Our Spaces, Our Rules

Cuddlebug Mcnope

This week there has been a rush of people on my social media who have been shocked , shocked I tell you, shocked and appalled, that I wouldn’t allow them to post anti-fat beliefs and diet talk, and that I deleted their comments. I’m surprised that they are surprised – I am responsible for the spaces that I create and I’m not going to allow people to turn them into a cesspool of anti-fat sentiments, concern trolling, and weight loss talk.

After I delete something, getting a post that says something like “I’m allowed to diet if I want to, because [I want to fit into different clothes, I want to stop being treated poorly, I think it will make me healthier etc]!”is common, and accurate – people are allowed to do whatever they want with their bodies, whatever their reasons. “I’m allowed to [talk about my diet/express my disagreement and concern for your choices/say whatever I want] on your Facebook wall” is an inaccurate statement as it’s my wall and I get to decide what goes there.

As I’ve been deleting and, when necessary, blocking people I’ve been getting a lot of feedback from people who say that they are grateful that they know I moderate my space, and that they never realized that they could delete things they don’t want from their own social media and they are finding it really empowering. So I decided to repost this today as a reminder:

No matter how much we love our bodies, fat people face a lot of stigma for our size, and thinness (or even attempting to become thin) confers tremendous benefit. I can understand the desire to try to solve social stigma through weight  loss, or to try to lose weight to solve the issues with getting clothing in our sizes, or buying into the idea that manipulation of body size is the path to health. People are allowed to do all of these things.

For my part I think it’s important for people to have access to information not paid for by the diet industry, including information regarding their odds of failure so that if their attempts fail it softens the self-esteem blow.  People are allowed to believe that manipulating their body size is the key to being healthy and feel that they need to lose weight for health reasons. I think they should have access to true and correct data about health and weight.  I don’t think that they are required to do any research or justify their choices in any way, I just think that they should have easy access to the information.

To me social change is more important than social approval.  I think that the cure for social stigma is to end stigma, not to insist that members of the stigmatized group change themselves.  In my experience when you try to change yourself to change the behavior of others or gain their approval, you soon find it’s never enough -there’s always something else that somebody wants you to change. If I was offered a pill that would make me into the perfect stereotypical beauty I wouldn’t take it. That doesn’t make me worse or better than those who make different choices. Our bodies – our choices.

So, just to repeat it again, people are allowed to want to, and try to, lose weight regardless of the risks or the reasons. However, where people get tripped up is in the belief that they should be allowed to talk about that in Fat Activist, Size Acceptance, and Health at Every Size spaces.  Nope nope nope. It is ok to have spaces that don’t allow diet or weight loss talk, it is ok to have 100% body positive spaces (where being body positive means excluding discussion of intentional body size manipulation), it’s ok to have a policy of “absolutely no diet talk” or “absolutely no negative body talk.”  The spaces that we create – be they our homes, blogs, Facebook Pages, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram, Snapchat or other social media – are ours.  They exist because we created them and we have every right in the world to moderate them.

When fat people who are choosing not to attempt weight loss in a sizeist world insist that we have spaces without weight loss talk, that is people creating safe spaces for ourselves. That is our right, and it is crucial to our well being as an oppressed group. Fat people can make many different choices about our bodies, but that doesn’t make all of those choices automatically fat positive or appropriate for discussion in fat positive spaces.
When people who buy into a weight loss paradigm insist that they should get to use every fat positive space (especially those that have made it clear that they are fat positive spaces where weight loss talk is not welcome) to talk about weight loss, or the idea that a smaller body is better, that is an act of oppression. It is a victimization of a systemically oppressed group of people who have chosen to be in that space so that they can experience a few moments without messages that their bodies are wrong.
There is endless support in our sizeist culture for the idea that fat is bad. There is endless support for people who want to try to become less fat or not fat. Fat people are incessantly pummeled from every direction with the message that being fat is the problem (no matter what the problem actually is) and becoming thin(ner) is the answer. I think that’s bullshit (profitable bullshit, if you’re the diet industry, but bullshit nonetheless) and I create spaces where people get to have a moment’s respite from that, and I don’t apologize for it.

I notice that people use every schoolyard bullying technique that exists to try to question our right to moderate our own spaces.  From calling us “chicken,” to creating some twisted logic, to trying to make us believe that allowing them to ignore our rules and fill our spaces with messages that are harmful to us is somehow our obligation.  We get bombarded by negative messages about our bodies every single day, and we have every right to create spaces that support us and our choices, even if that means excluding people who want to be in those spaces but refuse to respect the rules of the space, regardless of their reasons or even if they have “good intentions.”  Our bodies, our choices.  Our spaces, our rules.


This year we have a kick ass line up of speakers talking about everything from Re-Imagining Fashion from an Inclusive Framework” to “Activism for the Introverted and Anxious” to “Building Fat Patient Power While Accessing Healthcare” and moreThis 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.  We also offer a pay what you can afford option to make the conference accessible to everyone. The Conference will be held September 23-25, 2016

Click Here to Register!

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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

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12 thoughts on “Our Spaces, Our Rules

  1. Your space, your rules! Anybody who doesn’t like it or differs in “well intentioned” opinion can GTFO! I love that you’ve made this a safe space for us. Thank you for keeping it that way!

  2. This is another excellent article and I so agree! It is disquieting how people will post amazingly inaccurate or even offensive comments to your wall and expect their trolling to be honored. Thank you for reminding us that we can stand up to them and reclaim our space.

  3. I always enjoy the incredible misunderstanding of the 1st amendment as well. People don’t seem to understand the difference between public and private spaces. They can still blast their anti-fat bigotry on the internet, no one is disallowing that (as much as we’d like to). Facebook is a *private* company (in the sense that it is owned by someone and not by the government) and they can decide to ban whatever they choose, and to let their users to ban whatever they choose. Glad you turfed them!!

  4. Thank you so much for making Your space SAFE!

    People really don’t get it, and they don’t want to get it! The old: yes you can be who ever you want to be and I am O.K. with it; but I would like to express an opinion that reminds you that you are a failure, loser, screw up, not O.K. and should be trying to not be you and have you be O.K. with it, is more than old, it is passive aggressive in the extreme. Try to imagine a blog that has an anti racism stance allowing “dissent” in the form of bigots posting about racial stereotypes and “scientific” data to prove racial bias is acceptable, or a feminist site where people were allowed to question women’s equality, abilities, humanity etc, or a Jewish site that allowed anti Semitic hate speech in it’s dialoging. Gah it is insane. There are places for bigoted, hateful, biased discussion, it isn’t your Facebook page. People can just get a grip and push off to more welcoming electronic pastures for their negative blather, it isn’t as though they don’t live in an on-line world that has literally thousands of fat hating sites, blogs, articles, movements waiting for their very pertinent, well reasoned, helpful fat hating spew…

  5. I always love the ones who wail about how their Freeze Peach is being violated. It’s a private blog, not a public forum. It is not compulsory to accept whatever vitriol they are trying to pass off under the guise of Freeze Peach.

  6. Yep. It’s your page, so you get to decide how it is used. Perhaps entitlement is part of the issue here? I’m not sure.

    Also, I have read comments directed towards Ragen regarding her refusing to allow viewpoints to be published that disagree with her position and having a so-called “echo chamber” and I know exactly what that is.

    I personally do not see the issue with safe spaces. I searched for a guy I saw on a paranormal TV show and he was criticizing them. The sentiment is that people are too soft nowadays. Sigh…do they expect people to just grin and bear it?

    Maybe it is not that folks today are too sensitive but that they are slowly learning to stand up to what they think is mistreatment/unfairness instead of just grinning and bearing it as my father would likely say they ought to do.

    “Toughen up!” my dad would say of today’s society.

  7. I read an article about something similar today but specifically concerning white dudes. The author was saying some of these men claim that, if a post is public, it is inviting discussion/debate by anyone.

    Is this an entitlement issue?

  8. Or the ones who complain that these safe spaces are “echo chambers,” and if you’re not preaching to the choir, you have to suck it up and shut up.

    Yeah, exactly! That’s kind of the whole definition of “safe space.” You want to get nasty and argumentative? Go to a NON-safe space. You can “debate” to your heart’s content there. And Non-safe-spaces are all over the internet and mostly in “real life” places, as well.

    Thanks, Ragen, for making this place a safe space.

  9. I seriously wish I could make my entire world completely free from ever training about dieting or weight loss. Like there was a way to mute those topics or something.

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