Welcome to The Spark Show! In this episode, I talk to one of my Spark Society members, Danni Adams, who is a body image coach, body positive advocate, black feminist, pop-culture enthusiast and entertainer from Sanford, Florida.
- why she made body positivity her mission and how she makes an impact on her community
- why it's important for people to invest in coaching
- how she emphasizes activism in her body positive community
"Specifically, the term body positivity, I would say I didn't learn about the term until maybe 2016 or 2017, but fat liberation work, I've been doing it for a very, very long time," said Adams. "One of my first groups that I started was in the sixth grade. I co-started this group, it was called "Eat or Die," it wasn't politically correct at the time, but it sounds good for a sixth grader. It was all about bigger girls embracing themselves and loving their bodies. We would dress up the same and meet at the bus ramp and we would walk down the halls together."
"So, those are some of my earliest memories of advocacy work and being in this and being a friend of my body and being in a community with folks is so important," added Adams. "I think how I transitioned into taking it more seriously and continuing to make it into a career and working with women came from being in college at Florida State University. I was in a black feminist course and I thought what I'm reading just doesn't make sense. Like, I am a black woman, but I'm also a fat person in society. I think that all of those things intersect. I have to experience them at the same time. So, I wrote a paper and I didn't have much to write a paper about, there wasn't a lot of access because in college, they make you have certain articles you can use. There was a lot of blog posts, but not actual scholarly documents. So, long story short is, that's what I started to continue to get into the movement."
"I've been talking to people about their bodies for a very long time, mostly fat people and fat, black people and how I got into it was I didn't know it existed, but people were constantly asking me about their body and questions about their bodies on social media and in person," said Adams. "So, people would ask me questions and I was like, 'I should look into how to turn this into a career.' I spend a lot of time helping people, setting up video chats through my Instagram, and I found this career, got a community, learned the skills that I needed to learn to do this work, and just did a couple of trainings that I needed to do, and now that I'm doing it, I just feel like this is so relieving and I can actually turn it into something that I can do as a career and it has been more helpful. I feel like I've been able to help more people and that's what I want to do. I want to help people."
"Body image coaching is when I take you on a journey of healing with your body," added Adams. "A lot of us don't know that [the way] we've been socialized in the world, outside of our families, has had an impact, but also our relationships with our parents, our brothers and sisters, our friends, when we've gone to the store, it [all] impacts how we interact with food, it impacts how we interact with shopping, ourselves, going out in public. Before COVID, I had just introduced something called "Living in Public," which is to get people who are larger out in public. There's a lot of shame and social isolation that happens with people who are larger, and so I want to get that back open, not during COVID. But, those are the kind of things that I do. I take people on a journey of healing with their body, whatever that may be. It may mean weight loss. In the body positivity community, fat people have been harmed by this idea, like you need to lose weight, but in the body positivity community and as a body image coach, that's not what I'm promoting, [what I promote is] if you choose to make this decision, let it be for you and not for someone else."
"I always tell people, 'Activism is the rent that you pay on Earth,' Alice Walker said that and I love her so much," said Adams. "I think that a lot of times fat-phobia is separated from racism, but it's rooted in the same thing. I'm not just saying that because I'm a fat black person, but the history of the way of treating fat bodies as deviant comes from fear of black bodies. So, I've been doing race relations work for a very long time, and for me, I think that fat black people are consistently left out in the conversation. Things like reproductive rights, there isn't a birth control pill that accommodates people over 175 pounds. So, why has a pill been on the market for almost 30 years and hasn't accommodated for larger people?"
"It's a big deal," added Adams. "That's one of the things why I'm not just a body image coach, I think the advocacy piece is so important, because if we don't change the narrative about how bodies are positioned in society and how bodies are political, we don't really change anything, because self love, you can love yourself and still be oppressed. I was on an airline. I flew to Texas to visit my friend, that's where I am now. If I wasn't sitting in first class, I wouldn't have had a seat that really fit me. I would be scrunched up. I usually have to get an extender belt because there isn't a seat belt that accommodates me or if I was a few pounds larger, I would have to pay for two seats. Traveling is impacted based on your size. I grew up with a disabled aunt, she was fat and I saw how badly she was treated. I saw the way that my mom was treated when she came to speak up for me at school. All of those things wrapped up just made me feel like I gotta do something. People that I love so dearly are being impacted. I really care a lot about women and girls and the way that they're treated in society. So, I think that the way to get us into a better place is that some of us have to do the dirty work and be activists."
"I think it's important because, actually my therapist talks about this, everything that you do, sometimes you need a coach," said Adams. "A lot of things that you do need a coach, like to manage your money, if that's not your skill, you need a coach. If you are experiencing mental health, I see therapists as coaches. Body image is a struggle and if what you have been doing on your own hasn't been working, you need a coach. I think, in so many ways, that we all have coaches. A mentor is a coach, a sponsor is a coach."
"I think coaches are really important because they help amplify the things that we know and they also teach us things that we don't know," added Adams. "For example, [Gwen Lane] being my coach, I thought I was doing well on social media, and then I was like, 'Oh, this audit is not actually what I wanted.' I want my social media to appeal to more women, especially black women. When I changed and [started] listening to Gwen, and being a part of The Spark Society, when I changed my social media and started following the rules, more people started coming, like this past month I got 3,000 followers in exactly one month, and that just kind of came from following and reading and being in a community with a coach. I wouldn't have gotten there without a coach. You need someone to run these things by you who are skilled and who have been doing this for a very long time. I really want to be successful in every area of my life, and I think that coaches have been helping me get there. I think that with body image, I want to help other people get to where I am with body image culture."
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