Berkeley Talks: Virgie Tovar on ending fat phobia


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Virgie Tovar laughing wearing a leopard print jacket and a tube top

Virgie Tovar is an author, an activist, and one of the nation’s leading experts and lecturers on body image, fat discrimination and breaking up with diet culture. (Photo courtesy of Virgie Tovar)

Writer, speaker and activist Virgie Tovar speaks with Savala Trepczynski, director of Berkeley Law’s Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice, about the process of divesting from diet and body image culture and investing in rehumanization, community building and a new vision for our lives.

“I do experience fat phobia in an interpersonal and social sense,” Tovar tells Trepczynski. “Meaning that I’ve had the lifelong effects of, you know, constantly having my body policed by others. Every time I leave my house, I’m deeply aware that someone might say something to me that’s really dehumanizing and stultifying. Because we’re just in that environment where people feel the right to police and speak out violently against fat women, in particular.

“One thing that’s really important to me is to allow yourself to be angry. Anger is a really sacred practice and I think, for women, anger is one of the least feminine behaviors that we can do and so there’s a big taboo around anger. And this goes back to the idea that oftentimes, we will metabolize anger and we’ll turn it into shame and that’s just internally directed anger. And, I think it’s really important for women to actually be able to feel anger and express anger.”

This interview was recorded for a 2017 summer podcast series, Be the Change, produced by the Berkeley Advanced Media Institute.

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