LISTEN: Everyday activism, using your power and fat admirers with Sara Stanizai (with transcript)

Think you can’t support a movement from your corner of the world? Think again! In this Instagram Live, Sara Stanizai, LMFT and I talk about capital-A activism (with hand gestures), using your power to change the world, what counts as activism and simple ways you can help the fat folks in your life. Listen to our chat or read it with the transcript below.

Transcript

Sara Stanizai:                Hi everybody. I hope you like my side pony today. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Sara Stanizai. I’m a licensed marriage and family therapist. I’m the owner of Prospect Therapy here in Long Beach, California. We are an LGBTQ class-affirming therapy practice with a focus on serving first generation Americans, immigrants and children of immigrants, and bicultural folks.

                                        Part of our team also specializes in supporting eating disorder recovery from a health-at-every-size framework. And I myself, I’m actually pretty new to the game of body positivity, body liberation, body neutrality. By the way, all of those words mean different things. So I’m really, really excited to welcome Lindley Ashline who I’ve been a fan of for the past couple of years. She created Body Liberation Stock which is actually size-inclusive stock photos. Her Body Liberation Guide, I definitely recommend it.

                                        Her monthly newsletter—sorry to everybody else—but her newsletter is actually one of the few that I always save and get to and make sure that I read it in its entirety just because the content is really good.

                                        And I’m going to welcome Lindley now. So she’s going to join us in a second. And I’ll have her introduce herself. But yeah, her content is fantastic. Her business is fantastic. She really stands by the values.

                                        Hi Lindley! Hi! Oh my gosh! I’m so excited to actually meet you… which is funny, I was just explaining how I’ve been a fan of yours for a couple of years. And I don’t even fully honestly remember how I was introduced to you or your work. We’ve never had a phone call. We’ve never met in person. I’ve just been lurking and obsessed with your whole social media presence. And all the content you create is really fantastic.

And I was saying that your Body Liberation Guide and your monthly newsletter is one of the few ones that I actually like and will set aside time for and make sure I read it like front to back because the writing is really great, but also all the resources. You curate the content from around the internet. And I learn something new every time.

So anyway,  I’m just going totally shamelessly plug it.

I’m excited! I was also saying I’m pretty new to the body liberation movement and body positivity. And I’m also starting to see how that is so—we can talk about it, but how those phrases and the movement is really corrupted by people sometimes. You’re just doing toxic stuff but in a different way. So I don’t know…

But what we’re going to be talking about today is activism, how to leverage what privilege you have to support this or any other movement and visibility for people in larger bodies, why people are  afraid to use the word “fat.” It’s like a bad word that people don’t want to use. So we have a whole bunch to talk about.

If you want to start… I’m just rambling. If you want to introduce yourself…?

Lindley Ashline:                   Yeah! Well, I actually have a funny story to share with everybody. It’s sort of indirectly related to Sara before I introduce myself. So Sara is relatively new to the body liberation sphere as Sara was saying. And I’m relatively new to the world of therapist and healthcare providers and the professional side of this.

                                                And so, when I first encountered Sara, Sara had—and I think this is on Facebook. Sara had her first name, last name and then Lmft after her name. And  it happened to be capital Lmft. And for some reason, i thought that that was her last name. And so, for about two years in my head, Sara’s last name was “lumft.”

Sara Stanizai:                        Well, I’m glad you never called me that. That’s probably easier to pronounce than my actual last name. But it’s cool! I just tell people, “It’s Stanizai. It rhymes with ‘stand aside.’” And then, people remember. It’s cool!

Lindley Ashline:                   Yeah, yeah. It’s always great to have a mnemonic for your name. It helps people remember, yes.

                                                So that said, my name is Lindley Ashline… as Sara said. And I am primarily a photographer and author. I sort of have my fingers in a lot of pies across body liberation and fat acceptance and health-at-every-size. I do have a newsletter that I put out every week called The Body Liberation Guide. And that’s what Sara was talking about. Every week, it has something from me. Usually, it’s some kind of rant.

Sara Stanizai:                        Your rants are like chef’s kiss. I love them!

Lindley Ashline:                   Wonderful! Wonderful… because I do a lot of them.

Sara Stanizai:                        And usually, they’re almost always related to some kind of body liberation topic. Every once in a while, we’ll talk about something else. But in the newsletter, we do—and by “we,” I mean the royal we apparently. It’s just me.

Lindley Ashline:                   Of course!

Sara Stanizai:                        But we do Body Liberation resources, some kind of resource list every week. We do…

Lindley Ashline:                   Every once in a while there’s like free stock photos.

Sara Stanizai:                        Every week, I’ll share my favorite photo of mine from the week. We talk about stock photos. We talk about a little bit of inside baseball. Last week, there is an eating disorder treatment center chain that put out a very embarrassing newsletter of their own that was very fat-phobic. And I sort of took them apart a little bit on that.

Lindley Ashline:                   No big deal!

Sara Stanizai:                        Yeah, yeah, the usual.

                                                Usually, I don’t put a content warning on the newsletters because I figure once you’ve seen one, you know the type of things I’ll talk about. But that one actually got a content warning, like a trigger warning, because the original content, it was pretty hardcore.

But I’m primarily a photographer. I do client photography, portraits, boudoir, small business branding type sessions in non-CoVID times (right now, I’m not taking clients for that. I’m in the Washington state where it’s sort of iffy on the CoVID side. So I’m not currently doing that). But I also sell diverse stock photos. I do some writing. Like I said, I’ve got my fingers in a lot of areas.

                                                What were you going to say there?

Sara Stanizai:                        I was probably going to say like a hundred things just because I’m so inspired by all of your work. But it’s exhausting. Every week, there is like a new thing you could rant about. And I’m sure it’s even more frequent than that.

                                                And I think one  thing I really admire about you—I’m sort of teasing you, but I mean it—I really appreciate your rants because you are saying what a lot of people think and feel and you have the nerve to actually speak up. But as a result of that, it does put a target on you. Someone has to say that kind of stuff. And when I can, I do what I can. But when I don’t, I’m always silent, I’m cheering from my little social media section because I really appreciate people speaking up for things and the vulnerability that goes with it.

                                                How do you do that? How do you make sure to protect yourself emotionally and otherwise?

Lindley Ashline:                   I have a great therapist. And I say that, and I’m kind of laughing. But that has helped me developed coping strategies. I have historically, as a personality, I’ve been kind of a doormat. And there had been a couple of things that had allowed me to sort of become the loud one, the one that speaks out.

                                                Some of that is good therapy, a good social safety net. I have friends I connect to. Like I’ve said, I’ve got somebody helping me create coping strategies.

And the other foundation of that is privilege. I live in what I might consider a large, fat body. I’m not at the very end. I’m not at the extreme end of the body size scale, on the large side. But in Lane Bryant sizing, here in the US, I wear like a 26/28. So I certainly have friends who are fatter than I am. But there are many, many people who are also  smaller.

That said, I’m also white. I’m cis-gender. I’m straight. I have a husband that supports us financially. He’s a software developer. He’s a wonderful person. But he makes pretty good money. So I have these foundations.

I don’t have a day job employer. I do some part-time corporate work—again, in non-CoVID times. I’m currently furloughed. But I work for a major, major company. But they don’t care. I come in and I do software tech writing for them, and they don’t care. So I don’t have an employer who’s going to fire me if they find out about my activism. I was able to create my business that I run around my activism. I’m not going to lose clients. I’m not going to lose my livelihood because of my activism. And that is a huge, huge, huge privilege.

And I want to make a big point of sharing that because, yeah, I’m putting myself out there, and yeah, it’s scary—I got doxxed earlier this year. Doxxing is where somebody releases your personal information of some kind. In this case, it was my geographical location. They didn’t have my exact address. But it was close enough to be quite scary. And I had people out there, a whole forum-full of people who were hating on me and had my location. That was very scary.

And then, that ties into another privilege that I have that supports me in this work. I live in a community where there’s security control because of my financial privilege. So I was able to call security control and ask them to step up, drive by my house for a while.

So, activism can be heard. And it can be scary. And I think one of the things that Sara and I are going to talk about too is activism in our daily lives, the types of power we do have and how we can use that. You don’t have to be like a capital-A activist, Activist, to do activism in your life. I have had the privilege to be able to choose to be sort of a capital-A activist at this point in my life. And I’m very lucky that my businesses are founded on that, so that the people who do find me are into it. I’m not generally having to explain to people, “Oh, and I’m also an activist.”

But these are the things that allow me to do this work and to be the loud one and to be the one who’s sort of no longer a doormat while being supported in doing that.

I was actually in therapy yesterday. And I want to share this because it kind of blew my mind. It kind of blew my mind. It was sort of another sort of pillars of activism that I was missing. She was introducing me to this concept. I don’t know whether this is the person who created this concept. There’s a social justice related concept called right relationship. And my therapist is Desiree Lyn Adaway who is a wonderful anti-racist activist and consultant and educator. Please go find her and support her. She is the one who originally came up with this concept.

But the concept of right relationship, it’s really very closely related to having boundaries, but it’s sort of being in a relationship with someone where you are giving, but you also are in need. And it’s a really concept.

Sara Stanizai:                        Can we have you repeat that because you broke up for a second and I really want to hear it.

Lindley Ashline:                   Oh yeah. So right relationship, the way my therapist explained it is being in a relationship with someone or something where you are receiving what you need; and the other person is also receiving what they need. And as an activist, like I said, it kind of blew my mind because, like with the boundary, here’s thinking, “Here’s what I need,” but also, “here’s what I’m willing to offer” I feel like is the relationship part. “Here’s what I’m willing and able to offer.” And that’s how it differs from just having a boundary.

                                                But especially when you are online, it’s a one-to-many relationship. For example, I don’t know how many people are actually watching this live video right now, but there’s probably a number of you out there, and there’s just one of me. I might have a personal relationship with Sara where I can set boundaries and have this right relationship, or work towards that, but I can’t have the right relationship with every single one of you.  So that for me, it really comes back to boundaries, “Here’s what I need from you. You are the group of people,” and mostly, what that means, “I need you not to troll me. And if you troll me, I’m going to block you.”

Let’s dig deep.

Every Monday, I send out my Body Liberation Guide, a thoughtful email jam-packed with resources for changing the way you see your own body and the bodies you see around you. And it’s free. Let’s change the world together.

Sara Stanizai:                        Oh my God! You can have trolling.

Lindley Ashline:                   Yeah, yeah. I don’t need to engage. That’s my own boundaries as an activist. I don’t engage. If you’re not there in good faith… you know…?

Sara Stanizai:                        Yeah, people try to confuse that for like, “Oh, you’re not being open” or you are just shutting down dissent, or “people who don’t agree with me, I don’t want to hear it,” but there’s a huge difference between taking someone’s abuse and bullshit and actually just setting a limit.” And even if there’s a lesson to be learned, you may not be obligated to learn it in the moment at that time. You may not be obligated to learn it publicly. Those things can be really helpful. But if I’m really going to restore and transform and learn something from this, I might need a little bit more loving, challenging, like some hand-holding or some confrontation. But sometimes, we get caught up and people can demand that we learn something right in a certain way at a certain time. And I think that can be really tricky.

I’m not here to protect things that are hateful. But if I really want to call someone in, and I really want there to be some kind of transformation at the end of it, I do need to make sure that they’re receptive to it too. So it’s a hard line to tow.

Lindley Ashline:                   Right! And I think coming back to this topic that we want to talk about, the power that we have as individuals to create change and the various types of power that we might have depending on our daily lives, I think part of this is that when people start encountering activism, and when people are like, “Oh, this is really important. Being body-accepting is really important. Ending weight stigma is really important. How do I go about this?”, or advocating for health-at-every-size, whatever your cause is, I think it’s really easy to get into a mode where we feel like we have to fight every fight, that we have to have a discussion with our co-worker about them freaking out about the donut in the break room because the fight is there, that we have to fight every person in our Facebook friends list, we have to educate everybody, we have to change everything all at once… you don’t have to because you’ll just burn out.

                                                I had to decide really early on that, in general, I don’t do one-to-one fat acceptance or health-at-every-size education. I’m not great at it. It drains me. And I’m not the right person to sit down and have one-on-one discussions with everyone who needs a bridge. And I’m not saying that that’s not a valid thing to need. But I’m not the right person to fill that. There are many, many wonderful people who do. I also recommend Jess Baker. Jess Baker is a wonderful one-to-one educator.

So, I will direct people to resources. I will have those conversations. But I’m not the best person to do it. And so I released that really early on. And I make it very clear. It’s in my space boundaries and my pinned stories on Instagram and on my Facebook page and so on. In general, I don’t do that type of education because it’s not my lane. And I will give you stuff to educate yourself. But that’s a fight I’m not fighting.

In general, I don’t do a lot with eating disorders because I don’t know a lot about them. It’s not my lane. In general, I don’t speak for people with other oppressions or marginalizations. I don’t speak for people with visible disabilities. I don’t speak for people who are in bodies of color. There are other people doing that work. So I don’t have to fight that fight.

But ultimately, if I’m not taking care of myself, and I’m trying to fight every single fight, I’m just going to burn out. I cannot do it all!

Sara Stanizai:                        No, we need you!

Lindley Ashline:                   It’s so easy to fall. It’s so easy to fall into it.

                                                And you don’t have to either. You don’t have to do it all. If the choice is getting enough rest at night or fighting that guy on Facebook, like fighting your racist uncle on Facebook, or fighting your fat-phobic uncle, go get some sleep. It’s okay!

That said, you have the power to fight fights. I don’t know, I’m being very combative this morning because, again, because I only had one cup of coffee, and I normally have two.  I’m being very combative about this.

Sara Stanizai:                        I didn’t even notice!

Lindley Ashline:                   Five years ago, if you had told me, I would be on Instagram where I’m going, “fight that fight,” I’ll be like, “Who are you? Who is this person?” But it doesn’t have to be about fighting either. But you do—

Sara and I had wanted to talk about these levels of power because if you’re a CEO, you have a lot of power both in our capitalist culture, some sort of financial power probably and so on. But you also have a lot of cultural power. You get to set the tone for your company. You get to decide how diverse your employees are going to be and take steps to make that happen.

And it’s really easy to look to people who have a lot of power, the capital-A activist—I’m going to be doing the YMCA next—the capital-A activist who may have cultural call, and to celebrities and CEO’s, to look at this people and say, “You have a lot of power. You also have a lot of responsibility…” And that’s true. But we all have […]

Sara Stanizai:                        Yeah, you don’t need to be a millionaire. You don’t need to be an influencer. You don’t need to have a huge fan base. Everybody at every strata has something that they can do. Sometimes, I think people self-select out of activism. And they’ll say, “Oh, that’s not my fight,” or “Oh, there’s not much I can do about this.” And it becomes very piecemeal.

You know, I tried talking to someone once online, and it turned into a huge fight. So, I just stay out of that stuff. Technically, you can do that. But if you do assume some responsibility for your values and putting those into action, maybe you don’t like the policy for a business, but maybe you can change how you are in your relationships and how conflicts are resolved even just one-on-one or within your family, there’s always a level of power, something that you can leverage.

Lindley Ashline:                   Yeah, absolutely. When Sara and I were talking about what we were going to discuss today, I think I had said like from a big company CEO to a stay-at-home parent, there are different levels of cultural power, and it is a very different thing to say, “I’m in charge of a company that’s hiring employees” and what that’s going to look like, and it’s really different to be, say, a stay-at-home parent where you might feel that your sphere of influence is very limited. But when you look at, just because that power is different, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have it. If you’re raising children—and I say this as a non-parent, so this is something I don’t have a lot of experience in (you can message me, and I can point you to other people who talk about this topic. Again, I’m not the right one to talk about parenting)—if you are a parent, you have tremendous power, you have incredible power. You are raising the next generation of people who are going to look at their bodies in a certain way. Obviously, you are not the sole influence in their lives. But the way that you look at your own body, the way that you talk about your own body, the way that you talk about other people’s bodies and look at other people’s bodies is massively influential to your kid and to your nieces or nephews and other young people in your lives. You have so much power.

And if you’re not a parent, and you’re not a CEO, and you’re working a job, and you’re living your life, when we think about activism, we think about it as being this big capital-A thing, we think about Lindley ranting in her newsletter every week, or somebody like Jess Baker who has a massive audience, or I don’t know, pick an activist that comes to your mind, Mother Theresa…

Sara Stanizai:                        Jessamyn…

Lindley Ashline:                   Yeah,  Jessamyn Stanley… we look at those people and we go, “Oh, my gosh! I can’t possibly do that. I just don’t have time for that because I’ve got a job and I need to sleep some time.” But activism just means that you’re taking action. That’s all that it means. It doesn’t mean that that’s your livelihood. It doesn’t mean that that’s your full-time. It doesn’t have to be your full-time gig. Just taking one action makes you an activist.

Sara Stanizai:                        And that one action can be like learning where you are wrong and doing better next time and allowing someone to correct you and learning like, “Oh, I do have more to learn.” Even saying, “Oh, I was wrong. I’ll do better next time…”

Lindley Ashline:                   Yeah, yeah. 

Sara Stanizai:                        It goes so far. And it also models to other people that it’s okay to do that. We’re not going to cancel you. There’s no room to grow. Everybody is at a different on this journey.

                                                And people, they also select out of activism because they’re like, “If I can’t do it right, then I’m not going to do it. I’m going to screw up. It’s too risky. I don’t want to lose whatever I have.” But saying, “You know what? I didn’t realize that. I apologize. I’m going to commit to learning. I’m going to do my own research,” like Google is free also, by the way, that in itself is a form of activism. So I think people forget about that aspect of it too. They think that they really need to be.

                                                Sometimes, there are things that aren’t safe for them to do. So there’s always a way that you can do it.

Lindley Ashline:                   Yeah, yeah! And if you are able to gradually change the way that you look at other bodies and your own bodies, and you are able to move through life confidently in whatever body that you happen to be in, that is a huge deal! That’s a huge deal. That’s world-changing because the more people we have who just quietly live their lives and are just at peace with their own bodies, […] where you’re not spending your whole life just obsessed with that fat roll that just popped up when you were 45, or whatever, how much time and attention and resources and money and love can you free up for other things? That’s world-changing.

And the more we have these role models out in the world of just everyday people, if that’s the only thing you achieve in your lifetime, that’s amazing… especially given how many things are working against us.

Sara Stanizai:                        Yeah, people don’t want us to feel happy in our bodies. People don’t want us to feel confident. The minute we start accepting and loving and not trying to change everything, then we’re freed up to do other things. And I think there’s a lot of people who don’t want us to do that.

Lindley Ashline:                   Yeah, there’s a lot of profit involved in not wanting us to do that.

And one of the things that I do, occasionally, I’ll do workshops with folks. And one of the things that we do is we sit there and we write down all the entities, people and organizations and companies and power structures in our current lives that profit, like actual money profit, and also power profit, from us hating our body. And the list is really wrong depending on how detailed you want to get.

Then of course, we all know this. We all know that Dove makes money when we buy cosmetics from them. This is obvious. You know this. But there’s a lot of power in just listing it. Talking about activism power in whatever role you have in life, if you can, beyond—like I said, just changing that you think about your own body and other bodies is activism, it’s a big deal. But if you can take one step beyond that and you can have a discussion with someone else, that’s a big step too. But it doesn’t have to be. I was talking earlier about fights, and it doesn’t have to be fights. It can be, say you’re in a conference room—and I need to stop my things at my desk because I’m making my phone shake, I just realized. I’m not currently at an earthquake.

If you could have one conversation, if your co-workers are cracking on maybe there’s a fat lady who’s not in the room, and somebody makes a crack about the fat lady who’s not in the room, if you can just look at them and say, “Hey, that’s not okay,” that’s a big, big, big deal. Big deal! You are having that discussion. You’re making a change in the world. And you’re making life actively better for not only the fat lady who’s not in the room—and yes, I have been that fat lady who’s overheard things just outside the room. I had some horror stories from my corporate life…

Sara Stanizai:                        Who doesn’t?

Lindley Ashline:                   But if you could be the person who says, “Hey, that’s not okay…”

If you can come into a Facebook discussion where your fat-phobic Uncle Jo is being awful about fat people and just say, “Hey, that’s not okay,” you don’t have to argue with him, you don’t have to have a fight, you don’t have to change his mind, but when you okay and you say in front of other people, “Hey, that’s not okay,” you are not only being an activist, but it’s really important because you’re showing all the fat people in the room or all the people in the room who have human bodies that that is not acceptable. And just saying, “Hey, that’s not okay” has a lot of power.

Sara Stanizai:                        Yes, I think people are afraid of doing that because they think, “Well, I don’t have all the research articles. And I don’t have all the information. I can’t actually get into an argument, but I can’t back it up,” but you don’t have to do that every time. Of course, you can go educate yourself and do that. But just saying like, “Hey, I’m going to make this inconvenient for you. Hey, there are people who don’t like this. Hey, you’re not as freaking funny as you think are,” sending that message to people and to the people who are watching—

That’s the other thing. People say like, “Oh, I’m not going to say anything because I’m not going to change that person’s mind,” you might and you don’t have to, but there are people watching and listening and it does make a difference to those people who maybe they can’t say anything, but they really appreciate that someone else is saying it for them. And I think that’s one of the ways that we can—

I’m a straight-sized person. There’s a lot of privileges that I have, but I’ve had this line, “I don’t want to speak for people. I don’t want to speak in behalf of people. So I’ll just be quiet.” But then I have so much privilege that I can leverage. When can I use that for something so that is supportive rather than speaking over people or pretending that I’m in the authority on something.

And I think, for me, for a long time, that really kept me from doing anything. That’s just my own perfectionism getting in the way. But you miss out! I can do that by providing emotional labor, by taking the load off of somebody else who’s probably sick and friggin’ tired of it. And I don’t have to get everything right. But coupled with the ability to be corrected and be wrong, “Okay, I didn’t want to do nothing, so I did something. I see… I learned something new today,” at least you’re speaking up and doing something rather than just saying, “Oh, that’s not me. That doesn’t involve me. Good luck with that. I support you. I’m just going to be quiet over here.”

Lindley Ashline:                   Right, right?

And you mentioned research. And I think that’s a really, really important thing for somebody who wants to start speaking up and is very intimidated. That was me for a long time too, mind you. I’ve been in the fat-acceptance community before positivity was a thing, 2006 or 2007. And I didn’t start actually speaking up until I quit my day job in 2015 because, at that point, I felt like that I wasn’t torpedoing my career by having fat acceptance things associated with me on Google.

Sara Stanizai:                        Gosh!

Lindley Ashline:                   So, I think I did spend many years… I don’t have all the research in my head to back up health-at-every-size and to back up that diets don’t work. I can’t just immediately cite things. And so, I guess I just shouldn’t be speaking up until I’m like a perfect debate machine. And the thing is that I don’t do homework for people anymore. That is one of my boundaries as an activist. I don’t do the homework because the thing is that I know there is no actual scientific proof, a reputable, peer-reviewed proof, that people are able to lose weight and keep it off for five years or more. I don’t accept homework assignments from people.

And I will have people come in and demand that I prove to them that diets don’t work. And my response is… 100%, you prove that they do because you’re the one making the claim that they do. I don’t have to have […] because nobody can prove that diets do work, take weight off and keep it off in the long-term.

And the thing is that it was 100%! People who wanted me to be a perfect citation machine were 100% trolling. Nobody was coming in in good faith. And they’re demanding that I do homework for them.

On Twitter, a couple of years ago, I saw a screenshot on Twitter. I’m not a perfect citation machine. So unfortunately, I don’t have the original—

Sara Stanizai:                        Lindley, what are you even doing? I’m not going to listen to anything you have to say.

Lindley Ashline:                   Oh, you should because it’s really clever. It was a comeback to somebody who was trolling this person on Twitter. And they said something along the lines of “You know what? I’ve known you for 10 seconds, and I’ve enjoyed none of them. I’m not taking homework assignments from you.” And now, I use that line on Instagram a lot.

Sara Stanizai:                        Yes, I’ve seen it. It’s a good one.

Lindley Ashline:                   You know what? You’re a stranger. You’ve come in, you’re clearly here because you want to argue with someone on the internet about fat bodies, and again, that’s my boundary.

Sara Stanizai:                        Do we not have the same internet? Like you can also look it up, I promise. No, I don’t have all these…

Lindley Ashline:                   And what that generally results in is that people will throw a CDC—for non-US folks, that’s the Center for Disease Control here in the US, whatever our federal agency is. There’s a CDC web page that people like to throw at me that talks about—I don’t know, it’s been thrown at me so many times and I’ve gone to look every time. It talks about people can successfully lose weight in the short-term… which is cool. We all know that. We all know that somebody who is—or we’ve done it ourselves. We’ve lost a large amount of weight in a short time, and then we’ve gained it back because that’s what human bodies do. I don’t want to get too deep into the rabbit hole of diets don’t work because that’s really all we need to establish, is that we don’t have any proof that they do.

And so, I just don’t that anymore. I don’t dig up stuff for people because, again, my role is to be that one-to-one education. So I don’t worry about it too much. If people are genuinely interested in the science of how we know that diets don’t work, I’m happy to send them to Linda Bacon, I’m happy to send them to the book, Body Respect, which talks about how we know that diets don’t work. But I’m not going to sit there and debate with you.

Sara Stanizai:                        That information is out there. The work has been done. You can access it just like anyone else can.

                                                And that’s the other thing about activism too. There’s this thing floating around about all these newly “woke” people who are like, “Wait! I’m going to start a non-profit to stop this. And I’m going to start a weekly meeting.” People are already doing this work. Why don’t you listen a little bit longer? You can learn yourself, and you can direct people to those resources and support those resources because we don’t need—yes, we need people onboard, but we don’t need 150 people doing the same work. You’re much stronger when you actually support the people who are already doing it.

Lindley Ashline:                   Yeah. And when it comes to fat folks too, here’s your weekly gossip for the morning actually—or whatever timezone you’re in. When it comes to fat folks as well, there is a cultural dynamic, there’s a group of people who exists on the planet called fat admirers or FA’s and they fetishize primarily fat women. These are, in general, from what I’ve seen these are cis-gender, white, straight men who are fetishizing cis-gender, straight, white women essentially who live in fat bodies. And I’m sure there are exceptions to that, but that is the majority that I have seen. And it’s a really unpleasant dynamic because these are people who could be fighting for fat liberation. Often, these people are fat themselves. But instead, they would rather see women as objects. And it’s really gross. But it’s something that if you are publicly on the internet in a fat body that you encounter a lot.

                                                And often, there’s a particular fat admirer who happens to live in a thin body himself who has started a number of initiatives, including a magazine. And maybe he’s got a non-profit going now. I don’t know, I kind of try to avoid him. And on the surface, these are all really great things because, on the surface, they are built to elevate the voices of fat women and show fat women’s body in a positive way. But the way these things are executed is very fetishizing.

                                                And the thing is that… I’m sex positive. There’s nothing wrong with fetishes. You do what you want to do as long as it’s not hurting someone else. But when you are treating people like objects in pursuit of your fetish, that’s where I have a problem.

                                                So if you have fat fetishes, cool! You do you. But don’t involve me in it. Don’t come creep on my Instagram.

Sara Stanizai:                        …without my consent. Without my consent and my buy-in. And also, don’t cloak it as something else, like you’re doing me a favor or something. If this is your fetish, if this is your thing, just call it that. It gets very insidious when it’s like, “No,” that very benevolent feminism, “Oh no, no, no… you’re so special. I need to treat you differently.” It’s like, “Okay, why don’t you treat me the way I would like to be treated.” Yeah, it’s so creepy.

Lindley Ashline:                   Yeah, yeah. It’s the difference between coming and leaving nice comments on my Instagram. And because I photograph a lot of fat women, and because I do boudoir photography as well, there are often half-clothed fat women on my Instagram, I get the nastiest, creepiest comments. You would not even believe!

People treat it like a dating service. I have these dudes send me private messages going, “Hey, I would like to meet this lady.” What?! No! What, no… no.

Sara Stanizai:                        I remember seeing some of the comments and the messages that you get, I was like, “Oh, my God!” I mean, it’s so rampant. It’s like, “What are you thinking?” But anyways…

I just wanted to see if any of the folks who are watching have any questions or comments? I did put an AMA in my stories earlier. I don’t know if anyone had any comments or questions. And while we wait for those, if you want to let people know how they can find out more about you, and where they can see your content…?

Lindley Ashline:                   Yeah, the end of my juicy, gossip story was just that there exists this actual online magazine. And this guy has gotten involved in a bunch of other things and gets a lot of praise for it because, on the surface, it’s sort of elevating fat voices. But guess who’s making a profit from his magazine… assuming there is any? I don’t know, to be fair. But who has the control? Who has the power to be over there…

Sara Stanizai:                        …who decides what goes in there, yeah.

Lindley Ashline:                   And it’s a thin, white dude. And it’s very clear that the content is based on what a fat admirer would want to see.

Sara Stanizai:                        Yeah.

Lindley Ashline:                   And it’s gross. It’s gross.

Sara Stanizai:                        People who know will know it when they see it. And people who don’t recognize it, they’re like, “Oh well…” They’re giving him all the cookies and being like, “Good for you! You’re doing such a nice thing.” But people who are affected by it are like, “I know exactly what this is.”

Lindley Ashline:                   Yeah, yeah. Yeah.

                                                So, at any rate, you can find me at BodyLiberationPhotos.com. And that’s sort of my central… you can find my client photography there, my stock photography work. You can sign up for the newsletter there. I have some free resources there as well.

                                                There is a guide to find a body-positive photographer. People do occasionally travel in to see me for photos. But not everybody can afford that of course. So there’s a Guide to Finding a Body-Positive Photographer in Your Own Area. There’s a set of free stock photos if you have a business. There’s a set of free diverse photos for you. There is—well, coming soon, it isn’t up yet. But there’s a fun, creative guide to creating a photoshoot whether it’s with a professional or with a friend, all these cool ideas for things you can do in any kind of body and things you can do if you use mobility aides, things that also work with that and so on. So there’s a bunch of free stuff on the site.

I’ve got a YouTube playlist of body positive videos, all kinds of stuff.

Sara Stanizai:                        Awesome! Yeah, I love all your content—your own, original content and the resources, the things that you curate. I said earlier, I learn something every time. So I’m a huge fan!

And I’m really happy that you decided to join me. And I hope this is helpful for people who are afraid of activism or afraid of going into spaces where—the spaces need people. So  as long as you can leverage what you can do, and you’re really open, it’s helpful.

Lindley Ashline:                   Yeah.

Sara Stanizai:                        Yeah. Thank you so much, Lindley. Thanks for your time.

Lindley Ashline:                   Yeah, thanks for having me, Sara.

Sara Stanizai:                        I’m glad this is the first time we actually got to see each other. Hopefully, we’ll do it again. Maybe I can come to Washington… when I can, whatever. Thanks so much!

Lindley Ashline:                   Thanks Sara! Everybody have a good day!

Sara Stanizai:                        Thanks! Bye…

Let’s dig deep.

Every Monday, I send out my Body Liberation Guide, a thoughtful email jam-packed with resources for changing the way you see your own body and the bodies you see around you. And it’s free. Let’s change the world together.

Hi there! I'm Lindley (she/her, pronounced LIN-lee). I create artwork that celebrates the unique beauty of bodies that fall outside conventional "beauty" standards at Body Liberation Photography. I'm also the creator of Body Liberation Stock, which provides body-positive stock photos for commercial use, and the Body Love Shop, a curated central resource for body-friendly artwork and products. Find all my work at http://www.bodyliberationphotos.com.