No Headless Fatty

Perhaps you’ve noticed the prevalence of the Headless Fatty a coin term by Dr. Charlotte Cooper.  The pictures that accompany almost every single article about health, the “obesity epidemic”, diets etc.  This phenomenon serves to make us seem all the same – just headless bodies that show how far we’ve all fallen into gluttony and fat and blah blah blah dee blah blah.

I think I told y’all a while back that I was doing a photo shoot of my dancing with Richard Sabel.  Well, I got the pictures today.  He did an amazing job and I love them and I decided to post them here.  Why?

If you answered that I’m an ego-maniac who wants everyone to look at me…Congratulations – you’re about 25% right.  But 75% of me is worried about seeing them with my head cut off beside a news story about how omigoddeathfatzarecomingforus, or juxtaposed against a fast food restaurant background, or having to read yet another random person with no health credentials telling me that I can’t possibly be healthy and I’m in denial.  In fact, right up until I composed this I didn’t realize how scared I was/am to post these.

Because right now I have a secret crush on them and when I hit “publish” I’ll go public with my crush and give people the opportunity to judge it, and them, and me. ( For example: I have no problem with people seeing my dance panties at a dance competition – that’s why we wear them – but people who I work with seeing them in a close-up still…a little more nerve wracking.)  So why post them?

I’m posting them as a show of rebellion against a culture that says my body can’t be beautiful.  I am in love with my body in these shots.

And I’m posting them to add to the precious few pictorial examples I see everyday of fatties with heads.

And I’m posting them because I’m an ego-maniac who wants everyone to look at me. (But I’m doing it on the weekend – I promise to return to more substantial blogs again on Monday!)

For the record I’m 5’4, 284 pounds  which makes me the fattest possible category on the BMI chart:  Type 3:  Super Obese.  I think they should give me a cape… just saying. At any rate, my body has not been altered in these photos, this is what I look like for real.  If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you may remember the  judge who said that she couldn’t stand to look at me because my dress showed my arms.  Well, this is that dress.  Enjoy:

Win Lap Band Surgery? Inconceivable!

I guess that word doesn’t mean with I think it means because this week from the What The F&$# File:

It turns out several people I know received an e-mail from Allergan in December (just in time for the holidays) inviting them to enter a contest to win a free lap-band surgery.  I know it may seem unbelievable, but you read that right.  You may remember Allergan as the company who funded that astonishingly bad study that claims that ob*sity costs the workplace $73 Billion a year, then used that study to attempt to convince health insurance companies to pay for lap band surgery.  I blogged about that one already.

So, who/what is Allergan?

According to their website they are a “a multi-specialty health care company focused on discovering, developing and commercializing innovative pharmaceuticals, biologics and medical devices that enable people to live life to its greatest potential — to see more clearly, move more freely, express themselves more fully.”

They make:

  • Botox (Paralyzing your facial muscles with a neurotoxin seems antithetical to “move more freely”  but that’s another blog ).
  • Juvederm (If it goes wrong you can get hard lumps in your face that last for a year.  I’ll bet then you’ll be “expressing yourself more fully”  in your doctor’s office, screaming and pointing to the big lumps in your face.  )
  • Latisse (your eyelashes will most likely get longer and hey, the skin discoloration is only probably permanent.)
  • And yes, the Lap Band.  A band inserted during what Allergan refers to as a “major surgery”, used to make the stomach tiny, thereby forcing the patient to eat amounts consistent with what we see in people dealing with eating disorders.  I understand that it has a long-term success rate of less than 20% and Allergan admits that side effects include possible death.

Let me be clear that I absolutely support anyone’s choice to get botox, a lapband, a boob job, whatever. It’s your body, do whatever you want with it.  If you want to apply Latisse creatively and grow eyelashes on your ass, I’m here to respect that choice.

My problem is with the company making the profit off of these items saying that they are a health care company and acting like the Home Shopping Network.  I understand that marketing is used to position products in their best possible light so as to sell them to as many people as possible.  If you’re selling Snuggies it’s fine if you tout all the benefits and don’t bother to tell people that they can just wear their robe backwards. If you’re selling major surgery I don’t think that the same marketing techniques are ethical.

So, even if they had made an attempt at making this contest classy I would have found it inappropriate.  But don’t worry, they didn’t even make an attempt:

I’ve copied the complete text of the e-mail at the bottom of this blog, but let me point out some of the more egregious things:

“The contest program is a part of Allergan’s public advocacy campaign, launched in May 2010, called C.H.O.I.C.E. (Choosing Health over Obesity Inspiring Change through Empowerment)” They urge readers to “Sign the online petition to tell Congress it’s time to recognize obesity as a disease, NOT a choice, and focus on prevention and treatment, and accept all treatments, including weight-loss surgery for those 100 pounds or more overweight.” and Join the Facebook Cause Page. Tools are available to help you spread the word about the campaign and encourage your friends to join our movement.

Oh, this is a movement. I thought it was a for-profit corporation.  Wait – it IS a for-profit corporation.  It’s a publicly traded for-profit corporation and therefore its fiduciary responsibility is to its shareholders and not its clients.  This means that people being adversely affected by their products (dying, for example) can be considered an “acceptable loss”  as long as they stay on the good side of regulatory bodies and keep making money.

But they told us – this is public advocacy.   Wow, they do all this public advocacy and all they get for their trouble is a lousy $240 Million in sales last year (as they projected after Q3).  Selfless, that’s what they are.  Truly selfless.

[I’ll pause here to give you time to bang your head against a solid object.  Don’t worry, if it causes your forehead to wrinkle you can just get some Botox.)

Ok, dude:  You can’t “choose health over ob*sity” because they aren’t opposites.  They aren’t even causally related.  Being ob*se is not a disease, it is a ratio of weight and height.  You can be healthy, you can be fat, you can be fat and healthy), or you can be  “normal weight” and unhealthy.  No health issues are proven to be caused by being fat.  Some health issues are correlated with fatness but all that means is that they tend to happen at the same time, and weight stigma, weight cycling, and healthcare inequalities are all well researched contenders for being the actual cause. Scientifically speaking that means it’s just as likely the the health issues cause the body size, or that a third factor causes both.  This is basic sixth grade health class.  Allergan has SCIENTISTS working for them.  I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that they are getting it wrong on purpose to make a profit.  Call my a cynic.

They are giving away the surgery and a year of follow up care.

Many people have side effects for far longer than a year after their surgery – including the need to completely re-operate due to band slippage or erosion over time and other side effects.  Their e-mail isn’t clear about what this surgery could cost the “winners” over time (or if their insurance is going to cover those issues).

You can enter yourself or “A family member or close friend may also enter the contest on a person’s behalf.”

Were this my friend or family member I’m afraid I’d find myself in front of a judge trying to use the “Your Honor, he needed a killing” as a defense.

Seriously,  if someone is going to undertake a major surgery that carries with it risks including reflux, obstruction of the stomach, dilation of the esophagus, infection,  nausea and vomiting and, oh yeah, DEATH, it seems that it should be after careful consideration, not under the auspices of “Johnny, tell him what he’s won!”

Here’ s the full text (absent the links, obviously).  Warning :  side effects may include feeling stabbity  and losing some of your faith in humanity:

Enter the The Live My Choice Contest Program

To raise awareness of the challenges those 100 pounds or more overweight face and to highlight the critical need to ensure access to treatment, Allergan, Inc. has launched the Live My C.H.O.I.C.E. Contest Program to prov ide three individuals with a LAP-BAND® Adjustable Gastric Banding System procedure, performed by a certified LAP-BAND® System surgeon of their choice, and one year of follow-up care, compliments of Allergan, Inc. The contest program is a part of Allergan’s public advocacy campaign, launched in May 2010, called C.H.O.I.C.E. (Choosing Health over Obesity Inspiring Change through Empowerment).

The contest ends December 14th. To qualify you must meet the clinical criteria for the LAP-BAND® System procedure: Body Mass Index (BMI) of at least 40; BMI of at least 35 with one or more serious comorbid conditions; or be at least 100 pounds over your ideal weight as determined by a physician. To enter the contest, submit a short essay or video at [no effing way will you get this link here] about how your weight has impacted your health and life, and why the LAP-BAND® System may be the tool to help you achieve your weight-loss goal. A family member or close friend may also enter the contest on a person’s behalf.

Individuals selected to receive a LAP-BAND® System procedure will publicly share their weight-loss journey in an effort to inspire others who are severely obese to reclaim their health and their lives. As part of this Contest Program, Allergan will provide all entrants the opportunity to receive free telephone consultations with a health educator who can provide one-on-one support, such as assistance in finding a local patient seminar, access to more information and resources regarding the LAP-BAND® System.

More information about the contest, including details on the rules and eligibility, can be accessed at [not a chance of getting that link here].

Additional Ways to Get Involved in C.H.O.I.C.E.Sign our Petition to Congress: Sign the online petition to tell Congress it’s time to recognize obesity as a disease,1 NOT a choice, and focus on prevention and treatment, and accept all treatments, including weight-loss surgery for those 100 pounds or more overweight.
Join the Facebook Cause Page and Follow us on Twitter: Join the campaign Cause page on Facebook and follow updates on the campaign on Twitter. Tools are available to help you spread the word about the campaign and encourage your friends to join our movement.


Indications: The LAP-BAND® System is indicated for use in weight reduction for severely obese patients with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of at least 40, or a BMI of at least 35 with one or more severe comorbid conditions, or those who are 100 lbs. or more over their estimated ideal weight.

Contraindications: The LAP-BAND® System is not recommended for non-adult patients, patients with conditions that may make them poor surgical candidates or increase the risk of poor results (e.g., inflammatory or cardiopulmonary diseases, GI conditions, symptoms or family history of autoimmune disease, cirrhosis) who are unwilling or unable to comply with the required dietary restrictions, who have alcohol or drug addictions or who currently are or may be pregnant.

Warnings: The LAP-BAND® System is a long-term implant. Explant and replacement surgery may be required. Patients who become pregnant or severely ill, or who require more extensive nutrition, may require deflation of their bands. Anti-inflammatory agents, such as aspirin, should be used with caution and may contribute to an increased risk of band erosion.

Adverse Events: Placement of the LAP-BAND® System is major surgery and, as with any surgery, death can occur. Possible complications include the risks associated with the medications and methods used during surgery, the risks associated with any surgical procedure and the patient’s ability to tolerate a foreign object implanted in the body.

Band slippage, erosion and deflation, reflux, obstruction of the stomach, dilation of the esophagus, infection or nausea and vomiting may occur. Reoperation may be required.

Rapid weight loss may result in complications that may require additional surgery. Deflation of the band may alleviate excessively rapid weight loss or esophageal dilation.

Important: For full safety information, please visit [no, no, no, no link], talk with your doctor or call Allergan Product Support at [a galaxy of no on the 1-800 number].

CAUTION: Rx only.

© 2010 Allergan, Inc. Irvine, CA 92612. ® marks owned by Allergan, Inc.

BMI and Health in Nature

I was thinking today about the BMI Scale.  About how, according to proponents of this scale (who currently include most doctors), all humans should fit into a very narrow ratio of weight and height in order to be considered normal (and, somewhat inexplicably considering the complete lack of causal proof, healthy)

And I thought, surely if this is the case it will be born out in the rest of nature.  So I started with animals, horses to be exact:

Pardon the pun but Whoa Nellie!  Those horses have drastically different sizes, and height/weight proportionality – yet they are all considered normal and healthy (indeed – these are the models of perfection) for the type of horse they are.  Or maybe it’s just that nobody really speaks “horse” and so we can’t tell the Shetland Pony and the Shire that they need to cut down on the hay and run a few more laps of the pasture until they look like the Arabian. I wonder if donkeys are sad that they get left out of this chart?

So then I looked at vegetation.  I thought that maybe with horses I’d looked at too broad a spectrum and that in this case I’d just look at broad leafed trees.

Oh my, the Walnut and the Beech clearly need to  do a little more waving in the wind. And that Palm tree – way too skinny.  Can you eat a sandwich through capillary action?

So then I looked at minerals.  Surely in the hard and fast (I’m on a roll with these puns – sorry) world of tourmaline we will find a model of the narrow scale of size to which we are holding humans.

You have got to be kidding me!  Look at all that size diversity.  This proof of BMI across nature thing isn’t working at all! (If rocks could talk do you think they’d be foolish enough to ask “does this moss make me  look fat?”).

So surely it must at least be consistent in humans.  Feet for instance, if human bodies are supposed to fit into a narrow range, then surely our feet will too.

Did you know that men’s shoe sizes go from size 3 to size 20 with widths from AAAA to EEEE?!  And don’t even get me started on various arches and toe lengths.  So you can be a 3 EEEE (short and wide) with your big toe as your longest toe, or a 20 AAAA (long and thin) with your second toe as your longest toe, and we think that’s just fine.  In fact, about sixty percent of people don’t even have two feet that match – one is bigger than the other.  But if your body is short and wide then clearly there is something wrong with you.

So once again I say that using BMI as a measurement that tells you anything other than the ratio of someone’s weight to their height is crap.  If you want to talk about health, then use some measures of actual health.  If you want me to believe that I can’t be healthy until I fit into a very narrow size range then take a hike (and look around at nature while you do it).

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Fatshion, Vogue, and Anna Wintour

I watched the documentary “The September Issue” today.  It is a profile of Anna Wintour (the Editor in Chief of Vogue Magazine) as she prepares for their biggest issue of the year.

The opening scene of the film is Wintour saying “I think what I often see is that..because fashion scares them or makes them feel insecure they put it down.  On the whole, people that say demeaning things about our world, I think that’s usually because they feel in some ways excluded or not part of the cool group so as a result they just mock it.”

Dear Anna,

Feeling excluded from the world of high fashion isn’t a state of mind.  For those who don’t have the body or the wealth, it’s reality. And I think you know that since you used the phrase “Our world”.

Nobody would call me a fatsionista but my aesthetic is my own and I’m happy with it.  Basically, I like to dress up when I feel like it, but I’m not willing to be pressured into it by a world that says I should “dress to impress” somebody else.  I also find it extremely annoying that it’s such an effort to have my own style in my size.  My thin friends can easily choose if they want to be preppy, high fashion, punk, etc.  They can go to a variety of stores and easily find pieces in plenty of different styles.  My fat friends and I are stuck with whatever is in fashion at the fat girl stores this season or getting pieces custom made or ordering off the internet (and dealing with the hassle of waiting for it and then having to send back everything that doesn’t fit).

Also, this:

is obviously not a world meant for everyone.  “in some ways excluded?”  Are you serious? Considering the photoshopping that goes into every single page, it seems that in the end everyone who looks like a real human is excluded.

Also Anna, not for nothing, but if people are making fun of high fashion, you might consider that it’s because high fashion can seem a little ridiculous:

I understand that many people consider high fashion to be more art than wearable clothing and if this is your thing that’s fine, but if you dress people like this and march them down a runway, I think it’s not such a stretch to think that people are mocking  it because they think it’s funny – not because they feel excluded because they can’t wear it.

I tend to think that people who treat fashion as Wintour does are trying to make it exclusive because they want to feel like part of the cool kids club.  If she didn’t, I’ll bet she wouldn’t have glossed over eating disorders like anorexia to focus on obesity saying things like “I’d just been on a trip to Minnesota, where I can only kindly describe most of the people I saw as little houses.”  Using her hands to show how big they were.  Her creative directors wouldn’t feel comfortable telling Oprah “Miss Anna don’t like fat people.”  This one isn’t Anna directly, but if the “most important woman in fashion” really wanted fashion to be accessible then perhaps the women on the Vogue Italia “Curvy”  homepage would actually be plus-sized (as in –  they could find clothes that fit them at Lane Bryant) and not laboring under a tired euphemism.

So we fatties probably have every right to be bitter that Anna Wintour is at the helm of fashion, creating a whole world that purposefully and systematically excludes us.  But we can’t walk around clothed in our bitterness so if we want a fatshion revolution we’ll have to figure it out.  Decide who we want to be and how we want to dress and then find a way to make it happen.

By the way, I seriously love comments, but any comment disparaging the thin models will be altered or deleted.  On this blog we respect bodies of all shapes and sizes and we never ever make assumptions about someone’s health, or eating and exercise habits.  For more on this, feel free to check out Things I’ve Heard About Thin Women.

Over-Committed Over-Achievers Unite!

I was reading an article about New Year’s Resolutions and I saw a comment that said that “all fat people are just lazy so instead of resolving to lose weight, they should resolve to just stop being so damn lazy”.  It made me laugh for a good long time and it started a whole thinking spiral about over-achieving and laziness.  Specifically, that as a fat hyper-achiever  (I reject the term over-achiever on the basis that it’s not actually possible to achieve too much) I can’t seem to win for losing on this one:

I told a couple who are good friends of mine about Fat Bottom Cabaret.  They exchanged a pointed glance. When I asked “What?” one of them said “Another thing to put on your plate. Shouldn’t you start taking things off?”

It’s not just these friends either, people all my life have told me that I try to do too much. I guess I just don’t spend enough time watching TV, or playing video games, or surfing the internet to suit their tastes.  I wonder if this happens to other people who like to pack their lives full?

Example:  In my last two years of high school I worked at three restaurants while playing in the band, singing in the choir, acting in the school play, playing volleyball, being a cheerleader, teaching elementary school music, taking 26 pieces on 4 instruments to state music competition, and graduating as my class valedictorian. (As many ways as I got screwed by going to crappy schools in tiny towns, the big benefit was that when your student body is less than 500, they pretty much let you do as many activities as you want.)   I’m not telling you this to brag and I’m not looking for a cookie or gold star.   I’m telling you this to point out the amazing number of experiences that I got to have in those two years.

Those aren’t experiences that will come around again – they were one-time opportunities and I took them all.  I’m pretty sure that I was tired a lot but I have no vivid memories of being tired.  I do remember like it was yesterday when I directed my kindergarten through 2nd graders putting on a concert for a gym full of people, I can still sing the school song, and I can still tell you the specific plays that some of volleyball scars came from.  I guess my point is that I’ve found that tired doesn’t last, but experiences do.

I’ve been this way since I was a little kid – never wanting to take naps because it was a waste of time, complaining that we didn’t learn enough in school. I’m not sure where it came from. Maybe it’s because I want to die knowing that I tried as many of the things that I wanted to do as possible, and that I lived every drop of my life.  I highly doubt that on my death bed I’ll wish I had played more Angry Birds or seen more episodes of Two and a Half Men, but if I miss the chance to write a book that helps people, win a world dance championship, travel to Philly to compete with my dance team, or be part of  something as awesome and inspiring as Fat Bottom Cabaret,  then I bet I’ll be kicking myself someday.

I get that my choices are not for everybody and that, as always, is completely cool.  I have friends who spend a ton of their time playing video games, or watching television, or doing nothing. I know lots of people who like to “unplug” for whole days or weekends at a time.  It’s not better or worse than what I choose, it’s just different.  I do find that the people who are the loudest critics of my choices tend to be people who have a lot of  leisure time built into their lives.   Dude, Slacker and Over-achiever are two classic archetypes and there’s plenty of grey area and hey, can’t we all just get along?  It’s not like our own choices are less valid because someone else chooses something different for themselves.

So slack ye slackers!  Spend the day in your underwear watching re-runs!  I fully support you, have an awesome time.

Hyper-committed hyper-achievers let’s unite and go do stuff!

If you’re looking for a New Year’s Revolution instead of another resolution, please allow me to recommend: