Maintenance Phase, hosted by Aubrey Gordon and Michael Hobbes, is a podcast that critically examines the diet and wellness industry. Gordon, who wrote anonymously for years under the moniker Your Fat Friend, is an activist, a columnist for the Self magazine, and the author of What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat. Hobbes is a reporter for Huffington Post and the co-host of You’re Wrong About, a podcast correcting the record on misremembered events and cultural myths. With a shared interest in investigating popular ideas and trends surrounding health, the two writers teamed up and launched the show this past fall. On each weekly episode, Hobbes and Gordon pick apart a different topic that is related to diet and fitness trends. So far, they have covered everything from the origins of fitness testing in schools to the dangerous 1990s diet pills to today’s pervasive “wellness” culture, as represented by brands like Moon Juice and Goop. But the show goes far beyond dunking on Gywenth Paltrow. The co-hosts are dedicated to examining each topic with a broad, intersectional lens, addressing economic and social implications of these trends, as well as the ways they have been influenced by biases based on race, class, gender, and sexuality. Gordon and Hobbes combine thorough research with discussions of personal experience, making each episode digestible, highly informative, and perspective-altering.
At the heart of the show is the understanding that weight and health are not synonymous. Indeed, measures meant to facilitate weight loss often come at the expense of fat peoples’ wellbeing. Maintenence Phase, like much of Gordon’s work, is guided by the belief that it will take much more than body positivity and self-acceptance to improve the lives of fat people, who currently endure a host of systemic injustices including discrimination from medical practictioners, inadequate health care, and workplace discrimination. (Indeed, Michigan is the only US state where it is illegal for employers to discriminate based on weight in their hiring and compensation practices.) The issues discussed throughout the show speak to the need for both shifts in popular attitudes and systematic solutions to better the lives and health of fat people and people across a broad spectrum of sizes.
If you want to learn more about weight-based bias, ill-intentioned pharmaceutical companies, or diet scams, check out an episode of Maintenance Phase. The show is available on Spotify, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, and Stitcher.