“The white gaze is upon us at all times, and the ways in which Black bodies have been destroyed by whiteness are many. But this is just one of them.”
– Sirius Bonner
One thing to get straight: divorcing yourself from diet culture isn’t just about being fat, loud, and proud. Sirius Bonner, who joins Hilary Kinavey and Dana Sturtevant for Part 2 of this two-part Inclusive Life podcast, drives home the importance of relating to our bodies within the broader political context. The context? Fat bodies are subjected to systemic oppression.
Sirius deepens the conversation Nicole, Hilary and Dana began in Part 1 around diet culture and racism. She shares “…There is a deeply connected root of anti-fatness and anti-Blackness from the time of slavery in the United States.” The conversation weaves from there into the complex ways anti-fatness shows up in the Black community—similar to the way colorism exists—as a means to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.
Internalized oppression in the shape of internalized anti-fatness is tragically logical: Sonya Renee Taylor, in her book The Body is Not an Apology, writes:
“We must not minimize or negate the impact of being told to hate or fear our bodies and the bodies of others. Living in a society structured to profit from our self-hate creates a dynamic in which we are so terrified of being ourselves that we adopt terror-based ways of being in our bodies.”
These terror-based ways of being in our bodies cause so much daily suffering, resulting from, as Nicole says, “…living in a system that consisently tells you that from the moment of birth, you’re never going to be enough.”
White body supremacy couples health and size, and this is difficult to see because we are so indoctrinated into blaming health outcomes on weight.
High blood pressure? A person in a thin body is provided medication and other medical advice. A person in a large body is told to lose weight and then come back for additional medical care. To identify fatness as causative doesn’t make sense since both fat and thin people develop high blood pressure. Yet doctors still center weight as the cause of disease and insist on weight loss as the cure. Just like the war on drugs, the war on obesity is a war on people, both rooted in anti-Blackness.
Where can we begin to decouple fat and health? Fat and laziness? Fat and “you should try harder?” Fat and “it’s your fault?”
First, we can each begin by developing and deepening an appreciation for the diversity of bodies. Body diversity has always existed and will always exist. We can lay down our arms.
Second, we can shift our focus to the social determinants of health to understand the impact of fat phobia on fat folks’ health outcomes. This means shifting focus away from size. This can be a long road of learning to trust our own body and the bodies of other people.
Third, we can continually center the voices and lived experiences of Black queer women in this conversation, the ones most impacted by weight stigma.
This Conversation Also Includes:
- What’s beyond Body Positivity
- The marginalization of fat, Black, queer women in the Health at Every Size and Body Positivity movements
- De-centering the pursuit of heath
- Taking a intersectional approach to size bias
- Rejecting dieting without an analysis
- Understanding anti-fatness as anti-Blackness
- Diet culture and its impact in Black culture
- Fatness and proximity to whiteness
- Decoupling size and health
- Shifting the conversation to the social determinants of health
- Learning to become one’s own advocate
About Dana and Hilary:
Sirius Bonner is a passionate and noted presenter and facilitator. Sirius’ work focuses on the intersections between social justice issues such as racial oppression, reproductive justice, queer rights, anti-fat bias, educational equity, poverty, sexism and liberation, recognizing that as we begin to untangle one issue, we can untangle them all. Sirius’ currently works at Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette as the Vice President of Equity and Inclusion.
Dana Sturtevant is the co-founder of Be Nourished, LLC and co-creator of Body Trust®. She is a registered dietitian, educator, and trainer whose work focuses on humanizing health care, advancing health equity, and advocating for body sovereignty and food justice. A member of the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers since 2002, Dana travels around the country training helping professionals in communication and engagement strategies that lead to positive change. As a sought after speaker and writer, Dana is a champion for compassionate, weight-inclusive models of care and offers supervision, training, and consultation for helping professionals and health care organizations. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, Scientific American, Self, Real Simple, Huffington Post, and on the TEDx stage. Learn more at benourished.org.
Hilary Kinavey, MS, LPC is the co-founder of Be Nourished, LLC and co-creator of Body Trust®. Her work as a licensed professional counselor, coach, educator and writer is informed by a relational, systemic and social justice lens. Her career has been a study of what interrupts our sense of wholeness and how we can return to ourselves in a culture that profits from fragmentation. She is a sought-after speaker and facilitator on topics such as weight-inclusive approaches, weight bias, Body Trust® and the intersections of activism and therapy. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, Scientific American, Huffington Post, and on the TEDx stage. Learn more at benourished.org.
Connect with Sirius:
Belly of the Beast: The Politics of Anti-Fatness as Anti-Blackness by Da’Shaun Harrison