If You Would Bully Me, I Shouldn’t Exist?

fat-people-of-the-right-to-existIn a number of online conversations I’ve seen people who are selling weight loss (including organizations that lobby for the weight loss industry) suggest that the fact that fat people, including fat children, are bullied is a good reason for people to lose weight (and for congress to approve expansions on who is eligible for dangerous weight loss surgeries, and for the FDA to approve potentially deadly drugs.)

I’m not sure if I can even explain just how fucked up this is. Saying that “if fat people are bullied then they should become thin” is the ultimate vindication of the bullies.  What they are saying is that if people bully us, then we should try whatever the bullies deem necessary, including risking our lives, in an effort stop existing as fat people so that our bullies can be happy.

The problem isn’t that fat people exist, the problem is that fat people are shamed, stigmatized, bullied, and oppressed.  The problem is bullies and bullying, not their victims. The solution to bullying is for bullies not to bully, not for fat people to stop existing. Especially because it turns out that once you change to try to appease your bullies, you’ll likely find that they simply find something else to bully you about.

Of course people are allowed to try to manipulate their body size for whatever their personal reasons, but whenever you see someone say that other fat people should lose weight so they don’t get bullied,  I suggest you think (or perhaps say, or comment, or e-mail) That is Bullshit!  Fat people have the right to exist in fat bodies without shame, bullying, stigma, or oppression and it doesn’t matter why we’re fat, what being fat means, or whether it is possible for us to be thin.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support fat activism 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.

 

When Eating Becomes A Performance

will perform for food.pngI think that our current culture seriously messes a lot of us up around food and eating, and that goes for people of all sizes.  One of the places where I often notice the results of that mess is the way that we talk about food.  I’m not talking about the way that we talk about liking or not liking food, or letting someone know what food allergies, sensitivities, needs one has, I’m talking about the way that we perform around food when we eat with others or – especially at this time of year – post to social media.

Sit at a restaurant for 20 minutes and I can almost guarantee that you’ll hear some version of each of these (possibly triggering) phrases:

  • This is SO MUCH FOOD, there’s no way that I could eat it all!
  • I’m going to have to do two hours on the treadmill to make up for this cookie.
  • I skipped lunch so that I could eat here tonight.
  • I’ve been so good, so it’s ok for me to cheat and eat this.
  • I exercise because I like to eat!
  • I did an extra mile on the treadmill this morning, I deserve this!
  • This fits into [my weight loss diet] for [these reasons].

Scroll through your Facebook feed and I can almost guarantee that you’ll see pictures of food with statuses about how the person is being are “being good” on their low carb/paleo/weight watchers/low fat/ whatever diet, or how this person suddenly loves steamed kale so much that they don’t miss ice cream.

All of these things might be true and I’m not trying to tell people what they should/should not feel or do around their food.  The ideas of “earning” food through exercise, or why we make food a moral issue (sinful, guilt free etc.) is the topic for another post.  My question today is more about why we feel the need to talk about this out loud.

We make lots of personal decisions every day without talking about them out loud.  Many people, who would think nothing of saying or hearing any of the above phrases at a business meeting with a catered lunch, would never be comfortable in the same meeting hearing or saying “I kind of have to pee but I don’t have to go that badly so maybe I’ll finish this TPS report and then head to the bathroom.” or “I really have to poo but I’m hoping the bathroom will be empty so I’m going to wait until the meeting breaks up and people get off this floor.” (Some people might be very comfortable with these things and of course that’s totally ok, I’m looking more from a cultural perspective.)

I think that a lot of it is the way that our society placing value, even morality, on food – “sinful” dessert, “reduced guilt” crackers, eating “clean” – leads to us treating decisions around food as a public performance that justifies our choices often at the expense of (purposefully or inadvertently) shaming or triggering others others.

If I get a plate of food and I decide that it’s more than I want for whatever reason, that’s fine.  If I decide to vocalize that, I may inadvertently shame the person next to me who ordered that same plate of food and does intend to eat it all for whatever reason, and I add to a world where food decisions need to be justified and rationalized out loud and I’d rather not be a part of that.  Just like I don’t want to engage in negative body talk, I also don’t want to engage in negative food talk.  I want people to be free to make their own decisions about food for their own reasons without feeling like they need to justify those choices to anyone.

At the end of the day I think that since I never know what’s going on with the people around me  (lots of people are dealing with disordered eating and eating disorders, food sensitivities and allergies, health issues etc.), I would rather be safe than accidentally triggering or shaming.  So while I’m happy to talk about food – what I like, what food I don’t, recipes and preparations etc.,  I eat what I eat and I don’t need to justify it.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support fat activism 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.

Ridiculous Responses To Quitting Dieting

diet-roller-coasterOne of the ways that I practice Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size is to talk about my SA and HAES practices the same way other people talk about their diets.  When you announce that you are off the dieting roller coaster permanently, it is almost guaranteed that you will experience some truly ridiculous reactions.

Before I start, I want to point out that this post will discuss both Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size. These are not the same thing.  Size Acceptance is a civil rights movement that says that the rights to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and being treated with basic human respect should not be size dependent.  HAES is a paradigm for health (including healthcare, public health messaging, and personal health) that focuses on creating environments that support health and support people’s right to make choices for their health.  Size Acceptance, Fat Acceptance, and appreciating your body do not require “health” or “healthy behaviors” by any definition.

Finally, I asked for feedback on Facebook for this post and there are currently 102 comments on the thread.  I just want to thank everyone on that thread for a great conversation, some of which is paraphrased below:

So, let’s talk about some of the ridiculous response we get when we say things like “I don’t diet anymore.”

So you’re just going to eat junkfood all the time?

OMGWTFBBQ what is with people who literally think that there is nothing between “I’m starving my body to try to shrink it” and I eat junk food all the time. This is weight loss industry conditioning – the idea that there is no way of eating that is acceptable except one that is focused on manipulating our body size.  And it’s super very much totally bullshit.

Besides which, people are allowed to eat whatever they want – health (by any definition) is not an obligation, barometer of worthiness, entirely within our control, or guaranteed under any circumstances. We need to focus on making sure that people have access to the foods that they want to eat, rather than trying to police what other people are eating.

But you’ll get (insert illness and/or disability here.)

People of all sizes get sick and disabled.  It’s ableist, healthist, and fatphobic to use the chance of becoming sick or disabled as a way to enforce a stereotype of beauty or health. Knock that shit off.

It’s the same as someone just choosing to not take their medicine.

It’s really not.  Body size and illness are not the same thing. Attempting to manipulate your body size and taking medication for a health condition are not remotely the same thing.  That said, nobody is obligated to take medicine either.

But you’re not a doctor!

Doctors prescribed heroin as a cough suppressant. Doctors prescribed thalidomide for morning sickness. Doctors are subject to the biases of their time.  Doctors get it wrong all the time. That’s why I do my own research and make my own choices.

You’re telling people not to be healthy

We’re not telling people not to be anything.  We are making choices for our own bodies (choices that are based on plenty of research,) other people can do whatever they want, though I’ll point out that not dieting and not being healthy are not the same thing at all.

But how will you find someone to date you?

I will find someone who loves me for me and who does not only want someone who is the stereotype of beauty that has been shoved down their throat, or I will remain alone (better alone than in bad company.) As a bonus, since time will definitely change how I look, I will feel comfortable that I’m in a relationship with someone who is much more likely to be able to roll with that.

I know that if I tried that I would only eat chips and ice cream

I don’t think that’s true, I think you might do that for a while because your relationship with food may have been messed up by years of dieting, restriction and food moralization, but I think that once you got over that you would, with some self-work, develop a healthy relationship with food. But you make whatever choices you want to make as long as you realized that they have literally nothing to do with me.

Right – just focus on eating healthy and exercising and the weight will come off

Noooooo.  World of no. Galaxy of no.  Universe of damn no.  Body size is complicated and affected by a lot of things, some within our control and some outside of our control. People can have the exact same diet and exercise habits and have very different body sizes, and people can have very different diet and exercise habits and have the same body size.  HAES is NOT a weight loss scheme, some people get bigger, some people get smaller, some people stay the same.  The point is, we let our bodies settle where they settle and celebrate them at whatever size.

It’s ok as long as you’re healthy.

Nope.  There is no level of “unhealthy” (by whatever definition) that requires someone to diet or hate their body, and no reason to believe that either of those things will help them be healthier or happier.  This is bullshit

I knew someone fat and they had a lot of health problems (or, worse, I’m a healthcare practitioner and I treat people who have healthcare problems so I know what will happen to you…)

I knew someone thin who had a lot of health problems. By this logic I should stay fat for my health. I’m also brunette – do you know a brunette with health problems?  Should I dye my hair?  Stop with this.  If you are a doctor saying this totally illogical crap, you should know that you are in the company of Doctor Oz which should be enough to stop you from doing it.  If every fat person you see is sick, you should be aware that you have a sign on your door that says “sick people should come here.” I assume that the thin people you see are sick as well.

It’s the same as telling someone who is anorexic that they should keep starving themselves.

Nope.  Body size and disordered eating are two very different things.  In fact, the normalization of fat hate can actually prevent eating disorder recovery.

So you’re just giving up?

You bet, and I couldn’t be happier about it.  When I was a kid I wanted to be taller, but I gave up on that too, which is great since it means that I didn’t waste my life trying to do something that nobody could prove is possible for a reason that nobody could prove was valid.  This is a continuation of that theme.

You’re just glorifying obesity

I’m also short – am I glorifying being short?  Or am I maybe a short fat person choosing my best life.  The “glorifying obesity” myth leads to a harmful lack of fat role models, such that the only way we see ourselves represented is as self-loathing stereotypes.  Fuck that.

But what about your knees?

How are your bowel movements? Sorry – I thought we were asking each other random questions that are none of our business.  It’s possible that I’ll have knee problems – people of all sizes do.  The big problem that I see is that thin people with knee problems get actual treatment while fat people get lectures and diets that aren’t even likely to make us thinner, let alone help our knees. And if you think that being fat is a problem for my knees, let’s remember that the most common outcome of weight loss attempts is weight gain, so please quit giving people terrible advice about knee health.

Loving your body is fine, as long as you eat healthy and exercise

Nope. Loving your body is fine.  Period.  Then you get to make choices about food and exercise (choices that may be limited by things that are outside of your control.) There is no food or exercise requirement for loving your body.

So you’re saying every person of every size is healthy – even if they weigh [insert random number of pounds that seems like “a lot” to this person]

I feel like people who say this are being aggressively poor at basic comprehension.  There are healthy and unhealthy people of all sizes.  What HAES says is that people of all sizes can focus on choosing how to prioritize our health and the path to get there, without focusing on manipulating our body size. Health is not guaranteed to anyone of any size.

You have to try, otherwise you’re just saying it’s ok to be fat.

It is totally ok to be fat.

But my diet is ok – it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change. [It’s a lifestyle where you diet all the time.]  It’s totally great and you should try it or at least approve of it/applaud me for it.  I think it’s great for other people to love their bodies but I need vindication for my choice to try to manipulate my body size for [insert what this person thinks are very good reasons.]

HAES people are surrounded by dieters and people who constantly question our choices, but we’re able to be comfortable with making a different choice.  If you’re a dieter, you need to be able to be comfortable in your choice without trying to “sell” it to us, or hoping for our applause and agreement.  I agree that you can do whatever you want with your body and I support your right to do so, I do not agree to celebrate those choices, and I do not agree that you can talk about that stuff in SA and HAES spaces.

But sometimes dieting is the healthiest thing that you can do.

Totally, 100% disagree, and not just because it’s highly unlikely to make us thinner or healthier. I spent a lot of time dieting, and a lot of time researching dieting, and for me there is nothing healthy – mentally or physically – about it. You do what you think is best for you.

This is just an excuse to be lazy

I don’t need an excuse to be lazy. I can be lazy just because it’s Tuesday (as long as Dawn’s not in trouble… 10 points for getting the reference!)  People of all sizes are lazy to some degree or another at some time or another and that’s fine.

You’re just committing slow suicide

Someone on my FB wall said that people who say this should be “ejected into the sun” and I could not agree more.  By this definition literally everyone is committing slow suicide – it turns out that thinness doesn’t make us immortal and we’re all going to die no matter what we do.  None of us know how long we have to live, all we can do is choose what to do in the time we have.   The time I spent dieting felt far more like dying than the time I’ve spent practicing SA and HAES and if I’m wrong then I would absolutely take a shorter life of this than a longer life of that.

I’m 100% done with this dieting nonsense.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support fat activism 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.

 

Vegan Is Not The Opposite of Fat

vegan-and-fatNot satisfied with having had a hand in created the abomination that is The Biggest Loser, produce JD Roth has a new show:

“JD Roth’s new series The Big Fat Truth helps participants lose weight, fight diabetes, and attain a healthy lifestyle through whole foods, plant-based nutrition.”

Oh goody.

There is nothing wrong with being a vegan, for whatever one’s reasons are.  There is something wrong with acting like “vegan” is the opposite of “fat” or “diabetic” or “unhealthy.”

Why?  Because there are fat vegans.  There are vegans with diabetes. There are healthy and unhealthy vegans (no matter what definition one uses.)  I’m writing about this because a number of fat vegans, diabetic vegans, and “unhealthy” vegans”  have told me about how poorly they are often treated within the community because of the sizeism and healthism that exist in vegan community and are massively perpetuated by the marketing for this show.

Besides the fact that health and body size aren’t an obligation, barometer of worthiness, entirely within our control, or guaranteed under any circumstances, when someone suggests that being vegan will result in everyone being thin or “healthy” (and these are two separate things) they set up the people who are vegan and aren’t thin or “healthy” for the stigma and judgment that they somehow aren’t “doing it right.” And that’s bullshit.

There could be really cool shows about being vegan for those who are interested – with the understanding that this isn’t an option that is accessible to everyone, and that focusing on making sure that each person has access to the foods that they want to eat is the most important thing. But I do not trust someone who produced a show whose goal is to physically and mentally abuse fat people for profit to create a cool show about being vegan.  Especially since they’ve announced that one of the shows features former Biggest Loser contestants (as if the reason that they all gain their weight back is because they eat meat, and not because every bit of research tells us that regaining their weight is exactly what would happen.)

Anyone who conflates a way of eating with a body size, or a health status doesn’t know what they are talking about, and whatever they say (or put on the air) should be treated as highly suspect.

Edit:  For clarity:

The press that I read said “Vegan meal delivery service Kitchen Therapy will provide participants with vegan meals for the first 10 days of their journey, and their individual progress throughout the time period will be monitored by vegan medical professionals” So I believed it to be about a vegan diet. Others have pointed out that it may be about a Whole Foods Plant Based Diet, as Jennifer pointed out in the comments below:

But…whole foods, plant based is NOT vegan.

Vegans can eat anything that doesn’t contain an animal product. That includes Oreos and cans of chocolate frosting. Whole foods, plant based (wfpb) means you only eat WHOLE foods. Nothing processed, not even oils. It’s VERY different.

Comment note:  This is not the place to discuss the morality of veganism, or any other way of eating. It’s definitely an ok conversation to have, it’s just not a conversation to have in this space.  Any comments that moralize any way of eating over another will be deleted.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support fat activism 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 All This Diet Talk

diet-body-callAs a new year begins, so to begins a massive amount of diet and weight loss talk everywhere we turn.  Whether it’s commercials for diets, gyms offering free body fat testing, employers starting weight loss competitions,(that are a seriously terrible idea), or friends posting all over social media.  Here are some things that you can do to help get yourself through this:

Create a Mantra

I talk about this a lot, but I have found it to be invaluable.  Create a mantra that you use whenever you see diet or weight loss junk.  My personal mantra is “Hey, That’s Bullshit!” Other people have told me that they use phrases like “Nope, Nope, Nope” or “Hell to the no”  You can use whatever works for you.  The trick is to say it to yourself (or outloud, whatever works for you) every time you have to deal with weight loss/diet talk (radio commercials, magazines, billboards, food labels, social media, everywhere.) In my experience, after a while it becomes automatic and my brain helps me to ignore all that mess before I’m even conscious of it.

Remember What You Know

The diet industry is a bad ex who booty calls us every New Years, but we don’t have to answer that call.

Especially if you’re new to Size Acceptance and/or Health at Every Size, this can be a rough time of year. No matter how much you know about what the research says regarding the near total failure rate of intentional weight loss (whether they’re called “diets” or “lifestyle changes” or “eating plans” or something else,) no matter how many times we’ve personally ridden the diet roller coaster, or how hard we have had to work to get off the roller coaster and start appreciating the bodies we have, no matter how hard we work to overcome the fantasy of being thin and our addiction to diet culture, the weight loss (or, as it should be called, weight cycling) industry is extremely good at luring us back for “just one more try.”

Ask yourself (and the diet industry) these questions.

Consider these 10 reasons that I’ll never diet again.

Remember what you know, remember the road you traveled to get to this place, remember that the weight cycling industry makes billions of dollars a year – and that the number increases every year because their product does not work and their business plan depends on repeat business.

For Your Dieting Friends – Empathy and Options

Many of your friends and family are going to start weight loss attempts.  They are going to get tons of support and praise for doing that. Most of those people will lose weight short term, they are going to get tons of praise for that (including the kind of praise that lets them know that people were judging their former fat body.)  People are allowed to do whatever they want with their bodies, and I don’t want people people suggesting dieting to me, and try not to be a hypocrite, so if people don’t ask me for advice about dieting, I don’t give them advice. I try to just ignore the whole thing unless they bring it up, in which case I use these methods.

Even though I don’t comment, I’m well aware that almost all of those people are going to gain that weight back, and that because of all those well meaning pro-weightloss compliments, they’ll now have to deal with failing at their diet (perhaps not for the first time) and knowing exactly what negative views their friends and family think about their fat bodies.

So I prepare for that by trying to make sure that they know that they are worthy no matter what, by modeling SA and HAES, providing information about Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size in my own social media spaces, and talking about my personal SA and HAES practices in conversations where other people are discussing their diets, so that people know that there are options for loving their bodies, dealing with weight stigma, and choosing a path to health, that don’t have anything to do with their body size, or manipulating it.

Of course, unfriending/unfollowing is also an option.  You get to decide how you deal with this and any choice you make is valid.

Use Your Resources

Spend as much time as you need/want to in Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size spaces, read SA and HAES books, reach out to your friends who are part of SA and HAES to support you. Have gratitude for your amazing body and the fact that you found this community and, with it, a way to get off the diet roller coaster and stay off.

Here’s to another year of ass-kicking Size Acceptance and Fat Positivity!

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support fat activism 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.