The Problem with Fat Civil Rights

Or your narrow chair…

I received an e-mail from a reader today that I think sums up a situation that a lot of fat people face [trigger warning for weight loss talk – you can skip the quote if you don’t want to be triggered]:

 I want to be smaller. I want to be able to sit in any damn chair I want and to not worry that a seatbelt won’t fit. I want to fly economy class, dammit! …But I know that diets do not work the vast majority of the time…What I do not know is how to reconcile my desire to be smaller with my very strong view that there is nothing wrong with being fat … I am absolutely fine with being me I would just like to be a bit smaller. And I do mean a bit – I don’t want to be thin, just comfortable in more situations.

This is a difficult situation and one faced by many oppressed populations – it’s not uncommon to wish that you could change yourself to be in the non-oppressed group, even just a little bit.  This desire can be especially strong in oppressed groups who are told that they can move into the non-oppressed group if they just try hard enough.  Personally,  as a queer woman I’ve been told that if I would just try harder to be straight my life would be easier.  As a fat woman I’ve been told that if I would just try harder to lose weight my life would be easier.  In both situations I am told that I should support the system of social stigma by working to change myself rather than working to change system of social stigma. In both cases I refuse to do that.

I think  the reason we ponder this at all is the illusion that weight loss is possible even though studies show that the vast majority of those who diet will gain back their weight and many will gain back more than they lost. If we were having trouble trouble fitting into the world because we were very tall or very  short, we might curse our fate but we would not be trying to change our bodies. As fat people we are encouraged to believe that the solution to all of our problems is just a diet away.

Even if weight loss was possible this would be an invalid argument. I do not believe that the cure for social stigma and oppression (including not being accommodated at our size) is for us to be required to change our bodies. I think the cure for social stigma is ending social stigma.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t attempt weight loss or that I’ll judge you if you do (and of course you are under absolutely no obligation to care what I think anyway) you are the boss of your underpants and you have the right to try for smaller panties.  All I care about is that everyone has access to all the information, what choices they make for their bodies are up to them and I respect those choices as I want my choices to be respected (and I will never understand people who can’t get that).

I do think the reality is that this attitude impedes the fight for fat civil rights – including the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in the bodies we have now without having our government waging war on us for how we look.  If you believe the media, fat people make up almost 70% of the US population.  We control the vote, you’d think we could get some freaking comfortable chairs.

But every time we say “I just want to lose enough weight to fit into a chair/fit into economy class/not be stigmatized anymore” what we are NOT saying is “There is nothing wrong with my body and I demand that you stop stigmatizing me and start accommodating me and I’m willing to fight for that”.

I think  the biggest challenge faced by the Fat Civil Rights Movement at the moment is that so many fat people don’t believe they deserve civil rights and a world that accommodates their bodies.  Of course nobody is obligated to believe that or to become a fat activist, but the truth is that civil rights are historically the result of a critical mass of the oppressed population deciding that they deserve to be treated better, and then demanding that despite the fact that it’s a long, difficult, uncomfortable fight.

The good news is that once we decide that we’ve had about enough of being treated like crap, we have the resources to fight back if we will just re-purpose them.  Imagine if we put as much time, energy and money into fighting for a world without weight stigma, oppression and that accommodates people of all sizes as we have put into dieting.  That, my friends, would be a game changer. That would give us the ability fight back against the government-sponsored  war on fat people, stop saying “I just want to lose enough weight to be treated better” cut out the middle man and simply demand to be treated better.

Like the Blog?  Check out the Book!

Fat: The Owner’s Manual – Surviving a Thin-Obsessed World with your Health, Happiness, and Sense of Humor Intact is now available in soft cover and e-book at a price anyone can afford!

Become a Member, Support The Work!

This month’s member deals come from More of Me to Love, Jodee Rose, The Fat Nutritionist, Golda Poretsky, Jeanette DePatie and of course me. If you are a member and haven’t received the e-mail with details and passwords just let me know!

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

11 Reasons to Stop Focusing on Weight

Before we get to our list, let me just tell you that my book – Fat:  The Owner’s Manual –  is now officially available for order in soft copy and e-book.  Get all the details and order here!

On to the blog…I had four different e-mails today asking about this blog so I’m reposting:  If you are interested in being healthy/healthier and you start to do some research, you will find that there are currently two competing ideas when it comes to health. One judges health based on weight and believes that health problems can be solved through weight loss.  The other says health should be the focus (rather than weight), and that health problems should be solved through health interventions.

Here are 11 reasons why I think a focus on health makes way more sense if someone is interested in pursuing health:

1.  Simple Observation

We know that there are healthy fat people an unhealthy thin people so weight=health does not hold up to simple observation.

2.  Thin people get all the diseases that are correlated with fatness

And since thin people get all of these diseases, then being thin is neither a sure cure nor a certain preventative. Further, since we treat thin people for these diseases we have treatment protocols that do not involve weight loss.  Those same protocols could be used on fat people who have these diseases – so that we are treating the actual disease and not just trying to change someone’s body size and hoping that solves their health problems.

3.  Correlation does not equal causation

Just because a disease is correlated with obesity does not mean that it is caused by obesity.  In some cases, sleep apnea for example, a condition is thought to cause obesity leading to a chicken and the egg problem. By focusing on the health problem instead of the weight we avoid this issue altogether.

4. Confirmation Bias

We seek evidence that confirms our existing beliefs.  For example doctors test obese people earlier and more often for diseases thought to be correlated with obesity, thin people who have the symptoms of diseases that are correlated with obesity are often ignored because the doctors assume that thin people are “safe” from these diseases.  If you have two groups and you test one earlier and more often for a set of health problems, and subsequently ignore the symptoms of those health problems in the second group, of course the first group is likely to have a higher diagnosis rate.

5.  Third Factor

One of the reasons that correlation does not imply causation is because the two things could both be caused by a third factor.  It’s entirely possible that a third factor is responsible for both obesity and disease in which case weight loss attempts will do nothing to address the problem and may even exacerbate it.

6.  The Wrong Measurements

When people set weight loss as a goal, they are typically assuming that along with that weight loss they’ll get a host of metabolic health benefits: good cholesterol, blood pressure, triglyceride and blood glucose numbers etc.  So when, like 95% of people, they fail at weight loss they assume that they failed at all of the health outcomes as well.  But studies show that this isn’t the case.  Had they measured their metabolic health rather than their weight they are likely to have seen health increases, even without weight loss.

7.  Confusing the standard of beauty with health

As a culture we tend to have a single standard of beauty (which is a whole other problem).  Unfortunately it is all too easy to assume that this single standard of beauty is also the single standard of health. That is simply not true.

8. Human Diversity

We accept a huge amount of human diversity.  Large variations in skin color, shapes and sizes of feet, hands, and noses, heights, hair colors and textures etc. are all considered normal.  And yet we expect healthy bodies to conform to a narrow height weight ratio or we consider them “abnormal” or “unhealthy”

9.  The Dieting Effect

In studies dieting (particularly dieting young and/or repeatedly) predicts weight gain and obesity.  It makes sense then that as we have continued to diet younger and more often we see larger bodies. The solution is unlikely to be more dieting.

10. The Unlikelihood of Weight Loss

In studies since 1959 weight loss has shown a success rate of only 5%.  Doctors are prescribing a solution that only works 5% of the time to 60% of Americans. The diet industry makes 60 Billion dollars a year taking credit for their successes, and blaming their clients for their failures. Would you use birth control that worked for the first year but gave you a 95% chance of getting pregnant years 2-5?  Would you be okay with the company (and the world) blaming you if you were one of the 95% who got pregnant?

11.  The likelihood of increased health

We know that health is multi-dimensional and not entirely within our control.  That said, studies show that most people will get a health benefit from participating in healthy behaviors (healthy eating and movement).  Studies also show that most of these people will not experience significant long term weight loss.  But, again, they will be healthier.

So there you go, 11 reasons why I think that focusing on health and not  weight makes the most sense if someone is interested in pursuing health.

Become a Member, Support The Work!

This month’s member deals come from More of Me to Love, Jodee Rose, The Fat Nutritionist, Golda PoretskyJeanette DePatie, and of course me. If you are a member and haven’t received the e-mail with details and passwords just let me know!

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

Drink Like a Lady?

Today I saw a commercial for a line of diet alcohol that had the tag line “drink like a lady”.  That activated my eye-roll reflex so violently I was worried that I was going to damage my vision.  There are so many things wrong with this.

I am exhausted as it is by all of the products trying to increase their market share by promising not that their food or beverage is tasty or nutritious, but that it will help us manipulate our body size (despite a complete and utter lack of evidence). One of the things that I do as activism is to never buy a product with a weight loss message.  It’s ridiculous – “diet” versions of everything from cereal to soda, their packaging covered with empty promises – “Lose 20 pounds in 10 minutes by eating this chemical shitstorm version of real food!”  I sort of can’t believe that people are still pimping that speech.

And now a woman owned company chooses to make their money by trying to convince women that if we want to be a “lady” we even have to drink diet booze.  It’s not new – I remember my Atkins friends loading up on Vodka and low carb Red Bull and my Weight Watchers friends calculating the points value of a rum and diet Coke.  Now we can get drunk supporting a company that tells us that a “lady” should never, ever not be thinking about her weight.  Getting a drink to relax, they want us to know, should not include relaxing the constant calorie counting and diet mentality that defines us as “ladies.”

Another of their tag lines is “cocktails without the guilt.” I think that “guilt free!” food is even worse that “diet!” food. One of the best things that I gave up in my journey from an eating disorder to a healthy relationship with food was the concept of guilt. If I decide to have some ice cream I choose ice cream made with ingredients that I can discern without pulling out my college chemistry book or my copy of the periodic table. I eat the ice cream, enjoy the ice cream and move on with my life, unlikely to think about the ice cream again.  If I choose a salad the same steps apply.  I spent a LOT of time feeling guilty about what I ate, what I didn’t eat, what I wanted to eat even if I didn’t, and no good came of it.  A guilt free cocktail is one that you drink and then don’t choose to feel guilt over. Guilt free does not have to be about spending more on some special product, and you don’t need a  special product or anyone else’s permission to eat and drink without guilt.

I’m not against people selling products (I’ll be pimping my new book and blog membership at the end of this post and I’m not guilty about that either).  I am against companies trying to take our self-esteem, cheapen it, and sell it back to us at a profit.  This guilt free lady is calling bullshit on that.

Pre-Order the Book!

You have until this Sunday to preorder the book and get free shipping and an autographed copy. 

On July 9th the hard copy will go up for sale including shipping and without the autograph, and the low cost e-book will also become available.

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

 

The Deadly War on Obesity

The Collateral Damage Project seeks to collect stories of the casualties in the War on Obesity. There are many.  Sadly, like any war, the war on obesity has seen it’s share of casualties including fatalities.

Fiona Geraghty, who suffered from bulimia, told her doctor and her parents that girls at her private boarding school were teasing her for being fat before committing suicide.

After a year long inquiry the coroner blames the fashion industry, the media, and the internet. Her parents blame the treatment that she received for her eating disorder.

A school bus monitor is taunted to the point of tears for being fat. People say that kids are cruel and blame the parents.

In truth, the climate created by the war on obesity is a huge part of the problem.  The war is not just useless, pointless, and lacking evidence of efficacy – it’s harmful.  It’s deadly.

It’s also not the first time this has happened.  Think about times in history when a government has encouraged citizens to blame the country’s problems on a group of people who they can identify by sight or a particular characteristic. Oppressions cannot and should not be compared, my point here is that historically, that is not something that goes well. And if you think “well, this isn’t the same thing” maybe remind yourself that people in the past have justified their horrific behavior in exactly the same way.

The truth is inescapable:  fat people are being shamed, stigmatized, oppressed and scapegoated for profit and political cover.

For the record:

No, fat people are NOT the reason that healthcare costs have gone up.

No, there is no argument to be made about how fat people are costing you tax dollars.

Yes, it’s okay to be fat – no, other people’s bodies are not your business

Yes, the fashion industry, the media and the internet are part of the problem but all three of those are funded by our time, money and energy so ending this war starts with us and it’s not hard to participate.   There is one simple thing that you could do right now that I think will have a major impact:

Stop all negative body talk. Right now. Seriously, right this minute commit the mental energy to noticing your thoughts and intentionally changing your thought patterns to stop thinking negative things about bodies. Including and especially your own body.  Including thin people- size acceptance means all sizes.  If we stop all negative body talk, if we decide that we are simply no longer willing to put others down to make ourselves feel better, if we choose to stop trying to make people hate the body they live in 100% of the time, if we choose to start loving and appreciating the body that we live in 100% of the time, if we realize that other people’s bodies, health and habits are none of our damn business (just like our bodies, health and habits are not a matter for public comment), if we teach these values to our children, we will start to see a massive change for the better. And we can do it starting right freaking now.

Pre-Order the Book!

You have until this Sunday to preorder the book and get free shipping and an autographed copy.

On July 9th the hard copy will go up for sale including shipping and without the autograph, and the low cost e-book will also become available.

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

Unsufferable Evils

Today is Independence Day in the US.  It marks the day that the Declaration of Independence was signed.  I remember it as being the first piece of writing that moved me emotionally and it still does:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

I’d like to focus for a moment on the word “unalienable”.  Once you declare rights  unalienable you cannot later add contingencies – you can’t say, as a random hypothetical example, “the rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness are unalienable unless you get fat, then you deserve the government that would otherwise be both built upon, and in charge of, assuring these rights, to take them away and wage war against you until you no longer appear fat and then you can engage in whatever behaviors you want as long as you don’t get fat again.”  Allow me to assure you that my pursuit of happiness is severely compromised by being the subject of a war that the government is waging on me (and actively recruiting public and private interests to help with) because of how I look.

There’s another section of the Declaration of Independence that I want to mention that gets less attention:

Experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

For me, my fat activism and size acceptance is my expression of “I’m there.”  The evils, the long train of abuses against me by my government and it’s “War on Me and People Who Look Like Me”, have become unsufferable.  A big part, perhaps the biggest part, of getting there was realizing that I did not, and never had, deserved this treatment for any reason. It is not the governments job to wage war on me until I reach a specific height weight ratio that they seem to think is key to immortal health, and it never was – even if their idiotic plan of “oppressing and warring people healthy” wasn’t patently ridiculous.

Today I declare, again, my Independence from a culture and a government that is trying to alienate my unalienable rights and attempting to create a world where I am shamed, stigmatized, and oppressed until I look like they want me to look.  They will not succeed, I will not allow it.  I will help to raise an army against them and we will win.

So if you are fat I’m asking you – Are the evils still sufferable or have you had enough? Is it time to declare your independence and help fight the war to recapture and protect your right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

If you aren’t fat I’m asking you – are the evils still sufferable or have you had enough? Are you comfortable living in a world where people are shamed, stigmatized and oppressed because of how they look?

Our culture encourages little girls to go on diets at age 8; third grade girls would rather lose a parent than be fat; hospitalizations for eating disorders in children UNDER 12 are up 119%; women are told that we’ll never be good enough until we spend all of our time, energy and money trying to look like photoshopped images of models who don’t even look like their pictures;  doctors prescribe us something that nobody has ever proved is possible for a reason nobody has ever proved is valid and then lie to our faces about how often it succeeds;  the diet industry makes more than 60 billion dollars a year (enough to build 60,000 community centers with sliding scale fees every year), selling a product that is legally required to have a disclaimer anytime they even hint that it works, by taking credit for the biological fact that most people can lose weight in the short term and blaming their customers for the biological fact that almost all of them regain their weight in the long term. Once again, because we clearly haven’t learned , a group of people is being stereotyped, stigmatized and oppressed based on how we look and a heaping helping of confirmation bias.

Is the train of abuses long enough yet?  What’s it going to take for you to stand up, say “I’ve had enough!” and fight back? You are under no obligation to become an activist and I’m not saying that you have to make some kind of huge public stand, what I’m saying is that in this world simply refusing to hate yourself is an act of revolution and you are the only person who can determine how you feel about yourself.

Yes, it is absolutely okay to be fatYes, it’s okay to fight back against this unjust war .  The only question left is, what will you do?

Book Update!

UPS e-mailed me today and you have until this Sunday to preorder the book and get free shipping and an autograph. If you’ve already pre-ordered then thank you for your order and your patience, I’ll get the book signed and sent as soon as I have it. 

On July 9th the hard copy will go up for sale including shipping and without the autograph, and the low cost e-book will also become available.

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

Speak for Yourself Alton Brown

I saw an episode of Next Food Network Star. This is an elimination-style reality show where hopeful celebrity chef wannabes are put into teams lead by actual celebrity chefs and put through challenges with the chance to win their own show on Food Network.

One of the coaches is Alton Brown, and one of the competitors on his team had recently lost a lot of weight. The competitor was being criticized by the judges for not being authentic and sounding too “salesy” and Alton tried to stick up for him to the judges by saying:

Being heavy, I was heavy most of my life, is painful and you learn to create a different version of yourself to project to people you have to sell yourself because you’re not attractive and and you’re heavy and you’re clumsy and you’re all of those things.

Alton is doing a perfect job of demonstrating 4 common mistakes here:

1. Stereotyping fat people

Stereotyping is bad, mmmmkay? Many fat people are very graceful (although sometimes people can be unable to see it due to their own prejudices.)  Many fat people do not create an inauthentic persona. Perhaps Alton was a clumsy and inauthentic fatty,  and if so then the use of “I statements” would be a dandy option here.  Also, pretty often people who lose a lot of weight, especially rapidly, become clumsy because they aren’t used to the changes in their bodies.  Then when 95% of them gain it back within 5 years they can go through another clumsy period.  Of course, that’s not everybody because it’s basically impossible to make a single statement that applies to such a large group of people – which is why you should refrain from doing it.

2.  Blaming things on fat that may have nothing to do with it

There is nothing inherent in a fat body that causes people to want to create a different version of themselves.  If a fat person does create a different persona in order to deal with being fat, it’s likely due to the cultural stigma that they are dealing with, not the size of their body.  People of all sizes can be clumsy or graceful and it does not have to have anything to do with their size.  In a society where fat people are under constant and intense stigma, oppression and shame, it is often impossible to separate that which is due to their body size and that which is an outcome of their poor treatment.

There seems to be a pressure on celebrities who’ve lost weight to then claim that their lives before the weight loss were awful (despite the fact that they had their own television shows, were Grammy winners, Oscar winners, pop stars and famous in a way that millions of people want to be but very few actually are.)  Many times this life improvement has nothing to do with the change in body size, but is because they have, (at least temporarily) moved out of an oppressed class.

3. Failing to recognize that the fact that we live in a place and time where fat people’s beauty is not appreciated by everyone does not mean that fat people aren’t attractive.

There are plenty of people who find fat people attractive (unfortunately many of them don’t find the courage to admit it due to the previously mentioned shame and stigma of a culture where it’s acceptable to where a shirt that says “no fat chicks”.)  And let’s not forget that I can get on a plane right now and, within hours, be considered a the social standard of beauty in other cultures.

4.  Assuming that his experiences of being fat are everyone’s experience.

Covered this yesterday.

The idea that Alton Brown is an expert on fat people because he used to be fat is like saying that I’m an expert on babies because I used to be an infant.  His experience is not mine, he does not speak for me, and his stereotypes do not apply to me so I wish he would speak for himself or not at all.

Book Update!

The initial book order has been shipped!  When that shipment arrives the pre-ordering will end and we’ll move to regular ordering including both the hard copy and the e-book.  If you want to get an autographed hard copy with free shipping then, according to UPS, you have 1-3 days left to preorder.  If you’ve already pre-ordered then thank you for your order and your patience, I’ll get the book to you asap!

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

Doctors Gone Wild

Greetings from Arizona! Sorry that I’ve been lax on my blogging the past couple of days – the final details of my move became all consuming.  I’m also way behind on e-mail and on getting comments approved, I promise I’ll catch up, hang in there!

A couple days ago I got an e-mail telling me that I had “no right to question doctors because they have so much training and it’s disrespectful to their profession.”  Right. To borrow a phrase from filmmaker Darryl Roberts, I believe that I have to be the CEO of my own health which includes asking questions to healthcare professionals.  If you’re wondering why I feel that way, I submit to you these two stories of doctors gone wild which make me want to throw beads at them while yelling “Show us your lack of ethics!” (yes, that is a horrible Mardi Gras joke – I think 12.5 hours of driving may have made me a little loopy!)

Dr. Edward Shang, a course director for the International School for Obesity Research and Management, successfully submitted his study about weight loss surgery and exercise to a scientific journal. The problem?  He made up most, possibly all of the data.  The editor in chief of Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases says:

“This article has been retracted as the senior author, Dr. Edward Shang, claimed that 60 patients had undergone gastric bypass whereas only 21 patients had undergone surgery during this time period. Dr. Shang was unable to provide the raw data for the study, the name of a single patient, or a witness to patient entrance into the trial. Dr. Shang has agreed to withdraw this manuscript from publication.”

Dr. Andrew Chung, is a cardiologist who mixes scripture with medicine and recommends to his followers that they eat a very limited amount of food in order to constantly stay “wonderfully hungry.”  He said “When we’re 10 times hungrier, doesn’t food tastes 10 times better? And when food tastes 10 tastes 10 times better, that’s wonderful, isn’t it?… It’s a mathematical principle,”  So, Doctor Chung, this word mathematical – I do not think it means what you think it means.  Tragically a woman put her 16 year old daughter on this program and the girl died of malnutrition at 40 pounds.

Doctors are not infallible and let’s remember that the person who graduates dead last in their class from the medical school ranked dead last in the country is still just called “Doctor.”  You can do whatever you want but I will continue to question doctors. It’s not all bad, sometimes I get things that really give me hope, like this blog comment I got a couple of days ago:

Bravo! As a physician, I have often encountered overweight patients who live healthy lifestyles and are frustrated by an inability to lose weight. How freeing it would be if I had said simply, be healthy at the weight you are, or even better, be a Size Activist.
I have learned a valuable lesson from you and will bring this new perspective to my struggling patients.
Again, Bravo.

Dr. Kim M.
Cincinnati

You Feedback on a Possible Blog Project…

You may have heard of Sarah Robles and Holley Mangold.  They are super heavy weight Olympic weight lifters who have made the US Olympic Team.  They are both struggling financially.  USA weight lifting provides them with $400 per month and they struggle to get sponsorships, partly because their size makes it difficult for them to obtain sponsorship money – as Sarah says “You can get that sponsorship if you’re a super-built guy or a girl who looks good in a bikini. But not if you’re a girl who’s built like a guy,”

It makes me so angry that they aren’t considered for sponsorships because of their size.  Also, of course fat people get to choose whether or not they are interested in athletics and/or fitness, and I personally think it’s important to support fat athletes because it’s so rare for fat people to have role models who look like us and who challenge stereotypes and help give us the option to be involved in athletics if we want to.  So I am considering running a fundraiser to help support them. There are still some hoops to jump through to find out if I can do it and how it will work, but I wanted to ask for your feedback -is this something you would be interested in supporting either financially or by helping to get the word out?  Our Georgia Billboard Project was so incredibly successful ($21,000 in 8 days!) and a lot of that success was due to the support of you blog readers so I wanted to get your thoughts.  Feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me at ragen@danceswithfat.org

Book Update!

The initial book order has been shipped!  When that shipment arrives the pre-ordering will end and we’ll move to regular ordering including both the hard copy and the e-book.  If you want to get an autographed hard copy with free shipping then, according to UPS, you have 3-5 days left to preorder.  If you’ve already pre-ordered then thank you for your order and your patience, I’ll get the book to you asap!

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