In This Body: Conversations on Body Diversity and Social Justice

Image of Ashley Bullock with In This Body logo

Every Sunday night, I slowly stretch onto my yoga mat, gently close my eyes and wait for my yin yoga teacher to start off our class with the same grounding words:

Welcome home to your body, from your first breath to your last.

It’s a deep statement when you sink into it. Our bodies, the vessel for our heart and soul, are our home.

“Welcome home to your body” took on a whole new meaning after hearing Savala Nolan’s interview on In This Body, a new podcast series. My perspective widened when she said the following,

My body, this thing from my head to my feet that I live in all the time. This inescapable aspect of who I am, and this inescapable part of my experience on the planet.

Savala Nolan is a writer, speaker, and lawyer. She is executive director of the Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law. She and her writing have been featured in Vogue, Time, Harper’s MagazineThe New York Times Book Review, and more. She is the author of Don’t Let It Get You Down: Essays on race, Gender, and the Body. For Savala, as a woman, as a fat person, as a black woman of color, every system she interacts with has biases operating within it that disfavor the parts of who she is. According to Savala, “these systems of oppression make the hill I have to climb a little more steep to get to the summit of valuing myself, my work, and my contributions to the world.”

A Thought Experiment

Placing your own body concerns aside for a moment, try out the following thought experiment:

Imagine what it is like to live in another body, a marginalized body.

Think about the many ways your life experiences would change if your body was another size, color, age, gender identity, or ability?

Think about the many ways your life experiences with eating disorder recovery, school, work, relationships, travel, and day-to-day living would change just by being in a different body?

As Savala Nolan poignantly points out in her interview, “From Destructive Dieting to Constructive Conversations on Social Justice”, diverse bodies are not treated equally everywhere, in the medical community, education system, work place, or society at large. Social inequities and systematic oppression are so widespread they blanket over our entire lives, but impact us profoundly different depending on our identities. It’s time to start to unravel the threads of social conditioning collectively, regardless of one’s privilege.

On the Side of Positive Change

Back in 2019 BC (Before COVID) I had a humbling experience. I was browsing through all our contributors to our online magazine and it was pretty clear that we attracted a pretty narrow demographic of cis white women to write for us. I looked at the guest line-up of the Recovery Warrior Show and saw the same pattern. Although our intentions were pure in building a community of warriors to share their recovery stories, the truth is we lacked diversity and representation. I knew greater inclusion wasn’t something that would just happen. We have to do more to create an inclusive global community of warriors.

When a voice is heard and it’s stories are told, it creates belonging. We see you, feel you, hear you, get you.

It was a no-brainer to ask Reasons Eating Disorder Center to join forces with Recovery Warriors to bring in more voices and stories of recovery. Reasons EDC are leaders in the eating disorder field for diversity and inclusion in treatment. Honoring and amplifying marginalized voices is something they’ve made a backbone of their treatment programs from the very beginning. One of the reasons Reasons Eating Disorder Center really stands apart from the rest is their commitment to diversity is something they want to do versus something they have to do. You can read more about ways Reasons EDC are dedicated to creating a safe space for people of diverse backgrounds and perspectives to have a voice in treatment here.

Over a meeting, the idea was born. A podcast series called In This Body hosted by Reasons senior admissions coordinator, Ashley Bullock. Her compassionate presence, own felt experience of living in a marginalized black body, and extensive work with diversity in the treatment setting made her an ideal host for this show.

In This Body Podcast Series

In This Body Podcast Series is a wake-up call for greater representation and celebration of body diversity available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon, and Google Podcasts. It offers listeners unique perspectives on how we can address underlying issues of systematic oppression and radically reform them. This thoughtful, relevant, and powerful series communicates the importance of listening to the diverse lived experiences of many. When we can re-imagine our world through personal experiences, we build new frameworks on which real change can be created.

Whether we’re working to create peace for our own bodies, or working to create a more peaceful world for all bodies, we must accept that diversity exists. And that with diversity comes beauty, individuality, and inherent worth as humans.

This series explores the systems of oppression in our current social climate along with disparities in mental health care. By unraveling the ways we’ve been taught to fear our individuality and diversity, it encourages listeners to understand one’s identity is not what makes someone a risk factor. But the way society treats people does. In This Body invites us to take an honest look at our own personal privileges. And to question how we can recreate a world that is more equal and just for everyone.

It’s imperative for those with privilege to start listening to and learning from the stories that haven’t yet been told. This series invites much needed conversations about identity and is a tribute to diversity through the sharing of personal stories.

Who You’ll Meet on In This Body Podcast Series

In This Body – The Host

Image of Ashley Bullock smiling and wearing animal print shirt

Ashley Bullock

Ashley Bullock is an associate therapist (AMFT), record collector, mother, and hosts a monthly day party called Soul Therapy. She is the senior admissions coordinator and marketing specialist for Reasons Eating Disorder Center in California and passionately serves those who “fall between the margins”. Ashley believes in making constructive use of our personal freedom to express what is contained in our hearts. She offers a genuine, patient & nurturing method for facilitating conversations, fostering open/safe spaces for healthy discussions and critical dialogue.

In This Body – The Guests

image of Dr. Norman Kim (guest on In This Body)  smiling and wearing red glasses

Norman Kim, PhD

Dr. Norman Kim, Co-Founded Reasons Eating Disorder Center and is an international speaker, educator, and passionate advocate for eating disorder awareness, treatment, and legislation. Now in the Co-Founder seat at the Institute for Antiracism and Equity in Mental Health and the Deputy Director at Ayana Therapy, Dr. Norman Kim is a leading expert in the ways racism and oppression impact our mental health system. In his show, he shares why his mission for greater diversity, equity, and inclusion comes from a first hand experience of living with a pervasive sense of “otherness”. Not wanting his sons to experience the same lack of belonging, he is dedicated to making the world a better place for every body.

These are difficult conversations, these are uncomfortable conversations. The other side of that coin is these are also necessary conversations. They are necessary things for us to look at.

Norman Kim, PhD
Image of Savala Nolan (guest of in this body)  looking at the camera, wearing glasses with slight smile

Savala Nolan

Savala Nolan‘s social justice work is critical to changing our world. She is the executive Director of the Center for Social Justice at UC Berkeley School of Law and author of the recently published book Don’t Let It Get You Down: Essays on race, Gender, and the Body. Savala is also part of the team that created the Peabody Award-winning podcast, The Promise. In her show, she gets personal about her recovery from extreme dieting, overexercising, and self-loathing and why systems of oppression encourage us to see the “problem” as within ourselves.

image: photo credit Andria Lo

They [systems of oppression] impact me in terms of making the hill I have to climb a little more steep when I want to get to the summit of valuing myself, my work, and my contributions to the world.

Savala Nolan
Image of Jes Baker -  wearing a white tshirt that says in black letters: My life, my rules

Jes Baker

Jes Baker is a positive and progressive force to be reckoned with in the realm of self-love advocacy and mental health. Known internationally for sharing the importance of body liberation, “she loves having hard conversations, strong coffee, and even stronger language.” On her website The Militant Baker, she preaches the importance of body autonomy, self-love, and mental health. She is the author of two books: Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls: A Handbook for Unapologetic Living  and Landwhale: On Turning Insults into Nicknames, Why Body Image is Hard, and How Diets Can Kiss My Ass.

Through fighting against racism, able-ism in the mental and physical world, all -isms, we’re fighting liberation for fat bodies as well.

Jes Baker
Image of Annie Segarra, wearing a black t-shirt that says in white letters: The Future Is Accessible

Annie Segarra

Annie Segarra is a queer disabled latinx (She/They) Youtuber, Artist, and Activist for body positivity, LGBTQ+, Disability, Chronic Illness, Mental Health, and Autism. She lives with chronic pain from EDS, and this has shaped her understanding of the disability culture of today. Annie uses social media to demand better representation and call out objectification and harmful gender stereotypes.

The future is accessible means that we are seeking to make our environments and society create universal accessibility for everyone.

Annie Segarra
Image of SJ Thompson wearing red glasses, short hair, smiling at camera

SJ Thompson

SJ Thompson is a writer, consultant, Certified Body Trust Provider, and trainer for health care and wellness professionals. They want to improve their relationships with clients/patients in larger bodies, queer, and trans people. SJ is also a medical advocate for fat people seeking equitable treatment from their providers. SJ’s writing is informed by many philosophies. These include: Body Trust, Health at Every Size, Intuitive Eating, Fat Liberation, eating disorder recovery harm reduction, and more. SJ identifies as super fat, trans non-pinary, poor, neurodivergent, and queer, and they recognize being white has afforded them many unearned privileges.

It took a long time before I ever felt like I could actually be in my body and not hate it. And not blame myself for all the ways that society is not made for me.”

SJ Thompson
image of NAadia Craddock (guest on In This Body) from waist up, wearing a teal floral shirt, long hair, smiling slightly at camera

Nadia Craddock

Nadia Craddock is a body image researcher for the Centre for Appearance Research. After recovering from her own eating disorder, she became interested in reducing harmful societal appearance pressures at the macro-level. She has worked with the Dove Self Esteem Project Research Partnership team, and is also the co-host of two podcasts: Appearance Matters: The Podcast! and The Body Protest Podcast.

My body does amazing things every day, without me even thinking about it.

Nadia Craddock
Image of Kimmie Singh smiling at camera

Kimmie Singh

Kimmie Singh is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who supports people with eating disorders, disordered eating, and anyone seeking for support in healing their relationship with food and body. She has a passion for Intuitive Eating and weight-inclusive nutrition. Kimmie is interested in the harmful effects of weight stigma in healthcare and eating disorder treatment, food insecurity and eating disorder recovery, and weight inclusivity in dietetics training. She also co-hosted the PCOS and Food Peace podcast with Julie Duffy Dillon, RD.

It doesn’t mean that I don’t still experience fat phobia. But it just means that I have the tools and resources to better navigate it and to feel regulated even when things like that happen.

Kimmie Singh
Image of Beck Gee Cohen (guest on In This Body) from neck up, smiling at camera

Beck Gee Cohen

Beck Gee Cohen is Director of LGBTQI+ Programming at Visions Adolescent Treatment Center. Through his company, BGC Consulting, Beck helps facilities establish LGBTQ+ inclusive policies. He also provides program development to expand their services to LGBTQ+ populations.

What I see with trans men, and I have conversations with a lot of them, is this invisibility. It’s like they were invisible as a woman, and now they’re invisible as a man.

Beck Gee Cohen

Liana Maneese

Liana Maneese is a transracially internationally adopted person. She identifies as an Afro-Brazilian, Black American Cis Queer Adoptee and founded The Good Peoples Group’s Center on Interracial Relationships. She is passionate about mental health, justice, relationships, and identity.

The body is political. The body is the mark of everything. And so we have to remember that no matter what we’re talking about, we have to look at how bodies are treated.

Liana Maneese

Maxine Ali

Maxine Ali is a writer, journalist, and linguistic who focuses on women’s health and wellness culture. She has experienced the barriers many women come up against when navigating a health system designed by and for men. Because of this, she’s dedicated to dismantling the deep-seated sexism that underscores our understanding of what it means to be ‘healthy.’

It’s not always easy, but I try my best to remain neutral about my body, because bodies are ever changing.

Maxine Ali
image of Anna Sweeney, guest on In This Body, sitting in wheelchair and smiling

Anna Sweeney

Anna Sweeney specializes in the care of humans living with eating disorders, disordered eating, those moving away from diet culture, and all things body image. She practices using a weight inclusive, HAES®, fat positive, and social justice oriented lens. She is passionate about helping others combat diet culture and body reclamation. Anna is a thin white woman living with MS, who openly shares how her disability and privileges shape her relationship with her body and inform her work today.

There are so many factors that are coming at us at any one time telling us that our bodies are problems. I am curious about what the world would look like if we just rejected that whole construct.

Anna Sweeney

Listen to In This Body Podcast Series

It’s imperative for those with privilege to start listening to and learning from the stories that haven’t yet been told. In order to build a more just world for all bodies, we must first open our eyes to the beauty and wisdom that all types of bodies bring to the table. This series invites much needed conversations about identity and is a tribute to diversity through the sharing of food and body stories.

Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon, or Google Podcasts.

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