As 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.
Like this blog? Consider supporting my work 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
Book Me! I give talks all across the country about self-esteem, body image, health and wellness for people of size and more, and I’d love to speak to your organization. (I’ll be in Northern New York and Central Pennsylvania in the next couple of months if you are in those areas and would like to add an event to those trips.) You can get more information on topics, previous engagements and reviews here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!
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