If You Really Loved Your Body…

Bullshit FairyOne of the most often used, and poorly constructed, arguments leveled against those of us who do Size Acceptance Activism, is that if we really loved our bodies we wouldn’t need to do activism, and we wouldn’t be “so angry,” because we would “be at peace with ourselves.”

As a fat person I receive mistreatment at the hands of everyone from the government to strangers that I meet, I hear stories from readers all the time who tell me about abhorrent treatment from their jobs, their families and friends, their doctors and it makes me very, very angry. That doesn’t mean that I’m not happy – I’m happy about a great many things, and I’m perfectly capable of holding happiness for some things and anger for others at the same time.

To suggest that my anger with the way I’m treated indicates that I am “not at peace with myself” makes it seem to me that we should stop the logic train because we’ve had a passenger fall off.  I’m at peace with myself – I’m at war with a large part of the world, and not of my choosing.  Perhaps you’ve heard of the “war on obesity?”  That war is against me, and my body. That war tries to convince people (including me) that I, and everyone who looks like me, should be eradicated based on the shaky assumption that it will save society money (as if it’s ok to suggest that a group should be eradicated in order to save society some money.) Each of us gets to choose how we deal with our oppression – nobody is obligated to react to this with anger, but anger is certainly a valid response.

Not only am I at peace with myself, I’m at peace with myself despite the fact that I’m being constantly given the message that the way I look is proof that I’m a bad person who deserves shame, stigma and oppression.  It is that peace that makes me want to fight for my body and my rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness which includes the right to exist in a fat body without having the government wage war on me for how I look. It’s my love for my own body that drives the anger.

Let’s try this – Imagine that you have a best friend, and every single day that best friend is bullied, shamed, stigmatized.  If you become angry about the way your friend is treated, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have a good relationship with your friend, it means that you are justifiably angry at their mistreatment.

I spend a lot of time smiling politely and asking people if they wouldn’t mind not oppressing me.  I don’t begrudge that and I don’t apologize for it – it’s effective, it gives people the benefit of the doubt (that perhaps they weren’t aware of the consequences of their actions,) and it’s reasonably pleasant.  That doesn’t mean that I’m always obligated to do that, nor does it indicate that I’m not angry at a society that condones the behavior and the social constructs that support the behavior.  That anger is because I love my body, because I’m at peace with myself, and I’d like some peace with the outside world.

To try to characterized the anger of people who are oppressed as a sign of deficiency in our relationships with ourselves is dangerously (and I think often purposefully) dis-empowering – it suggests that to prove that we are happy with ourselves we must not speak out against our mistreatment (not to mention the serious issues with having some obligation to prove anything to anyone about how we feel about ourselves in the first place.) That’s flat out wrong – it’s way out of line, and, perhaps not surprisingly, it makes me very, very angry.

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.

They Want Fat People To Eat Poop Now

You Cannot Be SeriousElaine Yu, an assistant professor and clinical researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital, will be conducting a clinical trial to see if taking pills containing the freeze dried fecal matter of thin people will make fat people thin.  If you’re thinking “How the everlovingcrap did this happen?”  let me assure you, you are not alone.

Here is how the everlovingcrap this happened:

A series of studies (of mice and humans) found that thin and fat subjects had differences in their gut microbes. Then in a 2013 study, microbes were taken from four sets of human twins. In each set of twins, one was thin and one was fat.  Those microbes were then transplanted into mice.  Those mice who received microbes from the fat twin gained weight regardless of which of three diets they were fed (my favorite part of this study may be the use of the phrase “mouse chow” but that’s obviously beside the point.)

Fecal transplants have been found to a legitimate, and very helpful, treatment to help people with bacterial infections, and the freeze-dried poo pill technology was developed as a way to facilitate these transplants. So now Professor Yu is going to give 20 fat people 6 weekly doses of poop pills (far fewer than in the bacterial infection studies where subjects were given 15 pills a day for 2 days), then track their weight at 3, 6,  and 12 months, telling subjects not to make changes to their eating and exercise habits (obviously, that’s difficult to determine, and I imagine that knowing that you are ingesting poo might have an effect on appetite – I know that researching ingesting poo did for me.)

Let’s talk about the issues with this:

The research upon which this  study rests is all correlational, with all  the inherent issues and weaknesses. There’s a lot we don’t know about gut microbes. According to Yu “we have no idea what the result will be.” That creates risk, since according to Dr. Elizabeth Hohmann – who did the research on bacterial infection and freeze-dried fecal matter -“There’s always the possibility that unknown infectious agents could be transmitted this way, we screen these people to be as healthy as we can determine in 2014, but who knows?”

This risk is even riskier when you consider that even if it makes fat people thinner, we have no way to know if it will make them healthier.   The entire thing is based upon the untested hypothesis that making fat people thinner (though a gut microbe transplant or some other reason) will make us healthier.  The keywords here being untested hypothesis. There is no study of fat people who have maintained long-term weight loss compared to those who stay fat, or compared to those who practice Health at Every Size to show that weight loss makes people healthier, the research simply doesn’t exist.

Consider this:  male pattern baldness is strongly correlated with cardiac incidents, but even if taking poo pills made these men grow hair, it wouldn’t make them less likely to have a heart attack, because trying to imitate health outcomes by making one group of people look like another group of people is not good science.  Especially when research shows that behaviors are a much better predictor of future health than body size (knowing, of course, that health isn’t an obligation, a barometer of worthiness, entirely within our control, or guaranteed under any circumstances.)

So while this poo pill study isn’t as bad as, say, the FDA approving a weight loss drug that is absolutely horrifying and possibly deadly,  I think this study isn’t worth the contents of the acid-resistant capsules. I would be very happy if all the time, money, and energy that goes into researching how to eradicate fat people would go into eradicating actual diseases.

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.

 

The (Not So) Tell-Tale (Fat) Heart

This picture and caption combo has gone viral on multiple media platforms:

Fat Heart
A picture of a human heart held by two latex-gloved hands with the caption “The is the heart of an obese person.. Remember folks, this is what happens when you get fat.  Fat tissue builds up around the heart and clots/chockes it. Fat is not beautiful, it is not be be glorified.

BOOM, SCIENCE!  I guess that’s the end of the Fat Acceptance movement then. Bonus points for enacting the “glorifying obesity” thing in which it’s suggested that fat people who choose not to live our lives in a state of perpetual self-loathing are “glorifying obesity.”  As I’ve pursued the life I want in a fat body, I’ve often been accused of “glorifying obesity,” oddly, I am also short and yet I have never once been accused of glorifying shortness. That’s because this is about fatphobia and has nothing to do with health.

But wait – it turns out that, just like “glorifying obesity” is a myth, so is this meme.  This picture is actually a healthy heart that is about to be transplanted into a patient at Cedars-Sinai

Fat Heart Truth
The same pictures of a human heart as above, this time with the original and correct text: “Christine Moore’s new heart, shown covered in its thin layer of epicardial fat, will represent the hospital’s 40th transplant of 2012. In eight to nine days, Moore should be abler to leave the hospital, full recovery will take about two months.

I’ll bet Ms. Moore thinks that is some beautiful, glorious fat. Discussions about health are complicated and aren’t helped by ignorant fatphobes creating misleading internet memes. In a world where weight stigma runs so rampant that someone who knows nothing about human hearts can see a picture of one, decide that it has something to do with fat people and start a completely bullshit meme that goes viral, any negative message about fat people is always reader beware because, trust me, these people will say anything.

You may remember when Dr. Oz made a similar mistake, claiming that fat people have bad hearts because every fat person he had performed heart surgery on had a bad heart, as if he was cracking the chests of thin people just to say “Yup, another healthy thin-person heart!” and then sewing them back up.

Even if that was a fat person’s heart, and even if it was indicative of health issues, it has absolutely nothing to do with beauty. If you think people who are “unhealthy” (by whatever definition you are using) can’t be beautiful, then you are a healthist, a Grade A asshole, and just plain wrong. Health is not an obligation,  it’s not entirely within our control, it’s not a barometer of worthiness or beauty, and it’s not anyone else’s business.

There’s a time and place for discussions about health, but those discussions don’t have anything to do with the right of fat people to exist in fat bodies without shame, stigma, bullying and harassment and it doesn’t matter why we’re fat, what being fat means, if we’re “glorifying obesity,” or if we could become thin.

As far as I’m concerned, all bodies of all sizes should be glorified. Weight stigma and completely inaccurate internet memes on the other hand, not so much.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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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!

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

 

 

Lola Berry Says “Fat Bitch” Like It’s a Bad Thing

Fat Bitches ClubLola Berry is a nutritionist and author from Australia.  According to her website:

Once you see Lola Berry, you’ll remember both her and her message! She has a whole heap of fresh ideas and a talent for presenting them in a way that inspires people to actually use them to better their everyday lives.

Her “inspiration” for the new year is a “four week weight loss plan”  (seriously, four weeks?) that, in her infinite wisdom she chose to call “STOP BEING A FAT BITCH!” (Capitalization strategy and exclamation mark are her own.)  From her Facebook:

Available at [url that I will never publish] #‎stopbeingafatbitch is something I used to say to myself over and over … this program is not just about the food plan and recipes, it’s also about changing your mindset to achieve your health goals! Can’t wait to hear what you think!!”

What do I think? I think this is the biggest pile of crap I’ve ever heard. Or at least I thought that until I saw the bigger pile of crap that was her response to the overwhelming number of people (including psychologists, eating disorder specialists, doctors, and human beings who are able to grasp why fat shaming is not ok) who told her how absolutely messed up this is. Her response:

The whole point of the title is to display how bad self talk IS and the importance of a positive mindset and self love.

And if you believe that, she’s got this bridge for sale.  Let’s get past what I think is the complete lack of plausibility of this explanation and discuss it as if it were true:

First of all, when you suggest that calling ourselves fat is “bad self talk” you are saying that it’s bad to be fat. That’s a problem since many people are fat, whether we choose to call ourselves that or not.  When you suggest that accurately describing my appearance/body composition constitutes negative self-talk, you are fat-shaming and that neither inspires me, nor does it better my everyday life.

When you confuse behaviors with body size you are buying into and reinforcing appearance-based stereotypes.  There is a word for people who that, it’s not a good word, it’s not a word I think you want to be.

Bitch is another reclaiming term. Women don’t have to like it, use it, or agree with its reclamation, but a woman using it in combination with fat to describe someone who doesn’t follow her (four week?!) weight loss plan is certainly not uplifting anyone as far as I’m concerned.

Thinking about justifying this, or telling me that it’s not that big a deal or that I’m over-sensitive? Feel free to head on over to this post.

Lola continues:

Thank you for your honest feedback my intention isn’t to offend anybody my intention is to make a positive change.

If this were an attempt at melted crayon art, it would get a million hits on Pinterest Fail.

“I’m really sorry the name of the eating plan has upset lots of people, that’s not my intention at all,” she wrote.

Lola apparently suffers from the heartbreak of NAS (Non-Apology Syndrome.) Let’s try that again with the bullshit filter turned on: “I fucked up and I’m sorry. I can’t believe I didn’t realize how offensive that was, I’ll do better in the future, thanks to everyone who did me the courtesy of taking time time out of their life to help educate me.”  There, fixed it.

“The content is all about changing your mindset to achieve your health goals. So, I would love you guys to name it. What would you like it to be called?”

I’d like to call it “Lola Learns to Apologize, Understand Research About Weight Loss, Focus on a Health at Every Size Approach, and Stop Fat-Shaming Forever” but I’ll admit that lacks pith. I will say that she accomplished one thing from her stated goals – I’ll definitely remember Lola and her message. And from now on, every time someone calls me a FAT BITCH! for insisting that I get to exist in a fat body and be treated with basic human respect at the same time, I’ll feel a little bit of extra pride.

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.

 

Debating Health at Every Size and Weight Loss

Everybody knowsI’m often called upon to debate the research around Weight Loss and Health at Every Size – sometimes it’s as a professional speaker in an organized panel or debate, sometimes it’s at the doctor’s office when I’m insisting on evidence-based treatment, sometimes it’s when someone has posted some weight loss thing on my social media and I feel like engaging them.

Before we get too far into this, people are allowed to do whatever they want with their bodies, for whatever reason they want – that includes weight loss or practicing Health at Every Size, or something else – regardless of the evidence.  And no evidence is needed for the fact that fat people have the right to exist in fat bodies (there’s a full discussion about that here.) This post is about those who choose to discuss and debate the research around weight loss and Health at Every Size

When I started at this, my first instinct was to lead with a ton of research that supports a Health at Every Size approach, and then state the fact that there isn’t a single study where more than a tiny fraction of people are able to maintain weight loss for five years for more, and that no study exists that compares the health of fat people who have suppressed their weight long term to fat people who have stayed fat and/or fat people who practice Health at Every Size to show that they those who lost weight actually have better health.

But there were some issues that made this approach ineffective. By far the most common was that a combination of scientific illiteracy and hubris leads many people to believe that “common knowledge” (ie:  “Everybody knows that people who regain weight just went back to their old habits” or “Everybody knows that being fat is unhealthy.” etc.) is actually the same thing as fact.

So I would provide multiple studies, and they would simply state that those studies must be flawed because “everybody knows” that their (completely unsupported by evidence) beliefs are true, and then claim to have won the debate. To paraphrase an old saying, arguing with “everybody knows” is like playing chess with a pigeon, no matter how good your research is, the bird is going to shit on the board and strut around like it won.

When I then brought up the lack of evidence to support their point, people would insist the pervasiveness of their beliefs proved their that they are true, and that I had to prove that no study exists. Of course it’s basically impossible to prove that a study doesn’t exist so there would be more shitting and more strutting.

This is irritating in debates, but not unexpected.  Those who aren’t on “team everybody knows” are always at a disadvantage in these situations because we have the same amount of time to introduce and prove an entire paradigm, as the person who is saying “you’re already right about everything.” I knew that’s what challenging paradigms wass about when I decided to do it.

Where this started to create a serious issue for me was in the doctor’s office when it was standing in the way of good, evidence-based medical care.  A doctor would prescribe weight loss (for a condition that thin people also get.)  I would talk about HAES and go through the shitting/strutting situation I just described, and leave without the care I needed, or with the care but completed exhausted and possibly in need of blood pressure medication!

I’ve found it’s much more successful to flip the strategy.  When people want to debate weight loss with me, I put the burden of proof on them – if they think that people are able to lose weight long term, and that doing so will make them healthier, then they ought to be able to produce some evidence for that – especially if they are a doctor who has an ethical responsibility to provide me with evidence-based medicine and informed consent, and I’ll be happy to discuss that evidence.  This is often pesky for them as no such evidence exists – and fair warning, if you are telling me about a study where 70% of people dropped out and the rest lost 2 pounds you’ve not made your point.

I’m happy to produce and discuss research to support Health at Every Size, but I now realize that it’s not my job to provide the evidence for both sides of the debate, and it’s not acceptable to me for people to bring “Everybody Knows” to a research fight.

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.

 

Drive-By Fat Shaming

You Forgot Your BullshitToday I’m not talking about the kind of drive-by fat shaming where people moo at us from their cars (though they do, sometimes they even throw eggs, and it’s super messed up.) Today I’m talking about the small incidents of fat shaming that happen daily, often as casual asides.

This post was inspired by my attempt to watch the show Jessica Jones. Roughly a million people have recommended this show to me as being  amazingly feminist and all girl power-y. Within the first few minutes of the first episode, there is an incident of fat shaming. It is apropos of absolutely nothing, it doesn’t “advance the plot”  she is surveilling someone in her job as a private investigator, she sees a fat woman exercising in a random window and makes a nasty comment, then the show moves on.  Like the writers had 20 extra seconds so they decided to fill it with a cheap fat joke. Or they were scared that the show would be seen as all scary and feminist so they wanted to reassure people – we’re not too revolutionary, we still hate fat people.

This is drive-by fat shaming. Just a quick reminder to everyone watching/listening that it’s hilarious and cool to make fun of fat people – even on a show that is supposed to be feminist.  I’m told that it never happens again in the show, and that many people have enjoyed the show, and I get that. Maybe I’ll keep watching, but my enjoyment is going to be marred by the fact that I know that the character I’m supposed to be rooting for isn’t rooting for me, and doesn’t see us as equals.

It might seem like a small thing and, taken by itself, I suppose it is, which is why many people who are reading this are already trying to explain it away, justify it, or decide if they want to leave a comment to tell me I’m oversensitive.  Newsflash – it’s not this one moment – it’s the number of times this moment happens to me on a daily basis.

I’m in a hotel and Friends is on – I have to hope that it’s not a Monica-was-fat flashback episode. Big Bang Theory marathon – I can look forward to a fat joke almost every episode. I was watching the movie Secretariat – about a damn horse – and there’s a jab at fat people. I love stand-up comedy but I don’t love sitting in an audience while the person takes their time on stage to stigmatize and stereotype people who look like me.

At a show I was at, the most laughed-at joke a comic had during 15 minutes on stage was that he worked in a sporting goods store, a “kind of big lady” came in looking for a sports bra, and he said “what sport are you playing there chief.”  That was the entire joke, a fat woman came to a store that sells sportsbras to buy a sportsbra  (in a world that constantly – incorrectly –  insists that fat people have some obligation to exercise until we are thin) and the store clerk was a total dick to her, and he’s so proud of it he tells the story to hundreds of people a day. It’s so funny I forgot to laugh.

All day, every day.  Casual fat jokes, fat people used as “shorthand” for being lazy, un-athletic, unattractive, unmotivated, unsexy, unhealthy. Fat people as metaphor for greed, capitalism, and lack of discipline.  Television shows, movies, articles, stand-up comics, workplace wellness programs, conference speakers.  It’s a straight male friend of mine whose friends got him an “I’ll fuck the fat friend” shirt as a joke.  It’s the fact that a shirt like this is for sale. Take a few days to notice how many times you hear a negative message about fat people.

And then of course there are people who have multiple marginalized identities, who deal with this for each of their identities and at the intersections of those identities. (And let me take this opportunity to be clear that fat isn’t “the last acceptable prejudice” – racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, ageism, classism, and more are sadly alive and well and far too acceptable.)

And when we speak out about it, there’s always someone who can’t wait to try to justify it, or claim that it’s not worth fighting, that we shouldn’t care, or tell us how they wouldn’t care if they were fat, which matters not at all and only serves to make the situation even worse. Meanwhile, all these “little things” chip away at our humanity while reinforcing to others that fat people deserve to be treated poorly, which in turns leads to fat people being treated poorly –  hired less and paid less than our thin peers, discriminated against in healthcare settings, and fat people’s treatment online that  borders on being criminal.

Nobody is obligated to engage in activism, nobody is obligated to speak out about these things, nobody is obligated to take offense.  But if you do notice these things, if you are offended, I  want you to know that it’s not in your head – it’s not you. Fat shaming is ubiquitous, it’s incessant, and it is wrong. Wrong wrong wrongity wrong. 100% wrong, and no number of excuses, justifications, accusations of being over-sensitive, or dismissive sighs will ever make it right.  And you have every right to insist that it needs to stop.

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.

I Was Wrong – The Most Ridiculous Diet Show

that's not how this worksA couple days ago I wrote that ABC’s “My Diet Is Better Than Yours” might be the most ridiculous diet show ever. Friends, I stand corrected.  A&E gives us a show so absolutely, batshit ridiculous that it may require adjectives that have not yet been coined.

In the show “Fit to Fat to Fit” trainers will intentionally gain weight in an effort to “better understand the struggle of their clients as they lose weight together.” Holy shitballs this is fucked up.

In a promo video a trainer tells his client “I’m going to be gaining sixty pounds from where I am now, so I can better understand and relate to where you’re coming from.”

The client, having eaten a bowl of (diet) No Shit Sherlock flakes (with skim milk of course) responds “I don’t recommend that.”

Nor would anyone who was driven by something other than a desire for TV ratings.  A personal trainer who thinks that (very publicly) intentionally rapidly gaining weight just to immediately attempt to lose it will tell them anything about what it’s like to be a fat person, let alone a fat person attempting weight loss, should probably lose their certification immediately and permanently.

This is a lot like the misuse of the fat suit. Even if the experience of intentional rapid weight gain and loss had anything to do with being a fat person – and let’s be clear that it doesn’t – this is a still a hot mess.  We don’t need thin people to rapidly and very temporarily become fat to understand what it’s like to be fat, we need thin people to listen to fat people when we tell them our experiences of being fat, and then believe us.

People are allowed to do whatever they want with their bodies, including attempting rapid weight gain and/or loss.  But as fat people living in a world where we are shamed, stereotyped, stigmatized, bullied and oppressed, we don’t need personal trainers to be involved in dangerous rapid weight gain and loss to better understand us.  We need personal trainers to be speaking out against weight-based stigma.

We don’t need very temporarily fat people to speak for us, when that airspace could be filled by actual fat people talking about our real experiences. We need Personal Trainers to know what the research says about weight loss and stop promising things they can’t deliver.  Fat people’s almost non-existent likelihood of weight loss success doesn’t increase if their trainer doesn’t understand the difference between body diversity and binge-eating for rapid weight gain.

We’ve been successfully dropping ratings for The Biggest Loser by not watching it anymore, I’m thinking that we can be way ahead of the game with this show if we just don’t start watching it at all.

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.

 

 

Dealing with Unwanted Weight Loss Compliments

The world is messed up you are fineA reader wrote in with a question that I’ve been asked before by a number of people who have lost weight unintentionally – through illness, or grief, or some other reason, and I thought I would address it today:

Now my friends are asking me for tips on how to lose weight.  I don’t know what to say.  But when I say that I wasn’t trying to lose weight, people don’t believe me.  They don’t believe me when I say that I was just as happy with my body when it was heavier.  But I really was. Do you have any advice about what to say?

When your body size has changed and you become smaller, people’s unwanted comments can range from annoying, to rude, to incredibly hurtful (I hear from lots of readers who are complimented on weight lost following the loss of a loved one, or an illness – one reader with stage 4 cancer had a co-worker tell her “cancer looks great on you!”)

To me, the most important thing to realize is that the problem here isn’t the person whose body is smaller, it’s people who are making inappropriate comments about it and the culture that tells us that everyone wants to be smaller than they are, that smaller is better, and that it’s ok to comment on each other’s body size without invitation.  So once again we have an issue that isn’t our fault, but can become our problem.

Nobody is under any obligation to do activism/education etc. so each person who deals with this gets to choose how to handle it.  On the other hand you might consider that, whether you ask for it or not, having a less-fat body in a fatphobic world means that you may have access to more things (clothes, spaces, etc.0 and people may treat you better.  You probably didn’t ask for this and you can’t really give it away, but you can use this as an opportunity for activism, and when you do it is much appreciated.

So here are some options for replying if people make undesired weight loss compliments.

Responses that invite a dialog

People keep asking me that – do you think they are assuming I tried to lose weight on purpose?

Oh, I’m not interested in weight loss.  My body size may go up or down and I’m fine with that. Isn’t it odd that we are so fixated on thinness as a culture?

I believe in Size Acceptance and practice Health at Every Size, I’d be happy to tell you more about that.

Responses that don’t invite dialog

I don’t engage in diet talk.

Diet talk makes me really uncomfortable, how about that local and or college sportsballing team?

Can’t help you – I don’t pay attention to my body size.

Responses to shut that shit down

I didn’t know that you were monitoring my body size, please stop, it’s hella creepy.

What a strange and inappropriate question, I’m curious – what made you think that was ok to ask me?

How are your bowel movements? Oh, sorry – I thought we were asking each other inappropriate personal questions.

Remember that, no matter how you handle this, you are not the problem.

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.

 

 

Fixing The Biggest Loser’s Ad

The Biggest Loser is coming back.  A television show that is an ode to physically and emotionally abusing fat people, stroking the ridiculously inflated egos of the so-called “professional” trainers who dole out the abuse and become millionaires in the process, it has even inspired one trainer who declined to be on the show (because he actually honors his code of professional ethics) to say “It’s a miracle no one has died yet.

This season their “hook” seems to start with their usual tactic of putting people into a state of starvation (such that their bodies actually go into a chemical state of becoming constantly hungry and obsessed with food) and then tempting them with food to see if they will “give in.”  You know, for their health.  Their promotional ad is all over my Facebook and I noticed that there were some…well, let’s call them typos.  So I fixed it for them, because I’m generous like that.

Here’s the original:

And here’s the corrected version:

TBL Ad fixed

 

Last season their ratings fell more than 30%.  This season let’s really put our shoulder into it and see how far we can drop their ratings by refusing to watch this abomination of a show which, let’s not kid ourselves, is not – in any way – about health.

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.

What Size We’re Supposed To Be

Before AfterI’m honored to be included in a piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer called “Retool Weight Resolutions, Ditch the Shame.” The piece is written, bravely and candidly, by a therapist who specializes in eating disorders and is also a self-admitted former fat-shamer, and  it reminds me that people can and do change when it comes to weight stigma.

The thing that really struck me about the piece was that a 13 year old client, speaking about her own body, told Diane “People aren’t meant to be this large.” How many of us have heard that message in some form or another? How many of us have internalized that message in some form or another – including as early as 13, or as early as five years old.

Our culture is obsessed with thinness – with a single ideal of “beauty” (which is then often confused with health.)  Our culture also has the tendency to stick its fingers in its ears and scream LA LA LA LA anytime someone suggests that there may be a natural diversity of body sizes in the same way there’s a natural diversity of heights, feet, hands, noses etc. and that the research shows that trying to manipulate larger bodes into smaller ones typically results in the opposite of the intended effect.

This creates a situation where fat people are encouraged to see being thin as the ticket to entry to the rest of our lives. We are encouraged to dedicate our time, energy, and money to making our bodies thin (like they’re “supposed” to be) and then, at the end of this weight loss rainbow, we’ll supposedly find a pot of all the other stuff we want to do with our lives.

The problem with this is that it encourages us to put our lives on hold trying to achieve something that nobody has shown is possible for a reason that nobody has shown is valid – so it’s entirely possible that our lives will stay on hold until it’s too late to live them.

A friend of mine had relative in her nineties refuse to eat cake on her birthday because she hadn’t exercised that morning.  I know for me that, when I was putting my life on hold until I was thin, the idea of “when I had come to die, discover that I had not lived” was a very real possibility.

When we’re stuck with our lives on hold until we reach some specific weight or size, one of the most liberating questions we can ask ourselves is “What would I do differently if this is the size I’m supposed to be?”

We can opt out of this mess. We can let go of the idea that there’s a size we’re “supposed” to be, or that our size dictates who we are allowed to be, or what we are allowed to do. We can stop waiting for a thinner body to show up and just take the bodies we have out for a spin.

We can go after the lives we want, in the bodies that we have, and we can remember that the world as it’s constructed (based on a thin ideal) doesn’t dictate the size that we are supposed to be, and that if things or places don’t accommodate us then we need to change those things and places, not our bodies.

And every time we do that, we show others that it’s possible – we help tear down the system that oppresses us and we help people take their lives off hold.  And I know it happens because somewhere in Pennsylvania there’s one less fat-shamer, one more size-affirming, Health at Every Size practicing therapist and writer educating her clients and the public, and one fat 13 year old girl who knows that she can pursue her dreams in the body she has.

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.