How Storytelling Can Transform your Relationship with Your Body with Storyteller Kimberly Dark

In this episode we’ll talk about the importance of how storytelling can transform your personal sovereignty. In other words, we discuss how to hold space for all people, bring more peace and self-compassion and kindness to ourselves, our bodies, and those of others. Today I bring Kimberley Dark to the show.

Kimberly is a writer, professor, and storyteller, working to reveal the hidden architecture of everyday life so that we can reclaim our power as social creators.
 She’s the author of Damaged Like Me, her latest book Fat, Pretty, and Soon to be Old, The Daddies, and Love and Errors, and her essays, stories, and poetry are widely published in academic and popular online publications alike. Her ability to make the personal political is grounded in her training as a sociologist, and you can find her course offerings in Sociology at Cal State San Marcos and Writing/Arts at Cal State Summer Arts.
Kimberly hosts educational intensives, and travels internationally to offer workshops, lectures, and performances that use storytelling to make big, complex ideas relatable at campuses, conferences, companies, and anywhere people seek startling revelations and positive change. Beloved by diverse audiences, Kimberly crosses boundaries to show how we must engage all the wisdom and verve we have to create the most compassionate, fair, and inclusive world we can.

Today, she will be telling us about her books, how storytelling can break the social hierarchy, and why we need to be enthusiastic about being called out. She will also be addressing the many micro-aggressions in the healthcare system, including racism and sizeism.

[08:55] Why are stories so helpful in breaking the scaffoldings of social hierarchy?
Millennia ago, our ancestors would sit around a fire and tell stories to make sense of their lives, and witness each other’s stories. Nowadays, we like to think we’re advanced with the internet, but on a foundational level, we’re still those same animals – we want to witness other people’s stories. When things hurt, it makes us want to withdraw from the story circle. Storytelling reminds us that we can create pleasure out of hurt, but also that the ability to opt-out is an illusion – when something hurts, it’s important to get back into the circle to witness how others dealt with it, make meaning out of these things, and learn how to heal those who inflict harm. We need to create a personal sovereignty so that we can understand others.

  • Personal Sovereignty is important. If we compare it to a sovereign nation: it has borders, control and responsibility for its own resources and people, and a responsibility for interacting with other nations. Personal sovereignty refers to each individual person’s borders, responsibilities, and self-control.
  • [15:20] “Fat, pretty, and soon to be old”
    This is the title of Kimberley’s most recent book. “Fat” and “old” are words often used as insults in our culture, even though they are neutral descriptive terms – think “tall”, “blonde”, or “deaf.” Our culture has turned “fat” and “old” into insults synonymous with “bad”, “stupid”, and “ugly.” The reason for putting “pretty” into the title is to remind people that human worth should not be set on a hierarchy.

    [26:19] Enthusiasm for being called out
    It’s possible to understand something in your brain and still not be able to enact it in your life. When we use non-inclusive language, for example, and we’re called out for it, we need to learn to run enthusiastically toward our own discomfort.

  • Autopilot syndrome. This is an automatic way of living, thinking, speaking, and being. These are efficiencies that allow us to get through the day much more quickly, decreasing our decision fatigue.
  • [33:56] Healthcare micro-aggressions
    Healthcare is one of the very important areas where there is an ‘others bias’. There’s a misconception that doctors are somehow neutral and objective. When a patient is fat, anything can be attributed to size and weight as opposed to what’s actually wrong – We need to come to a place where it’s medically irresponsible to treat someone in a stigmatized body with anything less than care.

  • Every disease that correlates with fat also correlates with other form of social oppression.
  • Weight loss has only helped 5-10% of women to become fertile.
  • [50:04] “Damaged Like Me”
    This is the title of Kimberley’s next book – also an essay collection, dealing with social hierarchy based on appearance and identity, as well as trauma. There are many things that can happen to us, and then people assume we’re damaged when that happens – this is especially seen in women who experience sexual assault. Talking about or reporting cases is very often met with judgement about the woman.

  • When someone is hurt, they need healing.
  • People with trauma are in a position to offer leadership in the world – those who are always been at the top have a limited view of the world, and have a limited way of understanding other people’s experiences.
  • [54:57] Kimberley’s last meal on a desert island.
    Native Foods “Not Chicken Sandwich.”

    Get a pre-order 25% discount for Kimberley’s book, “Damaged Like Me.”
    Learn more about Kimberley at her website, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

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