Natasha is Pained

facepalmAs I write this I am basking in the excitement of having  completed the (first annual) Fat Activism Conference – 40 speakers, 30 workshops, almost 400 registrants so far (registration is open until Wednesday 8/27/14 for those who want to access the recordings) and so much amazing, inspirational, and educational content. I am beyond grateful to everyone who made it happen: Jeanette DePatie my co-producer, all of the speakers, all of the people who registered, listened, asked questions, live-tweeted/facebooked/blogged and. I’m also frustrated with myself, as I always am after completing a big project, for the things that I could have done better. But it looks like we’ll have a chance to do it bigger and better next year!

I was trying to decide what to blog about when I saw this comment come up for moderation, and it basically yelled “BLOG ABOUT ME!”  And I said, OK!  The comment is in response to my marathon update from yesterday:

Ragen, it pains me to see you do a marathon once AGAIN. The amount of stress doing a marathon puts on your body is extreme, and, it is unnecessary. You made your point. You did it. You have your medal (medals??) to show for it. Now, go do something gentle for your body, and not for making a point. Swim, get a foot massage, shoot another dance video. Natasha.

My original idea was just to type “Fuck You Natasha” and then end the post.  But that would likely lead to people concern trolling me about being angry, and deprive me of the joy of breaking this down:

First off, let me do a quick translation from Concern Troll to English:

Ragen, it pains me that you are setting and pursuing your own goals instead of doing what I think that you should do.  I have both psychically divined your reason for doing the marathon and, as I am the boss of everything, I’ve decided that reason isn’t valid.  (See how much easier it is when I get to control both sides of the discussion?) Don’t worry your pretty little head about what you want, obviously you’re neither the best witness to your experience nor competent to choose your own goals. So I’ll just tell you what to do and then you do that. Kthxbye! Natasha

This is what happens in a society where people mistakenly believe that public health means making people’s (and especially fat people’s) bodies the public’s business.  This is also what happens when someone with an incredibly over-exaggerated sense of self-importance has access to the internet.

I don’t know where Natasha got the idea that I’m doing the marathon to prove a point, it must have been when she was busy ignoring me writing about my actual reasons. But if my goal was to prove a point, it still wouldn’t be any of Natasha’s damn business.  To be clear, I have no interest in telling Natasha how to feel, Natasha is allowed to be pained by whatever she wants. Where she went wrong here was when she decided to tell me about it despite the fact that I’ve been very clear that doing a marathon (and not, say, getting a foot massage) is my goal.  Perhaps she’ll be happy to know that, in addition to the marathon, there’s every chance that I’ll get a foot massage, swim, and do another dance video (a bunch of people have asked for a seated dance video so I think the next one is going to be Seated and Sassy, but I digress).

This is something that happens to fat people all the time – we’re told that we should only  dream as big as other people’s prejudices, stereotypes, and preconceived notions allow.   That a fat body is a sign that other people need to tell us what we think, how we act, and what we should be doing.  It’s bullshit of course, no matter how well meaning it may seem.  Nobody is obligated to do a marathon and doing a marathon doesn’t make anyone better than anyone else. While it’s absolutely true that nobody should be obligated to choose any goal whether it’s finishing a marathon, singing professionally, crocheting a badass baby blanket or whatever, it’s equally true that nobody should have to squeeze their goals and dreams into the tiny frame of someone else’s bigotry, not even if it pains them for us to live beyond their prejudice.

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33 thoughts on “Natasha is Pained

  1. Wow… layers of arrogance like an onion on that one. Because clearly, you’re only running a marathon to prove something to her (as the anointed representative of all other people), so only she can absolve you of the need to do so… Just, wow.

    Can we change the expression about “assuming” to “makes an ass out of, well, just the person doing the assuming, really”?

  2. Damn skippy!

    But if it makes Natasha feel any better, I, for one, will not be participating in a marathon anytime soon. Then again, I won’t be getting a food massage, either. The last time a masseur attempted to touch my feet… well, let’s just say it’s a good thing he was such a nimble fellow or his family line would have been cut off at the current generation whether he wanted it to be or not.

    The reason there are so many choices available in the world is because different people have different priorities, and the vast majority of those choices are perfectly valid. The ones that aren’t? Well, there are usually laws against those.Run/walking a marathon is one of the valid choices on the table.Foot massages are another valid choice, but the two are hardly exclusive of one another. Just as you are free to skip eating beets at the salad bar, you can choose not to run a marathon… but that doesn’t make either beet eating or marathons Bad or Wrong.

    Frankly, I don’t care why someone chooses to run a marathon or get a foot massage or how they decide whether or not to go for the beets at the salad bar. I’m skipping all three for my own reasons. You can choose one, two, or all three options, and it has nothing to do with me.

    Different people make different choices for their own reasons. And really, the least valid reason I can think of to avoid doing most things is ‘a stranger on the internet told me I shouldn’t.’

  3. Gosh, people are always telling me that I shouldn’t run because of my knee. Fun fact, running isn’t painful for me, while cycling and elliptic are. But hey, how could I know how my body feels and still be fat ?

  4. It’s a good thing she has Boris to console her, and her work serving Fearless Leader. They should stick to Moose and Squirrel instead of coming after you, though.

    1. Ha! Maybe it’s all part of a diabolical plan for world domination. Ooh, I know. Maybe Rocky and Bullwinkle are big Ragen fans, and if she puts out another dance video, they’ll be distracted at a crucial moment. Ragen, I think you need to be at that marathon—the world may depend on it. 😉

      1. I think the world needs more Rocky and Bullwinkle. 🙂

        We could even have a little fun with them here.

        “Hey, Rocky! Watch me pull a miracle diet out of my hat!”

        “Not that old trick. That trick NEVER works!”

        “Nothin’ up my sleeve!”

        The sad thing is, that seems to be where most of these miracle diets come from, and their dubious, unsupported claims still manage to make boatloads of money for the people that are marketing them.

  5. About that stress that running puts on a body… I’ve read different things about that and it seems that nobody knows how bad or good that kind of stress actually is.

    If Ragen seemed to be the kind of person who ignored her body’s pain, I might worry and possibly intervene if I though she was actively damaging herself. Despite the Underpants Rule, I am prone to yell at people I love if I think they are endangering themselves out of stubbornness.

    As it is, I’m the one not getting enough exercise and while it is my choice, I do know it isn’t good for me.

    Incidentally, while swimming is a wonderful exercise and a boon for people with crappy joints, it doesn’t provide the kind of weight-bearing exercise needed to maintain bone strength. No exercise is perfect and people need to be allowed to choose what is right for them.

  6. “This is something that happens to fat people all the time – we’re told that we should only dream as big as other people’s prejudices, stereotypes, and preconceived notions allow.”

    YES! YES! YES!! That is so much of all fat hate in a nutshell there. Thank you. Keep calling it out, Ragen – keep calling it out!!

  7. This why I love you! Personally, I want to tap dance naked on tables with my arse on fire – I’ll do that too! How much or how little exercise I do is my business. What type of exercise I do is my business. If I feel like the Little Mermaid that day – off the YMCA I go! If I feel like the dude in the headdress, I’ll dance the YMCA! If I feel like Conan the Barbarian – I’ll go beat the hell out of the punching bag at the gym. (DO NOT get me started on the person who told me “That’s not very lady-like!” WHO said I was a “lady”?) OOOooooo…. I hear music! Gotta go dance! Toodles!

      1. I kinda liked it better without the “if.” Though I was trying to figure out how one could like their arse on fire and not get hurt. But, I thought, you go girl!

    1. hahah You, Tracey, are funny and I couldn’t agree more with what you said. Keep rockin’ the “unladylike” – most women who have done anything great where always judged “unladylike”.

  8. Another slam dunk post. I’m so glad you blogged about it – I’m SO glad. Because I get this kind of thing with people in my life often. And when it happens I’m always like “well, they are saying that because they care about me, so I shouldn’t really argue with them or tell them it’s not their business – after all it’s out of concern for me”. But You Are ABSOLUTELY Right, it’s totally unacceptable, even out of “concern” for someone else. In the end that’s all it is, concern trolling. Even if it comes from a place of caring, it’s misguided, arrogant, and bigoted. And that bullshit should be called out, regardless of “intent”.

    Your post has been healthy for me to read, as it’s giving me the courage to call out the same type of concern troll bs in my own life.

    Thank you!

    1. Good for you! You are totally allowed to have boundaries about how other people can treat you—especially when it comes to making assumptions about your body, your health, and what you should be doing. People often use “but I CAAAAARE about you” as an excuse to be mannerless jerkfaces, and it shouldn’t fly.

  9. The other day, in the grocery store-this happened:

    Me minding me own business, had just picked up a loaf of bread.
    Random person who knows better for me than I do says, “If you’ll just lay off the carbs, you’ll be OK.”
    I can’t type what followed (because it’s too long) but I did spend some time educating her!

  10. Gah, the very *thought* of running a marathon pains me. I would suggest to any of my friends who came up with the idea of running one if there wasn’t something less painful and dangerous they might want to do instead. I have enough people in casts or on crutches around me, I don’t want a friend to join that crew.

    But that’s friends: You get to tell them these things. For people one follows or fangirls in the internet: Not appropiate, IMNSHO.

    1. Gah, the very *thought* of running a marathon pains me.

      Yeah, me too. You know why a marathon is 26.2 miles, and why it’s called a “marathon”? It’s based on the legend of an ancient Greek messenger who ran from the battlefield at Marathon to Athens to announce that the Persians had been defeated. He burst into the council chamber, shouted “We have won!” and *dropped dead.* (Admittedly, having just fought in the battle *before* running that 26 miles probably didn’t help. Or maybe he’d have been okay if Gu and Gatorade had been invented and there had been water stops every few miles.)

      I think it tells you everything you need to know about marathon runners that someone said, “Hey, here’s a run that killed the original guy. Let’s make an event out of it—it’ll be awesome!”

      My point is, anybody who runs a marathon *knows* that it’s incredibly hard on your body and has a much higher injury risk than yoga or a jog around the block. The incredibly intense challenge is part of the *appeal.* And yet Natasha thinks that Ragen is somehow unaware of this and needs to be educated. Like, she was completely clueless that *not* running a marathon was an option, and needed Natasha to come along and helpfully point this out to her.

  11. Let me see if I understand this.

    Fat people are obligated to exercise to “earn” basic decency, and if we don’t, we’re wrong. But we can’t run, because we’re such heavy, clumsy oafs we can’t *help* but hurt ourselves doing it, and our subhuman animal brains couldn’t possibly research and use shoes, warm-ups, and training programs designed to reduce our risk, so that’s wrong. In spite of what Natasha says, we can’t swim either, because “nobody” wants to see us in bathing suits and we take up too much space in the pool, so that’s wrong. We can’t walk or do yoga because those aren’t “serious” exercise and don’t burn enough calories, so that’s wrong. Basketball and other high-impact games and programs are too dangerous for us, and nobody wants us on their team anyway, so that’s wrong, but only losers exercise alone, so solo sports are wrong. We can’t count our physically demanding jobs as exercise, because that’s cheating and so it’s wrong. Also, any exercise not done with the specific goal of turning oneself from a fat person into a thin person doesn’t “count” as exercise and is wrong, having been done for the wrong reasons.

    Furthermore, we are obligated to calorie-restrict and food-restrict to “earn” basic decency, and if we don’t do that and instead eat the same foods thin people do, we’re wrong. But we can’t eat whole foods, because they have carbs and natural fructose and milkfat so that’s wrong. We can’t eat diet foods because they’re artificial and preserved and that’s wrong. We can’t eat paleo or Atkins because we need the vegetables to lose weight and we can’t eat vegan because we need the protein to lose weight so all of those are wrong. Liquid diets and VLCDs are wrong, because *of course* we won’t keep off any weight we lose *that* way, but conservative restrictions are wrong, too, because we won’t lose any weight to begin with on those. It is, of course, wrong to eat as much food as our body needs per our BMRs, but going under that is unhealthy and unhealthy things are by fantasyland definition fat things, so that’s wrong. Diet suppliments are faddish and therefore wrong, but not using suppliments shows you aren’t really “trying,” so that’s wrong, too. Also, any diabetic, gluten-free, or ethics-based diet is wrong, because we’re not cutting out foods to lose weight, and that is the only valid goal for a fat person to plan our meals around.

    And while we’re on the subject, fat people need to remember how to dress. Comfortable clothes like tights, yoga pants, and peasant shirts are incredibly unfashionable, so wearing any one of those articles of clothing is wrong; however, trendy, current clothes are for Thin People, and fat people who wear them are dressing above their station to “prove” something, so that’s wrong. Jeans are unprofessional and don’t “look right” on fat people so those are wrong. Shorts and tank tops show too much skin and, like the bathing suit example, nobody wants to see that, so they’re wrong; business attire is wrong because everybody knows fat people are lazy; tight clothes are wrong because they show bulges and loose clothes are wrong because they make you look like a bag and shapewear is wrong because who do you think you’re fooling but NOT wearing it is wrong because you are obligated to look as small and take up as little space as possible.

    I see. Yes, it all makes perfect sense… if you are operating from the false premise that fat people are wrong because of what we ARE, making anything we DO irrelevant.

    1. Can’t win for losing, can we, Lady R?

      Fuck that noise. I’m going to take a long walk in a tank top and Hobbit pants today, and then come home and bake an apple pie… which I will partake of sans the side of guilt.

      1. It’s like the computer said in Wargames: “The only winning move is not to play.” Here’s to not playing – cheers!

  12. *KKRKGHK* Reality to Natasha…come in, Natasha…

    Poor diddums. We’re sorry you’re pained. We’re also sorry you’re so clueless and so bad at hiding your intent.

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