sociology

Food Psych #200: How Diet Culture Harms the Gay Community with Jeff Iovannone

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Activist and scholar Jeff Iovannone joins us to discuss diet culture and harmful body standards in the gay community, how oppression and the AIDS crisis shaped the “normate gay” aesthetic, why every body is a Pride body, how to create a gay men’s body-liberation movement, and so much more! Plus, Christy answers a listener question about fatphobia in eating-disorder treatment programs.

Jeff Iovannone is an activist-scholar, writer, and researcher from Buffalo, New York who specializes in gender and LGBTQ studies. He is the creator of the blog Queer History for the People, writes a bi-weekly column--entitled Talk Queerly--on LGBTQ culture and politics for the web magazine Th-Ink Queerly, and is a founding member of Body Liberated Buffalo, a volunteer-run activist and advocacy organization that works for body liberation in Western New York. Find him online at medium.com/@jeffry.iovannone.

We Discuss:

  • Jeff’s relationship with food growing up, including being stigmatized for his weight at a young age

  • The mixed messages he received about food growing up in an Italian-American family where food was love but fatphobia was rampant

  • Why coming out as gay and finding gay community didn’t lead to the acceptance he was hoping for

  • How the gay community has its own hierarchy of bodies

  • Body standards and ideals as they relate to gay culture, and the concept of “gay-fat”  

  • How diet culture influences the oppression of the gay community

  • How the historical oppression of gay people helped shape gay culture’s body ideals

  • How the AIDS epidemic further influenced the aesthetic in the gay community

  • The development of what Jeff calls the “normate gay”

  • The morality of being gay as it relates to the morality of control, appetite, and food

  • How femininity and masculinity affect the way we experience diet culture

  • How diet culture prevents the gay community from working together towards liberation

  • Why desire is a social and political issue  

  • The manifestation of toxic masculinity in gay culture, and how it’s related to diet culture

  • Why Jeff started moving away from diet culture and The Wellness Diet

  • How capitalism and marketing techniques target the gay community via diet culture

  • How to change Pride month so it doesn’t center corporate Pride celebrations

  • Why every body is a Pride body

 

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

People make eating disorder recovery sound so easy, so why can’t I recover after three years of consistent treatment? Is my fatphobic treatment team slowing down my recovery? Why do eating disorder providers treat people in larger bodies differently than those in smaller bodies? Is fatphobic eating disorder treatment common? Are there any Health at Every Size treatment options for people that need a higher level of care?

Resources Mentioned:

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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 #167: Food, Sex, and Body Liberation with Kimberly Dark

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Sociology professor, writer, and performer Kimberly Dark joins us to discuss the connections between our relationship with food and our relationship with sex, the harms of “medically supervised” diets, how to view diet culture through a critical lens, how food can help connect us with our inner wisdom, and so much more! Plus, Christy answers a listener question about how to stop calorie counting and worrying about weight gain when transitioning to intuitive eating.

Kimberly Dark is a writer, professor and raconteur, working to reveal the hidden architecture of everyday life one clever essay, poem, and story at a time. She uses humor, surprise and intimacy to help audiences discover their influences, and reclaim their power as social creators. Kimberly teaches in Sociology at CSU, San Marcos along with writing and theatre courses for Cal State Summer Arts. She also facilitates experiential retreats in Hawaii for Conscious Practitioners - examining how our own embodiment and social relationships influence how we work with others in helping professions and Yoga is for Every Body retreats for all.

Kimberly Dark has written award-winning plays, taught and performed for a wide range of audiences in various countries over the past two decades. She is the author of Love and Errors, a book of poetry and Co-Editor of the anthology Ways of Being in Teaching. Her novel, The Daddies is forthcoming in 2018. Her essays appear in popular online publications, such as Everyday Feminism, and Ravishly. Kimberly's storytelling performances and interactive lectures make big, complex ideas relatable at campuses, conferences, companies, and anywhere people seek startling revelations and positive change. Learn more at KimberlyDark.com

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We Discuss:

  • Kimberly’s relationship with food as a child in a larger body

  • How fatphobia is normalized in our society

  • Receiving praise for weight loss while struggling with an eating disorder

  • The harms of “medically supervised” diets

  • What started her recovery from disordered eating

  • Bingeing as our body’s way of responding to restriction

  • How Kimberly used her trauma history to help with her recovery

  • The connections between food and sex

  • Engaging critically with diet culture

  • Kimberly’s unique career as a sociology professor and performer

  • Autoethnography, the practice of writing about the self in order to understand the culture

  • The institution of academia, and how it silences certain types of knowledge

  • Our bodies as a site of knowledge

  • Conventional research, and how it imposes intellectual knowledge instead of considering lived experiences

  • The role of patriarchy in diet culture

  • Food as a vehicle to attune to the body’s inner wisdom

  • The performative element of wellness culture, and how it relates to sexuality

  • Social media and selfie culture

  • The emotional labor of creating content

  • The body as part of the visual narrative

 

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 do we unlearn the food rules and calorie counting from the diet mentality when trying to eat intuitively? How can we separate ourselves from our eating-disorder thoughts? How do we stop worrying about weight gain? What are some steps we can take to overcome internalized oppression from diet culture? Where can we get support when we’re at the beginning of eating disorder recovery?

(Resources Mentioned: Kylie Mitchell’s Food Psych Podcast episode, Intuitive Eating Fundamentals online course, Certified Intuitive Eating Counselors Directory)

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