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Food Psych #180: Body Policing, Social Class, and Diet Culture with Sonalee Rashatwar

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Anti-diet social worker and sex therapist Sonalee Rashatwar joins us to discuss body policing, the non-consensual nature of dieting for many kids, how body size gets treated as a marker of class status and cultural assimilation, how gender identity changes people’s relationships with food, and so much more! Plus, Christy answers a listener question about whether there are any reasons to focus on fullness other than fatphobia, and whether a particular statement in the book Intuitive Eating is fatphobic.

Sonalee Rashatwar (she/they) is a licensed clinical social worker, sex therapist, community organizer, and public speaker based out of New Jersey. They are paid for their labor as a sexual assault counselor with specialties in ethnic identity development, sexual trauma, general sexuality or gender issues, and fat identity or body image issues. She is a sought after speaker on topics related to fat trauma, sexual colonization, reproductive freedom, consent culture, race as a body image issue, and unlearning diet culture. Her fame hit an all time high when she was featured on Breitbart in March 2018 for naming thinness as a white supremacist beauty ideal. In additional to her paid labor, they organize with two South Asian collectives around creating healing spaces for radical youth political education. As a nonbinary bisexual superfat donut queen, Sonalee brings their whole vulnerable self to all of her work and does not attempt to live within artificial boundaries of professionalism. Her spirit breathes for black, brown, and indigenous liberation. Find them online at SonaleeR.com.

We Discuss:

  • Sonalee’s relationship with food and her body growing up in an Indian-Hindu family in New Jersey

  • How patriarchy affects how we view our fathers

  • Dieting as a form of cultural and racial assimilation

  • How different social classes experience and uphold diet culture and other forms of oppression

  • The caste system in Indian communities

  • Healing from sexual trauma

  • Reclaiming agency in sex

  • Body policing based on gender presentation and size, and Sonalee’s experiences of this in her family and relationships

  • What helped her to resist pressure to have weight-loss surgery

  • Capitalism, and how it contributes to oppression

  • What disability justice can teach us about activism

  • How Sonalee’s size affects their ability and access

  • The medical model vs. social model of disability

  • How they are rebuilding their relationship with their parents

  • Setting and enforcing boundaries in our relationships

  • What fatness and being fat means to her

  • Our bodies as heirlooms

 

Resources Mentioned

Some of the links below are affiliate links. Affiliates or not, we only recommend products and services that align with our values.

Listener Question of the Week

If you take away the fatphobia, why does the book Intuitive Eating emphasize that eating past fullness is something that ought to be avoided? How can chronic conditions, particularly ones that affect the digestive system, change how fullness is perceived? Why do some people consistently eat past fullness? What is The Restriction Pendulum?

Resources Mentioned

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Food Psych #174: How to Make Peace with Your Body in Pregnancy & Beyond with Angela Garbes

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Angela Garbes, author of Like a Mother: A Feminist Journey through the Science and Culture of Pregnancy, joins us to discuss how pregnancy changed her relationship with her body, how writing her book helped her develop greater body acceptance, how our society dismisses body diversity and encourages body hatred, the importance of self-compassion, the lack of diversity in science and medicine, and so much more! Plus, Christy answers a listener question about whether eating dessert every day is a sign of “sugar addiction.”

Angela Garbes is a Seattle-based writer specializing in food, bodies, women’s health, and issues of racial equity and diversity. Garbes began writing for The Stranger in 2006, and became a staff writer in 2014. Her piece The More I Learn About Breast Milk, the More Amazed I Am is the publication’s most-read piece in its 24-year history, and the inspiration for her book, Like a Mother: A Feminist Journey through the Science and Culture of Pregnancy. Garbes is an experienced public speaker, frequent radio and podcast guest, and event moderator. She grew up in a food-obsessed, immigrant Filipino household and now lives in Seattle with her husband and two children. Find her online at AngelaGarbes.com.

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We Discuss:

  • How growing up in an immigrant Filipino household affected Angela’s relationship with food

  • How being a person of color influenced her relationship with her body

  • Some of the contradictory messaging around food and bodies in Filipino culture

  • Christy’s relationship with food and her body, and how her careers in journalism and dietetics helped her in her recovery

  • Pregnancy, and how it changed Angela’s relationship with her body

  • Realizing that the problem is not with our bodies, but with societal ideals

  • The judgment that often comes with parenting

  • Having generosity and compassion for ourselves and others

  • Acknowledging the strength it takes to survive and stay alive

  • Angela’s book, Like a Mother: A Feminist Journey through the Science and Culture of Pregnancy

  • Her path to becoming a food writer and author

  • How she almost had a career in public health and nutrition

  • Breastfeeding her daughter, and how it inspired her to write her popular piece, The More I Learn About Breast Milk, the More Amazed I Am

  • How the process of researching and writing her book helped her own body acceptance

  • Wishing that we’d heard more positive messaging around bodies growing up

  • Appreciating body diversity

  • Why Angela included parts of her own story and beliefs in her book

  • The lack of diversity in depictions of pregnancy

  • Our society’s policing of pregnant bodies

  • Intuitive eating in pregnancy

  • The surprising lack of evidence behind many of the recommendations for pregnancy

  • How intuitive eating can help with fertility

  • The non-inclusive history of science and medicine, and how that affects our understanding of bodies today

 

Resources Mentioned

Some of the links below are affiliate links. Affiliates or not, we only recommend products and services that align with our values.

Listener Question of the Week

Is having dessert every day a sign of “sugar addiction?” Am I not getting intuitive eating in some way? Is it possible to be addicted to sugar? How do diet culture and the Wellness Diet reinforce the idea of “sugar addiction?” Is it possible to eat sugar every day and still be healthy? What are some of the benefits of eating sugar? What is the difference between intuitive eating and the diet mentality? What does “unconditional permission” mean

(Resources Mentioned: Food Psych® Podcast episode #80 with Marci Evans, Food Psych® Podcast episode #139 with Lisa DuBreuil, Sugar Addiction: The State of the Science (TW: weight/BMI numbers), etc.)

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