fatness

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

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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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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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