What This Cat Teaches Us About Body Positivity

The world is messed up you are fineOne of my favorite things about the work I do is when people tell me that they finally “get it” that the world is messed up, but they are fine, and they always have been.  Sometimes I get e-mails from people who have had the revelation reading my blog or book, and the blogs and books of others who do this work, sometimes I get to see it happening while I give a talk – they get that surprised, happy look in their eyes, they start to nod their heads more and more  vigorously, they snap, or clap or say “Yeah!” when I point out that convincing us to hate our bodies from as early an age as possible is incredibly profitable in this culture, and that the beauty and diet industries are experts at it. While I’m always happy to see this, I also know that they are in a very precarious position.

I know that as soon as they click off my blog, close my book, or leave my talk, they are going to be bombarded with advertising that is custom-designed to make them forget everything that they just realized and go back to their old, ingrained habits of negative body talk and self-loathing.

So I try to give people activities that they can do to remember and reinforce what they just realized.  And one of those activities is to create a simple mantra that they can use when those tired old messages about self-loathing come at them.  My personal mantra is “Hey, that’s bullshit!” but that’s just me, people choose lots of other things. I just had someone e-mail me that after my talk at IvyQ at Cornell he had decided his mantra would be “Nope Nope Nope” and that it’s been working great.

I also suggest that people come up with a visual, whether it’s a Star Wars Reference “These are not the body image messages you are looking for.” or picturing themselves blocking the messages like Neo in the Matrix. Then I saw this cat gif and it occurs to me that it is exactly how I picture myself dealing with the messages that come at me from the diet and beauty industries, and so I share it with you in case it’s helpful.  Imagine, if you will, that you are the cat, the dresser is your world, and the things being put onto the dresser are messages created by the diet and beauty industry to make us hate our bodies:

And Now, Mr. Nom Comments on the "Fuck This, Fuck That... Cat" gif

 

Regardless of how you do it, if you want to opt out of a culture that encourages self-loathing and body hate (for profit!) it’s helpful to have a strategy for how you’re going to deal with those messages when you encounter them each and every day. I say, let “Fuck That Kitty” be our guide!

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

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!

Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information 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

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

LA Radio’s “The Woody Show” Fat-Shames for Fun and Profit

What a Load of CrapThe Woody Show, the morning show on LA radio Alt 98.7, has a regular segment called “Fat Chick/Skinny Chick.” According to Allison Ficht, who blogged about this for the Ms. Magazine Blog:

The game starts with the DJs asking the participant a series of questions, and then filing the answers under a “fat” or “skinny” column. During one show, for example, they rationalized that if you’re married, you’re more likely to be skinny, while if you feel confident with your oral sex skills, you’re probably fat, since skinny girls “won’t do that stuff.” Listeners then text in their votes (fat or skinny) and the DJs open a picture of the participant and reveal whether they guessed “correctly

Charming. Who doesn’t want to wake up, turn on a show that says they  “talk about the things that are important to all of us” and hear tired stereotyping and fat-shaming being pedaled as entertainment. Oh, right, me. I don’t want to wake up to that.  And neither does Allison who contacted the show:

I emailed the producer and strongly suggested the station take it off the air. As a graduate student in the public health field who actively works to reduce stigmas, this show only perpetuates them. What does the impressionable 15-year-old girl, who might not be the skinniest, think after she listens to this? Does she need to start giving oral sex in order to get a boy to like her? Should she stop eating if she ever wants to get married? My email included questions like these, and urged the producers to use their show to encourage healthy lifestyles rather than perpetuate negative stereotypes about women.

So of course they got back to her, thanked her for her concern and said that they would make a stab a programming that is just a little less stigma and prejudice-based.  Just kidding!

At work the next day, I received an onslaught of texts from friends telling me to turn on the radio: The show was responding to my email on-air. The responses included the following: “Go make me some bacon and eggs”; “Get the fuck out”; “You’re either on-board with this kind of humor and take things with a grain of salt … or you’re not allowed to listen anymore”; “I’m not going to apologize for having the lowest common denominator simple kind of fun”; “Get that stick out of there”, and my personal favorite, “How do people like Allison get through life if they can’t understand nuance, subtlety and tone?” “The Woody Show” DJs further responded by posting to their Twitter account a screenshot of a Facebook post—from my private account—in which I express my frustration with the segment. The post exposed my full name and photo, and prompted the show’s followers to berate me for calling out their distorted idea of “fun.”

Ah, the old “Can’t you take a (mean-spirited, adding to the culture of oppression that you deal with everyday) joke?  As many of us have explained many times (like to George Takei, repeatedly) we can take a joke. but we shouldn’t have to – it’s seriously messed up that people feel so comfortable telling groups of people that they need to “toughen up” and become better at being stigmatized and made fun of without complaint, so that other people can laugh at our expense without having to feel badly or have their bullying behavior pointed out.

There are actions you can take, but regardless remember that this is bullshit, you are not the problem, radio shows that engage in stereotyping/bullying are the problem. Here are some activism options, and thanks to reader Brook let me know about this nonsense.

Sign Allison’s Petition

Contact The Woody Show on Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheWoodyShow

Contact The Woody Show on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/thewoodyshow/

Check out Allison’s excellent blog about this 

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

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!

Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information 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

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

Ridiculous Holiday Diet Tips

You Forgot Your BullshitThe “holiday season” means being bombarded with ridiculous diet advice (“The Holidays are Coming” being one third of the Dieting Axis of Evil along with “New Years Resolutions” and “Bikini Season is Coming”.)  Since you’re likely to have to deal with this whether you celebrate the holidays or not, in another DancesWithFat annual tradition I’ve compiled a list of so-called holiday diet tips from actual serious online articles, with thoughts on why we might be better off skipping these tips:

10 Diet Tips You’ve Never Heard Before!

You’ve totally heard these tips before. They still don’t work.

Start Our Program Now and Get a Head Start on Your New Years Resolution

If you start earlier, you can fail at weight loss sooner while giving the diet industry (who are fully aware of the massive failure rate of their product) a boost on their fourth quarter earnings.  Or, you know, not.

Eat a Big Bowl of Fiber Cereal and Drink Lots of Water Before A Party to Avoid Snacking.

Spend the party in the bathroom with your friends awkwardly knocking and asking if you’re ok while you miss out on delicious snacks.

Buy Your Party Dress a Month Early and a Size Too Small for Inspiration to Lose that Last 10 Pounds

Frantically search through your closet on party day for something, anything, that fits and is party appropriate, end up going to the party uncomfortable in a dress that’s too small.

Save Your Calories For the Party by Eating Very Little During the Day

Show up at the party absolutely ravenous, bribe a cater waiter to get your hands on an entire tray of shrimp puffs, scarf them in the bathroom.

Make low-calorie egg nog with skim milk, egg substitutes, and artificial sweeteners.

Oh…I just…I can’t even…Just…  Ok, by the underpants rule you can totally make this beverage if you want and I will support you in drinking it, as long as you support me in not drinking it.  Ever.

Only Eat Desserts that Are Truly a Sensual Experience for You

This author has a different relationship with food than I do…  I’m looking for desserts that taste good, not desserts that turn me on.

Don’t Taste The Food While You Cook – Those Calories Add Up

Serve your guests delicious-looking appetizers that taste like a salt lick, or like nothing at all, who knows?  If only there was a way to tell how the food tastes before we give it to other people…  The person who wrote this article obviously never watched Hell’s Kitchen or Chopped.

Choose Foods that Won’t Make You Feel Guilty the Next Day

Here’s the super secret trick to guilt-free eating:  Eat. Don’t feel guilty about it. Done.

Bring Fruits and Veggies to Parties and Work and Remind People About Their Weight Goals, They’ll Thank You!

They will not thank you.  They may, in fact, throat punch you. There’s nothing wrong with bringing fruits and veggies to the party, there may well be something wrong with being what we Southerners call a “superior sumbitch,” you may be able to avoid that by skipping the second part of this advice.  Instead consider “Bring fruits and veggies to parties and work and then shut up about it – find something more interesting to talk about than weight goals.”

Enjoy Fat Free Mock Versions of Your Favorite Holiday Foods, You’ll Never Miss the Full Fat Variety

I doubt that very much, and I do not think that the words “mock” and “food” should be put together, but of course that’s just me.

Divide Foods into Naughty and Nice

Use the holidays to ease yourself into a disordered relationship with food.

Don’t Read Articles About Holiday Diet Tips

You caught me, this one didn’t come from an article, it’s my advice – take it or leave it.

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

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!

Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information 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

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

Sex Toy Company’s Failed Fat-Shaming Ad

Say Something SundayA sex toy company created an ad featuring a fat woman in a bra, panties and fishnets with the caption “Make the right decision.”  It turns out that people were not impressed with the idea a company would think it was ok to suggest that you should buy their toy rather than have sex with a fat woman.

Sex educator Sunny Megatron responded to their instagram post:

Considering the importance of body positivity and anti-shaming in the sex positive community, one would think you wouldn’t use these offensive tactics to get sales… Go rethink your marketing and your ethic
Others took up the cause and the hashtag #DONTgetfifi was born.  The company actually did make the right decision, pulling the ad and the instagram post.
 .
I’m not going to spend a bunch of time talking about why this ad is so completely and totally fucked up because I think it should be blatantly obvious. I’m telling you this because today is Say Something Sunday and I want to remind you that saying something often works.  And not just on the target.  In this case it worked swiftly and directly and the company took down the ad and instagram post. But saying something works in lots of other ways as well – many of which we never know about.
 .
Other companies see this kind of thing happen and decide not to run fat-shaming ads.  Fat people who aren’t sure if we deserve to be the but of jokes (spoiler alert – NO, WE DON’T) see these responses and get the message that they don’t deserve to be treated like this and that there are people standing up to this mistreatment.  People who aren’t yet comfortable standing up to fat shaming see other people doing it and are encouraged to add their voices. And of course there’s the fact that it can empower us to engage in activism regardless of the outcome.
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When we say something against injustices in the world we can’t know, or control, the results.  The only thing we can control is our own actions.  We are never obligated to say anything, and we may always choose to take a pass on activism for any reasons, but we can always choose to say something. So today I’d love for you to leave a comment about a time that you spoke up, and/or a time that you saw somebody say something against injustice and were positively affected by it.
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If you want to support a sex-positive project that is coming from a truly inclusive place, check out the Respect Our Sex campaign.
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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

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!

Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information 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

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

Amy Schumer Isn’t Fat and Other Things That Don’t Matter

Actual SizeIn response to the ridiculous fat shaming that Amy Schumer’s mostly nude photo has wrought, one of the common defenses of Amy that I’ve been seeing is “she’s not even fat!”

The thing is that if someone is being shamed, stigmatized, bullied etc. for being fat, and we say “they aren’t fat” or “they aren’t even that fat”  in their defense, what we are also suggesting is that there is a size at which they would deserve that treatment, and that’s just not true.

Also, while I agree that Amy Schumer probably doesn’t meet many people’s definition of fat, that definition can be relative.  When I first started training for triathlons I found out that there is a category called “Athena” for larger women athletes. A local race that I was looking at had an Athena category and the minimum weight was 140 pounds – at less than half my size women qualify for a special weight category and even in spaces created for Athena triathletes there is a lot of strife about body size and fatness. In Hollywood, Amy Schumer’s world, size 0 is the standard so a woman who is a size 4 or 6 may be considered “fat,” and women who are interested in becoming part of Hollywood are also judged by that standard.

Now, undeniably, there are different degrees of oppression and privilege that come at different weights.  Amy Schumer may be considered fat by some in Hollywood, but she never has to worry that a flight attendant will use their discretion to throw her off a plane for being too fat. Weight-based oppression increases with people’s size (and when someone possess multiple marginalized identities – Person of Color, Queer, Trans, Older, Disabled/Person with Disabilities and more.)

But there’s another layer here, one that was addressed beautifully in the comments that people left on my post yesterday. Countering fat shaming by denying fatness says that the person doesn’t deserve poor treatment (which is true) but at the expense of reinforcing the incorrect idea that they would deserve it if they were fat (or some greater degree of fat), or that being called fat is an insult.  There is no size at which people deserve to be treated poorly, and there’s nothing wrong with being fat.

We can answer fat shaming without further stigmatizing fat people with responses like:

  • I wish we lived in a world where people of all sizes were respected
  • Body shaming is never ok
  • So what?  or So what if she is fat?
  • Fat isn’t an insult, it’s just a body size.

It doesn’t matter how fat someone is, or why they are that fat, or what the outcomes of being that fat may or may not be.  They deserve to be treated with respect and it is completely ok for them to be that size. Yes, even if they weigh 2000 pounds. Yes even if you think their weight is “their fault.” Yes, even if you would never ever want to be that fat.  Yes, even if you can’t understand how they live. Yes, even if they have problems that can be correlated with being fat.  Yes, even if they have problems that can be causally related to being fat.  Yes, even if studies show that they cost society more.  Yes, even if they actually cost society more.  It is totally, completely 100% ok for someone to be fat.  Nobody needs anyone’s encouragement, justification, or permission to live in their body.  Period. This is true whether or not people are able to achieve permanent weight loss.  Fat people have the right to exist without bullying, shaming, stigma, or oppression, period.

Assigning value to bodies based on their size is just wrong.  Yes, it is ok to be fat.  Bodies come in lots of different sizes for lots of different reasons and instead of jumping to the defense of someone being fat-shamed by insisting that they aren’t fat, we have the opportunity to make things better for everyone by pointing out that fat people aren’t the problem, fat shamer, and fat -shaming, are.

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

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!

Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information 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

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

Steven Crowder – A Study in Impotent Fat-Shaming, Sexism, and Misogyny

facepalmThe “Pirelli Calender” is released each year by the Pirelli Tire company, heretofore featuring nude, partially nude, or nearly nude models chosen for their ability to approximate the current stereotype of beauty as models.  This year Pirelli deliberately took a different approach, choosing photographer Annie Leibovitz to photograph women chosen for their achievements across various fields from entertainment, to sports, to philanthropy (though there are definitely still plenty of issues with inclusion and under-representation.) The December picture is of Amy Schumer, mostly nude.

The mere sight of her kicked former Fox News contributor Steven Crowder right in the misogynies, and spurred him to write a truly ridiculous missive on his blog “Louder with Crowder” (spoiler alert: having read the piece I feel that perhaps it’s telling that his name rhymes with “louder” rather than “smarter” or “not a sexist sizeist asshat.”) Let’s take a peek:

Dear Fat Feminists: leave your clothes on, you’re not brave.

Also… leave your clothes on.

Leave our clothes on…or what?  I must have missed it when they declared Steve the boss of the fat feminists.  Was there a ceremony?  Was it nice? Can we get some manner of recall election?

Amy Schumer posed kind of nude for Pirelli calendar in a pose I can only describe as “MY EYES, MY EYES!” Because sorry, men don’t find Amy Schumer sexually attractive. Damn, *RETROACTIVE TRIGGER WARNING*.

The only trigger warning we need is for those who are triggered by people with ridiculously over-exaggerated senses of self-importance. Out of curiosity, does anybody know if Steve was appointed the spokesperson for all men before or after he was appointed boss of the fat feminists? I’m going to ask for the first, but not the last, time at this point – why does Steve think women should care if he – or any other man – finds them sexually attractive?  Why would he think that Amy Schumer would take his dick into account when deciding how she wants to be photographed?

The rolls, that facial expression, the coffee cup? Seriously, why the coffee cup? Is that supposed to be ironic? I’m sitting on a stool in my undies and I’m jonesing for a coffee? I don’t get it. Send help and biscotti.

I’m going to go out out on a limb here and guess that not “getting it” is a consistent problem for you, so if you’ll accept a little advice – Google is your friend, Steve “During a press conference, Leibovitz said, “The idea was that she was the only one who had not got the memo about wearing clothes.”

Also, let’s talk about this for a second: Heidi Klum or Cindy Crawford getting naked is not praised as “brave.” Why not? Glad you asked. Both women are smoking hot and look good naked. An athlete like Serena Williams, while she may not be your cup of tea, has also earned her physique. When selling nudie calendars, we generally try to sell them with women who look good nude.

Let me try a “massive jerk” to “not a massive jerk” translation:  “I like it when the world is based on patriarchy, where every picture of a woman is taken with my boner as the primary audience.” Suck it Steve, the world, she’s a changing.

On the flip-side, Amy Schumer, Lena Dunham are no more “beautiful” than super-models are “funny.”

But when it comes to Amy Schumer or Lena Dunham or any other feminist who is anything but sexy, they’re labeled “brave.” Brace yourselves for some Crowder-like truth: only ugly, unattractive naked women are called “brave.” Why is it brave for Schumer to be naked? Because she’s unattractive. The conflict is only created because youthrust your naked, gelatinous, amoeba-like body in my face, which conflicts with my desire to not see you naked.

Here’s some Ragen-like truth: Steve is either the most dense person like, ever, or he is aggressively missing the point. The reason that we herald women who aren’t the stereotype of beauty as brave for appearing naked in public forums is that assholes like Steve will write shit like this about them.  Also, again, why does he think women should care whether or not he wants to see us naked? When presented with an opportunity for a nude photoshoot does he actually think women should start by asking themselves “Would Steve Crowder want to see this picture?” Dude it’s called reality, feel free to come back to it anytime.

Now listen, I think Amy Schumer can be funny. The thing is, as a man, that enters precisely zero into my sexual attraction for her. Show me the funniest women at the bar, and I’ll show you a lady who’s single.

Holy shitballs Steve – let me offer you the concept a different way because you’re just not getting it. I sincerely hope that Amy Schumer cares less about whether you think she is funny than she cares about whether you want to fuck her (if it’s possible for her to care any less.)  Regardless, no thinking, rational person could come to the conclusion that she is being funny for the express purpose of giving you a happy in your pants. EVERYTHINGISNOTABOUTYOURDICKSTEVE!

Women don’t have to be funny, because men want to get naked with you anyway. Unless you look like Lena Dunham. Then, we simply want to end the pain

Besides assuming – against all odds, evidence, logic, and reason – that every single man is attracted to the exact same women that he is, Steve assumes that because the only reason he does anything is to get laid, all women operate that way as well. You see, we’re not interested in using humor as a way to make people laugh,  tell our stories, examine our culture, or deal with bullshit misogyny and sexism that comes at us- we’re just hoping that we can tell a joke funny enough that the guy laughs so hard that he falls over, impaling us with his dick. Also, on his blog this sentiment is followed by a remarkably tone deaf  juxtaposition of two video clips that make it look like Patrick Stewart is shooting a fat child (Chunk from Goonies) with a machine gun. Keep it classy there Steve.

Lastly, art has become needlessly self-important. It used to be “art” looked good. It was made for the purpose of being beautiful. Art existing and stood on its own. Now, though, art has fallen into the same moral relativism as the rest of our words: meaningless. When “art” becomes self-serving, it is no longer beautiful and shouldn’t be considered “art.”

So, to “boss of the fat feminists” and “spokesman for all men” we can add “art decider.”  How does Steve find the time? I guess it’s by knowing actually nothing about art. I mean, it can’t all be Patrick Stewart shooting a child amirite?

The only people buying your nudie calendar will be the butch-cutted, lesbian chain-gang at BuzzFeed. And that’s the way it should be.

Butch-cutted? Lesbian chain gang? What does that even mean?  It’s like he was trying to wrap up the piece and then his homphobia just suddenly reared its lesbian-related-words-in-a-blender head.  I don’t know what that’s about (though it makes me like BuzzFeed more,) what I do know is that Steve, who I’m going to nickname Steven “Missing the Point” Crowder, doesn’t understand how this calendar works.  First of all, nobody can buy it, it’s given to a limited number of VIPs -it’s a really big deal to get one – and it’s generated a ton of positive press.  Steve may not find Amy Schumer, or the other women in the calendar, attractive. But luckily, none of them have to care what he thinks, and neither do any of us.

But don’t worry, change is happening (though it seems Steve may be left behind.) In this great piece a woman talks about how Amy Schumer’s picture helped her deal with her personal body issues as well as the way that she was judging other women. Kudos to her for the introspection and for writing about it.  Progress is happening and the Steve’s of the world aren’t going to stop it. Thee’ll just be sitting in the company of  their highly prized penises, complaining about it.

More Cool Stuff!

The Respect Our Sex Project is in the final push for their fundraiser. They are asking for donations of $5 (yup, just $5) to create access to sex education, resources, and gear for people of all sizes, physical abilities, ages, and anatomies. I think it’s a really cool project.

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 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!

Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information 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

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

When Fat People Show Up

Design by Kris Owen
and dudes, and gender non-binary people!  Design by Kris Owen

One of the ways that fat people are oppressed is through media erasure – as a culture we choose our singers, actors, dancers, comics, entertainers etc. based on their ability to meet a stereotype of beauty first, and then their talent.  Thinness and the current ideal of beauty become the golden tickets that allow people to express their talent.  People try to explain this away using ridiculous arguments about “promoting obesity” and “healthy role models,” arguments that fall apart under the most basic scrutiny.

Not only does this keep fat people from becoming actors, dancers, comics and entertainers, it actually makes people believe that fat people aren’t talented by default, aka Susan Boyle Complex. That’s why I’ve been so happy lately to see people who aren’t thin (I don’t know how any of them personally identify and I don’t intend to force an identity on them, this is just from my perspective) being highlighted for their talent.

There is the always amazing Gabourey Sidibe in her role on Empire which recently included *gasp* a sex scene, and her equally fabulous response to those who were so pathetic that they felt the need to hate on it:

gabourey sidibe sex scene haters
Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images / Via ew.com

Then on Dancing with the Stars openly gay singer/songwriter Who Is Fancy, sang about being boy crazy while openly flirting with the male dancers

And Jordan Smith has been absolutely killing it on The Voice

When people think of activism they often think of protests, petitions, blogging, etc. We can forget that showing up is an incredibly powerful form of activism.  Not just if you can sing or dance or act, but showing up at that pole dancing class you’ve always wanted to take, going to see that musical, eating at that restaurant, asking to be accommodated (also known as asking a business  to do what they already should have done – which is give people of every size the same experience.)

When fat people show up we can become the victims of fat shaming – that shouldn’t happen and it’s not our fault, and deciding that we would rather stay home is a completely valid choice. But every time we choose to show up – whether it’s to audition for America’s Got Talent or to watch our kid play the first lobster in the nativity play -every time we refuse to let the bullies and the bigots stop us from living our lives we remind people (though of course it shouldn’t be necessary) that fat people are just as varied in our talents, hobbies, and desires as any group of people who share a single physical characteristic and, more importantly, we help other fat people find the courage to live the lives they want to live and to make it clear to those sad little fat-shamers that they’ll have to peddle their bullshit elsewhere, because we’re not buying.

More Cool Stuff!

The Respect Our Sex Project is in the final push for their fundraiser. They are asking for donations of $5 (yup, just $5) to create access to sex education, resources, and gear for people of all sizes, physical abilities, ages, and anatomies. I think it’s a really cool project.

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 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!

Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information 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

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

A Response to the Fat Shaming on the London Subway

NO Negative Body TalkIf you’ve not heard by now, someone on the subway in London was giving out fat shaming cards to women and then,  like the cowards these people always seem to be, running away off the train.

The cards said that they were made by a group called “Overweight Haters Ltd.” When the story first broke there was nothing online about the group and then, predictably, a member of a reddit fat-shaming group claimed responsibility.  Of course there’s no way to know if they really are the person who did it since those groups aren’t exactly chock full of honest, high-integrity people. Police are investigating and have asked that other victims come forward.

Today I’m not going to talk about the fact that this is the predictable consequence of governments waging war on fat people, though it is.  I’m not going to talk about the fact that it’s the natural next step to the cyberbullying that fat people face (and that those of us who speak out against it get told is “no big deal”)  I’m not going to talk about the likelihood that this will spiral into violence since many of us are all too horrifyingly aware of the ways that cyberbullying and cyberstalking turn into in-person bullying and in-person stalking.

What I want to talk about today is what fat people can do, knowing that we live in a world where disturbed people do this kind of thing to us.  (Just to make sure it’s clear, although I think that there’s obviously something wrong with people who would join a group dedicated to hating fat people, or pass out fat shaming cards on the subway, I would caution against the common mistake of calling them mentally ill. People who deal with mental illness also deal with a tremendous amount of stigma and oppression, and symptoms almost never include appearance-based bullying and harassment.)

Before I get into what we can do, I also want to be super clear that this is not fat people’s fault, even if it becomes fat people’s problem. and the idea that we should lose weight to stop fat shaming (basically giving our bullies our lunch money and hoping they stop beating us up) is total bullshit. We shouldn’t be talking about this because people shouldn’t harass us online and terrorize us on subways.  Each of us gets to deal with this in whatever way we want and any choice – including doing nothing and just trying to get through the day, is a totally valid choice.

Put the Problem Where it Belongs

Fat bodies are NOT the problem.  Fat people existing in public spaces are NOT the problem.  Fat people wearing clothing that other people don’t approve of are NOT the problem. Fat people accessing healthcare are NOT the problem.  Fat shaming IS the problem. Fat shamers ARE the problem. So whether you feel anger, pity, both, or something else toward these people, it’s important to remember that they are the only people in these situations who are doing anything to be ashamed of.

Happiness

For me, the most important thing is to keep living my life, even though I know that it will result in continued (and possibly escalating) attempts at cyberbullying and harassment. There’s an old adage that “happiness is the best revenge” and for me it’s also the best response to fat hate.  Let them spend their lives yammering endlessly in their sad little online playgroups, writing about us, blogging about us, being pissed off and miserable and obsessed with us, while we live happy lives. I’m working to stop fat hate, but in the meantime I’m stopping it from ruining my life.

 

Name and Shame

Call out the bad behavior. Take their picture, post it on Facebook, or a Tumblr like Smile, Sizeist   Report them to whatever authorities you can – including their boss (who might love to know that they are spending their work hours cyberbullying people) and their mama. Yell “CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS JERK JUST TRIED TO FAT SHAME ME?!!” (Obviously please keep your own safety in mind)

Be Excellent to Each Other 

Post fat positive things in your online spaces. Make your online and real-life spaces fat positive. Support fat people’s rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (as a fellow fatty or in solidarity) Speak out for affirmation of the full diversity of body sizes.  Navabi Fashion is doing something super cool.  It turns out that the genius behind the fat shaming subway cards  failed to register the domain name and so navabi fashion registered it and created what I think is a really cool response.

If you have other ideas I would love for you to leave them in the comments! Regardless, I’m sorry we live in a world where this kind of bullshit happens, and I’m committed to continuing my work until every fat person knows that they don’t deserve this, that they aren’t the problem, and that – no matter why they are fat, what being fat means, or if they could become less fat or not fat – fat people have the right to exist, and be happy, and thrive, in the bodies that they have now without being shamed, bullied, harassed, or oppressed on the subway or anywhere else.

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

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!

Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information 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

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