Rolls Not Trolls

Today in the US was Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  This is actually a kind of a big holiday for me because he is a hero of mine – Dr. King dreamed a dream and then worked tirelessly, eventually giving his life, to make it come true as part of a community that was ready for, and demanded, change.

Today I’m reflecting on how important the “community that was ready” part is.  There has never been a civil rights uprising by a group of people who thought that their poor treatment was their own fault, and that’s where a lot of fat people are right now.  They’ve bought into the idea that their bodies are proof that they are lazy or weak-willed or deserving of bullying, shame, stigma and poor treatment.  People are allowed to do that, I just want to make sure that they know it’s not the only option.

I think, based on where was are as a community, that it’s extremely important that fat people understand they can demand respect.  It’s very difficult to have a civil rights movement when the people involved aren’t sure that they deserve civil rights.

But I also see that there are some things shifting in the world. More and more information is coming out showing that bodies naturally come in a variety of sizes, and that weight loss is almost never successful. There’s so much more research that shows that healthy habits are the best choice for health. Fat people are starting to realize that they deserve respect for their bodies as they are.  A conversation around bullying has begun and there are people realizing that weight loss is not the cure for social stigma – ending social stigma is the cure for social stigma.

So I’m adding something to my activism. Something that I call “Ninja Commenting”. For a very long time I’ve avoided commenting on negative discussions about fat people on the internet because you just get shouted down by rabid internet trolls.  But then I got a few e-mails from readers who were self-described “lurkers”, they read the blog but never comment, and get a lot of benefit from it. It occurred to me that there may be people reading those fat hating comment threads desperate to hear a fat positive message.  So I decided to start trying “Ninja Commenting” – if I happen upon a fat hating thread I leave a comment.  I do NOT check the box to get e-mailed replies and I resist, with conviction, the temptation to go back and check on my comment.  I Ninja Comment and get out of there.  It allows me to add another perspective to the discussion without sacrificing all my Sanity Watchers points and my mental health.

I posted something about this on Facebook today and Erin accidentally typed “roll” instead of “trolls” and an idea was born.  Let’s be a gang of positive internet commenters.  We’ll call ourselves “Rolls not Trolls” and soon we’ll own the internet with our Ninja commenting style.

If that’s not your thing it’s totally cool, but let me encourage you to make 2012 the year of doing some fat activism.  We’re over 60% of the population – in the United States, fat people control the vote- so this system of oppression only works with our buy-in.  It doesn’t have to be a big major thing either – repost some HAES or Size Acceptance stuff on your Facebook or Twitter.  Go to the blog of someone  doing  fat  activism  and leave a supportive comment thanking them for their work.  E-mail someone you admire and tell them that you think they’re awesome.  Get involved in a cause (here’s something you can do right the hell now! )  You’re not obligated to do this and of course it’s totally cool if it’s not your thing, I’m just making suggestions here.

If you’re interested in doing Rolls not Trolls for real, I could start a Facebook group and we could share discussion links and get more than one person sharing the body love.  (To be clear, I’m not suggesting that we go to people’s personal weight loss sites and try to convince them to do something else.  I hate it when people do that to me and I try really hard not to be a massive hypocrite.)  I’m saying we add our voice, loudly, to discussions on the New York Times, WebMD, etc. If you’re interested let me know and I’ll get a Facebook page going.

Edit:  As of this morning (1/17) by request we started a Facebook group. Come join us at https://www.facebook.com/groups/165890630180774/

Whatever you do, remember that your Big Fat Dreams are NOT impossible,  every little bit helps, and we’re gonna win.

This blog is supported by its readers rather than corporate ads.  If you feel that you get value out of the blog, can afford it, and want to support my work and activism, please consider a paid subscription or a one-time contribution.  The regular e-mail subscription (available at the top right hand side of this page) is still completely free.   Thanks for reading! ~Ragen

33 thoughts on “Rolls Not Trolls

  1. Recently I’ve engaged in a few of these discussions and I’ve come away feeling a little bleah, But then the other day my daughter who has a few pimples said to me “mum no one will employ me when they can employ someone beautiful”. It made me really wake up to the fact that the idea that there is only one way to be beautiful is truly evil and must be denounced loudly wherever possible.

  2. TO. TAL. LY!!! And I’m in for the fb group, too.

    I’ve been dealing with a concern troll this last week – who is really a dear friend but has wildly overstepped her bounds. I need these positive messages as much as anyone else out there. 🙂

  3. I’m with you, and love the idea of a Fb group — I don’t have time (or sanity) to spare to go looking for opportunities, but I’ll happily click a link and be another fat-positive voice if you tell me where to go. The world can always use another voice of reason in a culture that rewards hate and hysteria. Plus, I love the idea of being a fat Ninja soaring through the thin air of Cyberspace. Will we leave our “mark” wherever we go (RNT) or strike anonymously?

  4. I’ve been a Ninja Commenter for a few months now – I like the name! I’ve been doing it wiith fat activism and health care [which are related a good portion of the time].

  5. Okay! I’m going to do more ninja commenting! I struggle with not going back but you’ve helped me see that it still makes a difference even if I don’t. Thank you 🙂

  6. Count me in! Ninja Commenters – let’s ROLL (not troll)! And I really really like the idea of a facebook group. Thanks, Ragen, for intitiating this!
    Now I’ve got this picture of a fat cartoon ninja in my head, sneaking through the interwebs and leaving comments here and there…

  7. I love the idea of Ninja Commenting and of a FB group to share links and suggestions! I don’t know if I’m disciplined enough to not go back, but I’m willing to give it a shot.

    I want to be more involved with FA, but some days it’s all I can do to remember that living my life without worrying about my weight is a valid choice. But, hey, on those days when I DON’T feel like I’ve been banging my head against brick walls, I’m down to help out.

    Speaking of, Ragen, thanks for all you do. Because seriously, you were my first FA blog that I found and that started it all for me. So….{{{{hugs}}}} and *high-five*.

  8. I love it. Count me in. Oh, and here’s my first one:
    You, and your blog, are awesome. I just discovered Dances With Fat about a month ago, and it’s already climbed to the top of my reader. Your insight and positivity are always welcome reads.
    I’m a recovered anorexic, but I credit FA and HAES with helping me avoid relapses these last couple of years. This is just one of the many, many ways that FA/HAES saves lives.

  9. I have written this in my Belly Dancer Professional Ethics Group Board page. So that all of the 640 members world wide and of varying levels of skill from famous, to professional to novice could see. Here is what I wrote as well as linking to your blog.

    “I saw this blog post today, and I really feel like this subject needs to be breached. This Blog is written by a Full Figured Dancer, she is a ballroom dancer, but a dancer none the less. I know a LOT of you well most belly dancers come in ALL shapes and sizes, and that most of us try and keep the community and open and happy place that accepts everyone. So in our studios and workshops, we do. As professionals when we introduce the General Public, things get a little lop sided. All of a sudden only a certain type of Dancer is chosen. Yes I Understand that it’s what people expect..but you know what..this is OUR community..we can control how people see it and us. We can decide to educate instead of just following along on the status quo. If more and more of us stopped taking no for an answer and educated the GP that if the dancer is well studied, and a legitimate professional, then she may come in all shapes and sizes as well as ages. We have done SO much already, getting belly dance as more and more of an accepted art form, I mean the BDSS are actually going to be on Ovation on Friday..that is a pretty big deal. So maybe we can all try JUST a little to change this as well. ”

    I also reposed to my own FB page, so if you want an advocate, I would be more then happy to jump aboard this particular bandwagon.

  10. What are good “safe” links we can include in our Ninja Commenting? I’d love to direct people to a fat-positive, HAES web link but would not want to thusly rain trolls down upon a hardworking positive blogger.

    1. One good one I can think of is Shapely Prose at http://kateharding.net. It’s centered around fat activism and HAES, and it’s also been officially closed since 2010 – I’m pretty sure that goes for the comments as well. There are archives all the way back to 2005.

      1. Of course – that’s perfect!

        Here’s one where I’m not sure of the best place to comment: NPR’s piece on sleep apnea yesterday morning.

        “Helen Darling is the president of the National Business Group on Health. She says doctors ought to focus on common-sense approaches to sleep apnea, like losing weight, before turning to expensive testing.”

        It’s linked to heart disease and other illnesses, and can often be remedied with a simple little breathing aid, but a more “common-sense” approach is weight loss?

        http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2012/01/16/145182935/the-sleep-apnea-business-is-booming-and-insurers-arent-happy

  11. yes to this! I was reading comments about Paula Deen today and it took all of my will power not to start agreeing with the people calling for weight loss and yada yada yada all things destructive. the misinformation was painful! I’m a doc who just this morning treated several patients with diabetes…. not once did I say “you can never have sugar again”. That’s dumb. I’m also a fat black belt who will be happily ninja commenting all around the internet (in between patients!) dropping happy truth ninja-stars as I go!

  12. This is great Ragen and very similar to what Linda Bacon tried to launch last year with her team HAES movement! Of course as a fearless roller u can count on me! Thank for everything u r doing!

    1. Thanks Dr. Deah. I had forgotten about it but now that you mentioned it I remember joining Team HAES but then I don’t think I ever saw more e-mails. If they are (or get) going, I’m sure that we can find awesome ways to work together!

      ~Ragen

  13. I just sent off a request to join the facebook page! I’ve been considering ninja comments for a while…about time to just go ahead and do them.

  14. I’d love to join in, my I’m not on FB because of their privacy violations. Any chance we could get a group going somewhere else, too? A Livejournal or Dreamwidth community or a message board someplace?

  15. just wanted to come out of lurk mode to say thank you for all that you do…I have been reading your blog regularly for the past few months after reading a blurb about HAES in a magazine, I can’t even begin to describe the difference it has made in my life. I look at myself and others in a different way and I have challenged people around me to do the same. I have a long way to go but thanks for helping to point me in the right direction.

  16. I’m a fat runner, and a frequent poster on a runner’s forum. Posting anything regarding FA there is incredibly hazardous to my mental health — I have seen more fat-bashing there than anywhere. What’s worst is that many of them started running to lose weight, and succeeded. They don’t realize they’re the exception, and that weight loss was just a side effect of their journey to health. I’ll try to keep from going to back to read responses to my comments, but I need more courage and a thicker skin!

  17. YAY! Ragen I love your posts and this idea about Ninja commenting is brilliant. I’ve requested an add to the Facebook group and look forward to seeing the awesome that we’re able to share there to spread into the world of negativity out there. Also? LOVE Ann’s “happy fat truth ninja stars” for the awesome imagery they conjure in my mind! This space is just such a wonderful breath of relief on the internet to me. Keep on rocking!!!

  18. I’m a ‘silent’ reader as such, love checking into your blog from time to time to get a bit of sanity. I’d be down with ninja commenting.

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