Reclaiming Body Positivity with Jade Eloise | Episode 29
Abandoning the body hierarchy and embracing body neutrality
Today we're joined by Jade Eloise. Jade self identifies as a fat Black, queer, artist, writer, and spiritual healer. Jade breaks down for us in this episode what body positivity truly means, what its roots are. Jade is a mental health and self-love advocate, but in this episode, breaks down the distinction between self-love and body positivity in its truest form.
This episode we explore:
The true definition of body positivity
Separating our worth from productivity
Intersections of identity and creative freedom
Pushing back against social programing/conditioning
Dalia: Hello and welcome to another episode of Body Liberation for All. I'm your host and decolonized wellness and body image coach Dalia Kinsey. I help queer folks of color heal their struggles with shame and self-acceptance through nutrition and self-care so they can live the most fierce, liberated, and joyful version of their lives.
Today we're joined by Jade Eloise Jade self identifies as a fat Black, queer, artist, writer, and spiritual healer. A bunch of my favorite things there back-to-back. So, this is a fabulous conversation, Jade breaks down for us in this episode what body positivity truly means, what its roots are. Jade is a mental health and self-love advocate, but in this episode, breaks down the distinction between self-love and body positivity in its truest form. This was a really informative interview when it was originally recorded and listening to it again.
So that I could transcribe it before it posted it here on sub stack. I got so much more out of some of these observations Jade shared about entrepreneurship.
I've been learning so much about myself in terms of what a affirming business space looks like for me and what type of marketing feels authentic and genuine and natural for me as I continue to promote Decolonizing Wellness, I have had such a time reckoning with the difference between what success is in terms of what I wanted from this project- which is to share, to use it as another tool, to reduce the suffering of all kinds of folks with marginalized identities that have a difficult relationship with their bodies because of the systems that we've been raised in but then also having a lot of residual hang-ups from how I was taught to measure success as a child in the public school system, in the United States and in general as a working class person. So. It has definitely uncovered a lot of areas for more growth. And while I've accepted that growth as an ongoing thing, it's even something that I discussed in the book that it's really crucial for us to get comfortable with that fact that there is no finish line in order for revolutionary change to really have a chance to take hold in our lives.
But still I've been finding this particular experience to be a real catalyst for growth sometimes in an uncomfortable way but listening back to Jade's take on what it really looks like to do something creative or entrepreneurial was really helpful for me. So, I hope you enjoy this episode as well.
If you love it, please be sure to share it with other people. Now that the podcast is on the Substack it's so easy to forward this episode to others. Alright, let's get right into it.
Body Liberation for All Theme
Yeah. They might try to put you in a box, tell them that you don't accept when the world is tripping out tell them that you love yourself. Hey, Hey, smile on them live your life just like you like it is.
It’s your party negativity is not invited. For my queer folks, for my trans, people of color, let your voice be heard. Look in the mirror and say that it's time to put me first. You born to win. Head up high with confidence. This show is for everyone. So I thank you for tuning in. Let's go.
Dalia: Hello. Thank you so much for taking out the time to come on the show.
Jade: Thank you for having me. I'm so happy to be here.
Dalia: When we did the livestream, I had nothing but positive feedback and there was just so much more that we could get into. But, you know, I didn't want us to make like a massive four-hour recording.
So, I'm so grateful that you're able to come back again. So, we could talk about a couple of other areas. So, we already know that you're a gifted artist and that you are really leading the way and helping us reclaim body positivity. Can you give us a little bit of a rundown of where body positivity started?
Then what happened to it? Like how it got hijacked and what you're working on now?
Jade: Yeah. So, I think the general kind of misconception about body positivity is that it is synonymous with self-love. It's all about reclaiming your body image for yourself and learning to love yourself. And obviously self-love is so, so important.
I'm a huge advocate for self-love. And I know how it affects your wellbeing. Actually, learn to love yourself. But body positivity is not in fact similar sort self-love. What if acidity is born from fat liberation movements which started to kind of back in the 20th century mid to late and it was mostly led by Black fat women and fat women in general as well, just leading the way in actually reclaiming their bodies.
And just making the world know that they were tired of not having their needs as fat woman looked after of you know, medical discrimination, stopping them from getting the care that they needed of constantly being told that their bodies were wrong and needed fixing And, you know, moving into kind of the early 2000s, and then obviously the rise of social media platforms and Instagram in particular, that sort of led to this movement of Black fat women and fat women and femmes and people who lived in marginalized bodies actually saying, do you know what, we want to show people what our lives are like, that we're proud to live in our fat bodies and that we're reclaiming them for ourselves. So, then body positivity was then born into this community of people online just saying we're here. We deserve to be here. And look at us just living our best lives in our bodies exactly as they are.
Which was beautiful for the time that it lasted. But with a lot of big movements, it always comes to the point where capitalism sweeps in, and corporations always try to find ways to make money out of movements. And I think, you know, that was the start of the decline of body positivity where of course, you know, we want fat people to get the bag and, you know, making their money from their movements.
And that was great at the start, but actually as it started to being capitalized on, it also started being co-opted. And that was when we started to see the body positivity that we have today, where if you search body positivity online, you're mostly see slim white able-bodied women claiming self-love and claiming body positivity without knowing what body positivity really means.
Dalia: That just makes so much sense. And it brings up a really big question. When it comes to people who are trying to do work, you're part of a movement. It affects you. It affects a population you belong to, but as we all know anybody who's trying to affect change in the world around them it can be very time-consuming.
So, for it to be sustainable, it's really helpful if you're also able to earn an income working in that area. But how do you strike that balance of the need to survive, the fact that we all deserve to be able to take care of ourselves and live somewhat comfortably, and the desire to stop capitalism from completely running our lives.
Someone made a point to me online recently that they personally didn't believe that there's any way to ethically make money because you're participating in a really broken system. But I also thought that was very convenient for them to say, because they have access to generational wealth. So, they technically can opt out of actively trying to support themselves.
And so, it's like, okay. So where does that leave the rest of us who also know what it's like to live with intergenerational poverty and knowing that that is not it. Like that is not where we want to be.
And you're also so limited as far as how much energy you can put into effecting larger change when you don't know where your next meal is coming from or how to keep a roof over your head from one week to the next.
Jade: Yeah, I think, you know, that is a lot of problem for a lot of activists and advocates in all sorts of movements. There is no one right answer. Honestly, everyone is just doing their best to stand by their beliefs and their morals and the goals that they have. Whilst also caring for their own needs and the needs of their family.
I think for me, I've realized that when I first started within self-love and then into body positivity movements. I was in that mindset of, you know, any opportunity that comes my way. I just want to grab it because I'm helping to perpetuate the message that I want to get out there whilst also looking after my financial needs.
But then actually there's a beautiful woman on social media @michellehopewell over the last year. She's really inspired me to be looking at, actually am I questioning the companies and the people that I want to work with and looking into what are their morals, what are their ethics? Are they standing by the communities they claim to be standing by what are the motivations behind the campaigns and the things that they want to be running?
And actually, realizing that I'm empowered to question that and by questioning that and by looking into in great depth the people that I want to work with, I can be selective about the work that I take on. And actually, you know, choose to work with communities and seek out communities that I want to work with.
But of course, again, I understand that there's a huge amount of privilege within that, to be able to pick and choose who you work with. I would say to people, if you have that ability to actually turn down work, when it comes up if you feel like that there's some ethical issues surrounding that, then that is a choice you might consider it.
But at the end of the day, it's all about you as an individual and what you're doing for the communities that you're trying to work for. So as long as you're standing by the morals and as long as you're conveying those within your work. I think that's the most you can do.
Dalia: I think that answer's really helpful. And the nuance there, that's one of the biggest differences between kind of a white supremacy culture, very misogynistic or patriarchal way of viewing everything is that under that system, there's a definitive right, a definitive best. And then everything else is trash, right?
When in reality, everything is more nuanced than that. And all of our lived experiences are so distinct. We need to give ourselves room to make individualized decisions and understand that maybe the right answer for you will shift and change over time as you have changes in other areas of your life, maybe with income, maybe with having better support, having better options.
And that's okay too. It doesn't really serve us to beat ourselves up for trying to do good things worrying, am I doing good things the absolute perfect way, the right way?
There is no absolute perfect or right way to do much of anything. So, yeah, I think that's a really helpful answer is to understand that there is no one answer.
Jade: Yeah, I think we've lost this understanding and you know, honoring the gray area in a lot of topics there is everything isn't always yes or no, black or white, it isn't always, you know, there was a correct answer and there's a wrong answer in reality that everything in life, it's a spectrum. And, you know, we can only do our best to seek out the right answer for us.
We can only do our best to stand by our communities. You know, and also, you know, the whole idea of cancel culture and, you know, you did one thing wrong and now you instantly have to be ashamed of yourself and there is no redeeming yourself from it. We're always learning. We're always growing. And I think so long as we're always striving to do our best, and it's almost, we're always willing to listen and learn and always do better than that is the best that we can do.
Dalia: Yeah. And I think it's really helpful when, when your goal is to communicate with someone or to try to do something collaborative with someone and, you know, you'll have to deal with them on an ongoing basis. So, let's say. You know, it's a coworker or it's a family member or someone that, you know, you can't just cancel them and keep it moving.
We really want to call people in and give people room to make mistakes and be imperfect. And at the same time, I'm all about the accountability, like you said with companies and individuals reaching out to you, being able to look and see, do you really seem sincere based on your previous behavior? And even then you're looking at a pattern of behavior, not necessarily cutting off opportunities or people based on one thing, but just the same, you know, if it feels like a hard no for you and a boundary, and it's not like this person or entity or organization has to be in your life, you know, you can dismiss them and make more room for other folks. So again, it's like, both its yes and instead of just one or the other, which is really interesting to me, I saw some, well, you're always seeing so much pushback and back and forth about the concept of cancel culture and some people really just wanting to never be held accountable for anything.
But at the same time also seeing some people going over the top and asking people who are being preyed upon by a system to be held responsible for responding to the system. So again, so much more nuanced and complicated than what most people want to deal with.
Jade: absolutely. I think things like that, they always have their place, you know, we do have to hold people accountable and people should want to be held accountable as well, because again, If you're striving to be better and do better in everything you do, you cannot expect to be above reproach and actually, you know, be told what you're doing in this situation isn't okay where you can do better. If you're not open to that I would question why I would question why, and are you really aware of the privilege that you hold in these situations? You know, so it, I definitely think that it does have this place It's again, it's, it's just nuances. It's about understanding that everything is not yes or no. It's like you say yes, and.
Dalia: Yeah. Speaking of everything not being yes or no. Before the call started, we were talking about the beauty and the challenges of trying to be self-sufficient in your business, living off of your talents or your gifts and it always being put out there at least to millennials and gen Z as the ultimate dream, because, you know, later in the gen X era, people were starting to have the freedom and the time to even think about, maybe my work should light me up.
Maybe my work should be an extension of my life's purpose. Right. And then we lead even harder into that. And we're like, if this job doesn't light me up, I got to get out of here. It's trash and I need to be self-employed and everything's going to be great once I'm self-employed. And then once we actually get into trying to live the dream. We realize it's really challenging as well. And yeah. Can you speak to a little bit of your journey with realizing number one, that your art could be used to support a bigger social movement? And even maybe before that realizing that art was going to be a big part of your life, what did that look like for you?
Jade: Oh, well, I never thought that art would be a big part of my life in terms of my personal wellbeing and my mental health it always has been because it's always been an escape for me and a way to express myself. I mean, even when I was a child I did art therapy for a time just to help me cope with the feelings and emotions I didn't necessarily understand always been quite artistic as opposed to a more logical person so in that respect, it has always been important to me, but in terms of my financial security, I never felt that art would play a part in that because it was kind of drilled into me that that was impossible.
In terms of schooling and things like that, you know, it was always look for the logical career options. You know, the types of careers that people are expected to go for rather than the creative type, you know, that sort of wishy-washy career, as people seem to think it is, especially here in the UK. So, you know, I didn't think that I'd be able to do art as a career and actually it was only when I think about a year and a half ago, I started to get back into my art. And at the time I was teaching myself, I didn't have to be a perfectionist and that I could love my art for what it is rather than trying to make it something that it just wasn't. And I just had a real sense of fulfillment from just allowing myself to express myself through my art.
And you know, I had people express that they actually really appreciated my art for what it was, and that was really affirming for me. Okay, well, maybe there might be more people out there who might be interested in what I do. And so, as a creative expression medium body positivity obviously is incredibly important to me.
So, it just felt natural to incorporate the two. In fact, I didn't even realize I was doing it until people were saying to me, wow, you know, I haven't seen fat bodies and Black bodies depicted in this way before, or at least not as much as we should be seeing it. And I was like, wow, I didn't even realize I was doing it.
Dalia: Oh, that is so, so cool. That's definitely not the answer I expected, but then when you make the point that, of course everyone had told you, like artists starve, I don't know why that didn't occur to me because I keep seeing people make it work. Maybe like over the last 10 years, I almost forgot that that's what we were all told.
I wanted to be a writer since elementary school, even though I grew up in an incredibly racist public school system, even in that environment, teachers kept telling me, oh, I feel like, you know, she's going to be a writer, but all of the adults in my life are like, ha ha. Why? Because you want to starve like that doesn't even make sense.
Don't listen to them. They're just blowing smoke. Don't pay attention to that and it's taken almost. 30 years to come back around to what I wanted to do in the first place, which is very, very strange. So, kudos to you for coming back so quickly before you got like deep, deep, deep, into a career that maybe didn't light you up as much.
The way it's usually depicted in movies and in books is that artists have a tortured relationship with their art. And since you were using art as a self-expression and self-soothing tool, have you had any stickiness around your relationship with your art?
Jade: I think in terms of art was always really personal for me.
So, I'm trying to make it into a career and make it productive. Oh, I hate productivity. I hate it with a passion. So, you know, when it sort of felt like I had to do things on a schedule and I had to jump. Create create, create and create for other people rather than creating for myself. I had a moment of do I even want to do this anymore?
But actually, I tried to pull myself back out of that again, and I'm not creating to a schedule. My Etsy store I had planned to update it every two months. It has been three. I still have not updated it because, you know, I haven't created what I want to create yet. And I'm just leaving space for myself to create as I want to.
And not as I feel like I should, or I have to because I always find that the art that I create on a whim is art that other people appreciate the most. And the art that I love the most. So. I'm sort of sticking to that, but of course, in terms of actually being financially sustainable, that's, you know, not quite as sustainable as I would like it to be, but, you know, again, that's what we were talking about before people don't talk about those elements of creative careers in terms of, you know, living the dream, you know, if you're self-employed, then you're living the dream, but actually in reality it is very stressful and very unpredictable.
And there's parts of that I absolutely love, but there's parts of it that keeps you up at night, completely stressed out of my mind. So, you know, there's two elements to it.
Dalia: Yeah. I can understand now why some people, they have their passions, but they know for a fact that they want to work for someone else.
They know that they want to be able to demand their paycheck when its due regardless of what has changed in the world around them, right? Like you don't get to decide whether or not you pay your employees. They know that check is coming on a schedule. And when you're self-employed, you know, there's just so many different things that can affect what your income is going to be like from one month to the next.
When I was a kid, my parents always it's, it's funny because. It seems like, no matter what your parents tell you, you're probably going to be skeptical about it. Like, so you hear like some kids who are raised by very creative parents who always lived off of their own talents, pushing their kids to do the same.
And they're like, I don't know about that. And then they decide I want to go work for the man and then vice versa. But my dad had a really stable job, but it was for fairly large organization. And so when they went through a period of deciding to tighten their belts and get rid of people who had more experience, so they could pay younger people half as much to do the same thing, he ended up deciding to go his own way, took his severance package and decided self-employment was a better fit for how he and my mom wanted to live.
And they've always tried to stress us that the security you feel when you're waiting on that one check from your company is an illusion, like we've seen living through this global pandemic. Checks that seemed really, really dependable evaporated into thin air. And in theory, when you work for yourself and you have multiple clients or multiple contracts, you lose one, but you're not down to zero income, but at the same time, it just is a lot of mental work to accept that instability and flexibility are normal and have to be part of our lives as adults if we ever want to have any sense of peace around our income. It's such a struggle because when you do work for someone else and you get that check at the same time every month, you completely buy into the illusion that you have security.
Jade: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I just, I think there is no one right answer when it comes to either working for yourself, working with someone else or finding that balance between the two. I think for me having a bit of both works really well because the stresses I get from one or alleviated by the other and vice versa.
So, I worked part-time for someone else and I worked part-time for myself. And I always know, as far as I'm aware that I'm getting my monthly to check from working for someone else, but I always have my business to fall back on should that something ever go wrong with that role. And you know, when it comes to creating, it does give me more creative license.
Because it means that I'm not relying on my income from my own business, you know, to get me through the month. And I think we have this sort of expectation on people when they are self-employed that, you know, you have to focus, you always see those things, you know, those like motivational quotes and things online when they're like, you know, you have to dedicate your whole time, like stop splitting your focus, just focus on the thing that you want.
Go out there, grab it, manifest it, all these other things. And you know, it's like, that's great. I love that mentality, but is it realistic? Because I know the stresses that my business brings me and, you know, If I focused on it full time, I don't know if I could deal with that overwhelming stress of not knowing if I was financially, financially secure.
So, I think you have to have a little bit of understanding for people, regardless of what a job is, regardless if they're working for someone else or work for themselves, it's great to have dreams and hopes and motivations, but I think realism also does play a part. And you know, not just expecting people to give up security for the sake of creative freedom, I think it is no, it's just.
You can't, it's not sustainable and it's a lovely dream, but I just don't know if we can always obtain it straight away. But we can take those steps to obtaining it further in the future.
Dalia: Yeah, I think that's one of the biggest gaps is that it's presented as something that we can make happen in a really narrow window of time when I think in reality it's normal for a business to be in the red and the negative for maybe the first three years. Like that used to be an understanding that that's normal, but because the internet supports the illusions that are like, zeitgeist we think that people wake up one day and realize, you know, that the hustle culture is where it's at and the magically by the end of the week, they're making millions of dollars.
And I don't think that's really a thing. And it really makes sense to me, especially for people who hold identities that are being marginalized in that environment, that they're living in to understand that if you are under a lot of stress or pressure, that may be additional stress from having to work through fears around security and stability is going to be a major obstacle for you. That may be the person who wrote that post about like staying focused and manifesting your dreams. Maybe they didn't have those other factors. And that statement made perfect sense to them and their life. And you even think about how will people regard you if you're in a large body and you have brown skin and you are an artist and you're living off of that art and things, don't go quite as planned and you go to get support from some social system or safety net that exists in your country, how will you be perceived versus someone doing exactly the same thing as you and a smaller body with white skin? You know, even the reluctance to be in a position where you might need help is influenced by our identities.
Jade: really is. I mean, you know, up until.
Literally this month I was on benefits. I was on called universal credit. And you know, in a lot of ways, if I wasn't on benefits, I wouldn't be able to start my business because they actually helped me to get the initial funding to do that. But that was a source of shame or embarrassment for me because I'm very much hyper aware of how people might perceive me because of my body. And I didn't want to live up to that fat, lazy stereotype of, oh, you'd rather just live on benefits rather than working hard. I think for me, because I, I am disabled. I have chronic illnesses. And also, I am, you know, I have a creative mindset, you know, I'm, I'm not someone who can be hyper-focused on manual activities my brain just doesn't work that way.
And, you know, people might think that's an excuse, but really that is just how my brain works and how my body works. We're all different in those ways. So, for me, you know, working for myself has provided me with the opportunity of working in a way that suits me and looks at myself. No, I'm not interested in hustle.
And I think people would be horrified, but you know, oh, you don't want to work hard. You just want to be lazy, whatever. And again, I feel that stereotype, especially living in a larger body and especially with being disabled as well, because again, I know within the working classes in the UK, there is this idea of if you're on any sort of disability benefit that you're just trying to scam the government out of money.
So, there's all these stereotypes around different body types. Hustling doesn't interest me. I think we have this very odd colonialist mindset that you have to work yourself into the ground, but you have to work until you, you, your health has just deteriorated and only then are you benefiting society only then are you worthwhile.
My wellbeing matters to me. I'm not interested in stressing myself out in making myself ill. So yeah, I want to work hard, but my perception of what working hard is not someone else's perception. And I think when it comes to things like being self-employed, there's this idea again, that if you're not working 60, 80 a hundred-hour weeks that you're not working hard enough. So, your failures are caused by you. It's no, that's all I can say to that. No, because we have to look after ourselves. You know, we're not just here to be placed on this earth to work. And then for that to be it, we have to live. We have to look after ourselves.
We have to find purpose in whatever way it works for us. So, hustle is great if someone's, if someone loves hustling absolutely go for it. Do that thing. For me, I want to look after myself. I want to enjoy whatever it is that I do in all capacities. And often that just means slowing down.
Dalia: Yeah. Oh, that's such a, that is a whole word like that is such a crucial message.
And what's so funny is when you really look at how people perform at their peak, following your body signals and knowing when to slow down and knowing when you're just not feeling it, you know, you sit down to write something, you sit down to record something, and your energy is not there. If you make yourself sit there for eight hours, it doesn't get any better.
Sometimes what you need to do to get the best product is to leave. Stop what you're doing. Go do something different. Do something that activates a different part of your consciousness. Relax. Sometimes you find, when you sit down to do something that you thought you'd been putting off, you'd actually been ruminating on it in a positive way, in the back of your mind all week.
And then when you sat down all the information you have been kind of letting simmer comes back to the surface. So sometimes even, or concepts of what is working, it doesn't fit the reality of the situation. You don't have to be working in a way that someone walking by would be able to validate, you know, if you have your own creative process and you honor that and you're willing to respect yourself enough to tailor your life to what works for you. Then your productivity may actually surprise you like how much better your productivity is when you respect your body.
Jade: Yeah. And I also think it's really important to have a really strong sense of self and to work on understanding of self, because a lot of people, again, will look at you and tell you things about yourself.
You know, you're not working hard enough, you're not working in the right way, but if you understand yourself, you can acknowledge those times when you are actually, you know, being productive without being physically productive.
And also knowing the ways that you work might be different to other people and that those ways are completely valid. So, you know, a lot of things, when I was younger things that people would say, speak of me, quite negative things about the way I worked. But for instance saying that I'm, you know, flaky or I don't commit to certain projects and I felt that for a long time and I am still working through those feelings now, but what I recognize now is those things that might make someone consider me to be flaky or to not commit are also the things that on new projects get me to absolutely push through and bring ideas together and pull them into something and, you know, birth them into the world in a way that I wouldn't have been able to perceive if I didn't have those qualities, they allow me to multitask.
They gave me the energy and the drive. You know, when I have short deadlines, I am never more committed when I have a short deadline, because that's how my mindset works. So, we all work in different ways and all those ways are completely valid. And actually, when it comes to then collaborating on projects, you know, you get to work with people who have work in different ways to you and you all compliment each other.
So just because you don't work in the same way that someone else does doesn't mean that you're not valid, actually it makes you an amazing team member and an amazing contributor once you know what those qualities are and how to make them work for you for the better.
Dalia: That's the key is knowing what those qualities are.
And I appreciate that you acknowledge that maybe you've been trained to devalue working style or your creativity, maybe that is not just something you're going to be able to wake up and say, oh, now I know that this is valid. Maybe it will be a process. Maybe you'll really have to push to work through it.
And with some of the obstacles, we have mindset obstacles from childhood. This may be something we're always working through. You know, you kind of go in cycles, you go through phases where you understand your worthiness and then something rocks you and you take a couple steps back and then a couple of steps forward.
That's natural too. Thinking we're going to magically erase everything that conditioning has done to us up until now isn't really realistic. And I think that also ties back into how there's no nuance in a lot of the bod pos things we see out there that you're going to erase all of your conditioning and love yourself completely every single day and want all these pictures of yourself from strange angles and want to share them with the world. Like that’s just, just not the reality for most people. It may not even be the reality for the people posting those photos and some people. And I don't say this to be a hater, but some people aren't even posting images that they haven't tampered with.
So that's something to consider too, just because someone puts out an image and they use all the right hashtags and it looks like, oh, they're revealing something that it's brave of them to show like that one roll. That doesn't mean there was no airbrushing in other areas. Everything could be an illusion, right.
And whatever that person is comfortable with, that's fine. But at the same time, if we internalize that I have to be at this point where I've just going to take pictures from all these angles and post them and feel great about it not understanding that that person curated that image too, that puts you in a really tough spot.
And you will end up being too hard on yourself as you try and work toward greater self-acceptance.
Jade: Yeah. And you know, like in terms of social media it’s a highlight reel, regardless of the types of content that people are posting, you know, whether it be body positivity and all the different forms of what people perceive as body positivity.
People are posting the highlights of their journey with their bodies and with the, you know, overcoming conditioning they don't share those moments when they've actually, you know, reverted to an old mindset, or they're still trying to overcome old patterns because it doesn't fit into the image of ourselves that we've curated online. And actually, this idea that we overcome conditioning, but we're still living in that conditioning. It is constantly being forced at us all the time. So, I think there's no way to overcome the conditioning all we're doing is constantly pushing back against it and finding ways to rewrite the narrative for ourselves and for others in particular within body positivity.
And I think, again, that's another mistake that people make in this comparison to body positivity and self-love because if I was gonna compare body positivity to anything, which I don't like to do, but if I was going to, it would be body neutrality.
Body positivity is the understanding that all bodies are equal and deserve to be treated equitably within our society.
There is no good or bad within body positivity. It's not about creating a beauty ideal, in which all bodies are accepted. What it's actually about is removing the body ideal understanding that we shouldn't be hierarchically categorizing bodies. Bodies are just bodies. You know, they don't define us, and we can't put moral value on them.
And I think body neutrality is far more important in that sense than self-love because it's understanding that you don't have to look at yourself every morning and go, oh my God, I love myself. Let me take a selfie immediately from all these different angles. It's not actually saying I am neither here nor there about my body, because I'm know that I'm more than my body.
I am most important. And people might perceive things about me because of my body but as long as I understand how I perceive my body is enough, that is what matters. And as long as I am carving out space, for my body to be seen and heard and valued for exactly what it is and as long as I'm searching for equal treatment within any space that I take up, that is what's important.
So, I think, you know, even if we take away the fact that body positivity has been co-opted, the fact that it's being compared to self-love again, is really problematic in that sense of making people feel like they have to love themselves in order to be body positive. Cause they don't.
Dalia: That's such a helpful reframe and that makes so much more sense with the reality of our lives and the fact that we're still in environments that are hostile to our bodies. So pushing back is the goal like, and that is as far as it's probably going to get for a while and seeing the ways in which corporations and other people want to use our sense of self to commodify us is really helpful when it comes to understanding that it's most important that we have a strong relationship with our sense of self and knowing that we are more than our body and more than these individual things that marketers want us to focus on correcting and taking your body back and really living in it on your own terms. It's a vehicle for you to do all the things that you're on this planet to do it isn't a self-improvement project to spend all your days on.
Jade: Absolutely. Yeah. I, I know that's a concept that when I'm talking to people about body positivity, I often try to get them to understand that your body is a vessel. It is a vehicle for navigating with the world, for communicating with the world.
It is not the be-all and end-all of who and what you are. We place so much worth on aesthetics of a body when the ascetics of the body are the least important, part of all the functions that it has for us. And sure, I think that's a deeper conversation that doesn't really go into body positivity, but in terms of understanding self-worth and having a strong sense of self, it is a really important concept to grasp.
Because on days when I am not happy with my body because I understand that it doesn't fit into these Eurocentric beauty ideas that we have and that, you know, for the rest of my life, I have to deal with the fact that maybe we'll never get to a point within society in my lifetime where my body is accepted. But what I can do for myself is understand that regardless of what society is telling me about my body and about my worth because of my body, I can push back against that because I understand deeper than that, that the conditioning that we are facing does not define us.
Dalia: Yeah, that's extremely helpful when it comes to work. In online spaces, knowing that it's a highlight reel and also knowing that people are in different stages of their journey toward understanding the things that you're teaching about, how do you navigate creating boundaries and creating safer spaces for the people in your community?
Jade: I think the first thing is that I don't engage in any kind of troll like behavior. I used to, I used to feel like because of the privilege that my body holds in certain senses I want it to have the capacity to be able to speak for those who might not be able to have the resources and tools to speak for themselves in these situations and actually try and reeducate people wherever possible in whatever way they were coming at me.
So, when I used to have people comment on the things that I was doing online or engaged with members of my community, under my posts, I would always try and reeducate and engage in conversation. But I realized that there are people who don't want to engage in these conversations they're either so wrapped up in the conditioning that they've faced, that their self-hatred is pouring outwards onto other people or, they really do have a deep disdain for my communities. That's, that's none of my business, you know, if, if that is how they want to present themselves to the world, I don't need to engage with that. So, I've set a really strong boundary in that sense of actually saying it's not my responsibility to engage with that person.
So, I don't at all. I block any comments that come up, which are clearly antagonistic. And I focus my energy on engaging with the people who want to be there and who are searching for better for themselves. And it's also not just to protect me, but it's to protect anyone who comes onto my page because they don't need to be subject to the nasty, cruel comments that people feel the need to express.
So that's sort of a hard boundary that I have recently had set in the last year, kind of a firm for myself that that's not my business to be doing that. And then in terms of, you know, sometimes I don't have the tools and resources to help people through something because I'm working for it myself.
And often you'll find in community spaces that you're always triggering things for each other areas of your life that need healing, which is wonderful and it's really important for continued self-growth and self-development. But also, you have the hold space to yourself first. So, in those instances, I'll often say to people, I really appreciate you coming to me with this.
Unfortunately, I can't help you with this right now, but you know, please continue to be in this space and it's not because I don't want to be there for you in this moment. It's just that I don't have the resources myself to do that.
Dalia: That's really helpful knowing that you have to hold space for yourself first and knowing that that is the nature of community, is that we continually hold up mirrors to other people and trigger growth in them, and sometimes it doesn't feel great. So that can make being in community a challenge, but it really is a place where so much healing happens, but where I've seen it go kind of off the rails is where you don't have someone who's leading the conversation who can help guide the community with community agreements, community standards, like what we don't entertain here, what the space is not for.
I've seen a lot of people lately, especially who say they want to grow. And I believe they believe they want to grow, but they're going to all the wrong places, asking for people to guide them when there are so many people who have created resources meant for those folks who are on that one-on-one level stuff with their anti-racism, with their body liberation, with their fat liberation.
There are places dedicated to that. There are resources dedicated to that. And when you jump into a community where people have gotten beyond the concept of, oh, are these types of humans worthy of care and respect? That's not the place for you to show up asking, like, but are you sure though? Because I heard that bodies have to be this one way to be worthy of belonging and respect.
Jade: Yeah. And I think, you know, I would hope, expect, I guess, from any community members that show up in my space, that they have an understanding of that. And obviously that's not always the case. And depending on what's been going on for me and how many instances I've had of people maybe overstepping their boundaries in certain spaces.
I do have time to talk to people and just say, you know, maybe it's good for you to go away and do some research on this before you come back into this community space, because we've moved beyond this conversation. Sometimes I don't have the kind of emotional freedom and I don't have the emotional capacity to be able to have those conversations.
In which case I just step away from it. Because again, I, I created this space for myself first for my own self-healing first, and then it moved beyond that and it moved into advocacy, but I will never put my mental health into detriment because of dealing with other people. But again, that's not to say that people can't get things wrong sometimes, which is why I always try and give people the benefit of the doubt.
But, you know, if someone's continuing to show up into a space and they've been told multiple times, we're not having this conversation and they continue to have that conversation. Yeah, I just, you know, I have, I have a limit when it comes to that.
Dalia: That's a good model for the rest of us, that it is okay and crucial if you want to do advocacy work and if you want to lead community spaces to prioritize your own wellbeing. Because the work is not sustainable without that.
Jade: Yeah. And I would expect. Or hope for that for anyone sharing the body positivity space and the online space. I think we do have to be looking after our mental health, because it can become overwhelming.
We can expect too much from ourselves. We can expect perfection from ourselves. And I think when it gets to that point of expecting perfection from ourselves, I've seen instances where people start to create another false sense of identity where they don't even realize when they might be causing problems and being problematic within the communities that they are trying to be a voice of reason within.
So, checking back in with yourself and reconnecting with yourself and understanding, you know, maybe I don't have the right words, the right tools for this situation, because we're never going to be completely perfect, we're always learning. I don't know everything about body positivity because I wasn't around for its conception.
I've had to learn and research all the things that I know about it as a community member and grow with it over time. So, when there are instances where I don't know things, either I go out of my way to research it and bring back the information that I found or I just have to turn around and say, I don't know.
I really don't know. I need to do this work for myself before I can bring you into this space with me. And you do see instances of people in different communities, not just body positivity where that's not being done, because we trick ourselves into this thinking, we have to be perfect. And we have to know everything because this expectation has been placed upon us.
It's not, it's just not realistic. And I think reconnecting with yourself and holding space for yourself helps to prevent that as much as possible. And also, then being open to accountability and being open to being told, maybe you're wrong in this instance is also important for keeping our privilege in check and for making sure that we're doing the work that we want to be doing rather than what we think we're doing.
Dalia: Yes, do you have any practices that you can share that are good for restoring your sense of being grounded? Like after you've had a negative interaction with somebody online
Jade: For me, I, I have lots of little silly sort of practices that I do because I think they're so human that they sort of, they just make sense to me.
They might not make sense from people, but little things. Like whenever I pass a mirror, I always make sure to make a face at myself. And this seems like such an odd thing when I tell this to people. It takes away the seriousness of all connection mural reflection, because I don't think it's normal for us to see our reflection as much as we do.
It's not really. Ingrained within us to be staring at mirrors all the time or seeing pictures of ourselves all the time. So, whenever I see my reflection, I'll just pull a face or a smile at myself. Just little things like that, that creates a positive interaction with my reflection and grounds me within myself to be like, whatever stresses are going on, whatever kind of negative interactions that I've had that might make me feel negatively about my self-worth or about my body they're sort of irrelevant on the grand scheme of things. That one interaction does not define me, does not define my work. And so just doing little small things like that to connect with myself really make a big difference. And then as kind of a spiritual healer for me doing things like meditation and doing things like you can visualize body scans and connecting with your body and just feeling at home in your own skin.
Those sorts of things are really great for just feeling grounded within yourself. And also, being outside whenever possible, obviously is really helpful as well, just for connecting with the world on a wider scale, rather than focusing on the internet, because it is still a very small community, even though it seems like it connects us to everything, it can become a bit of an echo chamber.
So, stepping outside of that and back into the real world is definitely, really helpful as well.
Dalia: Yeah. Oh, that really resonates with the body scans. Do you guide people through those or is it, can you show us how to do that?
Jade: It's a little bit of a longer process that I'd be able to share with you right now.
But in terms of I was running meditation classes and it will be something that I'm doing again. But you can find body scans and guided meditation during a body scan online. Or if you just search on YouTube, there's lots of wonderful ones. When it comes to meditation, I think the voice is the most important.
So, finding a voice that resonates with you and that you feel comfortable and secure with, because it is mostly auditory led. So, you have to find one that works for you. Often people find one meditation, don't connect with it and then think they hate meditation. But in reality, it's just, they haven't connected with the right person.
So just keep searching for one that works for you or write your own, just focus on connecting with the body, the sensations that are around you. I like to imagine my energy coming together as a ball of light in my chest, and then that light moving to different areas of my body and just allowing myself to feel that, connecting with the ground, those sorts of things.
They just help to center you. And help you see your body as more than its aesthetics and actually understanding all the things that our body does for us on a day-to-day basis. And that's, you know, as someone with chronic illnesses, it can be difficult to appreciate your body when you feel like it's almost working against you.
But those little moments of connecting back with myself really helped me to have appreciation for all the things that my body does do as opposed to kind of berating it for the things that it doesn't do.
Dalia: That's really helpful. Where do people keep up with you so that they can be in touch when you start offering those again?
Jade: So, I do have a Facebook page it's called a Safe Space to Grow. There hasn't been much on there for a few months. Cause we were talking about before we started I kind of needed to create space for myself to focus on certain projects. So that has taken a back seat to now. I do also share sort of mini meditations to my Instagram page @bodiposipoet. I'm hoping to start showing them short.
Really short one-minute snippets as well to TikTok at some point, just to add a little bit of sort of body positivity and grounding into that space as well, because it can be a little bit chaotic at times.
Dalia: Yeah, absolutely. Just a few people who've done that really creatively since, you know, the video just starts over and over again, the way they did it, it feels like a full meditation, like as long as you want it to be because of where starts over. So, I love that idea. We'll be looking out for that. Are you, is it the same handle on TikTok?
Jade: Yes. It's actually @artbybodiposipoet, because I was originally using it for my artwork and will continue to use it for that purpose as well. But yeah, I'm sure if anyone wants to find it, they should be able to.
Dalia: Wonderful, thank you so much for coming on. I'll definitely have the links to your Etsy store and all of those other places.
Jade: Oh, thank you so much for having me. I love that every time we talk, there's always something new and different that comes out of the conversation. So, yeah, I've loved it. Thank you so much.
Okay. I know it wasn't just me. Was that, or was that not just packed full of gems? Jade really dropped a lot of knowledge on us in this episode. Be sure to look for Jade on TikTok and on Etsy. I am really pulling back with social media these days thinking about how to use my energy in the most effective way for all of the things that I want to do so you probably won't find me on social media.
But you will be able to find me in the comments on Substack. I'm working on building community there, doing coaching asynchronously there because that's a way to make myself accessible to a lot more people at once. So, I hope you will check out that option that is for the supporting members. Of the show and the body liberation for all community in general.
I will have links below in the show notes to give you more details about that. If you feel called to check it out. Thank you so much for joining me. I will talk to you next time.