My Body and Your Perceptions

I was watching America’s Got Talent (yup, I totally watched it) and there was a very young girl who did Aerial Silk dancing.  She was incredible and had she been older everyone’s eyes would have been locked on her, but all the judges spent their time cringing and looking away – their perception being that as a little girl she was going to fall and get hurt.  They missed out on her talent because of their preconceptions.

This caught my attention because I had just been featured in a fat hate forum where they showed my dance videos, pilates videos and pictures. They took the heel pull picture that you see on the left and put it beside a thin person doing a similar move – they claimed that because we looked different mine was wrong.  They said that I lumbered and waddled and that I lacked grace, which is interesting because the most common compliment I receive is about how graceful I am.

I see this often when fat people post videos of ourselves being athletic.  Even in the face of actual evidence of fathleticism, people deny it’s existence.

In some cases these people are just jackasses who enjoy bashing fat people.  But for others I think that people are trained to see fat bodies as awkward, graceless, waddling etc.  This image is so constantly repeated that I think people aren’t aware that they are operating from stereotype, rather than what they are actually seeing.

It doesn’t help that almost every person we see represented in the media being athletic, dancing, really in any kind of positive light, is thin.  When we are spoon-fed a stereotype day after day it’s not surprising that it’s what we spit back up.

Fat people can be vulnerable to this mistake as well.  We almost never see a body like ours shown in a positive light, shown dancing or being athletic, and so when we see our fat body doing stuff, it looks “wrong”. It’s an insidious form of internalized oppression that becomes a cycle because anytime a fat person dares to succeed at something (other than weight loss) we get accused of “promoting obesity” and anyone who dares to show us succeeding is called “irresponsible.”

So if you are looking for a way to fight back in the war on obesity, one thing you can do is just live. Commit public displays of fatness, be yourself and do what you want in the body that you have now.  Refuse to apologize for your body’s size or shape – ever.  Live your life based on your talents, ignore other’s perceptions.  Be you, change the world.

Join the Club, Support My Work!

I do HAES and SA activism, speaking and writing full time, and I don’t believe in putting corporate ads on my blog and making my readers a commodity. So if you find value in my work, want to support it, and you can afford it, 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. If you’re curious about this policy, you might want to check out this post.  Thanks for reading! ~Ragen

 

They Want a War, Let’s Give Them One

Like it or not, fat people are at war.  I’m not hyperbolizing or dramatizing.  If you don’t believe me, Google “War on obesity”.  Tonight HBO premiered its new documentary series “The Weight of a Nation”.  On the premiere page it says “Obesity in America has reached a catastrophic level. Almost every aspect of our lives is threatened. The first step toward ending the damage is learning how to fight back.”

I spend a lot of my time politely asking people to please stop oppressing me.  I don’t apologize for that, nor do I begrudge it – it’s proven to be a very effective way to create change and I think that people deserve to be given the benefit of the doubt and the support they need to shift their thinking, and it’s a reasonably pleasant form of activism. I will continue to do it.

But I also have to acknowledge that there is a war being waged against me because of how I look, by people who have been given every opportunity to know better.  In concert with HBO’s documentary, I received a Tweet letting me know that Kaiser Permanente is launching the “most aggressive anti-obesity campaign in history.”

They know that there are healthy fat people and unhealthy thin people.  They know that not a shred of research shows that any method of weight loss works in the long term.  They know that research shows us that we could vastly increase health by providing access to healthy foods, safe movement options, and affordable/free evidence based health care.  Nobody is obligated to pursue health by any definition, however, we deserve to given true information – like the fact that 30 minutes of moderate movement 5 days a week often leads to major health benefits but almost never leads to weight loss?  Or that people who choose similar habits have very similar health outcomes regardless of weight.  What would people choose if they knew they could abandon the goal of weight loss completely and they could still pursue health.  America could be a successful role model for giving people access to health, but instead is  choosing to be a failed role model for thinness –  waging war on people based on their appearance for tremendous profit and actively blaming the casualties of the war for the war’s massive failures.

Let’s be clear –  they are pathologizing a body size. It doesn’t matter if they say that we need to seek solutions environmentally instead of at the individual level, or if they say that we should have “compassion” for fat people – they are still telling people that is is not ok to exist in fat bodies and that they should see fat bodies as a threat to America. There are tons of thin people who eat unhealthy foods and are sedentary (which is completely their right), but as far as the government is concerned, as long as you are thin you’re part of the “solution,” feel free to do whatever you want. They want people to look at me (and you, if you’re fat) and think “She is part of a catastrophe.  She is threatening almost every aspect of our lives. The first step toward ending the damage is eradicating her.”

I say that if they want a war, I will damn well give them one.

The government found a group of people identifiable by how we look, allowed those with a profit interest in anti-obesity to calculate our “cost” to society, decided that we should be eradicated to make things cheaper,  then brought together public and private interests and declared war on us.  That is terrifying.  And it’s happening.

It makes me think of an old-fashioned protest chant “When fat people are under attack, what do we do?  Stand up!  Fight Back!”   How do we do that?  Here’s what I plan to do:

It is no longer an acceptable excuse that those who are waging war against me have “good intentions.”  A war is a war and it has to stop, however well intentioned they may be.

When I see nasty comments, or hear anti-obesity rhetoric, I will not turn it back on myself, become sad, or question my right to exist in this body. I will place the anger where it belongs.   How dare these people think that my body is any of their business?  How dare they try to make me a casualty of an aesthetic war?

I will not cower behind the excuse that one person can’t make a difference.  One person is the only thing that can make a difference.  A protest of a million people is made up of a million individuals who woke up, got dressed, and got themselves to a protest. A boycott that cripples a company was successful because of each individual who chose not to buy from that company. Group success is always and only the result of individual action.

I will not wait for the majority of people to get it.  I don’t care if people think I’m weird, or stupid, or deranged.  The majority gets it because of the minority who lead the way.

I will follow the evidence and not the “everybody knows.”  My inspiration will be Galileo, not those who forced him to recant and put him under house arrest.

They cannot have my money to fund their war.  I will not participate in the anti-obesity diet culture. I will not buy ANY product that touts weight loss in its advertising.  Maybe they will make 60 Billion dollars again this year, but none of it will be mine.  I will take my money out of their wallets and stop funding the war against me.

I will wield my beautiful fat body like a weapon.  I will love it, I will care for it, I will move it, I will show it in public, I will viciously defend my body against anyone who seeks to classify it as anything but amazing. I’m warning everyone right now – back the fuck off.

I will speak up and speak out against anti-obesity rhetoric whenever I see it.  (If you want support doing this you can join the Rolls Not Trolls group on Facebook.)

If this war prevents fat people from getting access to the things we need and want, whether it’s healthcare or fashion, I will do everything in my power to create alternative solutions while fighting for our access to mainstream solutions.

Nobody is obligated to be an activist, but if you are fat, I urge you to consider a strategy to stand up and fight back in a way that works for you.

If you are not fat, I urge you to join in the fight for fat peoples’ right to exist without having a war waged against us. If not because it’s the right thing to do, then because once they are done with us you may be next.  Maybe they’ll say tall people cost too much because they buy bigger cars and bigger houses.  Maybe they’ll say big families cost too much because they drive their SUVs around to all of their children’s activities.  Who knows who will be next, but ask yourself if you want to live in a society where the government wages war on people because of how they look, and do nothing to stop it.

I am not afraid.  I am not ashamed.  I am at war.

Like the blog?  Here’s more of my stuff!

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Yes, It’s Okay To Be Fat

One of my blog fans wrote a post trying to work out some things that came up for her when reading my blog.  I thought that she asked good questions so I decided to answer it here.

Her blog said:

Now, here’s my beef, if you even want to call it that.  I still can’t decide if I think Ragen is encouraging people to stay overweight.  Okay, not encouraging but maybe giving people a reason to say, “hey, it’s okay that I am fat” (mostly, because I catch myself doing that).  I’m not even saying it’s not okay to be fat (I’m fat!).  I just know that there are so many health problems related to obesity.

First of all, I want to be very clear in this blog that it is my goal to give people information and options, and that I’m not interested in telling other people how to live. I’ve already covered the myth of promoting obesity.

Today I want to talk about the idea that it’s not ok to be fat, whether it’s because of “health reasons”, or aesthetic reasons, or the costs of being fat or whatever other reasons people come up with.

Let’s begin with the bottom line:  It doesn’t matter how fat someone is, or why they are that fat, or what the outcomes of being that fat may or may not be.  They deserve to be treated with respect and it is completely ok for them to be that size. Yes, even if they weigh 2000 pounds. Yes even if you think their weight is “their fault.” Yes, even if you would never ever want to be that fat.  Yes, even if you can’t understand how they live. Yes, even if they have problems that can be correlated with being fat.  Yes, even if they have problems that can be causally related to being fat.  Yes, even if studies show that they cost society more.  Yes, even if they actually cost society more.  It is totally, completely 100% ok for someone to be fat.  Nobody needs anyone’s encouragement, justification or permission to live in their body.  Period. This is true whether or not people are able to achieve permanent weight loss – it is a matter of civil rights.

It is wrong to find a group of people who are identifiable based on how they look, calculate their supposed cost on society, suggest that it’s not okay for them to exist, and then declare war and attempt to rid the world of them.

We have got to get this together as a community because there is a war actively being waged against fat people and every time we say “I’m not sure if it’s ok to be fat” regardless of our reasons or intentions, we are fighting on the wrong side and we are making more fat people into casualties. It does not matter if you are fat or thin, if you’re happy with your weight or if you are trying to change it – we have to stop asking whether or not fat people have the right to exist, and start demanding the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for people of every size – which for me includes the right to live my life, in my body, without having the government and private interests waging a war against me because of how I look.

Let’s talk about health a bit:

We must stop conflating weight and health right now, and we must stop regurgitating the phrase “there are so many health problems related to obesity.”  It only serves to discourage fat people who are told the lie that if their healthy habits don’t make them thin then they aren’t making them healthier, and it misinforms thin people that they are healthy by virtue of their weight regardless of their habits.

Other people’s body size is not anybody else’s business.  If we are interested in the health of other people then I think that the only appropriate thing to do is to work for access – ensuring that people have access to the foods that they would choose to eat, safe movement options that they would choose (which means both physically safe and mentally safe – so someone can walk around their gym in a bathing suit with no fear of negative comments etc.), affordable (or free) evidence-based health care, and true information. Then we let people make their own decisions regardless of their size.

Each person is allowed to choose to attempt weight loss, that is their decision. Each person is also allowed to choose NOT to attempt weight loss.   One person’s decision to attempt weight loss does not invalidate another person’s decision to live in a fat body.

And people get to prioritize their own health. That means that they are allowed to drink like fish, jump out of helicopters wearing skis, be on the show Jackass, take stressful jobs, not get enough sleep, eat what they choose, be sedentary, etc. at whatever weight they happen to be.  Let’s not forget that there are people of various weights who have the same diet and exercise routine, and people of the same weight who have very different diet and exercise routines. Acting as if all fat people engage in unhealthy behaviors and are unhealthy, and that all thin people engage in healthy habits and are healthy is not supported by the evidence. It is stereotyping and bigotry, pure and simple.

Understanding that health is not an obligation, barometer of worthiness, or entirely within our control, Studies show that fat people who participate in healthy habits have far better outcomes than thin people who do not participate in healthy habits, yet we continue to be sold the lie that weight loss is the only path to health.  There are healthy and unhealthy people of all sizes, people of all sizes and health statuses should be treated with respect, and you cannot look at someone and know anything except what size they are, and what your own prejudices about people that size are.

Health and weight are two separate things.  We are not obligated to pursue health, and we are not obligated to pursue thinness.

We have every right to exist in the body we have now. Just so there is no confusion, I am saying that it is totally, entirely, completely ok to be fat.

Join the Club, Support My Work!

I do HAES and SA activism, speaking and writing full time, and I don’t believe in putting corporate ads on my blog and making my readers a commodity. So if you find value in my work, want to support it, and you can afford it, 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. If you’re curious about this, you might want to check out this post.  Thanks for reading! ~Ragen

What if You Did It Now?

I wasted years of my life with one simple thought:

“I need to concentrate on losing weight right now.  I’ll [do things I want to do] when I reach my goal weight.”

Days, weeks, and months and years that I will never get back tracking every bit of food, calculating points, eating gross pre-packaged food, giving up sugar, wheat, dairy, meat, drinking weight loss shakes, no popcorn at the movies, no cake on my birthday, punishing my body at the gym. Believing that everyone who tries hard enough becomes thin.

One day a friend invited me to a dance class and my first question was “but how good of a cardio workout is it really – how many calories do you think you burn?”.  My friend looked at me like I had three heads and asked “What the hell kind of question is that – do you want to dance or not?”  It hit me – I did want to dance.  I love to dance.  How had this many years gone by without dancing?

I had spent years only moving my body with the goal of changing the size or shape of it – only choosing the things that burned the most calories even if I hated doing them.  I snapped, I had had enough.  I went to dance class.  I didn’t try to estimate the calories that I was burning, I moved because I love to move.  I danced because I love to dance.

At that point I didn’t know what I know now – that weight loss hardly ever works and that my experience was the same as almost everyone who tries to lose weight.  But sill, I decided to try some of the other things that I had been putting off until I reached my ever elusive goal weight, maybe I could do them fat.

It’s really scary to think of the life I would have had if I hadn’t made that decision.  My body and I have had some crazy awesome adventures.  I haven’t succeeded at everything I’ve tried (I once had my money returned by a hip hop instructor who said “You’re obviously a very talented dancer but baby, this isn’t for you.”) but at least I tried instead restricting 3500 calories a week and dripping sweat all over an elliptical machine for 3500 calories a week and not losing the 2 pounds I was promised and feeling like a failure without even trying to hip hop.

Whatever you’re dreaming of, what if you did it now with the body you have now.  What if you tried it, raised your physical voice, moved your body for the sheer joy of movement, right now.  What if?

Want some support?  Check out the Fit Fatties Forum, a place for people of all sizes to talk about fitness from a Health at Every Size Perspective. We have groups for newbies, oldbies, runner, and more

I’m a big fan of putting pictures of active fatties out in the world.  I’ll show you mine, you can show me yours (which is to say you can put awesome pictures and videos of you in the comments to encourage others…)

Things my big gigantic 5’4, 284 pound, Class 3 Super Obese, top of the BMI chart body can do:

Short Spine. It kind of feels like magic when it goes well.

es:

Back bend on Reformer. It only seems death-defying until your hands hit the bar.
Splits on Wallstreet. Hell Yeah I’m that fatty!
Photo by Substantia Jones.
My nickname at my favorite gay country western bar is spin bitch.
It took me a year to get this move, it’s even harder in releve!  Photo by Richard Sabel
Leaping on concrete – super fun! Photo by Richard Sabel
Yay Kicking! This is the dress that Cindy the judge said she couldn’t stand to look at me in. Look away, Cindy, look away. Photo by Richard Sabel!
Pilates move called “Teaser” Thanks to Kate Wodash at the Mindful Body Center in Austin.  Photo by Richard Sabel

The True Cost of Fatties

There’s a lot of talk right now about how much fat people cost – specifically when it comes to gas prices and healthcare.  Are those costs calculations completely bullshit?  Yes.  Am I going to break down why?  Of course.  But before I do let me suggest this:

Anytime we choose a group of people we can identify by sight, calculate their “cost”, and then create a National program to eradicate them, we are making a grave error.

Now let’s look at some egregious misuses of math:

Someone drudged up a 2006 study that Americans use a billion more gallons of gas per year than we would use if we weighed the same as in 1960.

First, calling this a study is generous.

The authors are:

Sheldon H. Jacobson Department of Computer Science, Simulation and Optimization Laboratory,
University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois, USA

Laura A. McLay, Department of Statistical Sciences and Operations Research, Virginia
Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia, USA

Neither author has any other study that has anything to do with obesity (or fuel costs) which may be why they start with a discussion about obesity and health but offer absolutely no research to support that.

Let’s look at what the researchers didn’t know when they calculated how much gas we use:

  • How many fat people have drivers licenses
  • How many fat people have cars
  • What kind of cars fat people drive
  • How many miles fat people drive
  • If fat people are driving with passengers and what the passengers weigh

In fact, the authors admit that their analysis doesn’t even try to adjust for changes in driving habits or differences in socioeconomic status since 1960 – in fact they made the assumption that there have been no changes in driving habits since 1960.

Really, these are the statistical equivalent of  “back of the envelope” numbers. But the kicker is that even if their numbers are correct, a billion gallons (which is rounding up from their actual findings of 938 million gallons) might seem like a lot until you find out that it’s only .7% of gas usage.  Less than 1 percent.

What do the authors admit has at least 3 times the impact?  Fuel economy can be improved

  • 3% by practicing better tire inflation
  • 4% by keeping the engine properly tuned
  • 10% by changing clogged air filters more often

Trying to make fat people thinner works less than 5% of the time.  Tire inflation, engine tune ups and changing air filters have a much higher rate of success, how about focusing on things that are possible and would have an impact of 17% instead of just 0.7%?

Finally I have to wonder, what’s the point of asking this question? Why would two statisticians who seem to have no experience or any other work published having anything to do with fuel use or people of size decide to do this study? There is no real reason to calculate this other than shaming fat people for being expensive.  Knowing that there is almost no chance of me becoming thinner what do they want me to do – weep and run gravel through my hair?  When, miraculously, we are done scapegoating fat people,  who is next?  Should we start calculating the cost of gas for parents who own SUVs and take their kids to multiple activities and then shame those parents?  We’re also taller than we’ve ever been – how much gas is spent because tall people choose bigger cars to fit their long legs?  Should we calculate the cost of people who own full size quad cab duallys that haul nothing more than their owners and then shame them? It seems to me that focusing on blaming individuals means that the focus is off companies that make tremendous profits from selling us gas, and the government that they heavily lobby to get favorable laws and tax code.  It strikes me that this is probably really working out for them, but not for the general public. Is this really just a giant game of “hey, look over there!?”

Speaking of shifting attention from massive public issues and onto blaming fat people, let’s talk about calculating fat people’s impact on the Healthcare system.  I blogged about this in depth here, but for a little preview, this graph represents the healthcare costs that can be attributed to disease prevalence (that’s the blue portion and the purported costs of obesity are included) and healthcare spending that can’t be attributed to disease prevalence (that has nothing to do with obesity and it is the green area)

It’s time to stop scapegoating fat people as a way to distract the public from massive issues of access to foods, safe movement options, and affordable (or free) evidence based healthcare.  It’s dangerous, irresponsible and cowardly.

Huge thanks (in no particular order) to Jon Robison,  Virginia Wood, Fall Ferguson, Linda Bacon, Deb Burgard,  Deah Schwartz,  Jeanette DePatie, Bill Fabrey, Abigail Saguy,  Lydia Jade Turner and Lisa for their help and support in researching for this particular blog.  The credit is theirs, any mistakes are all mine.

Edit:  Big Liberty has done an incredible post expounding on this post.  You can check it out here!

Join the Club…Support the work!

I do HAES and SA activism, speaking and writing full time, and I don’t believe in putting corporate ads on my blog and making my readers a commodity. So if you find value in my work, want to support it, and you can afford it, please consider a paid subscription (it’s like a fan club, you get bonus stuff, discounts, and you’re always the first to know about projects) or a one-time contribution.  The regular e-mail subscription (available at the top right hand side of this page) is still completely free. If you’re curious about this, you might want to check out this post.  Thanks for reading! ~Ragen

Punishing Employees for Their Size: Bad Idea

Greetings from Hanover, NH.  I’m preparing for my talks at Dartmouth tomorrow and Thursday, in the meantime the always brilliant Dr. Deah sent me this interesting and problematic article [Trigger warning – headless fatty picture, obesity epi-panic talk, comments are as expected].  On the plus side it recommends an end to blaming and shaming fat people for our body size and points out that the government may be happy to blame us because then they can avoid facing controversial issues, some of which they caused, that affect all of our health.  On the negative side they are still pathologizing body sizes rather than acknowledging that health and bodies come in many sizes, and the final paragraph is the most problematic to me:

The IOM report urges employers and insurers to do more to combat obesity. UnitedHealth Group offers a health insurance plan in which a $5,000 yearly deductible can be reduced to $1,000 if a person is not obese and does not smoke. Some employers provide discounts on premiums for completing weight-loss programs.

This is an issue that is really important to me.  I already did a case-specific piece about Whole Foods fat punishment program, I am working with my publicist to do more corporate talks about this, and  today I want to talk about it from a more global perspective.

Let me say this upfront:  I think it’s great if employers want to support their employees’ access to varied food choices, safe movement options that they enjoy etc.  I do not think it’s ok for an employer to force their idea of health or healthy habits onto employees.

It has become increasingly popular to use a “carrot and a stick approach” for, in theory, benefits cost savings. The supposed goal is encouraging employees to become healthier by making benefits more expensive for those who are perceived as unhealthy, using measurements like Body Mass Index, cholesterol, and blood pressure. These programs charge more to people who don’t measure up, either by giving “discounts” to employees who are perceived as healthy (carrot), or penalizing those perceived as less healthy (stick).

I’m going to give employers the benefit of the doubt and assume that they are just misinformed, though of course there is a possibility that since the majority of people in the United States are classified (in a very problematic way) as overweight or obese, employers are just using this as an excuse to save money by making their fat employees pay up. But, giving them the benefit of the doubt:

As a former CEO and Operations Consultant, I get that this could look attractive from a cost savings perspective, and altruistic if one believes that encouraging employee thinness is the same as supporting employee’s individual health goals. But I also know better than to buy into the latest thing without doing my research. It turns out, in the long term, these programs are most likely to leave employees less healthy, less productive and cost more.

Full disclosure – were I employed by a company using this approach I would be paying higher premiums.  Not because I’m not healthy – all of my metabolic health markers are in the exceptional range. And not because I’m not active – I’m a three time National Champion Dancer who can do the splits and leg press almost four times my body weight. But my BMI puts me in the obese category. The problem is that BMI was created to compare relative body size among large populations and we incorrectly use it as measure of individual health. I’m not the only healthy person who would be caught by the use of this poor measuring tool – Arnold Schwarzenneger, Matt LeBlanc and many professional athletes would be paying up with me.  So would anyone who is very tall or very muscular since BMI does not take body composition into account.  Beyond which I think it’s inappropriate and a slippery slope to charge me more even if I was unhealthy and inactive but we’ll get to that in a minute.

Consider the fact that the employers have no proof that what they are requiring is even possible.  Studies since 1959 have all shown that intentional weight loss, whether it’s called a diet, eating plan, lifestyle change, or something else, fails 95 percent of the time in the long term. So if employees are encouraged to lose weight, 95 percent of those who try will be as heavy or heavier with worse metabolic health than they started within a couple of years. Plus, it encourages employees to participate in unhealthy behaviors to “make weight” for the annual evaluation which can lead to health dangers including weight cycling (yo-yo dieting) and even eating disorders. In what other area of business would we look at these numbers and decide to move forward?

Organizations including the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, Obesity Action Coalition and National Women’s Law Association have come out against these programs because of legal issues. Employees are starting to challenge these programs using the Americans with Disabilities Act because blood pressure, cholesterol and body size can be caused by genetics and/or health issues over which employees have no control, and they are being punished for something that there is no proof that they caused or that they can change.  Employees are also suing employers who partner with programs like Weight Watchers and force employees to go or pay up since Weight Watchers and similar programs  have been successfully sued by the Federal Trade Commission for deceptive trade practices and have no proof of long-term efficacy.

It’s going to get messy and expensive and I would think that nobody wants a piece of that action.  In case you’re not already convinced, studies show that these kinds of incentives may work short term but can the opposite effect in the long term – “crowding out” intrinsic motivations that actually do work to motivate long term changes in healthy behaviors.

Let’s Review:  Carrot and stick programs don’t lead to healthier employees, don’t save companies any money, and do create completely unnecessary exposure to legal action.  Luckily, there are much better, more cost effective ways to give support employees who are interested in pursuing health.

Evidence strongly suggests that focusing on fitness rather than weight is the best chance for long-term health. Researchers have found that fitness trumps fatness and that simple healthy habits (like eating 5 servings of fruits and veg, walking 30 minutes a day, drinking moderately, and not smoking) even the playing field among people of all sizes. Thus giving options to support employee’s personal goals and choices without focusing on employee weight is the best choice.  There’s a great case study of a Health at Every Size workplace health program in action on page 42 of this zine.

Punishing employees for perceived health risk is a very slippery slope.  What is next?  Surcharges for employees who mountain climb, ride motorcycles, have the breast cancer gene, have a family history of heart disease, don’t sleep the recommended amount?  Can vegan employers charge non-vegan employees extra?   I don’t personally think that employers should be in the business of policing employee health or providing health insurance – I think employers should be focusing on hiring the best person for the job, not trying to guess which employee is going to cost the most for their healthcare plan or trying to tell employees how to prioritize their health and how to get there.  Given the current system, a Health at Every Size Approach is the only approach to supporting employee’s personal health goals that has an evidence basis. Some suggestions to support employees:

  • Allow 30 minutes of break time during the day for employee walks
  • Classes in the conference room – yoga, Zumba, Tai Chi, before work, at lunch, and after work
  • Work with local gyms, dance studios, martial arts centers etc. to get employee discounts
  • Consider subsidizing fitness classes as an employee benefit
  • Have good filtered water at the office
  • Bring in speakers to talk about Health at Every Size

Whatever you do, the research clearly shows  that punishing employees for their size does not increase health or a company’s bottom line.

Join the Club…Support the work!

I do HAES and SA activism, speaking and writing full time, and I don’t believe in putting corporate ads on my blog and making my readers a commodity. So if you find value in my work, want to support it, and you can afford it, please consider a paid membership (it’s like a fan club, you get bonus stuff, discounts, and you’re always the first to know about projects) or a one-time contribution.  The regular e-mail subscription (available at the top right hand side of this page) is still completely free. If you’re curious about this, you might want to check out this post.  Thanks for reading! ~Ragen

Everybody Galileo Now

I had an amazing time on Saturday night with Deb Burgard who is a longtime hero of mine.  She was in town for a conference and I met her for the conference dance.  In addition to watching Eating Disorder Specialists let loose and boogie, I got to dance to P!nk’s Raise Your Glass with Deb Burgard – when you meet one of your life heroes and they are even cooler than you thought they were, that’s a good day.  Afterward we had an amazing conversation and she brought up the idea of “creating Galileos” which made me think.

I truly believe that Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size are “Galileo Issues”.  Just like Galileo knew from the evidence that the Earth revolves around the sun, we know from the evidence that no method of  intentional weight loss works for more than a tiny percentage of people.  We know that healthy behaviors make healthier bodies of all sizes. We know that you can’t hate or shame people healthy.  But “Everybody knows” that weight and health are the same thing.  Everybody knows that people can lose weight if they just try hard enough.  Just like “everybody” used to know that the sun revolves around the Earth.

The thing about Galileo is that he had more than just the true information and evidence.  The reason that we know about Galileo, the reason he is important, is that he had the courage to stand up and tell the truth in the face of overwhelming opposition.

I often remind myself that almost everybody has been lied to about weight and health by the diet industry, the government, the media, their doctors etc. This misinformation is being spread actively through all of those channels.  So most of the “everybodies” truly do not know any better and aren’t even aware that they are part of a system of oppression against people of size, or that they are spouting misinformation about weight, health, and weight loss.

So I also spend a great deal of my time patiently explaining the truth – that people come in different sizes, that weight and health aren’t the same thing, that there are healthy and unhealthy people of every shape and size, and that no matter what, people of all sizes deserve to be treated with respect.  Then I try to give people the tools, resources, and support they need to treat people of size well. But I also go a step farther.

I absolutely believe in giving information and providing support to people who want to do the right thing but aren’t sure what the right thing is. But the final step, to me, is about giving them the opportunity to choose to be Galileos – so that they don’t just know what’s true, they are brave enough to speak that truth – to become a size acceptance activist at some level.

There are lots of ways that we can give people the opportunity to become a Galileo.  Sharing our personal stories so that they can get a sense of what it’s like to live in this society as a person of size.  Discussing how many of the people and organizations that are spreading the lies about weight and health are profiting from them can give people the  opportunity to become angry at having been lied to, and having their money stolen. Talking about the importance of giving everyone the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness without living a life full of shame and stigma.

When we educate people we start to reduce the “everybodies” in “everybody knows”.  But it’s tenuous because they go back out into a world that tries to convince them that the sun revolves around the Earth.  When we support people in choosing to become Galileos, not only do they not buy back into the lies that are being sold to them, they increase the number of people who hear the truth and have the chance to become Galileos themselves.

In the next few days I’m going to be blogging about some ways in which the “everybody knows” people are trying to up the ante in the war on fat people.  One of the things to remember is that those of us who know the truth have a choice – we can choose to be Galileos if we want.  We can choose to speak truth in the face of overwhelming opposition.  We can help other people do the same.  Nobody is obligated, but we all have the opportunity. So if you feel like standing up and telling the truth then I think that’s awesome and I’m here to support you any way I can.  Because I think we need all the Galileos we can get.

Join the Club, Support My Work!

I do HAES and SA activism, speaking and writing full time, and I don’t believe in putting corporate ads on my blog and making my readers a commodity. So if you find value in my work, want to support it, and you can afford it, please consider a paid subscription (it works kind of like a fan club: you get extras and discounts and other cool stuff), or a one-time contribution.  The regular e-mail subscription (available at the top right hand side of this page) is still completely free. If you’re curious about this policy, you might want to check out this post.  Thanks for reading! ~Ragen

Play or DIE! Wait, What?

Greetings from lovely Atlanta Georgia.  I’m posting tonight from the lovely home of Jay and Esther owners of More of Me to Love (by the way, if anyone is looking for an early Christmas present for me, I want one of these loungers pretty badly 🙂

Seriously, Jay and Esther are awesome and tomorrow we’re being joined by Julie Wyman who is shooting a  documentary called “Behind the Billboards” about the Georgia Billboard Project, which means that I’m just a few hours a way from seeing the actual billbaords in real life.  I’ll probably blog all about it tomorrow.

In the meantime, I want to discuss a sign I saw at the airport. [TW – It’s awful, feel free to scroll past the picture to get to my quality ranting]

I see what they did there – because the thin kids play basketball while the naughty lazy fat kids eat chips and sit around.

And who are the braintrusts who pulled this piece of horse hockey together?

Teacher Jane Elliot conducted a two day experiment.  On day one she told her students “This is a fact.  Blue eyed people are better than brown eyed people.”  Moments later a girl took longer than the others to get her book prepared. One student immediately said “She’s a brown eye” and the other blue-eyed students all chorused in agreement. The next day she changed the groups, telling the class that brown-eyed students were superior.   According to Elliot, “I watched what had been marvelous, wonderful, cooperative, thoughtful children turn into nasty, vicious, discriminating little third graders in the space of fifteen minutes”

Everybody knows about this study.  I learned about it in high school and several college classes.  So, knowing this information, what do you suppose happens when we tell kids “This is a fact, thin kids are better than fat kids.”

The problem isn’t just that the other students start to treat tbig kids badly, it’s that the big kids start to believe the stereotypes while remaining the victims of crushing social stigma, and that’s how you create a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Also, they must be referring to something before my time because I never remember any kids playing like their lives depended on it.  In fact, I don’t feel like the phrase “like their lives depended on it” could ever logically follow the word “play” as it relates to children (unless it was “kickball is not that serious, no need to play like your life depends on it.”)  Studies show 60 minutes of moderate activity 5 days a week is what kids need for physical health – nothing good will come from misinforming them that if they don’t feel like they are playing like their life depends on it they aren’t getting healthier.

This type of fear m0ngering should be prosecutable.  Nobody knows for sure why kids are bigger now than they were (and there is a great deal of argument about if they are bigger, how much bigger they are.)  There is no proof that fat kids are fat because they play less  than thin kids – people are making that up in their heads (or gathering information via rectal pull), then slapping it on a giant sign at the airport so that they get congratulated for being strong in the war against childhood obesity obese children.  A war which has no victories, only casualties and collateral damage.

There is zero proof that giving kids the message that playing is a punishment for being fat, or that they have to play hard or they will die, will lead to healthier kids, thinner kids, or help develop a lifelong love of movement in kids – not a shred of evidence.

What we do know is that hospitalizations for eating disorders in kids under 12 are up 119%, and research from the University of Minnesota found that weight control behaviors used by adolescents predicted significant weight gain in some kids and eating disorders in some kids but failed to produce thinner kids or healthier kids.

It’s not surprising.  95% of people who lose weight gain it all back and many of them gain back more than they lost so even if you believed that all kids can be thin and that thin is preferable, the last thing you would want to do is attempt weight control measures since the most likely outcome of that is weight gain and the second most likely outcome is developing an eating disorder.  The earlier kids start intentional weight loss efforts, the more damage they do to their bodies.

Kids do not take care of things they hate, and that includes their bodies.  Healthy habits lead to healthy kids and kids are more likely to participate in healthy habits if they are fun.  You can’t hate kids healthy, you can’t shame kids healthy, and you should be  ashamed  of yourself if you try.

I do not understand how people who (ostensibly) passed medical school cannot wrap their heads around this simple concept, but we have got to make this stop.

Activism Opportunity

Write e-mails to the:

Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America  posna@aaos.org

America Academy of Pediatrics info@healthychildren.org

America Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons  media@aaos.org

If you’re stuck on what to say, consider asking them why they are participating in an intervention that all the evidence says is most likely to harm kids.  Tell them your story and speak from the heart.  Fat kids are under attack in this country, they are literally the unwitting combatants in a war against them and they need advocates.  We can be those advocates, we can help them.

Join the Club – Support the Work!

I do HAES and SA activism, speaking and writing full time, and I don’t believe in putting corporate ads on my blog and making my readers a commodity. So if you find value in my work, want to support it, and you can afford it, please consider a paid subscription (it works like a fan club where you get extras, discounts on stuff, free subscriber meet-ups etc.) or a one-time contribution.  The regular e-mail subscription (available at the top right hand side of this page) is still completely free. If you’re curious about this policy, you might want to check out this post.  Thanks for reading! ~Ragen

What Obesity Hysteria Has Wrought

Yesterday in response to my blog about why Michelle Obama had made a mistake by declaring the Biggest Loser contestants role models of health when they admit to working out against doctors orders, ignoring the advice of nutritionists, and manipulating their weight through over and under hydration in ways that have caused them to lose their hair, lose their periods and urinate blood, I received this response [Trigger warning:  I find the comment is rude, paternalistic, wildly assumptive, and advocates interventions that are not evidence-based.  If you don’t want to deal with it you can skip the block quotes.]

What athlete or person in training hasn’t pushed themselves past these limits that are supposedly so bad? I’m not a huge fan of the show “Biggest Loser” because it’s reality garbage but the episodes I have seen just seem to be highlighting what needs to be done to get results. When I see people working out so hard they’re collapsing and throwing up I think, that makes sense. Growing up as a competitive athlete that’s exactly what you had to do to get results. That’s what people still do to get results. Weight loss is no exception just because it starts from a place of emotional woe. Marathoners train until they lose their periods, have blood in their urine and their hair falls out. They’re usually not obese either. Maybe we should stop making excuses for all the overweight children and adults and say that any publicity of physical training, healthy eating and goal setting is a step in the right direction. Even though it comes at a physical price. The fact that “Biggest Loser” contestants are being considered for role models as opposed to professional and collegiate athletes says a lot about what obese people are watching. Perhaps we could do more just by cutting out some tv time and going to an athletic event. You have to walk around and stand to watch a golf match. Could be a good place to start. Also, at what point did we start considering exercise and low calorie eating unhealthy? As defined by?

Let’s break it on down:

When I see people working out so hard they’re collapsing and throwing up I think, that makes sense. Growing up as a competitive athlete that’s exactly what you had to do to get results. That’s what people still do to get results. Weight loss is no exception just because it starts from a place of emotional woe. Marathoners train until they lose their periods, have blood in their urine and their hair falls out. They’re usually not obese either.

Let’s get some perspective: If you call every doctor in the country and say “I am vomiting, collapsing, and experiencing hair loss, bloody urine and amenorrhea.” not a single one will say “Wow, sounds like you are the absolute picture of health. Whatever you’re doing, keep it up!”  There is a massive danger in confusing athletic pursuits with health.  I know several Iron Man Triathletes and every one is clear that what they did wasn’t healthy. Elite marathoners drop dead of heart attacks and suffer lifelong joint injuries as a result of their training, and VERY few athletes train to the point that they experience these extreme side effects, not to mention that they are training for sport specific achievement – not health or body size. There is not even a correlational link between vomiting, collapsing, urinating blood, balding, amenorrhea and better lifelong health.

I didn’t just grow up as a competitive athlete – I’m STILL a competitive athlete and  I train way past what I would need for just good metabolic health because I want my body to do things outside of the norm.  Nobody needs to be able to do the splits or do 2 minute intervals at 95% of their maximum heart rate to be healthy.  In fact many professional athletes end up crippled at a relatively young age.   Don’t confuse health and athletic pursuit – research shows us that simple healthy habits like eating 5 servings of fruits and vegetables and walking moderately 30 minutes a day 5 days a week leads to health for bodies of every size.  No losing your period, peeing blood, or balding  required.

As for weight loss coming from a place of emotional turmoil – that turmoil typically comes from being the victim of a tremendous amount of social stigma, and the cure for social stigma is ending social stigma – not making fat people pee blood.

Let’s talk about results:  Athletic work improves athletic performance in most people.  Healthy habits increase health in most people.  Weight loss fails for most people.  One of these things is not like the others, one of these things does not belong (With apologies to Sesame Street.)  The methods used by The Biggest Loser are NEVER necessary – almost everyone is able to achieve short term weight loss without going to the extremes used by the Biggest Loser.  It doesn’t matter though because only about 5% of people are able to maintain their weight loss over time, so the “result” of your method is that the overwhelming majority of people will end up as heavy or heavier than they were, and subject to the injuries and health issues that come with training like an elite athlete and weight cycling.  Weight loss, regardless of the means taken, does not meet the criteria for evidence based medicine.  Prescribing an intervention that fails 95% of the time and telling people that anyone who tries hard enough can succeed does not meet the requirements of informed consent.  The “results” here are either negative or “not typical”.

Maybe we should stop making excuses for all the overweight children and adults and say that any publicity of physical training, healthy eating and goal setting is a step in the right direction. Even though it comes at a physical price.

This is the voice of obesity hysteria talking, and that voice is condescending and wrong.  Nobody is asking anyone to make excuses – fat people don’t need your excuses, your pity, or your opinion.  We are as disinterested in you running our lives as I imagine you are in us running yours.  How out of touch would one have to be to think that we aren’t deluged with the message that we should be eating healthy and exercising? The assumption, often made by people who eat less healthy and exercise less than us, that we aren’t already doing it.  The idea that our bodies deserve to be abused because of their size is patently ridiculous.  My fat body is not an indication that I have a problem, that I want or need your assistance, or that I care what you think.

The fact that “Biggest Loser” contestants are being considered for role models as opposed to professional and collegiate athletes says a lot about what obese people are watching. Perhaps we could do more just by cutting out some tv time and going to an athletic event. You have to walk around and stand to watch a golf match. Could be a good place to start.

This paragraph is just a lump of erroneous assumption.  Michelle Obama said that the Biggest Loser contestants were role models – which says something about Michelle Obama and nothing about what obese people are watching.  Fat people can choose our own role models – we don’t need your help. The assumption that fat people watch tv and don’t do sports is convenient for the obesity hysteria myth but not accurate.  Maybe we could do more just by ending weight stigma and weight bullying and making sure that everyone has access to safe movement options that they enjoy (which includes the ability to leave the house in a bathing suit completely certain that we will not be ridiculed, shamed, or stigmatized) and then we can each worry about our own health and butt the hell out of other people’s lives.

Also, at what point did we start considering exercise and low calorie eating unhealthy? As defined by?

This is a fine attempt at oversimplification but I’m not buying it.  What I said I considered unhealthy was telling kids and adults that they should make role models out of people who allow themselves to be treated as “sub-human”, ignore the advice of doctors and dieticians, over and under hydrate to the point of urinating blood, vomit, collapse, go bald, etc. all to manipulate their weight for the express purpose winning a game show and, as previously mentioned, with an almost 100% chance that they’ll gain it all back. Nobody said exercise was unhealthy, suggesting otherwise is idiotic.

I find that people who want to make wild assumptions about others people and tell them what they have to do are much less enthusiastic about someone getting to make wild assumptions about them and tell them what they have to do.  I believe that people get to prioritize health in whatever way they choose and they get to choose their path to reach those goals in concert with the health professionals who, you guessed it, they choose.  It’s dangerous and nonsensical to prescribe for one group of people what we diagnose as a sickness in another group, and when I was thinner and acting exactly like the contestants on the Biggest Loser I was (rightly) hospitalized for an eating disorder.  Because eating 1000 calories and working out 5-8 hours a day has nothing to do with health no matter what size you are.

Because of the obesity hysteria people have abandoned logic and good sense and truly believe that I would be healthier if I was vomiting, collapsing, peeing blood and losing my hair and my period.  The number of so-called health experts and health care professionals who are buying into the hysteria and providing advice that is not evidence based while lying about the likelihood of success, while allowing the diet and pharmaceutical industries to make a fortune off the lies, means that I no longer trust them.  I have spent hundreds and hundreds of hours reading the research so that I can take charge of my health.   I shouldn’t have had to do it, I should be able to trust doctors and healthcare professionals but I can’t so I logged the hours and did the work to take charge of my health.  So you’ll have to sell your hysteria somewhere else because we’re all stocked up with research here.

Join the Club – Support the Work!

I do HAES and SA activism, speaking and writing full time, and I don’t believe in putting corporate ads on my blog and making my readers a commodity. So if you find value in my work, want to support it, and you can afford it, please consider a paid subscription (it works like a fan club where you get extras, discounts on stuff, free subscriber meet-ups etc.) or a one-time contribution.  The regular e-mail subscription (available at the top right hand side of this page) is still completely free. If you’re curious about this policy, you might want to check out this post.  Thanks for reading! ~Ragen

CENSORED: Michelle Obama’s “Biggest” Mistake

When I heard that Michelle Obama was going on The Biggest Loser to congratulate the participants on being role models I knew that I had to do something.  So I e-mailed my friend Darryl Roberts, filmmaker of America the Beautiful 2: The Thin Commandments. We wrote a well-researched article pointing out the problems with Mrs. Obama endorsing the contestants as role models.  That article is below.

It wasn’t meant for this blog, but it’s now been turned down by three major media outlets.  Not because they disagreed with us, in fact all three said that they agreed with the article.  It was denied in all three cases because the White House wouldn’t like it, they were worried about damaging their working relationship with the White House, and because it it made the First Lady “look bad and out of touch.”  That confused me since I think the problem is that the First Lady IS out of touch, not that I’m pointing it out. And why does the media believe that, in America, we should be scared to question our government?

So I’m using my little forum here to get this out.  But before I do, I want to make an invitation:  Michelle Obama – have lunch with me.  I believe that you are a good person and that your intentions to improve kids’ health are good, and I don’t believe that you intend for the media to be too scared to publish pieces that are critical of you.  I’m a champion athlete, a trained researcher, and a real live fat woman and I think that a good place to start is for us to have a conversation.  Tell me where and when you’d like to have lunch and I’m buying. In the meantime, here’s the piece that the media was too scared to publish:

Michelle Obama’s “Biggest” Mistake

By Darryl Roberts and Ragen Chastain

I have had the opportunity to get to know Health at Every Size proponent Ragen Chastain after interviewing her for my documentary America the Beautiful 2: The Thin Commandments.  I was coming home from a screening of the movie when I received an email from Ragen alerting me to the fact that our first lady Michelle Obama was going on The Biggest Loser to proclaim the contestants as role models.

I will admit that initially I didn’t quite believe this. “The Biggest Loser,” is a show that’s exploits a very dangerous aspect of American life, the unhealthy ways in which we attempt to lose weight. Surely the First Lady had to know this. But it turned out to be true and, knowing what we know about health and weight, Ragen and I decided that we had to respond.

Mrs. Obama, we know you love our youth as much as we all do and that you want to see them healthy, but we would ask you why you chose a game show like The Biggest Loser as a platform to promote “getting healthy.” and why you continue to push weight loss even though it doesn’t meet the criteria of evidence based medicine.

Have you vetted what happens to some the contestants one of two years after the show?

The New York Times did some digging and this is what they found:

“The Biggest Loser has produced some amazing results for its obese contestants, but at what cost? Many see the pounds come right back, and it’s likely because they engage in dangerous, damaging behavior in the first place in order to win the weight-loss reality show, the New York Times has learned. Season one’s winner, who’s almost back to his original weight of 330 pounds, dehydrated himself to the point of urinating blood. “I’m just waiting for the first person to have a heart attack,” says a doctor.

This season’s first episode resulted in two hospitalizations, which is scary given the content of a release form obtained by the Times. It reads: “No warranty, representation or guarantee has been made as to the qualifications or credentials of the medical professionals [on the show].”

Shockingly, contestants who talk about being completely inactive sometimes for years have to attest that they are “in excellent physical health”. And while the Times got some tidbits — contestants apparently work out in as much clothing as possible when the cameras are off — few were willing to talk. After the paper started digging around, former contestants were emailed a reminder of the serious consequences that come with unauthorized interviews: fines of $100,000 to $1 million.”

A lot of our youth actually start off exercising and eating better. But when they don’t see the “desired result” on the scale, they stop because they mistakenly think that if their healthy habits don’t lead to weight loss then they can’t lead to health.

From my travels with the film and Ragen’s work as an expert speaker on Health at Every Size, we can produce health professionals from Harvard, Princeton, Michigan State, the University of Denver, UCLA, etc. who will tell you exactly what we’re telling you.

What do you think of Michelle Obama going on Biggest Loser to congratulate participants on being good examples of health?

RAGEN:  This is an illustration of good intentions gone horribly awry.  Calling these contestants good examples of health and fitness is deeply problematic.  There are already firsthand accounts of Biggest Loser contestants being encouraged to engage in incredibly unhealthy behaviors, including working out against doctor’s orders and manipulating their weight through dehydration

According to an interview with Golda Poretsky (http://www.bodylovewellness.com/2010/06/09/kai-hibbard-biggest-loser-finalist-part-1-of-3/) with former contestant Kai Hibbard:

“They start teaching you that because you are overweight you are sub-human …There was a registered dietician that was supposed to be helping … but every time she tried to give us advice … the crew or production would step in and tell us that we were not to listen to anybody except our trainers.  The doctors had ordered us to take [a solution to re-balance our electrolytes] and the trainers were like, “Throw it out, right now.”  So I got to a point where I was only eating about 1,000 calories a day and I was working out between five and eight hours a day …   And my hair started to fall out.  I was covered in bruises.  I had dark circles under my eyes … My period stopped altogether and I was only sleeping three hours a night.  I tried to tell the TV show about it and I was told, “Save it for the camera.”

Exactly what’s wrong with the “lose weight” to be healthy approach?

RAGEN: Teaching kids about healthy eating and helping them develop a lifelong love of movement are excellent intentions.  Focusing on the weight of kids in order to do that is simply horrible execution.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) stated recently that a program that shames kids carries  “a great risk of increasing stigma for those children who are overweight or obese which, in turn, can reinforce unhealthy behaviors (e.g., overeating),” and also said:

“Studies suggest that overweight children who are teased about their appearance are more likely to binge-eat or use unhealthy weight-control practices, and weight-based victimization has been correlated with lower levels of physical activity. Not surprisingly, stigmatization of obese individuals, particularly adolescents, poses risks to their psychological health.”

Hospitalizations for eating disorders in children younger than 12 years old rose by 119% from 1999 to 2006 according to a report issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published in the journal Pediatrics.

It’s not just that focusing on kid’s weight might hurt them, it’s also that it doesn’t help.  According to research from the University of Minnesota “None of the behaviors being used by adolescents (in 1999) for weight-control purposes predicted weight loss[in 2006]…Of greater concern were the negative outcomes associated with dieting and the use of unhealthful weight-control behaviors, including significant weight gain.”

Meanwhile there is not a single study that shows that weight loss works for more than a small fraction (about 5 percent) of people.  The cold hard truth is that there is absolutely no evidence that supports the idea that the majority of fat people can become thin through diet and exercise.

Is There a Solution?

RAGEN:  Absolutely.  The fact that I’m a healthy fat athlete isn’t a surprise or a paradox, there are lots of us.  A great deal of evidence (Matheson et. al., Wei et. al, the Cooper Institute etc.) points to the conclusion that healthy habits make healthy bodies in a wide variety of sizes.

Matheson et. al. People who participated in four healthy habits had essentially the same hazard ratio regardless of their weight. Obese people who participated in four healthy habits had a dramatically lower hazard ratio than thin people who did not participate in healthy habits.

The worst thing is that all this focus on the weight of individuals is distracting us from the systemic issue of lack of access.  Many people do not have access to the healthy foods that they would choose to eat -including foods that are not genetically modified or full of hormones or government subsidized high fructose corn syrup.  Many people do not have access to safe movement options that they enjoy, or to affordable evidence-based health care.  But as long as we focus on little Johnny’s BMI, we don’t have to address the real problems here and we can just keep shaming and blaming fat kids and adults and misinforming them and everyone else about the odds of becoming permanently thin.

We admire Michelle Obama and we believe that she is a strong woman.  In fact, we believe that she is strong enough to step up to a microphone and say “I truly believed that I was doing the best thing for kids’ health.  I now realize that I was wrong, and I am going to lead the charge in fixing it.  We are going to start focusing on supporting the development of healthy behaviors, and access to healthy safe movement options, and affordable evidence-based healthcare for kids of all sizes, and we are going to stop focusing on the weight of any kids at all.”

We look forward to seeing it.

++++++

So that’s the article that was “too controversial” for three major media outlets.  I’ll end the way I started.  Mrs. Obama, I’d like to take you to lunch.  No need to spend government money – I’ll come to Washington DC at my own expense, we’ll go to lunch and I’m buying.  I think that we both believe in giving our citizens the opportunity to achieve their health goals and I think that if you are trying to eradicate obese people, it is worth talking to one and seeing if we can learn from each other.  What do you say?

Join the Club – Support the Work!

I do HAES and SA activism, speaking and writing full time, and I don’t believe in putting corporate ads on my blog and making my readers a commodity. So if you find value in my work, want to support it, and you can afford it, please consider a paid subscription (it works like a fan club where you get extras, discounts on stuff, free subscriber meet-ups etc.) or a one-time contribution.  The regular e-mail subscription (available at the top right hand side of this page) is still completely free. If you’re curious about this policy, you might want to check out this post.  Thanks for reading! ~Ragen