Summer Body Positivity: Ty Alexander

Transcribed by: Brenda Alexander

Summer Body Positivity

Ty Alexander [00:00:03] If you’re if you’re always hiding yourself, if you’re always covering it up, it’s teaching your mind that something is wrong with your body. My body was made for me and there’s no other like that and I should respect it and love it in such a way.

Shana Pinnock [00:00:17] Welcome to Dear Culture, the podcast that gives you news you can trust for the culture. I’m your co-host, Shana Pinnock, social media, director at theGrio.

Gerren Keith Gaynor [00:00:24] And I’m your co-host Gerren Keith Gaynor, managing editor at theGrio, and this week we’re asking: Dear Culture, what is a summer body?

Shana Pinnock [00:00:36] Yes, but before we get into the show, G, what is on your mind this week?

Gerren Keith Gaynor [00:00:41] So, Shana, as you know, I moved to D.C. It’s now been almost a month now, and I mentioned earlier in the in the year that I had my I guess you would call a New Year’s resolution was to find my future husband. And I’ve been on that mission and I shared that I was dating somebody that I had met on a dating app who was living in D.C. before I even moved to D.C. because I wasn’t playing. I changed by my geographical location on the apps. And so I was very intentional. And me and that person, I don’t really feel ––the romantic vibes kind of just don’t they’re not there in person, but we’ve become really great friends. And so, you know, when you move to a new city, it can be difficult meeting new people, whether it’s dating or platonic. And I’m at this stage of my life where I’m not trying to waste time. And so I’m not going to force anything that’s just not there. I’ve done that before, it’s not successful. And so I’m just being more open and moving forward. And so dating in D.C., I mean, I’m still new to it, but I’m realizing that in D.C. the men are very different from in New York for one, I mean, it’s D.C. So as you can imagine, it’s a lot of professional black men here who are very vocal, very forward, and they’re very career driven, which I like is part of the reason why I came to D.C. in addition to helping cover politics here in D.C., in our D.C. bureau. And so there were two incidents, one, during Fourth of July, a friend of mine invited me to his friend’s penthouse. And I’m just like like I’ve become that person. You know, D.C. is very much, very much of that, very posh. And so I go to this penthouse and we were drinking. And towards the end of the night, this guy was he was introduced to me. And I don’t remember because I was really I was pretty tipsy. And I know I gave him a hug. And the next day I checked my DNA because he’s already following me on Instagram. He’s like, oh, it was great meeting you. Thanks for the for the for the compliment. You’re very attractive yourself. And I was like, what did I say? Like, I don’t remember saying anything to this man because I guess I was I was pretty ferocious with the libations, but I just I don’t want to say too much because this is this is going to be blasted everywhere that that happened. Then I went to this rooftop party and so a brewing friend of mine who works in the White House, I don’t want to say her name and get her caught up in this. She invited me to this rooftop because she she figured it would be really good for me to meet some of her her black gay male friends. And so some of them were friends. Some of them were just professional associates. And I went to the the event and there was this one guy, like, staring at me. And I didn’t really know how to take it. I just kept having conversations with the people I was around. Then when I was about to leave, the friend who invited me, she’s like, there’s a guy here who who wants to bet you. And I was like, let me. When you hear bet, I think politics like you’re betting someone to join your campaign to join your team. I’ve never heard that word using the dating ecosystem. Oh, he was your day. You may be. And so so at this point, again, I’m tipsy again. One people drink a lot in D.C. I’m not used to drinking this much. I’m more of a cannabis person. But anyway, so I’m I haven’t eaten. I’m really tipsy. I want to leave so I can get some food and go meet my other friends. And he approaches me while I’m just looking at the scenery on the on the rooftop and he proceeds to just like introduce himself and asked me a million questions. It was like twenty one questions. Literally, and I didn’t I didn’t necessarily minded per say, but because the friend had use that word vet the whole time, I’m like, I don’t really know how to receive this. I don’t know where this is going. He was he ends up being a pretty nice guy. He is from Atlanta. And so we had that in common cause I went to college in Atlanta and it was it was cool. But yeah, it was just weird, though, which is very weird. And we laugh, we hugged and I we exchanged numbers. There hasn’t been much conversation since then, but yeah, I’m just on one end I guess or one. And I’m like, OK, I’m realizing that the dating situation is very different here, but it also reaffirms that I’m in the right city because these are men who are very intentional and very clear about what they’re looking for. And I am too. And so I feel like in New York you get is a mixed bag. People have to play games here is a bit different. So I guess the dating update is that I’m still single, but the pickings are fantastic, I must say, and we’ll see where things go. But I’m excited for my new life in DC, particularly my my new dating life, and hopefully maybe sometime this year. I’m not rushing in person, but I did have

that that that intention to find my future husband this year. So I’m still hoping to find that I’m trying to manifest. I do believe in the power of manifestation, but also I’m having a really good time. And now that we’re vaccinated, it is hot back summer. So I’m really looking forward to summer being single and mingling.

Shana Pinnock [00:06:41] Listen, Gerren out here having a shot boy Summer. Any who? So I don’t have too much to say except for I just want to maybe put out a PSA. It is OK guys, to not have to carry your your, your covid buddy.-Into like especially if you’re vaxed, you don’t you don’t have to keep dating that person, whoever you found comfort in in a pandemic, OK, they don’t have to be who you continue to find comfort in. Outside is opening back up. People got their vaxes. You know, things is happening. Listen, you were, it was nice. It was great. Thank you for the copious amounts of. I appreciate it, but I’m goood, you know, I have I have now not myself personally, because, you know, Shana got a bae, but anyway but I’ve come across so many of my friends, male and female. I’m talking about hetero and not of all types who are just now in this weird space of, oh, man, you know, there’s been a cut buddy for a while. And now I’m like, well, I don’t even really like you that much. But they were safe, they were in my bubble and that was it. It’s OK y’all. It is OK. It is OK. Don’t settle. Don’t settle. Listen, it’s going to be a lot of divorces, OK? Post pandemic is going to be a lotta breakup post pandemic. Live your life and just be happy and have fun. And you know what, again, this is summertime, OK? We out here trying to be, again, shot girl summer shot boy summer, just have fun. This this is the time if there was ever a time considering the craptacular year that we had last year. Do what makes you happy and if smashing multiple people makes you happy, so long as they’re vaxed and safe. If not to mention that person who you’ve been smashing isn’t going to make you happy, go ahead and Cut that off. It’s OK. It’s fine

Gerren Keith Gaynor [00:09:05] You know Shana, I think this is really this is really interesting because we were talking about dating in today’s episode is about summer bodies and body positivity. And dating really is connected to this because in dating there is a lot of emphasis on desirability. You know, you want the partner to you want the person you are dating to be interested in you physically, sexually, and how your body or how you present can play a role in that. So I’m really excited to to dove into this conversation to the theme.

Shana Pinnock [00:09:32] So let’s just talk about it. As the world is opening back up amid vaccinations becoming available for coronavirus and more and more people are flocking outdoors, which includes traveling and beach activity. But going to the beach this year is scary for a lot of folks. And it’s not just about the crowds. Some remain committed to their fitness goals inside and others just let it flow. Now we’re seeing two different spectrums on the idea of what it means to be a summer body ready. What does body positivity look and feel like? Post quarantine. Let’s get into it.

Gerren Keith Gaynor [00:10:13] So, Shana, obviously last year during the pandemic, we were quarantined in place and so we didn’t really have much of a summer, so we didn’t really have to worry about having, quote unquote, a summer body. But I want to ask you, as we dove into this conversation, do you feel pressure to have a summer body this year in 2021 now that things are open back up?

Shana Pinnock [00:10:35] I’ll say this. When I first, when outside first started to open back up, I did feel a little bit of pressure. And now I’m like, you know, I oh, God, I’m going to have to ride five times a day on this peloton to try and get this weight off. But I’ll say. What I’m so grateful for – now covid has been a nightmare, right, but what I’m so grateful for is the amount of self-love I’ve had to learn in this time period. So I and I think I posted this about a month or two ago. I am five foot two and three quarters, according to my mother, not mother, my grandmother is just five foot two because the three quarters are my shoes. That’s what she said. But I am under five foot three. And with that being said, my body composition certain once I hit a certain weight threshold it just – I look bigger than what I actually am. And it’s one of those things of like to be honest, I come from a Caribbean family. There’s a lot of fat phobia in the Caribbean, OK? There’s a whole lot of it. There’s a lot of fat shaming. I tell you, if my grandmother were to see me, she really was like, oh my God, I don’t know where you go. You would deem too much. And it’s – anybody who’s Caribbean of any or African really, of any one of those. Y’all know what time it is. You know how to how to aunties and grandmothers can get. Now, throughout covid I found myself. No, mind you, I was a person who up until maybe twenty seven, twenty eight I never believed more than one hundred and twenty pounds ever. And I tried, couldn’t, couldn’t pass that threshold and one twenty would look generous. At one point in time, right before my birthday in March, I stepped on my scale and my scale said one hundred and sixty eight point four pounds. And I said What the everloving hell is this? I stood naked in the mirror, looked. I had back fat, my stomach was just I mean, I used to have a six pack. I me like this used to be washboard abs and a belly ring and all types of things. Like I have a huge tattoo on my right side, like on my stomach and on my ribs. And I’m just like, girl, the Phenix is looking like a bald eagle right now. Like what what’s going on is the little stretch. What’s happenig. And I kind of had like a come to Jesus moment with myself for being like, OK, you know what? This doesn’t make me feel good and I don’t feel comfortable. So what do I need to do in order to feel comfortable again? I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being fat. I think that there are plenty of people

who, you know, I mean, it’s your body composition. Not all bodies are made equal – it’s completely different. And quite frankly, when I go back and look at old pictures of me from college, like Chick, you look sick. Like what? A little stick legs. Look what is going on. But I wanted to at least feel comfortable in the clothes that I was in. I hadn’t gone shopping. It was very much those sweatpants and ivy park joggers like this entire COVID situation. But I decided to get a peloton. Spent that crazy money. Yes, I still am spending seventy something dollars a month for this membership. I got a peloton. I started working out virtually with a friend of mine who is a trainer. And about two, three weeks ago I stepped on the scale and it was I was one hundred and fifty one pounds and I had lost seventeen, eighteen pounds in, Really less than like six weeks and I gasphed like it and had a moment of like, oh, OK, this is what we’re doing. And I had my my mother, as a matter of fact, who she’s a she’s a larger woman. And my mother was like, well, what do you what’s the goal here? And I said, you know what’s funny? I don’t even have like a weight goal per say. I just want to feel good. I just want to feel happy. I said, now, if I if I could have my stomach be a little bit flatter, a little bit, that’ll great, but I like my boobs. I like my thighs, I like my butt. So it it’s not giving Instagram body, but you know what Instagram bodies are brough. It’s fine. I don’t need a BBL. I’ll be just fine. So I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s cool. My man likes it anyway so you know, OK, I hear that. But here we are. But yeah. No, in order to like the whole idea with feeling the need for a summer body, I mean maybe ask me that at the end of the month when I go to Vegas and I’m out here, you know, in bikinis and all that, and I got to look at myself in pictures. We’ll see. We’ll see if that changes. But what about you?

Gerren Keith Gaynor [00:15:56] So so I used to be a really I was a gym rat. I was always in the gym before covid. I was going probably, if not daily, three or four times a week, because in the gay community especially, it’s a lot of pressure to look good, especially when you’re looking on Instagram. I mean, like the bodies are sick. So I was in the gym religiously and then covid came and then the gym shut down. So obviously I couldn’t work out anymore. And then some people they transitioned to working out in their apartment. I for whatever reason, that didn’t really happen. I just kind of I wasn’t lifting weights anymore. I wasn’t doing my squats and all that. But I did really lean into my yoga practices. And so I used to always do yoga, but not daily. And so that became my fitness. And so I do want to first preface that. I do have, I guess, some some form of like a body privilege. Like I’m I’m very healthy. I’m plant based. I never really had body issues per say outside in terms of like the general sense. But obviously we all have things about our bodies that we struggle with that we feel insecure about. So I will I will try to spare my twink boy tears, but I definitely had to adjust to to getting used to my yoga body versus the my gym body. And I grew to love my body the way that it is. I definitely have things I want to get back. Like I’m want to like you say, I want to get a six pack back, you know, I never really have – in the gay community, depending on who you are, having a nice derriere is is like is a very desirable in our community. And so I want to like, you know, get my get my booty back, know stuff like that. But I definitely had to take time to get used to my body. And I, I, I haven’t been back to the gym since things opened up. There’s a gym right downstairs in my apartment building and I haven’t gone. And I think I will is at some point I just feel like what’s the rush? I feel like if if I’m comfortable with my body now and if the person that I end up dating in the future, if he if he doesn’t like me as much as I am now, then so be it. I think it’s really important to to to kind of adjust and police how you judge yourself, because as we’ve seen, there’s a lot out there of in terms of social media, in terms of what you should and should not look like. And I’m really happy to see so many people showing their their natural bodies the way they are and loving their bodies, even if it doesn’t fit into these constructs of like standards of beauty. But, yeah, I think for me, it’s just a matter of am I comfortable with my body? And I have to say I’m pretty comfortable with my body. But, you know, I wouldn’t mind having a little ripped body again, but I’m not in a rush to to get there. I think that the pandemic really changed the way I view fitness. I think that COVID changed a lot of a lot of people change the way they look at their bodies and the way they look at fitness. It comes down is like the eye of the beholder, as they say. If you like it, if you love it, then so be it.

Shana Pinnock [00:19:14] So, you know and I love that you said that working out at the house wasn’t really anything for me. Like I said, it was peleton. Gabrielle Union has our own fitness thing. I think it’s called like fit on, listen I had subscription subscription. I was like, I got to get myself together. Although realizing most of it was just diet, I was just I was drinking wine, eating edibles. And eating just lovely, lovely dishes. OK, we give away who going to see me anyway, it’s fine, but I think I love that you said, you know, that whole idea, really, it’s like it’s in the eye of the beholder. One thing I think that we definitely have to remember is fit doesn’t always mean thin. Right. And it doesn’t always mean and thin doesn’t always mean healthy. We’ve seen like this huge emergence of, you know, we always try to use colorful words, bountiful and like fat. It’s fine. Fat is beautiful, you know what I mean? But of larger people dedicated to health and wellness as well. So what do you think about, like, the likes of, say, Lizzo or I loved kevonstage who is embracing his dad, bod OK, he was just going to show you his with his with his with his shirt open, OK. Or hell even Will Smith, like what do you think about their journeys and there and them sharing it with the world really as they can potentially influence the rest of us.

Gerren Keith Gaynor [00:20:53] I think it’s really important. I think more than anything, people need to see something reflected back at them. And I think, you know, there was I think that the Lizzo’s of the world, maybe not to that degree to on that level, but they kind of already existed. There was there were always people who were, quote unquote fat. There were

always people who were who didn’t have ripped bodies. And they, that’s how they present themselves on social media. But we definitely saw during Covid where people were embracing their bodies. And I think it’s important for people to see that because if a lizzo or a kevonstage is like, who cares? This is my body, then it helps the person looking on their timeline and on their feed. They say, OK, well, if they can embrace their body and so can I. And even though, again, I don’t have the same body struggles as others, it has even inspired me because when I see other people who don’t have a huge chest and and and abs and huge muscles and they’re still confident I’m OK, then I have no reason to not be confident with the body that I have. And so you can it is very inspiring, is really important. But I think it’s also important to note that even a Lizzo during COVID expressed her struggles with her own feelings of her confidence, because so many people have so many things to say about her body even when she is showing her body confidently. I think that is also important to note that even when someone is presenting themselves as confident that there’s always going to be something that you might be struggling with. And so I really am happy to see that we’re in this this climate where all bodies are considered beautiful. All bodies are starting to be accepted. Now, I’m not I don’t want to act like, you know, that people still aren’t fat shaming because they certainly are. And we still see in our in Hollywood, we see it in the fashion industry, but we’re also seeing other body types being embraced. I remember watching the Fenty Fashion Show and how how intentional Rihanna was and is and how she presents her product because she wants it to be for all women. I think that that’s the direction that we’re moving in and this is where we should have always been. But I think now that society’s consciousness is starting to be raised, when we talk about Black Lives Matter and we’re talking about sexism and homophobia, fat phobia is also a part of that conversation. And so we’re more conscious and aware of of how we project in the images that we put out there. But I think it’s great. I think it’s important to see for them to represent themselves and own who they are, because there are people who who are likely and who have the same experience.

Shana Pinnock [00:23:46] I definitely agree. And I love the likes of Lizzo. There are. So I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned it on this show, but Gerren knows I’m a huge wrestling fan. Right. Like, if wrestling is life, right and there is there was actually a situation that just happened this early. Yeah. This past week, Monday, Monday night Raw. I’m in a wrestling group me with a bunch of my other friends and mostly men who to watch wrestling. And there is a very and and, you know, I don’t go out for white women, but Piper Nivvens, you got it sis, it was a very talented white woman wrestler by the name of Piper Nivvens, who she is large. She’s a. She’s a big girl and in the group chat, one of the guys had said, and I won’t call them out because I already called him a d-head in the group chat, but one of the guys had said something along the lines of like, you know, a big ass white girl. Ha ha ha ha. And nobody else said anything. And I need y’all to understand in those kind of moments, any time where you’re doing anything that’s just like gross, I’m probably I don’t mind killing vibes. I don’t mind being the Debbie Downer of the group. It’s fine. I’m going to say that you’re wrong and you’re kind of being a jackass about things. So I said to him, OK, she’s she’s also incredibly talented wrestler, a talented superstar. And then he puts up this gift, that is of an episode of Family Guy. And it’s Stevie. It’s Stewie walking with a trombone behind like a fat person. And if you’ve ever seen the episode and Stewie playing like basically like fat music to go along with this fat person, like walking down the street. And I saw it and I went. And it kind of reminded me, like, wow, how far we have as we as a society have come and just even myself personally, because I remember that episode and I laughed hysterically for years and years and years ago, and I saw that gif and I instantly just felt like this is gross and you don’t know what anybody’s. I don’t and I don’t know, maybe it’s because of my own fat struggles, but all of a sudden I’ve been able to find this empathy. But it’s like you don’t know when anyone is actually going through or dealing with. You don’t know if that woman has any kind of thyroid issues, even though she’s a wrestler. You know, like you don’t you don’t know one, two. You would never say that stuff to her face because what she would do is kick your behind. So I responded back to them and I was like, you know, if you get your rocks off, fat shaming women that you don’t know, I mean, have fun and just it makes you an a-hole and it’s like, well, oh, It was just jokes. Well, it’s not funny, you know what I mean? And I think it’s seeing people like Lizzo, seeing people like Kevonstage and just this overall body positivity. That is pretty amazing. I’m really sick and tired of us as a society keep acting like that. We keep acting like fat folks are somehow undesirable. Let me say something. You know how many episodes of six hundred pound life I’ve watched. I never seen a single person on six hundred pound life. I ain’t never, let me say that again. I’ve never seen a single person on a six hundred pound like they got baes. Somebody like it. Mind your business. And I think it’s really just I want to see more of it. Now granted, I think there is there’s definitely a line that can be drawn in terms of unhealthy. Like six hundred pound life is unhealthy. If you’re doing things where it’s like you can’t get out of bed, you have bedsores because you can’t ship them and whatever around. Like there’s like obesity is it’s not it’s not a matter of unattractive or anything. It’s unhealthy. And I want people to be able to have amazing, fulfilling lives. And guess what? They don’t have to be they don’t have to be gym rats. They don’t have to be, oh, Instagram body over here. And oh, yeah, you’ve went and got a BBL in quiet But you’re pretending like you’re doing squat mouses like, you know, all of these things like it. It’s OK. It’s OK. And that’s that’s the kind of. Mindset. I would like to see us as a culture and a society have moving forward.

Gerren Keith Gaynor [00:28:28] Yeah, I had an incident recently where I had to check myself because, again, the privilege. Right. I was out with two home girls and we were having dinner and it was like a Southern restaurant. And it was it was it

was very there was a lot of food. It was very it was a lot of it was very, I guess what we call it, unhealthy, perhaps. Right. And one of my friends at the table, she was kind of trying to be mindful of what she ate because she’s like it’s going to take forever to, like, you know, get these to burn it off. She’s like, you know, I have to run on the treadmill for X amount for four hours just to like, you know, to compensate for all this food that I’m eating. And I think I said something like, oh, like you can lose that. And like, just this is just like diet or go to the gym in, like two weeks. And she’s like, excuse me. She’s like she’s like, I’m 30, whatever, years old. And, you know, and then also women I’ve I’ve learned that for women is a very is very different. You can pack on the pounds much easier than men. And it was like it wasn’t like a scolding, but she was like speaking her truth. And I was like, yeah, she’s right. Like, how dare I just assume that because that’s how my body works that I can just eat whatever I want and then be fine or lose or like get my body back in a couple of weeks. How how dare I assume that that is everyone’s story and similar to what you were saying earlier? Like, no, you just don’t know. It’s like you don’t you never know someone’s story. And I always try to be empathetic and compassionate to other people’s walk of life. And so, yeah, even even I as as as conscious as I think I am, I had that moment of humility. But it’s really important that we as we kind of move past COVID even though we’re still in the midst of it, that we that we keep that same energy, because I think that there may come a time where everyone’s back focused on like I’m getting fit. You know, maybe everybody might not want to lose weight. But for those who it might be a struggle to lose it, like let’s be mindful of the words and language that we use and how we talk about people’s bodies and what’s desirable and what’s not desirable because it can have really harmful impacts. So that was that was really a lesson for me. But I want to also talk about inspiration. It’s like there’s now summertime. Are there any is there any one on social media that you are like checking for for inspiration, that you just look and say, you know what, I want that body this summer.

Shana Pinnock [00:31:04] You know what? I’m a keep it a buck, which you absolutely not. And the only reason why is because I’ve gotten to this point in my life as a social media director, as someone who always constantly has to be on social media, like I’m going to tell you, I to my insecurity, OK, any time when I’m around other women or I just see other women in general where my eyes automatically go to is their midsection. That is my biggest insecurity about myself right now. I’m just like. Oh, this chick had two babies and her stomach is flatter than mine, how the hell? You know, all of these things, and I found myself a few years ago especially and at the height of covid, no actually know right before covid, because around covid, everybody was picking on a little bit of pandemic pounds. So there wasn’t a lot of selfies out here, right? There wasn’t a lot of a whole lot of. Oh, yeah, I’m traveling. Here’s me and my two piece bikini. There wasn’t a lot of it, but so I will say like probably right before covid what really would fuel my insecurities and it got bad was I would always I’m like staring at women’s midsection and I’m like, oh, and I’m then I’m sitting there looking at mine, you know, being like, what’s her name, Honey Boo Boo. And she’s over there making her stomach talk. That’s how I felt all the time. Well, and no, I’m not I’m not going to stop my love for food. And so for me, what I’ve actually been find finding inspiration in is just watching people work out, but not necessarily their bodies. And I mean, like of all types. Right. Men and women – big, small, all of those things. And it’s and that’s my inspiration. I’m just like, well, what’s a new what’s a new workout that I could do? I got to bring y’all can’t see it if you just listening to the show. But I’m jestering in the back – my living room is my gym OK? I have a big, huge gym floor mat on there because, you know, knees I got all these kettle bells and these weights and – whole bunch of stuff that I have. And I’m like, what can I do to challenge myself in terms of fitness today? That’s my inspiration. I don’t want to add again, I’m so grateful for it to find the space in my life where I’m like, I’m not looking to recreate somebody else’s body within my own right. And even when there’s one, I wish I remember her name, but there’s one girl who has been on TikTok, who has been talking about her experience with her BBL. Right, because I’m not going to lie. I had the thought process. I like you know, I really could, especially during a pandemic. I was like, I really could go ahead, get this BBL, you know, and pop out pop out on them when when outside opens up, like. Yeah, you know, I was working out in the house. Lies, lies. There was also this video that kind of went viral of airports. There were a bunch of airports coming back from Miami, no that were coming into Miami from like Dominican Republic or something like that or Brazil. And it’s just a line of black women in wheelchairs because they were coming back from getting their BBLs right. They had so many BBL patients coming back into the states that airlines were hiring people who were just going to push wheelchairs. And it’s not because the disabled folks know folks with BBLs. And this one young lady got on TikTok and was sharing her BBL experience. And when I tell you, oh, girl, now she doesn’t regret it. She says she loves it. She would make the decision again. But what she did, she told us some horror of what doesn’t go into it. Now, first off, now you don’t just wake up and now here you are. Your body is svelt, right? You out here looking like the Instagram, honey? No, honey, your vagina changes colors. If you were a chick that who you didn’t starfish in bed you out here but thoya thoyaying it up. All sorts of stuff, you know, the reverse cowgirl on them, all types of stuff. You’re not doing it no more, at least for the first few months after your BBL, honey, like you not doing it at all. You don’t want to touch nothing. You don’t want to move, nothin, like, just I’m just lay here and you can enjoy all of this ass that I just purchased, like, that’s like all this stuff. She was like she was talking about how like, she’s like yo, it’s been I think at that point it was an eight week. She’s like, it’s eight weeks and my behind is still like a rock. She’s like, it feels like there’s cementt in it, girl. What? No, I’m not no, I’m not doing all it. So for me, I was like, you know what the most that would happen. First of all,letmepopsomeofthesekidsoutfirst.Callitaday.IfIhadtoifIhad,youknow,ifIhadto.ButI-no just.No.Sobeing

able to find this space of yo, I just want to be inspired to be happy. You know what I’m saying – and I think we, you know, let’s talk about it, we got to get to a place of where we care about people’s health, not their size, not their body shape, not their body type, their health, because let’s keep it a buck. Saweetie is gorgeous. You hear me, Saweetie? It’s fine as hell. Saweetie eats like a project kid OK? I don’t all the the mixing, it’s hot Cheetos and and and ramen the ramen powder on on on hourderves. I don’t know what that girl’s going on. I know her. I know she has gas chile. You got to clear the room. I know it. I feel it in my bones but yeah. Like let’s, let’s focus on being healthy. That’s my inspiration. What about you?

Gerren Keith Gaynor [00:37:34] I would say I’m kind of like you. I don’t really have an inspiration, but if I had to pull one out of a hat I would say Lil Nas X because it’s, it seems like it’s attainable for me. And I’ve just been loving the see the the growth in his in his body form and he’s just having a moment right now. But to your point, Shana, I think it’s just really important to to be happy with your body, whatever that is. And I think that it’s really important that we don’t put pressure on people to have a particular kind of body, because as we see with people who are beautiful, look at K. Michelle like she’s a beautiful woman and even she felt like that’s not enough, I want to do more. And so for some people is never enough. And so you can kind of get into that that world as well. And then you have some people who are like, I don’t care. But I will say that there are pressures on social media. Even when you do think you are comfortable with your body, you see other people’s body go. They get you know, they have two thousand likes about, oh, she I get that kind of body. And for me, I’ve been like, unfollowing certain accounts of these like these thottie otties on Instagram because it’s a lot like I really, one sometimes I get hot and bothered because they’re really sexy. But then other times I’m like, I probably will never had that kind of body. I don’t have the time. I work too much to to be in the gym that much to achieve that kind of body. And so I’ve been curating my feed for my for my own mental health in my own comfortability. And so I encourage others to do the same. Like if if what you see on social media is too much and is making you feel insecure, make you feel some kind of way about your body, you have the power to meet them, to delete it, to unfollow. But we really got to get into a space of, like, celebrate your body, love your body the way that it is, because there’s always going to be someone out there who loves you for you. It might it might take some time. You might get some rejections. But that’s OK, because if you reject meaning that that means you’re not for me. And so that’s what I’ve kinda grown into. I used always think that I had to have a certain body that what I’m seeing on social media is is the is the pinnacle. If I’m not that, then I’m just not going to be I’m never going to find someone who loves my body for what it is. It just comes down to embracing your body for what it is. And I every day I kind of just I look myself in the mirror more and I just kind of stare at my body. I’m like, OK, I don’t have this. I don’t have that. I got that. And I like that. And it’s just it’s just it’s really, again, is the eye of the beholder.

Shana Pinnock [00:40:11] And I would encourage everyone. Yeah, go look in the mirror and you say to yourself out loud, this is my body. I love this body. I promise you, it will change your life – whatever your summer body looks like. Just remember to stay healthy, confident and of course, hydrated in all this damn heat.

Shana Pinnock [00:40:37] After talking about summer body positivity, Gerren and I realized we needed an extra voice to give this conversation some context. Joining us today is Ty Alexander. Ty is a best selling author, Speaker, podcaster, wellness blogger and D.J. who teaches women how to choose gratitude over grief. Through her wildly popular blog, TyAlexander.co, she has become a leading authority in lifestyle, beauty and wellness related content. She has been featured in notable media outlets such as Well and Good, Redbook, Real Simple CNN, O magazine and Essence. Basically, she’s the ish. Ty, Welcome.

Ty Alexander [00:41:14] Thank you for having me. Such a great introduction. I appreciate you.
Shana Pinnock [00:41:18] Awesome. OK, so we’re just going to jump right on in here in the world of covid especially, what

challenges have you noticed in terms of maintaining wellness and fitness and all that?

Ty Alexander [00:41:31] So the crazy thing is I I had had like one of those – I’ll be forty five this year. So I had one of those epiphanies right before covid, like I got to get my body together because you know, life is happening, whatever, whatever. And so I had already been on a really great fitness journey and then the world shut down. I couldn’t go to the gym. So not only did I feel like defeated, I was like, well, hell, now I’m going to be back to being what I call is fat or uncomfortable, whatever. So it was really it was really one of those kind of, well, hell, I can’t win for nothing, like I just started. And now God is like, well, actually, we just want you to be fat. So it really was a kind of reality check for me to like, you know, love my body ––a lesson, rather, in loving my body where I am today versus kind of always wanting better, which is good for having better. But I think it’s also really important for us to really find the love in what we have right now. And so often we forget to do that. And so for me, that was my not just even in body conversations and just wellness in general. My biggest lesson in Twenty Twenty was loving where I am at the moment with what I have.

Gerren Keith Gaynor [00:42:43] I love that. And because so many people look to you for inspiration and dropping those, those gems, those keys, what are some techniques that you teach that you implore to help people reach their their best self?

Ty Alexander [00:42:57] I tell people all the time I am the student and the teacher, so stop looking to me all the time because I’m not always going to have the answer. But for me, it really is about just really knowing, again, a part of twenty twenty was being happy with who I was. And that was all of the all of the things, you know, wellness, my body, my hair, how I felt, how my relationships, my marriage, you know, what about my life is making me happy. So I always tell people like, think about where you are now versus to where you were ten years ago and how much progress you have versus always thinking about, oh, well, in five years I want to buy a house. And again, goals are great, but they can kind of almost suffocate you sometimes into not realizing how far you’ve come and how great you are in this moment.

Shana Pinnock [00:43:50] I love that because and, you know, when you’re talking about goals can sometimes be really stifling. So for me, I spoke about this a little bit on the show. Like one of the things that I got during this whole pandemic is a Peleton, right. I feel bad. I haven’t been on my peloton in a couple of weeks now. I’m like, I know, I know. The team is like, whoa, what’s poppin? You have a closed These rings – was going on. But one thing that I found was becoming an issue was I would get on, I would take a shower and I would weigh myself naked every single day, every single day. I was weighing myself. And I’m like, I have, you know, like the Renfroe app. But I’m like, is my BMI down? Is my

Ty Alexander [00:44:31] Listen, sis, I bought that same scale, I got the same dumb app. And at one point is it is like for me being mentally well is is first for me. And I could see like to your point, you get up, you get get naked, you weigh yourself, and then when the pounds don’t drop, then you go right back down to being depressed or, you know, in this kind of sad state. So I had to say that I’m like, I’m a weight myself every two weeks. And it is what it is on how I feel, how do I feel in my clothing or my jeans fitting better. Do do I feel sexy and things because them numbers- I’ve been a bigger on my life. I don’t think I’ve ever been under the size like sixteen, you know, I fluctuate between like 16 and twenty all my life. So for me weight that way to say 280 it could say 270. It could say 220- I still you know, I still feel a certain way. So I hope that in anything I say or do that I’m teaching you how to really feel those things versus having the numbers or the outside society dictate how you feel like how you actually feel when you put your clothes on, because whatever whatever the number on the back of my jeans say, yes, they are 20 and they fit good and you look nice. Let it be that sis

Shana Pinnock [00:45:50] Because when I tell you it would go here, I. So I again spoke about on the show, the heaviest that I’ve ever been was one sixty eight. And this is from a person who has never weighed more than like maybe 120 throughout, you know, maybe up until I was like twenty five, twenty six like never weighed anything more than that and hit that one sixty eight and then started losing weight and I was like all right back lost 17 pounds boom. I’m happy. And then I went from like one fifty one and then had a day of, had some edibles, had a whole bunch of tollhouse gingerbread cookies and then got on the scale the next day and that just said one fifty four I said how the hell this happen? Like mad, so I guess you kind of touched on this a little bit. What would be your advice to those who, you know, in order to kind of adjust your mindset to prioritize wellness over fitness and body goals, quote unquote,

Ty Alexander [00:46:49] is it’s a constant practice for me because like I said, I’m not going to say that I’m not conscious of the numbers. I’m not going to say that I’m not conscious of when I creep from the size 16 to the 18. And so it’s consciously, me consciously saying to myself and in the mirror, or when I write it down, I love myself where I am. I love my body, how it is. I love the roll. The biggest or the best rather advice I got was from Lizzo and she talked about how, like, she just is naked because it helps her confidence, like seeing yourself in your fullest form, bare balls, all that kind of stuff hanging out so you can see what you like. And so if you’re if you’re always hiding yourself, if you’re always covering it up, it’s teaching your mind that something is wrong with your body, that something is wrong with this wearing the peplum tops or wearing the the girdles. And again, I’m I’m from old school. I’m about to be forty five, so I love a nice, smoot, little smmot waistline. I’m definitely somewhere in the middle because I believe in balance. I definitely believe when you wear a little body con it should be smooth. But I also am embracing this idea that my body was made for me and there’s no other like that and I should respect it and love it in such a way. So if that means I want to put on a crop top today and put on a girdle tomorrow, then that that is what it is. It’s a little bit a little bit of that is kind of, again, having those affirmations. But also, once you begin to say the affirmation, stick to that and stick in that moment, because so often we let society tell us, oh, big girl shouldn’t wear this, don’t wear your bonnet outside. Blah blah blah, girl. If you want to wear the bonnet outside, wear the bonnet.

Shana Pinnock [00:48:40] Mind your business Mo’Nique.

Ty Alexander [00:48:40] Mind your business. If the bonnet is how you felt this morning and that’s all you gave to show up, then that is what it is. And so I think, again, being able to sit comfortably in whatever your truth is at that moment is really the key.

Gerren Keith Gaynor [00:48:56] And Ty I also want to ask you, obviously, like a well, fitness is a part of wellness. But wellness is something distinct. But what are the the relatedness? How are the how are the two related between wellness and fitness?

Ty Alexander [00:49:08] The crazy thing is, Gerren I thought people were lying. I was like, oh, I don’t got to work out. It’s not going to change nothing. Whatever y’all getting up sweating. And when I tell you, if I don’t work out three times a week mentally, I’m not disciplined as much. I don’t have enough organization like my day starts and ends with my workout, like, OK, so on Monday I’m going to do this at six and I’m like, it literally shapes my day. So all of that, all of the things that they talk about, how it goes together, it really does well when it releases those endorphins or whatever, but it really does teach you a type of discipline that I don’t think you can get anywhere else. And that same discipline you need to to practice your wellness routines.

Shana Pinnock [00:49:51] OK, so not to surgery shame. But, you know, one of the things that I actually have been finding pretty disturbing as of late has been so apparently there was someone did a screenshot on, I think, like a message from Expedia or something like that. Hotels in Miami are like telling people, hey, you know, our hotels are not equipped for those who are coming back from like post surgery, things. There are job vacancies right now at airlines because they are hiring people, especially for those in Miami, hiring people who their entire job is to push wheelchairs because there are so many women, And they will show you the line of black women, in particular black and brown women who are sitting in wheelchairs. And they need to be wheeled off of the plane and wheeled onto the planes because they’re getting these BBL surgeries. What is your advice to those who are, again, not to surgery, same it’s your body- do what you want to do with it. Cut it, cut it. Do not. I don’t care. But what is your advice to those who, you know are maybe considering it?

Ty Alexander [00:51:14] So I’m going to be full disclosure and very transparent. I’ve considered it. I mean, my butt’s already big, but I. I can’t. I can’t. The only reason why I haven’t is because I’m not going to Miami. I’m not having somebody wheel me around. I don’t want to be down for eight weeks. I’m scared that you might hit a nerve or there’s other things that I’m thinking, and I don’t think that that part of it is worth the body that I may or may not get. And again, I could get that body and still not be happy with myself. And so my foremost thought is let me work on my mind. Let me let me figure out how to be the happiest with the body that I have now with what I can do with that, because who’s to say I get that perfect body and, you know, we not gonna name no celebrity names, but there’s lots of celebrities that keep going back, keep going back, keep going back. And they still not happy. Like we have lots of examples of how, like surgery isn’t the end all be all to creating the happiest body, like it’s just not it. And so that would kind of be my advice. Again, not to shame because I have thought about it. Who don’t want a perfect IG body? Sign me up, minus the pain and the holes. But, you know, I do think a lot of that is because there’s something missing in your wellness routine, in your wellness talks with yourself about your body and how you feel and how you compare it to other bodies on the Internet. That’s a whole nother conversation. And so it just really is for me, going back to I have to create a happy body for me. And what does that look like? And it’s not going to be surgery solved.

Gerren Keith Gaynor [00:52:52] You talked about feeling good and you mentioned fitness being a part of something that you do to feel good. I’ve discovered something new which is hot baths I just love, like soak my body in like bath salt and light candles. And that helps me feel good, not just from a mental spiritual perspective, but also physically. Are there other practices that you that you have in your self care routine that you share with our listeners?

Ty Alexander [00:53:19] So for me, deejaying with my quarantine baby and it’s my new love and it’s totally myself care is totally my free therapy. I love music. I shared on my Instagram the other day. I don’t think I’ve been so obsessed with learning something like I think I forgot how refreshing it is to learn something new, to conquer it, to feel the struggle of it and then be like, Oh, now I can scratch or oh, now I can blend. And so I’m really enjoying that part of the journey. And it really is just it’s just a relief for me. And then coupled with that, all the different songs that I remember from my kid and how I felt the first boy I fell in love with, what Jodeci song I was listening to, swooning over some guy I wasn’t supposed to be talking to. And so for me, I think learning that new hobby which which has now turned into a source of income for me has been one of my greatest lessons that just kind of remember that I can kind of do anything.

Gerren Keith Gaynor [00:54:20] I love that.

Shana Pinnock [00:54:23] OK. Another question for you is, I mentioned a few times that you are married. You know, thick thighs save lives and the big girls – they get mans married too. So my question for you would be, you know, romantically, how has that been like what has your experience been romantically like in the body that you’re in as you’re on your body positivity journey? Like, you know, what’s what’s the the motivation that you’re getting from you, from your man, you know, like with or your partner, you know, all of these things? Yeah. Can you give us a little insight on that? Yeah.

Ty Alexander [00:54:57] So the crazy part is, is that my husband was actually the skinny one. All of we’ve been together for 20 years, married for five. And so my husband was always the skinny one, but it actually attacked him a little faster. So he’s now the one body positivity with that little belly, a little thick thighs. And I don’t mind either way because I do love who he is or the person outside of the body and all of that kind of good stuff. So it didn’t really affect us as such. But he’s always again, I’ve been never been a skinny person, so he signed up for all the thighs covid or not. It didn’t really it didn’t really affect us in that way just because I’ve always been a thick girl. But we have had conversations because, again, he’s he was the skinny one. And so even in just the work that I do, we’ve talked about just how it feels for your body to change and get older. Your knees don’t work the same anymore. We got three flights of stairs and the second one we both like, bro, let’s get a rancher, K. Times are ticking and we getting old OK. We’re in the last century of our lives. So, yeah, I don’t know if I answered your question, but basically he he he’s going to love this thickness. Covid or not. I know that we’re talking about body positivity, but I would tell any woman to please stop putting their power into men and the what attracts them, like the idea that we have to change our bodies, our personalities, our jobs, our whatever, just to be married is archaic and someone needs to bury it, shoot it, throw it away. Like all of the murders that can happen to that ideology needs to happen. Like it’s it’s sickening. And I think that once we realize that a man going like you, regardless if he don’t like you he not gonna like you, so you putting your body through a certain wringer to be this size, to keep the size, you putting on makeup, not makeup, you being natural versus perm, like he going like you or not. And so what. Once we realized that, you can’t convince someone to be or do something for you that you want them to do, they have to innately want to do that. And nothing that, like my husband could wake up tomorrow and be like this, I don’t want to be married no more. And there is nothing that I can do to make him change his mind, and I think once you get into your into our psyche that we don’t control people and can’t control people and nothing that we do changes that, then it’s easier for you to navigate dating. It’s easier for you to navigate marriage even when it comes to being happy in my marriage or my husband being happy. I don’t have anything to do with his happiness. I attribute to it, I can help it. We can be joyful together. But if that negro ain’t happy it had nothing to do with me

Shana Pinnock [00:58:01] well, that was all the questions that I had. G, are you good? Well Ty, thank you so much for giving us your insight and your voice. We we absolutely love you. Tell the folks where they can find you, please.

Ty Alexander [00:58:16] Oh, I am found mostly on Instagram, which is Ty Alexander, T.Y. Alexander. My website is of the same name, just .co because somebody won’t give me .com. Sorry, I had a moment. If you don’t know, I’m still mad about it. So if she hears me anyway. But you have Ty Alexander all over the internet.

Shana Pinnock [00:58:37] Awesome. Well Grio fam. Whatever your summer body looks like, just stay healthy, confident and of course hydrated. Drink your water and all of this Heat.

Gerren Keith Gaynor [00:59:00] We want to remind our listeners to please support your local black businesses and donate to your local organizations and religious institutions, the business that will highlight this week is: Farever Art. Water colorist and fitness enthusiast Farver Collins combined her two loves and creating a fitness brand to love. The line offers original designs and athletic wear, hoodies, socks, bathing and body shoes and, of course, hangable artwork that Collins designed herself for more information and to make a purchase, visit the website at www.fareverart.com. That’s F A R E V E R ART. com.

Gerren Keith Gaynor [00:59:39] Thank you for listening to Dear Culture. If you like what you heard, please give us a five star review. Subscribe to the show wherever you listen to your podcasts and share it with everyone you know.

Shana Pinnock [00:59:48] And of course, please email all questions, suggestions and compliments, we love those, to podcasts@thegrio.com. The Deer Culture Podcast is brought to you by theGrio and executive produced by Blue Telusma, and co-produced by Taji Senior, Brenda Alexander and Abdul Quddas.