I’m so thrilled to welcome Sonya Renee Taylor back to the podcast. We talk about what’s different in the second edition of The Body Is Not an Apology — which is a New York Times bestseller! We also talk about the forthcoming Your Body Is Not an Apology Workbook.
Listen or watch below to find out how Sonya started this amazing work and why she is committed to changing how the world thinks about bodies.
Sonya Renee Taylor is the Founder and Radical Executive Officer of The Body is Not An Apology, a digital media and education company promoting radical self-love and body empowerment as the foundational tool for social justice and global transformation. Sonya’s work as a highly sought-after award-winning Performance Poet, activist, and transformational leader continues to have global reach. Sonya is a former National and International poetry slam champion, author of six books, including The Body Is Not an Apology, Second Edition: The Power of Radical Self-Love (Berrett-Koehler Publishers; February 2021), educator and thought leader who has enlightened and inspired organizations, audiences and individuals from board rooms to prisons, universities to homeless shelters, elementary schools to some of the biggest stages in the world.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 0:00
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 body kindnessbook.com/start.
Sonya Renee Taylor, author of The Body Is Not An Apology: 0:59
The last two chapters of the book are actually the whole reason why the book exists there. The whole reason why all of it exists is so that we can dismantle the systems in the world that are in the way of all of us being able to radically, unapologetically live in our bodies and our beings, just as we are. And with all the capacity, and all of the opportunity to thrive and succeed and flourish and become that highest, most magnificent version of ourselves without obstruction. That's what I want for everybody in the world. And the only way to get that is for all of us to divest from a system that says that only some of us should be allowed to have.
Rebecca Scritchfield:: 1:47
That was Sonya Renee Taylor, She's the author of six books, including the New York Times bestseller The body Is Not An Apology, Second Edition, The Power of Radical Self Love. I'm so honored to have had the opportunity to talk with Sonya Renee Taylor again for the second time in the body kindness podcast, I truly believe you're going to get something powerful and meaningful out of this conversation. Please support her books and her work. All of her links are in the show notes for this episode, be sure to check them out, including she has a Venmo and Patreon. It's at Sonya Renee Taylor. If this is your first opportunity to learn from her, allow me to tell you a little bit more. So she is the founder and radical executive officer of the body is not an apology. It's a digital media and education company promoting radical self love and body empowerment as a foundational tool for social justice and global transformation. Her work is highly sought after she's an award winning performance poet, activist and transformational leader with a global reach. She has enlightened and inspired organizations, audiences and individuals from boardrooms to prisons, universities to homeless shelters, elementary schools to some of the biggest stages in the world. And you may have heard she was on the Bernie brown podcast. So pretty cool. I just know you're going to get something meaningful and powerful out of our conversation. And I thank you so much for tuning in and listening and supporting the body kindness podcast.
So I am so excited to talk to you. Sonya Renee Taylor, Goddess divine. Oh my gosh, you were literally. I mean, there were critical steps in my life where your wisdom came to open me up. And the body is not an apology. I remember hearing about your work and your poetry. And I wanted to know more. And when the body is not an apology came out. I said there's just from the cover alone. There's something in here, that feeling of the nine year old version of me, right apologizing already. And thinking of the space I've held with clients and I knew I was like this is this is going to transform me and that it did. And I have recommended your book to clients to people I've had the privilege to get to mentor and back in the first wave. It was very transformational. But one of the reasons why we're talking today one of the many is that we have a new edition!
Sonya Renee Taylor, author of The Body Is Not An Apology: 4:49
We do! Wait a minute I'm gonna reach under here so that I could do it at the same time with you.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 4:58
I am so excited for this book and for the foreword.
Sonya Renee Taylor, author of The Body Is Not An Apology: 5:04
Rebecca Scritchfield: 5:05
It's Ijeoma Oluo, right. I love everything Ijeoma is about. And then I mean, Brené Brown...
Sonya Renee Taylor, author of The Body Is Not An Apology: 5:15
A little Brené Brown quote!
Rebecca Scritchfield: 5:19
So just so you know, all this shares? Oh my gosh, you know, all the buzz not just in the Health at Every Size community but in the dietetics community, my friends, have you heard this podcast? Have you heard this podcast? And then it was in in my daughter's groups, so I am in a white parents affinity group. And then our facilitator shared the link. And I was like, and then finally, I think it was in that group where I finally said, she is so famous and that was such an amazing interview. Um, and, and I said, I got to talk to her first. I got to talk to her first! Um, but anyway, clearly, you you are like this... up up and away. It is so well deserved. Yeah, and I definitely want to get into the nitty gritty of the book, but just so we let people know early, it's your book birthday like today in the US?
Sonya Renee Taylor, author of The Body Is Not An Apology: 6:30
Yes, it is the second edition book birthday. Yes, it's so it's a rebirth and it's actually many birthdays. So it is also we are we are on the official 10 year anniversary of the body is not an apology for the first days that the words were ever uttered out of the bid. We put it on Facebook, but the first day post on Facebook was 10 years ago this day.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 7:03
Sonya Renee Taylor, author of The Body Is Not An Apology: 7:04
Rebecca Scritchfield: 7:05
Wow, that seems like such a long time and such a short time.
Sonya Renee Taylor, author of The Body Is Not An Apology: 7:10
Exactly. That's exactly my experience of it.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 7:14
Sonya Renee Taylor, author of The Body Is Not An Apology: 7:17
Rebecca Scritchfield: 7:18
And just I mean, I guess, I guess that could be an interesting, like reflection, right when the words first came out of your mouth.
Sonya Renee Taylor, author of The Body Is Not An Apology: 7:28
Rebecca Scritchfield: 7:29
What was that moment like?
Sonya Renee Taylor, author of The Body Is Not An Apology: 7:32
Yeah. So that there's a little bit of a twist to the, to the birthday. That is today is the day that the words went public?
Rebecca Scritchfield: 7:41
Yeah. So the website you said, Here it is. Here's a nice book date.
Sonya Renee Taylor, author of The Body Is Not An Apology: 7:45
Here's a facebook, facebook. Right, right. Here's my picture of me in this little course it unapologetic, unapologetically in my body. Now other people share your picture. That was what happened on this day. But the first time that I entered the body's non apology, which I talked about, in the preface of the book was in a conversation with a friend about maybe about eight months earlier, in a conversation with a friend at a poetry slam, where she was afraid that she had an unintended pregnancy. And, and did not and was not using condoms, with this partner who I happen to know was a casual partner. Sorry about that, that I knew as a casual partner. And when I asked her why, you know, when I asked her why she wasn't using condoms, she shared that her disability she had cerebral palsy made it difficult for her to be sexual. And she didn't feel entitled to ask the person to use a condom. And I said to her, your body is not an apology. It's not something you offer to say sorry for my disability. And so that was the first time that the words were ever uttered. And then you know, and then it took a while for them to keep working with me. I mean, eight minutes, eight months for them to keep working with me for them to keep, you know, pushing me towards what it was that they wanted to be, which was out in the world for other people.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 9:12
So when you said that to your friend at the poetry slam? Did the words. I mean, did you get a feeling of the words or did your friend Get it? Like was it like a Whoa, something powerful just came out? Yes. The verse.
Sonya Renee Taylor, author of The Body Is Not An Apology: 9:25
Yes, yes. It was absolutely like, Oh, we made a thing, right. And I'm like, Oh, I said something. And you know, like she cried. And you know, and I helped her but I also was like, yeah, there's something just came through me that wants to be that is wants to be something and I don't know what yet, but it wants to be something. And the first thing I wanted to be was a poem, because I was like, well, that's very poetic, though. Maybe we poetry until I first wanted to be a poem, but I think what Always wanted was to direct and in the first place, so its first point of direction and guidance was for my friend. And through the poem, it became direction and guidance for me. And then it was like, Alright, that's fine. I'm glad that is direction and guidance for you. It is direction and guidance in the world. So how, how will you, Sonia, make sure that this direction and guidance gets out into the world?
Rebecca Scritchfield: 10:30
And you say it take took you eight months as if that's a long time. And I'm sitting here going eight months out that's like fast to figure it all out? Or at least, like you said, get it going. So that's
Sonya Renee Taylor, author of The Body Is Not An Apology: 10:44
Rebecca Scritchfield: 10:44
But yeah, that feeling like, oh, something fundamentally shifted, and it's going to keep you. And I'm sure that that day, maybe you didn't even imagine a book yet, let alone all the millions, literally, of people you've impacted.
Sonya Renee Taylor, author of The Body Is Not An Apology: 10:59
Yeah, I, you know, I'm one of those people who, when I'm given a vision, I will see the vision, and then I will be directed towards moving towards that vision. And then I have to forget it. Like I have to forget I ever said it. And then I just have to kind of be in order to keep going. So when I first started, I had a poetry event in Seattle, maybe the same week that I had put up the Facebook page, and I said on that stage, I am starting a movement. Join me. I'm starting a movement of radical self love. Follow me. And I forgot about that show. I forgot. And like, four years later, someone shared a clip with me. And they were like, Oh, you always knew and I was like, Oh, I guess I did, because I totally forgot. So yeah, it's one of those things where it's like, the vision will come through. And then in order to actually do the work to bring the vision into the world, I have to kind of move away from the vision space and move into the just what does this look like on a daily basis? What does it look like to just live this? In through the practice of living it? It moves me into sort of, yeah, the manifestation of the vision. Yeah.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 12:14
And it has been an amazing, amazing journey. With this book, which we'll get into, I can't wait, I cannot wait. And also, you are going to have something that I've been dying, waiting for forever, which is a workbook. And like, like, I need this today, like I need you Sonia's brain, and guidance, like, help me now.
Sonya Renee Taylor, author of The Body Is Not An Apology: 12:44
Rebecca Scritchfield: 12:46
And for my clients to write stuff we can do together. You know, we're friends like this is. I mean, we all we all needed to be learning. My body is not an apology, you know, early on, as soon as we're forming sentences. I have a six and an eight year old and early on, I taught them my body, my choice. And interestingly, we found out that they would fight against baths and we're like, Can we get two baths a week?
Sonya Renee Taylor, author of The Body Is Not An Apology: 13:19
I love when parents tell me the way in which their like body liberation messages backfire on them with their kids? Like I didn't mean.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 13:30
Yeah, exactly, exactly. But um, yeah, I mean, your body is called you What a powerful thing that we all need to hear in some way, shape, or form. And I would love to when the workbook is out, because it's I don't think it's out till mid March, right, mid or late March,
Sonya Renee Taylor, author of The Body Is Not An Apology: 13:50
next month, next month, March 16. Right now is the release date?
Rebecca Scritchfield: 13:54
Well, as soon as I get one of my hands, I'm going to ask you to come back on the weekend, because I'm flipping through doing some pages, and then we'll have a little session for people.
Sonya Renee Taylor, author of The Body Is Not An Apology: 14:05
Oh, I would love that. I would love that. That would be wonderful. I really wanted them to come out at the same time. But I literally was writing them at the same time. And it was also I mean, I can't even begin to talk about what life was handing me as I was trying to create these books, but it was at the beginning of COVID. Oh, and so they Yeah, it was it was I was like weird. As much as I wish these could happen at the exact same time. Go on ahead and get the second edition in you. And then you know, and what I actually what I like is that it's a bit of a dance, right, the second edition and we'll talk about it, it's really, it's focused on grit. We've talked about what radical self love is, we've talked about how the systems of indoctrination have removed us from it. We taught in the first book we talk a lot about Alright, what is my interpersonal work to reconnect with my own radical self love journey? The second edition is like great. We've done that foundation. Now what is your interval personal work to connect to radical self love and the ways in which we relate to other bodies, and the systems of oppression that impact other bodies? How do I become a radical self love advocate for all bodies, that really is the focus of the second edition. And then the workbook says, beautiful, I am working externally, I am building the muscle to interrupt these systems out in the world. And now how do I keep practicing inside of me? How do I keep practicing in my own journey? Because it is always both of what we are doing in ourselves for ourselves as radical self love? And always, how are we using this as a tool to dismantle oppression in the world? And it always is a dance that requires both. And so I like the I like the back and forth of the good.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 15:47
Yeah, and you know, here's the thing, this is so necessary, right? Because the belief right in the self help world and whether that's a belief in publishing a belief in culture, belief, culturally, the belief in white supremacy is like, Oh, these are separate things, these people work on themselves. Like, we can see what's happening in culture. And it is, you know, a fight, right to get people to see, actually, we create the culture and the culture creates us, and we can't be separating things. And you also you counter, you do radical self love, without an understanding or awareness in which the culture has created privileges for you, or created barriers for you, that's pretty integral to your healing journey.
Sonya Renee Taylor, author of The Body Is Not An Apology: 16:38
Absolutely, if you're, if you're not, if you're not tackling that part, you're not doing radical self love you're doing, you know, you're doing self esteem, you're doing something that is individualistic, something that I propose, ultimately, is not sustainable, you might feel better for a while. But at the end of the day, because you are operating inside of systems that both gift you things and deny you things, you will once again find yourself up against the constraints of a body oppression system, you will always find yourself up against that again. And so unless we are always recognizing the ways in which our our ideas about ourselves have been externalized, will either be validated or externally deplore. And until we actually can see the difference between who it is I am in my most authentic self, and what the world demands of me until I can put some space between that I'm always going to get sucked back into performing for the world. Mm hmm.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 17:42
And what a mental distraction, right, the masses out there performing to the world. And it's like, who's getting left alone and isolated and lost? Right? You're your true self, your true sense of self.
Sonya Renee Taylor, author of The Body Is Not An Apology: 17:56
Yeah. And then we wonder why we feel disconnected and hopeless and still struggling? Right. And it's because we haven't actually gotten back to our source, you know, our source. Yeah.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 18:09
All right. I've been holding up the book, not only because I want everyone to look at the cover, and hopefully, as we've been talking about what to buy, what to buy, when to buy, buy, buy. Because the first thing I said, and the first thing my girl said when they saw this was this is beautiful.
Sonya Renee Taylor, author of The Body Is Not An Apology: 18:30
Rebecca Scritchfield: 18:31
And then the second question was Mama, who's this? And I said, this is a friend, mommy's gonna get to talk to her. But their first reaction was, this is beautiful. And so I wanted to ask about the cover and the butterfly. And if there was a meaning behind it, or a purpose behind it, or anything like that.
Sonya Renee Taylor, author of The Body Is Not An Apology: 18:55
I mean, I definitely think it's up for anyone's interpretation when, you know, when the artists americolor approached me about like, Well, so what do we want to do with the second with this new cover? They sent me a, you know, a multitude of options. What I knew that I wanted to feel what I wanted to feel when I looked at it was I wanted to feel the the mystery of unfolding, right like, there is so big part of what keeps us from taking a radical self love journey for ourselves. And as it relates to our relationship with other bodies in the world, is this fear that we're going to get it wrong, this fear that we won't be good enough, all of this, all of this unknown, and oftentimes, we see the unknown as this really foreboding and terrifying experience. And what I really wanted to sort of evoke was the idea that the the unknown is beautiful. What if the unknown is glorious and divine and soft and And in gorgeous, what if the unknown is gorgeous. And so I wanted there to be this sense of sort of mystery and unfolding, but I wanted it to be a mystery and an unfolding that is welcoming, that says, Yes, yes, this is an uncertain journey. But it is a journey that it's absolutely worth taking. And that was kind of feeling and you know, I often think about, you know, the process of becoming a butterfly, which is just the world's most intense process. And I did so, you know, I knew that, you know, the caterpillar goes into chrysalis, and I didn't, and I and I actually knew that it turns to good, right like that the caterpillar completely decomposes, completely decomposes. What I did not know, is that the process of decomposition inside of the chrysalis activates cells in the caterpillar, that are called imaginal cells. And when I learned that I was like, brain blown like that, our, our innate cells have already imagined the highest form of us. And yes, in the dark night of the soul, we feel like we are completely de, you know, like, deep everything. Like, whatever it is, right, that we are absolutely being rendered to, you know, the smallest versions of ourselves. But what's actually happening is that that which has always been in us, that was already imagined, is being activated so that we might emerge as the fullest versions of ourselves, the most beautiful, magnificent versions of ourselves. And, you know, and so, I'm like, right now, I, the work of radical self love, is to turn to go in some ways. Oh, yeah,
Rebecca Scritchfield: 22:02
I was gonna make that connection, because I was thinking of the uncertainty, right. And nobody likes that. That's the highest discomfort? I don't know. I don't know. I don't know. And you're talking about it being beautiful and amazing. What if it was all these good things. And I was like, I think Sonya wants us to believe that the view is good. Like, you know, that uncertainty is good.
Sonya Renee Taylor, author of The Body Is Not An Apology: 22:23
That's exactly what it is, the glue is the imaginal sale, in order to activate them, you have to be composed, in order to activate what radical self love can be in the world, we have to decompose what exists now. And that is scary. And it's terrifying. And inside of us, because we come here as radical self love, is all ready. All that needs to be for us to emerge into the highest, most beautiful form that serves us and serves the world. That's what imaginal cells are, is all that already known source information for our highest selves. And so let yourself decompose. Let yourself turn to let yourself be rendered to complete mush for the purpose of returning to our source knowledge of self, because our source knowledge of self will always lead us to the most magnificent, most beautiful, highest versions of ourselves. Yeah.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 23:26
And it is so essential because what actually happens is we spend our lives letting ourselves be conditioned. Yeah, whoever has the power in our culture. Exactly. Because even if it's in our own family, our own family who should be guiding us, right and maybe so they are in a lot of ways, they are also a product of we're constantly sensing out and absorbing it saying this must be me This must be truth. This must be fair, I must be what I follow. And what I'm loving about this is like Okay, so that's sort of what it's always been. We are now in the chrysalis, allowing the decomposing to take place. Yeah, right. Getting to the glue, the good good. emerges the butterfly and between the second edition of the body is not apology. And then the workbook which is going to be your body is not an apology. Yes. That will help us get into the good glue.
Sonya Renee Taylor, author of The Body Is Not An Apology: 24:28
Exactly. Exactly. Exactly.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 24:32
I love from the back right in the big bold letters, a global movement, guided by love. And I mean, that it's so powerful. First of all, it is for everyone, right?
Sonya Renee Taylor, author of The Body Is Not An Apology: 24:46
Everyone, everybody and everybody.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 24:48
Yeah. And that it is a movement and guided by love you Love. We were were immersed. We were feeling creatures who think we all have many, many emotions and even our bad and Or go because they're trying to tell us something's not right. But love as the supreme emotion, right? It also seems to be a lot of what we lack when things are off course like love for ourselves, our mistakes, our flaws, you know, our self judgment, the fact that we didn't find your book even sooner or whatever it is, it seems to be that we're in, we're in deep and inner critic mode, we are lacking the practice of love. And yes, of course, there's the external loving connections where you talked about for yourself, but also the world. It's this idea that we have a collective well being and collectively, we need to get back to love and away from this individualism, me and me alone and whatever like that, I think is what's gotten us into a lot of trouble in the first place.
Sonya Renee Taylor, author of The Body Is Not An Apology: 25:58
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. It's, you know, what, one of the things that I love about love is that it is, you know, it is both one of the most powerful resources in the world, right, like, and an inexhaustible resource, and also the thing that we most frequently forget to reach for when things feel fraught, right. It's so it's the, it is both the thing that we are the fastest to give away. But it's also the most easily replenishable, when we remind ourselves that we have access to it. And you know, I just feel very clear that we live in an example of what the world looks like when it's not governed by love. We, when I look outside, I'm very clear that I'm in a world that isn't governed by love. And, and so at this point, even if you don't buy it, right, like, this is my thing. Like I don't, I'm not, I'm not selling radical self love. I'm calling it an experiment, right? Like, even if you're not sure it works, you definitely have something to compare it to. So run the experiment. We've tried running it off of greed. You tried running it off of money. We've tried running it off of power, we tried running it off of you know, patriarchy and capitalism and white supremacists delusion. We tried running it off of all of those things, and see where it's landed us in a global pandemic with worldwide uprisings and massive death tolls and horrifying disconnection and emotional depletion. We have tried that, why? Try running it off alone, and just see what happens.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 27:45
And it is so I mean, love is really threaded through every chapter of the book. You know, in one, it's about making self love radical in three, you know, I think we were starting to get there building a radical self love practice in the age of loading. And I love that the way that you build out these chapters, it's kind of where we're the most comfortable got to work on me. You got to work on me, right? Because we love self improvement. We eat chocolate cake. It's the best cake I've ever had more, more more work. I'm not good enough anymore. You make a pivot in four and five. Right? I mean, it's again, it's threaded throughout. But it's a it's a sharp right turn, shall we say? A new way ordered by love. Yeah, right. Love is the supreme guiding. Right element. And then I think where we were getting to how to fight with love.
Sonya Renee Taylor, author of The Body Is Not An Apology: 28:45
Yeah, yeah. So for me, and I like to be really clear about this. I none of the work that I've ever done, was ever to attend to anyone's individual self esteem. And as much as I love humans is a lot I would not be putting in that kind of labor to just help you feel better about yourself. The entire point of this work for me, as a fat, black, queer, neurodivergent cisgendered woman is that I live in a world that harms bodies like mine that kills bodies like mine. And that it not only told me that I sit in with my body, but it's told the whole world that it shouldn't love my body. And what I'm very clear about is that the reason people believe that the reason that people jump on that bandwagon of loading My body is because it is the society has said you can leverage your self worth by deciding that this person is less than you and as soon as people self worth is not tied to someone else being lesser than them, then the threats to my body become far less likely in the world. If you don't need to hate me to love you, then then the world doesn't need to hate. If you just love you, and you and you are clear that you are innately and divinely made, then you can get in you are innately and divinely made, without any comparison to anyone else, you just talk, then everyone else also gets to just be. And inside of that world, the systems that we have built, based on that comparison, based on that need for someone to be greater or less than you, for you to understand yourself, once that doesn't need to exist anymore, then the systems that are tied to it also become obsolete, they become useless, we don't need them anymore. And so the last two chapters of the book are actually the whole reason why the book exists there, the whole reason why all of it exists is so that we can dismantle the systems in the world that are in the way of all of us being able to radically, unapologetically live in our bodies and our beings, just as we are. And with all the capacity, and all of the opportunity to thrive, and succeed and flourish and become that highest, most magnificent version of ourselves without obstruction. That's what I want for everybody in the world. And the only way to get that is for all of us to divest from a system that says that only some of us should be allowed to have it.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 31:58
Yeah. So I'm picking up on a thread. I don't know if this is right, I have a feeling. It's like, I got my lucky number. So, so, side note, backstory, I have a so I'm in DC, and I have a local friend who you know, in that sort of, you know, we'll get together on a walk and talk and catch up and one of the things we do together is is right, and I I'm trying to think of where, because I had like a day and a half I think my husband and kids were at like a cabin or something somewhere. So I was like, alone, no distractions. Melissa comes over so we can walk and talk and write and she shows up and I'm like Sonya's on Brene Brown, Sonya's on Brene Brown, let's listen. So we literally spent three hours listening, pausing, and then talking and listening, reflecting, and we're like, oh, she worked that keto response real good. They're like we were studying you. But this, I think what you're just talking about, is when you talk with Brene about the ladder
Sonya Renee Taylor, author of The Body Is Not An Apology: 33:03
The ladder, exactly.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 33:05
Because you have to step on someone's head to push them down to lift yourself up and talk about what if we create a system where there is no ladder. Is that is that what we're talking about?
Sonya Renee Taylor, author of The Body Is Not An Apology: 33:18
That's exactly what we're talking about, you got it, you got it, that's exactly what we're talking about.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 33:23
And so Melissa and I would rewind plugin, so much so that I ended up pulling that out, and writing that down as the prompt that guided further that was that envying the rest of my writing thing that whole week? reflecting and observe? Yeah, it's, it's stuck. And so that's why I'm so grateful to see that sharp pivot, because I do think that, I mean, it should have come so much sooner, but now more than ever, it is time that if we're going to be serious, right and true to ourselves, right? We pick the work that we want to read and embrace and guidance, even when we're uncomfortable, even if we Oh, that's a hot potato. I might need to set that aside and try again tomorrow. right but we need to at least be brave enough to choose what we're going to consume and and absorb right let it go. And will it will transform even if you don't know
Sonya Renee Taylor, author of The Body Is Not An Apology: 34:26
Rebecca Scritchfield: 34:27
that work is really uncomfortable. Right?
Sonya Renee Taylor, author of The Body Is Not An Apology: 34:30
Rebecca Scritchfield: 34:31
And especially for people who are like me, you know, genetically thin white cis het all the all those things that Yeah, here's your ladder, Rebecca. You're no and and it's, it is I'm also part of the group that has the power to help disassemble big pieces of the ladder.
Sonya Renee Taylor, author of The Body Is Not An Apology: 34:51
Absolutely, absolutely. And that's I think, you know, in that part is in the second edition was also in the first edition which is it becomes So much easier to dis identify. The ladder is in us, but it is not us. And I think that that is the piece that allows us to go toward the work with less fear and trepidation. Right? Like Yes, have I have I been indoctrinated into all of the systems of power and dominance that exists in this world? Yes, I am an able bodied, cisgendered upwardly class, mobile, college educated, you know, cisgendered woman, I to have a list of privileges that give me access to a world in a certain kind of way, that does not give other people access. And I am not inherently a bad person, because I have those privileges. It is not about being a bad person, it is about whether or not I am interested in only, but if those privileges are the only thing that makes me good enough, then right, I have no interest in ever seeing those privileges be extended to anybody else. Because if they're the thing that makes me good enough, and my understanding of good enough, is also about somebody who's got to be, you know, if we're all on the ladder, and I'm good enough, but I'm good enough, because I have these privileges, then it means the people who don't are less than me, and I need them to be less than me. That's that's how I that's the only way I can understand my own sense of value. And as long as that's the way we approach it is like, right? Well, either, I'm never going to think about it, I'm never going to think about my privilege, because then that makes me complicit, right, or I'm going to think about it and actively protect it. So that I have a one up over other people. And what I'm offering is that we are all born into these systems, we don't have a choice about whether or not we're born into these systems, we do have a choice about whether or not we allow them to stand uninterrupted. And never looking at never acknowledging all the places where society is constructed to benefit me, is one of the ways in which we keep that ladder firmly in place. And then, you know, and so for me, there is not much of a difference between, you know, a unapologetic, you know, Nazi and someone who's like, you know, I don't, you know, I don't see color. Like they're, they're the same, they're the same identity, they're the same outcome on a spectrum, right? on a spectrum of passive harm to act upon. But either way, it goes, it's hard, right? But me being like, Oh, no, I don't, you know, I just don't think about what people with disabilities need is a perfect way to make sure that there continues to be a world that never thinks about what people with disabilities need because I am in a world,
Rebecca Scritchfield: 38:01
Right, unless at first it was, Oh, I didn't think about that. Let me fix that. Right. That's okay.
Sonya Renee Taylor, author of The Body Is Not An Apology: 38:13
Usually, we're most of us are because again, we're not we are not set up to think about our privilege, the whole reason its privileges, because it's invisible. It's you, you don't have to think about it. It's just your life, your life. And so when we are made aware, it is our opportunity to opt out of the ladder, that's what so when I get presented with those things, I don't think of them as Oh, now I need to be ashamed. Now I need to like, think about what a terrible person I am. I say thank you for another opportunity to opt out of this really crappy ladder, I do not desire to continue to participate it. You know, it's a gift, it really is a gift.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 38:56
And you know, what I heard from you in that comparison between the Nazi and like, I don't see color in harm. Is, is acknowledgement,mright? So for talking about a step, right, baby, step two, an awareness, awareness and acknowledgement would go hand in hand. And if that's what you're able to do, that is a step in dismantling a piece of a ladder.
Sonya Renee Taylor, author of The Body Is Not An Apology: 39:25
Absolutely, absolutely. And, and it is important for all of us. And again, this is what I do in the fifth chapter of this book is I really give us concrete ways that we can start to disassemble that ladder inside our own lives, right? There are everyday ways that we, that we uphold the ladder that we don't even notice, right? We don't notice that we're upholding the ladder when we scroll through our Instagram feed, and everybody looks and thinks just like us. Yep, everybody has the same body we have. Everyone has the same racial identity. We have everyone in the same class privilege we have and so our life surrounded in this, you know, homogenous, you know, circle of sameness. And that is one of the ways in which we uphold the ladder. And so, you know, it can start with just like, oh, how do I not have my life look like me? Like a carbon copy of me?
Rebecca Scritchfield: 40:20
Yeah, yeah. And and I love how you frame things as experiments too, right? So it's like we're walking through these different steps, there's reflections, there's things to do. But when you're in that part five, you have a specific, specific actions of doing throughout, you know, this is thinking this is doing that one that I just loved. And I'm like, yeah, I'm like, this sounds interesting, you know? And what's interesting, what am I curious about? And there's lots of ideas, you know, but just to go there, and like, what jumped out at me doing strategy to queer your life? You know, and as somebody who does not identify as queer, but have many friends who do, I'm like, Yeah, like, What? Why can't I be open and curious? And like you said, like, experiment? Because it is, it's an it's like, understanding more and learning more, and how will I learn more about the ways that the system put me into a binary? Yes. And if I'm already teaching my kids that gender is not a binary and what those, you know what that means, and we, you know, watching videos, and this and that, it's like, there's also the experience of, you know, experimenting, exploring, and learning, talking and just evolving. I think that's a big, you know, thing to know. Yeah, I really love it. And, you know, and I love that you put the thought before the action, because it kind of sets it kind of sets you up.
Sonya Renee Taylor, author of The Body Is Not An Apology: 41:56
Yeah. Yeah. Well, if you know, like, from the first edition, you know, I talked about moving toward a radical self love, practice as a thinking doing being process. First, we have to actually be really intimate with our thoughts, intimate with with the way it is that just as a default, we move through the world. unconsciously, we have to bring that to consciousness, because once it's brought to consciousness, then we're at choice about how our behaviors will move or not move, right, hey, it's time to get a choice. And so it's always about like, let me get intimate with my thinking. First, let me just get honest about and that's one of the things that I find people fear the most, right? Because that's, that's where the goo is, like, start thinking about my thoughts.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 42:51
Was there a part of the book that you just feel particularly, like, personally proud of or connected to? That's just a, I don't know, more of maybe a personal anecdote or backstory that you would want to be in?
Sonya Renee Taylor, author of The Body Is Not An Apology: 43:07
It's a good question. I don't know if there's a point, you know, I feel Yes. So here's, I'll share, there's a portion in the very last segment where I talked about them getting willing to risk, which is on page 125 124, and 25. And it is the evolution of a thought process that began, I would say, back in 20 2014 2015, where I thought about, like, part of what keeps us from taking up the work of interrupting oppression and interrupting injustice is that it feels scary, and it is risky, right? And we are afraid that we will lose things, we are afraid that we will lose friends, we will lose opportunities, we will lose jobs, we are afraid we will lose those privileges that we get as a result of being part of whatever dominant culture we're part of. And one of the the things that I have been practicing for myself, but also asking other folks to think about is what does it mean to get willing to risk to be willing to risk, whatever, cuz at the end of the day, what we're really saying is, am I willing to risk some of my comfort for the possibility of all of our freedom? And then, and when I put it in that equation, for me, and my particular integrity, the answer is always Yes. I would much rather be free and comfortable. And so, but I also wanted to make it clear to people that it's not always the nuclear option, which is what we often think, right? It's like, right, no, I went in and I cut my boss out. You know, no, no job. Like, it doesn't have to be that and so I share in that story. action and experience of me with a group of people in New Zealand. So there is a whole lot of interesting barriers in this, I am in a different country, I am a different, you know, racial identity, I'm a stranger to a lot of the customs and ways and all the things are happening. And and what I shared in this in this moment was I shared the position of cisgender privilege with the two other women I was talking to. And they began to make a comment. That was transphobic. And it was this moment where I felt very personally called to my own, you know, like my own belief about this work, like, what does it really mean to practice this in real time. And what I got clear was, I needed to be willing to risk, but it did not mean I had to destroy the whole relationship. It did not mean I needed to blow up our afternoon and you know, a fit of righteous rage, it meant that I needed to be willing to disrupt the collusion of privilege in that moment, right, I need to, I need to be willing to say, I'm not in solidarity with our collective superiority over other over another group, because that's really what that is. And that, right? We assisted her women are going to assume our superiority over trans identified folks. And what I was able to do in that moment was I was simply able to say, without great disruption, I actually love and have, you know, deep and powerful relationships with many trans people. And they are powerful and beautiful humans, and that's what I know them to be. And in that moment, all I did was risk disrupting our shared privilege. I didn't want all the friendship, it didn't have to do all of that. I disrupted a shared privilege by saying, I am not going to clued in this act of superiority with you. And it's what's amazing about it is because we actually all know that it doesn't feel good. Like it's it's we actually know, it's our lower selves. And so when we get caught in it, everybody's like, Oh, yeah, no, that's actually everybody backpedals, right, recognize, oh, that's actually my lower self, right? That's not my, that's not me, and in the fullness of my humanity. And so, in that moment, it was a check in to actually invite us all back to a greater version of our humanity. And so I didn't risk I risked my comfort. And what I gained was a greater sense of humanity and connection, and an opportunity to interrupt a small act of transphobia in the room. And when we do that, on a collective basis, we restore all of our collective humanity. That's, that's what the process is. So yeah, that that moment for me was a powerful one in the book.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 48:11
Yeah, there's two things that I want to say in response to that. One is, I felt this sense of how your your chosen response also matched your your emotions at the time, right? Like you would have might have chosen a different type of response if you were triggered in a certain way. Right. So you had enough of a grounded sense of like, let's stop and think and what is aligned with my higher self and my values? And let me take, let me take a risky step anyway, and do this. And I think that's the point about that it is a choice option, and that you can make a meaningful impact, even in a choice that might not it feels scary. And it might not seem like it's enough, right. Yeah. The other part of it, and I was just as I was listening to you tell the story, I was sort of making up my own stories in my mind of like, what you might be thinking or what, like a typical client might think. And it's almost like this inner voices in our monitor. That's like, be the good, Sonia. Don't say something here. Right. And so it's interesting with the idea of goodness and the, you know, that caregiver, you know, mostly female identity, right of like, there's a list of rules of what it means to be good. And it's really about being quiet. It's really about don't disrupt the afternoon tea, you know, flipping the table telling us, you know, and so I just wanted to point that out because we have such a strong pull, right? Yeah, culturally, the presto system of being good, right? Yeah. Yeah, you guys be good, which means Always Be quiet, never speak up. And that is that path. That creates the fear.
Sonya Renee Taylor, author of The Body Is Not An Apology: 50:02
Exactly, exactly. And I think it's so important for us to realize that. So we're and this is why I say like, who benefits from that voice, right? The voice that tells you to be good and be nice and be quiet is a voice that desires you to stay in, to stay in its box to stay within its control to stay the subject of its power, right. And so I'm always like play named that system. It's one of my favorite games, when I'm going to break something happening in my brain like name that system what system is at play right now? In the good, nice Be quiet system is patriarchy. It is patriarchy, it is the system of male domination saying we would like you, lady to be quiet and be submissive and controllable. Right. And so when I can name the system, that, for me is always a great opportunity to be like, right now, I'm not doing that. It kicks up my self righteous, you know, defiance. But even if it doesn't kick up your self righteous defiance, like maybe you're, you know, don't flip the table. I didn't have to flip the table.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 51:06
Sonya Renee Taylor, author of The Body Is Not An Apology: 51:08
I didn't have to flip the table. I just had to not allow myself to be complicit in someone else's harm.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 51:16
Mm hmm. Yeah. And that's, that's actually why I kind of painted this picture of because I think that again, fear will push you into this irrational place. It's not like, it's not like you stood up and just threw food. And, so often, it's like, we'll get hooked on that fear. And I think it leads to fast silence, you know, yeah. And so in your example, it's a calmer, a gentler, let me approach this. And that is rooted in all your radical self love, and all the words in this amazing book, and who you are as a person bringing gifts to us year after year after year, it's so amazing. And so, so beautiful to watch. And I know people are gonna buy it, I can't wait to help make sure that I help contribute to those numbers. And as soon as I get a copy of the workbook, I really hope you'll come back. And we can
Sonya Renee Taylor, author of The Body Is Not An Apology: 52:15
I would love to
Rebecca Scritchfield: 52:17
And I will share.... I wrote this. Sonya, what do you think?
Sonya Renee Taylor, author of The Body Is Not An Apology: 52:21
Yeah, I can't wait. I'm really excited for the for the workbook to get in people's hands. You know, there. They are activities and guidance that I've been thinking about for years, right. Like I've been thinking about before the books came out a lot of these activities, sort of started way, way, way back. And so I'm excited to see them get in the hands of folks and for people to practice with them and to get to see what it really does for folks. So yeah, I look forward to that conversation.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 52:46
Good. I have an idea. I have a friend who comes on my podcast at least once a month or so. But he is a Latinex male who's higher weight primary caregiver of his kids. And he was a chronic diet or weight cycler he was actually on a very famous show that we will not name and, and he is coming so around identifying as fat and in his own being. And I think that the three of us having a chit chat about reflection. Oh, I think it'll be beautiful. So I love Okay, so yeah, thank you so much for everything. The Body Is Not an Apology, The Power of Radical Self-Love out now and a happy book re-birthday! Butterfly cover the new one. The added insight and resources, you know, are well worth it. And so thank you so much for your time and all your wisdom, I will be sharing this conversation everywhere I possibly can. And I just wish you so well until I get to see you again.
Sonya Renee Taylor, author of The Body Is Not An Apology: 54:00
Thank you so much, Rebecca, I appreciate all your support.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 54:03
And I want to make sure that folks know that if they got something valuable out of the conversation in addition to supporting you through book purchases, which we love that you also have a Venmo and Patreon and Sonya Renee Taylor, and that will be in the show notes and and i just i hope to see some some some gooey gooey funds coming your way for all you've given us today.
Sonya Renee Taylor, author of The Body Is Not An Apology: 54:30
I look forward to it.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 54:32
Thank you so much.
Sonya Renee Taylor, author of The Body Is Not An Apology: 54:33
Rebecca Scritchfield: 54:38
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Catch up on Sonya Renee’s last appearance on Body Kindness from 2018.
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