We talk a lot here about the Digital Education + Empowerment Program, which is open to all and presented by The Every Body Is Beautiful Project and Ophelia’s Place. It’s a four-month program, completed entirely online, that aims to give you the tools for facilitating conversations and change around important issues like body respect and eating disorder recovery, intervention, and prevention.
It’s powerful stuff — these are topics that truly matter, especially in today’s political and social landscapes where attempts are being made to police, judge, and shame minority and oppressed bodies.
But I’m not here to give you a sales pitch on this product. I just want to tell you, human being-to-human being, what this course has meant to me.
I’ve spent the last year working on the EBIB and Ophelia’s Place team, and I was one of the first people to complete the Education + Empowerment Program. I’ll be honest with you: I figured it would be a minor distraction; something I had to breeze through in order to understand the course we were offering to our community. After all: I was already on board with the messaging. I believed in the mission. I thought I knew it all. I was wrong.
The curriculum shook me to my core. It entirely changed how I interact with my body, and the bodies of others. It impacted me in the realest way. Here are the three biggest ways it changed my life.
It got me outside of my own experience. Eating disorder recovery is an intensely personal, and sometimes private, journey. To some degree, we must focus our attentions inward while working to regain healthy bodies and minds. But what I didn’t realize — not until the digital program — was that to truly recover, we have to consider the bigger picture. How does our story fit into the cultural and societal landscape? What factors have contributed to our suffering? How have our actions possibly hurt others? My story is important, but it’s not the only story that matters. Far from it. This course was a huge wake-up call for me.
It made me question and grow beyond my fat phobia. This truth was so hard for me to see — and maybe you can relate. Despite wearing a “body positive” badge of pride, I was holding on to some deeply-rooted fears of living in a fat body. Through the course material (including Sonya Renee Taylor and Melissa Fabello), I began to understand an even deeper truth: That fear was thinly-veiled fat phobia. Oof. A hard pill to swallow, right? But what I loved about the course was that it helped guide me to this realization in a gentle, nonjudgmental way. It gave me room to discover, acknowledge, forgive, and move past my biases and prejudices. It allowed me to grow at my own pace, offering the support that I needed.
It gave me the right language. Not to get all elementary-school on you, but words matter. They really do. And they really matter when talking about body oppression, body respect, fat positivity, intuitive eating, and the Health at Every Size modality. These are tricky things to discuss with folx, because they tend to get us fired up. These topics can lead to breakthroughs or hard walls. Perhaps the biggest tangible takeaway I got from this program was the language to talk about it all in a safe, nonjudgmental, gentle way. Through the curriculum and group discussions, I learned what words were helpful, and what ones were harmful. I learned how to participate in conversations for change as both an observer and leader. I learned how to truly be effective in planting seeds for change.
If you’re considering joining the Education + Empowerment Program, I so encourage you to reach out and begin the inquiry process. It doesn’t matter if you never want to be a community leader regarding these issues. The fact is, this program will change your life. To what degree is up to you.