Feeling Fat vs. Being Fat

I will admit that I get annoyed when a size 2 friend complains that she has to get out her (size 4) “fat jeans” because she’s bloated or whatever. It’s not that I don’t want her to feel her feelings, it’s that I know that all of my jeans are “fat jeans” and that the difference is that if an airline loses her luggage she can find “fat jeans” in her size at any women’s clothing store and I cannot.

That’s where I came from when several blog readers asked me to read Daisy’s Piece for XOJane “I‘m Fat and I’m Not OK  With It” [Trigger warning for every possible reason including fat shaming, eating disorder talk, and a metric assload of negative body talk.]  Daisy doesn’t name her size but she does include pictures and she looks to me like she would be considered thin by most people, which she admits in the first paragraph.

The subtitle is “I don’t want to accept my body and I’m not ashamed to admit it.”  To which my initial response was “um, ok.”  I want to be clear that my goal is that everyone has the option to love the body they have now – I’m not trying to compel them to.  And unless I missed it there isn’t a big cultural push telling women that they should love their bodies and not try to lose weight.  If you want to hate your body that’s entirely your right and you’ll be supported by most of the dominant culture.  But just like allowing gay people to marry doesn’t compel straight people to marry same-sex partners,  other people choosing to love their bodies does not force others to love theirs.  You are not the Beastie Boys, you don’t have to fight for your right to self-loathe.

When I first read through the piece my initial reaction was a bunch of anger.  So I took a breath, and made an attempt to separate things that I thought were really inappropriate from things where I was projecting.  Like when she says “For me, admitting I feel fat is admitting I’m weak. It’s admitting there’s something about myself I don’t like, but that I’ve allowed to happen anyway.” When I first read that, I assumed it meant that she thinks all fat people are weak but upon reading it while doing lamaze breathing I realized that she is only speaking for herself and she didn’t say anything about anyone else. I don’t agree with what she’s saying, but she is within the underpants rule.  There are a lot of statements like that in the article.  I realize that while I think I know what she thinks of fat people based on this article, that’s me guessing, inferring and assuming.  While I’m in no way guessing about her situation, I know that when I had an eating disorder I hated my own body but had no problem with other people’s,  so from my individual anecdotal experience it’s possible.

Then I read this line from the article “That being said, there are probably some of you who are OK with your weight, but maybe shouldn’t be. ”  Blow the whistle, ring the bell, we have a clear underpants rule violation.  How dare she try to tell other people that they shouldn’t be ok with their weight? Inappropriate and out of line and there’s no excuse for it.

She also says “I’m writing it because it’s how I feel and because I think it’s OK to want to improve one’s body. I’m writing it because I think xoJane underrepresents that point of view in an admittedly noble attempt to make us all feel equal and beautiful.”

Here’s where I think it goes off the rails a bit.  xoJane is one of the few places in the media that isn’t shoving weight loss=improvement, thin=beautiful down everyone’s throat.  I find I’m really annoyed that Daisy decided to make it her job to bring this perspective to one of very few spaces that come from a different point of view, especially when she could easily spend her time in one of the thousands upon thousands of places online, in print and in real life that support women spending a ton of time, energy, and money hating themselves and their bodies.

She mentions “I know; I’m privileged to have the option to feel fat while swimming in a pool in Napa. I get it.”  But I would argue that she really doesn’t get it. She gets that coming from a wealthy family gives her privilege but she doesn’t get the fact that “feeling fat” without actually meeting the social definition of fat belies the tremendous amount of thin privilege she has.  To be clear, I understand that in a world where the diet and beauty industries spend millions in advertising to convince us that we’ll never be enough and we are bombarded with images that are utterly unattainable, it’s very difficult for anyone of any size to escape unscathed.  That said, I think the veritable definition of thin privilege is writing an article about how you feel “fat” and hate your body because you think you are 12-17 pounds overweight, while you tell other people that “maybe they shouldn’t” be okay with their weight and complain about the inconvenience of having to write your article without fat shaming.

I also think that there is a degree of insensitivity to the article – It’s a bit like saying “I only have $10,000 left in my bank account, I’m so poor!”  in front of a homeless person. You may feel that way and you are allowed to say it, but I think it’s a monumentally insensitive thing to do.  I think that this article is especially insensitive since she admits that she wrote the piece in part because xoJane just doesn’t have enough articles about self-loathing. So yeah, thanks for that Daisy.

I am an unrepentant Will Smith fan from the Fresh Prince days, and there is a song of his called “Lost and Found” that comes to mind here:

Lost is when you hide behind the freedom of speech
While sure you’re free to do it
But what it mean to do it
Did you mean to do it
Did you need to do it
Did you take time to think about the seeds you ruined?

Thin women who “feel” fat are allowed to feel that way, and to talk about that, but I would ask – is it necessary?  What are you hoping to gain?  Why do you feel the need to retell the story that is saturateingly common in our culture?  Knowing that it adds to the crushing weight of oppression, stigma, and suffering that fat people live under every day, how important is it, really, for you to call them your fat jeans?

Pre-ordering is almost over!  Pre-order my book now to  get an autographed copy and free shipping!

Fat: The Owner’s Manual – Navigating a Thin-Obsessed World with Your Health, Happiness, and Sense of Humor Intact, with foreword by Marilyn Wann, is now available for pre-order.   This is a book about living life in the body that you have now, making decisions about what you want in the future, and how to get there.  Whether you want to change your body, fight for size acceptance, just live your life, or understand and support your fat friends and family, this book was written to provide the insights, aha moments, humor, and hard facts to help.

Become a Member, 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, you can  become a member (you get extra stuff, discounts, and you’re always the first to know about things) or a you can support my work with a  one-time contribution.  The regular e-mail blog 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

All the Fat People I Know

Dear gods in heaven do I get sick of hearing this. I’m feeling a little ranty today so you’ve been warned.  Here’s why:

I spend a lot of time doing research.  On this blog I talk about research, I explain that Matheson et. al. did a study of 11,761 people and Wei et. al did a study of 25,714 people and that the Cooper Institute Research on fitness and weight is based on the Cooper Institute Longitudinal Study which is a database that has more than 250,000 records from nearly 100,000 people totaling more than 1,800,000 person-years of observation and that this research supports the idea that healthy habits lead to healthier bodies regardless of size.

Then I have to wade through 12 comments a day that say “I think you’re wrong because my aunt Gertrude was fat and she died of a heart attack.” Seriously?  I’m truly sorry that you lost your aunt but why would you think that your aunt’s experience trumps a combined sample of more than 120,000 people?

Or this one “All the people I know who have type 2 diabetes or heart disease are fat.”  Is this a frequent topic of conversation for you?  Do you know more than 120,000 people?  Also, fat people are tested early and often for these things and thin people are rarely tested.  If I test group A early and often for a disease, and I rarely ever test group B for a disease, it’s not really a big shocker that there is a higher disease incidence in group A.

“All the fat people I know eats super sized fast food meals all the time.”  Really?  Really really?  Even if this is true, why are you monitoring your friend’s food choices and why do you think that your friends are a statistically significant sample?

Also, it’s important to note that we are all subject to confirmation bias.  That means that we tend to favor evidence that supports our beliefs. We’re also subject to Status Quo bias which leads us to prefer that things remain the same, or change as little as possible, if they absolutely have to change. For some people who are enjoying their thin privilege and all the things it buys for them, their perceptions may be clouded due to loss aversion. That’s why I’m interested in the evidence when it comes to Health at Every Size.  (To be clear, Size Acceptance needs no evidence as it’s a civil rights issue – the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are not size-dependent and should never be up for a vote.)

If you still think that you should extrapolate to the entire population based on your friends or your aunt or whatever consider that all of my fat friends have left the weight cycling lifestyle and chosen a Health at Every Size path.

Time is running out to pre-order my book and get an autographed copy and free shipping!

Fat: The Owner’s Manual – Navigating a Thin-Obsessed World with Your Health, Happiness, and Sense of Humor Intact, with foreword by Marilyn Wann, is now available for pre-order.   This is a book about living life in the body that you have now, making decisions about what you want in the future, and how to get there.  Whether you want to change your body, fight for size acceptance, just live your life, or understand and support your fat friends and family, this book was written to provide the insights, aha moments, humor, and hard facts to help.

Become a Member, 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, you can  become a member (you get extra stuff, discounts, and you’re always the first to know about things) or a you can support my work with a  one-time contribution.  The regular e-mail blog 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

Fat People in Scooters

ShamelessI have heard from a number of fat people with mobility/health issues that things are made more difficult by the idea that using a cane or scooter or getting Type 2 diabetes or whatever is living down to a negative stereotype about fat people.

Somehow it’s become popular for everyone from stand-up comedians to adults clinging to their junior high school playground bully persona, to make fun of fat people in scooters, fat people with diabetes, etc.  I just want to ask these people:  what the hell is wrong with you?

Their cowardly excuse is typically that somehow these people “brought it on themselves” so it’s ok to make fun of them.  This is entirely wrong on a couple of levels.  First you don’t know what someone’s situation is by looking at them, and even if you did it’s still just a convenient excuse for being a bigot and I’ll tell you why.  I have a friend who was in a wheelchair for a while because she got drunk, jumped from a moving vehicle and broke both her legs.  I know a guy who was in a scooter and now uses a prosthetic leg because he got drunk and crashed his motorcycle. I know a woman who had to go to the emergency room repeatedly because she refused to stop eating shrimp though she is allergic. Even after telling people what happened, these three people have related to me that they still got nothing but sympathy and offers of help (which is what everyone should get no matter what their circumstance – not a lifetime of shame and judgment) so methinks the fat hater doth justify too much.

Unfortunately we are not the jackass whisperer and we can’t make anyone stop this behavior.  But we can make sure that we do not perpetuate any of this stigma within HAES/SA community.   I would suggest that we should be on the frontlines fighting for respect and dignity for those who use mobility aids or deal with issues that society wants to erroneously blame on their fat (or anything else.)  There is no place for blame or shame in mobility or self-care.

I understand that I am very lucky/privileged.  My body is uniquely built for fat athleticism.  I put on muscle (especially Type 2 muscle) very easily which makes it easier to move my big fat body around.  I have naturally high proprioception and kinesthetic awareness.  I’ve been an athlete all my life which makes things easier.  I have had access to amazing professionals who have supported my health and well-being from a Health at Every Size perspective. Not every body is equipped to do what my body can do. Lots of bodies can do stuff mine can’t.  And that’s exactly as it should be.

I also know that, just like everyone else, what my body can do could change.  I believe that would make my body different, but no less amazing – still blinking, heart beating etc – still an awesome body.  If something happened and my mobility changed that would absolutely be difficult, when I injured my neck and didn’t know if I’d ever get the use of my right arm back it was hard.  But I was able to make it me and my body against something scary (also part of my privilege being neurotypical) and not me against my body.  So if I ever lose my mobility, regardless of the reason, I hope to name my scooter something awesome; get to work with some glue, glitter, and streamers; put a bumper sticker on the back that says “Got Something to Say About My Size?  Dial 1-800-Bite Me”,  and roll my way into a sparkly new life on wheels.

So if you’re rocking a scooter, a cane, an oxygen tank, living with Type 2 diabetes or something else that people are trying to make you feel ashamed of because of your size or anything else, I say those people can go fuck themselves.  And if you want someone to hang out and help glue rhinestones to your scooter or put subversive bumper stickers on your oxygen tank, call me!

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Fat is Not the Worst Thing

I blog about body image and women’s health for NBC’s iVillage.  Recently that gave me the opportunity to interview the stars of the new Sundance reality series Push girls.   The series is about four women in LA who, due to accident or illness, use wheelchairs.

During the interview I asked Mia what she thought was the biggest myth/misconception that people have about those who use wheelchairs.  She said:

People feel like the chair is something that’s depressing to us or it’s our biggest hurdle or that we wish  we didn’t have to deal with. In fact it makes our lives a lot easier. and lets us be inspirational.  It allows you to connect with somebody – every single person has obstacles and they are all overcome-able.  If people saw that this is a positive thing that would be more accepting.

That really struck me, because – though I’m not comparing using a wheelchair to being fat – I feel the same way about my fat.

I despise the assumption that I must hate my body.  I am offended when people at the gym ask how much weight I’ve lost or what my weight loss goal is.  I become enraged when someone suggests that my body is something to be pitied or ashamed of.

First of all, my body is amazing.  Heartbeat, blinking, breathing, my body does a million things a day without me asking, and it does everything I ask it to from giving hugs to doing the splits.  My body deserves nothing less than my undying love and devotion. I am fiercely protective of my body.

Me and my fat body live an amazing life full of great friends and amazing experiences.  The only thing that interrupts my big fat fantastic life is the crap that comes at me from people who choose to give voice and form to their prejudices, preconceptions, stereotypes and bigotry about fat people.

When I do interviews I’m often asked “if you could be thin with no negative side effects, would you?”  My answer is always “No.  But if I had a wish, I would use it to end fat stigma and weight bullying – my body is fine, the world is messed up.”

Being fat is not the worst thing,  Being fat is not even close to the worst thing when you consider how awful it is to be a bully and a bigot, and that fat is just a body characteristic like being tall or short or brunette.

Our fat bodies are fine, the world is fucked up.  It’s not our fault but it becomes our problem.  That’s where fat activism comes in – to me fat activism is about sticking up for the body that I live in 100% of the time and that let’s me do every single thing that I can do. I don’t know about you, but I’m certain that my body deserves nothing less that my complete support.

Pre-order my book and get an autographed copy and free shipping!

Fat: The Owner’s Manual – Navigating a Thin-Obsessed World with Your Health, Happiness, and Sense of Humor Intact, with foreword by Marilyn Wann is now available for pre-order.   This is a book about living life in the body that you have now, making decisions about what you want in the future, and how to get there.  Whether you want to change your body, fight for size acceptance, just live your life, or understand and support your fat friends and family, this book was written to provide the insights, aha moments, humor, and hard facts to help.

Become a Member, 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, you can  become a member (you get extra stuff, discounts, and you’re always the first to know about things) or a you can support my work with a  one-time contribution.  The regular e-mail blog 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

Do Diets Fail or Do Dieters Fail?

I got a question from a blog reader that I wanted to talk about:

I have a question! I have non-FA friends who think that most diets don’t work not because of metabolism or anything like that, but because the actual dieter is weak-willed. They think that people regain the weight plus some because they stop doing the diet or attending Weight Watchers or whatever it is they have chosen to do. In contrast, I think that even if one stays on the diet religiously, still metabolism will change and the weight will be regained in the majority of cases. What do you think?

This is basic math.  Studies show that  the vast majority of diets fail.  Even Meme Roth says that the failure rate is around 95%.  Somehow people still believe that it’s because 95% of people just aren’t doing it right.

In truth, there is a lot of research about the physiological changes the body goes through in response to weight loss for the specific goal of weight regain.  An Australian research team studied people who had lost weight in an effort to understand some of these changes. A year after their initial weight loss:

  • A hormone that suppresses hunger and increases metabolism – Leptin – was still lower than normal
  • Ghrelin, nicknamed the “hunger hormone,” was about 20 percent higher
  • Peptide YY, a hormone associated with hunger suppression was abnormally low
  • Participants reported being much more hungry and preoccupied with food then they had prior to losing weight

A year after losing weight these people’s bodies were still biologically different than they had been prior to the weight loss attempt, desperately working to regain the weight – and participants had already regained about 30% of the weight they had lost.  One of the study’s authors characterized it as “A coordinated defense mechanism with multiple components all directed toward making us put on weight.”

So it does appear that the body fights weight loss strongly. There are other studies that show the same things, as well as studies that show genetics play a large part.

What I want to point out is the fact that, regardless of why a treatment doesn’t work, if it fails the vast majority of the time (and has the exact opposite of the intended effect the majority of the time) then there is an problem with the treatment and an issue with meeting the criteria for evidence-based medicine, and that is the situation with dieting.

The thing that blew my mind when I realized it (thanks to the brilliant Deb Burgard) is that the entire basis of prescribing weight loss for greater health is built on a guess.  There is not a single study that shows that people who lose weight have the same health outcomes as people who were never fat, or better outcomes than if they had just engaged in healthy habits and stayed fat.  This whole thing is just a guess – so all the work and money going into figuring out how to make fat people thin so that we can be “healthier” may be a complete waste.

So it’s not just that it doesn’t appear that long-term weight loss is possible for most people – it’s also that, when it comes to health, weight loss may not even be a worthy goal.

What’s ridiculous to me is that it’s not being widely publicized that we have a mountain of evidence that shows that healthy habits are the best chance for healthy bodies of all sizes for those who are interested in that (and there’s no obligation).  Plenty of studies show that people who get 30 minutes of moderate movement 5 days a week get tremendous benefits without weight lossAnother study shows that people who get moderate physical activity, 5 servings of fruits and veggies, drink moderately and don’t smoke have the same health hazard ratios whether they are considered “Normal weight”, “Overweight” or “Obese”.

It’s important to note that our culture’s attachment to weight loss as the path to health is not based on evidence.  It is at best an “everybody knows situation” akin to the time when everybody “knew” that the sun revolved around the Earth (which could be why those of us who are pointing out the evidence are getting told to sit down and shut up faster than they put Galileo under house arrest).  At worst, our attachment to weight loss is a combination of profitability and pride.  The diet industry doesn’t want to give up the over 60 Billion a year it rakes in, doctors are enjoying lucrative weight loss practices, and others just don’t have the guts to admit that they’ve traveled so far down the wrong road and given so much bad advice to so many people.

So why do people who have all of this information keep trying to diet?  I think it has a lot to do with the potential rewards and  everyone’s belief that they can beat the odds.  I was watching a documentary about the Green Beret selection process (I’m a documentary junkie).  They know that 50% of people will fail but every man there is sure that he will beat the odds.  At one point one of the guys is so out of it that they ask him “Do you know where you are” and his answer is, I swear to god,  “hashbrowns”.  But as they drive him away to see a medic he keeps yelling that he’s fine, he can do it. Golda Poretsky at Body Love Wellness wrote a great post about this phenomenon as it pertains to weight loss.  I get e-mails all the time “I don’t agree with you because I’m losing weight right now and I’m just not going to gain it back.”  To which I want to reply “hashbrowns.”

I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that weight loss almost always works short term, but almost always fails long term and the dieting industry has done a great job of taking credit for the first part of a biological reality and blaming dieters for the second part.  I get so many e-mails from people who say “I believe in HAES, but I’m doing [insert diet here] and I’ve lost X pounds so  it’s working!”   There is so much societal reward when people are losing weight that you can get a huge rush and it’s easy to forget that there is a 95% chance that you will be back where you were or even heavier in 5 years.  Of course everyone is the boss of their underpants and I have no problem with people choosing dieting for themselves, but I do not feel comfortable being part of the rush of praise that people who lose weight receive that makes the near-inevitable weight regain that much more crushing so I choose my words very carefully, and I’m certainly not recommending that people do something that nobody can prove is possible for a reason that nobody can prove is valid.

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The Thing About Weight Watchers

Yesterday in response to a post that I made in which I said that Weight Watchers doesn’t work, reader Jen left the following respectful question:

“While nutrisystem and that medi-diet crap is prepackaged nonsense that REQUIRES you continue to buy, it appears to me that weight watchers is more about portion control and teaching appropriate eating habits vs insta-slim, freeze dried scams. The only ‘on’ you do paying attention to what you are putting in your body and how much, so being ‘off’ is…not paying attention? An unaccounted for buffet is just as bad for my obesity as it is for my crazy in shape, vein popping, bicep curling, best friend…. I’ve never done it, but if I understand correctly it is misleading to lump it in with the prepackaged ridiculousness of Jenny Craig or the fad diets of Atkins or Stillman. I think everyone’s goal is the slowest rate in which you die, right? I’ll take healthy over slim any day, which seems like what they promote. I have no personal interest in weight watchers, but am interested why this is treated the same or if I am totally off their concept all together. I would love some feedback! Thanks!”

I’ll break this all down, but let me start here:  Weight Watchers markets and sells weight loss. Their success at that is abysmal.  And they know it.  One study showed that participants lost around about 10 pounds in six months and kept off half of that for two years.  Karen Miller-Kovach, chief scientific officer of Weight Watchers International at the time, said: “It’s nice to see this validation of what we’ve been doing.”

So if she is so comfortable with those numbers, why doesn’t their advertising say “Join Weight Watchers and you have a decent chance maintaining a 5 pound weight loss for two years.”?

It seems to me that they are trying to have their Weight Watchers Brand One Point Cake Square and eat it too.   First, they take credit for the short term weight loss that almost everyone can accomplish on almost every diet and then they blame their customers for the long term weight regain that almost everyone experiences.  They promise that anyone who tries hard enough can lose weight, and when they are challenged with the fact that their product almost never does what they say it does, then their messaging is “we’re just about health and portion control.”

Giving people options for healthy eating is fine, but then the diet companies add “...and then you lose weight.” Not because they have any proof or reason to believe that will happen long term but because people are willing to pay for the promise of weight loss without caring about the proof (or lack thereof)  Interestingly, one of the reasons that people will pay for it is that Weight Watchers has spent billions of dollars in marketing and advertising to convince people that they need to be thin in order to be attractive or healthy, and that anyone who tries hard enough can be thin.

There is not a single study where any weight loss method is shown to be successful over the long term.  Not a single one. Not one.

Yet I have witnessed the following:

  • The college’s Dietician tells a group of students (who have come to hear a panel on eating disorders) that diets fail 95% of the time because people lose the weight too fast, and that people can keep the weight off if they lose 1/2 pound a week.  I asked if there was research on that and she reluctantly admitted that there wasn’t. But if I hadn’t been there those students would have probably believed that, as a professional, she was giving them advice based on evidence.
  • Weight Watchers and other diet companies have been successfully sued by the Federal Trade Commission for Deceptive Trade Practices, and yet they continue to sell weight loss because people ignore the legally required disclaimers
  • Personal trainers claim that they have the secrets to weight loss even those research shows that while exercise will likely lead to better health, it probably won’t lead to weight loss.

Anyone who says that they know how to help people lose weight and keep it off is lying.  (At least I consider telling someone that you can get a result that you know only happens 5% of the time time to be a lie.)

I think everyone’s goal is the slowest rate in which you die, right?

I don’t agree.  I think that this is demonstrably incorrect (and dangerously close to breaking The Underpants Rule.)  It’s totally cool if that’s what you want to do but there are plenty of people who choose something other than the longest possible life as their priority.

I’ll take healthy over slim any day, which seems like what they [Weight Watchers] promote.

I do not think that is what they promote – I think that they promote weight loss.  I think that because every commercial  they air is about weight loss, because I get postcards from them once a month telling me how many dress sizes I can lose before the next event in the Diet Axis of Evil (Bikini Season, the Holidays are Coming, New Years Resolutions).  If they were promoting health, their name would be Health Watchers, I would not see commercials with Jennifer Hudson saying “I lost weight and you can too!”, they would not do weigh ins, and people would not win prizes for meeting weight loss goals or be chided for not meeting them, and their marketing would not conflate weight and health or weight and beauty.

if I understand correctly it is misleading to lump it in with the prepackaged ridiculousness of Jenny Craig or the fad diets of Atkins or Stillman.

I disagree.  First of all, although their clients aren’t required to eat it,  Weight Watchers has a ton of pre-packaged food.  But mostly I think that they should be lumped together because all of these diets encourage using food as a way to manipulate body size and all of these diets have the same abysmal success rate at doing that.

There’s a term for a health program that actually focuses on health by the way – it’s called Health at Every Size, it’s what I practice and I chose it based on my love of research and math.

So that’s my take on it Jen, thanks for asking!

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Me and Hillary Clinton

Yesterday I found out that I will never be a Glamazon.  If you aren’t familiar, they are an amazing burlesque and pop girl group based in New York City. I learned about them when they were on America’s Got Talent and they are the reason that I wanted to be in a fat cabaret in the first place.

So yesterday they posted an audition call and though I had no plans to audition (I’m moving to the opposite coast and starting a plus size cabaret of my own), I was disappointed to learn that I am not even eligible to audition.  It turns out that their cut-offs are 30 years old and a size 20.  According to producer Meryl Sherwood “I’ve been doing this for over 11 years, and even though the plus size industry has grown since I started, bookers can be very closed minded. I would love to include anyone and everyone but I’m only one person trying to sell a product”.

I totally understand where she is coming from and I’m not judging (she certainly knows far more about it than I), but I was sad to find out that when it comes to being a Glamazon I am both too old and too fat.  I was even sadder when I found out that according to Ed Klein, former New York Times magazine editor and Clinton biographer, Hillary Clinton and I have that in common.

You see, Mr. Klein went on Fox to talk about the idea that Clinton might make a 2016 run for President. Did he talk about the job she’s done as Secretary of State?  Did he talk about her work as a Senator?  Her recent Bangladesh visit or speech about tensions in the US?

No! Don’t be ridiculous nobody cares about those things.  He talked about her age and her weight. (This falls hot on the heels of the “scandal” in which the Drudge Report wasted space on the internet – which is difficult to do – to let us all know that Ms. Clinton had appeared in public with no make-up other than lipstick, about which Hillary seemed to give exactly zero fucks.) This time, speaking of a possible 2016 run, Klein said:

“She’ll be 69 years old. And as you know — and I don’t want to sound anti-feminist here — but she’s not looking good these days. She’s looking overweight, and she’s looking very tired.”

Out of curiosity Ed (can I call you Ed?), what would you have said if you DID want to sound anti-feminist?  Just a suggestion but maybe instead of worrying about sounding anti-feminist, you might consider worrying about actually being anti-feminist or, you know, a complete jackass.

Comments on articles about this ranged from people who said that Ms. Clinton should get colonics to people who wish that Ed Klein would just STFU (in case you aren’t sure, I’m in the latter group).

I think that it is extremely unfortunate that, as a society, our desperate fascination with unattainable photoshop perfection means that we care more about how women look than what they can do.  Like those of us who aren’t supermodels are supposed to say “I’m sorry please forgive me, I’m just smart, hardworking, and talented – I don’t know how I could have thought that was important.  I don’t know what came over me that I expected you to be able to celebrate my unique beauty or at least care a little bit about whether or not I’m good at what I do. I’ll just go curl up fetal and hide my unphotoshopped face from the world.”  No, wait.  On second thought Ed, how about you fuck right the hell off instead.

We can’t make Ed do anything (that would be an underpants rule violation), but we can change things ourselves, so let me take this opportunity to highlight the option of opting out of this part of our culture.  Some ideas are:

  • Stop making negative comments about other people’s bodies, faces, make-up or clothes
  • Interrupt that kind of talk when you hear it and suggest these options to people
  • Stop buying fashion magazines that use photoshop
  • Stop buying anything that someone is selling you through marketing intended to generate fear or self-loathing.
  • Participate in Functional Girl’s No make-up Mondays
  • Don’t click on that link about who has the best and worst bikini bodies or whatever
  • Stop negative talk about your own body.  Here’s some support for that.
  • Admire and compliment women on their talents and likes and dislikes, not their looks (for example, compliment their fashion sense instead of their clothes…)

This system that keeps us down is fueled by our time, energy and attention  – we take those things away and the system will runs out of gas and stall out.

Announcing the Los Angeles Fat Cabaret Auditions!

The Los Angeles Fat Cabaret (soon to have a better name) auditions will be on July 22nd from 1-4pm in North Hollywood.  If you have rad fatty friends in LA, please feel free to let them know, you can send them to our Facebook page.

For the record, I completely understand and respect the Glamazon’s decisions and policies but we’re going to do it a bit differently.  The auditions and group are open to all plus-size women age 18 and up.  There will be opportunities for dancers of all abilities who want to do the work to be part of this – if you want to do this and work hard, I will find a way to get you on stage and make sure you look good.  If people won’t book us we’ll put on our own shows and develop our own fan base.  It’s going to be awesome!

Time is running out to pre-order my book and get an autographed copy and free shipping!

Fat: The Owner’s Manual – Navigating a Thin-Obsessed World with Your Health, Happiness, and Sense of Humor Intact, with foreword by Marilyn Wann, is now available for pre-order.   This is a book about living life in the body that you have now, making decisions about what you want in the future, and how to get there.  Whether you want to change your body, fight for size acceptance, just live your life, or understand and support your fat friends and family, this book was written to provide the insights, aha moments, humor, and hard facts to help.

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