EFTROU Season 2 Episode 7 is 1 hour, 28 minutes, and 13 seconds long. (1:28:13)
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!
J: Welcome to Episode 7 of our second season of the Embodiment for the Rest of Us podcast. On today’s episode, we have our very dear friend and fellow podcaster Jenn Radke (she/her).
C: Jennifer Radke is the host of the podcast Fat Girl Book Club, and is a podcasting coach. Her body image journey started with sneaking cookie dough out of the deep freezer at the age of eight, moving through a bunch of different diets, at least three goal weight celebrations, two bodybuilding competitions and culminating in an eating disorder.
J: When she finally figured out that she would never diet her way to self-love, she started reading. As she read, so many things began to fall into place and now her focus is on using the podcast to help others see that their body is something to be cherished and loved.
C: You can find links to Jenn’s social media and podcast in the show notes for this episode. Thank you so much for being here, listening, and holding space with us dear listeners! And now for today’s episode!
J: [sighs] The second season is so fun and exciting and that continues today with Jenn Radke (she/her) That’s right, another Jenn!
[J and C laugh]
J: I love it. And Jenn is joining us from about 2 hours east of Vancouver and above Seattle in Columbia, Canada. And there are so many things to explore together as we navigate and experience embodiment. And now let’s get present to your humanity. How are you doing today, Jenn?
Jenn Radke (R): I’m good, I am good. I’m looking outside and it’s a beautiful day out here in the Pacific Northwest–and I will just say that it’s, it’s British Columbia, not just Columbia, British Columbia.
R: No, no worries. No worries at all, but I just wanted to clarify in case people who are listening are from Canada are going, there’s no Columbia in Canada. It’s a beautiful day. Normally it rains quite a bit here, so I, I don’t know, it’s gotten me excited and psyched and I’m here talking to two people who’ve also been on my podcast whoI’m talking to. So I’m excited, I’m thrilled to be here, it’s gonna be wonderful.
J: Woohoo! Wonderful, thank you for–we’re recording this in the afternoon, dear listeners, and I have afternoon brain. [laughs] So thank you very much for sharing the province in Canada, which is what, of course it is but my–
[J and C laugh]
J: Thank you for that. Umm, and that’s on native land is that right?
R: It’s on Stolo Nation land.
J: Stolo Nation land. Thank you for sharing that.
C: Thank you so much for acknowledging that, thank you. We’re so excited to have you here. Thank you so much. I’m glad you’re having a great day so far.
C: Umm, as we start this conversation about being awake and aware in our bodies, I’d love to start with a stint ring question about the themes of our podcast and how they occur to you. So can you share with us what embodiment means to you and what your embodiment journey has been like for you if you’d like to share?
R: Oh man, this word embodiment, it’s a scary word. It’s just very weird for me. As a kid, I, I really used food to self soothe and kind of try to detach from myself. I didn’t have any–and as I kind of go forward with a little bit of my story–I was diagnosed with an eating disorder. And a lot of times with eating disorders they, the tendency is to focus on your life as a child and look for kind of those big T traumas. And I didn’t have those, but I did quite early on for some reason think that food was a way to make myself feel better and I used it at pretty much every opportunity I had. Uh, so that was just kind of the way I, I worked was with food and detaching and not really being present to myself. And I had a bit of dysmorphia in kind of a weird way, I think, as a kid. I heard somebody else talk about this on a podcast, and I thought that was totally neat, but I don’t hear a lot of people say this–I thought I was in a smaller body than I was. I was in a fat body and I think I had a lot of invisibility because of that, but I thought I was in a smaller body so I never really had kind of self esteem issues when I was growing up. I mean I, I did and don’t get me wrong. I mean, as teenagers, we, I, I feel like it, it’s just a natural part of growing up in the world that we’re in, but my weight and my body was not really what I focused on. Uhh, so it wasn’t until I was about to get married that I jumped on kind of my first kick when it came to diet culture. Uh, that was the first kind of organized diet that I jumped onto because, you know, I mean messages around getting married are you need to be a “beautiful bride” which means slim. [laughs] So, I jumped onto that and of course the first diet you ever do, it’s easy. I thought it was easy. I was like why doesn’t everybody do this? This doesn’t make any sense. It’s because our bodies are extremely brilliant and they recognize that they don’t really know what’s going on for your first diet. It’s once they begin to kind of catch on that things start to get rough and that’s what happened for me like what happens for many, many other people. I, I would go on a diet, I would be on a diet for very long stretches at a time and then I would come off and I would instantly start to gain weight as per usual. One of the things that I really wanted to do when I was stuck in diet culture was to, uhh, compete in a bodybuilding show, and that lifestyle is very, very disordered. So I jumped onto that, I jumped all over that. And I think at the time I would have told you that I was embodied. I think I would have said I am taking care of myself, I have a lot of self-care, because this in this world that we live in, being thin and “taking care of your health” by going to the gym for long stretches of time and focusing on what you’re eating is considered self-care. And so I think I would have told you, oh, I’m very embodied, I, I, you know, I, I do yoga, I do…I’m very embodied and in touch with myself. This began probably the darkest period for me within diet culture because after that first bodybuilding show, my body did what it normally does and it rebounded very quickly and I freaked out and I went and saw a therapist ’cause there’s so many other things going on in my lifetime. And I was diagnosed with an eating disorder and instead of recognizing that this was a blessing that somebody has finally told me that what, like, has given me permission to step back from all the disordered things I was doing, I went and did another bodybuilding show. Because I was so freaked out, I just didn’t know what else to do and control is, is a very big part of having an eating disorder so that was me. Uh, again I, again I would have told you I was very embodied. I mean, I go to therapy, of course, I know, I know what’s going on with me, me, I know. And then I jumped into another diet as you know and that’s when the cards came down. I had gone to visit my uncle who was dying in another city. So where I was living it was very easy for me to stay isolated and do all the “things I needed to do to be healthy”. When I went to go visit my uncle, who you know this was somebody I was very, very close with and I went to go visit him and the cards just came down. I couldn’t, I couldn’t do all the things that I was doing. I didn’t go wild and crazy, but I couldn’t do all the things that I was doing and so I came back and I had gained weight. And that particular diet I was on had a coaching element to it and the person told me that I hadn’t put the oxygen mask on myself first. And I was pissed. I was like I have given my life to this “lifestyle”, I have given my life to being slim and being healthy, and you’re telling me that me focusing on my dying uncle was not beneficial, was not helpful, was not what I should have done? I was angry. I had also read Health at Every Size by Dr. Lindo Bacon when I was away. I thought it was a diet book, really didn’t–like I got it, but I really didn’t get it, you know. It was–it has a scale on the front cover and I just thought it was going to be like a normal diet book. I thought it was gonna be like oh, you don’t need to diet but if you do this, this, and this, you’ll, you’ll stay slim, so I was reading it with that mentality. But seeds sunk in. Things sunk in and that kind of started me on my own kind of body liberation, body acceptance journey.. And books for me, as you know, I, I run the podcast Fat Girl Book Club. So books for me were my way in and they have continued to be really important to my own growth in therapy. And so I just started, umm, reading everything I possibly could. Now finding embodiment has been very difficult, I can get concepts as I read, but bringing them into my own life has been, umm, well, it’s it’s been a lot harder, uh, I have to attach my brain and my body together when for so long I was told that detachment is what I needed to do if I wanted to be healthy. So I, you know, I, I, I still, this is ongoing for me very much. I’m going from, it’s recognition that I can bring embodiment into myself by doing things like meditation. I have a very, very strong meditation practice bringing awareness into what I’m eating, and, and what self-care looks like for me. Redefining things for myself is all part of embodiment. And my goal, I think with embodiment, the way I look at it and running it, iit is about being comfortable in my skin and finding a sense of ease with connecting feelings and intuition with what’s going on in my brain and being able to combine all those things and not seeing one is more important than the other when I’m trying to make decisions. Even simple decisions like what am I gonna eat? So yeah, that’s, that was my roundabout way of talking about embodiment, but it’s still a scary word for me. I still kind of go, I don’t know. [laughs]
J: Hmm. I love that honesty. Uhm, and I think I related to that more than I realized I would that it still feels like something despite my best intentions to do perfectly like there is a right embodiment, even though my brain is like don’t tell me what to do, what the right thing is and I rebel against that. There’s another deeper feeling in my body, uhm, if I am doing this right. As, am I embodied. I teach other people. I have conversations about this all day and then the question for me is, am I? So I was just sort of sitting with that as you were talking, uhm, which is, uhm, I think it’s so important and talking about this journey aspect when Chavonne asked that question and what feels like a journey is so important because journeys also cycle. We’re not just like on a straight line to the future, like on this highway to embodiment. We’re also in a, uhh, a place of, oh, hello body, we’re back in this place again. Are we–one bad thing happened this week and we’ve just decided to turn on ourselves again, haven’t we, right? It’s like this, the really uncomfortable messy conversations are so important, and, and they don’t have to be “solved”, like it’s OK that embodiment is *fucked up sometimes, it’s OK that we don’t want to, right, there’s, it’s a lot of sense in. And, and noticing as you were talking about the different parts of psychology of the brain of the nervous system, uhm, that they can also hijack each other, so it’s not so simple as being like, I’m completely intuitive so I can be embodied at all moments, like an emotion jumps in there and it’s like, oh yeah, and like life jumps in there, it’s like, oh yeah, you thought you thought this was going to be so simple. Well it’s only 11 o’clock. Let’s see how this, say it’s going to go right, it’s like, this, this real like, we can have this idea that we should be some level of connected, especially when we’re having conversations about this all the time and we’re people, too. So I really appreciated that and the lack of resistance in me, which felt really refreshing to just being like, yeah, sometimes I suck at this. So I have no idea what I’m doing, and, and it feels important, though, that that is true, so I appreciated that.
C: Yeah, I really appreciated that too. It makes me think of that–I can’t, it’s some image that you see online every once in a while, like the kind of the trajectory of recovery. It’s like it’s not this straight line. It’s like this spirally goopy thing that looks like a hairball, whatever, until you get to a certain point and what you said made me think of that. It’s a journey, but it’s not this straight trajectory, it’s like this, uhh, happens and then this happens. Like Jenn said, and ebbs and flows, I really appreciated that, that insight.
J: I think for me, for the longest time I didn’t want to think like if the word came up in a book or something, I’d completely ignore it. Like trying to get in touch with my intuition felt more tangible than trying to be embodied.
C: Hmm. Yeah, I definitely can see that.
J: Yeah, I relate to that too. Which one can I control or do I feel like I can control? Oh, I can feel that.
J: And you know, in thinking about embodiment and its challenges, it makes me think of another question. The second-half of our podcast title, uhm, the rest of us makes me and us curious what the rest of us means 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 also.
R: Out of all the questions that you guys asked, that one was the toughest for me like I literally had to think about that one for days, which seems like, uh, like when I first found you guys had a podcast and embodiment, it was the word that gave me the most resistance. But for the rest of us I was like oh, I kind of get that.It’s like the rest of us. [laughs] But then when you’re trying to define it and actually really thinking about it, it took me a while to kind of. And unfortunately, I didn’t even really think of something that was unique or original, which would be wonderful, but I thought of Sonya Renee Taylor’s discussion of the default body within The Body Is Not An Apology, so she has this discussion about Poodle Science, which is Deb Burgard’s discussion of how we try to put, uh, like this this kind of interesting…it’s like a little…if the listeners haven’t seen it, they should go look it up on YouTube, this Poodle Science thing, because it’s actually this really interesting way of looking at our healthcare system in a lot of ways that you know, wouldn’t it be weird if we tried to make every dog like poodles? Like we compared everything, size and height to poodles, and you know there’s this kind of like idea about the healthcare system within both our countries being like that, well, we’re trying to compare. And Sonya Renee Taylor is saying with the default body is that we’re trying to kind of measure sameness, uhh, of this kind of idea of what that default body should be. So the poodles and poodle science, we’ve decided that poodles are good, and we’re going to compare everybody else into that. So when I think of the rest of us, I think of anybody who’s not a poodle. If we’re putting it in poodle science terms.
C: No, definitely.
[R and C laugh]
J: And not bulldogs and, uh, weimaraners and dachshunds
R: And chihuahuas.
J: Yeah, chihuahuas like your cute chihuahua, exactly.
R: Thank you.
J: Not the, the standard, which I think is so interesting because there is a standard poodle which is not mentioned in that video, but I actually think about that all the time. There’s a standard poodle. It’s literally the standard.
C: Even within poodles, yeah.
J: [laughs] There’s a deep genius to this analogy. It’s, it’s amazing.
R: Oh, it it’s it’s–well, once you start going down the rabbit hole of metaphor, it could probably take you to many different places. But yeah, a beautiful thing in Sonya Renee Taylor’s book is that she talks about this default body and moves it through, and, and I think we talked a lot about ideal beauty standards. And I think people kind of get this image in their head, but I think the default body is a better way of looking at–better as though there’s a hierarchy–but is a unique way of looking at it, because then it can start to bring in all these ideas of ableism. It can bring in things that we maybe don’t even think about when we think about beauty. And I know I’ve, I’ve listened to a lot of people who say that that book is, it’s such an, umm, it’s such a great book to bring about connection when so many people see themselves in that book, more so than, than others that are within that same kind of space. So, so that you know, that’s kind of what I think about when I think of the rest of us. And I, and in terms of my own privileges and marginalizations, I, I, I wrote a, I wrote a list. [laughs] I, I mean, privileges. I, I’m white and cisgendered. I have socioeconomic privilege. And, and in some ways, because especially, because I’m in this space of body liberation, being a small fat is also a privilege. On the other side, on the flip side of that, in terms of marginalization, I am apple shaped. And when we think especially when we look at “body positive standards” when it comes to being in a small fat body, the hourglass shape is vision that is more sort of looked upon as the ideal fat body shape.
R: And that, that translates to clothing like there’s, there’s just it just translates so many other things, like femininity, but there’s so many other stuff there. I’ve also had an eating disorder, like I previously discussed. I’ve been diagnosed with clinical depression and I live with that every single day. So, so it’s not a complete list, it was just kind of the start of my, that’s what I’ve got for you. Oh and my pronouns are she/her.
C: Thank you, thank you so much for sharing that we really appreciate that we love having it in context.
J: I loved the nuances of and thank you for that vulnerability of which type of larger body is accepted. Uhm, we’re talking about, I’d mentioned the word standard earlier, standards become ideals. Some things that are social norms also become ideals as someone becomes more powerful or a representation of someone becomes more powerful. And I was just really thinking about the subtle nuances and intersections of things, uhm that…you were talking about what Sonya Renee Taylor said about, umm, default body, which also makes me think of a previous guest of ours. I’m talking about absolute fat or relative fat.
C: Tiana Dodson.
J: Tiana Dodson, yeah. Sorry, for, for a moment, my brain was gone from that. There is a certain lack of deniability when a particular body walks into a room. Blackness, uhh, shape of body. How clothes fit or don’t fit. Uhh, like there’s even things like height and things like it’s just like do you fit into this room versus does this room fit you? It’s like the overall kind of narrative that I’m…and honing in on here that, uhm, that the room, the system, the structure, the ideal gets to decide who fits and who doesn’t. And, and when really in reality where like things should be fitting us, is it…the purpose of being a person to fit into stuff that other people decided about, right? That’s not it. In fact, I would say that’s leaning away from humanity, actually. So the dehumanizing aspect of this othering, as well, was really sitting with me and what you were saying.
C: Absolutely, yeah. I really appreciated the distinction of, I guess, shape within a size, too. Like Jenn said, we had a discussion with, umm, Chelsea Levy and I think Jenn and I have been talking about it before. Sorry, Jenn J and I have been talking about it before.
C: This is different for me. There’s like a million Jens in my life.
J: All the Jenns! They have started to converge.
C: So many Jenns in my life but I don’t have many double N Jenns, but anyway it doesn’t matter [laughs] But, but we had started talking about it before then, the idea of like is a…and not that I have an answer. This is probably a longer conversation, but like is the fat spectrum necessary? I think that it is. I think that there’s some inherent ickiness to it at least personally, but I think it’s important to. But I guess it’s something I hadn’t thought about like the…I’m trying to say it without being, I guess, dehumanizing. Like where I land a certain person might be in the same space on the spectrum but fit in things differently. Just because of most of my fat tends to sit in my hips and further down, and my tummy. But like that’s how my body is shaped, someone else might be in the same size, but be top heavy, you know. So, so maybe they sit in that airplane easier than I do, you know. I’m just kind of sitting with this so, uhm, I don’t actually know where it was going, but I think it’s an ongoing conversation. How do we have these conversations without othering at the same time? I don’t have an answer. Like I say at least 75 times a day, but I’m just sitting with that right now.
R: Yeah. Yeah, and so I, the first time, kind of, I encountered this discussion about even body type and privilege. But it was in a book. The author’s name is Hanne Blank I think and it’s called Big Big Love. And it, it’s, it’s, it’s about fat sex like that’s really kind of what she’s, the crux of what she’s talking about. But she does have a whole chapter around discussion about what it means to be in an apple shaped body and how even, even how it can be, people…we, I mean as we do make assumptions when they look at bodies and they look at someone in apple shaped body. They don’t automatically think feminization and how it can be, you know, it can change the discussion of the nuances, even in terms of gender, when we’re looking at body shape. And I, for me it was the first time I’d ever really thought about it like that. Like I know Virgie Tovar talks a lot about gender and, and body and body size. But this was the first time I’d ever really heard kind of that nuance around body type and discussion around, and I know there’s other people talking about it. But for me that was my first encounter with it. It is a really nuanced discussion and it does like I mean at the end of it, I, I feel like this question of whether or not the spectrum is useful is a good question to ask. Is it, at the same time, do we really want to avoid looking at marginalizations that are happening because somebody looks a certain way. We don’t want to do that, either, so, yeah, very nuanced discussion.
C: I think it’s a very nuanced discussion. Yeah, I’m also getting really excited. I was already excited to talk to you, but like my book list is already like, oh, here’s one, next, next, that’s next, next.
J: Yeah, I know. [laughs]
R: Sorry, I honestly, I talk in the language of books.
C: yeah, like my list is so long.
J: I’m excited. I love it so much and I, what I heard and what you were saying and what you’re reflecting and and what you’ve heard in these and how it’s stuck with you is that talking about the individual, right? These are the things that are going on with my body. Here’s where I find resistance in the world. Here’s where the world’s supposed to fit me, and it doesn’t in this particular area of my body. Things like that broaden the conversation, which I think is really important, because in trying not to be…you and I talked about this on your podcast, Jenn, that like trying not to be the things that were harmful to us, we sometimes are also avoiding that area. And sometimes that means avoiding talking about things plainly forward, like there are all sorts of different shapes, right? There’s not just, the, this, this fat spectrum is about sizing in stores. It’s actually it’s really like surrounding can you, can you have access to clothes? It’s also, do you have access to sitting? That’s a human right to sit down when you need to sit down. Do you have an ability to safely lay down in your bed? Is a conversation I’ve been having a lot lately and, and it, it’s really important. Safe sleep is really important. Secure sleep, secure sitting, secure eating, right? Not having to be in the Bad Fatty/Good Fatty conversation or people are like, oh, they’re putting an approved thing in their mouth for fat people and like these other sorts of things where the world is like, smack! Coming against us that things can be more gentle when we get more nuanced. I think that’s what I mean by speaking plainly like this is my first journal topic of this episode. That it really feels like, uhh, what are ways in which we are so conditioned to not be embodied when we’re uncomfortable? Would it make such a difference if we were–something fit us, that part of our body, whatever? That looks like, uhm, how big of a deal, it’s small little things, but how big of a deal can they be when they add up? I’m also thinking like spoon theory, like these things wear us down. We end up with no spoons. I, it’s 4:00 PM, but I’ve been done since 1:00 PM and I have 3 hours to go as a thing that happened in a world that is not great augmenting, even thinking about communication, allowing communication to be on the person who’s communicating terms, whatever. Whatever feels safe. Whatever it, whatever feels like they’re able to, we shouldn’t even have to deal with the ideals and norms of communication. This kind of stuff comes up when we start talking about these nuances, it’s like we’re leaving a lot of people out. Yeah, I really want to reflect ’cause I’m like where am I leaving people out that I have not noticed because I have a particular part of my body that’s privileged and other people don’t? I actually haven’t thought about it on that level and it’s feeling, uhh, really important, so thank you.
C: Yeah, yeah, thank you, that’s really appreciated.
R: I, I think, you know, it’s interesting that, that you talked about self-care because I had a conversation with someone who was in my book club and we were discussing self-care particularly for people in larger bodies and how there’s these over generalizations. And that, that I’ve probably made, too. Things like, oh, you know, when it comes to self-care, you’d need to do things that make you feel good, things like going out to your favorite meal at a restaurant, or talking to a friend or having a nap. Meanwhile these things for people in larger bodies can sometimes not be safe, but they’re not self-care. And, and so when we speak in these overgeneralizations about specific things and this comes–body movement, healing your, your relationship with food, healing, you know any of these things, healing your body image. Uh, we–talking these overgeneralizations that we’re not, we’re really focusing on kind of our own experience ’cause it’s all we know. But the discussion can actually be a lot broader and it, it’s interesting. Just to start to think in those ways are, uhh, interesting.
C: Since we started talking about books, let’s talk about books. [laughs] So the three of us love to read, clearly.
C: How do you feel that reading or bibliotherapy can help those moving toward embodiment? What is the book you suggest everyone read about body liberation? I’m asking you because you asked us. I’m wondering how long your list is. [laughs]
J: The tables have turned! [laughs]
R: Boy. Wow, I know I was like that was a really mean question.
R: It was like that is really mean, but, but I do have an answer kind of. Umm, I’ll start with we can help like, I mean, for me this was the only way my journey could go because I live in a space where there is–it’s very difficult to find people here who feel the same way I do about body liberation. When I started reading all this stuff, I was blown away and I had nobody to talk to talk about it to. Like when I would try to talk to people about it, I was stumbling over my words ’cause they hadn’t been, you know, they had, they know nothing about this and I was trying to get people to understand and I was getting myself worked up. And it, it really was very helpful for me, so books were my way in and they were kept me in. And so I think, you know, there’s so many different reasons why it can be helpful. I mean, I think one of the, the first ways is representation. We don’t see ourselves very often, and when we start to read and we connect with some of these memoirs, or when we read and we’re reading a book that’s going through the history of, you know, follow the money as to why diet culture is what diet culture is, is–we can start to see ourselves and start to understand our journeys a little more and that is so valuable because when I was stuck. And this is, this is triggering, I’m going to put a warning on this right now, but when I was really stuck in diet culture, I was a magazine-aholic and I loved reading fitness magazines and I would, every single time I would come across one of these transformational stories and there was someone who was in my height, I would pull it out and I kept a binder. A huge binder of anybody who was my height and lost weight because if they can do it, I can do it. Yeah, so when I read these books and I start to read about people like me, if they can do it, I can do it and it felt so validating to me that I, this anger that I was feeling against the system that I couldn’t name at the time was valid, was real and other people had done that, too. I think that that’s the number one reason why reading books is so important. But I also think, you know, reading books will take you deeper. Because you start there, you start there. You start reading and probably my best kind of example of this was with my journey with Intuitive Eating. I started reading, Intuitive Eating was probably one of, one of the earlier books I read and I went fuck this, like this is, this is a lot. And I started trying to find that hunger scale. It of course turned into a diet.
R: Which was just like, nope, not doing it. So I put the book aside. I kept going, I kept reading, I kept doing exercises, I kept going deeper. And I, I read it a second time. It was on my show, I had Amanda Murphy on. And we talked about Intuitive Eating and all of a sudden I realized hunger wasn’t a problem for me anymore. I was totally connected to my hunger cues. I knew when I was hungry and I was already eating unconditionally. But I also noticed that fullness was an issue, so I was like, oh well, that’s kind of interesting. Again, not going to pick it up and do what I did at the first step. And then the third time I read it, when they put out the newest edition was with my episodes with Shadoe Ball and I was like this is so interesting. I have done nothing with this book. I have not gone in and done any of those exercises and yet I am moving…I’m doing all these things. I’m not. It was completely validating with my own expense. So I feel like reading can get you to places that you, that you might not be able to otherwise. And, and then obviously when you’re reading, doing the exercises is so important and so, so important to begin to attach your mind to your body, because I can’t tell you how many exercises I would read in these books and go, Oh yeah, yeah, I mean, what I would say if I’ve done the exercise. So I’ve done the exercise. When you actually start to write it out and do the growing work, it makes a really big difference to what you think about yourself what you think about your journey. And, and what you’re getting out of all of this, just making yourself, I don’t know, I’m, I’m not going to say happier but less upset about, uh, you know, about body stuff. Body stuff. Oh that was technical. Way to go, Jenn. [laughs]
J: I relate to body stuff, yeah?
R: I sound so, so sophisticated and intelligent. Body stuff.
J: I wish books said more things like body stuff.
C: I’d be like, yeah, body stuff, absolutely.
R: When it comes to which books people should read, the reason why that question is so difficult is because so many people, like I’m the type of person that if you said to me this book is really boring, but it’s got this one little really gold nugget right there in the middle. I’d be like I’m all over it. I’ll read it. No worries, done. But I know most people aren’t like that, so, so you want to find a book that kind of matches what they like to read. Uh, so I’ll just, I’ll just mention kind of three. Uhh, if you’re looking to start work on going into body liberation spaces and activism spaces, Body Respect by Dr Lindo Bacon and Lucy Aphamor is fantastic because it starts to go into the social determinants of health. It really talks about Health at Every Size. And Dr Lindo Bacon says that they would prefer that people read Body Respect as opposed to Health at Every Size. Uh, so that’s you know people starting on kind of that part of things. If you’re looking to heal your relationship with food, I actually don’t recommend Intuitive Eating as a stepping stone. Or is the first one the book that really helped me was called The Fuck It Diet by Caroline Dooner. Uh, I have issues with Caroline Dooner. I listened to her podcast, really wasn’t impressed with the last episode. I was actually kind of pissed off. There was some things that I was like, I’m not sure I quite agree with you on this. But in terms of her book it is structurally sound. A basic premise is giving you that permission to eat, and it’s well sourced. So you know if you are that kind of science nerd that likes those footnotes it’s all there, uhh, informed me. That was the book that helped me to heal my relationship with food at, at the start of my journey. And, and then the last one I’ll mention if you’re looking for body image, very specific work, I mean The Body Is Not An Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor. I’ve got a few others in that category, but Sonya Renee Taylor’s book has generally exercises as practical exercises. Make sure you do them because it’ll make such a difference, but it really, really really does help to start to, you know? Start to recognize your body is the beautiful, wonderful, amazing thing that it is. That book there I don’t think anything can hold a candle to that one. I mean, I could go on. I mean I have a whole list here.
C: I mean I’ve got my pen. [laughs]
J: Please feel free.
R: I mean memoirs right now, memoirs seem to be the thing. There’s, that category itself has expanded so much within, within this body liberation space and there’s so many good ones. I mean Fattily Ever After, Stephanie Yeboah. Don’t Let It Get You Down by Savala Nolan. Unashamed by Leah Vernon.unashamed Alvia Vernon. Hunger by Roxane Gay. Happy Fat by Sofie Hagen. I mean, God, yeah, there’s just, I mean, there’s just so many, right? One kind of honorable mention I’ll give is Dalia Kinsey just put out Decolonizing Wellness. Fantastic read. That book. I have–I am as I told you before, white cisgendered, I have a lot of work to do when it comes to thinking about intersectionality. That book was incredible. Dalia said in the interview that we had that when Dalia wrote the writing was done as though there were no white people in the room. That I, I mean, I just I, I can’t even express how that comes through in the book. And how much I needed to hear what was written in that book, so I’m going to give an honorable mention to that one ’cause it was pretty powerful for me.
J: Ooh, that’s the book I’m taking on the plane tomorrow, so thank you for that.
C: Hmm, yeah?
R: Well, let me know what you think, Jenn ’cause I thought it was brilliant.
J: I’m so excited.
R: It needs, the more people that can be talking about that book, I think the better. There is space to write, there’s exercises in the book.
J: I’ll bring my pen.
C: Ooh, I love that. I bought the ebook version. I might have to actually buy the paperback that would be or the hardcover, that would be great.
R: Okay. Yeah, uh, and the, the one thing I guess, last thing I’ll say here before we kind of jump into the rest of it, is that there’s so much room for improvement in terms of topics on our liberation books. There are things that there is not enough written about. Uhh, fat dating, for instance. We get chapters in, in different books that I can point to. There’s even some resources like podcasting and these types of things in terms of fat dating, but there’s no books right now about fat dating. There’s no books about body movement. There’s books about body movement for fat, uhh, Big Fit Girl by Louise Green, Train Happy by Tally Rye. Umm, Meg Boggs just put one out. But these, they kind of give you permission as somebody in a large body to train and to train hard. Joyful movement, uhh, doesn’t have to go that far, and I think we’re missing that middle ground and I really feel like we need more books in that space. I feel like we need more books in terms of politics. We don’t have enough books that talk about…Sonya Renee Taylor mentions it in her book that, you know, it is really political. But I find that a lot of books that talk about the money aspect really focus on insurance companies and big pharma and, and things that really do need to be focused on, but politically, there’s a lot of things going on there, too, and I don’t think there’s enough discussion around that. And last one I’ll mention is therapy spaces. I’m actually talking to a therapist after this podcast. A Jungian therapist who wrote a book called The Fat Lady Sings and it is really about, uhh, anti-fatness and therapy spaces.
C: Oh my, OK.
R: And I don’t think we have enough discussion around that. So you know, I think there’s, I mean bypass surgery’s another one, I think we need more discussion around that. So I think there’s lots of spaces that I think we need, we need more books on. So there’s tons of books out there and I love to talk about them but there, also, very much some space is lacking and that we need more info people.
C: Right, but this makes me think first of all my TBR list, my to be read list is, I mean like it’s like a mile long and I don’t even know what to read next and I’m actually feeling like itchy trying to decide what to read next.
C: And, and also there’s like how cool would it be for there to be like a fat publishing company.
C: Someone who focuses, someone, some ones who focus on… is that you? I’m speaking these things to life.
R: I would love that.
C: I would die, but it’s just, it’s really, that’s really cool. Like this list is huge and I’m really excited about it.
R: So many books, way too little time. Way too little.
J: Yeah, the beautiful thing about you, Jenn R, this is Jenn J talking.
I’m sure it’s going to be fine when we listen.
C: Your voices are quite different, fortunately.
J: OK, I’m gonna throw that in sometimes, uhm, the nuance in what is present, what isn’t perfect, right? What, what can you get out of this is really important. I can’t remember where I heard this from, but I actually use this analogy all the time with clients that, uhm, if we were aliens coming here to this planet and we were going to go to an amusement park, that’s the first place we stopped and we wanted to know what it was like to ride a roller coaster. What people tell us in that moment sets up the experience. It sets up the whole narrative for how that first time, you only get one first time for that to be a particular way. Like if someone was like hey, it’s the best time I ever had, I got off and I wanted to go back on, it’s like yes, I’m so excited and you get off and you want to go back on or some version in that direction. And then if they’re like, oh, I don’t like, I don’t like rides, it made me so nauseous, I have vertigo, as soon as I get off to rest for 30 minutes like they’re going to come off exhausted or like, you know. And so it’s like when we, when we talk about books, I guess you were, I loved what you were saying, like if there’s one little nugget in there, it’s worth reading. I love doing that as long as they don’t feel tortured getting there. I’ll start a book and be like this is absolute torture, this person has no idea what my experience is like and they’re shitting all over it right now and I’m done with this, right? So they don’t finish and soon as I do find the nugget…I’m going to say trigger warning here, one of the books that kind of camp in this category that’s not in fat space, but it was, this is Marilyn Manson’s autobiography, and what…in reading this book, that’s almost like, oh, the nuggets that you’ll find in this. And I actually found the nuggets that they described some of the most horrific books ever of someone justifying their current behavior, right? And we know some current things about this person that make this problematic, so huge, huge trigger warning here. And, and like that kind of…my body, speaking of embodiment, but my body knows that feeling from when I read that book like 15 years ago or something I think is when I read that book, but I was like, never again. I gotta push myself to this point where I’m like I know everything going on in that person’s head when they wrote this book, and I don’t think I want to have that information in my head. So hearing books where it’s like if you’re looking for this kind of information, we probably don’t recommend you go to their social media, Caroline Dooner, right? But OK, the book has some things for you to begin to have this kind of self-paced journey about this, I think these things are so important. Books are so rarely said in a context, so I brought up that alien example. Because it’s just like, oh, context, that’s like please make your choice but you still get a choice. I appreciate it at the very least to be like I might enjoy this book, might get something out of this and then the nuanced look at what’s needed. I have to be really honest. I have not thought about that and now I want to. Guess it’s the next journal topic for me. I was like oh, I really want to think about that like what’s not there.
C: Well, it makes me think of like fat people have, speaking of nuggets, it’s like we have to take what nuggets we can get. So we haven’t been like, oh, thank God, this even exists. Oh, but now I’m gonna actually take some time to think about what is needed. I really appreciate that. It’s just so easy to be like, well, thank God there’s at least something out there. You know? So yeah, that makes sense, but maybe that’s why you hadn’t thought about it, you know?
J: Hmm. Mm-hmm. I think because I’m–because I read so much and I’m caught up on all this stuff. This is why it, it’s just so glaringly obvious to me that these are the things people really want to talk about and don’t have the ability to talk about because we don’t have enough. And I mean when I say bypass surgery, for instance, there’s a lot of research, you know, like I mean that’s still, you know, relatively young, and so we don’t have a ton of research. So how much could be said? Could we get off a full book? Uhh, I don’t know, but I know people are wanting that information because it comes up so many times. So I am curious though, ’cause I know both you guys are readers. If I turn that question on to you and say what’s the one body acceptance book that would say?
C: I was hoping that wasn’t going to happen.
C: I was like shit.
J: Ah, I may have predicted that was going to happen.
C: You knew this and you didn’t tell me?! Rude. You go first. I have to think real hard real fast. [laughs]
J: A lot of books that I would put into that category because most of the books that are put forward are actually about fat liberation even to this moment are people in smaller fat or actually thin bodies. I think that I would lean towards someone with, uhh, lived experience. A lot like the books that we read on your podcast of, umm, that opens a space for conversation that’s about lived experience. There’s such a leaning on, here are the statistics that make this valid, like I want to know what people are going through. Speaking of a narrative and this kind of alien analogy, I want to know like what shows up for people? But I have never thought of, so the idea of a memoir is really special and also people talking about what’s going on right now is feeling really important to my embodiment journey to my brain. So I actually said this on your podcast, but I would say Da’Shaun Harrison. Belly of the Beast. Because it’s just, I just decided I said on your podcast, I might read it again and I did and I got totally different things out of it the second time and I’m like should I read it again? [laughs] There’s, because it’s about now I can put my brain into the nowness of it and totally different things. It feels like a conversation with this person who wrote this book is how it actually feels. And it’s like shared information. It’s not, there’s, there’s just something very special of a book that has a kind of context that helps me feel like there’s a time and a place. I think that might be my neurodivergence speaking. I have a lot of trouble putting time in place to all sorts of things like where am I in this? And, but when I read that it’s not to put myself in that, it’s to put like, to notice what’s actually around, that I am too privileged to see, too biased to see whatever shows up for me there. That’s like the thing I, I think it really challenges me and it lets me do it in my own time, uhm, without asking additional labor of the person who wrote that book, that actually feels it feels very important to read, to read that book and buying this book and telling people like I think you’re going to find yourself in this book or you’re going to find the world around you and that feels like a really important thing to share with other people. In other words, I’m saying I was right on your podcast, ’cause when I read it again I was like I was, correct, we should, I should have read it again, other people should read it.
C: Love it. Alright, so there’s…now I feel like I have a list of five that are popping up really quickly, but I would say the one that started me on this journey is not the book that I would recommend, this book that started me on this journey was HEalth at Every Size, no Intuitive Eating and I don’t recommend that. Next would be Health at Every Size, don’t recommend that [laughs] I do, but not as the ones that will change you. On, on your podcast, I said The Belly of the Beast and I hadn’t read it yet. I was just like this is, it…you need to read it. And then I read it because I was ashamed that I had talked about it and didn’t even know what I was talking about. [laughs] And I agree that that book is phenomenal, but I think if I had to go back on the podcast now, I’d probably say The Body Is Not An Apology, I believe that book has…I, I know you and I, Jenn R. talked about this on your podcast, that you slow down when things hit you hard. I speed up so I feel like I’m reading at the speed of light and like didn’t breathe the entire time. And then I read it a few more times, but like that for me is always a good sign that, like whew,I’m really into this, ’cause I haven’t, I haven’t peed, I haven’t, I haven’t done anything like I can’t move, I just need to finish this book. And I feel, I felt so seen in that book. I think also that Sonya Renee Taylor’s writing is just gorgeous, like it’s just so evocative, it’s so beautiful. I just listened to a poem that she wrote titled My Mother’s Belly and I still like I bawled. I like, I just love her writing. I truly love her writing. So I think that is a book that I would recommend first. I have one more, one more. [laughs] This is not written by a person who lives in a larger body or much marginalization at all, but Eating In The Light Of The Moon was huge for me. When I was a, you know, a baby fat liberationist. So I loved it because my therapist recommended it and I love storytelling, I love myth, it just has always sat with me in that way, too.
J: Her power for analogy, which is pretty yeah, it’s, umm, so incredible, yeah. Yeah, and there’s even a part of that book that doesn’t really stand the test of time that I reread recently that it struck me in a–
C: I haven’t read it in like a decade, so it didn’t–
J: Yeah, it’s in a totally different way. It’s kind of there’s, there’s some hidden permission for diet culture reentering in a particular analogy. I can’t remember which one it is now. I used to know, I’ll make sure we have it in the show notes. I love analogy. I first discovered, oh my gosh, why can’t I think of her name. Who wrote that book?
C: Anita Johnston, yeah.
J: Anita Johnston, yeah. Uhm, like the first experience I ever had was someone said you have to watch this seminar. Somewhere, it was some recorded seminar of hers, talking about why is analogy so powerful before I read the book. So it’s like, wow, like, look at all these things that are, that are showing up there. Oh I forgot about that one.
C: I’m not like everyone should read it, but I know if I’m thinking of books that have changed me at least 15 years ago, that is one that comes up for me, yeah, for sure. Yeah, there’s so many. Oh, I feel like we could talk about books all day. [laughs]
J: We could!
R: I love talking about books though, like you guys both talked about your experiences about reading. Yeah, like Jenn, talking about how when you read a book you’d like to be able to put it into the current framework, a beautiful way to read and I never really thought about it like that. And Chavonne, when you were talking about reading, you know, reading really fast because you’re so into it, and, and it’s coming at you in waves. Like I mean, this is what reading does, I think, it brings people together and I, it just, it’s just such a wonderful, beautiful space. Yeah, thank you guys for talking about books with me, I just love it, thank you.
J: Of course!
C: Uhh, always. [laughs]
J: Happy to do that again! Anytime, anytime. Like when I read Decolonizing Wellness, I am going to tell you what I think about it, so I appreciate that invitation.
C: Yeah, yeah.
J: That’s actually a word I was thinking about a lot when we were all just talking about these different books is that, that reading is an invitation. It’s something we give permission for our brain to do with us. There’s no, it’s not intrusive, it’s–we don’t have to tell those intruders to leave. It’s very discerning, right? Stopping reading at a particular moment, starting reading at a particular moment, is just a beautiful thing to be connected to, which actually kind of feels like a form of embodiment. And like Chavonne says, I’ll be like, have I been here for five hours? I, I need to pee and eat. Like it’s also like my hyperfocus or probably more like hyperfixation but I, like, I can sit in that moment with that book for a really long time, but it feels amazing. I really recognize, I think, that I’m pretty disembodied while reading a lot of things until I’m suddenly not. That’s the beauty of reading, yeah, but it feels good. It’s great.
C: Uh, yeah. Yeah, I hadn’t thought about it feeling like disembodiment, too. But it’s such a good disembodiment. Like it’s just so good.
J: It’s so, well, you know, reading fiction is like meditation. When they do functional MRI scans of the brain, it’s the same. And reading things that we relate to is the same as having a conversation with someone we trust. So that also shows up in the brain the same way. I think that’s, it’s such a powerful vehicle and sometimes I’m doing audiobooks now because I need to be a little more embodied in my reading, actually [laughs]. Or my distractibility is just pretty like scaled up in this here pandemic, and so I need time, I just need a voice talking to me instead of going into my brain with the book. So like that kind of separation, just a little bit, but still feels so beautiful and so amazing like to just be able to take in information from each other in whatever way works for us is really amazing.
C: Absolutely, yeah. Ooh, that was great. Thank you for giving us that question back. I did not expect that to happen, and I don’t know why I didn’t expect that to happen, but thank you.
J: I love it and, you know, talking about, talking about books, talking about hosting podcasts, you host a podcast, Fat Girl Book Club. How has hosting this podcast by and for fat people enhanced your connection with your embodiment or not, feels like it’s important to add, and what learning and unlearning feels like it was only possible because of this space you have created and share with other people?
R: I, you know what the podcast for me, I, I started the podcast because I lost my voice. I was being bullied where I was working and I had a really terrible relationship that was crumbling around me and I wasn’t living close to family, so I was, I very much felt this diminishing of my voice and I had really gotten into listening to podcasts. Like it was the only thing I could do at work because nobody would talk to me. That was part of the bullying, so I would listen to podcasts. Means people became friends. Uh, which is both wonderful and sad at the same time. And I can remember when I started to feel a little better. I knew I wanted to start a podcast because I wanted to give back to this medium. And I’ve, I’ve always been a reader. I read, I mean, when I get into something like if I, if I’m planning a trip, one of the first things I do is go onto a bookselling app and buy as many books with that city’s name in the title as I can afford, because I just love, I don’t know, connecting with it in a different way, I guess. So that’s how I kind of started my podcast was I wanted to get back to the medium. And this idea came to me that, you know, I wasn’t able to talk to other people about these books when I first started in body liberation. It would be nice to be able to talk to people and I didn’t want to talk to authors. I do have authors on the show and, and you know they, they do come on occasionally. I’ve got a few, even episodes that are being planned with specific authors. But mostly I like to hear the experience of readers and what they’re getting out of these books when they read them because they haven’t done all the research, so what is it that’s sticking with them? What’s, what’s coming out as they read? What is connecting with their current situation that’s, that’s tangible and sticking and, and moving with them forward. And so for me, the one of the main things that I get out of doing this podcast is people’s stories, coming on and talking to me about what they’ve done in terms of diet culture, how they’ve gotten out of it, what they’re getting from the books. And, and just talking about their experiences of living and moving around in a larger body, in, in a body that has, in most cases, most of my guests are fat, uhh, walking around in a marginalized body. So what that means, so those stories are really, really important to me. One of the other things that came up for me when I was reading your guys’ questions was also,, uhh, some of the people I’ve had on my podcasts are voices of authority. So I’ve had a doctor on. I have had a, a physiotherapist, that episode just actually is available for download today. And I’ve had somebody who worked in weight research who was a, a doctor in weight research. And so I’ve had some voices of authority come on and really pushed back against diet culture. And for me, having those voices on gives me permission to go to the doctor and question things, and to critically think about these things. So that’s been really helpful for me as I’ve gone through. And then obviously, I mean I’m, I’m a white cisgendered woman, so being able to come into Fat Girl Book Club and get educated about intersectionality, that’s been really vital to my learning. I’ve got a long way to go, but it’s been really, really important to me to, to bring books on, to bring people on to, to have just kind of a diverse group of people talking about their experiences.
J and C: Hmm.
J: Relatedness and storytelling.
J: That actually reminds me of Sonya Renee Taylor. I feel very much that that’s, I’m, I’m thinking of her spoken word poetry, which was my first introduction to her. That really reminded me of that.
C: I love hearing how this podcast came about. I, I think often, at least for our podcast, it came about because it was something you needed and I love that it has spoken to your needs and your desires and also it’s helped a lot of other people out there to learn more about fat liberation, to hear from people who are doing the work who have something to say that might not always get a platform to say what they say. So, I really appreciate that.
R: That’s what’s really important to me is getting guests on. I, I mean, I find my guests on Instagram. I find my guests on Clubhouse. I find my guest, and I, and I find them because I relate to their work, like I relate to what they’re doing, the, the guests. And I, and I know that this will air quite a bit after this episode is going out, but my most recent guest was Doctor Lisa Folden and she is so…she has these reels that are so funny like, I’m always like, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. I connected with that and that’s why I reached out. Like in that for me, that’s, that’s what it is. It’s like I am connecting to what they’re saying and it’s, you know, other podcasters. Like when I connect to something, I will reach out. Sometimes that means I get rejected and sometimes it means that people come on and tell their stories. I, one of the first episodes I ever did was a girl who had bypass surgery. You know, as–what sometimes happens with bypass surgery, she regained all the weight and we talked about Dietland by Sarai Walker, which is a book about, uh, a character who is about to have bypass surgery. So you know, just talking about these things, she wouldn’t be someone who would have you know, this huge huge platform even on social media. She has, you know, 2000 followers, which is not like not that bad at all, but it’s not, you know, we’re not talking about influencers here. And I love that, I love talking to people. But their stories, I guess, is really what it comes down to, but their stories in relation to a book.
C: Yeah, absolutely.
C: We’re curious, what is your take on Intuitive Eating and or Health At Every Size and the current state of these modalities and conversations. Where do you think they fall short or how can they be expanded?
J: Oh, I’m excited for your answer. No pressure. [laughs]
R: I, you know, they…it’s tough for, I guess, for me to really comment on either of these in a lot of ways, like Intuitive Eating, like I’ve told you about my journey with the book, right? I, I just feel like Intuitive Eating is…this will come to you if you continue on this journey. Intuitive Eating will be a natural outcome of the journey that you’re on. Uh, so, and I’m not an Intuitive Eating counselor and I’ve never looked into any of that, so it’s hard for me to really comment particularly on Intuitive Eating and, and also because like I said, I didn’t really ever really take those principles and try to do anything with them in a lot of ways. I just naturally ended up in a space that is very close to Intuitive Eating. When it comes to Health At Every Size, I love, I, I love and I mean it is one of the greatest things when you’re talking t o other people, and they’re no no no. But to be able to start talking about Health At Every Size like it’s a really good tool in the toolkit. But I do understand that and again when this airs, this will be quite a while past. But I do understand that the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has put out something where they are asking dietitians not to use Health At Every Size or there, there’s a vote going to be happening in Health At Every Size.
C: Fuck that.
J: A small group of volunteer dietitians who are in trigger warning “weight management”, so adjusting the body like we have some sort of power over that.
C: Oh my God.
J: Uhm, got together and created these recommendations, which are in direct conflict with the standards of practice for my field. And, and is not, they didn’t consult, uh, like it’s like they talked like they’re from the 90s, but it’s 2022 and and there’s a lot of pushback. A lot of it’s the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Evidence Analysis Library.
R: Well, you know I mean, this, this is historical, like these types of things do happen. I, I just finished reading Body of Truth by Harriet Brown and she goes into when the American Medical Association decided to back this idea *BEEP*is a disease. They had their own committee who came back and said, you know, there’s no reason why we should. This is not a disease in that it, it makes the body do things that it isn’t supposed to be doing. You know, there’s no correlation versus causation here, like there’s no causation. They talked about how this is just going to hurt more people if we do this. Like the stigma of doing this is going to be, you know. And so the committee came back and like we’re adamant that this is not going to be a good thing. And yet they still did in 2013 decide to, you know, they voted in favor. Uh, you know in, in Harriet Brown’s book she talks about how this, this is, you know, this is a money thing. There’s definitely a money component to that. But I think they also do really, do believe some of them that there is so much quackery out there and there is in terms of diet. So they think they can be helpful and you know we put this idea that the diets don’t work into a black box. We don’t talk about that. That’s common sense that we don’t talk about that and so you know there’s no discussion, right? We’re not even allowed to say hey, wait a second, can we go back to your first premise? This first idea that we can’t somehow manipulate the body. Can we go back to that instead of just saying that that’s just a given, is common sense? And so it feels to me like this is a lot of what’s happening is that you know they’re kind of, they somehow think it, it is a money thing, I think. Please correct me if I’m wrong, Jenn if it does feel like I’m wrong that there is some money stuff going on.
J: Or political or both, for sure.
C: Or they believe health is a moral imperative, umm, all of it.
J: It’s purity culture. I mean I could go on.
R: Yeah, exactly, all of that, and so it does feel like history repeating itself, I guess, and yeah, in a different place, in a different group of moral entrepreneurs, this is also true, you know.
C: Oooh, moral entrepreneurs, OK.
J: Etched in my brain! Yeah.
R: Add that one to your list, if you don’t have it. Killer Fat by Natalie Boero, on the list, just add that one fantastic book.
C: I dropped my pen, I was so excited, I was ready.
R: She talks about this black box of common sense that we don’t, we don’t, umm, that we don’t talk about. And, and this is a, there’s a black box for doctors, too. They don’t critically analyze these things. These are just put in the black box, we don’t, we don’t question it. So I don’t think I really gave you a really great answer there. Uh, because I feel like in, to some degree, I don’t have a, I don’t have skin in the game on either, on either of these. I feel like they are really useful tools for me personally. Help me a lot, but in the grander scheme, I think there’s some other stuff going on that…but if we know the history of, you know, this anti diet movement, we can, we can point to and say well this isn’t new.
C: One thing that you said that I think even speaks to that is like I never really did Intuitive Eating, it just kind of happened. I don’t, I think that shows that you don’t have to follow this. And I’m not trying to cast aspersion on the fact that you are an Intuitive Eating dietitian, Jenn, but that you don’t have to do…I can take it…it’s like step by step by step by step by step, and now I’m an Intuitive Eater, which is also…I could go on and on about what problems I have with the amount of privilege that you have to have to even like to even try to do Intuitive Eating. But I think one thing you just said is I didn’t really do it and it kind of figured itself out like I don’t think you have to be like I do this very specific thing. So I, I think that’s, I think that’s a comment on what Intuitive Eating is, honestly.
R: I think you’re right, but you do have to do some work like I think the important caveat to that is that that work can look different. It can be taking the Intuitive Eating workbook. It can be working with Jenn, it can be, it can also be like me, you know, reading a bunch of other books and doing the exercises in the books on my own. You know it looks so different for so many different people and I love that you said that about privilege because you are so right. Uh, I had umm, Maggie Landes on my podcast. She’s a general practitioner. And I had–one of the girls in my book club had asked about, you know, how do you make some decisions regarding food, if you know you want to be an intuitive eater, but you don’t have the ability to buy a bunch of different foods and to be an Intuitive Eater, you, you kind of want to have that ability to be able to, you know, buy a bunch of different things. And so it’s a really interesting conversation when we begin to talk about privilege in terms of eating and food and even more image and all those different things.
C: Yes, like I said, it was the first book I read. I don’t recommend it, but you know, 24 year old me got a huge amount out of it, so I think it’s a great place to start, I just don’t think it’s in landing spot or a landing space. I think that’s where I come to with it now.
J: Ooh, I love that and you both have said I don’t recommend Intuitive Eating first. And so I’m an Intuitive Eating counselor and I’m gonna say I agree.
C: Okay because I was like, sorry! [laughs]
J: Sorry. The book not being required, I don’t recommend reading the book first. So much of my work as an Intuitive Eating counselor is let’s unlearn some things you think you learned from this book. So it’s a book written by two people who are very privileged. They do recognize this and have tried and started to adjust a little bit and they also refer to Intuitive Eating as a privilege, just like we were saying both of the co-authors do, umm, eating should not be a privilege, so I’ve also heard in the same and I’ve said this before like in the same context. It’s like if we didn’t have diet culture, Intuitive Eating would just be called eating. So if that’s true, we don’t need a manual, we need diet culture to fuck off. If we’re sitting in a space with someone and they come across a phrase such as unconditional permission to eat, purity concept, conditions jump in because we said no, right? It’s like, it’s a, it’s a challenging kind of language dynamic, but it can be very interesting talking points for, umm, like what should we start rejecting? This book is written for “everyone”. It’s in multiple editions and I’m not sure if many people know this, but when you are an author or authors with many editions, you don’t always get to control what the changes are. Sometimes you have to like do what’s asked and you’re only allowed to change so much of it. In this latest edition, I’ve heard Elyse say that they had to take out almost another third of the book that they would have added. They weren’t allowed to add that.
C: Oh, shit.
J: I don’t remember if I remember like the details of the amount, but it was like a lot of book is, is not there. Uhm, so something to think about is that publishing is also a part of the machinery of oppression. I love the idea that that was mentioned earlier, I think Chavonne, you said it like, ooh, a fat publishing company. Like what if there was some control to keep the narrative not harmful for people, speaking of like intersectionality? I have a lot to learn as well, but like what if there’s a place that we can begin to learn what that is, where it’s not just taken away in the next edition or not allowed in the edition after that, like this kind of political financial power dynamics related to books. I wish that those authors would be more honest and straightforward about that, like Lindo Bacon has been about Health At Every Size, like I don’t recommend this anywhere, I’ve grown, this is like let’s just start with a new book. I, I wonder if that these kinds of things we’re talking about played into that, like I can’t revise this and have control and not be stigmatizing and these other things. What if it was suggested, what if we were to do something new, but the beautiful addition of Lucy Aphramor and her poetic way of doing everything? So, so I was just kind of sitting with that.
C: I love that.
J: I think it’s important for an Intuitive Eating counselor to say it’s not perfect and that’s OK. Uhm, coming to this place and the first time I read it, I completely rejected it. It was a long time ago, but I did, gone, uh, let’s say 11 years ago, I think it was, and I think that’s really important because sometimes people come in and they’re like, I feel like I should be doing Intuitive Eating or Health at Every Size and I don’t relate to it in any way. It’s like, OK, let’s start there, I’m not gonna make you relate to it. Like what’s actually showing up for you, right? This is the individual parts of this. And I think that’s important and, and even if that makes the authors we just talked about uncomfortable ’cause it made me have trouble to say that I think that’s important. I think we do need to sit with ways in which something that’s so important for so many people can also be harmful for so many people, leave them out, all of these other things. Like they need to be acknowledged like we’re having a really plain and forward conversation. There’s not a lot of undertone, right. We’re just like or under what’s that called, subtext? [laughs] We’re saying it, I wish there was more of that. But that’s something I’m always challenging people in power with, or that I would want to be challenged with in a situation in which I have power. Uhh, what’s the harm here? What’s missing? I don’t want to just talk about what’s good. I want to talk about what’s challenging, yeah. It just feels important, what’s honest? It’s OK if Intuitive Eating is for you. It’s also OK if it doesn’t feel like it’s for you and it’s OK to be anything in between.
C: Absolutely, yeah.
J: All of it’s OK.
C: yeah. It’s such a rich and expensive way of looking at it. It’s so easy, I think, as humans we categorize all day long. So like it’s bad, it’s good, that’s it, that’s it. There’s no in between, but I think what you’re doing is really sitting with it, finding that and I was going to say undertone, which is not a word, I don’t think, about body stuff. It’s going to be like… what the hell?
J: Yeah. And I think it’s important to think about, yeah, I am not a disciple of Intuitive Eating. Sometimes I feel like it becomes very Bibleesque, purity culture, ask where it’s like eating, is it helping people? Of course are there situations in which it’s so inappropriate, it’s harmful and we know it.
R: Oh yes.
J: And in, in, in sitting in a nuanced space with someone, uhh, even thinking about rejecting diet culture, it’s important. A lot of people say, well, the first one is the first principle for a reason. There is no order, but there’s a first one. There is no order, but gentle nutrition must come last. There is no order, but there’s an order is actually the conversation. Rejecting diet culture sometimes leaves a space so great and we feel so misunderstood that it’s deeply, deeply harmful to the point that people can’t come back without support. We, we have to consider and think about that too. So we’re thinking about trauma, living in a larger body in our current society, structures and systems, traumatic, so we have to think about that. Umm, and you know, take what we need and leave the rest. If it’s one sentence of Intuitive Eating or the whole book, I don’t care, like take whatever actually feels supportive. OK, I’m getting off my soapbox, but I, I was loving it.
C: Love it, no, it’s helpful.
J: I was loving that space, so thank you. I was like, oh, I love this space that’s happening.
C: And I think it’s really cool and really helpful to hear it from someone who is, you know, has done so much work within that framework, within that mode, reality, you know it more than we do, so we appreciate it. I mean, I don’t want to speak for other Jenn.
C: Sorry, Jenn, but I, today, apparently I’m speaking for people which is not OK. That is not appropriate.
R: So, well, I, I, I totally agree, I totally, I mean.
R: The reality is diet culture is a very privileged space. I mean, to really like when I think about how much freaking money, I spent on paying for the diet programs, paying for the gyms, paying for the specific types of food, because you know what they tell you, right?
C: Oh man.
R: Like you know, if you just moved money around, you’ve got to prioritize your health. It’s gotta be a priority, right? So diet culture is a very privileged space. I think Intuitive Eating is a, is a, especially if you’ve been in that space, It is very helpful. It very much can help you to move into, into another space into something different. Uh, and, and I think it’s like totally you know you gotta grab onto those sentences that make sense for you. Like I definitely have found so much within Intuitive Eating when I read it, but I read it looking for intentions. I read it looking for things that I can bring into my own life. That I’m gonna start to have a little more awareness around. I don’t look at it anymore, like this is a structure and rigid and I need to do it. One of the other things you talked about that I just kind of want to circle back to was you were talking about leaving people out. And I think with this a really natural thing that we all do is we speak in generalizations and it goes back to the conversation we were having about self-care in that, you know, when we talk about self-care there are these things that we think we should, you know that, that we all do to, to, you know, same thing with Intuitive Eating. We think that we kind of all do these things, uh, when the reality is, is that could be a very privileged position and we don’t think about it. It’s not, we’re not trying to be mean or evil, or, or put people out. But we definitely do need to start thinking of those things, too. So I’m, I’m actually really glad we had this discussion because when I was thinking about this question from you guys originally. This is not where my mind went and it’s there, and so I love this. It’s beautiful.
C: That’s awesome, thank you.
J: Thank you for the openness in that I could feel it. I could feel that open expansion.
C: Yeah, this has been wonderful.
C: We’ve talked a lot about the big and the small picture perspectives in this conversation. What do you think we can all do to make a difference with what we’ve learned today?
R: Oh, I’ve, I’ve only got two things on this one, I really, really only have. Well, I guess it’s the…but first we need to read. We need to read. And talk about what we’re reading, and if, if reading is not your thing, I kind of get that. There are a multitude of other ways to bring in information nowadays. Podcasts are such a good way to bring in information and so is social media. If you actually read some of the captions, like I know, there are others, some people I follow, social media who I never read their captions. I just like their pictures so you know some people, for some people reading those captions would be really important but then have conversations with people talking about. Journal it out, get it out as to what you actually think. And the second thing I’ll say is to start to bring a critical eye to the world around you. Uh, once we, once you start to learn about all these connections like once you start to read the books around the connections between diet culture, big pharma insurance companies, clothing companies, politics and you start to recognize all that stuff all of a sudden the world looks different and being able to put that lens onto things I know, even now when I try to read a book for enjoyment, “enjoyment”, some fictional books. Uh, there are some books that I am just like shit, this like this is ridiculous, I can’t read it anymore. Like there’s a really big one out right now called Where The Crawdads Sing that people love. I can’t.
C: Yes, yeah. Same. I hated that fucking book. Same needed hate that ******* bug.
R: Yeah, I really hated it, yeah.
C: Like a throw across the room type thing, like, not today, Satan.
[R and C laugh]
R: Like all these systems and you kind of go, why are people not realizing? This is so stereotypical. Blech. Yeah, I can’t read without a critical eye. And I think that’s really important. I guess the last thing about that, though, is that when you start doing that, you’ll start to feel really angry.
J: [laughs] Yes.
R: You know? And, and emotions are good. Emotions and intuition are good when, when we’ve been stuck in diet culture for so long that we rely on gurus and we rely on meal plans and rely on everybody else to tell us what to eat and how to, how to detach. Watch, recognize when you’re feeling angry. Recognize when you’re feeling those feelings. That’s really, really important and very hard to do, especially when you start coming out of diet culture. So those to me were the things that kind of came up when I thought about this question.
C: Nice. One thing that you said, I, I read this, I don’t even…I’m sure it was on Instagram, but there was a post about reading and how important it is, and I think even what you said, if reading’s not for you, try podcasts, but I think it sounds like you’re also giving, not giving permission, but encouraging people to find other ways of reading, graphic novels, other things that might feel better for you, but just reading or audiobooks. I used to be such a snob and be like it’s not reading if you’re not. Whatever, if that’s how you need to read, that’s how you read.
J: Ditto. Past me was very problematic.
C: Yeah. Pinky up. No. And I’m like fuck that. Like this is only when I get through a book half the time nowadays since I have tiny children who are trying to take over my house. [laughs] Yea, but I think that it’s really important to acknowledge there are different ways of getting that information. So yeah, read, reread. But if you can’t, find a different way that also is reading, but looks, that’s different, yeah.
J: Yes, oh I forgot about graphic novels. Honestly, now that my family is exploring neurodivergence, it’s a little obvious this and my sister. [laughs] And I couldn’t get into that at first, we couldn’t get into the reading of it all in the ways that were asked of us. Like we read the classics for the first time with some graphic novels that my mom got for us like Wuthering Heights. I actually have the pictures of that graphic novel in my head every day like it, like it made things real for us in a way. Like we lived in the library at that time, we couldn’t actually afford buying new books either, and so that also meant that there was a chance to explore new things. And libraries have incredible amounts of diversity of learning, reading, reading support, augmentation, anything, uhm, available for people. So shout out to libraries ’cause I was just really thinking like we got to do that because of libraries.
C: Thank God for libraries. Seriously, yeah, absolutely. Yeah.
J: I think that in 2022 people were like proposed the idea of a library and this is not my own idea, I have no idea where I heard this, but they were like no one would agree to a library, because right now they’re like social work, social justice centers in communities. There’s a whole area of librarianship I just recently learned that that’s what you call it that is just social work librarianship, like the your intention is to be no resource for an entire community.
C: Yeah. That’s so cool.
J: Thank you libraries. Shout out to libraries.
C: Thank you.
J: Thank you so much for being here with us as we finish up this episode today. What would you like everyone listening to know about you, what you’re up to, how they can find you. What direction do you see your career, your work, this work taking in the future?
R: Well, I, you know, you caught me at a time of transition. So I’m, umm, transitioning, right now. But yeah, Fat Girl Book Club the podcast, will, it, it’s gonna keep going. I’ve got guests straight through for the next few months, so it’s just gonna–I’m excited about it. And there’s some great things happening. But I am actually transitioning in terms of things that I am working on and I am actually going to be helping people to start their own podcasts.
R: Like with my story. Podcasting is a really important medium for me and I think I see it as being a vital way for people to get their voice out without, you know–at this point in time that we’re in, corporations are not running podcasts yet, so people can get their voices out there and get…it’s a wonderful thing, and it, it’s so helpful in so many different ways. So I am going to be running a boot camp to help people to start their own podcast, so that’s kind of where I’m heading. And I’m sure like we talked about before, there will be a link to a website or whatever it is I’ve got to be able to help people with that.
C: I mean, that’s so exciting. I think it’s, it’ll be so great to have someone who does the work to help other people do the work. So thank you, that’s awesome. Oh, I’m so excited for that.
J: I don’t want to stop.
C: This is, it’s so good. This has been so amazing.
R: It’s, I mean I had both you guys on my podcast separately, to sit here and have this conversation and, and have this beautiful conversation about reading, which is like I mean my heart’s just like, Oh my God, so full, thank you guys, so, so, so, so much.
R: This was so wonderful.
C: Thank you. Thank you, it’s such a joy and honor to have you here, just had a blast. Thank you.
J: I don’t want to stop and yet we will. Love you.
C: Love you. Thank you.
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.