ETR 299: What’s Behind Your Body Image Struggles with Jessi Kneeland

SummerBody Image, Eat the Rules, Self-Love, Self-WorthLeave a Comment

Podcast Interview on What’s Behind Your Body Image Struggles with Jessi Kneeland
What’s Behind Your Body Image Struggles with Jessi Kneeland

In this episode of Eat the Rules, I’m joined by Jessi Kneeland, a queer and non-binary body image coach, speaker, and author of the book BODY NEUTRAL: A Revolutionary Guide to Overcoming Body Image Issues. We are talking about why body image struggles are not a thinking problem and how we need to understand our deeper needs to identify the source of our struggles.

We also talk about the 4 body image avatars Jessi uses to help you identify the source of your struggles. Plus, Jessi’s experience with gender identity and expression and how that influenced their relationship with their body.

        In This Episode, We Chat About

        • Their shift from personal training to body image coaching,
        • The impact of working in the fitness industry on their own body image,
        • The influence of external validation on their journey,
        • How their body image work helped and supported them as they explored their gender identity,
        • Advice for someone experiencing gender dysphoria,
        • The issues and pressure with body positivity,
        • Why body image issues are vital on a subconscious level,
        • Why they can understand when people don’t want to do this work,
        • That you can’t just out think a bad body image,
        • Plus so much more!

        Listen Now (transcript below)

        Watch on YouTube

              Links Mentioned in Episode:

              Connect with Jessi:

              Don’t forget, I’m on iTunes! You can be one of my kick-ass subscribers. Also, I would be SO GRATEFUL if you took 2 minutes to leave a review. Go here -> click “Reviews and Ratings” and then “Click to Rate”.

              Transcript

              Jessi:
              Our body image issues are doing something or at least they’re trying to do something that feels vital to us on a subconscious level our psyches and our survival mode brain is never going to let us just get rid of something that abuses vital never, which means you can say all the affirmations you want. And if for somebody that affirmations actually changes this deeper thing which can happen, then great, it might be effective, but for most people, it still feels vital that they look different, right?

              Summer:
              This is eat the rules, a podcast about body image, self worth, anti dieting, and intersectional feminism. I am your host summer Innanen. a professionally trained coach specializing in body image self worth and confidence and the best selling author of body image remix. If you’re ready to break free of societal standards and stop living behind the number on your scale then you have come to the right place. Welcome to the show.

              This episode of eat the rules is brought to you by you on fire you on fire is the online group coaching program that I run that gives you a step by step way of building up your self worth beyond your appearance. With personalized coaching from me incredible community support and lifetime access to the program so that you can get free from body shame and live life on your own terms. Get details on what’s included and sign up for the next cycle at summer innanen.com forward slash you on fire. I’d love to have you in that group. This is episode 299. And I’m with Jesse Neyland, who is a queer, non binary body image coach, speaker and author of the book Body neutral, a revolutionary guide to overcoming body image issues. We are talking about why body image struggles are not a thinking problem, and how we need to understand our deeper needs to identify the source of our struggles. We talk about the four body image avatars that Jessie uses to help you identify the source of those struggles. We also talk about Jesse’s experience with gender identity and expression and how that influenced their relationship with their body. You can find the links mentioned at summer innanen.com. Forward slash 299. I want to give a shout out to 41246 who left this review variety of knowledgeable guests if you’re new to this or been on this journey. For years, I enjoy the different guests and hearing from people in the movement, who I was not as familiar with before. Thank you so much for leaving that review, you can leave a review by going to Apple podcasts search for eat the rules, click ratings and reviews and click to leave a review. Don’t forget to grab the free 10 Day body confidence makeover at summer innanen.com. Forward slash freebies with 10 steps to take right now to feel better in your body. And if you’re a provider who works with people who may also have body image struggles, get the free body image coaching roadmap at summer innanen.com forward slash roadmap, we were having this conversation earlier this week about how I do not like to share a lot of my private life details on here because I just I’m just like a really private person. So I just don’t share a lot about my life on here, or social media, at least maybe not as much as I used to. Especially with like having a child I just feel like there’s like a whole like safety issue that is really important to me now. But one of the people that we were talking with about this, this was in our, in our supervision group for body image coaches, by the way, but just set up the context for this. And I was just talking about how, you know, like, I just don’t feel comfortable sharing a lot of pieces of my private life. And the person mentioned, but you’ve shared that one time about like that Excel file.

              Yeah, so guess what, I still have that Excel file for anyone listening, who remembers, I have an Excel file, where I have. It’s like the calendar for the podcast. I’ve been using it for almost 10 years now. Because in June of 2020, for this podcast will have been on the air for 1010 years. Jesus Christ. So 10 years. And so it’s this spreadsheet that I just put like the week and like the guest and there’s like a calendar of the month and then it’s like the day and then the guests name. And like what the episode number just so that I have some idea of when these things are launching, and so I can be like, okay, like this one’s coming out in June, or this one’s gonna come out in like August. And I still use the same spreadsheet. So that’s the extent of the private information you’re gonna get from me today, but maybe I’ll share more on Episode 300, which I’m still trying to figure out what I’m going to do. Anyways, super excited for today’s guest. It’s Jesse Kneeland, who is a queer and non binary body image coach, speaker and author of the book Body neutral

              A revolutionary guide to overcoming body image issues. Through a concept called body neutrality, the practice of consciously stripping our bodies of all false or inflated meaning biases and moral significance. Jesse is committed both to helping individuals feel more empowered, worthy and confident in themselves, and to advance collective liberation and healings from systems of oppression. Let’s get started with the show.

              Hello, Jesse, welcome to the show.

              Jessi:
              Thank you. I’m excited to be here.

              Summer:
              Yeah, I’m so happy to have you here. So like many years ago, I feel like this was probably almost like eight years ago, now. Someone in my group program posted your TED Talk. And that was like my first like exposure to you. And I remember I was like, wow, like, Who is this? Like, they’re so good. And so it’s just cool to like, finally, have you on the show? Because I remember at the time, sort of, like mentally bookmarking that and then simultaneously, I think you were still sort of going through your own, you know, personal transition from being a personal trainer, to something that we can talk about, and actually probably segue into now, which is funny.

              Jessi:
              I don’t remember how I first came across you. But I definitely remember it probably was a similar time. It was a long time ago now. And being like, Oh, damn, that’s what I want to be doing. Like just that how focused it was on body image. It probably was right around that time that I was making the shift in from fitness to body image.

              Summer:
              Yeah, totally. Totally. I know, like, you’ve I mean, you’ve been around for a while, because your TED talk was really kind of centered around like relationship with your body. So tell me a little bit about that, though, that shift because you used to be like you were a personal trainer. So I’m curious to know, like, what prompted you to then shift into body image work? And obviously, a wave from personal training?

              Jessi:
              Yeah. So I was a personal trainer, I was a personal trainer at a private training gym in New York City. So there were like celebrities, I got a good reputation with several modeling agencies. So I was working with a lot of like, you know, very fresh face models, first time they’ve ever been in a gym or touched a dumbbell. But these were like some of the most conventionally attractive people in the world. You know what I mean? Like, had I just been a trainer at like a box gym somewhere in middle America, I don’t know that I would have gotten this intense, bizarre insight into the fact that looking like that doesn’t solve the problem we’ve all been taught it would solve or they wouldn’t have any insecurities. Like, it just it was so jarring to be like, we’ve all learned that body image is about wanting to look better and wanting to look better, makes you confident. And yet I had like, you know, these stunning creatures in front of me pointing at like an invisible bit of cellulite and crying, you know what I mean? Like, it clearly is not about how you look. And I feel like it just I just was I became obsessed with like, okay, then what is it about? Like, that was the promise. And it’s not that and all these people, especially women are coming to me to change how they look in the hopes that they get the thing. They want to solve this problem and feel how they want to feel. And they’re coming to me to solve a problem. I can’t solve with weights like or it just it doesn’t work. And I wanted to know what would work and what it was really about. And yeah, I just became kind of obsessed with it. I was always very, like, feminist, and you know, like empowerment, focusing on getting strong and all that stuff. So it’s not exactly like, I hadn’t been aware before that, like beauty ideals were unrealistic, and definitely causing harm. But I just became obsessed, because there was no real information at the time about really anything other than you can struggle with disordered eating and body image issues and Hating Your Body. Or you can just sort of randomly choose to love it because body positivity was becoming popular, not randomly, you know, but it was just sort of presented like a choice, almost like, say, all the positive affirmations. And someday it’ll work. And there was nothing in between. And there was really no nuanced conversations happening. And I just became obsessed. So yeah, I think I kind of hopped on the body positivity train for a while I was very into self love and empowerment and just running down every random rabbit hole I could find that had to do with it, and sort of develop my own ideas. as I went along about what was really going on just from coaching clients. I got my life coaching certification. I never meant to leave the fitness industry. I wasn’t like Screw this. But once I left, I was like, oh, okay, now that I have a little distance there, I can see that that’s not a space I necessarily want to return to. So yeah, it just became all about that. And once I started seeing the impact in my coaching practice of like, what was working and what really was going on underneath.

              Summer:
              Yeah, I’ve just never turned back and what about for you personally like you obviously being in that environment with these people who who sort of checked off every box of society standards? Like? What was the impact on your own personal body image? Were you in a better place than? Or were you still wrestling with your own disorder behaviors and stuff?

              Jessi:
              Oh, for sure. I was engaged in disordered behaviors. I didn’t call them. I called it being Yeah, I called it being healthy. And in fact, I was known in my gym and my peers. Among my trainer peers, I was known as like the moderate one because I ate bread, like I ate gluten and carbs, and nobody else did, you know, or, because I put cream in my coffee, nobody else did. So I was I had a reputation for being this like, very moderate approach to health and nutrition. But looking back, I’m like, good gracious, all of that was disordered. I was constantly trying, you know, I was counting and tracking macros, I was, everything was about like, how to maximize gains and minimize body fat and, and I loved lifting, I still love lifting. So it’s not like, you know, it’s not like I was necessarily like, my training was this thing that was destroying my body. But it was absolutely disordered my relationship to it, it was the focus of my life, and it’ll never be the focus of my life again. So I was stronger and leaner and more athletic than I’ll probably ever be again. So there were parts of it that felt kind of healthy, especially in that context of like, I have this like, healthy relationship. Other people are weird and disordered. But no looking back, my God, there was so much about it that was just unsustainable, and also not in alignment with my values. Like, that’s not what I want my life to be about. I remember so many like, holidays, where I would be like, Okay, I can eat my mom’s Christmas cookies, because I’m going to lift heavy on this day. And I would like plan it all out. That’s just work I don’t want to do and don’t do anymore. So yeah, it took up a lot of mental real estate. I didn’t exactly feel insecure, though, because I was also one of those people whose body was at that point. I mean, I mean, right, like, I’m sure I, I don’t have the bone structure of a supermodel, but I, I checked, so many of those boxes, people would compliment me on my body, like in Starbucks, you know, like it was, it was very clear that that was about as good as it was going to get. And because it didn’t, it didn’t again, it didn’t alter that deeper thing. Like, I certainly enjoyed the praise, but it wasn’t like filling the hole. You know, like it didn’t make everything go away. And in fact, I often felt incredibly anxious about losing it one of the hardest transitions for me, as I left, the fitness industry was leaving my own intensive training and nutrition protocols and watching my body like soften and change and be like, no, like, my status symbol. And so I think even that, it’s like, I didn’t think about it, like, Oh, I’m so insecure, it just looking back, it was incredibly disordered, because my worth and my appearance were way too intertwined. And I was watching other people, people who would step on stage in, you know, the physique competitions, a lot of my peers, and even some of my clients would do that. And they all felt horrible about themselves, you know, like the the leaner and stronger and drier and everything like a quote, unquote, the better they looked, the more messed up they were in their heads about food and dysmorphia. And, again, it just it lost it sort of shine at a certain point to be like, well, this strategy sucks. It’s not working.

              Summer:
              Yeah, I think like the praise kind of I’m sure the praise sort of keeps, like those people, like keeps them like it’s like the fuel, right? Because it’s but it’s like, because without it, then you’re stuck with just yourself, which like, you don’t have the positive feelings and thoughts. So it’s like, you’re just constantly chasing that praise. And it’s really hard to let go of that, like you said, like leaving that is like, there can be a lot of grief if you had if that was something that you had, I had one person told me that once that they liked my body, you know, it’s like, how do I get that again? And again, it never happened.

              Jessi:
              But yeah, it does feel good when people are just like bombing you with positive attention for anything. The problem is when they’re all bombing you for something that you like, have traded major parts of your life to achieve and are going to lose literally no matter what, like, you’re gonna get older. Even if you stay in the disordered patterns, like you don’t get to keep the thing. So what’s your plan? At what point do you go you know what, I feel plenty resourced and worthy outside of that, like it doesn’t happen automatically. It takes work. And I think that was something I saw again, in so many of my clients who were like, I used to be this incredibly hot young thing, and now I’m aging and panicking because oh my god, like everything that people ever loved about me as is leaving. And again, it’s just sort of that realization of like, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying stuff even including external validation, right like there’s nothing wrong with Thinking you look good and enjoying that or enjoying the attention. But when that is your main strategy for being okay and feeling safe in the world, you’re screwed, you’re going to end up screwed totally.

              Summer:
              So before we sort of get into like parts of your of your books that talk to more of those things like what’s sort of going on underneath, I would love for you if you feel comfortable just talking a little bit about your own sort of journey with gender identity and expression and how that influenced your relationship with your body. Because I feel like I’ve witnessed parts of that online, you know, from you sort of deciding, like, Okay, I’m not wearing makeup anymore, showing like, just like different outfits that are a little bit more like masculine per se. So I would love for you to just kind of talk about that. And like how that helped you.

              Jessi:
              Totally, this is like a topic I could talk about forever. So basically, we didn’t have the language or concepts that we have now, when I was growing up being non binary was not a thing, had it been a thing, I think at like a very young age, I would have claimed it. And I would have been saved a massive amount of suffering for decades. Because what I felt myself to be was just wrong, like the wrong kind of woman, not woman enough, not feminine enough. And I really put myself through a lot of suffering to try to figure out what was wrong with me and how I could fix it. Part of the reason for that is that, especially when I was younger, both like you know, sort of as a teenager, and then also when I was in my early 20s, as a trainer getting this praise, I was getting praised as a hot young woman. So it really felt to me like the thing that I knew to be true about me that I didn’t have language or concepts for I couldn’t put into words, I just knew there was something about me that that didn’t feel right. And I didn’t like that, that something would basically cost me all of my status, all of my worthiness, all of my belonging, all of my ability to get my needs met like that I had to fit this woman mold in order to get all of those things that I craved. And it was only through, you know, I mean, body neutrality and self acceptance and all the work that I had done sort of converged with the social understanding of these terms and concepts that I was like, I think, I think I’m that like, I think that’s what this feeling has always been non binary. I think it’s that. And I sort of played around with it as the concepts changed at first. I remember telling my one of my best friends like so long ago, way before I had heard this, these terms, that I felt like there was a boy Jessie and a girl Jesse. And he was like, wow, that’s like, super interesting. How does that feel? And I was, like, honestly like to tell someone felt magical. I couldn’t believe like it had been living in my brain for so long, and getting to say it out loud. And then when I came across non binary, I was like, Oh, what’s that? Like, that’s just I just get to be that. And it was actually harder than I thought it would be sort of coming out publicly, in part because they them pronouns, I don’t know, really seem to bother people. My own family, it’s been very challenging, still feels like it’s not usually being used. And I kind of there came a point where I was like, I mean, what’s worth fighting for? You know, like, how much conflict is it worth to have people use a word that would just feel good, it would just please use the word that feels good. But if you can’t, I’m not going to keep going into battle for it. So it was a little bit harder, I think, than I thought it would be to do it publicly. But when I came across the language, I started doing the exploration inside myself of like, expressing that, that piece of me that I’d always been trying to really, really hard to fix. Because I viewed it as a problem. Like it wasn’t I wasn’t woman enough, I wasn’t feminine enough. So for me, it’s like my favorite part of me, it’s my favorite thing in the world. I consider myself trans because you know, trans just means you crossed from one thing to another thing. And I crossed from the label of girl woman into the label of non binary. And that just makes me so happy. It’s like the it’s the most affirming inside myself and in certain relationships that really affirm it. And there are also places where it doesn’t feel, I don’t know, like it lands or like it matters. And that’s super painful sometimes. So I kind of got to compartmentalize along that sphere. But yeah, I could not have explored masculine self expression if I hadn’t done the work already. To be like, my appearance is not the thing that gives me value. Being a hot young woman is not important. It’s not an important part of me. And I can get my needs for connection and belonging and all these things met no matter how I look, if I had not had those things in place. I never could have done the work of exploring gender expression.

              Summer:
              Yeah, and that echoes quite a few people that I’ve heard from including like one of my best friends that it was like the original not original but like the sort of like the the foundational sort of like body image work was the thing that then really opened them up to exploring gender and and being able to like, be like, Oh, hey, wait a minute. Like, actually, I’ve always kind of had these feelings and you know, now I feel like I’m in a place to actually explore this and and start to affirm, you know how I feel on the inside,

              Jessi:
              because it’s terrifying for multiple reasons. Like, for me, it’s, it feels so vulnerable to explore a masculine self expression, because it’s new. And because I’ve been conditioned how I’ve been conditioned, and because I know I’ll get weird looks or pushback or whatever, you know, like I’m, I’m very privileged, like, I have a lot of body privilege. So it’s unlikely that I’m going to get any of the like discrimination or violence that’s geared toward a lot of trans people, but it still feels wildly vulnerable, that would be hard enough, scary enough on its own. But then outside of that, there’s this whole other thing that is basically like giving up privilege, like giving up status, challenging, so much of what we learned gives us value and makes us safe.

              And if I don’t think I could have done both at the same time, you know, like, I had to do the first one first. So I could do the second one on its own. I don’t know how you would even go about that. If you were trying to push back against my appearances, my value, and also my appearance is my gender expression. And if I were to change that people would be really upset, you know?

              Summer:
              Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Well, I appreciate you, you sharing that, because I think it’s like, it’s a really important conversation. And I’m sure that there’s people listening who are, you know, perhaps like having some of those feelings of dysphoria and and just like kind of wondering, you know, what to do about that? What would you suggest to someone who’s perhaps listening and feeling that way?

              Jessi:
              Oh, my gosh, that it’s such a good question. And such a big question. I feel like the thing that was so powerful for me was trying things on, I view everything as a big experiment. Again, this is one of the gifts of body neutrality. Like when I shaved my head, I actually kind of hated it. But I was stoked to have tried something new and done this, like social experiment to see how people treated me different. And I’m like, still glad I did it. Even though I probably wouldn’t do it again, because I really just did. I didn’t like a lot about it. But like, everything is just if you can apply a curious lens be like, is there someone in my life? Who could try a new pronoun? And just like, let me hear it. You know, is there is there something I could wear and just see how that feels? And then you just listen to how that feels? Right? Like someone uses a new pronoun. And you go, that did not feel that’s not it. We have not landed on it yet. Or they do it and you feel this warm, cozy feeling like home and you go oh my god, yes. Right. Like, you just got to try stuff in safe spaces. And then if you’re getting that information that this is a yes, you can take them a little bit into the scary or more public spaces. I mean, yeah, I bought a bunch of men’s clothes and was so like, scared and excited to wear them. And now I wear them all the time. And it just is nothing but like, that’s the whole experiment, right? You just kind of and I didn’t even know I was like, this could be such a stupid waste of money.

              Summer:
              But no, I love Yeah, that’s amazing. No, I appreciate that. So much. So yeah, so I want to talk to you about your book too, obviously, because it’s amazing. It’s called body neutral. And, you know, one of the foundational pieces of of your work is what you call like the four different avatars. And that’s a big, huge part of your book is like exploring what avatar might be the one that resonates most with with you, and then like, Okay, what does that really mean? And what do you do with that information? So, what are the four avatars if you don’t mind, just kind of like summarizing them,

              Jessi:
              I know that you go into like, a lot of detail. So if people want more than one, but yeah, so the fourth are called the body image avatars. And before I say what they are, I just want to like give the background that the way that I teach body neutrality is on the premise that our brains don’t do anything for no reason. So if you’re struggling with body image, those body image issues are serving some kind of purpose, usually subconsciously. So not normally aware of it, but they’re serving they’re trying to help us or protect us or solve a problem or meet a need or whatever.

              That is a massive landscape for what could be going on. So when I tell people that they’re like, oh, yeah, okay. So like, what though? What is it? And I’m like, That is a huge question. I created the avatars to help people start to locate themselves, like on the map have the answer to that question. So, these are massive umbrella categories that I was seeing in my coaching practice for basically like the four broadest possible interpretations of what could be going on kind of personified into the avatars. So, the self objective fire is focused on using attractiveness as like they believe that attractiveness is the key either the only key or the best way to go about getting their what they want need in the world. So they tend to be focused on like beauty ideals and beauty labor and fitting these gendered boxes and attractiveness right. Conventional attractiveness. And then the outsider is focused on fitting in. So they’re not usually trying to look better than anyone they generally just is, a lot of times outsiders don’t want any attention at all, they just definitely don’t want negative attention. So they’re focused on using their body to earn them a sense of like safe social connection either to get them the relationships and connection they want or to avoid disconnection like rejection or humiliation. Exclusion, the high achievers focused on using their body as a way of proving to other people that they are good, like sort of a exceptionalism or perfectionism almost like, if I can show everybody that I’m deserving, then I’ll get what I want or need. Or if I can prove to myself that I’m deserving, then I’ll get what I want to need. So it’s about using the body just as a social status symbol, essentially, to prove you’re exceptional or or just morally good or superior. And then the runner is focused on using their body and very specifically body related like behaviors, which could be body checking, stuff around food and exercise, there’s a lot of different things that can show up in the behaviors. They’re using those just to survive to cope and survive. And often what I say they’re running from the runner is just running from something inside themselves that they don’t feel capable or ready to face or feel. And when the thing you’re running from is inside yourself, you got to keep running. And my goodness, do body image issues give you a lot of ways to run, you know, you can stay distracted, you can stay numb, you can stay like it’s just a highly effective strategy for avoiding yourself. So each of the body image avatars has their own kind of strategy for how and why their body image issues exist. And then each individual, once you kind of figure out where to start, each individual has to get into the specific details of their own story, because that doesn’t tell you exactly what to do. That just gives you a place to be like, Okay, I think I’m this one, I know where to start digging. But you still have to do the work to look at the specifics of how your body image issues are trying to help or protect you.

              Summer:
              Yeah, what I appreciate anything is that like, I feel like you reading those things. I mean, I feel like people can probably identify with parts of all of them. Or at least you know, when I think about my past self, I was like, oh, yeah, like Check, check, check, check, check. But because you like have the quiz, then it can just sort of help you like prioritize and be like, hey, maybe you want to look at this one first.

              Jessi:
              Well, right. And one of the reasons that I made it that way with the quiz, like you don’t get one answer, right, you score and then you can just sort of see what your breakdown is. The way I made it that way is because I think it also helps set a realistic understanding of how long this work is going to take. If you’ve just got one and everything else is like super low score, your journey is going to be a lot faster and more straightforward, right? If you score super high in all four, that means you have at least four pretty impactful strategies for why these body image issues are existing for you and how they’re trying to help you that’s complex, the work is the same, but it’s going to take you a lot longer to untangle it. And for me, I think I get so sick of like, you know, love your body in six weeks with this new program. I was like, I want to start us off on like, an accurate understanding of how complex and long lasting this journey might be.

              Summer:
              Yeah, totally. Because it true. I mean, it truly is like, even in reading some of the questions that you had in the quiz, like, I was like, oh, there’s like some high achieving high achiever stuff, like there for me still, like, that’s especially been brought up since I’ve been back in school. And so yeah, like it was, it was interesting to kind of be like, Oh, okay.

              Like, it’s never ending, honestly. I mean, there’s always sort of parts that you’re kind of peeling back, especially with, like aging and stuff that, you know, is kind of starts to become more ever present. And so yeah, I appreciated that. And, and also, I was like, oh, okay, yeah, this is really interesting. But one of the other things that you talk about is that we can’t out think our body image issues. So I think like, kind of, it’s kind of like, what you’re saying is, it’s like it’s really, really complex. But a lot of people think it’s just sort of like, you know, like thought work, and just like, you know, think differently. And so, what would you say about that?

              Jessi:
              I would say if that worked, we wouldn’t still be talking about. And I’d be fine with that. If it worked by all means, like, go do it. But the problem is, it doesn’t and that’s why we’re still talking about it. I always just got so frustrated too. Because at the rise of body positivity, it started to feel like just one more unrealistic standard that all the women who were coming to me were like, not only do I feel like a failure for not liking how I look, I feel or for looking the way I do I also feel like a failure for not accepting it because now I’m supposed to love it too. Like that’s just and I don’t have like the discipline or willpower to look different or love it. Like it’s not discipline and willpower. It’s not logic. It’s none of the things we think it

              Summer:
              Yeah, totally. A totally. So then like for those people like what would you say it is that like, if it’s not that well, like how would you sort of articulate that in your words.

              Jessi:
              So the way I think about it is our body image issues are doing something or at least they’re trying to do something that feels vital to us on a subconscious level, our psyches, and our survival mode, brain is never going to let us just get rid of something that it uses vital never, which means you can say all the affirmations you want. And if for somebody that affirmations actually changes this deeper thing which can happen, then great, it might be effective. But for most people, it still feels vital that they look different, right, there’s still like a job, they’re outsourcing to their body to get their, their needs met for belonging, or safety or, you know, finding a partner or keeping their partnership secure or making people like them or so many things that could be, it feels vital. And we’re never going to give that up. Because we are more interested, our brains are optimized to survive, not to be happy. So it doesn’t care what you think or want, it’s gonna keep you alive. And if it feels vital to hate your body and try to change it, that’s what it’s going to do. So the way I look at it is the only effective strategy is to do whatever you have to do to make that strategy no longer feel vital to teach your brain that you don’t actually need to look different to get your needs met, that you don’t actually need to look different. To feel the way you want. Like the work is about putting the strategy out of business more so than adding something new on top of it.

              Summer:
              Oh, I love that. Yeah, like putting it out of business. That’s such a great way of looking at it. Yeah, and I think, you know, it can, it’s like it really comes down to, you know, the beliefs that are like the core beliefs that we have, that we’ve that we’ve internalized that from our culture, right, like whether it’s like I am unlovable, or I am unworthy, and looking at, okay, we’re really trying to, you know, fill those needs like of worthiness or livability, or, you know, belonging, as you said, like, through our body. And so, unless you get to those things, and start to work on those things, and feel the things that come up around those things, things don’t really change. And I think I see that over and over too. And I’m sure you do, too. When people start to come and work with you. They’re like, Well, I’ve read the books, I listen to the podcast all the time, but like, nothing’s changing for me. And it’s because yeah, like when you’re just sort of staying at that surface level, which feels safer, because you know, it can be really vulnerable to sort of open up the box and see what’s underneath.

              Jessi:
              But I’ll even say to people, like, there is a good argument to be made, that you’re better off Hating Your Body for the rest of your life than dealing with certain things each person gets to decide. And I would never judge you for deciding you’d rather think about calories than like deep childhood trauma, right? Like, I would never judge you, I get it, it still sucks. It’s still suffering. But there’s something so much, you know, the scope is narrower, and it’s tangible, and it’s solvable, or at least a sort of feel solvable. And even though it still hurts and makes you miserable, and cost you so much like I get it, it’s tolerable, right? Like, it can be more tolerable. And especially because it’s so normalized and actually forms familiar, and everyone gets it. Yeah, like it opens up belonging because you have these conversations with people who also feel like it’s like, I think back in the day when it was like you would sit around with your friends and talk about what you hated about yourself. Like, it was like it was what formed the connection.

              So if your wound is like that, you feel like you don’t belong, and you get one little outlet, either your body has to look the right way to make people accept you. So you’ll, you’ll be safe and belong. Or even the little added kind of bonus of actually Hating Your Body offers you extra belonging, the idea that you could just suddenly accept your body and feel good is nuts. Like, again, because hating it feels vital on some level, it’s doing something important, or at least it’s trying to. And to put that out of business, you would have to find other ways of really nourishing your own sense of worthiness for belonging and ability to get those needs met. And until then the prospect of just trying to like out think it it’s not going to work.

              Summer:
              And I think one of the things you mentioned earlier in the episode was about like your own your own personal values. And I think like orient like discovering those because I think a lot of us maybe don’t even know what those are. Because are we we’ve just learned to value the things that our culture tells us to value like appearance and wealth and all these things that don’t actually give us much fulfillment as you found with the sort of celebrities that you’ve worked with that were still unhappy. And so finding those values and then like learning to like orient yourself towards that. I think even though it can be like really hard and messy there there is ultimately a much better sense of fulfillment that comes through that. Yeah, that’s what I sort of.

              Jessi:
              Absolutely. And I think that’s one of one of many reasons really why like embodiment and learning to tune in, like self awareness, embodied awareness, being able to tune into your, your intuition. There’s so many skills that we are not only discouraged, like, or not only not encouraged, but like actively discouraged to practice and be good at. And that makes us make bad decisions so that we have less fulfilling lives. And we’re sort of out of alignment and something feels off and we don’t know what it is. So sometimes the question of like, what would you need to put your body image issues out of business is like pretty massive life altering stuff, learn how to feel and tolerate your emotions, learn who you are, and what you want, and go after that. Like, it can be really big stuff, which is why this work can be incredibly scary and complex and time consuming, depending on what it is that it’s doing for you. But yeah, the the more you get in touch with yourself and that information that lives in your body, the easier it is to seek the things that really matter and let go of the rest.

              Summer:
              Yeah, absolutely. Well, it has been such a pleasure. Like this was probably one of the fastest interviews that like I looked at the time, and I was like, oh my god, it’s been like 30 minutes already. So where can people find more of you, Jessi.

              Jessi:
              so you can find me on my website, Jessi kneeland.com, or on Instagram, YouTube, Jessi Kneeland. And I have a podcast called this is not about your body, which you can find anywhere. And you can buy my book, body neutral.

              Summer:
              Yeah, amazing. Thank you so much for being here. It was pleasure, long overdue. And I’m so glad we finally got to make it work.

              Jessi:
              Thank you.

              Summer:
              I hope you enjoyed that episode as much as I did. And I hope you go and check out the book Body neutral, because it’s really, really good. I loved it. I thought it was such a good resource and guide for like, actually working through the deeper issues because I think what I noticed about a lot of books on the subject matter is that it talks a lot about the theory or it talks a lot about kind of this more surface level changes, like changing social media, which are really, really important and people need to understand as well. But I feel like this is like a great addition to be able to take things a little bit deeper for yourself and look at like okay, what is some of the stuff that is actually happening underneath, so I highly recommend it. You’re gonna find it in the show notes at summer innanen.com forward slash 299 Thank you so much for being here today. Rock on.

              I’m Summer Innanen. And I want to thank you for listening today. You can follow me on Instagram and Facebook at summer Innanen. And if you haven’t yet, go to Apple podcasts search eat the rules and subscribe rate and review this show. I would be so grateful. Until next time, rock on.

              Share this Post

              Leave a Reply