Fat Woman Fights Back Against Walmart Filmers

EDIT:  It has been pointed out that, in my anger over an act that was indeed atrocious, I made some horrible mistakes.  These include not recognizing my privilege as a white woman talking about People of Color, the language I used to describe them, and my suggestion that getting police involved is a positive thing when, because of systemic racism, that could well be a death sentence for the People of Color involved.  I’m leaving the blog post below as written below so as not to try to erase my mistakes, with my sincere apologies, and with the promise to do better in the future.

Kelly Lynn was just trying to do some shopping when she ran into some of the scum of the Earth, and now she’s fighting back.  If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know how I feel about anyone who participates in things like “People of Walmart” (in which people take pictures and video of people without their consent, with this express intent of making fun of them on the internet.)

Anyone who participates in this – whether it’s by taking the pictures, looking at them online, or sharing them around, is being an asshole. Period. There is no excuse, there is no justification, and no I won’t “agree to disagree” because if you think this is ok, then you’re just wrong. Luckily there’s a cure, and that’s to stop participating in things like this.

Here is the story in Kelly’s own words from her Facebook page:

Even when I asked him to stop he didn’t stop. Even when people were staring and asking him why he was doing this he didn’t stop. He filmed me and took photos of me so loud and unafraid of how that might make me feel. What if this wasn’t me?! What if this was someone with out confidence or with out the love I have? When I said I was going to take their picture they posed. This is not a selfie, they knew exactly what they were doing. Hence why they were trying to cover their faces. It’s disheartening that people would rather ignore or deny what is happening instead of trying to stop it. Please share this. 5/15/16 11:15pm Stow Ohio Walmart.

Update- Many people have asked me to explain what’s happening here for those who don’t get it or understand. – I am fat. I’ve always been fat. I was raised to believe that I was just as wonderful and beautiful as the next person so most of my life I have had a confidence that actually shock people. I’m not sure which is worse the fact people hate me and want me to die bc I’m fat and happy or the people who congratulate me for loving myself even though I’m the most disgusting thing they know, fat. Through the years I’ve tried my very best to use my voice for good. Bring support to anyone I can. Not just fat people either. What do I identify most in the world with? Being a fat woman. People may see this as a bad thing but I don’t. I see it as something that’s a part of me not all of me. I feel pretty, I feel beautiful and I feel sexy. I’m not ashamed to feel this way. Whatever my health is, it has no baring on my worth. It’s not anyone’s business what I look like or my health. It’s mine. They don’t get to treat me like a circus animal just bc it’s not what they understand. I’m a person. First and foremost a person. Every single time I leave the house and venture out into public I am scrutinized for my body. As if my body is not my own. I can’t even take my nieces and nephew to the movies or to the park without someone yelling at me, taking my photo or even stopping their car next to me to tell me how fat and gross I am. This happens almost every single day. Sometimes it’s hard to even leave the house, but I push myself bc for every terrible person there is someone who comes up to me and tell me how cute I am or how much the like my outfit and style. I get so many emails from men and woman who tell me how much I helped them become confident. It makes every bad experience worth it. Changing one mind, one person makes all of it worth it. Am I mad at these people? Sure a little but not as much as I am sad for them. Sad that they live a life where there find this sort of treatment ok. They’re not just doing it bc they think it’s funny how fat I am, they’re doing it bc they fear me. They fear the idea that I could live my life and love myself despite being so fat. The thing they never want to be because it could be them on the other side of the camera being made fun of instead of me.

If they only knew me. If they only knew that being truly happy you would never feel the need to make fun of or tear someone else down for their own insecurities.

People wonder how it’s possible people get so fat they are bed bound or need to be cut out of their house. This. This is why. If you’ve never been in a situation like this then you have no idea but they weight of people’s hate piled on top of you is heavier than any fat could ever be. You fear leaving your house, you fear going out, you fear that plane ride, you fear eating in public, you fear living your life might offend someone and they could hurt you. Hurt you for existing and sometimes for some people it’s easier to just stay home. So judging someone for being too fat is bullshit. It’s not your business for one and you don’t know how they got there. It doesn’t even matter how they did. But you can be kind and nice and treat fat people with respect. Yes fat. It’s not a bad word.

It’s ok to be mad, but it’s more important for this to show people how fat people are treated in hopes it will break that cycle.

Until it stops I will share all my experience, the good and the bad.

I’m not ashamed to be me and I won’t let someone rule my feelings and thoughts about myself. I won’t let them take my power.

Rock the hell on Kelly, thanks for being a shining example of how to fight back against sizeism, and how to be clear that the problem isn’t fat people, it’s the people who shame, stigmatize, bully, and oppress fat people. Here is the picture that Kelly took of the scum who were taking pictures and video of her in Stow, Ohio.  The police are now involved and hopefully they will be caught. If you see them, feel free to tell them that  Ragen said “Fuck you.”

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.

Discovery Girls’ Spectacularly Failed Apology for Body-Shaming Kids

Swimsuit layout
The full two page swimsuit article

Discovery Girls Magazine bills itself as “the one magazine that gives girls ages 8 and up the advice, encouragement, and inspiration they need to navigate those difficult preteen years.” They claim a readership of 900,000, and in the most recent issue they spent two pages giving those 900,000 girls advice about “What swimsuit best suits you.” Thanks to all the readers who let me know about this debacle.

First readers were asked to self-select into categories based on body type, then they were given advice. Those who think they are “curvy on top”  were told “side ties and cut-outs draw the eyes down.” Those who think they are “straight up and down” were given advice to “add curves,” and those who think of themselves as “rounder in the middle” were told that “high-waisted bottoms work best for you.”

This advice begs the questions – Whose eyes, exactly, are they hoping are drawn and manipulated by a swimsuit worn by an 8 year old? Why are they encouraging tweens to add curves? And why are they trying to give readers the message that if they feel rounder they should cover themselves?  (Note the message – don’t be not curvy, but don’t be too curvy…) Come to think of it, why are they suggesting that tweens categorize their bodies in way that encourages the kind of comparison and concern that can set the stage for body image issues, and even eating disorders?

Happily, many people recognized that this is super extra very much messed up and took to the internet to tell the magazine exactly why.  Publisher Catherine Lee responded in an attempt to apologize that failed so spectacularly that I’m going to break it down here bit by bit.

First she tried this:

We want to make it clear that Discovery Girls does not promote nor support body-shaming. This article was intended to show that every body shape is acceptable, not that they should be ashamed of the shape they have.

But it turns out that the people complaining had actually seen the article, so there was no way this was going to fly.  Take two:

An open letter from Catherine Lee, Publisher of Discovery Girls

First, I want to thank all the parents and my amazing readers who brought this swimsuit article to my attention. As the founder of Discovery Girls magazine, and even more importantly, the mother of the first Discovery Girl in 2000, I am in total agreement with all of you regarding this article, so much so that I wanted to make this letter as public as possible. We want to make sure that our girls know that any article that makes you feel bad about your body is not a good article, and should be questioned.

So, explain to me how an article that you agree is not a good article, should be questioned, and is objectively terrible, ended up in a magazine for which you are responsible?

It’s still hard for me to believe that an article so contrary to our magazine’s mission could have been published on our pages. I have been a loss for words for days.

I’m betting it’s harder to believe for those of us whose title isn’t “Publisher” of the magazine where the article appeared.  That Shaggy Song “It Wasn’t Me” might be catchy, but it was not intended to be corporate PR advice. Since you are at a loss for words, let me suggest some: “I’m sorry. I take full responsibility. Here are the steps I’m taking to make sure this never happens again.”

The article was supposed to be about finding cute, fun swimsuits that make girls feel confident, but instead it focused on girls’ body image and had a negative impact.

It didn’t focus on their body image – though it most certainly could hurt it.  It focused on the bodies of 8-12 year olds – how they look, and how they can be manipulated to look, and how they can draw and manipulate the eyes of others.

Nobody knows better than Discovery Girls how impressionable our girls are at this age and we are ALWAYS mindful of this.

All evidence to the contrary.

We’ve received hundreds of thousands of letters over the years from girls sharing their insecurities about their bodies. We’ve been so concerned about helping girls have a healthy body image that we wrote an entire book, Growing Up, on puberty and body image.

I must have read this paragraph wrong because it seems like you’re pivoting from an apology to an advertisement for your book. Nobody has judgment that poor.

The book, which took over five years to write, was a labor of love. We worked with so many writers, editors, and over 20,000 girls and their parents, too. We invested so much time and effort into it because we knew how important it is to get it right. Our girls need resources to provide them with the guidance they need to develop a healthy body image and love all that they are.

I stand corrected, at least one person has judgment that poor.

As much we like to think that something like this would never happen to us, it did.

Oh for the love of… THIS DID NOT “HAPPEN TO YOU”!  You DID this. This happened to the 8-12 year olds who trust you to deliver empowering content, and not this Cosmo crap.

We’re not immune to making mistakes, but we are always willing to get better and learn from our mistakes.

Let’s hope you’re better at learning from your mistakes than you are at apologizing for them. In good news it’s difficult to imagine you could be worse.

We’d like to thank the readers who contacted us to let us know they couldn’t believe we could make such a mistake. It means a lot to us, because it means you hold us to a higher standard, which we hope you will continue to demand from us.

You know what would actually be great – if you could hold yourself to a higher standard. And let’s be clear that “It’s a bad idea to tell 8 year olds how to look curvier, draw the eye down, or cover their stomachs because they are rounder” isn’t exactly a high standard – it’s the kind of bar that you should be able to trip and fall over.

And for those of you who don’t know us as well as our regular readers, our reader’s comments are what keeps us improving.

How many comments do you need to understand that body shaming 8 year olds is a bad idea?

This is what makes Discovery Girls the magazine that we’re all so proud to be a part of. I know with certainty, if you hang in there, you’ll find that no magazine works harder to ensure the well-being of your daughters than Discovery Girls.

Catherine Lee

Please stop talking nonsense Catherine. I know with certainty that this is not remotely true, because there are magazines whose editors are not at a “loss for words” and finding it “hard to believe”  that an article that is actually dangerous and damaging to their core audience was published in full shiny color in the pages of their magazines.

The fact that anybody thought an apology like this was a good idea, and that there are actually people online misguided enough to support the original article, is proof that we have a long way to go in our journey to a world where children are nurtured and empowered and all bodies are celebrated.  But the fact that so many people knew immediately that this article was a hot mess tells me that we’re making progress. This is why it’s so important to let kids know that the world is messed up, but they are fine.

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 Don’t Want Your Scarf

facepalmFor the past few days I’ve been in a hotel in Boston for the MEDA Conference. Right outside the elevator on my floor the entire time I was there was a “trunk show.”  It was a couple of women selling clothes and accessories.  As I waited for the elevator I would hear them talking to potential customers.  They were working hard, on their feet all day every day.  Finally yesterday I had some time and I decided I wanted to check out their clothes.

I walked in and, unlike the numerous women I had personally witnessed go inside the room and be greeted immediately and warmly and asked what they were looking for, they completely ignored me. They talked to each other, never even acknowledging my presence. So I took a lap around the room and it didn’t look like there were any plus sizes, but I wanted to ask to make sure.  I walked up to the two women who kept talking as if I wasn’t there.  I waited patiently for them to wrap up their conversation, they completely ignored me. I finally said “Excuse me…”

They continued talking for a few more seconds, then one of them turned and asked curtly “Yes?”  I asked “Do you have any plus size items?”  She squinched up her face like she just bit a lemon, shook her head, and said “No. No. We wouldn’t have anything like that.” in a tone that might have made someone think that I asked her if I could get a dress made entirely of cat poo.  I decided that it wasn’t worth my energy to continue so I just said “What a shame.”  At that point I was just going to walk out and get on with my day.

But no. All of a sudden the other salesperson re-animated and said “Wait, we have beautiful scarves.”  Beautiful Sca…I know she didn’t say… Beautiful scarv…fuck that.  I turned around sharply (all that dance training still paying off!) met her gaze and asked, slowly “Why in the world would I buy an accessory from a clothing company that didn’t bother to make clothes that fit me?”

She just stared at me and said “oh.”  So I repeated “No, seriously, I’m asking.  Why would I support a clothing company that doesn’t want to clothe me?”   She paused, looking a bit panicked, and then said “Well, they are really lovely scarves.”  Not even a fauxpologetic “I’m so sorry we don’t have your size.”  Just “Of course we don’t make clothes for you, or treat you like – you know – a person, but please buy a scarf.” Remaining calm, though I was well and truly over this shit, I just said “No Ma’am, I don’t want your scarf.” and walked away.

I’m fully aware that the dollars I spend on clothes are my votes for the kind of clothes I want to have available, and the designers and companies that I want to succeed. So if I’m buying a scarf that’s part of a clothing line, that clothing line is going to, at the very least, include my size.  (And if they don’t include sizes larger than mine then that’s something we’re going to talk about.) But if your company doesn’t sell my size and you treat me like a pariah, then rest assured that you can keep your damn scarf.

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.

Getting Something Started – Say Something Sunday

Say Something SundayI’m in a hotel room in Boston, still on a high from being part of the fabulous MEDA Conference (thanks Rachel, Beth, Jaime, and all the amazing staff, volunteers, and board members who made this happen I hope you are all having a fabulous restful day!) where I was honored to give a talk (they gave me a standing ovation that made me cry!) hear great presentations (not only did I get to attend a beautiful presentation by Hilary and Dana from Be Nourished, but I got to hang out with them at lunch!), and hang out with and learn from amazing people (shout out to Lisa who was my Secret Service for the trip and Joanne and Jonah who were our dinner buddies!) I just finished one last practice of my talk for the Brunch today and the choreography for the dance and yoga class that I’m doing with the fabulous Rachel Estapa (both events are sell-outs and I’m ridiculously excited to meet so many people I know from online!)  I’ll blog about it more soon.

For today, though I want to share this video with you. Last year I got a chance to be part of the Size Acceptance work that Erec Smith has been doing at York College when I gave a presentation and a guest lecture for the students there. That project now includes a video and an article on page 23 of their Alumni Magazine – I’m sharing it with you for Say Something Sunday because I think that what Erec and his students are accomplishing is super inspiring, and I’m truly grateful to have had the chance to be part of it. As always, it would be awesome if you would share your activism victories in the comments:

 

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.

 

Some Problems with Plus Size Fashion

that's not how this worksIn this blog I have often said “plus sizes or, as I like to call them, sizes” and “plus size models or, as I like to call them, models.” What I meant when I said that was that I look forward to a world where we don’t have to have “plus size” because stores will carry a wide range of sizes and people of all sizes will have the same options in terms of style, availability, price, and quality; and, that I look forward to a world where we won’t need “plus size” models because using models with a wide range of body sizes will be the norm.

What I didn’t know when I said those things, was that some people would try to skip the part where we revolutionize the fashion world and, instead, just get rid of the terms “plus size” and “plus size models”  I didn’t know that stores would try to solve the problem of size-based stigma by changing numerical sizes to flower names. I didn’t know that the discussion about plus size fashion would end up being led, not by the people who are currently least served by the industry (those above a 3x with limited income) but by the most privileged people in the space – the people who are paid to model plus size clothes, and then use the fame of being a model to insist that being called plus-size is somehow “ostracizing” to them.  This is not ok.

I was thinking about all of this when I got the amazing opportunity to write for Ravishly.com – Real Feminism for Real Life! So my first piece for them is called WTF Is Going On In Plus Size Fashion?  It includes insights from the fabulous Alysse Dalessandro, the designer behind Ready to Stare  and Yolanda Williams who created  plus-size active line Just Curves (including the ONEder suit which is my new favorite thing.) You can read the article here!

Until those who wear plus-size clothes have the same options as those who wear straight sizes (and, while we’re at it, the same purchasing power because we aren’t hired less and paid less than our thin counterparts,) that’s a conversation we need to be centering, and if someone who models plus size clothes doesn’t want to be called a plus size model, then as far as I’m concerned, they can get another job.

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 Life I Could Have Had – International No Diet Day

Talking NonsenseIn response to my post for International No Diet Day about The Biggest Loser and how dieting doesn’t work, I got the usual rush of responses from internet trolls to concern trolls insisting (with no evidence to back it up, of course) that all fat people can – and should! – become thin if we just [insert thing we’ve all heard a million times but doesn’t actually work] – lose weight slower, use a specific diet, call dieting a “lifestyle change”, etc. along with the usual “just because it hardly ever works doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep trying” crap.

Here’s the thing.  Been there. Done that.  Got the rebound weight gain and larger size t-shirt.  Before I did the research to understand weight and health, I made the same mistakes that these people are making now – I believed it was a matter of willpower, I believed that it had been proven that long term significant weight loss was possible,  I believed that weight loss had been proven to make fat people healthier. Just like these misguided folks, I bought into this hook, line, and meal replacement shake.  I tried incredibly hard to be thin.  I spent a tremendous amount of my time, energy, and money trying to be thin – I did everything these people are suggesting that I do now and more. And here’s what I learned.

Fuck. That. Shit.  I shudder to think of the life I could have had if I hadn’t discovered Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size. The thought of giving up the amazing life I’ve lived and am living to have instead spent all this time  – and all the time in the future – chasing thinness, weight cycling, hating my body, waiting for that mystical thin body to show up so that my life could “really start,” is horrifying  – what an absolute waste of my life that would have been.

I hear from readers all the time whose moms, grandmothers, aunts, and friends are on their deathbeds realizing that they never fully lived because they put their lives on hold until they were thin, and spent their lives trapped in a cycle of yo yo dieting, body hatred, and self loathing, and they died fat with so many regrets.  Every single time someone tells me a story like this I think how much I hope that person is resting in peace, and I realize that could have so easily been me.

I had the exact same experience that almost everyone who tries to lose weight has – I would lose weight short term, and then no matter what I did I would gain it back long term – often gaining back more than I lost.  Then, in a tribute to doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, I would try again. And I would have the same result.

So these people who tell me that I should keep trying to lose weight can take a flying leap into a vat of fat free pudding. This discussion is hypothetical to them, but it’s everything to me. Health at Every Size and Size Acceptance gave me my life back, and even if I’m wrong about the research (though I don’t think I am) and even if I have a shorter life than I would have if I had continue to pursue dieting (though I don’t think I will) I would still make the same choices. I get to live free from dieting, free from constant body hatred, free from obsessive thoughts and behaviors around food, exercise, and weight, I get to spend my time, energy, and money pursuing things that make me happy,  I can approach my health and healthcare in a way that is rational and evidence-based.

I live every day with the security of knowing that I will not be on my deathbed with the horrible realization that I put my life on hold trying to get thin, and it never happened, and now it’s over. I used to be one of those people who hated my body, and dieted constantly because I didn’t know that I had other options. Now I know – I can have a healthy relationship with food and movement, I can love my body, and I never have to diet again. That’s so much better than the life I could have had.

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 Biggest Loser’s Big Surprise?

Success and DietsThe internet is abuzz about an article by the New York Times called “After ‘The Biggest Loser’ Their Bodies Fought to Regain Weight.”  I’ve received requests from over 300 readers to write about it so here we go.

Before we get too far into this let’s be clear that whether or not people regain their weight, The Biggest Loser is an abomination of a show that uses threats about, and baseless promises of, health to convince fat people to be physically and mentally abused for profit.  They use the idea that they abuse fat people “for our own good to make us healthy” to help their audiences justify watching this physical and emotional abuse for entertainment. If the show were about dogs and not fat people their treatment would have been considered so inhumane that they would have been pulled off the air after one episode.  And that’s even if they really did help people lose weight.  Sadly, we now know, that’s not so much what they do.

The article starts by explaining how everyone is shocked to find that the contestants from The Biggest Loser gain back their weight: “13 of the 14 contestants studied regained weight in the six years after the competition. Four contestants are heavier now than before the competition.”

Basically, what the study found was that, among other factors, resting metabolisms of the contestants plummeted, and kept plummeting even after they left the show and started “maintenance.” Former contestant Danny Cahill was described as “One of the worst off” because he started with a typical metabolism, but now has to eat 800 calories a day less than a typical man his size just to maintain his weight.

Their experience shows that the body will fight back for years. And that, said Dr. Michael Schwartz, an obesity and diabetes researcher who is a professor of medicine at the University of Washington, is “new and important.”

“The key point is that you can be on TV, you can lose enormous amounts of weight, you can go on for six years, but you can’t get away from a basic biological reality,” said Dr. Schwartz, who was not involved in the study. “As long as you are below your initial weight, your body is going to try to get you back.”

What’s shocking is that every long-term study of attempted intentional weight loss has shown results like these, but somehow these so-called experts are just catching on now.

In the face of this evidence, of course The Biggest Loser’s official doctor, Robert Huizenga, was apologetic and recommended rethinking everything about the show.

Just kidding!  He “questioned whether the measurements six years later were accurate” and says he tells contestants to monitor their diet and exercise at least nine hours a week to keep the weight off. Of course, there’s absolutely no evidence to suggest that even if the contestants could make working out a part time job, that it would change the outcome, but why would that be important to the same doctor who oversaw this nonsense in the first place?

Among a number of really disturbing paragraphs in the article, this one stuck out at me (and at many of the people who asked me to write about this:)

Researchers are figuring out why being fat makes so many people develop diabetes and other medical conditions, and they are searching for new ways to block the poison in fat. They are starting to unravel the reasons bariatric surgery allows most people to lose significant amounts of weight when dieting so often fails. And they are looking afresh at medical care for obese people.

A huge part of the entrenchment of a weight-based model of health (the idea that we should focus on making every body fit the same ratio of weight and height as a path to health) despite the lack of evidence for its efficacy is our acceptance of “everybody knows” to substitute for, or even replace, actual evidence, and basic correlation vs causation errors being made constantly and with great confidence especially in the media.

Both mistakes are being made here.  Fat and health conditions are correlated, not causally related, researchers have no idea if being fat “makes people develop diabetes and other medical conditions” or if those medical conditions cause people to be fat, or if body size and those medical conditions are both affected by a third factor, or how much bias is involved (for example, if we test all fat people early and often for diabetes, and we fail to test thin people even when they have symptoms because healthcare providers mistakenly believe that it’s a fat persons’s disease, it wouldn’t be shocking if more fat people were diagnosed.)

The phrase “Block the poison in fat” is hyperbolic at best and has no place in a discussion about body size and health. Also while stomach amputation may reduce body size, it also has horrific life altering side effects, lots of people die, lots of people gain their weight back, and there are entire communities dedicated to people who would gladly have their weight, and their lives back and any discussion of weight loss surgery should include that information.

If they are looking afresh at medical care for fat people, might I suggest giving us actual medical care (you know, the interventions that thin people receive when they have the exact same health issues that we do) instead of keeping their gazed locked on finding ways to manipulate our body size.  There is a highly researched paper about this by Linda Bacon and Lucy Aphramor.

One of the most dangerous effects of our entrenchment in the (false) idea that manipulating body size is the only path to health (or a path to health at all,) is that it leads to doctors who put patients actual health at risk in an attempt to make them thin by any means necessary.

There is always a weight a person’s body maintains without any effort. And while it is not known why that weight can change over the years — it may be an effect of aging — at any point, there is a weight that is easy to maintain, and that is the weight the body fights to defend. Finding a way to thwart these mechanisms is the goal scientists are striving for.

Why?  Why are they striving for this when studies like Matheson et. al, Wei et. al, the Cooper Institute Longitudinal Studies, and any study that actually looks at behaviors has found that (understanding that health is not an obligation, barometer of worthiness, entirely within our control, or guaranteed under any circumstances) behaviors are a much more accurate predictor of future health than body size.  The belief that making fat people thin will improve health outcomes and thus should be pursued by any means necessary is folly from a scientific perspective.  Let’s not forget that this is the approach that gave us diet pills that are dangerous, addictive, don’t help people lose very much weight, and are currently being prescribed anyway.

Another questionable bit of the article states:

While many of the contestants kept enough weight off to improve their health…

There is no evidence to show that any health improvements were the result of body size change, and not the result of a change of habits, is what led to better health.  In a piece for Huffington Post, researchers Mann, Tomiyama, and Ahlstrom explain that the suggestion that a certain percentage of weight loss will improve health is based on a series of failures leading to another “everybody knows” statistic that isn’t supported by evidence:

Eventually, the medical community settled on the current standard of losing just 5 percent of one’s starting weight, despite having no scientifically-supported medical reason for doing so.

The article goes on to talk about the ways that dieting screws up our hormones, and how doctors are looking at drugs and surgery to try to override our bodies tendencies.

Sadly, there’s no discussion of not screwing up our bodies with dieting in the first place. No discussion of what fat people’s health would look like if, instead of  a life of attempting to feed our bodies less than they need to live in the hopes that they will consume themselves and become smaller (despite a complete lack of evidence to suggest that will leave us thinner or healthier,) constant stigma, shaming, bullying, and oppression, and horrible, useless interactions with healthcare practitioners who fail to give us evidence-based interventions, we had the opportunity to spend our whole lives loving and appreciating our bodies, viewing them as worthy of care, and having the opportunity (though never the obligation) to focus on our actual health.

One of the key foundations of science is that you have to admit that you could be wrong, and in the face of overwhelming evidence that you have been fucking up you have to admit it.  This seems to be a principal that those involved in weight loss cannot, or will not, grasp. I’m sure it’s difficult to admit that you’ve been giving people terrible advice, and interventions that are most likely to lead to the opposite of the intended effect, but the alternative is to continue giving people terrible advice and interventions that are most likely to lead to the opposite of the intended effect. Sadly, that seems to be the path that The Biggest Loser, and medical science, are choosing for now.

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