boundaries

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 #173: How Diet Culture Steals Our True Culture with Melissa Carmona

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Health At Every Size® counselor Melissa Carmona joins us to discuss how her Colombian roots shaped her relationship with food and body, the role of discrimination and food insecurity in triggering her disordered eating, how diet culture took her away from her heritage, how to set boundaries with people who are less receptive to the HAES message, how she’s helping her young daughter preserve her natural intuitive eating skills, and so much more! Plus, Christy answers a listener question about how to handle overeating after a period of food insecurity.

Melissa is a bilingual Clinical Mental Health Counselor in Greensboro and Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Her experience as a counselor includes helping people heal from eating disorders, trauma, depression, and anxiety. She works through a HAES® and Intuitive Eating lens, which has allowed her to view other aspects of our identities through that same lens as well.

Being the daughter of immigrants, growing up in Colombia (South America) and having Latinx roots are an essential part of what shaped who she is—including her personal beliefs, the route of her career, and the relationship with her body and food. It was in Colombia that she had her first exposure to mental illness and the stigma that comes with this as well.

The experience that she’s had in both the USA and Colombia is allowing her to reflect on the influence that culture has on the way we see and treat ourselves, and being able to acknowledge her privileges or lack thereof within these have also been a powerful awakening of how much control our cultures can have over any type of healing that needs to happen in our lives. Find her online at ThreeBirdsCounseling.com.

Tomorrow, November 6 is Election Day! This could the most important midterm elections in our lifetime, so make sure you have a plan on when and how you’re going to get out and vote. Visit Vote.org for general election information, including registering to vote, and VoteSaveAmerica.com to find out about events and rallies in your area.

We Discuss:

  • How her family’s Colombian roots influenced her relationship with food

  • Beauty pageants in Colombian culture, and how this affected her relationship with her body

  • The mixed messages that she received about food and body growing up

  • How the desire to fit in contributed to her eating disorder

  • The role of food insecurity in binge eating

  • The problem with restricting the types of food that can be purchased with food stamps

  • How dietitians and nutritionists cause harm when prescribing weight-loss diets

  • The importance of cultural awareness in healthcare

  • How her eating disorder stole her connection to her cultural background

  • Reconnecting with the pleasures of food in eating disorder recovery

  • The discrimination she faced when she moved to the US

  • The influence of oppressive patriarchal systems on diet culture

  • What led Melissa to her work as a counselor and in social justice

  • Helping clients navigate our current political climate

  • How Melissa’s work in Health At Every Size has influenced her own relationship with food

  • The sneaky, shape-shifting nature of diet culture

  • Seeing her young daughter naturally eat intuitively

  • Imagining what the world would be like without diet culture

  • Sharing the HAES message with her family members, and setting boundaries with those who are less receptive

  • Connecting with personal experience instead of science

  • The negative experiences that her family members have had with bariatric surgery

  • The difficult journey through diet culture to HAES

  • Recognizing a person’s worth beyond their size

  • Why we shouldn’t compliment people on weight loss

  • How we start receiving diet culture messaging at a very young age

  • Sharing the anti-diet messages we wish we had heard when we were younger

 

Resources Mentioned

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

  • Audre Lorde’s work

  • Maria Paredes’s work, and her Food Psych® Podcast episode

  • Gabriela Stein’s work

  • Nalgona Positivity Pride, and founder Gloria Lucas’s Food Psych® Podcast episode

  • Melissa on Facebook and Instagram

  • Tomorrow, November 6 is Election Day! This could the most important midterm elections in our lifetime, so make sure you have a plan on when and how you’re going to get out and vote. Visit Vote.org for general election information, including registering to vote, and VoteSaveAmerica.com to find out about events and rallies in your area.

     

Listener Question of the Week

How do I handle overeating after a period of food insecurity? What can the Minnesota Starvation Experiment teach us about the effects of deprivation? (CW/TW if you decide to look up the study.) How do diet culture and diet mentality affect our eating? What are the subtle ways that we might be experiencing deprivation, and how can we overcome that?

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Food Psych #170: How to Combat Fat Stigma with Cat Pausé

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Fat-studies scholar Cat Pausé joins us to discuss why you can’t fight “obesity” and fat stigma at the same time, the effects of stigma on health, how fat studies differs from conventional paradigms, the implications of using the word “fat,” and so much more! Plus, Christy answers a listener question about why elimination diets shouldn’t be the first line of treatment for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Cat Pausé, Ph.D. is a Senior Lecturer in Human Development at Massey University. She is lead editor of Queering Fat Embodiment (2014, Routledge), and coordinated two international conferences - Fat Studies: Reflective Intersections (2012) and Fat Studies: Identity, Agency, Embodiment (2016). Her research is focused on the effects of fat stigma on health and well-being on fat individuals and how fat activists resist the fatpocalypse. Her work has appeared in journals such as Fat Studies, Feminist Review, and Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics, as well as online in the Huffington Post, The Conversation, and in her blog. Her fat positive radio show, Friend of Marilyn, is travelling the world – make sure your city is on the tour! Find her online at about.me/FriendofMarilyn.

This episode is brought to you by LinkedIn, where a new hire is made every 10 seconds. Go to linkedin.com/foodpsych to get $50 off your first job post.

Save money with Paribus! Paribus monitors online retailers to make sure that you get the best price, and will even help you get compensated if your shipment arrives late. Head to GetParibus.com to sign up.

This episode is also brought to you by TomboyX. Visit tomboyx.com/foodpsych and check out their special bundles and pack pricing. Food Psych listeners will also get an extra 15% off with the code FOODPSYCH!

We Discuss:

  • Cat’s positive relationship with her body as a child, despite a “confused” relationship with food

  • The fat-positive role models that she had in her life

  • How pop culture can spread diet culture messaging

  • What influenced her to become a feminist

  • Learning about asking for more and getting her needs met

  • How diet culture teaches women to socialize over dieting

  • Speaking to our parents and loved ones about our changing relationships with food and bodies

  • Slipping into younger versions of ourselves when we’re around our parents

  • How Cat learned about the field of fat studies

  • The difference between fat studies and conventional paradigms like critical obesity studies or weight studies

  • Why you can’t fight “obesity” and weight stigma at the same time

  • The defining characteristics of fat studies

  • Framing stigma within fat studies versus weight studies/healthcare framework

  • The implications of using the word “fat”

  • Why we need to turn our attention to the experiences of people in superfat bodies

  • Privilege and its role in fat studies work

  • Why Cat no longer uses the “fat isn’t unhealthy” argument

  • Fat stigma as a social determinant of health

  • Our role in the work of fat liberation

  • Cat’s latest project, Fat Studies MOOOs

 

Resources Mentioned

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

  • Submit your questions for a chance to have them answered on the podcast!

  • My online course, Intuitive Eating Fundamentals, which includes monthly listener Q&A podcasts and access to my private Facebook support group

  • The Diet Myth by Paul Campos

  • Michael Gard’s work (TW: o word)

  • Paul Ernsberger’s work

  • Deborah Lupton’s work

  • Angela Meadows’ work (TW: o word)

  • Chris Crandall’s work

  • Cat’s Fat Studies MOOO

  • Cat’s about.me page, blog, Facebook page, Twitter, and Instagram

  • This episode is brought to you by LinkedIn, where a new hire is made every 10 seconds. Go to linkedin.com/foodpsych to get $50 off your first job post.

  • Save money with Paribus! Paribus monitors online retailers to make sure that you get the best price, and will even help you get compensated if your shipment arrives late. Head to GetParibus.com to sign up.

  • This episode is also brought to you by TomboyX. Visit tomboyx.com/foodpsych and check out their special bundles and pack pricing. Food Psych listeners will also get an extra 15% off with the code FOODPSYCH!

     

Listener Question of the Week

Can you incorporate an elimination diet along with intuitive eating concepts in people with IBS? What is the link between disordered eating, mental health concerns, and gastrointestinal (GI) issues? What is the “nocebo” effect, and what is its role in GI concerns? What is the science behind certain diets for IBS? What are some other ways to manage IBS without going on an elimination diet?

(Resources Mentioned: Psychological features are important predictors of functional gastrointestinal disorders in patients with eating disorders, Disordered eating practices in gastrointestinal disorders, Alan Levinovitz’s Food Psych® Podcast episode)

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