Melissa Gibson, @YoursTruelyMelly, Body Positive Activist, Founder of #DontHateTheShake, One Half of #FatPositiveFoodie

Happy Wednesday, y’all! I am launching yet another new series on the blog today: Wednesday Limelight! With this series, I hope to introduce all y’all to local influencers, chefs, boss babes, businessmen/women, friends/colleagues, and individuals that are making a difference.

My first feature is my dear friend Melissa Gibson, better known on Instagram as @YoursTruelyMelly, the founder of #DontHateTheShake, and one-half of my project, #FatPositiveFoodie.

As always, Happy Eating!

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1. Let’s start with introductions!
“Hi, I’m Melissa Gibson a first year law student with a Masters in Women’s and Gender Studies.  My research was primarily in body justice, body politics, and fat studies.  I’m an activist and also a fat woman.  Originally from Los Angeles, California, I’ve lived in Louisville for the past 7 years and I love it.  There is a lot of culture here around food, drinking, and all the beauty Kentucky has to offer us.”
2. How would you classify your relationship with food?
“Food has always been an experience for me.  I feel like its one of the best ways to understand culture, build relationships, and feel at home.  While I understand it as fuel, I also know what a privilege it is to be able to experience it in all the amazing ways and with the amazing people that I’ve had the opportunity to share it with.”
3. Something that I am wanting to talk more about on my page, along with our collaboration #FatPositiveFoodie, is food positivity. How would you define the concept?
“Food Positivity is about separating food from diet culture.  As a fat person, our food intake is assumed and judged.  Food Positivity is about allowing ourselves to experience food in the moment and for what it gives to us.  Eating as a fat person is political.  We have to eat to survive, but the pleasure from that experience has often been taken from us or has been forced into secrecy.  I’m not ashamed to say that as a fat person I love food, and I shouldn’t have to be.”
4. Can you tell me about a time that you have specifically struggled with food (e.g., harvesting positivity, food shaming, etc)?
“I spent most of my childhood on some sort of diet or fad, constantly aware of how my consumption would make other’s feel about me.  Like somehow I owed the world starvation.  I want to free fat people from the shame of eating and bring to the conversation ways for us to enjoy it, so it becomes a part of our journey instead of our relationship to food manifesting as a performance for others.  Eating is necessary, it’s beautiful, it takes time and creativity to prepare and enjoy.  That is worth celebrating.”
5. What do you think is the most misunderstood notion when it comes to food culture?
“That there are bad foods and good foods.  We have to take the shame out of it all together.  Food is tied to our health, but the reality is that, time and time again, a healthy relationship to food is less about restriction and more about respect.  Being present and tasting every bite is important.  It’s hard to do that if you are eating only in hiding or constantly afraid of what others are thinking about you.  Food is complex and good for us.  It doesn’t say anything about us if we eat a salad or a Snickers bar.  We are still good.”
6. Tell me about your most unique food experience.
“I spent a lot of my childhood in the Philippines and loved the local gatherings with our church to eat roasted pork, pork adobo, sticky rice, and pancit.  Enjoying fresh mango and coconut on our way to school.  But my favorite has to be stopping on the side of the road in a little hut for a refreshing Halo-Halo after driving for hours.  The shaved ice and condensed milk, beans, cornflake, ube ice cream, and jellies still make my mouth water.”
7. Lastly, and more lightheartedly, what’s your favorite food? 
“Oh gosh, this is too hard to answer.  What ever sounds good at the time.  But, I love my mom’s lasagna with a pile of green peas on top.”
My best,
JCP

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