This crucial moment in the early days of the fat acceptance movement often garners scant mention in the historical record.
This month, we celebrate 15 years of Be Nourished. When we began this work, we knew we wanted to offer something completely counter to conventional “wisdom” about food, bodies, weight, and health. We had no idea where this work would take us or what it would teach us.
We’ve facilitated transformational workshops for thousands of people, deeply listening to their stories as we continued our own learning and unlearning, often from the people who were in the room with us.
Our business model and our work have changed and evolved just like we have as human beings over these 15 years. The theoretical underpinnings of our Body Trust approach have also become more expansive as we’ve situated our work more deeply into liberatory frameworks and methodologies.
In the fall, we landed a book deal with TarcherPerigee, a Penguin Random House Imprint! So 2021 will largely be spent working on the book, which will have three sections: The Rupture, The Reckoning, and The Reclamation.
As we’ve been working on the narrative arc of the book and revisiting our Body Trust Framework, one of the things we’ve come to see is that there are some foundations for body trust. These foundations:
★ Help us root in, especially when we are new to this work
★ Provide mooring/grounding/anchoring when needed
★ Serve as reminders of what this work really looks like
They are the basics – the roots – that we return to again and again:
★ Honor your self preservation practices
★ Work the edges of your comfort zone
★ Go for a C- (as opposed to an A)
★ Look with kindness and curiosity
★ Find community and share your process
★ Locate yourself and widen the lens
Honor your self preservation practices.
Self-care is not often meaningful because of the ways the wellness industry talks about it and packages it for privileged people. Deeply nourishing practices bring us home to ourselves. They don’t make us look to so-called experts to tell us how to live. We see how honoring the ways we have survived is sometimes how we understand the depth of our own wisdom – which has always been with you. When you are in a storm, feeling lost or unmoored, or far away from Body Trust work, we urge you to return to the practices that have preserved you, been available, and supported you. Sometimes self-preservation means we take the comfort that is familiar and available. Sometimes, self-preservation means we set more boundaries, we allow ourselves to take time with decisions, and we center reverence for ourselves and our process.
Work the edges of your comfort zone.
We are more likely to grow and change when we are experiencing some discomfort. You don’t have to go way out of your comfort zone to do this work, especially when you are just getting started. But we do our best learning, growing and capacity building on the edge of our comfort zone. In fact, this is where the magic happens…dammit!
Look with kindness & curiosity.
One thing we know for sure is that if beating yourself up and talking to yourself like you are crap worked, you would have arrived a long time ago! Wisdom and guidance rarely follow when we are full of contempt for ourselves. Kindness and curiosity are the opposite of the tough love, “power through it” ideals that typically prevail in wellness and diet culture.
Go for a C- in this work.
When we tell people to go for a C- in this work (as opposed to an A), they are often surprised – and a little resistant – only to later find that this is one of the most helpful foundations for this work. Diet culture and perfectionism go hand in hand. This work is messy, uncertain, different, imperfect and human. We encourage “some of the time but not all of the time”, “doing this kind of badly”, and remembering how the healing is in the return to trying…and practicing, over and over again. Not perfecting.
Find community & share your process.
There are many people in our lives who are not ready to support anti-diet ideas, Body Trust work, and fat liberation. So we need to know there are other people on this healing path, and find opportunities to connect with them. Your healing process will benefit greatly from finding at least one other person to share this with who won’t gaslight you. When you, your body story, and your efforts to heal are seen and heard, your roots in this practice will deepen. When in doubt, connect with others on the path.
Locate yourself & widen the lens.
Because this foundation involves multiple concepts, we are gonna spend a little bit of time expanding on this one here. When we say “locate yourself”, one thing we are thinking about is who you are and how you are showing up in the world, in layers. The rampant fatphobia in our culture impacts all of us, but it is not impacting us all in the same way. We all have dominant and non-dominant identities and differing access to healing work. Understanding your social location can help you recognize your privilege, externalize the ways body blame and oppression have harmed you, and also help you position yourself to center the ultimate purpose of this work: to create conditions for all bodies to be free.
“Locating yourself and then widening the lens” can help you remember how we are all socialized and indoctrinated into harmful ways of thinking about and inhabiting a body. A key part of this work is continuing to locate the problem outside of our bodies. We shift the blame to patriarchy, white supremacy, and capitalism.
“A disembodied culture is the direct outcome of white supremacy and mass oppression.” ~Rev. angel Kyodo williams
“Locating yourself” can also mean anchoring yourself in the present moment. Human beings move through the world like floating heads, completely wrapped up in the thinking mind, disconnected from experiences below the neck. So you’ll benefit from building up the regular, consistent practice of noticing where you are, what and who’s in the room, naming colors and objects you see, being aware of your butt in the chair. Getting below the neck. Maybe pausing, closing the eyes, and asking, how am I doing? How is it in there?
Lastly, when we get triggered and want to feel in control of our emotions and our lives, we often zoom in on a solution (restrained eating and compulsive exercise patterns) that can fix the so-called problem, thinking everything will be better when we just “get it right.” When we do this work, we begin to notice the tendency to zoom in and resist it by “keeping the lens wide” and looking at the entirety of our lives and all that being human brings with it – complications and messiness.
After reading more about the foundations of Body Trust, we wonder how they land for you? Take a moment to pause and notice which ones you may feel drawn to? Which ones bring up resistance? What do you want to think more about and practice?
We’ll be reflecting and sharing more as we fine tune our language and write our book.
We are extraordinarily grateful for this community. We are honored to have held a part of your process, to have been trusted with your stories, and to have been a part of your life.
This work is made possible by your boldness and willingness. Thank you for showing up.