How Our Relationship With Our Bodies Has Changed: Women Who Travel Podcast

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A couple of weeks in the past, we printed an recommendation column, providing recommendation to a Women Who Travel reader who was feeling self-conscious about stepping out in a swimsuit on an upcoming group journey due to modifications to her weight throughout the pandemic. The query and subsequent recommendation from Amy Pence-Brown and Stephanie Yeboah, two physique picture advocates and writers, led us to a fair deeper dialog about our our bodies—and the way the pandemic has affected {our relationships} with them. So, this week, we’re joined by Amy and Stephanie to talk about how they bought to the place of self-love they’re at now, how the dialog has shifted round fatness throughout the pandemic, and the way we are able to have more healthy relationship with weight modifications. 

Thanks to Stephanie and Amy for becoming a member of us and thanks, as all the time, to Brett Fuchs for engineering and mixing this episode. As a reminder, you possibly can take heed to new episodes of Women Who Travel on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you take heed to podcasts, each Wednesday.

All merchandise featured on Condé Nast Traveler are independently chosen by our editors. If you purchase one thing by means of our retail hyperlinks, we might earn an affiliate fee.

Read a full transcription under.

Lale Arikoglu: Hi, everybody, and welcome to Women Who Travel, a podcast from Condé Nast Traveler. I’m Lale Arikoglu and I’m joined, as all the time, by my co-host Meredith Carey.

Meredith Carey: Hello.

LA: A couple of weeks in the past, we published an advice column serving to a Women Who Travel follower, who was feeling anxious about sporting a washing go well with on an upcoming group journey. And like many people, her physique had modified over the course of the pandemic and he or she wasn’t feeling as competent as she had earlier than. Turns on the market are plenty of us feeling the identical approach. So we wished to dedicate a bit of extra time to speaking about {our relationships} with our our bodies, and the way that is modified over the previous 12 months and a half. Today, we’re joined by Amy Pence-Brown, a physique picture activist, author, and creator of Radcamp, a body-positive boot camp for feminists and feminist teenagers; and Stephanie Yeboah, a vanity advocate, blogger and creator of Fattily Ever After: A Fat Black Girl’s Guide to Living Life Unapologetically. Thank you for becoming a member of us.

Stephanie Yeboah: Thank you for having us.

Amy Pence-Brown: Yeah. Glad to be right here.

MC: I’m curious what your journey has been wish to get right here, to being advocates for self-love and opening up this dialog about physique picture?

SY: So I suppose for me, so I’ve sort of been within the physique picture/physique positivity/fats acceptance area since 2012, I feel. For me, my journey in direction of self-love and studying the way to love the physique that I’m in has been a really very long time in coming, possibly about 16 or 17 years. For me, it was positively after I began my weblog in 2008, and I began becoming a member of networks and platforms similar to Tumblr and a few Facebook teams and issues like that the place I began seeing these small communities of girls who appeared like me and had been formed like me professing their love of their our bodies and themselves. Whether it was by means of the medium of content material similar to images, or movies, assume items, poetry, issues like that, it was simply such a buzzing hub of girls who had been simply studying the way to love themselves loudly and unapologetically.

At the time, for me, particularly after I completed college, I had all the time had points with confidence, and self-love, and studying the way to love myself on this physique, and have gone by means of a sequence of issues like consuming issues and internalized fatphobia and all of this stuff that type of formed my notion of my physique fairly negatively. So I feel with the ability to entry these assets on-line at that individual second was a life-changing aspect for me.

So since then, I’ve used my weblog to not solely discuss the best way by which I’m studying the way to love myself, however I even have tried to deal with issues similar to psychological well being as effectively, and the way essential it’s to acknowledge issues similar to intersectionality in relation to the problems of physique positivity, and self-love, and issues of that nature. So for me, it has been a really, very, very lengthy journey and I by no means thought I might ever get to a degree the place I may say that I beloved myself, or I by no means thought I might get to a degree the place I might really feel snug simply calling myself fats, and never feeling grossed out, or embarrassed, or ashamed, or something like that.

So it has been a really attention-grabbing journey, however like plenty of us type of in that neighborhood say, in relation to confidence and self-love, it is all the time going to be an on a regular basis factor. It’s not like a one-shape-suits-all kind of factor. It’s an on a regular basis journey of studying the way to love your self.

MC: And Amy, what has your expertise been like?

APB: Of course, it has been a lifelong one now that I look again on the age of 45 and the way I’ve been working in direction of studying to like my bigger physique most of my life. But it actually began after I was a young person and I began changing into extra dissatisfied with magnificence requirements that had been put upon me, and never issues that I felt like I wished to participate in, however issues that I felt like I needed to do, like having lengthy hair, for one factor. When I used to be about 16 and I, in a rebellious act, reduce all of it off actually brief, shorter than it’s now, in my rural, conservative, American Western city in Idaho. It was radical. That was a radical transfer.

And I usually say this, that it was actually motherhood that made me a physique love activist. It was actually motherhood that launched me right into a extra type of public mind-set. I had been already questioning food regimen tradition and being finished with it for various years after I had my first daughter on the age of 28, after which I had one other daughter after I was 32, and this was over 13 years in the past now. And that was it—I used to be finished hating my physique for the dimensions that it was, and I used to be finished with food regimen tradition, and all of that. And I, 13 years in the past now, Googled the phrases, “Why am I fat and happy?” as a result of I knew nobody else in actual life who felt that approach. And I turned to Google, like all good researchers do, proper? I felt I am unable to be alone, presumably, on this mind-set, but when I’m, then that is okay, however I’m going to attempt to discover out. And Google, 13 years in the past—much less so at the moment, as a result of I’ve now since typed that phrase into Google many occasions, and plenty of totally different articles come up—however 13 years in the past, Google picked up pleased and turned it into sad when associated with the phrase fats, as Google does. I bought pages and pages of advertisements for the food regimen business complicated, and I stored scrolling, and scrolling, and scrolling, and at last discovered two blogs that eternally modified my life and are actually run by colleagues and pals, I’m fortunate to say. One is The Curvy Fashionista by Marie Denee, who’s a plus-sized vogue blogger.

SY: Love her.

APB: And the opposite one, The Fat Heffalump by Kath Reid, who’s an Australian activist. They had simply began these blogs, most likely in web sites a 12 months earlier than, most likely in 2008. I discovered them in 2009 they usually led me to different writers, and bloggers, and Tumblr feeds, and books, actually, that I started to devour and it actually modified my life. It took me about three years to actually learn by means of all of these items, and immerse myself on this training, and this tradition that was fairly new, and actually radical, after which the phrases began displaying up in my writing, on my mommy weblog on the time. They began displaying up on posts on Facebook. They began displaying up in my artwork, and popping out of my mouth. Fat acceptance was what I recognized with 13 years in the past as a motion, together with feminism, after all, and civil rights, and all of this that is a part of it. And then physique positivity as type of a time period and a buzzword happened a couple of years later. It’s positively helped in plenty of methods to convey a extra radical motion to the plenty—and it is also type of watered it down in plenty of methods too.

But regardless, individuals started liking what I needed to say, and liking my phrases, regardless that plenty of them hated my phrases, and did not like what I needed to say. There had been sufficient that did. And I had a neighborhood following. I began a bunch known as the Boise Rad Fat Collective—rad brief for radical—a web-based, and in actual life group that began with eight different individuals I knew right here within the space in Idaho who had been finished with food regimen tradition too, and wished a secure area on the web, on Facebook

And then simply six years in the past now, I did this gorgeous well-known, tremendous by chance well-known public efficiency artwork piece in a black bikini and a blindfold with a handful of washable markers and a chalkboard signal at my ft that I known as The Stand for Self-Love. And the chalkboard signal stated, “I’m standing for anyone who suffered from a self-esteem issue like me. If you believe all bodies are valuable, draw a heart on my body.” I stood and stripped down right into a black bikini in the midst of the busiest place in Boise, which was our Farmer’s Market six years in the past, and had a photographer there to take some footage. I believed it was going to be a catastrophe and it wasn’t. I did not assume the images would seize the humanity and the sweetness that occurred in that hour out there, however they did. And rapidly, the native information picked it up inside 24 hours. I feel the nationwide press had picked it up from there. And then inside 72 hours, it was worldwide and it has been seen so much and it continues to be seen so much.

I used to be handed a microphone by plenty of press, which is how I’m right here at the moment, actually. They appeared to love what I needed to say about our bodies and a special mind-set.

LA: Obviously, our lives have seen a large shift up to now 12 months and a half as a result of pandemic. How have you ever each observed the best way we discuss our our bodies change up to now 12 months and a half? Do you assume there’s been a noticeable shift in the best way we discuss each our personal our bodies—and I suppose different individuals’s too?

SY: It’s been an attention-grabbing one for me personally as a result of over the past two years… So I reside alone and throughout the pandemic, I needed to transfer flats twice. So the stress of transferring flats, however then additionally dwelling alone, not with the ability to see my household for practically a 12 months, and all of those stresses and issues like that truly made me lose fairly a little bit of weight throughout lockdown. It’s not one thing that I have a tendency to speak about, or voice, particularly being within the area that I’m in, simply because I do know that typically speaking about weight reduction and speaking about food regimen tradition or exercising and issues of that nature—whatever the intention—typically it may be triggering for many who have had earlier historical past of consuming issues or some sort of trauma relating to excessive weight reduction. So for me, it is attention-grabbing as a result of I lastly bought to a degree the place I’ve accepted how I look, and I’m so pleased, and simply content material in me as an individual.

So after I observed that I’d misplaced various weight, there was part of me that thought I might really feel pleased, or relieved, or optimistic about it. And that was the previous internalized fatphobia that I believed would come again and be like, “Oh my gosh, you’ve lost this amount of pounds or whatever. You should be happy,” however truly, I simply felt very nonplussed about it. I used to be similar to, “Okay. Don’t really care,” sort of factor. So for me, it was truly fairly stunning that I fairly favored my response to that. I favored that I did not care about the truth that I’d misplaced weight. My self-worth did not change primarily based on the truth that I’d misplaced this quantity of weight.

I suppose in distinction to that, on-line, from what I’ve been seeing from my followers and different friends within the business and with the media and publications, there was… I will not lie. I really feel prefer it has been extremely fatphobic close to the messaging, particularly once we learn articles or we have a look at the press and we see that everyone is simply speaking about COVID weight achieve and “here are some movements that you can do in the gym,” or “here are some exercises that can get you back to your pre-COVID weight,” or within the U.Okay. anyway, once we had, so I feel final October, we had a break. I feel it was like a two- or three-week break interval the place lockdown was lifted earlier than it bought relocked down once more, the place we had all of those articles that had been speaking about, “Okay, so before Christmas, try and lose this amount of weight, or this amount of weight.” And then additionally with the July that is simply gone, the place our lockdown was lifted, there have been a great deal of discourse within the press relating to, “Okay, now that lockdown is over, get your ass to the gym. Get your bikini body. ” All of those sorts of issues. And I simply assume that this reinforcing of those Westernized type of physique beliefs is so damaging to these of us which have been working for years and years and making an attempt to actually challenge the notion of self-love, and never equating your price to your physique, or the numbers that you simply see on a scale. I really feel prefer it’s actually simply pulled it again as a result of these similar articles and press which have been speaking about physique positivity and highlighting influencers and journalists and folks with platforms who’re making actual strikes in relation to self-love have now simply reverted again to speaking about weight reduction and the food regimen business and what diets to check out.

[Also,] there was this notion of lots of people being triggered by what’s been taking place within the information, folks that have traditionally all the time been very small or skinny, abruptly placing on plenty of weight, and probably not figuring out the way to navigate their new our bodies, not figuring out what to put on, not figuring out the way to really feel as a result of they do not need to be fatphobic, however then additionally, they do not know the way to navigate this new physique. They do not know in the event that they really feel unattractive, however then in addition they assume, “Well, if I do feel unattractive, then that’s me being fatphobic. So then I don’t really know. How do I sort of fight these two things?”

So for me, I’ve spent plenty of the time this pandemic advising individuals and speaking to different girls and simply making an attempt to, I suppose, supply reassurance. Because I feel lockdown has been exhausting on all of us and our our bodies have simply been making an attempt to manage. In a approach it’s a sort of trauma, particularly for these of us that reside alone, or are fairly remoted. Of course, it may be pure when you’re not out and about day by day and also you’re at dwelling more often than not, there could be some weight achieve and I feel it is simply been essential for us to carry area for that, and to have grace and compassion for our our bodies simply making an attempt to make it by means of a pandemic, and doing no matter it must do to have that gasoline, and to have that vitality. And if it means weight achieve, then so be it.

But weight achieve shouldn’t be the worst factor an individual can have, or an individual can do. And so for me, it has been lots of people very frightened and really scared and really confused about the way to really feel about this weight achieve. I simply assume that what we’re seeing in magazines and on-line articles about weight reduction shouldn’t be serving to these conditions in any respect.

LA: Amy, what have you ever observed throughout this era?

APB: Yeah, a lot of the identical that Stephanie talked about, and from the get-go, after all, when COVID-19 was sweeping the world over, I knew instantly—as occurs with any type of sickness or medical illness—that fatness can be in some way in charge. Somehow that may are available there. I actually known as it. I stated these phrases to my scientist husband when it was nearly hitting America and stated, “Watch, being fat is going to be a reason here, a cause of getting COVID-19,” proper? That’s going to be a concern that is going to return out as a result of being fats is actually the issue for the whole lot, proper? And I do know this, as a fats one that’s grown up going to the physician and medical suppliers, and I’m what can be known as like a small fats. There’s type of a scale of fatness—there are all types of scales of physique sizes, proper? I’m not tremendous fats. I’m not. I do not reside in a big physique. I’m not marginalized in plenty of different methods like different individuals’s our bodies are primarily based on their gender, or their pores and skin colour, or their dimension. But I’ve skilled medical fatphobia my total life. And I’ve heard tales from individuals in my Rad Fat Collective, and different followers, and different fats individuals I do know who skilled extraordinary medical fatphobia on a regular basis for the whole lot. A sprained ankle is as a result of they’re fats. A sinus an infection is as a result of they’re fats they usually go away with this prescription for a food regimen and a pamphlet for bariatric surgical procedure. It’s a quite common factor. And so I knew that with COVID-19, one of many type of causes or one of many excessive danger associations can be “obesity.” And certain sufficient, that was the case. And in order that simply fed into that fatphobia that we already all have internalized, and everybody was afraid of getting COVID, after which being fats was simply one other… Now your chance of getting COVID is even larger. And after all, they’ve since type of fortunately, plenty of analysis and information as we’ve it to date has type of debunked that, nevertheless it’s taken a bit of little bit of time. So that simply fed into the concern of COVID from the get-go.

And then like Stephanie was speaking about, we already had this fatphobia, and culturally, that individuals had been afraid of gaining weight. And instantly I began seeing jokes, like actually inside three weeks of the virus hitting the United States, jokes about gaining the “quarantine 15,” which is within the U.S. there’s this saying about women specifically going off to varsity and gaining the “freshman 15,” which is sort of a weight achieve that usually occurs most likely as a result of their our bodies are altering on the age of 18 or 19. But individuals wish to say it is as a result of they’re consuming poorly in school, out of their dad and mom’ houses, proper? So this can be a large joke is “freshmen 15” and “quarantine 15” was the tackle that. And/or this joke about memes had been going round about gaining the “COVID 19,” regarding the 19 kilos that you’d achieve. So that I observed immediately. And after all, like Stephanie talked about, that has continued and perpetuated and actually, some individuals have gained weight throughout the pandemic as a result of they’re locked down. They is perhaps consuming extra. It is perhaps a trauma response. It is perhaps various issues which might be taking place, however they’ve additionally doubtless misplaced weight, like Stephanie talked about as effectively, as a result of that is life and that is what our our bodies do.

LA: Our total existence have modified. To count on that our our bodies would not change with that’s extraordinary.

MC: So that is sort of looping in a bit of bit with what you guys talked to Megan about [in the advice column], however this summer season noticed plenty of us touring with pals, or with household for the primary time since early 2020, which is an expertise that may doubtlessly convey up plenty of insecurities about the best way we glance or really feel within the firm of others particularly. What is your recommendation for beginning open conversations with pals if we’re not feeling 100% our most assured selves? Like you had been saying, Stephanie, it being sort of like a daily factor, how do you speak to different individuals about that?

SY: I feel for me, I really feel fairly lucky with the truth that plenty of my pals are additionally fats, so that they get it, and those that are not are very… I do not need to use the phrase “woke.” I hate that time period, however they’re very clued up on current discourse surrounding self-love and physique picture. But there have been situations the place, and I all the time say that is, is that I feel it is so essential to position boundaries, and to type of instigate boundaries with your pals relating to something to do with weight. So, one factor that I hate individuals saying, and the factor is, plenty of the time pals will not even know that they are being fatphobic after they say sure issues. They would possibly assume that they’re being motivating or inspiring or they assume for probably the most half, it comes from “a good place,” however they will not understand how inherently fatphobic it’s till we inform them. So when individuals say issues after they have not seen you shortly, or you will have misplaced weight, you will have placed on weight, they usually say one thing like, “Oh, you look amazing. You’ve lost weight.” Something like that, it could sound innocent, however to sort of have that notion that someone appears higher as a result of they’ve misplaced weight shouldn’t be one of the best ways to sort of go about issues.

And simply usually, no one must be commenting on the our bodies of anyone. Whether you’ve got misplaced weight or placed on weight, no one must be commenting in any respect. And then simply typically it is even like within the little phrases or phrases that we use which will sound innocent at first, however typically it might have insidious roots, as effectively. So I do not know, even with issues like when you had been asking your good friend what they considered this bikini or one thing like that, like for me, I’m very a lot a fan of not making an attempt to go by costume dimension numbers or clothes dimension numbers. I simply put on one thing that I feel would match me, and if I do not, then I’ll dimension up. If it does not match, then I’ll dimension down. But I do not like to position a lot weight—no pun meant—on the quantity on the clothes merchandise, as a result of it does not matter on the finish of the day. I feel we’ve such a non secular bondage with clothes sizes and the way a lot they decide our price. It does not matter on the finish of the day. And so I feel with pals, it will be important simply to have these boundaries and simply to say in case you are feeling uncomfortable, to inform them that you’d slightly not them have these conversations round you. And in the event that they love you and look after you, and need to respect your needs, then they may try this no questions requested. But in the event that they sort of react in a little bit of a bitchy, bizarre approach, then it might say so much concerning the friendship, or it might say so much about how they view fats our bodies usually.

APB: Yeah. All of the whole lot Stephanie stated, I completely agree with. That is the least attention-grabbing factor about us, how a lot weight we have gained, or misplaced, or what our physique appears like. Hopefully, we have all come to appreciate that as we have been by means of one thing fairly traumatic, are at the moment going by means of one thing fairly traumatic. We are shedding lots of people, and lives, and livelihoods, and jobs, actually, to this lethal pandemic, proper? And you’d assume it might possibly extra nice tune what actually issues in our lives, which is spending time with individuals that you simply love, doing issues that we’re all fortunate to do day by day, going to a cabin, or swimming in a lake, or placing on a washing go well with and feeling the solar, or having espresso within the morning and dialog, that there are much more essential issues to speak about than, once more, like Stephanie stated, the variety of the tag of the showering go well with we’re sporting, proper? Or what our our bodies seem like. But turning the conversations to extra essential issues about what we really feel.

LA: Amy, one of many ways you recommended within the recommendation column was to observe girls of all sizes on social media and to fill your feed with every kind of our bodies. Who are the ladies you’ll each advocate all of us observe proper now?

APB: Oh gosh, there are so much together with the 2 of us right here speaking at the moment. Actually, there’s so many individuals now. That’s the best factor about social media. There weren’t that many to start with after I first discovered this motion, however now there are such a lot of you could actually tailor your feed to individuals who seem like you, proper? Have the identical physique dimension and form as you, the identical gender as you, have the identical pursuits as you, even, proper? Are the identical age as you.

And whereas that is tremendous essential as a result of illustration issues in such a giant approach, proper? It’s actually highly effective to see individuals who seem like you dwelling their greatest lives on display screen. I additionally warning in opposition to curating your feed an excessive amount of to be too such as you. It’s essential to me to have lots of people with totally different views than me that reside totally different lives as a result of I study so much from them, so much.

SY: I simply really feel like, like Amy stated, I really feel like there are such a lot of individuals who, relying on the way you establish, or your beliefs, or regardless of the case could also be, I really feel like there is sort of a individual for each single field, which is wonderful. So I suppose, for me, considered one of them is Gabi Gregg. She used to go by Gabi Fresh and he or she is on Instagram and he or she is, I suppose, I do not know if she’s the founder. Maybe, however she actually made in style the thought of the “fatkini.” So she creates these lovely swimsuits and fatkinis for plus dimension girls, and lingerie as effectively. She has this collaboration with a lingerie brand within the U.Okay. and he or she simply creates these lovely bits of lingerie that I’ve all the time thought can be inaccessible for bigger girls. So whether or not it is like peephole issues, or lace, or bralettes, and issues like that, so she has been instrumental in me studying the way to love myself loudly as a result of I really like shopping for lingerie now, and simply seeing how I look in it, and feeling assured. And I do know that plenty of different girls have been in a position to actually discover that confidence in with the ability to put on issues that everyone else is ready to put on.

Jessamyn Stanley as effectively is a big advocate of mine. She’s a yoga trainer and he or she is simply unbelievable with the whole lot she does. She sort of proves and tries to show individuals you could be wholesome at any dimension. Oh, she’s simply unbelievable, and simply so humorous, and powerful, and he or she’s simply nice at giving actually, actually good recommendation as effectively.

Who else? Jes Baker, as effectively, is a tremendous author and someone that I’ve been following within the area for a extremely, actually very long time. I feel even within the U.Okay., among the influencers that I type of knew rising up had been individuals like Callie Thorpe, Danielle Vanier, who’re extra on the style and life-style aspect of issues. Bethany Rutter, who’s an creator, and so she’s like a type of fats positivity, however then she does plenty of writing, and writes romance novels and issues like that. So there is a field for everyone, which I feel is wonderful. But yeah, I am unable to even like… Oh, Sonya Renee Taylor, as effectively, is wonderful. Yeah, there’s simply so many individuals. I am unable to even assume.

APB: And along with individuals, there’s a number of organizations, which might be basically teams of individuals, doing nice issues and doing nice work. I imply, with reference to body-positive parenting, which is one thing I discuss so much, and get plenty of requests for, pages, and organizations and web sites like Feeding Littles is one, Sex Positive Families is one, is one other one. So there are nice assets on the market too for all types of aspects of physique picture and physique positivity. Like you stated, when you’re into vogue, otherwise you’re an educational, or a author, or a guardian, no matter it’s, there are many nice assets now.

LA: Lots and many stuff to dive into.

MC: Yes, precisely. You will have the ability to discover hyperlinks to everybody and each group talked about within the present notes, so remember to test them out for your self. If individuals need to discover you, Amy, and also you, Stephanie, on the web, the place can they discover you?

SY: So for me, my web site is simply my full title, and my Twitter and Instagram can be @stephanieyeboah, however I’d most likely advise simply following my Instagram as a result of my Twitter, I largely spend my time on there arguing with fatphobic individuals, and racists, and all of that nice stuff. So the Instagram is extra aspirational and optimistic than the Twitter.

MC: And, Amy, how about you?

APB: I additionally love Instagram. The deal with is @idaho_amy, which a number of individuals name me, Idaho Amy. Otherwise, my web site can be my full title, Facebook, after all, I’ve used for a very long time. You can discover me there at Amy Pence-Brown, Writer, Artist, Body Image Activist, and in addition the Boise Rad Fat Collective is on there as effectively. It is open to individuals from all around the world, and all genders, and sizes, and it is at the moment full. I cap that group at 3,500 to maintain it secure, and intimate, and manageable, and there was a protracted wait checklist, however everyone seems to be welcome in the event that they’re open-minded, and may submit optimistic, and have a bit of little bit of radicalness in them, they’re welcome to hitch that. And I discussed Twitter, I’ve been there the longest. It’s additionally probably not for me, however I’m there. Occasionally I’ll submit.

MC: Well, remember to observe them and observe Women Who Travel on Instagram @WomenWhoTravel. If you are seeking to proceed the dialog concerning the intersection of journey and the physique positivity motion, I’d advocate going again and listening to an episode we recorded last January with Women Who Travel contributor Laura Delarato, and Annette Richmond, creator of the Fat Girls Traveling. It’ll be linked within the present notes as effectively. Be certain to additionally subscribe to our bi-weekly newsletter and I feel that’s all. Thank you each a lot for becoming a member of us and we’ll speak to everybody else subsequent week.

Originally Appeared on Condé Nast Traveler



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