In This Body – Episode #3: A Conversation with Jes Baker

Hosted by Ashley Bullock, In This Body is a podcast that serves as a wake-up call for greater representation and celebration of body diversity. In each episode, Ashley and her guest speakers shine a light on social inequities, discuss how to address the underlying “isms”, like racism, sexism, ageism, ableism, capitalism and discuss what we can do to radically reform them. In this episode, Ashley’s guest is Jes Baker.

Jes Baker is a positive, progressive, and magnificently irreverent force to be reckoned with in the realm of self-love advocacy and mental health. She is the woman behind The Militant Baker and has authored two books: Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls: A Handbook for Unapologetic Living and Landwhale: On Turning Insults into Nicknames, Why Body Image is Hard, and How Diets Can Kiss My Ass.

In this episode Ashley and Jes talk about:

  • How Jes’ father’s own fear of fat impacted her relationship with her body growing up
  • Diet culture and how it actually serves a purpose
  • What an advocacy letter is and the purpose of using one
  • The feelings behind shame and anger and how to use self-compassion to work through them

Podcast Transcript

Jes: There’s a wound there. And it’s not your fault that there’s a wound there. There’s not It’s not your fault. There’s a fear. It’s not your fault or shame. This is something that happened to you. And you know, our lives are just this long continuum of experiences that we didn’t have control over, up until this point.

Ashley: Hello, and welcome to in this body, a show that serves as a wake up call for greater representation and celebration of body diversity. I’m your host, Ashley Bullock. And together we’re shining light on social inequities and discovering how to address the underlying isms like racism, sexism, ageism, ableism, capitalism, and what we can do to radically reform them. Hello, and welcome to in this body. Today, I speak with Jess Baker, a positive, progressive, and magnificently irreverent force to be reckoned with in the realm of self-love, advocacy and mental health. She is woman behind The Militant Baker, and has authored two books Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls: A Handbook for Unapologetic Living and Landwhale: On Turning Insults into Nicknames, Why Body Image is Hard, and How Diets Can Kiss My Ass. Oh, I love it. In this show, we’re going to be talking about: how Jes’s father’s own fear of fat impacted her relationship with her body growing up; diet culture and how it actually serves as a purpose; what an advocacy letter is and the purpose of using one; the feelings behind shame and anger and how to use self-compassion to work through them. It’s gonna be good. Let’s get into it. Welcome to In this Body. Thank you for being here today. Okay, I’m just gonna jump into these questions. So, my first question for you is, what is your take on labels? And how would you describe yourself to someone that you just met?

Jes: I like labels because I feel like it’s kind of like a mental health diagnosis. It gives you a place to start. So, yeah. I am a white cis woman who is fat and shaped like Winnie the Pooh. I 100% have a Winnie the Pooh body. And I’m really into it. I worked for a while in behavioral health. So, I’m really into mental health and Somatic Experiencing working with the body, which kind of bridges mental health and body image, which is also where I’ve done a lot of work. So, those are my favorite things. And I was sharing with you before that, when I meet strangers, my idea of surface-level talk is like, “So, what’s your trauma? And have you done Shadow Work?” Like, that’s where I am. So that feels like part of my identity. That’s who I am as well.

Ashley: That’s awesome, though. Do you find that a lot of people know what that is? Or do you kind of have to, you know, educate them on that?

Jes: That’s a really good question. I think I tend to be very lucky in that. People usually go there with me. I think we all kind of want to talk about it, but maybe don’t have the right space. So, then I’m just like, “Hey, I’m here to talk about this stuff.” Yeah.

Ashley: That’s a gift, though, that’s a gift that you can bring that out of people, you know, because it’s not, not an easy conversation to have and to have people open up to you. So what messages Did you receive about your body and identity early on in your life?

Jes: It’s really hard for me to pinpoint a specific memory that’s young, and I’m not sure if it’s because it’s repressed or just how memory works. I don’t have really early memories, but I do have early feelings. So, how I was kind of introduced to hating my body was through my father, through my dad, who has a huge fear of being fat, and weight and all of that. So, I transferred from his [issues], right? That’s how I picked it all up. And then society likes to then up the ante. So, that was there. And then also, I was raised very religious. I was raised Mormon, which is, in my life anyways, was kind of a conflicting message because I wasn’t considered attractive or okay. And I was still being taught that my body was, like the devil’s gateway. Because if we were responsible as women for male salvation, we couldn’t be too tempting. You had to be modest. You had to take up less space, so that you weren’t tempting, you know, one of these evil things where men just apparently can’t control themselves. So here I was with this body that was undesirable, but then also being taught that my body because it was maybe desirable in some world was a weapon. I wrote a memoir A few years ago, and I think that really forced me to put the pieces together. I kind of did like 10 years of therapy in one year, one year, just by writing that book. So, if anybody wants to like speed through, I suggest writing a memoir, because it makes you look at your [self].

Ashley: What’s it called?

Jes: So, I’ll just give a little disclaimer. So, the first book I wrote is called Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls things. And I wrote it a long time ago. So, some of it, you know, I’ve learned since then. I’ve grown since then for sure. But it tends to be very helpful book for people who are kind of walking into the newness of what it means to not hate your body. And why diet culture is [BS]. And kind of combining like stuff that we find in academia with things we find in activism with personal experiences. So, it’s kind of just a conglomeration of all of those. Land Whale is diving a little bit deeper into the nuances of living in a fat body. So, it’s a little more, I’ll just say nuanced. There are conversations that are really hard to have in real life or on the internet. So, they ended up there. Just so people know what they’re getting into, because they’re very different books.

Ashley: Sure, sure. No, thank you for that. What stories did you learn about your body and food growing up or from society?

Jes: I think the biggest narrative that I still have in my life, even though I’ve been working like neck deep in body image, work and fat activism and body liberation for eight years… I think it’s important for people to do this. I’m even a body image coach and mental health coach. And I still have old narratives that haven’t kicked yet, haven’t healed yet. I’m still in the midst of it sometimes. One of the biggest narratives that I’m still working with is that of scarcity, of like, never having enough around food. And I don’t think there was, you know, much of a time where my body ever felt like, it had enough because I was raised in poverty. So, it wasn’t dieting, but we didn’t have enough and I was kind of raised with that scarcity. And then I moved into dieting, which my body saw as scarcity as well. So, I still truly had this like, gut feeling in my body that there’s never enough, which really holds you captive in a lot of ways. So, that’s something I learned early on, and I’m still working with.

Ashley: Okay. When was the first time you were made to feel like not okay, or broken? Or that something was wrong with you?

Jes: It’s really hard. It’s really hard to pick a memory. Yeah.

Ashley: I know.

Jes: Do you have a memory of the first time? Do you remember?

Ashley: I was made to feel shame. I mean, probably yeah, probably. So, I’m, I’m biracial. So, my dad is black, and my mom is white. And so I got a lot of conflicted messages about what was acceptable and what was not and what was okay. And, you know, being too fat for my white family and not being like, thick enough for, you know, my black family if I lost weight and just about my body shape, and yeah, but it still happens. And I’m 36 years old. And so yeah, it’s been a mission to navigate that. It’s been really tough.

Jes: Mm hmm. That’s interesting. So, if I had to have something specific that taught me I was broken, I would say, throughout my entire life, any kind of exercise class or movement class was absolutely punishment and not for fun, right? I feel that like we didn’t play basketball for fun.

Ashley: Okay. Did you see your body represented growing up?

Jes: No. Absolutely not. And when I did see fatter, fatter bodies, I definitely internalized the same messages that we all do around it being horrific, the person’s fault, something that you never want to be. So definitely not anything positive, incredibly negative, but also just representation wasn’t a thing. And I didn’t even know that it wasn’t a thing until I was much, much older.

Ashley: I think social media has kind of shined a lot of light on that because now we’re seeing all kinds of like diverse bodies, you know, represented on social media. It’s so awesome. Who are some of your favorite people on social media?

Jes: One of my favorite people in general. Is Sonya Renee Taylor.

Ashley: Oh, yes, yes, yes. Yes. Love her.

Jes: I think there’s like two perfect humans on this planet. Should be like, saints essentially. And LeVar Burton is one of them and Sonya Renee Taylor is the other. There’s two. I don’t know any others. Yes.

Ashley: I love both.

Jes: Yeah. So, Sonya, I met her early on while I was still really learning about really basic things that I didn’t understand. So, the way I kind of came into this, can I give you kind of like how I came into body image work?

Ashley: Yeah, that would be great.

Jes: So, where I, how I got started in this was, I was doing a little blog. I had found another blogger who was fat and happy. It blew my mind. Once you have a realization, you can’t go back. So, I was reading and like, really? Like, how are we not talking about this? This is amazing. And I did. I don’t know if you remember this. But way back in 2013, Abercrombie and Fitch had this huge debacle in the news, because some old comments resurfaced from their CEO that was like “We don’t sell extra-large anything. Because we only let cool kids wear clothes.” And for some reason, the media got hooked on it and it was all anybody was talking about. So, I did a visual campaign, a photo campaign where it looked like Abercrombie and I had a model who was traditionally attractive – a man, this man that kind of would fit into like Abercrombie. And then me. Then we kind of took these photos that looked a lot like Abercrombie and Fitch, but instead of Abercrombie and Fitch, it was attractive and fat. And people loved them, and they hated them and just really went everywhere. And all of a sudden, I found myself with this huge platform. I didn’t know what the [heck] I was doing. I was a baby in so many ways. So, I was like, “Oh, this is awesome.” And I was very genuinely, genuinely into the work and was like if I learned about this, I just want to share it with so many people. So, I put together a conference called The Body Love Conference. And if I were to do it today, it would be very different. But one of the people who came to the first year was Sonya Renee Taylor. And that was how I met her, and then we stayed in contact over the years. And if I could tell anyone to follow a person it would be Sonya just because she holds a very special space where there is radical acceptance with boundaries and honesty. And she holds people in systems accountable with compassion. And that is such a hard thing to do.

Ashley: Yeah, she’s amazing… Can I give you one more person? Really fast?

Jes: Yeah, yeah, yeah, of course. The other person I would recommend is Your Fat Friend.

Ashley: How’s it spelled?

Jes: On Instagram? I think the handle my handle might be like UR Fat Friend. But, she wrote under this anonymous name. Why? Oh, you are your friend. And she gets so many essays anonymously. And they’re beautiful. And they hold a lot of ideas that we find conflicting and difficult in an eloquent space. So, I and she just wrote a book. So, I would recommend both of those people on social media and their books out. Okay. Perfect. Thanks for letting me tell you.

Ashley: Yeah, for sure. In keeping the social media conversation going, how do you think it impacts our bodies? Like, do you think it’s positive or negative? Do you think it’s like a positive or negative force in in people valuing their bodies? I think personally, I think it’s both.

Jes: When I think of, fundamentally, I think all levels of introduction are needed for this kind of work in all areas, so we kind of have to start at the very beginning. And that kind of looks like right now a social media that kind of looks like pink pastel, we call it “bopo.” It’s not very political, even though bodies themselves are. But that’s kind of what hooks people and offers them this idea, like, this idea of: it could be different in the way you think about your bodies. The issue that I’m finding online is that we become very comfortable in that place. That doesn’t challenge us too much. So, we don’t move further into the nuance and harder discussions.

Ashley: Yes, yes. What are some discussions? Or what would you wish that people talked more about, or that people dove deeper into? In terms of like body positivity?

Jes: I think the hardest conversations might be around the fact that there are no absolutes. No one way that works for everyone. We like to say these like, and I used to do this as well, these sweeping grand statements of you can’t diet and love your body, or fat people can be healthy, like these big statements that we want, and they aren’t important. And also diet culture. This is very controversial. So, we’re gonna just go there, for the first time ever on this podcast, go there. Diet culture, I truly believe serves a purpose. And when you work in activism, there’s this throw out like, I mean, obviously, right, because it also causes so much harm. But I would love to kind of talk about the control, or at least the fake, topical, really not control, but it feels like control that comes through counting calories, having a checklist, being able to count numbers. It gives us a sense of false autonomy, but it still serves its purpose in that way. And so, I think that, you know, we don’t necessarily want to live there, because that is it’s literally created to harm us like there isn’t true freedom within that. But it’s also just like, sometimes when we talk about fatness and diet culture, we don’t hold space for this, like, kind of empathetic part of why it worked for a bit and was serving people. Does that make sense?

Ashley: Yeah, no, it makes perfect sense it. I always talk about that with clients too, you know, like eating disorders, they, you know, while they can be harmful, they also serve a purpose, you know, for people. And so, no, that makes complete and total sense.

Jes: The other piece I feel like, and this is something that I really need to do the work on, is looking at the intersectionality of how fatness plays within in other oppressions and how they’re connected. And something that a lot of people – because the honest truth is that acceptance and like this radical movement, it is people who look like me. So, that semi is kind of hard to describe that semi traditionally attractive, able bodied, cisgender women we see a lot of those. Yeah, I’m not special in any way, shape or form at this point. And there’s almost too much of that, but what we don’t realize within that context, we can kind of get, this is another place we might get stuck is we maybe haven’t thought about or haven’t processed, how connected every other marginalized identity and oppression is. So, there’s a book that came out around race and the anti-Blackness that is directly tied to fatness. And so, people, this is tying it back to Sonya. This is something that Sonya talks a lot about. Our liberation from body shame, from fat phobia, from all of the things which is very real and very big and very important. But it’s directly tied to the liberation in every other form as well. So, through fighting against racism, you know, ableism in the mental and physical world, all isms, right through fighting those, we’re finding liberation for fat bodies as well, even if a fat body isn’t represented the way we think it should be. How did I even get on to that? I don’t know. But that’s where I ended up.

Ashley: No, it’s great. It’s great. And I’m loving this. Have you read Fearing the Fat Bodies that I was mentioning? Yeah. Okay. I thought you might have. Yeah, that’s a really great book, Sabrina Strings, everyone. Dr. Sabrina Strings, check that out. That’s a great book. That was my first kind of like, introduction to that, too. I was like, “Whoa, I kind of knew it existed.” But she does a phenomenal job of really breaking it down and providing historical context there. I love that book.

Jes: So when I, when I talk about this kind of stuff, I’m not coming to it from a “you have to be perfect” kind of way. And I feel like that’s kind of important. Because if we wait to be perfect, we won’t get anything done. This is how we grow and move and if we’re looking for action items doing is where it’s at, instead of just kind of thinking about this, you know, when we learn something new, instead of it being a shame-based thing. So, like when I learned about racism and the intersection with fatphobia, instead of going into a shame place, which serves no one, like, “Oh, I can’t believe I didn’t know this.” It’s an opportunity. Here’s another piece of the puzzle. We’re putting it together and getting it. So, I don’t want to discourage anyone by being like, “Let’s talk about intersections and all these things that maybe you haven’t thought about.” Because how could we in this [messed] up society, but there’s room now for people, there’s always been room, but there’s room for us to learn and grow. And for it to not be a shame-based thing so that we can actually get some [thing] done. Does that make sense?

Ashley: Yes. Makes total sense. Yeah, and that’s right in line with my next question. I was going to ask you about systemic oppression and how that’s impacted you personally.

Jes: What when I first started doing body image work, I was much smaller. I’ve gained weight since I started, which is just very common when you stop dieting and kind of embrace the messiness. So, I’m, but I think where I’m going with this is I see it even more now. And where I’m seeing it is very much in the medical industry. I think that’s where a lot of danger lies for fat bodies. Just on the fatness area, and lack of resources, lack of care, lack of any kind of support, assumptions that are made can just be very dangerous and life threatening. I think that’s one of the both in mental health and physical health, actually. Absolutely, absolutely. But on an individual level as a fat person. One of the most helpful things I’ve learned is how to self-advocate. And also working as a coach, right, with people and forming something like this never crosses our mind. Because when we’re taught that you’re worthless, and you don’t have any boundaries, and you’re lazy, and you can’t and you’re intellectually inferior, all because of XYZ. We don’t think outside of the box of “maybe I do deserve to be treated like, quote unquote, human.” And so, something really interesting that I work with folks on is an advocacy letter to take with you when you go to the doctor. Such a great idea and the first paragraph is like – I would like this in my phone – “Thank you for being part of my team.” And being very explicit with “I’ve had trauma around…” you know, I’m thinking eating disorders. So, “I’ve had trauma around eating disorders. So, a weight loss plan is not an option for me right now.” And just having all of that, you know, “I would like to be weighed, I would not like to be weighed,” your preferences and having that ready, because when we go into shame mode, we often kind of revert back to this childlike version of ourselves, especially with doctors, or anybody we see in a power position. So having that ready is really cool. And that’s something that we can do on our own. And then of course, there’s the bigger picture that we can’t do individually. But that’s something I really like.

Ashley: That’s such a great idea, though. Do you guide folks into doing that? Or do you have like a template or something I think that’s, that’s big. I would love, love to share that with people with clients.

Jes: I would love to send you a link, I have a Google Doc, that will, I’ll just send it over. And there’s a lot of work. So, what it has is like the opening paragraph or the closing, and then it has some prompts for what you might want to put in there. Because it’s very specific to you. But it might be enough to get people started. Maybe you can work together with someone else on it. So, you have an outside person or somebody who can help you name the very hard things.

Ashley: Now that’s really important. Yeah, cuz I know when you get into the doctor’s office, you just kind of like shrivel you know, you shrink, you break down. You know, the white coat syndrome is real for me. I have a lot of anxiety there. So, I usually write down all my questions beforehand in my phone, and then, you know, go in, because otherwise, they’re like, do you have any questions? “No, even though I’ve got this whole laundry list, but…”

Jes: No, that’s awesome. On the on the template, I’ll make sure. So, it’s something that I’ve kind of just been collecting over the last two or three years of common feelings. So, I’ll make sure to include those as well. So that maybe there’s already words for something you’re feeling. Things that I found are very useful for many, many people. That’ll be fun. There’ll be some fun homework.

Ashley: Yes, yes. And then this is one of my favorite questions. So take your time answering this, but how do you manage your anger, shame, and disconnection? Whoa, whoa, easy question. Right? This is where I live right now. So, I’m so into it. Okay, take your time.

Jes: If I were to generalize, where I start, is trying to have compassion for my shame and anger. It feels impossible sometimes. So yeah, I just like the hardest work. Fear is usually behind anger. I don’t know if you’ve heard – I don’t know who said this originally. But anger is like the bodyguard of fear. And I think there’s a difference between rage and anger, but kind of that reactionary. And maybe we would describe it as anger or rage. So, I kind of try and if I can stop myself, try and figure out the fear behind my anger. If I can name that ideal. If I can’t, I likely have some shame around it. And sometimes when we can’t control situations, the only thing we can control is how we speak to ourselves about it. So, trying to maybe have some compassion there. And what that might look like is this is a wound. And it’s not your fault that there’s a wound there. It’s not your fault that there’s a fear. It’s not your fault there’s shame. This is something that happened to you. And you know, our lives are just this long continuum of experiences that we didn’t have control over, up until this point, especially childhood, right, where we are needing to be protected and comforted and taken care of and most of us did not have enough of that. And it just is what it is. But those things don’t have to define us. So, the compassion comes from knowing that this is what it is. And it’s also you know, I didn’t ask for this. I didn’t choose this and then that opens up some space to maybe think about the next step moving forward. So, that’s kind of how I deal with that.

Ashley: You named some important things, I think, like, you know, when you can identify your emotions or the cause of them, like with emotional specificity, I think, like really, really helps relieve some of that anxiety – like the naming. You use the word naming, you know, naming where it’s coming from, or why it’s here, and just kind of pausing, taking a step back and really tracking, “Why do I feel this right now?” Like, it can come from the most random, smallest things, smallest interaction, right? But yeah, emotional specificity. That’s the thing.

Jes: You are so eloquent. Yes, everything you said.

Ashley: Thank you. Let’s see, where else should we go? We have, there’s all kinds of questions. I never get through all of them. Because there’s like, way too many. Who inspires you? Well, we know. LeVar Burton, and who was the other person Mr. Burton, and Sonya Renee, there’s just two, okay. Okay, what nourishes you, and how do you take care of yourself?

Jes: I found that at the beginning of lockdown, this shift of becoming virtual and like, stay at home. A lot of the resources that I built up for my mental health just disappeared overnight. And there was some serious like, anger, rage about that. Have I worked so hard to get here and now you’re going to take away the only things that help? So, I really had to, I teach a workshop that is kind of realistic self-care in every aspect in place that we find ourselves whether we’re feeling good, or we’re in crisis, or somewhere in between. Some of it involves making actual lists, and what I ended up having to do in order to take care of myself. During this time, it was for everyone thing that used to work, I had to come up with like five other smaller things, with the knowledge that it was never going to be the same. So, there was like this brutal acceptance of this is just going to be different. And maybe it’s okay to, I think also a big part of it is it’s okay to not be okay. And throughout the first five, six months, I was really white knuckling being okay. I felt like I needed to show up. I felt like if I just like kind of a band-aid-ed my mental health enough, if I piled enough band-aids on top, I would feel better. And what ended up happening is eventually built up to the point where I just had like this breakdown. And I realized that I was not okay, that things are not okay, that this world is not okay, that nothing’s okay. And it was within that moment that you would think that I would feel hopeless. And there was some of that, but more it was, like, a big huge relief and sigh and all of a sudden my bandwidth expanded and I felt more okay. While acknowledging that I was the most not okay. So, maybe the answer is: allow yourself to not be okay. That’s how I’ve been taking care of myself. And knowing when to apply self-care things and when to just be like, this is [not great].

Ashley: That’s really, really important. Thank you for sharing that. I felt that too. I felt that like, just that release. What’s the resource that’s been helpful for you on your journey? In life or around body image?

Jes: Are you familiar with Somatic Experiencing?

Ashley: Yes.

Jes: I think that fundamental knowledge has changed my life in more ways than I can count, both in body image and in just general life. Understanding my nervous system and knowing why things happen. Also once I learned about Somatic Experiencing and working with the body and you know, we can heal trauma through the body and the nervous system. I kind of wondered how I ever did body image work without knowing it. Because it’s so tied. And so, it brought me from my headspace, which is very much Western thinking of like, “Everything’s in our brain.” That’s where I was doing body image work – up here above my neck, right? That’s where I was doing it. And it brought that work down through my entire body. In a really meaningful way. When we talk about embodiment, that’s what I imagine, is really getting in touch with. I think I always used to think that embodiment was like, “Oh, you go to yoga, or you feel good, sweeping the floor.” I didn’t really know what it was. For me now, embodiment means I’m feeling really stress, stressed and activated, because something feels threatening and dangerous. I wonder what that is. And so that’s embodiment for me, which is different for everyone.

Ashley: Did you work with a therapist? Or is this something that you kind of did your own research and kind of, you know, self taught?

Jes: I do work with someone who’s trained in it. There is a book that she recommended, that was really helpful, because it is like, a quarter of an inch thick. So, it’s really small, because we like to intellectualize everything. If I were to have gotten a big book, I would have just read it and not done any of it. So, she knew me and she was like, here’s this teeny, tiny book. It’s called Healing Trauma by Peter Levine. And it was so incredibly helpful, and, you know, embodiment, and Somatic Experiencing healing, through very simple things in this book, like, just touching your skin and knowing your boundaries. As a very empathic person because of trauma, like I used to not even know where I ended and other people began. Literally, couldn’t feel it. Yeah, I felt like I was everywhere, right. So, learning how to feel where your skin ends was incredibly helpful. And then you kind of take on your own journey and research.

Ashley: I’ve noticed you use the word boundaries quite a bit throughout our conversation. And I love that because I think boundaries are so important. And often misunderstood or misinterpreted. Talk about boundaries. What’s your favorite boundary to hold for yourself? Do you have one? Or a favorite, like, boundary word? If that’s a thing. I have never had that question asked to me. I’ve never asked it either. I just like it just popped up. Because I’m like, I love boundaries. I’m always talking about them. I’m always like drilling into people and like boundaries, boundaries, boundaries, and my kids. So I love it.

Jes: Is it okay if I ask you another question. Is that okay?

Ashley: Sure. Sure.

Ashley: When you talk to other people about boundaries, how would you describe them?

Ashley: Um, that’s a great question. I think it depends who I’m talking to. And, you know, of course, what the context of the conversation is, but I’ll just say like, most recently, I just talked to my son, my 13 year old son about boundaries. And I just, you know, I just remind him that boundaries are to protect you and to protect, you know, some of the relationships that you have, and it’s important to, you know, to speak up for yourself so that you can maintain autonomy and also for your, for the sake of your relationships, for maintaining healthy relationships, and just saying no, and like not worrying about what people think or how they feel, because you’re just protecting yourself. And I just emphasize that it’s like the number one, it’s, you know, paramount. It’s the number one way of self-care and taking care of yourself. So that’s kind of what we talked about here. He’s only 13. When he’s older, I’ll dive deeper into it. But overall, I’m like, it protects you, and it protects your relationship. So like, why not just boundary it up?

Jes: Wow. Oh, I wish I had that talk when I was 13 years. That’s amazing.

Ashley: I didn’t. I didn’t know but I can’t even take credit. When I first started working here at Reasons I was 22 years old, and I had never even heard the word. Well, in that context, I knew what a boundary was, but I didn’t know what it meant. In terms of like self-preservation. My boss, friend, mentor, Nikki Rollo. She is the one who talked to me about them and was, you know, just big on having boundaries at work, which I never thought could be a thing – like having boundaries with clients that we’re talking to. And then also within like, work relationships. She’s the one that taught me that. So, thank you, Nikki, if you’re listening to this one.

Jes: That’s awesome. Especially boundaries at work. Yeah. Yeah. Everywhere. Yeah.

Ashley: But what’s your favorite? Like? What’s is something that you, you know, that you hold?

Jes: I feel like, I don’t even know if this will make sense. I feel like the the area I know best around boundaries is where I don’t have boundaries. That’s, I feel like what comes up for me first is like the ones I’m working on. And don’t have and really want to have, but I’m struggling around it. Because it’s a lot of learned [BS]. Like it’s on the way.

Ashley: Yeah, I know. Now I’m thinking to like, one that’s kind of new for me is over explaining. Over explaining things, which I’m learning is like rooted in trauma and like not being believed not being listened to. That kind of thing. So, yeah, that’s something that I’ve just read just this year, have become more aware of like, stop over explain, I’ll have this whole paragraph of a text and I’m like, “Whoa, you don’t need to give all this,” and like, erase one sentence. Doesn’t mean that I don’t care or that I’m not, you know, being thoughtful in my response. So yeah, that’s one.

Jes: That’s a great one. I think the one I’m working on, and I am succeeding, in some ways, is actually a boundary around my use of the internet, which is a big one, when you work online. And especially within the social justice world, there is definitely you know, we all have trauma, because we’re all there because we all [care]. A bunch of traumatize people trying to change the world. And within that, it’s kind of messy. Learning how to, when to explain, and when to be wrong, and when to just let it go. And when to dive deeper. All of those. And for me, right now, what I’m working on is using internet like social media, specifically as a tool, instead of being in a relationship with. And I’ve been in a relationship, a toxic relationship on my end, because I didn’t have any boundaries. So, it was over pleasing. My identity was centered around what other people were saying – all of these things. I think people just call that codependency and like, one-on-one relationships, in a way. I was showing all of those signs that you would find in a codependency book, for sure. So, learning how to kind of step back, find out who I am outside of people’s opinions, and then go in with, I know who I am. And I’m okay with that. And I’m not perfect, but I’m working on it. And this is a tool that I get to use to interact with you. But also it’s just a tool instead of making it my wife.

Ashley: Yes, yes. Preach for me. Yes, thank you for that. This has been so good. I’ve really enjoyed our time. So where can all of the listeners stay in touch with you? As I’m setting boundaries, I’m not on Instagram. Give us your email your Instagram. I’m like, we need your PO Box. Yeah. Well, should somebody want to reach out to you and like, you know, just inquire about your services or that letter or what’s the what’s a safe a safe way to contact you?

Jes: There’s a couple ways and also, you know, I’ve been working online for so long that there is a lot of work that I’ve done that people can go read still. So, there’s quite a few ways. The two books. My blog that I don’t write on anymore, but it’s full of years of writing around social justice issues. The Militant Baker dot com. That’s the blog. It was like real cool back in the day when blogs were cool. It’s kind of derelict now. That’s okay. And on Instagram, it’s also The Militant Baker. So The Militant Baker is what I’m mostly known as for coaching, if people are interested in that, or workshops, Jes Baker dot come is where you’ll find that. I still am very much reachable. It’s just I’m showing up a little just so people know, I’m reachable. I’m just showing up for myself a little bit differently. And it’s all good. Yeah.

Ashley: Yes. Awesome. Well, thank you so much for your time. This has been wonderful, genuinely. All right. Bye. Have a good one. Thank you for listening to In This Body and being a part of these important conversations. If you want to be on the side of positive change. We’re all bodies and identities are representative empowered. Keep doing your part to speak up against systems of oppression and injustice and stand up for diversity. As the late great Audrey Lorde said your silence will not protect you. Your voice matters. Peace and Love, y’all.