Critical Conversations: Viviana Rose on “How American Diet Culture Negatively Affects Latinas”

drawing of a woman with a large belly(Art by Dora X Lopez Mata) “panza love”


Panza love rejecting diet culture. Have you checked out Viviana Rose’s newest book?


By Dora Xochitl Lopez Mata

When I wanted to learn about eating disorders I did not know where to start. I didn’t even know if eating disorders applied to me as a MeXicana. Food was food to me. And if it was on our table it meant that we needed to eat it. We could not afford being wasteful. But I now believed that having a discussion about eating disorders and body image could be beneficial for anyone, not just Latinas/os. To be honest we need to be aware of how much we discuss diet culture. In my family, as in others, we  share different diets among our family members, which reinforces negative body image.  

Reading books as a Gordita has been one way I create a safe space. It is through books that I learn about myself. It has been in identifying with the stories of different authors that most of my insecurities have been removed. For this same reason when people recommend books to me, I always check them out. So, it was through instagram that I found one of my favorite writersGloria E. Anzaldua. (I love her quote, “I Change myself, I change the world.”)  It was also through instagram that I met Vianana Rose the author of “How American Diet Culture Negatively Affects Latinas.”

saying in blue with mountains in background.

It took me a bit long to read her book because of my busy schedule but finally read her book on one of my self-care evenings. As I embarked on my journey of reading, I prepared myself. First, I put on my comfiest pajamas, made some tea, put on my favorite warm socks, and settled myself on my camita (bed). I read the whole book the same night. It instantly got my attention because the introduction was written by Gloria Lucas of Nalgona Positivity Pride, someone that I truly admire. I have attended one of her workshops and was truly impressed. But what I did not expect was for so many emotions to come out while I read the book. Reading about diet culture stills triggers me. As I remembered my struggles with food, I was flooded with pain. Reading Viviana Rose’s book was a good reminder why her work matters. As a self-identified MeXicana, reading about “Latinas” who suffer from diet culture felt like my experience mattered. This brown fat mujer was reminded that I am not alone in my food struggle.

drawing of girl looking at skeleton in mirror

Viviana Rose is the author of How American Diet Culture Negatively Affects Latinas and Everything: A memoir.

Dora X Lopez Mata interviewed Viviana Rose to learn more about her and her newest book.

DXL: How does being a Latina influence your perspective?  

VR: Growing up in a Latina family, I was always fat-shamed my entire life. I have also seen the abusive cycle in other Latino families. Emotional bullying is not just a Caucasian thing. It is very strong in the Latina culture, unfortunately. But I love being a Latina.

DXL: Can you tell me a little about yourself and your work?

VR: I am a published author from Long Beach, California. In high school and college, I have had experience in Journalism and won a scholarship for journalism in 2007 from Long Beach City College. I have had a passion for writing my entire life and am grateful to have found a publisher in Lakewood, which is close to Long Beach.

DXL: What inspired you to write your book?

VR: I was inspired by people telling me “What is it like being fat? What does it feel like?” So, I wanted to share my story in full detail. I have been bullied for my weight for nine years by many people, and it is something I wanted to tell the world.

DXL: Do you consider yourself a fat activist?  

VR: Yes! Of course! After recovering from my eating disorder in 2013, I discovered BBW and plus size positive sites and fell in love with the community. I saw what Gloria Lucas of Nalgona Positivity Pride was doing and felt so inspired. I began writing songs about plus size acceptance for fun. Then I started talking to people about it.

DXL:  What fat activist and body positive blogs do you recommend?

VR: Well, I would say Nalgona Positivity Pride! I am so grateful Gloria Lucas wrote my intro chapter.  She is my ultimate favorite blogger of all time.

DXL: Do you have a support group that helped you in this process of being vulnerable to share your story?

VR: I did not even have an eating disorder group at all. The therapist would fat-shame me. I had no one and felt so alone. My boyfriends would put me down and fat-shame me regularly. Sharing my story was something I had to do all on my own without a support system.

DXL: After writing your book what is next for you?

VR: I love writing, and I do not want to stop!  My next book is going to be a biography about my best friend Mauro Kastro who is a Latin rock star from Hawaiian Gardens, California. His story is so inspirational I want to share his life with the world and how he has been a musician his whole life. I love Latin rock. I will begin working on the book in early 2017.