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Russell Brand & Megan Jayne Crabbe | Under The Skin Podcast

Russell Brand & Megan Jayne Crabbe | Under The Skin Podcast

Megan

Jane crap thank you for coming on under the

skin

with me

Russell

Brand

I'm so grateful that you're here thank you for having me slightly surreal is it really a tiny bit you're off the telly it's me

Russell

off the telly but you are off the internet and we live in a shifting landscape where you have you have like a lot of Instagram followers more than million and I feel like you're very engaged with Instagram you're a published author and I feel like you're an important voice in in some interesting areas around sexuality eating capitalism consumer is body image lots of lots of things that I'm really interested in so I'm excited to talk to you lovely let's do that tell me firstly a bit about your story so that we can establish context for listeners of course so I started to have body image issues I would say when I was about five years old I started primary school and I was just acutely aware that I looked a bit different I'm from a predominantly white area I was one of the only brown kids in my class and I thought I was bigger I thought I was too much basically instantly and that developed over the next few years into this slight obsession with food and I caught on very quickly that dieting were the thing and you know my mum was doing it the other kids moms were doing it maybe if I did it too I wouldn't feel so unruly in my body I wouldn't feel like I was too much and I started seriously dieting by the time I was about...
russell brand megan jayne crabbe under the skin podcast
ten years old so that spiraled pretty quickly into disordered eating and when I was 14 I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa that was a couple of years of kind of battling with my everything I had to get out of that and even after I was out of that I was still obsessed with losing weight I still really really believed and have believed for the majority of my life that thinness is the answer to happiness and if I could just acquire it everything would be OK in my life would be perfect so I spend up until I was 21 chasing thinness basically until I discovered this thing called body positivity and that changed my entire outlook so that's that's the back story what is body positivity so I would say that it is a movement that believes that all bodies are worthy of respect are good enough and that nobody deserves to go through life feeling about themselves and I swear yes feeling about themselves because of the way they look in any capacity whether that is size shape

skin

color age gender ability anything nobody should feel like they are worth any less because of their body body positivity then must two-degree be a response to the assumed beauty standards that we are not subtly kind of continually ubiquitously fed like an up until quite recently I recognize now I do know a bit about body positivity because it's like test Halliday and like different types of beauty but I you know I didn't that's not I never felt that was a as a personal taste issue that was never...
russell brand megan jayne crabbe under the skin podcast
my personal standard of beauty when regarding in regard to like as a heterosexual single person that was never my taste preference anyway but I recognized that there is a standard being held up yes absolutely and it's so it's one of those things that you don't really see it until you are told that it's you know this is this is a problem this is everywhere you know it's so as you said just just all-consuming it's it's in all the media we look at its we turn on our phones it's there we turn on our TVs it's there and billboards and and magazines and everywhere it's this kind of very very narrow image of this is beauty and the kind of subtext to that of beauty is happiness oh yes yes beauty is happiness beauty is contentment and for a large part of your life you felt that thinness cause happiness that's a very curious belief now I've got friends with anorexia and because of Miami cyanic complex like and because of my own experiences with drug addiction and eating disorders to a less extreme degree I felt like that the things that work around drugs and alcohol would be applicable with eating disorders I found they is extremely complicated in a way that sort of difficult to anticipate what's going on like people with anorexia for example seem so lucid and capable of talking about it and like oh my god you completely understand the entire situation and then they won't have something to eat after the conversation what is going...
russell brand megan jayne crabbe under the skin podcast
on can you explain it to me as a person who's been on the inside what is going on with anorexia um I can give you my experience obviously I would be wary in saying I'm not a medical professional so I can only speak for myself really and so for me it was a combination of a lot of things I think three main things first of all being how my brain works who I am inside my head so I am have always been a perfectionist have always been all or nothing I've always believed that nothing I do is is good enough for anyone or anything then the second thing that I think contributes to it is what we've already talked a little bit about the culture the kind of socio-cultural reasons so we are in a culture that is I deal to for contributing towards eating disorders I am I always think if the world had kind of been created by this large round table of people and they were sitting around and saying okay what can we put in the world that would really contribute to eating disorders they would come up with this world where diet culture is everywhere and thinness is praised as the best thing a person can be and we always are talking about and always thinking about it this world is just ideal for eating disorders to blossom so psychological Who I am inside socio-cultural going on around us and I think the third thing the third thing with anorexia restrictive eating disorders probably all eating disorders that people don't realize is they are very self perpetuating in that the the...
physiological effects that you get from starvation essentially the kind of the high of control and the peacefulness that can come from what happens in your brain when when you realize you can deny your basic instincts and you feel invincible it almost gives you that feeling of you are indestructible and for me it was also I can stop time you know like if I am so in this the world kind of stopped spinning you know nothing else matters except the numbers that are going in and the numbers that are coming out and that makes everything feel a little more in control for me that's a really fascinating insight the social cultural versus personal I understand from other aspects of addiction do you think that you can put eating disorders under an umbrella heading of addiction or do you think it's separate I don't really think I have like the authority to decide that but I would lean towards separate I'm always that claiming observable for I would yeah granted to me by this hat under an umbrella heading of addiction so like you know because we've say substance misuse gambling even sex addiction I feel like there are social cultural conditions that promote say promiscuity and then if you have a sort of psychology that's very very needy and you want approval all the time then those two things are gonna find a way of sort of marrying and you know sort of binding you to those kind of behaviors and I also think like to continue one of the ideas you talked about in...
that in saying that this is a world almost perfectly contrived to create eating disorders I feel sort of other negative aspects of our nature are heightened such as greed such as selfishness it's almost like we've systemized the lowest aspects of our complex and diverse natures we've systemized the least pleasant aspects or some other least mmm they make money honey so you think that ultimately like eating disorders it like it comes it's sort of what would you say capitalist or consumer issue I wouldn't say that about eating disorders I think I would say that about general body dissatisfaction I think you know there's there's a big difference in what I talk about I talk about diet culture and I talk about dieting and I think it's really really important to always point out that eating disorders are a different beast they are really a step beyond body dissatisfaction or just you know a diet that's gone a bit too far and I think capitalism has a lot of blame to hold in how we feel about ourselves and how we feel about our bodies I think in the last hundred years or so the the way that we've been sold thinness and diet products endlessly takes the brunt of how we feel about ourselves and in particular how women feel like about their selves but also now more so all genders why do you think it you know you're saying it's shifting now but why do you think in particular women have been subject to the standards what is it about our...
consumerist systems that mean that women have been particularly vulnerable or persecuted by by this mentality or this ideology well to put it simply advertisers is all used to be men so I I did a lot of research when I was book writing about the origins of how we feel about our body and kind of traced it back to about a hundred years ago when it was advertisers who wanted a product that they could endlessly sell they wanted to kind of hit upon the issue or the problem that they could sell the solution to forever and women's bodies became an ideal problem to put forward and it didn't affect them you know they could go about their lives but women were getting more and more money of their own to spend and you know you don't want women having too much free time you don't know what they get up to so telling them that their body is a problem that they should be spending their time and money and energy fixing so lucrative so what's just perfect it's genius it's genuinely Jeolla my female anatomy that's brilliant I understand yeah I understand I have two things I want to say one is that from what my wife believes and what a lot of people win sort of like hypno birthing and natural birth type ideologies believe that the child birth has become medicalized and there's no doubt that there's certain situations where a medical establishment definitely helps in child birth situations but it's it philosophically it means a shift in power from...
female oriented systems to male oriented systems so I like that I like the corollary that if you put like problem eyes childbirth your problem izing femininity an important aspect of womanhood and the same with turning the female body into a conundrum of problem that needs to be resolved that continually needs to be managed in order to perpetuate consumerism and the general idea that if people are full of fear and desire and inadequacy they make better consumers and I don't know when I was first coming into these ideas it's very easy to kind of say well it's a bit of a conspiracy theory you know that's let's let's not take it that seriously but one example I used regularly to really point this out is cellulite so cellulite is something that lots and lots of lots of lots of people have nits basically nearly every woman has cellulite and before 1972 it wasn't really seen as a flaw it was a variation of flesh it was pretty normal and then in 1972 a woman called Nicole Ronsard she owned a beauty salon in New York and she started selling procedures to get rid of cellulite she wrote a book about getting rid of cellulite and she was featured in vogue in America so she wrote invoke that cellulite is a disfiguring attribute and as soon as that issue hit stands women across the whole of America suddenly had it cemented in their mind that these little lumps and bumps on their on their legs or wherever were hideous disfiguring floors and this woman Nicole she...
became a millionaire so you know it it works accessible technique yeah I suppose we all have sort of latent feelings of inadequacy and if you can find ways of commodifying that feeling then there is money to be made I like so I don't know where I fit on the spectrum of it but like prior to becoming a drug addict I like and when I talk to other addicts about drug addiction and other forms of addiction I said when I was a kid I was very obsessive about food it meant a lot to me I realized the eating of chocolate I felt shame around it I did it in secret I was like lots and lots of chocolate and then make myself sick this kicked in sort of a rounds of 1415 I was overweight then I didn't like my body if it ashamed of my body did it for like a little while lost loads of way and then you know got addicted to drugs firstly recreational and then you know like a leaflet from the government worse and worse drugs and then like um when I stopped taking drugs again at 27 I like while I was in treatment started to eat and purge again and didn't even really sort of notice it happen that's why I suppose I have that idea that there's a connection just cause for me personally those behaviors seem connected that doesn't necessarily mean obviously I'm not a case I'm not a whole demographic Emily I can't see myself as like a nation but like but a lot of other addicts I've spoken to when you take drugs out of the way their food issues appear this sex issues...
appear gambling you know it's sort of like behavioral addictions starter but like you know I but what do not query is that there seems to be a fresh old devine disorders where people were in some territory I think I don't know what about it you know it seems so extreme so unmanageable so like of some frightening prism that I can't begin to get a handle on um but like with my own stuff was like they're eating it was um I feel like why was I doing it was sort of like I like you know needed I wanted the comfort food I didn't feel good about my body I felt sort of like a shame so you know like you say now increasingly like and I still to this day that it was things like I'd like to change that about my body I'm aware of an ideal that I'm sort of trying to aspire to that narrative still exists my like I'm not eating chocolate at the moment or like sugary food god I love chocolate how I miss it like cold from the fridge fridge and stuff man anyway I've taken it out of the equation for a little so I've always had a relationship with food that's had oddness in it I think yeah yeah you think that's more common with men these days um I think I mean I think there are specific kind of issues that come up for every gender and I think men especially now definitely aren't immune because there is a lot more you know the kind of Men's Health magazine cover ideal is around and and being up around food I don't think that has a...
gender I think that is getting to all of us I think we are all being taught very disordered ways of eating I think we're all being taught to not trust our bodies and our needs I think like in terms of your experience I'm not generally a fan of like telling people that their lived experience is incorrect so I would never be like that's not what that is I think if if people feel that they have addiction issues with food then they can classify it that way and if that helps them especially to say they're in recovery from that then you do you I think for a lot of people we feel out of control around food maybe because we are not it's we are not addicts we have just been taught extremely messed-up things around food and eating and ifer a lot of people that I've encountered they have felt that they have had addictions to food and they have no control over food but they've also been dieting for their entire life I think that's a different that's a different experience if you've spent your entire life listening to all these outside rules about what you shouldn't shouldn't eat and ignoring your own cues and hating your body of course you are going to feel out of control around food when you're not on a diet that's that's a very natural thing that's you know that has that has root in our in our brains we are kind of trained to when we are experiencing starvation as soon as we get to food eat as much of it as possible...
because our bodies they still they've evolved to still think that we're in a time of famine from from way back yonder so that is natural I think there are so there are so many categories of disordered eating around food and don't know don't even know how I came to that but I just wanted to say it yeah and I think that sort of part of the solution must be the the educational problems you know deep psychological and personal journeys around trauma by their nature will have to be resolved individually though I'm sure there are you know techniques and systems that can be used with more than one person you know even with addicts you know substance misuse addicts you find incredible variety but you'll say for an incredible consistency to the point where there are certain systems that I believe will work for all substance misuses and but but when you were talking then about like you know we feel like it's been we've been educated incorrectly about bodies and about food and so no wonder that in conjunction with evolutionary psychology would create you know sort of control issues around food it made me think that sort of addiction is widely regarded to be respond to the denial of appropriate spiritual connection a result of living within systems that deny human beings necessary access to community to love that we live according to force ideals we live in a materialistic society that has false ideals they're not coherent or with the way that we feel...
inside and in order to live within those systems we have they're kind of even numb as of ourselves or if the escape aspects of ourselves we have to sort of prevent that awareness from growing and my again my personal experience has been that as I that my own addiction was a spiritual issue I felt empty I feel denied something and as I've addressed this as I've addressed the problem spiritually the problem has become more manageable I still feel the feelings worthlessness and advocacy pain the kind of things addicts always talk but there's like the solution is no longer substance misuse or all the other behaviors that were affiliated with that problem it's the opposite of addiction as connection the opposite of addiction is connection that generally one of the accepted Maxim's is that yeah and like that sort of about the sort of foundational myth around 12-step fellowships is you know like you need a spiritual experience and you need community around you to help you to sustain it do you think that that - its spirituality that there is a spiritual aspect to solving or living with what do you want to call it again body what do you image issues yes do you think that there's a spiritual component to resolving it um for me there was definitely a community component um I don't know it's it's hard to pin down what a spiritual thing isn't there it could be literally basically anything but for me I did not feel able to really face that that...
deep pain and and heal from it without a group of people at least who are understanding me so I I stumbled into this online space where people were talking about body image and eating sorters and recovery and that was the first time in my life that I had ever felt heard and it was a complete accident I was literally on the internet looking for for thin beautiful women in bikinis that I wanted to look like and instead I found a fat woman in a bikini saying I'm fat and I'm fine with it and and that is what opened everything up that that feeling of wow I'm not going through this alone this is this is bigger than me I think that's what so many people don't realize and that's where so much of the shame comes from I think of body image issues we think this is on this is all on me this is completely my fault I'm the one who's responsible for feeling this way because I'm imperfect when actually it's so much bigger than us individually you know is it's being done to us and there are hordes of us who are feeling it and if you find those people who are also feeling it and trying to heal from it that's incredibly powerful I don't know if that answers the question about spirituality certainly answer the question about community that's collectively there's a way of confronting situations that individually seem insurmountable I like what you said about how that's in an antidote to feelings of shame that knowing that other...
people are suffering in the same way as you that sort of does bring light to some the lonely aspects of our being

Megan

what about more contemporary examples of how body image issues are exploited and commodified what's your opinion with eg Avon and Weight Watchers stuff so Avon basically about I don't know when this canary even recently came out with a campaign that was very good we could put this out at any point people always understand Avon and the concept of recent is a relative one thanks so Avon recently came out with a campaign that was selling cellulite reducing creams and products and along with the advert they had the slogan everybody is beautiful obviously it feels a bit strange it feels like a bit of a disconnect everybody is beautiful unless you have cellulite by this product it will take away your cellulite and that sparked a lot of online to Bay a lot of posts about it Jimmy let Jamil came forward she's been very outspoken this year about diet culture and body image and I'm here for it I love it and there was enough of a backlash that they took the advertising down and said they weren't going to run with it still selling the products but they they changed the advertising so my feelings about that are first of all we are very powerful when we kind of stand up and call something out and we can affect change that is wonderful and I think it's also an example of how sneaky diet culture can be because on the surface you're gonna think...
it's harmless unless unless you really thought about these things unless you have been taught to recognize that you're just going to think oh that's nice my body's beautiful yeah I'll give a go with that cream and get rid my cellulite fine and that's what they're they're counting on they they are very subtle these days diet companies and all kinds of companies when they're selling us things that rely on us feeling not good enough they are very subtle they are very clever it was how was ages ago it was back in kind of the the 90s that all the big big diet companies like you Weight Watchers in your slimming world and you Craig's in America that's when they stopped calling themself diets because it was kind of becoming common knowledge that crash dieting didn't work they didn't want to be associated with diets so they started calling themselves lifestyle changes I don't know if you've ever done one of those but I I have and it's it's drummed into you on the first session this is not a diet this is a lifestyle change but it feels a lot like a diet when you can eat cheese you don't eat cheese yeah see you next week about any cheese you better of loss and bloody weight and all this lifestyle change that'll be five pounds laughs the chair just win she's still laughed even though it's retrospective do you feel more powerful how much power do you need woman I'll stay down here I'm quite happy...
well I like that sneaky sneaky and crafty of of Avon in that particular case to use sort of contradictory language penis it's actually as like a revelation of something that we know that companies will say whatever's necessary to market their product and the concealment of hypocrisy is stitched deeply into them almost any like I mean it sort of it makes me weary really any

brand

that you can look at some point even my god because it runs pretty deep these systems require exploitation of both the consumer and the people that generally manufacture the products you know or all the earth itself so you know even dear old Avon which for me was just a lady with a sort of a tray around her neck knocking on the door in offensively as I recall has now become tainted with hypocrisy and cruel paradox they really have and so and with the the Weight Watchers I suppose again is likely it's just that it's just the response to oh well I can't call it diets now people like that lifestyle would do the same thing yeah yeah Weight Watchers have gone one step further than coordinate a lifestyle they've changed the whole name in the u.s. I'm not sure if they've changed to here but they've changed it to wellness that works wellness has become kind of a bit of a buzzword lately especially in the last year or so it's kind of the new clean eating you know that there's always like the trendy diet culture term something to do with goji berries or clean eating...
or now it's wellness like wellness is innocuous wellness sounds that's kind of its natural like it's we all want to be well and and it's very clever to play into that not all of me but people will people will buy it how do you so what is you how do you campaign against these things is it true sort of like awareness and through online stuff and what is your feeling about what should replace it what should replace well weight-loss scripts I guess what should we if the prevailing attitude is one that we should be aspiring to a particular ideal and that there's a commodification of the way we see ourselves how do you feel that we can combat that now is a better way of framing that question thinks it's the chair fell I felt just less generally less authoritative would be but like even that I don't really fully know how to do that's how that's how castrated I am in this moment chairs shrunk me down to several inches below your eyeline and the chair is the mechanic of a chair itself is beyond me I will help you if you if you really need the engineer of my own destruction hold on a minute way second I'm reaching for stars now this is the most professional

podcast

it was a bit way in he's stocking he pumped himself up all right so what should replace yeah and how do we combat it like you know what what attitudes that we want to popularize among young people or any people that are feeling body image issues how do we do it what do you feel is...
necessary well I think part of the issue of what makes it so hard to pin down this is what we do is because it's always changing and it's always kind of morphing and becoming something else and slipping under our under our noses but in general I think we need cultural awareness about this we need this to be taught we need young people to know about this we need diversity of body sizes to be completely normalized obviously we're getting a bit more of that now we're getting you know a few more magazine covers like like test holidays we're getting a few more

brand

s who aren't photoshopping things anymore that that's all well and good but if you turn on the TV to a sitcom or you know any kind of regular Channel 95% of the people you see I still won't look the same so diversity its ordering this what's maintaining this system how can it ever really be challenged I see what you mean that if there is more awareness of diversity but part of me feels that although happen and I did think this a little bit with Tess holiday at holiday holiday Tess holiday who like we did we've talked about that online and stuff and you know but like I think I said at the time in a sense it's just another commodification of a woman's body because changing social trends mean that this is monetizable currently how do you feel about that like that the lens through which we receive what's acceptable is this commodity yeah so I think I think there definitely...
are people who kind of say in general body positivity is talking about the wrong thing because we're still talking about bodies is that kind of the gist you know we are still focusing on on the physical and maybe actually the answer is to not focus on that tool and go beyond it I've had people say that to me before and I think my response to that generally is we still exist in bodies we still are in a culture that is obsessed with bodies and for me I I could not have gone from a lifetime of hating everything about myself physically to just not caring at all you know I kind of needed it's almost like I needed the stepping stone of feeling positive about my appearance - then go and live my life and not care as much so there will always be an issue and when it comes to magazines and and things like that they're never going to be perfect just some people say we should just destroy that altogether and not buy into them other people say we should change them from the inside it's incredibly complicated but I I I think we should be seeing it more as stepping stones towards an end goal and for me personally the end goal of what I do is generally I just want people to feel less about themselves and less up around food so they can do important things like live their lives and know that they are about more than than all of this and there's more to be done and think about and believe in etc etc so stepping stones on the way to there that's a clear intention...
that makes sense and that elides into what I believe that the end point is to think about ways of alleviating suffering do you still feel connected to the person that felt that negativity about herself is that something you feel still what is your relationship with that now I I think there's a bit of a misconception that if you believe in body positivity or you promote positive body image you feel flawless all the time and you've you know you forget that you've ever hated yourself I don't think that's true at all I think it's fine to feel neutral about yourself most days rather than anything positive for me I feel connected to that version myself in so much as I really viscerally feel how she deserved better she is kind of my one of my motivations now of it's a bit cheesy now because it's been overdone online a bit but be the person you needed when you were younger kind of thing so I feel that way about her actually one of the first things I always tell people if you are really struggling to even consider that you deserve to feel good about yourself think about the first time you were ever made to feel bad about yourself did that version of you deserve better most of the time that version is a child and of course no child deserves to feel like they are too much or like their body is wrong or like they're hideous because of how they look of course you deserve better you still do so she is I'm connected with her because because she's...
why I'm doing this well your reference point do you think when you were five years old and first began to feel uncomfortable what do you think what do you think that was I would say well you have limited I suppose exposure when you're younger but I was very interested in my mom's magazines I was very into Disney the classic things that our five-year-old girl is into alright so you think that even at that point you think it's cultural influences like what about familial influence do you think they did you were both your parents around and they do have like love coming at you from all angles I I did my my parents are wonderful wonderful people and never intentionally instilled in me that my body was wrong um I have an older brother you used to tease me a bit but older brothers do that and for me I think even for parents even if you are not consciously telling your child that their body is wrong how you were talking about your body that that is their greatest reference point really because that's in their home that's what they're hearing all the time and you know I I sometimes talk to groups of mothers who are thinking how can I avoid my child feeling the way that I have felt on the way that I still feel about my body and I always want to kind of tell them it first of all you know don't blame yourself it's not your fault you exist in this culture that's why you feel this way you're not a bad person but it does count how you speak about...
your own body whether you are counting calories in front of your kid whether you're standing in front of the mirror and pulling it parts of your body is if they're not attached to you they gonna pick that up right cuz that's really important so yeah I see put your own mask on first as they say on airplanes yeah and and I've even I've even spoken to people who kind of faked it that way and until they make it you know if they if they don't believe that they deserve to do it for themselves they they definitely deserve to do it for their for their kids so they can kind of fake a positive body image in front of the kids maybe it will start to wear off a little bit not ideal but a starting point for some people for my my children then right so me and their mum we've got to be confident and not like me like that losing a few Palestine in front of a reflection that's good all right that's a good tool to recall that how can you transmit something that you don't have how can you transmit to your children that you are beautiful and you have everything you need unless you afford that to yourself because I suppose holistically we're only separated by 2030 Eve in my case 40 years from the next generation they say God has no grandchildren mean meaning that we all have our own connection to the infinite and that we are worthy of that love ourselves that we would afford to our own children and children generally what about this NHS calorie-counting...
thing for kids does that mean then

Megan

um this came out a little while ago so it's a I see you get all professional that's why I see you know I feel like what this woman is about is like sure right like you're a crusader aren't you you're a crusader you like no that's gonna be stamped out there's a good thing isn't it yeah maybe a little bit because I suppose like one of the things when you think of this of general sense about how society has been organized for it was in post-industrial and perhaps post-colonial world that there's not been enough diverse voices enough female voices you're good at conveying your voice and you have opinions I think well that's good because this person's gonna write some wrongs redress the balance thanks very much so the NHS they I'm sure with with so many good intentions I have released a campaign aimed at children encouraging them to only have two snacks a day under a hundred calories they have a several adverts kind of shining this out they even have a very very catchy theme tune sing it yes please I'd love a catchy theme tune hey guys look for a hundred calorie snacks to add a max - max but like so what you think that's encouraging children all that well I mean that got into my head after listening to it once so as a kid that would get that would get stuck in there and and you know obviously their intentions are to get kids eating more healthily but for me personally I believe...
that calorie counting teaching children to see food as numbers isn't necessarily the best way to do that I believe more in teaching children to value food for how it makes their bodies feel does it make you energized does it make you a bit sluggish how do you feel the next day after you have this or this that's a great and not kind of

brand

ing anything as bad sorry there's that weird wouldn't people use your last name as a as a verb you know I can live with it okay not

brand

ing anything as bad or sinful or any kind of moral judgment because every time we kind of put food into a moral category of good or bad we unconsciously translate that to ourselves we are good or bad when we eat it and I just don't think kids should be feeling like they are good or bad as people depending on what they eat I mean it's it's great to encourage them to see nutritious food in a positive light I don't think Matt is calorie counting especially as someone who latched on to calories so so early and had her whole mind taken over by numbers right there's a lack of awareness isn't there there's a lack of awareness because like you said it is likely a well-intentioned program with an appealing jingle but they're if they'd consulted people that understood more then it would likely be more appropriate yes and then and there was a backlash especially in the recovery community online there's quite a strong eating disorder recovery community as well on...
Instagram and they did post about it they made videos about it they had people on the news saying this is hurting people this is hurting me you know it's it's triggered me and for this person in their recovery they haven't changed it so that's interesting because that might other what a lot more broad beliefs is that you when you're suffering for something you need someone that's overcome it or get the to help you it can be alienating to deal with a sort of a professional that seems like they don't have personal experience but that again I suppose it's because I'm so embedded in recovery for addiction it's that lens through which I live my life now as a matter of fact because I was so obsessive as an addict that sort of that obsessive that obsessiveness has had to become awareness in recovery awareness of the way that I think awareness of the way that I try to resolve my you know problems how I identify my feelings as opposed to just accepting them and I think that it would be difficult for me to take guidance from people that like that where their information is data derived as opposed to empirically lived like you know when I see people that were worse drug addicts at me they've got themselves together like I can listen to them yeah yeah and I suppose in in a very simple sense that's also I want to do for people it in kind of be like there is a recovery that is really I mean I believe in recovered a lot of people don't and...
and a lot of people in eating sort of recovery do liken it to addiction recovery and in that you're always kind of recovering which i think is fine and i think it's valid and I think if that helps do that I believe in recovered because I don't I don't feel like the same person as the one who had an incan sorta what systems do you employ now that you didn't have access to then when you see like you know you were saved you're living on the fitting women in bikinis found as you said a fat woman in a bikini and that sort of became a pivotal moment for you what how what can you implement what do you use in your personal journey to prevent the old attitudes prevailing hmm I am at first I think I just used anger um it's not a technical program the anger app I well it's kind of it's an anger that I had spent a very long time directing inwards to myself for not being good enough and as soon as I started learning about diet culture and and about all these reasons why we feel the way we do about our bodies I very quickly started to pivot that anger at all of these forces that are in play that make us feel the way we do about our bodies and and get angry for five-year-old me who shouldn't have been hating her body and get angry at all these companies that keep selling us cellulite reducing creams etc and for me that was very very helpful to know that I shouldn't be getting the blame I shouldn't be getting my own anger it belongs somewhere...
else and and especially especially as a woman I'd kind of also spent a lifetime believing that anger was not not an attractive emotion for a lady it's not very ladylike thing anger so you should just you know squash that down and hide your feelings so letting that out is is liberating it's it's I think it's good good for people sometimes and so I used that and I used a lot of kind of self edged not self education educating myself through the work of other people so the the first book I read when I came into this was the beauty myth by Naomi Wolf and it's this kind of iconic manifesto from the 90s about advertising about beauty ideals and eating disorders and just like laying it all out and I started finding more and more books like that there are books like that on health and health at every size by Linda bacon and losing it by Laura Fraser which is that losing it by Laura Fraser which is about the diet industry and I kept finding all these kind of outside sources of this in Meishan that made me see that it wasn't an individual thing that there's actual fact there's actual empirical evidence here that this is being done to us so I keep myself quite immersed in that now I have I have Instagram a lot of people make fun of this town I like it I have Instagram as a bit of a safe space so my entire feed is filled with people who aren't dieting with people who are celebrating diversity and talking about self-acceptance and self-care and...
mental health awareness so I know that I always have a place to go back to even if I go through my day being kind of bombarded with all these messages that I'm wrong and my body is wrong and I should change it I can actually go on my phone and find a whole line of things that say the opposite so that for me has been a good tool for all its negatives it has a lot of positives for me so you can and anyone can curate your social media profile soda its positive and affirmative thing rather than yeah and I think it's it's it seems like such a simple thing that people don't take it seriously and but what we are seeing every day is having a huge effect on how we are seeing ourselves it's becoming the lens of through which we see ourselves and I'd be a bore and mention a study I can't imagine how you would ever be a bore please thanks so one of the most kind of well-known studies about imagery and how it affects us was done in the 90s by woman called an Becca and it was she she went to Fiji in 1995 and there had been no TV the the girls in Fiji had not seen Beauty ideals they had not seen what they didn't have TV and then they introduced it and they brought in shows from the UK and the US and New Zealand and within I think it was three years 74% of these girls said that they felt like they were too fat and before that the beauty ideal in Fiji had been strong robust they encouraged feasting they loved a thick gal and then all of a sudden 74% of girls...
thought they were too fat and 15% were bulimic in three years so I think that I mentioned that because it's such a perfect snapshot we can't do it again because like nearly everyone's got TV now it's such a perfect snapshot a snapshot of how what we are seeing is affecting how we are seeing ourselves so Instagram absolutely you should be curating your feed you should be on a regular basis going through and thinking is this making me feel about myself if the answer is yes why is it there yeah we've got some ability to cultivate and eliminate things that are negative but I suppose it's easy to abit relies negative messages to the self isn't it to yourself you know culturally that feels like that's what's normal and what you know second I think about say like Hollywood films and people being beautiful you feel like oh no you know that's cool because I like things to be glamorous but we sort of unaware of how deeply we've been programmed when it comes to what we regard as beautiful what we regard as acceptable and the secondary effects of ubiquitous ideals being broadcast to us that we feel that we can't live up to it's very interesting that it makes sense to me like and I think obviously it goes like it's excellent that you are so well-versed in the particular area of a body image and body positivity but I think about it in terms of identity like this is what a man is like that's because it was my journey it differs...
from yours on in many ways like you know that where I've found that the facets for self-punishment or I'm not good enough at these this is why I should be like as a man these things I should be fulfilling you know but Knight is I suppose it wasn't good to have aspiration but aspiration and ideals to head towards but I suppose what has happened is we have limited those ideals we have commodified those ideals and we are selling people ideals that determine the people feel me I'm worthless in theirs their point of participation with their culture yeah and I think there's um there's something there's there's really something in there about having a sense of purpose and you know there are there are some people who have also written whole books about how this obsession with our bodies and in particular thinness is kind of replacing religion a little bit and there has lots of kind of religious connotations in it you know we've sinned we have idols we repent you know we are chaste that there's there's a lot of this there's a lot of that in in diet culture and I think even fasting and earlier you said there was a sort of a euphoria to the fasting and a sort of a sense of connection because like one of my under lying beliefs I'm sorry if you've not entirely finished your point is that all of the problems in all all the problems in societies was we've lost our connection deep truth ideas of oneness of innate beauty of the our...
function is communal and collective to love one another that these ideas are so sort of lost and swamped in individualistic consumerist materialistic ideas that we got no connection to them so we have to fortify and falsify these ideas wherever we can or anything that emulate some mimics and mirror ism we cling to because it somehow resonates with us on a level that we've can't even quite remember because our culture hasn't acknowledged those principles for so long yes yeah yeah I mean III would agree and and personally I got extremely wrapped up in in my purpose being to fit the to fit the beauty standard because I didn't know what else my purpose was and I didn't know kind of what what I was supposed to be doing here so I thought well beautiful is the best thing I can be is the best thing that I can be for the people and that also ties in with the kind of objectification issue of women being taught that they are just here to please others and be visually appealing to others we are definitely we are definitely lacking a deeper sense of what our purpose is and and I'm not an expert or a prophet I don't really know what that is but I know it's not to look like a Kardashian because they already they already exist you don't need to be one of them yes yes idolatry though as you said is like an aspect of spirituality or religion that we love and consciously emulating talk to me a bit more about objects vacation and where you think that fits into...
this please well um I I guess I got the message very young that's how attractive I was to other people what other people thought about my body was something to value quite highly something to validation in and to be completely honest with you even having been immersed in this body positive stuff now for five years that still gets to me sometimes I still get a get caught up in what does this person think about how I look not to the point that I did I you know I had a point where I literally wouldn't answer my front door if I wasn't you know all made up and glam I wouldn't even answer the door to the postman because I didn't want him to look at me because I thought I was too unattractive but that kind of message that we give especially to girls that their appearance is number one and who they are on the inside is is often secondary and I think that is shifting a little bit because we're getting more we're getting more media aimed at young girls that is about being powerful or strong or having having goals outside their appearance rather than you look very pretty in with the pink bow in your hair and that's good but it was very strong in me and I'm still unlearning it is so so deeply conditioned yeah I think I have that bit how do you how do you undo that oh Lord I personally I like to remind myself very often that I have more important things to do than being attractive to other people and it's not it's not always easy to believe but...
I cannot I cannot buy into a message anymore that tells me that how physically appealing I am to others is the number one reason I'm here you know it can't be I'm not a thing you know I'm not I'm not an ornament I'm not a lifeless painting hanging up in a museum I am I'm a living breathing doing thing and you know I kind of shifting my thinking of my body is not there to be looked at by others it's there for me is my vehicle is there to let me live and experience and and see and do slightly problematic for people with varying various levels of ability but to some extent your body is is yours to experience the world in however you're able to do that and again it slips all the time it slips all the time but I try to hold on to it I see I like that as well when I say these things backtick so that I understand and they're like the objectification is a kind of tyranny I'd not thought of that aspect of objectification that you're teaching people that you know in your example women that the primary function is to be received it's difficult isn't it because we do and like you said it's an ongoing challenge for you because we do get you know likes of biochemical rewards if people show us approval and you know I've noticed my mood check I once had this amazing conversation with this theater director about the meaninglessness of criticism and how you can't trust what's in me do and it's all meaningless and...
they've got their own agenda and Arizona and while we were talking text came through to him identify with that because maybe that's why there's so much pain and anger in it because we have been hurt in this way we've been these sort of institutions and the ideologies that they purvey have gotten to our deepest selves our child selves we're not like other sort of very common psychiatric exercise where you were invited to sit with your child self or teenage self or whatever and you know love them and that and remember the first not even the first families not that long ago I was invited to do that by a therapist I was seeing and I like felt just like no I don't want to be near that kid and like that's a sort of a demonstration of like a revulsion at their self they can't live with that it has to be a harmony doesn't there there has to be you know integration and acceptance of yourself I like that you're so open about how hard you find it still to practice self-love and to let go of the need for people's approval yeah I think that is I mean it's a complicated thing because it's by the variant of what I do and existing on the internet also I've kind of been dubbed an influencer oh yeah and I don't know how I feel about that that's what that's what people call me and that like it or not is fairly image focused so it's kind of that double-edged sword of I'm using social media to try and spread the message...
of your more than your body go out and do you don't have to be obsessed you don't have to hate yourself you can do more here's a picture of my face so yeah it doesn't always mesh perfectly and also I'm still living in this culture you know as much as I try and feed my brain with all this kind of counterculture sometimes it is still it's still gonna get to me it's still gonna get to everyone Eve even even the people who are spreading these messages of self love and self accept and some body acceptance they're still gonna feel like sometimes and that and that's that's normal what was that post that you talked about where like a single post I think you reposted or created elicited sort of quite extreme opposing responses so it was a video of me I do these videos they're dancing videos and they started years and years ago essentially as a celebrate your body as it moves celebrate the jiggle you know don't hate the shake that's what people call them and I was doing one with my sister and they unfortunately often become a commentary on on my body and was opinions of how it's changed so within kind of ten comments from each other there was one comment saying you're getting slimmer and slimmer clearly you don't think that your fat is cute and the kind of 10 comments down there has a comment that said you're getting fatter every day yuck so it's that very polarizing views that whichever way you look at it make...
still make me hyper focus on my body you know I I don't require people to tell me exactly what they think about my body but by the nature of what I do people do and they and they don't see the harm in that even within the world of say body positivity or save feminists driven ideas about womanhood oppression of women objectivity of women is there conflict about how the the aims of equality or even you know I don't know proper rights for expression not necessarily even equality that's because the quality suggests that the standard has already been preset by the dominant group but like you know the is is there a position about how that should be achieved and what's correct do you fight is there oh my gosh absolutely I am lining in general I think online activist spaces or you know things you can call activism are some of the most harshly critiqued spaces with the most inviting and the most call out culture it's it's rife it is it's everywhere it's on everything that you post and say and do and personally my brain is kind of always working ten steps ahead of what what other people going to say about this I really don't want to offend anyone I don't get anything wrong but then also I can't take it I can't learn that I can't make a mistake yeah that's so that that's a lot and in in body positivity there's there's definitely differing views of people there's people who think I'm doing it completely wrong...
and there's there's people who think I'm changing the world so it's that again is a very polarizing existence it's kind of it gives you a quite a foggy sense of self to have these constant thousands of opinions about who you are at your core from people who don't know you have never met you and you get a bit lost sometimes I get a bit lost sometimes in that because that's Fame actually I think you know whilst you're describing a particular type of fame like that fame is now you are subjected to the opinions of people who don't know you and sometimes they will tell you you're fantastic and there will be financial opportunity and opportunities to feel magnificent superficially briefly for a while before it all recedes into meaninglessness but other times this is there will be condemnation and attack and it's the same machine that does it and it's the machine that's what the machine requires at that particular time and there is no morality behind it it's an amoral machine it doesn't care about anything except Commerce and commodification and it will commercialize and can modify anything that comes in front of it like there are

brand

s that will go right yeah this is popular now bang will sell that and like and we will compromise and say well at least now that message is getting out there but you know and perhaps that's the argument of progress you could say well ally in a generally speaking we can say that there is...
an awareness now that it's not acceptable to use certain language it's acceptable like you know I suppose I feel like in a sense I was never subject to like that I was never in terms of you know I got obviously any man that's been a promiscuous man like I've have to hold my hands up to objectification of women like because it but it's an unconscious is tutored in the same way that attitudes toward food or drugs have been but I've never sort of subscribed to like particular aspects of beauty myth around thinness and things like that I don't know perhaps that's just I don't know if that's quite sort of any value or merit because there's certainly no question that that standard is held up reiterated and continually perpetuated I wonder what it is in particular about you know because it's not like we're just trying to change the ideal is it it's like you're trying to say people who people are is we should accept people through their I think to the question of why that is held up even when maybe it's it's not always the preferred body type for a heterosexual men it's because it's the most profitable one I I genuinely believe that thinness or see we've had varying degrees we've had you know times where it's okay to be a bit curvier we've had Marilyn Monroe but then we've had Kate Moss but then we've had the Kardashians and it does it does come in waves but I think in general it's...
always thinness because it's hard to achieve because it is hard for the majority of us to be that even if even if the menfolk are saying that's not what they want is what's gonna make the most money it's what we're gonna give our energy to and it just keeps going and going and going going and then the beauty ideal changes into something else and that's how it stays so profitable I think I was gonna say something else about that as well modification there was a lot of vacations it was oh let's let's me more maybe I'll come back what do you think about like like do you have it now oh yeah when I told you about program before like do you have a sort of program used and you talked about ways of sort of connecting with a community giving yourself wide access to affirmative and positive messaging what about your relationship with food what's that so I believe very firmly in something called intuitive eating it is essentially learning to listen to your body giving yourself permission to eat what your body wants and kind of getting back in touch with with that innate knowing of what your body needs we're we're all born with the ability to know when we are hungry and when we are full when we want to eat and when we want to stop and we lose it along the way because we're always being pummeled with all this messaging about good and bad and wrong and sinful etc about food so for me intuitive eating was throwing out all of the rules that...
I had been taught about food and learning to reconnect with with my body and and trust my body as well so that means before sitting down for a meal actually thinking what am I craving not just in terms of what's going to taste good but how is it gonna make my body feel don't want something light do I want something heavy do you know it's it's kind of it sounds really simple but getting back in touch with with your body and there are programs there are actual proper programs and you can find intuitive eating nutritionists who will kind of coach you through that process I did it mainly through reading it's probably not the ideal way but that's how I did it and that was a long process as well with a lot of peaks and troughs because I had been placing these external restrictions on my diet for as long as I could remember so obviously as soon as I read this thing that was like um you should listen to your body and you should eat what you want when you want it I was like whoa cookie dough endlessly and and then that's scary because then you think I'm out of control I'm never gonna stop eating cookie dough but it says next trust that you will stop eating the cookie dough the ice cream the forbidden you will you will eventually tire of the forbidden if you believe it's no longer forbidden if you um think I don't need to eat this endlessly because it's going to be there tomorrow if I want a bit and and neutralizing just neutralizing all...
foods so that you genuinely you don't feel like a worse person if you eat ice cream or a better person if you eat a salad and that is deep that is like really deep work to do and it's a lot of trusting trusting things that you kind of have no reason to trust because it's cyclical isn't it like when you associate shame with your eating then you do it's never-ending because you have to find means to comfort and deal with that shame I think it's amazing I've just realized when you were talking then like how serious that bulimia is how serious anorexia is that I you know and I think it's great and obviously your choice to use the word recovered I like that I don't talk to that many people maybe because I didn't bring it up or whatever but like that where I feel like they're on the other side of that because when people are in it I feel like it's a proper war zone for like how did you get out of that I mean the moat lease of extreme version of it what's the way out because I mean for even on a personal level I know people right now and you know I'm sure everybody does you know and I thought I could solve it with charisma turns out to be quite a blunt tool that's a very big question I to be honest I have never been able to put my finger on a kind of one size fits all this is how you do it I don't know why I would be able to do that be very arrogant to think like I could do that but my my recovery was jolted by kind of...
the same anger that I had mentioned previously so yeah the good old rage I am I I hit a rock bottom in my anorexia and it got to a point where I had was just this destructive force to everyone around me and I was hurting everyone I loved and I had lost two years of my life and I wasn't in school I'd lost my friends and and I was just destroying everything and how was your family very very supportive but very lost of in what to do so my I I kind of always say that my dad really saved my life he he was my driving force in recovery he helped me more than anything opposed ever did because he he listened patiently non-judgmentally he went out of his way to learn about things yeah he's a good egg he's a good egg and it was really it was him seeing him destroyed that kind of allowed me for four small fractures of time to tap into that anger of I can't believe this illness has done this I I had to I had to separate it from myself at that stage and see it as something that had kind of overtaken me that I could turn into an enemy that I could be angry at so a common thing is shout back at the eating disorder you know it becomes this voice in your head it becomes just repetitive constant telling you what to do telling you about yourself governing everything you do and the shouting back at that is is quite a common thing to use as a practical tool and that did help me and it was that anger of I don't want this to take any more of my life I actually didn't...
deserve this and my family definitely didn't deserve this no no way am i doing this anymore that that kind of fueled me into taking the first bites I guessed the first meals that was very hard was it oh my gosh it's it's so it's so hard to explain I am I had a friend a couple of years ago who is in recovery she's doing much better now but she once said to me that it genuinely feels like every time you sit down for a meal someone puts their hand over your mouth it feels like there is an external person covering your mouth so you cannot eat it doesn't feel like a choice that is the thing that is what kind of separates an eating disorder from just body image issues or dieting it doesn't feel like you have a choice anymore you do it's just buried it's really buried under the eating disorder and so that those first bites denying the sort of shouting back at the eating sort of that anger that propelled me and that that kept me going and that kind of allowed me to recover to an extent there's this very strange thing in in the medical field generally as if you have a restrictive eating disorder that has made you lose a significant amount of weight as soon as you put weight back on they like to say that you've covered or at least that's what they did to me they were like what she's and she doesn't fit the stereotypical image of anorexia anymore she's good she's all good I wasn't of course because the physical is only...
such a small part of eating disorders there are mental illness it's it's all you know it's in your head as well and so I didn't feel really recovered until all those years later when I found body positivity and the fat woman in a bikini and but I know the fat woman in the bikinis yes we do she's one of my closest friends I know she's a woman called Danny and she is a positive eating disorder recovery I guess so she's sentimental for you yes she's and she's wonderful she's someone who has always been she's always been fat so she is I don't know I think about a size 22 and she had a restrictive eating disorder but because of her sighs no one ever took it seriously she wasn't diagnosed she didn't get the treatment she deserved but she found her way out and that's that's one that's another fucked-up thing about our kind of conception of eating disorders as a culture that certain people are more worthy of treatment than others and that it's because it eating disorders have physical side effects I think more so in terms of other mental illnesses people will judge just on that and that is not it's not how it should be judged you know absolutely everyone should get their treatment regardless of how they look you should be consulting for people that are organizing the treatment that's really good that thing that you say and reiterated about the anger for me this is again because I will force anything for a...
sort of spiritual lens ultimately it feels like a connection finally I could like it's felt like when I was listening to this because I'm trying to understand it think how can I utilize this in my own life god forbid that I should ever have to like that your father helped was able to hold it I lightly listened and he didn't judge that's pretty hard because I think as a father you may be a lot right let's get on with this thing and you know you want to be active I suppose and I like that that that seemed to be inspirational to you and then that buried too deep you said you found that choice and that anger which I reckon and like to think of as a sort of a central spirit that we have that we lose connection with because we overly associate and connect with external stimuli and external conditioning to the point where we no longer value that connection the most important connection that we have and when that's reactivated it will give you what you need in your case energy as anger in that the therapy that I have my therapist says like you know that all these things we experience as negative eg sadness he says sadness is healing anger is motivating and energizing and fear has wisdom in it those are the three that I remember that the fear has awareness and wisdom in it because these are things like for me as an addict I don't want them feeling if I'm sad do you best give me something to get rid of sadness no way give me some drugs you know like that...
my when I feel stuff I don't like it I know I ease with just right now you're going to just sit and feel afraid for a while and deal with that without trying to distract yourself from it I like to the bit we said as well about kind of demystifying or the fetishizing the food like the cookie dough or whatever no longer having a kind of an imbued potency when I'd like remember when I was having problems eating when I was at a lesson I was to try and think what have you think what is it about this I mean all you're doing is turning masticating something into a fluid and then swallow why is this the solute I tried with my own awareness to see if I could unpick it somehow I can move it away from me I wasn't able to instead it took you know sort of a different type of drug addiction but what yeah like what you said there that's a that's a good there's good stuff in that there's good data in that I think mmm what's ma'am well no I'm just um anticipating that the thing is like a lot of people will hear that and and won't have the same opinion as you and will think that it's kind of dangerous or promoting unhealthy things no maybe because you live in online hyperaware world you're aware that people will gain say and contradict what you say but like do at some point that we have to accept that there are different ways of resolving the problems of being human that all of us are flawed and have made mistakes and will continue to...
but there are going to be some people that hear that oh my god that's gonna work for me I want to try that I want to know that there is as Krishnamurti the philosopher not the news bloke as I said because often when I mention him people go do it off the news and have to go no I don't mean off the news I mean Krishna married a philosopher truth is a pathless land meaning that we are all gonna have to find our and part I like wb8 says every artist must create their own religion their own thing that you've unloaded me a quotes in two quotes okay I can quote unquote I could be cracking them overriding someone's around my own little quotes from my initials yeah I got maybe five yeah how many put truth that only the one about your window when I was 26 I'd written zero books okay so actually you're winning you're winning the book war yeah what is that book the book is a body-positive power it is basically absolutely everything that I have learned in these five years about food and bodies why we hate ourselves how we can stop intuitive eating good relationships with exercise how we feel about fat why we are so scared of the word fat and everything that fat entails and how to put it all together and hopefully just be a bit more peaceful in your body that's really good I'm gonna check that out listen I think you're gonna have a big impact on the way that people understand these issues you will participate in this conversation a lot and I think...
you will help a lot of people and I like the way that you communicate and you've helped me to understand things I didn't understand before thanks for coming on

Megan

thank you very much for the lovely time it's been good asn't it with a chair Phil that was my favorite so I think there's a highlight that's a meme waiting to happen just memed myself off