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!
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/.
*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.
Absolutely thrilled and delighted that this humble little podcast has caught the interest and praise of the Austin Chronicle. A photographer dropped by earlier in the week, but told me she didn’t know the specifics of the assignment. I couldn’t have imagined that it was for this. Thanks to everyone who has agreed to be interviewed for this project and supported it. It motivates and inspires me to continue collecting a variety of stories in all of their bodily glory.
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).
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.
In the past few years I’ve noticed that society in general has slowly begun to take steps towards showing compassion for people as well as fostering acceptance of differences in practically every possible circumstance. The trans-community is finally getting a voice, regardless if it’s Caitlyn Jenner’s voice or other trans-people standing up to say she doesn’t represent them. That’s simply one example of a minority who has been kept under lock and key that are finally getting a voice and a platform to give themselves an equal (and long over-due) opportunity to be represented. I don’t even need to go down the long list of individuals who live with differences in mental and physical capacities who are finally getting the fair treatment they were never afforded before. It’s not cool to call someone a ‘retard’ anymore. The long faded faces of the past who lived in “freak show” troupes as a means of survival have been so embraced by current pop culture that a hit television series was able to successfully dedicate an entire season representing a world very few (if anyone now) ever knew. Simply put, different isn’t weird anymore and weird isn’t an excuse to condemn. In many cases, weird is a cause to champion and lift-up. It’s not cool to refer to someone or something as ‘gay’ just because you don’t like it. It’s finally being recognized as offensive to use a term for sexual identity as a disparaging epithet. Celebrities from all avenues of fame have stood up and out for the victims of verbal and physical abuse. We have public service announcements for children, letting them know “It gets better.” Entertainment and pop culture, the veritable temperature of our society, is finally admitting that we’ve got to change how we treat other people. People have started listening, or so I thought.
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.
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!
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.
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.