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RDN Interviews Rebel Love Dating Author Dr. Chris Donaghue

Dr. Chris Donaghue, PhD, is an international lecturer, therapist, educator, and host of the Amber Rose Show with Dr. Chris, the #1 podcast in the sex and dating category. Prior to this, Dr. Chris hosted Logo's Bad Sex and has appeared everywhere from the New York Times to Nightline, Vice, The Today Show, Newsweek, CNN, OWN, Refinery29, and Access Hollywood. He is also a frequent guest on The Doctors as well as high-profile podcasts like Sex with Emily, Guys We've Fucked, and Sex Nerd Sandra. Dr. Chris lives in LA.

How did the idea for the book come up?

My decades-long career as a sex therapist, TV and radio host, and podcaster, showed me that people are still struggling to find acceptance in their diverse and creative bodies and sexualities. Woman-identified people especially, are still shamed for sexual empowerment and expected to center their lives around looking attractive based on the male gaze (what is assumed men will find attractive). Most of the dating and self-help advice tells people to change who they are—lose weight, act like a “lady” and dress “respectable”—which really just instills insecurity and ignores actual compatibility and authenticity. My book challenges all this, and works to help people feel secure exactly as they are.

What do you want readers to know about the book?

Rebel Love will help you learn to love yourself exactly as you are now. It’s sex positive, body positive and rooted deeply in feminist values. It seeks to dismantle all the problematic dating and sex advice that keeps people feeling disempowered and relationally unhappy. Rebel Love will teach you to live authentically and acknowledges the diverse needs and impacts that race, body size, gender expression, ability and sexual orientation have upon ones sexual and relational life. ​

Tell us about yourself?

Growing up on what felt like the margins of the entire world, prepped me to find confidence in living differently. School allows for me to practice as a licensed therapist, but it is all of my life’s challenges, moments of opposition and defiance, and alternative experiences of education that have given me something meaningful to say. That’s how I got on TV. That’s why I got published. I never follow the rules, and I still don’t. Because the rules are built for conformity, and health always lives outside the lines. I use my power and privilege to make others feel OK just as they are. I use my authority to tell those that aren’t skinny or gym-bodied, that are not hetero or cis, that love kinky sex or are asexual, that they are healthy, lovable and have worth. Our culture isn’t one that affirms differences and creative ways of being, but instead prioritizes assimilation and conformity. Being a feminist taught me that to be a sex and relationship therapist meant being political, because everything is political, especially the mental health world. Being an intersectional queer theorist taught me that health lives on the margins, and that all minority identities matter and that privilege was to be used to lift others as I climb. I love my career, not only because of the perks, but also because I get to be part of changing the world. I know that I’m leaving the world a better place, for everyone, but especially for those disenfranchised. What are you working on next? Aside from my clinical practice in L.A. and my nightly radio show Loveline, I’m writing my next book about body positivity and psychology. It examines how gym and fitness culture have trained us to dislike our bodies, and to see our worth tied to how we look. We have forgotten that our body is a vehicle, and not an achievement. The oppressive ideologies of diet culture and body hatred are ubiquitous.

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