Emotional Eating, Diet & Demonizing the Body, Interview with Alishia McCullough

August 23, 2021

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I’m yet to meet a woman who doesn’t have some internalized struggle with body image, weight or beauty. The narrative of how we ‘should’ look, what is ‘beautiful’ and how ‘big’ our bodies are allowed to be is impossible to internalize. It’s also just as challenging to deconstruct & redefine on our own terms.

In today’s interview we’ve invited Licensed Mental Health Therapist & anti-racism eating disorder specialist Alishia McCullough to speak with us about emotional eating, diet and emonizing the black body. In our conversation we’re breaking down emotional eating, looking for clues to illuminate the subtle & sneaky ways we’ve taken in body-image-ideas that are not our own, the relationship between modern ideals & black slavery, plus some practices and reframes Alishia has used in her own practice with clients. 


“Food has always been used as a tool of oppression and so that’s why there’s so much taboo and silence and shame around our food relationship.”


In this interview we explore:

  • Emotional eating: what is it, is it really a problem & Jenna’s experience with sugar
  • 4 clues to illuminate what you’re body is deeply holding about beauty & body size
  • How diets encourage women to take up less space & men to take up more
  • A history lesson in understanding where our modern f***ed up beauty standards have come from & why they were created

Resources Mentioned in this Interview

Resources Mentioned in this Interview


About Alisha

Alishia McCullough (she, her) is a millennial Licensed Clinical Mental Health Therapist and National Certified Counselor currently residing in North Carolina. She is also an independent published author of the book Blossoming. Alishia is passionate about anti-racism, racial healing, and decolonization within eating disorders. She is motivated to increase access and create spaces for black, indigenous, queer, people of color to come together and heal in ways that inspire holistic wellness and culturally inclusive informed healing. Outside of her clinical work, she is a Co-Founder of the AmplifyMelanatedVoices Movement and the Founder of The Holistic Black Healing Collective. Her work has been featured by Target, Bustle, Popsugar, and Forbes Magazine.

Connect with Alisha:


Transcript

Jenna Ward:

A very warm welcome to our conference and to our guest today. I’m really thrilled to welcome Alishia McCullough, who is a millennial licensed therapist and a national certified counsellor. Now, Alishia is passionate about anti-racism, healing, decolonization, and her specific area of interest is

around eating disorders. Now, Alishia just had an article published in Forbes actually, which is called Food is Not the Enemy: Why Fat Phobia and Not Food is the Problem That We Should Be Addressing. Alishia is really motivated to increase access and create spaces for black, Indigenous, queer, people of color, to come together and to heal in ways that inspire holistic wellness and culturally-inclusive informed healing. That in a nutshell already says why I have invited her here today to join us. I actually first came to this work centering around Alishia’s anti-racism work. Yet, I very quickly realized that she was actually speaking about body image, diet, fat phobia and beauty standards in really powerful ways that shared a much wider analysis, a much richer analysis of how we relate to our bodies. This is why I’ve invited her here today.

As we get started, I would love to warmly invite Alishia to join us, and also to acknowledge the lands that we’re all joining this conversation from today.

I’m joining from Rotterdam in the Netherlands, and a warm welcome, Alishia. Where are you joining us from?

Alishia McCullough:

Thank you so much for having me here today. I am joining from U.S. territory, specifically in North Carolina. I am currently residing on Indigenous land, and so I want to hold space and honor, uplift and amplify the land that I’m currently residing on.

Jenna Ward:

Thank you. Thank you. The land does everything for us. I find that it very much influences the state of how I inhabit my body, how connected I feel to my body, which influences so many decisions, including what I eat and how I relate to eating, which brings us to where we wanted to kick-start the

conversation today, which is around emotional eating. Before our call, I just did a quick Google search, like I was telling you about, on emotional eating, and all this information came up. Like, five reasons that you can’t stop and how to get past it. Emotional eating gets such a bad rap, so many of us can feel guilty for it. It’s something that I know well. It’s something that I frequently discuss with clients. As we open our conversation today, I’m very interested to get your take, to hear about your personal, your professional experiences around emotional eating. What is it, and what’s your perspective around this?

Alishia McCullough:

Absolutely. When I think about emotional eating, emotional eating to me is just the way that we eat and our relationship to the emotions behind the food. When we think about the land as we were  entering at first, the land is what provides for us. The land is often our teacher, much like nature, and so in that the land produces food for it. It produces through the seasons, it produces through harvesting. Then we take that food and we also then turn it into what we know as our current produce. Then we cook it in our homes that’s filled with emotions. We do it with family or friends or maybe even by ourselves, but we have that special connection to process, which is a part of how food is created. So when I look at articles that say like, “Oh ways to stop emotional eating and all these other things,” I try to stay away from that. I try to base my practice in honoring emotional eating while also knowing that emotional eating is a part of our culture. It’s what connects us to our land and who we are internally and brings us back to self, which I find is bringing us back to home.

Jenna Ward:

I think that even just the perspective that emotional eating is something that isn’t necessarily something to feel guilty around. It’s something that actually could be engaged with in a really constructive or empowering way. That’s a little bit of a novel concept for, I would suggest many women, many individuals. I’m curious, in your practice with clients, do you see this concept around emotional eating come up a lot? What’s the context that you find people are either seeking help or have challenges around this situation?

Alishia McCullough:

Yeah. A lot of folks come to me, they don’t know that I’m not into shaming foods. They don’t know that I’m really an advocate for food and our relationship with food. They come and they’re saying things like, “Oh, I’m emotionally eating. Can you help me stop?” Or they’re saying like, “I want to work through this.” Through our work together, I always try to meet folks where they’re at. I never force someone into a mentality or a belief system, but what I do, is try to provide a different alternative. Through that work, I explain exactly what I just did around my philosophy around emotional eating and try to get them to develop their own personal relationship with it in their own way. I think that when I think about the way eating was demonized, and why we had those negative effects, is because of colonization, because of food scarcity and deprivation and overuse of the land. We had to develop these survival mechanisms in regards to our relationship with food. Because of that, it created hierarchies, which we know is a form of colonization. From there, we started looking at, how do people that have more access to food, are they ‘better’ or are they worse? Then of course, when I think about the U.S. context with the rise of American chattel slavery, there was a lot of things that came up with that as well around food and our relationship with our bodies as well.

Food has always been used as a tool of oppression and so that’s why there’s so much taboo and silence and shame around our food relationship. A way that we return back to ourselves and dismantle some of those systems is undoing that and developing that more connection, that more positive and empowering relationship with our food sources. That’s what I try to do within my practice and encourage my clients to really investigate as they think about that relationship.

Jenna Ward:

This is interesting because it requires us to pause with specificity and really engage in, “Okay. Mother Nature has produced something for me. I’m going to go now and ingest this.” There’s a process, a practice, a ritual in that. What you’re describing is really actually being in a relationship whereby that’s not an automatic association with guilt or with, “This is going to land on my thighs.” Or whatever the narrative might be. Instead, to actually be in the sensuous enjoyment of whatever it is that the pleasure that you’re putting in your mouth is.

Alishia McCullough:

Exactly that. Exactly that. It’s so interesting that you mentioned pleasure, because a lot of us have  disconnected from pleasure when it comes to food. We feel guilty if we feel good about eating certain foods. I work with clients around what we would describe as intuitive eating and really being in tune with your senses. As you’re putting that food in your mouth, how does it feel rolling around on your tongue? Then how does it feel as you’re smelling it? Are you looking at the texture? How does it feel as it’s going down through your body and digesting? Those are processes that a lot of us, because of capitalism and being on the move all the time and just having to grab and go, we don’t really sit and notice, what is it like to just digest food? What is it like to just enjoy it and be with it in the moment?

 Jenna Ward:

This is a very embodied practice when we look at it through this lens. Now I want to cycle back to your comments around oppression, race and capitalism. We are going to go into this, but there’s one more question that I want to ask first.

When I was personally first waking up to the idea that my body had more sensitivity, more bandwidth, it wanted to do more living than just this script of what life should look like, one of the challenges that I had, was at that time, any time that there was a challenge or problem, or I was feeling really low, I would reach for a quick fix. A way for me to get a small hit of some love. I come from a family of sugarcane farmers, so for me, a lot of that quick fix was sugar. That was something that at the time I felt like, “Oh, maybe I have a problem with sugar. What’s going on that I feel like I need to reach for this a lot?” Sugar is something that is frequently demonized. Even in our conversations before you agreed to come and speak with us today, we were chatting about, “Okay. Jenna, what’s actually your opinion on sugar? Because I want to make sure that we’re in alignment with this.”

For those people who might relate in different ways to what I’m sharing here about having that thing that they always reach for when it feels a little bit too much, or when there’s something that they don’t want to, at the emotional level, feel in their body. I think that can often be labeled as emotional eating and as something that we should be doing better, or you should have different or better practices to cope with this. I’d really love to hear what your thoughts are around that?

Alishia McCullough:

Absolutely. I think it’s so layered when we think about our eating. On one hand, as you described, when you had those difficult feelings, it was like going to that thing; to maybe suppress, maybe comfort, which I am under the philosophy that there’s nothing wrong with that. I also think it’s

important that we have the skills to be able to deal with the hard things too. I do think it’s important that if there’s something that we’re feeling that’s uncomfortable, that we’re able to go to that feeling of sit with it. Like, hey, you might go through that feeling then you might say, “Hey, I still want the chocolate cake.” Okay. Get it.

Jenna Ward:

Yes. I still enjoy sugar very, very much.

Alishia McCullough:

Exactly. Exactly. Same. I think it’s really just sitting with that and figuring out, “What’s at the core of this? What is my body really wanting and wanting to communicate to me?” If it’s, “I want love.” There’re so many ways that we can get love. If it is, “I need validation.” There’re so many ways that we can get that, but making sure that we’re getting the core root of our needs met. Then of course, if we still want it, that’s totally fine as well.

I think when you were talking about your story, it really related to me when you talked about your family being sugarcane farmers, and maybe that was a connection that they develop with the land and in their processing and in their work around that sugar. It’s like that ancestral connection was leaning in and reaching for this thing that’s always been a form of family and connection.

Jenna Ward:

So very multilayered. Again, whether we enjoy all of the different layers that we’ve spoken about here, none of them are possible without what we continue to center, which is that slowing down with sensitivity to actually just tune in and ask, “And what is that?” I feel that’s so important for reorientating to moving forward with pleasure or determining what our deeper true needs are. Very beautiful. When we think about this concept of emotional eating and why it is so demonized, you mentioned a lot of different factors going back to really colonial slavery factors. One of the things that I had assumed impacted our demonization of emotional eating, to use your language, was that a potential side effect of it, and I guess what many of us actually have a question mark over, as we reach for whatever it is that we’re emotionally eating is this association with weight gain. Weight gain is definitely, in many circles, seen as something that defies euro-typical ideals of beauty. I don’t actually necessarily feel like we can fully understand our relationship with food and with how we’re choosing to nourish our body without also unpacking the standards of beauty and what we are desiring our body to represent, whose standard of beauty we are wanting our body to represent. For those listening, I’m really curious if you have any ideas or any clues, how can we get to know what our own internalized standards around beauty, around body acceptability, how can we get to know what are we holding on that front?

Alishia McCullough:

Yeah. I think one of the things that I think about in my own journey is that if I’m trying to achieve this body ideal or this beauty ideal, is it causing more harm in my relationship with my body trying to do that? Or is it actually fostering abundance? What I find when I think about the Eurocentric ideal is that a lot of times it does require a lot of deprivation.

It requires a lot of disconnection. So I had to start asking my own self in my journey, “Whose narrative and ideals are these? Where did they come from? Why is thinness praised? Why is it bad to have fat on your body or exist across the spectrum? Why is that a negative thing?” In my work of doing that, I just kept coming up with more and more answers. Like, I’d ask like, “What’s wrong with being fat?” It’s like, “Oh, well, there’s fat phobia.” “Well, where does that come from?” “Oh, well, that comes from medical systems and it comes from coloniality and all the things we’ve named.” It’s like, “Okay. Well, let’s talk about those systems. Why are they here and what do they want?” For me, it’s been more of unpacking, questioning, questioning, questioning. Until I got to like, “Hey, this was not for me. This was created to actually oppress and separate and cause disconnection. I don’t want to be a part of that because that doesn’t foster abundance for my life.”

That’s where I’d say taking that perspective and being intentional about like, what relationship do you want to have with yourself? Is it one of deprivation? Is it one of shame? Is it one of disconnection where certain bodies are better than others? Or is it one that you’re fully accepting who you are and living in your abundance?

Jenna Ward:

It’s really interesting because I love everything you’ve shared. To be in full acceptance of your body also requires you to be in acceptance of every other body.

As you were speaking, one of those, you named several cues, that orientation towards, is this a deprivation or is this an enrichment? Is this an enjoyment? Then another that I heard underneath what you were saying is, and what judgment am I passing on their body and her body and his body? As seeing that form of judgment as another way that we illuminate the ideal or the contrast that we’re making over here. When we say it in that way, that’s a really illuminating way to look at these internalized standards, which we’ve all been infected with from decades and centuries of these types of standards being held as beautiful.

Any other clues? I think these are both really two useful one, but any other clues that come to mind in terms of illuminating these internalizations of standards that we might hold?

Alishia McCullough:

Yeah. I think for me, one of the things that I look at too, and it goes back to the relationship we have with nature, because I do think that nature often teaches us a lot of things. When we think about nature, even after a fire in a forest, over time, the nature reversed itself and grows back beautifully in the way that it needs to grow. I look around at nature and I’m like, Wow, plants exist in so many shapes and sizes. They all have their different needs. They all need to be nourished in different ways. Why would our bodies not need the same thing when we’re essentially extensions of nature as human beings? Why would we not show up in those ways as well? Nature has been around longer than we have and so why not lean on that?

That’s what came up for me thinking about it, is just how we can look around and get clues from what’s already been here from those that came before us that we never got a chance to meet.

Jenna Ward:

That’s such a beautiful way to put it. In the feminine aspect of the embodiment teachings that I am so in love with, we speak about the feminine, not as the female gender, but as the feeling flowing quality, which is so beautifully personified by Mother Nature.

I was telling you about the weather today in Holland before our call. It’s been snowing, raining, sunny, hailing. It’s been four seasons in one day today. All of these are just different shades of the same embodiment of the force of nature, which is the same stuff our bodies is made of. That’s such a beautiful way to also look at it. I love that.

Let’s dive a little bit deeper now. You mentioned this question before and I want to circle back around to it because my brain thinks in similar ways as well.

Once I start unpacking, like say for example, there’s a piece of cake on my plate, I hear so many people all the time say, “Oh, this is a guilty pleasure.” Once we start unpacking things like, “Well, I don’t want this to be a guilty pleasure. I just want it to be a pleasure.” Who made it a guilty pleasure? Whose guilt is that? Why does that exist? Who does that benefit? There’s a real rabbit hole of unpacking and dismantling these ways.

One of the things that you asked earlier was, where do these standards come from? Who do they serve? How were they created? I would love to hear your thoughts on this because this is a really big topic to unpack. Yet at the same time … I just googled, the global weight management industry is

worth about almost $270 billion a year. It’s this huge industry, and so I think we do really have to go to that macro level to look at how were they standards created? Who are they benefiting?

Alishia McCullough:

Yeah. Absolutely. When I think about that, it brings me to the work … And I always reference her a lot when I talk about eating disorders or eating or food or relationships with our body, but the work of Sabrina Strings who wrote the book, Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia.

In her book … And she’s a researcher, a professor, all these things, and she really laid out clearly how a lot of these ideals, when it comes to thinness or

Eurocentrism came from that enslavement that we were talking about earlier. That when black folks in bigger bodies or in just bodies in general were brought over in chains to all these different places, that folks were like, “Whoa, we have these scientific racial categories and how do we stratify those? How do we continue to make those profit and thrive so that we can oppress these folks and we can exploit them and their labor?” In that, she talked about how there was a lot of sexual violence that came with the enslavement and colonization and so there were more and more people being born that were looking a little bit more like the oppressor.

They had lighter skin and things and so they were like, “Whoa. With all of these people being born, what’s another way that we can separate and continue the stratification?” That was through body size, which essentially black folks’ bodies were deemed as negative, ungodly, and uncontrollable. It was considered that their diets were those that were terrible diets. That they had bad access to foods and all this good and bad talk.

Through that whole phenomena was where this whole thin ideal came out, where a lot of specifically cisgendered white women were dieting a lot so that they could separate their bodies from that of those who were enslaved. That’s where this thin ideal came from. Then essentially, with a lot of voyeurism and taking enslaved folks across the country, there became this message of like, “Oh, well, if that’s their bodies, then all of them have bodies like that. We don’t want bodies like theirs.” There was a lot of global anti-blackness that came from that whole experience as well. That’s where it started, obviously out of enslavement and oppression and a lot of just hurtful, harmful things is where these body ideals came from. When I think about, where did it come from and do I want to align with it? I’m like, “Wow, this ideal was literally created off of the enslavement and the oppression and the hate and the exploitation of my own folks. No, I don’t want to buy into that system.”

Jenna Ward:

It’s interesting, because when we speak to these roots, which are roots of racial oppression for the purpose of accumulation, capitalism, and whoever’s at the top of the hierarchy, so at this time the colonizers, predominantly from Europe, who are wanting to distinguish themselves as, I look

different and therefore I am more superior and thus justified in my oppression and dehumanization of my fellow human beings, for the purpose of me setting up my colonies, creating more capital and wealth for myself and further elevating myself through this divide. It’s interesting because when we think about these roots, which are centuries and centuries old, we can see actually that where we are today is so connected and yet has also evolved in so many complex ways and has affected

every generation that has happened between then and now. Our bodies are carrying … your body, my body, all our bodies are carrying such a charged past because there was survival on the line for all of the people that were involved in this, in very different ways.

I think that’s also the immensity of what we’re actually shifting in our own body. I think that’s really important to acknowledge as you name that history, because it is a really radical … It’s a humble, but a radical act of embodied activism to say, “I will dismantle this.” Perhaps … I don’t know. Do you feel like you’re complete in that journey of dismantling or do you still find, “Ah, there’s still more to go. There’s still the next thing that every now and again I discover.” I’m curious what your experience is?

Alishia McCullough:

Yeah. It’s so layered because I think that I’m still on the journey. I say that because I think that this work is not only individual, but like you and I have been talking about, is very much collective as well. Even when you were talking about how that trauma and those experiences exist in our bodies, biologically, I mean, we know this all passed down. I also just thought about in the energetic fear, when we think about energy work, we know our modern scientists have already proven that energy is not created nor destroyed.

That it’s here once it’s here. When we think about those ancestors that were doing those things, they’re around us. That energy is here – in the now. I think that it takes for us individually to go through and heal our lineages, atone our lineages. Then also do that collective work on working together around this stuff, because all those energies are around us still, even now.

Jenna Ward:

That’s such a beautiful thing to bring to the conversation. It also reminds me that while all of those generations of oppression have been there and under the guise of capitalism, which does not benefit any people, there’s also generations of people who have not agreed with this. There has always been some aspect of society, some people, whether it is the oppressed or the marginalized who have said no and who have rejected this. We’re having this conversation today, which I feel like is an increasingly loud conversation…well, certainly, in my part of the world, it’s a louder conversation because we’re standing on what so many people have modeled for us before. That’s really interesting to add in as well.

The piece around the history of this also really stood out. One of my feminist teachers once said to me that women are sold diets. Now, I’m going to use a gender binary here, women and men, I acknowledge there’s many more fluid spectrums than just a binary, but this is what she said so I’m going to use her words. She said, “Women are sold diets to make them smaller so that they physically take up less space. Men, on the other hand, are sold diets and weight management strategies to help them take up more space.” That was really a light bulb when she said that to me. It’s like, “Physically, your body should be taking up less room in the world. We don’t want to see as much of you.” I think we’re at a time in history now whereby more people, people who are women, people who are black, people who are Indigenous and queer and abled and disabled, the full spectrum of humans, are taking up more space and are saying, “Actually, I am here and I’m going to turn up the vibrancy on my living because it is beautiful.” I think that this taking up more space of more identities and diversity, it naturally creates more ripples in our standards of beauty. One of my key concerns around the idea of how much space we let our body take up, is that from the view of embodiment, so my view of embodiment is that it is our ability to inhabit our body with safety, with sensitivity, so that we can really come home to who we are and let who we are be full. Full within ourselves and full into the decisions and the way that we spend our time out in the world. We can’t inhabit this body if we choose that there are parts of this body that we don’t want to own and that we don’t want to know intimately.

I’m really curious to you what your thoughts are around taking up space in the world and what that means in terms of taking up space within your body and the size of your body?

Alishia McCullough:

Yes. Exactly. I think it’s that radical self-acceptance, which I know that can be a lot for folks to take in, but it really is that radical act of just saying, “I’m going to fully embrace who I am in all the totality

of who that is.” Even when I think about folks that are … When we think about fat phobia or folks that are like, “Oh, I don’t want to gain ‘too much’ weight.” Well, our bodies let us know where they feel the most comfortable and the most safe. We think about that, there is no everyone’s supposed to be thin. We are all supposed to exist across a spectrum of body size and shapes and colors and in representations and presentations. That’s just the way it’s always been. I think taking up space is really honoring that, really seeing that representation and saying, “It’s okay that I have arms that might be bigger or a belly.” Or those things. That’s a part of why I was created and I was designed exactly the way that I am for a reason. That’s what I think about with that. Also, this earth has so much room for all of us. There’s just not even a thing of taking up ‘too much space’. We’re just inhabiting the space that we already have.

Jenna Ward:

I love what you named just there. I was created exactly as I am. It sounds to me like that’s the standard that you’re reorientating to.

Would it be fair to say that it’s something along those lines that you’ve decided is your compass, is your north, is your standard that you’re going to choose rather than to be dictated or prescribed what the standard you should aspire to be is?

Alishia McCullough:

Exactly that. Absolutely. I’ll add to that as well. That even while that is my compass, we’re all inundated with all of these messages that try to get us off track, off of our purpose, off of our alignment. I think that’s where we go back to what we’ve been talking about so far today, is that

slowing down, checking in, being back within the body and reminding ourselves that these other things, that’s not ours. That’s not ours to take on and internalize. That’s the world. That’s the oppressive systems. That’s the things that keep us disconnected. Being intentional about going back and returning to the source and returning back to that compass of knowing that you’re worth it, you’re worth leaning into yourself and knowing yourself.

 Jenna Ward:

I’m curious, is there an aspect of your body, physical or otherwise, that you’re leaning into with that radical self-acceptance, and I might add adoration at the moment? I’m happy to go first. I had a babe maybe two years ago and I still have this lovely, soft, squishy belly that has all kinds of really beautiful dimples. I see things like, “Oh, have you got your post-baby body back?” I’m like, “I’m two years in and I’m really still not there and I have zero aspirations to be anywhere other than where I

am with this most delicious squidgy part of me.” That’s one aspect that I’m just like, “I’m happy with this and I’m not going to wear jeans that are too uncomfortable. I’m just going to really dress to suit my size and my body and how it is.” Curious if there’s an area or an aspect or a dimension of yourself and/or your physical body that you’re practicing that radical self-acceptance with.

Alishia McCullough:

Yes. I so appreciate you sharing that. For me, it’s been my belly area as well. No matter what size I’ve been, I’ve always had a little belly. For the longest, just because of all of these standards, I thought, “There’s something wrong with me. Why do I have this?” Maybe it’s all these things on Google that are telling you these things. I’m like, “No, that part is there for a reason.” I don’t know exactly why the reason, and it’s not really important. It’s just to know that it’s there and that that’s something that I have to accept and that I have to lean into, because who knows what could have happened centuries before that caused my body to form and develop in this way. But I’m here and I’m surviving and I’m thriving and living in this season. That’s been my process.

Jenna Ward:

That’s so beautiful to hear. I have one final question that I wanted to pose to you. If the future is to truly be embodied, what is the single most action or remembering that you would feel that we all should take or take more of?

Alishia McCullough:

Yes. I personally feel like healing is a birthright. Our way back of reconnecting is healing and coming back to ourselves and coming back to who we are as human beings. I think we’ve got so disconnected from just who we are as humans, as we were talking about earlier, as nature, as universe. We’ve become so just disconnected from all of those things and so a part of it is

healing those relationships with our plants. Our animals, our sun, our moon, all those things and returning back to ourselves.

Jenna Ward:

I would so deeply agree. I really feel that we do need a revolution of coming home, really being more sensitive to how we are in ourselves, on our planet, the planet from a sustainability point of view. In order to come home, I think it is a really important process of healing. It’s something that we can do ourselves and also something that sometimes we need some help with. That’s okay and that’s fine. If we do need help in this dimension, where can people find you? Where can we find your body of work and connect more?

Alishia McCullough:

Absolutely. It made me just want to say too, that I want to just tell everyone that healing is not linear. Healing is also not just one way of being and so while I advocate for therapy and mental health support, I also lean into spiritualists that are out here doing the work, or yoga instructors

or Reiki instructors. All of the modalities around healing. I do just want to put that out there for folks as well.

Alishia McCullough:

If you want to find my work, you can find me at blackandembodied.com and you can also follow me on Instagram @blackandembodied

as well.

Jenna Ward:

You’re very popular over on the Instagram. Following some of your challenges and some of your work. Yeah. It’s really beautiful, your Instagram account.

Alishia McCullough:

Thank you.

Jenna Ward:

This has been such a rich conversation with a lot for people to really simmer over and to decide what standard they want to orientate and hold. I’m curious, is there anything else or anything more that you would like to express before we wrap up today?

Alishia McCullough:

Well, I just want to just say that I’m just grateful to be here, grateful to have this conversation. I’m so glad more people are talking about this. I really do believe that being embodied is our pathway towards healing, towards healing our land, towards healing our relationships. So I’m just

grateful that people are having these conversations and are interested in this work.

Jenna Ward:

I am deeply happy about that too, because I love it. I was going to swear there, but I’ll just hold back in case you’re listening and maybe you have kids in the car or something. I just see how embodiment, the ability to be within ourselves, the sensitivity, it interfaces into every problematic system of our time. It interfaces into the potential of what we need to create if we’re going to have a sustainable future for our children on this planet. It interfaces and intersects into every important issue in the world at this time. I do not see a way forward for any of us without a connection to self, a deeply rooted, sensitive connection to self, which requires us to come home to the body. Your work is such an important aspect and dimension of that. Yes. To everyone who’s listening to our conversation and joining us today, who’s also nodding yes, I think it’s really beautiful to see that we’re speaking about things like diet and culture and body.

These are revolutionary acts. These are humble acts of activism. I mean, you are an activist for this in a much bigger, louder way. But simply to shift our own orientation, which might create some ripples in our household or our community, or inspire somebody else that we see on the street, I think that is a form of really humble activism that we must all aspire to.

Alishia McCullough:

Yes.

Jenna Ward:

Because we’re pretty fucked if we don’t.

Alishia McCullough:

Exactly. Exactly that. Knowing that we don’t meet people by accident, that anybody that we come in contact with that we’re influencing them and that we cannot be unchanged by the connections we have with others. So even the small things we do, like you said, create those bigger ripples for a holistic and collective healing.

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