6 — Roxane Gay
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to “I Weigh” with Jameela Jamil. I hope that this episode finds you well. I myself am fine to the point where I’m actually, I’m actually slightly concerned I might be doing too OK in all of this. I don’t know if I feel ready for lockdown to be lifted for me exclusively, very happy for everyone else to be set free, but I am an antisocial introvert and I don’t like loud noises or funny smells or people or crowds or strangers. And I love being inside my house. I hate wearing shoes. How are we going to wear heels ever again? Can you imagine what that’s going to look like? All of us in our jeans and our heels covered in makeup, just miserable because we’ve finally found freedom as adults. I don’t know. I don’t know what it’s gonna be like. I think I think I’ve lost any socializing training I have built up over the last 30 years. Oh, God. It’s gonna be like a wild zoo animal just released into the public. So, yeah, I feel very deeply concerned for myself and for others, but excited for society to resume some sort of normality. And I hope that everyone is gonna be very safe when they go back out into the world and very protective and aware that there can be a second wave. So don’t get cocky. Don’t go out naked without a face mask. In fact, you can go out naked. Just don’t forget your face mask. I don’t think it goes in by the other holes. Anyway. Christ. Sorry. So I do not have much to report from this week because nothing is happening. And so it’s quite astonishing. But I have been getting pissed off at diet and detox and fasting apps that seem to be coming at us thick and fast on social media. I don’t know if you are noticing this, but it’s like they have gone tenfold. There is a mania to it. It’s every fifteen seconds and the adverts are always for young slim girls, and they try and make it sound like a fun game, like fasting, starving yourself is a fun game, compete with your friends, do it as a group. And I find it very, very offensive and dangerous to encourage young people in particular because they really target young people and women especially. They target us to starve ourselves without being monitored by any kind of health care professional. In general, A, don’t use an app to diet. Please don’t take advice from Tik Tokers or celebrities or actors or models or, or anyone other than a certified healthcare professional when it comes to changing your body or nutrition. And however you have to do that even if it’s reading a doctor’s book or going to a GP or saving up the money to go and see a nutritionist. Anything is better than going down, just falling down the long, endless dark well, that is an eating disorder which you can easily slip into via these methods of quick fix and being told how to manage your diet and fitness by idiots online who are just greedy assholes. Anyway. I think today’s guest is the perfect person in particular for the subject. She talks about diet culture brilliantly and fat phobia. She’s one of the truly great writers of our time. She’s someone I look up to so much. I’m so inspired by her. I’m also very intimidated by her, which I hope doesn’t come across too much in this episode. ‘Cause I was fan-girling so hard. I’m such a big fan and I’d never had the chance to meet her before. So I, my sort of inner beg friend just jumped out. I tried not to gush too much. Her name is Roxane Gay and she is a phenomenal writer and speaker and role model to my generation, especially someone who has been through a lot of trauma in my childhood and struggled with body image. Her work has meant a lot to me. She has books like “Bad Feminist” and “Hunger”, both of which I beg of you to read because they’re such a fascinating take on society and on our inner demons and how we cope with them. She really got personal with me in this episode and she pulled no punches. She told me all about her childhood, some of which was abusive, and she talked about how that manifested in her physically. Later on in life, she talks about how society treats her as a larger woman, especially as a larger black woman. And she talked to me a lot about “concern trolling”, which I think is a growing problem that drives me mad in this day and age. It’s really prevalent and it’s becoming worse as the days are going by, almost especially during lockdown. I feel like people are getting meaner and more judgmental ’cause they’ve got more time on their hands to bully other people. What “concern trolling” is for those of you who don’t know is, let’s say you have a woman, in particular is normally a woman, a larger woman who is posting a picture of herself. Just minding our own business, looking fabulous, having a great time, posts it on social media. If you click onto the comments section, you will see hundreds, if not thousands, of comments saying that she is unhealthy and she’s going to die soon and she needs to lose weight for her health and she is a bad example for society, that she is a danger to society because she’s and I quote, “promoting obesity”, when all she’s doing is just living her damn life, showing off her jacket to the rest of us on the Internet, not causing any harm or any events or being any kind of danger to anyone. This is called “concern trolling” where we are, society wants to criticize someone but doesn’t want to seem outwardly fat phobic. And so instead we disguise it as concern for their health. But we don’t know their health, fat or thin, isn’t an indicator of health. I’m thinner than a lot of my fatter friends, and I have much shitter health than any of them do. And so you don’t know you’re not an MRI. You can’t look at someone and know their health. That doesn’t always equate to diabetes or heart problems or a lack of fitness. Look at Lizzo. And so we talk a little bit about that and call that out in society. And it’s something that if you see it, you should also call it out and definitely not participate in it. It’s none of your business how big someone is or what their health is. It’s so inappropriate to objectify someone’s body like that. And so I hope that you find this episode interesting. She’s very smart and a wonderful presence. I can’t believe I got her on this podcast and I was thrilled to get this chance to talk to her. So without further ado, I will stop babbling on. I give you the absolutely fabulous Roxane Gay. Roxane Gay, hello. Welcome to the “I Weigh” podcast.
ROXANE GAY [00:07:00] Hello. Thanks for having me.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:07:01] Oh, it’s such a pleasure of mine. I’ve been drawn to you for a really long time for many reasons. I think you are probably one of my favorite writers ever. But also, it’s your relentless outspokenness and refusal to be muzzled in any way by anyone that I really love. And I draw a lot of inspiration from, especially in a world in which we try to heavily shame women for showing strength and defiance. So thank you for being that role model to me and many other people, I think. And what, what was the turning point for you in your life when you decided to start speaking out publicly, especially on a, on such an inflammatory platform as Twitter? Was there a particular moment? Seeing that you are the queen of the clap back?
ROXANE GAY [00:07:44] You know, it was definitely not. There was not a particular moment with regards to Twitter. I just happened to be on Twitter. I started writing many, many years ago. I really started writing when I was four.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:07:57] Wow.
ROXANE GAY [00:07:58] And I always took myself seriously as a writer, even as a child, then a teenager, even if the world was not going to take me seriously. And in my early 30s, I started writing on my own blog and the website of this magazine, I co-edited with my friend Matt Siegel. And so I had opinions and I just thought, well, no one’s going to read them, but I have every right to share them. And so I did. And I was living in Hancock, Michigan at the time, which was a town of 4,000. I was going to graduate school at Michigan Technological University. And so Twitter gave me a way to sort of be at a cocktail party in my pajamas. And I could connect with other writers I admired and connect with just people from all over the world and still feel like a part of the world even though I was living in this very rural and remote place. And so it just sort of snowballed over the years in terms of, I was always opinionated, but I just started having more and more followers.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:09:06] Right. And so do you, do you ever look back and have any regrets about some of the things you’ve clapped back on or, or you’ve spoken out about? Is there anything you would have done differently?
ROXANE GAY [00:09:17] Not one.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:09:18] Love that.
ROXANE GAY [00:09:20] No. Because, you know, I’ve definitely made mistakes and I’ve definitely overreacted at times. But, you know, when you are a woman of color, a queer person, a fat woman on the Internet, people are horrific. And so you develop a very thin skin. And for me, I, I have become very reactionary, which is why I’ve had to pull back just because it’s just not-.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:09:44] Worth it?
ROXANE GAY [00:09:45] Conducive to-.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:09:45] Oh, right.
ROXANE GAY [00:09:46] Yeah. It’s not worth it at all. And my fiancé is not, she’s online, but she’s not online the way I am. And so sometimes when I’m telling her some really bizarre thing that happened on the Internet, she just looks like, what, what are you talking about? Like “Come join me here in the physical world”.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:10:05] Yeah.
ROXANE GAY [00:10:08] And so. You know, I definitely, I do try to be more mindful now that I’m older and that I have a larger following. But I don’t have any regrets because we do what we do in the moment.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:10:18] Well, yeah, you’ve spoken a lot about the fact that it is okay to be a flawed human, even if you are a feminist, that you are allowed to fuck up and continue to grow and continue to learn, which is something that I definitely subscribe to. I have so many fuckups, iconic fuckups, recent fuckups. In fact, you’ve actually sent me comforting DMs during my fuckups, before. I, and I, I’ve grown to accept that as a part of my journey and a part of my journey that I don’t want to hide from people, because if I can share my fuckups with other people, then they’ll feel less alone in theirs. And maybe we can all just grow the fuck up together.
ROXANE GAY [00:10:56] Absolutely.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:10:56] I guess. So I appreciate that. My boyfriend gets very stressed out by the trolling I get on the Internet and reads every single comment. It’s nice to know that your partner isn’t super engaged.
ROXANE GAY [00:11:08] No, she’s not. I mean, she sees things and gets outraged on my behalf and sometimes responds, but mostly she’s on my side, not mostly, she’s always on my side, but she’s always thinking of the sort of the bigger picture that there is more than these Twitter trolls and that this is not indicative of the world beyond Twitter. And she’s always right. Every time I think the world is coming to an end because someone said something shitty on the Internet like the world indeed does not come to an end.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:11:41] No. What do you think is the reason behind why people are so particularly vitriolic towards women? I mean, of course, patriarchy is behind all of it. But.
ROXANE GAY [00:11:51] Yes.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:11:51] You talk a lot about, you’ve spoken before about how we build feminists up almost specifically to then tear them down.
ROXANE GAY [00:11:58] For sure. You know, I think that women make very easy targets and women who believe that they’re human and deserve to be treated as people and deserve to be treated with dignity. People get very upset by that and-.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:12:10] Still feels very modern to them, doesn’t it?
ROXANE GAY [00:12:12] Yes. And, you know, women should just shut up and look pretty basically, is what a lot of people think. And there’s so much contempt for women. And so when a woman is independent or intelligent or self-actualized. Or when she can afford things that just really incenses a certain segment of the population, mostly men, but also some women who unfortunately have bought into misogyny. And so you just have to recognize that if you dare to stand up for yourself, you are going to make yourself a somewhat larger target.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:12:48] And I’ve noticed a kind of pattern with myself, with other women in the public eye, with, with you even and with Greta Thunberg and the, Meghan Markle. There was this per-, there’s always this period of building, building us up, and, and we have, we get called the sort of patron saint of feminism and the voice that everyone’s been waiting for and the savior. And I remember seeing an article, a title about me about a year and a half ago that scared the shit out of me, which is “Jameela Jamil is the Feminist Hero We Need”. And I was like, that is a disaster. ‘Cause I haven’t asked for this. I haven’t put myself in this position. I have not proclaimed to know anything. I’m just doing my best and saying what I know so far. And that always leads to a huge fucking height that you can fall from. They put us on these pedestals and treat us as though we are these prophets and these saints, almost so that the tear down can be so spectacular and glorious.
ROXANE GAY [00:13:49] Oh sure.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:13:49] We saw it with Lizzo. She was everyone’s favorite for about 18 months. And then where’s some fucking chaps, I don’t know what they were, some assless pants and the world just turned on her so fast. And it’s not because of the pants. It’s not because of anything I’ve particularly done or anything anyone, woman has done. We have a kind of two year span in which you are allowed to be popular and celebrated and strong. And after it’s over.
ROXANE GAY [00:14:12] Oh for sure.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:14:13] Tear people down.
ROXANE GAY [00:14:13] Because people want, they want to admire you, but they don’t want you to take it too seriously. They don’t want you to start to believe that you’re as good as they say you are. And so when you start to demonstrate any measure of confidence, all hell breaks loose. And you know, I, and I write about this in “Bad Feminist”. People love to put feminists and women and people of color and queer people and all of the above on pedestals. And then, they, well they do so so that they can look up. But they also do so so they can knock you off.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:14:44] Yeah.
ROXANE GAY [00:14:44] Because there’s pleasure in that. There’s pleasure in taking someone down who seems, you know, to have, to think too highly of themselves.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:14:51] And this is my full tin hat theory. For I go one step further to ask if you think that it’s also when we are taken and built up and then dragged across the mud by our hair. Do you think that that is because they are sending out a signal to other women, in particular women of color, that like, “Hey, hey. Don’t step out. Don’t stare. Don’t, don’t speak out about something. Don’t get too strong. Don’t get too confident. Don’t be too proud of yourself. Don’t be too outspoken. Otherwise, what we’re doing to her, we will do to you”. You stick your neck out, we will chop your head off.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:15:28] Yeah, that’s definitely not a tinfoil theory. That’s reality for sure. They often times create object lessons out of people who rise too high too fast. We saw that with Hillary Clinton, even though, I mean, there are extenuating circumstances there because of her baggage, her husband. But still, you know, that was definitely a warning. We saw it again in 2020 with Elizabeth Warren, Kamala, Kamala Harris, and to a lesser extent, Amy Klobuchar. Any woman who dared to believe she could be president was pretty much dismissed out of hand, out of hand. And now we’re left with two ancient white men.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:16:10] Yes, I do, who I don’t know will either of them will be even alive to see what’s going to happen to this world based on their policies.
ROXANE GAY [00:16:20] I know. You know, I, I don’t believe in ageism. And I think that older people have a great deal to offer.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:16:25] Yes.
ROXANE GAY [00:16:26] But when the only person that we look to for leadership is an older white man. I mean, look at what they’ve done to the world. Look where we are because of their policies and ideologies. So perhaps we should try something different.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:16:40] If only. You and I before this started, we’re talking about Barack Obama who gave you a big old shoutout on the Internet. That’s good. I miss him. Not to say that anyone is perfect, but good lord, I miss him and Michelle. So what I would like to ask you. This is a podcast that’s about mental health and it’s about shame. And you write so openly about your life experiences. So aside from the shaming of women who speak out. What would you say has been one of your great shames that you’ve been working to overcome your whole life?
ROXANE GAY [00:17:16] I think one of my great shame-, I don’t carry a lot of shame. I’m not sure why. I think I feel shame when I when I know I’ve done something wrong. When I know I’ve disappointed someone that’s important to me, but I don’t feel a lot of shame about myself. But the one great shame of my life certainly has been my body and being fat. And that’s something I work to overcome. Absolutely. Every single day.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:17:47] Yeah. I don’t know how much of our shame generally as people is actually something that we grow from within. As you said, with bad behavior, of course. But I think most of the shame that all of us feel is projected from the outside in. I think it’s planted in us when we’re very young and kind of grows out from within. And, and so I feel similarly to you and that shame is not something that personally resonates with me. But I feel ashamed to a point where it started to infect me. And so I’ve been on a kind of seven year journey to find all of that shame and, and attack it. Understand it, attack it and get rid of it. Can I ask about your journey with your body? I know that it, I know that your body started to change after your eating habits started to change after you were sexually assaulted around the age of 12. And so would you mind for people who haven’t read “Hunger” and who aren’t yet familiar with your work, who are lucky to get to meet you now, would you mind talking me through how your food and your body changed after that incident when you were 12?
ROXANE GAY [00:18:52] Yes, when I was 12, I was gang raped by a group of young men that I knew and in the aftermath, I was a very naive young woman. I was a girl, actually, I was a child. I didn’t know anything about sex, I was very sheltered. And so I was really traumatized by it and I wanted to make myself bigger because I wanted to be safer. And I just thought if I was bigger than those boys might leave me alone. Which is the logic of someone who’s deeply traumatized and doesn’t know that she can just talk to her parents. And so I turned to food because food is comforting. And it was the vice that was available to me at the time. And over the years, I gained a significant amount of weight. And then in my 20s, you know, I was realizing, oh, my goodness, I have built my body into a fortress and I have no idea what to do about it. And so I definitely struggled not only with weight, but with self-esteem and with romantic relationships and everything really throughout my 20s and 30s and to a lesser extent my 40s because I feel like I’ve started to get my shit together.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:20:16] And I think it’s interesting that you talk about it as a kind of barrier that you build between yourself and the world. I think a lot of people don’t realize how we utilize our bodies to protect ourselves and also how we push our feelings down with food. I’m someone who did that after my sexual assault as a child. I used food as my main source of instant comfort. Instant gratification. And then also I had a family that were very obsessed with my weight. And I know that that’s something you have, you come from and you come from a Haitian background. That’s right?
ROXANE GAY [00:20:49] Yes, I do. My parents are Haitian-American.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:20:51] And so you come from a slender family?
ROXANE GAY [00:20:54] Yes. My family is all quite thin and not like freakishly thin, but regularly thin.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:21:02] Yeah. And so how, how is their attitude towards your changing body in particular? They had no idea why your body was changing, why your food habits were changing? Was that something that was accepted in your household?
ROXANE GAY [00:21:13] No, they struggled with it quite a lot because it changed seemingly overnight. And they didn’t know why. And they tried all kinds of things to try and figure it out. And I was getting bigger and bigger. And they certainly did not appreciate that. And, so it was challenging and I wanted to be able to express to them, you know, something really bad happened to me, this is why I’m doing this. But at the same time, once you start to keep a secret, you become very attached to it. And so I became in many ways very nurturing of my secret. Like the longer I kept a secret, the more I believed I had to. And so it was many, many years. They did not really find out what happened to me until “Bad Feminist” came out.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:22:02] I didn’t, I didn’t tell anyone until I was much older because I was afraid that my dad would kill that person. And then I would, then my dad would go to jail because of me. That was my mentality. Or my brother would or any of the people that I loved. And so I imagine that’s also something that, I don’t know if that was your experience, but that is a reason that a lot of children don’t end up speaking out about abuse or bullying that they’re suffering ’cause they’re worried about their parents acting back out.
ROXANE GAY [00:22:34] Yes. That was not my concern, I knew that if I told my parents, they would fight for me. I think intellectually but emotionally, I was worried that they wouldn’t believe me or they would think that I deserved it. And I have wonderful parents. And so I’m not quite sure why I thought that. But I think it’s because I felt, speaking of shame, so much shame that I had let this terrible thing happen that I was so worthless that someone was willing to do something like this to me. And so I just thought, well, no, this is gonna have to be my burden.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:23:09] God, that’s so young to take on that mentality.
ROXANE GAY [00:23:12] It is.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:23:12] And so, yeah, of course. And, and food becomes such an, not just food, but our bodies become such an interesting way of us wearing our trauma without people realizing whether that’s you know, I think we traditionally think of anorexia being how we see trauma play out like very, very thin bodies. And that’s the cry for help. And you’re showing that like, look, I’m hurting my body, but we, but we don’t ever look at the other side of an eating disorder or a compulsive eating situation as something where we should look at that as like, oh, I wonder if that’s, I wonder if there’s something going on there that is emotional beneath the surface. And I wonder if that person’s okay. We just look at that as a problem to be fixed and, and and we look upon it with less compassion. We look at it as a laziness or a lack of self care or some sort of inconvenience or an embarrassment even. I think some families look at it. And I know that growing up for me, having a family that didn’t accept my body type definitely perpetuated further my issues with the way that I look. Do you feel like that happened with you?
ROXANE GAY [00:24:21] Yes and no. Yeah. I mean, I definitely carried a lot of negative self-esteem because of how my family understood and viewed and idealized certain kinds of bodies. And, you know, it was very hard to break some of that conditioning and to recognize that I was actually not the problem, that their insistence upon thinness was the problem, that their sort of equation of worth and thinness was the problem. That, I really struggled for a long time. And I know that they were. Looking out for me in their own way and that they were trying to help rather than harm me. It was indeed very harmful.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:25:10] Yeah, I don’t think, I don’t think they had access to the information that we’ve had since we were much younger than they were. The Internet has just been such a gift of me understanding mental health and all kinds of different experiences that I wish the previous generation had had more access to. What has your journey been like then with your body? What have you tried to do emotionally to reconcile your sense of self with the body that you exist in? Do yo, have you tried therapy over the years? Like, how have you come to a place where you mentioned that, you know, now in your 40s to a lesser extent, you don’t, you don’t feel any longer as, as much like you are burdened by your self image. What have you done to get there?
ROXANE GAY [00:25:56] Therapy, therapy, and more therapy. I’ve been in therapy off and on since I was 14 years old and I started going back to therapy regularly about three years ago, or two and a half years ago because I could finally afford it. And it’s always been incredibly helpful. And I also got a nutritionist and a good nutritionist is really like food therapy.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:26:25] Right.
ROXANE GAY [00:26:25] And you talk about, like the nutritionist I see prioritizes intuitive eating and sort of this idea that you can eat what you want until you’re satiated and that you don’t necessarily have to focus on restriction as a way of having a healthy relationship to food. And it’s been incredibly helpful and it’s been incredibly challenging, because when you grow up in diet culture and you think that you have to eat X number of calories and you, you can’t eat this and you can’t eat that. It’s really hard to take on a new way of thinking about food and thinking, oh, I can eat for pleasure, I can eat for satisfaction and I can just stop when I’m full. And so, you know, it’s definitely a work in progress, but it’s, both of those have been incredibly helpful tools.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:27:27] I probably only stopped binge eating about four or five years ago. I used to eat so fast that it wasn’t even an option for me to know when I was full. Do you know what I mean? It was, I was way past the fucking point before it was too late for me. And so I would stuff myself until I was so full that I would only be able to sit on all fours in order to just breathe, because I couldn’t, I couldn’t take any more food physically in. And that would lead to then three weeks of starving myself. Did you, did you Yo-Yo diet throughout your 20s like during that time? I think we’re not too far apart in age. And so we would have come up around the same time. And heroine chic and all this bullshit and all these terrible diet advice articles that were constantly being pushed towards us.
ROXANE GAY [00:28:10] Um, I can’t say that I yo-yo-ed. I just, I would diet, but I was always on an upward trajectory.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:28:16] Yeah.
ROXANE GAY [00:28:16] In terms of my weight and, you know, I definitely would do bingeing and purging. I, when I binge, though, I didn’t binge like in the ways you see in Lifetime movies per se. But I did binge. And then for many years I binged without purging, which is of course, what would contribute to a significant weight gain.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:28:40] Yeah.
ROXANE GAY [00:28:41] And then I did become a bulimic in my 30s, in grad school. And, because I think eventually an eating disorder is going to find you if you look hard enough. And so that was something I struggled with for many years and, you know, I don’t know that you ever fully recover for some, from something like that. I think it’s something that requires active attention all the time.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:29:10] And reprogramming.
ROXANE GAY [00:29:12] Yes.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:29:12] Full reprogramming, so much unlearning to do. We’ll talk about this more in just a second. We’re gonna go to break. OK, so on the binge eating thing, and this is just something that I find very interesting and also I think a lot of my followers do, because we all struggle with the fact that when you are deprived for so long, you naturally often can just fall off the wagon and food becomes so weaponized. And, and so you project so much onto food that then it can lead to a lot of binge eating issues. What therapy was the most helpful to you when it came to controlling that? Or would you say it’s been your nutritionist?
ROXANE GAY [00:29:54] I would say it’s been my nutritionist. Therapy, I’ve just been working on dealing with PTSD and self-esteem and recognizing that my worth and my body are not synonymous. And in, with my nutritionist, it’s been more about developing a healthier relationship to food, because two years ago I had weight loss surgery because I finally hit the wall where I just realized I was not going to be able to continue at the weight I was at and be happy. And I was not going to be able to lose the amount of weight that I needed to lose without some kind of external help.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:30:36] Yeah.
ROXANE GAY [00:30:36] And-.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:30:37] And when you say happiness, you’re, you’re not just talking about the fact that, oh, then I’m happy with my body because I’m slimmer. You also mean that, you know, I’ve heard you talk about and I’ve seen you tweet about how the world is not built for bigger people, airplane seats and just awful other people. So.
ROXANE GAY [00:30:56] Correct.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:30:56] Yeah.
ROXANE GAY [00:30:56] Yeah, happiness means a lot of different things. Mostly it’s about finding a way to fit in the world. Yeah, because when you are very fat or very, very fat, not Lane, not Lane Bryant fat, but fat where you can’t find clothes fat. There are very few places where you belong in the world and where you fit in, where you feel comfortable and people let you know every day what they think about you. And I was in a parking lot in the grocery store in my town. I was living in Lafayette, Indiana at the time because I was teaching at Purdue. And a man yelled at me to get out of the way. And I think he called me “You fat fuck”. And it was not the first time and it was not going to be the last time and something, and I had just been through, not a breakup, but a pause in my long term relationship at the time, and it just was everything sort of hitting the fan and I just knew, realized my life was never going to change unless I did something drastic to change it.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:32:00] Yeah.
ROXANE GAY [00:32:00] And so I decided that day to get weight loss surgery. And so I started calling around surgeons in Lafayette, Indiana. But they did not inspire confidence.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:32:09] No.
ROXANE GAY [00:32:09] And so I actually ended up finding, I was living in the L.A. part time. I was go-, I was living in L.A. and coming back to Indiana for teaching and then going back to L.A. And I found a great surgeon here in Los Angeles. And he was wonderful. And I have no regrets. I don’t recommend it, necessarily, but I have no regrets.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:32:30] Is that because it has a low success rate sometimes? Or is it because it’s painful?
ROXANE GAY [00:32:35] No.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:32:35] Or is it because, why do you not recommend it?
ROXANE GAY [00:32:38] Because I think it’s barbaric to completely change your physical anatomy. I think that the side effects are brutal, and-.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:32:46] I don’t know anything about the side effects. Would you tell me?
ROXANE GAY [00:32:49] Well, you have to be on vitamins for the rest of your life. It can lead to hair loss. It can lead to bone deterioration. You know, now they’re doing mostly sleeve gastrectomy, but they used to do bypasses, where they would literally bypass part of your intestines. And I think when you start to alter your anatomy that drastically. We don’t know what the long term consequences are, we know, like we have 10 years of data, but we don’t have 20 or 30 years or more. And so it’s just a lot. But, it’s also really expensive and many insurance companies don’t cover it. But when people ask me if they should get it, you know, I do sugg-, I tell them the good and the bad about it.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:33:30] Yeah. I think that’s fair.
ROXANE GAY [00:33:30] And if I had to do it again, I would do it again.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:33:33] Fair enough. I want to talk to you about “concern trolling”. ‘Cause I think that’s something that my, some people I see. I mean, the amount of fucking concern, concern trolling that I see you have to deal with is unbelievable. And I think it’s very admirable the way that you call it out and you name and you shame. It’s something that I particularly root for whenever you are clapping back against a troll. But a lot of people that think they are body positive still think that they are performing some sort of service by giving unsolicited advice to strangers on the Internet who have, who are just existing. They’re just existing. They have a profile picture up. Maybe they’ve posted a nice picture of themselves. God knows we’ve seen it with Lizzo in the last year, I’d say. And so how, how do you cope with trolling, with concern trolling, specifically about your body?
ROXANE GAY [00:34:31] These days I just call it out because fuck you. And I have a doctor, you know, all of these sort of self-appointed M.D.s, like they read one CNN article about fatness and decide that they somehow are experts, you know, at the bottom of console, cerrone, concern trolling is this really weird sentiment that fat people are somehow a drain on the health care system?
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:34:54] Yeah.
ROXANE GAY [00:34:55] To live in a human body means you’re going to need medical care at some point in your life. And if you drink, if you smoke, if you walk down the street, if you run too much, like there are any number of things that will require you to see a doctor. And this idea that it’s only fat people who are somehow an inordinate drain on the system is incredibly offensive. And I spend a disproportionate amount of my time trying to help people separate fatness from health because they’re not necessarily intertwined in the ways people think they are.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:35:34] Yeah.
ROXANE GAY [00:35:34] There are things we should know and be mindful of certainly. There are, I think tendencies towards certain conditions when you’re fat, but I know plenty of healthy fat people and I know plenty of fat people, myself included, who workout every day and have personal trainers and eat well. So, you know, when people concern troll, I just have to break them.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:35:58] Yeah.
ROXANE GAY [00:36:02] I just do.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:36:02] I talk about this a lot because I see women who I am friends with, who I post pictures of, who are, who are fat and the way that the comments sections suddenly start becoming around how I and she are both promoting obesity and promoting fatness and promoting an unhealthy lifestyle. We only do this with women. We never say.
ROXANE GAY [00:36:23] Absolutely.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:36:23] We never say that famous fat men are-. No one ever said, of all of the commentary around Notorious B.I.G. No one ever said that his size was a danger to society. The same thing for, for other large men within society, like James Corden, I think is one of the first people I’ve seen who is a man who’s being called out and fat shamed over his weight. But generally throughout history and we’ve had John Goodman, it was just, he was so beloved by people. No one ever said that he was a danger in any way to society. And something I keep trying to explain to people is that I am, because of my anorexia, because of the phases of my anorexia, I have way worse health than any of my fat friends. And I have pre-diabetes and I have high cholesterol, and I have a lot of the conditions that one would associate traditionally with fatness. And yet, because I exist in a slim body, I don’t work out. I can’t work out. My joints aren’t very strong and I’ve got a low bone density ’cause I used to starve myself so much. I find myself in a situation where my fat friends do workout every day or even just look, again to bring up Lizzo. But you take me and Lizzo. That woman can fucking dance rings around me. She puts on an athletic performance every single night. Most nights of the year. And it’s something that I find so frustrating. So I’m glad that you speak out about it, and I will continue to support that conversation in any way I can. So, OK. So over the last couple of years, I think it’s fair to say that it’s been a huge turnaround in the way that we do talk about bigger bodies. Of course, there are still fat shaming, there’s still concern trolling, there is still negativity. But en masse, for the first time in our lifetimes, I would say, we are seeing fat bodies being celebrated and being allowed to be beautiful and being on the cover of Vogue and, and being shot in high fashion. How’s, has that impacted you in any way emotionally?
ROXANE GAY [00:38:21] Well, I would actually push back and say, I don’t think we’re seeing it en masse. I think you can count on one hand the women who-.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:38:27] That’s fair.
ROXANE GAY [00:38:27] Are being celebrated.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:38:28] Yeah.
ROXANE GAY [00:38:29] And so we have a very, very long way to go, because not only can we count on one hand the women who are being celebrated whenever they do make a magazine cover or win an award or whatever.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:38:40] Yeah.
ROXANE GAY [00:38:41] The first thing you hear is stop glorifying fatness.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:38:44] Yeah, of course.
ROXANE GAY [00:38:45] As if just existing glorifies fatness. But, you know, are things getting better? Slowly. You know, Lizzo, poor Lizzo, we put so much on her shoulders just for existing and being awesome. But it’s great that she’s out in the world. But she’s also not, in my, she’s not like fat the way people frame her as like, do you see what she does during her shows? Like as you said, like it’s a very athletic performance.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:39:13] She’s like an Olympian. She playing the fucking flute on one leg, like while singing and jumping up and down.
ROXANE GAY [00:39:18] And singing without being out of breath. So, I mean, sure, we can call her fat, but and she claims it, as she should. But let’s just get some perspective. She’s more fit than pretty much anyone I know. And until we can have conversations about that, we have a long way to go. And it’s really frustrating because we spend so much time talking about Lizzo’s body and not nearly enough time talking about her incredible lyricism and her music.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:39:51] I agree. And her, and how gorgeous she is as well.
ROXANE GAY [00:39:55] Yeah, She is gorgeous. She would get it. She is awesome.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:39:56] Yeah, she is so fucking gorgeous. Oh my God. So. Okay. So I completely agree with you and I worded that clumsily then. I just mean that there’s been a more mainstream acceptance of the conversation around fat bodies and it has become more taboo than ever before to criticize people based on their weight. Not to say that it’s gone, gone away at all, but has that, that, that, the question I had basically was just has it in any way made you feel more comfortable in your own skin, seeing fat women finally be allowed to somewhat exist within our society and seeing more and more designers come up and expand their sizing, not as far as they should and could, but to see that kind of the mainstream of fat women in lingerie and swimwear and not being airbrushed and us being allowed to see their cellulite and stretch marks and for them to be positioned as beautiful and glowing. Has that had an impact on you?
ROXANE GAY [00:40:57] Not really, because, I mean, I think it’s great. I see it, but it’s just so little of the industry.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:41:03] Yep.
ROXANE GAY [00:41:03] And it’s so rare and fat phobia is so prevalent.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:41:08] And it’s still so tokenized.
ROXANE GAY [00:41:09] Correct. Whenever I do anything in public, the very first comment is some asshole who wants to remind me that I’m fat as if I don’t know. And the number one type of hate mail I get is about my body. So I personally am not feeling this or experiencing this revolution.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:41:28] Yeah.
ROXANE GAY [00:41:29] But I think there. We’re definitely seeing more and more fat bodies in the public eye. And that’s always gonna be a good thing.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:41:38] Do you remember like 20 years ago when J.Lo was considered curvy? Do you remember People were like, “She’s so brave”.
ROXANE GAY [00:41:50] Yes, I do. And she’s flawless. And so when people, you know, would call her that, it was really, you know, we have a really fucked up idea of who is considered larger and fat. And J.Lo is a lot of things, but fat is not one of them. And she’s, she’s got curves, but she’s not curvy in the way people were using that term.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:42:10] No, I know.
ROXANE GAY [00:42:10] And she gets it a lot. Amy Schumer gets it even though, come on, Amy Schumer is thin.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:42:16] Yeah.
ROXANE GAY [00:42:16] And there are there’s like a whole bunch of women in this sort of category. And we actually see a lot of this with body positivity on Instagram.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:42:26] Yep.
ROXANE GAY [00:42:26] Where it’s mostly thin women. And I look at them and I just think I fucking hope your body positive because you can go into any store in the country and buy an outfit. So great. I’m happy for you.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:42:38] Yeah.
ROXANE GAY [00:42:38] But let’s be body positive for someone who’s wearing a size 42 as well.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:42:43] Yeah.
ROXANE GAY [00:42:43] And let’s celebrate that body.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:42:46] Where do you find clothes?
ROXANE GAY [00:42:49] That has gotten better, and that’s only because I’ve lost weight. But there’s an incredible company called Universal Standard. And they make clothes from, their weird zero to 40. And they have really professional clothes and they have dressy clothes. I love, love, love, love their clothes. So I’ve been wearing a lot of Universal Standard. And I also get some of my clothes custom made.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:43:19] Oh sure.
ROXANE GAY [00:43:21] And my tailor is named Emily Myer and she’s awesome. And I shop a lot at Torrid even though I’m way too old to. They make really good jeans. Their jeans are super cute. And so I wear a lot of Torrid jeans.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:43:33] Great. We’re getting a quick break and then we’re going to come back. So you’ve been on this really long journey from kind of the age of 12 until where you’re at now. Where you’ve worked so much on your mental health, and, and I can see through all of your writing how investigative you’ve been into your own trauma and sense of self and into how you exist within society. What gives you joy?
ROXANE GAY [00:44:06] Hmmm. What gives me joy? Joy is something I’m definitely working on because it’s, you know, I think like many people, especially those who tend toward depression, it’s definitely something I struggle to allow myself to experience or to even be able to experience. But I would say my relationship brings me a great deal of joy.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:44:23] That’s great.
ROXANE GAY [00:44:23] I’m in a really great relationship with a woman I’m actually going to be marrying, theoretically, on October 10th. But we’ll see.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:44:32] Corona permitting.
ROXANE GAY [00:44:35] I mean, I don’t know. I think our wedding just got Corona’. But that’s OK.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:44:39] Congratulations, though.
ROXANE GAY [00:44:41] Thank you. Thank you. I’m excited. And she’s just very kind and very thoughtful and very giving and hilarious. Like every single day this woman makes me laugh and we laugh at the silliest things. Like every night before bed, we are just talking and talking and it’s 2:00 in the morning. And I think, “Oh my god, we have to go to bed”. But like we just keep laughing. And so that brings me a great deal of joy.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:45:09] Yeah.
ROXANE GAY [00:45:10] My work brings me a great deal of joy. I love what I do. I hope I will be able to do it after the Corona. I mean, everything is up in the air right now. But, you know, books persist. So I love that. And I have a really great group of friends and family. They’ve just always been there. I have not many friends, but a very tight group of friends. And so we can turn to each other in good times and bad. And I don’t mean that in a cheesy way, but it’s just true. And I’m very grateful for that.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:45:44] I think that’s, I feel exactly the same. There is exactly the same three areas where I find joy. I find it hard to access joy because I still, I don’t know if something changed in my brain chemically when I was young. But there’s something about surviving trauma that sometimes can kind of, it deactivated me in a way. And so it made me feel desensitized in the world. And I guess some people become highly reactionary to everything. And some people become very un-reactionary. And I think I’ve definitely become the latter where I, I’ve, I’ve struggled at many times to feel really anything. And so that’s kind of my journey currently is just learning how to feel safe to feel again. Which I think is something that I’m, I’m always kind of looking towards. And so-.
ROXANE GAY [00:46:32] Absolutely. And I think that’s something I’ve been working on in therapy is. And it’s, you know, like things have been getting better and better, partly because I’ve been putting in the work of, changing my body, even though it’s how I see my body that has changed more than my body itself.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:46:50] Yeah.
ROXANE GAY [00:46:50] And of course the work of dealing with my trauma, but like allowing myself to feel happiness is something that I’ve been doing in the past year or two. And it’s been, it’s terrifying to allow yourself to be happy because, you know, for me, I just think when is the other shoe gonna fall?
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:47:06] Exactly the same.
ROXANE GAY [00:47:07] When is it this, you know, like, I, my, in fact, I was talking about this with my partner a couple days ago. You know, things were going really great for us and then all of a sudden, we’re in quarantine here in L.A.. She flew down here to do quarantine out here. Our cats are in New York and we’re just sitting here every day and we’re fine and we have jobs and we’re gonna make it through in ways that other people probably aren’t, which makes it even more challenging. But I was like, “See, the other shoe fell”. And even though the other shoe fell and everything is fucked up right now. I still also feel a great deal of joy because even though, you know, I’m in it with this incredible person. And so, you know, therapy has helped.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:47:58] Yeah.
ROXANE GAY [00:47:58] For me to like not just jump off a bridge.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:48:00] Vulnerability scares the shit out of me. And also just I think that’s the thing about when you were younger going through a trauma is that how fast it happens and how fast it changes your life, that one day you wake up in the morning not knowing your life will never be the same. And so I guess that’s kind of where some of the feeling of the lack of safety comes from. But it’s been. I cannot stress the importance, to anyone listening to this, enough of therapy and how much you deserve that break from your own mind. And it’s, it’s probably to me the most worthwhile pursuit in the world. The one to be able to feel and feel happiness and joy and access love. It’s interesting how it comes across sometimes to people as coldness. Has yours ever read as coldness?
ROXANE GAY [00:48:47] Oh, yeah. I have often been accused of being cold. And you, I think my brother told me two days ago that I’m the coldest person he knows and I’m not cold at all.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:48:59] No. I feel like you feel all of the feeling sometimes.
ROXANE GAY [00:49:02] I feel them all the time. I just don’t tell you about it. Like I keep my shit to myself, I’m very self-contained and I’m fine with that.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:49:11] Yeah.
ROXANE GAY [00:49:11] But when I do love you, I love you very deeply. Even if, like, you know, the surface is still, there’s a lot going on under the surface. But yes, it does read as coldness to many people. And I am regularly accused of being cold. Not by people who truly know me. And my brother was just needling me because he knows that that gets under my skin. But people who don’t know me very well will say I’m cold and I just think I’m not warm to you. That doesn’t mean I’m cold.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:49:38] Yes. Do you have any advice out there to anyone who’s currently struggling in the body that they are in?
ROXANE GAY [00:49:47] You know, I think it’s important to just feel whatever you feel. We spent so much time trying to talk people out of their feelings.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:49:52] Yeah.
ROXANE GAY [00:49:53] About their body. If you hate your legs today. Okay. But just don’t hate them every day.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:49:58] Mmhmm.
ROXANE GAY [00:49:59] I. And I just think we should all be just kinder to ourselves.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:50:03] Yeah.
ROXANE GAY [00:50:04] Rather than beat ourselves up for not feeling the way we should about our bodies. I think we should just be kinder to ourselves and say, you know what? This is the body I live in. This is how I’m feeling about it today. And it’s OK. It’s just okay.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:50:17] Yeah, I agree. I also find that sometimes loving your body is a little bit too much of a stretch for too many people, especially when your body gets so politicized and so commented on. I remember a quote from you talking about how your body made you feel extremely visible and invisible all at the same time. That’s how you walk through the world. I don’t think everyone needs to feel love of their body, ’cause sometimes that is too much of a stretch. At least work your way up slowly over steps. I personally exist in neutrality. Some people find that helpful, where I’m just like I don’t look in the mirror that is full length. I don’t have a full length mirror anymore. I just keep it waist up. I’m in and out in front and I am a slender, privilege, like size privileged person, but I still exist with the same mental dysmorphia.
ROXANE GAY [00:51:04] Absolutely. I think living in a body is challenging and somedays-.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:51:07] Especially as a woman.
ROXANE GAY [00:51:07] I just tolerate my body and that’s okay. Like some days I’m just like, you know what? My thighs are really giving me the business today. I’m not pleased with my thighs. It’s okay. And feminism will continue and body positivity will continue. And it would just be so much healthier if we could just be like, you know what? Today I hate my neck.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:51:27] Yeah.
ROXANE GAY [00:51:27] Okay.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:51:29] Now let me get on with my day.
ROXANE GAY [00:51:31] Yeah, it’s just sometimes the body is a vessel. That’s it.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:51:35] Exactly. Lastly, lastly, before you go. Also, I just want to know, what are you doing during this quarantine for self-care? How are you staying sane.
ROXANE GAY [00:51:46] For self-care, I am baking every day, even though we can’t eat all the stuff I’m baking and it’s ridiculous. I don’t care.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:51:53] I will send you my address for whatever the fuck that-.
ROXANE GAY [00:51:57] Please do. I am happy to send you baked goods.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:51:58] That strawberries and cream cake that you posted on Twitter.
ROXANE GAY [00:52:03] That cake was muah, yeah.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:52:03] I think you send it to someone else and I almost died of jealousy when I saw their like practically licked plate.
ROXANE GAY [00:52:09] I did that.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:52:10] I will send you my address because you can send all of that on to me.
ROXANE GAY [00:52:14] Please do. I will happily send you some.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:52:15] I’m quarantining with a bunch of big hungry boys. We would all really appreciate it.
ROXANE GAY [00:52:18] Oh, awesome. Just email me your address and then-. So I’m doing a lot of baking and I’m just trying to make sure like we have date night tonight. I made this special plan so that we can still remember that beyond being freaked out about what’s going on and also still having to do work and being very stressed about money because I make most of my money speaking. And so I’ve lost all my income. Whoops. I’m just trying to remember that we’re in a romantic relationship and that it’s OK to nurture that relationship even though we’re stuck in the house together every day.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:52:55] That’s really important. I have stopped bathing completely. It’s been a week and my tracksuit looks like-.
ROXANE GAY [00:52:59] Oh my god, I bathe every day. I have to.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:53:01] It looks like it’s covered in jizz. Like I, I don’t know what this is on me. I’ve completely given up. That’s really important to remember.
ROXANE GAY [00:53:11] Sexy. It is important. What are you doing to stay sane?
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:53:14] I mean, I, I’m an introvert. I’ve been in, I’ve been practicing quarantine since I was about 3 years old. So I just do the same old. I rely on Wi-Fi. I write and I read essays and enjoyed music. So there’s, this, this doesn’t feel like a big change to me. Mostly I’m just worried about the outside world, trying to not panic from reading Twitter because it-.
ROXANE GAY [00:53:39] Yes.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:53:39] Just send you into a frenzy of fear.
ROXANE GAY [00:53:42] I’m trying to limit myself because anytime I go on Twitter, my heart race, my heart starts racing. And there are so many amateur epidemiologists now and they’re like, we’re gonna be this way for 18 months. And these dire predictions. And they may be right. But I don’t need to know that today. Today, just tell me it’s gonna be a few months, that’s all I-. Just lie to me.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:54:08] Yeah.
ROXANE GAY [00:54:08] And so it’s just a bit much.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:54:11] Yeah. Too much stress. Okay. So protect us off from the Internet. Have it, how the fuck you gonna do a date night in quarantine?
ROXANE GAY [00:54:17] Well, there’s this restaurant here in L.A. that I love called Vespertine, which I highly recommend. And they’re doing delivery.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:54:29] Oh, sure. That’s great. Well, have a great, or I don’t know why I’m whispering. She can’t hear me.
ROXANE GAY [00:54:36] I know.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:54:36] You’re on headphones.
ROXANE GAY [00:54:37] She can’t. I’m in headphones.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:54:38] Well, have a great date night. I will try and implement that into my own relationship. Also, I’m going to go home and shower right now, Roxane, I’m sorry. I’ve seem to have lost my damn sense.
ROXANE GAY [00:54:46] I think that the best, sexiest thing you can do for your man. Just a little sprinkle of water. Just let it fall. And it’s all good.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:54:53] We’re not in a drought, it’s a viral pandemic. I don’t what I’m doing.
ROXANE GAY [00:54:58] Maybe stand in the rain. Like any, any amount of water helps.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:55:00] Yeah. All right. Well, thank you from my boyfriend. And thank you from us over “I Weigh”. Before you go, would you kindly tell me what it is that you weigh?
ROXANE GAY [00:55:13] I weigh an amazing circle of people that I’m honored to be a part of. I weigh a really, I weigh a lot of opinions. I am very opinionated and ooh, that takes up a lot of my weight. I weigh seeing the importance of laughter even when the world is falling apart. I weigh having enough empathy to look beyond whatever I might be dealing with to understand that I’m lucky and that there are a great many people who are dealing with far worse and that it’s important to always remember that. That’s what I weigh.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:55:53] Great. Well, thank you very much. And I appreciate this more than you know.
ROXANE GAY [00:55:59] You’re more than welcome. I’m happy to do it.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:56:01] Happy Quarantine. Thank you so much for listening to this podcast. I just want to give an extra massive thank you to the people who helped me make this. Sophia Jennings, my producer and researcher, Kimie Lucas, my producer, Andrew Carson, my editor, James Blake, my boyfriend who made the beautiful music for this show. And now I’d like to leave you by passing the mic to a member of our community sharing their “I Weigh”.
I WEIGH COMMUNITY MEMBER [00:56:26] I weigh my dog. I have an old retired sled dog and she’s been such a lovely companion during this time where I’m working from home. I’m one of the many women in the United States and worldwide that deals with ADHD. And it’s been really hard to focus. But having my dog at my side helps me to feel really grounded and helps me smile. And this podcast. Thanks.
January 12, 2023
Author and podcaster Amanda Montell joins Jameela this week discuss all things cults. They cover what makes a cult vs. what makes something cult-ish, what to be on the look out for when assessing if something is a cult (or cult-ish), the dangers of large cults or the cult of one, the cultish qualities of the diet and wellness industries, and more.