Health, Confidence, and Worthiness

Nothing to proveThis piece is part of the awesome Body Confidence Blog Carnival that Victoria Welsby has created.  When I first suggested the topic, I was planning to write about it in the abstract but shit has, as they say, gotten real.

Two weeks ago I got sick with some kind of stomach virus.  Just as I started to feel a little better it was time to travel to a friend’s wedding (Mazel Tov y’all!) and I came home with a nasty cold/sinus thing that makes is hard for me to breathe, and makes me weak, tired and dizzy.

Normally this would just suck, but currently I’m in the last four months of a two year journey to complete an IRONMAN Triathlon, and so this has meant a bunch of missed or incomplete workouts, and workouts completed when I’m definitely far from at my best which is the last thing I need right now.  This is a journey that I started specifically because I’m not good at endurance athletics and I wanted to push outside my comfort zone. It’s not been an easy journey for me physically or emotionally and, as with nearly everything I do, it has been accompanied by daily bullying and harassment by internet trolls.

Earlier in my life this situation would have found me with my self-esteem down around my ankles. And in truth, I probably wouldn’t have even tried something like an IRONMAN because I tied my self-esteem and self-confidence to things like athletic success and the fear of failure (and all the subsequent troll rejoicing,) and how devastating that failure would be to my sense of self – might have stopped me before I started.

But on my journey to fat acceptance and body love I learned something that changed everything: I can love my body no matter what.  I can have high self-confidence no matter what. I can have high self-esteem no matter what.

It’s not magic, it’s been a long and difficult journey to get here because, like everyone, I grew up in a society that is steeped in sizeism, healthism and ableism (as well as racism, ageism, classism, homophobia, transphobia and more.)  A society that tries to tell us that we’re not inherently good enough or worthy, that we must always and forever be “proving ourselves,” including and especially if we are fat.  A society that tells us that we should judge ourselves and others based on things like body size and health and physical ability.

In fat activism community this is often called the “Good Fatty Bad Fatty Dichotomy” and it’s absolute crap, but I bought into it hard. I would say things like “I’m fat but I’m healthy, here are my numbers…” or “I’m fat, but I’m active” feeling like I was allowed to like myself “even though” I was fat, because I was “healthy,”  because I was achieving athletically.

This wasn’t about telling the truth about weight and health – which is important so that people can understand their options.  It was not about creating a space for fat people to have the right to choose to be involved in the fitness world without shaming, bullying, stigma, or harassment – which is also important because of the double-edged sword of being a fat athlete where some treat you better because you’re involved in fitness, and other people throw eggs at you.  This wasn’t about any of that, it was only about tying my self-confidence, my self-esteem, and my self-worth to outside achievement, and to things that weren’t entirely within my control. And that was a terrible idea.

The truth is that health is not an obligation, barometer or worthiness, entirely within our control, or guaranteed under any circumstance. The truth is that we should all have the opportunity, but never an obligation, to participate in fitness/athletics/movement at any level we choose. The truth is that we don’t have to make our self-confidence,  our self-esteem, or our self-worth  contingent on our health, our participation in fitness, or anything else. The truth is that the trolls can (and will) yammer on, but we don’t have to care what they say. The truth I realized for me is that I am the only person who can decide how I feel about myself and my body. The truth is that  we are worthy, no matter what.


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

Click Here to Register!

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Check out the Body Confidence Blog Carnival! Eleven days of awesomeness

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

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

5 thoughts on “Health, Confidence, and Worthiness

  1. Would you care to discuss people who use “lacks self-esteem” as an attack? I’m too angry at them to do the subject justice.

    1. Sort of like saying, “Mary doesn’t have enough marbles, so I’m going to hammer all the marbles she does have. People with insufficient marbles deserve nothing but marble chips! I’m doing this FOR HER OWN GOOD!”

  2. I really appreciate this article and all you do. I have been following you for about a year. I can’t say I love myself yet but I can say I am getting comfortable with me and even growing to like me. I am fat and disabled but now that I have a lot to give this world and myself and have the right to enjoy my life. Thank you for all your blogs and making a difference in my life

  3. Have some internet hugs and chicken soup, Ragen, and I hope you feel good soon.

    I was going to say that I hope nobody told you that you deserve to have these illnesses, because you’re fat, but odds are, you’ve probably gotten at least five such messages, already. Because trolls are trolls.

  4. So sorry you’re struggling with health issues at all, but especially now in the thick of your training. I’m glad you’re able to see what’s important to you, and prioritize your needs as you see fit. I hope you recover fully and speedily so you can get back to doing all the things YOU want to do.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.