Body-image researcher, writer, and linguist Maxine Ali joins us to discuss why wellness culture is really about privilege, not health; racial objectification and how it contributes to feelings of disembodiment; how to recognize when diet culture is co-opting non-diet language; the power of language in changing the discourse on health and wellness, and so much more!
Maxine Ali is a linguist and body-image researcher, with a BA (1st Class Hons) in English Language and Linguistics, and a MSc in Medical Humanities from King’s College London. Maxine’s research interest is how the language of health impacts body image, self-concept and identity.
Having begun her career as a health journalist at the height of London’s wellness boom, Maxine experienced first-hand the perils of diet culture and its destructive physical and psychological effects. In 2017, she left her job as a wellness editor to obtain an MSc in Medical Humanities, examining the role of disembodying language in female experiences of eating disorders, obesity and disability in her thesis. Drawing on her background in linguistics, she began using her platform to dissect the language of wellness and lift the lid on the toxic hidden messages around food, health and body image. Find her online at MaxineAli.com.
Maxine’s experience of having a smaller body from a very young age
How weight changes due to ulcerative colitis and medication side-effects affected her body image and relationship with food
How her personal experiences have influenced her research on the language of wellness and body image
Health as a guise for disordered eating and a desire to lose weight
The conflation of health and wellness with thinness
Wellness culture, and how it relates to privilege
Racial objectification, and how it contributes to feelings of disembodiment and higher rates of disordered eating
Maxine and Christy’s experiences as health and wellness journalists
The rarification of wellness
The prevalence of disordered eating in health and wellness media
Why journalists aren’t always the best judges of scientific information
How Maxine became interested in her current research
How wellness culture markets itself as a way to empower women when it actually does the opposite
Why diet culture is a form of “elective oppression”
The problem with neoliberalism in health and wellness rhetoric
The role of language in changing the discourse around health and wellness
The “non-diet diet paradox,” aka the co-opting of non-diet language by diet culture
How to recognize some of the sneakier forms of diet culture, such as The Wellness Diet
Why health isn’t the only goal of intuitive eating
Healthism, and how it intersects with diet culture
Unpacking our own internal biases
Embracing imperfection in intuitive eating
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