In this emotional episode, Bernie Salazar, former “winner” of NBC’s The Biggest Loser share his regrets and what he has learned from reading Aubrey Gordon’s new book, What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat.
We discuss how anti-fat bias shows up everywhere from air travel to our children’s schools and we envision a new world where higher weight people are treated with respect, kindness, and full humanity.
- Aubrey’s new book
- The intentional and unintentional ways in which people and culture exclude people based on size.
- Bernie and Aubrey’s experiences with others expectations and beliefs, such as being an inconvenience and dehumanized.
- How COVID-19 has amplified fear of medical size-related discrimination.
- Rebecca’s experience as a dietitian advocating for weight neutrality and the call for a new definition for health.
- Bernie’s regrets from NBC’s The Biggest Loser
- Aubrey’s vision for a whole new world that ends anti-fat bias.
- Bullying in schools
- Driving While Black: Space and Mobility in America – PBS
- Leave Fat Kids Alone by Aubrey Gordon – New York Times Sunday Review
- Body Kindness Episode 123: Why We Finally Said “I’m Sorry” to Our Bodies and How You Can Do It Too (featuring Bernie’s poem, Over Weight)
- All of Bernie’s Body Kindness episodes
- Body Kindness Episode 90: You Have the Right to Remain Fat (And Be A Fat Ally) with Virgie Tovar
- Work with Rebecca in 2021
- Rebecca’s TODAY’S DIETITAN article on Body Positivity
Aubrey Gordon writes under the pseudonym of “Your Fat Friend,” illuminating the experiences of fat people and urging greater compassion for people of all sizes. Her work has reached millions of readers and has been translated into nineteen languages. She is a columnist with SELF magazine, where she writes about health, weight stigma, and fatness.
Her work has also been featured in Health magazine, Vox, and Gay Mag, among others. She lives in the Northwest, where she works as a writer and organizer. Aubrey’s book, “What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat” is out now from Beacon Press, and her podcast with Michael Hobbes, “Maintenance Phase” is out on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever folks get podcasts.
Rebecca Scritchfield Media, LLC, owns the copyright in and to all content in and transcripts of the Body Kindness podcast, with all rights reserved, including right of publicity.
Permissions: You are welcome to share an excerpt from the episode transcript in media articles, blogs, and/or on a personal social media account for non-commercial purposes, provided that you include proper attribution and link back to the podcast URL. No one is authorized to copy any portion of the podcast content that offers or promotes your or another’s products or services.
Episode attribution: Scritchfield, R. (Host). (2020, December 1). Rebecca and Bernie with Aubrey Gordon, on What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat [Audio podcast episode]. In Body Kindness with Rebecca Scritchfield. https://www.bodykindnessbook.com/163
Rebecca Scritchfield: 0:14
Welcome to the Body Kindness podcast. I'm your host, Rebecca Scritchfield. And I'm here to help you find your inner caregiver. You'll have more compassion, less shame, and the tools you need to deal with a culture that just does not want you to be free to give yourself fierce love. You are welcome and you belong in our community, where we value your well being, we share our experiences and support each other on the Body Kindness journey. And we know that your health and your worth is not dependent on your weight. If you would like to enjoy self care, be less self critical and make your life about more than your health routines. Join us at BodyKindnessBook.com/start.
Aubrey Gordon, author of What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat: 1:01
And I would say you know, health care providers are part of this too, right? That there is like, very little looking at, okay, if your goal is to have fewer fat people in the world, if you spend every office visit, telling if you're a health care provider telling fat people to lose weight, what is your success rate? How many of those fat people lose a bunch of weight? And how long are they able to keep it off for? Because if you have a mandate with no way of meeting it, then you don't actually have a strategy. They're my guys. Like, that doesn't work. If you think that yelling at fat people or sort of lecturing us about the food we eat or even just saying things like, are you sure you want to eat that? Or don't do it Bernie right? Yeah, yeah. If you think that that's helping. What's your success free? How do you know it's helping?
Rebecca Scritchfield: 1:52
That was Aubrey Gordon, who writes under the pseudonym of your fat friend, illuminating the experiences of fat people and urging greater compassion for people of all sizes. Her work has reached millions of readers and has been translated into 19 languages. She writes with self magazine, where she writes about health weight, stigma and fatness. Her work has also been featured in Health magazine box and gay mag, among others. She lives in the northwest where she works as a writer and organizer, Arby's book, what we don't talk about when we talk about fat is out now from Beacon Press, and her podcast with Michael Hobbs maintenance phase is out on Apple, podcasts, Spotify, and wherever folks get podcasts. I was thrilled when Bernie was available to have this conversation. And it made it so powerful and meaningful. To me, the book is amazing. You'll hear us just go gaga over Brees work and influence. And we get emotional too. So I really hope you get something important, exactly what you need out of this conversation. I hope that it can help serve as a bridge to talking with others. So we can do what we need to do to create a more kind, inclusive culture. That just lets us all be human. So before I kick it over to the conversation, I just want to give you one quick tip. If you are interested in expanding your body kindness, journey, check out this URL. It's body kindness, book.com slash offers. And the link is in the show notes. This is where I'm listing a number of ways that we can work together. This is everything from a new group that I'm launching for people who are really wanting to dig deep and working with me in a group setting in the body kindness practice. I've also got some great supervision and professional program called learn and grow, where we are going to be doing peer mentorship for three months. Also the brand new self care for diabetes course and program 14 modules that I've launched with Glenys Oyston, that link is on there as well. So thank you so much for your interest and body kindness. I would love to work with you. Check out that URL. It's body kindness book.com slash offers.
Hi, Aubrey, welcome to Body Kindness!
Aubrey Gordon, author of What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat: 4:30
Hello! What a to treat to be here. Thanks for having me.
Bernie Salazar: 4:33
Hi, Aubrey. Welcome. I'm so so psyched to talk to you. In all transparency to our listeners. We spoke briefly just a minute ago, and I straight up said how much I am fanboying right now. Aubrey, you know I had a chance to just jump into your book, what we don't talk about when we talk about fat and I absolutely love it. And this is the first time that I get to meet you. And I think I love you too.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 5:11
Are we allowed to say?
Bernie Salazar: 5:13
Yes, we are so allowed to say at my end, all right, I hope you understand that I just your words, literally just jumped off the pages and have nested in, in my soul in my heart. Because it's, it's so it's so similar to things that I've experienced. And I'm so thankful that you have given them such a beautiful voice to be heard, and to be acknowledged, and a very strong voice, as well. I love how you're wrapping that up. It's beautiful in the fact that you captured it in a way that made me feel so less ashamed of the life that I think I've I've led as a result of people, people's actions and feelings towards me and my body. And then, and I know I'm jumping ahead, but you just, you bring it all around in a way that just is so empowering. And leads me to feel that there's hope for not just the world and myself, but for our children and for all bodies. And it's just beautiful.
Aubrey Gordon, author of What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat: 6:22
Like you guys are really angling to just fully make me cry. And you know, there's a first time for everything.
Bernie Salazar: 6:28
It's totally, it's totally your fault. Because any times that you know, throughout this book where I just I had to pause and really reflect on on very similar experiences that I never gave like to like you just bury. It was just different from your experiences, but in reading what your experiences were like, all the emotion, the anxiety, the fright. Those were things I definitely experienced, you know, when people just feel free and able to critique your body for just being
Rebecca Scritchfield: 7:08
I think the issue is that the fact body autonomy is something that should be absolutely sacred. And in our culture, people within privilege make other people's bodies the subject of their judgments, scrutiny. And basically it is dehumanizing and degrading and unacceptable that you know, like we should absolutely speaking as a thin person, right? We within privilege, we should absolutely be questioning ourselves and our behavior and scrutinizing Why do we do what we do? Who taught me that? And how do I fix myself? I remember when Virgie Tovar was on my podcast and said it's a lot easier if the biggest way to fix bigotry if the bigot would just stop being bigoted. I was like, good.
Aubrey Gordon, author of What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat: 8:08
Yeah, 100%. I mean, I think this is like, one of the things that I find, both like generative and really challenging about body positivity, as a movement in general is sort of like, yes, of course, everyone should have the space to feel confident in their skin, and to feel sort of ownership over their own body. And certainly for fat people, for disabled people, for anyone who sort of bodies, place them on the margins, it is a really different path, with a whole lot more barriers in play, right? That It is one thing to go through eating disorder treatment, that is a big enough Hill for anyone to climb, but just in and of itself. When you add into that, you know, clinicians who sort of chuckled when you show up and say it looks like it hasn't, you haven't missed a meal in a while. That adds a barrier, right? When you sort of sit in group therapy sessions and hear other people talking about what a nightmare it would be to live in a body that looks like yours, that adds another barrier to your recovery to your own dignity to all of those sorts of things, right? So it's one of those things where I'm sort of like, oh, gosh, yes, these are laudable goals. And also, we got to do a little more work to make sure that everybody is included in all of those laudable goals. You know, like, it just it's, it's not quite as straightforward as it might be for a thin person for a white person or a cisgender person for a, you know, abled person or for a person without visible disabilities, right? So on and so forth. Like, these are all sort of barriers that stand in the way of accepting our own bodies. And I think for fat people, I mean, like, Bernie, to your point, right? Like we're sort of constantly reminded that we shouldn't think anything of ourselves and we should be showing other people. We should be visibly performing that we think little of ourselves, right? So it's not just sort of an internal struggle, it is an external expectation of a performance of, of health and of almost like penance for just having the bodies that we have. And that is really intense. And shouldn't be a thing we have to deal with. And yet here we are.
Bernie Salazar: 10:24
No, absolutely. Yeah. It's always like, hey, oh, he's the fat funny guy, let's let's crack a joke about this the light in the room so that, you know, you don't feel awkward being around me in my body. It's just a lot to take in. I think, for me right now, in thinking about how I've navigated through life. And it's gut wrenching your book really is, is jarring in so many ways, because you do I start questioning Well, you know, gosh, who, who am I? Who was I meant to be? Who would I be? Had I not been judged by just the way that I walked through the world? So it's again, it's just it's, it's very powerful. Tell me a little bit about how you even decided what to write about, right? I mean, I think it's the order. And what you've described, just so resonates with me, but I'm thinking to myself, how much crap I personally lived through and won't even think about how to put it down. Chapter Four, I guess Aubrey, how did you even begin to structure this because I was, you know, again, if I were to tell the story of my life, some of it comes out as jokes. We know that underneath that is just this tremendous for me amount of pain and try to make sense of what's been said or done to me. And then to try to lay it out in a way that makes sense and is so wonderfully written and so strong, I'm just like, how did she do this? It's wonderful. So please tell me all your secrets.
Aubrey Gordon, author of What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat: 12:01
So So, so kind of you. So I mean, I will say it helps to have been writing about this for the last four plus years, right? So like, I got a fair amount of stuff to draw on. And that sort of done the excavating of personal experiences kind of stuff.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 12:17
So can I say, I love that you were anonymous, early on, I discovered you, you know, because when you I remember you showing up on medium. And I mean, you just got a lot of traction right away. But I remember just in this sort of the as it was like in Hamilton, right, who was this kid? What's he gonna do? You know, and then all the mystery, like for years, I would wonder who is your friend? I felt like your friend I you know, but I have loved your writing. And it you know, very poignant to the point direct. Where else, where else do you write for?
Aubrey Gordon, author of What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat: 13:04
So I've written for self. I've written from time to time for Vox just had a piece in The Times,
Rebecca Scritchfield: 13:11
Saw that. Awesome. New York Times Sunday Book Review. That's amazing. Yeah.
Bernie Salazar: 13:17
Thanks. I'm so glad to hear from you guys that you liked it. There was one letter from the editor letter to the editor about it this last week. That was from someone who was like, I don't think this is the right approach. And they added a note at the end saying that the person was a retired CEO of Pfizer, and I was like, You don't think that's the right approach. Cool!
Rebecca Scritchfield: 13:37
You want to profit forever? Yeah. Did not didn't mean to detour from from that from that answer. But I as a fan of your writing and work early, I expected nothing less than eloquent, you know, pointed. Matter of fact, hey, this is what it is, which is my favorite kind of reading. But it does have an organization. And in short, even the chapter names, they're they're very short and to the point, and they tell a story. You could read the table of contents, and it tells a story.
Aubrey Gordon, author of What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat: 14:12
Yeah, I mean, I feel like what I wanted to, I wanted to organize the book in a way that subverted a bunch of, you know, anyone's expectations, but particularly thin folks expectations. I think that opening the book by talking about what it's like to fly as not just a fat person, but a very fat person, is an experience that even some smaller fat people don't necessarily sort of grasp in its entirety. And frankly, I don't grasp in its entirety. I'm a size 26 people who are a size 32 or a size 40 have a totally different experience than I do, right. So it felt important to start from this place of like, you know, it's almost like small talk like how's the weather did you have to sit next to a fat person on a plane? How gross was that, right that it's like the most okay thing to talk about being repulsed by a human being who's sitting right next to you. And it is one of the many ways in which anti fat bias kind of asks all of us to just leave our humanity at the door in favor of seeing our bodies in this sort of rank choice order, right? That is really sort of categorically colossally unhelpful. So it felt important to sort of open with these personal anecdotes, right, and sort of talk about, here's what it actually feels like to be on the receiving end of this. And then here's all the information about why this is this way. And what we could do to make it different. That all felt super, super important to me, I will say, as a bonus, my dad is a retired commercial pilot. And when I called to ask him about seat size regulations at airline deregulation, he was so excited to have somebody to yell at for a while. It used to be a (mumbling). So it was like a nice, fun opportunity to talk to my dad about that stuff, too. Well, yeah, it felt like structuring things around sort of introducing folks to their own expectations, and then figuring out how to subvert them felt really important to sort of appending the way that folks think about this issue.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 16:23
Mm hmm. Yeah, when I was reading that chapter, I kept thinking about a PBS documentary that I recently watched, that was all about how America got its highway system. And, like, the racist history of that, and it where there was interesting conversation around ways in which you can keep people contained, by preventing them from being able to travel. And when I was reading your first chapter, I was just making these connections, that, you know, I'm having a super fat Mom, you know, who travels with her mom, like, you know, I'm doing all the caregiving things, and I don't experience so it's never the same, but witnessing it is very personally painful. And seeing all the emotional labor that you need to put in just to help your parents traveled to see other family, you know, joyful or sorrowful, you know, we lost my grandmother this year during COVID. You know, and there are systemic reasons why this is a problem. And I appreciate that, because we can, an individual is going to read a book and question their lives and work to be better. That's the hope, right. But I also think, work within ourselves, while we also are more aware and can do whatever we can to call out the system and also help the system change. So.
Aubrey Gordon, author of What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat: 17:54
First of all, I'm so sorry to hear about your grandmother. That's incredibly, incredibly rough.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 17:58
Yeah. Thank you.
Aubrey Gordon, author of What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat: 17:58
And second of all, I'm so heartened to hear you talk about traveling with a super fat family member. Because I do think like, that moment, I would imagine, gives you a great deal of insight into how other people receive your mom, and people who are in bodies like your mom's. But also again, that the ways in which when we kind of buy into this system of thinking that some bodies are naturally superior to other bodies, right? What we're buying into is, first of all, like a, just a hop, skip and a jump away from eugenics, just to be super real, like just right around the corner from eugenics. And second of all, we are deciding in a subconscious, but still pretty active way who we will respect, right? We are deciding in that moment, as we sort of like receive people in those moments, we are deciding who is worthy of our respect, who is worthy of being seen as a human being who is worthy of being treated with basic dignity. Right. And, you know, at least for me, the airport is such a little microcosm, you know.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 19:16
Right. Well, and just with, when you look at the, you know, all the money that the top CEOs make, or the, in the airline industry, let's just say it's like, you mean, you can't figure out a way to not charge somebody double if they need two seats to be comfortable. You can't figure out a way to make it against company policy to harass other fliers, you know, you can't you can't find a way to have different seats. I mean, I don't do all of those jobs. But I just I feel like where there is a will there is a way and what it comes down to it's an issue of being unwilling because there's going to be a sacrifice and system change and profits and that's we're willing to trade.
Aubrey Gordon, author of What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat: 20:01
Yeah, totally. I mean, I think like a tiny version of that, as we've seen during COVID, which is like every airline magically is like, we don't have ticket change fees anymore. Right? Like, every airline has just been like, you'd have to pay us 150 bucks to change your seat anymore to change your flight, you can just do that, which is like, you know, it's really interesting, I think the ways in which we sort of align ourselves with institutions, right? The number of people who I've sort of talked to about what it's like to be a fat person on the plane, who I'll back up and say, I've spent the last, you know, 12 years as a progressive community organizer working in LGBTQ communities, working with immigrant communities, so on and so forth. And it's been really fascinating that even labor organizers that I know, when I talk about sort of what it's like to be a fat person on a plane will say things like, well, the airline's got to protect its bottom line. Right? Where you're sort of like, what happened here that we're all more inclined to align ourselves with a corporation that for most of the rest of the time, all of us are griping about. Right? But in this moment, there's sort of this like, again, like moment of like, choose your fighter, right? Are you gonna choose the Mortal Kombat character that is like, fat lady on a plane? Or are you gonna choose the Mortal Kombat character that is like faceless airlines CEO, and it really feels like nine times out of 10 people are like, I'm going with that CEO. That is such a weird, powerful statement to me always about like, Oh, this is where fat people land in your sort of schema of thinking about who matters? And who's worth empathizing with? I don't know.
Bernie Salazar: 21:50
Yeah, just for our listeners, I'm literally just nodding because I mean, a lot of these experiences, obviously, you know, I hav experienced firsthand, you know, it's, I have my own seat belt extender that I just travel with, because I don't even want to ask for it. I literally get into a seat and see how small I can shrink myself so that I'm not an inconvenience to anybody next to me. So it's, you know, if I can, I'll get next to a window, so that I don't have to be moved past, right. And then I can also kind of lean into the window into the wall, the interior wall of the plane so that I'm not, you know, touching somebody else. And then if I do touch somebody else, I break out in a cold, sweat, like, Oh, my gosh, any minute, they're gonna say something to me. So again, I mean, I can completely relate. And I know that I'm not the only one out there. And it's, it's one of those things, like we said, it's like, oh, I'm not the only one. Oh, that's horrible. You are being made to feel this way. So.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 22:59
And it's really just the tip of the iceberg. Like there are many ways in which higher weight people are dehumanized.
Bernie Salazar: 23:05
And this matter of fact, one of the chapters that really resonated with me and Rebecca, we talk about it all the time, was just about, you know, medicine and and how, how scary it is to be in a big body. And, and and, and think or hope that we're going to get the medical treatment that is just every human should get. You know, I was just speaking with Rebecca. Oh, gosh, one week ago, two weeks ago, we recorded and this is how scary it got for me. I told I shared with Rebecca that should I come down with COVID that I was because I'm a newer Father, I have a soon to be five year old and I just turned one year old. I thought to myself, you know, I should probably write, I should probably have my wife or I write with permanent marker on my chest. Kind of giving my Dean's like, don't give up on me because of my size. And when we when I read your that chapter I you know, that thought and me sharing that out loud came back like, Oh, my God, like I this fear is warranted.
Aubrey Gordon, author of What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat: 24:12
Bernie Salazar: 24:13
You know, like, hey, I've always been this size. I'm a new father. I'm super nice. Yeah, I'm in a big body. Please give me the ventilator. If there's one available, you know.
Aubrey Gordon, author of What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat: 24:25
Totally also, I don't know how many. I'm gonna say. thin white says people will just put it in that container for now. Have to say, Hey, I'm super nice to their health care provider. Will you not yet give up on providing me health care? Do you mean like, it's just...
Bernie Salazar: 24:46
There's literally like this weird scenario that plays in my mind where, you know, I'm sick. There's another, you know, the street sized person next to me and they are you know, it's kind of like a "which one?" Oh, obviously this one this one's live the life that you know, is more conducive to, to be worth saving. It's like, Oh my gosh.
Aubrey Gordon, author of What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat: 25:09
Yeah. And there were some very at the very, very beginning of the pandemic, there were some of those, like press releases that came out from hospitals sort of preemptively announcing, having been providing ventilators to fat people. It's just like, wow, if that isn't a clear statement of the worth of our lives in this moment, like, I don't know what it is.
Yeah, Rebecca, I'm super curious. as a clinician, I have to imagine that this stuff pops up all over the place, both in your sort of work with folks individually, but also in training also in like, professional settings. I'm curious about sort of, like, is there stuff that comes up for you over and over and over again, as a provider. Do you see what I'm saying,
Rebecca Scritchfield: 25:55
Yeah, well, I mean, I, the field of dietetics is abysmal. You know, there have been the teeniest of steps. So like, Today's Dietitian is a magazine that reaches probably 70,000 plus how, you know, subscribers, and so it's an industry magazine. And, and so I said, I would really like to talk about body shame, and about how dietitians can hold space for not having the experiences of people they're working with and sort. So, you know, I did kind of did something that I thought that I could do, that wouldn't result in somebody just ripping up my article, you know, I mean, understand that, in my experience, when I was talking openly about being Health at Every Size (HAES), I would get practitioners who would get in my face angrily about it, you know, finger wagging, just rage at me, I don't agree with this. And, you know, there's that the rage, you know, when there was a "what's the harm if someone wants to lose five pounds, Rebecca?" And I'm just thinking, that's not what happens. And so there was this whole personal thing where I had to, like, lose people who I thought were friends, basically, let myself get mistreated, and stand for what I believed in. And for me, it was, it was this form of like, I've been using this phrase like "fierce love" lately, and to me, it was one of this, I wish you would have thought of that when I wrote Body Kindness. But it's this idea of like, be "fierce" against the culture and where you need to be fierce and be loving, where you need to be loving. And so. So there's, there's that element, right? There's in the field of dietetics. It's like their sides. And who side are you on, and we get lost in the in the weeds of like, humans fighting with each other, as opposed to the bigger picture of within the field of health? What does it mean to help people care for their health? To me, you lose me if it's not mental health, and physical health united and together, right? So you don't have to know it all or do it all. But you need to be able to expand what your definition of health is, you need to be able to expand that includes social justice and access. And like I said, You hit us throughout this book, and in beautiful ways, right about the systemic barriers. So So I guess, I don't even know if I'm answering the question. But I think so far as like, I would love every dietitian to identify as being at least weight neutral. You know, if you can't get on board with Health at Every Size yet, could you at least understand and be open to weight neutral. And then I would add, you know, I've given presentations to the you know, big air quotes fitness industry, and it's just where you need to meet people where they are. It's like this revelation to talk about being nice to people when you're training them as opposed to be like, I'm gonna kill you. Oh, and you know, Bernie, I don't know if you want to share.
Bernie Salazar: 25:55
Yes, I totally read it. I mean, you know, it's you, you mentioned biggest loser in there. And, you know, my Sorry, no, no, no, as a matter of fact, yeah. I mean.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 29:23
He needs to be more outwardly angry.
Bernie Salazar: 29:26
Well, you know, you know, and and this is what you know, again I've shared with Rebecca a time and time again... I part of the reason why I am so into our podcast and our conversations is I really feel like I have some ground to make up like I got some apologizing to do to myself first and to the world second and what I mean by that is not it's not you know that I am the one responsible but I definitely played a role because I didn't know you know. It was what society has always had me feel about myself or told me about myself. So every time I got screamed at by a trainer, or told to, you know, look a little bit sadder or or question why my life was a little bit more miserable than a thin person's, you know, in order to have my story be more compelling, or people be able to relate to me more, I didn't realize what I was perpetuating. You know, and and, and I'll tell you why. And it cracks me up, because in retrospect, I could see how this would have pissed them off a bit. I was, I've always been pretty happy. It was actually after, it was after my time on the show where shit got sad. Like, literally so like, you know, I remember them asking, so why do you want to be The Biggest Loser? And my response was, and I think it was jarring to them at first and maybe it got them to want to look at me closer I was like, well, because Fuck, I've lived life. Big in an awesome way. I just want to see if if Finn is all it's frickin crap cracked up to be? Like, literally like, like, that was my response. It's like, Well, shit, I lived a great big life. And everybody saying being thin is, is awesome. Well, then holy shit, this is gonna be it's gonna be one huge rage. Like, it's going to be like, like, grab the glow sticks. Because this is going to be a non stop party because I'm already a frickin good time. So yeah, and unfortunately, you know, when they ask that question to other interviewees around the table, you know, you got a lot of sob stories, and you got people breaking down and you got them, you know, questioning their worth, and, you know, oh my gosh, I can't have children because of what I've done to my body. And I can't find love because no one finds me desirable. And, you know, all of a sudden, Bernie comes out and says, Well, shit out, my life has been great. And I just want to try to, you know, see if it's if being in a smaller body is all it's cracked up to be. So, again, I'm so glad that you brought it up, you know, and the way that you brought it up, I think was was awesome. You know, you talk about, you know, how we feel like it's okay to be yelled at, because of the body that we're in, given that we've been told that our body isn't is worthy is a thin body.
Aubrey Gordon, author of What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat: 32:20
Well, and it, first of all, I should say, I totally hear you on feeling like you need to make up ground and all that sort of stuff. That is those are all your feelings and all your experiences and experiences that I have not had cannot speak to. But I what I will say is my like, official position on this and all things is, I am not ever going to judge how a fat person deals with anti fatness, I'm not ever going to judge a fat person for having weight loss surgery. I'm not ever going to judge a fat person for dieting, I am not ever going to judge a fat person for going on a show like the biggest loser or the swan or extreme makeover or whatever. Right? Like, all of those are drastic solutions to a problem that has been presented to us time and time again, that is our bodies are the issue and the only way out is to change our bodies. Right? So I don't ever ever, ever fault fat people are like going down that road? Because it's the only one right? That's for sure. Sure, sure. But for me, you know, it was just, you know, I think on our podcast, they just try as genuinely as possible to be the voice that I needed to hear. And what I mean by that is, you know,
Bernie Salazar: 33:38
We just, you know. Need to hear that we're beautiful, you know, that we're worthy that we're strong. You know, that's because we are. So every chance I get I'm gonna sing that, you know, to all people, especially my fat people out there who don't realize that that's what they are, and what they deserve to hear. You know, you don't need to go on any show and freakin diet to try to reconcile what society wants or values. So, you know, again, that's, that's what I mean by I have some ground to make up.
Aubrey Gordon, author of What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat: 34:20
Yeah, no, I totally hear you. I mean, I think the thing that sort of troubles me, boy, oh, boy, you tell me because you have physically been there and I have. But I think the thing that's sort of why it felt important to include the show in the book, in particular was that, you know, media is always about depicting somebody's reality, but it's also about reinforcing behaviors and the people who sort of consumed that media, and there was something that happened around the like, you know, rocket ship to the moon. That was the rise of Jillian Michaels in particular, that was just like, all kinds of people started to feel emboldened to say, all kinds of things to all kinds of fat people, because they were seeing that modeled, not just as an acceptable behavior, but as one that benefits fat people, right? There is this wild sort of like Jedi mind trick that shows pulling, which is just like, you can be horrific in public to fat people. And that's actually for their benefit. And the more they object, the better a job you're doing. Right? Which is like, if you care at all about consent, that you're raising a big red flag. Yeah, you know, and it didn't end on the show, you know, afterwards, having been a contestant on the show. I remember and I think I shared this on the podcast before I was, you know, I walked out of a Dairy Queen, not even six to eight months after my time on the show, and, you know, a car had was driving by and I guess someone in the car recognized me and they're like, No, don't do it. Bernie. And I was just like, wow, this is it's a hot. I almost feel like you when you talked about how well one other shirt Am I supposed to wear? It's 102 degrees out. I felt like saying like, Dude, it's it's the middle of summer. I ice cream is meant to be. It's just delicious. Like.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 36:23
I was going to say the only question should be? Is that a Dilly bar or a Peanut Buster parfait?
Bernie Salazar: 36:29
No, no, no. I go with the soft serve gift and the cherry. It's a Midwest thing, because they have like chocolate and stuff everywhere else and butterscotch, but there's anyway. Yes. I mean, you're absolutely. You're right. It did open up the door for people to feel as though they could be this negative voice and it was coming from that place of caring and it is not. And it was unwarranted. unwelcomed. And, you know, I we definitely need to stop that.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 37:04
Bernie I remember being with you and people noticing you and coming up and introducing stuff. Hey, you're such an inspiration. You're not really gonna eat that. Are you? And I'm like, did I just see? So I'm yeah, I didn't live it. But I thought a little bit.
Bernie Salazar: 37:20
Oh, absolutely. And it goes back to what I was sharing, like, Oh, my gosh, I who was an educator before the show. Not that this matters, right. But these are all things that I worked for that were personal achievements to me. I had my Master's in education. I just was all around good person. I had great friends. And all of a sudden, I was just being judged on whether or not I was able to drop weight. Like I could have literally kicked dogs in my spare time. And they would have been but you lost weight. So you're a great guy. It's like no, as a matter of fact, you know, I kicked dogs in my spare time. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. But but but you but you, you look great now, you know. So for me, it was really unpacking just this whole idea of worth and what people value, which unfortunately, I think really brings us to present day, you know, and we're seeing just how undervalued.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 38:13
I do want to make one Biggest Loser note talking about present day because this is our reality. We can talk about The Biggest Loser as if it's a thing of the past. But it really isn't because to this day, there are companies right now, right, who are rolling out or planning right Biggest Loser like or ish New Year New You weight loss competitions, whether that's the people you imagine right the the gyms or micro gyms or whatever with the virtual programs, whatever they're doing, right? But like places of employment, Hey, I know something fun, let's have a new year, whatever. And it'll be like Biggest Loser. And it didn't go away. Even though the show is no longer on the air and your point. Aubree about Jillian she's still a monster to people. She She is a monster. You know, making stupid comments about what was it Lizzo and "it won't be nice when you get diabetes. Oh, but I like your music." Just the the gas lighting and then she's compared diabetes to smoking and I don't. She's just a hot mess. And she will literally, you know, take her last breath, shaming somebody for their size and swear that she's just trying to help them and that's a sickness in her and it's a mirror in our culture.
Aubrey Gordon, author of What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat: 39:47
I mean, I think something that sort of ties together this, the dietetic stuff that we were talking about the healthcare stuff, all of this kind of stuff is, you know, one thing that we absolutely don't do when it comes to fatness and fat people is, just look at what actually works. Like, what's our goal? And then what meets that goal? Because there are all kinds of people out in the world saying, I have to yell at this fat person. Otherwise, what to do? I have to sort of, you know, restrict their food and take their parents who will put padlocks on the refrigerator so their kids can
Bernie Salazar: 40:21
Yes, oh, gosh,
Aubrey Gordon, author of What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat: 40:22
All kinds of stuff. And I would say, you know, health care providers are part of this too, right? That there is like, very little looking at, okay, if your goal is to have fewer fat people in the world, if you spend every office visit, telling if you're a health care provider, telling fat people to lose weight, what is your success rate? How many of those fat people lose a bunch of weight? And how long are they able to keep it off for? Because if you have a mandate with no way of meeting it, then you don't actually have a strategy. They're my guys. Like, that doesn't work. If you think that yelling at fat people or sort of lecturing us about the food we eat, or even just saying things like, are you sure you want to eat that? Or don't do it Bernie, right? Yeah. If you think that that's helping, what's your success rate? How do you know it's helping?
Rebecca Scritchfield: 41:16
Let's take a quick pause from this conversation for an important message from Bernie Salazar:.
Bernie Salazar: 41:26
Hey, listeners, Bernie Salazar here asking you to support our show, make your contribution at GoFundMe.com/bodykindness, and 100% of any amount you can give goes to offset to production expenses. If 20 people can donate $25, it pays for this episode. Again, that's GoFundMe.com/bodykindness to chip in and support our show. We're so grateful to have you as a listener. And we thank you for your support.
Aubrey Gordon, author of What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat: 42:03
95 to 98% of diets fail diets, meaning weight loss attempts here, not just things that are branded as diets, you don't get to just call it a "lifestyle change" and be like now it's not a diet. I don't I'm not here for the "search and replace." Like No, no, no, no, no,
Rebecca Scritchfield: 42:18
I just accepted a book because it was it was doing a bait and switch. And I was like, yeah, I'll take a copy of this. Because I was like, I want to see the language of how this is being and it's that exact kind of thing. And we're gonna see it more and more, especially from physicians and like the classic thin white male Doctor Who is already written a bazillion books saying one thing and now they're gonna, they're gonna take their piece of this "Oh, self care the healthy lifestyle way." And, you know, that's just bullshit. It's a diet in disguise.
Aubrey Gordon, author of What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat: 42:55
Well, it's also happened with the biggest loser reboot, right? But they were sort of like now it's about therapy and supporting you and all this sort of stuff. But ultimately, everyone's success is measured by how much weight they lose, or don't lose rate lifts the same thing. They sort of changed clothes, but it's the same sort of functional thing, right? But I mean, like, I just think about like, so my mom was a teacher and spent 40 50 years, oofff, in early childhood education. If she administered a test, and 95 to 98% of students failed it, she would not say, Boy, these students are a bunch of dummies, she would go, I didn't teach that well, or that test wasn't written well. Right? This is a very strange sort of moment that we're in around fatness and fat people, that sort of again to like having worked in like progressive community organizing. It's a moment when kind of everybody turns into like a hardline Republican, right? But like everyone, all of a sudden, it's like, it's your personal responsibility. You have to be thin. You have to do it this way. Right? Like, all of that sort of stuff. And again, like our sort of willingness to empathize with people, our willingness to see even our loved ones as like, people who are doing their best just all kind of goes out the window.
Bernie Salazar: 44:11
Aubrey you're so right. Because grandma's the first person to be like, Oh, my gosh, I love you so much, you know, and you're like grandma's wonderful and this or that she's like, but she needs to lose weight. You're like, Damn, Grandma, Where'd you come from? You're absolutely right. Like it's so there. And it comes from literally people that are, you know, out to save the world and, you know, humane to animals, but you know, don't don't get them going on a fat person's body because then it's a whole other conversation you're having. You don't even recognize the person you thought you knew. You know, what I really enjoyed was how you brought this book around, and you specifically talk about this "new world" and some of the things that need to happen. You know, this has to happen. You know, and you. just "End the legal widespread practice of wage discrimination. Realize the promise of health care for fat people." You know, and in looking at this, right and reading these things "Increase access to public spaces. End anti-fat bias. End the approval of weight loss drugs with dangerous, even fatal side effects." I'm reading this and I'm like, we are fighting for human basics here. And the fact that we have to say it is scary, but needed. And I am so glad that you brought it around by just flat out say this is these are these are, these are things we need.
Aubrey Gordon, author of What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat: 45:42
Well, and I think they are things that will for some folks, they will read as super radical. This will hit them as like the wildest stuff they have ever read.
Bernie Salazar: 45:54
Radical. Oh, my gosh.
Aubrey Gordon, author of What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat: 45:56
The very tip top of the iceberg, right?
Bernie Salazar: 46:01
No, I'm reading this and I'm like "Oh, my gosh, she is so right. And we have not been receiving any of this." You know, and I tell Rebecca, depending on the day and how much sleep I've gotten because of the kids, like things hit me radically different. But I'm like, this is so right on. And oh my gosh, I can't believe that we're discussing this right now that this is this is even up for debate. So when you talk about that, so this may fall on people as radical. I'm like, Oh, my gosh. But you know, again, given given where we're at right now, it doesn't surprise me. But it's needed. And it's, I'm glad to put it down.
Aubrey Gordon, author of What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat: 46:43
Oh, I'm so glad to hear it. I mean, I will say everything that is in that chapter are either campaigns that I have worked on in other communities, right? Or are policies that I've sort of like been part of passing or constructing or supporting? or what have you, these are all things that have been done, right? Adding fat kids to the list of classes that shouldn't be able to be bullied in schools.
Bernie Salazar: 47:11
Aubrey Gordon, author of What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat: 47:12
The number one reason that kids are bullying men is because they are fat. And that doesn't get taken seriously. And it doesn't have any there's no recourse within the school system to sort of end that. It's basically like, if you have a grown up in your kids school, who believes them and who thinks it's worth their time, it will get handled. But other than that, you know, tough luck.
Bernie Salazar: 47:35
You're right. It's one of those things that I mean, it's just, it just is allowed to happen. You know, it's Oh, gosh, gym class, for me, it just brings back memories, like, you know, shirts and skins. Like I would literally if I was chosen as a skin, like i would i would i would fake any type of illness like I remember even thinking one time, like, should I jump off the bleachers that may be break a leg, like, I won't have to take my shirt off. Like, these are things that you know, go through your head, and these are things that you're thinking about it, you know, 11, 12, 13 never mind high school years, if you try to play a sport and, you know, oh, coaches, like it's mandatory everybody takes a shower. And I'm like, oh F* like I quit.
Aubrey Gordon, author of What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat: 48:18
Bernie Salazar: 48:19
Like, you know, and and I'm not playing a sport that I loved.
Aubrey Gordon, author of What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat: 48:23
Yeah. And I think part of what gets missed in some of these conversations is, and you correct me if I'm wrong, because again, this is your experience and not mine. That it's not just about feet, like imagining people's judgments about your body in that moment of like taking your shirt off for shirts and skins. Right. It's that you would hear that from other people in a sustained way for a long period of time. Right? It's..
Bernie Salazar: 48:52
Oh, yeah, I mean, if I if I would have done that, like that was, that's, that's ammunition for for the rest of my life against me, it wasn't just that moment of me feeling uncomfortable. You know, and I can't even imagine because I'm gonna take myself like, there were no cell phones back then there was now you have full on, you know, you can shoot a movie on these phones. And I can't imagine, you know, children being, you know, subjected to being recorded. And then that being shared, you know, and so, when you put "stand up for fat kids" in there, like that as a, as an educator by training like, that is so so needed because there are kids that I remember that were bullied because of their their body size. And and to be very honest, I I wasn't, I wasn't on the end of a lot of harsh bullying. It was always just comments here and there too, which I was, again, the fat guy who was funny, but I was able to kind of shield myself that way, but there were some oh my gosh, there were some friends, fellow students that just weren't able to joke about it. And I don't know where they're at, I know that some of them ended up dropping out of school. And it just completely changes the trajectory of their life. And we're talking young, brilliant minds, kind people who just could not take any more of the body shaming, and just disappeared.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 50:22
And and even Bernie, it's great that you didn't, you don't have these experiences of personally of being bullied. And I even listen to hear you say like, the identity is this funny, fat guy. It's kind of like, it sounds from my perspective, if I might say, like, this acceptable consolation prize, like, "I will do the burden and always be funny for you, if you promise that you just won't be mean to me."
Bernie Salazar: 50:48
Yes. Oh, no, no, it was a complete defense mechanism. And it was the only way that I got through. And that's why a lot of the more harsh comments and or the physical abuse, I didn't have to endure, because they had this personality that allowed me to kind of code switch right into these thin communities where I mean, same thing, even as a Latin x male, I mean, in a predominantly white school, like I've spent my life as a chameleon, I'm just gonna put it out there. And I'm tired. I just turned 40. And I'm fucking tired. And this is the most that I've ever sworn in an interview. Mind you. I just this book, along with a lot of recent experiences, has left me really wondering, at the age of 40, who the hell am I?
Aubrey Gordon, author of What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat: 51:39
Yeah, it's so tricky. I mean, like, we just spend so much time sort of tap dancing, to get people to not pay attention to the size of our bodies, or to be distracted enough by other aspects of who we are and how we are in the world and how we can be of service to them. Right? That and we do all of that just to sort of like, reduce the harms that have come to us in the past, right? I mean, like, in a funny way, all of the stuff that you're talking about in school, right of being sort of like funny, fat guy, is not that dissimilar from everything that you and I were talking about, about when you get on a plane and you sort of like, shove yourself into the corner and you bring your own seatbelt extender and you try not to go to the bathroom during the flight and you do all of these things not to be in the way of other people in the hopes not that they will treat you better, but that they won't decide to hurt you.
Bernie Salazar: 52:31
Aubrey Gordon, author of What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat: 52:32
In some like material ways. And it's it's a very strange thing. Like as we're talking about this, I'm like, Oh, right. In that way, high school kind of never ends for fat people. Like, it's all high school.
Bernie Salazar: 52:45
Aubrey Gordon, author of What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat: 52:48
Anyway, as the 37 year old, I feel you on the I'm tired.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 52:53
But Aubrey, it's been so wonderful to talk to you and to celebrate all your success. And we've set the tip of the iceberg a lot today. But hopefully, getting this first book out is the tip of the iceberg for your book, writing career and your freelance writing is wonderful. And I'll make sure to include all your links in the show notes. And just want to say thank you so much for coming and talking with us on body kindness today.
Bernie Salazar: 53:25
Aubrey Gordon, author of What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat: 53:26
It's been such a treat. Thank you guys so much. This is like the light of my day. What a treat.
Bernie Salazar: 53:26
Best of luck to you. Listeners. Get to know you some Aubrey.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 53:38
Or, anonymously, Your fat friend.
And that's our show. The podcast is made possible with support from listeners. Please donate to help offset production costs www.gofundme.com/bodykindness. And please rate and review the show when you have a moment it really matters. Let's keep the conversations going on Facebook. Search "body kindness" and request to join the group for Body Kindness readers and listeners have a question for us to answer on a future episode. Visit www.bodykindnessbook.com/question. Body Kindness books and audiobooks are available wherever books are sold. To request a signed print copy. Visit BodyKindnessBook.com/order. For other questions about this podcast, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.
Support the Show
If you’re enjoying the show we’d love if you’d consider making a contribution at GoFundMe.com/bodykindness. 100% of any amount you can give goes to offset to production expenses. If 20 people can donate $25, it pays for this episode. We’re so grateful to have you as a listener, and we thank you for your support.