You might know Sean Taylor from the first season of the highly addictive Netflix reality show “The Circle”, in which contestants rate each other based on their profiles and interactions on a fake social media network. When Sean came on the show mid-season, she catfished her fellow contestants into thinking she was a straight-sized woman. After revealing her true self, Sean quickly became a body-positive icon for people everywhere.
Listen to hear Sean break down fat activism and discuss how she inspires her almost 200k followers to radically love and accept themselves.
Sean Taylor, plus size fashion advocate who works in social media.
Speaker 1: All Inclusive, a podcast on inclusion, innovation, and social justice, with Jay Ruderman.
Jay Ruderman: Hi. I’m Jay Ruderman, and this is All Inclusive, a podcast focused on inclusion, innovation, and social justice. Sean Taylor had a successful career [00:00:30] in plus-size fashion when she landed a role on the highly-addictive Netflix reality show, The Circle, in which contestant rate each other based on their profiles and interactions on a fake social media network. When Sean came on the show mid-season, she catfished her fellow contestants into thinking she was a straight-sized woman. When she took the brave step of revealing her true self, Sean quickly became a body-positive icon [00:01:00] for people everywhere.
Since her debut on The Circle, Sean has become a plus-size influencer and advocate, where she uses her platform to break down diet culture, share plus-size styling tips, and inspire her almost 200,000 followers to radically love and accept every inch of themselves. Sean, welcome to All Inclusive. Why don’t you start by telling us, for those who don’t know, what was your big break into becoming a successful body- [00:01:30] positive advocate and influencer that you are today?
Sean Taylor: So, it kind of came out of the blue for me. I really got a message one day from someone from casting that I was like, “Hey, you should audition for this show,” and I was like, “Well, okay.” So, when I went on the show, I thought a lot about how I would want to approach this, and I was previously working as a social media manager at a plus-size fashion company. So, [00:02:00] I’ve seen some of the worst of the worst of what the internet has to throw at people my size, so I brought that life experience to the table, and I really wanted to start a conversation about how body shaming and fat phobia is such a problem online.
So, I decided to go in catfishing as a thinner friend of mine, and then eventually, spoiler alert, but it happened like two years ago, I revealed myself [00:02:30] to the rest of the house, and that’s something that just ended up really resonating with a lot of people, and I got some really amazing responses from all over the world, and now just have my own like body-positive community online, and that’s what I do full-time.
Jay Ruderman: So, I did binge watch The Circle, and-
Sean Taylor: That’s awesome.
Jay Ruderman: … I’m not a reality TV person, but it is [00:03:00] addictive, and I really enjoyed it and what you did with it, and we’ll get into that in a little while. But I want to start focusing on your activism, and maybe going back to what it was like growing up as a plus-size child in the ’90s, in a decade that was associated with terms like thinspiration.
Sean Taylor: Growing up, I was not only the largest kid in my grade, [00:03:30] I was also the tallest kid in my grade, and I went to Catholic school. I love my parents, and they’re super supportive of what I do, and they’ve had a lot of growth, but my parents were totally, like so many other people, really sucked into the dieting of the late ’90s and early 2000s. So, it was a lot of messages from all around me that were like my body [00:04:00] was just wrong for a myriad of reasons, and that’s something that I carried with me, really, well into college. I was constantly on just a hamster wheel of diets. It wasn’t until really I started to find body positivity online, and I was just seeing people talk about things that it’s like I’ve always known in my heart to be [00:04:30] true, just hearing for the first time that, “Hey, maybe you didn’t fail these diets. Maybe these diets aren’t set up to actually get the success that you’re looking for. Maybe you’re not imagining it,” that people have some, I don’t know, biased and even hateful views about fatness.
So, that was the first time that I really started looking at what are [00:05:00] the beliefs that I actually hold about myself, and how are they affecting my life? At that time, I was actually going to school for acting in college, and I was always having to play someone’s mom or the funny, fat friend, and it just seemed like I was always having to make myself fit a very specific mold, or there was an expectation to lose weight. Really, body positivity, fat activism, that just kind of lit a [00:05:30] fire under me in a way that acting didn’t. So, I thought I would be moving to New York to pursue acting, and instead, it was a time where Ashley Graham was just on Sports Illustrated, and things were just exploding in plus-size fashion, and so I ended up moving to New York to just try to become a part of this moment any way that I can, and then I ended up in plus-size fashion, and then ended up on The Circle.
Jay Ruderman: So, the organization [00:06:00] that I run, the Ruderman Family Foundation, we’ve done a lot in terms of the authentic representation of disability in entertainment, working with studios, and I see that there is a trend among many different facets of society to have more authentic representation, but I was wondering, what do you feel about the current representation of plus-size people on screen, on TV, in film, and in general in the entertainment industry?
Sean Taylor: [00:06:30] Well, there’s been so much improvement in the past five years, even just… I just mentioned Ashley Graham being on Sports Illustrated. That was such a huge moment, it felt like, but since then there have been so many more plus-size people in media, and also a variety of stories being told. But I still think that there’s still a long way to go, obviously. I don’t know [00:07:00] if it’s still accurate today, but at least I remember hearing the statistic in 2016, it had to be, that it was like 67% of women wear a size 16, 14, or larger, but were only represented in 2% of media. That’s a big problem, and I think we’re making some headway, but especially… I mean, as someone who was [00:07:30] on reality TV, that’s definitely a whole genre that has a long, long way to go. But I’ve been excited by shows like Shrill, Nicole Byer on Nailed It! There’s definitely some huge progress just making tremendous difference.
Jay Ruderman: So, how do you feel about the use of fat suits? Are they harmful to the representation of plus-size people?
Sean Taylor: Totally, yeah. [00:08:00] I mean, I’m heartened by the fact that this is a conversation that is being had, where I feel like when I was growing up in the early 2000s, it was just often a comedic device that wasn’t really thought twice about, and now I think people are starting to, I don’t know, dig a little bit deeper. The reason why I would say that it’s harmful mainly is because [00:08:30] fat people are your neighbors and your friends and your sisters and your coworkers, but you don’t see them on TV and in movies, and instead, to see someone else creating or projecting what they perceive that experience to be, I just think it is something that we should let go of because there are tons of talented people that don’t need to wear fat suits to play a fat person.
Jay Ruderman: So, I have noticed more and more advertisements [00:09:00] that have plus-size models in them for mainstream brands. For example, I like Bombas Socks, and I just clicked on an ad that I got, and there were plus-size models, and I sent it to Jackie, who I work with in the foundation. I don’t know. Do you think that there is a trend, that there’s a shift in perception of plus-size body?
Sean Taylor: Oh, yeah. So, I think specifically [00:09:30] when it comes to advertising, that one’s a little bit complicated just because I think it’s come to a lot of consumers’ attention post-racial justice reckoning, that a lot of brands were really called out for the fact that they were using really inclusive models in advertising, but their company makeup, their policies don’t actually look anything like that, and I think specifically a lot [00:10:00] of plus-size consumers are probably familiar with the experience of seeing a model that’s a bit more curvy or plus-size, and then clicking on the website, checking out their offering, and realizing there’s actually nothing that’s my size, or if there is, there’s maybe a couple things, and they’re in black and navy, and it’s really disappointing.
So, again, we’ve made so much progress, the fact that [00:10:30] you are seeing plus-size models in advertisements, but what gives me pause at least is that I hope that or I’d like to encourage what you would call maybe not plus-size or is straight-size, so people who aren’t fat or wear less than a size 14, I hope that people who consider themselves allies or want to do just more work in terms of body inclusivity, [00:11:00] that they don’t see something like that and say, “Okay, check. They’re perfect. They’re doing a great job. Moving on.” It still requires a little bit of a deeper dive to say, “Okay. This brand is really walking the walk, not just talking the talk.” So, I’m excited by this, but I’m also weary of brands just using an inclusive model for an image, but not necessarily having any willingness to change [00:11:30] anything about their company.
Jay Ruderman: So, I just want to ask you about the term straight-size because it wasn’t a term before I prepared for talking to you that I had heard, but maybe you can talk a little bit about what that term means.
Sean Taylor: Yeah, yeah. So, straight-size is just like… You could think the opposite of plus-size. That is a term that’s primarily used in the fashion industry. So, there’s your straight-size assortment, and then there’s your plus- [00:12:00] size assortment. I think the reason why especially in fat activist spaces why the term straight-size is used, even though it was primarily used to designate clothing size, is because I think a lot of people don’t identify with the word thin necessarily. I think clothing is probably one of the most obvious benchmarks [00:12:30] of systematic difference and experience with thinner people and fatter people, and so the term straight-size, I think it can kind of let people’s guard down a little bit instead of saying, “Oh, well, I don’t have a supermodel body, so I struggle too.” Instead, it’s like, “Okay. Well, let’s take a step back. Walking into a mall and not having a single article of clothing be able to fit me, that’s [00:13:00] not an experience I have, but let me maybe sit down and listen here.” Does that make sense?
Jay Ruderman: I think it does. Let me ask you the big question about how did we get to this point, because I think in the history of the modern world we were always at the point where a very thin woman or man would be seen as, according to the commercial [00:13:30] world, the ideal body type, but we got there somehow, because if you look back in history, I think there were points in time where a full-size body was celebrated as being the way that we would look at a body. But how did we get here where we’re looking at super thin, in fact, we talk about going back into the ’90s, waif-thin people being super attractive?
Sean Taylor: I’m not an expert on this, but a lot [00:14:00] of this does come from Eurocentric, Puritan ideals, and separating ourselves from people who are other, people who are different, and when we look at size diversity in our country, people who are poor, people who are black and brown, a lot of those demographics are larger people. It’s definitely not by [00:14:30] accident that we’ve gotten here. I think it’s just kind of like a tangled web of various oppressions that this is kind of where we are today.
Jay Ruderman: What’s your message to brands who are still making excuses and are still excluding plus-size models from their branding?
Sean Taylor: I think more so than even excluding people from their branding, I think just excluding an entire customer base as a whole is just a huge misstep. [00:15:00] When people will hear maybe someone who is talking about body positivity or fat activism or fat acceptance or whatever it is for the first time, they’ll be like, “Oh, so just being confident? Just be more confident, and that’s the whole issue.” But really, this is a much larger feminist, social justice issue. I mean, when we think about the fact that, [00:15:30] like I said, 67% of women, that’s two thirds of women in America, when they go into a store, they don’t know if they’re going to find something their size, and a lot of times these brands, I would say this example is actually worse than that statistic sounds because just because a brand might carry your size doesn’t mean that they carry your size in-store.
So, let’s say you suddenly have a job interview, or you suddenly [00:16:00] have to represent yourself in court, and you can’t find anything appropriate that fits you. That’s a problem. Then we have our own internalized attitudes about fat people, their character, combined with the fact that maybe someone couldn’t find anything appropriate to wear. You’re seriously as a disadvantage in those situations. I think brands are starting to wake up to the fact that they [00:16:30] are leaving out a huge market, and they’re ready to collect those dollars. I think something that I would love to see when brands want to make that pivot towards inclusivity is that they are ready to really make a longer-term investment.
I like to compare it to the fact that if every single day at school there’s the cool kids’ table and they [00:17:00] don’t let you sit with them, but one day you can sit with them, but no one tells you that, you’re not just going to walk over and sit down at the table, or maybe they tell you, but they’ve always been mean to you, and they never hangs out with anyone that looks like you. You’re not going to feel real comfortable sitting over there. So, my point there is that these brands have to do some serious work in order to win the trust of these consumers, and I think a lot of companies want to [00:17:30] put in, I don’t know, not-so-great work out there and assume that people are going to be lining up out the door, and it doesn’t work that way.
Jay Ruderman: That’s an excellent point. You’re a celebrity now, and you’re in the spotlight. I want to talk a little bit about bullying and your focus on your own mental health, because you’re out there advocating. [00:18:00] You’re very public. I’m sure you get a lot of trolls bullying you. How do you deal with it?
Sean Taylor: Not great all the time, to be honest. I think something that I’ve really tried to embrace and also be vulnerable with my audience about, [00:18:30] I think as there been more fat representation in media, there’s almost kind of like this trope of… I love Lizzo, for example, but I think there’s a one-dimensional version of fat representation, which is that confident queen, you go, curvy queen, when people just have… No one thinks that the sun shines out of their butt 24/7. [00:19:00] Everyone has down days, especially when you can be receiving harassment online, and I would love to be able to just stand up and be like, “Oh, don’t let it get to you. Just don’t let something like that get to you. Just be confident. You’re amazing. Love yourself.”
But it’s normal and human to be affected by the things that people say, and I think it’s an unrealistic expectation to assume that some amount of internal work is going to keep you from being [00:19:30] affected by the things that people say. It’s okay to have your feelings hurt now and then, and it’s okay to need to step away and take a break. I think the biggest lesson that I’ve learned from this, I know a lot of people maybe don’t feel comfortable talking about body-related things with people in their lives, and so they have a lot of community online, but what that means is that when you receive any sort of negativity online about your body, [00:20:00] you don’t necessarily have a go-to person in your life to talk about it.
I think talking about what you’re experiencing online is such an important part of processing it. So, if you’re in a position where you’re receiving any sort of bullying or harassment online, just take a step away from the phone, and even if it feels like it’s a lot to explain or the people around you won’t get it, I promise you you’re going to feel a little bit better if you have a [00:20:30] conversation with somebody that you love and trust.
Jay Ruderman: Do you ever make an example of the bullying and point it out to your followers and say, “This is what shaming is all about”?
Sean Taylor: Yeah, sometimes I do use harassment that I get as inspiration for things that I post, and I think in part that’s because I think that content is still very powerful because a lot of people, when [00:21:00] they’re having conversations about size-based harassment, we’re still having to prove that this is a thing, that this is real. But the bulk of the conversation is like, “No, that’s not true. That doesn’t happen. That’s not a real thing. Get over it.” I don’t know. To have the receipts of, “Hey, no. This is really inappropriate,” [00:21:30] and to open up a conversation about it, it takes the power out of what’s being said, but also, it’s a unifying experience because I know there is someone out there that’s probably received the same thing, unfortunately.
Jay Ruderman: So, maybe you can help educate us. I want to ask you about the word fat.
Sean Taylor: Yeah.
Jay Ruderman: Is it appropriate to use that term? Who can use that term, and are there words in describing the plus- [00:22:00] size community that we should definitely stay away from?
Sean Taylor: Yeah. Okay. So, I have embraced the word fat. I kind of have reclaimed it as a neutral descriptor, is what a lot of people will say, and that has actually helped me a lot in my self-love and acceptance journey. That might be confusing to some people because when they hear that word they kind of bristle at it. But the [00:22:30] reason why is growing up, I thought that everyone in my life thought that I was fat in a bad way, and they were just waiting to use that word against me, and it felt like it was just kind of like living with an anvil over my head that was just about to drop. I could say things like curvy, or I’m just a bigger person, or fluffy, or big-boned, or whatever you like, [00:23:00] but it just felt like I was just trying to cover up the shame and badness of the word fat.
When I embraced it, it was like, oh. I think it meant that I had to really take a look at what are the beliefs that I am holding against myself about my body, and unpacking those beliefs. There was just a lot more joy and freedom on the other side of that. So, I [00:23:30] really encourage people to try to unpack those uncomfortable thoughts and beliefs and feelings around the word fat. I totally get that that’s not something that’s going to happen overnight, but when I hear someone in my life say the word fat in a neutral context, I’m actually really happy, and I feel really comfortable with this person because I’m like, “Oh, I know you’re thinking about this, and you’re doing [00:24:00] that work, and you want to show me that.”
So, I feel like tips that I would have for someone in terms of using the word fat, one, I think people’s first thought is, “Well, I would never walk up to someone and say, ‘Hey, you’re fat.'” It’s like, well, why would you walk up to anyone and say, “Hey, you’re whatever body size”? In any context, that’s not really appropriate. So, [00:24:30] you don’t have to do that, and I wouldn’t do that, and I think I would encourage people to take cues from people around them and the larger people around them. I would never assert onto anyone, “Oh, no, this is the word that you’re supposed to use.” That’s definitely not appropriate, especially if you’re in a smaller body, saying to someone in a larger body.
If someone else wants to say they’re fluffy, [00:25:00] curvalicious, cool. That’s you. If that makes you happy, that’s great. If you are like, “Man, this word just really institute comfortable for me to say,” something that I would really encourage is… I think it’s easier to incorporate the word fat in a neutral way, one, if you’re talking about the fat experience as a whole. Talking to someone [00:25:30] in your life, maybe not a fat person, just another straight-size person in your life, and saying, “Oh, I was reading this article, and they were saying fat people get paid however much less than their straight-size counterparts,” which is a statistic somewhere, that’s a helpful way.
It can also be helpful maybe talking to another straight-size person in your life, or whoever, to incorporate fat as a neutral [00:26:00] descriptor. If you were saying something like, “Oh, yeah. We have this teacher, and she’s just this super cool, stylish, fat lady,” I think it’s easier when you’re incorporating some other descriptors that are clearly positive, that you’re like, “Okay, wait. This is neutral,” and people around you know that it’s neutral. Yeah. Those are just a couple tips, but definitely defer to the [00:26:30] people around you.
Jay Ruderman: So, let’s get back to The Circle, because it really propelled you, I think, into another level of recognition. Just for those who haven’t seen it, let’s give a little bit of a synopsis about what the show was, what it was set up to be.
Sean Taylor: Yeah. So, Netflix, I think, has been doing a lot more reality [00:27:00] TV. It was actually a show that first started in the UK, and it blew up, and so Netflix scooped it up and started doing it for some different countries, the US being one of them. Like I said, it’s just this reality game show that is a competition where you want to be essentially the most liked are at the end of the [00:27:30] game.
Jay Ruderman: You applied for the show, and you got on it. Tell me about your strategy, about pretending to be your friend Colleen instead of your real self. Actually, your bio was you, but the picture you used was of your friend Colleen.
Sean Taylor: Yeah. So, I wanted to be myself as much as possible, but I also wanted to be true to my own life experience, [00:28:00] and that is that I don’t really trust that any room that I am walking into is going to be free of fat phobia, and especially when $100,000 are on the line, like I said, working for a plus-size fashion company in social media, I’ve just seen terrible, terrible, unprompted comments from strangers online just in response to just seeing a fat person. [00:28:30] I thought a lot about, “Okay, what would really make an impact?” and I took that very seriously. I don’t know. I thought that probably a lot of people would relate to this, but also, it would spark a lot of conversation in terms of who really gets to fully be themselves risk-free, and who has to be a bit more thoughtful in terms of how [00:29:00] they share their lives and their truth. Yeah. So, I chose to use pictures that weren’t mine from a thinner friend, and then ultimately ended up revealing to everyone who I actually am.
Jay Ruderman: So, that’s the part I wanted to get into, and it was a very, I think, poignant part of the show. What made you, while you were in the show, decide to reveal [00:29:30] who you are and to put a picture of yourself as you are?
Sean Taylor: So, I knew that if I could find people in The Circle that I trusted, then I would want to share that with them. I think a lot of times… I don’t know. I think a lot of fat people have had the experience of people will meet you, and they don’t [00:30:00] see past your size or who you are. They just don’t really have the imagination for the fact that you could be a very talented or smart or funny or cool person. It’s just like, “Oh, you’re just big.” So, I wanted people to really see me and who I was before making an assumption about my size, and I thought a lot about the fact [00:30:30] that didn’t want people, especially young people, to watch the show and walk away with the message that if you look like Sean, then you should just hide that fact. I wanted to be honest about my life experience, which is that it’s not always nice out there being in a larger body online, but at the same time, embracing who I am [00:31:00] is an extremely powerful thing.
Jay Ruderman: So, when the contestant that you did reveal yourself to, I remember their responses, and they came back and they said, “You’re absolutely beautiful.” What was that experience like to you? Was it surprising or uplifting, or both?
Sean Taylor: I thought it was nice. I don’t know. I think when they responded that way, I think there’s a gut reaction [00:31:30] that’s kind of like, “Oh, well, you’re great. You didn’t have to do that,” and I think, of course, I didn’t have to, but it also is just, again, based on my life experience. It just doesn’t always feel very safe fully being yourself. So, [00:32:00] I was glad that people were willing to really hear the truth of that, and embrace the fact that, okay, I see that her being herself maybe took a bit more courage.
Jay Ruderman: So, after you revealed yourself, there were articles all over the internet hailing you as a body-positive icon. Can you talk about that experience and what it was like for you, and also, [00:32:30] was there backlash?
Sean Taylor: Yeah. So, there was definitely a mix of, especially in the show prior to me revealing myself, some people had negative opinions, but also, it was funny. A lot of those people actually weren’t fat, and I had a lot of people who would be like, “I know exactly why you did what you did, because this is… I realized I’m doing this in some way or another all the time in my life,” and I think that’s who [00:33:00] I really did this for. So, it was really amazing just to have… I don’t know. All of it was really beyond anything that I could have imagined, and as someone who was already hyper-online and really engaged in fat-positive spaces, to have people to the at I’ve looked up to throughout the majority of my adult life know who I am and recognize [00:33:30] anything that I have done and say, “You did a good job,” that was beyond validating.
Jay Ruderman: Watching the show and seeing that you’re in an apartment and there are cameras following you all over the place, I would find that very intimidating, but what were your hopes and fears going into the show?
Sean Taylor: Well, being on reality TV, no matter who you are, is pretty scary, especially because you just don’t know how they’re going to end up editing things. [00:34:00] So, that was the real scary part, was just like, “Okay, I’m going to film this, but then who knows how it’ll all turn out?” It’s also just very intense having the experience with social media where you can see the world responding to you in realtime. It’s a lot of feedback on yourself to get at once.
Jay Ruderman: So, after The Circle, your social media [00:34:30] presence grew tremendously. Maybe you could talk a little bit about the mission of your platform.
Sean Taylor: Yeah. So, it’s a little cliché probably at this point, but the phrase be who you needed when you were younger is just a really big motivator for me, and above anything, I want to be a person and a place online where people just know that they’re not alone in whatever they’re dealing with. I [00:35:00] talk a lot about fashion. I talk a lot about clothes. Since I’ve worked in plus-size fashion, I talk a lot about finding specific pieces and really getting nitty-gritty into how to find stuff that really fits you, and then also, I just share fun things in my day-to-day life, including my dog.
Jay Ruderman: Dogs are wonderful. I have my own Teddy. So, what can [00:35:30] straight-size allies, what role can they play in helping to combat fat phobia?
Sean Taylor: Yeah. So, I think the biggest thing is to… I think the first step is being honest with yourself about whatever beliefs you might be holding against yourself, where your value lies, where your worth lies, what is valuable or a flaw [00:36:00] about yourself, because I think so much of how we treat other people stems from how we feel about ourselves. As someone who will get a lot of messages, I can see very quickly when someone is responding to me in a way that is something about me living my life and being happy in the body that I’m in was just very triggering because of whatever mean beliefs you’re holding [00:36:30] against yourself. So, the first step is to really be doing that work.
I would say another step is to really try to diversify the type of media that you’re consuming, and on social media that’s super easy. Unfollow the people that have the toxic diet-related beliefs, and just start following and liking a couple more people that have something different to say, and then next, again, social media makes it very easy in this regard. If there is a brand or [00:37:00] some kind of media or something that you think isn’t doing things right, as someone who was a social media manager, those companies care about that, and they listen to that. So, if there’s something that you think isn’t right, even just a comment can definitely make a difference.
Jay Ruderman: Exactly. You talked about your experience on The Circle, it reminded you as coming out as fat to your family and friends. Can you talk about [00:37:30] what that was like?
Sean Taylor: Yeah. So, I think a lot, that’s a phrase that I’ve heard other fat people use, and it’s kind of like an experience that a lot of fat people have had where you might be in relationships with people in your life who are constantly operating with you under the impression that you want to lose weight, that you are in the process of trying to lose weight, that [00:38:00] you’re unhappy with where you are now, and that you’re desperate to change. I think at some point in my journey I had a conversation, various conversations with people in my life that were just like, “Hey. Actually, this is, I think, who I am. I’ve dieted throughout all my childhood. I don’t see this changing, and when you say X, Y, or Z, that kind of hurts.” So, [00:38:30] I was surprised by how being on The Circle is just felt very vulnerable, and bringing me back to that moment, because it is a very vulnerable thing to say, “Hey, I’m maybe not what you expected, but I do want you to still give me a certain amount of respect and kindness.”
Jay Ruderman: So, Sean, I want to ask you a question that’s very personal to me because I have four teenagers.
Sean Taylor: Yeah.
Jay Ruderman: The people around us really [00:39:00] shape how we see ourselves, but what advice would you give to parents or adults to create an environment of self-love and not based on shame?
Sean Taylor: Well, I think specifically when it comes to our bodies, I think children and young people are so perceptive, and they catch on to what you’re doing [00:39:30] and how you talk about yourself and how you talk about the people around you. They pay attention to the media that you’re consuming. So, I think it’s really important to be extending that radical acceptance and kindness towards yourself, and I think kids really notice and pay attention to that.
Jay Ruderman: So, can you talk maybe a little bit about some people that you feel are your [00:40:00] favorite plus-size influencers, writers, filmmakers?
Sean Taylor: Yeah. Well, if you haven’t heard of her, I really love Aubrey Gordon. She went under the pen name Your Fat Friend for a long time. She’s written a ton of incredible articles and a book, and I would say probably is one of the thought leaders, true thought leaders of this moment right now, [00:40:30] and she also has a podcast that I really love called Maintenance Phase that is really about unpacking a lot of, I don’t know, the diet and wellness industry that I’ve learned a lot, and also, I think they’re really fun and entertaining. That’s definitely my favorite, and probably one of the best entry points who anyone who’s looking to learn more on this topic.
Jay Ruderman: What about some of your favorite organizations that are working to [00:41:00] tackle fat phobia?
Sean Taylor: I really love Project Heal. So, Project Heal is an organization that is working to help people with disordered eating. Unfortunately, a lot of the disordered eating space is really exclusive of fat people, and fat people deal with eating disorders as well. I think when a lot of people think of disordered eating, they think, ” [00:41:30] Oh, that’s just something for rich, thin, white high school girls.” They don’t think of just people in larger bodies or people of different races, different socioeconomic backgrounds, different genders. This organization is doing a lot just to make sure that people who need it are getting care, and also just provide additional education.
Jay Ruderman: So, [00:42:00] what’s the advice that you would give to your younger self now, where you are in life?
Sean Taylor: I think something that I feel like I’m reminded of over and over again in life is that what’s for you isn’t going to miss you, and when you are… It’s kind of like when one door closes, another one opens. Whenever the boy or the part in the play [00:42:30] or whatever it is that rejected you, it just wasn’t meant for you, and that something better is truly around the corner, so don’t go changing yourself trying to appease whatever that thing that is going to let you truly be you and truly shine is out there. So, just stay really true to that.
Jay Ruderman: Finally, Sean, what’s next for you? What are your hopes and dreams, and what are your plans that you can reveal [00:43:00] at this time to us?
Sean Taylor: Yeah. Well, I recently moved. I lived in New York City for five years. I just moved. I grew up in Virginia. I’m currently living in Richmond, Virginia, and one of my big words for 2021 was community. I recently started an in-person and digital community called RVA Fatties, and we had one of our first meetups, and I think I just want to be creating… [00:43:30] I’ve been so fortunate to go to so many spaces and events where people who looked like me were being celebrated, and I didn’t feel other, and that did wonders for my own personal growth. So, I just want to be able to give that to other people in my community.
Jay Ruderman: Could you see yourself getting into acting, modeling, maybe creating your own [00:44:00] brand?
Sean Taylor: Yeah, I definitely could. I could definitely see myself doing that down the road. Yeah.
Jay Ruderman: Yeah. Well, I want to wish you a tremendous amount of luck. This was such a pleasure, talking to you. I learned so much, and just want to wish you a great year ahead.
Sean Taylor: Oh, thank you so much. Thank you for having me.
Jay Ruderman: Thank you. Be well.
Speaker 1: All Inclusive is a production of the Ruderman Family Foundation. Our [00:44:30] key mission is the full inclusion of people with disabilities in all aspects of society. You can find All Inclusive on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, and Stitcher. To view the show notes, transcripts, or to learn more, go to rudermanfoundation.org/allinclusive. Have an idea for a podcast? Be sure to tweet @JayRuderman.