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Plus-sized people in a world obsessed with thinness

Katelin Dean and Isaiah Richards have a podcast where they share their stories and talk about the ups and downs of living life in larger bodies. (Submitted by Katelin Dean - image credit)
Katelin Dean and Isaiah Richards have a podcast where they share their stories and talk about the ups and downs of living life in larger bodies. (Submitted by Katelin Dean - image credit)

Sometimes, it's the whispering that gets to Katelin Dean. Whispers the Saint John woman says she's been hearing since "junior high, because I'm that old, high school and beyond."

The whispers are comments about Dean's size, "I'll hear 'big butt' or whatever." And even though she's 40 and not 14, it always hurts.

That's partly why Dean and her friend Isaiah Richards started the Kate & Isaiah Living Large podcast, to talk about life as a larger person and issues around size.

They are hoping to change the the way people talk about — and perceive — what it's like to be obese.

 Richards and Dean recording their podcast, Living Large.
Richards and Dean recording their podcast, Living Large.

Richards and Dean recording their podcast, Living Large. (Submitted b y Katelin Dean)

"It's still a little bit taboo to talk about, and there are things that people wouldn't think of that are very big realities, pardon the pun," said Dean, in an interview with Information Morning Saint John.

They started the podcast a year ago, and Richards said he hopes that listeners can find enjoyment from trying new ways to stay healthy and enjoy life.

"And then also being positive about themselves and seeing a little bit of themselves in us," he said.

They tackle topics such as media and its influence on diet culture and keeping fit, while also sharing stories about their own lives and doing it with humour.

For Dean, it's all about being real with people.

For example, everyday tasks become a challenge for obese people, Dean said, such as worrying if a chair will fit you or even break.

"Because there's nothing more embarrassing than breaking a chair, trust me, I've done it more than once," she said.

Richards and Dean at a 5k Beer Run. Their podcast grew out of their friendship.
Richards and Dean at a 5k Beer Run. Their podcast grew out of their friendship.

Richards and Dean at a 5k Beer Run. Their podcast grew out of their friendship. (Submitted by Katelin Dean)

She also feels self-conscious at restaurants and feels she has to choose the salad since people may judge her.

"People do it naturally and it's not their fault, everybody's conditioned to do it," she said.

Online dating has been challenging at times too for Dean.

"As we know, people are very brave when they're behind a screen and feel entitled to say whatever the heck they want," she said.

One of the hardest things to endure as a larger person is that the judgment never stops, Dean said, and has even led to colleagues at previous jobs feeling comfortable enough to tell her they were concerned about her weight, couching it as being worried about her health, but still, it made her cry.

"You kind of think this stuff goes away, but it doesn't."

A lifelong feeling of being 'too big'

Dean said the feelings of being too big started in middle school, and grew as her weight did over the years. She said she "crossed the 200 threshold" in high school and reached 450 pounds last year before losing some weight.

"Would I like to be slimmer? Sure, I'd be lying if I said I didn't," Dean said.

Richards is going to Columbia soon and said travelling can be an issue for anyone who is larger.
Richards is going to Columbia soon and said travelling can be an issue for anyone who is larger.

Richards is going to Colombia soon and said travelling can be an issue for anyone who is larger. (Submitted by Katelin Dean)

But the goal she is focused on is to be able to "move about town the way I want to and be the high energy person that I want to be, that I know I am, and exist on that front and do all the things I want to do."

For Richards, it started with "what they call the freshman 15, and I continued to put on 15 after 15 after 15."

"We've been very focused on living a real life that is fulfilling all across the board, while getting healthier," which is the motto for their podcast — eat, move, live.

Richards is traveling to South America soon and said he does have some concerns about how it will go.

"Outside of North America, body weight is much smaller, so it is a concern about fitting into smaller places. It's always a concern when travelling for sure," Richards said.

For Dean there's been ups and downs. She said a big breakthrough came in a recent doctor's visit when the doctor said her obesity wasn't her fault.

"I burst into tears and was like, 'This is not my fault?' She was like, 'No there are many factors and we're learning in medicine to treat it like a disease, this isn't your fault.' That was such an eye-opening thing."