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How to Stay in Your Lane to Support Diversity and Inclusion, An Interview with Dr. Joy Cox, PhD

An interview with Dr. Joy Cox, PhD, on tapping into the strength of community and genuine relationships to understand and address systemic oppression. Curt and Katie talk with Dr. Joy about intersectionality, the harmful stories we can tell ourselves about people who are different from us, and what we can do to best support diversity and inclusion in all the spaces we inhabit. We also address why it is important to do some of this work privately (rather than working it out publicly through statements on social media).

It’s time to reimagine therapy and what it means to be a therapist. To support you as a whole person and a therapist, your hosts, Curt Widhalm and Katie Vernoy talk about how to approach the role of therapist in the modern age.


Click here to scroll to the podcast transcript.

Interview with Dr. Joy Cox, PhD

Photo ID: Dr. Joy Cox, PhDDr. Joy Cox is a body justice advocate using her skill set in research and leadership to foster social change through the promotion of fat acceptance and diversity and inclusion. With 37 years living as a fat, Black cisgendered woman and 7+ years of professional experience under her belt, Dr. Cox draws on her own experiences and skill set to amplify the voices of those most marginalized in society, bringing attention to matters of intersectionality addressing race, body size, accessibility, and “health.”

Joy has been featured on several podcasts and media productions such as Food Pysch with Christy Harrison, Nalgona Positivity Pride with Gloria Lucas, Fat Women of Color with Ivy Felicia, and Huffington Post’s piece, “Everything You Know About Obesity is Wrong.” She also just authored her first book, Fat Girls in Black Bodies: Creating Communities of Our Own. She is the voice of an overcomer, looking to propel others into a place of freedom designed by their desires.

In this episode we talk about what to do to support diversity and inclusion:

  • What Dr. Joy is putting out into the world
  • Intersectionality and bias, stigma
  • How to take an intersectional approach

“Spend time with people who may not be part of your…core group. It costs you nothing…and people who trust you…they’ll let you into their world. You will see things that maybe other people won’t have access to see. They’ll trust you with information, they’ll share things with you, not because you’re trying to get something out of them, but because they honor the friendship, they honor the relationship. And so I think that that is the most cost effective way [to understand others].” -Dr. Joy Cox, PhD

  • The importance of genuine relationships in understanding others
  • Discussing the panel discussion in the conference when addressing learning about others
  • The harm of putting work on individuals with lived experience
  • Why and when you should pay for expert consultation
  • The challenge of googling to learn (when it works and when to seek expert guidance)
  • The importance of saying no when someone is asking you to become a spokesperson

“I’m not going to allow myself to become a spokesperson for your educational purposes.” — Dr. Joy Cox, Ph.D.⠀

  • The exponential impact of intersectionality of marginalized identities
  • How intersectional identities compound to create narratives
  • Anything that is heavily stigmatized in society – racism is not far behind it
  • Knowledge without learning to implement
  • Why you should find your lane and move accordingly
  • How to identify what you can and should do to support inclusion
  • The importance of identifying where to do the work, it doesn’t have to be public
  • Why individuals need to learn themselves, understand their heart, and identify who they are
  • Getting it right is better than getting it fast
  • Having the important conversations and checking in with the people who matter
  • The unreasonable expectation to have an opinion on everything

“Sometimes it’s okay just to shut up. It’s okay to shut up. And if somebody says, Hey, why don’t you speak on this? You can say I’m not in a place where I feel comfortable to do so. I’m gonna go back here and finish working on me.” – Dr. Joy Cox, PhD

  • The benefits of community with each person staying in their lane
  • Creating community that includes all people and the strength that provides
  • Pushing back on the idea that everyone has to be able to do all of the roles

“That’s where I think…the foundation of things need to change. We need to change how we think and we need to change how we feel. And if we can change how we think and how we feel, we’ll realize that there’s more space than we ever dreamt of. And by me connecting with you, it actually makes me stronger. It makes us stronger.” – Dr. Joy Cox, PhD

  • We need to change how we think and we need to change how we feel to uncover more space than we knew was available for all people

Our Generous Sponsors for this episode of the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide:

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At GreenOak Accounting, they believe that every private practice should be profitable. They’ve worked with hundreds of practice owners across the country to help them gain financial peace of mind and assist them with making smart financial decisions.

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Resources for Modern Therapists mentioned in this Podcast Episode:

We’ve pulled together resources mentioned in this episode and put together some handy-dandy links. Please note that some of the links below may be affiliate links, so if you purchase after clicking below, we may get a little bit of cash in our pockets. We thank you in advance!

Dr. Joy Cox’s Website

Jabbie App

Dr. Joy on Instagram: FreshOutTheCocoon

Dr. Joy on Twitter

Dr. Joy’s Book: Fat Girls in Black Bodies Creating a New Space of Belonging

The Care Bear Stare

Relevant Episodes of MTSG Podcast:

Health At Every Size

Cultural Humility and White Fatigue

Therapy as a Political Act

Black Mental Health

Let’s Talk About Race

Who we are:

Picture of Curt Widhalm, LMFT, co-host of the Modern Therapist's Survival Guide podcast; a nice young man with a glorious beard.Curt Widhalm, LMFT

Curt Widhalm is in private practice in the Los Angeles area. He is the cofounder of the Therapy Reimagined conference, an Adjunct Professor at Pepperdine University and CSUN, a former Subject Matter Expert for the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, former CFO of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, and a loving husband and father. He is 1/2 great person, 1/2 provocateur, and 1/2 geek, in that order. He dabbles in the dark art of making “dad jokes” and usually has a half-empty cup of coffee somewhere nearby. Learn more at:

Picture of Katie Vernoy, LMFT, co-host of the Modern Therapist's Survival Guide podcastKatie Vernoy, LMFT

Katie Vernoy is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, coach, and consultant supporting leaders, visionaries, executives, and helping professionals to create sustainable careers. Katie, with Curt, has developed workshops and a conference, Therapy Reimagined, to support therapists navigating through the modern challenges of this profession. In her spare time, Katie is secretly siphoning off Curt’s youthful energy, so that she can take over the world. Learn more at:

A Quick Note:

Our opinions are our own. We are only speaking for ourselves – except when we speak for each other, or over each other. We’re working on it.

Our guests are also only speaking for themselves and have their own opinions. We aren’t trying to take their voice, and no one speaks for us either. Mostly because they don’t want to, but hey.

Stay in Touch with Curt, Katie, and the whole Therapy Reimagined #TherapyMovement:


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Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide Creative Credits:

Voice Over by DW McCann

Music by Crystal Grooms Mangano

Transcript for this episode of the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide podcast (Autogenerated):

Transcripts do not include advertisements just a reference to the advertising break (as such timing does not account for advertisements).

… 0:00
(Opening Advertisement)

Announcer 0:00
You’re listening to the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide where therapists live, breathe and practice as human beings. To support you as a whole person and a therapist, here are your hosts, Curt Widhalm and Katie Vernoy.

Curt Widhalm 0:16
Welcome back modern therapists. This is the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide. I’m Curt Widhalm with Katie Vernoy. And this is the podcast where apparently I make awkward introductions before having guests who share a wealth of information with us. So, we are so excited to have not only one of our Therapy Reimagined 2020 speakers, but also coming back for Therapy Reimagined 2021. Dr. Joy Cox is joining us talking about all sorts of very cool things, some body positivity stuff, we even just immediately before we hit the record button said, we already have an episode on some of the basics of body positivity stuff. If you want to go and get a primer on that go back and listen to our episode with Laura Westmoreland. It’s a phenomenal episode. That’s a building blocks sort of thing. We said Dr. Joe Cox have lots of freedom to just see wherever this goes. And here we are. So thank you so much for joining us.

Dr. Joy Cox 1:20
Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited. I’m happy to be here. Ready to get all this one down? I suppose.

Katie Vernoy 1:29
No pressure, right. No pressure?

Dr. Joy Cox 1:30

Katie Vernoy 1:31
So the first question that we ask everyone is, who are you? And what are you putting out into the world?

Dr. Joy Cox 1:39
Yeah, so I guess, uh, you know, and that’s a very loaded question. Two questions, I think, you know. Who am I? I’m a human being, I’m a woman. You know, I’m an educator. I’m a researcher. I’m a sister, I’m an aunt. I’m a friend. And I’m, in some ways, probably a disrupter. I’m an encourager, I’m a healer. I’m all of those things. What am I putting out into the world? I hope I’m putting out good things. Ideally, I think that’s the goal, right? To put out positivity, to put out strength, to undergird people who don’t have voices for themselves, to uplift people who have been downtrodden. I imagine in some ways, I’m probably putting hell out in the world for people who are used to the status quo of living and believing restricting access and happiness and the quality of life for other people. Yeah, and I, you know, and it’s really interesting, because I think the thing that I haven’t said yet that may have been like, on first on the list would probably be joy, right? Like, that’s my name. That’s kind of the tag. So, you know, I will say that I’m also putting that out in the world. And I’m also that thing, right, like, I’m also joy. So yeah, it’s kind of twofold. But I think that’s the that’s probably my short answer.

Curt Widhalm 2:58
A lot of the way that we came to know about you and your work, body positivity, intersectionality, a lot of the just greater Zeitgeist in the last couple of years here has been around things like diversity and inclusion. We are still not great at it, as you’re talking about some restrictions of, you know, access to things. What are you seeing still from your perspective, this is a large area of interest for you, what are you seeing that therapists are potentially doing wrong? So that way our audience doesn’t have to make the same mistakes?

Dr. Joy Cox 3:34
I mean, you know, what’s really interesting is that I don’t think that it’s therapist specifically, I think that this happens across the board as it relates to people. You know, identities that are stigmatized, we don’t live in vacuum. So we all kind of get the same type of information about those things. We tend to internalize those things, and we put it back out in the world, some of it annoyingly, and some of it not so much. And so, you know, I would say that, you know, therapists are probably in that number of individuals. So when you see someone who lives in a larger body, you probably may look at that and say, oh, there’s a problem there. Right? Like, there’s something wrong, maybe with the way that this person has lived, or his trauma or the way that they are processing, you know, difficulties in their life, maybe their fatness is a way for them to cope, maybe it’s a way of protection. We all, you know, we typically don’t think that like, oh, no, this is just the normal way that they live, and they’re okay with their bodies. And so I think that that’s probably a thing, you are not well versed in a particular culture or group of individuals. Um, you make assumptions about those groups. You learn from whatever you can get your hands on. And if you’re not doing heavy digging, then you probably think a lot of stereotypical things about people, whether that’s black people, whether that’s people who live with disabilities, whether that’s women or men. And so, you know, I think that therapists in that context, they probably are following up just like everybody else in the world who hasn’t taken a more intersectional approach to the way that they live their lives.

Katie Vernoy 5:05
When you say an intersectional approach; what does that look like for you, when you when you’re talking about an intersectional approach?

Dr. Joy Cox 5:13
Yeah, I think for me, what it means is like looking at life, and using a perspective of people who live with different identities, then you do. Intersectionality, you know, when we talk about identities, it’s not just about how identities connect or intersect with each other. But it’s also about the ways by which oppression is multiplied of, because somebody holds particular identities. And so understanding that, right, I don’t have a disability, I don’t know what it’s like to live with a disability. But I can learn from people who have disabilities, right. I can, I can sit down, if they’d be so kind, and learn some things. I could, I could befriend them and honesty and and genuineness, and really spend some time with them and learn about their lives and learn about their struggles. And I guarantee you, without a shadow of a doubt, if I sit around them long enough, if I be willing to listen and learn, it’s going to change how I see the world around me, right. I’m not going to book a place where I want to, you know, want to meet my friend for lunch. And you know, it’s not wheelchair accessible, if they have, you know, if they have an issue with that, right. I’m gonna be mindful of a friend, if you know, if they are neurodivergent. I’m gonna, you know, I’m gonna make sure that I’m helping and accommodating them along the way. And so whenever I talk about looking at life from an intersectional approach, it’s it’s taking those identities and kind of making them center. And what it is that I do and how I move to make sure that I’m making room and not leaving people out.

Curt Widhalm 6:42
I want to bring up something that happened at our Therapy Reimagined 2020 conference that you handled so wonderfully as it pertains to this particular thing. Because if there is something that you pointed out in one of the discussions, it was ways that even going about learning this can be done really incorrectly. And, you know, we saw what happened and admired your handling of it and your professionalism. But for those who weren’t at the conference, there was a question as far as for those who don’t have the lived experience, don’t have those close relationships, haven’t had the opportunity to kind of sit and have that space, about putting the work onto in the conference context, other professionals but you know, really going and just kind of putting some of that emotional labor onto people from whatever diverse communities of the particular interest here. How should therapists, how should people go about this without necessarily taking advantage of that without putting that undue emotional burden onto people from these variety of communities?

Dr. Joy Cox 7:59
So you know, it’s interesting. I think, the most cost effective way to do that is to build genuine relationships.

Katie Vernoy 8:08

Dr. Joy Cox 8:08
You know, it’s to actually spend time with people who may not be part of your, you know, your core group, but you’re doing it not because you want something from them, because you generally liked them, and you want to spend time with them. It costs you nothing, right. It’s like free, you know, and people who trust you let them they’ll let you into their world. You will see things that maybe other people won’t have access to see. They’ll trust you with information, they’ll share things with you, not because you’re trying to get something out of them, but because they they honored the friendship, they honor the relationship. And so I think that that is the most cost effective way. But I think that also takes it takes a commitment and a dedication from people to turn their hearts towards other individuals, and to connect with them without expecting anything back in return. So one of the biggest drawbacks that I think that I see in this space, in general, when we talk about diversity and inclusion is that most people don’t want to build those relationships. They’re not interested in building those relationships. What they really want is to get the steps so that they don’t look like the bad person in the room, right? They don’t want to be called the racist. They don’t want to be called the sexist. They don’t want to be called the ablest. So what can I do to make sure that those things do not happen to me? That I’m not the one that has to carry that burden. And I say if that is the type of relationship that you’re looking for, then you should find people who do this work for a living, people who are well versed and in the profession and tap into them. They will charge you a fee, but it’s resources right? You’re exchanging your resource and hopes of having access to theirs. And then you know, you can read up Google is free. I think that’s, that’s that’s more of a rough terrain. I’m noticing, you know, for people because you don’t know what type of information to accept or not. And so it’s almost like I just purchased a house not too long ago. You know, I’ve been spending, well, in the beginning, the first couple of weeks. I was like on YouTube all the time. How do you paint cabinets? Right? How do you, you know, how do you how do you level floors? Right? How do you fix foundation issues? Like all of those things, right. And so, you know, there’s a do it yourself video for all of that. And there was some videos that I watched, and I was like, yeah, there’s no way. Like, whatever. Like you say, it’s do it yourself but I’ve never seen this tool a day in my life. So obviously, it’s not, you know, I’d be better off paying somebody to do it. And so I quickly recognize that there are some things that are just simply out of my league. I’m not going to try it. I’m not going to hurt myself, right? I’m not doing that. And then there are other things that were like smaller jobs. And I said, oh yeah, I can kind of take that, and I can grab it, I could do something with that. Did it come out exactly like the people said it would? No, but it’s not horrible, either. Right. And so I look at education, you know, via Google and self teaching, in some ways, that way. You know, you could do it yourself. But there are going to be some hiccups and some skips, and you’re probably gonna mess up and not get it exactly right. Or you could pay a professional and they can give you a guarantee. And if something goes wrong, you can always call them back and ask them to tweak and fix it. But I think that those are two, two lanes that that people can utilize to get it right.

Curt Widhalm 11:29
I’m so relieved to hear you go beyond and not even come close to like, go and do your own research. Because there’s a lot of bad research out on the internet that can just go and totally just validate whatever inaccuracies that people are coming into this with.

Dr. Joy Cox 11:46
Yeah, for sure. And I mean, not even to mention the number of people who are regurgitating information that they heard, who have not put to practice any of those things. So you never really know exactly who you’re hearing from. And there’s no guarantee that people have to give you accurate information as you’re searching on your own. And so sometimes it’s just best to be like, Yeah, this is out of my league, let me get somebody who is vetted, kind of speak about a thing.

Katie Vernoy 12:14
And I think that’s really important to honor. When someone’s a vetted resource, when this is the work that they do. And I’m thinking about colleagues that are have marginalized identities, who are also being called upon to do this work when it’s not the center of their work. And I think, to me, it’s, it’s a burden that’s been placed on these individuals as well. What advice do you have for folks who are being asked to step into this role where it’s solely just to kind of suck from the lived experience versus because they’re an expert in doing this work?

Dr. Joy Cox 12:50
Learn how to smile at people and tell them no? Right? Like, that’s not my wheelhouse. That’s not what I’m going to do. And I’m not going to allow myself to become a spokesperson for your educational purposes. And I think people like that, I mean, some of that may be well intended, but ya know, people like that on some level, I’d be like, go look it up. Because you’re not interested in really learning, right? Like, you’re trying to tap the easiest thing that you can, it’s like the path of least resistance. And so you’re pulling on whatever you can to get education, but I guarantee you somewhere along the line, the motives of you getting that education probably isn’t as straight as they seem, on the up and up. And so yeah, that I mean, I think there’s a lot of that. And I think that there’s been a lot of that. And every time there’s like an uprising or something that happens in society, you know, you always get people who reach out. Well, I was just wondering, I was hoping if I could pick your brain, can I ask your question? I can’t speak for all black people. I can’t speak for all fat people. So don’t ask me big questions like that, and expect me to still be cordial and indulge you for hours. Right? Instead, I just rather say no, but you have you read this book? No, but have you seen this YouTube video? And then kind of let them you know, do their search elsewhere?

… 14:15
(Advertisement Break)

Curt Widhalm 14:16
We’re getting this back to a lot of the work that you do and you’re providing a really good segue here, have a lot of your work is around intersectionality of being black and fat and fabulous.

Dr. Joy Cox 14:28
You can leave that part out.

Curt Widhalm 14:31
No. This is a big part of your brand. What do you see is the intersectionality of these areas?

Dr. Joy Cox 14:42
Oh, well, I think that you know, when we talk about what it means to be fat and be black, and in my case, also to be a woman cisgender we’re talking about a totally different narrative that’s written about a person and that person’s humanity. And I think that you can’t get around that with out looking at intersectionality, without looking at the oppression that is multiplied on someone’s identity. So the moment that I am a black woman, things change for me, right? Like, I don’t get to come to work and be like, I’m tired of this, regardless of whether people do their jobs or not, as a black woman, I don’t get to come into our office and say, I’m tired of this, people need to do what they’re supposed to do without being labeled the angry black woman, without people in the office feeling frightened for their lives, right, because I raised my voice. You know, if you add fatness to that, I don’t get to come to the office and be angry and be a black woman and be fat because I’m supposed to be the mammy. I’m the one that’s supposed to shelter everyone, I’m supposed to care for everyone, even if that’s at the cost of my own health, right? I’m the one that my that is what my bosom is for. People come, they lay their head on my shoulder, they get to cry on me, they get to offload on me. And those things are not happening to people who don’t have all of those identities, right? So we’re not seeing that happen to white women as much. We’re not seeing that happen to other women of color. You know, white women can can flip tables like Jesus did in the temple. They’re not going to be label, you know, angry and all of those things. And so I think that, you know, when we start to talk about the intersections of identities, we know that there’s another narrative that is written about people based on those identities that they hold. If I go to the doctor’s office, all of a sudden, the doctor knows that I eat fried chicken, and macaroni and cheese. Well, how does the doctor know that? Right? Because that’s what black people eat. Right? So why should we even we, you know, why should we even be questioning that? There’s an assumption that I’m not working out, there’s an assumption that I’m, you know, I’m not being active, I’m not taking care of myself. If I tell the doctor, I can’t do this, or I can’t fill the prescription, the doctor writes on my chart that I’m non compliant, right, which sends a signal to all other doctors that I am difficult to deal with. And that happens as a fat person, right, or that happens as a poor person, when the truth of the matter is, maybe I just can’t afford the prescription. And so when we start to think about the ways that you know, intersectionality shows up, based on people’s identities, and the things that they experienced in life, what we notice is that there are different narratives written about different identities. And when you couple those identities together, a whole new story blooms and makes our a, you know, it makes our lived experiences vastly different. That’s why we can you know, I can be black, fat and a woman, and there’ll be you know, someone who’s white, fat and a woman, and we have two totally different lived experiences. Right? There are some things that are lived experiences merge on, but then there are other things that are vastly different, and they will never experience what I experienced. And that’s why we have the issue when we start talking about like, all lives matter, or we’re all fat, right? We’re not looking at the nuances that happen in our experiences based on our identities.

Katie Vernoy 18:04
With the stories that are told, it seems like there’s also there’s a calling back, I mean, you used the word, mammy, I think there’s there’s also I think, even in the the topic that we have for your talk that you gave to us for 2021 is around unpacking fatphobia the source of oppression and, and to me, it feels like there’s kind of the mythology or the caricature stories that are there. And then there’s also just the science behind and maybe that’s the wrong phrase, but kind of where these stereotypes came from, where the the assessments about around fatness and whether it’s healthy or unhealthy. I mean, it seems like there’s so much racism baked into that to then also add the additional marginalized identities. It seems like there’s just a lot there. And so I don’t know if there’s anything else you wanted to say about that. But I just, to me, it’s just it’s, it’s something that I had not heard about until recent years, because it’s so baked into society, that that these things are unhealthy or wrong or whatever.

Dr. Joy Cox 19:15
It’s like, man, I never thought about that, or I never knew that those things existed. But then it also kind of like, the you know, it’s almost like the tapping on the shoulder. It’s like, Yeah, but this is the United States. So, everything else is kind of built on a legacy of like racism and stuff. And like, why wouldn’t you think that that is something that would be prevalent or why, you know, I think anything that’s heavily stigmatized in this country, and particularly like racism is never too far behind it, even if that’s something that’s lost nowadays. You know, it’s right there. Right beside it, right. Like the the root of a lot of the issues particularly that impact marginalized populations, racism, ableism, all of that stuff is sitting right there brewing right beside, you know, the notion or the understanding of how these people live their lives.

Curt Widhalm 20:12
A lot of the conversations around diversity, equity, inclusion in the last year. I don’t know from a lot of the workshops and conversations that I’ve attended, it’s drawn a lot of attention to things, but there hasn’t really felt like a lot of actionable steps as far as what to do with this information. What are some actionable steps that we can do with this information?

Dr. Joy Cox 20:39
Yeah, I think, you know, actionable steps are tricky. And I think part of the reason why they’re tricky, because it kind of goes back to some of the things that I talked about before. If you just get information, education, but you never learn how to practice, you probably don’t know how to implement it. So then what winds up happening is, if you’re just you know, you’re you’re a walking encyclopedia, with with no ways or no, you know, no knowledge or intelligence of how to actually implement it. What I like to tell people oftentimes is that you got to find your lane, you got to know what speaks to you inwardly as an individual, and then move accordingly. For some people, that’s going to be you know, hey, I don’t know who this is. But whatever, like I have, you know, a couple billion dollars sitting in the bank, my best form of action is going to be to give that money away. And that’s gonna be fine, because that is what they’re good at. That’s their lane, right? Somebody else is going to be like, I need to be up front and center, I need to be, you know, I need to be in the streets, I need to be passing out information, so on and so forth. One of the things that I think I often struggled with, particularly in the beginning of my work that I was doing, was like, where did I need to be? Right? Like, Joy, you’re a researcher, you’re an educator, you write articles, you write books, you do all of that stuff. And that’s, that’s your lane. Stay in it, buddy. Right? Like…

Katie Vernoy 22:03

Dr. Joy Cox 22:03
It makes no sense for you to be outside full of anxiety, right? Like in fear, you can’t even operate in these spaces, right. But you feel like that’s your duty, because that’s what everybody else is doing. Right? But the way that you’re going to function, the way that you’re going to be the most efficient is if you find your own lane. But you can’t find your own lane without really tying yourself to the work and allowing it to penetrate the, you know, the places in your heart to penetrate those things that you’re passionate about. Like we all can do the small things, right. And so if you’re a therapist, and you see people who live in larger bodies, like we all can change our furniture, get chairs that fit people, you know, welcome people in. Make sure that you have, you know, make sure that your your building or your your place is accessible. We can all do those things. But what makes you you, like what makes you function, that magic stuff that happens? Right, that’s a hard thing. That’s a hard thing. And it’s hard to tell people what’s in their heart. I can give you all the information all day long, but it has to go somewhere, and it has to permeate. And so if you’re just looking for those three steps, you know, again, it kind of goes to the level relationship. I think there are a lot of places that can show you how to do that. They can tell you how to be accessible, they can tell you, you know, you should make accommodations, you know, the whole pandemic has shown us that, you know, virtual meetings are actually better for a lot of people.You can implement that right in your work model, you can do those things. But for you to become a person that is full of empathy and understanding, for you to be that person who knows what to say, when to say it and move. That’s a hard thing. That’s something you got to sit with yourself, and allow what you’ve learned to kind of massage those places in your mind and your heart, because they’ll tell you how to move. And that’s what I usually tell people. So I don’t know if that necessarily answers your question. Okay.

Curt Widhalm 22:03
And it goes way beyond do more than make fluffy Instagram cloud posts about this stuff. It’s actually go out and take some actionable steps about things that makes the world more inclusive, that shows an application of it, and isn’t just kind of continuing the discussion about it, but actually doing something with this information with other people in mind, even if it comes at a cost to yourself.

Dr. Joy Cox 24:33
Yeah, and I mean, I think that I mean, you finding yourself in a in a space or you’re you finding yourself in this work, you know, I think those are things that they’re the beauty of this is that even though social media and all of those things are really popular. You can fail in the dark, right? So we don’t have to put we don’t put our whole lives on social media. We put the highlights we put when we want people to see right. But you’re working out this rough stuff, these rough patches, you don’t have to do that in front of everybody. You could do that at home, right? It’s 6:30 here on the East Coast, you could take the rest of the night, you know, get yourself a snack, and sit down and unpack your own assumptions about people, where it’s just you, nobody else is there, no one else is judging you, you can address those things, make a commitment to fix those things, and nobody would never know it.

Katie Vernoy 25:32
I think the modality of doing this on your own to to I love that you’re saying stay in your lane, do the things that are in your heart. And, and I just I want to hear you say it again. Don’t do it in public. You don’t need to do it on social media. Like that is such a great message.

Dr. Joy Cox 25:52
I mean, this is the age that we live in. And it’s super trendy. People don’t always believe me when I tell them that I’m introverted. I think is because when people see me, I’m always happy. And I’m waving and they’re like, oh, but you love people. And I’m like, Yeah, but you also suck the life out of me. So I, I actually enjoy being by myself. But being by myself also has enabled me to learn myself. And I get to learn myself without all these other voices around. And I’m not leaning, asking anybody else what they think about me as it relates to me, right. I’m doing that work. I’m unpacking, you know, my own assumptions about myself and how I feel and what I think. And then whenever I come back outside, I’m stronger for it. Nobody can stand out on the corner and yell to me and tell me something that I’m not. And the reason why they can’t do that is because I’ve spent time with myself, I know who I am. Unplug, unplug, back away, be quiet. Everything doesn’t need to be broadcast.

Katie Vernoy 26:51
Yeah, I think that’s so good. I had clients who are saying, like, I feel like there’s something I’m supposed to put out on social media, but I’m still working this out. And I don’t know what to put out. And I feel like I’m being judged for being silent. I mean, there was, there’s a lot there where I feel like the permission to do your own work in whatever way works for you. I think definitely some private moments or moments with a consultant or an informed therapist or something where you can really understand yourself. Like give yourself permission not to make that statement, not to do that post whatever it is, until you’ve really worked it out. I think that’s, that’s so helpful. Because I think there’s a lot of missteps that lead to even more pain and and harm.

Dr. Joy Cox 27:33
For sure people will respect your genuineness. Coming from a member of several marginalized populations, people would rather see you get it right, then get it fast. Get it right. Not get it fast. Because when you get it fast, you step on me. When you get it fast, you trip over me. When you get it fast. You know, it’s like, you have a machine gun at you you’ve never shot before. And there’s guns just spraying everywhere you hitting a little bit of everything. We’d rather you just be a targeted shooter. Don’t do that. And being okay with that. I think some of the pressure of being, of having to say something, as it relates to social media sometimes is because we don’t know how to be quiet. So we’ve been talking about everything for forever, right? And then when things come up, that seem very heavy and weighted. We want to say something, but we don’t want to say the wrong thing. I, I, me, I go dark, right, these things happen. They squeezed they press. Joy is nowhere to be found. Why? Because Joy’s probably checking on the people that actually mean something to her. I’m checking to make sure everybody else is good. I’m having conversations that are meaningful. I’m less concerned about people who I probably have never met and I never will meet, double tapping a status, right? Like, it’s almost illogical the way that we see or how we value those things. But I’m never gonna meet these people. Like, I’m not I’ve never seen them a day in my life. And I’m like, Oh my gosh, what if I say something? Like, who’s your friends? Where’s your family? Are they okay? Right. Because that’s the stuff that’s going to matter at the end of the day.

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Curt Widhalm 29:20
And I think you know, with every single day having every single crisis in the world needing every single person to have every single comment about it. To know your space, to know that while there’s a lot of important things for us to be aware of that you don’t have to have an opinion on everything and that sometimes taking that very slow approach ends up allowing for not only you to, as you put it, get it right, but also to be able to connect with people that you can actually impact on this. You know, I’m not able to convince somebody on Twitter halfway across the world that this is my only interaction based on whatever the crisis du jour is, not really doing anything. And that’s, you know, so freeing to hear of just kind of like, be informed, but be curious and actually go and make an impact where you can.

Dr. Joy Cox 30:22
Yeah, it takes a whole lot of pressure. If you are attached to social media 24 hours a day, like, I’ll give you eight hours for sleep. So what is that? 16 hours?

Curt Widhalm 30:32
I think you overestimate how much people aren’t on social media.

Dr. Joy Cox 30:37
I’m sorry.

Katie Vernoy 30:37
I don’t know that I sleep eight hours.

Dr. Joy Cox 30:43
Well, some of us Yeah, okay. Ah, six, I’ll give you six hours. Okay.

Curt Widhalm 30:48
All right.

Dr. Joy Cox 30:48
That’s 18 hours. And most people eat like you have a sandwich in your hand, in your phones. But even in the last week, right, so the Israel and Palestine thing happened. We have, you know, police brutality taking place. We have more issues that arise as a relates to sexual assault and all of these things. If you had to have an answer for all of those things all the time, you’re exhausted, right, in addition to what you have to do in your daily life. And so it’s not to say not to care, but none of us have been wired to handle all those issues. Right. Like social media, the thing about social media is that it can expose you to everything, right, or nothing at all. And oftentimes, we’re not curating. And we’re not monitoring our social media in a way that we’re only being exposed to a little bit of stuff. We’re getting a little bit of everything. And so taking that pressure upon yourself to address the little bits of everything, it depletes you as a person. And yeah, you’re gonna make mistakes, because you are like the jack of all trades, but you are the master of none, you don’t know everything about every issue that’s going on. And like Curt say, you shouldn’t have an opinion about everything. That’s the other part. You know, as the wonderful blessed United States of America, we tend to think that we are the smartest, we know the most, we are the strongest, and that bleeds into how we handle our everyday life. Sometimes it’s okay just to shut up. It’s okay to shut up. And if somebody says, Hey, why don’t you speak on this? You can say I’m not in a place where I feel comfortable to do so. I’m gonna go back here and finish working on me.

Katie Vernoy 32:30
Well and I think when you’re talking about it, I hear so much of the this, this continues to be stay in your lane. And there are some people were as social media influencers, or people that are up front. And this is their job is to have these opinions on things, that kind of stuff. Maybe that is their lane. But for most of us, it’s not. There, there are other ways in which we can make a real difference. And if we’re constantly worrying about more of the performative elements of it: Have I made the right statement? Have I done the right thing publicly? We don’t have the time. And and I’m going to have a question. And we may not have time to get into it. So maybe we’ll just have to tell people that they have to come to Therapy Reimagined and watch your whole talk. But but one of the things that you talk about is building ecosystems that include input from everyone. And so, to me, I think that’s something where that’s, that’s one of the things that I feel like is Curt’s and my lane a little bit. That we’re working on it, but it’s one of our lanes. And so I’d love to hear your thoughts on what that is and how people can do that. Because I think that’s something where the more places that we have input from everyone, the more inclusivity we have, and this is something that we’re doing in small public spaces, with the people we care about. And it may have a real impact.

Dr. Joy Cox 33:47
Right? So you call it ecosystems, I just call it community. So, so building community with people, I mean, how can we do that? We can do that by staying in our lane. It’s a beautiful thing, right? So here I am this educator, right in this encourager, and I show up to a community of space. When I get to that space, I see speakers and I see, you know, and I see organizers and I see all of those people. And so I’m not looking to be the organizer, I’ll let the organizer don’t do what the organizer does. And I’ll let the speaker do what the speaker does. And when it’s time to teach. They call me and they say, Hey, we need you educated to do what you do. Right? And what we do as a unit is we link arms and when we link arms to do what we do we create a whole system. Right? It’s almost like I’m dating myself, but it’s okay. The Care Bear Stare.

Katie Vernoy 34:41
I love that.

Dr. Joy Cox 34:42
Magic only happened when they all got together they all held their hands and they said the ‘Care Bear Stare.’ And then you have the the rainbow and even the grumpy one had space right? So even the one that wasn’t super happy and flamboyant, there was space for that person or the bear I’m sorry, I wasn’t gonna send misgender. But that’s not right. But the bear, right. So I feel like that’s what community is. And that’s the power of community. Nobody’s trying to change one another, we’re just coming together. And I’m saying, I’m grateful. And I’m thankful that you’re here. And I know that there’s value to you. One thing about society, the society we live in, the biggest lie is that there’s not room for everyone. But community says that everybody fits. And there’s a place for everyone. And even if you’re that person in the community that happens to be sick, we know that you sick, but guess what, there’s a healer here. So we’ll do our best to help get you where you need to be. And when you’re ready, there’s a place for you to shine. But for now, we’ll nurture you, we’ll take care of you, right, we’ll lift you up, you can learn with us, you can grow with us. And that’s everybody, right? And so if I ever need to learn something about organizing, as an educator, I know I can go to the organizer and say, Hey, teach me a little bit about what you do. Show me how to do this, right. And when I’m out, and I’m living in the world, right, I’m gonna look at certain things. And I’m gonna remember what the organizer told me. And I’m gonna remember what the organizer showed me. And it’s gonna change how I handle my education. And that doesn’t make me weaker, it actually makes me stronger as an educator, because now I have another facet to do the things that I do, right? So community doesn’t just, it doesn’t just bring us together, but it strengthens us in ways. It makes us better. One of the biggest arguments about you know, women in the workplace and diversifying the workforce is because there’s diversity of thought, right? Sorry, Curt. But all men don’t see things a particular type of way, right? They need.

Curt Widhalm 36:44

Dr. Joy Cox 36:46
They need some input, right? And that doesn’t, you know, and it’s not just limited to men and women. So what happens when you bring black women on board, what happens when you bring somebody that’s disabled, what happens when we bring you know, queer people, right? You know, people, what happens when we bring other members of the LGBTQ i plus community, all of those things. But the way that society is structured is that it teaches us that people who are different than us pose a threat. And as long as we look at one another, out of that lens, we always fight against our own strength. So without community, I’m just that educator, but I can’t reach as many people as I would had I had my other members. And if I spent all my time telling the organizer, that you need to be an educator, then I lose the gift that is the organizer. So we got to learn how to stay in our lanes, we got to learn how to be open to one another, right. And we got to learn that to understand that where our strength lies, and our strength lies in unity. And our strength lies in togetherness. And as we build up those communities, right? We create new systems, and out of those systems come new structures and new institutions, right. And it’s a place for everyone. Because that’s really what we want. We want community, you know, in a very large way, very big way. The communities that I’m a part of I want to see that in institutions, in higher education, I want to see that in the medical institute, I want to see all of those things. But we don’t get there by practicing the same old stuff. And when we realize that it kind of boils down to the ideologies and the things that we’ve been taught that we know it’s a knowledge issue, we need to change that. We know it’s a heart issue, and we need to change that. And so for me, that’s where I think, you know, that’s where I think the foundation of things need to change. We need to change how we think and we need to change how we feel. And if we can change how we think and how we feel, will realize that there’s more space than we ever dreamt of. And by me connecting with you, it actually makes me stronger. It makes us stronger.

Curt Widhalm 38:54
Those who can’t wait to hear you talk at Therapy Reimagined 2021? Where…

Dr. Joy Cox 39:00
Sure they can, sure they can.

Curt Widhalm 39:02
Where, where can where can they get more of all of these facts that you are laying down and find you on the internet and social media?

Dr. Joy Cox 39:10
Yeah, so I have a website, which is Dr. Joy Cox. All one word, I’m on IG as fresh out the cocoon. I also have I launched a community wellness app a couple months ago. And that’s Jabbie app. So that’s Jabbie app. That’s on Instagram and Facebook as well. But if you go to the website, you’ll find all of those things. And so, yeah, I think IG Facebook. Yeah, that’s all of them. Oh, Twitter. I’m on Twitter as Dr. Joy Cox.

Katie Vernoy 39:45
And you have a book.

Dr. Joy Cox 39:46
I do.

Katie Vernoy 39:47
Tell us about that,

Dr. Joy Cox 39:48
Fat girls in black bodies creating communities of their own. It’s kind of this what we kind of just talked about with a few more jokes involved. Some stories, but it really just chronicles the lived experiences of fat black bodies and really talks more about stigma and fat phobia in depth as it relates to, you know, the barriers that people face in society. And you know, and what we can do to mitigate and eradicate those things.

Curt Widhalm 40:18
And we’ll include links to all of Dr. Joy’s stuff in our show notes, you can find those at Come over to the conference, website,, for all of the latest updates and ways that you can buy tickets to participate with us this year. And until next time, I’m Curt Widhalm with Katie Vernoy and Dr. Joy Cox.

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