Episode Transcription by Fayelle Ewuakye. Find her on Twitter at @FayelleEwuakye.
You gave us these bodies
And You called them good
You gave us these bodies
And You called them good
May we love them as You do
Let us love them as You do
Inside outside through and through
Let us love them as You do.
Amanda – Welcome to Fat and Faithful live, Nicole!
Nicole – Welcome Amanda! And I’m not looking at Facebook, so I have no idea if anyone else’s watching us right now. But that’s okay.
Amanda – Well I can tab over and see, who knows. Two other people are watching, so that’s exciting!
Nicole – Hi everyone!
Amanda – We’re glad to have you here! And please feel free to ask questions, or drop a line and say hi. This video will be available with captioning, noted that, just noting if we figure that out, we plan to do that. And also we’ll be releasing this through podcast format, so this is just kind of a neat thing to be able to do with Zoom and Facebook. We’ve never recorded while we’re watching each other talk.
Nicole– I know, this is like completely new, I put on lipstick for you.
Amanda – I put on lipstick for you!
Nicole – ‘Cause now like, anytime I do go outside, I’m wearing a mask and I don’t get to wear my lipstick. So for the Zoom, we wear the lipstick. We are lipstick Zoomers. I don’t think we’ve recorded a podcast in almost a year. It might be less than that.
Amanda – Together, it was early October.
Nicole – Yeah.
Amanda – And that was with Fayelle, oh no, I think it was just with us, but I don’t know that we ever released that episode.
Nicole – We did I think, pretty sure we did. Anyway, welcome everyone, welcome back. We’re gonna try and do this. Part of the reason we’re going on video, we think it might actually be technically simpler to get it up and out in multiple formats, so everyone can watch, read, listen as you would like.
Amanda – Yeah, and Facebook video has automatic transcription, we’ve been using Fayelle. So if you need transcriptions for whatever you’re doing and you don’t have it provided through a service for free, please check out Fayelle. We can give you her email address. She might be actually watching. I wonder if it’s her that’s watching. I’m trying to see, I don’t know if you can actually see who’s watching.
Nicole – Well, I’m not looking at it. We’re super, super professional around here.
Amanda – I know, right? Okay, so Nicole, you and I had a phone conversation which…
Nicole – We did.
Amanda – Was it Zoom where we talked or on the phone?
Nicole – I don’t remember, I thought it was text. We communicated.
Amanda – It’s hilarious, I have this, like, it was a good conversation, it had all this emotion in it. Maybe it was Facebook Messenger, I tend to emote a lot there. But, oh yes, it was Facebook Messenger. We were talking about perceptions of our childhood and fatness and what that, you know, were we actually fat?
Nicole – Yes.
Amanda – Or we were just perceived as fat or do we perceive ourselves as fat? And we were like, you know this would be a really great podcast topic.
Nicole – Yeah, and we’ve talked before about, just the different pressures that we felt as kids on our bodies. That’s kind of interesting, we both had different backgrounds as children in terms of like, class. And so yeah, we thought it’d be fun to just explore those ideas and how all those things intersect and play together. And we have pictures for y’all.
Amanda – We do.
Nicole – This is the joy of doing video, we get to go through our old photo albums, it’s like slide shows from the 50s, everyone’s just gonna have to watch it for a second.
Amanda – Are we gonna do that now?
Nicole – Whenever, I don’t know. We have no plan, people. We’re just talking.
Amanda – Yeah, let’s show them now and I can talk you through mine and then yours because you put me first I guess because I’m younger.
Nicole – Yeah. definitely, that’s the reason. No, we just always put each other first when we do things, I don’t know if anyone else knows this. But you can tell who created something by who’s first and second. Okay.
Amanda – Okay so, these are photos of me. In the blue wig that I’m wearing, I’m probably 3 years old. And you can see my little belly sort of. I’m wearing a cat shirt that says Amanda. And that’s a fun picture. And then in the yellow shirt, that’s my kindergarten graduation or something. My mom had braided my hair and made me take a picture. I love this picture of me.
Nicole – Great.
Amanda – But yeah, so next, so I was five in that one. On the bike, I’m three years old, and I put this picture in because I feel like that was the only time I felt my body was a normal size when I was a little kid.
Nicole – Okay.
Amanda – And now you see this pink shirt that I’m wearing next. This shirt was my dad’s shirt. And I loved it. And it’s kind of a reddish pink and this was the shirt I wore and the boys called me grande rojo, big red. But also check out my amazing bangs.
Nicole – I was noticing the bangs. I wanted those bangs when I was a kid. And my hair does not do that.
Amanda – That’s all natural, there’s no hairspray in those bangs. Just short curls that are not tended to.
Nicole – Okay.
Amanda – So these are junior high. I got bangs again for some reason. And here in the birthday party pictures, my mom’s 40th birthday, so 1996. And the only things I could wear to school really, were exercise shorts and t-shirts. And I know we chatted a little bit about this. So this is my school spirit shirt. But I did my hair every morning with rollers and stuff. I put a lot of attention to my hair which was really important to me. So the picture of the younger me, that’s me and my sister at our house and just like being my awkward, but thought I was all that, self.
Nicole – Looks very like, 1990s music video.
Amanda – Yeah, this is 1990. Like, 9-0. My sister’s three, and I’m six. And then on the, what side is that, left?
Nicole – Left.
Amanda – Is me, probably a freshman in high school, and I’m wearing jeans which is kind of, those must not be jeans, because those are like leggings.
Nicole – They kinda look like leggings, I don’t know.
Amanda – Well there was no such thing as jeggings back then.
Nicole – No.
Amanda – So I think they’re leggings because I didn’t really wear pants that had a waist. Because my belly was always the, air quotes, disproportionate part of me.
Nicole – Mm hmm.
Amanda – But my hair always looked good. Yeah, this is, my sister and I are around my grandmother, she’s wearing the red shirt and gosh, this dress is from the Dillard’s woman’s department, I remember that. We got a double double. Me wearing overalls, that’s fun. We go to the next one, I think that might be, no here we go. So, on the right is me in junior high getting an award. And I’m wearing jeans but hated them. They’re bootcut, that’s all I could wear. And they have a rip in them, they were from, I think this is, I only bought two items ever from American Eagle. These jeans with a rip in them and a sweatshirt. I think these were boy’s jeans as well. And yes, I’m wearing like, my mom’s sweater and a white blouse. We’re talking about clothing because it was ridiculously hard to find clothing in my size and as we’ll talk more, I was not fat. And then, me leaning against the tree, that’s my senior portrait and I really disliked my body. You can see how my jeans cut into my belly fat a little bit and I was obsessed with that, because that was supposed to be straight.
Nicole – I didn’t notice that at all.
Amanda – Yeah, I mean, because it doesn’t matter, right? But also I was so disgusted by my arms in this picture.
Nicole – Because it has the, you can see the line?
Amanda – Because I felt like that made me look, again air quotes, look fat. But it was just my skin pressing up against my side.
Nicole – It’s a really cute picture. And it’s, you know, the quintessential senior leaning against a tree picture.
Amanda – It is.
Nicole – I have one as well. I didn’t put it in here but.
Amanda – Yes, so I didn’t get to any college, sorry Nicole, don’t be mad at me that I made you put college photos in.
Nicole – We should tell everyone that I said, “Are you sure that you want to include college?” And Amanda said “Yes”, and I said “Fine, I’ll find some.” And here we are.
Amanda – Even though you were like, my five is saying that that’s not childhood.
Nicole – Yep, that’s okay though. That’s okay.
Amanda – Alright, let’s see yours Nicole.
Nicole – So, on the left I am I don’t know maybe second or third grade. My grandmother made that dress and I loved it so much.
Amanda – Super cute.
Nicole – And that is, I can’t remember if it was this dress or another gray dress but, when I was in elementary school and on the bus one day, I found my school picture and I’m in this dress. I must have been older because I think I was older. Or the other gray dress like, someone had like, torn out my picture and put it on the floor. And I like, that was the first time I was like, something must be wrong with my body. But I think that was a couple years after that. And then on the right is me and my dad for GAs, if anyone else was…
Amanda – I knew it was GAs, I was gonna ask if it was GAs.
Nicole – Yes, going to get my next little patch. Let’s see, that’s my second, I must have been going to get my 4th grade patch. And that dress was from the JCPenny’s women’s department. It was like, bridesmaid’s dress that I just thought was super cool. Like velvet-y on the top and satin-y on the bottom. So this is Christmas, I got my American Girl doll. And yeah.
Amanda – How old were you when you got your American Girl doll?
Nicole – 10 maybe?
Amanda – Okay, so I, the picture of me where we were deciding if it was jeggings or leggings, I was holding an American Girl doll shoe because I finally got my American Girl doll but I was like 13. So I was on the very end of when that was culturally acceptable.
Nicole – I think I was 10 there. It was like, a multi year wait for sure.
Amanda – Oh yeah.
Nicole – And then I think I’m 12 or 13 at the beach. That was in Florida. My dad always had business trips to Florida and we would get to go with him. And I remember like, seeing that picture when my mom got it developed and liking it. And thinking that I wasn’t supposed to like it.
Amanda – Aw.
Nicole – And yeah, so it’s like one of my favorite pictures of childhood me. That’s definitely like an adult woman’s bathing suit. But yeah.
Amanda – Oh yeah. Did you see the bathing suit one of me where like, it looked like, I was wearing a women’s suit but I didn’t fill up the top at all?
Nicole – Yes. Good, good childhood. Bad childhood bathing suits. There’s one picture of me, I don’t have it, but I was probably this age or a little younger at a neighbor’s house and like in a little kiddie pool and the suit was just, it was pretty bad. Like how low it was and I was just like, that is not a good picture, why did no one help me?
Amanda – Yeah.
Nicole – Anyway. So here’s teenage years, I think this is my 15th birthday? Jesus t-shirts were a big deal.
Amanda – We would have been friends.
Nicole – Yeah. And I’m wearing jeans there, kinda remember jeans. I don’t know where I got them, anyway. The Christmas picture like, I loved those pajamas. So much, like the fact that I had matching flannel pajamas that were cute to wear in a Christmas picture was, I was so excited that that was a thing in my life. I think that was junior year of high school maybe. I don’t know. But I loved those. These are both senior year of high school, so this was like, senior year girls’ retreat with my church on the left. And I basically included that one, similar to yours with the arms, but like my arms were always, from a very young age, the part that I struggled with. And even seeing that picture now like, okay, like, my arm’s fat, my arms are fat. Like, I wasn’t imagining that as a kid, that was a real thing. And then my senior picture there, it’s very red. Very, very red. And then my college photos that I went back and found and added.
Amanda – Look at you.
To the slide show. That’s my 22nd birthday and then this was on a summer missions trip. I don’t know. And then that was another summer missions trip in college on the left. And then my college graduation picture, yay.
Amanda – Is your hair short?
Nicole – That was, I got my hair cut short. Like, the weekend before college graduation and got my eyebrows done too. And I was like, totally different.
Amanda – That is a super cute look on you.
Nicole – Yes, it was fun. Eventually I will go back to short hair again. But right now we’re not getting haircuts, so.
Amanda – It’s true, mine is at this weird, like, stage. But I have this, I can’t decide if I want this to be my Stacy London gray patch? I don’t know if you can see it. But, my Stacy London gray patch or my Cruella DeVille gray patch? I’m holding on to both options.
Nicole – One of the things that is interesting when we talked about our childhood before, is I was very much a loner. Like, I had, you know, a few friends, most of them at church, not at school. But I was completely okay with that, like I’ve long believed that my introversion and my lack of concern with fitting in with the rest of school is like a very protective thing for me as a kid. ‘Cause I didn’t worry about my fat body excluding me from my friends too much. Like I had my, I was mostly worried, growing up in the church, that I was too fat to get married. And what else was a Christian girl supposed to do? So like, but like the social aspect, wasn’t a thing for me. So, but you have talked about like how that was a big thing for you.
Amanda – I included one picture, maybe I’ll post it later, of me and the mascot costume for my junior high. It’s the dragon, it’s maroon. And so it didn’t make cheerleader because it was by popular vote. And there were 10 of us trying out for 8 spots. And me and another girl named Amanda who was like, my size, so I considered bigger even though we were both in the average range. We didn’t make it. So we traded off being the mascot. But that costume barely zipped on me. Like, I felt so embarrassed because all the cheerleaders are here, I’m like, they have their outfits custom sized, right? They were able to order stuff in their size. But they only had one dragon outfit.
Nicole – Dragon.
Amanda – Yes, I was a dragon. And so this is, for me, this is where class comes in because… so I grew up in a well off family. My dad is a doctor and we lived very well.
Nicole – The columns in your house picture is evidence of that.
Amanda – I laughed when I put that one in, yes, we had lots of columns. And it was just, compared to the other doctors’ daughters, ‘cause we all lived in the same neighborhood, the dentists, the doctors, and the lawyers. They were all small. And so my cohort, my peers, in my neighborhood, so that’s a class thing, I didn’t fit in. And getting invited to birthday parties was not a regular thing.and that’s how we like, judged acceptance. That’s how I judged acceptance.
Nicole – Right, yeah, how many party invites did you get.
Amanda – Yeah. Which, even today, looking back through stuff, realizing that that might have had more to do with my parents’ relationships with those people and not actually me.
Nicole – But it’s how you interpreted it at the time, that’s what mattered to who you were at the time.
Amanda – And so, the groups, the group of friends I made at school, was very like, diversified in class. And had people of different sized bodies. I was still the biggest one, but well, I was the biggest white student in my friend group because I was in predominantly white spaces, like segregated, even in the same school. So, but the class, the class distinctions, I never felt at home with people of my socioeconomic status, ‘cause they always were smaller than me.
Nicole – I think, so I grew up, it wasn’t in an impoverished childhood, but it was definitely a lower middle class. Grew up in a trailer park, but my dad had a steady job, he still works at the same place he did when I was a kid. So like, there’s some stability there. But, there were definitely like, we joke with my mom, because my mom always said at Christmas, “It’s gonna be a small Christmas this year, kids”. But her like, love language is gift giving, so there was always. Our tree was overflowing, I knew that like, it was always way less than kids at my school had, but I don’t know, it just, it never felt small to me. But there was definitely like a year where we only had Christmas because the pastor showed up with a gift card, kind of deal, with where we were at. That wasn’t every year though. And so like, so my peer group, so it was in public schools, but also it’s like very involved in church and then there were, like so the kids in my neighborhood as well, and I was trying to think after we started talking about this the other day. In my neighborhood, of the other kids that I hung out with, one was about my size, the other two were thin to average. And that was pretty much the same with my church group as well, that I had another person that was about my size that was a good friend and the others were thin to average. But yeah, I just, for me it was this idea of being beautiful that felt unattainable. I felt like I had, I had friends who liked me but that I didn’t have what I needed to achieve what I was supposed to do. And what I was supposed to do was like, a good Christian wife and mom. And so like, that’s where I was like, if I could just get my body right, then I could achieve like, this religious goal, this spiritual goal.
Amanda – Was your church similar in class or were there a lot, was it stratified?
Nicole – So, the trailer park that I grew up in was in an affluent county. So we were in one of the most, not the most, but one of the most affluent counties in our state. A lot of airline pilots lived in my county. So, I had this dual experience of being within a wealthier environment and I definitely benefited from the public schools because of that, and benefitted from some of that wealth surrounding me in a way a lot of people who grow up poor don’t because of the way we segment our society. But I think church would be about the same, like there were definitely some other folks who were on the lower end neighboring counties were not as affluent as the county I lived in. But for the most part, my friends’ parents who were also like my age and grade at church, they all usually lived in houses that their parents owned and would take vacations and such. Like, our vacations were my dads’ work trips, which was amazing that we had the chance to do that. But very rarely did we take an actual vacation.
Amanda – Yeah. I was thinking about my church experience in my best friends. I had like a group of best friends at church and a group of best friends at school. And in my church group, the 4 of us, we called ourselves the four musketeers. And one of us was in an average body and the others of us were more my size. And one of those girls, Faith, lived in a trailer park, and I remember, it was my first experience with a trailer park, like going to her house and spending the night and having a slumber party. Because I was isolated, not isolated, we didn’t have the internet, so we didn’t know things besides our friends. And I never like, flocked to the cool kids. I always hung out with the misfits and it was really special now. It was special then too because I always had like a, stick it to the skinny man, sense of ugh. But my Cuban side of my family was very weight conscious and we would go with them every year to the Cayman Islands, and I recognize the amount of privilege in what I’m saying. We rented a row of condos and all be there and I was looking through the pictures today and there’s not a lot of me, because I didn’t feel like I fit in.
Nicole – Yeah.
Amanda – And so I would stay in the condo and read or hide in this garden off to the side and I was a very gregarious person, but bathing suits and, it was just so much emotional effort to do it.
Nicole – Yeah. I do wonder like, if our personalities had been switched, how much of all of those realities would have been the same? Like, if you had been the kind of person who was just, who didn’t need the birthday invites, and if I had been the kind that did, or who valued the relationships to a greater extent, I don’t know. Like I guess my question is how much is personality and how much is class. And I think they both intersect and play into that. Like I don’t think they are that easily separated, you can’t separate them that much. I think like, one of the things that this obsession with wealth and privilege does is that it robs the people who have that privilege of the ability to experience life without it.
Amanda – Yes.
Nicole – That it sets up this expectation for what a good life has to be and it’s really hard to see the alternative or to see how you can have a good life without whatever wealth tells you you have to have.
Amanda – Yes, I think that’s a really important part of my journey into fatness.
Nicole – Yeah.
Amanda – Of, so by size standards, like if we look, Nicole you taught me about the chair test, right? Are you actually fat? Well it’s an accessibility question. Do you have to ask for accommodations for your body when you go into public? And that was never me til after we started this podcast. And so looking back, being like, how were there not clothes made for my body? ‘Cause I was like a size 12 or 14.
Nicole – They didn’t, they didn’t exist. Like I was shopping in the women’s department as we both illustrated from a young age.
Amanda – Wearing women’s shoes because I had a big foot. Do you have big feet?
Nicole – I do. I do. Yes, they’re…
Amanda – I have very wide feet. And feeling like that was an added pressure of not feeling included.
Nicole – Yeah.
Amanda – It’s so hard.
Nicole – It is, and I’m like, so how do we, I mean, I’m asking so how do we mitigate that, how do we address that? Especially because that’s one of the most common questions I get is like, how do I talk about this with kids? Or what do I do for my kids or kids in my life that I love?
Amanda – Yeah.
Nicole – And I don’t, in terms of like the class issue, clothing is better now, there’s more clothing. Let your kids have some say in their clothing, and look online for options, there’s still not a lot of fat clothes in stores. You probably know better for kids than I do.
Amanda – I’m learning. We reached the top of the Target end for girls at eight. And that’s unacceptable.
Nicole – It’s like, they’re still a kid.
Amanda – And so, Justice is the brand that we order from, they go up to size 24 in girls. And just to be able to have access to stylish clothing, I used to consider that to be vanity. But clothes are cultural, like we identify who we are, we communicate with our clothing and I just, I didn’t have the luxury to do that as a 10, 12 year old. I wore cat vests because I was embarrassed of my belly.
Nicole – Do you know the 80s, 90s, there’s this clothing brand called Units and it was like modular 80s fashion, it was all like stretchy cotton mix and match, they were all solid colors.
Amanda – I’m really sad that I do not, I’m not familiar with it.
Nicole – I wore a lot of stretchy cotton solid colored clothes. That’s what I wore.
Amanda – Yes. Or big t-shirts with Tweety bird.
Nicole – I refused. I refused to wear Tweety bird t-shirts. I was like, nope.
Amanda – I like any graphic tees.
Nicole – To this day, I will not wear a t-shirt with a cartoon on it. Because that’s all that Walmart had, and I refused. I was not a child, I was mature, I was not wearing Tweety bird.
Amanda – You’ve never been a child, Nicole!
Nicole – I know, that’s why I was like, “We’re including college? That’s definitely not kid.”
Amanda – That’s funny. One thing we mentioned in our conversation before this was, I was largely blind to the black students in my elementary and junior high being different from me. Like, this is, I mean this is gonna sound really white but the majority of the school was white because it was a magnet school and so class plays into that a lot. Class and race. And there were, we called them, in junior high we called the regular students, ‘cause they were actually
Amanda – Regular instead of gifted and talented.
Nicole – So the gifted kids were the regular kids?
Amanda – No, the gifted kids were the GT and then the regular kids. But the gifted kids were mostly white and the regular kids were black and hispanic. And there were a lot of bodies similar to mine in the black and hispanic population. But not in the white population. But I didn’t even think about it until now which you know, it is what it is.
Nicole – Yeah.
Amanda – To be like, there is a racial element in size discrimination.
Nicole – For sure.
Amanda – They inform each other.
Nicole – Wish I had the book sitting next to me, but if anyone wants to read more about that, Sabrina Strings, Fearing the Black Body.
Amanda – Mine is all the way across the room.
Nicole – Like, mine is in the other room, whatever. Sabrina Strings, Fearing the Black Body and some anti fatness is rooted in anti blackness. And anti immigrant, so yeah. So it makes sense that, even though there might have been a commonality for you and people who had some type of experience that was a little bit similar to yours, even in just like, clothing, or could have offered you ideas of where to find clothing. Or offered some other access ideas, that you did not, were not aware of that reality because of the way we discriminate and segment our society. It’s sad.
Amanda – Just solidarity, you know? Having intersectional solidarity, right? So knowing that now the class, the race, the size, sizeism, all of that, putting up walls, I wish that they weren’t there. But they were and are still. Man.
Nicole – I feel like we should pause and look at Facebook. This is the first time we’re doing it and I for get that people can be watching us. And I don’t know if anyone’s saying anything.
Amanda – James Prescott says hello.
Nicole – Hi James!
Amanda – Hi James!
Nicole – I think we’ve, I was on, I recorded a podcast on James’ a few weeks ago, I’m sure that’ll be out eventually.
Amanda – Oh you did, awesome, yes. Marlena Graves introduced us in a group.
Nicole – That’s good. We’re gonna figure out how to make this audience participation part a little more seamless in that we’ll remember y’all are there eventually.
Amanda – I like this because I don’t have to cut out all of my linguistic idiosyncrasies. I did a lot of editing on our previous podcasts where I would cut out like, lip smacking and thuds and stuff.
Nicole – And we’re just, this is what you get, people. Better record it and put it out.
Amanda – Right? I tell my children, you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit. That’s what Fat & Faithful is about now.
Nicole – We’re doing this on a budget. So, all good to go.
Amanda – So how you do feel like, we’re probably both, so you’re single and I’m married. We are a single income family with my occasional part time now. You’re a single income unit.
Nicole – Yes.
Amanda – And so, I would, I would lodge us solidly middle class. Even though it’s tight a lot.
Nicole – Yeah, like I have enough. I can comfortably meet my needs each month and occasionally have. And I usually have enough for some small extras and I can save for big extras. So yeah, middle class.
Amanda – Yeah. How are your clothing choices…
Nicole – Now?
Nicole – Yeah, I have lots of clothes now. I’ve ordered most of them offline, like Lane Bryant, Torrid. A number, maybe 5, 6 years ago, once I realized that there were options out there, I stopped buying things just because they fit. For the longest time, like when I finally discovered Lane Bryant and there used to be, like, was it Goody? That department store Goody? They had a plus section that had stuff that fit me. Ross sometimes if it’s like a stretchy thing. You could find stuff at Ross. But it would be like literally, if something fit on my body, I would buy it because it was like the starvation, like, mentality of hoarding clothes. And I just realized one day there were so many things in my closet I just didn’t like and so I just told myself that I was not gonna buy anything anymore unless I actually enjoyed wearing it. I think at this point my closet is pretty, like, I want to wear the clothes in my closet. It’s nice, and I try to buy things like, save up and buy staple basics that will last a while instead of fast fashion for a variety of reasons, but so it will last longer and just the ethical issues of consumerism and the textile industry. But yeah, what about you?
Amanda – Well, my body has changed a lot and it’s morally neutral but it is hecka frustrating.
Nicole – Uh huh, yeah.
Amanda – When I first started writing about size dignity and morphed into fat acceptance, as my body changed, and got fatter…
Nicole – I enjoyed watching that transformation, I was like, aw, she’s getting a little radical there.
Amanda – Yes! And now I’m just like, I’m just fat. I’m a fat activist. I thought you were talking about watching my body change.
Nicole – Oh no.
Amanda – Yeah, cool, solidarity!
Nicole – I remember us having a conversation very early on where you like, explained why you used size dignity and not fat and I was just like, ok.
Amanda – You’re so patient with me.
Nicole – I mean, you have a point, there’s something to be said for, you know making topics acceptable and honor people.
Amanda – Yes, I was definitely in the on ramp phase. I’m no longer there.
Nicole – Just zoom in, 99 miles and hour.
Amanda – So I was still in the like, I was like size 18/20 when we started this podcast and now I’m a size 28. And as I have changed size, my world has gotten richer and more complicated. And more solidarity-ized. I don’t know, I have…
Nicole – You are in solidarity with more people.
Amanda – Yes, and also with, which is not connected to my size, like chronic pain issues and fibromyalgia issues. My ability to move, literally, has diminished and I am in a new place of relearning a lot of the things I believed as a size 18/20. That, I don’t have to earn approval of my body, my body is good. To say that a healthy body is the point of my life is healthism and ableism. So, it’s like, as a friend described to me once, I feel like I’m kinda going around in a circle, but it’s a screwdriver, right? I’m going deeper and deeper to the truth. And my body has been my guide in that.
Nicole – Yeah.
Amanda – And that has given me great joy and great pain and frustration.
Nicole – Fair. It’s complicated.
Amanda – It is, and for me, clothing has been interesting ‘cause I didn’t have a lot of money when my body started changing, because I was in the idle of having babies. We started this podcast when my youngest was 6 months old, I was still wearing my maternity clothes because they’re amazing. And now I’m like a brand ambassador for a plus size line, Dia & Co, and I had more access to cute clothing than I have. And it’s interesting that as my body has gotten bigger, that’s been the result.
Nicole – Kind of like a little gift for you, more clothes. Yeah, I think the thing I really enjoyed in the past few years, is the addition of plus size athletic clothes into the market. And I remember when I was a kid, I bought this bag for traveling, for like suitcases, but it was a duffel bag though, like a tennis bag and it had Addidas or Russell, some sport brand, I don’t know, a huge logo across the side of the bag. And I just remember, like when I would pack it to take it on youth trips and stuff, I would always wear it so that, no one could read the sporty logo because I felt like a fraud carrying the sports bag. It felt like, you’re fat it’s obvious you don’t play sports so why would you be carrying a sports bag. I felt like people would think I was trying to project an idea of who I was that I wasn’t. And then as I got into fat acceptance and I got into like, hiking and camping and all of that, and like finding, when I first started hiking I would wear like jeans, to hike in. And like, thick cotton t-shirts and I would be like a sweaty, sweaty, sticky wet mess at the end of it. And then when I finally started like, discovering moisture-wicking athletic gear. I get it from Lane Bryant and I think Torrid has a few things too, but Lane Bryant fits me the best. I can be outside in clothes that are built and designed to make this a more comfortable experience for me. And more enjoyable and I know, I just, there’s a lot of good work happening in the outdoor industry in making gear now size accessible. Like, Merrell is coming out with a new shoe soon that is designed for wider feet, bigger feet and then, I can’t remember the company, some company is coming out with packs, like, hiking packs that are designed for bigger backs and bigger bodies. So it’s like, and part of me is like, I’m so thankful, and also I remember being a kid who thought that all those things weren’t for me because there wasn’t a way for me to do them with the right equipment. And so it’s like, I’m so grateful that like, younger people don’t have to go through that because the gear and the clothing and the right tools are starting to exist, so that they know that that’s something they can explore and see if that’s something they want to do.
Amanda – I love it. Well, we’ve had a good conversation. See if we have any other comments. So, Naomi Miller is there. Hi Naomi! And she says, we’re a quiet bunch, aka the listeners, the viewers on Facebook. And then Heather King says, I would love to hear more about finding joy in your body amidst chronic pain. The struggle is real. Indeed, it is.
Nicole – Do you want to?
Amanda – Do you have chronic pain Nicole?
Nicole – No, I have some chronic illness and not pain, and I know those are very different things that can exist in intersectionality. But the pain is definitely a whole other level. So please speak, you.
Amanda – Yeah, so finding joy amidst the chronic pain. Well, I’ll start with this, that it’s hard. And so, I’m with you. I am reading aka listening, two both valid ways of accessing books, to Sarah Bessey’s Miracles and Other Reasonable Things. And it’s about her journey with pain and injury and chronic pain and illness. And I had no idea that’s what it was about. And it feels like it hit me like, I started it yesterday, just the exact right time. Because she said that there’s hope. And she, it’s not about there’s hope that you’ll get healed, even though that still does exist within our belief in a God who can change the physical world. And I’m speaking of my faith. But I had kind of gotten to a point where I just, it doesn’t feel like the pain is worth anything, it just ruins my life. And listening to Sarah Bessey talk about the pain she is in, knowing one that I’m not alone, in trying to raise four children, because she also has four kids. For some reason, that’s just incredibly comforting. and to know that I do look out for people in pain more than I used to. And understand, I have a friend’s mom who had horrible arthritis. For her hands, they were just like this all the time, and she was so cranky. But that’s because she was in pain. It’s not because she was an awful person. I mean maybe if she was an awful person, she raised a good kid, right?
Nicole – Pain makes you irritable for sure.
Amanda – But pain adds such a layer of emotional weariness. And so, giving myself space to not be a champion is something. And to believe that my pain matters.
Nicole – Yeah.
Amanda – Like really that’s, and that deals with depression, anxiety, and also my chronic pain in my body. My pain matters and I don’t know if it’s gonna matter because I’m gonna meet someone who knows they’re not alone, or if it’s because my suffering produces perseverance like Romans 5 says. But there is hope in my suffering, in a way that I can’t communicate, but reading that book really put it in my belly again. You know, like when Jesus says, there will be streams of living water, or maybe this is David the psalmist, flowing from your belly? The words that Sarah Bessey spoke hit me in the gut where I do have a lot of chronic pain and issues and it was just like, ah, the physical world is not the only world. And I have been in a desert place because I just am struggling to believe in supernatural miracles. Not because I don’t think that God loves me, just because I haven’t had a miracle, the miracle that I’ve been wanting. Hope in the suffering somehow brings joy.
Nicole – Amen. I think as someone who doesn’t suffer chronic pain, like my, I guess my encouragement or opinion, whatever it is, is that bodies in pain deserve what they need, just like all bodies too. So even if you, as someone with pain, if you need more rest, or you need more quiet, or you need more whatever, like that’s not an unreasonable request, it doesn’t make you a burden, it’s a way that you care for your body that is good. Because your body deserves dignity and I know calling your body good when it’s causing you pain gets complicated and I won’t insist that anyone do that, but your body deserves what it needs. And naming that to your community, your family, your friends, is a reasonable thing that allows your community to love you and support you and to join you.
Amanda – And I think that’s amazing, I wrote down what you said. Bodies in pain deserve what they need as all bodies do. To feel in my pain that I am not a burden, gosh that’s so hard. To feel like I’m not doing my fair share and I think it’s a lesson of grace.
Nicole – You gotta stop being capitalistic with your to do list.
Amanda – That’s a word! A marriage one too, for me. Heather asked this question, Heather has young kids and is married, so, finding the joy in my husband’s quiet faithfulness to me because he doesn’t speak words of, “Amanda it’s okay that you’re in chronic pain, don’t worry about it, I’m here for you.” Like, that’s not his way. He just does the things that help me. And I recognize that that is a gift and a privilege and there is joy to me there that he sacrifices his comfort to help me in pain. And hopefully my children are learning from that example.
Nicole – Good question heather, thanks. Are there any more? Or are we about to wrap up for the night?
Amanda – Looks like that’s the end of our questions. Really glad we got to talk today, tell us where we can find you on the web, Nicole.
Nicole – So I am JNicoleMorgan everywhere, go find me. Twitter, Instagram, I have a personal Facebook, but not the JNicoleMorgan Facebook. And yeah, join us in the All Bodies are Good Bodies group if you’re not already there.
Amanda – Tell us about your book.
Nicole – My book, yes, I Wrote a book, it’s called Fat and Faithful, same as this podcast. You can get that wherever. If you go to Broadleaf books which is the publisher, there is a free discussion PDF that you can download from them as well. And you, where should we go to find you?
Amanda – Oh my list of places and things.
Nicole – I’m going to share a screen with all this information.
Amanda – Good, this is all the stuff that’s written on it. I’m on Instagram as YourBodyIsGood and at Twitter AmandaMBeck, and the website is goodbodycoach.com. I am a body image coach, I do one on one sessions, and that’s part of the sponsor for this podcast episode.
Nicole – Yay!
Amanda – Nicole’s book and then my coaching and my book. My book is called Lovely: How I Learned to Embrace the Body that God Gave Me and you can get it wherever you get books. And I hope this is a little, I hope to have more book news for everyone soon.
Nicole – Exciting, very cool.
Amanda – It’s very exciting.
Nicole -Well, we will be back here the third Monday, right? Third Mondays that’s what we’re doing right? Yep, third Monday, 7pm eastern, I think that’s 4pm Pacific and we’ll be doing Facebook lives once a month if you’ve got topics or questions you want us to cover, just message and let us know and we’ll try to do it.
Amanda – Alright, signing out, bye guys!
Nicole – Bye everyone!