fat activism

Food Psych #184: Why Diet Culture Is a Form of Oppression with Virgie Tovar

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Activist and author Virgie Tovar returns! We discuss her newest book, You Have the Right to Remain Fat; the intersections between fatphobia, sexism, and diet culture; how dieting is a form of oppression and assimilation; the influence of American history on diet culture; body liberation as a collective movement; and so much more! Plus, Christy answers a listener question about how to navigate the dating pool while working to accept your body and maintain your feminist values.

Virgie Tovar is the author of You Have the Right to Remain Fat and is one of the nation's leading experts and lecturers on fat discrimination and body image. She is the founder of Babecamp, a 4-week online course designed to help women who want to break up with diet culture. She started the hashtag campaign #LoseHateNotWeight and in 2018 gave a TedX talk on the origins of the campaign. She pens a weekly column called Take the Cake on Ravishly.com and is a contributor for Forbes.com. Tovar has been featured by Tech Insider, The New York Times, NPR, Al Jazeera and Self. Find her online at VirgieTovar.com.

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This episode is also brought to you by Blinkist, where thousands of non-fiction books are condensed into key takeaway information that you can read or listen to in just 15 minutes. Start your FREE 7-day trial by going to blinkist.com/foodpsych.

We Discuss:

  • What Virgie has been up to since her last appearance on the podcast, including her new book, You Have the Right to Remain Fat and other writing projects

  • Diet culture as a barrier to feminism

  • How weight-neutral messaging is being co-opted to market weight loss

  • How fatphobia, sexism, and other forms of discrimination have not gone away, but have only become subtler and sneakier

  • Internalized inferiority, and what it looks like in our culture

  • The effort required to pinpoint subtle forms of marginalization

  • One strategy to help bring a different perspective to diet culture

  • The link between diet culture and fatphobia

  • The dietary reform movement of the 1800s as a precursor to present-day diet culture

  • Dieting as a form of oppression and assimilation

  • The National Fitness Test and its nationalist roots

  • Common narratives in American culture and history, and why they are problematic

  • Gaslighting, and how it shows up in the body-positive movement

  • Why body liberation is a social justice movement rather than an individual pursuit

  • What was lost when fat liberation morphed into body positivity

  • How seeking personal relief often brings people to anti-diet work

  • The link between internalized inferiority and unexamined privilege

  • Gentrifying vs. pupil energy

  • Why collective liberation is important

  • How separating ourselves from our thoughts can help with liberation

  • Virgie’s latest project, Camp Thunder Thighs

  • Her five principles/practices for meaningful change in our relationship with our bodies

 

Resources Mentioned

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

  • Virgie’s previous Food Psych® episodes #45 and #100

  • You Have the Right to Remain Fat

  • Sander Gilman’s work

  • James Baldwin’s work

  • Camp Thunder Thighs

  • Virgie’s website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

  • This episode is 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.

  • This episode is also brought to you by Blinkist, where thousands of non-fiction books are condensed into key takeaway information that you can read or listen to in just 15 minutes. Start your FREE 7-day trial by going to blinkist.com/foodpsych.

     

Listener Question of the Week

What are some tips for navigating the dating scene as a person in a larger body? How can a person stop feeling hurt by being rejected for their size? How does one reconcile their feminist critiques of dating culture with feelings of loneliness? How does dating culture reinforce patriarchal ideals? Why is it important to work on self-acceptance in the context of dating? What are some qualities to look for in a potential partner?

(Resources Mentioned:

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Food Psych #178: The Truth About High-Weight Anorexia with Erin Harrop

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Weight-stigma researcher Erin Harrop joins us to discuss how anorexia is treated (or not) in people of different sizes, how diet culture and weight stigma influence treatment and recovery for disordered eating, the problem with the “atypical” anorexia label, how improving eating-disorder treatment in people with larger bodies can benefit everyone, and so much more! Plus, Christy answers a listener question about what to do if you develop binge eating in recovery from restrictive eating behaviors.

Erin Harrop received her B.S. and MSW from the University of Washington, where she is currently a fourth-year doctoral student in social welfare. Her research interests concern eating disorders, substance abuse, and weight stigma. She sees weight-based discrimination as a critical, and often ignored, social justice issue, and her research agenda seeks to address this limitation by focusing on the systemic factors of weight stigma which impact the illness journeys of eating disorder patients. She employs an interpretive, critical feminist theory and anti-oppression lens to her work, as well as an explicit Health at Every Size® approach to the promotion of health behaviors. Her research is informed by her clinical experience as a medical social worker at Seattle Children’s Hospital, where she has worked for the past five years. Erin recently was funded for two NIH TL1 Translational Research Training grants for her dissertation research with women who have atypical anorexia. Erin is also active in the student group, SWAG (Sizeism, Weightism Advocacy Group), which she co-founded in 2012. Find her online at facebook.com/erin.harrop.3

From now until New Year’s, we’re offering gift subscriptions to the Intuitive Eating Fundamentals course. It’s the perfect gift for someone looking for anti-diet inspiration, or put it on your wishlist so that others know to get it for you. For more information, visit christyharrison.com/gift.

This episode is brought to you by Poshmark, the fun and simple way to buy and sell fashion (including many plus-sized options!) Get $5 off your first purchase when you sign up with the invite code FOODPSYCH.

We Discuss:

  • “Intuitive cooking,” and how it helped to bring experimentation and joy to Erin’s relationship with food

  • Gendered messages around food

  • Diet culture, and how it steals our pleasure from food

  • Learning to trust our body’s desires for different foods

  • How diet culture and The Wellness Diet can twist our expectations of intuitive eating

  • The Restriction Pendulum

  • The role of Health At Every Size®, fat activism, and intuitive eating in Erin’s eating-disorder-recovery journey

  • Pushing beyond the “Recovery Diet”

  • How diet mentality and weight stigma amongst eating-disorder clinicians and treatment centers can hinder people’s recovery

  • Erin’s personal experiences in treatment as someone with anorexia in a lower-weight and higher-weight body

  • Why improving eating-disorder treatment for people in higher-weight bodies would improve treatment for everyone

  • Erin’s research on how anorexia is treated (or not) in people of different sizes

  • The reliance on weight in anorexia diagnoses, and how that is causing harm

  • How restriction, not weight loss or low weight, leads to the medical complications associated with anorexia

  • The delays and gaps in eating-disorder care

  • How our own biases can affect eating-disorder treatment and recovery

  • Why we shouldn’t make assumptions when people say that they’ve “restricted” or “binged”

  • How diet culture blurs the line between normal eating and disordered eating

  • Why we need to validate people’s problematic experiences with food

 

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. From now until New Year’s, we’re offering gift subscriptions! It’s the perfect gift for someone looking for anti-diet inspiration, or put it on your wishlist so that others know to get it for you. For more information, visit christyharrison.com/gift.

  • Erin’s Facebook page and email

  • This episode is brought to you by Poshmark, the fun and simple way to buy and sell fashion (including many plus-sized options!) Get $5 off your first purchase when you sign up with the invite code FOODPSYCH.

     

Listener Question of the Week

What can a person do if they’re still binge eating after they stop restricting their food? How can they accept their body while believing that they’ll gain weight eating so many calories? What are some less-obvious signs of disordered eating or thinking that can still lead to a feeling of deprivation? What’s the difference between physical and mental restriction? What’s the difference between diet culture and diet mentality? How are diet mentality and binge eating linked? Where can a person get support to overcome diet mentality and pursue eating-disorder recovery? How can a person tell whether they’re binge eating as a result of restriction or as a coping mechanism for difficult emotions? What are some ways that eating-disorder treatment can hinder recovery?

(Resources Mentioned: Anti-Diet, Health At Every Size, and Intuitive Eating Providers for Disordered-Eating Recovery, Food Psych® podcast episode 151 with Judith Matz)

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Food Psych #165: Joyful Movement and Body Liberation with Bevin Branlandingham

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Season 6 premiere! Body-liberation activist and Fat Kid Dance Party founder Bevin Branlandingham joins us to discuss her journey from a difficult childhood to finding body liberation, the role of joyful movement in self-acceptance, what inspired her to leave a career in the legal field to become a dance aerobics instructor, her ongoing practices of self-love and self-compassion, and so much more! Plus, Christy answers a listener question about how to know whether you’re meant for a career helping people with recovery.

A childhood of bullying because of her weight kept Bevin off the dance floor. When she found body liberation activism, the idea that all bodies are worthy of love no matter what, it changed her life. She ha been reclaiming dance floors ever since! Teaching, performing and writing about body liberation for over fifteen years, Bevin identifies as a thought leader in the body positive, body liberation, and fat acceptance movements. She is an AFAA certified group exercise instructor and developed Fat Kid Dance Party (For ALL Sizes to Heal from Body Oppression) to help other folks learn to love their bodies, embrace their awkwardness, and open up to self care! Find her online at queerfatfemme.com.

This episode is brought to you by Mother Dirt. Plant the seeds of your well-being and nurture your nature with gentle skincare products at motherdirt.com. Use the code FOODPSYCH to get 20% off and free shipping!

If you’re not using LinkedIn for your hiring needs, you’re missing out! Go to LinkedIn.com/FOODPSYCH to get a $50 credit towards your first job post. Terms and conditions apply.

Ready to learn how to cook, make movies, and more from the masters? MasterClass has launched the All-Access Pass – a thoughtful gift for the home cooks or lifelong learners in your life. Food Psych listeners can get the All Access Pass at MasterClass.com/FOODPSYCH.

 

We Discuss:

  • How growing up with a single parent led Bevin to be independent from a young age

  • The factors that can contribute to a larger body size

  • The problem with the “obesity epidemic” narrative

  • The toxic effect of weight stigma on children, including Bevin’s own struggles with fatphobia and other trauma

  • How she was embedded in diet culture from a young age

  • How “failing” at dieting led her to body liberation and fat acceptance

  • The role of dance aerobics, romantic relationships, and community in body acceptance

  • Why commenting on a person’s weight loss is a “non-pliment”

  • How losing weight while eating intuitively can be confusing and triggering

  • Body currency, and how our society buys into ageism and ablism

  • Learning about the body liberation and fat activism movements through being a drag king

  • Why Bevin uses the term “body liberation”

  • How thin people can participate in the body liberation movement

  • Giving people an opportunity as opposed to telling them to “stop” doing something, as a call-in versus a call-out

  • Separating ourselves from our thoughts and examining whether they are helpful or unhelpful

  • How self love is an ongoing practice, not a destination

  • How learning about body acceptance and self-compassion helped Bevin manage her irritable bowel syndrome

  • Why the “honeymoon phase” is sometimes necessary in healing our relationship with food

  • Relearning the practices of self-care and self-compassion

  • Different forms of gentle and joyful movement, and their role in Bevin’s body liberation and self-acceptance

  • What inspired her to leave a career in law to become a dance aerobics instructor

  • How Los Angeles is home to an upstart fat activism community, next to thin-obsessed Hollywood

  • What motivates us in our work to liberate others from diet culture

  • Bevin’s current project, Fat Kid Dance Party, and other examples of joyful movement

 

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

  • Femmecast, Bevin’s former podcast

  • Fat!So? By Marilyn Wann

  • Marilyn Wann’s work

  • Originals by Adam Grant

  • Fat Kid Dance Party and Facebook page

  • Bevin (Queer Fat Femme) on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

  • This episode is brought to you by Mother Dirt. Plant the seeds of your well-being and nurture your nature with gentle skincare products at motherdirt.com. Use the code FOODPSYCH to get 20% off and free shipping.

  • If you’re not using LinkedIn for your hiring needs, you’re missing out! Go to LinkedIn.com/FOODPSYCH to get a $50 credit towards your first job post. Terms and conditions apply.

  • Ready to learn how to cook, make movies, and more from the masters? MasterClass has launched the All-Access Pass – a thoughtful gift for the home cooks or lifelong learners in your life. Food Psych listeners can get the All Access Pass at MasterClass.com/FOODPSYCH.

     

Listener Question of the Week

How do we know whether a career in helping others in recovery is right for us, especially when we’ve struggled with disordered eating ourselves? What are the signs that we are fully recovered, as opposed to actively recovering? Can we help others when we are still recovering? What is the role of privilege in eating disorder recovery? What are some ways that you can see what a career in eating disorder recovery is like without going back to school? What are some of the concerns with training to become a dietitian?

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