January 19, 2023
EP. 146 — Aubrey Gordon Returns
Author and podcast host Aubrey Gordon joins Jameela this week to discuss her new book “You Just Need To Lose Weight” and 19 Other Myths About Fat People. They discuss the correlation of health and fatness, how fatphobia is born from the idea that you can blame an individual for their weight, the danger of the recent trend of weight-loss injections, the myth of “promoting obesity,” and more.
Check out Aubrey’s new book – “You Just Need to Lose Weight” and 19 Other Myths About Fat People – wherever books are sold!
Follow Aubrey Gordon on Twitter & Instagram @yrfatfriend
You can find transcripts for this episode on the Earwolf website.
I Weigh has amazing merch – check it out at podswag.com
Jameela is on Instagram @jameelajamil and Twitter @Jameelajamil And make sure to check out I Weigh’s Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube for more!
146 — Aubrey Gordon Returns
Jameela: Hello and welcome to another episode of I Weigh with Jameela Jamil, a podcast against shame. I hope you’re well, and I hope you’re all ready for another excellent fucking interview with Aubrey Gordon. I’ve had her on before and you loved her. You may know her on the Internet from back in the day as ‘Your Fat Friend’. She was an amazing blogger who is now a bestselling author. She came on last time to talk about her excellent book, ‘What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat.’ And now she’s back and having a really fucking good week with her new book, ‘You Just Need to Lose Weight and 19 Other Myths About Fat People.’ This book is now number two on the New York Times bestseller, which is a wild debut. And she hasn’t even really started doing press or promo. And so it’s going to be a very good start to the year for Aubrey Gordon and for the rest of us because her work is so fucking important.
Her blogs, already from back in the day, have given so many people the words they didn’t have to discuss their own bodies and their boundaries they want to have with other people about how they talk about our bodies. She has done so much research. She has produced so much data. She has a fucking amazing podcast called ‘The Maintenance Phase,’ which you must, must listen to. I think it goes very well hand in hand with I Weigh, and she and I are very aligned as people. We met for the first time maybe three or four years ago and totally fell in love with each other. She’s just my favorite human. Nobody is as bold, as brave, as interesting, as interested, as well researched, as kind, as empathetic, as patient and self reflective as Aubrey. I wish I could be more like her. I strive to be more like her. She’s always the first person I run to when I really don’t know what to do because she’s just such a sound mind and she’s got such a long background in advocacy that she comes at everything from such an intersectional lens. However intersectional we think we are, until you’ve actually done the work, as in, like worked in the space of having to protect lots of different minorities all at the same time, which she did, you can’t quite grasp it the way she does. And so therefore, I have such immense trust in her opinion and trust in her words, and trust in her work. And it’s always such an honor to have her on the podcast. And in today’s episode, we just get into so many interesting things – and all the things that we didn’t get to cover the last time, where we talked about the BMI and what fucking bullshit it is.
We talk about fatphobia. This time we get more into the weeds of it and go over things that she discusses in the book. We talk about the relationship between health and fatness and how one is not indicative of the other. We discuss why fatphobia is still somehow acceptable in mainstream culture and in our society. We discuss the myth of calories in, calories out. We discuss the way society blamed COVID on fatness in such a vile and violent way that led to so much extra bullying of fat people. And we break down the myth of promoting obesity and why that’s such an absurd idea, amongst the many other things that she talks about. So bye this book, it’s called ‘You Just Need to Lose Weight and 19 Other Myths About Fat People.’ It’s so fucking good. It’s so strong. She is so strong, and we could all do better and be better to follow her way of thinking, which makes me sound a bit culty, I know. I know that she’s not actual Jesus, but she’s my Jesus, all right? And I love her, and I hope you do, too. You’ve never met a more reasonable or delightful human. This is the fucking fabulously gorgeous Aubrey Gordon.
Jameela [00:01:12] Aubrey fucking Gordon. Welcome to I Weigh again.
Aubrey [00:01:14] Thank you so much for having me back. It’s always a treat to talk to you.
Jameela [00:01:18] Oh, God. I’m just always looking for an excuse to have you back because you’re just one of my favorite people I’ve ever had on this podcast. You’re such a dream, such a gift. And not only are you so amazing online and on podcasts and on your own podcast Maintenance Phase, but you’re also one of my favorite writers. And you have a new book coming out and we’re going to talk about it.
Aubrey [00:01:35] Aw thank you so much. Yeah.
Jameela [00:01:37] So. Congratulations, because it’s a unfathomably difficult task to complete a book and you are just rolling through them at speed and I can only imagine it’s quite stressful.
Aubrey [00:01:48] Yeah, it’s, it’s a lot of work, but also it’s really um, this is going to sound weird, but it feels like really fun, liberating work to me to sort of take apart the diet industry, to sort of take apart anti fat bias and to figure out how it works and see that it all is kind of working on a wing and a prayer. You know what I mean? Like, it’s built on a lot of really shoddy information that we have been led pretty far astray by the diet industry and by sort of anti fat myths writ large. And it feels really liberating to go, oh, the emperor has no clothes. Got it. That’s what we’re dealing with here. 100%. You know?
Jameela [00:02:30] Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s that’s a lovely way of putting it, because I imagine when anyone is writing a book within social justice, you know that so many people are going to be annoyed that you have exposed the inherent, maybe unconscious, but definitively what we would describe as bias. And so you have to be so fucking precise. It has to be such detailed and fact checked and historically perfect account in order to not be taken to absolute fucking pieces. Because what you say in your podcast and online and in these books is something that has the power to destabilize one of the biggest multibillion dollar industries in the world, and that is the diet and kind of quote unquote, wellness industry.
Aubrey [00:03:18] Listen, I’ll take that.
Jameela [00:03:20] Yeah.
Aubrey [00:03:21] I’ll take that. Yeah, I feel like I’m sort of like having like a little slingshot and I’m rocketing little pebbles at this giant monolith. Right. And enough chips and, you know, hopefully we’ll get somewhere, you know? Hopefully we’ll destabilize it a little bit.
Jameela [00:03:36] Well, for anyone who hasn’t heard your first episode on this podcast, and I hope people do. Can you explain to me why fatphobia and diet culture are so important to you? Like they’ve become like a core part of your work. Although your work is also important, it’s important to say very intersectional and you have always been, I mean, even professionally, an advocate for multiple different groups’s right. But why is this specifically something that you you are just going to die on this fucking hill.
Aubrey [00:04:06] Yeah I sure am.
Jameela [00:04:07] And we’re going to be right with you. And we’re going to be buried right next to each other.
Aubrey [00:04:10] Yeah, absolutely. I will definitely die on this hill. I mean, I will say I am a lifelong fat person, and I have been at the high end of plus size clothing or into extended plus size clothing, which means plus size stores don’t carry your size. I’ve sort of gone back and forth between those two for basically since I was a teenager. And also, like many fat people before me, faced immense pressure to diet and like many fat people before me, developed an eating disorder as a result of that. And I think as I’ve gotten further and further into researching anti fatness and where it comes from, researching the BMI and where it comes from, researching the idea of an obesity epidemic and where it comes from.
Jameela [00:04:58] And the ties between white supremacy and anti fatness.
Aubrey [00:05:03] No question. A friend sent me a book the other day that is an actual American Nazi Party diet book that is like
Jameela [00:05:11] Wow.
Aubrey [00:05:11] straight. Yeah, Yeah. We’re getting into it, right? Yeah. I think to see how much there are moneyed interests invested in keeping us unhappy with our bodies. There are moneyed interests invested in keeping fat people on the margins. And there are these deep historical ties to anti fatness, sort of propping up other systems of privilege and oppression. It has felt really cathartic to go, Oh, the reasons for this are kind of everything but fat people’s health, which is sort of what we’re told most often.
Jameela [00:05:47] Mm hmm.
Aubrey [00:05:48] Yeah. So that’s why I would say it’s most important to me.
Jameela [00:05:52] Yeah. And it’s also like it’s a, you know, division is an increasingly popular tactic in order to distract and cause chaos and an issue in which a large portion, let’s say, just in the United States although this is, you know, a global fight, although it’s different from country to country. Some cultures the fatter you are the more wealthy you are considered, and therefore you are considered more attractive and a better partner. But let’s say in the West, in the United States, right, it’s a conversation that can just be infinite because there are a lot of people who are over the weight that is deemed acceptable by American society, which is extraordinary considering the vast majority of people look a certain way. And so it’s genius to create that as a problem, because then you just have infinite ability to shame people divide people, create hierarchy within society. Some people can earn money, some people can’t earn money because they’re less likely to be hired if they’re fat because they’re deemed lazy. And then we create divisions in the clothing market. We create divisions emotionally, and then we prop up the multi, multi, multibillion dollar predatory diet culture. And so I equally obsessed with your fight. We’ve had different journeys and similar journeys all at the same time. And I think that’s why we’re good friends.
Aubrey [00:07:17] I think so too. Yeah, I think our paths keep crisscrossing on, you know, sort of related issues and it’s been really fun and lovely. I don’t know.
Jameela [00:07:25] Yeah, absolutely. I mean, really. Thanks. Likewise. But we one of the things we bonded over, even in our last episode, was the fact that, you know, and we’re going to get further into this because your book has really like this is the most like, pedantic, diligent. Like, not a dot, not an eye undotted, not a t uncrossed. You have gone into every single fucking possible question anyone can have around fatphobia, fat history, diet history, etc.. But one of the things that we bonded over was the health conversation, because you and I look different, we’re different sizes, and yet I am the one who, because of my size, is never questioned about my health. You are constantly questioned and critiqued even to your face, even by complete strangers.
Aubrey [00:08:12] Mm hmm.
Jameela [00:08:12] And yet I am the one who’s absolutely fucked health wise, and you are comparatively pretty fucking healthy and less likely to die early than I am. But no one bothers me around my my health. And it just perfectly displays the whole health versus, I don’t know, fat debate.
Aubrey [00:08:31] Yeah. I mean, it’s it is a it is a very transparent moment when someone who does not know me tells me that they are concerned for my health. I’m like, What do you know about me that I don’t know what’s happening here?
Jameela [00:08:42] Yeah. Break into the lab and find my blood test results.
Aubrey [00:08:48] Totally totally. And I think it’s also very revealing about how culturally we are willing to put our perception of someone else’s health at the center of when and whether we treat someone else with dignity in a really basic way. Right. Like, even if people did know specific health conditions that you have, it would still be deeply weird of them to walk up to you as a stranger and go, I’m really concerned about your health. You probably shouldn’t be eating that, right? Like, that’s a weird meddling thing to do, but it’s our primary template for engaging with fat people. That’s the main way.
Jameela [00:09:23] 100% I mean, I’ve had. Yeah, I’ve had Roxane Gay on this podcast tell me that she’s had someone come up to her and remove an item of food from her trolley as an attempt to help her to save her from herself. Fucking amazing.
Aubrey [00:09:39] Yeah. Same thing. I mine was a watermelon. Someone took a melon out of my cart because it had too much sugar. It’s like, okay, great. Good. This is fun.
Jameela [00:09:45] It’s. It’s. It’s such a weird, like morally superior and peculiar. I just in a billion years, I wouldn’t consider doing something like that and something that you get into in your book that we both especially want to talk about was this feeling of responsibility that then people seem to have taken upon themselves as if they are like, what do you call it? Not a plainclothes policeman, just sort of at like a citizen’s arrest?
Aubrey [00:10:15] Yeah, totally. That’s a really good way of putting it.
Jameela [00:10:18] Of body fat. Do you know what I mean? Like this. Like sort of vigilante citizen’s arrest, intervention culture.
Aubrey [00:10:25] That is such a good way of putting that, because, boy, oh, boy, that’s exactly what it feels like is happening, is someone’s just like, I understand. It’s my civic duty. If you see something, say something. And I have seen a fat person. Here we go. Right. But I think it’s also a natural outcome of, you know, part of our sort of cultural script around fatness is the idea that fat people have failed, where thin people have succeeded. So as much as fat people are being told we’ve messed up in some really basic ways and somebody better come rescue us, thin people have been told you’re the people who can do the rescuing. Just look at you. You must have done something right.
Jameela [00:11:05] Yeah. Teach the others. Teach the others of your way. It’s. And then there’s like, a weird sub, like, grossness where we congratulate thin people and treat them as though, like, they had the discipline, they had the get up. But we have a similar thing you talk about in your book as we reserve this kind of, like huge respect for people who’ve, you know, lost a ton of weight and I don’t want to take anything away from those people. Not my place to judge either way. But we look at those as like they wanted it badly enough. They were hard workers, that is. I respect you now that you have conformed. And yet then we don’t talk about the fact that we have this. And I think this is quite western, but this obsessive applause for people who are skinny, who can eat loads of shit.
Aubrey [00:11:50] Yeah totally. It’s the weirdest combination.
Jameela [00:11:51] That to me is like so like the the culture of like that’s reinforced very like subliminally by supermodels eating big bowls of pasta, which as someone is in an industry with a lot of these people, like that pasta is being literally spat out into a cup most of the time. I know that because I watch it happen on set. So we you know, we’ve the nineties had a lot of like imagery and like narratives around like a a rake thin actress who is just eating a bagel or some ice cream and all the men call her a pig and everyone laughs about what, you know, what a pig she is. And they’re trying to reinforce that like, wow, she can eat so much, but she’s so skinny and eat so much shit. So we haven’t even like, just to add to the ridiculousness of this, we haven’t even come down on a side. Not that we even should. Not that it’s anyone’s business, but we can’t even decide how we feel about that. There’s no criticism for the people can eat shit who might have high cholesterol like I do, who might have this, that and the other because they’ve achieved thinness. Therein lies the disingenuousness of it, in my opinion.
Aubrey [00:12:55] Yeah, absolutely. It sort of reveals itself as like a project that’s not interested in ideological consistency. Right. And I think part of that is, listen, there’s a thing that my co-host, Michael Hobbs, talks about a fair amount, which is almost sort of a definition of a shorthanded definition of a moral panic is what do we not need evidence to believe? And I think at this point, we don’t need evidence to believe that fat people are unhealthy and that they are deserving of our scorn and that they sort of deserve whatever’s coming to them. Right. Like all of that is sort of like we don’t really need evidence of that. We need evidence to puncture that. And that only sometimes works, you know?
Jameela [00:13:38] Yeah. And also a lot of people don’t believe that fatphobia is an actual. Well, that it exists. They can they say they’re just concerned and that’s what we’ve now labeled as concern trolling. But a lot of people don’t see it as a form of discrimination because I guess there are a multitude of reasons. And I can say it’s one of the last groups and I’m not saying the only group, but one of the last groups where it is actually okay to like openly abuse and ridicule them, in my opinion, from what I see on every stand up set from what I see in movies, and in, you know, on like a big podcast full of men who are on testosterone injections, it’s a it’s an obsessive subject in which people can be incredibly dehumanizing. And it’s one of the last groups in which that’s allowed. And and I think some people justify it as not being able to be called like a hate attack or something like that, because there is an inherent blame. It’s like, well, racism is bad because someone can’t help their race. Color isms bad because of this gender like based stuff is fucked up because it can’t. But when it comes to non-binary issues or gender issues, we consider that to be a choice. We used to consider homosexuality to be a choice, and we very much so above all else, consider fatness to be a definitive choice and lack of care and lack of self-respect.
Aubrey [00:15:04] Which is so tricky because look, man, it should be people’s choice, how they want their bodies to look and how they want their bodies to be regarded. But we get culturally hung up on this sort of rhetorical device of like, if you’re choosing something, then I don’t have to respect it because you could make the choice that would earn my respect here, right?
Jameela [00:15:27] Yeah.
Aubrey [00:15:28] And that, in the case of fat people is choosing to be thin, quote unquote. I mean, I think it’s worth noting that the research shows pretty definitively that for someone my size, I am I will say I wear a size 26 currently, for someone my size, we have a less than 1% chance in our lifetime of attaining our sort of BMI mandated weight right? Of attaining what is medically defined as a quote unquote healthy weight. So even if being fat is a choice, becoming thin is not really an option, right? So like hanging on to being fat is a choice if you want to, that’s fine. Again, it should be a choice that’s available to folks. But the idea that fat people could just like, you know, put some shoulder into it and give it a you know, give it the old college try and you just get there in no time has been disproven time and time and time again.
Jameela [00:16:27] Yeah. You talk about this guy at college, I think it was who was who kind of gave you the calories in calories out spiel. And there was definitely a part of me that believed that 15 years ago when I had my own eating disorder. And I just felt like everything was my fault and it was easy and I judged myself and that, of course, would probably bleed out onto others. But it’s vital that we continue to have the conversation about the multitude of things alongside the fact that fat should be a choice and and must be all up we like inherent in our bodily autonomy conversation, when we’re talking about reproductive rights, we should remember my body, my motherfucking choice.
Aubrey [00:17:08] Mm hmm.
Jameela [00:17:09] But there are a multitude of things that contribute. I would love to get into with you because you are so, like, educative in your book around it. There’s a multitude of things that contribute someone’s size as to why they can. They may never be thin. Right. And I mean, can for example, can you describe ghrelin to me?
Aubrey [00:17:28] Yes, absolutely. So ghrelin and leptin. Well, I’ll back us up and say, I think when we think and talk about dieting or attempting to lose weight or attempting to become thin, whatever your framework is, lifestyle choice, whatever. One of the key ingredients that we talk about culturally is this idea of willpower. And actually a considerable amount of medical research now shows that what we think of as willpower is actually two hormones, ghrelin, which is sort of nicknamed the hunger hormone and leptin, which is designated as the satiety hormone. Right. So it’s worth knowing that those two kick in when your body dips below its usual intake of food or calories. Right. So it is a biological mechanism that when you start eating less, you get more hungry and it takes more food to make you full. Right. That’s not an issue of willpower. That’s an issue of like your hormones are kicking in and your body is doing what it’s supposed to do, which is make sure you get enough food, right?
Jameela [00:18:33] Mm hmm.
Aubrey [00:18:34] That feels like a really crucial part that we’re missing. I mean, I think the other thing that feels really crucial as a missing link to me is, you know, we’ve got this idea of calories in, calories out, which comes from a paper from 1959. And I’ll say this. There’s not a lot of medical research from 1959 that would sort of pass muster these days, right? There is a lot more that we have learned since then. The idea behind calories in, calories out was that you could reduce your caloric intake by 3500 calories and that would lead to one pound of fat lost. Right. And that has now been debunked very publicly in a number of journals since I think the mid 1980s was the first time that were like fully dismantled.
Jameela [00:19:22] Which is crazy because I swear I’ve read even in the last two years.
Aubrey [00:19:27] It is it has been my entire lifetime that we have known that this is not a functional model. There was one. Hang on. Let me find the quote for you, because it is bonkers. There was a research review in 2015 in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that said that calories in, calories out, quote, lacks a contemporary scientific foundation and leads to a large error in weight loss prediction even in the short term and they went on to say that there is probably not a tool that exists that can help individuals or an entire population predict weight loss or weight gain.
Jameela [00:20:07] 100%. I mean, also, like I think it’s important to say without naming the actual number, like I was eating in the low hundreds for years and couldn’t drop a pound and that’s because this shit doesn’t make any sense. It doesn’t matter. I was way under the 3500 cutting mark and I was over exercising. My body had gone into something called starvation mode, which happens incredibly fast for a lot of people. And it’s a good thing that it happens. It’s seen as a bad thing that we hate our bodies for. That is your body’s way of surviving because it thinks you’re in a motherfucking famine. It doesn’t think you have a party or a wedding that you need to lose weight for. It thinks you are being denied food and therefore is trying to save your life by putting the brakes on how thin you get so that you don’t literally waste away. So this shit is never spoken about and if anything, people are like starvation mode doesn’t exist and bla bla bla bla bla. I don’t know what the exact terminology is for it. Therefore I am not an expert. But I can tell you from lived experience of two decades that this shit doesn’t work and it damages you forever. Damages your metabolism, your mental health, and your vital organs. I had a blood test results yesterday, Aubrey, and I’ve been eating properly for six years. I’ve been eating properly and dealt with my eating disorder for six fucking years. And I was told that I across the board fucked and depleted and I have no proper nutrients and this, that and the other because I have destroyed my body for so long that it’s going to take me like 10, 15 years to catch up with the damage I did. So I just wanted to back that up with a little bit of lived experience.
Aubrey [00:21:45] Yeah. I’m sorry to hear all of it. And like, this is. I don’t know. Everybody gets to make their own choice. For me, that is much too high a price to pay.
Jameela [00:21:56] Yeah. And it’s
Aubrey [00:21:57] That is much too high a price to pay.
Jameela [00:21:59] And it’s an endless price. It’s an endless price. And no one ever tells you about that. And that kind of comes into this kind of, like, panic culture, right? Of like, it doesn’t matter what’s going to happen to them later. We’ve just got to get fat people to lose weight as fast as possible. And the Biggest Loser is one of the most damaging things that we could have seen in our culture, because you do watch people lose an astonishing amount of weight within like seven weeks or however long the show ran, but they’re exercising for 9 hours a day. And I just want to quickly add and then I will shut the fuck up. One of the many problems with that show, aside from the glorification of weight loss and the hatred of fat people, the disgusting way in which they were spoken to by the trainers working out for 9 hours a day or whatever the fuck they were doing and eating low calories might work in the short term, but after two months dressing your body like that because it’s so unnatural can cause your cortisol levels, which are your stress hormones to rise, which that means to insulin comes up to match your cortisol levels. And you can develop insulin resistance, you can develop cortisol problems, adrenal fatigue, all of which explain why most of those people, most of those people gained the weight back and then some not because they failed, not because they don’t have like willpower, but because it’s not only not sustainable, it’s literally bad and damaging for your body in the long term. Sorry.
Aubrey [00:23:16] Yeah. I mean, I think famously I can’t speak to the cortisol and insulin and all of that, but I can say that there was very famously a long term follow up study on people who were on The Biggest Loser, and they found that their metabolisms permanently downshifted by hundreds of calories per day. Right. So they were where previously they might have been burning a higher number of calories per day. Now their metabolisms are downshifted by six or 800 calories per person. Really sort of staggering numbers. And that damage appeared to be long term, if not permanent. And that’s a result of, you know, a TV show that was demanded and celebrated by a culture that wanted to watch a thin person shout at fat people and tell them they were going to die if they didn’t stay on that treadmill. You know, like it it is both modeling a deeply damaging behavior internally. Right. And modeling sort of like very near exercise addiction sort of levels. Right. And also, it was modeling how to treat fat people. And while we all learned the internal lesson, we also kind of passively picked up some of the external lessons too right, and picked up on this idea that really that is how fat people deserve to be treated. Is that the loving thing to do for a fat person is to shout at them and tell them they’re a failure and so on and so forth. I mean, it’s it’s really a brutalizing kind of logic.
Jameela [00:24:49] Well, it’s also like a weird lineage of this narrative that fat people are stupid, stupid and lazy, but specifically stupid so it’s like everything has to be broken down to them, like they are a stupid baby who doesn’t understand how to function in this world.
Aubrey [00:25:05] Yeah, I think the logic is basically like, well, you must not know because if you knew, you wouldn’t look like that. Right? Is sort of the most sort of bald faced approach to that. Right. Is that I am looking at you and I can see that you don’t know how to be a thin person. You can look at me and see that I am a thin person. So let me teach you how to be more like me. Which the relationship message of that, I will say as a fat person is, it is such a deeply, profoundly and pervasively dehumanizing thing to be looked at by most people as a fixer upper. You know what I mean?
Jameela [00:25:47] As a before picture yeah.
Aubrey [00:25:48] Yeah, as a project as like a fun little project for this person to sort of drop in on and give me a bunch of weight loss advice that would almost certainly, uh, you know, at the very least weaken my relationship with them at the very most trigger an eating disorder or a relapse right like it is. I think we have some cultural reckoning to do with that as our primary template for viewing of happy.
Jameela [00:26:28] Well, one of the things you do in your book, which I think is fucking vital, is you offer a little bit of advice for people when it comes to you you require for everyone to check in with themselves about their own bias, and you offer a little bit of information and I don’t know, some tips, some helpful tips for people when it comes to how to investigate where that urge comes from. Can you talk a bit about that?
Aubrey [00:26:54] Yeah, absolutely. So. Each of the chapters in this book, it’s called You Just Need to Lose Weight and 19 Other Myths about Fat People. Each of the chapters are pretty short and pretty direct rebuttals of very common myths about fatness and fat people. And many of them end with either action steps or sort of reflection questions for folks to think about where their biases come from. Where did you learn that you shouldn’t say the word fat? Do you test that out with people? Do you ask them what they’d like to be called? How often are you calling people fat to their face? That seems like a rare occasion. Maybe knock that off, right? I would say a couple of the biggest things that that come up as sort of repeated themes in those action steps and reflection questions are things about looking at your own relationships with fat people in your life and thinking about how often you ask for feedback. Are there ways that you could better show up for that person? Do they have feedback to deliver to you? Right. Another one is there are more sort of academic tools for assessing your own bias. The Harvard Implicit Associations test on body size is a decent way. It’s a very quick like just pull out your laptop or your iPad and take that test, see what you think, and that’ll give you sort of an indication of when and whether you’ve got implicit bias leaning one way or another. And I think the last one is that, you know, this shouldn’t be the first or only book you read by a fat person about fatness. Right. That sort of throughout the book, there are a number of recommendations of other folks work and opportunities for folks to expand their understanding of fat experiences because, boy, oh boy, I’m one person, right? And we live in a world that continues to certainly journalistically continues to regard thin people as the experts on fat people’s experience right? That when we see news stories about the quote unquote obesity epidemic, the people we see interviewed are thin people and doctors about why this is a problem. We don’t actually hear from fat people. Right. So it feels really worth in our own media consumption, figuring out how to offset that and seek out more fat voices because those aren’t generally being lifted up for us.
Jameela [00:29:13] You also offer the resource of giving fat people their own literal rebuttals as to like not even rebuttals like the book in and of itself is a rebuttal, but you give them sentences that they can say that you were empower them to use and and you galvanize them to use when confronted with that, which is a fucking hard thing to do, by the way. Like you’ve been body shamed. I’ve been body shamed both to our faces. It’s I don’t know about you, but I used to like when people would bully me to my face about my weight. I would start shaking. I like it’s. It’s hard to stand up for yourself because you don’t feel like society’s got your back. You don’t feel like anyone’s going to step in. When I would be called a racial slur, that was weirdly like I had. I used to shake less because I knew it’s likely that someone’s going to step in. But when I had to defend my weight, when I had to defend my body, there was a part of me that didn’t know if I was allowed. And I think that’s where the shaking comes from, the shame and the not being sure, which I think a lot of us face. And what you do in this book is that you tell people that you are sure that it is unacceptable and that you, Aubrey Gordon, have their fucking back.
Aubrey [00:30:21] Yes, absolutely.
Jameela [00:30:21] Can you tell me some of those sentences someone should use because it’s the new year. Everyone’s fucking thinks. It’s like it’s hyper normalized to talk about everyone else’s bodies and our own bodies. And it becomes body obsession month. Can we it’s a thin-uary, essentially. Is what I feel like we should rename it.
Aubrey [00:30:38] Yeah totally. Totally, bleh.
Jameela [00:30:38] Can you talk to me about some of those sentences? Just give me some of them.
Aubrey [00:30:44] Yeah, absolutely. I would say. So one of the big things that comes up is diet talk or people recommending diets is sort of a gentle way that people will that they think of as gentle and that I do not experience as gentle to sort of quote unquote help out a fat person is that they’ll recommend diets. And there are more and less direct ways to do this. The most direct is my personal favorite, which is I don’t actually want to hear everything you think that I should do to stop looking like me. I don’t need that. This is what I look like.
Jameela [00:31:17] Have you have you have you used these sentences personally?
Aubrey [00:31:20] Absolutely. For sure.
Jameela [00:31:21] Amazing.
Aubrey [00:31:22] With people in my family. I have used them a number of times and with co-workers and so on and so forth. Right.
Jameela [00:31:30] And did they get easier to say every time?
Aubrey [00:31:32] Absolutely. There’s no question. And they get used to hearing them from me. And they’re like, I know. I know. Right. Like, so it becomes like a way of setting a boundary that we can all reference as, Hey, we all know this is a boundary for me. Uh uh. Knock it off. I am also a fan of listen, if you want to get extremely direct. I have had times in my life where I have said this is such a hard boundary for me that if you cross it, I’m getting up and leaving and you can call me when you’re ready to talk and like move on to the next right. But I think this stuff is we think of those as unkind responses without really checking in with ourselves about how profoundly unkind it is to approach someone else and tell them to look different so that we are more comfortable. Right. Like, that is a wild and deeply self-centered thing to do.
Jameela [00:32:22] Yeah.
Aubrey [00:32:23] And I don’t think a direct response is uncalled for in that kind of stuff. I mean, you can also use softer interventions like, you know, you’re way more interesting than this conversation. And this conversation about weight loss is really boring. Can we talk about something else? You know.
Jameela [00:32:37] I know. I know the feeling of like, do you do you think I don’t know, like this idea of someone feeling like they are exposing you to a truth, that you’ve been burying your head in the sand about.
Aubrey [00:32:47] That too, for sure.
Jameela [00:32:48] It’s fucking bizarre. I Oh, it’s like I was thinking I was watching this documentary about Marilyn Monroe recently and marveling at how just by casting her in a movie, I think was Gentlemen Prefer Blonds. Right. And that was the sort of like part of the beginning of reinforcing the idea that blond women are not only more fun, but they’re also dumber. And she had to play a stupider person than she was because she is blond. I don’t know that there’s less ableist of saying what I’m trying to say. She’s less, and I’ll keep this in so we can all check ourselves. But we have this idea that the terminology they would use are stupid, but like what we’ll say is less intellectually gifted or interested. And so we they within a matter of like a short number of years, were able to create a myth based on people’s hair color that has gone on to haunt people for the next 70 something years. And the reason why I bring that up is that surely via that we can see how quickly and how expertly the media can create a bias that can go on to live relatively unchecked forever. And there’s a part of us that kind of goes, well, obviously we don’t need to do studies that prove that blond people are as. But by the way, specifically blond women. There’s no shit about how blond men are more fun and how blond men, there is this idea that blond women are more sexual. They are they are the sort of floozy, fun gal who you can’t hold a proper conversation with who you kind of have to baby and treat with kid gloves. How can we look at that and not see how quickly these tropes and myths are created?
Aubrey [00:34:36] Absolutely. And I would say even underneath that one, there’s like the underpinning of that feels even more pernicious, which is the message to men is if you to straight cis men is if you experience sexual desire for a woman, you don’t need to care about what she thinks or what she needs, and she probably doesn’t know and couldn’t tell you.
Jameela [00:34:55] Yeah, totally.
Aubrey [00:34:55] Right like it’s like such it’s such a layered garbage message. Yes absolutely.
Jameela [00:34:59] And and the beginning of many I mean, we know about the kind of like bigger tropes, like the ones about black people or brown people or Asians. Like, we’re just like we’re stereotype machines. But the one about blond hair, the reason that I became so obsessed with that is that that is, to me as meaningless. I mean, they’re all fucking meaningless. But that’s so insane. But it could be something like someone’s hair color that led to people dying their hair color in order to seem a certain way. That shows us that the media just wants to sway us and control us. And I talk I talk about I mean, like entertainment. The entertainment industry just wants to sway us, control us, make us judge ourselves, judge each other. And it’s creating all of these, like, arbitrary nonsense rules.
Aubrey [00:35:45] Well, and I would say like, listen, even for people who are not twirling their mustaches and like tying people to the train tracks, like not the full on villains. I also think, like, listen, we’re in a place where many media outlets are laying off journalists, Right. And are cutting back on fact checking staff and are cutting back on like really critical elements of being able to do their jobs well. So even passively, like the opportunities for good and solid journalistic work are fewer and further between than they have been in a long time, you know?
Jameela [00:36:18] Mm hmm.
Aubrey [00:36:19] So.
Jameela [00:36:20] Well, on top of that, it’s also important to remember and I’ve said this before on this podcast, but if you look on the side panels of most articles that you read from most newspapers, you will almost definitely see paid advertising that comes from the diet industry, whether it’s weight loss injections, pills, detox, diet shakes, all these different shit. Once I saw it, I couldn’t unsee it. And so I urge you, whenever you are reading anything that seems skewered towards a more light medical or factual background.
Aubrey [00:36:51] Yeah.
Jameela [00:36:52] look at who the fucking sponsors are, because there’s absolutely zero way that that does not influence heavily what is being said. And it’s vital that you do that, because this is. This is the only way that most media outlets are able to make money is via advertising, because very few are on subscription basis. So think about the fact that you are being fed actual propaganda potentially.
Aubrey [00:37:19] Yeah. And and listen, even if you stop short of propaganda, I think it’s not unthinkable to consider a profit motive. Right. But there is a profit motive, right, when we feel dissatisfied with our bodies, when we see how fat people are treated and want to keep when thin people want to keep themselves sort of, quote unquote, socially safe from the treatment that fat people experience, all of that stands to make somebody some money and gain somebody some power. And it’s worth checking in with ourselves about that in particular. I mean, I think very famously, famously to me, I don’t know how famously to anybody else, but the person who owns the parent company for Weight Watchers also owns a number of snack food companies and has said publicly, I’ve got them coming and going, whether they’re trying to lose weight or they’re not trying to lose weight, they’re buying stuff from me is a thing that that dude is quoted as having said in Forbes. Like this is not like a secret behind closed doors whatever murky Internet rumor stuff. This is just like on the face of it, here’s what’s happening, you know?
Jameela [00:38:30] Yeah, well, again, you and I touched on this maybe a year ago or so, but it also because 95% of diets fail, I believe you said to me last time, and that’s really like, think about that statistic for a second, 95% fail, and they’re almost designed to fucking fail. And I’d like to like briefly get into the weight loss injections that have become huge recently. And it’s so reckless to see so many women’s magazines covering it, and it’ll only be a matter of time before they start advertising it openly on their pages. But basically these weight loss injections were the ones that you’re hearing is the Skinny Pen or the Hollywood weight loss craze. They work by creating so much nausea, constipation, physical cramps, sometimes pancreas and liver issues that make you unable to eat, that you then just sort of stop eating. And so you experience a lot of times very fast weight loss, very for in a short period of time, because you have stopped eating, you are starving yourself. Now, at some point, almost invariably, people who are not diabetic, these try this medication. If I hadn’t said already, I beg your pardon, this medication is designed for diabetics. Now, some people who take these have no issues of diabetes are taking it just for weight loss now, because of this new weight loss injection craze. If you do not have diabetes, this medication is especially dangerous for you and it is unsustainable once you come off it because you have brought your metabolism to a standstill, because all it’s made you do is starve. It’s not a miracle fat changer. It’s just starvation, starvation tool that makes you not know you’re starving. When the weight comes back on and then some, it is almost impossible to get off the next time, just so you know, because you have crashed your fucking metabolism. That is very classic in any quick fix method that we’ve ever seen. We’ve talked about the Atkins diet, Keto, all these things that fucking the, the six months in which it was normalized for grown adult women specifically and some gay men to live on water that had lemon cayenne pepper.
Aubrey [00:40:40] And maple syrup.
Jameela [00:40:41] And a little bit of maple syrup in it. And people were walking around. I remember it, people were walking around dizzy and being told if they felt like shit, it was a good thing because that meant their body was really detoxing. We had grown adult people at their jobs living on lemon water with chili pepper in it.
Aubrey [00:40:58] Oh, this was a good friend of mine who I worked with did this at one point. Absolutely the kindest person I know in my life, period. Jessica. Lovely. And she was on like day four. We worked together at the time, and one of our other coworkers noticed that she was extremely on edge and was like, Hey, it might be time to like have a meal. And she burst into tears and went, You don’t care about my health. And I was like, Oh, okay. So this is no longer Jessica. We’re in like invasion of the Body Snatchers mode, you are completely being controlled by something outside of you at this point. And that’s what happens when you don’t eat food.
Jameela [00:41:35] Yeah, I mean, everyone got sick, or like a lot of people got sick and then other people just gained the weight in about a week and a half afterwards and then some and then found it very difficult to lose weight afterwards. These are designed to fail. This is it is the system isn’t broken. We’ve said this about many different institutions within the United States and the West in general. The system is working exactly as intended. They get as many diet books out there as they can, as quickly as possible, as many influences try and become the face of that new fad. And then when it fails, no one talks about the fact that it failed. We just move on to the next one. We never investigate. Oh, like 20 different massive global generational fads failed one after the other after the other. We never talk about the kidney damage. We never talk about the fact that everyone’s metabolism is now crashed. We never talk about the fact that the eating disorders are now the highest they’ve ever been. We just move on. We’re doing it again with a fucking weight loss injections.
Aubrey [00:42:27] Well, here’s what I’ll say. So we were talking earlier about like, what’s the internal lesson and what’s the external lesson from The Biggest Loser? I would say there’s an internal lesson and an external lesson with Semaglutide and these weight loss injections as well, I would say. Hmm, blood sugar management injections for diabetic people is what they are designed to be. Right. As you noted. And as a result of this fad and this many people getting this attached to these weight loss injections and this sort of frenzied attempt to get them, there is now a shortage for diabetic people.
Jameela [00:43:02] A global shortage.
Aubrey [00:43:03] Who need these drugs to stay alive, to stay in their target blood sugar range, and to avoid really intense negative health outcomes. There are a number of our listeners have written into us saying they can’t get their medication.
Jameela [00:43:17] Same.
Aubrey [00:43:18] Which they need in order to be safe and okay in the world. And I just want to put a really fine point on culturally right now we are making the decision that it is more important for people who don’t have chronic health issues, for people who are not disabled to look the way that they want to look in a swimsuit than it is for diabetic people to stay alive. Right. Like, it feels really worth noting that there is a core moral question here as well, both our own bodily safety, both doing what is, you know, right for you and all of that kind of stuff. And also it is creating ripple effects for people who don’t just want to lose some weight quickly. Right. For folks who need this as like a crucial part of their daily or weekly health regimen.
Jameela [00:44:07] I’ve spoken about this constantly online. Every time I bring up these fucking injections, I bring up the fact that we’d have not just a shortage in the United States, a global shortage we are now seeing of this medication because people can buy it off prescription for $1000 to $1500. So then it also creates this weird like wealth gap issue where the wealthy are being able to take this from people who have health issues, who can’t even if they even if they were able to access it off prescription people who are diabetic, who desperately need it survive. They can’t afford to. And the price is being slowly jacked up. We’re going to see the after effects of that in the new year. I think when the price goes up even further for it and people can’t afford it on their fucking co-pay. I heard a story from my dms because I have so many diabetics from around the world reaching out to me about the fact that they’re terrified because they can no longer get the medication they need. They were saying that this woman said that her husband went to pick up hairs after months of waiting for it from the pharmacy and the two girls working at the pharmacy asked him if they could pay him $1,000. For the pens. For the injections. Now that is really fucking disturbing. Something you and I spoke about privately of our frustrations was that during the pandemic, obesity, quote unquote, obesity was used as like a huge flare signal in which we were told obese people are responsible for the pandemic being as widespread as it is. They are the ones dying the most and the fastest. They are spreading it, essentially because they are susceptible to actually getting the virus. And it was deemed completely acceptable to go fucking ham in the worst way I’ve seen since the nineties on fat people because it was considered like you are endangering your society by being fat. So it’s interesting to me and like I said, this is just from the tip of like this is just come to me right now. But it’s interesting to me that that moral argument existed that don’t endanger others. And yet that’s absolutely fine when it comes to weight loss, we can endanger people’s lives. They can die from a lack of diabetes medication because of our pursuit to be thin. And there’s no fucking eyebrows raised about that. And yet being fat was deemed specifically in the last two years as no longer just a danger to yourself, no longer just promoting obesity, which we’ll get into. But you are literally endangering the wellbeing, health and life of your fellow citizens.
Aubrey [00:46:58] Yeah, absolutely. And we had people like Boris Johnson sort of boosting that message and making it an official sort of state endeavor that that one of the sort of primary strategies in the UK for COVID was, you know, a push for fat people to lose weight. Now, interestingly, putting on a mask takes about 10 seconds and then you’re like pretty well protected in many cases from COVID transmission. For fat people to become thin, even if you accept a standard like, you know, the highest level of safe weight loss is one and a half pounds a week for however long right. For me to become a thin person on that timeline would take years. By the time that happens, COVID will be a completely different sort of beast, right, in our public imagination. It is utterly absurd to be like we have a pandemic happening right now. Quick everybody do something that might make a difference in 5 to 10 years and has never been shown to actually function as a population level intervention, right? There is no jurisdiction, there is no municipality. There is no country in the world that has reversed its rates of fat people. There are no fewer fat people in any country in the world right now than there ever have been. Right? No one has turned that around. And that also feels worth lifting up here as a public health intervention. It makes zero sense to propose that this time we’re really going to do the thing that we’ve never done, which is make everybody in the population lose weight. Like we just don’t know how to do that. It’s it’s it’s very absurd. And it really felt like the amount of anti fatness that was sort of re-activated and kicked up during the pandemic really led back to a bunch of very old, weird, you know, dusty kind of ideas about fatness and fat people. Right. The amount of hand-wringing about the irresponsibility, the perceived irresponsibility of parents who, quote unquote, let their children get fat was a big part of that, at least as far as I saw. Right. In terms of COVID coverage, there were just all of these, like, really regressive, weird ideas that are directly counter to what we know scientifically and directly counter to most of our stated values. Right. Like, it is a deeply weird thing to look at a fat kid and then point to their parent and go, They’re your fault, right? Like, what a weird response to an adorable child looking at you, right? It is. It is remarkable to me how quickly folks just latched right back on to some of the stuff that folks were maybe starting in little ways to let go of it really felt like a
Jameela [00:49:43] Well, like it’s that’s just it, I don’t know if they were letting go. I think they were being forced to let go because of the rise of people like Lizzo and because of the, you know, like the curve coming back and also like the rise of more ethnic minorities in media, a lot of whom happened to be more curvaceous and certain allowed areas always with a small waist, you know, for some reason. But it’s I feel like a lot of people just felt like similarly with race and with gender, they just weren’t allowed to because it was being so societally accepted and people in positions of power were no longer using this garbage rhetoric. So it’s almost like when Trump came into power and suddenly everyone was like ripped off the mask and was like, Haha, we’ve been racist all along. It feels as though this is just unearthed the fact that Fatphobia never really went away. It was just being tolerated because like. Like that it came back.
Aubrey [00:50:39] Yeah. And I would say,
Jameela [00:50:41] Ten fold.
Aubrey [00:50:41] I don’t think there’s any confusion amongst fat people that anti fatness never went away. Right. I would say it’s similar to there is a lot of there are a lot of headlines right now about like, oh, no, we’re going back to thin is in and that’s going to be terrible, which I think for folks who are within reach of being considered thin people, that would be a really heartbreaking and hard thing. For someone my size. Thin has never not been in right. Like there has never been a point where people were like, yes, look at this amazing size 26 person. Right. Like that is an extremely rare thing for us culturally. But like, yeah, it it’s a fascinating thing that like I don’t I don’t I don’t think it’s that people thought anti fatness was no longer socially acceptable. I think it still is extraordinarily socially acceptable because it is accepted. But for the first time people would have to answer to it to anyone. Someone might leave a comment and go, Hey, maybe think about this or Hey, this doesn’t feel good to read or whatever. I mean, I think that’s sort of where we’re at is that someone will say something to you. If you say something anti fat potentially, depending on where you are, depending on the context. Right.
Jameela [00:51:54] Well, as you bring up in your book, like I think is the myth number ten, like we now feel as though if we don’t interrupt fatness when we see it, for example, someone just living in their body in a nice outfit online, we consider that to be that we are allowing the glorification of fatness. Can you unpack that for me? This like where this myth has come from, because I’ve really rarely seen this in any other context, but a fat person existing online is considered to be glorifying or promoting fatness.
Aubrey [00:52:28] Yeah, it’s a fascinating thing. So I will say this usually shows up as a response to a photograph of a fat person on a beach or eating a meal or with their friends, not actively working out, not talking about their weight loss goals in the caption, not any of that sort of stuff that might indicate that they are on a path toward thinness or that they know that their body is going to be perceived as socially incorrect somehow. You will get these waves of comments from people saying, of course we shouldn’t treat fat people badly, but we also can’t glorify obesity or promote obesity, which is a bizarre response to a picture of somebody having a nice day at the beach. Right like at that point those commenters are now assigning a social agenda and a political agenda that does not necessarily exist in that fat person’s post. And I think my my thinking on this is, you know, I think one of the number one questions about glorifying obesity is like, how do you respond when someone says you’re glorifying obesity? And my response to that is I don’t. That is someone who is telling me they are not interested in seeing my humanity. That is someone who is more panicked about having to look at a fat person than they are in interested in understanding our experiences or showing up for us in any real way. I’m like so deeply here for good faith conversations, and the trolls who drop in with your glorifying obesity are not people who are interested in a good fath conversation generally speaking. It is an extraordinarily strange social impulse to see a photo of someone having a good day and say there’s an agenda here.
Jameela [00:54:15] There’s no link in my bio for um 30% off at McDonald’s. Do you know what I mean? Like there’s no there’s literally no endorsement of anything. They’re just wearing a nice skirt, they’re daring to wear a skirt. They’re enjoying their lives. They look happy. They might be in love. They might be in love, God forbid, with a fat person or even more, God forbid, with a thin person.
Aubrey [00:54:37] Remarkable.
Jameela [00:54:38] It’s just it’s bonkers. And I think, you know, we’ve spoken about this before, like it comes from a fear based place, Right? We look at fat and we think about the way that fat people are ostracized and we think that we could catch it. I think we spoke about this the first time we ever hung out.
Aubrey [00:54:54] Absolutely.
Jameela [00:54:54] Like the, the contagion, fear of fatness of like God, if you make me think that fatness is okay, then I might become fat because you’ve been promoting it to me. And then if I become fat, then I’m going to be ostracized, too.
Aubrey [00:55:08] Yeah.
Jameela [00:55:09] And you really need to, like, identify that knee jerk reaction when the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. When you see a picture of a fat person. Really maybe write down the thoughts you’re immediately having. I know that sounds like a lot to ask, but if something if it’s something that keeps you up at night or makes you feel the need to comment to a stranger about their personal life or even someone that you know and love and are related to. I really like what I love about your book is that you really force people to ask themselves why. And I think like in the in the sort of in the art of conversational combat, that is one of the most powerful tools you can ever do Well, you don’t put it upon yourself to explain them to you. You ask someone to investigate themselves, and almost always in doing so, they are then forced to unpack something, empathize, and they’re not defensive because they’re busy investigating themselves. And it’s a really powerful tool that this book gifts so many people with.
Aubrey [00:56:09] Oh, that’s so kind of you to say so. Yeah. I mean, I feel like that whole art of checking ourselves and checking in with ourselves, particularly around body image, particularly around our own anti fat attitudes, or the ways that we think it’s quote unquote helpful to treat fat people almost always lead back to, as you identified, sort of a social fear right, a fear of being treated and perceived the way that fat people are treated and perceived. And in all of those cases, the answer to alleviate that anxiety isn’t get thin, stay as thin as possible all the time. None of us are in full control of that at any point, right? Most of us aren’t in control of it much at all. Nor is the answer to create as much distance in between how people perceive fat people and how people perceive you. Right. That’s also not an answer to sort of separate yourself out from fat people. The answer is to make the world a safer and more dignified and more welcoming place for fat people, right?
Jameela [00:57:16] Yeah.
Aubrey [00:57:17] But if we’re able to do that, then a lot of those social fears become less and less attractive to us. They pull on us less and less. If we see more fat people being treated better and being accepted and loved and celebrated and lifted up right in our communities, that changes the dynamics of what we’re afraid of, right? It’s a different thing to be afraid of, you know, being a fat person, say, before the burst of Lizzo onto the scene then after right like that is a marked difference in how people perceive fat people on some level, imperfect, incomplete should not be all on her shoulders, but we’re seeing like big shifts in how people sort of think about and respond to fatness and fat bodies. And that’s a result of seeing fat people celebrated right.
Jameela [00:58:13] Yeah. It also like, just like is worth stressing, even though it’s so obvious, especially to a wonderful advanced audience like this one. But shame never works for anything. Shame might create a result very quickly and very briefly as and it will not last. But shame doesn’t work. Shame creates only unhealthy, emotional and physical health in those whom we shame. And I know this as someone who was shamed into losing weight, who was shamed into staying thin, who was shamed when I gained weight. It has never had the desired long term impact that anyone wanted it to have on me.
Aubrey [00:58:50] Well, and it corrodes relationships, right?
Jameela [00:58:52] Yes.
Aubrey [00:58:53] Like it it messes with.
Jameela [00:58:55] And it corrodes our relationship with ourselves, by the way. Like that shame that you externalize on someone else that you project on someone else. It’s all seeping in to you. It’s all going in that put you’re drinking the poison yourself. Sorry, go on.
Aubrey [00:59:09] Absolutely. Well and spreading it to other people. Right. There is this concept that social psychologists will talk about called normative discontent, which is I think the classic example is when people bond over disliking parts of their bodies or say that they’re, quote unquote, venting about their body image. And what research has shown about that is that when we think we’re venting about our own body image, what we’re doing is reinforcing that narrative to ourselves, that our bodies are worthless, that they’re undesirable, that they’re whatever, and that that has an effect on the people that we’re talking to and anyone in earshot. Right? So when we’re venting about this stuff that is both reinforcing our own negative body image, we think of it as blowing off steam. It’s actually reinforcing that narrative and it’s instructing other people around you how you expect them to feel about their bodies, too, even if that’s not what we intend. That’s the message that is received by that behavior. So it just seems worth like unpacking that both it is, you know, something that we internalize and it’s something that when we internalize it and then have to deal with it, we also are creating a new social reality for the folks around us too. Creates its own sort of gravitational pull. You know.
Jameela [01:00:25] 100%. It just kind of creates this negativity loop that only benefits the people who make money off of our discontent with ourselves and sometimes each other. So what would you say is the thing that you most hope to achieve from this book?
Aubrey [01:00:42] I think we’re in a place now where thanks to shows like this one, thanks to sort of a growing, uh, social sort of and political literacy around anti fatness. More and more people are identifying anti fat bias out in the wild more and more frequently. And it’s kind of blowing their minds right their having the like galaxy brain response to the amount of anti fatness in the world and what happens at that point in someone’s political education. It happens to me on every issue when I get there is that it feels like this thing is so pervasive, I can’t imagine where to start. And anything I come up with feels incomplete and imperfect. My hope is that folks who are in that state or who are invested in this conversation and not sure where to start, pick up this book, get their own grounding for themselves in facts and science and history and all of that sort of stuff, so that they can then go out and do what they know how to do, which is tell their cousin who won’t shut up about CrossFit, that they don’t want to hear it right now or talk to their parents about, you know, ditching some outdated language or ideas about fat people and what they should or shouldn’t be wearing. Right. Or talk to the health care providers in your life about their biases and treatment of fat patients. Right. These are all things that many of us know how to do. We know how to kind of get our friends and family in line. We know how to speak up when things aren’t right. But on this particular issue, if folks don’t feel like they’ve got their grounding in a narrative that makes sense to them in some facts that feel solid to them, that will be a barrier to taking action. So my hope is to remove that barrier.
Jameela [01:02:29] Yeah, it feels like this is the much needed antidote to the age of misinformation. You know, we have we have it coming out in many other areas and it continuously gets overlooked. And, you know, as we mentioned earlier, the pandemic brought back up so many old, inaccurate, debunked myths around fat people and fatness that desperately needed some proper fact checking. And I thank you for always doing due diligence in your precision around these subjects and how, like, even though you have an emotional footing in this, I mean, right now we’re talking and you’re in a closet in your mother’s home and behind you is a like a 1980s weighing scale. That is your childhood weighing scale. But, it’s still there. Why?
Aubrey [01:03:19] It’s my mom’s house and she still has it. I don’t know. It’s moved with her across state lines a couple of times. And for the listener, I will say it’s not a flat digital scale. It’s the old timey doctor’s office, one.
Jameela [01:03:30] That you have to keep tapping back and forth until it looks like like a spirit level, right? Until it’s completely straight.
Aubrey [01:03:36] So I’ll say this. Any time I come down here, I come down here every December and spend a little time with family. And when I do, I record in this closet because it’s the most sort of soundproof room in the space. And every time this is the one place where you can set a chair and a laptop. So every time this scale is in the background, this time when I came down to visit, I told my mom that it had been like a kind of hilarious icebreaker in interviews to have this scale in the background, and she felt badly about it, so she hung a picture on the scale when I first got here, but it was like a little tiny picture so you could see that it was a picture hanging on a like it didn’t cover it up. She was like, I just thought I’d decorate it and I thought was really really funny and really charming.
Jameela [01:04:21] Oh my god, that’s so that’s so funny. If you ever end up burning that scale, please send us a video. But what I’m going to say is that you are someone who, as a child were put on diets, encouraged to diet, that that happened throughout a large portion of your life. You have faced fatphobia you faced discrimination for years. You didn’t feel safe to even put your face and real name out there online because of the danger that you were in. This is something that has very much so personally affected you, and yet in all of your work, staggeringly to me, you managed to be personal, but also not personal in your arguments. This is a this is like a factual precision strike that we desperately need, where it becomes incredibly obvious to someone like me that your your activism [inaudible] says, you know, it should always be trauma informed but never trauma led. And I really feel that about your work. And so everyone should go out and buy You Just Need to Lose Weight and 19 Other Myths About Fat People. It is whether you are fat, whether you are not, whether you know fat people or don’t, which would be really fucking weird. I hope you will go out and buy this book because it is. It’s like armor. It’s incredible. You feel I feel like one of the fucking Avengers now, Like I have a shield of information around me. And so. Buy the book. Write in, follow Aubrey. She’s the fucking best. So many of us follow her to know what the right thing in the world is, which is so much stress for you to hear. But come on to my podcast a thousand other times. I could talk to you all day.
Aubrey [01:06:02] Likewise. It’s a treat every time. Thank you so much for having me.
Jameela [01:06:06] I’m so happy that you’re my friend.
Recent EpisodesSee All
May 25, 2023
EP. 164 — A Journey of Healing with Jamie Windust
Guest Jamie Windust
Author and speaker Jamie Windust joins Jameela this week to share about their personal journey of trauma and healing.
May 18, 2023
EP. 163 — The Writers’ Strike with Megan Amram
Guest Megan Amram
Writer on Parks & Recreation and The Good Place, and showrunner on Bumper in Berlin -Megan Amram – joins Jameela to break down what is happening with the writers’ strike.
May 11, 2023
EP. 162 — Building Mental Hygiene with Zak Williams
Guest Zak Williams
Mental health advocate, CEO of Prepare Your Mind, and son of the late great Robin Williams – Zak Williams – joins Jameela this week for an in-depth discussion on how to build out mental hygiene.