Our Big Fat Guts

I was picked up on a “fat hate’ board again and somebody said, for the millionth time, that Health at Every Size (r) is just “taking the easy way out…”  Dude, are you serious?

Does anybody remember the movie The Truman Show?  Where a guy finds out that his entire life has been a TV show and that everyone except him knew it? In the show he leads a fairly ordinary life but what if the script was different?  What if, from the time he was born, the world was set up to tell him that he was unhealthy and unattractive? What if his whole life people, magazines, television shows and commercials told him that he was unhealthy and ugly.  What if doctors ignored his actual issues and said that just by looking at him they knew that he was unhealthy? What if the media reported stories that everyone who looked like him was sick and ruining the world?  If he was conditioned like this from early childhood, what kind of man do you think he would grow up to be?

That’s the show of my life.  And sometimes is just sucks, sometimes I get tired of it.  I never try to tell anyone else how to live but I find that I am rarely extended the same courtesy.  I’m more than confident in my decision that my best (but certainly not guaranteed) chance for health is healthy behaviors and not a smaller body. I’m also prepared and comfortable with the consequences if I’m wrong.  But my very own Truman Show (sponsored by the weight loss industry as it turns out) is set up to tell me every day in every way that the only path to a happy, healthy life is to change the size and shape of my body, no matter how unhealthy I have to be to get it done.   And the diet industry has done a great job of making other people into little marketing machines – running around telling the fatties that they know what’s best for us.

It’s difficult to buck that mainstream.  It can be terrifying to be the person who points to the evidence and says “you can excommunicate me if you want but the Earth moves around the sun and that’s a fact”.  It’s not easy to wake up in your own version of the Truman show and tell everyone that they can do whatever they want but you’re going off script.

So today I just wanted to take a minute to celebrate those of us who choose a Health at Every Size (r) model in a thin=healthy world.  Of course it’s not the only valid choice and it’s not better or worse than anyone else’s choice.  But you can’t really deny that it requires some serious guts. And today as I reflect on my amazing friends on this blog and in the HAES community I just wanted to give a hip-hip-hooray-kick-ass-and-yay for standing up for our truth in the face of a bunch of people who can’t seem to stop reading to us from an old script.

25 thoughts on “Our Big Fat Guts

  1. I realized a while back that a lot of my favorite movies are ‘little guy against a big crappy system’ movies, and TTS is one of them. Apt comparison – thank you for this.

  2. Sometimes fighting Teh Stupid gets tiring and emotionally exhausting….and you have your down moments. That’s usually when someone picks up the slack, gives you an encouraging nudge, and gets you back on your feet. I’m willing to bet the guy who made that crack still lives in his parent’s basement and spends a lot of quality time by himself….


  3. The evidence against us is so…convincing. I started watching Killer at Large–a documentary about the obesity epidemic–for research purposes. But I had to turn it off because I was started to believe it. When you see the surgeon general of the US standing there telling reporters that the biggest threat against our country is fat people, it gets to you. I lasted ten minutes and had to turn it off.

    So I love coming here and reading other HAES blogs to get the real science. Thank you for that!

  4. The easy way out? Are you kidding me? It takes a lot of time and effort to eat well and exercise, both components of HAES. I struggle with the eating well thing because chicken nuggets and ice cream for dinner is a whole lot easier than making a balanced meal.

  5. “From the deepest desires often come the deadliest hate” Socrates
    You are living your lives and it drives the haters crazy because due to their insecurities they’re not.
    You’re all amazing and such wonderful role models.

    1. Very well said!! I can remember my mom telling me at a very young age that when most people lash out, it is because of their own insecurities and/or they are jealous of you for one reason or another. The smallest I have ever been in my adult life was a size 14…I could sometimes squeeze into a size 10/12 depending on how it was made. However, I about killed myself with the lifestyle I lived at that time – extreme physical activity and very little food. Ended up landing myself in the hospital because my kidneys nearly shut down on me due to the exertion. Never again. I don’t care that I’m a size 20-22. I love the skin I’m in and that’s all that matters!! 🙂

  6. This is SO relevant and helpful to me right now. I love Pinterest (which is like a We Heart It image cataloging widget and community), but the thinspo has been killing me. Tumblr is also a horrible thinspo black hole. But I have a board on Pinterest called Big Girls Don’t Cry (http://pinterest.com/sarapins/big-girls-don-t-cry/). Everytime I see a piece of thinspo, I “pin” a fat girl to my board. Yesterday, I was definitely feeling outnumbered and hopeless. One of my followers deleted her board (was called Curves Ahead, I think), kept the title, but replaced everything with thinspo. I know it’s just THE INTERNET OH.EM.GEE! But man… but then I got a message on Pinterest that said “Thanks for what your doing with your board.”… and this post now helps so much. Thanks Ragen!

  7. I’ve got a blog for health at all sizes. It’s in my head. I have the education, the experience, and scads of ideas just waiting to be posted: outlines; half-essays; good, well-reasoned opinions; workout tips for fat athletes… all bouncing around up in my noggin and in various text documents on my hard drive. However, I have a large obstacle to overcome before publishing, and that’s my reluctance to deal with all the haters. I don’t want to talk to them, try and reason with them, or even read enough of their comments to ban them. But your post is helping me get over it. Thanks.

    1. I stopped allowing comments on my blog because I couldn’t deal with the trolling. I was going to make the blog private but in the end opted not to because someone out there might get something out of it.

  8. And a big hurray for you, Ragen! Since meeting you at the ASDAH (http://www.sizediversityandhealth.org) convention a few weeks ago I have been reading your blogs daily, and you make me feel sane. You remind me that there are brilliant, thoughtful people like you out there continually reminding the emperor that he has no clothes! (I’m sure everyone knows the emperor story, but just in case they don’t, here’s a link to it in brief: http://www.answers.com/topic/the-emperor-s-new-clothes).

    By the way, my hair cutter offers up her old magazines to her clients, and I took one this month I hadn’t seen before, “All You,” and started reading a wonderful article called “I Learned to Love Myself Just as I Am.” One of the stories in the article was about a 40-year-old Korean woman who was adopted and grew up in an all-white American town and hated her looks but got into playing soccer as an adult, another was about a young woman who was had large breasts and always felt she got jobs because of it so started her own business. As I was reading it, I started thinking, “Wow, this is great, the author has gotten the body acceptance message, I wonder who else they’ll profile.” Then I turned the page and who should the next story be about, in living color, but Dances With Fat’s Ragen Chastain! I’m going to send All You a complimentary e-mail about the article at realitycheckers@allyou.com.

    1. Hi there!

      Thank you so much, I’m glad that you like the blog 🙂 I definitely like the Emperor metaphor – I use it sometimes in the context of the diet industry (tie: he Emperor has no weight loss…) That’s very cool about All You, thank you so much for the kind words and for the e-mail. Virginia at The Beauty Schooled Project was the author of that article and she did a beautiful job of standing up to the powers that be to write exactly the article we wanted to write.



  9. Ragen, you just keep rocking and spreading the love, and we thank you thank you thank you. Being real is easy when you are loved, but it does take guts when you are not – the love has to come from within, and from your tribe, and the people who recognize what you are doing who cheer you on in spite of the hate. I just hope each and every one of us trying to keep it real is feeling the love and pride of that effort.

  10. As part of my job, I help people quit smoking. I hate to admit how many times people have told me they are scared to quit smoking because they might gain wt-as though putting on weight is so much worse than dying of lung cancer! The first few times I heard this, I did the jaw drop thing, now I tell that they can be healthy no matter what their weight but no one is healthy breathing in 4000+ toxic chemicals on a daily basis. Being able to convincingly tell them that they can be health at any size is due to HAES and blogs like yours, so keep your chin up, we need this daily dose of sense.

  11. :*-) Tell it Ragen! Thank you!

    How can they not see how difficult it is??? How can they really think that our choice is the “easy” way? I have to say if it weren’t for you and other bloggers sharing their stories, I might not have the strength.

    I am so done though! So finished with allowing other people to make me feel like less because there is more of me.

    Thank you for inspiring me to love myself NO MATTER WHAT. Thank you for inspiring me to eat healthy and exercise because it is good for me and not quit just because it doesn’t change a number on my clothing’s tag or on a scale. Seriously, you are saving lives! Don’t ever forget that.

    1. Hi Mari,

      Thank you so much, this comment absolutely made my day. And I love “make me feel less because there is more of me”, that’s brilliantly said. Congratulations on finding a path to health that works for you and not bowing to the pressure from people who claim to be a better witness to your experience than you are.



  12. The problem is, you’re arguing about health with people who dont give two damns about health. People hate fat – not because it’s unhealthy, but because of how it looks and their prejudices. They only use the ‘poor health’ thing as an excuse for their hate – and sometimes they dont even try to use that, they just think shaming and hating fat people is fine anyway. If you really question them about it, and manage to get them to actually try to answer without resorting to just using isults against you, many of them can’t explain why it’s unhealthy, how you should lose weight, or why you should.

    I think I know which ‘fat hate’ board it was. I think I know because I’m a bigger person who uses that board often and your blog has been posted there in recent days. I use it for some of the information posted there which is very valuable for my hobbies and interests (shock horror, a bigger person who enjoys activity the same as they do!).. and, trust me, their hate has NOTHING to do with health. And spend a couple of days there, you’ll realise how far their hate extends. I wont go into detail as no one wants to hear that stuff on a HAES/acceptance blog, but trust me.. it’s very, very, very, very bad. You’re arguing with people who think we should be treated badly, and they wont be convinced otherwise. All the shit we go through in todays world? They think we should be treated worse. Lets just leave it at that.

    1. I don’t even know if it is always about looks. People who see fat as a personal failing can get peeved that HAES people who are bigger are “getting away” with not punishing themselves 24/7 like everyone else. I know a lot of self deprecating fat people who get fewer insults because they are trying so hard to lose weight.

      It would make a lot of people personally uncomfortable to really see that HAES is okay. There is a really ugly truth that ex-dieters like me have faced. You realize that you literally wasted years of your life on something totally worthless when you could have been doing something, anything more worthwhile than dieting. It takes up an immense amount of head space and personality to diet heavily. I missed out on damn near everything because of dieting. Not everyone is prepared to face their mistakes like that, it is really difficult and painful.

      I know this blog takes an equal-acceptance-of-different-choices stance, but this is my personal take on the matter. The weight loss choices out there disproportionately affect women, and affect women negatively, and I don’t think it is okay.

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