This is an All Ears English podcast, episode 1913. Fight fatphobia with Jenna from Roses
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In the US, a negative stigma often surrounds the word fat. Today we welcome Jenna with
the Roses for Everybody campaign to discuss the vocabulary we use to describe body weight
and how we can remove this destructive stigma. Listen in to find out how you can be part
of the solution.
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Jenna, welcome to the podcast. Listeners, I’m so excited to welcome Jenna from Roses
for Everybody. How are you?
I’m good. Thank you for having me.
Yes. Give us quickly a brief overview of the campaign, how you got involved. Our listeners
might not have heard of it before. So give us a little intro.
Thank you. So yeah, I am one of the members of Roses for Everybody, which is a campaign
to, as funny as it sounds, demand that the Bachelor franchise start casting fat people
in their show. It’s been on for over 20 years. And in those 20 years, they have had over
1,142 individuals on the show. And there’s only been two self-identified plus size individuals
who went home night one without less than a minute of airtime each. That is a huge exclusion
and it is problematic. And we are aiming to get representation in this specific sphere
in order to help with just like positive media representation of fat people. It’s still lacking
in pretty much all forms of media, especially reality television. And yeah, we’re really
excited about it. We launched on July 11th, which was the most recent season of The Bachelorette.
And we’re really excited to have a campaign that is bringing the conversation of body
diversity into an area that most people don’t want to talk about it, but it’s very important.
Yes. And I had heard you on another podcast and I loved you were talking about the language.
So guys, we are going to focus on that a little bit today, the language around fat, someone
being fat and why there is this fat phobia, the stigma and what we can do to change that.
So we’re going to really dive into that. But first of all, I want to make sure everyone
listening knows this episode is also on YouTube and we would love for you to come and be part
of the conversation. You can comment on the YouTube video and let us know what is this
like in your culture, in your country? Do you have the similar, you know, fat phobia
or these similar stigmas behind the word fat? What do you think of when someone says, is
this word used in a negative way as a moral judgment, moral judgment? Yes, morale, morale.
Yes, exactly. So I’m excited to dive into that with you today, especially.
Yeah, I think that, you know, we planned this campaign very thoughtfully. We spent four
months planning it. We have a graphic designer. We have people who work in media. We have
people who do copywriting. And one of our biggest things that we had to really work
on was talking about the language that we use as, as all your listeners know, like language
is so, so important, how we use it, what do we mean by it? And we definitely came across
the concept of, do we use the word fat in our campaign? Because we do know that there
is such a pushback to that word in our society. However, we really sat with what our beliefs
are and what our goals are and it’s fat liberation. And we can’t really fight for acceptance and
to end oppression regarding how people are treated, fat people without using the words
and without being intentional about them. And we will get into in a couple of minutes,
but fat is a neutral word. It should not be a moral negativity that is put upon somebody.
And so if you believe that, then we can use this word in a positive or neutral way. And
so we just want to talk about is how, how do we use that word in the United States?
First of all, we know this is different in every culture and every, but I do think this
is in some ways international. I have a feeling that our listeners will relate to this in
their own culture. I know what it’s like in the United States and a few of the countries
that I’ve visited, but let’s talk about like, first of all, just why, why is there this
negative stigma? And I love that you shared why you chose to use the word fat guys. Jenna’s
going to share three tips of how you can get involved, how you can help eliminate that
stigma. And first let’s dive into why, why should we eliminate this stigma? Why should,
why should we change the way we talk about and the way we think about the word fat?
Yeah. I mean, I think it’s as simple as it’s hard to undo centuries and centuries of negative
connotation, but it is as simple as the word fat is not a negative thing. And it used to
not be used that way. You know, as early as like the 14th and 17th century during like
the Renaissance time, fat was a positive thing. It was a sign of wealth and prosperity. We
were seeing art depicting women and men and fatter bodies as a good thing. And then you
add one of my favorite artists, very healthy, fat people, beautiful paintings.
Beautiful. Yeah, exactly. And then when you add in the, uh, slave trade and the way that
we use anti-blackness, uh, and you add in the way that we started to characterize fatness
as a negative thing is literally born from anti-blackness. We have a lot of resources
on our page about that and you can research it and do some reading on a book we recommend
is fearing the black body by Sabrina Stings and strings. Sorry. And yeah, so there’s a
long history of anti-blackness that gets correlated into the way we use the word negatively. And
we may be currently right now in 2022 don’t think that is the case when we generally walk
around upholding fat phobic ideals and moral judgment on people who are fat, but that is
where it comes from. We started shifting once like the, um, the beginning of different centuries
where they started making food more available and stable and easy to get it, fatness became
like not a sign of prosperity and started to be used in a way to demoralize people.
And that goes from the hand in hand with racism and the slave trade. And this is so vital
and fascinating to consider the history, to think about how this developed over time,
where it came from that. Um, I think that’s so important because that’s going to help
us realize like, Oh, this, these are not traditions that we want to uphold. This is something
that should be changed. Yes. And people really want to rely on the concept of like health
regarding fat people. I mean, if you look up definitions of the like words, fat is just
a descriptor word, meaning something that is bigger, that is heavier. That’s fine. But
then when you look up description words for obese and things like that, it’s like you
start getting into these negative connotations, you know, and it’s very sad. It’s a overweight
is a way to consider normal, um, overweight that’s considered normal or desirable. Why
is there a definition where in which we’re saying desirable, you know, obese, grossly
fat and overweight it’s, we get into these moral things and people bring in health because
they believe that health is an indicator or weight is indicator of health.
It’s not true. It’s improvement over and over again, that there are so many more factors
that go into play that the BMI is used a lot against fat people, but there’s also history
with that as well. The BMI was created by thin white men and has a lot of deeper history
history and anti-blackness as well, as well as it’s just junk science that was originally
created in a way, sorry, it was a created for other reasons, again, from those thin
white man, but it was quickly transformed into being used as a way to deny people health
insurance in its original form. And people don’t kind of realize that as well, it’s supposed
to have an indication of people who are on the extremes, extremely underweight, extremely
overweight, and how that does affect our health. And we’re not saying that there aren’t elements
where that does affect people’s health, but in order to deny people medical insurance,
they started using it as a structure. And then that’s where it like started. And now
is where it is today where people just be like, oh, well, I’m over the B the recommended
BMI. What does that mean? Right. Okay. I’m definitely going to have
to do a lot of research. And I think our listeners are as well, because you’re telling me things
that I feel like I should know that I don’t know a lot about, like, yeah, they don’t,
they don’t tell us that stuff, right. Body mass index. And I didn’t know where that came
from or how long it’s been around. So I’m going to be doing a deep dive, everybody listening,
you do it as well. And let’s dive into these three tips. Jenna give us three things that
our listeners and myself can do to get involved and help to be a part of the solution.
Yes. If you’re really interested in trying to deconstruct the way that we use the word
fat and other negative terms that are like society, a lot of it just stems with working
on it on yourself, you know, unpacking why you think fat is a bad thing. And you might
not write, like, I think you’ll find that you don’t really think that, but there are
so many inputs coming at us throughout society that uphold that. So one of the best ways
to do that is to start getting different inputs in your system and in your life.
So we recommend following fat creators, um, and writers and journalists and people who
are doing this conversation liberationists. Um, I know for myself about five years ago,
when I actively decided to start unfollowing people that upheld diet culture and people
who were instead following people who were just existing and having a great time living
their lives, it did wonders for my personal journey of how I accept my body and love myself.
Okay. I love this. Can you give us some recommendations, a couple of fat creators that you would recommend
who have this positive outlook?
Yes. One of my favorite ones right now is, um, why is it not showing? Of course, you
know how people’s Instagrams are always, um, yeah, I’m so embarrassed y’all. Sorry. We
have fierce fat femme. Okay. Beautiful one. Please follow him. Um, and then we have fat
fab feminist. So, so you can get the idea of what these, uh, creators are doing, but
I definitely recommend just, um, start following a couple of plus size, uh, content creators.
And then you can easily a little skip a little like arrow and it’ll show you more creators
of the similar style. And you can just start doing that and diversifying your, your feed.
Awesome. I love that idea. I am going to take notes and them and I want my daughters to
follow them because this is so important to me that my daughters help be part of the solution
as well and have a positive mindset about them and their bodies. Okay. So give us their
Um, and this one is more of also a thing you can be doing in your interpersonal life. When
you hear people using the word fat in a negative way, call them out, call them in gently. Why
are you speaking that way? Why are you putting a moral judgment on food? Um, the way your
body looks, the way somebody else’s body looks, uh, is a way that we do a lot of unpacking
of our, uh, systematic, you know, oppression in our world, racism, homophobia, transphobia.
So if you are already on a journey where you’re doing a lot of that work and calling out people
when you hear, um, somebody be transphobic, think of fat phobia as the same thing, you
know, Oh my God, I’m just so, I can’t believe I, I looked so fat in that photo and they’re
saying in a negative way, stop them. Why are we saying this in a negative term? That is
not a bad thing.
I love that. I love that tip so much. And I love to think about, you know, the efforts
you’re making in other areas too, to remove any kind of phobia or racism and apply it
here as well. Recognize that this is also a place that either to yourself, if you find
yourself making a statement or to someone else to also call them out and help us all
be more aware of the way we’re talking about this. Yeah. I love that.
It is a pretty wildly, widely accepted form of like bullying. Yes. We, we really don’t
call that out as much, you know? Um, and that’s, I’m not trying to make any judgment as far
as like what is more important in our society to be unpacking by any means. Um, however,
like I mentioned, a lot of it’s all coincided, you know, anti blackness is hand in hand with
anti fatness. So we can’t work on one without working on many other ones. And so, yeah,
just try to welcome that into your work as well.
Definitely. Okay. Give us your third tip. I’m excited about this one. I got a little
sneak peek earlier and I’m very much on board. This one might be hard for people, but listen
to Lizzo. I love Lizzo. Yes. Yes. Uh, yeah. Listen, listen and hear what she is saying.
You know, I remember people were so mad at her for playing that flute that was owned
by a white person. Yeah. All that stuff. But it’s like, well, she’s on stage dancing, singing
and playing a flute. She’s an athlete. Yes. Right. He’s an athlete. And I know many people
of many different sizes who could not do what she does. And there is no, and so we just
see how listen to Lizzo take in her gospel so much. I tried to karaoke a song that was
Doja Cat, but it was rapping. And I could not do like two lines. I was like regasping
for breath. It is. So there’s so much athleticism to be able to rap and sing and dance on a
stage when there are nerves involved too. It’s true. And her message is so positive
and uplifting and body positive. I agree very much. I, I, I suggest everyone take this third
tip as well. Go listen to some Lizzo. I love it. And just have fun and dance. It’s going
to be great. Thank you so much for joining us, Jenna, and for sharing these amazing three
tips and some details about this campaign. Can you let our listeners know where can they
go if they want more information? Yes. Please check us out on Instagram at roses for everybody.
We have a link tree and you’ll see our petition as well as other interviews that we’ve been
in. Our page as well is full of infographics that we’ve worked really hard on to unpack
fat phobia, anti-fat bias, and the ways in which we can be better allies to each other.
So please check us out. And if you have any questions or you want to start a dialogue,
our dams are open. Awesome. I love it. Thank you so much for being here with us today.
It was so nice to meet you. Yeah, thank you. Bye-bye.
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