Bold Artists is now Bold Artists & Advocates! Every Friday, we’ve been featuring the work and story of an artist who devotes their talent and passion to the idea that plus bodies deserve representation and admiration! Well, we want to expand even further! There are so many great stories of plus advocacy out there, performed by people in a variety of industries. So, we’ll be sharing all of their stories on this platform! 

Our Bold Advocate of the Week is Alexis Conason! We’re particularly excited to share her work during Weight Stigma Awareness Week. In case you missed it, here’s Alexis’  interview with Patricia DeLuca in the article, “Bold Independence.” (Originally published in Bold’s Summer 2020 mini-magazine. Intro by Patricia DeLuca)

Existing within Diet Culture is a restriction we all share. Some bodies are far more restrained, hidden and maligned than others. But we all suffer from its power. How do you want to be free? Bold examined this idea with four artists/entrepreneurs who broke away from the standard and pursued work based on body positivity.

How long have you been working on “The Anti Diet Plan”? The Anti-Diet Plan grew out of the work that I was doing as a therapist in my private practice in New York City. It has been an evolution over the last ten years or so. When I first started, I was entrenched in a weight-centric paradigm. I never questioned the idea that weight loss is the path to health and happiness since it was ingrained in me from as young as I can remember. It turns out I had a lot of unlearning to do. I trained in a bariatric surgery clinic and spent many years working in “obesity” research. I learned a lot about what doesn’t work. As I became exposed to the Health At Every Size and fat acceptance movements, I realized how much fatphobia and weight bias was in binge eating disorder treatment, my area of specialty. I wanted to create a mindful eating program that was weight-inclusive and celebrated all bodies. I started developing my The Anti-Diet Plan program almost a decade ago, and it’s gone through as many iterations as I have on my journey to weight inclusivity. I love where it’s come out now, with a ton of focus on compassion, resiliency, and living our fullest lives possible. 

Do you consider your work an act of independence? I do find my work as an act of independence. It’s about seeking freedom from diet-culture, the patriarchy, and a world heavily invested in keeping us confined and small. When consumed in self-hatred or preoccupied with thinking about what we should or shouldn’t eat or otherwise feeling like crap about ourselves, we aren’t able to fully engage in the world. Fat activism is all about empowering people to break free from those destructive messages that tell us that we aren’t good enough as we currently are. When we stop believing the lie we are broken, we become free to be big in the world. And that includes fighting to change the oppressive structures woven into the fabric of our culture. 

What are you working on in the future? My first book is scheduled to be released in 2021. It’s a radical self-help guide to breaking free from diet-culture, eating more peacefully, and finding the courage to take up the space we deserve in the world. I’m also continuing to grow Conason Psychological Services, my group therapy practice in NYC, and my six-week The Anti-Diet Plan online course. 

What advice would you give someone who wants to be more body-inclusive in their work, but doesn’t know where to start? For anyone wishing to become more body-inclusive in their work, I would start by reading some of the seminal books on Health At Every Size. Lindo Bacon and Lucy Aphramor’s classic Health At Every Size and more recent Body Respect are great places to start. Anti-Diet by Christy Harrison is excellent too. Follow fat activists on social media and support their work, however possible. And remember, most of us started in a weight-centric paradigm. We are all doing our best in each moment, and there is no shame in starting exactly where you are. As much as possible, try to stay open, curious, and listen. It can be a bumpy road, and most of us have a lot of learning–and unlearning– to do, but it is so worth it! 

You can follow Alexis at:

@theantidietplan

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