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081: First Victoria’s Secret Plus Size Model Speaks Out on Shame and Cancel Culture – Ali Tate Cutler

Ali Tate Cutler is a model and host of “The Love You Give with Ali Tate” podcast featuring people at the top of their fields interviewed about how to live in balance mentally, physically and spiritually. In October 2019, she was featured in a Victoria’s Secret campaign in partnership with London-based lingerie retailer Bluebella. Global media attention shined light on Ali and the fact that she is the first size 14 model for Victoria’s Secret.

In This Episode, You Will Learn:

  • How Ali started modeling after entering a contest.
  • What she thinks about people commenting on her body.
  • Ali’s response to online comments from four years ago.
  • Her thoughts on call-out and cancel culture.

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Interview Transcript

Ali, thank you so much for taking some time to hang with me today. I really appreciate it.

Yes, I’m so excited to be here. I spoke to you last week and I had such a good time.

Good. Well, I want to know a little bit about your modeling career. When did you begin modeling, and how did you get started?

Yeah, so I grew up in California in the Bay Area, and I played soccer for twenty years. I played for a Class 1 team, and then I went and played at UCSB as a goalkeeper. And then from there I decided I wanted to take a year off and go explore. So I went to King’s College in London and I started playing soccer over there. Exploring and doing what students do overseas. And it was at that time, I remember I was in a hair salon and I was getting my haircut.

I was flipping through these magazines and I saw in this magazine called Look magazine it said “Competition for UK’s next top curvy super model. All applicants must be size twelve or above.” And I was like, “Hey, I’m a twelve.” And I have no idea what this entails but I’m kind of interested and I’m tall and maybe I could do this. So I applied and they selected my picture. I think it was thirty thousand girls who applied. And I showed up to the London casting with one of my friends. And I had no idea what to expect and I saw all these girls in the lobby and I was like, “No. No, I need to get out of here. I’m never going to win this.”

Right, right.

And she just basically was like, “No, we’re staying. We got up at 6 AM. I dressed you. This is it, we’re staying.” And I stayed and then I subsequently made it through each round of the day. There were three rounds, and then whoever was selected was one of the eight girls that would be a part of the show and would have a photoshoot and judges would vote on it. And the final three would go to a talk show, which I made.

And I remember that was my first time really, really wanting something, because it was so different from anything that I’d ever done previously. And I think my family, my friends, all of us were like, “Really? You’re doing a modeling competition?” And I just kind of wanted to prove everybody wrong, so I ended up making it to the top three and I got a contract with a modeling agency out there. And it totally changed the course of my life.

That is incredible. You had no experience before at all?

No. None at all. And I was very, very tomboyish, very athletic. Had no idea what to do with my hands, my body language. Didn’t know how to be feminine, so it was really a quick, sharp learning curve for me.

Did you, with your friend, practice before you went in, “Okay, pose this way.” Or, “Pose that way”? How did you even get prepared?

I know. You know, I really didn’t. I just kind of went in blindly and I was like, “Yeah, we’ll see what happens.” It’s just a funny experience. I could just tell everyone that I did this crazy thing and laugh about it. But then as I progressed more, it kind of got more serious and I was like, “Oh, hold on. I could actually do this because I’m making it through these rounds and I’m not that bad. I mean, I’m not great, but I’m not horrible. So maybe this could become something.”

And so that was nine years ago, ten years ago?

Yeah, I think that was in 2010. So that would have been nine years ago.

Okay, my goodness. And so since then, have you worked as a model full-time for the last nine to ten years? Is that correct?

Yeah, so I was modeling right after I got out of the competition. I decided to take a gap year from school, my parents were not happy about that. They did not see modeling as a viable career choice. But I had just met a boy in London and I really didn’t want to go. And this was so weird and different and exciting, so I said, “You know what? I’m going to take a gap year and try this out.”

And the first two years, I really did not work at all. I was totally dejected. I really didn’t like any of the photos I saw myself in. I was like, “How did I think I could do this?” I got no jobs and I had to work at a pub at night for cash in hand. And in the day I would bike around soups and sandwiches to twenty-six different offices, and sell them for nothing, a pittance really. And that was what the money I had to keep me going while I just was not working as a model.

And then what was the breaking point? What was the moment where you, “All right, I’m feeling like I’ve got this. I’ve got my first gig”? What was that?

I think it was for Look magazine, so it was the one that ran the competition and they had booked me six months later just as a model, not as a former contestant or anything. And they had me do an editorial, and I remember thinking on the day, “I have to perform well. I need to do this because these people hired me, got me through this contest, and I need to show up and prove that I can do this.” And there was twelve people on set, I was so intimidated. But when I got up there, I just kind of went for it.

And I remember it clicking on set, “Oh, that’s how you move.” “Oh, I think my face looks better from this angle.” “Oh, I think my body looks better if I do it this way.” “Oh, and if I keep on moving -,” and it kind of clicked. And from that day on, I was like, “All right, I get it. And now I just need to replicate that.” And it took a while before I felt truly comfortable. And then when I did, I was like a robot. I was like, boom, boom, boom, boom, every pose. Giving them everything. And I treated it like I treated soccer. Practice and make every job better than the next. Get feedback where I could and improve on that. And I just treated it like a sport.

And now you’ve been modeling for some of the world’s biggest brands. And as of last month, October 2019, obviously there was a big launch of you being the first Victoria Secret plus-sized model. Which is just a huge deal. When you were growing up, did you ever envision yourself being cast as a model for Victoria Secret?

Absolutely not. I remember as I was growing up, I struggled massively with body image. I was playing soccer five days a week, but I’d still go home and run after practice. And I would restrict my eating, and every day I woke up and I looked in the mirror and I just hated my body. And I didn’t even like going into stores like Victoria Secret or Abercrombie & Fitch. All my peers were going to shop there, and I remember just feeling like I wasn’t worthy to shop there because of my body size. Even thought I was like, “It’s ridiculous.” I was in really good peak physical fitness.

My body’s just always been bigger. And I’m just muscly and I have bigger bones and I’m taller. I just absolutely hated my body. So when I got this Victoria Secret thing, it was kind of like, “Wow, the fourteen year old girl who had been walking through those stores absolutely hating herself, wishing that she was in a different body,” it  kind of felt like validation. Like, “Wow, that was so misplaced.” That energy that I had been directing towards hating my body had been really misplaced. And really came from a deep body dysmorphia that our society kind of perpetuates by telling us again, and again, and again, that this is a way a female should look.

Take me through the process. I’m not familiar with the modeling industry, and I’m sure many of our listeners are not as well. How were you cast? Did you go in for a casting session? Did they see your photos? Take me through that process.

So when you get casted for a job, there’s two different ways. You either go in and you meet the client and you’re like, “Here’s my book.” I’m going to sell myself. I need to tell you what I’m doing and tell you why you should book me without being cocky or overconfident or whatever. You have to find this really weird in-between line. And then the second option is a direct booking. So they just see your photos online and they go, “Okay, she’s what we want, so we’re going to directly book her.”

For this job with Bluebella, I was directly booked with them. And honestly when I went to the shoot, I had no idea it was going to be for Victoria Secret. I don’t know if I just didn’t read it on the call sheet. I don’t know why I didn’t see that, but a week before the press day and they’re like, “Hey, Victoria Secret wants you at the press day.” And I was like, “Does VS stand for Victoria Secret?” And they were like, “Yeah.” And I was like, “Wait, did I do a job for Victoria Secret?” And they were like, “Yeah.” And I’m like, “Wait, what? This is insane.” I had no expectation and no idea really that this was going to be for them, and that I was going to be on the walls of Victoria Secret. So it was a really kind of mind blowing for me.

And so Bluebella, that’s a brand in England? Help me understand. Was it a collaboration between them and Victoria Secret?

Yeah. Yes. Yeah, so it was a lingerie brand that’s based out of London. And Victoria Secret has been doing a few collaborations with different brands. And this is the first time they’ve used plus models with the collaborations. So it really picked up a lot of steam. It got a lot of press. And it was quite overwhelming for me to be honest. I really did not expect that. And I don’t handle that amount of incoming attention very well, because I’m like, “Oh, my God. So many people are looking at me right now. What are they going to think?” they’re going to come to these beliefs of who I am, and I can’t control that. And I can’t affect that.” And that scared me. They don’t know me personally, and they’re just coming to an opinion based on my online presence.

Massive, massive press around this. I mean, I saw you were interviewed by Piers Morgan, which was a pretty awkward interview with him calling you hot. That was so awkward. I loved your face. You’re like, “I don’t know what to think right now if you’re calling me hot. This is so weird.”

It was so weird.

Yeah. What were some of the exciting moments during this launch? What were some of the awkward moments? Reminisce a bit about last month.

Yeah, it was a whirlwind. I was on five different TV shows giving interviews. So many people reached out for comment. And I just had so many people who were writing me opinions of what they thought of me and what they thought of my body. Totally unsolicited. And I was just kind of taken aback and I needed to take a breather off Instagram. I gave my dad my Instagram credentials to deal with everything for me. I just didn’t want to look at it, and I didn’t want to be swept up in this press firestorm.

It was difficult for me as well, because at the same time all this good press came in, there was bad press too. And there were people who came in and were like, “This girl either isn’t really plus-sized.” “Victoria Secret, too little, too late.” “There would have been so many other models who would have been a better selection for this.” And then of course there was this thing that came up from comments I had made four years ago on my Facebook. They were comments that I didn’t think anyone was looking at me. And I was going off forty-eight hours of no sleep from a job in Cuba. I just wasn’t thinking straight and I said something about obesity being bad for the environment.

It got screenshotted. It went viral. All these people were saying, “She’s a fat shamer and she’s a plus-sized model. How dare she?” It really was horrible and traumatic for me, because it was like, “Wow.” First of all I realized the power of words, and why it’s so important to take care of our words and speak from a place of love and compassion before we do it. Because especially now in this social media age and the internet age, those words will be there forever. And people are always going to align you with what you thought in the past, no matter if you fumbled your words and put your foot in your mouth. That’s going to be you.

And so I had people reaching out to me and being like, “You suck,” and “You’re a fat shamer,” and all this stuff. I was like, “This is horrible.” Because if they met me they would come to such different conclusions. They would find that’s not met at all. I have love for everybody. And really the words I said, they weren’t well thought out. It was a mistake and a flawed statement. But really over the past four years since I wrote that, it helped me evolve so much. Because I first of all was dealing with the shame of having people shame me online. And that’s a painful experience in and of itself. I mean, if you look at anyone who’s been publicly shamed, and now that number is ten thousand, twenty thousand, probably more.

Let me jump in here real quick because I want to get to that experience four years ago. But I want to ask you, you talked about people commenting about your body. Obviously you didn’t ask for that. But yet at the same time, it is interesting because modeling centers around not just the clothes that you’re wearing, but the body that is wearing those clothes. So I would assume that you’ve had to deal with that for nine, ten years. It just seems like right, wrong, good, or bad, it comes with modeling. That people are going to comment on you.

Yes.

And I was watching this YouTube video with this guy who was commenting about your recent photos, just objectifying you. So much of that is just objectification. Do you watch those? Do you read those comments?  How do you deal with that?

I do not watch those. I do not read those. I’m at a point where other people’s opinions of me really aren’t relevant to my life. I’m over here. I’m doing my thing. I’m trying to be a good person. I’m trying to make positive ripples in the world. And I really had to learn how to separate and look at people’s opinions and comments of my body and the way I look, and go, “You know what? That’s not me.” First of all, that’s they’re conditioning. So that’s the way that they’re looking at beauty. That’s the way that they look at bodies. It has nothing to do with me, that’s their experience.

And second of all, who cares if someone thinks I’m ugly? Or who cares if someone thinks I’m not plus enough, or too plus? Or whatever it is. Because really, I am not my body. I am so much more than that. That’s what I feel my mission here on Earth is to do, which is to help people realize that we are so much more than our bodies. And yes, body image is important to get that sorted out, to feel a sense of love about yourself at any size. Because we need to transcend the body. We need to move to the higher plane of existence, which is that you are this eternal soul on this Earth, coming here with a mission. And your character and your values and your mission are so much more important than what you look like.

So I have that basic kind of understanding, so I really don’t take offense when people comment on my body. I mean, I think it’s kind of weird. We have too much time on our hands that we would need to look at models or celebrities and go, “They look like this and their haircut is stupid.” Or, “Her butt’s gotten too big.” I don’t know, whatever it is. It’s just a little bit too much time on our  hands. But I really don’t take that stuff personally anymore.

Sure, sure. Well, the video was definitely not negative. He was very positive on your body, but it was fascinating to see him interact with the photos. And just knowing that that’s something that you have to deal with.

Like you said, we are so much more than the one aspect that people see. Right? People see you in one moment in time that’s captured in a photo that’s accentuated in certain ways to make the photo look even better. And in reality, there are so many facets to each one of us. And you reference this experience that you had four years ago, and that that was obviously brought up, kind of created a headline. Not in major news, but definitely in some websites four years ago. And I even saw it brought back around this past month, referenced again, as you said. Take us to that moment. What did you say? What were you responding to? Help us understand that moment.

I was responding to an article on Facebook. I didn’t even know who the author was. I just saw it and it kind of just triggered me a little bit. And it was about how when people comment on obese bodies and they say they’re caring about their health, they’re really just fat shaming. And I disagreed with it at the time, because I was like, “Hold on. We need to talk about obesity in honesty. Which is that it’s a health condition, and that it has negative implications.” And I guess I always saw the world as interconnected. The health of one person is connected to the health of the world. As healthy as we can be individually, the world is going to get healthier.

The issue with what I said in my statement, which is I said, “Obesity is not good for the environment because of overconsumption,” was flawed because I wasn’t seeing the nuance of the subject. Which is you can’t blame an individual for the environmental crises. We need to look at the broader institutions and the society which has enabled bad food to be cheap. And capitalism enables overconsumption. And everyone does it. Skinny people, medium sized people, bigger bodies, we all do it. And in my mind, it’s just sometimes maybe it’s more overt with some people. But that doesn’t make the fact that everyone over consumes is the truth.

And so at the time, really when I look back at it and understanding I have about it now, is I was really speaking from a place of my own unhealed body shame. And a lot of the time when we say hurtful things, or when we’re triggered, it’s because it’s coming from a place within ourselves that is not healed. And something about a comment that’s made, or a discussion that’s happening, triggers us. And it kind of ignites that inner shame and inner dialogue that we are having with ourselves. And I had been struggling with body image problems my whole life. And I clearly was not healed from that.

I remember as a kid, I used to see myself as just really overweight. I had no discipline. I just couldn’t be as good as the skinny girls because I just couldn’t restrain myself from eating. And I was a glutton. I would even go as far as to thinking I was just this slob. And all these horrible things that in mainstream media is associated with being bigger. And I bought that. I bought that lie and I was believing in it for a long, long time. And so those comments were obviously coming from a person who had not found the truth in herself yet. And was echoing the inner pain and the inner shame that she was feeling, out into the world.

There’s the expression which is hurt people, hurt people. And that’s so true. When we don’t do the work to heal our inner trauma, we bleed it onto other people. Because it’s almost too much to bear and too much to deal with. And I definitely think that those comments were me bleeding. Me bleeding my pain out onto other people. And it took me years to reconcile that, and understand that that’s where it was coming from. And the part that hurts me now is that it still comes up four years later, but these people haven’t seen the inner work that I’ve done. They don’t know that. They don’t me, and they don’t know at the time that that was coming from a hurting girl. And they just immediately think this person’s evil or stupid, or whatever it is that they think about me, the conclusions that they draw.

But really, a lot of people’s pain when they say things that are hurtful, or homophobic, or racist, or all these things. A lot of it is coming from unhealed places within themselves. And the only way that we can address that is not through shame. Because shame absolutely one hundred percent does not work. It actually exacerbates the problem and it makes it worst. It comes from compassion and empathy, and to understand that these people are hurting.

And that we’ve been there too, and we’ve been hurting and we’ve said things we regret out of anger or fear or sadness. And to really be there for those people and understand that they’re speaking from this place of pain and help them on their healing process. And that’s why I take a huge issue with cancel culture at large. Because we’re pulling up these comments from people – something people have said ten years ago, five years ago. I mean, I know how much I change in a year. I changed so much every year. What I thought the year before is not what I think the next year.

Right. Right.

And I think that’s part of the human journey. Is the evolution, that dynamic changing of base core thoughts and values, and evolving towards this new level of understanding. And so we’re judging these people who we’re cancelling, based on usually, comments that they’ve said in the past. When they’ve already transformed and elevated beyond that. Now that’s not the case for everybody.

Sure.

But I do know a lot of people who have been quote/unquote “canceled” on social media, have come a long way in their understandings. And it kind of just sucks when these things are brought up from the past. Because it’s just to where they’re at now, and they’re being held accountable for it now.

I shared with you in preparation for our time together, a quote from Barack Obama. And you might have seen this online, but last month at an Obama Foundation event he said, “There is this sense that the way of me making change is to be as judgemental as possible about other people, and that’s enough.” He said, “That’s not activism. That’s not bringing about change. If all you’re doing is casting stones, you’re probably not going to get that far. That’s easy to do.” Then simultaneously, what’s interesting is I read a New York Times editorial that said, “Well, Obama’s just basically old, rich, and powerful, and he doesn’t get the so-called ‘call-out’ culture. He doesn’t get it. He doesn’t get that need to stand up for what’s wrong.” What are your thoughts on Obama’s statement?

I mean, I completely agree with him. I think that I’ve read a lot of articles justifying why cancel culture is a valuable and worthwhile thing. And while I can understand that sentiment, I think it’s misguided. Because when people are standing up to try to make change, change makers throughout history have encountered so much backlash, and so much criticism. And I think it might be kind of an innate part of human nature to want to throw stones at people when we disagree with them, or what they’re saying is disrupting our world view. We get our hackles up. But when we throw stones, we’re not being part of the solution. We’re taking down other people in this vicious shame cycle. And shame is one of the leading causes of the mental health illness in the world. Shame is underneath anxiety, depression, addiction, suicide. If you look in prison systems, they found that a lot of the criminals that are there, a lot of the inmates are suffering from really deep shame. And that has led them to do the things that they have done. And shame is really debilitating. It’s a really debilitating emotions.

There’s a difference between shame and guilt. Shame is when you associate yourself with the negative action that you’ve done, and you’ve said, “I’m not separate from that action. I am that action.” Which makes me have no value. Guilt is when we can look at that action separate from ourselves, and feel remorseful that we did it, and then go to make amends to correct it. So they’re different things, and guilt works. But guilt comes from the individual. And that comes from discourse on the subject.

So let’s say someone said something that was considered racist. That person is not going to learn if someone’s like, “Die you racist blank.” “F-U.” All these things. No one is going to learn. That’s really just enabling shame, which is not going to help that individual out of any negative cycles that they’re in. It’s really going to actually increase the amount of mental health issues, and it’s going to make it hard for them to talk about their trauma. And the only way that shame cannot exist, is if we talk about our shame. So if we bring it to the light, it cannot survive. And if we bring it to the light and it experiences compassion and empathy, it’s done. It can’t survive.

How would you suggest then people speak up? Or stand up for what they believe in? And not so-called “cancel” or boycott someone. It just seems like such a difficult thing to do.  Not to attack them, but how do you speak up and not be in that place of judgement?

Well, there’s ways to speak up. And if you disagree with someone, check yourself first. Take a breath. Make sure you’re not speaking out of a place of reaction. Make sure you’re speaking out of a place of the highest good, out of love, out of light. And center yourself and go, “You know, I really disagree with this, and here are my reasons why.” Treat it like a classroom environment, because really, life is a classroom. We all came here to learn. We weren’t all born being woke. That doesn’t happen. That happens after a life of learning, and failure, and mistakes. So when someone that says something that we disagree with or we think is harmful, it’s important to treat that person with compassion and respect, while also standing up for what you believe in.

Cancel culture and social media which has enabled this, had led people to be unaccountable for what they’re saying. Because they’re just typing behind a board anonymously. They don’t have to go up to that person and see them. I guarantee you, if we weren’t typing from anonymous computers, and if we had to actually go up to that person and say, “You know, I don’t agree with what you said.” I guarantee your words be nicer and kinder. Because you would be looking into a human’s eyes, and you’d go, “Oh, human. Oh, I’m human. Oh, I used to believe kind of stupid things.” Or, “I said messed up things in the past.” Or, “This is another person on this journey who is on a journey like mine, which is up and down, and left and right. And it’s my job to be there for them, and have compassion for them.”

I guarantee people would not be saying the things that they say online, to a human body. It would just not happen. And we need to be holding ourselves more accountable for our online presence. So that when we do find people who say things that we don’t agree with, we come from a place of higher learning. As opposed to self-righteousness, or judgement, or just hate and bleeding your own feelings and your own traumas onto this person who’s an easy target. That’s not the right way to go about it.

So I have a friend. Very close friend. Her name’s Stacey. She’s been on the podcast. She’s an author, and speaker, and so forth. And she is quite progressive in her thoughts about life, spirituality, religion, and politics, and so forth. And she would be more left-leaning. She has friends across the board, but oftentimes her left leaning friends, and I’ll see this on social media, will rail against Trump. Which is an easy person to rail against, especially if you live in Southern California or New York, like you and I do.

And what’s interesting is, when she sees them doing this – she doesn’t do it all the time, but she has pointed out that not everything about Trump is vile. And I know that some of our listeners are probably Trump supporters, so don’t hear me saying anything right, wrong, good, or bad about Trump. Just the fact that some people think he is totally vile 100%, the guy is from Satan. Some people think that, right?

Yeah.

What’s interesting is that she will come to the table and say, “I hear what you’re saying about what his behavior is, or his words, but not everything is vile about him. He’s a human being. And he in process like all of us.” And man, Ali, she is no popular when she does that.

I can imagine.

Right? Because it’s doing what you’re saying. It’s going, “Okay, yes I see this behavior that I don’t agree with, or these words. But at the same time, this person is a human being who is in process.” And I think, how do we keep that level of empathy or compassion for anyone who we disagree with? Even if we think what they’re doing, their behavior is vile. The question is, does every person have – I would call it a “divine imprint”? That there’s something divine in them no matter how much we disagree with them about something. And I believe there is.

I one hundred percent agree. And I would agree with her. And I can imagine that her opinions are hugely unpopular. And I would never say them on social media, because I know that the backlash would be so swift and so real.

Yeah, not good for you.

No, not good for me. And you wouldn’t even have a space to really clarify yourself and explain what you meant. Because people would be so reactionary and so, “No, no. You’re done. You’re wrong. Never listening to you again.” I mean, the way I see Trump, I’m left-leaning. My parents are Republican. And I get to see and have these amazing discussions with them. And at first I was really like, “Why?! Why do you support this guy?” But then after having a lot of discussion with them, I really saw the other side. And that the other side has a reason and a valuable reason for coming to the beliefs that they’ve come to.

And what we’re really missing in this country today, and this is being made more real by the divisiveness on social media, by what we’re talking about. Is that we’re not able to have these cross-party line debates, because people are shutting them down so quickly and being like, “You’re Republican, you’re racist.” Or, “You’re elitist,” or whatever it is. And, “You’re a liberal? So you’re living in fairy land. You are a snowflake.” It’s shutting down these conversations.

And the real thing is that Trump is a human, despite some people who are conspiracy theorists and think he might be a reptilian or a demon or something. But he is a human. And what I see is a man who has had a really difficult past with his parents. A man whose found himself through egoic ways, and through materialism. And I see a man in pain. And that doesn’t mean that I don’t disagree with some of the things he does, because I do. But I also don’t think that I’m going to cancel this human being because they’re doing things that I don’t agree with.

Sure.

It’s a very nuanced conversation, and really the whole point of this is really to show that a lot of the decisions that are being made int he world, are coming from unhealed trauma, ancestral trauma, deep pain that is coming to the surface after hundreds of years of being unprocessed. And we’re going through a really intense time of awakening right now. And it’s all coming to the surface and we’re dealing with it. And it seems overwhelming like, “How can we even more through this?” People just aren’t agreeing. When someone like Trump got elected, it was more than ever this divisiveness was made clear.

But we really need to understand that we’re all in pain, and we’re all on this human journey together. And we are connected. And the health of one individual is the health of the world. What is that quote? The weakest link is the strength of the whole team. You are as strong as the weakest link. And I really do believe that, because the whole world is connected whether we like it or not. And when we have a huge amount of humans suffering, and going through pain, and working out their own shame cycles and their own traumas, we need to be there for them.

I don’t necessarily think that someone in that amount of pain should be in power, but I do think that he is a human and that we need to check the language that we use around humans. Because we are holding them standards that are superhuman. We are holding them to superhuman account, and that is just not realistic. And that is not kind, and that is not loving, and that’s not going to create the world. That’s not going to create a new paradigm. That’s going to create more of the same. And we’re going to be in more of the same exploitation of power and pain going on at the federal level. And corruption within the system. The new paradigm requires that we show up for each human being, and we see them on the journey that they’ve come on. And that we are there for them. And understand and are compassionate and empathetic to them. That is going to create the new paradigm.

I’m in a unique situation in my own life. Because for ten years I was a pastor in a more of an evangelical, which is more of a conservative. Tends to be more right-leaning, Republican. Tends to be. And the last ten years, I’ve really expanded my social circles, and people that I connect with, and my own beliefs. And so I have friends that are very pro-Trump, very. And then I have people that are very anti-Trump. I have friends that are pro-life. Others that are pro-choice. I have others friends that believe that those that identify as LGBTQIA, are in sin. And I have lots of friends who would identify as LGBTQIA.

I’m in this interesting position where I kind of have my foot in both of these worlds. And for me what it creates is a great sense of compassion. Because as you said, when you talked to your parents, you’re like, “Oh, interesting. Now I see how you have this perspective, or I understand how you came to this conclusion.” And so I have a great deal of empathy and compassion for people across the board. And that actually puts me in a little bit of an awkward situation, and I don’t talk about those things a lot. I don’t talk about politics. I don’t talk about these issues much. Because those who maybe are pro-something, can’t believe that I could even be friends with somebody’s who against something or vice versa.

And for me I go, “You know what? We’re all on a journey. We’re all in process.” And ultimately the way that I have had change in my mind about issues and about people, is by getting to know people. Like you said, “I sat down and I got know my parents.” It sounds weird to say that, but you got to know their perspectives. In the same way that generally the only way who someone who is racist or homophobic overcomes that situation, is by getting to know someone who is different than them. And seeing that they are human, and that they have similarities.

And that’s what I love. I love seeing people across the board, and having compassion for them. And I will say, I will admit to you, and I love this about Inspiration Rising and the podcast, is I get to interview people who have lives that are so different than me. And I get to know them, and I just fall in love with them. In a fun way, like, “Oh, man. This person’s awesome.” So for you, I don’t hang around with a lot of models. Believe it or not, I don’t hang out with a lot of models all the time. Although my wife and daughter are both model-worthy. They’re absolutely beautiful.

And I would say, if I saw a picture of you walking by Victoria Secret, I would not say to myself, “Wow, she is so bright.” “Wow, she is so well-spoken, she is so articulate.” I just wouldn’t say that. I would go, “Oh, she’s beautiful. She’s gorgeous.” And yet, talking to you on your podcast, this podcast, holy moly, you are bright. You are so articulate and so passionate. And what that does for me, is it goes, “Oh.” When I look at other models, it will expand my mind. I don’t look at other models and go, “Wow, they’re dumb.” I don’t have that inside of me. But I don’t have a mind that goes, “Oh, I wonder what she’s interested in. I wonder what she’s passionate about. I wonder if she’s just as passionate about the environment as Ali is?” “Oh, I wonder if she’s as passionate about body image as Ali is?” Right? I’ve gotten to know you and it expands my mind. It expands my level of empathy and compassion for the world. So that’s fun.

Oh, thank you. That’s very kind. And I completely agree. I think that the antithesis to being divisive and feeling like other people’s viewpoints are anathema to our own life. I think that the opposite of that is getting to know them. You can see that on Oprah when she interviewed a lot of people who were part of this KKK or white nationalist group. She had them on. She is such a badass. She had them on and talked with them kindly, and patiently, and compassionately. And most of those guys went on later to totally change their views, and come on and apologize on her show and say, “I’m ashamed by the things I used to think.” She created that and facilitated that conversation, and it led to a consensus. And it led to peace.

And when we shut out the opposition voices, we’re just creating a bubble that we live in. It’s an echo chamber. We just hear our own thoughts being echoed back to us again and again. “We’re right, we’re right, we’re right. Everyone else is wrong. We’re right.” And that’s a problem, because we don’t get to see the different perspectives and how people might have arrived at them. I mean, the way I look at it now, and it’s taken me years to fully comprehend this. The way I look at it now is people have completely different viewpoints on the environment, or political issues, or social issues than me. They had their own experiences, which led them to that opinion. And I can’t weigh in and say, “Your experiences are wrong.” That’s not true, and that’s not honoring their journey.

And so whether or not I agree with them, maybe I want to come in and go, “Oh, well it’s really important for us to care about the environment because it’s our home and we need to take care of our home. And we need to keep it clean.” And I can try and change their opinions and influence them. But if it’s done with hate in our heart,  you’re not going to get very far. You won’t.  You won’t get your desired outcome. So really it’s about the desired outcome, and I think we all, humans at the core of us, we want peace. We want love. We want what’s best for our neighbor. What gets clouded is the traumas and the experiences along the way, which have made that difficult to see, and which we need to unpack and process. But really we want the same thing.

And so if we want the same outcome, we need to go about the best way to do that. And the best way to do that is compassion, kindness, empathy, understanding, connection. Those are the ways that we can help other beings evolve, and understand, and come to a new opinion. And so it’s so important to expose ourselves to people who think the opposite of what we think, and not get reactionary, not get triggered. Take a moment. Someone comes in that’s super pro-Trump and you’re not, breathe. Okay, this is a human. They have their reasons. Listen to them. Okay, now we can enter into a debate about this.

I think the words that come to my mind are “seeking to understand”. If I’m coming from a place of seeking to understand that person’s journey, which I love you brought that up. Our home of origin, our parents, where we grew up, that plays such a huge role in our views of the world. The negative experiences that we’ve had with people. If I had dated a ton of models and they all broke up with me, I’d have a negative view of you, right? You know what I mean? If you’ve had some sort of experience with someone and it was negative, that’s really going to color your experience. So we don’t know what that other person has had in their life, and seeking to understand that is huge. So good.

Definitely.

Okay, so one last question for you. Let’s just say you’re a hundred years old. And you’ve just wrapped up your modeling career. You’re like, “Okay, I’m just going to model until I’m a hundred, and then I’m done.” What do you want to be known for in your life when you look back?

Legacy.

Yeah, your whole life, your career. Who knows if you’ll keep modeling until you’re a hundred. That’s a long life.

Unlikely, but I like where you’re going. You know, I think about this a lot. I think about my dharma, my mission, what I came down here to do. And I think everyone has a unique one. And I think that when people used to ask me when I was a little girl, they would say, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” like they ask all little kids. And the only thing I said, and the only thing that came to mind was always, “I want to be a nature girl. I want to be a nature girl.” I didn’t know what that meant, but in my head I had this vision of me like young Tarzan. Like a female Tarzan living in the trees and protecting all the animals, and safeguarding the forest. I just pictured Fern Gully. That’s what I pictured.

Really? From an early age you sensed that?

Yeah.

And that still is a passion or you.

Yeah, I have a love for the Earth. And I think that’s intermixed with a deeper mission of, “We can only have love for the Earth when we have love and understanding for ourselves and each other.” Because if your internal world is matching your external world. .If you’re all mixed up inside and you’re struggling with all these different emotions and mental health issues, or trauma, or whatever it is. And we don’t resolve it, and we’re living our life through that lens always, our external world cannot be healthy. It starts from within us. So this body image journey that I’ve been on, is really just a smaller part of the conversation of, “We need to focus on loving ourselves no matter what. No matter what mistakes we’ve made.” And everyone listening to this, you’re going to go on to make hundreds, if not thousands more mistakes. And you’ve probably already made a few mess ups.

Thank you, so encouraging.

I mean, it’s the truth. We are here to fail and make mistakes, and it’s how we love ourselves in spite of that, or despite of that, that makes the difference on this journey. So if we can love ourselves, then we can love the Earth and everything else around us more. So really it starts from the internal journey, but I feel that’s the legacy that I would want to leave behind. And that can take many forms. So you can find self-love through a myriad of ways. Whether that’s through spirituality and wellness, or helping others. Which actually sometimes when we help others, we find that that’s helping ourselves. So sometimes it can start from outside and then go in. And sometimes it starts from in, to then go out.

But it’s this lesson and this mission of realizing that we are all these amazing, bright, eternal souls that have come here all living out these lessons that we’ve need to come learn, and needed to face. And to really love that. And to love that soul unconditionally. And I think that when we do that, the world’s going to start changing around us immediately. If we can affect and help ourselves, then you’ll start seeing your relationships change around you. You’ll start seeing your relationship with animals and nature change. Because you’re going to see it as all connected. And you’re going to see it as a part of the journey that you’re on, how it’s all deeply interwoven.

Ali, you’re amazing. I think you’re awesome. I’m a big fan now. And the two places I want to make sure people check out.  One is your Instagram, for people to follow you. And we’ll have this in the show notes obviously. If you’re on your phone, you can swipe up and get it. But it’s @ali_tate_cutler.

Yes.

And Ali, you have an incredible podcast. It’s called The Love You Give with Ali Tate. Who do you interview on this podcast? Tell us a bit about it. Sell it to us. Why should we listen?

Yeah. Well, it’s a podcast that is designed to push the levels of comfort in ourselves, to push outside our comfort zone. So I interview anyone from shame specialists, meditation specialists, people with amazing journeys, how they’ve overcome hardship. I even interviewed a guy who was the head of MI-5 UFO Research Department. So we get into fringe topics like UFOs. I can go into conspiracy. But really the whole point of this is, the guests that I have on, with their journeys, with the lessons that they’re teaching, really are designed to push ourselves into new understandings and new levels of perception, by making ourselves a little bit uncomfortable. And that’s really where we do the most growth, is outside of our comfort zone. And seeing all these different experiences, and how they might be relatable to ourselves.

All right, it’s called The  Love You Give, and it is on all the podcast platforms I’m sure.

Yes.

And we’ll be sure to link to it. So Ali, thank you so much for taking time to hang. I think you’re amazing.

Thank you.

And I just love your heart for the world.

Oh, thank you so much. And I feel the same. When I interviewed you on my podcast, I was like, “What a great guy. How awesome.” I just felt so uplifted for the rest of the day.

thank you!