you might not necessarily always need if you don’t, if you haven’t had that severance. Because, and I started to notice, too…so I grew up in a Jamaican household, and I’ve never heard my mom or my grandma say my body or like me and my body. And so that’s why it was kind of a new concept ’cause I’m like I haven’t heard a lot of people talk about it like that. Uhm, you just say I. And so even though we that you’re describing, Jenn, I think is when that, that reembodiment comes together, when the soul sort of reinhabits in a way that’s more peaceful. And I love it.
J: Wow, cartoon soul.
C: I love that. I love that.
J: I first of all, I love–you have this already…this is like why I wanted you on the podcast. You’re…the way that you sit with the language of yourself and other people and find a centering place there is really incredible to my brain. It’s hard for my brain to sit in that place, I’m like way up here with lots of words. I just love the, the groundedness and the centeredness of that. Uhm, like in thinking of our different experiences, I was also feeling extremely related to you in what you were saying anyway, and I think that’s very a special thing about being reembodied as you said, but it’s like, ah, there’s like some kind of straight invisible string tether that, that just shows up right away. So I was feeling that, I still, umm, I have chills. So I was. I’m just still feeling that.
C: Yeah, what’s really sitting with me is this. It always makes me wanna ask people, like can you share your re embodiment journey? Like it’s acknowledging that there was this time where it wasn’t even a conversation for you, just were embodied. It makes me think of, you know, my toddlers. They’re as embodied as humanly possible and that, like you said, there’s the severance. So it’s a re embodiment process rather than an embodiment process, that’s really powerful, you know? It feels like a return, right? Like it’s kind of sankofa, you returning to what you know what it was before, that feels really, that was really powerful for me. It feels really supportive, I guess, is the right term in that it’s not something I have to like create again, it’s just something I have to find again. Like coming home.
J: Yeah, and that strikes me as like, beautiful, Chavonne, and beautiful, Kymber. I’m, like, closing my eyes for people who can’t see my face and thinking about this, that I was just in this distinction that you’re both talking about. It’s like the difference between let it go and let it be, like the return you get to be, right? You don’t have to like act like you don’t have to put so much effort into that, come with that acknowledgement versus let it go is like, let’s slough off all the things that keep us from our embodiment and see what’s left. It’s such an energetic and exhausting and I’m also thinking very strongly of the word burnout here. Uhh, looking at that and just sitting with, I mean, I have like constant chills Kimber from everything that you’ve said so far in this whole like conversation. Like all the way up my legs. I never have them on my legs and head to toe because just the opportunity to see it as like letting yourself be, letting yourself come home, letting yourself be home. I think I really needed that permission. I’m finding a lot of permission in that, so I’m really, it’s just beautiful to me. It’s like this the strongest hought in my head right now is like, it’s like I’m gonna think about. So, umm just awesome. It’s really powerful. Thank you.
C: I really needed to hear that myself too. I’m a bit emotional, as I’m thinking about like coming home.
J: Me too.
C: I’m like, OK, so this is the first question, so I’m gonna kind of bring it back, but I’m not, you know, I can keep it together for the rest of it but, I’m really, really emotional.
J: Yeah, getting a little misty.
C: Yeah, I’m feeling really emotional about this coming home piece because it’s so hard when you aren’t feeling in body to feel at home. So this is really, this is really beautiful, for a lack of a better term also what Jenn said. It’s really beautiful.
K: Nowwhat’s coming up for me is I’ll describe that…I don’t know how formed this thought is going to be, but it’s this idea of inevitability that I think keeps us stuck like that. It’s always been this way, that there is no other way, and that’s why I think looking outside of ourselves, even even culturally, can be so valuable. Because even that concept of thinking like was there a time when I didn’t think of myself and my body as separate entities? I think it is really important in terms of coming home because yeah, I think we get lost and looking ahead and we’re on the offensive then, like you said, of occasionally these obstacles that block us from embodiment, but I rarely hear like how do I actually dive in to being like how do I close the circle?
J: Oh shit yes, OK.
J: Other than like, uhm, so now my brain is going rapid fire. So I’ve gone from beautiful to like never ending thoughts and I’ll try to summarize them if I can. Inaction is an action, right? Just like just being is actually an action, like choosing not to do something is an action and it’s a choice. And just now you were talking about all the context that’s like without us, as in not inside of us, but without like exterior to us. And then I was just sitting with self as context as well, not content like that, peeling away layers. Let’s get rid of stuff. I was like, oh that self as content. No wonder it’s so exhausting. I’m like trying to find the content that’s perfectly designed that I can go in there and find it. Uhm, uhh, that’s a therapy topic for me and my therapist.
K: [laughs] Yup. A lot of us, and even when you said earlier, like my legs are feeling chills, I thought that was a great example. Because how often do we go like me and my legs are going to the store versus I am going to the store.
C: Yeah, yeah.
K: There are ways to talk about our bodies that are acknowledging this, this entity of them. But it, it just doesn’t, you know, it’s not the same. I don’t know if that makes sense.
J: It does.
J: There’s something so important about naming, and I’m hearing in what you’re saying, but there’s, something is so important about naming clearly what is happening, so, so that we can get present to it. I don’t feel my legs very often. You like picked up on that really, really quick. I don’t, I don’t feel my legs very often. I really, I genuinely don’t. So it was very interesting to me that it was showing up in my legs, so like I could see the goosebumps and I could feel them as well, and so that’s really picked up on that extremely well. Yes.
K: Wow, that just took something off for me. I wonder if that’s a place where you’re most embodied that you can learn from.
J: Wait. Tell, tell, tell me, tell us more about that. Wait.
J: Yeah, please. ’cause, I’m really interested.
K: Yeah, well, you don’t feel your legs ’cause you’re, it’s like living, like, you have legs.
J: Oh my analytical brain is like, oh shucks.
J: OK. Thank you. Yes. OK. I’m gonna sit in that. I’m gonna marinate in that for a while. Thank you. Thank you for that.
J: And speaking of like the context inside and out of us, we make sure that we talk about this in the situation we’re all in right now, in 2022, in this pandemic as a human being. How has this pandemic affected your embodiment, your reembodiment, I’m going to take that on immediately, practices in ways that challenge your process? Has there been anything that feels like it connects you further? And what lights you up about your work, and when are you feeling most embodied?
K: Ooh, OK.
J: A lot of questions in one, which is a typical question for me, so there you go.
C: I was gonna say not just to you, it’s always–we run on like and five minutes later a question mark.
K: I love it. I love it.
J: I could also explain further. I will not, but I like can also have the habit of being like an for each one of those. Let’s talk about that.
K: Ooh, I love it. They’re all connected, I feel like I am–
J: Yeah, they are.
K: –it’s really eye opening when I go to write like a message and I see, wow, how I talk, just wandering run on sentence in my life. Well, I guess to address the first part, the pandemic, I think is one thing that really brought a lot more awareness to the concept of embodiment for me, because I started to notice that the isolation was something that just really gets in the way and something that was really disconnecting. And so for me, the pandemic happened about like six months after I had just gotten out of a long relationship pretty unexpectedly and, and so it was a lot of things that I think I would have been exploring, for my, it’s all…in a really just context, in a world where I could have had more options like get out and be out there. And so the isolation felt really layered in that way and I was also just starting my outpatient eating disorder practice work. And so I think that’s actually probably been a time in my recent history where I felt most like disconnected or disembodied from one, because I was so focused on like all the other people that I’m trying to learn with and learn from, and, and two, because once that laptop screen closed, it was just a lot of comfortable silence and stillness. And then when I think about how things started to go, I put in disembodiment there. I was probably running from myself and my brain a lot and I think that’s the thing that pulls you out of your body is when you’re like, I’m going to cope, you know, umm, either by sleeping a lot or never trying to be home. I used to have this, like it, where as soon as my last client was done for the day like I felt like I had to close my laptop immediately or cover the lens ’cause. I was just like, I feel so antsy to, like, get away and to, like, run from all of this. So I think that was a really big challenge and I’m still healing from ’cause work, like every challenge, you don’t necessarily notice it until like a little ways down the line, but now having a lot of perspective about just how differently things were then versus now for me. I can see how that was a time of, of severance between me and my body in my life. Umm, and I’ll pause there before going on to the next question in case you have anything to say.
J: Hmm. A time of severance. I was already sitting with severance from what you said before.
C: Yes, yes.
J: And I was like, my brain has been processing that and then now thinking of the pandemic, major life change, grief work, especially body grief in this context. And what can, what can show up for us in completely different ways in a, in a “time of severance”, like you just said? All I really have to say about that is wow, but that’s really sitting with me as like, I want to think more about that. I want to connect more with that. It almost feels like a way that people socialized as female are not allowed to be angry because it’s personal. Or if we add other layers, right? Being black, being fat, not allowed to be angry, right? We’re aggressive. And, and changing the language of that. Thank you to my own therapist for this as assertive, right? It’s just speaking out of your mouth at other people, that’s it, that’s all, that’s happening. And as I was just sitting with this, a time of severance, really feels like something and maybe other people can relate to this, that I would like to deny is happening as well as my own anger. So they’re both just sitting in this place of a time of severance, leaning into anger. It’s actually an opportunity to be incredibly embodied, challenging you. I also heard your self compassion directed at yourself, which is not my first instinct. I wish it was. [laughs] It is not, it’s not ever. But I was just really like kind of basking in that for you and just feeling really grateful that that’s how you treated yourself in so many overlapping times of severances, right? It was all of these at once. It was beautiful. Beautiful’s my word of the day so far. It’s like what I’m using to describe a whole lot of internal sensations while listening to you.
C: Yeah, definitely.
K: Yeah, yeah. I mean, I, I think I have to have compassion for myself because otherwise we want to, like, live with that person. And I think that that’s one part of the conversation that sometimes gets missed is we’re not always severed or disembodied because we don’t like how our body looks or feels. But for me, and I’ll give an example, like this constant need to have like podcasts or movies on is one way that I could get away from myself. Like at times I think I was just bored. Like if you can imagine you know someone you’re living with, it’s like, I don’t want to see you all the time, same person all the time. So, I think that’s part of what like severance showed up, how the shutdown showed up for me as a distraction and trying to just like get some space from myself. Because, yeah, it can be, it can be tiring or boring and all of those kind of feelings that might not be so negative. But the compassion piece feels really important for just honoring that, that was hard and what would I tell anyone else? And, and sometimes I frame this to people and I, I just say you’re not special. [laughs] Like and I mean in a way that like you’re not special in that you’re less deserving of kindness or less deserving of grace that you would give to a friend, or probably someone who’s not even your friend. You’re not especially different from them, you know.
C: I love that. You’re not special. [laughs] I, I love that, I actually, really do.
J: Yeah, I really fucking love that.
C: Uhh, yeah, yeah, yeah. I love the idea of…we’ve talked about it a few times in other episodes, the idea of taking this step back. I don’t wanna say dissociating per se, but just suffering, right, in a different way can be a form of embodiment. I know that what I need to be able to connect, umm, come back to myself a little bit more quickly is to disconnect. That’s a big, that’s a form of embodiment for me, is that I need to not be in connection with other people so I can come home to myself a little bit more quickly. So, sounds like you were doing that, even if it felt like distraction. It sounds like you, you were listening to what you needed in the moment.
K: I feel like that’s one of the hardest parts of embodiment is like the awareness of what you need. And sometimes the fact that you don’t know.
J: Yeah. Oh, and this is making me think of neurodivergence in general and my own neurodivergence just now showing you’re talking about, like, taking the word that can be used, distraction and, and what we might lay on top of that is meaning. I was just sitting with that.
J: It’s taken me a really long time to understand that my distraction is my emotional regulation and it’s like vital to my emotional well-being, and, and I just felt very seen and validated in what you both said, so thank you both.
C: Mm-hmm. Awesome.
K: I like the neutrality that you speak about that with–and Chavonne–but I think sometimes we have these categories, like that’s a bad thing if you’re trying to be distracted. And sometimes like that is one way of self-care, especially in neurodivergence. Like it’s exhausting sometimes to be in this brain, and so there’s distractions like the kind of Skype for by itself is like getting a babysitter.
J: Ooh, I like that.
C: I love babysitters. [laughs] So I really like that.
J: Wow, yes. Oh, that’s such a gorgeous analogy. Uhm, I was just actually, while you were saying that, what popped in my mind was the Duolingo owl. The dual, like playing around in Spanish on Duolingo is, is that’s…I did not have a word for that, but yes, it babysits my brain. Then it gives it a task. Uhm if I fill part of it out in the morning, it gives me some time limit extra bonus thing in the afternoon. So I get these things in like time limits and it’s just like for these 15 minutes my brain is, is taken care of. And, and I…people around me watch me do this are way more in tune about how helpful that is for me than I am.
C: That’s really cool. That’s really cool.
J: My brain really needs a babysitter.
C: I just need a babysitter. [laughs][All laugh]
C: I say that every day.
K: I feel like that is one other thing that feels really helpful for me in the relationship with my body is treating myself like I would a child as in terms of like the self compassion aspect. And when I do, that I do feel like it’s helpful. Because then I’m like, you want a puzzle? You want some putty?
C: [laughs] You want some apple juice?
K: Yeah, so I think that’s actually been really helpful and it’s a good learning experience, like, like touted. It’s for a lot of us, one of the last places we were more embodied. Uhm, I always like, like that can be an outlet. Yeah, but in terms of the next part of the question, has there been anything that feels like connects me? Oh, actually that’s kind of, yeah, really starting to that self compassion, I think, connects me with embodiment. And…I don’t know…I think also just having space for the silly parts of life feels really connecting to me. Because, especially just at the stage in my career that I was in, it was a lot of time straight of like, what’s next, what’s next, what’s next? And so like getting out of college and internship and all of that stuff, when you’re not having someone kind of direct you in a chute towards the next thing. I feel like that’s another space of unsure if not sometimes severed or just having that question of identity. And so what’s been really helpful for connecting further is like discovering what is fun, you know, what is what is, “lazy”. Which again, I didn’t think through this, but like and then embracing those things like being excited for yourself when you stay in bed till 1:00 PM is a really fun feeling I think versus..and I think that those things are really helpful ’cause it again, it’s not about like me and my body. It’s just like, spent the day all in bed, that was awesome.
C: And I believe the pandemic offered that in a lot of ways and that we’re–
J: Yes! [laughs]
C: We’re forced as there’s this forced severance, right? Or enforced if you’re, you know, following the guidelines there were…that’s a whole other conversation.
J: Oh yeah.
C: Enforced severance makes you, for better or worse, sit and say, what feels good for me, what do I need if I can’t leave my house? How do I feel at home in myself, with myself? So it, it sounds like when you learn how to, how to giggle at yourself, which is lovely. It’s just lovely. Yeah, I love that.
J: Ooh, OK, so thinking, thinking my thoughts are starting to coalesce. So thinking about the body as home and like really sitting in it as home while sitting in your home, right? Just like, OK, so let’s think about double layered home. I’m not necessarily a homebody or I didn’t feel that way before the pandemic and now I’m super comfortable being at home all the time. You know, get those kinks, work themselves out, no problem, just with more experience. And as you were talking about, like, what feels fun, what feels silly, what feels childlike, uhm, we’re in a very serious situation. What a counterbalance to offer ourselves to be so layered. I’m at home in my body and my body is at home, at home. And it’s so serious about there, it’s unexpected, we can’t predict it. We don’t have the control, we think we do. We’re in community with people who don’t necessarily want to protect us, uhm, more so in different areas and different levels of privilege as well, to be able to have that multilayered home has such depth to it. And that’s what was, like, really sitting for me. I was like, oh, because I could actually feel the depth of that. It’s actually only in my chest, but I could like feel it all the way down there, like the whole thing. Umm, and that feels this is like the most embodied I’ve ever been in one of these conversations. And I’m, so I can tell I’m feeling really safe and secure here. I’m, I’m also, I, I can’t even find words to express how seen I feel so far by, you, Kymber and in your recognition of yourself and it’s beautiful authenticity and all of its vulnerability, it’s pulling that out of me, like in really in, I want to say delicious, I don’t know why, really delicious ways. I’m not sure why delicious, why that, where it occurred to me, yeah, that’s how it’s feeling.
C: Delicious is always good. I love that. [laughs]
K: And as you said that I was like, that’s such a great concept that I sometimes ask people, do you feel at home in your body? And the reality is maybe not everyone will. But even just this week, I was at the beach for a little while and I had this sense of like, oh, I feel at home. And I, I think when you said like the different layers, I’m like, oh, maybe the feeling was like, I’m at home in my body, you know, that, that home’s not necessarily a place, but a sense of security. [unintelligible]
C: Oh, that’s good. That’s really good.
J: That’s very nice.
C: That’s nice. I feel very home–the wordI keep thinking is homey. Probably just as we’re talking about home and I just felt very settled, very homey right now.
J: Settled. That’s a great word for what I’m feeling. Yeah, that’s a rare shared space for me, actually. I have a lot of anxiety in the presence of other people. Not with Chavonne and definitely not with you, Kymber, I mean generally. So this is healing.
C: Same, same.
J: Very settled. That’s exactly it. Thank you for putting a word to that. I think that’s what I mean by beautiful now that it’s kind of hitting the same place in my body as a bonus.
K: I think of that like I don’t know what it’s called, like that tool that you can use in a toolbox where it’s the little bubble goes in between the lines to like know something’s level. I think it’s a level.
C: Oh, it’s called a level.
J: Level, yeah, level. I, I didn’t know either until she said it.
K: Like, but I’m like, yeah, I feel like I’m kind of in that, in that same zone too. And when you said like even the counterbalance of the, of the pandemic, that’s probably why that felt, feels level, swing the other way, but has one thing I started to notice is there’s a lot of shoulds that we’re all, you know, leaning into and following that we don’t necessarily realize. And I think of even like building my clients. I was like, well I should probably see people earlier in the day and my boss was like, why? And I was like because dietitians are morning people, I don’t know.
K: I like to have answers, they’re normally just like an invisible thread. And so I think that’s the other thing that was really helpful is when I started to like build that shoulds it was like, well why the fuck not sleep in?
K: Why not do these things that no goods or reducing the shoulds, reduce the chain around a lot of that stuff? But like it would keep me stuck and feeling like something was off balance. It’s like, well, ’cause, you’re not giving yourself counterbalance.
C: Ooh, counterbalance. I just love that word.
J: Ooh, ohh. Oh, I love that word. And something you just said, I just realized that I should all over myself when I ask myself why. Because when you were like, well, why not? I was like, oh, am I doing that when I say why? I am like I can, I call it curiosity, but I can be in an incredible amount of hyperfocus about the answer to a wide question that I have posed randomly for no reason.
K: Can I offer a thought on that? I wonder if a better question to ask is how and then what? Like how are things really? What do I need? What do I want? What sounds good? Not why?
J: Ooh, this is so interesting to me, because if this is part of the thing we’ve already been talking about, like supporting clients. I have no problem coming up with these questions supporting myself, uhm, I feel blocked about these all the time. Not, not strongly blocked, but like enough that I notice, uhm, and it’s also like at the beginning of a client session. The way a dietician is trained to ask is like to ask them to tell you why something or you’re supposed to find out why something happened after they tell you that all the…what’s right, what’s been going on since the last session, even the question like, how are you in your body today? Pleasant, unpleasant or neutral, right? A recommendation from Intuitive Eating, uhm, is currently sitting with me as I am shoulding that we should talk about the body first. Like get straight into it straight about the body versus asking the person as we did today. Uhm, how are you? Yeah, the hows of it. Uhm, so thanks for that. I’ve been already thinking about that, but that’s kind of really sitting there for me. Journal prompt here, here’s my journal prompt.
K: Like, that’s true curiosity, ’cause, it’s like we’re skipping a step, ’cause why is the secondary question. Don’t you have to know like what the situation is before you can explore why things are?
C: I’d love to talk about the second-half of our podcast title. What does the rest of us mean to you? How do you identify within the rest of us? We’d also love for you to share your pronouns and identify your privileged identities in context here as well.
K: Ah, my pronouns are she/her. Umm, and, and I actually really loved that y’all put this question in the middle rather than at the beginning, because I, I like that it, it changes the bias of like, I’m hearing a voice, what does it mean? Uhm and invites you to be curious about that versus, you know, what are the like categories this person falls in?
J: Oh, I hadn’t thought of that. And I’m really glad we did too.
C: Me, too! And I’ve been questioning should we put it toward the beginning of the episode, because I–
J: Me, too!
C: Why haven’t we talked about this?
J: OK. Thank you for that.
C: That wasn’t on purpose. Just how it got here. it.
J: Not even, not even at all. Uhm, I love that. And actually at the second you said that I was like flashing back and I was like, yeah, it is, I do like that it is. It’s adding context to something that’s already there versus, like, painting all the context and all of the preconceived notions that people can get about that too, that you get to have space before these things are laid there. I mean, I wish I’d done that on purpose. I would love to say that, but I didn’t. No, no, no, no. We, we didn’t. We did not.
C: I’m so proud of us. [laughs]
J: I was accidentally doing something that we really love right now. That sounds like us.
C: That does sound like us.
K: No, even if it wasn’t conscious, I’m like, I think there’s a wisdom there, because the reason that stood out to me is ’cause this is the question I was most nervous to answer, and I assumed it would be at the front. And so I was going to ask if y’all asked me to see identities if I could do it at the end or later in the interview.
C: Look at us.
J: Yes.I guess.
K: And part of that is because I think this is a concept, again, that I’m like studying from an intellectual level, but that doesn’t necessarily feel authentic to how I think about myself necessarily. Uhm, and again, I think just like embodiment in that concept, it’s reparative, right? Like we have to name these things because of challenges that there have been. Umm, but inherently. I don’t necessarily like, think like, OK, so I’m Black. I’m she/her, cisgendered, I’m an immigrant, I am…so this is hard ’cause I really it’s hard for me to think that these like descriptors unless they’re prompted. Uhm, when I think about describing myself, I think like, oh, this is my job or like this is what I like. Yeah, and I have a lot of privileges as well. I grew up with some really educated parents and folks who value education. Uhm, financially comfortable and so, I guess I can pause there before going on to the rest of the question, but does that feel like it answers everything?
C: That’s fine.
J: Yes, yeah.
C: Yeah, it, yeah, I guess, I guess, I mean, I definitely understand where you’re saying that it’s important to kind of name these as we’re doing some healing in terms of explaining where…I’m, I’m paraphrasing, I can’t remember exactly what you said, but it keeps coming to mind is, I don’t know if you said the word, but challenges we’ve had. But I think it’s also important to name our privileges in that we can acknowledge that we didn’t have challenges in certain ways. But what I was really going to ask is why do you think they don’t come up for you kind of inherently, just wondering?
K: Well, I guess it’s kind of like how fish don’t see the water they’re swimming in, in you don’t really mean, something feels inherent to you. But then once you start to like, like in some of those, oh, there’s water. You’re like, oh yeah, water. OK, I know what that is now and so I can like repeat that. Uhm, but I think that’s part of it, and really I’ve only been in this kind of sector of dietetics for the last like three or threeish years. And so even being introduced with identities is very, is like a newer concept. And so I think that’s the other thing that it simply is like a learning curve and of learning, like what’s important? What are people trying to understand when they’re trying to understand of your identity, and how is that information influencing them and their thought process, me and my thought process?
C: Thank you.
J: Great question, great answer. Great and great.
K: And so when I think about like the rest of us in terms of what that would mean to me, I always use this example when talking about body image of like I think when people think body image on an introductory concept, the picture that flashes across my mind is just like someone in anybody’s eyes standing on a beach in a bikini. Like doing a calendar photoshoot and like loving their life. And so I feel like for most people when I give that example, they’re like, oh yeah, no, that’s not a, that’s not what I really think for my body image story or vision. And so I think for the rest of us, it’s about decommercializing what embodiment and being in your body and being happy in your body might look like a need. And so I think it means everything outside of like that stereotypical image of this is what body positivity or what body satisfaction looks like for most of us, the rest of us. And then I also think about the different ways that body positivity has been, you know, coopted in certain spaces around really cherry picking the threshold for what is acceptable for your body. And so I think it’s really it also strikes me as everyone who falls outside of that. So, you know, outside of the folks who are like OK, I like took a picture of this one stretch mark and that’s OK. And I think that’s awesome like that is OK and what about all the folks who are like I got tiger stripes? Is it OK for them to flaunt it, too? I think that’s quite good with the rest of us.
C: And I think that that’s why I love this title so much. But we have it’s not just those who live outside the stereotypical body norm. It’s about all of those outside the norms, right? Like the black bodies, the queer bodie, the neurodiverse bodies. Or neurodivergent. I’m sorry, I want to make sure I’m saying the right term, Jenn.
J: I don’t know. They both sound good. [laughs]
C: I’ve heard both and I just want to be right. I’ve heard, Nikki Haggett said she preferred one over the other, so I was just trying to make sure that I was sensitive and then I can’t even remember which one she said.
J: I can’t either.
C: So never mind. I’m so sorry, I’ll read the email. But different bodies, right? I think that. There’s body diversity, of course, but a body outside of body norms. So it’s important, but we like talking about all of the rest of us-ness.
J: Yeah, so, Kymber said the rest of this is actually most of us, I love that framing. And then Chavonne, just now when you were talking, it is a societal norm, is a standard which was once an ideal, right? These things kind of get collapsed inside of each other and they just seemed like a totally normal thing at one point, it was not normal at all. Uhm, and currently our norm does not look like most of us in the entire planet. I’ve heard all sorts of different numbers for this. It’s like 25% or 5% or who knows this actually meets this ideal that, that we’re all not in. And we’re talking about identities and privileges and what feels challenging and what we’re born into and like all these kind of like layered nuances of life there are. Why does my brain want to say the word elite? There are people who are considered elite, just like they’re considered ideal or the norm and and like self-identifying as the ideal or the elite doesn’t make any sense to my brain for me, for most of us. And I was just really, it’s not really hearing, it’s more like feeling. But what I was feeling when you were, when you were talking about that, and I was thinking earlier about, umm, you’re not special. And I was just thinking, so many of us are not special, so many of us are deserving of compassion and attention and kindness and uncollapsing of bullshit. And like, I was just like, we’re not special, the rest of us. Umm, I got chills again, head to toe, and I was just, I, I just have to say, wow. I’m kind of in like one word spots today, which is very interesting to me, but wow, yeah.
K: I, yeah, I think that that idea that there is a norm is like in the same vein for me, as should, right? That inevitably, and it’s odd, because the truly inevitable thing is diversity. Like there isn’t really a norm and I, my favorite example of this, I’m like, go outside. Go to any mall. Truly look at the bodies passing by. You are not going to see one type of person. You’re just not. And that’s always such a good experience, I think to really just like look around because I think our brain shortcuts, right? And everyone’s just a blur walking by. And maybe we’re, you know, picturing everyone just like the same cookie cutter, but when you really look, it’s like, no, they’re, most of us are very different.
J: Mmm, inevitability. It’s very interesting how calming to my brain, Kymber. It’s really wonderful. You, you are an invitation to try on something very expansive, all these things that you’re talking about, and it feels really good. And I like, I’m chomping at the bit, so to speak, to share this. That’s already a strong feeling that I have.
C: Yeah, I agree.
K: Yeah, I feel like, I can always tell when I’m with other people on like the neurodivergent spectrum, so I feel like it’s like my brain’s tuning into the same like radio station.
J: Ooh! Okay, I love that.
J: Uhm, yeah, and to take that analogy and be in conversation with other people, it feels like I’m tuning into their radio station and not the other way around and I really love that. I very much feel like we’re tuned into the same radio station. It’s like a kind of collective embodiment to do that.
K: I think that I never knew what that was until I got diagnosed. But like, I can just feel differently, like sitting with different people or even how they would speak, I’d be like just like the sense of calm, it’s like they’re going on a different track and you’re like, I know it’s gonna come back around. And I think that is who a lot of the rest of us are, are people on, all along the different ranges of the neurodivergent spectrum because I think when we don’t have that, we feel like we’re out of frequency with people. And I think a lot of us would turn for our body to be the solution ending on that same station because we have no idea. Like what’s different, what feels off?
J: Ooh yeah, a search for belonging that it has to do with why and should. OK, the next question but I want to ask is a big question and even the way that it is here is like very wordy. So I’m gonna try–
C: Like 5 lines long, I love it. [laughs]
J: –and, and I think it’s important to put our conversation in context as we feel comfortable and and just get real, be honest. What I mean, we already are, but I mean like just on, on yet another level, we’re on a lot of levels safe, but like get another level. Does that feel OK to you to, to move into that space fully?
J: OK. We are curious about your take on Intuitive Eating and/or Health At Every Size and the current state of those modalities and conversations especially? So right now it is April 2022, so this is especially considering the events of the last couple months with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Evidence Analysis Lab um, edition, shall we say, related to, umm, saying that HAES was not appropriate. I’ll summarize it that way and the Health At Every Size, HAES book’s author, and, and their harm of fat, Black, Brown, Indigenous and People of Color and others, umm, where do they continue to fall short, Intuitive Eating and Health At Every Size, or how can they be expanded to honor their roots and reduce harm? And take your time, really, I’ve gone big.
K: Ooh, you know what I love? I love thinking about this. I feel like that was the first thing that came up for me when our boss kind of shared an update on what was going on, ’cause, I’m not always super plugged in and my first reaction was excitement.
K: Because revolution always starts with pushback, you know. Umm, and I think that people like its validity that’s being lent to the fact that these could be helpful concepts going forward. ‘Cause otherwise, why would the Academy spend time addressing it? And so I find that very exciting and inspiring and also kind of a clue of the going in the right direction when there’s resistance and to change. And so I think this is an exciting time to talk about those concepts and I also think that these like ideals and supremacy about objectivity and absolutism are sneaking into the conversation because now I think sometimes we swing the other way we go, and I even use the phrase Intuitive Eating or the phrase Health At Every Size. And I feel like that is, I think, I think, I get the sentiment behind the caution, and I also wonder if we can do things differently because something has a name. Does that mean you have to follow the 10 steps of Intuitive Eating more? Can I introduce that as a concept? Uhm, what does that mean for you? Same with Health At Every Size. And like when I think of it, I don’t necessarily think of a specific book or set of rules, but I think what does this concept sound like to a person? And part of this is probably like my procrastination brain working for me a little bit, but I haven’t necessarily read in depth like some of those different materials and so I didn’t have like full concept of like OK, this is exactly how it has to be so when I talk about it, ’cause, I am talking about them from my own perspective. I’ll pause there, but…
J: OK, maybe this is my analytical side, I don’t know, but I was just, I was just sitting with, uhm, I have rather obsessively read all of the reading materials.
J and C: [laughs]
J: Immediately upon becoming a counselor, I did not want to follow a rubric of sorts, but to like honor whatever my clients intuition spoke of and all of that. Uhm, this is very strange. This is like I’m actually picturing an image from the Intuitive Eating book 4th edition on page 151. Like, I have very, I know exactly the page number. It’s called the Hub of Intuitive Eating, and it’s satisfaction at the very center. Like for you two seriously, I look at this all the time. This is the way I ground myself, just like that. For everyone listening, I’m showing them the hub. It’s all 10 principles or 9 around satisfaction and I would put a different word here, I would put pleasure here. It centers pleasure. I mean, it takes a while, umm, getting into this book, but this page is like a revelation for me. I actually bought another copy of this book so that I could incorporate everything around this graphic and think about it so that it could be. All these analogies are coming up with today, Kymber. I wanted an analogy like a hub. I love that as an analogy, I love it as a spinning wheel. I love lots of things about this but like how can this be expanded? How can this be expansive? Uhm, it was very generous to what you were saying about the generosity that you were giving yourself. And I was really hearing like you said, your procrastination brain was like, oh well, my analytical brain’s, like, I better read it all so that I could throw most of it out or whatever. Whatever the thing is, right, take what I need, leave the rest. Take what clients need, leave the rest, and I’m sort of sitting with both of those. That image came to mind, sitting between those two spaces, so there’s a whole bunch of space between that, uhm, and how Intuitive Eating is often described as a privilege. Like if you were to read every word and like follow things in the order that they–it’s claimed there is no order, but like in order–it can feel very contained. So what I was hearing in what you were saying is, what if it’s not?
J: What if it’s not contained? And that really spoke to me and I was thinking of that like you can watch everything expand from the center. It doesn’t have to be pleasure at the center, it’s just what happens to be on that graphic, but I was just, I’m looking for things that feel expanded or expansive or I often use the word beyond like beyond Intuitive Eating. Like, what does it get you? What’s in that beyond, uhm, if you read this? And we’re like, I reject everything. What’s in that beyond, right? What’s in the beyond? So I love that.
K: You know I have, it’s not so much a secret, but sometimes I do judge a book by its cover. Let’s call it my osmotic learning library, because some of the titles like Laziness Does Not Exist or Health At Every Size. I’m like, I agree, done. I’m like I learned everything I need to know from that. And I didn’t plan to do that, but I think of it the same way I might think of like a religious text is how do you honor the spirit of the words than the letter of it and, yeah, it does allow for a lot more expansion.
J: Hmm. And not absolutism. I currently can’t think of the opposite of that, but that was sitting there in the same space for me.
K: What an ironic example that there could be an opposite of absolutism.
C: [laughs] That’s so funny.
J: Yeah. [laughs]
K: You know, I also think, too, though about it, like, if we’re talking specifically about like Intuitive Eating the book, Health at Every Size the book, these parallels that we’ve seen with like colonization as a process.
J: Yes. Fuck yes.
K: Is something coming up for you? [laughs]
J: Oh, just fuck yes, that was what was coming up. [laughs]
K: It’s like, it’s such an interesting pattern because, you know, it starts with one thing that is new and novel and different and rebellious and it goes through these different chains, then gets put out there and distorted in these ways that are like really more for devaluing and discrediting, and then also sometimes gets repackaged in a way that is more acceptable to a colonizer. And I’m like, we see this all over.
C: All over the fucking place.
K: One of my favorite examples is sugar.
C: Yeah. Mm-hmm.
K: Like even the idea of sugar. I think that I’m like, look at how much work went into enslaving millions of people to produce sugar because there was greed. And then, after a while starting to get upset about that, wanting to rework it, demonize it, make it the only thing you hear about. And then now it’s like moves into different acceptability, and so I always feel nature holds up a very strange mirror and parallels. And I think with Intuitive Eating and Health At Every Size, we see the same thing, like it starts with the rest of us. And then it’s Coopted and that doesn’t mean there can’t be, umm, that it’s not for everyone. I just think that this idea of needing to shoehorn it into an acceptable set of rules feels very disaligned with this spirit, those seeds.
J: Very red. My brain is saying holy fuck, absolutely. And I’ve had the, I’ve had thoughts like this. There’s something about the way that you phrased that, my brain was like, that! I, and Chavonne had a look on her face, too, so you get–those listening can’t see, but I was like pointing at Chavonne because I was like that face, that face is what I’m feeling, that, it, that’s exactly, that’s exactly what I’m feeling. That is the same.
J: Yes, the rest of us originated these concepts, and not just like fat activism of the 40s, 50s, and 60s, which is what a lot of the conversations surrounds ancient seeds, places where this has come from. It’s like, it’s like with everything with supremacy, which includes all of Westernized medicine. It’s like, oh, complementary and alternative medicine, AKA, what everyone but white people does. Let’s turn it into a journal and let’s peer review it. So we’re like 30 ish years into that. And they’re like, oh, these things are legitimate now, and like, they’ve always been legitimate!
C: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
J: None of this needed to be done, right? You just need to listen to and believe people and ask them what it means for them and what it does for them and that needed to be it. Not devaluing lived experience as a form of colonization is something I think about all the time. Umm, and, and I was just hearing how you were humanizing those things by talking about the seeds. That’s what’s sitting for me from that.
C: Yeah, yeah. I love the idea of, Jenn and I talk about this all the time, but the take what you need and leave the rest, of almost everything. [laughs]
J: [laughs] Yeah. Certainly.
C: But I’m thinking about Intuitive Eating and Health At Every Size, and I love that concept because my eating disorder brain is like, all or nothing, that black and white all day long. That’s why there’s so much gray in my life, like just constant reminders of gray in my life, because it’s so easy to fall into that especially when it comes to your eating, and I like that. That’s why I intentionally practice taking what I need and leaving the rest, because it, because if I don’t, everything becomes a diet. Like literally every way I eat, everything I eat becomes a diet. So I love that. I love that concept. I also like that you’re excited about what’s happening, I feel [sighs] like Jenn.
J: I want to get there.
C: Like, yeah, I’m really hoping because I take mini breaks from social media, like, it makes me…I just can’t. And then I come back and I’m on for an hour and I’m just deep diving, like deep into it and I’m like, oh, I hate this, I’ll be back in a week. So I’m really hoping that I get to a place where I’m excited about what’s coming next, because right now it just feels like a lot of weariness right now. I think that’s the best word because there’s so much infighting, there’s so much infighting and one up personship at the same time. So I’m hoping that we find a way to move forward as a community, or not a community, as a movement, whatever, and repair some harm and also dismantle as much as possible.
J: And reclaim. Something in what you just said is–
J: You can speak for me and so beautifully, you summarize exactly what I was thinking. And there’s so much of this infighting and everything that the people who are continuing to be centered are the people who were already doing harm. What you have said, what you have shared, Kymber, I’m like, that’s right, right? It’s just like we’re talking about embodiment. Like, why do we have to peel off all the layers of harm? Why can’t we just look at the seed? Uhm, I kind of needed that call-in. My brain loves drama and centering the wrong people, right?
C: Same. Same. [laughs]
J: It’s like a really good TV show. And these are real people, real lives, and I don’t want to do that. I just, we all have that tendency, it’s a form of survival for human beings to know what’s going on over there, drama wise. And to be able to sit in a different space, that is severed from the drama, in a way, umm, is feeling really important so I feel refreshed by that. Yes, uhm, like it can be with that versus doing something about that. And that feels like a place to, to sit for me.
C: I appreciated that call in too, because as much as I hate it, I’m still there with popcorn reading again and like by the end of like, oh, I hate this, but my popcorn is done, so I’ll be back, you know. So, I love that, being present for it without getting all wrapped up. reading all rap stuff.
J: It’s a really honest space you’ve created around this, Kymber, and I just really appreciate that.
C: I love the honoring of the roots and, and acknowledging how steeped all of this stuff can be in…not steeped, how it’s been coopted to what did shoehorn it to make it comfortable for the colonists. I was like, whoa, I need to write that down. I’m gonna get it tattooed somewhere. I love it. Not really, but I love it. I love it. It really reminded me of the, of the true roots of it, not what it looks like.
K: Yeah, I mean we have to remember that that’s part of supremacy is that legitimacy is in the eyes of the colonizer and that’s part of why [unintelligible] allowed to right ’cause, they write something down and someone can prove it. And so that’s so important to keep our thoughts of…and I also think it’s important to name for me that I do have reverence when I think about these things, umm, or the weariness and for the parts that are harmful to people. And, and like it can hold reverence and excitement. Have you ever seen Les Mis?
J: Oh yeah.
C: Yes, yes.
K: But OK, so.
C: Live, in the movies, all of it. I don’t want to talk about the movie version, but it’s [unintelligible]
J: Right. [laughs]
K: It’s not that kind of controversial podcast.
K: But I think of the, y’all remember the song, Red and Black? Umm, that’s the energy I get. You know, all of those folks, they’re so excited about the revolution to come in the morning. They’re also, they’re talking about people being hurt and probably killed, their brothers around them dying away and I have that energy that comes.
C: That is really powerful.
J: I have a playlist, but it is only that song that I listen to from the movie version. But I, I listen to it when I need to have a little revolution.
C: That’s really, oof, knowing that there’s this, there’s this dichotomy, there’s this dynamic there will be to dismantle. There will be some people getting hurt. I don’t mean like physically, but that being people called out, being, people being called in, it’s just, it’s just the nature. Yeah, I’m also feeling really mad because of something that you said, not that you said it, but something that you said. Pull that back. Like the idea of like how things are shoe, I’ve been like sitting with this. It’s like marinating this whole time, the shoehorning of things for the colonizer. And how people remain the rest of us because we can’t keep up, right? So maybe we’ll find like, like you said, maybe with sugar, maybe we’ll finally get to a place as a society where we’re doing this and they’re like, oh, we’re, to flip it. Just like, that makes me think of breastfeeding, how it’s a classist, racist, all of this stuff around breastfeeding and either you’re a bad mom because you formula feed, or you’re bad mom because you breastfeed, and as soon as more people are doing it, immediately it changes to rich white people feeding their children the opposite way, and then you have to, and then we’re just keep it, we’re just continuously trying to catch that. And I think that this process has to be stopping that, like, this is what I’m doing, but this is embodiment for me, this is who I am, regardless of the societal norms are.
K: Yes. Oh my gosh, that’s bringing up so much for me. I’m, I was thinking about Nestle as you said that.
C: Yes, yes.
K: And like how they went into communities, normally foreign communities, poor communities, and we’re like this is bad for you. You have to feed your baby from our formula. And I think that that’s something to really consider is the fact that, like a lot of what we now are trying to reclaim is about undoing the idea that you need external validation, external instruction in order to be. Umm, just like everything you’re naming, it’s, it’s all of us looking outside of ourselves. And that’s why I’m like, who is that not embodiment, like at its core? It’s starting to listen to that internal compass and honor that it would, it would make sense that your feelings would be signals of what you need or that, or trust them, and it’s so hard to return inward from that.
J: Yeah, yeah.
C: Ooh, I got all worked up talking about that, I could like…
J: I feel heat. I feel rage.
C: Freaking Nestle.
J: Yes. You’re both speaking to denial as one of the primary agents of supremacy. Uh, a thing, it took my brain totally unaware of my privilege at first and then really trying to sit in it to really get how much denial is all around white conversations, white spaces, especially white women, socialized as female, problem, problem, problem. Even in what you’re saying, the way that denial is working in these situations we’re talking about, and like being disembodied, which is also what you’re talking about, is every time you look at someone who has been the rest of us, oppressed, pushed down in this situation catches up. We didn’t talk about that, right? I was actually thinking of the phrase fed is best and that was making me angry ’cause it used to be “breast is best”, that’s how they used to get you and now it’s fed is best. Anyway to look or to perceive someone else, like they might not be feeding appropriately, whatever, that looks like a much bigger denial. It’s like escalating, right? I’m, I’m so angry. It makes me, uhh, makes a much bigger denial umbrella and everything under that is total shit. Like what you both were also, and I mean like the, the policy, the reasoning behind it, right? It’s made-up well, I mean, everything is, that–
C: And I say fed is best all the time. And that’s really sitting with me, like when I’m talking about feeding children, so, or babies, rather. So I’m really sitting with that.
J: Yeah, I’m, I’m just realizing how big the umbrella got. And that made me really mad because I was like, oh, finally we’re getting it, but I’m realizing, no, we don’t, me, white people, we don’t. That’s what I really mean right here, right me, I’m always an agent of that. So I’m really saying we and me, ’cause I want to be really conscious, especially when I listen back to this, and I want to own this and sit with this.
C: Which, I always appreciate it, so thank you.
J: Thank you. I, I have like a different kind of tingle ’cause basically super uncomfortable, but that’s OK. I’m OK with being uncomfortable. Because, uhm, it’s nothing, right? It’s just a little discomfort. It’s not anything. I’m not special. I think that’s such an important thing to say in all sorts of moments.
J: And and something else in that when you were talking about the Les Mis Song, Black and Red, right? Some people are going to be harmed in this. As a way you could look at this, I actually was like, OK, so from white supremacist space, some people are going to have to get really, really, really uncomfortable. Like, really, really, really uncomfortable. They’re going to have to give up their, uhh, power. Author of Health At Every Size, they’re going to have to give up their power. Authors of Intuitive Eating. Umm, these can be amazing people. Some of them are “amazing people”, right? And they also have to give up their power because they already took it from someone else and they didn’t ask their permission. Uhm, so I’m feeling really angry. I’m feeling very fired up. I’m feeling, I’m, actually I have to slow my brain down here a little bit because I’m thinking of all sorts of ways in which dietetics is using the denial as an agent of white supremacy eating disorder treatment centers, people who work in clinical work, and, and talk about the harm they already did like these kinds of spaces. Uhm, I just want the harm to reduce, and we can’t get there if we’re in this like bubble of denial of who gets to define what fed is in fed is best. Who gets to decide what recovery is, what treatment is, what, what relapse is, right? Like, who gets to decide these things? It’s all of that is under this umbrella of white supremacy. So I’m raging, I think. I think I’m just raging. That’s where I’m sitting. Sorry about my anger at you both. I’m just like.
C: I was yelling before so it’s fine, I–
J: OK. I feel my volume.
C: –was like, I’m gonna talk about breastfeeding!
K: Yeah. I feel like that anger is so valuable, yeah. It’s one of those things, I think, embracing that anger can be really valuable. That’s like the revolution part, I guess. You know, like even when you describe like I love diving in on this drama. I know that we have to kind of self-parent a little bit about how much excitement. But I’m like, that’s an instinct you can follow. There’s a reason we’re drawn to them, and that denial of how we feel, it’s part of how we got here. And so I think about the ideas of like power and who holds it right now. And honestly, I, I think denial is one of the things that’s keeping us blocked. Like we know it’s a big, it’s the enemy of change, denial. And, and, and I, I’m like, honestly, I don’t really–if even if the author of Health At Every Size didn’t want to give up their power, I’m like, well then just admit you’re a monarch and you like power. And that’s OK. Like that still gives people a space to move forward. It’s about denying that that’s true, that that’s the problem. Because I don’t know why I’m so stuck on Les Mis, but I’m like if the king the whole time was like, I’m not the king, like that, wouldn’t make sense. It doesn’t make any sense, right? You are rebelling because they are under, you know.
J: For those not looking, I’m touching my nose and I was doing all sorts of other contorted things with my face in my hands, because I was like, that’s right, great, just admit that you’re the monarch. Uh, I would prefer that, I can work with that. No, it, you know, we know it, right? Right, well, holed up in your castle and think, I’m not that monarch, I’m the person off the streets when you’re not.
K: You’re not.
C: We know you’re not.
K: That’s why we’re out here and you’re in there.
C: And I think that’s all kinds of privilege, right? Like, I have to admit that I have educational privilege. I have whatever privilege. You have to be willing to admit it for any change to occur, absolutely.
J: Ooh. Ooh.
K: How can you label and direct that power according to these values if you don’t even acknowledge that you have it?
C: Correct, correct.
J: Oh, shit. Yep.
K: Can I ask a question?
K: OK. I just thought, I was thinking about something you said earlier, Chavonne, where you said like with eating you have that black or white thinking as part of it. Have you noticed other characteristics of supremacy show up in your eating for you?
C: Damn it. Oh, fuck, I wasn’t ready for that.
K: I’m like bouncing, so I know I’m excited.
C: Yes, yes, yeah. There is some moral stuff around eating animals, for sure. I was vegan for a really long time then I wasn’t. Then I was, Then I wasn’t. [laughs] And I’m not now and there’s also, there’s this, you asked about white supremacy, right?
K: Yeah, like I’m thinking, paired with the cultural characteristics of supremacy like that, there’s one right way to do things or correct, like thinking, you know, [unintelligible] and stuff like that, I just was curious.
C: Purity culture is definitely what…I, I am comfortable eating what feels right for me right now, but there’s a purity culture of well, if you’re eating animals, then, you’re not good anyway, so, and which leads to other kind of behaviors and a lot of guilt, I, I would say there’s that, that’s the biggest one. All of the things that kind of come with privilege, right, the privilege of being able to cook my own food, to shop wherever I want to shop, to, umm, because I have that time and I have that financial privilege. So that plays into the black and white thinking a lot. If I happen to get takeout, then everything is a washe and then I’m into other behaviors pretty quickly. Yeah, not as much as, I mean more in the past, but, this, it still pops up every once in a while for sure.
J: Yeah, it’s everywhere. How could it not be this conditioned thing?
C: And the supremacy culture of, well, I’ve never been diagnosed with something, so I definitely don’t have it. But I I mean, there is literally no way that I do not have an eating disorder, like there’s literally no way in my life, but it’s never been diagnosed. And it’s like, well, if I’m not living up to, you know, if I haven’t been diagnosed by, you know, by the DSM or whatever, I don’t, that’s not true. And that…I think people know themselves and that’s that evidence based bullshit. My husband and his ADHD, there’s no way that my husband doesn’t have it, and he’s very clear on that. But, you know, it’s…I’m sorry, OK, I’m just babbling now, ’cause I got really uncomfortable talking about myself and I’m really sweaty.
J: I appreciate this so much, you know, and it really relates to the next question you’re gonna ask, Chavonne, and when we get diagnosed with something from a supremacist lens…neurodivergence is considered and is a disability and things can be denied because of disability. So the power of a diagnosis that is “official” can also take away power at a later point. There’s many, many examples of this, but just thinking about, like, if someone has autism that they can have surgery denied because they’re not “mentally capable” of making, according to the DSM, according to their official diagnosis, to make a decision that big. And so it will be denied on that grounds by their insurance company, I mean, that’s the, that’s the most, that’s the closest one to my brain, ’cause I’m still angry, but there are lots of other examples that are smaller than that, but not less significant, just more everywhere.
J: And the validity of self diagnosis is also sitting, you know, Chavonne, what you were talking about and the book Sick Enough, which I recognize is written by a white woman, uhm, opens up, what if we decolonize this mess? Not, that’s not what they said, that’s what I think that kind of conversation opens up. Umm, what if any negative effect on your life is sick enough? What if the system and structures that go with the diagnosis cause more harm than self diagnosis and being outside of them would all be coming up against supremacy? So that’s a beautiful question that, oh, I want to think about that question and your answer.
C: I wrote it down so I can journal like for the next six hours about it, because I don’t know what else is going to pop up for me.
J: Yeah, me too.
C: That was what came off the cuff for me. I don’t know what else is going to pop up for me, but that was an oof, that like in the pit of my stomach. It went oh oh I don’t like this, in a good way. But, and the grief of acknowledging how no matter the work I’ve done, all my you know, most of my life or what I am involved and how it seeps in constantly. That’s supremacy culture for all of us, right? And I’ve let it dictate certain things. Oh my Lord. I don’t know.
J: Oh my gosh, such a beautiful question. And it’s, you know, when I name myself as an agent of supremacy, I also say that so that I can think about myself in a different context as an agent of change or an agent of something else, right?
C: That’s a good question.
J: How am I being supremacist in my sessions with clients and how do I stop doing that right now? Feels really important. Yeah, sitting in that space, because supremacy is all over an eating disorder. I mean, it’s everywhere. I can’t think of one place that it hasn’t touched in that actually to be honest, nothing comes to mind. I’m not sure I will be able to think of one.
K: It’s so internalized and I want to apologize. I’m sorry if I put you on the spot with that question.
C: No, it’s fine. It’s fine, I Iove putting people in spot myself, so it’s fine.
C: And turnabout is fair play. Turnabout is fair play.
C: It’s just like, damn, I don’t want that.
K: Yeah, well, you know, I even heard more like of that internalization as you answered, because even this idea of like needed diagnosis, I think that like worship of the written word and legitimacy and how, you know this need to be on papers that they meant lends legitimacy, which is not necessarily the way I think that most of us can allow ourselves to get help, so it fosters that denial. And when you bring up the book Sick Enough, it’s one concept I also like to kind of reframe and think, OK, Sick Enough is probably like the concept of enough is a well, we move that goalpost, are you well enough and often the answer is no. Like, why do you need to be sicker to start differently?
C: Yes. I feel very called in right now. And it, it’s OK, like it’s fine, I just have lots to think about. That was really oof. I can’t sit still like I just have like bouncing in my chair. Umm, it’s wow.
J: This reminds me of the social determinants of health and then they should really be called the social determinants of illness, right? Let’s actually talk about the direction. And they mention race there when they mean even in the tiniest little difference between the letter E and the ISM is enough to add a veil where supremacy can still deny things, right? When it’s kept as race and not as racism, because the people who wrote those damn documents are also agents of supremacy, and the rest of the document has racism spewed all over it. I mean, it’s all over that. It’s all over it. Umm, mmm.
K: I feel like that’s textbook colonizer playbook, right? It’s name the problem that you created as this.
J: Fuck. That’s exactly it.
K: It’s just like with eating disorders, I think, you know, you might notice, OK, I don’t feel good and you just feel better and it’s, like, often you’re feeling worse because of it?
J: Yes, let’s create a problem and then let’s get a bunch of funding and let’s, let’s do this solution thing where we are the people who profit off of this. Uhm, think about that from a capitalist perspective and also from a kyriarchy perspective or a patriarchal perspective of oppression. Umm, we win off oppression, it is built into that, baked into that as well.
K: So the other thing I was thinking about in terms of how, you know the health and wellness conversations and the body image, body positivity conversations sometimes missed the mark is the way that those, you know, those standards are set as universal expectations and all of this what it keeps coming back to. But there’s, you know, one right way for it to be, which is another supremacy characteristic. And I was also thinking too about how now I think we’re in a moment of tiny counterbalance again, bringing it back to that because within our practice we do a lot of great work around, you know, not everyone is going to expect to love their body. Like maybe that’s not for everyone and and I also sometimes think that in that swing, one thing I notice when we might be missing the mark on is setting the bar too low for what’s possible. Uhm, and I get, I think a lot of it is in trying to reduce like the shame or the expectation of what people’s body image journey is. But sometimes I don’t think we allow that, that growth can change that. Someone who today might say the best thing I could do is just get to a place of [unintelligible] with my body might this time next year, I think, no, I think I could maybe start to feel confident in my body and I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately. Are there ways that we’re setting the bar low that’s also kind of upholding these systems of like, don’t get too ahead of yourself?
J: And you know, when we think about the context of eating disorder recovery and I would also just say like burnout recovery, neurodivergent burnout recovery. Uh, grief in the pandemic, like really big, big, big things that, to have no change from one moment to the next is sometimes the victory, the…sometimes just letting things be is what’s most important. You’re no homework, so to speak. I’m a dietician who doesn’t give homework unless the client says I want some homework and this is what I want. I go great, see you next week, so tell me about it, right?
J: To sit in a space where I am deciding what their homework, their change, their next step should be does not feel OK to me, has never felt OK to me, and I’ve actually pulled back more about that over time because I can sense how uncomfortable I am with that compared to my education, my socialization as having the most privileged skin color, all of these things, that the thing I should do, right? That, that’s the…ugh, supremacist should. I actually like the alliteration of that, I’m going to think about that. The supremacist should is you better push them through recovery, that’s your job. But I don’t think so. Uhm, sitting with people just like in conversation like we are right now is like, I don’t know what’s it like for you? Over and over and over again until we can sit and just be. Uhm, that was very easy today with us. For me, actually, I just am very much being with you all. I have an incredible power of my brain right now to slow down, which is not usual for me. Uhm, even with lovely ADHD medication, that’s just not how my brain responds to them. And I want more of that because it’s kind of uncomfortable to be so much, but I want to do more of it. It’s a good kind of discomfort.
K: Like Grace enters the room when you have this.
J: I love that word. Thanks so much.
C: It’s my favorite word. It’s like tattooed on my body and I still forget it on a constant basis.
J: I didn’t know that. We’re learning so many new things about each other.
J: Umm, so grace as a counterbalance to systems and structures and credentialism and power dynamics with “professionals” and “clinicians”. Uhm, I love that. Grace as that counterbalance.
C: I do, too.
J: Oh, that’s so important. OK, last question spot of the day.
J: Uhm, we’ve talked a lot about really big, really small conversations and perspectives, I mean, uhm today in this conversation. Kymber, what do you think we can all do to make a difference with what we’ve learned, sat with, unlearned, gotten present to today and what would you like everyone listening to know about what you’re up to and where they can find you.
K: Well, I feel like one thing that we can do is just keep talking and having these conversations because you know, it’s only vulnerability on the inside, but the second it comes out, it’s courage and it allows for that grace. And, and I think if more of us expected grace, which tends to happen more often than not, we probably wouldn’t have such denial and such like a stronghold on trying to hold on to these powers that’s like the only place that’s safe. And so I think continuing to talk and have space for the messiness of being human feels really important. It’s just like eating disorders and just white supremacy, I think a lot of that [unintelligible] in isolation. And the other thing I feel like isn’t really important is to just constantly reassess your values and use that as the compass as you’re starting to if you’re working towards, uhh, reembodiment and not always using external measurements as the validator of, am I doing OK or like, what should I do here? Uhm, body appreciation is probably the other thing that I would think could be accessible for a lot of people, even if that’s just on a biology level. But I heard a podcast about how, like, humans couldn’t run or walk if we didn’t have butts, and I’m like something you don’t even think about every day.
C: Very true.
K: Uhh, and so I feel like those are kind of the big three. Like there–
J: [laughs] Sorry, I now want to say you know earlier like, Jenn, what about you and your legs go to the grocery store? So now I’m like, what about me and my butt? I’m gonna start saying that. Me and my butt are going to the store.
J: I’m sorry that was so beautifully wonderful and serious. I guess I’m tapping into the silliness.
C: Giggling is fantastic.
J: Thank you.
C: How can we find you or can we find you out in the interwebs?
K: No, I’ll find you.
C: I love that so much.
K: Yes, clearly getting that silly.
J: It’s a release, right? We’ve been sitting in a tense and important conversation.
C: It is. It is.
J: I’m feeling the release with you all. I really am.
C: Yes, yes.
K: Uhm, you can always look for side-by-sidenutrition.com. That’s the group practice that I work for. I don’t really have social media, but if I ever do, I’ll send you an Instagram. I feel like I’m getting closer to probably getting one at some point ’cause my dad, he’s wanting to send me cat videos and he’s like getting upset that he can’t. Uh yeah. That’s kind of how somebody can find me. People can also email me. I really, I think often like, lift as you climb and I love to share resources and so if people are just looking to learn more, yeah, I’m always open for someone, umm, like popping into my inbox or like someone reaches out to you guys. That’s another place that I’m happy to get connected.
C: Perfect. Perfect. This has been lovely. We’d love to have you back sometime in the future.
K: I would love to. I think that’s kismet.
J: Kismet is one of my favorite, favorite, favorite words. Thank you.
C: This is beautiful. This was just so lovely to meet you and so lovely. Just, I’ve heard, like I said, I’ve heard nothing but good from Jenn, so I was really excited.
J: And now you know, now you know.
C: I get it. I get it. I totally do.
K: Well, I had so much fun. I had so much.
J: Adore you.
K: Yeah, I could, I don’t, there’s not enough time or the words of how valuable this felt so.
J: I wish I could hug you both with a group hug.
C: Air hug.
K: Thank you both so much. Thank you.
J: Thank you so much.
C: Alright, take care.
J: Thank you, Kymber.
K: Have a good rest of your day, you two.
C: Bye bye.
J: Thank you for listening to season 2 of the Embodiment for the Rest of Us podcast. Episodes will be published every two weeks-ish (because let’s be real here) wherever you listen to podcasts.
C: You can also find the podcast at our website, embodimentfortherestofus.com and follow us on social media, on both Twitter @embodimentus
J: And on Instagram @embodimentfortherestofus We look forward to being with you again next time in conversation.