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Jessica Wilson Takes on The AAP, Diet Culture, and Racism

Jessica Wilson, MS., RD, is a dietitian, accomplished author, and dedicated community organizer.

As a Black, queer woman, she championed much-needed conversations about racial inequities in the Health At Every Size® and Intuitive Eating communities.

Jessica takes a stand against the American Academy of Pediatrics new guidelines on kids’ weight. She engages in a compelling discussion about the intricate connections between racism and diet culture.

Special Guest Jessica Wilson MS., RD,

When Jessica first became a dietitian in 2006, the focus was calories in and calories out. 

Over the next five years, she embarked on a journey of unlearning and self-discovery, eventually finding her place in the Health At Every Size® (HAES) community. 

Through this newfound connection, Jessica helped to write the first principles around social justice and inclusivity within the HAES movement! 

She says, “It’s white supremacy, not diet culture, that makes us feel the way we do about our bodies.” 

In 2016 she took a needed break.

By 2019, she was thrust back into the intersection of diet culture and white supremacy at an eating disorder conference. A moment she talks about in her book, It’s Always Been Ours: Rewriting the Story of Black Women’s Bodies.

It's Always Been Ours: Rewriting the Story of Black Women's Bodies book

Her book, which came out in 2023, delves into stories surrounding Black women’s bodies, shedding light on how whiteness influences their narratives. She uncovers the deep connection between diet culture and racism. And exposes the damaging effects of these combined forces on the lives and well-being of Black individuals. 

Jessica emphasizes that dismantling diet culture alone isn’t enough to ensure the safety and well-being of Black and trans people.

American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) New Guidelines

Jessica Wilson’s voice joined many enraged when the AAP created guidelines surrounding kids and weight in 2023.

People in the eating disorder field and concerned parents frantically took to social media to share their opinions.  

These guidelines include early proactive treatment for children as young as two. In addition, weight loss drugs can be prescribed for kids 12 and older, and weight loss surgery for kids 13 and up. 

Shockingly there is no strong evidence to back the APP’s guidelines that kids as young as two should have early lifestyle interventions. 

For Jessica, this all came back to the pursuit of thinness and its ties to the pursuit of whiteness!

Dive deeper into this needed conversation during episode 203 of the Plus Mommy Podcast. 

Recording & Show Notes: Plus Mommy Podcast Episode 203

Transcript happily provided upon request.

Resources Mentioned On The Show

Jessica Wilson

Jessica Wilson(she/her) is a clinical dietitian, consultant, and author. In 2020 she co-created the viral Amplify Melanated Voices challenge. Since then she has been featured on ABC Prime Time News, public radio shows, podcasts, and in print media. Her book It’s Always Been Ours; Rewriting the Story of Black Women’s Bodies, was published in 2023 in the US and UK. She is an eating disorder expert and widely recognized for her work on addressing weight stigma in the care of queer and trans patients.

Bill Fabrey

Sunday 11th of June 2023

I am looking forward to listening to the podcast, for several reasons:

I have enormous respect for what Jessica Wilson stands for, and my own thinking about the size acceptance and Health At Every Size® (HAES) movements has been affected by her work. We had a brief overlap in our service on the ASDAH board a few years ago, at which time my own attitude about the intersection of white supremacy, apartheid, and fatness, needed some work. (ASDAH is the Association for Size Diversity and Health.) Looking back, as an average-size white man, I did not have enough lived experience to consider myself enlightened on the subject.

I had done years of work (since 1969, the year I founded the NAAFA organization) trying to make life fairer for fat people, but somehow, racial issues played second fiddle. A number of authors, including Jessica, helped improve my attitude.

Her interview in the New York Times several years ago was very helpful.

Finally, I am in total opposition to the new AAP guidelines, as is Jessica. Actually, my late daughter was spoken to harshly by her pediatrician when she was age 7, about her slightly-chubby thighs. She developed an eating disorder that lasted 20 years. Most people would consider that the loss of my daughter should be motivation enough for me to be keenly interested in this topic!

These days, as an officer of the CSWD (Council on Size & Weight Discrimination), I am making sure that racial inclusivity is high on our project agenda. Much of that work is done on the social media, in particular LinkedIn.


Tuesday 10th of October 2023

Thanks so much for all the work you do, Bill! I know we're always learning and growing and I feel honored to learn from people like Jessica.