I'm passionate about discussing diet culture and fighting fatphobia so that all people in all bodies can step into their power. In this podcast, I speak with people whose expertise or lived experience has shaped my unlearning of weight stigma and rejection of diet culture. I hope this podcast helps you to explore your relationship with food, movement, body and self in a way that empowers you to feel that you are enough as you are and that, regardless of the societal messaging you've absorbed, your body and all bodies are worthy. Follow @conceivingitall on IG to learn and unlearn with me.
Hannah Diviney on disability advocacy, allyship and representation (ahem, Disney? Work on your new princess is in full swing xx)
This is a joy of an episode with someone unafraid to ask for what they deserve and name and chase their dreams. Listen up and take note - it is time for us to follow Hannah's lead.
We discuss Hannah’s journey with disability including identifying her own privilege as part of her journey to her disability advocacy: “I spent a lot of time not liking myself and also actively resisting the idea of being a disability advocate”. Hannah’s journey - from experiencing self-loathing to seeing her uniqueness as her power – is one we can all learn from: “I cannot keep doing this. It is exhausting. It doesn’t feel great. We have to figure something out because whether we like it or not this is who we are…so I can figure out how to make it work or I can continue fighting it and basically burn to pieces”.
We spend a great deal of the chat on representation and the fundamental importance of seeking out, listening to and platforming marginalised people.
- We make people feel invisible when we don’t have their experience represented on our screens.
- Fiction gives us reference points for what is possible in our lives – many dynamics, including love stories, aren’t visible to disabled people.
- The error in judgement when we have an actor portraying a member from a marginalised community who isn’t a member of that community in reality.
- The narratives disabled people have to contend with – these are assumptions based purely on their disability and with no regard for the person (about their dreams, their relationships etc).
- The alienation of not knowing what life will look like that comes from not being represented
- Spoiler: Not all disabled people want to be Paralympians.
- Media needing to be made with realistic and genuine consultation with the community that it represents.
- Body image: There’s a large disconnect between what things could look like and what they do look like. When we don’t have representation in beauty standards, people don’t tell you or make you feel like you can be ‘beautiful’ or ‘confident’ in a body that is different to the conventional beauty standard. We discuss the experience of and narratives around dating and relationships as a disabled person and what this does for sense of self and body image.
Hannah generously shares what it takes to survive and thrive in her body. She is real about the energy and resources required to keep her mental and physical health in check, transparent about the invisible symptoms that come with a visible disability and inspiring as she discusses using the tenacity and discipline she has cultivated for good.
“I want allies who see us as people – as full people – not just our disabilities. Just because I’m in a wheelchair doesn’t mean I don’t have the same taste in music or the same interests or a love for food as anybody else out there. And I think understanding how powerful accessibility is and that the accessible thing isn’t a huge deal. And to any parents, please let your kids ask questions – it’s so much more helpful if a kid sees me on the street and goes ‘what’s that’ and I’m able to say ‘it’s a wheelchair...this is how it works…this is why I can’t walk’ than you being like ‘sshhh don’t look’ or ‘don’t bother that lady’. That would be a big thing in my pitch to Disney that not only does it have the power to make disabled kids feel seen and represented for the first time and be the heroes of their own stories but it also shows able bodied kids that disability is not something to be afraid of and it has the potential to teach them basic empathy and tolerance".
Alissa Rumsey MS, RD on the structures and beliefs that keep us obsessing over our bodies and what we can do to get free
Alissa Rumsey is a weight inclusive dietician, food & body liberation coach and the author of a BRILLIANT book (that I wish everyone would read – no jokes – I’d be redundant if you all did) called Unapologetic Eating. I often read her work on Instagram @alissarumseyrd and think YES that is what I feel about bodies and health but don’t have the qualifications or experience to say. Other times I read her word and get mind blown by the truths that I hadn’t even considered.
The reality is, we can’t do body image and diet culture work without also looking at systems of power, oppression and feminism. Sometimes we want to stick our heads in the sand when these themes come up but all I ask is that you sit with that discomfort and stay open minded and hearted. Pause the podcast, come back to the hard bits, DM me about the bits that challenge you! I know in the Lindley podcast that some of it was really hard to hear. That is okay. Keep listening at your own pace.
There is so much power, strength, expertise and experience in Alissa’s balanced, gentle, warm and holistic approach. I walked away from this chat with greater awareness about my privilege, about the nuance and compassion we need to bring to these conversations and about the structures that exist around us that keep us obsessing over our bodies and stop us from stepping into our power.
There are no time blocked show notes because I jumped around too much (legit so overexcited) but here are some of the topics we discussed:
65% of the differences in health outcomes are not related to modifiable health behaviours – this means that 65% of our health outcomes are not changeable on an individual level. Of that 35%, only about 15% is food and movement related.
Why restriction has a counterintuitive outcome as your body strives to survive
How the obsession with thinness is not about beauty - it is about obedience. Because when we’re focused on meeting those thresholds, your brain space goes to thinking and worrying about food. This is time and energy we could spend stepping into our power.
Knowing that our appearance is currency – how to make that not toxic.
Passing down body and beauty beliefs through family structures.
How we are often victims and perpetrators of diet culture.
How we can use the power, that as thin white people we have unjustly been given, to amplify others.
Body checking and body comparisons.
Knowing that there is another way to live and starting by questioning ‘what is me and what has been put on me by society?’
When we talk about systems of power and what people in power want, remember that this stuff is unconscious and deeply engrained. I don’t think anyone is sitting up there in their power conspiring about how us wanting to be thin and conventionally beautiful keeps us out of our full power. But that is the impact of the systems in which we exist.
Lindley Ashline on weight stigma and its origins, thin privilege and eliminating weight based oppression
0 – 3.50: intro and Lindley’s dinner and favourite food memory.
3.50 – 6.45: how Lindley came to have the voice she has today as a photographer and fat liberation activist. The more Lindley learned about how bodies work, the more it became apparent that treatment of people in larger bodies is unfair.
6.45 – 16.30: Lindley unpacks the systems of power around us and explains how beauty standards and weight stigma exist because of racism and sexism. Dr Sabrina Strings' book ‘Fearing the black body’ traces how fatphobia and weight stigma came out of racism. This is why it is so pervasive and hard to rule out.
16.30 – 29.00: Lindley discusses the evolution of her activism including the language that we use to describe people in larger bodies. She recommends the term ‘people in larger bodies’ and discusses how the words ‘obesity and overweight’ are stigmatising medical terms, saying ‘if there is a war on obesity, that is a war on me’. For discussion about weight and health, Lindley refers to the book ‘Body Respect’ by Linda Bacon and Lucy Aphramor. A caveat here is that we’re not saying there aren’t lifestyle factors that can lead to weight loss if people want to pursue this. We are discussing, as lay people not experts, what we’ve learned about how challenging weight loss is. This is important given that society still holds fatphobic views about weight loss simply being about ‘eating less and moving more’. ‘What Does Australia Really Think About Obesity’ is a wonderful expert filled SBS program which further unpacks these societal beliefs.
29.00 – 31.00: The 3 key 3 messages of Lindley's activism. 1 – every human body is equally worthy of dignity, respect, opportunity and good treatment. 2 – we’re all navigating really deep seated systems of power so the more we are aware of the systems in which we live, the more we can make choices about how we conduct our lives and how we treat ourselves and other people. 3 – fat bodies are not inherently gross.
31.00 – 51.30: Movements to improve body image, participated in predominantly by people with thin privilege, are not the same as doing the work to reduce weight based oppression. It is positive to push against unrealistic beauty standards. However, all types of bodies can have body image issues but not all types of bodies are stigmatised, discriminated against and oppressed in the way that people in larger bodies are. Thin privilege as a spectrum. Lindley discusses how people, predominantly thin white women, have taken concepts from the fat activism movement and watered them down so that we are now better at normalising bodies that don’t look like bodies in magazines but bodies that are socially accepted anyway due to their privilege…but the people who built this movement, and who may still be oppressed due to the body they live in, are not benefitting. This is not just about people ‘not liking’ their bodies (which is also not fair and is also a result of all these structures we discuss) but about people who are oppressed in their bodies.
51.30 – end: Centring and focusing on people in the most marginalised bodies helps everybody. We discuss what would be preferable to see from creators who are genuinely so well intentioned but who may be ‘thin washing’, ‘white washing’ or centring themselves. The answer is allyship and this includes doing the homework, paying for the emotional labour which goes into activism and which we learn from, doing more than liking and sharing content (ie leaving meaningful comments so that the algorithm picks it up), generally using privilege and connections to help and monitoring how we speak about our own bodies.
Dr Preeya Alexander on representation, diet culture and weight stigma
In the same way that Preeya says squats in the sun while your kid is playing are bloody good for you, Preeya is bloody good for us! I am DESPERATE for people to listen to this goodness. Please share it with your friends. So much learning and so many important themes discussed in under an hour. I'm in awe of Preeya's mindset - as a person and as a Doctor - and I am so excited to share it with you all.
0 – 1.40: Preeya’s dinner last night and favourite food memory.
1.40 – 5.50: How Preeya came to have the voice and platform she has – both as a GP with a no BS platform and as a woman and person of colour online and in the media. She discusses wanting people to ‘move and shake and eat their rainbows without all the pressure’ and her passion for combatting misinformation.
5.50 – 12.55: Preeya’s lived experience. Addressing racism and sexism and discussing diversity and privilege. Preeya’s passion for diversity grew upon graduating when she saw a report which noted that 75% of people on our screens were of anglo-celtic origin. She knew it but the data hit home. Preeya discusses what this lack of representation means and what it has to do with belonging (Brene Brown’s Atlas of the Heart says we talk about ‘Diversity and Inclusion’ but we need the third pillar of ‘Belonging’).
12.55 – 19.00: Diet culture and food. Preeya speaks to her relationship with food as a person and as a GP. I am SO grateful for her honesty and vulnerability.
19:00 – 23.00: Diet culture and movement. Preeya speaks to her relationship with movement as a person and as a GP. She worked on this relationship for herself and for her patients. We need to reject social media telling us that movement doesn’t count unless it looks a certain way.
23.00 – 26.30: Diet culture. Guilt free messaging. Marketing won’t change so we discuss how we can arm ourselves to reject diet culture. Give the platform to qualified people (ie not old mate influencer who is doing their ‘day on a plate’). Any health advice not given by responsible professionals is unhelpful – this messaging either further enshrines rigid beliefs or alienates people. It does not help.
26.30 – 40.00: Weight stigma and fatphobia. Why fighting fatphobia does not undermine health outcomes. Why shame and judgement from society is bad for health. Evidence for weight stigma and evidence that weight stigma leads to poorer health outcomes. Medical profession – discussing weight in a way that doesn’t further stigmatise someone. Weight does not define health. We need to own where we’re wrong and do the work.
41.00 – end: quick chat on avoiding getting pregnant and wanting to get pregnant – not my usual theme but I feel like most of you are of a similar age to me and therefore at least part of this discussion is relevant (ie still avoiding or starting to try)!!
My intro podcast!
0 – 4 mins: acknowledging my privilege and therefore the limitations of my audience. Please have a read of the article I wrote for The Butterfly Foundation in 2021 - within there are some amazing links and accounts to follow as well!
4 – 9 25: how ‘conceivingitall’ was first ‘conceivingfoodbabies’ and the stories of how I went from being unhealthily healthy and ‘part of the problem’ to cultivating strong body image, learning about thin privilege and weight stigma, sharing my genuine love of food and (hopefully) using this platform as a force for good.
9.25 – 16.40: I unpack my own lack of self-confidence and poor body image from 2015 where I had fun and lived life but was held back due to poor body image and self-esteem through to 2018 when I discovered The Hunger Project and had a mindset shifting experience in Uganda with Kemi Nekvapil that kickstarted my journey to where I am today.
16.40 – 19.30: how I ended up in therapy and my confusion with everyone else thinking I was too much when I felt I wasn’t enough. How therapy was crucial to me learning to like myself and how learning to like myself meant my body image improved. (Also listen to this Jay Shetty podcast where he says that the pain, pressure and lack of peace within the world comes from the pain within. That is why I’m so passionate on working through our own shit!).
19.30 – 23.15: I started really stepping into my power and doing the work in 2020. Even though I will inevitably stuff up in my quest to be an ally, I come back to my friend, who is a woman of colour, saying to me that “there is room for anybody who does the work and that doing the work is about listening and learning”. I became committed to “doing the work” in 2020 and began to understand that diet culture and weight stigma are rooted in racism and sexism. This is a social justice issue. Alissa Rumsey's 'Unapologetic Eating' sets this out comprehensively and is well worth buying and reading if you want to improve your relationship with food and your body.
20.40 – 23.15: my equation for improving body image! And why improving body image, for me, started with learning to like myself as a person. If we try and improve body image without unlearning weight stigma and diet culture, it is unlikely that we will be dismantling the structures that cause us to have negative body image in the first place. As much as I’m passionate about learning to like ourselves as being a tool to improve body image, I can understand how some people genuinely like themselves but accept that body image will always be a struggle so I acknowledge that this point may not resonate.
23.15 – 31.35: my key beliefs. 1 = weight stigma and diet culture are bad for all of us. 2 = we need to be aware of the subtle forces of diet culture that make us feel like we're not enough so that we can be in a position to reject them. 3 = we do 1 and 2 so that all people in all bodies can step into their power. And if you don’t want to do this learning and unlearning for yourself, do it for your community.
31.35 – end: the things that help me (in my journey of continuing to unlearn diet culture).
So informative & helpful.
Captivating, honest and real
A helpful tool to learn and unlearn all things diet culture & fat phobia
A must listen for all
Vulnerable, relatable and raw content that can help every listener