Turkey, Mashed Potatoes, and Boundaries

Many of my friends are celebrating Thanksgiving today, many are having a “Screw Colonialism Turkey and Stuffing feast day”, many of my friends are just having Thursday.  For those of you who are having a feast holiday today, or have one coming up in the next few months, or ever deal with people pushing your boundaries about your health and weight, here are some ideas to help get you through:

The holidays in the US seem to bring with them a much higher chance of having to deal with unsolicited health advice, weight bullying, diet talk, diet encouragement, negative body talk etc.  There are some things that you can do to prepare and deal with it.

Consider the idea that your body is amazing – it breathes for you, pumps blood around all the time and does all kinds of cool things.  It deserves respect and admiration. If people don’t recognize that, it’s 100% their problem and a big flaming sack of not yours.

Things that people say to you are almost always a reflection of where they are in their life – if they are engaging in body shaming, food policing or other inappropriate behavior, remember that it’s about them, not about you. You do not have to take it personally or internalize it.

That doesn’t mean that you have to allow it to happen either.  You decide how people treat you and then you teach them how to treat you that way.  Don’t be afraid to set boundaries and consequences and then follow through. It’s ok to stand up for yourself, it’s ok to leave the room, it’s ok to leave the State.  It’s also ok to just get through it, but if you take that path may I suggest that you spend a lot of energy making sure that you aren’t internalizing those messages.

Good intentions do not negate bad behavior unless you decide that they do.

It’s a feast holiday, so it’s possible that feeling guilty about eating defeats the point.

People are allowed to be on diets, but if they feel the need to be incredibly vocal about it consider that they may have some issues that they are dealing with.  Again, this is a big flaming sack of not your problem.  Other people’s choices do not invalidate your choices, and vice versa.  Some dieters have a hard time with this – they need everyone to buy into dieting so that they can feel comfortable about their decision.  That doesn’t obligate you to buy in.

Once more with feeling:  Consider that your body is amazing – it breathes for you, pumps blood around all the time and does all kinds of cool things.  It deserves respect and admiration. If people don’t recognize that, it’s 100% their problem and a big flaming sack of not yours.

Looking for your input:

I’ve decided to write another book.  I’m an unwilling combatant in a war against me because of how I look. So is every other fat person.  The other side of the war has a battle plan, and I think it’s time that I had one too.  So the working title for my next book is “The War on Obesity:  A Battle Guide for the Fat Side.”   It will include sections about armor (studies that we can reference, facts and statistics etc.) as well as situational scenarios (both offensive and defensive) with real situations (at the doctor’s, at the gym etc.) and options and suggested scripting for handling them.  I’m in the proces of outlining the book now and I wanted to ask for some input:

The first chance for participation if you are interested is to let me know what scenarios you would like me to cover in the book, or what information would help you feel prepared to fight back against the war on obesity.  It would be awesome if you would e-mail your ideas to me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

Like the blog?  Check this stuff out (purchasing these also helps support my activism work, which I really appreciate):

The Book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here to order

The Dance Class DVDs:  Fun classes for all levels! Click here for the details

Become a Member and Get Special Deals from Size Positive Businesses

I do size acceptance activism full time.  A lot what I do, like answering over 4,000 e-mails from readers each month, 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 want to  support the work 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 – your contact info always stays completely private.

Speaking Schedule 2013 – I am now working on my speaking schedule for next year.  If you would like me to give a talk at your university, job/company, or organization just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org and we’ll talk about the options to make it work for your situation and budget.

9 thoughts on “Turkey, Mashed Potatoes, and Boundaries

  1. Hi Ragen,
    I just felt compelled to response to this post. What I did today (Thanksgiving) was create a folder titled, Ragen’s Awesome Sayings. What you said that triggered this was,”Good intentions do not negate bad behavior unless you decide that they do.”
    That just exploded in my head and I realized just how true it is. I have turned 50 this year and realized how much of my life I have lived or not lived by other peoples attitudes and how little they really mean.

    When I was young and 20 something there was not, to my knowledge, anyone around that said I was OK just the way I was and that I could do anything I wanted to. It wasn’t until my late 30’s that I began hearing about size acceptance and a lot of my hang-ups were well instilled by then. I just wonder if there had been a Ragen then, if I might have lived differently.

    What if I had been that Ragen? It makes me really sad that for so long I thought that “normal sized” people had all the answers. That they were better, smarter, and more deserving than I. Only because they told me they were.
    I’m so excited and inspired that you have raised the bar for all the critics both will meaning and not so well meaning. You say, PROVE IT!! and I’ll show you where your misinformation falls flat with logic, research, and awesome sayings ….well done!

    You have a gift, well many gifts, of intelligence, wit, courage, and the highest regard for the truth as well as the desire for the truth to be known.
    On top of all that, your a fantastic dancer!
    Sorry for the long post but this really struck a cord with me today and I wanted to say how grateful I am to you for standing for us all. We are all OK and size barriers of all kinds need to come down and for that we have you to thank. THANK YOU!!

    Happy Holidays.

    Warmest Regards,
    Kim Stacy

    1. Hi Kim,

      My apologies, I’m a bit behind on my comments (obviously). I’m so sorry that you’ve had to go through that in your life, and I think you’re amazing for finding ways to overcome it. Thank you so much for all of your kind words about my work, I’m glad that I have the opportunity to support you in the hard work that you are doing. You rock!!!


  2. Thanks!! Was at family’s house an hour before dinner & read this post. THANK YOU!! I needed those exact thoughts right then. Gave me the shot of courage needed to get through dinner & shut down the fat talk & food police. Thanks again, I hope you’ve had a great day.

  3. Ragen, I can’t thank you enough for this public service. You and your writing are an inspiration to me. I’ve been lambasted for my weight since I was 4. Since then, I’ve weight-cycled like crazy all my life until I finally ran into your blog and HAES. This year, I’m no longer hating myself thin, and if any of the geniuses in my family feel the need to point my weight out to me (as if I could possibly have missed that detail somehow), I’ll finally have some ammo. My New Year’s resolution is to keep my lunch money! 🙂

  4. I’m aware, as I have been other years around the holidays, of how difficult it is to spend so much time around extended family (despite the fact that I dearly love them) even when issues of eating and weight don’t come up. Their tendency to be judgmental about weight is reflected in their general tendency to be judgmental overall and their inability to accept and be tolerant of others (even though they sincerely believe that they’re open-minded and progressive). Their negative thinking about others and their expectation that everyone should see the world as they see it seeps into my psyche even when they don’t say anything to me or about me, and I realize that my efforts to be the “right” weight have always been tied up in my efforts to be accepted and recognized as valuable in all kinds of other ways. Weeks of family exposure around the holiday really messes with my sense of identity.

  5. I had a lovely (belated) Thanksgiving dinner with friends (mostly Americand and Canadian ex-pats) last night. There were people of all sizes and no one talked about dieting. Once, when someone started talking about an eating disorder she’d read about online, I asked that we not bring up that topic at a Thanksgiving dinner. We spent most of the evening extolling the amazing cooking abilities of the hostess and making dirty jokes. Not once did anyone tell another person that he or she shouldn’t eat that”. I felt so fortunate to enjoy a holiday dinner in such a size-accepting atmosphere.

  6. Hey Ragen I love your blog , I am lucky to have a family that really just eats, laughs ,and enjoy each other . Thanks to you however I am going to go and join salsa classes on Wednesdays , I am pretty excited, I did have to fight off the forcing on of food by my mother. I told her no three times , I have trouble dealing with her when it comes to food issues. She makes me feel guilty about eating more than one helping yet tries to push food on me . Maybe in your next book you can cover that type of situation . Happy belated thanksgiving 🙂

    1. Hi Britney,

      Your mom’s behavior is disturbingly common – I think it probably reflects her issues with food that she is trying to play out using you – good for you for finding a way to deal with it.

      I’m really exciting that you are going Salsa dancing – have fun 🙂



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