Food Psych #115: Anti-Diet Beauty and Sexuality with Melissa A. Fabello

Melissa Fabello

Melissa Fabello returns! The activist and scholar shares why dieting and restriction reduce our sex drive, how beauty can be reimagined and reclaimed, how the need for affection and intimacy differs from the need for sex, what "skin hunger" is all about, why the Netflix movie To the Bone is so problematic and triggering, how she navigates complex issues in feminism, and a whole lot more! PLUS, Christy answers a listener question about how co-occurring mental-health issues can affect people's hunger and fullness cues.

Melissa A. Fabello is a body acceptance and eating disorder activist, scholar in the field of sexology, and Jurassic Park enthusiast based in Philadelphia, PA. Currently, Melissa works as a Managing Editor of Everyday Feminism, the largest independent feminist media website in the world, and is a doctoral candidate in Widener University’s Human Sexuality Studies program, where her research focuses on how women with anorexia nervosa experience skin hunger. You can contact her through her website and follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @fyeahmfabello.

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We Discuss:

  • Melissa’s career and life trajectory the last two years

  • The intersections of disordered eating/eating disorders, sexuality, and food

  • Melissa’s experience in her doctoral program in human sexuality, and the general taboos we have around discussing sex

  • The five circles of sexuality

  • Skin hunger: the extent to which we crave non-sexual touch (also known as touch nurturance)

  • Sexuality, sex drive, touch, and skin hunger in people with anorexia

  • Loneliness and being in an environment devoid of physical touch

  • Sexual patterns in relation to eating disorder behavior

  • Fatphobia, weight stigma, and internalized weight bias in relation to sexuality

  • How body image impacts sexuality

  • Pleasure and embodied experiences

  • The overlaps between body acceptance and body positivity

  • The sociocultural influences that impact how we see the world

  • The limitations with eating disorder diagnosis criteria in a diet culture world

  • Restriction as a coping mechanism

  • How American beauty standards spread through media

  • Engaging in the pursuit of beauty outside of the patriarchy

  • Breaking down the nuances in choice feminism and autonomy

  • Femme phobia, misogyny, and the negative ways we treat femininity

  • To the Bone, eating disorder media, and the problem with consistently showing one type of eating disorder experience


Resources Mentioned

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Listener Question of the Week

How do we navigate intuitive eating with mental health conditions that interfere with our ability to listen to our internal cues around food, such as OCD? How do we challenge our disordered voices and open ourselves up to the intuitive ones instead? What does nutritional rehabilitation look like?

(Resources Mentioned: Intuitive Eating, 3rd ed., by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch)


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