A Different Kind of Spring Break

It’s that time of year – my friends who are involved in academia are talking about what they are doing on Spring Break – vacations, staycations, taking a break from school, from work.  It got me thinking about a couple other things that we might try taking a break from this spring.  As always, these are just suggestions, if you have other ideas feel free to leave them in the comments!

Negative Body Talk

Consider taking  Spring Break from making negative comments about people’s bodies, including yours.  We live in a world where companies make billions of dollars convincing us that our bodies will never be good enough.  We are encouraged to hate ourselves and all too often this leads to us putting down other people to try to make ourselves feel better – directing our anger at each other instead of a culture of body hate and the industries that create and profit from it. Putting down others to lift ourselves up didn’t work in Junior High and it won’t work now.  This is the perfect time to take a break from negative body talk – notice your thoughts about your body and replace negative thoughts with gratitude for the things that your body does (check out this post for more specifics on this.) Look for something to compliment in every person that you see.  When people start engaging in negative body talk resist the urge to join in – consider walking way or even interrupting it by changing the subject or saying something like “I wish we lived in a world where all bodies were celebrated.” or “I’m on a Spring Break from negative body talk.”

Food Policing, Morality and Performance

We all make choices about what to eat for lots of different reasons – many people have choices that are limited by lack of accessibility (to foods and/or cooking methods that they might prefer), time, sensitivities etc…  Our culture encourages us to make these choices into morality and public performance.. and to comment and judge other people’s choices.  Consider taking a Spring Break from from thinking of food as good/bad/sinful/clean/dirty etc.  Consider taking a Spring Break from talking about what you’re eating and why (and instead thinking of something else to talk about,) and consider taking a Spring Break from food policing.

Who knows, maybe these will start as a Spring Break but end up lasting the whole year long!

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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Willful Suspension of Disbelief

What a Load of CrapSuspension of disbelief is the idea that you ignore the implausibilities of a story so that you can enjoy the greater themes.  I’m not against the concept on its face – it’s why I can love the A-Team Movie and the final choreography from Center Stage.

I am not willing to run my life with suspension of disbelief at the center, but that’s what the diet industry and plenty of doctors seem to think I should do.  Over half a century of research has failed to produce a single study where more than a tiny fraction of people lose weight long term.  There is not a single study showing that long term weight loss leads to better health.  When I point this out to doctors they typically agree with the numbers, then suggest that I still try to lose weight:

Weight Watchers own numbers show that the average client loses 5 pounds in two years (paying $254 PER POUND in meeting fees alone for the privilege.) but people are still on my television gushing that this time it’s going to work.

Ads for weight loss products are legally required to have a disclaimer because they sell a scenario that almost never happens, but I’m supposed keep trying.

Thin people are told that the healthiest thing they can do is eat a variety of foods in moderation, locally sourced etc.  As a fat woman I’m told that the healthiest thing I can do is

  • Drink two thin chocolate beverages that contain laxatives, eat one meal a day that is low fat and low carb
  • Eat reconstituted soy protein shakes five times a day and one meal of low fat protein and green vegetables
  • Eat a bacon double cheeseburger but hold the tomato and the bun
  • Take pills whose label suggests that I “wear dark pants and bring an extra pair to work” because of uncontrolled anal seepage”
  • Eat an extremely limited low calorie diet 6 days a week, binge eat on the 7th day
  • Eat breakfast cereal 4 times a day, eat a meal of lean proteins and low carbs for dinner
  • Eat a ton of cabbage soup and on Tuesday eat as many bananas as I want but nothing else

I’m often met with incredulity by those who tout weight loss when I discuss my choice to focus on behaviors rather than body size manipulation to support my health (knowing that health is not an obligation, barometer of worthiness, completely within my control, or guaranteed.)  The reason is pretty simple – when it comes to the concepts of weight loss, especially as a path to health, I just can’t muster this kind of suspension of disbelief necessary to go down the weight loss path (and that’s saying something because I love the Iron Man movies.) I have a right to make choices that make sense and that I believe have some basis in reality and, for me, dieting simply doesn’t qualify.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Like my work? Want to help me keep doing it?  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 www.IronFat.com

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.

Banning Anorexic Models

NO Negative Body TalkThere has been lots of press lately covering a proposed law in France, similar to laws in Spain, Italy and Israel, banning models with a body mass index below 18.  There is research that suggests that being inundated with images of very thin women does psychological damage to women and young girls (I will note that I object to the use of “too thin” to describe the models in the article to which I linked.)

Many readers have asked how I feel about this, and the answer is that I’m disturbed by it for a number of reasons.  The first is that BMI is not a measure of health, nor does it constitute an eating disorder diagnosis.  It’s wildly inappropriate to say that they are banning “anorexic” or “unhealthy” models, when what they are really doing is banning models whose weight in pounds time 703 divided by their height in inches squared is less than 18. Anorexia and other eating disorders are extremely serious health issues and we need to drastically improve the treatment options that people are given, but that’s a subject for another post, and it’s not what’s happening here. Let’s be clear that this isn’t about providing options for treatment to these so-called “anorexic” models, they’re just trying to put them out of work.

I don’t think the problem is that there are very thin models. I think the problem is that there are almost exclusively very thin models – and actresses, and dancers, and singers. If the research is correct, I don’t think that it’s that girls are exposed to very thin women that damages them, I think it’s that they aren’t exposed to women of other sizes, or shown the diversity of body sizes that exists. And I seriously doubt that anything will be solved by having models with a BMI of 18 instead of 17.5. I think that what we need to do isn’t shift the “ideal body” stereotype half a BMI point, but rather to realize that there is no “ideal body” and celebrate and represent women of all sizes.

Even before I became a full-fledged member of the Fuck Flattering Club, I was clear that the clothes should be made to fit the people, not the other way around. I think that a big part of the problem is that people argue with a straight face that all models should be very thin because the “clothes look better” on them as if that’s not the function of a social construct that is used to reinforce classism, racism, sizeism, and sexism. Women of all sizes wear clothes, so I think that if our current designers aren’t talented enough to design clothing that looks good on women of all sizes then they are incompetent at the most fundamental level, and it’s well past time to find ourselves more talented designers.

While we’re at it, people could stop wringing their hands and acting ridiculous, blathering on about “promoting obesity” every time a woman who isn’t thin dares to be talented, or happy, or to insist on her right to exist in her body without being shamed, stigmatized, bullied or oppressed because of how she looks.

I don’t want to ban models of any size, I want to see models (and actresses, and dancers, and singers) of every size.

Comment Moderation Reminder:  Any comments suggesting that we can judge someone’s health or habits by their size, or that someone at a certain weight couldn’t possibly be healthy etc. will be deleted. Any negative body talk will be deleted. I don’t allow that kind of discussion about fat people, and I’ll not allow it about thin people. I have no interest in doing to others exactly what I’m asking them not to do to me or allowing this forum to be used for that purpose.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Like my work? Want to help me keep doing it?  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 www.IronFat.com

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.

Questionable Celebrity Responses to Fat Shaming

What Will you DefendA number of people shared an article with me from mic called “10 Celebrities Who Had the Perfect Response to Fat Shaming”  I’m really glad that they published the article and I definitely loved a lot of the responses. But there was one that I want to discuss a bit more.

In an interview with Jimmy Kimmel, Mindy Kaling said “They’re like ‘It’s so refreshing that Mindy feels so comfortable to like, let herself go and be a fat sea monster.’ And I’m like I run and work out, it takes a lot of effort to look like a normal, chubby woman.”

Mindy Kaling is allowed to respond to fat shaming however she chooses (because, hey, Underpants Rule) and she’s certainly not the only celebrity to respond this way.  She has also said a lot of things about self-esteem and body positivity that I really like, but this is definitely not among them.

What I think she is clearly doing here is suggesting that she shouldn’t be the victim of fat shaming because she is somehow better than other fat people (because she is less fat than them, because she runs and works out -as if there aren’t much fatter people than her who do the same- and is therefore a “good fatty“, because her size is “normal” or just “chubby.”

Engaging in this kind of defense against fat shaming is not so much creating a rising tide that lifts all boats as it is stepping on other people who are victims of the same stigma as you, and pushing them down to try to get your own head above water.

I think it’s really important that when we respond to fat shaming, we are clear that we don’t deserve to be fat shamed – and it’s not because of how we eat or if we work out or if we are the size of the “average woman” etc. but rather that we don’t deserve to be fat shamed because NOBODY deserves to be fat shamed, ever, for any reason, period.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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 www.IronFat.com

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.

 

 

 

Say Something Sunday – Fat Joke Edition

Say Something SundayIt’s “Say Something Sunday,” a day dedicated, at least on this blog, to personal Size Diversity activism. I’ve got some suggestions below and/or of course you can do your own thing and feel free to leave a comment about it.  If you have ideas of things to do for Say Something Sunday I’d also love for you to share those.

I did the math and if everyone who views the blog each week did one piece of Size Diversity Activism a week, it would add up to over 1.5 million body positive messages put out into the world this year.  Multiply that times the number of people who might see each of those messages and things start to increase exponentially. To be very clear, nobody is obligated to do activism so if this doesn’t appeal to you that’s totally cool, I’ll be back tomorrow with your regularly scheduled blog post!

The theme this week is fat jokes. Often people couch fatphobia in so-called humor and jokes, and then defend saying cruel and disrespectful things because “it’s just a joke” and try to make the issue that we aren’t willing to laugh at a joke that stigmatizes us, rather than that they are actively stigmatizing us.  Nobody is obligated to celebrate jokes made at their expense and making stigmatizing and bullying sentiments into a “joke” is not a get-out-of-jackass-free card. (More full explanation of this can be found here) Suggestions of what to do with this:

When you see or hear a fat joke/meme etc. say something.  You can say something direct like “fat shaming isn’t funny” or something softer like “I wish we lived in a world where people didn’t try to be funny at other’s expense.”

Another option if you want something that works in a professional situation, if there is an in-balance of power, or if you just want to be more subtle, is fighting this kind of bigotry with confusion , for example smiling sincerely and saying “I’m sorry, I don’t get it – can you explain?” because nothing makes it clear that a joke is stigmatizing faster than someone having to explain it.

If you want to do more of this kind of thing, consider joining the Rolls Not Trolls group on Facebook, it’s a group created for the specific purpose of putting body positive things in body negative spaces on the internet and supporting each other while we do that.  It’s a secret group so if you want to join just message me on facebook (I’m Ragen Chastain)

Have a great Say Something Sunday!

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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 www.IronFat.com

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.

Body Shaming Baby Onesies

Source - Facebook/Wry Baby
Source – Facebook/Wry Baby

Baby clothing company Wry Baby has found itself in some hot water about a baby onesie that they manufactured that says “I hate my thighs.”  They were immediately taken to task by Ms. Magazine and, not one to let an opportunity to profit off body shaming pass them by, they brought another onesie that says “Love me for my leg rolls” out of retirement (because that’s not a joke based on body shaming at all!) and suggested that people should buy the one they like best to “vote” for which one they should keep.  Because maybe a contest will make me forget that both of these reinforce a dangerous message and that this is a company that I would never in a million years support financially.

This is one of those blog posts where people will be like “why are you so uptight about everything, can’t you take a joke?!”  I’ve already discussed the answer to that question in depth here but the short answers are: Can I take a joke?  Yes. Do people sometimes couch shitty oppressive ideas as “humor”?  Yes. Do I have to stay silent about that?  No.  Am I going to?  Not today.

The only reason this is “funny” is because a girl baby wearing this doesn’t yet know that she was born into a culture that will teach her to hate her body for not meeting some ridiculous stereotype of beauty.  This will become less funny 8 years later when this same little girl is dieting, setting herself up for a life of dysfunctional relationships with food, exercise, and her body and making her an excellent customer for the diet and beauty industries. It will be dramatically less funny if she becomes part of the 119% increase in hospitalizations for eating disorders in kids under 12 that happened in the last decade.

The ability to get the “joke” of this onesie is predicated on people knowing that this is the reality for this girl, and laughing at the idea that she would be worried about the size of her thighs as an infant instead of waiting a couple of years to start hating her body. This is “funny” because of the juxtaposition of the truth that this baby couldn’t even fathom hating her thighs, with the reality of how society will do basically everything in its power to make her hate them in just a few short years. (Not to mention that it enforces negative body messages to the people who see the baby wearing it.)

Hating our bodies for their shape and size is a learned behavior and that lesson is taught to us by industries that profit from them (like the diet and beauty industry) that make billions of dollars by teaching us that our bodies will never be good enough, that we should be ashamed of the ways in which we deviate from a photo shopped version of a stereotype of beauty, and that we should spend a lifetime buying their products trying to hate ourselves just a tiny bit less.

It’s also taught to us by a society made up of people who are products of the lessons of these industries (which often includes our parents.) People who internalize the idea that women should be judged on our appearance, that some bodies are good and some bodies are bad, and then enforce it on others, including and especially on those who speak out against it.

That is, I think, what is often happening when somebody says “Putting a baby in a body shaming outfit is a bad idea” and others insist that it’s not – it’s just funny because of the society we live in.  If we find ourselves defending the hilarity of body shaming baby clothes then I think that the joke, unfortunately, is on us.

Activism Opportunity:

Tell Wry Baby what you think:

On their Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/wrybaby

On Twitter:  @wrybaby

E-mail their customer service department:  onlinesales@wrybaby.com

Give them a call:  888-909-9048

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Like my work?  Want to help me keep doing it?  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 www.IronFat.com

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.

 

Lose Weight by Watching Horror Movies?

What a Load of CrapSeveral readers asked me to comment on articles that are making the rounds that suggest that watching horror movies helps people lose weight.  It’s actually a recycled story that comes around every year or two but I haven’t talked about it before so let’s have do it!

Having apparently answered all other movie-related questions, Amazon’s LOVEFiLM commissioned a study of the effects of various horror movies on heart rate, oxygen intake, carbon dioxide output, and calories burned.

According to this study, the movie with the highest calories burned was The Shining at 184 calories in 146 minutes.  That’s 75 calories an hour. If that’s something that interests you, you may also want to know that according to one of those annoying calorie burning charts, knitting burns 85 calories an hour.  Don’t get me wrong, your chances of long term weighloss are still abysmal, but at least you can get some mittens out of the deal and don’t have to sleep with the lights on.

But even if you love horror movies before you sign up to watch hours of them as your new diet, it might interest you to know that the fight or flight adrenal response that horror movies cause that it responsible for the calories burning has been shown, over the long term, to be linked to serious health consequences as well as creating…wait for it… weight gain! And this is where we shake our heads at all the sources that picked this up claimed that watching horror movies is “good for your health” based on the fact that they may burn a few calories.

What does all this mean?  I think it means that some places will publish literally anything that is purported to be about weight loss, which might be funnier if actual serious conversations about health weren’t getting constantly drowned out by ridiculous and pointless conversations about weight loss.  I think it also helps to illustrate the issues with confusing things that might burn calories or make someone’s body smaller (albeit, likely temporarily) with things that might support their health.

I look forward to the days when we can leave the weight loss talk behind and have some real conversations about health and our options  (including the fact that health is not an obligation, barometer of worthiness, completely within our control or guaranteed under any circumstances).  As for the articles about this study, I’m trying to think of them as more dark comedy than horror.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Like my work?  Want to help me keep doing it?  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 www.IronFat.com

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.