It wasn’t hard for me to stop dieting. I was exhausted from the processes – mind, body, and soul. It was harder for me to find a thinking or philosophy that matched my new outlook.
Body love, peace and joy didn’t resonate with me. I’d been through too much diet-culture centric trauma to embrace those particular emotive ideals about my body. I then circled back to a philosophy I’d discovered before I totally committed to stop dieting – Body TrustTM. The concept, developed by Hilary Kinavey, MS, LPC and Dana Sturtevant, MS, RD at Be Nourished, provided the words, concepts and MORE, truly meeting me where I was on my anti-diet journey with room to grow as I’ve become an anti-diet/anti-racism advocate.
I could “trust” my body. Through all of the dieting gyrations I had gone through I completely understood the communication my body often sent me regarding fatigue, hunger, anxiety, soreness, frustration, depression, failure, and grief. Unfortunately, my ruthless desire to achieve a smaller body suppressed and/or rationalized the discernment regarding the basic trust in my body that I had been born with.
I started my journey toward Body Trust with the concept of “Body Trust is a birthright.” This meant I didn’t have to earn Body Trust. I didn’t have to pay a certain amount of money to obtain Body Trust. I didn’t need to be a particular color, professional class, social class, size, educational level, nationality, symmetry, hair color, or number on the scale to have Body Trust.
Only the constant, hurtful messages of diet culture and fatphobia had suppressed this innate presence in my being. Once this natural, intuitive spirit was reborn in me, confidence in my body grew. It was a remarkable rebirth following years of hating my body, hiding my shape, taking up as little space as possible and pouring so many resources into trying to change my body into a model that society recognized as worthy and acceptable.
The other reason the Body Trust message has helped me rebuild my life without diet culture is the dynamic social justice thread woven through it. I came to understand that a life without weight hate could not be untangled from the scourge of anti-Black racism and that – at its roots – diet culture is racist.
So, my advocacy has become two-fold. One – to share the realities of a diet culture that has a high failure rate, encourages unrealistic expectations with devious messaging, is capitalism-driven, and is not based in solid science. Two – to point out the racist history of diet culture and fatphobia and elevate how this racist perspective regarding weight, shape and size (particularly of Black women) impacts governmental policies, health care and social/culture studies.
I envision a world that calls out:
- weight hate,
- anti-Black racism
- weight-related biases in health care policy and care for marginalized audiences which doesn’t reflects the social determinants that impact health
- mis/underdiagnosis for individuals of color needing assistance with (race) trauma-informed eating disorder treatment and recovery
I envision a world that has the major anti-weight stigma and fat liberation organizations truly embracing the challenge of equity in their volunteer leadership, staff, membership in unprecedented support for diverse healing professionals’ education and professional development incorporating inclusivity.
The bounds of both weight stigma and racism are deep and strong. Only the bravest organizations, professionals, and students will be able to break these insidious ties to survive – and then prosper and thrive.
Individuals’ work is pushing us toward a world that doesn’t include weight hate. The goal, however, will only be achieved when the global health support, pharmaceutical, research, treatment, and non-profit advocacy entities change their operating standards to responsibly break the chains of anti-racism as well as the chains of weight-hate.
Shelby Gordon is a retired professional dieter turned anti-diet, anti-racism advocate and consultant. She works to create awareness around the racist impacts of diet culture and elevating the concept of Healthy At Every Size and Body TrustTM. Shelby is also a flower nerd, a lover of binge watching TV and taking naps. She lives in San Diego, California.