So You Want To Fight for Body Liberation. Now What? [Video]
Young people are becoming more interested in activism, but knowing how to create real change can be difficult and overwhelming. Where are we even supposed to start? Enter: Now What? Hosted by Tessa Claire Hersh (she/her), each episode of Now What? explores a different social or political cause through conversations with activists and provides concrete ways to make a difference in their communities.
In this episode, activist Gloria Lucas shares steps on how to challenge diet culture and fight for body liberation.
Transcript provided by YouTube:
– Can you just move your mat up a little bit?
Can you just, thanks so much I just…
Oh, I haven’t seen you in ages, is that you?
– Oh, yeah, hey, it’s been awhile.
– I just wanna tell you, that I think it is so brave
of you coming out here.
– I love yoga, so.
– No I mean, with that purse.
– Excuse me?
– I just think it’s so brave of you
to come out here with that purse.
I mean, it’s not even designer,
but there you are anyways, so brave.
– It’s my purse, it carries my stuff.
– Yes, you know, I just want you to know
that I am totally purse positive.
– Purse pos… It feels like that’s an insult.
– We can’t all have designer,
and you are just out there loving the purse
you have with all it’s flaws.
– I think it’s so brave.
Oh, I gotta go to work.
– Where are you working?
– I’m a firefighter.
– Oh, that’s like actually brave.
So you’re here because you care about body liberation.
Great, me too, now what?
First of all, there are so many different words
I’ve heard, body positivity, body neutrality,
body normativity, body acceptance, body liberation,
which one is the right word and why is it important?
What I do know is that creating a safe space
to break social norms and push beauty standards,
mm-hmm, I am here for that.
But, not everybody is in love
with their body every single day.
Some people are in a healing process
and working through acceptance.
And there’s already so many different types of bodies
and so many different relationships to our body.
Feels like we have a lot to learn, which is great,
because we have an incredible activist named Gloria Lucas.
Gloria Lucas founded Nalgona Positivity Pride,
in response to the lack of representation
in the body liberation and eating disorder
Honoring those who came before her,
she specializes in grassroots activism
and is an intersectional educator.
Hey Gloria, it is so nice to meet you, I’m so excited,
I’ve been really looking forward to this conversation.
Gloria, when we say body liberation,
what do you mean by body in body liberation?
– Yeah, so, more commonly we have heard of body positivity
and that’s initially how I started.
However, you know, as I started doing more of my work,
I realized how the body positive movement
had really been hijacked and had not really been centering
the voices of the transgender community,
the fat community and women of color.
And so body liberation goes beyond just body image, right?
It looks at power systems that make it difficult
for people to live at peace in their bodies
and really challenging them.
– Gloria, I know that we have some young activists
who are interested in body liberation and learning more.
What are the steps we can take?
– So there are a few things that young people can do
to start engaging in body liberation activism.
One of them is, looking at how this change
that we want to see around us,
needs to start amongst ourselves.
So it’s truly becoming aware and critical
of let’s say for instance, diet culture,
fat phobia, looking at anti-blackness.
We get fed these ideas every single day
so, we have to be critical and unlearn them.
Also starting these conversations in our homes,
with our friends and serving as disrupters
when people are being hurt by suggestions
of how they need to change their bodies.
Also in community efforts, to raise awareness on body image
or eating disorder awareness,
following the work of marginalized people,
Virgie Tovar has two books for youth on body image.
– I love it, be yourself.
The way that you interact with the world around you
can disrupt these patterns and these systems.
I think that’s amazing.
Gloria, I’m interested to know how social media
plays into the body liberation movement
in terms of the ways that it can support it
and the ways that it challenges it.
– In many ways, social media has been an educational tool.
With that said, I feel that social media
can be a double edged sword nonetheless,
and it’s important for us to be critical.
Who do we follow?
Are they empowering us?
Do they also value diversity, true diversity?
Especially with this year, people feel that diversity
is just another thing to mark off,
but it requires a lot more than that.
Diversity includes making space for other worldviews,
and it requires people who have been in power to lose power
and to give that room for others,
you know, our voices weren’t out there.
Growing up, I never saw people like myself,
brown girl, coming from an immigrant Mexican family
that I never saw myself.
So, I had to compare myself with this standard
that was an opposition to myself
and something that I could never be.
– Gloria, I’m wondering if you have any guidance
for our audience members around guidelines
that they can create for themselves either online
or in real life?
– Yeah, I remember one time having a heart to heart
with a good friend of mine
who’s part of the Fat Activist Community
and she told me, “your platform needs to serve you.”
And that really stayed with me as a person
that is personally affected by an eating disorder,
I have to take care of myself,
but I have to also take care of my audience.
And considering that there aren’t a lot of spaces
for BIPOC, Black, Indigenous, People of Color.
So I created these guidelines,
some of them include not saying the “O words”,
obese, obesity and overweight.
Not stating specific eating disorder behavior,
not stating specific numbers associated with size, weight,
also refraining from making black and white statements
about food and be more intentional about health
because a lot of this wellness culture
is entrenched within diet culture
and part of the problem has been the restriction
and courage, which does not allow people
to stay connected with the wisdom
that already exists in our bodies.
– I think that’s so beautiful.
You mentioned the process of unlearning,
and I imagine that it must create so much safety
for people who are in a genuine process of unlearning
and healing for them to see that you have set up
these boundaries and also gives them permission
to set them up for themselves.
– Yeah, that’s important, right?
We are all on this journey trying to figure ways
to do less harm for others and ourselves.
– Gloria, where does body liberation activism live?
The personal, the interpersonal, the global, the communal?
– I feel that body liberation is multilayered,
anywhere from challenging prejudices that one might have,
to checking in with mom when she says fat phobic comments,
to changing accessibility for people of color,
to attain eating disorder treatment,
to abolishing the police or ice detention centers, right?
So it’s all over the place and it’s required
for it to be all over the place.
– Gloria, your organization is called
Nalgona Positivity Pride, I’ve two questions for you,
what is your organization and what does Nalgona mean?
– So Nalgona in Spanish means big booty.
And so Nalgona Positivity Pride,
It’s a Chicana indigenous rooted effort
to raise awareness on eating disorders
and also body liberation.
So, we do everything for like social media,
I’m a public speaker where I talk about historical trauma
and eating disorders,
we also have an online peer support group for BIPOC,
Black, Indigenous, People of Color who struggle
with eating disorders and so much more.
– Gloria, because you mentioned historical trauma,
I’m wondering, is there a connection
between the marginalization of BIPOC bodies in our culture
and what’s happening in terms of climate justice?
– So, at the bottom of every social oppression,
we notice that they’re all intertwined and linked up, right?
And, you know, if we look at indigenous knowledge,
identity of oneself is tied to land.
You know, I could trace my indigenous ancestries
through my father who still speaks the native language,
Nahuatl, and the teaching is that we humans came from corn.
So even like the teachings of the universe
are rooted in food and we could see that devastation
and the loss of those teachings by even just looking
at the way corn is treated today, be it GMO
and how people who grow these foods are treated.
And again, with capitalism and white supremacy,
those teachings were violently removed.
And I always argue that as long as the land
is not given back to indigenous people,
it’s gonna be very difficult for indigenous people
to have a positive relationship
with themselves, their bodies.
– Yeah, the connection of all those cycles
and how they’re intertwined seems so important
in further healing and liberation.
Gloria, you’ve talked a lot about language
and the importance of it, so, I was hoping
we could play a little bit with language
with one of these games I used to play when I was a kid.
Mad Libs, have you ever heard of it?
So, I’m gonna ask you for a few words
and then we’ll fill it into the Mad Libs
that I made up, okay?
– Number one, who would you like to go on an adventure with?
– My friend, Amy.
– Can you tell me what is a very useful part of the body?
– Hair color.
– And, what is a silly movement?
– Zapateando, which is a Mexican dance that is
with the feet.
– I’m already laughing
– What is a favorite pet?
Either fantasy pet, any kind of pet, favorite pet.
– A fat cat.
– And what’s an adjective for toes?
You know, on the end of your feet?
– They’re different
I mean, adjective would be that , unique toes like-
– I’m gonna say unique and different.
A word to describe how you feel
when you’re doing your least favorite chore?
– And what is a mundane scale or activity?
– It would be to know how to warm up tortillas.
– What’s an activity
that you got in trouble for when you were a kid?
– Going to music shows without permission.
– What’s something nice that you say
to yourself in the mirror?
– I come from my ancestors, so therefore I am valuable.
– I love it.
And what is something you like to do
that makes you feel good?
– Oh, my plants, they’re my babies.
– Okay, let’s see if we can get this.
My best friend, Amy, who has the most amazing hair color
and I were
did I say it right?
Down the street, we were on our way to a costume party,
dressed as two fat cats
when a unique and different thing happened,
a group of annoyed people started shouting,
“hey, great job warming up the tortillas.”
And Amy and I, couldn’t believe it.
It made us feel like we wanted to go to music shows
but instead we said, “I come from my ancestors
and therefore I am valuable.”
And we went back to keeping up with our plants.
I kept it very Mexican.
– I love it, I love it.
Gloria, It has been so amazing talking to you,
I’ve already learned so much.
Before you go, I’m wondering if you have any guidance
for our audience members, for them to do,
to fight for body liberation and support the movement?
– Yes, I would say one, learn about diet culture,
learn how to identify it.
Two, I would say follow accounts of fat black women
and people with disabilities, people with chronic illness,
the transgender community the two-spirit community,
I mean, the list goes on.
Three, consider maybe creating in your community
a body liberation or body positivity effort.
And four, it’s not always about learning but unlearning.
And what that entails is being a good listener.
Those four things are important and critical
for the body liberation movement.
– That was so beautiful, Gloria shared so much with us.
She left us with some very cool organizations
we can check out.
Of course Nalgona Positivity Pride, her organization
and Sage and spoon, also, The Body Is Not an Apology,
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