Worth Looking At

IMG_9103 - Copy
A judge once told me that she “couldn’t stand to look at me” in this costume and that I had “no business wearing spaghetti straps.”

I did a post a couple of days ago about seeing the Cirque du Soleil show “Zumanity” and noticing that, in a show of people who are nearly naked, the only two fat women in the show were also the only performers wearing full body stockings (long pants, long sleeved) all the time.  I got a lot of interesting reactions to the piece that I wanted to talk about.

A very common response was asking if perhaps the women (who are known as The Botero Sisters) might prefer to be covered by a full body stocking, and isn’t that their right?

As women of course it’s their right, but I don’t think it makes this any less important to discuss.  If this is the case, then I have a couple of questions.  First, would such a request would have been honored if it were made by one of the thin performers, or would they have been told that they were signing up for a show where being scantily clad was part of the job? Also, while it’s their right to make the choice, I think it’s worth examining if choices like that are driven by a society that says that a thin naked body is sexy and a fat naked body must be covered or contained to be seen.

Some people wondered if the costuming was made to help them with their performance but other people who did the exact same thing that they did wore far less clothing so I don’t feel that’s it.  (In fact, now that I know their background and how talented they are, I feel that they are vastly under-utilized in the show.)

Another response suggested that perhaps Cirque did a study and found that people found them more sexy with the body stockings.  If that is the case, then I would have to ask again if that is driven by the rampant fat hatred in society and if “giving the people what they want” is worth reinforcing and contributing to the stigma and shame that are heaped on fat people by society – especially in a show like this that is supposed to be about breaking boundaries.  As I said in my original piece, I applaud the step forward of having these women in the show, and I think it’s worth talking about what the next step is.

I think I wasn’t clear enough in my first piece so let me be clear now that I’m not suggesting that we judge these women – or other fat performers – for the choices they  make when it comes to costuming.  As a fat dancer who has both competed and is in a fat cabaret company, I can absolutely understand how hard it is to make costume choices and the criticism that can be leveled by anyone and everyone about anything and everything. I am not suggesting that we should run around criticizing fat performers for their costume choices.

What I am suggesting is that we critically examine the culture that leads to those choices.  What I am suggesting is that we recognize when something might be driven by that culture – when fat people have a different experience than thin people because of the way fat people are viewed and treated in the culture.  What I am suggesting is that, like fat people in all manner of clothes and lack thereof, those things are worth looking at.

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

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

Become a member: For just ten bucks a month you can keep this blog ad-free, support the activism work I do, and get deals from cool businesses Click here for details

Interviews with Amazing Activists!!  Help Activists tell our movement’s history in their own words.  Support In Our Own Words:  A Fat Activist History Project!

Dance Classes:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details 

If my selling things on the blog makes you uncomfortable, you might want to check out this post.  Thanks for reading! ~Ragen

Fat In Person

I got nature on me for the sake of this picture!  Spa Day with More Cabaret
The lovely ladies of More Cabaret Fatting it Up at the Day Spa! (I got nature on me for this picture!)

I’m sitting in a hotel room in Las Vegas, and I’m thinking about how one really important form of activism is just being fat in public.  In the past few days I’ve had a lot of chances.  The Size Diversity Task Force retreat is now over, but we had an amazing four days.  There were people I spend a lot of time with, people I’ve met a couple times, and people I only know from online.  We had laughing and crying, activities from a fatshion show to fataoke, we had fancy dinner and un-fancy brunch, we had an ongoing moving scooter brigade, we had participants from Florida to California, we had a blast.

I absolutely love fat community on the internet – it’s given me the opportunity to learn about Fat Acceptance, to have this blog and all of the awesome comments and community that happen here thanks to my kick ass readers, and it’s given me the opportunity to make friends all around the world.  For people I know in rural areas, or urban areas where there isn’t strong community, online fat acceptance community has been an absolute lifeline.

While I love online community, there’s something really special about fat community in person.  Whether it was walking with a fat mob down Freemont street to dinner, or hanging out in the hotel suite and talking about the activism projects that we want to do, or just hanging out, there’s something very cool and empowering about being around fellow fatties and thin allies and thin fat activists in person.  There’s something amazing about the physicality of it, and about being able to talk about experiences that we have, there’s something empowering about hearing someone make a dinner reservation saying “There are 20 of us and we’re all really fat so make sure we have some space and armless chairs.” There’s definitely something magical about dancing around the room to wild applause while people cheer you on, and something uplifting about supporting someone who has just stood up to a fat bully.  Plus it’s just a really amazing experience to hang out and have fun with people who aren’t judging you for your size.

What I’m saying here is that if you aren’t involved in fat community in person, I would highly suggest giving it a try if it is available to you.   There are lots of options.  There are local groups – check Meetup and Facebook for local groups in your area, or consider starting your own.  You could start your own group around something that you like (fat friendly knitting group, fat friendly walking group, fat friendly dinner and a movie night), you could start a local group of the Size Diversity Task Force, or start your own thing. There are retreats and conferences.  The SDTF retreat is over for now, but Abundia is coming up in November (and there’s still time to get the hotel discount!)

If you want help with doing any of this, e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat.org and I’ll be happy to help! For now I want to say thank you to the amazing group of people who let me hang out with them in Vegas this week and sent me back home refreshed, reinvigorated and really excited about what’s to come (*cough* Guinness Record Paper Mache Sculpture made from diet books *cough*)

If you have awesome experiences with being fat in person, or ideas for those who are looking for some in-person community, it would be super extra awesome if you left them in the comments!

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

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

Become a member: For just ten bucks a month you can keep this blog ad-free, support the activism work I do, and get deals from cool businesses Click here for details

Interviews with Amazing Activists!!  Help Activists tell our movement’s history in their own words.  Support In Our Own Words:  A Fat Activist History Project!

Dance Classes:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details 

If my selling things on the blog makes you uncomfortable, you might want to check out this post.  Thanks for reading! ~Ragen

Flawsome?

enoughI just watched an episode of America’s Next Top Model that had a photoshoot themed around being “Flawsome.” The idea here is that you have a flaw that you rock, thereby making it awesome.

Flaws included a widow’s peak, tooth gap, skinny legs, big hips, big eyes, a mole, and a big forehead.  Each shoot included model Shaun Ross who is an actor, model and dancer who identifies as an Albino of African descent.

The thing that’s really flawed is the idea that there is one right way to look and everything else is a flaw.  This idea is racist, sizeist, and ableist just for a start.  It seems to me that this is one of those situations where the majority of people who are participating in the situation are being hurt by it and yet we keep perpetuating it with our time, money, and energy.  “Rocking our “flaws” is one option.  Another option would be to fervently declare that we don’t have flaws.  That our foreheads, eyes, hips and everything else are fine as they are.

What if there is no such thing as flawed bodies?  What if there are only variations?  Different shapes, different sizes, different abilities, but all perfect as they are.  What if, instead of reading another article about clothing that hides those “problem areas”, we realized that our bodies don’t have any problem areas? What would be different if, instead of suggesting that other people (or that we) aren’t beautiful, we realized that the problem is that we’ve been taught to see flaws instead of to see beauty.  What if we took it upon ourselves to change that.   What if we looked for beauty in every single person we saw.  No more flaws, no more problem areas, no more body snarking, no more “can you believe she’s wearing that“.  What if every time you looked at someone else, every time you looked in the mirror, you found something beautiful.  Imagine how we can change the world.  Now consider not just imagining, but doing it!

Like this blog? Consider supporting my work with a donation or by  becoming a member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you. I get paid for some of my speaking and writing (and do both on a sliding scale to keep it affordable), but a lot of the work I do (like answering hundreds of request for help and support every day) isn’t paid so member support makes it possible ( THANK YOU to my members, I couldn’t do this without you and I really can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support!)   Click here for details

Here’s more cool stuff:

My Book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

Dance Classes:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details 

If you are uncomfortable with my selling things on this site, you are invited to check out this post

 

Oh the Zumanity

I’m in Las Vegas where Julianne has taken me to celebrate my birthday. Tonight she took me to see the Cirque du Soleil show Zumanity.  It’s Cirque’s 18 and up show built around an exploration of human sexuality.  There were a lot of really good things in the show, including a celebration of women of many different shapes and sizes. There are two fat women included in the show.  Billed as the Botero sisters they have a lot of crowd interaction and are included in a dance number and in other small roles.

While I was very happy to see two fat women in the show, I was dismayed that, unlike any of the other performers, they wore full body stockings (covering their entire body including legs and long sleeves) under their costumes. (EDIT:  Based on my understanding of how Cirque works, the costumes were chosen by the company and not by women – if they want to wear these body stockings that would certainly be their choice, I know many fat belly dancers who choose to wear the stockings which is, of course, totally cool.)

It’s progress for sure to have two fat women as performers wearing thong bikinis and I celebrate that progress.  Having read a bit about the two sisters they seem to be both talented and body positive.  But I am surprised that a show that thinks its audience is ready for [spoilers] women having orgasms while tied up and choking themselves, a drag queen propositioning an elderly couple for three-way sex, and a rotating “lazy susan” orgy doesn’t think its audience is ready for a fat body that isn’t wrapped in a nylon stocking.

I think that says something about the tremendously oppressive nature of fat bigotry in this culture.  I also think it’s time for Cirque’s exploration to start a new expedition – no body stocking required. Perhaps the world will follow.

Do you get stressed about going to the doctor’s office? 

At the request of a number of blog readers, I’ve created a workshop designed to help people communicate effectively with their doctors – including things to say when the doctor diagnosis you as fat and prescribes weight loss,  the research that supports a Health at Every Size Approach, and even optional role playing and Q&A.  Get all the details here! Registration deadline is October 11.

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

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

Become a member: For just ten bucks a month you can keep this blog ad-free, support the activism work I do, and get deals from cool businesses Click here for details

Interviews with Amazing Activists!!  Help Activists tell our movement’s history in their own words.  Support In Our Own Words:  A Fat Activist History Project!

Dance Classes:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details 

If my selling things on the blog makes you uncomfortable, you might want to check out this post.  Thanks for reading! ~Ragen

Peaceful Angry Happy

credible hulkReasonably often someone brings up my “anger” in the blog as an issue.  Yesterday a reader named Ame brought it up in a comment and I decided that it’s time to address it:

I’ve read your blog and you are so immensely talented but so very, very angry. You preach like you are at peace with your size but to post blog entry after blog entry that are so filled with anger towards anyone (be they medical or man on the street) that contradicts that being heavy is healthy or a natural state for some, indicates that you are not happy, not at peace with yourself.

Thank you for the kind words.  I don’t know about immensely talented but I am definitely very, very angry – I am, in fact, pissed.  And not just at those who insist that body size and health are the same thing.  Even if health and body size were the same thing it would still not excuse the way that fat people are treated by everyone from the government to strangers that we meet, and I would still be very, very angry. That doesn’t mean that I’m not happy – I’m happy about a great many things, and I’m perfectly capable of holding happiness for some things and anger for others at the same time.

To suggest that my anger with the way I’m treated indicates that I am “not at peace with myself” makes it seem to me that we should stop the logic train because we’ve had a passenger fall off.  I’m at peace with myself – I’m at war with a large part of the world, and not of my choosing.  Perhaps you’ve heard of the “war on obesity?”  That war is against me, and my body. That war tries to convince people (including me) that I, and everyone who looks like me, should be eradicated based on the shaky assumption that it will save society money (as if it’s ok to suggest that a group should be eradicated in order to save society some money.)

Not only am I at peace with myself, I’m at peace with myself despite the fact that I’m being given the message that the way I look is proof that I’m a bad person who deserves shame, stigma and oppression.  It is that peace that makes me want to fight for my body and my rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness which includes the right to exist in a fat body without having the government wage war on me for how I look. It’s my love for my own body that drives the anger.

Let’s try this – Imagine that you have a best friend, and every single day that best friend is bullied, shamed, stigmatized.  If you become angry about the way your friend is treated, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have a good relationship with your friend, it means that you are justifiably angry at their mistreatment.

I spend a lot of time smiling politely and asking people if they wouldn’t mind not oppressing me.  I don’t begrudge that and I don’t apologize for it – it’s effective, it gives people the benefit of the doubt (that perhaps they weren’t aware of the consequences of their actions,) and it’s reasonably pleasant.  That doesn’t mean that I’m not angry at a society that condones the behavior and the social constructs that support the behavior.  That anger is because I love my body, because I’m at peace with myself and I’d like some peace with the outside world.

To try to characterized the anger of people who are oppressed as a sign of deficiency in their relationships with themselves is dangerously dis-empowering – it suggests that to prove that we are happy with ourselves we must not speak out against our mistreatment (not to mention the serious issues with having some obligation to prove anything to anyone about how we feel about ourselves in the first place.) That’s flat out wrong – it’s way out of line, and, perhaps not surprisingly, it makes me very, very angry.

Online Workshop to help you deal at the doctors office! This is an online workshop designed give you the skills to communicate effectively with your healthcare provider and becoming your own medical advocate to help you get evidence-based, Health at Every Size based healthcare.  Get all the details here! Registration deadline is October 11.

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

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

Become a member: For just ten bucks a month you can keep this blog ad-free, support the activism work I do, and get deals from cool businesses Click here for details

Interviews with Amazing Activists!!  Help Activists tell our movement’s history in their own words.  Support In Our Own Words:  A Fat Activist History Project!

Dance Classes:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details 

If my selling things on the blog makes you uncomfortable, you might want to check out this post.  Thanks for reading! ~Ragen

The Big Bad VFHT

Bad DoctorWe haven’t talked about this on the blog recently, but it is something that happens all the time and is worth being aware of.  It’s the VFHT:  The Vague Future Health Threat. It sounds like this “Well, you may be healthy now, but it will catch up to you someday”  (“it” here having the meaning of “being fat.”)

I find this to be paternalist, ignorant, unsupported, and annoying for the following reasons:

1. The psychic friends network went out of business for a reason.  If we take a step back we soon realize that this whole mess is based on us believing that this person can predict the future.

2.  This seems to be designed to make sure that fat people never ever believe they’ve done “enough” for their health or healthcare which is neither helpful, nor evidence-based.

3.  Everyone is going to die. There is a 100% chance.  I just happen to live in a culture where if I die because a runaway truck drops 30,000 pounds of bananas on me – someone will blame it on my fat.  That doesn’t make it true.

4.  What if I changed the rules of the lottery so that if  you lost, you had to pay the lottery money as a penalty?  Now not only is your chance of winning infintesimmally small,  but there is a near 100% chance that you’ll end up with LESS money than you had after you bought the ticket.  Would you play?

Now imagine that this isn’t your money we’re talking about – it’s your long term health.  There is not a single study that shows that any weight loss method is effective long term, but there is some evidence that weight cycling (yo-yo dieting) may actually be dangerous to one’s health.  Since diets have such an abysmal failure rate, if I go on just 2 diets where I lose weight and gain it back (and I have a very high chance of doing just that both times), then I’ve likely damaged my current health and endangered my future health on a roll of the dice that was obviously a losing bet from the beginning.

The person VFHTing me is asking that I do something they can’t prove is possible, for a reason they can’t prove is valid, with a very high percentage that I’ll end up less healthy at the end.  I’ll pass. And that doesn’t even take into consideration the fact that health isn’t an obligation, a barometer of worthiness,or entirely within our control regardless of our size.

So what do you say to the VFHT?

Here are some possible responses broken down by category.

Quick and simple:

  • Please don’t make wild guesses about my health.
  • My health is not your business.   (If, at this point, they bring up tax payer dollars or health care costs, I ask them for an itemized list of things for which their local, state, and federal taxes pay, or health problems that people develop for which causation cannot be proven;  broken down into categories of things they are happy to pay for, and things they don’t want to pay for. If they don’t happen to have that list on hand, I let them know that I’ll be happy to discuss it once they do.)

More detailed/scientific

  • I don’t know of a single statistically significant, properly controlled scientific study that supports that statement.  So, either cite your research or I’m going to assume that I know more about this than you do and you are just talking without actually knowing what you’re talking about.  (Or “talking out of your ass”, depending on my mood).
  • You have no way to know that.  Cite your research or I will assume that you are putting my health at risk by talking about things for which you have no actual knowledge or qualifications.

The pointed response (feel free to mix and match questions/responses with boundary statements)

  • How dare you make assumptions about my health?  You may not discuss my health with me.
  • I find you completely unqualified to make that statement. Please keep your opinions about my health to yourself.
  • My health is not your business and you are not allowed to comment on it.
  • You will immediately stop making guesses and assumptions about my future health or this conversation is over.

The snarky responses (I don’t actually recommend these because I prefer some kind of productive conversation if possible, but it’s fun to think about)

  • I had no idea you could predict the future!   If you give me tomorrow’s lottery numbers ‘ll split the money with you.
  • I totally forgot that being thin makes me immortal – thank god you told me or I might have died some day.

To put it quite simply, the VFHT is BS.

Like this blog? Consider supporting my work with a donation or by  becoming a member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you. I get paid for some of my speaking and writing (and do both on a sliding scale to keep it affordable), but a lot of the work I do (like answering hundreds of request for help and support every day) isn’t paid so member support makes it possible ( THANK YOU to my members, I couldn’t do this without you and I really can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support!)   Click here for details

Here’s more cool stuff:

My Book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for detail

Dance Classes:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details 

If you are uncomfortable with my selling things on this site, you are invited to check out this post

 

My Meandering Marathon Update

StuntsA number of readers have asked me to do posts updating them on my marathon training.  I decided to day is a good day for that since I’m now about half-way through the training.  But be warned, I wrote the title after I wrote the piece – this post is pretty self-absorbed and is nothing more than my meandering thoughts from my 14 mile walk today.  If this is your first time on my blog might I recommend this post about the difference between Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size or this post about why it’s ok to be fat to give you a more representative sample of my work.

Otherwise, you’ve been warned, I’ll try to be back tomorrow with something more concise and less about me! Also, please know that this is about me – it’s not a suggestion of how others “should” be, I’m not trying to say that what I’m doing is better or worse than what anyone else is doing, just some of my thoughts as I go on this journey…

So I’m training to walk a marathon, 26.2 miles.  I’m a little over half way through my 20 week training program and tonight was a 14 mile walk. According to the kinds of people who post on forums that were created for the purpose of hating me, this is no kind of achievement because almost anyone can walk 26.2 miles.  Based on the reactions of the people I tell about the marathon that’s just not true.  But even if it is true for everyone else, it’s not for me.  This is hard for me.  Maybe it’s because this requires slow-twitch muscle activity and as a dancer I train for the exact opposite things (explosive movement with short bouts of maximum output).  Maybe it’s because I’m fat. Maybe it’s because I’m short with short legs and take 2 strides to most people’s 1. Maybe it’s because it’s just difficult.

Tonight’s training was absolutely brutal.  I did 12 miles a couple of weeks ago and it was hard but nothing like this.  I started to struggle with blisters and pain about 7 miles in and it didn’t seem like there was any way I could do that distance again to make my full 14 miles. On long walk nights my girlfriend is always by the phone willing to jump in the car and pick me up and for the first time I seriously thought about calling her.  I decided to press on, knowing that I could always call her.

I had walked about 13 miles when I got to 10th street.  I was scheduled to turn left down 10th street, walk a half mile down and a half mile back and then go home.  The thing is that you can see my house from 10th street and I was really struggling.  I thought, I could be home in literally one minute and I’ll have walked 13 miles which is nothing to sneeze at. So I sat down on a bus stop bench and checked in with my body.  “I feel like shit” said my body.  I concurred, but suggested that the question at hand was “are we hurt, or are we injured?”  I ascertained that I was hurt but not injured.  I thought about how far I had come and how little I had left to go.  So I stood up, took a left turn on 10th, blasted Katy Perry’s Roar (don’t judge) and ground that shit out.

I’ve certainly had some people  who took the time to tell me that if I achieve this it is no big deal and I should take no pride in it.  I even had someone tell me that they sincerely hope that I die doing the marathon.  Charming. As always, they can go fuck themselves.  On the other side, I’ve had a bunch of people tell me, in well-meaning and encouraging ways, that I can always drop out of the marathon and switch to registering for the half marathon instead.

These e-mails always make me think about a thing that happens in the dance world.  Some people jump around from division to division based on who they think they can beat.  There are also those who choose which competitions to compete in based on who they think might be there to give them the best chance to win. People are allowed to do this, but it was never for me.

My first year of dance I won Nationals and was forced to move up a division. As I prepared for my first competition of that second year, my coach let me know that there was no way I would win.  A girl who had spent years dancing a division up had taken a year off and dropped down to my division.  I would be dancing all new routines and she would be dancing routines that she had been doing for years, designed to win at a higher level.  I could have switched divisions but I decided that I would rather just do my best and show up for my ass kicking.  When they announced first place I put on my best gracious Southern smile and started clapping for her.  It took a minute to sink in – they had called my name (and I looked like an idiot smiling and clapping.)  That competition remains one of the greatest victories of my life.  Not because I beat that girl, she was perfectly nice, but because I beat that mentality of trying to only compete against someone you think you can beat.  If I had danced and won the age division, I don’t know how I would have felt, but I know if wouldn’t have been like that.

So I finished the 14 miles and I’m having a hard time imagining that in a couple months I could do almost twice that, but that’s what I’m going to try to do.  So while I know that people who suggest that I could just move down to a half marathon are well intentioned and  trying to help, it’s just not necessary.  Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely hate failing.  But I don’t fear it.

What I do fear is regret – I fear switching to an age division and wondering if I could have won the Open title. I fear crossing the finish line of the half marathon and wondering if I could have finished the whole marathon.  So on December 1st I’ll just show up for my ass kicking and that’s that.  It’s going to take me a seriously long time to finish – I purposely chose a race where the aid stations, medical staff and finish line stay open until the last person crosses.  I plan to make it to the finish line to collect my medal and ill-fitting t-shirt.  If I don’t, then they’ll bring the sag wagon to haul me off the course and I’ll experience failure, but not regret.

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

Become a member: For just ten bucks a month you can keep this blog ad-free, support the activism work I do, and get deals from cool businesses Click here for details

Interviews with Amazing Activists!!  Help Activists tell our movement’s history in their own words.  Support In Our Own Words:  A Fat Activist History Project!

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

Dance Classes:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details 

If my selling things on the blog makes you uncomfortable, you might want to check out this post.  Thanks for reading! ~Ragen

Disney and Disabilities

Nothing to proveDisney has just announced a change to their policy regarding guests with disabilities.  In the past, a guest with a disability and their family could go to the front of the line, that policy has now changed so that guests with disabilities will receive a pass with a time to enter so that they don’t have to wait online.

Some say that this change happened because of abuse of the policy.  Other say that the number of disabled people makes it untenable [TW for OMG Deatfatz language.]  This idea quickly led to people complaining that it was all fat people’s fault because too many fat people were requiring accommodations.  I don’t know if this is based in reality but let’s just pretend that it is.

First of all, let’s be clear that Disney does not require any proof of disability and I think that’s the best possible idea.  The concepts  of “able-bodied” or “disabled” are flexible based on circumstances.  Someone in a wheelchair might have no problem waiting for 2 hours in a line, whereas someone with Autism may find it unbearable. Someone may have no problems walking around on a day to day basis, but be unable to walk the miles required to get around Disney.  In the case of Disney, a person is required to be able to travel long distances and stand in long lines, some of which are at an incline, in the heat.

If someone isn’t able to do that, for whatever reason, then they have a disability in that space and I think that they should get reasonable accommodations with absolutely no shame or blame or drama.  Whether it’s a scooter, a place in line that’s guaranteed, a folding chair to carry around, food that doesn’t contain something to which they are allergic, etc.  I’m for places being as accessible as possible to the largest number of people, and if that means that I wait in line a little longer or navigate a path that includes people who are walking and rolling then that’s absolutely fine.

Based on the comments I read, most people seem to agree with me about this, except when it comes to fat people, who they seem to think don’t deserve basic accommodations.  One comment I read was from a woman who claimed that her father had arthritis and had therefore “earned” a scooter while “it would do some good” for the fat woman in front of her to have to walk.

First of all, obviously it’s inappropriate to assume that because someone is fat and disabled, then their disability is caused by their fat.  It’s also not appropriate to assume that a person’s size is their “fault” and is changeable.

But for the sake of argument, let’s say a fat person’s size is their fault, is changeable and is causing their disability.  So the fuck what?   If they are heading to Disney World they should get shame-free reasonable accommodations. Maybe that woman’s dad has arthritis because of sports injuries, or because he did 100 skydives or who knows what – I still think that guy should get a scooter.

The idea that people with disabilities should have to prove that their disability isn’t their fault is horrifying.   So if someone was hit by a drunk driver they deserve a wheelchair but if they got distracted and hit a tree they should…what…crawl around?  If someone injured themselves because they fell down icy stairs is that an accident or is it their fault because they shouldn’t have been walking down icy stairs?  If someone’s disability could be cured by a risky procedure that fails the vast majority of the time, are they obligated to try that procedure or they don’t get reasonable accommodations? Who is the Disability Decider?

Nobody is the Disability Decider because the whole idea is bullshit.  If someone is at Disney World (or wherever) today with a disability, it shouldn’t matter whether the disability is their fault, and they should be given reasonable accommodations for where they are today – not where someone thinks they could or should be. No shame, no blame, no drama.

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

Become a member: For just ten bucks a month you can keep this blog ad-free, support the activism work I do, and get deals from cool businesses Click here for details

Interviews with Amazing Activists!!  Help Activists tell our movement’s history in their own words.  Support In Our Own Words:  A Fat Activist History Project!

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

Dance Classes:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details 

If my selling things on the blog makes you uncomfortable, you might want to check out this post.  Thanks for reading! ~Ragen

What’s the Point of Clothes

Tube Dress“Part of the /point/ of clothing, when thoughtfully chosen, is to enhance/disguise/manipulate the appearance of our body shape.”

I saw this in a comment online and it irked me, including and especially the emphasis on the word “point” as if I were an idiot for missing it and the inclusion of the word “thoughtfully” to indicate that those of us who would dress for any other reason are thoughtless.

I beg to differ. So might firefighters, triathlon participants and Weinerschnitzel employees. Of course, considering the roughly elebenty gabillion articles that exist at any one time in the magazines at the grocery store written about dressing for your body type/to hide your flaws/to look 10 pounds lighter etc. you’d think that nuns chose black because it’s slimming.    Sadly, this is one of these situations where someone has confused their experience for everyone’s experience.

The point of clothes is whatever the wearer chooses. Clothing may be chosen

  • to enhance/disguise/manipulate a body
  • to cover a body
  • to show off a body
  • because someone liked the print
  • to be in fashion
  • to rebel against fashion
  • because it was clean
  • because they liked it
  • because it fits their company’s dress code
  • because it will protect them in a dangerous situation
  • to please their mother
  • to piss off their mother
  • to piss off their kid
  • because they dance competitively and they aren’t allowed to wear jeans and a t-shirt (ok, maybe that one’s just me)  anyway…

People may choose clothing for any reason at different times in their lives and in different circumstances.  Not to mention that fat people have severely limited options when it comes to clothing choices.  Even if we had every choice in the world, there is no law that says that clothing has to meet some criteria of being “flattering.  If I like the idea of a very clingy and bright horizontally striped tube dress then you can believe that I’ll be rocking that dress.  Don’t like it?  Hey look, over there,  it’s a bunch of other stuff you could look at.

As always, you are the boss of your enhancing, disguising, manipulating underpants and I am the boss of my adorable cotton pink polka-dotted ones and that is as it should be.

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

Become a member: For just ten bucks a month you can keep this blog ad-free, support the activism work I do, and get deals from cool businesses Click here for details

Interviews with Amazing Activists!!  Help Activists tell our movement’s history in their own words.  Support In Our Own Words:  A Fat Activist History Project!

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

Dance Classes:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details 

If my selling things on the blog makes you uncomfortable, you might want to check out this post Thanks for reading! ~Ragen