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


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

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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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