Somebody Has to Tell You You’re Fat

I was in a coffee shop between meetings today and had the strangest conversation.   There are actually three voices involved in this conversation:

RS:  Random Stranger

IMH:  In My Head

MOL:  Me Out Loud

So here goes:

RS: Aren’t You DancesWithFat?

IMH:  Holy crap!  A random stranger recognized me! How freaking awesome! This never happens… Wait, stay calm, act cool, smile like this happens all the time, don’t be an idiot.

MOL:  (very calm) Yes, I am.

RS:  I saw your dance pictures, and someone has to tell you, you’re too fat to dance like that, it’s not good for you.

IMN:  Stay calm, say thank you. Wait…play that back…what did she say?!?!?!  Maybe I heard that wrong.

MOL:  (still very calm) Beg your pardon?

RS:  Your body is just too big to do that.  Dancers have to be skinny.

IMH:  Are you freaking kidding me right now?

MOL:  So you think I should lose weight?

RS:  Everyone knows you should lose weight.

IMH:  Deactivate your eye roll reflex!  I repeat, do NOT roll your eyes.

MOL:  But you don’t want me to exercise…

RS:  At your weight you need to be in the pool, your legs can’t take the weight of you.

IMH: Does she think I live in a pineapple under the sea?  How the hell does she think I get around?

MOL:  (ever optimistic, still going for the teachable moment) Well, I weigh 284 pounds.  When I do the leg press I warm-up at 360 and go up from there.  I work out a lot and do sport specific training so while it’s true that my body is larger than most dancers, I have the strength and flexibility to dance at my weight without having problems outside those that a normal dancer would have.

RS:  Well, I’m sorry if this is rude but somebody has to tell you that you’re just too fat.

IMH:  It’s rude, it’s presumptuous, and it’s paternalistic.  But mostly it’s ludicrous for you to think that in a culture that is this thin-centric, no one has yet told me that I’m too fat.

MOL:  It’s rude, it’s presumptuous, and it’s paternalistic.  But mostly it’s ludicrous for you to think that in a culture that is this thin-centric, no one has yet told me that I’m too fat.

RS:  Well then why aren’t you trying harder to lose weight? You’re clearly unhealthy and the dancing is making it worse!

IMH:  I’m not famous enough to be Punk’d, right?

MOL:  (losing steam on the whole teachable moment thing) Ok, I’m just going to take a wild guess at this:  If I asked for your qualifications as a healthcare specialist you wouldn’t have any, and if I ask you upon what research you are basing these conclusions, you wouldn’t be able to cite a single piece of research.  Is that correct?

RS:  You don’t have to know health care or research to look at you and know that you are unhealthy.

IMH:  Why, are you some kind of human MRI machine?

MOL:  See, that’s where you and I seem to have highly divergent opinions.  And since it’s my body we’re talking about, I think I’ll choose whose opinions I hear and at this point I’m done hearing yours.  Thank you for your time.

RS:  It’s your funeral.

MOL:  We’re done here.

I see and hear this idea a lot: “someone has to tell her that she’s fat”, “If we don’t shame them, they’ll never change their unhealthy ways”,  “I’m abusing him for his own good!  (Also known on this blog as Pulling a Jillian)”

Newsflash.  Nobody who is fat is unaware that there are people who think that our weight makes us unhealthy/unattractive/the cause of all the world’s problems.  We hear it 386,170 times a year.  We know.  More specifically I’ve heard it.  I know that despite the fact that I am fat and healthy, people will tell me that it is impossible to be fat and healthy.

I don’t believe them.  You see, I know that the majority of [doctors, scientists, people etc.]  have been known to get things wrong.  It turns out, for example, that the Earth is round and it revolves around the sun, thalidomide causes birth defects, Asbestos isn’t for breathing,  Heroin is not a “non-addictive morphine substitute”, Cocaine isn’t a helpful medicinal additive that goes great in Coca-Cola.  Name any scientific discovery and you’ll likely find that a majority of people disagreed with it at the time.

I choose to live my life believing that the best way to be healthy is to pursue health, not thinness.  I’m willing to accept the consequences if I’m wrong.  I didn’t make this decision lightly.  I looked at all of the research that I could find, I looked at my own personal history and I made a choice to opt out of the thin-obsessed diet culture and focus on my health and it’s working great for me.  I’m not telling other people how to live, just presenting an option.

If you have questions about my point of view and/or want to have a respectful discussion – I am all ears.  I understand that, at this moment, I hold the minority opinion and I’m happy explain where I’m coming from and hear other opinions and discuss them. I actually love when people open a dialog and ask me why I don’t buy into the popular ideas about weight, health and dieting.  I’m totally okay with people who disagree with me respectfully.


If you think you’re doing me a favor by stating your opinion as fact and telling me what you “know” about my person health,them I’m telling you right now that you are not doing me a favor,  I’m not interested, and I’m respectfully asking you to please keep it to yourself.

If you are fully aware that I’m not interested and find it disrespectful, but you are telling me what you “know” about my health because you want to be the “magic person” who gets through to me, then it sounds like this is a whole lot about you and not really about me or my health, and I’m still not interested, and I’m still respectfully asking you to please keep it to yourself.

I don’t think that obesity is a choice for me, I choose healthy habits and I let my body be at whatever size my body is.   I know that opting out of the diet culture was and is a choice for me.  It’s a choice I’m making consciously, it’s a choice I stick by and while you don’t have to agree with it, if you want the privilege of discussing my health with me then I require you to respect that choice. Simple as that.

David Duchovny: Fat Chick Dance?

Californication has just started its fourth season.  In the show David Duchovny plays Hank Moody, the lead character who is a classic womanizer.

What interests me happened In Season 1, Episode 8.   Hank’s father tells him “…life’s too short to dance with fat chicks”. While it’s certainly not an original phrase, it appears that moment of television has spawned a bit of a movement.

This would not have been on my radar at all except I saw it on Twitter last week. A quick Google search showed me that there are websites and blogs dedicated to this concept. I found places where I could buy t-shirts, I can even buy bumper stickers because apparently these people (the bloggers included men and women) are worried that some fat chicks who are driving around will be laboring under the misapprehension that we are somehow worthy of their time.

Now, please read the following carefully because someone will accuse me in the comments of doing everything I’m about to clearly explain that I’m not doing, and I want to feel fully justified when I mock them:

  • I’m aware that these are scripted characters in a show, not  real people and I fully accept that.
  • I’m aware that the opinions of the characters may or may not match the opinions of the actual actors and I fully accept that.
  • Clearly, since so many people are resonating with this phrase over three years later, the writers did a good job of reflecting our current culture, this show has a lot of dark themes and I’m not against that.
  • I am not, I. Am. Not,  I AM NOT angry at the show for using the line. I’m not, seriously.

I just think that since his character did nothing to refute the statement in the show, and especially now that it’s become so widespread, the real live David Duchovny might like the opportunity to speak out – with flair.  Because obviously this statement is just ridiculous and he might not want to be associated with a cultural meme that tells would-be dance partners that fat women are so sub-human that a dance with us is actually a waste of the limited time they have on Earth.

You see, that’s where it gets a little crazy for me.  Not everyone is attracted to fat women and I’m ok with that.  But the idea that if we are at a dance, people should skip the opportunity to dance with me because my size inherently makes me a waste of time is just crazy talk, and David Duchovny can prove it.

And what better way to do so than to dance with me… a real live fat chick who is also a professional dancer and a National Champion in partner dancing.  It’s going to be awesome! You’ll notice that I do not have a book for sale nor anything to promote – this isn’t a publicity stunt to make a buck.  This is an invitation to Mr. Duchovny to come dance with me, thereby speaking out against a cruel, demoralizing meme that he helped create.

But don’t take my word for it Mr. Duchovny, lest you doubt my fat chick dancing prowess I have references and videos (you can find them below).

So if you see him, please let Mr. Duchovny know that his fat chick  is waiting for her dance, and that it will be time very well spent.  While I’m at it, a friend suggested that the Ellen  show might be the perfect venue for our dance.  Well, if I’m going to swing, I might as well swing for the fences.  Ellen’s show is all about positivity with plenty of dancing sprinkled in and I think that it would be amazing to do this there (in no small part because it would give me a chance to meet one of my heroes!), so if you see Ellen feel free to pass the suggestion along.  But rest assured, whenever and wherever Mr. Duchovny is  ready to trip the light fantastic, I’ll be there.

So David (can I call you David?) here are my references and videos.  I’ll look forward to hearing from you! Remember it’s ragen at danceswithfat dot com…

I have danced with Ragen Chastain and I can truthfully say that she is an accomplished and talented dancer. She actually makes me look good. –Bobby Moorman

I highly recommend Ragen Chastain as an excellent follower. Ms. Chastain’s frame is impeccable and she is very light on her feet. She takes change in direction exceptionally well and doesn’t hesitate to add embellishments to enhance the dance experience. Oh, and one more thing…I enjoy dancing with Ragen because she makes me look soooo good. As an amateur dancer, I have much to learn in leading the dance, and it is my pleasure to stand with Ragen . Best regards, Alfredo Cervantes Jr.

After thinking about it for a while I have danced on and off with Ragen for at least a good 6 years. From those many years ago when I first watched her staring at our feet as we line danced and she jumped up and said “I can do this”, which she could, to her full on performing and competing.  When I think of when I get to dance with Ragen the first thing I think of as a lead is the word “light.” Let’s just say the girl can twirl! She has this innate sense of balance, knows her center of balance and how to use it as she executes her turns in any pattern I throw at her. I have always jokingly said “Ragen comes with power steering on the dance floor.” She isn’t one of those follows who anticipates what I plan to do. She holds her own and does her part. I get to lead and she most certainly follows. She is always up for a challenging new move and if she thinks she didn’t do it right she is quick to say, “wait, try that again!” I always hope that what I did was intentional and not something I accidentally made up and can’t replicate though!  Whether it is swing, two-step, waltz or nightclub, Ragen has always been one of my favorite partners to dance with as she is well versed in all the styles.   I love that even when I make a mistake, she makes me look good. She can make me look like a much better dancer than I actually am. I love coming off the floor with her and having someone comment to ME, “wow I didn’t know you were that good!” That statement always strikes me as funny because I make her do all the work.  All in all, you can not ask for a more graceful, gracious and talented dance partner.-Don Curran

I have been thrilled to coach and dance with Ragen Chastain for the past 6 years. As a dancer, Ragen, is determined, a great learner, and always has a positive outlook. She is great to coach and dance with, and has certainly dealt with some adversity due to her size and people are often surprised  that she can move with such ease and grace. She always takes on any challenge, and tries her best to make anything I throw at her work. Ragen gives me lots of credit for her dancing, but coaching her has also made me look at things from a different angle as well. And it makes me always see that just because a person is of size, they can do anything they are determined to do just as well as anyone else!! Rowdy Dufrene, Professional World Champion Dancer and Coach

Do you prefer a fast dance?

Or a slow dance?

The Gym – Not So Scary

A lot of people make a New Years Resolution to go to the gym more. To be brutally honest, you couldn’t pick a worse time. Right now the gym is packed to the gills with people who don’t know what they are doing (which isn’t their fault – they are just new).  It does die down however so hang in there.  By mid-February you won’t be waiting in lines for equipment, there won’t be a line at the front desk to check in, and you will be able to get a bike in spin class without showing up 2 hours early and bringing a sniper rifle.

For many people the gym is a big scary place.  I’m a gym rat from way back so for me it’s really more like home.  All the sights, sounds, yes even the smells of the gym make me feel comfortable.  It’s really sad to me that lots of people who would like to try the gym are scared to for various reasons.  I put together this post to hopefully make the gym less scary and more inviting:

Choosing a Gym

This is a matter of money, vibe and what you need in a gym. Typically more money means more amenities so decide what you want.  I once toured a gym that had a $10/month membership fee but didn’t have locker rooms.  Um, no.   There are gyms that are snotty, gyms that are laid back, gyms that are more based on group exercise and gyms that don’t even have a cardio room.  Some have a pool, some have a pilates center etc.   It’s worth it to take the time to check out the gyms in your area and see what’s available.  Some of them will have incredibly pushy salespeople who say that you can only get this special if you sign up Right.  This.  Second.  Ask to speak to a manager and ask what’s wrong with their gym that they don’t think it will stand up to a little comparison shopping.  Then ask for the deal in writing and two weeks to make a decision.  Be prepared to negotiate down to a week or so but this has always worked for me.

There is a gym called Planet Fitness that has declared itself a “No Judgment Zone”.  I’ve not been into one yet but I’ve had some friends signed up and I checked them out online and they look very cool at first blush. Their website doesn’t have a single reference to weight loss – only fitness.  What a concept!

Being a Newbie:

First, try to have some old timer empathy.  Imagine if you shopped at a store 5 times a week every week for 9 months.  Then all of a sudden the store was filled with new people who don’t know where anything is, start moving things around etc.  Suddenly your 30 minute shopping trip takes 2 hours and the things that you buy 5 times a week are all sold out.  Of course it’s nobody’s fault, but it is at least a little understandable.  I for one am glad that you’re here, as long as you follow some basic etiquette:

Take a deep breath, everyone around you was once a Newbie too – none of us was born knowing how to adjust machines that look complicated enough to require launch codes.  If your gym offers classes to help you learn to use the equipment take them.  If you aren’t sure how to adjust a machine,  Do ask a friendly looking person.  Do ask someone at the front desk for help.  Don’t ask a personal trainer who is in session – remember that someone is paying that person for their undivided attention.

Look around before you just start grabbing things and moving them around. Think of it as a new job, you learn the office etiquette before you start playing your radio, trying to make coffee, taking breaks etc. It’s the same at the gym–figure out what’s appropriate before you re-arrange furniture like it’s “Trading Spaces–the Weight Room Addition”.

When you go into a group class for the first time, it may behoove you to stand back around the edges for a little while to get the lay of the land, let the regulars get their spots etc.  (Some people get very possessive of their spots – trust me when I tell you, you don’t want any of that action).  Pay attention to things like how far apart people tend to stand – unless you want to tell your grandkids about that time you got kicked in the head in step class.

People might say stoopid things to you.  While it’s pretty rare that someone says or behaves in a way that is mean, plenty of people may behave in a way that is annoying.  Some people may congratulate you for starting an exercise program (even if you’ve had an exercise plan for the last 10 years)  or encourage you on your weight loss.  (This happens to me all the time)  While this is a very real concern, I personally think that if stay home because people might be idiots, I’m the one who loses out in the end.

Of course it’s your choice how you deal with this: thank them, use it as a teachable moment for Health at Every Size, put Bengay on their sweat towel (that was a joke, don’t go telling people I told you to do that).  I typically prefer teachable moments, but whatever you choose I would recommend deciding beforehand and practicing.  It’s harder than you might think to say what you intended to say when you are sweaty, exhausted, and surprised by a perfect stranger weighing in on your life choices.

Bring a water bottle and a towel to wipe your sweat off the machines.  If you’re going to forget something, forget the water.  The water is for you, the towel is for everyone who uses a machine after you.

Crap Old-Timers Try to Get Away With

Sometimes when old-timers can peg you for a newbie they will try to get away with the following behaviors.  Here’s what to do:

Time limit?  What time limit?

This one is usually accompanied by a look of wide-eyed innocence.  Especially during this time of year many gyms put time limits on their cardio machines.  People who’ve been around awhile tend to try to get around this by:  putting their towel over the clock, restarting the timer every 10 minutes, just ignoring it thinking nobody will say anything.

You can handle this directly with them (excuse me, but can I take a look at the timer on your machine to see what kind of wait I’m looking at?  I’m sorry, you may not have noticed but you’re over the time limit).  Or you can tell the good people at the front desk.*

Opposing Muscle Musical Chairs

A lot of resistance training is based around working opposing muscle groups.  Some people like to alternate between the two (one set of biceps/one set of triceps, lather rinse repeat) so they will work on one machine and leave their water bottle and towel on the other.  This is not cool.

You can deal with it directly (Normally I ask “may I set in” but if someone is pulling this I just say “I’m going to set in on this machine”) or passive agressively (don’t say anything, just move their stuff and start working out) or ask the nice people at the front desk to deal with it.*

Mine. Mine.  All Mine.  My Precious.

Some theories of  weight lifting (pyramid sets for example) require the person lifting to use a number of different weights.  While that’s fine, it is NOT FINE to get 12 sets of weights and put them under your bench at  peak times at the gym.

Again, I typically come by and ask “Mind if I use this” indicating the weights that I need.  You can also talk to the people at the front desk.*

*A note on talking to the front desk people about your issues.  I don’t particularly recommend it unless someone’s behavior is egregious or they don’t respond to polite inquiry.  Most people will start to act like they’ve had some home training if they are just confronted.

A last note:  I’ve noticed at my gym, it’s as if every year there’s a newbie class who meet each other and then wave and say hi at the gym forever.  It’s not that they all hang out or even chat very much, it’s just that in 2008 they all survived being gym newbies who work out around 6pm and now they are bonded.  It’s pretty cool.  I’m an early morning or late night worker outer.  We seem to have a camaraderie all our own.  We are hardcore and while we basically communicate only through grunting and pointing,  when you life weights with someone at 3 in the morning a few times a week for a while, you’ve bonded.

A last, last note about the gym and Health At Every Size.  The gym is NOT the only path to fitness.  So if you think it would be fun to take water aerobics or spin class, if you love the elliptical or  the idea of getting strong through weight lifting then I highly encourage you to try the gym.  If you want to move more but you’d rather have a root canal than come to the gym then  then please find a movement option that makes you happy!

Speaking of New Years Resolutions, if you haven’t checked out the New Year Revolution Resource Page then you are missing out!

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 obesity 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 suffering from anorexia.  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 obesity” because they aren’t opposites.  They aren’t even causally related.  Obesity is not a disease, it is a ratio of weight and height.  You can be healthy, you can be obese, you can be obese and healthy (like me! And I swear to God the first person to VFHT me today is getting a smack down), or you can be  “normal weight” and unhealthy.  No health issues are proven to be caused by obesity.  Some health issues are correlated with obesity but all that means is that they tend to happen at the same time. Scientifically speaking that means it’s just as likely the the health issues cause the obesity, 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 “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.
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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.