racism

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.

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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 #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 #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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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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