How Not to Market Your Weight Loss Webinar

facepalmI get plenty of ridiculous hate mail, but sometimes I get something even more ridiculous. A company that so completely misunderstands my blog that they sincerely ask me to help them market their weight loss bullshit.  Here’s part of a recent example:

Our first webinar addresses a sensitive topic: weight loss. We know what you are thinking (and feeling). But, we urge you to keep reading. Don’t close this email!

[Our Ridiculous Company] does not promote getting skinny; we promote being well. And, weight loss is part of many woman’s journey to wellness.

Weight loss needs to be talked about in terms of wellness not skinniness. It is a touchy, yet important topic that we are brave enough to discuss.

Please urge your audience to attend our webinar: “Eat More and Lose Weight.”

The link featured the headline in huge font red letters: “Are You FRUSTRATED with
Trying to Lose Weight and Have a Body You LOVE?
” There was nothing about loving the body you have, just ridiculous claims that this doctor could not just help you lose weight but also “End sick days.” Right, this definitely has the ring of good science. Turns out it’s just another doctor (this one trained in “emergency medicine”) who has written another book claiming that she can help people lose weight with absolutely no proof that it will work, and a mountain of evidence to suggest that it won’t, trying to co-opt Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size for her own profit.

Some days I have it for the teachable moment, and some days I don’t.  These came to me just in time for Say Something Sunday, and so one of my Say Something Sunday suggestions was to e-mail these people and tell them to stop spamming me with their BS.  Many of you did, thank you so much! From what I’ve been told, everyone got back a form e-mail claiming that sending me an unsolicited request to promote something that I am emphatically against is not spam, and that they wanted to (I’m not even kidding here) “team up with Ragen to empower women.”  The e-mails ended with “p.s Please rethink blindly sending hate mail.”

First of all, not to go all Crocodile Dundee or anything, but saying “Your weight loss promotion is not appreciated.  In a blog like Ragen Chastain’s Dances with Fat  it is especially not appreciated.  Please just stop!” is not hate mail.  This is hate mail.

Also, when you go to a blog that is very specifically Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size, and waste the writer’s time asking her to help you promote that which she spends every single day fighting against, you might expect a little push back. Today I received yet another comment from them explaining that they don’t believe in dieting, just in losing weight for health reasons (right, and I’m not a brunette, I just happen to have brown hair.)  There is no magical phrase or reason for promoting or selling weight loss that makes it any less impossible, or less harmful, for the vast majority of people.

So these people struggle with the concepts of Health at Every Size, Spam, hatemail, bravery, and dieting.  But why am I telling you about this? First, because it’s funny and I don’t know about you but some days I can use a good laugh. Second, because I really appreciate everyone who sent them an e-mail and, hopefully, taught them a very valuable lesson about reading comprehension.  And finally, to say that you don’t have to put up with weight loss propaganda, or with people trying to co-opt Size Acceptance to sell dieting.

When people come into our spaces and try to promote something harmful, we don’t have to smile politely and say “no thank you” (though of course that’s an option)  I imagine someone will comment on this blog to say that I should have worked to build a bridge instead of reacting the way I did. I say fuck that.  I spend a lot of time politely asking people if they wouldn’t mind not oppressing me so much, and I don’t apologize for that, but I’m also not obligated to do it and it takes all kinds of activism to create change in the world.  Anger is a tool in the activism toolbox just as much as bridge-building is and each of us gets to choose how we respond to the bullshit that we face on any given day.

You can push back in any way that you feel comfortable: Mark every diet ad you see online as “deceptive” or “I don’t want to see this” or whatever, unsubscribe from magazines that advertise dieting and tell them why, return postcards from diet companies return to sender, declare your Facebook page/home/book club/game night etc. a Body Positive space – no diet talk allowed.  You can also go ahead and flip a table. You aren’t obligated to push back against diet propaganda, but you are allowed.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Join the The Brave Body Love Summit: 35+ speakers (including me) offering tools to support and improve your relationship with your body Check it out here!

Become 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.  Click here for details

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

Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information on topics, previous engagements and reviews here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

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

I’m training for an IRONMAN! You can follow my journey at

A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development (casting, finding investors etc.).  Follow the progress on Facebook!

If you are uncomfortable with my offering things for sale on this site, you are invited to check out this post.


12 thoughts on “How Not to Market Your Weight Loss Webinar

  1. Hi there. Followed the link to your hate mail. Holy shit! I love your responses – no better way to stand up to a bully! What makes me scared and sad is if you substitute the word “Jew” or the n – word for “fatty ” you can see these people have learned nothing from the assholes who preceded them. But I guess that’s your point, isn’t it?

    1. It’s so scary, it’s like people never learn.

      One time I got this absolutely horrid MySpace message. Yes, this was way back when MySpace was ALL the rage. This person sent me a message and it just shook me to tears. At the time, I was on my middle school volleyball team and I was so cute, plump, and fit, but I’d be darned if I could fit into those skimpy shorts right. They didn’t have any in my size, so I had to wear boy’s basketball shorts. I got this MySpace message and they told me that if I can fit into their uniforms that maybe I shouldn’t be on the team. It just about broke my heart. I felt so horrible and the volleyball season hadn’t even started yet. I was so good too, but coach wouldn’t let me play until I could fit onto the uniform shorts. It was not fair and it took everything I had to sit there on the bench and not cry myself away.

      I look back now on that abuse and I hope that in the future everyone will have the basic human right of HAPPINESS and feel good about themselves no matter what they look like. The world can be such a cruel place to us fatties. We’ve got to hang in there and fight.

  2. I’m not a Christian, but I love the message a Christian friend of mine sent to me recently in reaction to being criticised for not doing more to build bridges with people who aren’t trying to do the same for her.

    “When you ask me – ‘what would Jesus do?’ – remember that flipping over tables and chasing people with a whip is within the realm of possibilities.”

    1. I had someone do the same to me years ago. I just responded “Why build them when they are just going to be burnt down by that person at a later date?”

      At that point in time I knew they were (and still are) petty people whom I don’t need in my life. I’m not going to try to build a bridge when they will just light it up anyway.

  3. Wow. Just… wow.

    I didn’t do it on sunday, but I think I will drop a line to these bozos today.

    Reading what they have to say, all I can think of is The Princess Bride: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

  4. ” ‘Are You FRUSTRATED with
    Trying to Lose Weight and Have a Body You LOVE?’ ”
    Why yes I am frustrated with society’s obsession with weight loss, and I *do* have a body that I love. Thanks for asking!

  5. Nice post. I used to have such mails back when i was really into losing weight. i didn’t have any problem with my body but its the people around me who looks at me as if i’m a piece of laugh walking on its feet. i just don’t understand how can someone be treated for their weight? what kind of society are we living in? and who (and why) created the idea of skinny means beautiful. i’m not skinny and i’m proud of it!

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