I 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:
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