A few weeks ago an article came out that stirred up a lot of conversation within dietitian circles titled “The Unbearable Whiteness and Fatphobia of Anti-Diet Dietitians” Written by Marquisele Mercedes, this article touched on the history of the body positive movement, how it’s been appropriated by thin, white dietitians, the racist roots of fatphobia, and a lot more. It’s one of the best articles we’ve read on body positivity, and today we’re having a conversation with the author.
Marquisele Mercedes (she/her) is a doctoral student and writer from the Bronx, New York who is currently based in Providence, Rhode Island. As a Presidential Fellow at the Brown University School of Public Health, her doctoral training and interests are at the intersection of fat studies and scholarship on race/ism. She is broadly interested in how racism, anti-Blackness, and fatphobia shape health care, research, and public health work and training. Marquisele is part of the Future of NAAFA Committee for the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance and writes about fat politics and the health industrial complex on Medium in her spare time. A humanist at heart with a degree in English, Marquisele is finding her way as a fat liberationist in the making one word at a time. You can keep up with Mikey on Twitter.
In This Episode We’ll Cover:
- Why Marquisele decided to write the article
- The history of the body positive movement and its social justice roots
- Ways in which the anti-diet movement has become exclusionary & problematic
- The problematic ways the academy of nutrition promotes elitist, fatphobic, and culturally insensitive nutrition recommendations
- Beauty standards within POC communities and the role privilege plays in all of this
- How to center the voices of people in larger bodies + MORE!
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Hi Wendy and Jess! Thank you so much for this podacst. I am a new student in the field of Public Health and Dietics (I am applying for masters programs now) and I did my undergrad in Agricutlrual Sciences, and Food, Culture, and Social Justice. I really connected with many of the points made in this podcast and in Marquisele’s article. One thing I am trying to wrap my head around though is this: If the body positivity movement is specifically for those with marginalized bodies, particularly large bodies, how do thin individuals experiences eating disorders fit into this conversation (I know that not all individuals with eating disorders are thin)? Since an eating disorder is a serious mental illness, I just wonder how an thin individual navigating recovery could be affected by exclusion from this movement, or is that relevant? I would love your thoughts on this if you are willing to share with me as I value your opinions! Or if you have any resources you can point me to so that I can understand this better I would truly appreciate it!
Thank you so much for your work!
Hi Victoria! Great question. I think these are 2 separate things. People of all sizes should get treatment and support so they can heal their relationship to food and their body. However, it doesn’t need to be called body positivity, as this was created for people of larger sizes. It can be called something else, and that’s totally fine, but when thinner people get more visibility within the body positive space, as is happening, the experiences of those most marginalized are overshadowed. Hope that makes sense and thanks for tuning in!
Hello Wendy and Jess. I just wanted to say how much this particular show was so eye opening and I appreciate the education. I am a cis white thin female and have been a dietitian for over 18 years. In the last year I have become Certified as an IE counselor, but have found it difficult to find my path. I want to make a difference in some way to the oppressed communities , but have not been sure on how or where to start. I appreciate Mikey’s suggestions to help with fat actiivism and the issue in using “body positivity “ in ways it was not meant for. Definitely will start helping by sharing this podcast and Mikey’s article.
Always love and learn from your show💕