Reimagining Nutrition Narratives For Fat Black Children Like Ma’Khia Bryant
We are not born desiring or rejecting bodies according to their particular dimensions.
We are not born loathing or fearing or being comfortable with our own and other people’s thin or fat bodies. We are educated into these feelings.
In other words, our body responses, which register as sensations, affect, emotions, tacit leanings, tastes, and a whole realm of vaguely defined spidery feelings, are a social construct.
How we feel about things as adults is strongly impacted by the collective and familial circumstances, customs, and values of our upbringing.
Take food. Depending on our identities, geographical and cultural location, and more, we learn to enjoy or be revolted by the prospect of eating blue (mouldy) cheese, fermented tofu, whale meat, caterpillars, sweet potato leaves, Twinkies®, warm or cold beer. Sour gourd. Sheep eyes. Salmon caught out of season. Unblessed bread. Some things just feel right. Some things are obviously, horrifyingly, wrong. Yum or yuk? We know this in our bones.
Narratives that encourage us to regard body signals as innate wisdom, a sacrosanct guide to wholeness, are a problem. They rely on binary thinking that splits our body from our mind, and that erases context. This separation is a colonial device.
An example is found is the theory of intuitive eating. In this mindset, our body is a stand-alone, impervious, entity and body signals can come into being without any named outside influence.
Corporeal knowledge in intuitive eating is embodied but the body it comes from is not embedded in time or place. It is not dynamically entangled in history and relationships. It is encased and static.
It is a body produced by white supremacy.
These (ontological) assumptions about disconnect and separability are not unique to intuitive or mindful eating of course. They are a template for the whole of biomedicine. This is how coloniality shapes public health services.
Pinning theories to disconnect and division perpetuates the western notion of healthiness as a personal attribute. This individualism opens the flood gates for moral judgement, and models…