The Life Thief

Food Psych #193: Feminism, Marketing, and Breaking Free from Diet Culture with Kelly Diels

Kelly Diels_.jpg

Writer and feminist marketing consultant Kelly Diels joins us to discuss the links between diet culture, patriarchy, and anti-feminist marketing practices (aka The Female Lifestyle Empowerment Brand); the role of abundance in healing from diet culture; how to reclaim your life from The Life Thief; understanding and healing our relationship with money; and so much more! Plus, Christy answers a listener question about what to do if you’re one of those weight-loss “success stories” who’s actually just in the throes of disordered eating.

Kelly Diels (she/her) is a writer and feminist marketing consultant. She writes about a phenomenon that she calls "The Female Lifestyle Empowerment Brand," which she does not think is a good thing for women or our world. Kelly believes, instead, that we are culture makers and can create the culture we want to live in, right now. Kelly is also the Director of Marketing and Communications for SheEO (all opinions are her own). Find her writing and online workshops at KellyDiels.com.

This episode is brought to you by Poshmark, the fun and simple way to buy and sell fashion, including lots of plus-sized options. Download the free app and enter invite code FOODPSYCH for $5 off your first purchase.

We Discuss:

  • Kelly’s fraught relationship with food growing up

  • The societal messages about femininity that contributed to her eating disorder as a teenager

  • Kelly and Christy’s experiences as outspoken children growing up

  • The links between diet culture and patriarchy

  • Why adolescence is a high-risk time for eating disorders, especially for femme-identifying teens

  • How breaking free from diet culture has changed Kelly’s parenting

  • Why adolescence is a good time to introduce systemic analysis

  • The role of the Health At Every Size® and fat acceptance movements in Kelly’s recovery from anorexia and bulimia

  • Taking your life back from The Life Thief that is diet culture

  • How experiencing fatphobia can give people a heightened ability to recognize systemic oppression

  • Signs of a cultural shift toward increased fat acceptance

  • Community, including virtual communities, and their importance in recovering from diet culture

  • The “contagious” nature of cultural change

  • How Kelly was introduced to feminism, and how it helped her recover from the trauma of sexual abuse

  • The many anti-feminist practices in marketing today, and how it led her to her current work as a feminist marketing consultant

  • The meaning behind her motto, “We are the culture makers”

  • Why our friends and family can influence us more than big brands

  • The Female Lifestyle Empowerment Brand (FLEB) and how to divest from it

  • The men’s-rights activist lineage behind many FLEB marketing techniques

  • Why money and resources are important in divesting from FLEB

  • The parallels between the traumas of diet culture and poverty

  • Abundance, and its role in healing from diet culture

  • Creativity and ingenuity as survival tools

  • The creativity inherent in many of the coping mechanisms that are demonized by our society, such as binge eating and addiction

  • Media and resources as a form of community

  • Kelly’s work with SheEO

  • The difference between how women and men spend their income

  • Understanding and healing our relationship with money

  • The importance of having money and resources for survival, especially for marginalized people

 

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

Where does the “95-98% of diets fail” statistic come from? Is it true that of the small percentage of people who are able to maintain long-term weight loss, most are struggling with some form of disordered eating? What is the true meaning of “body positivity?” How can a person be happier in a larger body when they know that they are engaging in unhealthy habits that are contributing to weight gain? What does Health At Every Size actually entail? How is HAES a holistic approach? Why are higher body weights generally considered unhealthy? What are some factors that could lead to people in larger bodies having more negative health outcomes? Why is it important to recover from disordered eating? How can weight stigma and other forms of discrimination contribute to poor health? Are there any health conditions that can only be managed with weight loss?

(Resources Mentioned (TW for all research papers mentioned for specific weight numbers, o-words, fatphobic language, and/or description of disordered eating behaviors):

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Food Psych #191: Stopping a Lifetime of Dieting with Savala Trepczynski

Savala Trepczynski.jpg

Writer and social-justice lawyer Savala Trepczynski joins us to discuss how she stopped a lifetime of dieting and started decolonizing her relationship with food, why pathologizing emotional eating is problematic, how fatphobia shows up even in social-justice-oriented communities, why there’s so little legal protection for discrimination based on body size, and so much more! Plus, Christy answers a listener question about food planning for long hiking trips and how calorie counting can contribute to bingeing.

Savala Trepczynski is a writer, teacher, and social justice attorney. She is the Executive Director of the Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice at UC Berkeley School of Law, convening scholars, activists, lawyers, and community members at the best public law school in the country to tackle social justice problems.

Savala and her writing about race, gender, bodies and culture have been featured in/on NPR, Forbes, Bust, The Nation, Detroit Free Press, San Francisco Chronicle, and more. She is a regular keynote speaker and panelist on social justice issues, including body-based bias, implicit bias, structural racism, and understanding Whiteness.

She has practiced law in San Francisco and Detroit, MI, and was a law clerk in the Obama Administration’s Office of White House Counsel, where she focused on constitutional law. Before becoming a lawyer, Trepczynski worked at the Studio Museum in Harlem and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, Italy.

She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her partner and child. Find her online at SavalaT.com.

We Discuss:

  • How Savala started dieting at a very young age

  • Generational fatphobia

  • How bodies can be viewed differently by different cultures

  • Savala’s journey to “diet rock bottom,” and how she started to “decolonize” her relationship with food

  • How it’s common to circle around intuitive eating before being fully ready

  • How intuitive eating is often twisted in the service of diet culture

  • Why viewing fatness as a problem is so harmful

  • Eating as a coping mechanism, and how it is pathologized by diet culture

  • The history of the problematization of emotional eating

  • The connections between racism and fatphobia

  • Social media, and its pros and cons

  • How body liberation has helped Savala be a better parent

  • Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility model

  • Creating a diet-free zone for children

  • Diet culture as The Life Thief

  • The power of community in breaking down oppressive systems

  • Fatphobia in woke spaces

  • How different forms of oppression are all connected

  • Savala’s experiences with oppression in her work as a lawyer

  • Why there is little legal protection for discrimination based on body size

  • The compounding nature of marginalized identities

 

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 it possible to food plan for long trips in a way that binge eating can be avoided? Why might a person still binge despite ensuring that they’re having a certain amount of calories worth of food? How does diet culture reinforce deprivation and bingeing? What are some ways that a person can prevent bingeing during/after a long hiking trip? What are some next steps for someone who still keeps binge-eating after allowing themselves more food? How might diet culture and disordered eating influence a person’s career choice?

(Resources Mentioned:

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