Well-Meaning Sizeist Nonsense – Say Something Sunday

facepalmI talk a lot on this blog about the overt sizeism that we deal with – whether it’s online bullies, in person egg-throwers they can be the easiest to see.  Even for those at the beginning of their Size Acceptance journey these people can be the low-hanging fruit in the “this person is fucked up and I’m fine” category.

But there is a type of sizeism that is more insidious and often more difficult to deal with – that’s when people who are well meaning, well-intentioned, and even fully believe that they are being body positive are, in fact, spouting absolute sizeist nonsense. Here are some options for dealing with this:

Get your mantra on 

As regular readers know, my mantra is “Hey, that’s bullshit!” other people use “nope, nope, nope” and “lies!” You use what works for you, but having a mantra that you use when you encounter sizeist, diet, and other bullshit can really help you from even starting to internalize this. Bonus – the more you use it, the more of a reflex it can become.

Put the problem where it belongs 

Remember that even though you may be forced to listen to this  (depending on where you are and how possible it is for you to get the hell away) and thus it becomes your problem, it is not your fault. The person yammering on is the problem, you are not.

Find a friend

If you are in a group, making eye-contact with someone you know will understand what’s going on can help reinforce that nonsense is afoot and that you do not have to buy into it.

Remind yourself that they are on a journey

Often (but not always) there was a time in my life when I believed the same things that this person was saying- there was a time when I did think that my body would be better if it was smaller, there was a time when I did confuse size and health.  There was a time before I did my own research when I bought the diet industry message hook, line, and points calculator. I will say that I find that this option is easier if the person isn’t trying to pass themselves off as body positive.

Say Something

There are lots of options here and they’ll depend on the situation, what the person is saying, and what you feel like doing:

Direct

  • I absolutely disagree with what you are saying [for these reasons]
  • I need to interrupt – what you are saying is offensive and sizeist, please stop

Educational

  • I’m sure you’re well meaning, but the evidence doesn’t back up what you are saying, I’d be happy to send you some information about it
  • I used to think that to, I’ve since learned that it’s not actually body positive/fat positive/appropriate in this space to say [whatever nonsense they said]

Indirect

  • I’m excited about a world where we can celebrate bodies of all sizes
  • I wish we lived in a world where people didn’t confuse size with health

Snarky (not necessarily recommended, but fun to think about)

  • I thought this was a body positive space – is today opposite day
  • I’m sorry, I must have misheard, surely you didn’t say [whatever nonsense they said] in a fat positive space?

Regardless, remember that just because someone has good intentions, that doesn’t mean that you have to  buy into what they are saying, or let it go by without response.

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.

 

You and Your Swimsuit – A Love Story?

 

Pink Argyle Bikini
Fantastic art by Jodee Rose http://jodee.deviantart.com/gallery/

Golda Poretsky (of Body Love Wellness) tweeted;  “Rec’d a link to “How Not To Look Fat In A Swimsuit”. Wld ♥ to see “How Not To Obsess Abt Looking Fat In A Swimsuit & F-ing Enjoy Yourself” several years ago.  The result is this post, which is a Danceswithfat annual tradition.

Seriously, let’s talk about this.  It seems that a lot of the women I know, of any size, start to panic the first time they see swimsuits out on the floor of their favorite store;  their pesky cheerfulness belying what seems like their true purpose of prodding us into paying the diet industry for products that don’t work, and considering a move to Alaska.

I’m doing more open water swimming these days (which involves a wetsuit) but when I am in the gym at the pool, I  wear my bathing suit with no worries.  Here are a few reasons why:

1.  It’s my BODY.  I live with it 100% of the time.  It does awesome things for me like breathing, and heartbeat, and swimming and I decided long ago that I am not going to allow anyone to convince me to hate or be ashamed of  something that I am with 100% of the time for the rest of my life.  I get to choose how I feel about my body and I choose to

2.  Because it’s a pool and when I go to the pool, I wear a swimsuit. It’s not for vanity – it’s practical.

3.  I do not care if people are offended by my body.  People are allowed to be offended by whatever they want and it’s really none of my business.  I’m offended by people who are offended by my body, but it turns out nobody gives a damn which is as it should be.  It is my BODY, if we all treated each other with basic human respect it would be impossible to be offended by the mere existence of people because of their body size.  The very idea is ludicrous to me. Regardless, it is not my job to protect people’s delicate sensibilities – if they don’t want to look at me they are welcome to follow any of these options.

4.  Hypocrisy is an ugly thing.  It always seems like the same group of people who are telling me that because I’m fat I have some obligation to exercise (which is bullshit by the way) are subsequently offended by my body in a swimsuit.  The message apparently being that they want me to exercise, but in my house with the shades drawn and wearing an outfit fashioned from a bed sheet.  Screw that.  Don’t like it?  Your problem.

5. It is maddening to me that the diet industry makes over 60 BILLION dollars a year convincing women to hate themselves.  They create fear and uncertainty by saying things like “Swimsuit season is just around the corner, are you ready to wear a swimsuit?”  Well, let’s see here…  Swimsuit?  Check.  Body to put it on?  Check.  Yup, I’m all set thanks.  Plus I think I’ll keep my money you bloodsucking leeches.

6.  People can see me.  So they know how big I am whether I’m in a swimsuit, or jeans and a t-shirt.  If they are shocked at my size in a swimsuit, they should have been paying better attention.  That’s just a big flaming sack of not-my-problem.

I realize that my swimsuit preferences are not everyone’s which is awesome.  Not everyone, regardless of size, is comfortable with how much skin a swimsuit shows.  There is no obligation to rock a bikini or a swimsuit of any kind in order to love your body.  Here are some more ideas to help you stop obsessing and start having fun in the sun (or the oh-so-lovely incandescent glow of the overhead lights at the gym).

1. Alternative Swimsuits.  These are often created for women who want to keep to specific religious clothing guidelines or who just want a more modest look.  I did a quick Google search and found http://www.modestkini.com/.  I’m not affiliated with them at all so I make no guarantees, but it will give you an idea of what’s out there (and some of their plus size swimwear is actually modeled by plus-sized women.  Woot!)

2.  Fabulous Cover ups:  If there’s a particular part of your body that you prefer to keep covered for whatever reason, an (aptly-named) cover-up might be just the thing.  Here are some examples (again, no affiliation, check out the vendors before you buy!)

3.  Safety in numbers.  Go with a group of people who make you feel good about yourself and focus on the fun and not on any body insecurities you might have.  Think about how fantastic your body feels when you are swimming, or going down a water slide, or splashing in the waves.

4.  Reality check.  One of my favorite quotes is by Mark Twain “I’ve had thousands of problems in my life, most of which never actually happened”  When I’m worrying about something I try to remember that I am wasting energy on something that is not actually part of reality.  So instead I…

5.  …Expect the best, plan for the worst.  Think about what your true fears are about going out in a swimsuit.  Write them down and then create a plan to deal with each of them.  Are you afraid people will say something mean to you?  Create some scripting and practice it until you feel comfortable. Afraid of chaffing?  Hie thee to Google and read up on the various lotions, powders etc. that can help with that, or look into swimsuits that can help. Worried people will talk about you behind your back? Maybe that’s the best possible outcome since you don’t have to hear it!

In the end of course it’s your choice.  For my part,  I’m not willing to allow my options for fun, activity, movement etc. to be controlled by what other people might think or say.  If my own fears or insecurities are getting in the way I try to find a way over (modest swimsuit), under (cover up), or through (F this, I’m wearing a thong) the fear and insecurity because I’ve found that very often the pure joy lies just on the other side.

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.

So You Don’t Like Looking at Fat People

I'm here to helpI couldn’t help but notice that there are people who don’t like to look at fat people – maybe it’s fat people in swimsuits, or in short shorts, or spandex, or revealing dresses, or at all, whatever.

I’ve also noticed that these people seem to think that the right way to deal with this is to make sure they tell people about their preferences as often as possible, and to suggest that the solution is for fat people to dress the way that they want fat people to dress, or to simply not be seen at all. Obviously, this is ridiculous but since these folks clearly have a skills gap where this is concerned, I wanted to help.  If you are part of this group, I offer the following appropriate options for dealing with your desire not to look at fat people:

First, regardless of which option you choose make sure to acknowledge that this is your problem to solve, not fat people’s problem to solve.  Nobody owes you aesthetically pleasing by any definition. Understanding that, let me help you out with some options:

Option 1:  The Simple Solution 

Stay home alone and read books with no pictures. There, problem solved.

Option 2:  Take Some Advice From The Band Chicago

Look away, baby. Look away. Seriously.  This is perhaps the easiest path, it doesn’t require any self-examination or personal growth, and you get to leave your house. If there’s someone you don’t want to look at – for whatever reason – there are always at least three other cardinal directions in which you could look.  Choose one, look that way. Boom! Problem solved.

Option 3: Don’t Hand Me No Lines And Keep Your Thoughts To Yourself (With apologies to the Georgia Satellites…)

If you don’t like looking at fat people and you don’t want to work on it, that’s your right. But there’s no reason to say anything about it out loud or online since what you want to see should never have any bearing on what fat people do, and the suggestion that there is something wrong with fat people because you can’t see their beauty is just contributing to the shame, stigma, bullying, and harassment  that fat people face. And, of course, you wouldn’t want to do that, because you’re not a bigoted asshole.

Option 4:  Think It Through

Maybe take a second to ask yourself why you’ve chosen to buy into the idea that only certain bodies are worthy of being looked at. Consider that the ability to appreciate the beauty that exists in everyone is actually a skill set.  Perhaps right now your skill set is pretty limited – you can only see the beauty in the stereotype that has been spoon-fed to you all of your life.  That’s not surprising, it’s by the design of industries that make billions of dollars from the idea that we should all do our best to look like a photoshopped picture of someone else. But you can opt out of that.

You can decide that you don’t want to be part of a world that perpetuates size-based bigotry.  You can decide that you want to expand your skill set for perceiving beauty. Once you’ve spent some time really looking at your own prejudices and preconceived notions, I’ll bet looking at fat people will be a whole new experience.

Finally, For The Fatties

If you’re a fat person who has to deal with someone like this is your life, I just want to remind you that you are not the problem, there is nothing wrong with you, there is nothing wrong with your body, there is nothing wrong with your choice of clothing. Fat phobia is the problem, size-based bigotry is the problem, the people who perpetuate them are the problem.  You? You’re 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.