Episode 2

Published on:

20th Jan 2021

Jade Elouise aka Bodiposipoet - You can be everything that you are - 013

In this episode, I’m joined by Spiritual Healer, Body Positivity Advocate, poet and artist, Jade Elouise (Bodiposipoet). Her activism, creative outlets and spiritual work all centre around advocating for social justice, equality and equity for marginalised bodies on a systemic level, while also promoting self-healing and self-acceptance on a personal one.

We chat about Jade’s work to reclaim the co-opted body positivity movement, how spirituality and activism can work so well together, speaking out about spiritual bypassing, queering psychology, the power of creativity for self-expression and lots more!

If you haven't already, be sure to join our Facebook community to connect with other like-minded queer folks and allies.

Find out more about Gem Kennedy and Queers & Co. 

Podcast Artwork by Gemma D’Souza


You can find out more about Jade’s work by following these accounts on Instagram: @bodiposipoet, @reclaimingbopo and @asafespacetogrow

 Head to Jade’s Etsy shop to buy some beautiful art!

Full Transcription

Gem: Welcome to Queers & Co., the podcast on self-empowerment, body liberation and activism for queer folx and allies. I'm your host, Gem Kennedy, my pronouns are they/them and I'm a transformational practitioner and coach living in the UK.

Gem: Hi, everyone. Welcome to Episode 2. I hope you've all had a good week despite lockdown. I'm currently snuggled in my dressing gown, because it's absolutely freezing here and I don't want to go outside and get wood so I can light a fire so I thought I'd record the intro instead. And something keeping me nice and warm at the moment, this sounds like such a segue, are the feelings that I got from having this interview with my guest today. I'm sure that you're going to get a lot out of our conversation. I know I definitely did. And yeah, without further ado, I'll introduce her to you. So her name is Jade: Elouise, also known as bodiposipoet. She is a spiritual healer, body positivity advocate, poet and artist. Her activism, creative outlets and spiritual work all centre around advocating for social justice, equality and equity for marginalised bodies on a systemic level, while also promoting self-healing and self-acceptance on a personal one. I hope you enjoy the episode. And I'd love to hear your thoughts afterwards so do head over to the Facebook group to join in the conversation. So now over to the wonderful Jade Elouise.

Gem: Hi Jade. How are you?

Jade: Good thank you. How are you?

Gem: I'm good, thank you. Thanks so much for joining me, I'm really excited to talk to you.

Jade: Oh, thank you for having me.

Gem: Not at all. It would be great if you're happy to just introduce yourself for anyone who hasn't come across your work before.

Jade: Yeah, sure. So my name is Jade Elouise, but I go by Bodiposipoet. I am a spiritual healer and life coach. I'm an artist and I am a body positivity and self-love advocate and activist. So most of my work online focuses around learning to love your body, but also advocating for all bodies and equality for all bodies.

Gem: Thank you. And there's so much to unpack there. I know we talked before about kind of digging into all the different aspects of your work so maybe if you're happy to let's start off with how you kind of got into body positivity because I know that's a huge part of what you do.

Jade: Yeah. So I think like most people, I struggled with body image growing up. My weight, and the way I looked was always made quite a big deal. And so I didn't really have a great relationship with myself and my body. And then when I was in my teens, I kind of came across self-love movements online and I slowly started to learn to love myself more, and just advocate for my right to exist in my body without fear or anxiety or pressure. And when I was in those self-love communities, I slowly came across body positivity. And I realised that I resonated with body positivity just as much, if not more than, self-love because not only was it saying I deserve to love myself, but it was also saying actually, I deserve to live in the world without fear and I deserve to be able to have the same experiences as everyone else. Equally and equitably. So I think body positivity was sort of a saviour for me in a lot of senses in just being at home in myself.

Gem: Yeah, and how did that change your relationship with your body?

Jade: Oh, massively not just my body, but it changed who I was as a person because I wasn't afraid anymore to just exist. I think so many of us are fearful of rejection and of humiliation and of people not accepting who we are. And I was so afraid of that for so much of my life. But with body positivity, I reached a point where I thought not only now do I have the power to stand within my convictions and be a representative of who I am and my body but also I have the power to uplift other people. And to explain to them why all bodies matter.

Gem: Yeah, I love that and did your work come before that or during it or afterwards?

Jade: I think for the most part online, I was just trying to find a way to express myself. I'd always been quite, well not always, I think the more that I learnt to hide away because of my body, the more I became introverted, so for me being online and advocating for my body was mostly just a celebration and exploration of myself. I wasn't really trying to advocate for anyone other than myself when I started out. I just wanted a space where I could explore my relationship with my body and to see other people doing the same. And then the more that time went on, the more I realised that actually this was bigger than just me, it's about how we treat bodies in our society, and I wanted to be a part of making changes towards that. So it slowly went from me being just about me and about my body to being about all bodies and caring about how all bodies are treated.

Gem: Yeah and your work kind of, I don't want to say tackles, that doesn't sound like the right word. Your work kind of covers that from lots of different angles. So in terms of like creativity and spirituality, and that healing element, and community, obviously as well. But before we dig into all the other things, I wondered about your hashtag that you use, #reclaimingbopo and if you could just tell us a bit more about how that came about?

Jade: Yeah, so #reclaimingbopo I think, mostly came from frustration, if I'm honest. It was more... I was just seeing body positive spaces online being co-opted and claimed by bodies that weren't at the forefront of pushing the body positive movement. Body positivity historically was centred in Black women, Black fat women, and people in the most marginalised bodies and yet, if you scroll through body positive hashtags online, what you'll mostly see is white cisgender women who are straight-sized. And often they're promoting diet culture, which obviously body positivity is not the complete opposite of but it does try to tackle. And I just find it so frustrating, because when I started in self-love and body positivity communities, there was that diversity, there was that representation of everybody. And these body positivity spaces had just lost their meaning. And I was just looking through all of these hashtags and I just thought, you know, what can we do about this? Have we lost body positivity forever? Or is there some way that we can reclaim it? And so it was almost born overnight, just out of frustration, I set up the hashtag and I wrote a post about I wanted to start advocating for reclaiming bopo. And I set up a Facebook page, and I just thought, I'm going to try and make a safe space for marginalised bodies, where they can advocate for themselves again, and where they can centre themselves in the movement that was always meant to centre them.

Gem: Yeah and what has that been like, kind of reclaiming that and seeing how people may have started using the hashtag in ways that maybe you didn't imagine and in ways that you did imagine or hoped for?

Jade: Yeah, I wasn't really sure what the response would be to it to be honest. And the profile on Instagram and Facebook is still quite small, in terms of kind of comparative body positivity pages and things like that, but the community there is very strong in its conviction that body positivity should be reclaimed. And I love when I see people use the hashtag. And I love when people tag the #reclaimingbopo page in their posts, because it just shows me that there are people who still care about what body positivity represents, and to whom body positivity is still really meaningful, and really matters to them, and their journeys of learning to love their bodies. So it's just been amazing. I mean, I'm still working on how I can keep pushing the movement and how I can make it something bigger and hopefully find more people who are feeling a little bit lost with body positivity and aren't really sure where to go and make it an inclusive space where we can reach as many people as possible.

Gem: Yeah, I know, when I first kind of got into body positivity, it felt much more inclusive than it has done in recent times. But also, I don't know what your experience has been but as a queer person and also non-binary person, it's been quite... it was interesting to see actually the lack of representation in sort of mainstream body positive movements around other bodies like obviously bodies of colour, bodies of varying abilities and I think that's part of the reason why I started Queers & Co. to actually find out about queer people's relationships with their bodies, because I think there's such a lack of that information out there. And what's it been like for you existing as a queer person in the body positive movement?

Jade: I think one of the reasons why my relationship with my body has always been a little bit complicated was because I sat at a lot of different intersections. And body positivity is meant to be intersectional. It should take into consideration the different life experiences that people have, depending on what intersections they sit on. So it's not just about fatness, and I think a lot of people make that mistake of thinking, if they live in a body that is seen as fat by our society, that that's all that should matter in terms of entering a body positivity space, but different sizes of people are reacted to differently by our society, but also different categories of people. So, for me, you know, I'm a fat Black woman, but not only that I'm also disabled, and I'm also queer, and those different experiences have... they've sort of made me sort of shrink in on myself because I thought, can I really be all these things, and still be accepted by society? So for a long time, it took me a lot of soul searching to realise that yes, I am queer because I was afraid to be. I didn't know what it meant, could I really be fat and Black, and have these problems with my body and my health, and my mental health, and then somehow still tell people also I'm queer. I just didn't know how I would be accepted. Not only in general society, but also in queer spaces. Was I too other? Was I too different? And I think, actually body positivity helped me in learning that no, all bodies deserve to accept themselves wholly, for all the things that they are. But equally, as body positivity became more co-opted, I realised that actually, I don't fit into this space, as it's being represented anymore.

Gem: Yeah and what is your relationship with community like? Obviously, it's quite difficult right now with lockdown and everything, but I guess you mentioned sort of first finding community around self-love and body positivity online, and what's your kind of day to day community like around those those things as well?

Jade: I found it really interesting, actually, as my perspectives shifted, just in general life, but also on the content that I was putting online, so too did my communities. And I think that's a really beautiful thing about social media is that you find the people that you best align with. So there's so many people online, who I'm so blessed to have met, both online and then shortly, (obviously, it's difficult at the moment) but shortly afterwards in real life, and just knowing that there are people who, if I'm having a bad day, or if I want to express myself around a certain topic, who see me and support me and kind of want to be with me in these experiences, and just share it and what I'm sharing, it means a lot, because I've not always fit in in sort of real life situations, I guess you could put it. I've always felt quite different to my peers. So knowing that there's such a wide range of people online, who I might not have had the privilege to meet in real life, if it weren't for social media and online spaces, is really just a blessing because it saved me from feeling isolated and lonely. And there's so many different communities that I've been a part of, when I first started on social media, I actually started within the pinup communities, because it was the only place that I saw plus-size women being represented. And that's what took me to the self-love communities, and then to the bopo communities. But then also being an artist and a spiritual healer, I have those communities as well that I can turn to for different reasons. So I think community is just such an important thing for feeling supported and not feeling isolated. And just knowing that you have your people there for you and to support you.

Gem: Yeah, absolutely. And so you mentioned there being a healer and a coach. And yeah, it's an intersection that I'm really, really fascinated and super interested in, like spirituality and activism and also creativity. So what do I want to ask first? I guess, I guess it would be really interesting to hear how... Yeah, first of all, let's start with spirituality. And I know that you talk about being intuitive or psychic on your account sometimes and what does that mean to you? And how might it have supported you over time?

Jade: Yeah, I mean, it's something that I've just started sort of publicly embracing, because again, it was just something that I thought, does this also makes me other? But I've always been intuitive. I've always been an empath. I've always felt a lot of what other people were feeling. And I think, in a lot of ways, it linked into my mental health issues. Because if I was around people that were feeling kind of a deep sadness, I would feel it too. So I knew I've always known that sort of intuitive side of me was there. But I didn't really have a name for it. And for a long time, I sort of rejected any sort of religion or spirituality, because it just didn't fit in with my worldview. But it sort of discovered me I suppose. I sort of became a part of spiritual communities. People reached out to me and wanted to help me be in line with my gifts and I always knew that I wanted to help people. I studied psychology at university and I knew that I wanted to go into some sort of counselling or guidance for people because of the life experiences that I'd had and the mental health difficulties that I've been through, it just so happens that psychology wasn't the only way to go about it. I realised that it was also through spiritual health and just sort of being in tune more with our holistic wellbeing and our overall wellbeing. And it's funny because a lot of people are sort of confused by this side of me because it doesn't seem to align with activism, and it doesn't seem to align with body positivity. But to me, all parts of ourselves are connected so you don't just have to be one thing or another, you can be everything that you are.

Gem: Totally and thinking about drawing on spirituality as a way to be an activist, I think there's so much power there. And um, for example, you know, you talk about spiritual bypassing and how just staying "Love and Light", for example, if someone is a spiritual person does not take into account the experiences of marginalised communities, it's very easy for some parts of the spiritual world to just brush over any kinds of oppression. And I wonder if you had any sort of pushback or any difficulties with those ideas from more spiritual communities?

Jade: Yeah, definitely. Oh, it's really difficult. I understand. I do understand, being a spiritual person, I understand this need to want everything to be fluffy and lovely and light, and I get it. But it's not real life, I think a lot of spiritual people are so focused on what they would call the bigger picture. They're so focused on all, you know, we're just here to learn lessons. And looking at sort of spiritual meanings, but not looking at the real life moments and the real life experiences that people are having. And in my belief, we are all here for a human experience, which means that we need to look at how those human experiences differ, and how different people are experiencing the world that we're in. And I've lost, unfortunately, a lot of friends and spiritual mentors even, through them just wanting to overlook the different human experiences that we all have, race and racial equality just wasn't as important to them as it should have been because they were so focused on the idea that we're all one. But if we're all one, then we should all care about how we're all being treated. And if one of us is being treated with inequality, then all of us are affected by that. And all of us should care about making those changes to ensure that that stops happening. And I was really saddened last year, over the summer, with all the Black Lives Matter protests going on, to see friends or people I had considered as friends, dismissing their concerns and dismissing the fact that Black people were being disproportionately killed and mistreated, and they just were unwilling to see it. And so I had to let those people go from my life, because I just knew that we were never going to see eye to eye and I could argue until I was blue in the face. But in truth, I don't see the point in wasting time with people who aren't willing to change their mindset. For me, I think spirituality is also openness, and the willingness to be a part of different people's experiences, and listen and learn. And if those people weren't willing to do that, then unfortunately, I had to...

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About the Podcast

Queers and Co.
A podcast for queer folks and allies on self-empowerment, body liberation and activism.
Hi, I'm Gem! Join me as I chat to queer folks and allies about self-empowerment, body liberation and activism. My guests are at the forefront of change-making, working in areas like fat activism, sex positivity, intersectional feminism, drag/cabaret, LGBTQ+ activism and children's rights.

I'm a transformational coach, activist and founder of the Queers & Co. zine, podcast and community. Through my work, I support LGBTQ+ folks and allies to reclaim their personal power and take up space so that they can impact the world in ways they have only dreamt of.

Find out more about my work: www.gemkennedy.com
Find out more about Queers & Co.: www.gemkennedy.com/queersandco

About your host

Profile picture for Gem Kennedy

Gem Kennedy

I’m Gem. I'm the founder of the Queers & Co. zine, community and podcast, as well as a transformational coach and activist. I’m also queer, fat positive, an intersectional feminist and Mum to two free-range children.

I help LGBTQ+ folks and allies to reclaim their personal power and take up space so that they can impact the world in ways they have only dreamt of.