culture

Food Psych #196: Diet Culture’s Racist Roots with Sabrina Strings

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Sociologist and author Sabrina Strings joins us to discuss her new book, Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia; the history of how “race science” led to the development of diet culture; the many problems with using weight as a measure of health; how culture influences science; and so much more! Plus, Christy answers a listener question about how to tell the difference between diet-culture rules and intuitive observations about foods that help us feel our best.

Sabrina Strings is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Irvine, and a former Berkeley Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Sociology and the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley. Her work has appeared in the Journal of Women in Culture and Society, The Feminist Wire, and Feminist Media Studies. Find her online at uci.academia.edu/SabrinaStrings.

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:

  • How Sabrina’s grandmother influenced her relationship with food growing up, as well as her current sociology work

  • What is considered a “desirable” black body

  • Her decision to become vegetarian, and now pescatarian

  • The role of cooking in her and Christy’s relationships with food

  • Sabrina’s grandmother’s reaction to diet culture

  • The life-and-death situation that inspired Sabrina’s graduate studies

  • The problems with conflating weight and health

  • Her experience with fatphobia in the medical system, despite being within the “normal” BMI range

  • How weight stigma in healthcare worsens health

  • Her book, Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia

  • Why BMI continues to be used as a measure of health, despite evidence proving otherwise

  • Weight research, and its ties to the weight-loss industry

  • The racist roots of diet culture

  • The history of “race science”

  • The links between “race science”, politics, and capitalist interests

  • Why science is not completely objective

  • How culture influences science

  • Spreading the Health At Every Size® message to the mainstream medical community and education

  • The need for cultural competency in healthcare

  • The increasing acceptance of HAES® and anti-diet work

  • The role of religion in the establishment of diet culture

  • The coded ways we talk about race

  • How the racist origins of fatphobia affect white women, too

  • Intersectionality, and how racism reinforces other oppressive hierarchies

  • Why all body ideals are unattainable

  • How beauty is both empowering and oppressive

 

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

How can someone tell the difference between a diet-culture food rule, and what makes their body feel their best? How can someone figure out how much to eat without restricting, and also without eating too much so that they don’t feel well? What are some of the ways that diet culture can co-opt intuitive eating? Can our physical symptoms always be traced back to what and how much we eat? What are some other potential reasons why a “large” nighttime snack might leave someone feeling tired the next day? Where might diet mentality be showing up in self-judgments of eating “large” amounts of food? What are some coded words that diet culture uses to mean “fat” and reinforce fatphobia? How can internalized fatphobia and diet-culture beliefs contribute to struggles with intuitive eating? What are some of the subtle differences between unconditional and conditional permission to eat? Why is it normal to eat to the point of discomfort in the early stages of intuitive eating?

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

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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 #188: How to Improve Treatment for Disordered Eating with Marcella Raimondo

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Eating-disorders psychologist Marcella Raimondo joins us to discuss how to improve disordered-eating treatment for people who don’t fit diet culture’s idea of what an ED “looks like,” how eating disorders can affect our career choices, why more representation of marginalized identities benefits everyone, how fatphobia was born out of racist beliefs about body size, and so much more! Plus, Christy answers a listener question about how to handle the fact that there are hateful corners of the internet devoted to tearing down the fat-acceptance movement.

Marcella Raimondo, PhD, MPH is a passionate and spirited clinical trainer speaking from her heart on multicultural issues in eating disorders since 1995. Marcella is a licensed psychologist for Kaiser Permanente’s adult eating disorder clinic in Oakland and part of a regional leadership team. She runs her own practice in Oakland. She is also on the Board for Eating Disorders Recovery and Support (EDRS) as President, advisory board for Association of Size Diversity and Health (ASDAH,) Advisory Board for Nalgona Positivity Pride (NPP) and Board of Founders for About-Face. Marcella herself recovered from anorexia nervosa over 15 years ago. Her recovery and her martial arts training inspires her dedication to multicultural body nurturance and community celebration. Find her online at MarcellaEDTraining.com.

This episode is also brought to you by NurX, the game-changing company that’s here to make getting birth control easier. Visit nurx.com/foodpsych for a $20 credit, and you can get birth control delivered securely and confidentially to your door in less than a week.

We Discuss:

  • The mixed messages that Marcella received in adolescence about food as a way to connect to her heritage, while being aware of the changes in her body

  • Anti-fatness as a response to racism and trying to assimilate

  • The thoughts and emotions that pushed her to start dieting, and eventually fueled her eating disorder

  • What motivated her to pursue recovery

  • How eating disorders can affect our career choices

  • Her eating-disorder recovery experience

  • The effect of learning about the experiences of other women of color on her recovery

  • Privilege, and how it affects a person’s ability to access treatment

  • Why acknowledging eating disorders and disordered eating in marginalized identities helps everyone

  • Grassroots efforts to make eating-disorder treatment more accessible to everyone

  • Finding the balance as a small-business owner between making a living and offering accessible eating-disorder treatment

  • Fatphobia as a barrier to treatment and recovery

  • The many ways in which our current healthcare system is broken and harms marginalized folks

  • How martial arts and yoga can play a role in various parts of recovery

  • The importance of self-compassion and forgiveness

  • What drew Marcella into martial arts training, and how it affected her recovery and work 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

What advice is there for dealing with anti-fat discourse on the internet? What motivates people to be hateful toward larger-bodied people? Why do some people get defensive toward the idea of fat acceptance? What are some strategies to handle the fact that there are hateful corners of the internet devoted to tearing down fat acceptance and other forms of social justice? How does the structure of the internet itself uphold hateful rhetoric? What are some trusted resources for fat-positive information?

(Resources Mentioned:

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