Speaker • Professor • Sociologist • Author • Podcaster • Activist

EP 70 – Dismantling Diet Culture: Activism

A Journey Through Nuanced Perspectives and Meaningful Action

Hola! Welcome to another exciting exploration from the breadth and depth of dismantling diet culture, armed with a sociological lens, feminism, and intuitive eating. I’m your host, Dr. Hortencia Jimenez. As we navigate this interconnected web of important social issues, our focus today will stretch far beyond food and body politics to explore a broader landscape of activism, identity, and the fundamental complexities of our human experience.

Celebrating the Milestones: Mexico’s Historic Moment

As many of you may already know, Mexico has recently elected its first female president—a monumental and historic moment. This achievement is undoubtedly a cause for celebration, and it fills my heart with immense pride and hope. Yet, it is also an occasion that invites us to hold space for different perspectives and emotions. It’s not just a straightforward tale of triumph but a complex narrative interwoven with various strands. Some might question whether we should feel elated or skeptical, and that’s perfectly valid. What this signifies is that we must acknowledge the shades of gray in our feelings. We can celebrate this landmark event while simultaneously recognizing the immense work that lies ahead for our beautiful country. We need to remember that activism isn’t just about criticism; it’s about engaging in meaningful dialogue and action.

Engaging in Meaningful Conversations

A question that I often ponder—and one that I urge you to consider as well—is how are we engaging in these crucial conversations both at home and within our communities? It’s easy enough to criticize from the sidelines, but substantive change requires committed action, energy, and time. What are we doing to enact this change? Are we involved in our communities in ways that genuinely matter? To create a positive impact in Mexico and within our local contexts, we need to be fully engaged. 

I love to invoke Gloria Anzaldúa’s concept of “nepantla”—a state of in-betweenness, contradiction, and complexity. This is where we find ourselves, celebrating milestones while acknowledging ongoing challenges. It’s a process of holding space for joy, sorrow, success, and grief all at once.

The Power of Embracing Contradictions

I invite you to hold space for your joy and aspirations while also recognizing and addressing global injustices and atrocities. You might often feel guilty focusing on your challenges and triumphs when there is so much suffering and injustice in the world. I assure you that it is possible—and necessary—to hold space for both. Feel your joy and your sorrow, your anger, and your hope. This duality does not diminish your pain or your happiness; it enhances your humanity. It empowers you to act from a place of profound empathy and understanding.

We live in a society that conditions us to numb our feelings and detaches us from the rich tapestry of human experience. Especially for BIPOC communities, we are often told to suppress our “sacred rage” and complex emotions. Yet, tapping into this full spectrum of emotions is crucial. Not only does it honor our lived experiences, but it also equips us to engage in meaningful action. 

Moving Beyond Performative Activism

In today’s digital age, it’s easy to fall into the trap of performative activism—actions taken more for social applause than genuine change. Real activism, however, often happens away from the public eye. It’s conversations around the dinner table, its spiritual practices, its connection to the land, and its self-reflection. It’s vital to remember that activism is multifaceted, and there’s no one “right” way to engage.

Connecting Personal and Societal Issues

Our challenges are not isolated; they are intricately linked to broader societal problems. The sociological imagination, coined by C. Wright Mills, helps us understand this connection. Your struggles are a microcosm of the macro issues affecting our global community. Thus, addressing diet culture is not merely about personal well-being but is deeply connected to dismantling broader systems of oppression.

Transformative Action and Sacred Rage

I urge you to channel your complex feelings—your grief, your joy, your rage—into transformative actions. This doesn’t mean you need to be in the streets protesting; it could be as simple as reconnecting with Mother Earth, writing letters to your representatives, or engaging in spiritual and ancestral ceremonies. Your actions, however small or grand, contribute to the collective effort to create a just world.

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