Chrissy King is on the podcast today to talk about race in the fitness industry. She addresses the lack of diversity in the mainstream fitness industry, and also advocates that fitness should not only be for thin, white women but should be something that is accessible to all, and supportive of all types of bodies.
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You're listening to Biceps after Babies radio episode number 88
Hello and welcome to Biceps after Babies radio. A podcast for ladies who know that fitness is about so much more than pounds lost or PRs. It's about feeling confident in your skin and empowered in your life. I'm your host, Amber Brueseke, a registered nurse, personal trainer, online fitness coach, wife, and mom of four. My guests and I will excite and motivate you to take action in your own personal fitness as we talk about nutrition, exercise mindset, personal development, and executing life with conscious intention. If your goal is to look, feel, and be strong and experience transformation from the inside out, you, my friend are in the right place. Thank you for tuning in, now let’s jump into today’s episode.
Amber B 0:50
Hey,hey,hey, welcome back to another episode of Biceps After Babies Radio. I'm your host Amber Brueseke, and we have an amazing interview today for you. But before I dive into that I just kind of want to put a plug in, I will be opening up Macros 101, which is my program to help you lose the weight that you want without cutting up the food, you love the end of May. So you cannot get in at any time I opened the doors and then I closed them so that I can really serve the people who join the program. So there will only be a short window to be able to get in this program. And once I close it, I will not be opening doors again until the fall. I'm going to kind of take the summer off to hang out with my kids and then we'll do another opening and close in the fall. So if you're interested in Macros 101 and being able to work with me and work with the program that I put together to be able to teach you about how to track macros, but then also to dive into some of the other stuff that self sabotage that often comes up when you're trying to make a change to your body. Then you can go and get on the waitlist at www.bicepsafterbabies.com/waitlist and then you will have first dibs when I open the doors.
Amber B 2:00
Now today we have Chrissy King on the podcast. And I was very grateful that she was willing to come on and kind of have a hard conversation. A little bit uncomfortable conversation for me, one that I've known for a while that I've wanted to have on the podcast. But we talk about race, especially in the fitness industry. And I think it's something that, you know, my journey with understanding race and white privilege started probably about three years ago, four years ago, back when I lived in North Carolina, and I read some books with my book club and kind of had my eyes open was able to chat with some of my friends there about race and race relations and white privilege, and really started learning and having my eyes open to something that I just didn't really understand existed prior to that, and so, I am have been on this journey and learning and trying to listen and trying to understand for the past couple of years and so I know you knew when I started the podcast that one of the things I wanted to talk about was race and specifically race in the fitness industry. And I remembered an article or blog post that I had read a couple years ago by a woman named Christine Knight. And she talked about how there's the representation of women of color, of women other than just thin white women in the fitness industry is a problem. And so I asked Chrissy to come on the podcast and be able to chat with me about that. And she graciously said that she would, and we had a really awesome and candid conversation about some of the harder things. Chrissy is very strong physically, but she also shares her strength emotionally and intellectually with us as we dive into that topic on race. So without further ado, let's dive into the interview with Chrissy King.
Amber B 3:53
All right,I would like to welcome Chrissy King to the podcast. Chrissy, how are you?
Chrissy King 3:59
Oh I'm so great. I'm so excited to be chatting with you today. Thank you so much for having me.
Amber B 4:04
Me too. This has been something kind of on my bucket list. When I started the podcast. I knew I wanted to do an episode like this. And so I kind of waited for a while because I was nervous Chrissy was gonna say no, finally, I was like, screw it. I'm just gonna ask and she was so gracious to come on the podcast. So I'm really, really thankful for her showing up and sharing her stuff with us today.
Amber B 4:26
Awesome. So Chrissy, first of all, if someone hasn't heard about you, or this is their first introduction to you can just kind of give us a little background like who are you? What are you known for in the fitness space and just give us a little bit about you?
Chrissy King 4:39
Yes, absolutely. So yeah, my name is Christy. I'm currently living in Wisconsin Milwaukee actually. And I'm a writer, a strength coach. I talk a lot about intersectional feminism and fitness and the need for more diversity and inclusivity and fitness spaces. And so I you know, I'm really known for just kind of like mixing strength with all other life things. And that's really a big part of my platform and my brand in the work I do in the world.
Amber B 5:06
So you guys can see why I started following her a while ago because girlfriend is strong and I love looking at her, but then she does all of these other things. So she talks about fitness, but then she brings a whole bunch of other stuff into it, which I absolutely love. And we're gonna get into that a little bit more. But can you kind of tell us how you got started in fitness? Like, what did that look like for you?
Chrissy King 5:26
Yes, absolutely. So, interestingly, I did not like being physically active growing up, I was more into reading and writing, which I still love like those things a lot. But I joined a gym, probably when I was in my mid 20s. And literally, the only reason I joined the gym is because my sister joined the gym and I was like, well, we don't work out and she's like, well, I'm working out now. So I was like, Okay, I'm gonna work out too. And it's so funny because when I joined the gym, my only goal I had one goal and that was like, I want to be skinny. I had no desire for strength. I didn't even think about strength training as a possibility for myself, it was just because I want to be skinny. Um, and so I joined the gym, I got a trainer, and like the first session, she was like, Okay, well, let's like do some strength training, get some weights, and I was like, hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on,
Amber B 6:15
I don't want to get it.
Chrissy King 6:16
I came here to get skinny and I think you're misunderstanding what I came here for. And she was like, well, you know, like, I strength train and she was a very petite woman, actually. And she was like, I strength train, this is what I do. And I was she's like, just trust me, and let's just try this out. And I was like, alright, I guess and my first session was just like a 30 minute session. And I literally felt like it was like hours was so hard and so challenging. But I signed up for a package. So I was like, well, I spent my money so I'm going to keep going back. And so I did, but like, slowly, I started to like see changes and like my physical abilities, you know, like I couldn't and we weren't doing anything like super hardcore, but just like, even doing something like walking lunges, which like the first session, I was just like, I can't do this. And like slowly I started to see myself getting strength and I really, actually started to like falling in love with that feeling of getting stronger. And I started to understand that muscles were kind of cool, actually. And through a series of events, I ended up, her boyfriend ended up opening his own, like a small strength and conditioning gym. And I remember the first time I walked in there, I saw women like deadlifting and benching, and squatting. And I had never seen that before. And I was like, Wow, that looks kind of cool and so anyways, eventually, I started powerlifting was my introduction to powerlifting there and it was just like, as soon as I did it, I just like fell in love with that, like the feeling of the barbell and like just feeling strong and empowered. And so powerlifting really became the base of my training since then, and it totally transformed just like how I felt about my body and like, you know, changed my desire to only be skinny, changed my relationship with body and body image and really, like set the course of like, everything I'm doing now. So,
Amber B 7:52
yeah, and I think that's, I think that'll resonate with a lot of people because so many women do get into fitness and that's their first thing. I want to get skinny. You know, like, that's kind of where my journey started. I was like, I want to get abs like, that was the driving force. But similar to you, it's like as I started getting the feeling of strength and feeling strong, and like how that changed how I felt like that became the driving motivator so much more than aesthetics did. And that's one thing that I love about you. So if somebody is kind of maybe they're at their like beginning stages, and they're like, I just want to get skinny, like I resonate with that. But maybe in the back of their mind, they have this idea. Well, maybe like someday I'd like to lift heavy weights, where would you say they should start? Like, what should they do to kind of in towards that?
Chrissy King 8:38
Yes. So it's really interesting, because growing up, I was like, everyone thought I was like a weak person, actually, like it was like an ongoing joke in my family that I was just a weak person. And so that has really become my narrative that like, some people are strong, and some people aren't. And I'm just a person that's not and like, it didn't bother me. I was just like, Oh, I'm just not a strong person. It's fine. And so again, once I started training, and I realized like, oh, like a strength is a skill, just like anything else, right? So it's like you can develop any kind of skills that you want to develop. And so if you're like on the edge and you see people and I think especially social media, it can be really intimidating, right? Because you see people do these incredible feeds. And you're like, there's no way I could ever do that. And it's like, well, you don't have to start there, right to start with anything. And literally, my first introduction to strength was just doing bodyweight stuff. So if you're just interested in like, maybe that's a possibility. Just start wherever your physical abilities are now. And like just use your own bodyweight and work your way up. Instead of thinking like one day I have to be this like, super strong person that seems so far ah because if you had told me like, five years ago, I'd be doing the things I'm doing now, I would be like, there's no way in hell I'm ever gonna be doing those things. Not a possibility for me. So just start wherever you are. And you know, go from there.
Amber B 9:49
Yeah. And so can you give people because we're going to talk about your numbers. I want to talk about your numbers. But can you tell people how long you've been doing this so they get a little bit of perspective that like you didn't just start yesterday like you didn't jump to a quarter pound deadlift in like a year like talk to us about your timeline?
Chrissy King 10:06
Yeah, I've definitely been strength training probably for eight years now. And there's been periods of like total consistency when I was really dedicated to powerlifting, where I was training like really hardcore all the time. And then there's been periods where I think there's ever been a time when I wasn't really training, but it's just like the intensity has always been different. But yeah, it's been eight years in the making. Not an overnight process.
Amber B 10:28
Awesome. Okay, so we're gonna talk about your numbers, because I think this is, I hope that this is super inspiring to people to hear these kinds of numbers. As we were talking beforehand, I was just saying, I think a lot of people on social media think that I'm very strong and not like to put myself down but I am strong, but like, there are definitely women that are a lot stronger than me. Chrissy is one of them. And then she was saying she's like, and then there's women that are a lot stronger than her. So there's room for everybody, like everybody's on a different journey, and we're all kind of at a different place. But I want to hear your current PR so tell us your PRs.
Chrissy King 11:00
Okay, so this is back to what I was just saying about periods consistency. So I'm going to tell you the most I have ever lifted, lifted and then I'll tell you probably like where I am now. So the most I've ever squatted is 400 pounds, which was like a really awesome day. The most I've ever deadlifted was 495 pounds. And I believe the most I've ever been to was probably like, close to 200 that one's a little like a foggy in my mind. But so talking about consistency, I could not walk into the gym and lift those numbers right now, because there's just been periods like, especially the last year at 18 months, that just hasn't been my main priority. But one thing about strength that's really cool is that even though you know, I wasn't training as hard as I was and just like not at those numbers, like strength is one of those things that you know, it's really you don't like to lose it because you haven't been training super heavy. So I've just like recently in the last month, six weeks or so, I've bench like kind of returning to heavyish lifting. And so like last week, you know, I pulled four or five which deadlift 405 pounds. I wish I hadn't done that and liked well over a year and it felt pretty great. So it's just it's one of those things you don't lose them. So right now I think that four or five is the most I've dead lifted. And then yesterday I actually squatted heavy-ish for like the first time in a while, and I squatted 335. So I don't know, I don't know what the max I could do right now is but that's kind of where I'm at.
Amber B 12:19
That's awesome. Those are some, like if you guys don't know anything about lifting, like those are some massive numbers for a male and some amazing numbers for a female. So that's awesome. I hope that that's inspiring to some people who are, are maybe getting started that's something that they can shoot for. And again, she's been at it for, you know, eight years on and off. So it's a process. And what would you say that like weightlifting has done for you, you know, physically as well as mentally in your life.
Chrissy King 12:48
Yeah, so physically, like I said, it changed my whole narrative about being the ability to just be strong. So that was a big thing for me and it definitely completely changed my mindset with my body. As I spoke before, like I wanted to only be skinny. And like even after initially, after I started lifting weights, I like I did love the strength aspect of it. But I was still very much in a lot of ways chasing the physique aspects. So it took me a long time, honestly, I had a very like physical transformation of my body, but then it still took me a long time to get out of that place of focusing so much on just maintaining or even shrinking my body. And so now like I can finally say, like I'm at a place or it happened for a while, where like, I'm okay with like, like, it's not my goal anymore to be as skinny as possible. And really just like recognizing that I'm more than my body, right like that, like how I look is not the most important or interesting thing about me or anywhere even close to it. And just getting in a place where you recognize that like, your body is always going to be changing, right? So if we base our love for ourselves on if we do these things, or if I look this way, or if I can even lift this amount of weight, then we know that we're always going to be failing in that regard because we're never going to say the same no matter what it is, right? So for me, it's about being able to love and accept myself and really appreciate myself and all the different iterations that my body has and is going to have as I continue to be, you know, in this human body. And then in terms of like, what else has done for me outside of just the relationship with my body is it's actually like, rephrase my whole narrative about life. Like, I never actually thought that I'd be doing any of the things I'm doing now all of that happened because of powerlifting. Because I think when I recognized that, like, that narrative about being weak was just something I made up and I was like, well, what else am I not doing in other areas of my life, because I have decided that I can't do those things. And so for me, it was returning to writing, which has been a really big transformative, an amazing part of my life now. And just like, Oh, you know, the idea of like, I'm going to take up space in the world, whether that's physically or just in like my career, and anything that I want to do and just like that feeling of like, I deserve to be here and I am going to take up the space and I'm not going to worry about what people think about me or whatever. I'm just going to do the work that I feel glad to do in this world.
Amber B 15:01
That's amazing. And that leads perfectly into our next topic. I found Chrissy, when did you write that blog post?
Chrissy King 15:10
Amber B 15:10
The “Why is Fitness Only for White Women?”
Chrissy King 15:14
Oh, yeah, that was almost two years ago to the date. Actually,
Amber B 15:18
I read that blog. I don't know how I came across that blog post, but I read that blog post. And it was huge. So I'll link it in the show notes. But Chrissy wrote a blog post titled “ Fitness Only for Thin White Women”. And I read through this and it was crazy, like, the points that she was making were things I had never ever thought about. And it just was kind of revolutionary. And that's the first introduction that I had to her. And there's a concept that like, hey, you're kind of right. Like, there really isn't a lot of diversity in the fitness industry. And oh my gosh, like, what can we do about that? So what kind of prompted you to write that?
Chrissy King 15:55
Yeah, this totally leaves. It's like the perfect time to talk about this because that's the first blog that really like scared *** out of me, I was really really, I had like, written it and sat on it for like a couple of months. And I was just like really, really scared to release it. And again, I think it was because of this idea of being concerned about what people are gonna think, and being worried that people are gonna be offended. But also knowing that it was like truth that needed to be spoken. And so I remember the day I wrote that blog because I've been working on some stuff for my head, like starting online coaching at that point, and I was working on some stuff. And I was like, trying to find like, some graphics and pictures and like everything that I came across, like when I googled were just like, thin, cisgender, white, you know, very able bodied, feminine presenting women, no diversity and bodies hype, no diversity and like race, nothing like that. And I was like, wow, this is like really disheartening. And so I just started to talk about it. And I think it was that with a combination of just being in a lot of fitness spaces, personally like conferences and events, and feeling like there just wasn't any representation. And so that sounds like okay, I'm just gonna write about this because that's the only thing I know how to do, right? Or the only thing I know to do right now. I remember the day I posted it because I was so scared. And I did it. I'm still working a corporate job at that time. And I had to be like, on the road for a few hours, like driving. So I was like, Well, I'm going to post it before I start driving because I know I won't be able to like look at the Internet. It's like, post and run, right?
Amber B 17:20
Chrissy King 17:21
So that's what I did. And then when I finally got back to the Internet, and like, I was like, shaking and shaked, and I was like, wow, for one, it was like, the first time I felt like people were actually like, actually paying attention to what I was writing about. But also, I got like, so many messages from people just saying, like, Wow, I've been feeling this for so long, like, thank you for putting it into words. And so I recognize like, the thing that we're most scared of sometimes is the thing that we know we need to be talking about or doing. And it's just like, facing that fear, which is really, really hard. But it's like where all the magic happens is we do that thing that scares us the most. And so this blog was really transformative for me also because it was like when I felt finally free to be completely myself and authentic and like to stop worrying about what people were gonna think and just talk about the things I want to talk about and it was definitely a turning point in my business.
Amber B 18:11
It's amazing. I wanted to read a part of the blog post. So Chrissy says, you know, she was trying to come up with a fitness graphic and she like, googled, you know, images of push ups and like, all these white women came up and an all white thing, right? Like exactly like you said, all able bodied, like no diversity when it came to that. And she's like, perhaps Google's off and so then she says, Do me a quick favor, pull your phone and go to Instagram, head over to Oxygen magazine's Instagram page, keep scrolling until you see a woman of color. Now keep scrolling until you find 10 on second thought, scratch that. You probably don't have enough time for that because trust me, you're going to be scrolling for a while. And I'm not picking on Oxygen. To be honest, it's just the first time Fitness magazine that came to mind. But here's the thing you might think it's just because women of color are obviously not interested in health and fitness, that's actually not the case at all. The fitness industry has a diversity problem. And that was just like spot on. And I want you to talk about this idea of the fitness industry as a whole, and having this diversity problem and it's not just with women of color, right? Like it's not just with like a certain race, but in body size in like, you know, gender and cisgender versus almost like all the things we have a problem with diversity. Can you kind of speak to that for a little bit?
Chrissy King 19:33
Yes, absolutely. Um, so I haven't read this article a long time. So I was like, why should go back and look at Oxygen? So like that it's been a while but yeah, you know, it's definitely. So first of all, I should say, like, you know, the fitness industry, in a lot of ways, has the same issues that the fashion industry has or lots of other industries, right? So it's like a problem that persists across many different industries. But when you think of mainstream fitness, like if you just go to the store and look at who's on the cover of the magazine at the store, you know, your favorite like, Instagram fitness account or whatever, you're going to see a lot of the same things, right? So we're talking about, like just a lot of layers of privilege, right? able bodied, cisgender, very overwhelmingly white, very overwhelmingly like the right size, right? Like a little muscle but not too much, flat out, like, you know, a nice butt like all these things. And because again, it's very much like selling people the idea of beauty right? Which is a problem in itself because beauty doesn't have a look right, but that's what we're perpetuating. And so I think the fitness industry becomes this thing, which again, lacks diversity and also an industry which is supposed to like, for me fitness is not about how you look or whatever it's about, you know, moving your body in ways that feel good and feeling nourished and whole and energized, not about a look, but it very much perpetuates to people that this is desired appeal is the desired look and then people are forever, like chasing that idea of beauty, which is unattainable in some ways. Because if the idea of beauty and mainstream is like, white and thin, like I'm never gonna be unattainable for me, no matter how hard I try, yeah, and so it's just that, again, and this is a very mainstream idea. And I think it needs to be challenged, because fitness isn't about trying to, like produce people who look a certain way, right? I think we all know people who look that way and are unhealthy. And we know people who live in larger bodies who are healthy. And so it's like changing our minds a set and narrative about all these ideas and just like flipping the fitness industry into something that is accessible for all that's welcoming and supportive of people in all different type of body, and all different types of bodies and creating environments that people feel welcomed and supported and invited to be in.
Amber B 21:49
And so what I mean, I know you said, you know, when you go to conferences and stuff, often you'll be the only woman of color there. What other experiences have you had as a woman of color in the fitness industry in the powerlifting industry?
Chrissy King 22:00
Yeah, so yeah, for sure going to events where no one's speaking as representative of myself or any other different biotechs I think that's a big part of it. I'm not only just being, like one of the few people in the audience but like not seeing any representation in the panel with people who are in charge of the event. Definitely, like, you know, just in the online presence, I think fitness can feel a little like, you know, you have like the, I don't want to call them fitness celebrities, but you kind of right you have like, and you don't always see anybody else represented it could feel very like clicky, it can feel very like I don't know if I belong in this space. I think for me when I started online, and I think I have like cultivated a better like a better group of people now but when I know when I first got into fitness, and I was just starting out, and like looking at people to like connect with even like, you know, virtually, I didn't see a lot of people like myself, right? And so it almost makes you wonder like, wow, can I be successful in this industry? Can I make a mark in this industry if I'm not seeing myself, and obviously like for me, I've decided that I'm just going to do the thing anyways. Right, but it can feel kind of discouraging. And I've been in lots of gyms, lots of experiences in gyms with things happening that didn't feel good at all. Like, I felt very unsafe. And I think spaces that I've left because of things that were happening that didn't feel good.
Chrissy King 23:21
Just recently I was in a gym, and it's like, you know, when we start having these conversations about creating environments to feel safe and welcoming, it's about recognizing, like, put yourself in someone else's shoes, what would this feel like? Right? So I was at a gym, not too long ago, and there was first off it was mostly men in the gym. I think I might have been the only woman in the gym at the time and it's a smaller space and they were having this conversation about there's a lot of members of the gym that are police officers and so they were having this conversation within earshot of me they weren't like trying to like be quiet or anything. And they were talking about how this one particular police officer doesn't like black people and he's always looking for an option trying to beat up a black person. Very triggering, right?
Amber B 24:02
Oh my gosh,
Chrissy King 24:03
yeah, extremely triggering to be in a space where that kind of conversation is happening. And again, like I'm, I can handle things like that because I've worked on myself before a lot of people that'd be like, I'm never coming back to this place again, why would I want to come to this place? Right? I've been in other gyms where, you know, very homophobic language being used as a joke. And, you know, I've pointed it out, I'm always really, I always point things out like that, because I feel like even though because this this is the responsibility of all of us to do that right to call things out or make it known to people, and it just became like this ongoing joke like, oh, the feminist is here. She's gonna like, you know, say something to us about our behavior. But I just think again, there's been so many times where I've been in situations where I felt very unwelcome or didn't feel like a safe space for me. And I think it happens more often than people realize. We talked about the conversation of like, microaggressions or like casual comments that have happened all the time, that people say without even thinking about them, but are very offensive, you know, and I remember being all the time stuff like, Oh, you don't even sound like a black person or just things like that, like, these casual comments are slipping all the time that do have an effect on people. So yeah,
Amber B 25:17
that's Yeah, I mean, that's awful. And I think, you know, as a white woman hearing that that kind of stuff happens it like it makes my jaw drop of like, but for you, that's like your life and like you that happens way more than I think a lot of us would like to think that it happens and we have this idea that you know, it's 2019 and racism doesn't exist and I don't see color and like all of these things that a lot of white well meaning white women will say, right, like I have black friends like
Chrissy King 25:47
Amber B 25:48
but that like that is I mean, you're just scratching the surface like there is so much there that needs to be uncovered. And I don't have all the answers and I'm sure Chrissy feels like she doesn't have all the answers as well. But it's something that we need to address because like you said those microaggressions I think that's like we do that. We hope not me, but like that i'm sure happens more often than we would like to believe happens.
Chrissy King 26:14
Oh, 100% like everything you just said, like, I reiterate that over and over again. Because again, like when we're talking about the conversations of microaggressions are like, the thing that happens all the time is people again will say like, Oh, I can't believe that happens. And it's like, no, this is literally all the time, right? And so it's remembering that like, you're not experienced, if you're not a person of color, you're not experiencing it in your day to day, but trust me, this is happening all the time. And it is not, it doesn't mean it's not happening, right. It's happening all the time. And even if you pointed at someone you like to push, talks about some really important things, like people saying things like, Oh, it's 2019 I can't believe this is still happening. And it's like, well, right or even like this conversation about like, this is America like this isn't happening here. And it's actually like, we have to get to this point, where we can be honest with ourselves that like, actually, this is the foundation of America, right?
Chrissy King 27:04
And so it's always been this way, it's always been happening. There's never been a time in history when these things haven't been occurring. And so like, when we're having those conversations and saying those things like being able to stop in the moment and recognize that if you're experiencing such that you think this is a new phenomenon, like recognizing the privilege of your own background, because this is not a new phenomenon, right. And again, you brought up a really important microaggression to like that conversation is saying, like, I don't see color from well meaning people, right, like that comes with the best of intentions, but actually, like it's quite offensive, because two things number one, it's also just like, not true, right? Like we do see color, we know that people are different. And the second part of that is that like, I am, like really proud to be black. So it's like not that I don't want you to see that. Like, I want you to recognize that and then appreciate it and treat me with the same respect that you treat anyone else not to erase my identity, right? And so it's like, No, I want you to see that I'm black. I don't want you to pretend that I'm not like I want you to see that and respect it. And Audre Lorde is one of my favorite feminists and said “ it's not our differences that separate us”,I'm paraphrasing. “It's not our differences that separate us, but it's our inability to like, recognize and celebrate those differences.” And so it's not that we all need to be the same and like, ignore the fact that there's differences is that we need to embrace those and respect each other, the same way we would anybody else,
Amber B 27:04
Right. Well, and the ability to say racism doesn't exist. And that doesn't happen anymore, is the ability to like it, you know, cover your ears and just pretend like it's never happened. And as white women, we have the privilege that we can do that. Whereas as a woman of color, like, that's not, like that's your life. That's an experience. And so, it really comes from this place of white privilege of saying, I don't have to pay attention to that it doesn't happen. I'm just gonna ignore it because we can't ignore it.
Chrissy King 28:20
Amber B 28:29
other women of color can ignore it, like it is a thing that happens. So can you speak to this idea of white privilege if somebody is listening and hearing this word white privilege, or you know, for them that feels like a triggering word, right? Like white privilege doesn't exist. Why? privilege isn't a thing. Can you kind of just explain what white privilege is?
Chrissy King 29:04
Yeah, so I like actually, to talk about privilege. Like before we even put the word right in front of it, let's just talk about the term privilege in general. So basically, privilege, the idea of privilege is just societal advantage that are assigned to certain status, right? So that could be race, that could be class, that could be gender, it can be sexuality, or sexual orientation, right? All of those things have a layer of privileges advantage of being a certain way. So when we think of privilege in that way, there's not a single person in the world that doesn't have some type of privilege that they possess, right? If you had the ability to go to college, that's a privilege, right? If we're living in a country where electricity and water are running every day, we don't have to think about it. That's a privilege that comes with class, right? And there's privilege that comes with being thin all these things right. So all of us have layers of privilege. That's the first thing that we have to acknowledge. And we all have benefits of living with those layers of privilege. We live in a very, like in a world where being heterosexual comes a love of privilege, right? If you can walk down the street with your partner, and anybody place in the world and never have to worry about scrutiny. That's a privilege, right? So it's less about thinking about what you it's about, like realizing there's things you don't have to struggle with, because of the way that you are your identity, right. And so when we put the word white in front of privilege, that means that there are privileges that come with being white. And so when we start talking about it, that concept of white privilege, it is very triggering for people sometimes, right, and the first things that come up are like, No, but I had a hard life, or I worked really hard for what I have. And like having white privilege doesn't mean that those things aren't true, those things can be very true. But there's also it's also true, there are certain things you haven't had to struggle with because of the color of your skin, right.
Chrissy King 30:38
And so, recognizing that privilege is not a good thing. It's not a bad thing. It's just what exists in the world. And it's what we choose to do with our privilege that makes a difference, right? So I myself am in some ways, “marginalized right” because I'm black. I'm a woman that comes with it, but I'm also super privileged in a lot of ways, because of the body existence, because of my education level, because of class because of income, all of those things. And so we can be both things. And you can be a woman right and be disadvantaged because if you're a woman, we come to gender privilege, right? But you could also be white woman and be privileged in that way. And so instead of being triggered by it, it's just like recognizing that these things actually exist in the world. And I think that, if anyone is really, it's hard to believe that you, it's hard to believe that privilege doesn't exist. And it's like when people want to fight that concept. It's just really for me, it's like, you don't want to accept that these things exist, because we can see how they play out all the time. And I always think for the easiest conversation to have with women around this is we can see how sexism plays out, right? And we can see in the day to day, how being a woman and being a man in this world vary and our treatment varies. It's exact same thing for color, right? And it's just a different aspect and a different way of looking at it.
Amber B 31:52
Yeah, and the first step to being able to change it or change the world is recognizing that privilege and then once you recognize that now we can use that privilege in a way that then is going to benefit and help and support and uplift people who have been marginalized. And it's not in a like, I also want to be careful. It's not like a white savior type thing. Because I think,
Chrissy King 32:15
Amber B 32:16
that a lot too, right? Like, oh, I'm the white woman, and I'm going to come in, and I'm going to like, be your savior and like, help you get all these things and like, oh, look how awesome I am. Right? Like, that's the way that using white privilege needs to happen. It needs to happen in a way that like you understand where you're coming from, what my privileges are. And you understand that not everybody has that and then we work with the privilege to help other people be able to get there.
Chrissy King 32:40
100% I love that you said that and brought up the white savior complex, because it does take over it's sometimes right like I'm gonna go help these people and it's like, not an issue of someone needing help from you. Is this an issue of like, the systems are equal, there's, there's systematic changes need to happen in this world. So how can you use your privilege to make those changes not to go in and like “to help people”. And I think another thing that's really important in this conversation is like, once we've, you know, established and recognized that you have privilege. You know, the one of the best ways I think that you can help with your privilege is to, like, do something without the need to talk about what you're doing. And I see this happen online a lot with like, well, I guess well, many white women who are like, I'm gonna go talk about this thing that I did. And then what you see is like, a lot of praise and accolades for like, whatever. And it's like, when you really are really trying to create change and really do the thing. It's not because you want to get praise or recognition for it. And it's not something that you need to like even talk about publicly. It's not to say that, like you shouldn't be having conversations about these things. But it has to very much come from a place like I, especially when we're trying to stay away from that white savior complex. Stay away from the feeling that you need to publicly display like how you're doing these things instead of just doing the things without needing recognition because that's how you really want to create change, and it's not for the praise or the accolades.
Amber B 34:01
That's so so good. So then when we're talking about, okay, we have the fitness industry we've established we have a diversity problem, what can we do to be able to make the fitness industry feel more inclusive, and increase that diversity? And then as a follow up to that, like, as a white woman with white privilege, how can I be working to change the system? And I like how you differentiate between changing the system and necessarily like helping a certain person, but how can I be helping to change the system to change the narrative to change, like the diversity issue that we have?
Chrissy King 34:36
Yeah, I think it's really important, right for all of us, everyone, no matter who you are, I think it's really important for all of us, including myself, because it's something I'm always working on, is to recognize and understand our implicit and unconscious bias, right? We all have biases. And again, this is a conversation that's bigger than just race, right? It's especially when we're talking about fitness because it's like what are our implicit bias around different bodies types, different body sizes and shapes, what are our bias around able bodied or non able bodied people, and we all have them and like I can guarantee or promise you, and actually, there's a really great website. It's actually on the Harvard website, and I'll send you the link later, if you want to put it in the show notes. It's an amazing website where you can take implicit bias tests, right, and they have them on all different categories. And they're really eye opening, you can't trick the system, right? Like, I've done a lot of work around, you know, a lot of the work I do is around body image and like, you know, unlearning my own fatphobia. And like, I still take that test and I can see a little bit of bias and it told me like, I have a slight bias towards thinner bodies. And I was like, No, I don't, but like I do, right. And so it's like, even when we think we've noticed these things, it's really important that as practitioners, we are being really honest with ourselves and uncovering those implicit biases because they show up in the way that we treat people in the way that we do our work in the world. Even when we have the best intentions. And we have the purest intentions they still show up so I think it's really amazing. And then all of us be unlearning our biases. And they show up in really subtle ways sometimes, but they're always there. So I think that's the thing that all of us need to be doing.
Chrissy King 36:07
And I think when it comes to conversations about like, what can I do in the fitness industry to make it more diverse and more inclusive? I think for one thing, it's like seeking opportunities to like, elevate the voices of other people who don't look like your own right. That's one thing I think you can do. And I think one thing that I think is really challenging for people is that when we talk about creating real change, we also have talked about like the ability to like cede power and control, right, and so this is where like, the rubber meets the road because I think it's easy to talk about these things and like, Oh, we need to do this. But like when it comes down to it when you are faced with a situation and it's like, am I going to do the thing that is most beneficial to me or am I going to do the thing that is going to benefit other people and so like one example for me that's coming up recently, is USAPL which is a powerlifting organization. They have a trans ban, they're not allowing trans athletes to compete, right? And so it's really interesting to watch this play out because I've seen people who, like, are writing on the diversity and inclusion train until like, now you're at this place where I have to, like make a public statement about something or take a stand. And I possibly, like I might lose something from taking that stand, right? Like there could be financial loss. If you have high ties with USA PL, if you're a coach with USCPL, there could be consequences for talking out and speaking out against the trans ban. And so you see now like people who have been all about the diversity and inclusion thing, or all of a sudden, like really silent about the trans ban, right? Because it's like now I'm actually at this place where I might have to actually lose something. And that's where you have to really ask yourself like, am I actually willing to cede power? Or am I just like practicing these things in theory, and so, you know, getting into those situations and really being able to be on the right side of history, even if that means that you're losing something personally.
Chrissy King 37:59
And I think another thing that people can do those really simple is like, you know, when people are inviting you to speak at events, like ask these questions like who else is on the panel, who else is going to be speaking, that's going to be presenting to be like, I can't be a part of this if there's more, not more representation. And sometimes that might even mean like, you know what, I know that I could do this, but I also know someone else, that would be really great. And they'd give you more representation. They give you more whatever, and they would do a really good job and really be able to pass off opportunities and pass the mic up. And those are things that have to happen sometimes. And again, this comes back to like, how serious are we really about creating change because sometimes it will feel and I think it's really interesting because we talk about privilege, we talk about these things when you've always been the dominant group and you've always been in that position. Other people having some of the sharing that spotlight sometimes feels like, like you're being punished, but it's not right. It's not punishment at all. Because you've just always been the overwhelming dominant presence in the room and I think you see that happening a lot now with people feeling like they're losing power and domination in this country, and it's like, no, there's just other people coming to the table now.
Amber B 39:07
That's in shape.
Chrissy King 39:08
Amber B 39:08
I like that you, you said that. And correct me if I'm wrong. But what I heard you say is that, like, if we want to start to change the system, we have start with ourselves, right? We have to start. Like, we have to first realize that it's a problem, like so a lot of people don't realize this problem. So we first have to realize it as a problem. And then we have to look inward and start figuring out our biases. You know, and what our thoughts are on these things. And once we spend that time doing some of the inner work, then we can start to go outward and start to do these other things that are going to make more change because we've changed ourselves and we've changed
Chrissy King 39:42
Amber B 39:43
at work the way that we're approaching the situation. I have a question I want to ask you and this is something that I've struggled with, you know, it goes into this idea of like, you know, having women of color be represented in like panels and things like that on the podcast. You know, this kind of thing I struggle with, like wanting to have that representation and encourage that representation. But never having it come from a place of like, I want to have more women of color on my podcast. And so then I go out and search for women of color like me, that's not the point. Do you mean
Chrissy King 40:00
Amber B 40:22
can you kind of like, walk me through that? It's like this push and pull that I feel in my own life. Anyway, I'm interested to see what you have to say about it.
Chrissy King 40:29
Yes, actually, I'm glad you brought this up. Because you're right. There's a fine line between like, being intentional, and then like tokenism. Right, like you just don't wanna go find. Go find a black person to bring on the show, right?
Amber B 40:40
Chrissy King 40:41
yeah, yeah, you're 100% right. And I think one thing too, I always encourage people. I talk about this a lot, it's like actually starting cultivating real relationships with people that don't look like you right? So it's like, if everyone in your circle looks just like you, that's like a great point to be like, Oh, I need to change something right? Because like for any of us, no matter who we are, I think, again, there's so much beauty and having different people represented in our lives. And like for me, I know how much growth I've had in my personal life when I surrounded myself with people who look different from me, who think differently from me, who have different viewpoints, I learned a lot,I've grown personally from those situations. And so it's like, take a look at like, who your circle is. And if everyone's just like you, that's like a first food, like, start expanding that circle. And I think a lot of it is like getting out of your comfort zone, right? Like, it's easy to be around people just like you, you feel really comfortable and safe there. And like when you have to expand that it is a little uncomfortable. But like that is like none of this stuff that we're talking about today comes from a place of being comfortable, right? Like when we want to say comfort, we wouldn't even be having this conversation, right. So it's like expanding that circle and connecting with people that are different from you.
Chrissy King 41:48
And I think, you know, I've talked to people who even live in very homogenous areas of the country. I think that's the one thing that's really great about social media, right? Like you have this opportunity to connect with people from all over the world that look nothing like you, they think nothing like you, and really like listening to people. And not even I don't mean listening, like taking their word for everything they say. But I'm saying like having your eyes and engaging with content that's different from what you're used to, with an open mind. And when we start having these difficult conversations, our first feeling is like to run from it, right? Because we're like, oh, that didn't feel good. Why don't I like thinking about that. Even more, going back to this conversation about understanding your implicit bias, like I can promise you're gonna uncover some things that you don't like what you find, and that feels like our human nature for all of us is when something is disturbing our psyche. We're like, Oh, we don't want any more of that. We're just gonna go back to what feels good, but like pressing forward, and that is like a first step. So I really, really encourage people, yes, to develop relationships with people who don't look like you. So that like, again, when you're putting together an event or when you're wanting to do whatever you don't have to like, yeah, it's not like you're just trying to find some people to check a box, right? Because it's not like you just let me go find the gay person. Let me go find The black person, let me go find the transgender person. Check those off. Now we have diversity, right? Like, that's not how it works.
Amber B 43:07
Chrissy King 43:08
And so just really being intentional in your everyday relationships with people. And again, not in a way that's like patronizing or tokenizing. But just being genuine and honest about wanting to make connections with different types of people.
Amber B 43:21
That's awesome. Yeah, I mean, just about a year ago, I realized going on with what Chrissy was saying is that, like, I literally wasn't following any women of color, like on my Instagram. And I was like, that needs to change. Like, I need to, like, hear these voices. And so I went out and like, looked for women that like, represented that but I'm thinking now like, how many transgender people my following how many homosexual people I followed and I encourage you to think about your like Instagram feed, like how many people who are different than you and have different opinions and different ideas of how they see the world are you following because I think and this has been talked about in the media, how social media becomes this echo chamber, right? And you only follow people who believe the same things that you do. And you're like, Yeah, I like that because like, I follow you, and then if you don't like what they say, then you unfollow them. And it creates a problem because then if we're never listening to people who think differently than us, our beliefs are never challenged. We're never growing as individuals. And we do kind of create this little cocoon around ourselves that feels really safe and really happy. And we're not making progress. And so I have work to do in that and I know I have work to do and that and I'm encouraging anybody who's listening to think about that, like where, you know, where can you start to be able to start creating relationships with people who believe differently and think differently than you.
Amber B 44:49
So anyway, I'm right there with you doing the work. And I was telling Chrissy like, I feel like I'm still kind of a newbie in this I was one of the reasons I wanted to have her on the podcast because I feel like this is really important but I'm still struggling with how what that looks like for me and how I like really show up in this way that is authentic and yet really understands like the privilege that I've been given as a white thin woman especially in the in the fitness industry. So Chrissy, I really appreciate you taking the time to share this with us. And I hope for those of you listening that this has been something that you know, maybe it made you uncomfortable, and if it did, good, I'm glad that it made you uncomfortable and I want you to like think about why did it make me uncomfortable and to start to like do the work because if something's making you uncomfortable, it doesn't necessarily mean it's bad. It just means that like you're growing and you're progressing. So Chrissy if people want to come follow you and they want to see your like, supreme strength and and hear from you about all the different things that you share, where can they find you?
Chrissy King 45:52
Yes, I'm most active on Instagram and on Instagram as IamChrissyKing. I'm also on Facebook facebook.com/ChrissyKingfitness and then my website we can read on my blog is ChristyKing.com
Amber B 46:06
Yeah. And we'll link all of her stuff on the show notes as well as the Harvard thing that she recommended going to and then her post specifically that we kind of talked about. Thank you so much, Chrissy, I really appreciate being on the podcast.
Chrissy King 46:19
Thank you. We had a great conversation. I really appreciate it. It's been good.
Amber B 46:24
Wasn't that an awesome interview? I do hope that there were some takeaways there for you of things that maybe this is just the first time you've ever even thought about this. Or maybe you have done some work and you have done some reading and some learning. Wherever you are in this journey of understanding race and race relations and white privilege. I really encourage you to to start moving forward and taking the next steps and in the show notes. So that's by bicepsafterbabie.com/33 you can read I've listed a bunch of resources. So I listed the resources that Chrissy mentioned, but I also listed some books that I've read and then she recommended some books as well. So if you're just kind of diving into this and wanting to learn more, we have some book recommendations of where you can start to really kind of start diving in and doing the work and understanding that bias that you have that again, like Chrissy said is not good or bad. But once we recognize that it's there, we can work to make it to what we actually know, consciously want it to be rather than just saying, Oh, well, that's the way things are. So I'm hoping that this episode made you think go follow Chrissy, she's amazing. I really appreciate what she's doing in the world and especially in the world of fitness. And I think the work that she's doing is so very important. So that wraps up this episode of Biceps After Babies Radio. I'm Amber now go out and be strong because remember my friend, you can do anything.
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