17: Michelle Allison and the Hungry Mortal Body

Michelle Allison, also known as The Fat Nutritionist, is a registered dietician based in Canada. She helps people work through various dietary and nutrition needs. I started following her years ago because the name “The Fat Nutritionist” caught my eye. Michelle’s work interests me for a number of reasons, and one of the fascinations we share is with death denial and the prevalence with which mortality salience influences our decisions not only with regard to nutrition, but to how we understand ourselves and each other. Topics we cover: mortality salience, fatness, food as poison, food as medicine, the tendency to prescribe individual consumer solutions to systemic, corporate problems. I loved talking with Michelle and hope you enjoy the conversation. I apologize in advance for the audio quality on my end — it seems the Skype recorder did a much better job of recording her end of the conversation and there are moments when it is hard to hear me!

Atlantic article by Michelle Allison: Eating Toward Immortality: Diet culture is just another way of dealing with the fear of death

Mentioned by Michelle, an article detailing a comprehensive dieting study that determined health outcomes with weight loss were not that significant: Is Dieting Worth the Trouble? by diet researchers A. Janet Tomiyama, Britt Ahlstrom, and Traci Mann

Mentioned by Michelle, a book that was formative for her, Losing It: False Hopes and Fat Profits in the Diet Industry by Laura Fraser

Book I mention: Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer by Barbara Ehrenreich

16: Brian Eley’s embodied awareness

Musician, producer, DJ, and dancer Brian Eley joins The BodPod to discuss many aspects of their bodily experience: dancing, body awareness, the intersection of mental and physical health, sex positivity and sex anxieties, the performative body, gender identity (and thus, naturally, masculinity and femininity), sexting, dick pics, eating disorders, HSV2, and how we should tend to all of our orifices. Brian, who uses they/them pronouns*, holds nothing back in this frank discussion of their body. Brian raps under the name Brian is Ze and produces and DJs under the name Queermo. You can check out their work at https://brianisze.bandcamp.com/.

You can read press reviews of Brian’s work at Outsmart Magazine and Houston Press.

*EDIT: There’s a part in the middle of my introduction where I misgender Brian as a “he.” While I could take this episode down and re-upload a corrected version, I think it’s important to call this out when it happens and own up to these mistakes while using it as an opportunity to learn. There is no excuse for this sort of error. It is easy to refer to people as the gender in which they identify. This error underscores how deeply ingrained the gender binary is in our brains and how we have certain defaults we fall into when speaking of others. Transformations of consciousness can only occur with conscious efforts. I can only hope the mistake will help people be more aware of the way they use language when addressing the identities of others, and the respect we give each other in honoring their identities. I clearly have more work to do with regard to deconstructing binaries in a way that becomes a new default. The BodPod regrets the mistake.

15: Julie Minich and health’s collective responsibility

In this conversation with Assistant Professor of English at UT Austin Julie Minich, we discuss categories of disability, how the concept of health affects bodies, especially “irresponsible” or “deviant” ones; citizenship; obesity; flaws in the health care system; health surveillance; the myth of “choosing” your health; the myth of human perfectability; and the collective responsibility of health. Julie is currently working on a book that discusses these issues and more. She is the author of Accessible Citizenships: Disability, Nation, and the Cultural Politics of Greater Mexico (Temple University Press, 2014).

Episode Fourteen: Double Dick Dude aka “Clark”

In this episode, I talk with Double Dick Dude, who now goes by “Clark,” about his two penises, his life since coming out on Reddit in January 2014, his new book, his butt, body positivity, representation of bodies, and many other topics. Clark was a joy to interview and holds nothing back when discussing his body. Be sure to check out my piece about him for the Daily Dot. You can purchase his first book here, and you can follow him on Tumblr and Twitter (NSFW images included on these pages). I’ve also posted the op-ed he reads aloud (about an episode of 2 Broke Girls that featured a character with two penises), and you can get read that here.

Episode Thirteen: Phil Ajjarapu

In this episode, I speak with teacher and musician Phil Ajjarapu. Phil has experienced a number of physical affronts to his body over the years including typhoid, a violent car-jacking, and a motorcycle accident that probably should have killed him. We touch on all of these – the car-jacking bit opens up our discussion to broader ideas about racism and I get a little riled up! We also discuss his career as a musician and teacher and the album he made after his accident. Phil currently lives in Portland, where he teaches music to grades K-8.

Austin American-Statesman article about Phil and his MoPac accident

Phil Ajjarapu: Sing Along Until You Feel Better on Spotify

Phil Ajjarapu: Sing Along Until You Feel Better on Bandcamp

Episode Twelve: Kath Barbadoro

In this episode, I talk with stand-up comedian Kath Barbadoro. We run the gamut of body talk: fatness, childhood, dieting, exposing ourselves to positive images of fatness (expands to other less conventional representations of bodies) in the media, sex, dating, reflecting on our desires, fashion, and our bloody, monthly flows. Kath has great advice for anyone struggling with body image: stop weighing yourself! We also touch on an experience of sexual assault she had at 19 years old, and how she’s tried to process it over the years. We have fun moments, serious ones, and try to speak as directly and raw as we can about these topics. Enjoy!

Kath’s Twitter

Kath’s TV Show (coming soon!)

Related to our conversation:

Margaret Atwood voyeur quote from The Robber Bride

Polycystic Ovary Syndrom (PCOS)

Menstrual cups

Comprehensive list of articles about fatness and health

Fat fashion: eShakti, Eloquii

Episode Eleven: Richard MacKinnon

In Episode Eleven, I talk with cyborg aficionado Richard MacKinnon. Richard is the founder of Borgfest, a festival and expo that celebrates and supports people interested in human augmentation, enhancement, body modification, and wearable technology. In graduate school, Richard studied political theory and identity in cyberspace, which led him to his interest in all things cyborg. We talk about how his personal experience as a queer Asian American affected his conception of the term; how the cyborg label could be used to define many aspects of the marriage of the human and the technological; how the film Ex Machina fulfills certain sci-fi tropes and applies to Richard’s conception of the cyborg; and how the sex industry could be affected by the evolution of technology. A provocative and insightful talk!

Video and article about kicking a robot dog

Episode Ten: Dr. Neville Hoad

In this tenth episode of The BodPod, I talk with Professor Neville Hoad. Neville is an associate professor of English and affiliated faculty with the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, the Center for African and African American Studies, and the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice at the University of Texas at Austin. He authored African Intimacies: Race, Homosexuality and Globalization (Minnesota, 2007) and co-edits (with Karen Martin and Graeme Reid) Sex & Politics in South Africa (Double Storey, 2005). Areas of research include African and Victorian literature, queer theory, and the history of sexuality.

We talk: growing up in apartheid South Africa, sexuality, gender, drag, exercise, the “truth” of the body, the aging body, the “butchiness” of Texas women.


African Intimacies: Race, Homosexuality and Globalization

Sex & Politics in South Africa

Episode Nine: Stacy Zoern

In Episode Nine, I talk to Stacy Zoern. We discuss bodily insecurities, accessibility, dependence upon other people, how the institutional model fails people with disabilities, losing all modesty, and how her company, Kenguru, seeks to change the way wheelchair-bound people get around by starting production of its wheelchair-friendly, autonomy-supporting electric cars sometime this year.

Here is her short bio:

Stacy has Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a form of Muscular Dystrophy, and has never walked.

She graduated from the University of Texas with a B.A. in philosophy and psychology with highest honors and went on to attend the University of Texas School of Law.

Stacy practiced patent litigation at Daffer McDaniel for six years and also had the privilege of clerking for a federal judge in Austin, The Honorable Robert Pitman.

A published author, at the age of twenty years she wrote a memoir entitled “I Like to Run Too: Two Decades of Sitting.” She is also a public speaker and is well connected to the disability community.

In 2010, Stacy founded Kenguru, Inc. and currently works full-time for Kenguru as President. Kenguru designs, markets, and sells a 100% electric vehicle that is purpose built for people in wheelchairs. With the KENGURU, a wheelchair user is no longer trapped on his street or dependent on others. He can now travel up to 60 miles a day at 25 mph, accessing his community independently. The KENGURU is also popular for its ease of use, allowing drivers to enter by the push of a button, and to drive while seated in their own wheelchair. The KENGURU is a game changer for the wheelchair community.

Stacy meets President Obama about Kenguru // Youtube link

Episode Eight: Amy Gentry

For the eighth episode of The BodPod, Amy Gentry and I conducted a mutual interview. Amy writes The Good Eye, a column on style, culture, and feminism that appears every week in the Austin Chronicle. The BodPod was featured in her January 9th column. Amy holds a PhD in English from the University of Chicago and reviews fiction for the Chicago Tribune. She writes her own fiction as well, and is currently working on a novel that she describes as a “Houston mother-daughter noir.” We covered a lot of ground in Part One: parental body policing; exercise in high school and beyond; changing fashion creating new insecurities, mainly for women; dance. In Part Two, Amy discusses her experience as an advocate for SafePlace, an organization that provides safety for individuals and families affected by sexual and domestic violence. We also discussed other issues, including Amy’s horror fiction inspired by her SafePlace experience, and our feelings about Texas and post-Wendy Davis filibuster. Both parts are solid!

Amy’s Website

Amy’s Twitter