Illustration of woman sitting with laptop and coffee

About the episode

Welcome to episode number three of Entrepreneurial Outlaws. Today’s episode feels just a little bit vulnerable and a little bit heavy. We’re going to be talking about diet culture, body image, being a plus size entrepreneur, and how diet culture and body image have infiltrated into the online business coaching space in particular.

In this episode, we are going to be uncovering some conversation around diet culture and the system of diet culture, how it has trickled down into the online business space, how it impacts us as business owners and content creators. I’m also going to be sharing with you some ways in which various industries and niches can be focusing on being more inclusive of size and stop using weight and body image as a marketing ploy. This is a bigger conversation that needs to happen across many different, many different avenues.

In coming episodes I’m going to be discussing other areas that we need to focus on, I’m going to be bringing in some friends and experts to talk about this. But today, I want to focus on body image and diet culture because this is something that I can talk on. This is something that I have both lived through and still experience at the moment.

Show Notes:

Topics Discussed in Episode #3

  • Why Melanie has been called to have this conversation concerning body image and entrepreneurship with you
  • A bit about Melanie’s start as a wellness coach and her weight loss journey and how that has helped shape her current business.
  • De-stigmatizing the word “fat”.
  • When Melanie decided that she needed to learn to love her body.
  • How fat phobia has been dripped down into the online business industry.
  • Why the size of your body does not dictate how well you can do your job.
  • Some of the things we can all be doing to be more size inclusive.
  • Why you cannot and should not guarantee your clients results.

Episode Resources:

Connect with Melanie here:

Transcription:

Image of woman wearing a hat, sitting on a sofa with a laptop

(00:01):

Welcome to episode. Number three of entrepreneurial Outlaws. Today’s episode feels just a little bit vulnerable and a little bit heavy today. We’re going to be talking about diet, culture, body image, being a plus size entrepreneur, and really how diet, culture, and body image have infiltrated into the online business coaching space. In particular. Now I have sat down to record this episode at least eight times, as I said, it feels vulnerable and heavy, and I keep feeling a little bit stuck. So

(00:41):

In this episode, we are going to be uncovering some conversation around diet culture and the system of diet culture, how it has trickled down into the online business space, how it impacts us as business owners and content creators. I’m also going to be sharing with you some ways in which various industries and niches can be focusing on being more inclusive of size and stop using weight and body image. As a marketing ploy. This is a bigger conversation that needs to happen across many different, many different avenues, incoming episodes. I’m going to be discussing other areas that need that we need to focus on. I’m going to be bringing in some friends, my experts to talk about this. But today I want to focus on body image and diet culture, because this is something that I can talk on. This is something that I have both lived through. I have what through and I still experience at the moment.

(01:47):

So I want to just to preface

(01:49):

This episode by saying, if you listen and you feel the need to send me some kind of message or email offering me diet advice, health advice, weight advice, I don’t know something like that because you’re concerned by my health. I want to ask you to not do that. I want to explain to you that this is not the point of today’s episode. Today’s episode is not about diet advice, way advice or any version of that. It is a bigger conversation that needs to be had on the other hand, if you are listening to this and you’re like, yeah, this is something that you feel strongly about. This is something that you feel that you need support with reach out I’m here for you. Okay, let’s do this. You’re listening to entrepreneurial Outlaws. I podcast for creatives, introverts and paths and spiritual folks who want to grow a sustainable, impactful business on their own terms.

(02:53):

[Inaudible]

(02:54):

Together. We are paving the way for a new normal in online marketing and business. One that allows you to lean into what makes you and your business unique. And I’m your host, Melanie nights, storyteller Pinterest, strategist visibility, coach and CEO of content are, can be marketing or nontraditional marketing agency for creative business owners who don’t want to compromise the creative integrity to make money, get ready because each week we’re having the messy, honest, and transparent conversations about entrepreneurship, the kind that’s missing from the highlight rails of our social media feeds. And you’ll learn how to create intention and connection behind your content marketing so that you can sell without selling out. We’re uncovering the real stories behind what it takes to run a sustainable online business, the highs, the lows and everything in between, ready to break the rules and become an entrepreneurial outlook. Let’s do this.

(03:55):

I think it’s important for me to start this episode by I’m sorry, saying the question who the hell am I to be having this conversation with you? So I have spent most of my 33 years on this planet focused on my body image in some way, trying to take up less space, dieting, weight loss, abusing my body. Yeah, most of my life has been spent really amassed in diet culture from a very young age, probably around the age of 11. That’s what I remember one of my first diets, but there’s a good chance. It was before that, even as an adult, even after I started my own health and fitness business, back in 2016, gained a number of qualifications from metabolic effect and coached other women. I still struggle. I still struggle with the food choices they make. I still struggle with being consistent in seven areas of my fitness.

(05:04):

It’s not because I don’t think about it. It’s not because I don’t care. Not because I don’t want to live my very, very long life. I feel like it’s always going to be something I have to give more attention to. So that is a very shortened version of who I am and why I should be having this conversation with you. If you want to hear the longer conversation, let me know. We can maybe do a full episode on that, but really what I want to focus on today is what I see more often. Now. I’m no longer in the health and fitness space. I run a content marketing agency, and yet I don’t see a whole lot of people in particular women who look like me in the online business space. I maybe follow 10 people on Instagram who have bodies that are either similar to mine will look like mine. Some of them have businesses, some of them influences,

(06:07):

But what’s interesting to me is it’s the minority. I don’t see that many people who look like me in the online business space. I don’t see that many plus size people. And the reason this interests me is because my business came from my own personal weight loss journey. My business came from a weight loss journey that led to me gaining qualifications in the health and fitness space. I became a personal trainer. I worked in a gym all of that time. I did that as a quote plus size trainer. I did not look the parts. I did not have six pack or ripped abs.

(06:59):

It does sometimes wonder whether I would be running my own business. Now, if I had not been through that weight loss journey, and that pulls me, in fact, it really pisses me off. It pisses me off because if I hadn’t lost weight, would I have held myself back because I needed to be thin to be wealthy and successful, but I’ve held myself back. Wood, wood, cultural norms have held me back because you can only be successful if you look a certain way, because that’s so much of what we see. And it’s not just related to weights or body image, but that’s what we want to highlight. I want to highlight today. That’s what I want to focus on today.

(07:45):

You see diet culture is a system, right? It is a ridiculously big system. It is a system that has become a feminist issue because 10 of the top diets, but created by men, 10 of the top diets were created by men. And while some of those diets were initially created to actually help manage or prevent some diseases, they have been popularized by the diet culture and have become part of our everyday language. When we use the word diet, we think about somebody who potentially wants to lose weight when that is not what that word means. When we think about the word fats, many of you may feel this need to panic. No, no, no, we can’t. We can’t use that word because it’s used as an insult. And yet the word itself is not an insult. And there are many, many people out by who actually prefer the Tom fats.

(09:02):

It was first time I ever had, this was on a podcast of its American life. A friend had sent me this episode and it was all about coming out as fat Lindy West. I will add a link to her in the show notes had written this book called shrill and she had referenced the Jannie of her career and how she had been treated differently in her corporate job because of her size. And not only that, how people who she worked with would make fat jokes would make comments, never her butt in front of her as if they couldn’t see how she looked. And so she introduced this idea of coming out as five, like this conversation that we have to have with people, because even though you can see us and we are in front of you, it’s something we ignore something we avoid.

(10:04):

We can’t bring it up. It’s really interesting. It’s fascinating. I’m going to link to the episode in the show notes, but this idea of coming out as fat, this idea that fat people don’t care about the health, that if somebody who is doesn’t already look like they should be in a gym, that they must be that to lose weight. That is something I used to get a lot when I walked in the gym, because even though I worked in a gym and trained and I could teach a spin class whilst still breathing and shouting at my students in the class, I wasn’t really thin. I was still plus-sized.

(10:57):

Even though

(10:59):

I trained multiple days a week, my buddy was still what it was. And they became a point where I suddenly started to, I suddenly started to accept myself a little bit more. This was not me accepting a lack of health. This was not me saying, Hey, who gives a shit? This was me saying to myself, you know what? I spent most of my life

(11:29):

In a body that is at least a size 16. And if I’m going to spend the rest of my life in this body at this size, I really need to learn how to fucking love it. I really need to learn how to love this body and sure I can make good health, good food choices. Sure. I can be more consistent with certain areas of my health. However, I really need to love the body that I have because otherwise this is going to be a really, really, really, really boring life spending my entire life focused on my weight because here’s the thing. When we are focused on our weight, when we are focused on us size, when we are solely focused on our appearance and I’m talking about when it becomes obsessive, when we have focused on those things, we are not making impact. What else? Standing in our power, we are giving our power away when we are focused on size of our body, making it smaller, taking up less space. And that is our primary concern.

(12:51):

Okay?

(12:55):

And we are giving away our power to the diet industry, to the system that has been created to prevent us from doing really big things. It is no surprise to me that I do not come across hundreds of people who looked like me in the online space on a daily basis or weekly basis, or even a yearly basis. It doesn’t surprise me because people who have body like me have been told that we do not belong. And the problem is this has been dripped down into the online business space, specifically online business coaching, because so much of the online business coaching space, they have adopted this body positivity and size inclusive. And I use that quotes, authentic marketing this place where the size of your body impacts whether or not you should run an online business. The size of your body impacts whether or not you should be paid. The size of your body impacts whether or not you are safe here, whether you’re included, whether you’re welcome. The size of my buddy is the least interesting thing about me, the size of my body. It doesn’t impact how well I do my job.

(14:20):

The size of my body doesn’t make any fucking difference because the skills I have, how hard I work, that’s not because of my buddy. That’s because of who I am. And the online business space, the online business coaching space has taken something created for plus sized people and somehow made it straight sized, straight size, a size isn’t plus size. And this is a term I only came across recently, as I have done more and more research into this as I’ve try to look for more people who have bodies like mine, it’s been fascinating. Again, I’m going to list a whole list of all of my favorites in the show notes, but as I have done more and more research, I have realized the online business space has primarily been built on the fineness.

(15:27):

There’s a lot of cookie cutter coaching out of that. And it is built on being white then and privileged. And this is such an interesting, this is such an interesting Avenue because when you are not thin, it feels as though you don’t have a space here when marketing is targeted towards thin white people. If you don’t fall into that category, if you are black, if you were indigenous, if you are passing of color, if you’re from the LGBTQ community, it doesn’t feel like you have a space here. There are, there are so many incredible businesses out there. So many incredible coaches and consultants and strategists doing amazing things. And they’re doing things in a way. That’s not disgusting. They’re doing things in a way that is not spammy, or they’ll try to bully people into buying from them. And because of that, they’re not, they just don’t get seen as much, but they’re doing things the right way.

(16:59):

So I wanted to talk about a few of the things that we can all be doing to be more size inclusive. And as I said, this is a bigger conversation. This is a big, big conversation. I’m opening up the dialogue. I’m going to be bringing in other people to have this conversation with as well, because I can only really talk around what I have lived through one of the first and simplest things we can do as business owners is, think about the images we use. Think about the photography we take or use, because again, it’s not very inclusive. It’s not diverse in any way. I’m going to link to a few of the stock photography sites who actually do use models of different sizes. Stock photography sites actually include black women and women of color in the stock photography. Another thing to think about, especially if you are a product product based business owner or designer, something like that is the models that you are using in your business. Are you just choosing models because of a certain size? Are you choosing them because they are a statically pleasing. If you Instagram feed or are you actually being inclusive, especially if you carry bigger sizes, right? Especially if you carry bigger sizes, don’t make us this thing that you hide in your sizes really, really annoys me when I have to go hunting for the plus size, the curvy, whatever it is, section.

(18:48):

And also if you don’t carry bigger sizes, why not think about the sizing? You care if you’re much in dice, think about who you affiliate with. Did they, are they inclusive? How many times I have had companies that approach me for affiliate deals for ambassador deals. And when I look at the Instagram feed, I’m like, did you even look at my picture? Did you even consider the fact that I may not be the same size as who you currently use? And on what planet do you think I’m going to fit in to your sizing? Do your research, do your research at both who you reach out to, but also the companies that approach you. If you are trying to build a business that is fully inclusive and that includes size inclusivity, does that company actually include sizes that you can fit into? Does it actually include sizes that your entire audience could fit into? If not think about it, consider it.

(19:53):

The next thing is language. I get it. I get it. It’s really hard. You don’t want to call us fat. I know that makes me kind of cringe too, because we have been taught to fear that word, but please, please do not call me plus size. Please do not describe me as plus size or curvy or big boned or bigger bodied or whatever it is. Because as I said, Elliot, my buddy and my size is like the least interesting thing about me. And there’s no need to describe me in that way. You can find something else to describe me as

(20:39):

If you are in the direct marketing or MLM industry, please stop using fat people as your marketing employ. In the last couple of months, I have probably had a dozen messages from women who have taken a look at my feed and just wanted to send me a message. And they loved my look and they loved my style and they thought I’d be such a good match for what they did. Would I be willing to? I don’t know. I think it’s all gone. I’m just going to cool out. I think it’s audible and I’m guessing they have like some big webinar thing they’re doing right now. And I’ve probably had a dozen messages from people asking me if I would just check it out, even though I’m not interested, would I just check out what I give up an hour of my time? No, I will not. And when I really dig deep, I’m like, why did you choose me? Cause yeah, sure. All the things you just complimented me on a true, how was it because of my size? Because any of these companies are diet and weight loss companies disguising themselves as health and wellness.

(21:57):

And don’t assume that every plus sized person wants to lose weight. Don’t assume that because we’re a gym we’re working out, we’re going for a run that we must need to lose weight. Or do we want to lose weight? Don’t assume that because we order a salad that it’s because we’re trying to be healthy or on a diet. Don’t assume that that’s why we work out because that’s not our story and that’s not everyone’s story. And finally, one of the biggest things that I really want to encourage, especially those of you who might be in the health and wellness space, coaches, entrepreneurs, please stop using weight loss, trauma, and diet trauma, and body image trauma. As a marketing tactic, please stop using that as You’ll copy for your sales page, anyone who has spent their life trying to lose weight on a diet, especially those who have had a large amount of weight to lose. They don’t need to be guilted or shamed or bullied into changing their health. They need support. They need to know that they are not alone. And so I encourage anyone listening who has potentially used that kind of language in the past to build out the sales pages, the sales copy.

(23:44):

Take a second to review, take a second. To look back, see where maybe you are highlighting someone’s trauma and diet trauma and remove it. It’s that simple. You do not need to pray on somebody whose diet trauma or body image trauma to sell. If you are really great at what you do, then you should be able to help people guide them, make better decisions for themselves. Because here’s what I learned from my own experience in the health and wellness space. As a coach, you can’t get other people results. And so this goes across the board, no matter which if you’re a coach of any kind, you cannot guarantee your client’s results and it is not your fault if they don’t get results, but it is your fault. If you promise them results and knowing that you can’t do that, right, it’s your fault. If you Mark it and promise somebody to get some result, knowing full well, that’s not possible because it’s not possible. It’s not possible to guarantee somebody a certain amount of weight loss. Sure. You might have some amazing program that usually people lose X amount of pounds or X amount of inches or whatever it might be. But being able to guide someone to a place where they can unpack that diet trauma, where they can actually heal from that is way more powerful. And that is actually sustainable, right? Understanding why you feel the need to lose weight, why you feel the need to be smaller, take up less space

(25:42):

That is so much more powerful, long time and is going to help them in all areas of their life, not just about their body.

(25:53):

Yeah.

(25:55):

So please stop using weight loss, trauma as a marketing ploy, and instead think about how you can really help your clients support them. It may not be as sexy. It may not feel as fun. It may not look as peppy and as good on the sales page, but it is much more ethical. And if you’re here listening to this, it’s because you want to build a business that is impactful and ethical and aligned with who you are. So I feel like we kind of went down a whole host of routes today with a story. I wasn’t really sure where it was going. I knew there was lots of things. I wanted to talk about things I wanted to highlight. And as I said over the coming weeks and months, I’m going to be bringing other people in to have these conversations with me because this doesn’t stop here.

(26:52):

This is a big conversation I want to bring in other experts. I want to bring in people who have also lived through this kind of trauma. And I want to open up the conversation around other areas of diversity and inclusivity in the online business space. So I hope you enjoyed this episode. I hope that it has maybe given you some ideas of how you can adjust your marketing, whether you’re in the health and wellness space or not, how you can consider the language you use and the way you think about people who don’t have the same sized body as you.

(27:33):

And also how you can maybe think about your own health and diet. And maybe thinking about how much focus you are giving to something and how much it’s taking you away from standing in your power and making a bigger impact. So I want to thank you for showing up today. Thank you for listening in and next week’s episode, we’re going to kind of carry on one of the themes here today. We’re going to be talking about what I like to call the rise of the bullshit business coaching. We’re going to be talking all about the know, like, and trust back to all really how the know like, and trust factor really is no more after 2020 and what we should be doing instead to build a relationship and a connection with our audience. So stay tuned. That’s coming up next week. And until next time Outlaws, I hope you have an incredible week.

(28:40):

[Inaudible]

(28:40):

Thank you so much for tuning in to today’s episode of entrepreneurial outdoors. If you see yourself as an entrepreneurial outlaw and enjoyed this episode with you do me a favor, it would mean the absolute world to me. If you could take a moment to subscribe to the show and leave a rating and review by leaving your review, you are helping me to grow out we’ll community and together we can show other entrepreneurs that breaking the rules can actually be good for business. Don’t forget. You can find the show notes for today’s episode, along with any of the links that I mentioned on my website@melanieknights.com forward slash podcast. And if we’re not already virtual busters, you can come and hang out with me on Instagram. I am the one with the country music playing the lukewarm coffee in my hand, and I’m dishing the doubt on how we can make entrepreneurship more inclusive and transparent. Plus I’ll probably send you some fun gifts. So until next time Outlaws