Episode 10 Equity and Diversity Withing the Fitness and Wellness Industries
TWO BLACK GIRLS TALK ABOUT EVERYTHING PODCAST: EPISODE 10
Trigger warning we talk about eating disorders and body image in this episode. Shout out to Diva Steve for sharing his experience, activism and take on equity and diversity within Fitness and Wellness Industry. We have an honest conversation about what is lacking and what is needed in equitable wellness spaces.
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Speaker 1: (00:04)
[inaudible] black girls talk about everything podcast. I’m Dianne and I’m Dee and we’re going to be talking about everything talking about yoga and fashion and everything the two black girls talk about everything. Podcast I’m Dee, even though black history month is over. We can still talk about how we continue to create equitable spaces in our communities in this podcast, Dianne and I are talking to fitness professional. Steven Sinanin also known as DivaSteve or Steva on Instagram. Diva Steve is a seasoned fitness professional who uses his life and platforms to help elevate others. Moving bodies in an inclusive way while raising the social consciousness of the world around him. He wears the badge of social justice warrior with honor and pride in today’s conversation. We are talking about equity and diversity within fitness and the wellness industry. Why do we not see more people of color and management and professional fitness in the fitness world? And also, what do we need to do to start, to equalize? What, and who we see in the fitness and wellness world? Let’s listen in.
Speaker 2: (01:34)
Hey Diva. Hey. Diane Hi, Iwe’re fan I’m I’m fan girling. I don’t know about Dee I’m fan girling every day on Instagram with your, your singalongs. Like I’m just feeling Beyonce vibes, like whatever you’re on here, I’m a hundred percent for it. Thanks. Thanks for fan girling, uh, March 18th last year, it’s like the second week of COVID or lockdown or the first one, I was like, let me figure out what this TikTok thing is. And I, I know. Yeah. And then I’m like, I’m gonna do some more of these. Cause I had nothing to do right?
Speaker 2: (02:16)
Then it turned out to be this engagement tool people like this is awesome. Keep doing that. Something to look forward to them. Like that’s also a way for me to express myself as well, right. A hundred percent, a hundred percent. So I love me some Tik Tok right now. Me too. I need to talk is great. Cause it’s just like a minute of me feeling, feel good stuff like I’m on feel good tick tock. I know that there’s places on Tik TOK that get dark and kind of scary, but you have really illuminated my like you give me, I’m not kidding. When I say I give you, give me, like, if I’m having a moment where I’m in my feelings, I’m going to go, you know what? I’m going to see what divas Steve is singing about today.
Speaker 2: (02:53)
There’s always something for you. So just for full transparency, we’re recording. So Two Black Girls Talk About Everything, we just start talking and we will, uh, we’ll, we’ll add your bio later and all that good stuff, but we are really excited. So how I came to know you is that you slid into my DMS a couple of years ago and said, why aren’t you presenting at the Can Fit Pro as a fitness professional? I’m like, wait, wait, like it’s, you know, it never occurred to me cause they didn’t invite me. And a lot of places where I present, I get an invitation to present. So I don’t usually look for places to present and people in Canada just aren’t interested in me quite frankly. So they don’t, they don’t invite me and they don’t ask me. And then you and I had a conversation around the lack of representation in fitness spaces for people of color. And I was illuminated by the work you were doing around that
Speaker 3: (03:47)
Because I would show up to these conferences and I’m like, am I, what? Yeah, there’s no one that looks like or different in different quotations for those who are listening, um, in general, uh, and you were someone I looked up to and followed. I’m like, why is this person not being part of this fitness world that everyone just goes to this conference? And that’s just one conferences. There are other conferences that have had the same structure, but this is one of the bigger ones in Canada. And why people like Dianne and the like represented or seen or have a session or
Speaker 2: (04:22)
Yeah. And they’re still having a problem with that because I think they posted not too long ago, a conference that they did where everybody, everybody looked the same, like they were, and all of them actually had the same hair color. And people were like, um, the Brown people in there and their excuse was, Oh, uh, well, we’re working on it. Which is, uh, which is the excuse. Most people say when they’re not actually working on it. Um, but we’re, but we’re working on it. And then people jumped on this whole thread. Well maybe you can ask one of the presenters that, uh, to give up their spot to make space for a BiPOC of presenter to present or a non-binary presenter to present. And they were all like, well, we’ve already done our lineup. And I was like, you were not interested. Like you couldn’t be any more transparent that diversity is not something you’re interested in. And then on the flip side of that, this year I’ve been following, uh, what they’ve been posting. And I think they got enough. They got dragged enough that now they’re making an attempt, but I don’t know how honestly,
Speaker 3: (05:30)
But I agree with you on that. I think some of, some of the missed opportunities for BiPAP people has come from the contents all the same. Maybe the content of fitness industries, don’t always need to be with the same topic. Maybe there’s different issues. So one thing I’ve learned through this whole thing is, um, that talk about. I know you guys are about diet culture and how we have a hate on for diet culture. I’m on that board. I’m on that tray and I’m on that train. So,
Speaker 4: (05:58)
And how that could be the way people give nutritional regimes for people. And they’re like, don’t eat white rice from like I’ve learned the white rice is a staple in a lot of cultures. So you, you just hold people, your whole cultural significance and attachment foods, right? It’s not valuable. We have a session on that and we have a session on that, please. It’s right. Exactly. Yup. I know I was, uh, I actually, Steve, cause we’ve never met face to face. I know we follow each other on Instagram, but I was actually a pro trainer for cancer pro for many years. So I did the whole certification program here in Windsor. Um, the next pro trainer was, uh, in London. So it was between here and London. Um, and I always really found that there was missing links when it came to the certification process. First of all, for me, what hit me was the whole realm of wellness.
Speaker 4: (07:02)
It was all about working out, working out, working out, working out weight loss, weight loss, weight, loss, whatever, you know, whatever. And it was like that missing link of what about mental wellness when I was teaching the course, because that creates an overall healthy person. And then on top of that also with the whole diet culture thing, like what you’re saying, Stevia, it’s just, um, personal trainers aren’t allowed to write, um, in our spectrum of certification, or right Diets, um, diets out or meal plans. But, uh, we were able to refer to the Canadian food guide, which has its own problems prior to remapping? Let me tell you, I was like, who’s funding this,
Speaker 4: (07:53)
What do you think about the word systemic people don’t think about how a nutrition pyramid came to be. It’s based on a certain diet eating pattern was developed from where can we figure out where that development’s eating pattern first came from people don’t connect systemic to nutrition that’s right. A hundred percent as an idea, the way that developed was from a Western ideal. Right,
Speaker 2: (08:22)
Right. Ideal. Right. Cause you know, if we look at the West, we also consider indigenous people who are the first people of this, uh, this place, the very first people, the original people, the first nations, there’s none of the types of foods. They would be eating on the food pyramid. Right then. Right. And as a, uh, as a, as a black person of Caribbean parentage. So my family’s from Barbados to the Caribbean, um, you know, our co you come home with that, like as a person who battled an eating disorder and was given a diet by a dietician and I come home with this diet and hand it to my mother who goes, what is this a hundred percent eat these things like, you know what I mean? And how do I go to family functions as a person who’s dealing with an eating disorder that has been put on a diet, let’s talk about the problems, right?
Speaker 2: (09:21)
Their eating disorder, and then get put on a diet by a dietician. Um, I found that my dieticians during my eating disorder were really great at making me so much more sustained at performing my eating disorder. They didn’t help heal me. They taught me all the ways that I was not being proficient or effective at my eating disorder. That has been my experience with, uh, with dieticians in the eating disorder realm before the h.a.e.s., Like before the onset of health at every size. And before we die, uh, riots, not diets philosophy came to play, but you don’t. That was a big part of, um, being a black girl with an eating disorder is showing up in fitness spaces. I don’t see fitness trainers that look like me. I don’t see body types that look like mine being active and participating in wellness spaces. Now I have an eating disorder because I’m trying to live up to a white, ideal, or a white standard of what beauty is, which is never going to happen. Cause I always am going to have a booty. And these thighs are for days thick thighs save lives, thick thighs, fly the sky, thick thighs, tell no lies. All the hashtags, like I’m always going to have these thick thighs. My grandma had thick thighs. My mom’s got thick thighs my gramma. I can’t fight my genetics and all, I have all these things working against me. And then I have the modern fitness, wellness culture telling me you’re not good enough. And there’s no representation of you anywhere around here. So your body’s made
Speaker 3: (10:44)
Wrong. And then that just getting perpetuated every time I step into the gym, a hundred percent, I agree with you a hundred percent. I just, I don’t understand what they, what they were teaching you is discipline how to discipline your eating, which is, I mean, people can feel healthy. They want to eating patterns. I try not. I’m trying to think out of using the word diet when I talk about eating, because it’s so ingrained, right? The connotations diet, when you use the word diet, immediately, what people think about denying yourself something, and I need to reduce what I’m doing. Yes. I lost my point girl. Where was I going with this point?
Speaker 2: (11:25)
That’s okay. Just keep talking.
Speaker 4: (11:29)
Uh, if you’re right, Steva is we have to retrain the way that we think about things like even with a simple word diet. Yeah. I catch myself saying it. I think, I feel as though, like, I am very aware of using words like that and I still find myself and that’s like 30 plus years of that, that way of speaking and thinking and hearing great. It’s ingrained.
Speaker 3: (11:54)
Oh yeah. So one of the two points I was going to go back to, well, that’s where I was going with this, the socia and economic piece to giving nutritional pattern, like go get almond milk. Almond milk is not cheap. Not that saying, that’s not a good thing. I’m like, did you ask someone what their budget is? And then maybe write up a nutritional plan for them that fits into their budget? Sure. Cashew butter is great. Do you know expensive cashew butter, not everyone’s budget, right. A hundred percent. And we don’t go ahead to the other thing I brought up last year, which I know is a little bit controversial for some people is the word clean eating, which I hate to this day because food is not dirty. So I don’t. And I got a lot of pushback from my colleagues though, me having that sense of feeling about that, that word with regards to eating, even my part, I got my partner out of term using that term.
Speaker 3: (12:50)
Now also I’ll say as a gay male, how I connected that is during the HIV. Um, I’m 45. So I, I was on the edge of the, the, the, the epidemic of HIV killing a lot of people, but it, people began to define their HIV statuses as, Oh, don’t worry. I’m clean. Meaning you were HIV negative, right? No one ever said I was dirty. It just meant clean the word clean, got connected to being negative. So I have a whole, I bring up that whole, uh, way of thinking about that word into, into clean eating. So I know I come with a different background for some people, but it has the same principle as clean and dirty it’s because what’s the opposite of clean. Right? And then back to my point, if you’re telling someone they are not eating almond butter and, and getting your organic food from wherever the costs tell so much money, then that’s clean eating and that’s not what I’m doing. So I guess I’m not doing the thing. I can’t do the thing
Speaker 2: (13:59)
And then what happens with that whole clean eating mentality is we’ve created a whole new eating disorder around that clean eating, where people get obsessed with, I’m going to put it in quotes, clean eating, and we’ve created this orthorexia idea. And when I’m over is creating an attaching morality to food
Speaker 3: (14:19)
Speaker 2: (14:22)
A joke that I have been making for the past five years is if you put a little bit of coconut oil on your kale, it’s really easy to slide all of it into the garbage. Do you know what I mean? And I say that, I say that I usually say it after I’ve said eating kale does not make you morally superior to a person eating a burger or pizza, or having ice cream or eating a chocolate bar. It’s food. It’s a way to fuel your body. And nutrition has nutrition around food has a lot of different layers. You can have. I have no problem with comfort eating or emotional eating. It makes you feel good to eat a tray of Oreo cookies.
Speaker 3: (15:07)
I see do it. I, you know,
Speaker 2: (15:09)
I say that because that’s what I did yesterday after I was traumatized, I ate a tray of huh.
Speaker 3: (15:14)
And that is okay. And that is, it’s gotta be okay. It’s gotta be okay.
Speaker 2: (15:18)
And with it, because let me tell you, my friend from America sent me gluten free.
Speaker 3: (15:24)
I saw, I saw your video.
Speaker 2: (15:28)
She sent me that, and I just sat in my office. I had a, I did an anti-racist training, anti racism training yesterday and had a very traumatic experience in the second half of my training. And I was traumatized. And I said, what makes me feel good? And what makes me happy? A lot of sugar to my brain makes me feel some, perhaps some kind of way that’s I saved the tray for that experience. Like I was saving it for when I was where I could really enjoy it. Like I could make myself a cup of tea and I could sit down and my kids weren’t home. Cause I’m not sharing it with them. I didn’t have to share it with my husband. I wanted to create a space where I could just enjoy those cookies without anybody needing to share my, my treat. Cause I’m very territorial about my food because I have teenage boys that eat everything and anything, and you’ll be in the middle of eating something. And my youngest son you’ll be working it into your mouth. And my youngest son will say to you, are you going to finish that? And literally take it away from you while you’re eating it because you want it. So I didn’t want to have that experience, but I believe that food is connected to joy in our culture, in all of
Speaker 3: (16:33)
Our cultural. So much, so much
Speaker 2: (16:36)
Of our joy and connection is connected to food. So then when you have Western culture telling me, I have to limit the amount of I can eat or limit the types of food I can eat. You’re essentially saying to me, I limit the joy I get to have with my family and my peers,
Speaker 3: (16:51)
Because of what has happened. I find is that to your point, Dianne, diet culture has disconnected the experience of food. Yes. Meaning this is time you spend with your family. This is time you spend with your fitness time. You spend by yourself having a glass of wine, doing your meal, whatever the meal it is, you want to have on Wednesday nights at five o’clock or whatever, they’ve disconnected the whole experience and made it a disciplined back to your diet. The things we were talking about, make it a discipline food eating has to be, we have to so discipline. It’s not a discipline it’s fuel. Yeah. You know, I, when I relate it back to my experience through life, when I was training and teaching classes, that job for me to be honest was, um, it actually fueled my obsessive eating
Speaker 4: (17:51)
Because I felt like I had to live up to the standard of what a good trainer or a good instructor ate or what. So I guess was like, I remember going out to eat with my family and because it is a small city and I knew so many people, like my kids would order French fries and I wanted one of those French fries. And actually like, this is so sad looking around the restaurant. Do I know anybody that’s obsessive? That is just crazy. When I think back to now, it’s so crazy. The one thing that I found really helped, um, myself and now I do online wellness coaching. Um, one, one word that I used and I know like my, that has, I, I feel has really like gotten a lot of my clients to gravitate toward the it’s this intuitive eating, you eat intuitively for what your body feels.
Speaker 4: (18:47)
So sometimes I want a cupcake. If my intuition is telling me to eat that cupcake, I’m eating that cupcake. But you know what? My digestive system, it needs some kale because you know, I need that. It’s intuitive eating. Nobody eats exactly the same food. Does the same process. Exactly the same and every single person. Amen. Amen. Let’s let, let’s get, let you know what I mean. Like let’s, let’s eat for what we need and if you are emotionally eating and if you are eating because you’re sad or you’re happy, that’s fine. Eat the food, feel the move along. It just, I get all the inside myself here. I just like, it just makes you so upset and to your point.
Speaker 3: (19:31)
Yeah. It’s and the mental health piece to that, like if it gives you some people kind of both sides of their mouth, they have like mental health, but mental health quotations, mental health quotations, which is really good. I’m not saying in jest by anyone who’s listening. That’s a really important issue. Um, but you can’t tell someone to deny how they feel with regards to eating cause that’s how is that going to mess them up in their head? Even more, a hundred percent, right? If they’re approaching, if you’re approaching something because they, I don’t know why I have props here because no one can see the props I’m holding up.
Speaker 4: (20:06)
We see you, Steve, we see you
Speaker 3: (20:11)
Going to place a, because of the emotional thing. And then at place they didn’t have to deal with. And another emotional thing it’s Trauma is that it’s trauma. There you go. That’s what it is.
Speaker 2: (20:24)
And the amount of energy you spend beating yourself up, eating the cookie, that cupcake, that Toblarone bar, that sleeve of whatever you ate, I think is far more detrimental on your body than just eating the thing. It’s food relaxed. You know what I mean? Like we’ve really trained people to distrust their bodies. We have really trained people that somebody else knows better what your body needs. Then you like we have really, and that all plays into the capitalist structure of diet culture. We know, and these are statistics I pulled from the internet. We know that 98% of diets fail that any diet you get put on by whoever puts you on the diet or whatever website you pull the diet from or whatever, you are not going to have a success rate. And those two per cent of people who are success successful at intentional weight loss are outliers.
Speaker 2: (21:22)
And if you’re not familiar with the concept of outliers, Malcolm Gladwell has a really good book. Go ahead and grab that book. And you can read what an outlier is. Less people have success with these things because they’re not natural and they’re not normal. If dieting was normal, there would be one diet. Everybody would be on it. Everybody would look the same and we’d be over this. And it doesn’t matter. You and I, all three of us can eat the exact same diet workout with the exact same workout plan and totally look completely different. It doesn’t matter. And we are so caught up in this multi-billion dollar industry. Cause last time I checked, which would have been about a year ago, the diet and fitness industry is a $60 billion industry. And you, and I know as professionals in this industry, we ain’t making that kind of money, right?
Speaker 2: (22:19)
We’re all rubbing two nickels together. We’re all rubbing two nickels together in this industry. We know that the big players who are teaching us to be constantly dissatisfied with what we look like are making the money because they profit off of your dissatisfaction, right? They don’t profit off of you feeling good about yourself. They profit off of you wanting to do the thigh gap diet. I saw that somewhere, but yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. The thigh gap diet, there are people doesn’t matter how thin some people get. They never going to have a thigh gap. My thighs love each other. So they’re constantly in contact, right? They are into each other all the time. And I respect their love affair. And I leave them alone. None of my business, what you two are doing,
Speaker 3: (23:06)
Do what you do. That’s like, like who came up with someone called that was at a marketing table camp at the word thigh gap. Let’s put it together and sell millions on this.
Speaker 2: (23:17)
Totally. And there’s a bunch of people out here doing some crazy, you know, overexercising blowing out their hip joint trying to get a thigh gap, which will never happen because your ancestors gave you those thighs and celebrate your ancestors in your own body, keeping you alive. And let’s be honest, those of us who are thick, right? T H I C C or robust or abundant or fat or however you identify that’s. And I always say to us thick folks, we’re going to survive the famine, those people with that high metabolism and skinny ain’t going to survive. I’ve got, I’ve got stores for later. And given what happened in Texas, some of us need to hang onto these stores. We, we are, you know what? Your body and your genetics are built to keep you alive. And that you can try to fight with your body by dieting. You can try, but your body and in particular, your hypothalamus in your brain is running the show, right? 60% of the energy that you expend in your body is made up by your brain, keeping your functioning body alive, working your heart, your lungs, your livers, keeping you moving forward. That’s the, that’s where the majority of your energy is spent, right? So when you get on the bike, I rode my spin bike today. Cause I’m in love with my spin bike. I don’t know if I told you Guys this,
Speaker 2: (24:41)
But I love that thing. And I go on it because I love it. But I can kill myself for 45 minutes and burn like 210 calories or whatever. Right? And then I go upstairs and eat something. And then that’s all for not right. So these two things that we have this idea, you can exercise yourself to a certain body type. It’s a lie people. It’s a lie. You go and work out and you go and enjoy your life. You work out so you can join your life. Right? I work out so that I can lift my groceries into the house. Cause I got two teenage boys. I might’ve mentioned that. And there’s a lot of stuff that I need to haul out of my current, into my house. I, you know, I want to enjoy my life. I want to age successfully. I’m a menopausal woman.
Speaker 2: (25:24)
I don’t want to lose bone density. I want to be around for a long time so I can fight the good fight. And that’s why I moved. And I moved because I love it. There. Working out is not a ticket to eat. Eating is not a ticket to work out they’re tickets, to be healthy, happy, happy, happy doing what you doing, what you enjoy to do. So whether that’s sticking to a structured program have at it. If that’s picking something that you love to do, intuitively what your body wants that day, going for a walk one day, getting on your spin bike the other day, doing yoga another day. Do it because do that because it feels good listening to your body listening. I know like for me, there’s sometimes as far as eating, I can eat till whatever I could eat this. I can eat that. And then I find, even as I’ve aged, my body’s changed. My digestive system has changed. So those things don’t make me feel good anymore. It’s not because I’m restricting them or I don’t, you know, it’s like, they’re telling me I’m not allowed to eat that. It’s just cause it doesn’t make me feel good. Yeah.
Speaker 3: (26:30)
Well you listen to your body’s feedback. Your, your body needs real feedback. As with fitness. People like to push through injury and like we’ll know your body giving you feedback. We need to listen to that feedback and adjust. If, especially as someone who likes to be active every single day, I’m like, that’s awesome. You can still do that, but we need to be, you just need to be mindful. Just listen to your body, listen to your digestive system. I’ll tell you it will. And it’ll tell you in a minute, I’ll tell you,
Speaker 2: (26:59)
Listen, it will just knock you to the ground. Like you will injure yourself when you’re not listening. You will injure yourself so bad that you won’t be able to do anything. So when you feel that little tweak or that biofeedback from your body, they’re trying to tell you something and you’re like, Ooh, back off, I’ll ride my bike more. Maybe be walking. Ooh, maybe yoga is my jam. But it’s really interesting. The way that we have been conditioned in the diet and fitness culture to go, go, go, no pain, no gain. You shouldn’t be eating that. Um, when you guys were talking about especially Dee when you were talking about what you were eating and how it made you feel, and, and that time that you were looking around to see who was looking at you.
Speaker 3: (27:35)
I was at
Speaker 2: (27:36)
A shopper’s drug Mart and for American listeners, it’s like CVS or Walgreens in the States. I was at shopper’s drug Mart. And, um, it was like, I think a day or two either after Halloween or, or Valentine’s day when, you know, and all the candies, like 50% off, it was one of those days. And I was eyeing up the super jumbo sized Toblerone bar. And I wasn’t, I was trying to decide which one I wanted. Right. And I finally pick up the one I want and I hear this behind me and I turn around and it’s a person from my yoga class, shaming me for picking up the Toblerone bar. That is how ingrained. This is in people. And I turned around and I went, what? She goes, you eat chocolate. And I’m like, Oh my gosh. She says the
Speaker 3: (28:20)
Exact reaction. I was always scared
Speaker 2: (28:25)
Just like every day, if I can do it every day, if I can manage it, I love it. It gives me the same feeling as being in love. I don’t know. And that’s a nice feeling and that’s what happened. I heard that she went and I turned around and there, she was judging my Toblerones and you know what I mean?
Speaker 3: (28:44)
I can relate to both of your stories. You know, I had going to, I think, early in my fitness career, I’d go up for dinner and be like, I just found like, Oh, I’m just gonna get the fries today. I haven’t had anything bad, this bad. I’m going to have this. First of all, I don’t need to justify my food order to people sitting at my table or anyone ever, why was I doing that? And then they had to your point, people would be like, Oh, you eat that. That’s what people know now. Especially cause my Tik Toks, I have a love for Doritos. I don’t care. I love Doritos. I’m trying to, I’m trying to be an ambassador for Doritos, please hire me.
Speaker 2: (29:18)
[inaudible] divas. Ready for you? Just got, well, we’ll put his information, like in the bottom of Doritos, call him, you have you seen his videos? Doritos? You need to have him on your team
Speaker 3: (29:29)
Hashtag Steva for Doritos. Yes. But yeah. And I’m like, I do eat that and it’s okay for me to eat that food. It’s okay for you to eat that food if that’s what you want. Oh yeah.
Speaker 4: (29:42)
Those are delicious. I think that’s my thing. That’s my jam. I’m not, not doing my jam. And it’s so liberating when you let all that go. Yeah. Yeah. The amount of women that I talk to daily when it comes to this, you know, this way, this, I guess like, I feel like it’s a revolution. Um, and they’re like, yes, this is what I’ve been looking for my whole life. And it makes you realize you’re not the only person that has dealt with this that has experienced these traumas that, you know, have went through
Speaker 2: (30:38)
The yoga world as well. I’ve had to be really clear as a person. Who’s struggled with an eating disorder for 30 plus years for most of my life. I’m 50. So for most of my life,
Speaker 4: (30:49)
Um, I, uh, I, I’m not
Speaker 2: (30:52)
A vegan. I know there’s this idea that somehow as a yoga teacher, I need to either need to be a vegetarian or a vegan. And they aligned that principle with a non harming. Right? Think it’s a very limited view of the non harming principle. When I’m looking at non harming and yoga ahimsa and non harming, I’m looking at not harming my body myself.
Speaker 4: (31:15)
That’s right. And being exclusionary. And, um,
Speaker 2: (31:20)
Obsessive about my food is harming. That will lead to my death. I’ve been close to death with an eating disorder before. So I know that’s a very slippery slope for me. So I’m an omnivore and I’m very careful on my social media platforms on what I put out there because I don’t want to deal with angry vegans coming at me and telling me that I’m wrong for eating a burger or I’m wrong because I have an obsession with dumplings, which I’m actually going to have for lunch today. Um, you know, that I have an obsession with these foods that make me feel happy and that I it’s taken me a very long time to make peace with all kinds of foods. And somehow what I’m teaching in my yoga spaces is unity and acceptance and empathy and social justice. And I want to talk to you about that too, Steve, and so, and social justice and all of those things that I align with the ahimsa, and just because I’ve eaten a burger, everything that I share about social justice and ahimsa from the perspective of looking out for each other is now diminished.
Speaker 2: (32:19)
I’m somehow not an authentic yoga teacher because I had a BLT for lunch.
Speaker 4: (32:27)
I have a real problem with that. Yeah, I do too. Because for myself, I, I have a, um, a medical, like a genetic blood disorder where I need to eat. And I understand like the whole, Oh, you know, you can get protein from other sources, animal sources that doesn’t work for me. That does not work for me. So it’s like be vegan and die. Uh, you know, like, what am I choosing here? So, you know, you don’t, you don’t, you can’t judge what other people are putting in their mouth. First of all, it’s none of your business. Second of all, you shouldn’t judge judge somebody for what they’re putting your mouth, because that’s actually going against what you’re claiming to be. Right. And, and you don’t know what goes on. You know, again, you don’t know what’s going on in people’s bodies. You don’t know what medical conditions they have. You, you don’t know. So the judgment needs to stop on that whole subject
Speaker 3: (33:25)
Trendy, right? When it gets to be trendy like hashtaggy, and I’m a vegan and celebrities, a vegan, I’m going to follow this vegan diet because look how they had a baby and look how their body looks like. Uh, okay. So there’s a lot of things that they didn’t explain. If you’re, if we’re going to speak about how their body got to back to pre-baby, whatever that means. I don’t like all those terms. Uh, there’s a lot of things like a, they have money to have a trainer and a chef and they had a million other steps. It wasn’t just the vegan diet that did that.
Speaker 4: (33:58)
Right. It could have
Speaker 3: (34:00)
Been another thing that person did
Speaker 4: (34:02)
Speaker 3: (34:07)
Flip side of this whole conversation we’ve been having is the body positivity movement, which has now been co-opted let’s just admit it it’s been a hundred percent, a hundred percent. And now being used against people, what the intention of the body positivity movement was, is now been co-oped in being used against those people. Absolutely
Speaker 2: (34:26)
Because the body positive movement started as the fat acceptance movement in the late sixties, that fat people were allowed to live in fat bodies and be respected because they are human beings,
Speaker 3: (34:39)
Right? If our fat is not a bad word, right,
Speaker 2: (34:42)
Exactly. That fat is not a bad word and that we don’t owe the world thinness and we don’t owe the world a beauty and we don’t, you know, and all this health trolling that people do. I don’t know if you saw cosmopolitan tried really hard in the past little while to create a broad spectrum about what healthy bodies look like. And then got dragged. Like there was a, a few people on there, Jeassamyn Stanley was one of the people that were on the front of Cosmo. And just a side note, I was completely jealous that she was on the front, but anyway, um, but they got dragged around that when people were trying to show them like, like literally fat acceptance, that fat bodies are good bodies and fat bodies can be active bodies and fat bodies don’t have to be active bodies.
Speaker 2: (35:27)
So the body positive movement is a water down version of the fat acceptance movement that started, I believe in 1968. So these are conversations that have been going on for over 50 years, but they’ve only become really popularized in the past 10 years because capitalism, because capitalism, because capitalism, um, has, has found a way to market to you under the guise of body positivity. So for a long time, I was seeing things like, uh, under the body positivity, umbrella, get the body you love, right? Like you like, you get it. Like you have a choice, you get to go pick it out on the shelves. Or, uh, Oprah said it a while ago when she was in her, the key of her dieting. And that’s another topic for another day. Cause she’s part of that whole WW rebranding, which is weight Watchers, everybody. And they are responsible for a lot of harm in this industry and they, and they know it.
Speaker 2: (36:25)
So they rebranded themselves as WW. I see weight Watchers and you don’t fool me. But anyway, sorry, that conversation. What was that? I’m coming back for that conversation. I said, listen, we will have a conversation about WWF at some point. But anyway, I, I, you know, I am tired of people using the body positive movement to shame people. I am tired of health trolling. I am tired of all of those things, let people be. And I believe you can be healthy at any size and people trolling you and trying to and bullying you into losing weight. If you, you think if that worked, that we’d be still having these conversations, even like picking on the fat kid in high school, I was fat in high school as the fat kid in grade school, you think picking on me actually helped me, helped me, um, you know, develop a positive body image and develop a positive, um, idea of myself.
Speaker 2: (37:25)
It didn’t, if anything, it pushed me deeper into an eating disorder. It pushed me deeper into self hate. Like these, why can’t we let people be like they, and that’s the thing too is like, even when I, but I, you know, I talked about this Dianne and a couple podcasts ago was growing up. I was always smaller as I’ve gotten older, I’ve put on weight and that’s fine. My body’s changing hormone fluctuation, all that stuff, all that good stuff. Right. Um, and growing up, I was always in a thinner, smaller body, but I still had, I still had the things I was struggling with as well. Do you know what I mean? But I would have, I could have somebody that was heavier than me. Look at me and say, you don’t have, you don’t really have a right to feel those fields because you’re, do you know what I mean? So it’s like, yes, you are good. Everybody’s got their struggles. True.
Speaker 3: (38:23)
I think to your point Dee, I was only literally this year during Kobe got comfortable with my body, like full transparency. When we get into the shower, there’s like a mirror. So you have to see, look, I have to look myself naked every single day. Like, um, and I’ve never liked looking at even when I was in a smaller body. Um, when I was in a rift by all these quotations, like could use a million words to describe what people would say, whatever, but my body, um, I literally, through the course of the year, I realized I’d never been comfortable. The body. I never thought it looked good at any stage of my life until recently, because I’m looking at my body every single day and to get out of the shower. Cause I don’t because I’m at home all the time showering, usually I’m at a studio or whatever showering. So you don’t have that opportunity. So then I just stopped and looked at my body and tried to appreciate it. And that moment of stopping and looking through appreciate your body has helped change the way my mind feels about my body. And then that’s when I realized you’ve never loved your body all your life. You’ve never loved your body
Speaker 2: (39:29)
And all the amazing things that your body has done for you. Your body is the only thing we have. I say this all the time in order to experience this miracle, we call life. I think it’s deserving of our respect. And I, and again, I understand that there are people who, who have gender identity issues and loving your body’s a really hard thing when you’ve been assigned the wrong body at birth, but on the, I want to on the flip side of that with, with the exception of that, we have these bodies that do these miraculous things every day. How many times have you gotten up tired or stressed and you’ve gone to work and performed. And especially because you were in the fitness world or in the yoga world, there’s days you wake up and you’re tired and you don’t want to teach a class and you teach a lot of high energy stuff because you’re known as like the zoom.
Speaker 2: (40:19)
But I was talking to my friend, uh, Iona of Kalani world who knows you? And he’s she said that you were the Zoomba King. Like everybody wants to zoom, but with you, how many times have you showed up the Zumba class where you’re like, I am not feeling it today. I didn’t sleep well last night, I, you know, I’m tired. I had a fight with my partner, whatever it is. And you show up and your body shows up for you and we don’t give it any credit for that because the body’s always adapting in every situation and it’s doing the best that it can do under every circumstances, whether you’re injured, whether you’re tired, whether you’re hungry, it still shows up for you. And we don’t give it any credit, but the minute it doesn’t look like some page of a magazine. We are so quick. We are so quick to be hard on it, to be disrespectful to it, to be harsh to it. When I think of all the horrible things I’ve done to my body, through my eating disorder, I’m amazed that it’s still here because if I treated a friend, a close friend of mine, the way I traded my body, that person would have told me to fuck off long.
Speaker 3: (41:22)
Oh my God. There’s a quote in there about, would you be a friend with, we got somehow there’s a quote in there. I come up with the quote,
Speaker 2: (41:29)
Right? If you treated your friend, here’s the quote. If you treated friend, the way you disrespected your body, if you disrespected your friend, the way you disrespected them, your body would tell you to go yourself. But your body somehow manages to stick around. She didn’t really mean it. She’s going to combine and she’s going to be kind to me. And that’s where we need to be. So I want to pivotal for, go ahead, Steve. We can swear on this podcast, I’m going to put the explicit, I’m going to put the explicit tag. I think I find the explicit tag makes us more cool when you’re that explicit tag on. They I’ll make sure it’s marks explicit. But um, to your point, I wanted to pivot a second. There I am in awe of your allyship work. I want to say to you, I’m grateful for you during black history month because I have shared a lot of your posts.
Speaker 2: (42:18)
You’ve done a lot of the heavy lifting for me, um, during black history month, because you have shared some of the amazing, um, historical figures within Canadian black culture, because often, um, the world is very U.S. Centric, right? A lot of things always seem to center around America. And we forget about the notable, um, Canadians of African descent, who also contribute to the culture of North America. And I am so grateful to you because when I, um, I’m like, who am I sharing today? Let me go over to Steve’s page and see who he’s. Oh yeah. I didn’t know about this person. And I’ve been sharing your content. Thank you for doing the heavy lifting and thank you for being such a great ally. How did you come to be in allyship or how did you come to the social justice work? Because it says that on your bio, on Instagram, social justice warrior, I think it’s something.
Speaker 3: (43:10)
Well, I think it is something that I’ve been passionate about since in my early twenties, I’d say, um, all like when I went to university, every single, somehow I, I was in I’m a sociology and mass communication, mass communication major. Somehow every I had to do, I was able to get the topic to be around race politics, gender politics, sexuality politics. So these are things I’ve been passionate about and reading about. Um, a lot of my life, I credit one of my sisters, uh, Yasmine, hashtag Yasmin’s synonym. She’s probably like, say my name
Speaker 2: (43:45)
In the show notes. We’ll find that everything goes there.
Speaker 3: (43:49)
Um, I learned about bell hooks and Audrey Lorde. She’s older than me. So I learned a lot about, and then I did my own learning after that. So ever since then, ever since my, uh, mid twenties, uh, and now I’m only like two years someone that knowing I’m 45, 45,
Speaker 2: (44:06)
Speaker 3: (44:08)
Oh, it’s been something I’ve been passionate about and spoke on, um, how I speak on it over the past 20 years has been very different. Now we can speak more freely, but I feel like the world’s caught up to wait. I’ll speak for myself. The way I always felt the world has caught up to me being a, in terms of allowing me the space to speak, how feel people still have problems with things that they don’t get me wrong people as well. Um, so it’s something I’m always been passionate about. Um, also when I’ve been in positions of management, I had a whole corporate life before this, so I was a fitness person, all my adulthood pretty much, but full-time for about 11 years now, before that, I just did like evening classes, weekend classes. What have you? It wasn’t really focused on that. I was, uh, a corporate event planner. I worked in the insurance industry. I did a lot of stuff in media and, um, advertising, selling. I was a magazine publisher. I did a whole, I did all the things. Did things, did all the things.
Speaker 2: (45:10)
How about your, your videos? You have some skills. So
Speaker 3: (45:14)
I remember the day I sat down and said like, I want to switch to fitness folk. It’s like three months and thought about it. Cause I knew what that meant. Um, paycheck wise, I really, I, I was not the sweat. I was not, I’m confused with what that would really mean and changing my life. And I will say that I haven’t had a day that, um, well, yes, my tired go to work, whatever, but I haven’t regretted that decision of changing. My, um, also I would say being in media advertising all that time, I would, I was always looking and seeing this, none of anything else being shown that I was exposed to that because of the nature of the industry I was in. Right. And I would ask questions with people who had positions of power to make decisions. Can we have a person of color other quotations on the cover of the magazine in this ad?
Speaker 3: (46:05)
Or what have you? So, because of all my learning, I took that into all my industries and whatever I was doing, whatever career path I was in at the time. Was it received very well? No. Um, did, uh, they liked me always asking those questions. Absolutely not. Um, will I continue to ask the questions and did I, yes. Yes. Um, so when I had, when I was in positions of management, I think I went out of my way. Not think, no I did. I went out of our way to make sure everyone felt included because I knew because I know what it feels like to be excluded. I know what it feels like to pick up a crayon and it’s called flesh colored. So people don’t realize, I mean, this is devolving, like a whole bunch of other things talking about, but that just that act of picking up a crayon when you were a kid and since flesh-colored does a lot to someone’s psyche, right? I mean, they’ve gotten much better, uh, Crayola, Crayola. They got much there with, with, uh, different skin tone crayons, whatever hashtag Crayola you can sponsor me as well. That’s fine. Um,
Speaker 2: (47:16)
Get your, get your coin.
Speaker 3: (47:23)
But I would say now that I’m saying that out loud, I’ve really said those things out loud in a very long time. That’s when I started. That’s when my social activism started.
Speaker 2: (47:33)
We are grateful for it. Yeah. Go ahead.
Speaker 3: (47:38)
Um, do you want to go say something? No. Okay. So I started the black history month post about four years ago. Cause I was like, I need to do something that’s significant. So one year I did, uh, inventors one year I did, uh, just all women. I think I did. I take, I pick a different theme. A lot of these are this year are throwbacks from, um, my year from when I did some Canadian people and mixed it in with American people. Um, and I’ve updated the information if needed. What have you. Uh, but the, to your point, I think it’s important. People know about the Canadian experience. I mean, there’s two sides to the coin of the Canadian experience. The video you were talking about on your Instagram about segregated schools, how people don’t know that was early eighties. Um, but
Speaker 2: (48:29)
My dad was part of that segregated school. He was in here in Essex County in the ’60’s
Speaker 3: (48:35)
Yep. So I, and that’s something I’ll always, I don’t know how to be, not that way. That’s, let’s just put it the, I don’t know how to not be that way. When I, once when I had a really important, there’s a really important gig, there was like lots of people. Like, I don’t want to say what it was. We’ll be able to figure it out. Anyways, involve lots of people. And, um, I had the ability to choose people who were going to be with me on stage other colleagues. And I made a huge effort to make sure it would be reflection of the people in the crowd. Um, so I don’t know how to not be that way.
Speaker 2: (49:16)
And do you think it’s because you are a person of color that you, we kind of don’t know how to not be that way. Cause we’re so used to being excluded.
Speaker 3: (49:25)
I would think so. Yes. I think I would say that you for a hundred percent also, I, we don’t know how to be and I want to be this way. I, I consciously want to be, um, the way people perceive my within the corporate structures of some places that I might work at, you can be seen as problematic, which is what one of my posts was about really, uh, recently about it. I think I said something along the same, they call you problematic or difficult. It’s really just because they can’t look at themselves in the mirror every day. You’re not saying, you’re not saying problematic things and you’re not presenting it in a problematic way. So why is it problematic? Just deal with it, to deal with it. And I’m sorry, it’s almost a year. It’s, you’re still learning. You’re still learning. No, let’s get some action going here. I have no, I have no patience for that. And people will call, well, call me on that or call me out on that. But I have zero patience that now I hear you on that. Do something. If it’s not right, you will learn that it wasn’t the right thing to do, but do something, all this I need. How many, tell me exactly how many more years you need to learn.
Speaker 3: (50:42)
And this is what I’ve always, I have the feelings about, this is my feelings about this. I feel like I, as always my listeners, I’m speaking for myself, not for all the Brown people in the world. Okay. I’m just speaking for myself for, um, people in marginalized and racialized communities have always been waiting for people in power who have the power to learn so they can advance themselves forward. Meaning. So the marginalized and racialized committee can find some way to advance forward. Now we’re still waiting for those people to learn. And our advancement seems like it’s always going to be at the hands at the pace at which people in power privilege learn. Hmm. Yeah. And that is where systemic issues come from. Yeah.
Speaker 3: (51:30)
So it has to outpace itself at some point for change to happen. Right. And outpacing, it means you’re going to make a decision and do something active. Yes. A black square. Awesome. Do something else. Yes. If the black square is the last thing you did do something else. If you’re creating diversity inclusion, task force for your company, for your gym, for your studio, is it reflective of the people that you’re trying to help? Yeah. And it’s the final decisions with regards is the final decision being made by someone who looks like it’s going to those issues are going to affect them.
Speaker 3: (52:12)
That’s or being like super transparent. If at the end of the day, the final decision maker is a white person and you just have all these people of color marginalization. These people were coming up with all the ideas. We’re going to give you all the ideas to help, help the company, help the studio, help the gym, whatever. Yeah. Then going up the chain down here, all this ratio, all this, all these colors and different sets of people have to answer to this person. Then nothing’s really changed. Exactly. We go for power and privilege to change. People have to be willing to give up some. I think we might’ve mentioned that you have to give up some power. It’s not, you’re not losing out. You’re lifting up.
Speaker 3: (52:55)
You’re not losing out. You’re lifting up. That’s brilliant. there is no scarcity of power in the world. You can share it. It it’s okay. And that means if you’re not willing to share it, you have to do some self-reflection. That’s some work to do. That’s a selfish motivation to not want to share it or not think it needs to be shared. Brilliant. I love that. You don’t think of when people, mentors and mentees, you give them a stage to shine. When I’ve mentored people. Sometimes they’d been on stage with me shadowing and I literally find a position where you step back. So they’re in the front of the stage or you step off the stage completely. It might be the greatest moment that’s ever happened in your class, but let that person have it. You’ll have a lot more great moments in your life. And you will probably have a lot great moments getting to this point. You need this this one too? You don’t need this one too. give that person that moment to shine. Right.
Speaker 2: (53:56)
A perfect way. I’m telling people I can use their privilege.
Speaker 3: (54:00)
Yeah. Perfect analogy. And just recognizing when it, when it’s open and it’s always okay. Not when it’s great. You recognize it’s okay to let other people shine. It doesn’t finish your shine.
Speaker 2: (54:16)
Speaker 3: (54:17)
Right. So I don’t want to be the cause of diminishing anyone’s shine. I want to lift every body up as much as possible. Like Tiffany Haddish has a thing about when she made it. She always said, when she made it, she’s going to reach back and get for people. That’s what, as I get, if anything could happen in my life where I’m not, I’m not happy with unhappy with my life. If I became bigger in a position to bring up, I’m bringing all my people with me, all my people, they helped me along the way. We’re all going forward together. That’s how it works. That’s how it works.
Speaker 2: (54:53)
I find a community of colors that has, I recognize that sentiment more than in non communities of color. Like in, in color, I find that in West Indian communities and that people of color, I’ve noticed that about ourselves that often, not always, but often when we get somewhere, we open the door and we let other people in there’s some of us who want to be the only one that closed the door and I’ve met some of those people too. Um, but I find the majority of people of color will always, always reach back and remember where they come from and make space for others because it makes it better for all of us. And to what you were saying, Steve, around centering another voice. We all learn something. When we center someone new, we all benefit. When we keep hearing the same old tired story, see the same old tire perspective all the time, nobody learns anything.
Speaker 2: (55:48)
And we start to shut down and turn off because we’ve seen a lot of this already. But when we center someone new in the conversation and we center another perspective in the conversation, everybody learns, right? And we need more of that. It’s just, it’s tiring to see the same old, same old, same old, because we don’t grow right. Things that don’t change, what die things that don’t evolve die. And I really love that idea of centering using our platforms as much as we can to lift up the people around us. It only makes power is not a finite thing. Power is infinite. You actually, if you’re doing it strictly for your own selfish reasons, you will gain more power by centering more people. You will. You know what I mean? Like if that’s what you were your reason for doing, it is whatever. But the idea is those of us are at the margins need to be pulled to the center where we all can thrive because we all thrive
Speaker 3: (56:45)
The center. Right? I think sometimes back to your point of, with regards to why some people close the door, people who are in the margins, two things I think is one thing is they have some self work to do because that might come from a selfish perspective. The other thing is the scarcity of positions. It’s not, sometimes I’m not giving those people an out for people who are selfish, but for sometimes, sometimes it’s a thing of, well, I took me so long to get here and there’s only, they’re only got one black person or one ably, one disabled person or one ably challenged person or one woman or one lesbian. So I can, I can’t have another lesbian on stage with me because one of the can only be space for one of us. Right? We’ve learned white supremacy though. That’s how marginalized people feel like you. Some, not everyone. So some feel there’s a scarcity of opportunity when there really is not fear. This is white supremacy. There is no scarcity of opportunities. It’s who gets them a hundred percent and who’s deciding who gets them. That’s right.
Speaker 2: (57:53)
That’s the lesson of white supremacy teaches that, that there can only be one of the, could only be one space. And we get to bust through that myth and show that there are lots of spaces, right?
Speaker 3: (58:03)
For all of us, this has been
Speaker 2: (58:06)
We’re coming up on the hour. This has been an amazing conversation that I’m glad it could happen today. We had some scheduling confusion and all some stuff going on, but this has been a very productive and enlightening conversation. And I’ve had an opportunity to meet you other than just fanning on your page constantly and sharing your content constantly. It was amazing to talk to a fellow Canadian in person history and to have this moment.
Speaker 3: (58:33)
So Steve, for having me.. Thank you so much. I was so honored when you reached out and said that you want to be made to be a part of this. It meant a lot. It meant a lot. And uh, it’s awesome. I’ve had a great,
Speaker 2: (58:51)
Yeah. I looked at your stuff every single day. Like you’re the second thing I do in the morning. I look at my newsfeed and I’m like, yeah,
Speaker 3: (58:56)
What kind of video? Because at the end of the day, I think we’re here to leave. One of my mantras is we’re here to leave a legacy of positivity in the world and it might be a little thing you do, but that’s what we’re here. We’re here to lift up to the world. We’re not here to make it worse. Right? Lift somebody up. Whoever’s everybody. Who’s listening to this, lift somebody up today, go text them and lift them up. That’s your challenge listeners, no matter what’s going on in the world, our, our vibration matters. We, we, we, we touch people. We think we touch people that we just live with or the people that we love in our lives, but we’re actually touching people. We don’t even know. It’s a hundred percent, a hundred percent. So Steva, where can people see, I call you Steva.
Speaker 3: (59:41)
Cause I love it. Diva. It’s Steve plus diva equals Steva. Uh, where can we find you in the world and how can people connect with you? And do you have anything coming up that we can be a part of? Um, you can find me at diva, Steve on Instagram and on Twitter and um, uh, in the show notes all at the end to put how to find me on Facebook. Cause it’s my full name, but I won’t spell that out for everybody to, not that anybody who’s listening wants to follow me right away, but maybe they do show notes.
Speaker 3: (01:00:10)
You’re not in the loop. I am working on some things. One thing I am working on, um, is, uh, producing a session for a fitness conference that might want the session is how to teach using, uh, accessible and inclusive language. Very good. We need that back to where, when, what are initial points? Like why is this not a session? That’s never been at a conference at any of my conference on it all. Any three of us have ever been to and listening to my thoughts with regards to that, feel free to DM me @DivaSteve Instagram, or please thoughts, feelings, concerns. Um, no hate please. No. Yeah, we won’t be, we don’t do that. We don’t do hate. And when people send hate to our podcast or our, um, our Instagram feeds, I follow the advice of Sonya Renee Taylor. And if you’re not following her, we’ll also link to her in the notes, be blocked and be blessed. My friend blocking blessed. Thank you, Steve, for being on the podcast. Thank you so much. All the awesome. Thank you.
Speaker 1: (01:01:22)
Once again. We want to thank you for listening in on two black girls. Talk about everything podcast. By supporting this podcast, you were supporting the work of black indigenous people of color in the world. You are helping to elevate our voices in the conversation. You can continue to support our work by heading over to Apple podcasts, rating, liking, subscribing, and sharing together. Let’s continue to support the work and elevate the voices of those of us. That don’t always get center stage to connect with me. You can find me on Instagram at Dee Shuttleworth or on my website at WWW.Deevineintentions.com and to connect with Diane, you can find her on [email protected] or on her website at diannebondyyoga.com. We’ll see you next time.