The Heartbreak of HyperEgoRidiculousness

The jerk whispererI saw a beautiful graphic today on Facebook from Adam Bouska that said “If you’re going home to an unsupportive family this holiday season, remember that your worth is not defined by what they say or how they treat you.”  As far as I’m concerned nothing could be more true. Here are some things that help me when I’m in a hostile, or just less than friendly environment.

We are each the best witness to our own experience.  Sometimes people say things that let us know that they think they know better than us about our bodies (there’s a thin woman in you trying to get out, you just didn’t diet correctly,) or our sexuality (bisexuality doesn’t exist, being queer is a choice) our gender (trans* people have to act like blah blah blah or they’re not really trans blah blah blah) or whatever.  These people may not know it, but they are struggling with HyperEgoRidiculousness a condition I just made up to describe someone who has such an over-exaggerated sense of self importance that they actually think they are a better witness to our experiences than we are.

We each have the right to make decisions for ourselves – the way that we prioritize and pursue health is one of those decisions.  We also get to choose who gets to talk with us about our decisions.  People, in most cases, have a right to free speech, but not a right to an audience with us. It’s ok to take it as a teachable moment, it’s ok to just let someone babble while you think about something you actually care about, and it’s perfectly ok to have a policy of  – hey, you feel free to say whatever’s on your mind, I’ll be over there – come find me when you’re done.

I’m always a little bit amused when somebody feels like I should care whether they “approve of my lifestyle.”   If people don’t approve of Health at Every Size, then I invite them to do something else, if they don’t approve of being queer (not a lifestyle but that’s a whole other blog), then they are under no obligation to date someone of the same gender.

It’s really pretty simple. If people disagree with who we are or what we do, and based on that they choose personally not to do it, that’s fine.  If they feel the need to be vocally against who we are or what we do, and they do that at us, that is problematic behavior.  If they feel that rules or laws should reflect their beliefs such that our civil rights are compromised so that we are forced to do and be what they think we should do and be, that’s oppression.

Each of us gets to deal with this kind of bs in any way we choose, and all of those choices are valid.  If you’re looking for specific examples, I wrote about that in my column for Ms. Fit Magazine.  For now I’ll just repeat “If you’re going home to an unsupportive family this holiday season, remember that your worth is not defined by what they say or how they treat you.”  People’s poor treatment of you says nothing about you and plenty about them.  You may not always be treated with respect, but you deserve to be.

Like my blog?  Looking for some holiday support or gifts?  Here’s more of my stuff!

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

Tyra Banks Please Say No to Special K

DefendIt looks like Tyra Banks has joined Special K for their “Shhhhut Down Fat Talk” campaign.  I hope that she reconsiders, because there are a bunch of issues here.

I blogged about the many issues with using the term “fat talk” as a substitute for “negative body talk” , chief among them that saying that we shouldn’t call people fat suggests that being fat is such a terrible thing that we shouldn’t utter the word out loud.  Fat people are not Voldemort and making fat seem like the “physical descriptor that must not be named” actually further shames and stigmatizes people who are fat whether we call them/ourselves that or not. The trick is to end body shaming and negative body talk full stop – not to suggest that we should abandon the use a perfectly good physical descriptor because people have been allowed to heap stereotypes onto it.

This campaign falls prey to all of the issues I discussed in that post, plus they’ve upped the ridiculousness ante by suggesting that ending fat talk helps with weight management – that we should see our bodies needing to lose weight but not say it out loud – as a way to market their breakfast cereal-based diet plan.  This is the latest in a series of examples of Special K appropriating concepts from Size Acceptance to sell dieting.  It’s not cool and the research that it’s based on is embarrassingly poor both in its construction and its conclusions.  Their research also doesn’t challenge the existing research which shows that the vast majority of people who attempt weight loss gain their weight back in 5 years with the majority gaining more than they lost.

Tyra, if you’re reading this I’d like to say that I appreciate the work that you’ve done toward body positivity.  I remember cheering as you took a picture of you in a bikini that the media tried to use to shame you and threw it back in their faces, marching with women yelling “So What!” I can’t imagine the pressure that you’ve been, and continue to be, under and the body criticism that you’ve had to deal with.  So first I want to thank you for the work that you’ve done.

You’ve stated that you “don’t believe in diets” and, if that’s true, I would ask you to consider not promoting them.  I’d like to invite you to fully join the Size Acceptance Movement, and to become a proponent of the Health at Every Size option.   I invite you to consider that loving your body does not have to include trying to manipulate its size using a specific brand of breakfast cereal and cereal-related products, and that loving your body can mean choosing a prioritization and path to health and then letting your body settle at whatever size is settles.

I’d also ask that you reconsider your terminology of “Fierce Realness” in lieu of plus-sized woman.  All women-identified women are “Fiercely Real” and to imply other wise, however well intentioned, is to dip our toe in the pond of putting other people down to try to make ourselves feel better, and that trick never works. I would suggest that we take words back from the bullies and/or create words that work for us, making sure to be inclusive along the way.

If we truly want to create a world where people are able to appreciate their amazing bodies at every size and make choices about the prioritization and path to health based on their own desires and research, then we can’t allow the diet industry  – an industry that profits by taking credit for the short-term weight loss that is a biological response, but blames their clients for the long-term weight gain which is also a biological response, funds short term research but not long term research because “it would be too depressing to our clients,” and then uses that blame and shame to sell people their product again and again – to pretend to be leading the way.

First they told us to buy Special K so that you couldn’t pinch an inch on us.

Now they are telling us not to talk badly about our bodies, as long as we’re buying 1,460 Special K meals and snacks a year to do their diet.

They can sell whatever they want but we don’t have to buy it, and Tyra Banks, you don’t have to lend your name to it.  I think we can do better.

Like my blog?  Looking for some holiday support or gifts?  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

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

Who Gets to Condone?

In my jaunts around internet discussions of size acceptance I often hear the following troubling questions:

  • What about fashion models who are underweight, should we accept them?
  • What about people who are so fat that can’t get out of their beds, should we accept that?
  • Being fat is ok unless someone has problems with daily life activities, then those people have to do something
  • Being fat is one thing but when you’re morbidly obese it’s time to lose the weight.
  • We shouldn’t give acceptance to fat people, it will just encourage them to be [insert wild judgments about what all fat people do here]
  • How fat is too fat?  How thin is too thin?
  • Fat people cost tax payers money – I shouldn’t have to accept that, I should have a say in them doing something about it.

And to all of these I say (as politely as possible):

Who died and made them the underpants overlord?

Maybe it makes them feel important and superior to run around doling out acceptance to those who they deem “worthy”  – it’s a heady thing to feel that you are the person who gets to decide if someone else gets condoned –  but I remain unimpressed.   I would much rather see people choose to respect the choices, bodies, and lives of others than wonder out loud about who deserves their acceptance.

How exaggerated must their sense of self-importance be to think that it should be their job not only to decide that someone else’s life activities are made “difficult” by their size, but also what they should do about it?

As for tax dollars, this is seriously questionable but even if it wasn’t I’m going to suggest that even if fat people do cost the tax payer’s money, those who don’t like it are probably going to have to learn to live with disappointment – our tax money pays for things that we don’t like, and unless someone has a list of all the things that their tax dollars pay for broken down into what they do and don’t want to pay for with the interventions that they are engaging in for all of the items on the “don’t want” list, then they are using this argument to justify their fat bigotry.

When it comes to telling other people how to live their lives, I think it’s a bad idea.  I thank that at the most we should confine ourselves to saying, when asked “This is what works for me.  Your mileage may vary, I’ll be happy to show you how I do it if you want”.  And then we can shut up and respect other people’s right to make choices just like we want our choices respected. [Edited because I somehow deleted most of a sentence between proofreading and publishing, thanks for letting me know commenters!]

I don’t particularly care if people accept me, but I do require respect or they simply don’t get to interact with me – not because it punishes them, but because it means not punishing myself.

Like my blog?  Looking for some holiday support or gifts?  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

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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!

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

Rejecting Reality

Dream WorldAs an activist one of the most frustrating things that I hear when I discuss things that I think should be changed is “Well, that’s just reality.”  Maybe I’m talking about the way that fat people are discriminated against in hiring and pay, or the way that we are mistreated by doctors, or that I wish we could choose our singers, actors, and dancers based on their talent instead of their looks.  It never fails that someone says “Well, that’s just reality, deal with it.”

I agree, that is reality.  My issues is that,  in this context, “reality” is thought of as a fixed state and “deal with it” typically means “acquiesce and conform” or suffer the consequences of a reality you “can’t change”.

And that’s where I disagree. Conforming is not our only option.  We could refuse to conform and, in doing so, dismantle stereotypes, confound expectations, and  change popular culture. “Reality” is not unchangeable and I know that because I was wearing pants when I voted for the first time, because we no longer put people under house arrest for saying that the Earth revolves around the sun, because I stood witness when my best friend married his husband.

Obviously, not conforming comes with sacrifice.  If you love your body and focus on your health instead of your weight, if you refuse to be a “good fatty“  – always self-deprecating,  trying to be thin and telling everyone how you struggle with your weight, or if you stop wearing make-up, or speak your truth, or refuse to participate in “fashion” or do anything that challenges the status quo, then you probably will get less job offers, you probably will get paid less than your culturally conforming co-workers, you might get kicked out of the doctor’s office, you may get fewer dates.  People might very well be nasty to you.  Those can be big sacrifices and you might not want to make them, and that’s totally ok.

But for change to happen somebody has to do it. Somebody – and then more somebodies – must buck the system.  In the course of changing “reality” I notice that a lot of people to sacrifice a little, some people to sacrifice a lot, and a few people to sacrifice everything.  None of those people has to be you, but they could if you choose.

I am very clear that I stand on the shoulders of thousands of people who sacrificed time, money, relationships, personal comfort, and even their lives to create parts of reality which I now enjoy.  I don’t take those sacrifices for granted and I can’t think of any better way to show gratitude than to become part of that tradition.

And remember that it doesn’t have to be something huge.  Every little bit helps.  So consider organizing a “No Make-Up Monday” at your school or work, or wear a sleeveless shirt and proudly show your arms, tell people your real weight.  To be clear, I have nothing against those who choose to wear make-up, or try for intentional weight loss cover their bodies, or lie about their weight.  If that’s what you want to do then I respect your choice just like I want my choices respected – what I’m interested in is having the opportunity to choose things just because we want to, without the consideration that if we don’t choose them, the herd will say we’re baaaaaaaad and we’ll suffer consequences.

Maybe things in my life would be easier if I was willing to accept “what is” and conform, or was at least willing to be a good, self-deprecating, I’m-trying-to-lose-weight- so-you’ll-find-my-body-acceptable fatty,  Maybe people would think I was less weird. But I, and a lot of other people, have had enough. We are standing up and saying “No more.”

And maybe the sacrifices my friends and I are making will change the world.  Maybe we’ll see a fat woman as a leading lady in a movie that never even mentions her weight, or have a National dialog about health that doesn’t center around just trying to have a smaller body.  Maybe we’ll see a world where we accept and respect the diversity of body sizes,  and we’ll feel the same pride that suffragettes felt when they watched women vote.

Or maybe not.  Maybe we’ll just know that we lived a life of integrity and strength, part of a tradition of people who didn’t just want things to be different or complain about their reality, but worked and sacrificed for the reality that they wanted.  Maybe we’ll just know that we refused to be whittled away trying to trim ourselves down to suit somebody else.  And maybe that’s enough.

Like my blog?  Looking for some holiday support or gifts?  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

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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!

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

 

Should We End Fat Talk?

my name is
Name courtesy of hatemail from someone who didn’t realize that I would love this so much I would consider changing my name.

A clip has been leaked of an interview with Barbara Walters and Hunger Games actress Jennifer Lawrence. Walters asked her “You’ve criticized people who judge people on the red carpet. You’re very sensitive to that. Why?” Lawrence responded:

Because why is humiliating people funny? And I get it, and I do it too, we all do it. But I think when it comes to the media, the media needs to take responsibility for the effect that it has on our younger generation, on these girls that are watching these television shows and picking up how to talk and how to be cool. So then all of a sudden being funny is making fun of the girl that’s wearing an ugly dress or making fun of the girl that’s, you know. And the word fat. I just think it should be illegal to call somebody fat on TV. If we’re regulating cigarettes and sex and cuss words because of the effect it has on our younger generation, why aren’t we regulating things like calling people fat?

First of all let me say how much I appreciate Jennifer Lawrence speaking out about this, I’ve written before about how ridiculous I think it is that, on a night that people have dreamed of and waited their whole lives for, we choose to trash them because their dress or shoes or hair don’t meet the fickle and ever changing requirements of the fashion police.  To me this applies to red carpet critique, who wore it best articles, best and worst bikini bodies and more but that’s a subject for another blog.

This isn’t the first time that I’ve heard the idea of ending fat talk.  Often when it is discussed “fat talk” is short hand for negative body talk.  Above Ms. Lawrence seems to be suggesting literally not calling people fat. though I think that it’s couched in hyperbole for effect.

The issue here is that, however well meaning, saying that we shouldn’t call people fat suggests that being fat is such a terrible thing that we shouldn’t utter the word out loud.  Fat people are not Voldemort and making fat seem like the “physical descriptor that must not be named” actually further shames and stigmatizes people who are fat whether we call them/ourselves that or not. The trick is to end body shaming and negative body talk full stop – not to suggest that we should abandon the use a perfectly good physical descriptor because people have been allowed to heap stereotypes onto it.

Here’s what I think:  We don’t need an end to fat talk, we need an end to fat stereotyping, fat stigmatizing, fat bashing and fat-based healthism (along with all healthism while we’re at it.)  We need to realize that public health means creating access to options for the public, not making people’s health the public’s business.  We need to acknowledge that bodies come in lots of sizes for lots of different reasons and that people of all sizes deserve to be treated with respect – which includes the absence of stereotyping based on physical appearance.  I think that we need to end body snarking and body bashing of all kinds, and I think part of that is creating a world where calling someone fat isn’t either.

Like my blog?  Looking for some holiday support or gifts?  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

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

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

Are Fat People at Higher Risk?

Ask QuestionsI received an e-mail from reader Emma today who said that she had seen sources that said that obese people were at a higher risk for a number of health conditions and asked  “are you and I at increased risk of that scary list of diseases and health conditions simply because we are overweight/obese?”

In order to understand the context of the research around fat and disease risk, it’s important to look at it from the lens of the current social climate and the confirmation bias that comes with it.  Fear mongering around being fat is a national past time and  researchers design studies from a bias about fat and fat people, and with the goal of proving things about fat and fat people, often funded by companies that profit from their findings. When we examine research around population groups and health we can’t do so without taking into account the stereotypes and prejudices of the culture in which they live.  There’s also the issue that people are much less likely to read a piece like this than a statement like “the disease risks of obesity are well known.”

Let’s begin at the beginning. The statement that fat people are at a higher risk for some health conditions means that these conditions occur more often in fat people based on the current counts, it does not say that fat has been shown to cause these conditions.  There are a number of things that can influence this.

The current counts can be biased.  Imagine that I test brunettes for ingrown toenails early and often, and I never test those with other hair colors. Then I publish a report that just states that brunettes are at a higher risk for ingrown toenails.  If you knew what my research methods were, you would scoff at my findings.  But if you didn’t know, you might accept my conclusion that brunettes are at a higher risk for ingrown toenails, especially if the media picked up my report with headlines such as “Brunettes Ingrown Toenail Costs are Bankrupting the Nation.”

It sounds ridiculous but research about disease prevalence in fat populations that relies on reports of doctor’s diagnoses falls prey to exactly this issue.  We don’t know anything about research until we know everything about their methods.  Without a representative sample that controls for variables that could otherwise be confounding the research can’t even begin to claim to be conclusive. Doctors often test fat patients early and often for these diseases, even in the absence of any symptoms, testing thin people much less often. Some thin people have been misdiagnosed by doctors who believe that that diseases correlated with being fat  aren’t possible for thin people, which leads to incorrect diagnoses for thin people as well.

But let’s say that these diseases do happen more often in fat people.  There are still a number of issues with concluding that all fat people are at a higher risk, or that being fat causes the risk, or what can be done to mitigate it.

First of all, many conditions that cause the health problems have also been shown to cause weight gain – PCOS for example leads to weight gain and insulin resistance.   There is a chicken and egg question that is very often ignored in the rush for headlines.

There is also the issue of access to medical care. In a study by Maroney and Golub called “Nurses’ attitudes toward obese persons and certain ethnic groups found that 31% of nurses said that would rather not treat obese patients, 24% said that obese patients “repulsed them” and 12% said that they prefer not to touch obese patients.  Considering the fact that nurses are responsible for almost all day to day care in hospitalized patients and primary care in many clinics, their personal bigotry can interfere with fat people getting appropriate care (imagine how different your medical care might be if your nurse was actively trying to avoid touching you).  In another study more than half of the 620 primary care doctors questioned described obese patients as “as awkward, unattractive, ugly, and non-compliant”. One-third of the sample further characterized obese patients as “weak-willed, sloppy, and lazy.”

Not only does this bigotry call the standard of care into question, but there are the many many reports from fat people (me included) having their actual health concerns ignored in favor of a diagnosis of fat and a prescription of weight loss.  (My personal experience includes being prescribed weight loss for strep throat, a dislocated shoulder, and a broken toe.)  Which means that fat people don’t get early interventions that may prevent the development of health issues later. Also,  instead of being given interventions specific to health issues as thin people are, fat people are often given a generalized recommendation to change their body size.  In some cases this may actually put them at higher risk for disease.

For example, if a thin person shows elevated blood glucose and a risk for diabetes they will be given lifestyle interventions to affect glucose levels and that risk.  A fat person is much more likely to be told to attempt to become thin.  If they attempt to do so by eating a low calorie, high carbohydrate diet and/or by waiting a long time between meals  it can make their blood glucose numbers worse even if it results in short term weight loss.  In this way the number of health incidences for fat people could actually be increased by following the advice of health care practitioners.

There’s also the issue of not being able to get adequate treatment because of inappropriately sized equipment.  My partner had a knee injury and at a number of different appointment (including for x-rays and MRIs) the office didn’t have any armless chairs and she was told that she would just have to lean against the wall (in one case for almost an hour.)  Everything from too-small blood pressure cuffs to too-small MRIs and CT scans cause us to get inaccurate test result, or preclude our being tested to begin with which can cause issues with early disease prevention and diagnosis, and could raise disease incidence rates.

There is also the fact that fat people live with a tremendous amount of shame, stigma and oppression in our society which have been shown in studies to be correlated with many of the same diseases as being fat.  Further, campaigns that make fat people feel shame and hatred toward our bodies have been phenomenally successful, and in convincing us to hate and be ashamed of our bodies, they have also convinced many fat people that our bodies are unworthy of care.

Add to that the social stigma that comes with being fat and being diagnosed with one of these diseases, and the fat shaming and poor treatment that we can experience from healthcare professionals, and fat people can be much less likely to engage in our own healthcare.  This spills over to many areas of health.  Movement has been shown to have health benefits for many people of all sizes (though there are no guarantees and, of course, there is no obligation to engage in movement.)  Yet stigma can also affect fat people’s ability to engage in movement – everything from the absence of appropriate workout clothing in our sizes, to people who moo at us and even throw eggs at us for simply being fat in public can create barriers to movement for fat people.

Finally, I think it’s important to remember that society in general, and some researchers and doctors and the media in specific, are content to state assumptions about fat people as if they are fact, which means that the research in the field is highly questionable for a number of reasons.

In short, there are no easy answers where this is concerned, and from my perspective there are way more questions than answers.  But even if being fat puts us at greater risk for disease that doesn’t mean that if we could become thin we would reduce our risk (bald men are at a higher risk for heart disease but giving them hair plugs won’t prevent a heart attack.) We still wouldn’t know if the fat causes the disease risk or if the disease risk and the fat are caused by something else or are unrelated.To me the research is clear that, though there are no guarantees or obligations, healthy behaviors are our best chance for a health body regardless of our disease risk.

Like my blog?  Looking for some holiday support or gifts?  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

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

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

Rebel Without a Carrot Stick

Biggest Loser Baby CarrotsYesterday in the comments Linda said “I recently saw an ad for veggies that said something like ‘not all 100 calories are the same, go big’. The presentation of veggies as a diet food make them more unappealing to me. Anybody else have that reaction?”

Yes, yes I do.  I was recently at the store trying to buy some baby carrots for a recipe, and the only bag that they had was Biggest Loser endorsed.  What the Actual Eff?  First they fill the airwaves with a show that mentally and physically abuses fat people for entertainment, then they try to pass it off as “inspiration,” then they take over the baby carrots?  What fresh vegetable hell is this?

It’s not just the carrots, I know for me and lots of of recovered dieters I have heard from, we were really messed up from a lifetime of being told that everything we do – what we eat, what movement we participate in etc.  – should be done for the express purpose of being thin and that if these things didn’t make us thin we are failures who aren’t doing it right, or liars who lied about doing it at all etc.  Dieting messages like “If you’re still hungry try eating salad with lemon juice” or “if you’re not losing weight you aren’t working out enough etc. repeated ad nauseam for decades (without success, as we would expect from the research)  can damage our relationships with food and movement, and we can start to actually rebel against not just the messages, but the food and movement as well. When we give up dieting, can end up giving up things that we associate with dieting along with it. Or the aggressive marketing of things as “diet” can turn us off from them.

To be clear, nobody is obligated to eat vegetables, or to exercise, or to prioritize their health a certain way or choose any specific path to get there.  Lots of people choose not to eat vegetables or exercise (or whatever else we’re told that we “should” do for our health) for lots of reasons and all of those choices are valid.  The public health issue is about access to options, not about making personal health decisions the public’s business. Health is not entirely within our control and decisions about health are intensely personal.  I’m not trying to tell anybody how to live or to cast judgment on anybody’s decisions. What I am interested in doing is looking at how a culture that abuses and shames us “for our own good” affects our ability to care for ourselves.

The phrase “just eat less and exercise more” activates my face punch reflex, but there have been many much more subtle issues as I’ve left the weight loss world behind.  Years of being told that if I’m hungry I should eat a salad (with lemon juice for dressing and no carrots because they have too much sugar) made me hate the idea of salad.  Years of using the gym to punish myself for being fat made me forget the things that I loved about movement and working out.  In what is a completely natural reaction to being harmed the way that weight loss culture harms us, I rebelled, choosing not to do things that diets told me to do just because diets told me to do them, whether I liked them, or they supported my health or not.

For me finding peace with myself and choosing my prioritization and path to health involved making peace with my dieting past and realizing that I had been negatively impacted in a lot of ways and that I wanted to tease apart the diet industry that had abused me for profit from the behaviors and foods that they had used as tools to do so.

I made a project out of trying every food (that I’m not allergic to) again as if I had never had it to see what I actually liked.  I ended up being really surprised by the results. Then I did the same thing with working out – doing a bunch of different workouts and classes to see what I really enjoyed doing and what I didn’t.

Sometimes people get confused and think that they should use this as a matrix to tell me what choices I need to make (ie: You shouldn’t have done a marathon because you hate distance walking, or you should have bought those baby carrots because you like them even if they were Biggest Loser brand.)

Neither the process of looking at ways that weight loss culture affected me, nor my choice to practice Health at Every Size locks me into certain choices.  On the contrary, they allow me to make choices from a much more authentic place.  I don’t buy products that advertise themselves as “diet” whether I like them or not.  I think that social change requires sacrifice and I’m not willing to give my money to the companies who did so much harm to me and are currently hurting others – so I’ll find another brand of baby carrots or I’ll go without.  I hate distance work but I wanted to do a marathon so I did it, even though there was very little of the training or the marathon that I actually enjoyed, and I was astoundingly bad at it.

In the end, for me, it came down to a decision that I didn’t want the diet industry to harm me any  more than it already had, and part of that was making sure that I wasn’t hurting myself by rebelling against them.

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