Moving from Dieting to Health at Every Size

I got a question from reader Iroshi asking how to discuss the transition from a weight centered approach to health to a Health at Every Size approach.  I’ll absolutely give my opinion about that but first let’s take it all the way back and discuss why someone might want to do that in the first place.

In a weight centered approach body size is used as a proxy for health – assuming that a thinner body will be a healthier body and so if someone is above what is considered a “healthy” weight, weight loss is advised to increase health.  There are several issues with this:

  • Weight is correlated with some diseases, but weight is not causally related.  There are no “fat people” diseases and so using weight as a proxy for health instead of using the simple tests for actual health means that people are either misdiagnosed or undiagnosed.  I once had a doctor try to prescribe blood pressure medication before taking my blood pressure (which was completely normal).  I have a friend who was begging to be tested for Type 2 Diabetes (which it turns out that she has) but her doctor told her that it was impossible for a thin person to get T2D.
  • It gives fat people the incorrect message that their healthy habits won’t make them healthy unless they make them thin.  That is not what the evidence like Matheson et. al, Wei et. al. and The Cooper Institute studies tell us.  In Matheson et. al. for example, fat people who practiced healthy habits had the same hazard ratio as thin people who practices healthy habits and a dramatically better hazard ratio than thin people who didn’t practice healthy habits.
  • There is no statistically significant study that shows that people who lose weight have better long term health outcomes that those who stay fat but practice healthy habits or those who were never fat.
  • Even if there was proof that weight loss makes us healthier, there is not a single study that shows that weight loss is possible for most people long term. The vast majority of people regain their weight within five years and many gain back more than they lost, even if they keep up their diet habits.  (Increasingly the evidence shows that the body has a multitude of mechanisms that are designed to regain and maintain weight that is lost.)   Weight loss fails the vast majority of the time and often has the exact opposite of the intended effect, and there is no proof that it will make us healthier even if it does work.  Weight loss simply does not meet the criteria for evidence-based medicine.

A prescription of weight loss suggests that we do something that nobody has proven is possible for a reason that nobody has proven is valid, and for which failure is a near statistical certainty.

Health at Every Size (HAES) is a health practice where the focus is on health rather than body size, based on the evidence that habits are a much, much, better determiner of health than body size. (HAES is not to be confused with Size Acceptance, which is a civil rights movement that asserts that people of every size deserve to be treated with respect and live free from shame, stigma, oppression, and bullying due to their size).  Health at Every Size acknowledges that health is multidimensional, some aspects of which are within our control and some aspects beyond our control. Health includes genetics, effects of past behaviors, current behaviors, and access to things like healthy foods, safe movement options and affordable evidence-based healthcare.  With HAES the focus is on practicing healthy habits and allowing your body to settle at whatever weight it settles.

The transition from a weight-centered health practice to a health-centered health practice can be difficult.  The problem that I most often hear from people initially is how to set goals.  In a weight centered practice the scale is our judge and jury.  All eating and movement activities are centered around changing the size and shape of the body.  In HAES our activities are focused around nurturing our bodies and giving them their best chance for health. Goals can be set around movement – I want to be able to life my grandkid, I want to be able to walk around the block etc.  They can be set around the habits themselves – I want to get 150 minutes of activity a week, I want to eat 5 servings of vegetables a day etc.

It should be noted that HAES is an option, not an obligation, and that health is a very personal thing and so people get to choose how highly to prioritize their health and what path to take to get there and it’s absolutely none of anybody else’s business.

I think that movement is the easiest place to start. A lot of research shows that 30 minutes of moderate movement 5 times a week is the magic number. It doesn’t have to be 30 minutes all at once, you can spread it into 3 10 minutes sessions and it doesn’t have to be miserable.  Choose whatever makes you happy – walking, gardening, dancing around your living room etc.   If  you haven’t exercised in a decade then 5 minutes of exercise might be a great starting goal – you don’t have to run a mile tomorrow and you probably don’t want to be the healthiest person in traction.  I’m a fan of getting a baseline (what can you do now without wanting to die) and then working and setting goals from there.  If you’re looking for a resource, my friend Jeanette Depatie (aka The Fat Chick) is a certified fitness professional who has a book and DVD for beginners or those getting back into exercise.  (DancesWithFat members get a special discount on either or both).  If you want support on your journey, check out the Fit Fatties Forum which has over 900 members of all levels of fitness, and includes discussions, groups, and a photo and video gallery.

Figuring out how to eat in ways that nurture your body rather than in ways that try to change your body’s shape can also be tricky.  I started with intuitive eating, I also kept a food journal (after I had worked through issues so that it wasn’t triggery) so that I could track how I felt after eating certain foods.  This is a place that is far beyond my expertise and where I think it’s definitely good to get some help.  I just saw today that Golda Poretsky is doing a special deal this weekend on her “How to Heal from Emotional Eating” home course, and Michelle at The Fat Nutritionist has tons of awesome information.  (In the interest of full disclosure – none of these people compensate me in any way, I just happen to think that they are awesome.)

So there are lots of nuts and bolts to work out but for me the biggest step was deciding to stop hating my body for not fitting an artificial, impossible societal stereotype of beauty,  and start appreciating it for everything it does.  This simple thing did more for my journey to health, happiness and body love than anything else that I’ve done. Once you make the decision to focus on your health and let your weight fall where it may, you’ve taken a huge step toward a HAES approach.  After that it’s all about trying things. Years ago I was talking to a business consultant friend of mine about how he gets “unstuck” when he’s working with a client and he’s not sure which path to take and he said, quoting someone else I’m pretty sure: Try something, anything.  If things get better then do more of that, if they get worse try something else.

So on your health journey you’ll try stuff – some things will be spectacular successes (like that time I took up dancing) and some may be spectacular failures (like that time I tried to overcome the fact that I despise distance running) and that’s ok. This is a lifelong journey and there is no right or wrong , there are just experiences and what you’re going to try next.

Like the blog?  Check Out the Book.  The E-Book is “Name Your Own Price”!

I wanted everyone to be able to afford Fat: The Owner’s Manual – Surviving a Thin-Obsessed World with your Health, Happiness, and Sense of Humor Intact  so it  is now available in soft cover and e-book which is “name your own price

Get Special Deals from Size Positive Businesses

I do size acceptance activism full time.  A lot what I do, like answering over 5,000 e-mails from readers each month and giving talks to groups who can’t afford to pay, and running projects like the Georgia Billboard Campaign etc. is unpaid, so I created a membership program so that people who read the blog and feel they get value out of it and/or who just want to  support the work that I do can become members for ten bucks a month  To make that even cooler, I’ve now added a component called “DancesWithFat Deals” which are special deals to my members from size positive merchants. Once you are a member I send out an e-mail once a month with the various deals and how to redeem them and your contact info always stays completely private.  (If you are a size positive merchant who wants to do a member deal just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org and we’ll get it set up)

So if you find value in my work, want to support it, and you can afford it, I would ask that you consider  becoming a member or supporting my work with a  one-time contribution.

The regular e-mail blog subscription (available at the top right hand side of this page) is always completely free. If you’re curious or uncomfortable about any of this, you might want to check out this post.  Thanks for reading! ~Ragen

Size Acceptance FAQs

As size acceptance activists we often get asked the same questions over and over.  Typically, in my experience, they are asked respectfully by people who are new to the movement and trying to wrap their heads around what we are about.  I thought I would take a stab at  creating some answers to frequently asked questions.  To be clear I am not speaking for the movement, or for anyone but myself with my answers.  I got us started with a few that I hear a lot, if you have ideas about questions that aren’t here leave them in the comments and I’ll add them to the post. If you have answers other than what I’ve given feel free to leave those in the comments as well:

Isn’t fat unhealthy?

No. Weight and health are two separate things – there are healthy and unhealthy fat people and healthy and unhealthy thin people. The confusion of weight and health does a disservice to fat people because people (often including doctors) think that they can look at us and determine our health, it also does a disservice to thin people who are told that they are healthy simply because of their weight and that isn’t what the evidence shows. In fact, the evidence shows that people’s habits are a much better determinant of health than their size is.  Body size is not a diagnosis.  I call this a Galileo issue – “everybody knew” that the sun revolved around the Earth and so Galileo’s statement that the evidence showed that the Earth revolved around the sun was considered heresy.  Now “everybody knows” that fat is unhealthy and so statements to the contrary, even though they are fully supported by evidence, are considered heresy. That doesn’t make them any less true.

Isn’t Health at Every Size just giving up?

Health at Every Size is a choice to focus on healthy habits as a way to improve health rather than focusing on body size as a way to improve health.  Studies on long term dieting show that the vast majority of people regain their weight after 5 years, many regaining more weight than they lost – dieting does not meet the criteria for evidence based healthcare.  Health at Every Size is about opting out of a social construct, perpetuated by a 60 Billion dollar a year diet industry, that takes our money to solve a problem that nobody has proven is valid with a solution that nobody has proven is effective or even possible for most people.  Health at Every Size does involve giving up on some things, including the hope of getting the societal approval that comes with being thin.  But the cure for social stigma isn’t weight loss, the cure for social stigma is ending social stigma.  Health is a very personal thing – each person gets to choose how highly they want to prioritize their health and the path that they take to get there.  For me it’s about the best I can do with the amazing and unique body I have which just happens to be a fat body.

How is it fair that my tax dollars pay for the healthcare of fat people?

While people may not realize it, this argument is thinly veiled bigotry.  Tax dollars pay for all kinds of things and unless someone has a list of everything that their tax dollars pay for broken down by what they do and do not want to pay for, then this is just about prejudice against fat people.  This is a very slippery slope – should those of us who don’t drink get to opt out of our tax dollars paying for any alcohol-related health problems? Should vegans get to opt out of their tax dollars paying for the healthcare of non-vegans?  There are some military projects that I’m not thrilled to pay for.  This whole argument collapes under scrutiny.  Also, just to bring some facts to the table, the Congressional Budget Office, and anyone who has actually looked at the numbers has concluded that fat people are barely a blip on the healthcare cost radar.

How can you say it’s ok to be fat?

Because nobody needs anyone else’s permission or approval to live in, and be happy with, their body.  Fat people have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and that includes the right to live life in the bodies we have without our government waging war on us or having other people tell us that we need to do what they think we should do until we look the way they think we should look. It is absolutely, positively, completely ok to be fat.

Remember if you have questions that you would like me to answer, you can leave them in the comments!

Get Special Deals from Size Positive Businesses

I do size acceptance activism full time.  A lot what I do, like answering over 5,000 e-mails from readers each month and giving talks to groups who can’t afford to pay, and running projects like the Georgia Billboard Campaign etc. is unpaid, so I created a membership program so that people who read the blog and feel they get value out of it and/or who just want to  support the work that I do can become members for ten bucks a month  To make that even cooler, I’ve now added a component called “DancesWithFat Deals” which are special deals to my members from size positive merchants. Once you are a member I send out an e-mail once a month with the various deals and how to redeem them and your contact info always stays completely private.  (If you are a size positive merchant who wants to do a member deal just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org and we’ll get it set up)

So if you find value in my work, want to support it, and you can afford it, I would ask that you consider  becoming a member or supporting my work with a  one-time contribution.

The regular e-mail blog subscription (available at the top right hand side of this page) is always completely free. If you’re curious or uncomfortable about any of this, you might want to check out this post.  Thanks for reading! ~Ragen

Like the blog?  Check Out the Book.  The E-Book is “Name Your Own Price”!

I wanted everyone to be able to afford Fat: The Owner’s Manual – Surviving a Thin-Obsessed World with your Health, Happiness, and Sense of Humor Intact  so it  is now available in soft cover and e-book which is “name your own price

I’m Way Too Up to Back Down

I received the following comment on my post “The Truth About Diabesity“:

Today my mom emailed me the link to that abc article because omgdeathfat is upon me (or some such nonsense) and in-turn I emailed her the link to this blog post. She responded with “well obviously this girl read the ada site wrong and is just tired of being picked on for being fat. If she would just try harder she wouldn’t have that problem.” My head met my desk briefly then I told her to read your “about” section which was met with the usual VFHT and the “fact” that all overweight people are unhealthy. How do you explain to someone so obviously thick-headded that they are wrong?!

It’s a really good question, and one I get asked a lot.

First let me clarify some stuff:

ADA quote:  the quote that she is referring to is from the American Diabetes Association,  “Myth:  If you are overweight or obese, you will eventually develop type 2 diabetes…  Most overweight people never develop type 2 diabetes, and many people with type 2 diabetes are at a normal weight or only moderately overweight.”  It’s directly from their website, you can find it here. You have to appreciate the dedication that would lead someone to suggest that I misread that.  That’s a special kind of stubborn.

VFHT:  Vague Future Health Threat.  This is what happens when you say you are fat and healthy and people come back with some form of “you’re healthy now, but it will catch up with you”.  It’s the idea that no amount of being fat and healthy is proof that you can be fat and healthy – because someday you will not be healthy and it will be because of your fat.  I blogged about this one here.

Back to the question at hand “How do you explain to someone so obviously thick-headded that they are wrong?!”

The short answer for me is that you probably don’t. It can be extremely frustrating when other people don’t respect our decisions about our personal health.

Other people have a right to their opinions just as we have a right to ours. I like dialog, but it’s very difficult to have a discussion with someone who has stuck their fingers in their ears and is yelling LA LA LA LA LA. So I think that it comes down to our right to decide how people treat us.  Choosing to opt out of the diet culture can illicit a strong reaction for one of several reasons:

Good Cop:  People are genuinely concerned

We are exposed to thousands and thousands of thin=healthy messages everyday.  Many of us, upon a thorough review of the evidence, have concluded that this information is erroneous.  Other people haven’t done the research, or they looked at the evidence and drew a different conclusion.They are genuinely worried about our health.

Bad Cop:  Jealousy/Envy/Threat/Immaturity

Unfortunately for some people, their bodies made it out of Junior High School but their brains were left behind. Some have bought into the diet culture wholesale, and the fact that you don’t bothers them.  Some people need to convince other people that they are right in order to feel good about their own decisions.  Some people feel the need to feel superior.  Some people can only feel good about themselves when they are putting someone else down.

Regardless of why they are acting like this, you can choose how you are treated.  I heard the lyric “I’m way too up to back down” in a song and it captured exactly how I feel.  When I was dieting, trying desperately to be thin so that I could be healthy, I ended up being anything but healthy – physically or mentally.  Now I enjoy good mental and physical health without obsessing about food and exercise. I’m way too up to back down on this issue. Unless someone has some serious evidence to present then I’m not interested.  So what do you say to people who are giving you an “everybody knows…” answer:

Discussion

If the person is important to you, then consider a conversation.  Decide ahead of time what you want.  Are you open to a discussion?  If so what are the ground rules?  You get to decide.  Maybe this is something that you and this person just don’t talk about.  If they’re unwilling to comply with your wishes, you need to know what you’re going to do.  Are you prepared to walk away?  Listen to these things in the future and take what they have with a grain of salt?

You might use this time to mention other things that “every body (including doctors) knows” – scientific “facts” like the sun revolves around the Earth, heroin is a great cough suppressant, thalidomide is the perfect choice for morning sickness, and blood letting will clear your asthma right up.

Disconnection

Typically I’m a fan of dialog but I’ve come to realize that sometimes the person in question just isn’t worth it.  If that’s the case, then you might want to consider disconnecting from them and moving on.  You can still be pleasant, just pull away quietly. Do it with class but consider the idea that you have a finite amount of time and attention to give, you get to choose who you give it to, and some people do not deserve your time and energy.

Confrontation

You can certainly go with the yelling, screaming approach.  In my experience – and I don’t think this is fair, it’s just been my experience – becoming emotional often makes the argument seem weak and makes me feel powerless in the situation.  Your mileage may vary so if it feels good to get it out, then by all means do what you want.

Regardless of what you do, I highly recommend building a network of people who will support you.  If you can’t do it in person, then start looking online but finding a group who you can trust and being there for each other is incredibly helpful.

Like the blog?  Check Out the Book.  The E-Book is “Name Your Own Price”!

I wanted everyone to be able to afford Fat: The Owner’s Manual – Surviving a Thin-Obsessed World with your Health, Happiness, and Sense of Humor Intact  so it  is now available in soft cover and e-book which is “name your own price

Become a Member, Support The Work!

Member support is crucial to the work that I do.  Last month’s member support allowed me to answer 5421 e-mails from people who had questions about Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size. Some of them had simple questions, some of them were in the middle of a life crisis – member support allowed me to support them all, thank you!

Members also get cool discounts from fat friendly merchants.  This month’s member deals come from  More of Me to Love, Jodee Rose, Jeanette Depatie, The Fatimas, Dr. Deah, www.biggirlbeachwear.com, Dr. Cheryl Fuller, www.favewear.com, 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 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

With Us or Against Us

I’ve been thinking about something a lot lately – I receive a lot of criticism for my “underpants rule” policy, especially when it comes to people’s right to make different choices about their bodies and health than I would make.  I think that my right to choose Health at Every Size is dependent upon someone else’s right to choose weight loss.  The most important thing to me is that people know that HAES and Size Acceptance are options that they can choose and that they have access to true information.

One thing I see sometimes is an attitude that “If they’re not with us, they are against us, so screw ’em.”  In this scenario, “with us” typically means that they are already where we are on their size acceptance journey, that they aren’t asking questions that we’ve heard a thousand times, that they aren’t still thinking that they might want to change their size and shape, or that you have to be thin to be healthy etc.

I sometimes see fat activists get frustrated with people who are at the beginning of their journey, asking questions that we’ve answered a thousand times.  I can absolutely understand the frustration, but I wonder if perhaps we’re forgetting that the first time we heard many of those questions was when we first asked them.   I think sometimes in our zeal we can forget that this is a process – that the world is constantly inundating people with the opposite message and that everyone may not have whatever confluence of events, circumstances and personality quirks allowed us to get to this place.

My philosophy for my activism and this blog (which is certainly not the only valid philosophy) is that “If they aren’t actively against me, maybe they’re with me.”  Based on where we are as a civil rights movement I do not think that Fat Activism has to be about everyone choosing the same things that I do. for their bodies.  I think it’s more about everyone believing in choice and respect.  So if someone believes that people of every size should be treated with respect, should be allowed to prioritize their health however they want and choose their own path to health; if they believe in ending size stigma, oppression and weight bullying then I think there’s a place for them in size acceptance.  Even if they make different choices about their bodies than I would not make.

Rather than telling people who are curious about HAES and SA but still want to try to change the size and shape of their body to go to hell, what if we  provided access to information, patiently answered their respectful questions, modeled options, respected their choices, and in turn demanded respect for ours.  If people are interested in helping to dismantle size stigma and bullying, then I think that there is space for them, even if they don’t choose to accept their own size at this time, and I think that being involved in the movement gives them plenty of opportunities to consider their options.

That does not mean that people who choose weight loss have to be given an opportunity to talk about weight loss in every forum.  It is absolutely ok for there to be spaces that are weight neutral, Health at Every Size and Size Acceptance  based etc.   The Fit Fatties Forum, for example (which the amazing Jeanette DePatie and I founded with the help of Jayne Williams), has very specific rules against pro-diet or pro weight loss talk and I don’t apologize for that –  there are plenty of places to talk about those things and it is absolutely possible to respect people’s personal choices about weight loss and still create boundaries for your space/forum/blog etc.

I think it’s important to remember that we are up against a massive and devastatingly effective propaganda campaign perpetuated by big businesses with big profit motives for maintaining the status quo.  Many of the people who find the fatosphere and contact us with questions  are still attempting to lose weight because they truly believe that it is likely to work and will improve their health.  They are following the orders of their doctor – a medical professional who they assume they can trust to give them good information.  There are people who hate themselves because they literally don’t know that there is another choice. People face astronomical pressure to lose weight from nearly every facet of society and they receive a tremendous social reward for whatever time they are able to maintain their weight loss.

I know that health and weight are two different things, I know that you can pursue health and happiness in the body you have now because many things and people came together in my life to allow that to happen. I want to pass that along and try to help people who are where I used to be.  Yes indeedy, I wasn’t always the body loving, size positive woman who is writing this today – I took part in Biggest Loser contests – taking pictures of myself in bike shorts and a sports bra, I did every diet you’ve ever heard of and probably some that you haven’t.  Even when I learned to love my body I still believed that I could never be healthy until I was thin.

I’ve been where these people are and so when they come to me at the start of the journey – confused, questioning and in disbelief about Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size, I work hard to summon the same compassion that people gave me (or more compassion than many were able to muster…). It doesn’t matter if it’s the fifteen millionth time I’ve heard the question – it’s the first time that they’ve mustered the courage to ask it and that’s a big deal.  If they are asking questions respectfully then they aren’t against me so maybe they are with me and, from my experience, how I handle that will be part of determining whether they become an ally, an activist, or an enemy.

Like the blog?  Check Out the Book.  The E-Book is “Name Your Own Price”!

I wanted everyone to be able to afford Fat: The Owner’s Manual – Surviving a Thin-Obsessed World with your Health, Happiness, and Sense of Humor Intact  so it  is now available in soft cover and e-book which is “name your own price

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 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

 

 

Nobody Wants to Eliminate Obesity

I know that with all of “war on obesity” stuff you hear it’s hard to believe, but stick with me here for a minute.  First let’s clarify who the War on Obesity is actually against. It would seem to be against obese people, but that’s not quite true.  “Obesity” as currently defined is the result of a mathematical formula involving a ratio of weight and height called “BMI”  We’ve discussed before why the BMI is BS.  Part of the reason is that there are so many exceptions to the rule. When people talk about eliminating obesity they don’t typically mean that world class athletes should drop muscle mass so that their ratio comes into line, or that very tall people should be underweight so that they have an “acceptable” ratio of weight and height.

When people talk about eliminating obesity, they typically mean eliminating people who are visibly fat.  The war is not against a ratio of weight and height that’s greater than 30, it’s against people who don’t fit the stereotype of beauty.  And the front lines of this war are everywhere we look and listen – magazine covers, billboards, commercials, infomercials, ads on the internet, random strangers on the street, health care and wellness professionals, talk show hosts etc.

Knowing that, today I’m going to ignore the mountain of scientific evidence that says that  intentional weight loss doesn’t work.  I’m going to ignore all of the evidence that Health at Every Size does work.  I’m going to ignore the many healthy fat people and unhealthy thin people who exist and disprove the efficacy of conflating weight and health.  My question today is: Even if we would all be healthier if we were thin, is the War on Obesity a good idea?

Have you ever had something that you hated: a purse, some shoes, a knick-knack that was a gift from someone?  Did you take good care if it?  Were you inspired to dust it and polish it and keep it beautiful.

Me neither.

The war on obesity has branched out to cover not just the appearance of bodies, but also their health, intelligence and worthiness. The War tells us that if our bodies are fat then they are unhealthy, ugly, unattractive and not worthy of love. We are told that we are not thin because we are lazy, don’t make healthy choices, and lack will power.  We are told that thin is the same as healthy and that we can’t have health without attaining a “healthy weight”.

The vast majority of dieters gain back all of their weight plus more within five years. Yet if we are part of this vast, vast  majority, we are shamed and called weak failures.

The war on obesity tells us to hate ourselves.  Then it says that we have to take good care of ourselves.  Then it says that it doesn’t matter if we take good care of ourselves, we have to lose weight or we should keep hating ourselves until we hate ourselves enough to take good enough care of ourselves to lose weight.

It’s ridiculous.  It’s a system that sets us up to fail, actively participates in our failure, then makes us feel horrible for failing, all the while profiting the diet industry to the tune of almost $60,000,000,000 (yup, that’s sixty billion dollars) a year.

So back to my original question:  Even if we would all be healthier if we were thin (and I don’t think we would be), is the War on Obesity a good idea?

I think that the answer is a resounding no. There are absolutely no circumstances in which a war on all people who look a certain way is a good idea.  Here’s are some steps to fight back…

  1. Notice how often these dangerous messages happen  Tomorrow notice how many messages you get about obesity – from television, the radio, the internet (how many diet ads are on the pages you look at) etc.  Notice how many of those messages are created by someone who either wants you to buy their product or has something to gain by maintaining the status quo (ie: they derive their self-esteem from being “better” than fat people)
  2. Appreciate your body! Your body is amazing – think of all of the stuff that it is doing for you right now:  you are breathing, your heart is beating, you are blinking, the list goes on and on.  Your body deserves to be loved and appreciated.  Just as it is.  Right now.  Right this minute.
  3. Do things that make you and your body feel good.
  4. Stop judging others by their weight. Stop assuming that very thin women have eating disorders.  Stop assuming that fat people are lazy or unhealthy.  Strike words like “skinny bitch”, “fat pig” etc. from your vocabulary
  5. Don’t push your idea of health onto other people.  Make choices for yourself and stop telling other people how they should live unless they are asking directly for your thoughts or advice.  Your experience is just that – YOUR experience.  You get to make decisions for you based on your experience but nobody else is required to take your experience into account in their decisions.  Don’t confuse your experience for everyone’s experience.
  6. Speak out when you see other people partaking in these negative behaviors.  Every time someone says something like this they are reinforcing to someone else that they are unhealthy, unattractive and unworthy.  The idea of making someone hate themselves healthy is ludicrous.
  7. Tell your story.  A lot of people don’t even know that Health at Ever Size is an option for them.  That’s the entire point of my blog. I don’t want to tell people how to live, I just want them to know that there are options for happiness and health with the body they have now.

Like the blog?  Check Out the Book.  The E-Book is “Name Your Own Price”!

I wanted everyone to be able to afford Fat: The Owner’s Manual – Surviving a Thin-Obsessed World with your Health, Happiness, and Sense of Humor Intact  so it  is now available in soft cover and e-book which is “name your own price

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 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

Say What You Need to Say

I was on a blogging panel yesterday and one of the audience members asked us if we ever shy away from topics because we are afraid that we’ll upset our readers.

I said that I say what I think needs to be said whether or not I think it will be popular – and that’s true.  But I’ve been thinking about it a lot today and there are more layers than that and I want to be honest about it.  I often write something controversial and then wait a few days to publish it (usually I lead the blog with that information)  I do it because it does feel kind of scary for me to write something that I feel is going to be unpopular or cause people not to want to read the blog, or to attack me personally.   But that’s just how it goes.  Risk is the currency of revolution.  And I want revolution.

It also occurs to me that my being honest behind my computer and across the internet is certainly much easier than what so many fat people face every day to talk to their families and friends; to stand up to an often hostile world; to consider that we and our bodies might just be ok; to state that we deserve our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and that includes the right to live in our bodies without attack or being combatants in a war perpetrated against us by our government because of how we look.

So let me suggest, with no obligation, that it’s very often worth it to take the risk.  Say what is true for you.  Say what you feel.  Speak truth to power.  Say things that you truly believe will make things better, and then let it ride.  I bet you’ll be better for it, and I’ll bet the world will be better for it. Viva la Fatty Revolution!

Like the blog?  Check Out the Book.  The E-Book is “Name Your Own Price”!

I wanted everyone to be able to afford Fat: The Owner’s Manual – Surviving a Thin-Obsessed World with your Health, Happiness, and Sense of Humor Intact  so it  is now available in soft cover and e-book which is “name your own price

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 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

 

 

 

Get Your Inner Critic Drunk

Today is the first day of the NAAFA convention but there isn’t much that goes on before 6pm so  the LA chapter created Body Fabulous Friday, a day of workshops and events to get things kicked off. The always brilliant Jeanette DePatie was doing an art project about inner/outer critics and she mentioned that her room is connected to the room with the supplies for happy hour.  She suggested a cocktail before the project and Marilyn Wann joked that we should get our inner critic drunk.

It struck me as a great idea. I don’t know about your inner critic, but speaking for mine I can remember when she very seriously needed to have her horizons expanded.  Really listening to my inner critic and what she was saying to me was a massively important part of my journey to loving my body.

At first it was hard work to separate that inner critic out but once I did and I really evaluated what she had to say and  whether or not I thought it was true.  I was honestly shocked to find out that everything that my inner critic said came from external sources and not from me at all.  I realized that I had never truly disliked my body or been unhappy with it at all, I never believed that my body was unhealthy or anything less than awesome – those were things that people told me that I had taken bought into subconsciously.  At that point I had to ask myself if I really wanted my self-concept to be based on the ideas of a prejudiced world?  Did I really want to make those beliefs my own?  Were they serving me?

I’ve noticed over time those who are bigoted against fat people keep changing their message – first they don’t want us to assault their eyes with our fatness, when someone explains the ancient art of looking at something else,  then they started to say that it was for our own good because of “our health”, when we explained that our health is really our business, then it became that they don’t want to have to pay for our health care with their tax dollars.  The fact that it’s completely baseless doesn’t seem to matter so much and I think that may be because, for many people, the point of all this is to feel good about themselves by making us feel bad.  They work hard to engage our inner critic in this process because it means less work for them.  But that’s just speculation.

The reality is that each of us is the only person who can decide how we feel about ourselves.  There might be work to shift how we feel, we might have to get our inner critic drunk and have a talk and start to get on the same page, but I can say that deciding to like myself was the start of almost everything good in my life and it was totally worth the cost of a couple of martinis for my inner critic.

Like the blog?  Check Out the Book.  The E-Book is “Name Your Own Price”!

I wanted everyone to be able to afford Fat: The Owner’s Manual – Surviving a Thin-Obsessed World with your Health, Happiness, and Sense of Humor Intact  so it  is now available in soft cover and e-book which is “name your own price

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 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