The “Healthiest Possible Body” Myth

Bad DoctorOne of the ways that those who wish to promote fatphobia argue against Size Acceptance is to say that it doesn’t “promote health”, suggesting the only way Size Acceptance could be legitimate is if it was shown to “promote health”.  This is very messed up in many ways.

I’m thinking about this today because I was quoted (along with the always fabulous Jeanette DePatie in a piece on Healthline called “Does the Body Positive Movement Promote Health” I think that parts of the piece are very good, and the writer was a joy to work with.  I was, however, disturbed by the section in which Leslie Heinberg, Ph.D, a woman who makes her living promoting the (highly profitable) mutilation of fat people through surgery, said the following:

Part of loving yourself is taking the best care of your body. That should be part of that same goal, versus ‘I love myself just the way I am.’

Body acceptance is really about accepting the body you likely have but still striving to have the healthiest body you could potentially have.

No, body acceptance is really not about that.  And someone who makes her living promoting dangerous weight loss methods doesn’t have any business defining “body acceptance” for anyone but herself. First of all, even if I believed that what she said was true, I do not believe that the types of organ amputation that she promotes and profits from come anywhere close to the “best care” I could take of myself.  But it’s more than that.

A massive multi-billion dollar industry depends on us believing this crap – first that as fat people we aren’t allowed to like ourselves until we are thin, or unless we are constantly “striving” to have our “healthiest body,” making that our top priority, and second, despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary, that their bullshit weight loss products and surgeries are actually a good way to do that. So I understand why Leslie is so keen to repeat this message, but it’s still firmly rooted in fatphobia and is totally bullshit.

Nobody is obligated to “strive for their healthiest body.” In fact, in our culture we often celebrate those who don’t:

People paint everything from their faces to their homes in celebration of their favorite professional football players – who very often suffer grave injuries and health problems during and after their careers.

We cheer for rock stars and celebrities with their incredibly demanding schedules that lead them to end up in hospitals suffering from exhaustion.

We cheer for daredevils who jump motorcycles over school buses, or jump out of helicopters to ski dangerous slopes, or participate in the X games, or are cast members of Jackass.

People are allowed to do all of these things, but none of them promote the healthiest body they could potentially have.

Nobody is obligated to (and I’d venture to say that very few people of any size actually do) prioritize “striving to have the healthiest body you could potentially have.”  What an incredible mindfuck the concept of “healthiest body you could potentially have” is.

First of all, “healthiest” is pretty difficult to define. Second, this kind of striving would lead to some serious stressing pretty quickly – I only have 8 hours until I have to get ready for work – should I follow the recommendation to get 8 hours of sleep, or short the sleep and follow the recommendation to do 30 minutes of activity a day? Various people say that raw foods vegan, paleo, low carb, high carb, low fat and high fat diets are the healthiest – how am I going to choose?  Does this mean that I can never have another piece of birthday cake?  If I’m really hungry and the only food available doesn’t fit my idea of “healthiest possible food” should I deprive my body of food or eat something that I consider sub-optimal? What is the exact precise amount of water to drink for optimal health?

Someone who is a PhD and still says something this ridiculous should probably not be in the field of health at all. I’m left to wonder if she didn’t even consider these complexities because she is deluded into believing that “healthiest potential body” simply means “thinnest potential body.”

Not to mention our tendency as a society to participate in the oppressive behavior of suggesting that health should serve as a barometer of worthiness, further acting as if “promoting health” and “promoting weight loss” are the same thing and that health is entirely within our control.

It’s time to be honest  – if we really wanted to “promote health” (and not just sell weight loss) we would be talking about things like ending oppression – racism, classism, ableism homophobia, transphobia, sizeism and healthism among others have seriously detrimental effects of health at every level.

We would be discussing how to make sure that everyone has access to excellent healthcare that they can actually afford (instead of suggesting that some people deserve good healthcare and some don’t), make sure that people earn enough money to afford the food they want to eat, get enough sleep, and build the strong social and community bonds that are so important to good health and well being.  We would be crystal clear that health is about mental and physical health and that bullying and stigmatizing people is unacceptable.  We would be making sure that people have access to safe (physically and psychologically safe) movement options that they enjoy (if every person doesn’t have the ability to show up at the gym in workout gear, or the pool in a swimsuit, and know that they won’t be harassed, then we aren’t doing enough.)

We would realize that public health isn’t about making fat people’s health the public’s business, but about giving people of all sizes access, options, and good unbiased information and then recognizing and respecting that people get to choose their own priorities and path when it comes to their own bodies, even if those choices are different than the choices that we would make.

So let’s break it down:

You have every right (but no obligation) to love your body as it is right this minute.

You have every right to make decisions about your priorities, including what health means to you, how highly you want to prioritize it, and what path you want to choose to get there.  Realize that your choices may be limited by outside forces including lack of accessibility, oppression etc. and that those things are not your fault even if they become your problem.

You have a right to make choices for your body – you can choose to practice Health at Every Size, you can choose to practice intuitive eating (and yes, you can choose to try to manipulate your body size,)  you can choose not to follow or align yourself with any particular health philosophy.

Let me just say this one more time:  You do not have to let Leslie or any other weight loss peddler define Body Acceptance for you – you have every right to love your body as it is right this minute, period.

REGISTRATION IS OPEN FOR THE FAT ACTIVISM CONFERENCE!

This year we have a kick ass line up of speakers. This is a virtual conference so you can listen by phone or computer wherever you are, and you’ll receive recordings and transcripts of each talk so that you can listen/read on your own schedule. The Conference will be held September 23-25, 2016

Click Here to Register!

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When Bad Euphemisms Happen to Good Fat People

Small - Things you can tell by looking at a fat personI see a lot of mistaken euphemisms for being thin or, said another way, being “not fat”. To be clear, there is nothing wrong with being thin, just like there’s nothing wrong with being fat.  There are no bad bodies.  There is something wrong with making assumptions based on body size. Let’s take a minute to clear some of this up:

Fit:  This one is personally annoying to me as a fathlete.  The idea that “fit” is a body size is ludicrous.  Obviously there are people of all sizes who are involved in movement, athletics, etc and there are people of all sizes who aren’t and all of that is fine.  We each get to choose how and if we engage in movement, our choices don’t make us better or worse than anyone else, and it’s nobody else’s business.

Takes Pride in Their Appearance: I’m told by reliable sources that this one turns up on want ads and job descriptions as a way to say they want someone thin and stereotypically attractive which almost made my head explode.  As if the only way to take pride in our appearance is to adhere to a social stereotype of beauty.

Height Weight Proportionate:  This is just annoying.  Proportionate to what?  This is one of those online personal ad euphemisms for people who lack the intestinal fortitude to be clear that they they only want to date someone who is not fat. Sometimes it’s helpful though, since it rules out people for those of us who would never want to date anyone with so narrow a view of beauty not to mention lacking the guts to at least be honest about it.

Takes Care of Themselves: Another charming personal ad euphemism (charming here having the meaning of “bullshit”), this one plays on the oh-so-tired stereotype that you can tell everything about a person’s habits by looking at them.  It also perpetuates the myth that taking care of yourself leads to thinness for every person and that’s just not true.

Healthy:  Perhaps the most common and the most damaging.  Individual health is not a body size, is not completely within our control, is not a barometer of worthiness, is not up for public discussion, and can be a moving target. This one does a disservice to fat people by giving them the idea that the only way to be healthy is to become thin, and does a disservice to thin people by giving them the idea that they are healthy simply because of their weight, neither of which is true based on the evidence.

The theme here should be pretty clear – you can’t and shouldn’t make assumptions about people based on their size.  As the brilliant Marilyn Wann has said, the only things that we can tell from someone’s body size is what size they are, and what our prejudices and preconceived notions about people that size are.

Whenever you see or hear one of these it’s an opportunity for activism.  Many people don’t even realize that they are engaging in fat bigotry when they say these things and I’m a big fan of doing people the courtesy of giving them the opportunity to realize and change their prejudices.

One way that you can address this is by asking a global question, something like “I always wonder why people say fit when they mean thin, especially when there are plenty of fat athletes and plenty of thin couch potatoes.” or try some humor “Isn’t everyone’s height and weight in a proportion?”

Regardless, we don’t have to internalize these messages of stereotypes, ignorance and bigotry.

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You’re Not the Fat Person Whisperer

You Cannot Be SeriousI do not know what the deal is with people who feel the need to make unsolicited comments/suggestions etc. to fat people about how they think we should live our lives, but my readers have told me about everything from strangers at restaurants making food suggestions to people trying to pray their fat away (something that I experienced all too recently.)  Seriously. I wanted to write an open letter in case any of these people read this blog or in case such a thing would be helpful to some of my readers, and because I’m just irritated.

Dear Possibly Well-Meaning but Completely Misguided Person,

I’m not sure what led you to make your unsolicited comments to me about my health/weight/size/food choices etc.  It’s not something that I would ever do and so I just don’t have any concept of how you could possibly think it is in any way appropriate.  Let me assure you that it is not.  I am not interested in your opinions or suggestions about me, my body, or my health, and the way you know that is that I didn’t ask for them.  If I ever want your opinions or suggestions about me, my body, or my health, you may rest assured that you will be among the very first people to know.

There is no discussion to be had about who is right or wrong here.  Not only can’t you tell anything about my health or behaviors by looking at me, even if you could those things are not a barometer for my worthiness and are absolutely not any of your business.  I do not accept your authority when it comes to me or my body. l don’t owe you (either personally or as a member of society) anything when it comes to my body- I don’t owe you a certain body size, I don’t owe you any behaviors, I don’t owe you your, or anybody else’s, definition of health or healthy behaviors.

As I elaborated on in this post, the only thing that is required in order to have the right to demand basic human respect is a pulse.  The rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are not size, ability, or health dependent, nor are they dependent on looking or acting the way that someone wants you to look or act.  In that sentence “someone” refers to you, oh person who makes unsolicited comments.

Let me state this as clearly as possible:  I am not a poor sad fat girl waiting for you to come along and give me the words of wisdom/encouragement/shame that change my life.  I love my life, and I loved it just a little more before you started giving suggestions about it and I’ll love it that much more once you stop, so how about we speed that process along.  You are not the fatty whisperer.  Back the hell off.

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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

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!

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, you can 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 – “Of Course” Edition

It’s “Say Something Sunday,” a day dedicated, at least on this blog, to personal Size Diversity activism. 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!

Today’s theme is “Say Something.”  I was at a fitness expo yesterday and I walked by the booth for a popular athletic nutrition company.  The representative who was speaking me was awesome – he called out to me (instead of ignoring me), he didn’t make guesses about my goals or abilities, he didn’t act shocked when I told him I am training for an IRONMAN, and he talked to me just as he would talk to any athlete about how their company can help fuel their workout goals.  This went exactly as it should have and I was really happy.  It was time to go and as I was walking away another representative, this one a thin woman no more than 2 feet in front of me who didn’t appear to have seen me yet, was telling another rep “it’s good that I exercise all the time or I would be”…and then she puffed out her cheeks and pulled her arms away from her body so as to indicate a larger body size than she has.  I decided that I didn’t want to get into a long conversation with her, but I did want to address it so I caught her eye and said “Not that there’s anything wrong with bodies that size” smiled, and kept on walking.  She kind of laughed – forcedly and clearly uncomfortable – and said “of course.” I smiled and nodded in a way that I hope conveyed “Damn skippy ‘of course.'”

As a fat person in a fatphobic society we are faced with these little barbs of bullshit all the time.  The first thing to know is that you always get to choose how to deal with this. You can choose to do activism or not, in each instance based on whatever criteria you choose – how you feel at the time, your relationship with the person involved, if you feel like it will help the fat shamer or others, if it will make you feel better etc.

But since today is Say Something Sunday, I’m going to invite you to say something when you hear stuff like this or see it on the internet.  Anything from a quickly typed “Dude, that’s not cool” to a lengthy explanation of exactly why it’s not cool.  And remember that you don’t have an obligation to follow up, or any responsibility for what they do with your information.  When we provide people with these opportunities to confront and deal with their bigotry we are doing them a courtesy, if they don’t take advantage of that we aren’t responsible.

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!

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Book and Dance Class Sale!  I’m on a journey to complete an IRONMAN triathlon, and I’m having a sale on all my books, DVDs, and digital downloads to help pay for it. You get books and dance classes, I get spandex clothes and bike parts. Everybody wins! If you want, you can check it out here!

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

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!

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, you can 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.

How NOT to Sell Leggings to Fat People

Ah, remeWTF are you doingmber the good old days when the most offensive thing that clothing stores did was using models for plus sizes (or, as I like to call them, sizes) who were far too small to wear the clothes.  Well, hold on to your hats because the ante has officially been upped.

Aliexpress, a division of huge import company Alibaba Holding Group Limited, is selling leggings up to 5x, which is totally awesome, often plus sizes (or, as I like to call them, sizes) only go up to 2x or 3x so it’s great to see a company carrying clothing in larger sizes.  Except…no… it turns out that the 5x is about the same as lululemon straight sizes (or, as I like to call them, sizes) Large. (Aliexpress’s 5x:  Waist:  30.4, Hips:  41.8 (converted from centimeters) – Lululemon Large waist 30.5, hip 41) Right.

But that’s not all, they chose to advertise these leggings by having a thin model stand with both of her legs in one leg of pants, stretching the waistband with the opposite hand, like so:

leggings

Now, in pieces that I’ve read about this in mainstream news, the authors seem to think that I should be insulted that they showed that there are people who can fit both their legs into one leg of my pants. I’m not insulted by that at all, I celebrate the diversity of body sizes that exist.

I’m insulted that I can’t swing an internet “news” article without hitting a television “news” story about how many of us are fat, but somehow clothing companies can’t seem to find a single fat person to model the clothes that they want fat people to buy from them.

While it’s difficult to tell what clothing will look like on me when I see it on a thin woman who is sealed into it by industrial sized clamps all down her back, it’s downright impossible to tell how leggings will look on me when a thin woman is wearing them as a skirt.  Companies that want my fat money will have to do better than this.

Women who wear plus sizes (or, as I like to call them, sizes) face a number of difficulties buying clothes: from companies who market their refusal to make clothes for us as a sign that they are “cool” (*cough* Abercrombie *cough*,) to clothing that is much more expensive than that of our friends who wear straight sizes (or, as I like to call them, sizes,) to stores that sell clothes in plus sizes (or, as I like to call them, sizes) only online meaning that we have even more expense in the form of shipping, and then return shipping since we don’t get to try on our clothes and we have to guess based on pictures of the clothes being worn models far too small to fit into them.

At an absolute least we deserve to see the clothes that we wear modeled by people who actually fit in the clothes (and companies should be creating jobs for plus size models or, as I like to call them, models), before we fork over our hard-earned money to buy the clothes.  According to all the news stories there are tons and tons of us fat people running around, if companies want to sell clothes to us, they need to hire some of us to model the clothes.

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Book and Dance Class Sale!  I’m on a journey to complete an IRONMAN triathlon, and I’m having a sale on all my books, DVDs, and digital downloads to help pay for it. You get books and dance classes, I get spandex clothes and bike parts. Everybody wins! If you want, you can check it out here!

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

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!

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, you can 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.

But What About Obesity?

You Forgot Your BullshitOne thing that I find really irritating is when someone wants to draw attention away from a discussion, and so they play a game of “look at the fatties.”  I’ve seen this won’tsomebodythinkofthefatties technique used in discussions from global warming, to contraception, to politics.  It goes like this – someone writes a blog or article that says  “here is my well thought out opinion on this issue (that has nothing to do with fat people).”  Then someone literally leaves a comment that says “But what about obesity?”

An example that I saw today:

Somebody was discussing the rise in restrictive eating disorders, and somebody asked “What about obesity?”

What about it?  Dude, this has nothing to do with fat people.  You might as well have said “What about Sharknado 3?” It’s exactly as relevant. Besides which, obesity is a body size – it’s not an eating disorder, it’s not a diagnosis, it’s not the problem, and it’s not part of every discussion. It’s just a body size.

The first problem with this is that it’s derailing – even if you massively don’t get it and mistakenly believe obesity is a problem, there are other problems and it’s ok to talk about those problems with absolutely no mention of fat people.

If you don’t want to discuss whatever the actual issue is that is being discussed, feel free to go find a place to talk about whatever you want to talk about, no need to throw fat people under the bus.

What’s worse about using obesity to derail a discussion is that obesity isn’t Sharknado 3, nor is it an abstract concept, it’s people.  People who are ceaselessly shamed, stigmatized and bullied in our society for how we look. People who should have a reasonable expectation of being able to engage in a dialog on the internet without someone suggesting that they are a worse issues than anything that is actually being talked about, or that we somehow compound every problem by our mere existence.  It seems like some people take joy in the idea that they can bash fat people all they want and justify it because, hey, that’s what everyone else is doing.  There are people who just want to take every opportunity to treat a group of people poorly with little fear of repercussion.  Look – making assumptions about people and/or attempting to blame them for things based on how they look is bigotry, straight up, there is nothing that can justify it.

Fat bashing for the purpose of derailing a discussion is still fat bashing and it has to stop.  If you’re up for a little armchair activism, you can always call that out when you see it.  Either way, if you’re fat know that it’s not you, it’s them, and it’s completely inappropriate.

Like the blog?  More Cool Stuff!

Book and Dance Class Sale!  I’m on a journey to complete an IRONMAN triathlon, and I’m having a sale on all my books, DVDs, and digital downloads to help pay for it. You get books and dance classes, I get spandex clothes and bike parts. Everybody wins! If you want, you can check it out here!

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

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!

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, you can 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.

Political Correctness, Donald Trump, and Fat Bashing

What a Load of CrapIn case you missed it, during the recent Republican Presidential Debate, Fox News debate moderator Megyn Kelly asked candidate Donald Trump

“You’ve called women you don’t like ‘fat pigs,’ ‘dogs,’ ‘slobs,’ and ‘disgusting animals,’

At which point Donald interrupted to say

Only Rosie O’Donnell

For reasons passing my understanding, the crowd cracked up. Because when you are a Presidential candidate who is being specific about which woman you are calling a fat pig, dog, slob, and disgusting animal, it’s suddenly hilarious?

Kelly continued:

Your Twitter account has several disparaging comments about women’s looks. You once told a contestant on The Celebrity Apprentice it would be a ‘pretty picture’ to see her on her knees. Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president? And how will you answer the charge from Hillary Clinton, who was likely to be the Democratic nominee, that you are part of the ‘war on women’?

Donald went right for the common excuse of “Political Correctness”

I think the big problem this country has is being politically correct,” he said. “I’ve been challenged by so many people, and I don’t frankly have time for total political correctness. And to be honest with you, this country doesn’t have time either.

When people use the term “Politically Correct” is this way, it’s typically an attempt to justify their choice to treat people – usually oppressed people – without basic human respect, thus adding to the group’s oppression. As if treating people with respect is somehow a massive waste of time and just too difficult to even contemplate. In a fabulous piece about this for Vox, Amanda Taub wrote:

“political correctness” isn’t a real thing. Rather, the term is a sort of catchall charge that’s used against people who ask for more sensitivity to a particular cause than we’re willing to give — a way to dismiss issues as frivolous in order to justify ignoring them. It’s a way to say that their concerns don’t deserve to be voiced, much less addressed.

The fact that this is bullshit can be easily illustrated by replacing “political correctness” with the concept of treating people with respect. Let’s illustrate using Donald’s quote:

I think the big problem this country has is treating people with respect. So many people have pointed out to me that my treatment of people is not respectful, and I don’t frankly have time for treating people with respect. And to be honest with you, this country doesn’t have time to treat people with respect either.

Because as President, Donald would make sure that we live in a country where we are all clear that calling women (including and especially Rosie O’Donnell) fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals is a time-saver that will really help our country be its best. (By the way, after the debate Trump claimed that he never said those things. It will likely not come as a surprise that he was lying.)

The idea that it’s completely acceptable, even Presidential, to get cheap laughs through sexism and sizeism,  and then (when people point out how it is disrespectful and oppressive) trying to make the problem the people pointing it out – rather than the people who are being disrespectful, oppressive, bullies – is very seriously screwed up.  I think that fighting against the concept of “Political Correctness” as a justification for oppression is an important of part of the overall fight against oppression.  I think that we do have time to treat people with respect, and I think that doing so it part of what would really make our country its best.

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Book and Dance Class Sale!  I’m on a journey to complete an IRONMAN triathlon, and I’m having a sale on all my books, DVDs, and digital downloads to help pay for it. You get books and dance classes, I get spandex clothes and bike parts. Everybody wins! If you want, you can check it out here!

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

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!

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, you can 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.

The Size We’re Supposed to Be

I get a lot of questions about set point theory – the idea that each person’s body has a genetically determined set point. I think it’s an interesting theory and not implausible – I do think that bodies come in varied sizes just like everything else in nature.

I think the evidence also pretty clearly shows that dieting messes with our bodies, since at least a year after dieting studies have shown that the mechanisms the body has for the express purpose or regaining and maintaining weight are still different than in someone who didn’t diet, and the majority of diets end in weight gain.

While I think this is interesting to think about, I also think that when it comes to size diversity and acceptance it’s important that we keep our eye on the ball.  We have to be careful that we’re not making it sound like we have to prove that our fat is “not our fault” in order to deserve to be treated well.

It doesn’t matter what size someone is or why they are that size, it’s absolutely none of anybody else’s business, and everybody deserves to be treated with basic human respect.  (Those wishing to make a “won’t somebody think of my tax dollars fatties are so expensive blah blah blah” argument can head to this post. )

Too often I see people respond to fat shaming, not by insisting that we should treat every body with respect,  but instead suggesting that we should do a “better” job figuring out who deserves abuse, stigma, and shame from society.  (See also:  “It’s ok to be fat as long as you’re healthy” ) Let me help out: NOBODY.  Nobody deserves to be treated the way that fat people are treated in this society and it doesn’t matter how fat we are, why we are that fat, or what being that fat means.

The idea that this is about behavior or personal responsibility is utterly laughable – there are plenty of sedentary thin people whose diet is based in fast food (which is fine and also nobody’s business) but people don’t scream epithets at them from their cars or argue that they should lose their civil rights until they exercise or try to calculate their “cost” to society.  Nope – this is about bullying a group of people because of how they look.

Imagine if we were honest about the fact that whatever size we are, and regardless of why we are that size, the truth is that we are unlikely to ever be significantly smaller in the long term and that it’s completely ok to be fat.  Maybe then we could stop talking about if our fat is our fault,  and start talking about the life we want to live in the bodies we have now.

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Book and Dance Class Sale!  I’m on a journey to complete an IRONMAN triathlon, and I’m having a sale on all my books, DVDs, and digital downloads to help pay for it. You get books and dance classes, I get spandex clothes and bike parts. Everybody wins! If you want, you can check it out here!

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

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!

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, you can 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.

Freezing Fat People for Fun and Profit

You Forgot Your BullshitA company is joining the legion of diet companies perpetrated a fraud by suggesting that they can produce lasting weight loss.  In this incarnation, it’s shoes and a vest that make you cold. They claim that based on the research, being cold (almost, but not to, the point of shivering) will lead to weight loss. (Thanks to reader Elisabeth for letting me know about this.) How is this completely ridiculous?  Let me count the ways.

The “science” that they point to includes a study were 24 men sat in a room cooled to 61F for two hours, a study where 6 men remained inactive for three hours while wearing a cold suit,  a study where 12 men sat in a cold room for 2 hours a day for six weeks, a study of rats, and a Daily Mail article (none of which measured weight loss.)  Oh, and an anecdote about Michael Felps during the time he was training for the Beijing Olympics. Because clearly the most decorated Olympian of all time is a statistically significant, widely extrapolatable sample unto himself. (And if they want to play a round of “anecdata” I know plenty of fat people who live and work in the cold who are still fat.) 

So, based on the experiences of 43 people, one of whom is a 22-time Olympic Medalist who is still training for the Olympics, and none of whom lost any weight, we’re supposed to believe that this is an evidence-based weight loss “body hack” (They love to use the word “hack,” I guess “bullshit that doesn’t work” is just not as hip.)

And this is the state of “science” around weight loss – no matter how ridiculous the premise, no matter how weak the evidence, no matter how many embarrassingly lacking the scientific method may be, if someone thin says that they know how to make fat lose weight, we are all supposed to hop to and do whatever they say, and not ask any questions (because lord knows they don’t have answers.)

What’s sad is that there are real world applications for this technology, there are plenty of people who could use cooling clothing/shoes – those who work outdoors, athletes, people dealing with hot flashes, everybody who lives in Texas – but that’s not where the billions are.

The billions are in lying to people and telling them, even though there is not a bit of evidence that this will lead to long term weight loss, that they know how to manipulate people’s body sizes to move them out of an oppressed class, and give them better health. It’s snake oil, only colder. At least this isn’t likely to kill us, but it’s still unconscionable to prey on people who are the victims of so much oppression by lying and saying that you can change them to accommodate their oppressors.

Also, I just have to mention the sizing of this. It comes in men’s and women’s sizes, both start at XXS , the women’s go to 2XL, and the men’s to 3XL (though they claim that they can accommodate other sizes.)  If you need further proof that our society is super messed up when it comes to body image, look no further than the fact that they are selling a weight loss device in size extra-extra-small.  Not that it’s ok that they are selling it to fat people – it’s a crock of crap at any size. Unfortunately they can try to sell us whatever they want, but happily we don’t have to buy it.

By the way, big thanks to my Facebook friends for helping me decide on a title (it was between “Ice Ice Fatty” or “Fatties on Ice” or “Freezing Fat People for Fun and Profit”) In addition to helping me choose the title, they came up with some other suggestions and I didn’t want to deprive you of their comedic talents so here are some others that they came up with (feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments.)

Fatties on Ice? That’s Not Nice! (a little play on the old Riunite ads)

You’re ass cold as ice

The Iced Fat Cometh

Fatty Chills

Freezing Reason

fatcicles

The cold always bothers me anyway…Let us goooooo

Do you want to build a snowfat?

Fatties on (Thin) Ice

Sometimes, when something is this ridiculous, I just have to laugh about it.

Like the blog?  More Cool Stuff!

Book and Dance Class Sale!  I’m on a journey to complete an IRONMAN triathlon, and I’m having a sale on all my books, DVDs, and digital downloads to help pay for it. You get books and dance classes, I get spandex clothes and bike parts. Everybody wins! If you want, you can check it out here!

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

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!

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, you can 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.

When Good Friends Post Bad Fat Jokes

WTF are you doingThe internet is chock full of fat jokes so they can be difficult to avoid, but it’s always extra upsetting when someone we think of as a friend posts one of them.  I’ve talked about those terrible “People of Walmart” pictures before, today I’m talking about something more subtle  – jokes that suggest, for example, that just existing as a fat person is somehow hilarious, or cheap jokes based on lazy stereotypes.

Like all oppressive BS, we get to choose how to deal with this.  The choices we make might change from day to day, or even hour to hour based on the situation, our relationships with the people involved, and how we feel on any given day (maybe we feel like doing some activism, or maybe we need a break from standing up to bullshit behavior,) and all choices are valid.  Here are some options:

Do nothing

Yup, just ignoring this is an option.

Hide/unfriend

Depending on the platform where this is happening, it may be an option to hide this particular post, all future posts, or to unfriend the person.

Private message

You can send them a message and say something like “You may not be aware, but the post you made earlier was really hurtful in the way that it [insert issue here]

  • stereotypes people like me
  • uses people like me as the butt of a joke
  • tries to make appearance-based bigotry funny

We are [friends/family/etc.] and I know that you didn’t mean to post something hurtful, but you did and I’d really appreciate it if you take it down.

Or

Can we talk about that joke that you posted earlier, it really hurt my feelings that you would post a joke that is based on stereotyping people like me.

Be Prepared!  They may refuse to take it down and/or attack you. When people are confronted with their inappropriate behavior they often try to make the person who confronts them the problem – be prepared to be called “oversensitive,” to be accused of having no sense of humor, of not being able to take a joke etc.  At that point you’ll need to decide what to do moving forward and the options range from doing nothing, to trying to continue the conversation, to ending the friendship.

Reply publicly

Leave a reply explaining exactly why this “joke” isn’t funny, or cool to post.  Again, be prepared for people to try to make you the problem. Remember that you get to decide how to reply, how long to involve yourself in the conversation and you can opt out at any time.

It can be incredibly hurtful when a good friend posts a fat joke, to me the most important thing to remember is that your feelings are totally valid, and while you may be able to control your reactions, you can’t control their actions. If things get bad you can use a three-step boundary setting process:

  1. Explain what you would like.
  2. Explain the (realistic) consequence, if you don’t get it.
  3. Follow through.

Make sure to choose a consequence that you can truly follow through with.  So maybe you say:

  1. I need my facebook wall to be free from fat jokes
  2. If you insist on posting fat jokes I’ll need to unfriend you.
  3. If they post another fat joke, unfriend and let them know why.

or maybe something like this:

  1. I’m not willing to be friends with someone who engages in weight bigotry
  2. If you continue to engage in weight bigotry then we can’t be friends.
  3. If they continue to engage in weight bigotry then, in the words of DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, if they were laughing you don’t need ’em cause they’re not good friends.

Remember that this is not an argument about whether or not their behavior constitutes weight bigotry, you get to determine what you feel is offensive and you get to set boundaries based on that.

For more support around this check out

When you have to confront weight stigma

and

Five Phrases for Size Acceptance Self-Defense

It’s not you, it’s them.  Bullying, stigma, and oppression are the problem, fat people are not, and we get to choose how we deal with it and whatever choices we make are valid.

Join Me In a Q&A with Michelle Hess!

Today (8/5/15) at 4pm Pacific I’ll be a guest on Brave Girl Coaching’s Body Positive Q&A series.  Check it out here! You can listen in and ask questions of your own!

Like the blog?  More Cool Stuff!

Book and Dance Class Sale!  I’m on a journey to complete an IRONMAN triathlon, and I’m having a sale on all my books, DVDs, and digital downloads to help pay for it. You get books and dance classes, I get spandex clothes and bike parts. Everybody wins! If you want, you can check it out here!

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

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!

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, you can 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.