I started writing about how to heal from disordered eating and body hatred seven years ago, back when I was f—king* sick of being afraid of rice, and being full, and gaining weight. My life was hijacked by the obsession with beauty and thinness and health and purity. And I was f—ing over it.
I didn’t start this website to become instagram famous or become a “thought leader” or “influencer” in this space. (Ew?) I didn’t set out to work with people or run groups. And I definitely didn’t think I was going to have a book coming out on not-dieting. I was just a writer –and I was anonymous for the first three years.
I was just f—ing exhausted of diet culture and my own f—ing brain and I felt very strongly that I needed to write about it, for my own sake, on a little blog that no one read.
I was writing about what I was applying to myself as I clawed my way out of the miserable hole I was in. We all just needed to f—ing eat and rebel against absurd body standards.
I kept writing, and learning, and eating, and writing. Eventually I put together workshops and courses, teaching some of the ways I helped myself process fear and resistance and diet culture. I’ve always had a special interest in the way we avoid our bodies, and our emotions, and our humanity, plus all of the subconscious cultural beliefs we are operating under that need to GTFO.
My “expertise” is on how we are afraid of our hunger – and how that will always mess up our eating. And a huge part of that, if not the core underlying factor, is our fear of our bodies, and our cultural fear of, and misconceptions about, fatness. That’s always been clear to me: Fat-phobia is the reason we are messed up around food, and the reason we fear gaining weight above anything else.
But still, no matter how much I care, or how important it is to me: I will always inherently have blind-spots in writing about the full scope of these issues, because of my many privileges. It’s just a fact.
I am not an ultimate authority on body image, body acceptance, body positivity, or fat liberation, even though I know how important those things are.
My thin privilege inherently becomes one of my shortcomings on this subject. In the BIG PICTURE, me learning to accept my body isn’t really that radical, because I have always naturally been on the thinner side. And even when I’ve yo-yo’d A LOT, I’ve always had thin privilege.
A thin girl saying: “stop dieting! we should be allowed to get full and gain weight” feels safer to people. (But still …not that safe. People still tell me I am giving dangerous irresponsible advice). But if I were fatter saying the exact same thing, so many more people would say: “Woa woa woa, stop trying to make excuses for your lack of willpower and laziness. Stop ‘glorifying obesity’. Stop leading people into disease.” And then they’d probably tell me to die of heart disease along with other explicit and aggressive threats.
I have always been able to say things that people in larger bodies also say, and people listen to me, because they assume TFID is “working” for me, because I am thin. And this is based on major misinformation about how much control we have over our weight, and what weight means about us and about our health and our habits… and all the other s#@t our culture teaches about fatness.
So that is one of the first problematic things – I have been given a voice and a platform because of the systemic prejudice I am trying to talk about – the assumptions we make about people based on their size. The assumption that I’m doing something right, and that fatter people are doing something wrong.
Also, TFID is meant to be for every body and every size: the instructions are the same. But one piece of those instructions is to rebel against societal beauty standards, and a fat person learning to rebel against society will experience a lot more pain and pushback than me being like, “oh, I finally accept my size F boobs even though I don’t look like the delicate disney princess I always hoped I could become.”
Yes, it’s radical for anyone to rebel against intentional weight loss in a culture that is obsessed with tininess. But pretending like it’s the same for every body is … incorrect. And erases the trauma and cruelty and pervasiveness of weight stigma and fat phobia.
The only semi-good thing I can see about TFID seeming like some pop-trendy thing right now (and this is problematic in and of itself) is that it can hopefully be an entry point to learn more about inclusive body positivity. If it seems “palatable” to the masses of chronic dieters who start reading because they want to learn how to stop binge eating and being obsessed with food, that gives me an opportunity to explain the underlying, core issues. Which means that people who have not learned that our fat phobia is THE ISSUE, and that it’s a matter of social justice, and many other misconceptions, will hear it. It’s an entry point to go deeper.
But I understand that even that is problematic, because I get to do the work of pointing at the problem, while benefitting from the problem.
And still, I usually write (right here! on my blog!) about pretty entry level things, for a reason. Because the way I see it, that’s where I have to start. That’s where readers have to start: Let me explain the first thing that’s happening to you (that your body is wired against diets, and that you are not an unstoppable food monster), and then the deeper we go, the more I can unravel and explain.
Another one of my shortcomings is that body politics and body autonomy extend beyond weight, and intersect with disability, chronic illness, race/white supremacy, gender, and sexuality – and that is again, not my area of expertise. Except for chronic illness (which is a piece of my story) I am a thin, white, able-bodied, cis, straight-woman, whose major misery was being incessantly cat-called in middle school for having big boobs, and also that I wasn’t skinny enough to be cast as the ingenue when I was auditioning for professional musical theater roles… So… I f—ing get it. It’s all relative. Did that traumatize me and make me hate myself? Yes, actually. But like… I wasn’t pretty enough to be the prettiest person in the play? Hahahahahha, I f—ing get it. If that was able to traumatize me, what does that mean for other people who have way less privilege??? Who don’t have money to make ends meet? Who are the victims of constant harassment and abuse for the color of their skin or the size of their body???
Policing people’s bodies, and having a culture where some bodies are seen as superior or more acceptable, overlaps with privilege of whiteness, and ability, and sexual orientation. However, this is an area I still need to listen and learn, because if I began writing about overlapping intersectional oppression and marginalization in any other way other than just to point out that they are connected, and how stigma inherently affects our health and our quality of life, it would fall very, very short, because I simply don’t have the lived experience or the expertise or the language.
The other shortcoming in my message and writing is addressing how poverty affects people’s relationship to food. Not having enough money to make ends meet and being stressed over the price of food, creates an environment of food scarcity – which affects our bodies, our actual appetite, and our relationship to food. Not to mention that the stress alone negatively affects our health (independent of our weight), but people are still blamed for their health and overtly told to diet as if that will cure them – both things that perpetuate the cycle of blame, stress, and health problems.
My book talks about these concepts, because they’re important and because it is impossible to untangle them from the reason we are f—ed up with food. But again, especially as far as radical body positivity goes, the book is inherently limited. I see TFID as an entry point – an intro to radical body positivity and the importance of body politics as a social justice issue.
I know TFID helps chronic dieters heal their relationship to food. My writing and lessons lean into what I can write about in my sleep: how dieting fucks over our bodies, our deep irrational fear of our hunger and our appetites, our fear of food, our avoidance of feeling our bodies and our emotions, and all of the destructive beliefs we’ve learned about food and weight and beauty and worth.
But when going deeper into the fat experience, the intersection between other areas of oppression (disability, race, gender identity, and sexuality), and writing about food for people with actual food scarcity, those areas are not my expertise– and they’re important.
And because I know there are inherent shortcomings in my perspective and work, I have been creating a resource list for the book, that is not completed yet.
For now, here is a list of diverse body positive activists that I hope you follow, with links to their instagram accounts:
Jes Baker – Author of Landwhale and Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls
Virgie Tovar – Author of You Have the Right to Remain Fat
Meghan Crabbe – Author of Body Positive Power
Imogen Fox – Queer disabled woman serving up radical body politics
YrFatFriend –Anonymous essayist and fat activist/educator
Nicole McDermid – Social Worker & Eating Disorder Recovery Coach
Dana Falsetti – Weight inclusive yoga teacher
Sonalee Rashatwar – Non binary bemme, trauma therapist, rad fat politic
Ashlee Bennett – Body Image Therapist, Online Counsellor & Art psychotherapist
Beauty Redefined – Nonprofit promoting body image resilience, Lindsay & Lexie Kite, PhD
Anna Sweeney – Disabled non-diet dietitian
Ragen Chastain – Fat Activist and Athlete
Dani Adriana – Fat Activist
Ivy Felicia – Body Peace & Holistic Wellness at Any Size Coach
Jessamyn Stanley – Yoga Teacher and Author
Corissa Enneking – Fatgirlflow, queer, happy fatty, influencer
I am still putting together a list of non-diet dietitians, important books, and other helpful resources that will help expand upon TFID, and help people go deeper, and get the help they need. That list will be a digital resource that goes along with my book.
And, not sure if you want to read my book? You can read a sneak peak by signing up here.
Ok. That’s it for now.
* I can’t freaking curse in my blog posts anymore because I use them as podcast episodes too and iTunes censors curse words in the text of podcasts, which is why the name of my freaking podcast is the freaking “F” it diet.