All Ears English Podcast - 1913: Fight Fatphobia with Jenna from Roses For Every Body

This is an All Ears English podcast, episode 1913. Fight fatphobia with Jenna from Roses

for Everybody.

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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

second tip.

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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