The Tricky Argument That Dieting Makes People Fatter

Dieting and SuccessAs the whole Kurbo disaster has unfolded (in case you missed it, Weight Watchers – aka WW [insert eye roll here] decided that their best move was to harm children with a diet app which may or may not have anything to do with the fact that their shareholders filed a class-action lawsuit based in large part around their decrease in adult subscribers.)

Of the many, many (OMG so many) arguments that were made against the catastrophic atrocity, one that I saw a lot was that dieting is likely to make kids fatter than they would be otherwise. This is a tricky argument and I want to get into that today.

Now, when I talk about “dieting” I mean any intentional attempt to alter food intake and/or movement in order to decrease body size. Yes it counts as a diet even if someone calls it a “lifestyle change” (sure it is  – you change to a lifestyle where you diet all the time.)

First of all, based on the research it’s absolutely true. It turns out that one of the many negative effects of giving a body less food than it needs to survive in the hopes that it will eat itself and become smaller, is that the body’s famine defenses kick in and alter it to become a weight gaining, weight-maintaining machine.

Would the victims of diet culture have been smaller without their history of dieting? Maybe. What’s important is that a smaller body is not a better body – bodies come in lots of sizes for lots of reasons, and people of all sizes are fully worthy of respect.

And that’s the issue with this argument. Though it’s true that dieting is likely to leave people fatter than they were when they started, using that as an argument against dieting is inherently fatphobic since its core premise is still that we want to avoid people becoming fat/fatter.

That said, we live in a fatphobic society and dieting and the diet culture it creates have real negative consequences to physical and mental health, and so this argument can also be considered a harm reduction strategy. It can be seen as a drop of fatphbobia in the fatphobia bucket, but if it keeps a parent from putting their child on a diet for example, it may be worth it in a cost-benefit analysis.

There are things that we can do to improve this argument by the way that we frame it.

After I explain statistics around dieting and weight gain I’ll often say something like “so even if you believe that fat people would be healthier if we were thinner – and I don’t agree – dieting is still the worst possible advice you could give us.”

The truth is that there are actual health risks to dieting which I think are important to point out, saying something like “It’s not that weight gain is, in and of itself, the problem. The problem is that dieting changes a person’s physical and mental response to food and movement and can lead to health issues including everything from weight cycling to prompting an eating disorder,”

I most often use this argument when I’m speaking to healthcare providers about whether or not dieting meets the requirements of ethical, evidence-based medicine (spoiler alert – it doesn’t.) When I make this point, I try to always counter any fatphobia inherent in the argument by saying something like – “there’s nothing wrong with people being fat, but there is something wrong with giving a supposed medical intervention that has the opposite of the intended effect the majority of the time.” Or “I don’t think the evidence suggests that a larger body is a medical problem to be solved, but as long as HCPs are trying to treat weight loss as if it’s a medical intervention, then we have to talk about whether or not it meets the basic requirements of ethical, evidence-based medicine.” 

If we are using the argument as a harm-reduction strategy, we can try to remove some of the fatphboia by saying something like “The Kurbo app creates physical and mental health risks and, even if you believe that kids would be healthier if they were thinner, there’s no evidence that this app will any kid thinner or healthier. In fact, experts from multiple fields agree that this app will do great harm.

The fact that diets don’t work is an important thing to talk about – especially since they are sold to us a healthcare intervention (of course, being thinner and being healthier are two different things  and dieting almost never results in either.) Still, there are plenty of reasons to eschew dieting besides the fact that the most common outcome is weight gain, and the fact that this argument can add to fatphobia is something we can try to mitigate when we make it.

Was this post helpful? If you appreciate the work that I do, you can support my ability to do more of it with a one-time tip or by becoming a member. (Members get special deals on fat-positive stuff, a monthly e-mail keeping them up to date on the work their membership supports, and the ability to ask me questions that I answer in a members-only monthly Q&A Video!)

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Body Love Obstacle Course

This e-course that includes coaching videos, a study guide, and an ebook with the tools you need to create a rock-solid relationship with your body. Our relationships with our bodies don’t happen in a vacuum, so just learning to see our beauty isn’t going to cut it. The world throws obstacles in our way – obstacles that aren’t our fault, but become our problem. Over the course of this program, Ragen Chastain, Jeanette DePatie, and six incredible guest coaches will teach you practical, realistic, proven strategies to go above, around, and through the obstacles that the world puts in front of you when it comes to living an amazing life in the body you have now.
Price: $99.00
($79.00 for DancesWithFat members – register on the member page)

Wellness for All Bodies ProgramA simple, step-by-step, super efficient guide to setting and reaching your health goals from a weight-neutral perspective.  This program can be used by individuals, or by groups, including as a workplace wellness program!
Price: $25.00 ($10 for DancesWithFat members – register on the member page)

Love It! 234 Inspirations And Activities to Help You Love Your Body
This is filled with thoughtful advice from the authors Jeanette DePatie, Ragen Chastain, and Pia Sciavo-Campo as well as dozens of other notable names from the body love movement, the book is lovingly illustrated with diverse drawings from size-positive artist Toni Tails.
Price: $9.99 softcover, $7.99 Kindle, ($6.95 + free shipping for DancesWithFat Members)

Non-Members click here for all the details and to register!

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!  (DancesWithFat Members get an even better deal, make sure to make your purchases from the Members Page!)

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 (still!) 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fat-Positive Offline Spaces – Fatch at the Plus Bus

FatchOn Saturday Julianne and I headed to The Plus Bus Boutique in LA to watch Fatch, a fat sketch comedy troupe (fat + sketch = Fatch!) and the experience has me thinking a lot about offline fat community. (And I’m purposely saying offline rather than IRL because the idea that online community isn’t “in real life” is problematic, including being ableist.)

The Plus Bus has new, used, and vintage clothes and wares. As someone who has always been fat, I’ve certainly been in plenty of plus-size clothing stores. But it’s far rarer that I am in a clothing store that actually celebrates fat people – where fat positivity is just oozing out of every bit of the space – a store that creates an authentically empowering experience.

For once I didn’t feel like they were begrudgingly selling clothes in my size because they wanted my money. I didn’t have to worry that an underpaid and highly-pressured sales clerk was going to body-shame me to try to make a sale. Instead, every inch of this place and every second of the experience was created to feel like home.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that there was fat positivity everywhere. I walked into the bathroom and was blown away by the amazing amount of fat positive stuff that was on all the walls. (And I had a little freakout when I realized that one of the things was actually a card I created to help fat people at the doctor’s office. And then another fangirl freakout when I met Jen, the owner.) 

Then it was time for Fatch. I love comedy and Julianne and I go to a lot of shows. One of the things I’ve gotten used to is the onslaught of shitty, cheap fat jokes.  It’s pretty rare to get through a show without being the butt of deeply unfunny punch-down jokes.

And that’s what made this experience such a big deal – from the first moment to the last, the audience got comedy that was hilarious no matter what size they were. But for the fatties, we got to have our experiences reflected in comedy, rather than just existing as the butt of fat jokes. That is something that I find is far too rare, and with sketches about everything from the Nike plus-size mannequin debacle, to auditioning for “the fat friend” character, to Buffy the Fatphobe Slayer, they just nailed it.

I love connecting with fat community online. And there is nothing wrong with those who prefer online community. But it’s a damn tragedy that there are so many fat people who want fat-positive offline spaces but don’t have them –  either because those spaces don’t exist where they are, or because the spaces that do exist aren’t accessible to them. So I’m extra grateful to people like Jen at The Plus Bus and the fabulous fatties of Fatch for creating powerful offline fat positive community.

Want more DancesWithFat? If you appreciate the work that I do, you can support my ability to do more of it with a one-time tip or by becoming a member. (Members get special deals on fat-positive stuff, a monthly e-mail keeping them up to date on the work their membership supports, and the ability to ask me questions that I answer in a members-only monthly Q&A Video!)

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Body Love Obstacle Course

This e-course that includes coaching videos, a study guide, and an ebook with the tools you need to create a rock-solid relationship with your body. Our relationships with our bodies don’t happen in a vacuum, so just learning to see our beauty isn’t going to cut it. The world throws obstacles in our way – obstacles that aren’t our fault, but become our problem. Over the course of this program, Ragen Chastain, Jeanette DePatie, and six incredible guest coaches will teach you practical, realistic, proven strategies to go above, around, and through the obstacles that the world puts in front of you when it comes to living an amazing life in the body you have now.
Price: $99.00
($79.00 for DancesWithFat members – register on the member page)

Wellness for All Bodies ProgramA simple, step-by-step, super efficient guide to setting and reaching your health goals from a weight-neutral perspective.  This program can be used by individuals, or by groups, including as a workplace wellness program!
Price: $25.00 ($10 for DancesWithFat members – register on the member page)

Love It! 234 Inspirations And Activities to Help You Love Your Body
This is filled with thoughtful advice from the authors Jeanette DePatie, Ragen Chastain, and Pia Sciavo-Campo as well as dozens of other notable names from the body love movement, the book is lovingly illustrated with diverse drawings from size-positive artist Toni Tails.
Price: $9.99 softcover, $7.99 Kindle, ($6.95 + free shipping for DancesWithFat Members)

Non-Members click here for all the details and to register!

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!  (DancesWithFat Members get an even better deal, make sure to make your purchases from the Members Page!)

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 (still!) 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.

 

Victoria’s Secret Hires Anti-Fat Plus-Size Model

WTF are you doingFat people didn’t even fully get out our half-hearted this-is-still-hella-problematic cheer of Victoria’s Secret’s choice to (fricking finally) hire a plus-size model. Because the model they hired, Ali Tate Cutler, once hijacked a fat activist’s Facebook page to declare that fat people shouldn’t be allowed to live because we’re bad for the environment. I wrote about this in 2016, and I thought today would be a good day to revisit it (with thanks to Alysse Dalesandro for continue to fight the good fight on this!)

Alysse Dalessandro, a fashion and beauty writer, and designer for the brand Ready To Stare, posted an excellent article from Everyday Feminism called “11 Reasons Your ‘Concern’ for Fat People’s Health Isn’t Helping Anyone” on her personal Facebook page. Then a plus-size model and self-described “body Activist” named Ali Tate Cutler took it upon herself to demonstrate why the article from EF was necessary, and illustrate the cycle of fatphobia – fat bash (using “the science!”), non-apology/demand education/tone police, claim to be a victim.

It’s also an example of casual fat elimination, which is when people suggest, during the course of normal conversation, that it would be cool to eradicate fat people because they think that the world would be better in some way if we didn’t exist.

Step 1 –  Make an argument that sounds all “science-y” but is actually based on stereotypes, prejudices, and …rectal pull.  Ali has this step down pat

Sorry but I don’t care about people’s health who are fat, that’s their own prerogative and their own life to lead. They are free to make their own choices. I am a staunch feminist, followed by a close second environmentalist. While some people are genetically obese and are vegetarian, and eating relatively low carbon foot print foods, most obese people are not. I do care about the excessive amounts of carbon, nitrous oxide, and methane gases it takes to produce a large person; the amount of animals that have been killed; the amount of exploitation that is going on to create fat. That’s not even being mentioned. Being obese is simply bad for the environment, and in this day and age, we cannot afford that lack of empathy anymore.

First let’s clarify – if you missed her point (and it would be easy to do since it is a poor argument, very poorly made) she is suggesting that people whose weight in pounds times 703 divided by their height in inches squared is greater than 30 (aka obese people) shouldn’t be allowed to exist because of her assumptions about the amount of meat that we eat and the subsequent impact on the environment.

Ali is a plus-size model and self-described “body activist,” but she appears to be one of those people whose “body positivity” only expands far enough to include herself.  Just as her “body activism” is questionable, so is her “environmentalism” since it seems to include lashing out irrationally on other people’s Facebook pages using numbers that she makes up. Suggesting that size = amount of meat eaten is patently ridiculous, especially considering the popularity of the paleo diet.  Ali seems to know that there are fat vegetarians and fat vegans (and thus that you can’t tell how much meat someone eats based on their size)  but she’s not one to let facts get in the way of a good fat bashing.

Regardless of what you believe about fat people and our carbon footprint, any time someone like Ali suggests that it’s ok to take a group of people who are identifiable by sight, calculate (or, in Ali’s case, make completely random guesses about) their cost on society, and then suggest that they shouldn’t exist, they are going down a bad, bad road.

But it gets more hypocritical. Having spent some time looking at Ali’s social media she is very proud of the time that she spends flying around the world, apparently the expanded carbon footprint that requires is justified in her case because of the importance of Ali wearing clothes in many locations.  To be clear, I have no problem with Ali being a model traveling around the world to do it, I do have a problem with her throwing carbon stones from her carbon house.

Finally, in the “adding insult to injury” and “horrible irony” categories, the winner is…Ali’s use of the phrase “lack of empathy.”

Step 2 – Issue a Non-Apology, demand education, and tone police

Like so many before her, Ali seems to suffer from NAS (Non-Apology Syndrome.) So, after seeming to be super surprised that people didn’t jump on her “stereotype the fatties for the environment” bandwagon and instead insisted that she stop saying ignorant shit and educate herself, she issued the kind of non-apology that  far  too  often follows this kind of fat-shaming. This is better than some, but still fails at the core goal of apologizing  for doing something wrong:

I wrote a comment on @readytostare instagram about obesity and its relationship to over consumption. I was coming at this from an environmental viewpoint. After reading some of the viewpoints and comments on the thread, I can totally understand how my comments came off rude, coarse, and inappropriate. And definitely not the truth for many people. I didn’t want to offend ANYONE and I’m so sorry that I did. I hope you can forgive my poorly written comments.

Except the problem isn’t that what she said “came off” rude, coarse, and inappropriate it’s that they, in fact, WERE rude, coarse, and inappropriate. And the problem isn’t that people were offended, it’s that she stereotyped fat people allowing ourselves to exist in the world constitutes a lack of empathy on our part.  Finally, the problem isn’t that the comments were “poorly written” it’s that they were inaccurate, bigoted, and suggested that fat people shouldn’t exist.

At this point Alysse said on Facebook

From the emails she has continued to send me, I’m clear that she’s not open to understanding how what she said was wrong, she just doesn’t want people to be mad at her.

Ali doubled down with a note telling Alysse how she should have responded:

This is Ali Tate. Thought I should write you about our interaction on Facebook. I’m really, I didn’t meant to offend you! I’m a body positive activist as well, and am passionate about talking and learning about these things.

But I don’t think I warranted a “fuck you” on Facebook. If I am wrong and wrote a false claim please, by all means, tell me why it is wrong and engage in rational discussion? The last thing I meant was to offend, just a good conversation. Anyways, hope you could unblock me and we can Converse about it.

Let’s give her the benefit of the doubt and assume that in the third sentence she actually meant to say “I’m sorry.” This is still not ok.  First of all, bigots don’t get to control both sides of the conversation. This (all too common) technique of fat-shaming and then telling fat people how they should respond to your bullshit, is bullshit.

Also, you have to come from a particular combination of privilege, bigotry, and ignorance to think that you can suggest that people shouldn’t exist, and call it “just a good conversation.”  There is no way to have a “good conversation” about whether or not fat people should be eradicated. There is no way to have a “good conversation” about whether fat people have the right to exist.  Nobody has the right to require fat people to debate them for our lives.

Step 3 – Claim to be the Victim

At this point Ali posted to her own Facebook

Wow. Now I really know what it feels like to be cyber bullied. It’s rough guys. Hope no one has to go through this.

Sorry Ali, my tiny violin is in the shop. This is another common tactic of bullies – engage in bullying behavior and then accuse those who stand up to them of being the bullies, using claiming victim status as their exit strategy from the situation. This also makes it clear that Ali has never actually been the victim of cyberbullying and I hope that continues for her, because it is horrible.

Let’s examine the situation:  Ali, a plus-size model and “body activist,” voluntarily went onto the Facebook page of a fat activist, on a thread about why concern trolling fat people is not ok, and hijacked the space and the thread to concern troll fat people – stereotyping us and calling our existence “empathy” that the world “cannot afford.”  Ali is the problem here, and so is the idea that people who stand up to oppression are bullies.  Many people have offered to educate her so I’m not going to spend my time and energy on it, but I sincerely hope that she educates herself, or at the very least keeps her stereotyping and fat bashing to herself.

In the words of Alysse (who was kind enough to give me permission to write about this and answer my questions)

I initially had blocked Ali from seeing the post because I didn’t want to cause any trauma to her because I knew I couldn’t control how people would respond but then I decided then that blocking her wouldn’t give her a chance to respond either. It was a difficult situation for both me and her. I believed that she should be held accountable for what she said about the community that both employs her and that she claims to advocate for. I hoped that the experience would educate and multiple people who I consider to be strong body advocates have come forth and offered to educate her. I hope she takes them up on that.

Ali seems like the perfect plus-size model for a company whose Chief Marketing Officer said “We attempted to do a television special for plus-sizes [in 2000]. No one had any interest in it, still don’t.”

Until I see a real apology, all I know is that Ali and Victoria’s Secret both hate fat people – but still want our money. To go along with our discussion of raising our standards, it’s sad to think that it would actually be raising the bar to require that those who make their money from us not simultaneously call for our eradication, but here we are.

Was this post helpful? If you appreciate the work that I do, you can support my ability to do more of it with a one-time tip or by becoming a member. (Members get special deals on fat-positive stuff, a monthly e-mail keeping them up to date on the work their membership supports, and the ability to ask me questions that I answer in a members-only monthly Q&A Video!)

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Body Love Obstacle Course

This e-course that includes coaching videos, a study guide, and an ebook with the tools you need to create a rock-solid relationship with your body. Our relationships with our bodies don’t happen in a vacuum, so just learning to see our beauty isn’t going to cut it. The world throws obstacles in our way – obstacles that aren’t our fault, but become our problem. Over the course of this program, Ragen Chastain, Jeanette DePatie, and six incredible guest coaches will teach you practical, realistic, proven strategies to go above, around, and through the obstacles that the world puts in front of you when it comes to living an amazing life in the body you have now.
Price: $99.00
($79.00 for DancesWithFat members – register on the member page)

Wellness for All Bodies ProgramA simple, step-by-step, super efficient guide to setting and reaching your health goals from a weight-neutral perspective.  This program can be used by individuals, or by groups, including as a workplace wellness program!
Price: $25.00 ($10 for DancesWithFat members – register on the member page)

Love It! 234 Inspirations And Activities to Help You Love Your Body
This is filled with thoughtful advice from the authors Jeanette DePatie, Ragen Chastain, and Pia Sciavo-Campo as well as dozens of other notable names from the body love movement, the book is lovingly illustrated with diverse drawings from size-positive artist Toni Tails.
Price: $9.99 softcover, $7.99 Kindle, ($6.95 + free shipping for DancesWithFat Members)

Non-Members click here for all the details and to register!

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!  (DancesWithFat Members get an even better deal, make sure to make your purchases from the Members Page!)

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 (still!) 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.

 

 

 

Higher Standards – The Next Frontier of Fat Activism?

don't want to stigmatize (1)Fat people are taught early and often that we should have low standards, and low expectations. We’re supposed to be ok with a limited selection of clothes that are much more expensive than what thin people can get. We’re supposed to be happy that anyone would hire us over a less-qualified but thinner applicant, and not complain that we’re being paid $19,000 less. We’re supposed to date anyone who will have us, and put up with their fat-shaming bullshit. We’re supposed to accept that many of the people we call fat acceptance “allies” still actively advocate for a world that doesn’t have any fat people in it. It’s that last one that I want to focus on today.

Let’s start with this – I’m not trying to tell anyone how to live. People are allowed to decide that something (however small) is better than nothing. People are allowed to decide that “better alone than in fatphobic company” is not the adage that they want to live by.

When it comes to fat acceptance community, I’m ready for more. I’m ready for better. I believe that if we want to make progress as a movement we need to start having higher standards, and stop spending so much time being apologists for people who are perpetuating messages that harm us, just because the messages could, conceivably, be worse.

I wrote about the issues with James Corden’s recent problematic response to Bill Maher here. To me the worst part of it wasn’t the clips of Maher shamelessly calling for the bullying of fat people, because Bill Maher is a fatphobic bully and that’s what fatphobic bullies do.

The hardest part for me was seeing a fat person who was supposedly “refuting” Bill Maher’s fatphobia actively buy into and perpetuate almost every single premise of Maher’s argument, punctuating it with cheap fat jokes.  It was seeing a fat person, deeply entrenched in internalized fatphobia, say that Bill’s heart was in the right place, that fat people are indeed an epidemic and a problem to be solved. The hardest part was watching a fat person use internalized oppression to perpetuate weight stigma, with fat people cheering him on.

Before we get too far into this, we need to talk about privilege. As someone with a number of privileges including being white, currently able-bodied and neurotypical, I’m talking to people here with similar or more privilege than I have.

Also, my work stands on the shoulders of so many who came before me and have made progress, partly by making these concessions – which is what they had to do to make progress in the culture they were dealing with. I am forever grateful and in their debt for the progress those pioneers made, and continue to make (and I’ve done it too, both as a fat activist and, in particular, as a queer activist in from the mid 90’s in Texas, I made concessions and compromises that I would never make now.) This is not a criticism of the past.

Civil rights movements are a progression, the Fat Acceptance movement is no different, and friends, I think it’s time for us to progress. Especially when it comes to our expectations of those who speak for us or call themselves our allies.

I think it’s time to be clear that someone with a message that amounts to “I don’t want to stigmatize fat people, I just want to eradicate them from the Earth and prevent any more from existing” is not remotely fat positive, and is anything but an ally. With friends who want to eradicate you, who needs enemies?

I know it may be difficult to think about upsetting people – even if they are just people  who want to eradicate us but in a non-stigmatizing way, or upsetting celebrities who are still chanting “body positivity” while cashing checks from weight loss companies, or asking that people do their own work around their internalized fatphobia before going on National Television and speaking for fat people. But hear me out – what if this wishy-washiness, this willingness to call basically anything that isn’t abject oppression “allyship” helped us in the past, but is now what’s holding us back?

What if we started actively, intentionally, pushing the line of acceptable treatment far away from “eradication but with a little less bullying” and toward “total, unequivocal affirmation?”  (Always understanding that while this has become our problem, it was never our fault. That fat people were never the problem – weight stigma, fatphobia, diet culture, and their minions are.) What if, instead of encouraging each other to be more tolerant of the messages that perpetuate our oppression, we encouraged each other to raise our expectations and raise our standards.

What if?

Was this post helpful? If you appreciate the work that I do, you can support my ability to do more of it with a one-time tip or by becoming a member. (Members get special deals on fat-positive stuff, a monthly e-mail keeping them up to date on the work their membership supports, and the ability to ask me questions that I answer in a members-only monthly Q&A Video!)

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Body Love Obstacle Course

This e-course that includes coaching videos, a study guide, and an ebook with the tools you need to create a rock-solid relationship with your body. Our relationships with our bodies don’t happen in a vacuum, so just learning to see our beauty isn’t going to cut it. The world throws obstacles in our way – obstacles that aren’t our fault, but become our problem. Over the course of this program, Ragen Chastain, Jeanette DePatie, and six incredible guest coaches will teach you practical, realistic, proven strategies to go above, around, and through the obstacles that the world puts in front of you when it comes to living an amazing life in the body you have now.
Price: $99.00 ($79.00 for DancesWithFat members – register on the member page)

Wellness for All Bodies ProgramA simple, step-by-step, super efficient guide to setting and reaching your health goals from a weight-neutral perspective.  This program can be used by individuals, or by groups, including as a workplace wellness program!
Price: $25.00 ($10 for DancesWithFat members – register on the member page)

Love It! 234 Inspirations And Activities to Help You Love Your Body
This is filled with thoughtful advice from the authors Jeanette DePatie, Ragen Chastain, and Pia Sciavo-Campo as well as dozens of other notable names from the body love movement, the book is lovingly illustrated with diverse drawings from size-positive artist Toni Tails.
Price: $9.99 softcover, $7.99 Kindle, ($6.95 + free shipping for DancesWithFat Members)

Non-Members click here for all the details and to register!

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!  (DancesWithFat Members get an even better deal, make sure to make your purchases from the Members Page!)

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 (still!) 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 You’re Stuck In A Room With A Fatphobe

Fat People Not Obligated (1)This post was inspired by the amazing Naomi Finklestein, an anti-diet coach at Redefining Wellness, She recently found herself in the position that plenty of us have found ourselves in – being at an event where you are the only fat person or the obviously fattest person in the room, and the speaker is a fatphobe. Naomi started a discussion in the group about how people choose to deal with this.

There were lots of great suggestions about making it an activism opportunity and educating the speaker, and of course that’s always an option in these situations, but there’s something that I think is important to remember when we find ourselves dealing with someone who is perpetuating weight stigma (and thereby harming us,) and that’s this:

However you decide to handle this is completely valid. You are not obligated to do any activism or education. You are not obligated to center the feelings or education of people who are buying into and perpetuating your oppression, you are not obligated to give them the benefit of the doubt. You are allowed to choose to do whatever it takes to make this as easy on yourself as possible given the situation.

This should never have happened, you should never be in this situation. You are not, and will never be, the problem in this situation. The problem is 100% fatphobes and their choice to perpetuate diet culture and fatphobia, and others choosing to buy into it and perpetuate it themselves. You can choose how you want to deal with this and then change your mind – day to day (or minute to minute) You are amazing and valuable and wonderful and worthy. Fuck diet culture, fuck fatphobia, fuck fatphobia’s minions.

Was this post helpful? If you appreciate the work that I do, you can support my ability to do more of it with a one-time tip or by becoming a member. (Members get special deals on fat-positive stuff, a monthly e-mail keeping them up to date on the work their membership supports, and the ability to ask me questions that I answer in a members-only monthly Q&A Video!)

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Body Love Obstacle Course

This e-course that includes coaching videos, a study guide, and an ebook with the tools you need to create a rock-solid relationship with your body. Our relationships with our bodies don’t happen in a vacuum, so just learning to see our beauty isn’t going to cut it. The world throws obstacles in our way – obstacles that aren’t our fault, but become our problem. Over the course of this program, Ragen Chastain, Jeanette DePatie, and six incredible guest coaches will teach you practical, realistic, proven strategies to go above, around, and through the obstacles that the world puts in front of you when it comes to living an amazing life in the body you have now.
Price: $99.00 ($79.00 for DancesWithFat members – register on the member page)

Wellness for All Bodies ProgramA simple, step-by-step, super efficient guide to setting and reaching your health goals from a weight-neutral perspective.  This program can be used by individuals, or by groups, including as a workplace wellness program!
Price: $25.00 ($10 for DancesWithFat members – register on the member page)

Love It! 234 Inspirations And Activities to Help You Love Your Body
This is filled with thoughtful advice from the authors Jeanette DePatie, Ragen Chastain, and Pia Sciavo-Campo as well as dozens of other notable names from the body love movement, the book is lovingly illustrated with diverse drawings from size-positive artist Toni Tails.
Price: $9.99 softcover, $7.99 Kindle, ($6.95 + free shipping for DancesWithFat Members)

Non-Members click here for all the details and to register!

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!  (DancesWithFat Members get an even better deal, make sure to make your purchases from the Members Page!)

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 (still!) 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.

 

 

Dressing Doesn’t Ruin Salad (Unless You Don’t Like the Dressing!)

can't ruin a saladThis has come up in several conversations lately, so I thought it was a good time to update and repost this. Trigger warning: I’m going to write about food, and about diet culture messages about food.

I was talking with a friend about vegetables, specifically that she believed that eating them would support her health, but she was still struggling with eating them. Before we go farther, the usual disclaimers apply – health is not an obligation, barometer of worthiness, entirely within our control, or guaranteed no matter what we do. The field of nutrition is ever-changing and we don’t know more than we know.  We each get to prioritize our health and choose the path we want to get there and those choices can be limited by things like socioeconomics, access and more. Finally, even if vegetables were absolutely proven to make us immortal, we still wouldn’t be obligated to eat them.

So she asked me how I get vegetables and I said that one way was salads because I like them and they are fast and easy for me to prepare.  She said that she likes salads but there’s no point in eating them because she only likes them with dressing.

And that, y’all, is how the diet culture messes us up. In talking with other people who’ve recovered from diet culture, this kind of mentality was a big obstacle to overcome.  The diet world tells us that nothing is ever enough unless it’s the “absolute healthiest” (by which they actually mean the most diet-culture compliant) and that we should sacrifice anything and everything without complaint for the chance of becoming thin.

It is in this way that a meal with chicken, roasted root vegetables, salad, and a brownie becomes a minefield. Is that white meat?  Was that chicken cooked with the skin on?  It wasn’t cooked with added fat was it?  Were the vegetables roasted in olive oil? Is it possible to just get them steamed? With no salt? Is that cheese on that salad? Oh god is that ranch dressing?!  Do you have some red wine vinegar and Mrs. Dash?  And do you have some fruit instead of the brownie, actually the fruit probably has too much sugar.  And on, and on, and on.

I’m not interested in telling anybody else what to eat.  I am interested in examining the messages that we get around food from diet culture and the way that those messages affect us.  Going back to my original conversation with my friend, she had bought into the idea that you “ruin a salad” with dressing.  In truth, vegetables have value that is not “ruined” or reduced by adding dressing to them – maybe you just felt like eating a salad, you’re still getting that. Maybe you wanted the nutrition in the vegetables, you’re still getting that (and possibly more than without dressing if your salad contains fat-soluble vitamins,) maybe you wanted roughage, you’re still getting that.

I think we would all be in a much better place in our relationships with food if we weren’t told that health is easily definable, “all or nothing,” and always about “the absolute healthiest” (aka absolute most diet-industry compliant) thing. I think we’d be better off if we looked at our relationship with food as a series of choices made for various reasons that are personal and nobody’s business but our own (and those we choose to include.) I think we’d be better off if we stopped confusing the concepts of health/healthy (which are problematic as it is) with weight/weightloss.  It’s not the dressing that’s ruining our salads, it’s the messed up diet industry messages around food.

Was this post helpful? If you appreciate the work that I do, you can support my ability to do more of it with a one-time tip or by becoming a member. (Members get special deals on fat-positive stuff, a monthly e-mail keeping them up to date on the work their membership supports, and the ability to ask me questions that I answer in a members-only monthly Q&A Video!)

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Body Love Obstacle Course

This e-course that includes coaching videos, a study guide, and an ebook with the tools you need to create a rock-solid relationship with your body. Our relationships with our bodies don’t happen in a vacuum, so just learning to see our beauty isn’t going to cut it. The world throws obstacles in our way – obstacles that aren’t our fault, but become our problem. Over the course of this program, Ragen Chastain, Jeanette DePatie, and six incredible guest coaches will teach you practical, realistic, proven strategies to go above, around, and through the obstacles that the world puts in front of you when it comes to living an amazing life in the body you have now.
Price: $99.00 ($79.00 for DancesWithFat members – register on the member page)

Wellness for All Bodies ProgramA simple, step-by-step, super efficient guide to setting and reaching your health goals from a weight-neutral perspective.  This program can be used by individuals, or by groups, including as a workplace wellness program!
Price: $25.00 ($10 for DancesWithFat members – register on the member page)

Love It! 234 Inspirations And Activities to Help You Love Your Body
This is filled with thoughtful advice from the authors Jeanette DePatie, Ragen Chastain, and Pia Sciavo-Campo as well as dozens of other notable names from the body love movement, the book is lovingly illustrated with diverse drawings from size-positive artist Toni Tails.
Price: $9.99 softcover, $7.99 Kindle, ($6.95 + free shipping for DancesWithFat Members)

Non-Members click here for all the details and to register!

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!  (DancesWithFat Members get an even better deal, make sure to make your purchases from the Members Page!)

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 (still!) 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.

 

An Open Letter To James Corden From A Fellow Fat Person

James CordenHi James, or maybe you’d prefer Mr. Corden? Can we talk about your response to Bill Maher?

Actually, before I get into that, I want to say that I’m a fan of your work. I have watched your Tony openings repeatedly, crying as you sang “You could be in this show…” thinking of all the little fat kids who were getting this message from someone who looks like them for the very first time. You are incredibly talented, and you’ve done amazing work around representation for fat people. I have no idea what the emotional/psychological cost of that might have been for you, and I appreciate it.

I don’t agree with you that Bill Maher’s heart was in the right place when he used his considerable platform to try to convince as many people as possible that they should bully fat people. I wouldn’t bet the farm that he even has a heart, but he certainly has an ego and he is happy to feed it by bullying any group he thinks he can get away with and, really, I’m just surprised it took him this long to get to us.

I do think your heart is in the right place, which is why, despite making some good points and being well meaning, your response ended up hurting me far more than Bill’s fatphobic yammering  because I felt that in your response you, a fellow fat person, basically bought into and reinforced every single one of Bill’s negative premises about fat people, and punctuated them with stereotypical fat jokes.

It’s understandable. We all live in a world that is chock full o’ fatphobia and diet culture, we are ceaselessly bombarded with the idea that being fat is bad and automatically unhealthy, that fat people just existing in the world constitutes some kind of “epidemic,” and that jokes based on stereotypes about fat people are hilarious.

This culture has consequences – fat people are hired less and paid less than thin people, we are given suboptimal healthcare by doctors who prescribe diets for everything from strep throat to severed limbs, we have higher rates of bullying, self-harm, and suicide. And that’s not hilarious. We’re all steeped in this culture and, as fat people, it’s easy to internalize that and start believing the negative press about us (press, I might add, that makes the diet industry $60 billion a year.)

Plus, I know that the entertainment industry is absolutely steeped in fatphobia and I imagine that one of ways fat people in the industry deal with it and succeed in spite of it, as you have, is to join in with self-deprecating humor.

But here’s the thing: Fat-shaming directed at ourselves is still fat-shaming. A fat person repeating and reinforcing stereotypes about fat people, food, and exercise, is still fat-shaming. Repeating the idea that being fat is bad, and that fat people’s existence is a problem to be solved is still fat-shaming, even when a fat person is the one saying it.

Saying “fat people should be eradicated from the Earth, but let’s try not to stigmatize them while we do it” is better than nothing, but not by much.

Suggesting that people shouldn’t fat-shame us because it won’t make us thin ends up backfiring terribly, because it suggests that if someone believes – as many fatphobes do – that fat-shaming does make fat people thinner, then it’s all systems go for fat-shaming! And that’s bullshit. First of all, because bullying results in negative health and wellbeing regardless of body size. But more to the point, even if someone sincerely believes that bullying fat people will make us immortal it still wouldn’t be acceptable behavior. Bullying is always wrong, even if it causes the victim to temporarily change in the hopes that it will stop their abuse.

As a speaker, writer, and fathlete focused on Fat Acceptance and Health at Every Size, I just want people to have information and options. Too many people pursue dieting because they think it’s the only path to health, so I let people know that, understanding that health is not an obligation, a barometer of worthiness, or entirely within our control, the truth is that dieting fails almost all the time, and most of the time results in long-term weight gain (the experience you talk about having with dieting is the same experience nearly everyone has with dieting – we lose weight short term, and then – no matter what we do – we gain it back in 2-5 years, often gaining back more than we lost. Lather, Rinse, Repeat.)

Dieting does not meet the criteria for ethical, evidence-based medicine. But as studies like Matheson et. al, Wei et. al., and the Cooper Institute Longitudinal Studies show us, focusing on our actual health, and allowing our bodies to settle at whatever weight they settle, is a far more evidence-based health practice than trying to feed our bodies less food than they need in the hopes that they’ll eat themselves and become smaller, and that somehow the result will be improved health.

Too many fat people hate their bodies because they don’t know they have any other choice, so I try to make sure fat people know that instead of trying to change our bodies to appease our bullies – essentially giving the bullies our lunch money and hoping they stop beating us up – instead of joining our bullies in shaming and hating our bodies, we can say “enough,” and we can say “I want a world without fat-shaming, and I’m going to create it, starting with myself.”

Just waking up in a fat body and not hating ourselves is an act of revolution in this culture, so imagine what happens when we stop apologizing for existing, stop thanking concern trolls for mistreating us “for our own good,”  and instead give our bodies our full-throated support, and pursue our dreams in the bodies we have – with no self-deprecation, no fat jokes, no apologies.

There’s a whole community of us – we are gaining people and power. Tomorrow they’ll be more of us. And James, I hope you’ll join us.

Of course, you don’t have to agree with me. And regardless of what the research says, or what harm it may do (and whether or not we ever battle about it on Drop the Mic…) you are allowed to keep buying into diet culture and trying to manipulate your body size – that’s your right. You are allowed to continue to think that being fat is a problem to be solved, or to keep making jokes that reinforce stereotypes about fat people. But if you want to make an argument against fat-shaming in the future, I hope you will consider this one:

Fat-shaming is wrong, full stop. Fat people have a right to exist without shame, stigma, bullying, or oppression, period — no exceptions.

Thanks for reading.

Was this post helpful? If you appreciate the work that I do, you can support my ability to do more of it with a one-time tip or by becoming a member. (Members get special deals on fat-positive stuff, a monthly e-mail keeping them up to date on the work their membership supports, and the ability to ask me questions that I answer in a members-only monthly Q&A Video!)

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Body Love Obstacle Course

This e-course that includes coaching videos, a study guide, and an ebook with the tools you need to create a rock-solid relationship with your body. Our relationships with our bodies don’t happen in a vacuum, so just learning to see our beauty isn’t going to cut it. The world throws obstacles in our way – obstacles that aren’t our fault, but become our problem. Over the course of this program, Ragen Chastain, Jeanette DePatie, and six incredible guest coaches will teach you practical, realistic, proven strategies to go above, around, and through the obstacles that the world puts in front of you when it comes to living an amazing life in the body you have now.
Price: $99.00 ($79.00 for DancesWithFat members – register on the member page)

Wellness for All Bodies ProgramA simple, step-by-step, super efficient guide to setting and reaching your health goals from a weight-neutral perspective.  This program can be used by individuals, or by groups, including as a workplace wellness program!
Price: $25.00 ($10 for DancesWithFat members – register on the member page)

Love It! 234 Inspirations And Activities to Help You Love Your Body
This is filled with thoughtful advice from the authors Jeanette DePatie, Ragen Chastain, and Pia Sciavo-Campo as well as dozens of other notable names from the body love movement, the book is lovingly illustrated with diverse drawings from size-positive artist Toni Tails.
Price: $9.99 softcover, $7.99 Kindle, ($6.95 + free shipping for DancesWithFat Members)

Non-Members click here for all the details and to register!

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!  (DancesWithFat Members get an even better deal, make sure to make your purchases from the Members Page!)

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 (still!) training for an IRONMAN! You can follow my journey at www.IronFat.com or on Instagram.

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