ETR 300: 5 Lessons on Body Image After 10 years of This Podcast

SummerBody Image, Eat the Rules, Self-Love, Self-Worth

5 Lessons on Body Image After 10 years of This Podcast
5 Lessons on Body Image After 10 years of This Podcast

In this episode of Eat the Rules, it is episode 300 and the 10 year anniversary of this podcast. To celebrate I’m reflecting on 5 of the key lessons on body image I’ve learned throughout the years of doing this podcast. It’s part cultural critique, part rant, and part love fest. And there is some optimism about the future.

In This Episode, I Chat About

  • How this podcast began,
  • How much I appreciate your support and responses over the years,
  • How diet culture never actually changes,
  • Why this still fires me up ten years later,
  • That body standards are always changing and the target is always moving,
  • Why we have to opt out of the cultural standards,
  • That it takes so much courage to do this work and it’s not a quick fix,
  • The origin and evolution of the body positive movement,
  • Why I stand for body liberation and its definition,
  • My hopes for the future,
  • Plus so much more!

Listen Now (transcript below)

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Links Mentioned in Show


    This podcast has been around for 10 years and I have seen so many changes and learned so much and I want to share those with you today.

    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 forward slash you on fire. I’d love to have you in that group. This is episode 300 and the 10 year anniversary of this podcast. To celebrate I’m reflecting on five of the biggest changes biggest reflections biggest lessons I’ve learned about body image throughout the years of doing this podcast, you can find the links mentioned at summer forward slash 300 I want to give a shout out to Valter Goh. Who left this review this is a great show with an amazing host and a powerful mission. Every episode teaches us something new about our bodies and body awareness. Thank you for the work you do. Thank you so much for leaving that review all the way from the Netherlands. I really appreciate you listening. If you haven’t already done so. Go to Apple podcasts search for eat the rules, click ratings and reviews and click to leave a review or give this podcast a rating. Don’t forget to grab the free 10 Day body confidence makeover at summer Forward slash freebies with 10 steps to take right now to feel better in your body. And if you’re a professional who works with people who may also have body image struggles, get the free body image coaching roadmap at summer forward slash roadmap. Of course, you can always just go to the body image to find anything that is mentioned here.

    All right, everybody. 10 years of making this podcast episode 300. It’s all happening at once. And I was really trying to figure out what to do with this episode. But I think what I wanted to reflect on what I decided to reflect on is the changes that I’ve seen and what I’ve taken away because of those changes over the last decade. For those of you that don’t know in June of 2014, I started this podcast on a whim. Over the course of a few days, it all came together. I was driving in my car to get my hair done. And I thought of the name fearless rebel radio at the time. I bought a mic off Amazon. I watched a YouTube tutorial on GarageBand. And within a week, the first episode had aired. I had no plan. I had no strategy. I was singing Guns and Roses. Welcome to the jungle in the introduction. And I just thought, let’s just see what happens. I feel like I have some things I want to say. And here I am. 10 years later, I never ever thought I would still be doing this podcast 10 years later. I feel like I have emotionally matured as a person so much since then. And if you’ve been a longtime listener, perhaps you have to or you’ve noticed that as well. And through the time of doing this podcast I’ve had so many life changes, I moved across the country, I had a baby who is now a child I endured some health and mental health challenges and most recently embarked on a new adventure of getting a Master’s in Counseling. And despite being a pretty private person, just on the internet and social media, I just it’s more of a safety issue. Now that I have a kid to be honest, I always feel like I’m bringing you along for the ride. So even though I don’t share a lot on Instagram about my personal life. I share more on here. And I feel like this is where people come along for the ride as well. And so I really appreciate you if you’re one of those people. I’ve always tried to approach this podcast with a desire to continually learn and grow and pass those things onto you and really try to give you stuff that’s going to be useful in your life.

    And so all that being said, I want to give you a heartfelt thank you for making this happen and all of your requests find words of appreciation over the years, I read every single review, I have probably responded to every single note that’s ever been sent from one of you. And that’s what I love so much about this podcast, I get to meet so many incredible people who I interview, which I would otherwise probably never approach or talk to, because of it more of an introvert. But aside from that, aside from meeting all these incredible people, I can really see how this podcast has helped. So many of you move from a place of struggle to a greater place of knowing and peace, I hear from people who say, they listened to me for years, and then finally decided they wanted to work with me for more support. Or I hear from people who didn’t even realize they didn’t have to hate their body. Like they somehow came across this podcast, or somebody suggested it to them. And then they were like, what, and it brought them to this important realization that we don’t have to hit our body. I hear from people who say this was the missing piece in their eating disorder recovery, or I hear from people who their doctor recommended this podcast, which also blows me away, or their therapists recommended it, which is really cool. And I can see that there’s people listening from all over the world. And so while this podcast is really small, it’s just a micro one, I still have this image of like this web, reaching out around the world and spreading this important message and connecting with all of you. And it feels more like a community than just this thing that I create. And so I want to thank you for that. Because it’s because of you that it really feels that way. And it’s because of you that I continue to do this, even though sometimes I’m like, What the hell am I doing?

    But truly, at the end of the day, I know how important it is. And I will keep doing it for another year for sure. And then after that, I’m not quite sure to be totally honest with you. But spoiler alert, there’ll be another season.

    But anyways, you know, Episode 300, I think what I really wanted to do was share some of the things I’ve noticed and some of the lessons that I’ve learned in the 10 years that I’ve been producing this podcast and doing this work. Number one is diet culture is constantly presenting the same shit wrapped in a new bow. When I started this podcast, the Paleo diet was one of the more popular diets. And it was what I had espoused too many years ago, I think I was I was an early adopter of the Paleo diet, except for the cave people. And it wasn’t until I realized I had actually a very disordered relationship with food that I stopped eating that way. But paleo was quite popular when I started the show. And vegan was also pretty popular than two, I think it probably still is, I actually just don’t really follow these trends very much anymore. But I do have to keep track. And I do hear from people. And so paleo sort of evolved into keto, and intermittent fasting and like the carnivore diet. And now here we are with weight loss drugs. And it just to me, it feels like things keep getting more extreme in terms of eliminating certain foods and eating less and eating less frequently. And it’s all the same shit. And it’s interesting to watch these cycles, because they all have this space in the spotlight for a few years. I read the other day that the keto diet is much less popular than it was five years ago or something like that. I don’t remember the exact numbers, but it’s really waned in popularity. And it’s interesting to witness that because it’s always the same shit, like whatever comes out next is going to be the same shit. It’s nothing new. It’s it doesn’t do anything different. It just it has the space in the spotlight for a few years, then it fades out because people realize nothing changes, and then something new takes hold. And I’m reminded that it’s all the same bullshit rooted in our culture’s obsession within us. That’s the root of all of it. And our culture’s obsession with fitness is rooted in anti blackness, but it’s all coming from that place. And these diets tout that they are different because they figured out this other way of doing things that uses science, and I’m putting science and air quotes there. But it’s a cyclical pattern that never seems to change. And I don’t foresee that changing because of how rampant anti fatness is and how profitable the diet industry is. And we’re seeing this with weight loss drugs, people are willing to have these horrid side effects just to be thinner, like people are so desperate to be thinner, and I was like that too. I would have like cut off my arm just to be thinner. Sure. And so it speaks to our culture’s hatred of fatness, and how that hurts so many people and so many people are hurting as a result of that, and therefore are willing to do anything to just try to be the center.

    What’s sad to me is how many people get excited about these new options, because it hits on the magical thinking that our life We’ll be perfect. If only we can lose weight. It’s like, okay, this is different. Maybe, maybe this is the secret, maybe this is the thing I haven’t tried yet. And it’s always the same, they don’t work. It doesn’t help make your life perfect. And it only chips away at our software. And it only hurts our culture and makes anti fatness even more pervasive. On the plus side, I wouldn’t be here otherwise. And not to say like, oh, I’m profiting off this too. But no, it’s what really keeps me fired up about doing this work, I would love if I didn’t have to be there and talk about something I would find something new to talk about. But this is why I am still here. 10 years later, because it still fires me up, it’s still you know, enrages me to see the injustice that happens, it still frustrates me to no end that people are manipulated into thinking that this is going to work for them. And it only messes them up even more. And it also makes me so grateful to those of you who are also doing this work because it’s not easy. Like it’s not easy when all this new stuff keeps coming up. And everyone you know, in your life is talking about weight loss, drugs, and keto and all this other shit that they’re doing. Like, it’s really hard to be the black sheep and to do things differently. And so I just want to commend you for for doing that. Again, I’m gonna say that a few times in this episode, the second thing that I’ve learned or reflected on is that body standards are always changing. When I started this podcast, 10 years ago, there was a movement towards more curvier bodies, and I use that phrase curvier sort of in air quotes as well. And I’m using the word curvier because it wasn’t fat people, it was people with more hips and boobs with who still have smaller ways who were having a little more representation, like I think about like Ashley Graham, the plus size model. And if we think about Kim Kardashian back then, that was when she had the magazine cover where she had the champagne bottle on her butt. That’s what she was known for. It was her butt butts, we’re having a bit of a moment, we were seeing some representation of more women with a little more flesh, but in the right spots. And there was a little bit more of a backlash towards the super thin ideal of the 90s and early 2000s. I think a lot of people were like, Yes, this is so refreshing. This is great. Unfortunately, what we’ve seen over the last year or two is that the super thin ideal has come back, much like some of the fashion has come back, such as those jeans that kind of sit on your hips, which like, we’re the worst thing ever. But you can see how these cycles happen. Like everything is kind of cyclical, the standard is always changing, people who had bought implants or getting them taken out, people who were vocally proud of their fat body are now taking ozempic. And so we You can’t win.

    Right on top of that, we now have this rise in skincare culture and injectables where it’s not just our body we have to be focused on but our skin. So now we have to be terrified of aging. And even people who are in their 20s are scared of aging, which is really quite horrifying to know that that’s happening. Because I think when I was in my 20s, I didn’t even wash my face. But the target is always moving. And that’s what I’ve witnessed, you know, 10 years of doing this, it’s like, the target is always moving and the target moves because that’s where the profit is, right? If it didn’t move, then the profits would suffer. But so long as there’s a profit involved in dieting and augmenting our bodies, the standards are going to continue to change. And we we can’t wait for the culture to change, we have to decide to opt out, you know, if we decided to wait and be like, Well, my body might be fashionable. Now we have to decide to opt out, our culture isn’t changing as fast as I’d like it to. It’s actually, it was kind of disappointing when I really thought about it, to be honest with you. And that said, it’s like, okay, we need this more more than ever. And that’s why it’s really courageous. For those of you that are doing it, because you’re doing it at a time when it’s probably the hardest it’s ever been to do it. I think it was a lot easier for people to opt into body acceptance. Eight, six years ago, when we were seeing more representation, and we were seeing more backlash against the thin ideal, but now, it’s really hard, you know, because you’re seeing all these celebrities who were once in, you know, slightly larger bodies. I’m not gonna say that because then, you know, I’m thinking of like somebody like Kelly Clarkson, for example. But people who are, you know, you’d be like, Oh, well, like, look, there’s someone who maybe has my kind of body and now they don’t, and now they’re thin. And so it gets it’s hard, right? It’s, it’s that much harder. And so you’re really courageous for doing it, especially during these times. And I think we’re just going to continue to see these standards change. I don’t know, maybe it’ll just be like skeletons are the new ideal. And we have to get rid of our skin and just shave ourselves down to the bone because that’s as thin as we can get really, I don’t know. I’m sure it’ll kind of go in a different pattern.

    Again, it’ll kind of go back a little bit more. And then we’ll come back to this again and And you know, my high waisted jeans will be back in soon, I’m not giving them up. The third thing that I was reflecting on was how hard this work can be. But how gratifying it can be to, I feel like it’s been a great privilege for me to have witnessed so many people’s struggles with their bodies over the past decades, I can see how much pain and suffering this can cause in somebody’s life. And it speaks to how difficult it can be to truly accept your body and detach your your value from your appearance, because you think that the only way to resolve your pain and suffering is to actually change your appearance and change your body. So to make the decision to say, hey, maybe that’s actually not the thing that’s going to help my pain and suffering, I feel takes so much courage, because it’s a lot easier to stay with the thing we’re familiar with. The devil, you know, is better than the devil you don’t. And I know, there’s a lot of people who really liked the idea of body acceptance and not dieting, but to truly take that step and invest in that work is really hard. And especially if you face different layers of oppression, and if you face discrimination because of your body, I believe most of us would love for this to be a quick fix, but it’s not. And so I think even more so it’s like, okay, you invest in doing this work, which takes so much courage, and then you’re doing it and you’re like, oh shit, this isn’t a quick fix. It’s ongoing work that we need to be continually investing in. And even I have ups and downs, especially as it relates to aging now, which was not on my radar before, we have to be intentional with it, we have to be like aware of our thoughts and beliefs, we have to be challenging them, we have to be really intentional about being compassionate with ourselves. And commit to doing some of that deeper work to really get to the layers of of you know, where that sort of pain and suffering comes from, and the emotions under our struggles. It’s not something that’s just easy, and one and done. And I was talking to a good friend recently, where we were saying how easy it is to get a more warped perception of yourself again. So if you watch like a certain TV show, and you can start to notice like, well, I’m fixating on my body more again, you’d have to be a bit vigilant. So really commit to this and try to do things that are going to protect your brain from all of these anti fat influences that exist. But through all the struggles that I’ve witnessed, like all the people that I’ve worked with over the years, I’ve also witnessed so many people coming out the other side, and feeling like no, this is the path I want to be on. And even though it’s not easy, ultimately there’s more freedom and more peace. And while it’s not perfect, they have the tools to be able to dress their negative thoughts and feelings when they come up.

    And that’s, that’s really what this work is all about. And so, again, for you listening, I want to recognize and acknowledge how hard this work is and how amazing it is that you’re showing up. And keep going because it really truly does pay off.

    The fourth thing that I’ve reflected on and noticed is that body positivity did not change our culture, it really wanted to but it didn’t. The original body positive movement started back in the 60s or even before from fat, black and queer activism. And so I want to acknowledge that, because that’s not the way that it surfaced in mainstream form. When I started this podcast, body positivity was just surfacing in its mainstream form. So the first time it was ever mentioned on social media was in 2012. And that comes actually from this really cool journal article. I’ll link it in the show notes, because you can just access it, you can read the whole thing. It’s called body positive, a critical exploration of the body positive movement within physical cultures taking an intersectionality approach. I’ll link it in the show notes. But it mentioned the very first mention of body positivity on Instagram was in 2012. And so this podcast was formed in 2014. So it was just starting to become this thing on social media. And it seemed really exciting at the time, I was like, Oh, my God, like somebody with some meat on their bones, like some larger bodies, like this is amazing. And then what we’ve noticed is that, as with anything that becomes popular, it becomes appropriated, it becomes co opted, it becomes commodified. And where it is now is a very different place and so far removed from its original intention to really be this like social justice movement. And what we see now is that there’s really a lack of representation in terms of age in terms of race in terms of abilities in terms of gender. And so in other words, it’s really dominated by like thin white women and young women. And so I think that naively and probably because of my own privileged perspective, I really thought positivity was gonna change things. I was like, Yes, we’re gonna change things. And what we’ve seen is that it just continues to be watered down. And our culture has not changed. For me, I think it was a good gateway. Because had I not discovered that I never would have discovered fat activism. And so for me, it was really like the stepping stone into the body liberation space. And I think that that’s probably true for a lot of people. And then I think there’s a lot of people that kind of go there and then stop there. And that’s, I think, where in lies. The problem with it is that if we don’t have people moving further along, to really see like, oh, like, this is this social justice movement. And it’s really important because so many people are being oppressed because of their body, then we’re missing the point and the culture will never change. And that’s what’s happened. And that’s why the culture has not changed. And so I when I say the culture hasn’t changed, it’s because like, weight discrimination is still rampant, and body positivity has not moved the needle on not at all.

    So weight discrimination in the form of people not being able to find clothes in their sizes. Or if we think back to Old Navy, who jumped on the whole body positive train and was like, oh, okay, we’re gonna have plus size offerings in our stores, and then put them in like a tiny back corner where nobody can find them and then say, Oh, they weren’t selling so we removed them. I think that’s almost Oreos. Our weight discrimination in the workplace who my friend Vinnie talks about quite a bit via their weight inclusive consulting, business or weight discrimination in the doctor’s offices, which I anticipate will only be worsened by weight loss drugs, body positivity hasn’t helped any of those things. And that’s why Chrissie King, who wrote the book, The Body liberation project uses the term body liberation, which is ultimately what I stand for. And I think it’s what we need more of. And body liberation is defined as freedom from social and political systems of oppression that designate certain bodies as more worthy, healthy and desirable than others. And that goes beyond conversations about weight, but looks at all intersections of oppression. And so I feel like, you know, I regret like centering body positivity so much. But for me, it was that stepping stone, and I’m so glad that it led me to where I am now. And I still believe that our personal work is really important. And we also need to take that further step and learn more about body liberation and advocating for it and our role in it. And so that leads me to the final lesson, or thing I’ve really been reflecting on is just how important this work is. And I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t I would have, I would be doing something different. But I believe doing this work for ourselves personally is is really an important part of collective liberation. And Christina talks about that in her book. I’ve personally seen how we can free ourselves from you know, all that negativity and all that shame that we’re made to feel about our body. And all that time and energy that that dieting and hating our body takes up. And when we do that, we do have so many more resources, like more time, more money, more energy, to do other good things in this world. And for me personally, it was like such an important personal process to divest from diet culture, because it helps me to reorient my values to things that are truly meaningful to me. And I think that that’s what I try to do with clients too, is to help them reorient their values to things that are truly meaningful to them. It’s not to say it’s easy. But it’s like a decision we have to make every day to kind of continue to reorient ourselves and not get drawn back into like, Oh, my appearance is the most important thing. If I was still dieting like I was 20 years ago, I would not be here doing this podcast, I would not be calling my MPs to advocate for political change. I was just so self focused on my appearance and controlling everything I ate. I really didn’t have time to care about other things, I probably never would have gotten pregnant because I remember saying I’ll never have occurred because I don’t want my body to get bigger, which is just like the most ridiculous thing. But I understand people do feel that way because anti fatness is so rampant. Earlier I talked about how beauty standards are continually changing. And I think there’s more pressure for younger people to look a certain way now. And I honestly believe this is all by design. This keeps us distracted from important issues. This is how capitalism operates. And so I don’t want to sound like some conspiracy theorists, but like this is capitalism. It’s like keep you focused on you know, spending your money and making money and not focused on yourself and individualism. And these systems of oppression, make us feel inferior and lesser than, and that keeps us smaller, and we can’t fight back against them when we decide to conform to them. That said, I acknowledge how hard it is to break free. It’s really hard to stop dieting to let your body soften our desire to die it is a protective response and coping mechanism to the pain of not feeling good enough. And if we can recognize the source of that struggle, so the source being this pain of not feeling good enough, then we’re put in a position of power to better deal with it. Because altering how we look is never going to fill that void and it’s it’s never going to change our world.

    culture. And so with that, I want to commend you for being here. And being a part of this wherever you are in your journey, which I don’t like using that word, but I don’t have a better word, does somebody have a better word, my hope is that we continue to gain momentum. So we can truly change our culture for the next generation like this, this work is really important. And I see that and I see how it pays off in the people I work with. It’s amazing. And speaking of the next generation, I just wanted to share this little story with you the other day, my son said, Mommy, I’m skinny, I don’t want to be skinny, I want to be fat like you. Now listen, I’m straight sized. But to him, he sees me as not skinny because I’m not like skinny like him. And he just didn’t have descriptive words to articulate that. But I didn’t correct him. I wasn’t like, Honey, I’m not fat, because I don’t want him thinking that fat is a is about it, when he’s a little older. I’ll talk about different, you know, different body sizes and categorizations. But in that moment, what I wanted to do was, first of all, I was like, wow, he sees fat as a good thing. That’s amazing. And that’s because we talk in a positive way about bodies. And in particular, larger bodies were always like, I love big tummies. They’re so squishy. Of course, I’m like, Oh, maybe I need to talk to him about skinny bodies in a positive way now, but I feel like our culture is also just gonna take care of that for him. I also made sure to mention that we don’t comment on people’s bodies. But all that being said, so there was a bit that came out of it. And we had a we had a really good conversation. It was like, do people talk about their bodies at school? Do people talk about their size of their body? Do people want to be thinner, because the other thing he said to me was, it seemed like girls want to be skinny, which I was, I asked him I was like, you mentioned that, like, do the girls talk about wanting to be skinny? And he said no. So I don’t know, where he perhaps got that from, you know, maybe just he’s starting to internalize some of these things. Or maybe he’s heard teachers, or maybe he’s heard some relatives, because it’s, uh, you know, I can’t protect him from all those conversations. But it was just really interesting to hear. And I’m also really conscious of the fact that like, there’s a lot of body dysmorphia among young boys wanting to be really big. And so I’m conscious of that as well. Okay, that was probably too much context of the situation, take away the simplest form of it. My kid thinks being fat is awesome. And so it just helped me to see that we can play a big role in shaping our children’s beliefs. So don’t for a minute think that the work you’re doing here doesn’t matter. Because it really does. And what you say in front of these little people in your life is going to make a difference. And I’m really, really hoping that we can change that culture for the next generation, or then we can help the next generation to change that culture. So I’m gonna leave it on that optimistic note, and I just want to say thank you so much for being here. Thank you for being a part of this. Thank you for doing this work that you’ve earned incredible 10 years and 300 episodes. I will be playing some older body image series episodes over the summer, but I will be back with a new season in September. I already have interviews scheduled over the summer, so it is happening. You can find the links mentioned in this episode at summer Forward slash 300. Thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate you rock on and I’ve been saying rock on since the start that stuck. Okay, bye.

    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.

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