Because I have my fat fingers in so many pies, this chat with Chrystal Bougon of Curvy Girl Lingerie and All Bodies Electrolysis touches on lots of topics! If you’ve ever wondered about whether you can set boundaries with a photographer or how a good photographer works with mobility limitations or anxiety, this is the discussion for you.
I also talk about some funny behind-the-scenes moments in creating fat-positive stock photos (measuring tapes that won’t break!), share a secret for returning your ill-fitting online clothing purchases on time, and dish on what it was like to photograph Ragen Chastain (a dream).
Watch or read the transcript below.
Chrystal: Hi there. This is Chrystal from Fat Product Reviews. Welcome to the show! If you’re loving our reviews, please hit the subscribe button. This is how you will be notified when we have a new review.
And today, I’m so excited and honored to have Lindley here with me.
Lindley is a photographer/intersectional feminist/fat liberationist/business owner/body liberation artist—just so many different things in the fat acceptance world. And I bow down to you. Thank you for all that you do. I really appreciate it.
I’m a baby in this industry, in this fat liberation world. I don’t know if you can call it an industry, but I’ve only been in this since about 2011 or 2012. So people who have come before me, I want to always pay reverence to them. And I wanted to do an episode about that, all of the people that came before me. You’ve definitely been doing this a lot longer than me.
Chrystal: How did you get inspired to do photography specifically photographing people in larger bodies?
Lindley Ashline: Well, I have a secret to share. I’ve only been doing people photography since 2015. I’ve been involved in some capacity in the fat acceptance community—I was going to say “work,” but that’s not true. I’ve been involved in the community in some capacity since about 2007. But as far as offering services to that community or being involved as an activist, Chrystal, I’m actually newer than [you are]. Apparently, I do a really good job of acting like I’ve been here forever.
So, I started doing body liberation photography… which you can find at BodyLiberationPhotos.com. I started doing that in 2015 when I quit my day job. Like many entrepreneurs, I had a really crappy corporate job, one of a stream of crappy corporate jobs, and I said, “Okay, where am I going to go next because I cannot live with this? I’m done. I’m done.?
And because I have a lot of capacity, plus a short attention span, I have my fingers in a lot of pies around the body acceptance and fat liberation and health-at-every size communities.
Chrystal: Same, same.
Lindley Ashline: So you can find me at, like I said, BodyLiberationPhotos.com. You can find me on Instagram at BodyLiberationwithLindley. That’s L-I-N-D-L-E-Y. On Twitter, I’m not very active. But you can find me at @LindleyAshline, just my first name and last name. And on Facebook, I’m at Body Liberation with Lindley Ashline.
So, if you google for me, I will come up.
Chrystal: I always wondered how to say your last name. Now, I know, Ashline.
Lindley Ashline: Yes, it’s exactly like it looks.
Chrystal: Just too simple.
Lindley: I get called Ashline a lot because it looks like it should be a first name—or Ashlynn. I’ll answer to whatever.
Chrystal: So I happen to know this already, but also, when you go to the front page of your website, there’s a photo of Ragen Chastain who—bow down for real, like wow. And she’s just amazing! She’s a prolific and an amazing writer. She doesn’t give a […] about anybody, what they think. She just writes it all. She does not hold back. I just love…
Your newsletter is very similar. But what was it like photographing Ragen? Such a powerhouse!
Lindley Ashline: Oh yeah…. Ragen is so cool. Meeting Ragen was like meeting one of my heroes.
Chrystal: Me too! I met her about four years ago, and I was like, “Great!”
Lindley Ashline: I think Ragen was the first blogger—I came into fat acceptance, which […] sort of morphed into the body positive. And so both of those exist. This was before body positive was a thing. And I came in actually through LiveJournal (because that was the days of LiveJournal). And I discovered Kate Harding and her work first. But Ragen was the first actually fat writer and blogger that I encountered. And Ragen just blew my mind.
And so, the work of Kate Harding, who is no longer active in this community, her work was very, very important in my own body acceptance journey. But Kate is—is and was—what we might call small fat. She lives in a pretty normative body. And so, Ragen who is just fat and out there and unapologetic just absolutely blew my mind!
So meeting Ragen, I reached out to Ragen in 2018. And I said, “If you are going to be in the Pacific Northwest at any point, I would be absolutely honored to photograph you.” And it turned out that she was coming to Portland, Oregon for something. I don’t remember what. And so I drove down there. I’m in Seattle. It’s a day trip, a ball for me.
So, I came in to Portland and met up with Ragen for a day. It was December. It was cold as crap.
Ragen was so gracious about that. It was like 34 degrees, and I’ve got Ragen out there in this beautiful park in a sleeveless dress. And between every shot—like she had a fleece jacket with her. So between every shot, she would bundle up. And then, I would make her pose and everything with the jacket on. And we’d […]
Chrystal: Sleeveless clothes are very important in the fat community because we feel like we don’t get to have the right to bear our fat arms too.Verysymbolic, right? Like crop tops and shoulder, upper arms… when it’s 34-degrees and you’re out for a walk.
Lindley Ashline: It worked out beautifully. But yeah, it was so cool to photograph fat bodies in motion. And so, when I work with clients, and what I did with Ragen was like, just go run. I’m going to set up the camera, and you’re going to have to do it 15 times because the camera, you’re only going to be in focus for certain distance. So we’re going to have you run over that distance over and over and over until we get good shots.
But I will have people twirl. I will have them dance. I will have them. If we’re on a beach, I’ll have them throw sand or throw water just to get fat bodies in motion because they don’t see that. And so, what we did with Ragen was just to capture her running.
Chrystal: Well, first off, she’s a runner. She’s a marathoner. Hello! Is it Ironwoman?
Lindley Ashline: I don’t know. Is there an Iron Woman? I don’t know.
Chrystal: There should be! Anyway, she does those. People, I guess, they have issues with it or whatever. When you’re fat, you can’t win, right? You go to the gym all the time: “Oh, you’re so fat!” At the gym, your fat body jiggles at the gym. If you don’t go to the gym, you’re fat and lazy. So we can’t win. But she’s a fat runner.
But also, what I was going to say (and I know this for myself) is that when I’m doing something, it take me out of my head. Instead of me being super self-conscious, now I have to focus somewhere else. So I can’t just be like, “I’m having my photo taken… is this a good angle?” all that crap that goes through our heads.
And so, that does help I think. Also, it is nice to see fat bodies moving and doing things that people expect us not to do.
Lindley Ashline: Yes, and by the way, you can find Ragen at DancesWithFat.org if you’re not already familiar with Ragen’s work. It’s totally mind-blowing.
Chrystal: Yes. She’s a dancer, a blogger, a runner, an activist. She’s pretty amazing.
Lindley Ashline: When you’re an activist, you can tell how effective you are by how many people hate you. And Ragen has entire websites, like actual organized websites that were created to hate on her.
Chrystal: Can you just imagine all of the energy that people put into that? They use their energy, and I always say, “Don’t you just want to pet puppies or something? Really? Why…? Why?! Go volunteer somewhere… I mean, do something besides go hate on Ragen. Get a life already!” But people, as I was saying yesterday, some people really have disdain for fat bodies. I don’t know where it comes from, but they really can’t stand us for some weird reason.
Lindley Ashline: Yes, there are a lot of historical reasons. But I’m not sure we have time to get into that today. But racism is one of the big reasons.
Chrystal: Yes, for sure.
Lindley Ashline: Racism, healthism, all sorts of -isms are involved, ableism.
Chrystal: This is why I love your newsletter so much because your newsletter is like Ragen’s blog. I hope you’re using them as your blogs because your newsletter is full of information about all the different ways that we and others are marginalized and oppressed. It’s very intersectional and it’s very educational. And it’s so well done. I love it!
Lindley Ashline: Oh, thank you.
Chrystal: Tell people how to sign up for your newsletters real quick before we forget.
Lindley Ashline: You can get there two ways. You can go to BodyLiberationPhotos.com and click on “more” at the top of the page. And it’s the Body Liberation Guide. It’s the newsletter. And it’s under “more.”
You can also get there by going to bit.ly/BodyLiberationGuide.
Chrystal: Oh, good.
Lindley Ashline: I’ve got about 2500 folks who get that every week. And we delve more into what are the causes of fat hatred and fat phobia, like “I’m not an activist. I have a day job. What am I supposed to do about it?” There’s all kinds of things that we can do in our personal lives to help end fat phobia and weight stigma. We explore a lot of this stuff in more depth.
Chrystal: It’s rich. It’s done really well. I really look forward to it… every Monday, right?
Lindley Ashline: Yes, every Monday morning. And there are pretty pictures too.
Chrystal: Yes, it’s beautiful photos. Really beautiful, yeah.
So, let’s talk more about your photography. How do people find you? Usually, when they sign up to have you take their photos, are people looking for sexy photos? Are they looking for headshots? Are they looking for lifestyle photos? How do they find you typically?
Lindley Ashline: Most people find me through Instagram. And from Instagram, they’ll come to the website. And from the website, they’ll contact me. It’s generally how people come in. And of course, I’ll meet people at events. People will just find me out of the blue. People will google for body positive photography. And sometimes, they’ll travel in. And sometimes, it’s folks who are already local. There’s quite a big body positive and fat positive community here in the Pacific Northwest.
And I do a couple different kinds of photography. I don’t do weddings and family portraits right now. That’s always the first thing people ask is, “Do you do weddings?” No.
Chrystal: So much work.
Lindley Ashline: Yes. I’m just not nowadays. It’s just not my thing.
Chrystal: That’s a lot of post-production too, right?
Lindley Ashline: Yes. And one of the big things that I do in my photography that’s different from a mainstream portrait photographer, or a wedding photographer, or whatever, is that I don’t Photoshop people to look smaller. Like right now, my nose is sunburnt and it’s a little bit red. I don’t know if you can tell. If I were taking a photograph of me, I would smooth that out a little bit, like take some of the redness out, so that it’s not distracting in the photo because that’s temporary.
I’ll have a mirror up my chin. I would remove that because those are temporary. And I’m not going to pretend that you don’t have crow’s feet. I’m not going to pretend that you don’t have a fat roll because that’s your body as it exists.
And so, my photography does allow people to see themselves as they are… which can be really scary. And so part of my job is to lead you through that in a way that is as non-threatening as possible.
So, I do client photography which is portraits, boudoir photography which is the sexy photos. And then, I do headshots and professional portraits and small business branding type work as well. I also sell stock photography. Stock photography, those are the photos that you see just everywhere.
Chrystal: Every website…
Lindley Ashline: Yeah, yeah.
Chrystal: A black person, an Asian person, a Hispanic person and a white person, all perfect.
Lindley Ashline: Yeah, you think of the classic diverse boardroom shot where it’s like five people hide behind the conference table and it’s… right? It’s like three white men who are all thin, and then an Asian woman, and a thin white man. That’s stock photography.
And a lot of what I do is turning that on its head and going, “Here is somebody who is NOT a model, who is in a very fat body, who’s doing yoga by a lake or somebody who looks like Ragen” or whatever.
And so that’s stock photography. And businesses buy those photos to use on their websites, and then their social media, and in magazines, and TV. If you see a hospital on TV, and there are photos on the wall of the hospital, those are stock photos. They’re everywhere. And so, changing that up is really important.
But yeah, with the client work that I do, people come in wanting boudoir photos, they want sexy photos…
Chrystal: Yes, we do.
Lindley Ashline: …because fat people, in general, we’re not allowed to be sexy, or we’re oversexed. Either we’re not sexy or we’re too sexy.
Chrystal: We’re hypersexualized or it’s just like, “You fat people have sex?” Oh, do they? Yeah!
Lindley Ashline: Oh yeah. Yeah, yeah. And so, some people come in and they need professional portraits, which might be headshots, or it might be like, “I run a small business. I’m a health-at-every size dietitian, and I need photos for my site. I want some fun photos with like eating donuts or something, but I also need a serious photo where I’m being warm and welcoming for my website,” like that kind of photo as well.
So, there’s all sorts of different things that people come to me for.
Chrystal: Could you tell people the website for your stock photos?
Lindley Ashline: Everything is at BodyLiberationPhotos.com. But you can get specifically to the stock photos without having to go through the navigation by going to BodyLiberationStock.com.
Chrystal: Okay, very cool, yeah.
Lindley Ashline: Everything is on that central site.
Chrystal: I love it that, on there, you have that one series of photographs where the person has the tape measure in their hand, and then I recently saw you share one where I think the tape measure was torn apart or ripped in half or something. I’ve never seen that one before. I was like, “Oh, that’s different.”
Lindley Ashline: Yes, those are really funny to create because most tape measures are made of plastic. If you yank on one—so, the goal was to create ones that were kind of like in-motion shot where they had broken the measuring tape. It turns out, you can’t just hand somebody a measuring tape and yank this apart because it’s not going to do a thing because it’s just plastic. What happens is it’s going to stretch a little bit.
So, we end up cutting it almost all the way through, and then we started to yank really hard to get it apart […]
Chrystal: It jumped out at me when I saw that. I was like, “Oh, I haven’t seen that one.”
I recently had Marcy Cruz on talking about the 5 fat things you need for the pandemic. And she talked about how there is a measuring tape that you can get at one of those fabric stores that goes to—do regular measuring tapes go to 60 inches maybe?
Lindley Ashline: Yes, I think.
Chrystal: And hers goes to a hundred. So it’s for larger bodies. And I was like, “Oh, yes!” And it’s $4. She’s like, “It’s the best $4 you’ll ever spend because if you shop online—and well, that’s really the only place that people can shop—you have to know your measurements.” So I was like, “It’s so true.”
You need to know the measurements of everything—your upper arms, your upper thighs, your lower calves. Sometimes, if you want to shop online, of course, you end up spending a lot of time doing returns.
I don’t do returns. I just drive around with shit in my car for months at a time. “That’s money, Chrystal. That’s money. That’s money!” I hate returning crap. I know I’m not the only one.
Lindley Ashline: You know what changed my life regarding clothing returns? When I discovered that for anything that’s USPS, the regular postal service, anything that gets returned that way, you can ask them to come to your house and pick it up and it’s free.
Chrystal: Oh, sweet!
Lindley Ashline: I mean, you can have them ring the doorbell or whatever and hand it to them. But for me, we happen to live in a house that has a front porch that’s hidden from the street view. And so I can pretty safely leave things out there for a while. And so, I just go in and request it. They come the next business day. And then, that morning, I chuck it on the front porch; and that evening, it’s gone.
Anything that’s UPS, they still have to take to the UPS store and hand it to them. So, that one takes me longer. But figuring out that I could do USPS, particularly because I also run a shop, the Body Love Shop—which once again is on the BodyLiberationPhotos site—I send out small packages through that almost every day. And particularly in this time of COVID, I don’t want to go walk in the post office every day. So now, I can just stick them on the porch and the mail lady will come get them. It’s amazing!
Chrystal: It’s lovely. So let’s talk about your shipments, your little boxes of love. Are you doing a lot of those stuff?
Lindley Ashline: Well, I used to have a subscription box called The Body Love Box that I was sending out every month. It turned out that it’s actually really, really, really challenging to do an ethically-produced subscription box where everybody involved gets paid a living wage. I was able to make it work for a year and a half. And I just wasn’t able to make it work for longer than that without just losing money on every box.
Chrystal: Do you still have all the goodies that people can order that stuff, right?
Lindley Ashline: Yeah, yeah. So, what I ended up doing was transitioning that into a regular shop. So TheBodyLoveShop.com is where you can get to that. And again, you can get to that from the central site. Everything is linked there because I have all these pies and all these fingers. But all the goodies from the previous boxes—the previous boxes, the overstock that I have, are there on clearance. Super amazing deals! And so, check those out.
But yeah, there are books and zines and original artwork.
Lindley Ashline: Other art work that you can only get through the site. Some of my photographic prints are there. There are buttons and stickers.
Chrystal: Buttons, stickers, I have them. I love them. I just adore them. And I love your unicorn logo. I think that unicorn is the best.
Lindley Ashline: Of course, I don’t have one to hand. But my logo is a fat unicorn holding a shipping box. And a friend of mine created that specifically for me. I was able to go through and pick which fat unicorn sketch I wanted. It was amazing. And the unicorn has this big visible belly. It’s wonderful.
Chrystal: Yes, it’s beautiful. Isn’t that person’s name is Clover?
Lindley Ashline: Yes, their name is Clover Greenhalgh. Eventually, when they are in a position in their particular life story where they are open to commissions again, I’ll be promoting them.
So, it’s not a secret. But they’re not in a position where they’re ready for me to promote them. But yes, Clover is wonderful. And she’s a trans woman who has really allowed me to be part of some of her life story as she transitions. And I’m really privileged and grateful for that.
Chrystal: In my other life, I felt very honored because I had some clients that were transitioning. And as much as this pandemic has been a big bummer for me, and that I can’t work because I’m in California for five and a half months, the heartbreaking part are my trans clients who, most of their lives, had been looking forward to their surgery dates. And now, all of are just up in the air… just no idea. Everything’s on a hold. Ugh, my heart breaks for them because I know it’s something they’ve been wanting to do for so long. And everything came to a grinding halt.
Lindley Ashline: Yes, everything is just so […] right now.
Chrystal: It’s a weird world.
Lindley Ashline: I’m not currently doing client photography sessions or new stock photos for that matter. Technically, here in King County in Seattle, technically, I can do one-on-one sessions. But the experience would not be very good since we would have to do it distanced. You can’t do it for boudoir photography because I’m always up in your face…
Lindley Ashline: Yes. It will just be really inefficient. It wouldn’t be a very good client experience. So right now, that’s on hold.
My mailing list, my newsletter, will be the first to hear when that changes. And so that’s the extra little incentive, to sign up to it.
Chrystal: Yes, for sure, for sure.
So, do you find that when people come to you for boudoir photography, do they have a hard time letting go? For example, I notice sometimes photographers will tell you to do something that feels really awkward, and you’re like, “Why are they having me do this?” So, first of all, photographers know. If they tell you to do something that feels awkward, do it. Sometimes, being photographed, it feels like we’re in this weird position. Then when you see the photo, you’re like, “Oh, that’s why they told me to do that.”
I feel awkward being photographed. So how do you get people out of their awkward?
Lindley Ashline: It’s a yes and no with the doing something awkward. I guess a part of my job, a really important part of my job is to get people through that experience in a way that is healing as opposed to damaging because there’s such a power in balance in a photographer/client relationship. If I think your body isn’t good enough, or if I think that you’re ugly, or if I think that you have flaws that need to be covered up or concealed, you’re going to get that from me.
So, I had to do so much inner work on my own body acceptance and my acceptance of other bodies before I was even able to do this in a way that’s healing. If I look at you and I go, “Oh, let’s cover up those problem areas,” what you’re going to come away with is I have problem areas, and this professional photographer who’s supposed to be body positive and fat-accepting thinks I have problem areas, how much would that suck?
Chrystal: Really bad… another year of therapy, Lindley.
Lindley Ashline: I don’t want you to go to therapy because of me—unless I’ve given you something to think about in a good way. But I don’t want to be the topic of your next therapy appointment.
So, we do a lot of informal coaching as we go through. I talk a lot about clients with boundaries. Again, my job is to facilitate this and to get beautiful photos that you are going to, hopefully, love, or at least be able to use to see yourself.
Some folks come in and they’re like, “I’m fat and I’m proud and I’m ready. Let’s do this.” And some people come in and they’re really scared. And they’re like, “I want to do this. I want to learn to see myself as my body currently exists. But I’m really scared of it.” And so, my job is to hold that no matter what stage you’re in and to encourage that.
But we talk a lot about boundaries because you always get to say no. As a client, when there’s a camera pointed at you, it’s really easy to feel like you don’t have any power. But the most important thing is for you to understand that you do have the power. At any point, you can say no. You can say stop. You can say, “This is too awkward. I’m not enjoying this.” If you’re not having fun, and you’re not relaxed, even if you’re in an awkward position, if you’re fun and relaxed, that will show in the photo.
Chrystal: It shows, yes.
Lindley Ashline: If you’re like, “I feel awkward. I feel like I’m being deliberately put in an awkward position,” that discomfort is going to come out. If you’re in pain, that’s going to come out.
I’ve had clients who come in and they set a boundary. They say, “I cannot stand for longer than 60 seconds.” Perfect! You set that boundary and now I know. And now, I’ve got a plan for that. If you cannot stand at all, I’ve got a plan for that. If you can’t be on your back or can’t be on your knees—that’s really, really, really common—or you’re not ready to see your belly, we’ll work with that.
And if you need a bathroom break, if you’re tired at being looked at, and you need to just not be looked at for five minutes, or you’re hungry or tired or whatever, overwhelmed… that’s the first thing we talk about. You get to set that boundary. You’re not going to upset me. You’re not going to run your session. You’re not going to hurt my feelings because my job is to hold that and to respect that.
And so, most people find that once they get comfortable, that they don’t need to set those boundaries. But being able to I feel like is the most important thing that makes it a good experience.
Chrystal: And the permission to do it.
Lindley Ashline: Yes, and to know that you’re not going to offend me or hurt my feelings.
Chrystal: Yeah, sure. When you do the boudoir photography, where do you normally do it?
Lindley Ashline: My home is also my studio. I have the privilege of having a nice, big house with multiple rooms that I can adjust as needed. I’ve got a beautiful, big garden tub. And I have a somewhat private garden outside that we do some boudoir in. And I have a guest room that is specifically decorated for that.
Usually, I will do boudoir photography on location—out in the forest. There’s this amazing abandoned house outside of Portland, Oregon that I’m really dying to do. You walk in and the ground is forest floor, and then it’s stone walls. It’s not like creepy, abandoned houses, like beautiful moss-covered stone walls. I’m dying to do a boudoir session there. So it just depends on the client.
Chrystal: Sure. When you and Ragen were together that day, it seems like you guys were together for a long time. Did you have many hours of time to photograph her?
Lindley Ashline: Yes. We spent the day together. I do offer a session like that where we have a location, like a general area that we meet in. And then, we can go to multiple locations. Yes, so it is a full day. It’s a pretty intense experience. And we’re both very, very tired at the end. But in that experience, I feed you, I arrange everything—transportation, hair and make-up if you choose to go that direction all taken care of. So it’s just a really cool, fun day with me.
But yes, Ragen and I went to I think three to five locations. Yes, because there was the park, there was the abandoned house, and then we went somewhere else too.
Chrystal: And so did you guys get to just like connect and break bread and chit chat and talk about life in general?
Lindley Ashline: Yeah, it was really cool. At the time, Ragen was getting ready to move. And so we’ve got to talking. And I got to fangirl. At the time—and again, this was a couple of years ago. At the time, I was just starting to experience real trolling myself. I got some really hateful things aimed in my direction. And I was able to be like—I know you’ve written publicly about this as well. If you look for Ragen’s name and trolls—and I think it’s on Medium somewhere—if you Google for Ragen Chastain and trolls, it should come up. She’s written multiple pieces on how to deal with it, having that kind of hatred aimed your way.
Chrystal: Manage them, yes.
Lindley Ashline: I can’t think of anybody who has more aimed at her than Ragen. But I got a chance to sit down and be like, “So, real talk. How do you deal with this?” And Ragen was just so gracious about it.
Chrystal: She’s very generous, to my knowledge.
Lindley Ashline: It’s true!
Chrystal: That’s so cool. It sounds like a really fun day. Awesome!
Let’s go ahead and end this for now. Of course, I would love to do this again because I know we have lots of topics we can talk about. And I do want to cover some things about strategies for dealing with doctor’s offices and strategies for flying while fat and all those kinds of things. So I’d love to get you involved in some of those as well
But before we end, remind everybody of your website. Do you have any advice that you would give to a person that’s just starting to learn about fat liberation? Is there a way to get someone further along in their journey? Can you think of anything that helped you in your life to stop caring what other people think? What was it for you?
Lindley Ashline: I feel like I need another 45 minutes.
Chrystal: Yes, I know. It’s a big one.
Lindley Ashline: Well, first off, you can find me at BodyLiberationPhotos.com or at BodyLiberationPhotography.com or BodyLiberationStock, or the BodyLoveShop.com. They will all get you right to my central presence.
At Instragram, Body Liberation with Lindley; Twitter, @LindleyAshline; in Facebook, Body Liberation with Lindley Ashline. That will all get you to me and everything links to everything else.
I think advise-wise, I was thinking the two most important things is that you have power as an individual even if you feel powerless in your daily life. If the only thing you manage to accomplish as far as body liberation or body acceptance or body positivity or fat acceptance, any of those things, if the only thing you ever accomplish is to take steps toward living your life unapologetically and being in your body unapologetically no matter what that body looks like and how it changes (because it will change over time), that’s huge. That’s activism. That is literally changing the world.
The more people who are able to do that, or to take steps toward doing that, even if you never reach where you feel like you really accept the body you’re in, that’s still huge. You’re changing the world. You are changing the world for your kids and for other people’s kids, for other generations. And that is a big deal.
And as far as not caring what other people think, I feel like there are a couple of aspects to that. I think there’s, “I don’t care what people think about my body,” and then there’s “I care about the consequences of other people caring about my body” if that makes sense.
I’m pretty comfort-based these days because it turns out that my aesthetic is comfy. So I pretty much live in hoodies and yoga pants these days because that’s what makes me happy. I put on my special kitty shirt—so I’m dolled up today, but generally, I’m in jammie pants and yoga pants and sweatshirts because that makes me happy. I’m not fussed about what the grocery store cashier thinks about that because I’m just not self-conscious about my body now that I’m more accepting of it.
But at the same time, when I go to the doctor in my body, there are consequences to living in this body that are not my fault, and they shouldn’t be my problem, but they become my problem because what the doctor sees is a fat body as opposed to a human being who needs equal healthcare and equal treatments.
And so, I care very much. And part of my activism, I care very much about the consequences that fat people live with due to our culture and the way our culture looks at fat bodies because then we internalize that, and then we feel about bad about our bodies. So it’s all connected.
I feel like it’s okay to acknowledge that no matter how good I feel about my body, I can’t make other people be okay with my body. And that’s okay because I can only control what I can control.
Chrystal: Yes, exactly. There’s so much power that comes when you stop worrying about what other people think. But like you’re saying, there are still consequences of how other people judge us especially if they’re in a position of power. And that’s where I get very enraged as well because people get upset, “I can’t sit in the airplane seat, so I just don’t fly anywhere because I’m so fat.” No, it’s not because you’re so fat. It’s because they’re greedy, and they made the seats so tiny because they want to cram as many people as they could. But we all take it on, “Oh, it’s because I’m fat. So I’m just not going to travel anymore.”
I’m trying to adjust that way of thinking like, “No, it’s not your fault. It’s their fault. They’re the ones that created these seats to make it…”
And by the way, Southwest Airlines makes billions of dollars of profit per quarter. They would give you a free seat or an extra seat for you, and they still make a billion dollars a quarter. So if they can do it, all airlines can do it. It’s not your fault.
That’s the thing that you were saying. We take that on. We think it’s our fault. It’s not. It’s not our fault that they put the stupid chairs with the arms on the sides. In your doctor’s office, you can’t fit in them. So you don’t go anymore because you’re embarrassed to just ask for another chair. That’s not our fault. That’s them.
Lindley Ashline: Exactly! This is where I start getting really passionate.
Chrystal: Me too.
Lindley Ashline: Because somebody made the decision to make those chairs narrow, somebody designed that. All through that supply chain, somebody designed that without taking into account the 40% of people in the U.S. who are fat. Somebody approved that design. Somebody manufactured that design. And somebody bought that design and installed it. That’s just one example.
Our bodies are never wrong. Our bodies are never bad. The fact that they’re not accommodated is not a reflection on your worth.
Chrystal: That’s them. That’s on them.
Lindley Ashline: So, if you come away with one thing today, that’s what I want you to come away with.
Chrystal: Me too. Thank you so much, Lindley. It was such a pleasure to talk with you. I really appreciate all of your activism. And I just love all of your photos. And I just love yours and Ragen’s day together because it turned into some really awesome photos. I think they’re just so beautiful. I love the work that you do, so thank you.
Lindley Ashline: Yes, and if you go to BodyLiberationPhotos.com, I believe I do have a blog post up with those photos of Ragen.
Lindley Ashline: So, you can go see what we’re talking about. Thanks, Chyrstal.
Chrystal: Let’s do this again soon, okay?
Lindley Ashline: Yes, sounds great. Thank you.
Chrystal: Thanks, Lindley. Have a good one. Bye!
Lindley Ashline: Thank you. Bye.