Jillian Michaels Continues To Be A Horrible Human Being, This Time Dragging Lizzo Into It

Lizzo is a HeroLizzo is an incredibly talented person  – a singer/songwriter who, at her concerts, sings, dances, and plays the flute. She killed it on Saturday Night Live. She writes and performs songs that inspire, and holds the line for body love at any size in the media including social media. And she does all of this at great personal expense as she is the victim of incessant racist and fatphobic bullying. Lizzo is a fucking hero.

Jillian Michaels is a professional bully who became rich and famous by mentally and physically abusing fat people for money on an abomination of a show on which she once starred. And I say “once starred” because she got booted off (and sued repeatedly for selling dangerous diet supplements) and since then she has been clawing to get back up in the public eye. And today, she decided to do that by trying to step on Lizzo.

Jillian was on a digital talk show called “AM to DM” and the host mentioned that she was excited about stars like Lizzo who are showing bodies that we don’t often get to celebrate. Jillian jumped in, saying “Why are we celebrating her body? Why does it matter? Why aren’t we celebrating her music? ‘Cause it isn’t gonna be awesome if she gets diabetes.”

Ok, Type 2 diabetes (which is the type that Jillian is talking about, even though she is not informed enough to be clear about that) is an illness that people of all sizes get, it’s not anybody’s fault if they get it, and there’s no shame in it. There is, at most, a complicated and not-at-all direct relationship between Type 2 Diabetes and weight. There is a major genetic component, many health conditions that can cause diabetes can also cause weight gain, some diabetes medications can cause weight gain, and certain diets – recommended for weight loss – can increase the risks of diabetes, just to name a few.

None of that really matters in this situation though, because adding healthism to your fatphobia does not improve the situation. And if Jillian is so fucking worried about diabetes why isn’t she using her platform to push the pharmaceutical industry to stop letting diabetics die because they’ve decided that making even more profits on medications for diabetes is far more important than the lives of people with diabetes.

Spoiler alert – it’s because Jillian doesn’t give a shit about diabetes, or fat people’s health. And her actions prove that. But don’t take my word for it, here’s Kai Hibbard, one of the people harmed by the abomination of a show on which Jillian once starred.

Kai Hibbard Tweet
Kai Hibbard (She/Her) @Kai Hibbard Hey, remember that fatphobic shit TV show you we were on that taught me how to dehydrate to manipulate a scale, workout in excess of 8 hours a day, believe coffee counted as a meal and starve myself? You don’t seem too worried about my health.

But Jillian wasn’t satisfied with blending fatphobia, healthism, and concern trolling. She actually tried to make herself the victim in the situation bemoaning “Why is it my job to care about her weight?”

Newflash Jillian: IT FUCKING ISN’T YOUR JOB. LITERALLY NOBODY ASKED YOU!

So we have Jillian jumping on her first opportunity to fat-shame Lizzo, then trying to make herself into the victim for doing it, but of course she wasn’t done.

Lizzo’s fans were not having this bullshit and they began giving Jillian exactly what she deserved.  And of course, we shouldn’t ignore the fact that a white woman criticizing the body of a Black woman is part of a long and horrible history of racism. Black women’s bodies should never be within the purview of white women.

But Jillian, overjoyed for the attention she desperately craves and doesn’t deserve because she has no real talent other than being a bully and an abuser, couldn’t help going back for a second serving. So she proudly said:

“As I’ve stated repeatedly, we are all beautiful, worthy and equally deserving. I also feel strongly that we love ourselves enough to acknowledge there are serious health consequences that come with obesity – heart disease, diabetes, cancer to name only a few. I would never wish these for ANYONE and I would hope we prioritize our health because we LOVE ourselves and our bodies.”

This is chock full o’ bullshit. We are allowed to love ourselves and our bodies in any way that we decide. Health, by any definition, is not an obligation, barometer of worthiness, or entirely within our control. It’s ok to be fat, period. But this is Jillian’s new thing as she tries to glamorize bullying – it’s also classic gaslighting and part of the cycle of an abuser.

In truth you either think everyone is beautiful, worthy, and deserving (in which case you’re a decent person, congrats,) or you think that only people who you don’t believe might have or get health problems are beautiful, worthy, and deserving (in which case you’re a healthist asshole, no congrats.) In Jillian’s case, she seems fine with the health problems that may develop from, for example, extreme dieting, so all this healthism is really just a smokescreen for the fatphobia that has been her source of income and fame for so long. The truth is that if fat people stop hating themselves and believing that they deserve abuse, then Jillian is completely out of a job (which would, obviously, be fantastic on all counts.) 

This makes me want to punch Jillian Michaels in the face repeatedly while saying “I’ve always said that violence is wrong for all of us. But we can’t overlook the fact that punching Jillian in the face might help her be a better person and less of a smug fat-hating piece of shit, and while I wouldn’t wish repeated face punching on ANYONE, we have to love her enough to prioritize her personal growth.”

Of course, I’m not going to do that, because Jillian Michaels isn’t worth crossing the street for, let alone going to jail for, but it’s a nice dream.

In conclusion, fuck Jillian Michaels and her bullying, abusing tactics. Lizzo forever!

Was this 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 bonus content, 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, and special deals on fat-positive stuff!)

UPCOMING APPEARANCE!

I’ll be doing a stand-up comedy set as a guest performer at the Fatch – the Fat Sketch Comedy Group’s New Year, Same You show on January 10th at 9pm at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater on Sunset in Los Angeles. Tickets and info can be found here (Accessibility info: there is a fat-friendly bench in the front, the rest of the seating is stadium theater seats with arms up at least one step. The venue is wheelchair accessible, but there is limited space for wheelchairs.)

In case you missed it, my adorable dog and I have a poem to help you resolve (for the first time, or again) to ditch diets. I’m having fun doing videos like this so there will definitely be more – if you want to make sure not to miss future videos, you can subscribe to my YouTube channel!

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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)

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)

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 IRON-distance 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 Iron-distance triathlon! 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.

 

 

All Fired Up About Bad Weight Loss Research with Louise Adams

Picture of a white woman with curly brown hair and red lipstick smiling. Text: 5-10% Weight Loss is Good for Your health and other BS with Ragen Chastain All Fired Up Ep #75

If you don’t know about Louise Adam’s Untrapped, then you are missing out on incredible activism and commentary. As part of her seriously impressive body of work, Louise has a podcast called All Fired Up and I got to be a guest to talk about the issues with weight loss research.

You can listen to my episode (and all the other incredible episodes!) here: |
https://untrapped.libsyn.com/5-10-weight-loss-is-good-for-your-health-other-bs-with-ragen-chastain

UPCOMING ONLINE WORKSHOP:

Creating A Weight-Neutral, Body Affirming Health Journey

The weight loss industry works hard to conflate weight loss with the concept of health, so even when we realize that diets don’t work and we get off the diet roller coaster, it can be difficult to separate our diet culture past from our desire to support our body moving forward. Health is an amorphous, multifactorial concept and it’s not an obligation, barometer of worthiness, or entirely within our control. Understanding that, in this workshop we’ll discuss how we can come to our personal health journey entirely on our own terms and leave diet culture behind for good.

Full details and Registration: https://danceswithfat.org/monthly-online-workshops/
*This workshop is free for DancesWithFat members – login info is on the member page
Become a member here!

Missed one of my monthly workshops? You can still get the video here!

Workshop: Dealing With New Year’s Diet BS

I am honored to join Marcy of Plus Bus, Marina of Peridot Robes, Deb Malkin – Somatic Pain Coach, and Tigress Osborn, Chair of NAAFA.org and iOfTheTigress.com to speak at this event created by Chrystal Bougon for “educating us and most likely sometimes entertaining us at my FAT COMMUNITY Watch Party on January 8th.”It’s just $5 and you can join live or get the video the next day. Like Chrystal says, “Let’s ACTIVATE and lift each other up through this hideous DIET b.s. that comes at us every January.”I hope to see you there!

Register here: https://fatcommunity.square.site/

Like This Blog? 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!)

Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization (and I can do it remotely!) I speak to healthcare, college, corporate, and general audiences about topics including weight science, weight stigma, and the Health at Every Size paradigm. You can get more information here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org

Things the Diet Industry Doesn’t Tell You – Expand the Curve

Green background, with a darker green oval shape and dotted two-way arrow running through it. In the foreground is the outline of a fat person with short hair wearing a bra and panties. "Expand the Curve" is in yellow text at the top.
Logo for the @ExpandTheCurve podcast

I had the honor of being a guest on the Expand the Curve with host Olive Bassey. We had a great chat about lies the diet industry tells us, weight discrimination, and finding self-love and confidence in a fatphobic world.

You can listen to the episode (and check out all the amazing guests) here!

UPCOMING ONLINE WORKSHOP:

Creating A Weight-Neutral, Body Affirming Health Journey

The weight loss industry works hard to conflate weight loss with the concept of health, so even when we realize that diets don’t work and we get off the diet roller coaster, it can be difficult to separate our diet culture past from our desire to support our body moving forward. Health is an amorphous, multifactorial concept and it’s not an obligation, barometer of worthiness, or entirely within our control. Understanding that, in this workshop we’ll discuss how we can come to our personal health journey entirely on our own terms and leave diet culture behind for good.

Full details and Registration: https://danceswithfat.org/monthly-online-workshops/
*This workshop is free for DancesWithFat members – login info is on the member page
Become a member here!

Missed one of my monthly workshops? You can still get the video here!

Workshop: Dealing With New Year’s Diet BS

I am honored to join Marcy of Plus Bus, Marina of Peridot Robes, Deb Malkin – Somatic Pain Coach, and Tigress Osborn, Chair of NAAFA.org and iOfTheTigress.com to speak at this event created by Chrystal Bougon for “educating us and most likely sometimes entertaining us at my FAT COMMUNITY Watch Party on January 8th.”It’s just $5 and you can join live or get the video the next day. Like Chrystal says, “Let’s ACTIVATE and lift each other up through this hideous DIET b.s. that comes at us every January.”I hope to see you there!

Register here: https://fatcommunity.square.site/

Like This Blog? 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!)

Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization (and I can do it remotely!) I speak to healthcare, college, corporate, and general audiences about topics including weight science, weight stigma, and the Health at Every Size paradigm. You can get more information here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org

Options To Answer The Question: “Do You Need To Eat That”

“Do you need to eat that?” Has this question ever been asked in a way that wasn’t passive aggressive fat/food shaming? As we eat with our families and/or friends (perhaps over zoom) this holiday season, I wanted to give some options for responding to this utterly bullshit question, put together in a not-so-silent movie.

(Hint: After watching the video below, you can keep watching to see a truly fat-positive holiday sing-a-long. If you can’t watch the video below, you can find it here!)

UPCOMING ONLINE WORKSHOP:

Creating A Weight-Neutral, Body Affirming Health Journey

The weight loss industry works hard to conflate weight loss with the concept of health, so even when we realize that diets don’t work and we get off the diet roller coaster, it can be difficult to separate our diet culture past from our desire to support our body moving forward. Health is an amorphous, multifactorial concept and it’s not an obligation, barometer of worthiness, or entirely within our control. Understanding that, in this workshop we’ll discuss how we can come to our personal health journey entirely on our own terms and leave diet culture behind for good.

Full details and Registration: https://danceswithfat.org/monthly-online-workshops/
*This workshop is free for DancesWithFat members – login info is on the member page
Become a member here!

Missed one of my monthly workshops? You can still get the video here!

Workshop: Dealing With New Year’s Diet BS

I am honored to join Marcy of Plus Bus, Marina of Peridot Robes, Deb Malkin – Somatic Pain Coach, and Tigress Osborn, Chair of NAAFA.org and iOfTheTigress.com to speak at this event created by Chrystal Bougon for “educating us and most likely sometimes entertaining us at my FAT COMMUNITY Watch Party on January 8th.”It’s just $5 and you can join live or get the video the next day. Like Chrystal says, “Let’s ACTIVATE and lift each other up through this hideous DIET b.s. that comes at us every January.”I hope to see you there!

Register here: https://fatcommunity.square.site/

Like This Blog? 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!)

Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization (and I can do it remotely!) I speak to healthcare, college, corporate, and general audiences about topics including weight science, weight stigma, and the Health at Every Size paradigm. You can get more information here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org

Avoid Ruining the Holidays for Fat Friends and Family This Year- A How-To Guide

I spend a lot of time helping fat people deal with the bullshit fat-shaming that comes our way daily, and that often escalates at the holidays (whether we celebrate them or not.)  I always want to be clear that these things are not our fault, even though they become our problem and that the problem isn’t fat people, it’s fat-shaming. So today I wanted to take a second to talk directly to fat-shamers of the on-purpose, accidental, and potential variety – however well-meaning they may be – about how they can stop the problem before it even starts at the holidays, and all year long! The lack of in-person gatherings may cut down on this nonsense, but I’ve already heard from people who are experiencing this at zoom events.

Of course the people who need to read this may not be the ones who are likely to see my blog so please feel free to share this around if you are so inclined!

Don’t give a weight loss or “health” gift

Don’t give a gym membership, diet club membership, “healthy meal” delivery etc. unless the person has very specifically asked for it. Including and especially if you’re only assuming that they don’t already do or have these things because of your stereotypes about fat people, or as a passive-aggressive hint that you think they may “need” the gift. Instead, if you want to give a gift, consider choosing something based on the person’s actual likes and interests rather than stereotypes and fat-shaming. Or maybe a nice gift certificate.

Don’t be the food police

Don’t monitor, comment on, or concern yourself in any way with fat people’s (or any sized people’s) food choices at parties, holiday dinners or, hey, ever.  If we need the food police, we’ll call Pie-1-1. If you feel like you might have to deal with the Family and Friends Food Police, here are some tips.  If you want some ideas to help when you witness this kind of food shaming, check here.

Don’t give a fat-shaming card

Way too many fat people get cards with some version of  “We love you and we want you to lose weight because we want you to be around a long time.” If you honestly can’t figure out why “Happy Holidays! Please don’t die of fat because mourning you would be a major bummer for us” isn’t an appropriate message for a holiday card, then please just take my word for it this is a bad idea. And also, consider that giving cards may not be for you. The person to whom you deliver this little Hallmark moment may be able to defend themselves in court successfully with “Your Honor, they needed a killin”

This happened to my partner a few years ago and she chose to cut ties with the relatives completely, about which it seems they are upset. Bad behavior can have undesired consequences for everyone, don’t put your fat friends and family in this position.

Don’t engage in diet talk or negative body talk

This suggestion isn’t just to help fat guests, but also for guests of any size who may be dealing with eating disorders, or guests who are interested in conversations that aren’t boring as hell. Find something else to talk about than why you are or are not eating what you are or are not eating.  Skip the 5-minute soliloquy on what you feel you have to do to punish yourself for eating pie, and ask somebody at the party to tell you about themselves instead, or go watch TV, or play on your phone, whatever.

Don’t comment on body size changes

Nothing says “Happy Holidays” like knowing that your relatives are monitoring your body. You might think it’s a compliment to ask if someone has lost weight but that question is super loaded – perhaps they’ve lost weight because of illness, grief, medication, an eating disorder, or something else unwanted or unintentional. Perhaps they are uncomfortable with having their body size made into a topic for discussion (maybe because it’s hella inappropriate…) Perhaps they haven’t lost weight and, however well-intentioned you may be, they take it as backhanded or passive-aggressive. (Or perhaps you intended it to be backhanded or passive-aggressive in which case you’re being an ass,  won’t you please be a dear, and knock that shit off.)  If you want some suggestions for wading through the tricky world of weight loss compliments (like what to do when someone tells you’ve they’ve lost weight and then looks at you expectantly), you’ll find that here.

Don’t stage some kind of weight loss intervention

This should be a big pile of obvious in an obvious box with an obvious bow, but every year some asshat who wants to be thought of as “brave” writes an article about how the holidays are the perfect time to fat shame your relatives “for their own good.” First of all, people’s weight and health (two different things) aren’t your business unless they ask you to make them your business. Even if you don’t believe that, the holidays are definitely not the time to do this.  And if you feel that you have to do this at the holidays because it’s the only time you see that person, then consider how relevant you really are in their lives and whether you have any business doing this at all.  Then don’t. Just don’t. Don’t. Do Not. Trust me when I tell you, you are not The Fat Person Whisperer.

By the way, if you want a cartoon that explains that people shouldn’t do these things (in song!) I made one and you can find it here!

UPCOMING ONLINE WORKSHOP:

Creating A Weight-Neutral, Body Affirming Health Journey

The weight loss industry works hard to conflate weight loss with the concept of health, so even when we realize that diets don’t work and we get off the diet roller coaster, it can be difficult to separate our diet culture past from our desire to support our body moving forward. Health is an amorphous, multifactorial concept and it’s not an obligation, barometer of worthiness, or entirely within our control. Understanding that, in this workshop we’ll discuss how we can come to our personal health journey entirely on our own terms and leave diet culture behind for good.

Full details and Registration: https://danceswithfat.org/monthly-online-workshops/
*This workshop is free for DancesWithFat members – login info is on the member page
Become a member here!

Missed one of my monthly workshops? You can still get the video here!

Workshop: Dealing With New Year’s Diet BS

I am honored to join Marcy of Plus Bus, Marina of Peridot Robes, Deb Malkin – Somatic Pain Coach, and Tigress Osborn, Chair of NAAFA.org and iOfTheTigress.com to speak at this event created by Chrystal Bougon for “educating us and most likely sometimes entertaining us at my FAT COMMUNITY Watch Party on January 8th.”It’s just $5 and you can join live or get the video the next day. Like Chrystal says, “Let’s ACTIVATE and lift each other up through this hideous DIET b.s. that comes at us every January.”I hope to see you there!

Register here: https://fatcommunity.square.site/

Like This Blog? 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!)

Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization (and I can do it remotely!) I speak to healthcare, college, corporate, and general audiences about topics including weight science, weight stigma, and the Health at Every Size paradigm. You can get more information here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org

Non-Stigmatizing Language For Fat People

Image Text:When it comes to what we call people with larger bodies,
we must avoid falling into the trap of creating stigma in our attempts to decrease it. We must utilize descriptors that don’t medicalize, pathologize, or euphemize the body size of
fat people.

I get a lot of questions about the right words to use for fat people in various contexts. Questions like:

Can I call people fat?
Isn’t “ob*se” better since it’s a medical term?
I thought we were supposed to say “person with overw*ight?”
What’s with all the asterisks?

Over on my Weight and Healthcare newsletter I’m breaking down some common terms that are used to describe those with larger bodies to discuss what increases stigma, and what decreases it.

You can read the full piece here!

UPCOMING ONLINE WORKSHOP:

Dealing With Fatphobia At The Holidays

Between in-person and online family gatherings, work parties, New Years bashes, New Years Resolution, and a ton of diet ads… the holiday season can be a perfect storm of fatphobia. Plus this year all the talk of COVID-related body changes adds another layer of nonsense All that diet culture can really get you down. In this workshop we’ll talk about tips, tricks, and techniques to help us deal and have a happy holiday season on our own terms – whether we celebrate any holidays or not.

Full details and Registration: https://danceswithfat.org/monthly-online-workshops/
*This workshop is free for DancesWithFat members – login info is on the member page
Become a member here!

Missed one of my monthly workshops? You can still get the video here!

Like This Blog? 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!)

Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization (and I can do it remotely!) I speak to healthcare, college, corporate, and general audiences about topics including weight science, weight stigma, and the Health at Every Size paradigm. You can get more information here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org

Don’t Bring “Everybody Knows” to an Evidence Fight

Last week I was a guest on The Doctors along with weight-neutral endocrinologist Dr. Gregory Dodell. During the second half of the show, I was involved in a discussion with Dr. Melina Jampolis about the research supporting the weight loss paradigm, vs the research supporting the weight neutral health paradigm.

At one point during the course of the conversation I had listed several studies and their findings to support my case that the research shows that intentional weight loss fails the vast majority of the time (which Dr. Jampolis agreed with,) as well as studies that show greater efficacy of weight-neutral healthcare approaches than weight-loss approaches. (You can see a list of research at www.haeshealthsheets.com/resources)

In response Dr. Jampolis said “I’m sure that I could find 15 different studies that would counteract what you said.” Now, she didn’t name any studies at all but she sounded very confident. I wanted to interrupt but I didn’t want to appear rude, so I simply shook my head. I don’t believe that Dr. Jampolis wants to harm fat people, but I believe that she is, and this kind of misunderstanding is at the root of it.

There are many things that I could have done differently and/or better during my appearance (a post about that is probably coming up!) But the thing I regret the most is not interrupting her at this moment and saying what I wanted to say.

You can read the full piece on my new newsletter Weight and Healthcare on Substack!

UPCOMING ONLINE WORKSHOP:

Dealing With Fatphobia At The Holidays

Between in-person and online family gatherings, work parties, New Years bashes, New Years Resolution, and a ton of diet ads… the holiday season can be a perfect storm of fatphobia. Plus this year all the talk of COVID-related body changes adds another layer of nonsense All that diet culture can really get you down. In this workshop we’ll talk about tips, tricks, and techniques to help us deal and have a happy holiday season on our own terms – whether we celebrate any holidays or not.

Full details and Registration: https://danceswithfat.org/monthly-online-workshops/
*This workshop is free for DancesWithFat members – login info is on the member page
Become a member here!

Missed one of my monthly workshops? You can still get the video here!

Like This Blog? 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!)

Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization (and I can do it remotely!) I speak to healthcare, college, corporate, and general audiences about topics including weight science, weight stigma, and the Health at Every Size paradigm. You can get more information here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org

Eating While Fat in Public

Recently I was one of four fat women who were interviewed for an article about the issues that weight stigma creates around eating in public while fat, and how we overcame them.

You can read the full article here. We did this interview by email, and of course it’s normal for articles to use partial quotes and so here, for posterity, are my full answers to the interview:

When did you first notice that there was a certain level of attention placed on you when eating in public?

As I moved from high school to college I became deeply involved in diet culture and I began to notice that people would compliment me on eating the “right” foods (salad, no dressing, skipping dessert etc.) such that, even if they didn’t say anything when I ate “wrong” things, I felt that disapproval was implied.

How did that initially make you feel?

At the time I was still so deeply invested in diet culture and anti-fatness that it felt like a validation of my choices of using eating as a way to try to manipulate my body size. As I’ve learned more about the insidious nature of diet culture the inherent hypocrisy, double standards, and harm of the practice have come into much sharper relief, but I didn’t see it at the time.

Has there ever been an incident where someone said or did something to you while eating at a restaurant

I was eating at a restaurant with three friends, all thin. A man who was being led to his table by a hostess stopped dead in front of my table, looked at my plate, looked at me, then pointed to the plate and said “this is why you’re fat.” While this would be wildly inappropriate regardless, and it’s not the first time that it had happened to me, but it was interesting to note that in this case all four of us were eating the exact same thing, as it was a specialty of the restaurant. It made it crystal clear that this was not about health, or logic, but rather about engaging in fatphobia.

How did these experiences as a result of weight stigma, diet culture and fatphobia affect your mental health?

When I was still entrenched in diet culture and had become hyper aware of the ways that my eating choices were linked to my body size and concepts of my health and even morality, I would often find the process of eating in public really stressful. This was compounded by the fact that I was very physically active and the performative eating the was demanded of me in order to avoid scrutiny or disapproval was not in line with the nutrition my body required to engage in the activities I loved. My relationship with food eventually devolved into a full blown eating disorder.

Over the years, how has that changed?

I recovered from my eating disorder, but was still considered “too heavy” and I was urged by doctors to lose weight to be healthy. I was lucky to avoid a full relapse, but spent years weight cycling (aka yo-yo dieting.) My education background was in research methods and statistics and so I decided to do my own literature review to find the diet that worked the best. That was when I learned that there wasn’t a single study where more than a tiny fraction of people were able to maintain significant weight loss, and that the yo-yo dieting that I had been experience was the expected biological response and not a personal failure. As I extricated myself from diet culture I began to see the ways that weight stigma had been impacting my relationship with food in unhealthy ways, as well as the fatphobia-driven hypocrisy that existed – for example in television shows where a thin woman eating tons of food was celebrated as being a “cool chick” and “wife material,” when a fat woman eating even half as much would be ridiculed as “not prioritizing her health” and “un-dateable”

If this no longer affects you the way it used to, what helped you to overcome it?

I fixed my relationship with food and eating in public by first acknowledged that weight stigma is real and that it does real harm to me. It’s not in my head, and it’s not something that I can solve through loving my body, it’s a process of systemic oppression. Understanding that, I realized that until it was possible to end fatphobia, my choices were to continue to fight my body on behalf of weight stigma, or to start fighting weight stigma on behalf of my body. I chose the latter. That includes refusing to eat performatively or to engage with or care about other people’s unsolicited opinions about my food choices or body. It also includes setting boundaries around what is and is not open for discussion, people are allowed to thin whatever they want about what I eat, but they are responsible for keeping those thoughts to themselves if they want to spend time with me, especially where food is involved.

Despite changing attitudes and the rise of the body positivity movement, do you feel that eating in public is still an issue that many battle with but is rarely discussed?

I do think that it is a serious issue. Weight stigma and diet culture often convince fat people that we deserve to be treated poorly and that, at the very least, we owe explanations and justifications for our body size, food choices, and health to anyone who thinks they deserve them. Conversely, it gives those who wish to judge and comment on fat people’s choices and bodies the mistaken belief that it is their purview to do so. In this way fat bodies are seen as open for public discourse, which definitely makes eating in public fraught.

What were your thoughts on Tess Holiday’s comments and the way media and society as a whole treats larger women who eat in public?

I think that Tess was spot on about the harmful nature of these photos. They reinforce the idea that fat people should never be safe from being monitored and judged for their food intake. The fact that someone eating at Disney World (an activity that Disney World advocates relentlessly through their own marketing) is considered newsworthy is just another example of the ways in which the media will exploit weight stigma and harm fat people for attention and profit.

What advice would you give to plus-size women who struggle with eating in public?

First acknowledge that the problem here is not your body, it is fatphobia. Affirm to yourself that, while this is becoming your problem, it is absolutely not your fault. Understanding that this shouldn’t be happening, and that you shouldn’t have to deal with this, you then get to make choices based on your goals in any given situation. Those goals may change based on who you are with eating with and if there is a power imbalance (ie: eating with your boss vs eating with a friend,) how you feel on any given day, and a multitude of other factors. You can choose to eat based on what seems the most delicious to you, based on a desire to avoid judgement from the people who are with you, or for any other goals or reasons. If you do face judgment you can react in whatever way makes the most sense for your circumstances, from ignoring it, to changing the subject, to setting a boundary, or confronting the person whose behavior is inappropriate. Activism is an option, but not an obligation – you can choose to react in whatever way centers your personal needs and goals in any given situation.

UPCOMING ONLINE WORKSHOP:

Dealing With Fatphobia At The Holidays

Between in-person and online family gatherings, work parties, New Years bashes, New Years Resolution, and a ton of diet ads… the holiday season can be a perfect storm of fatphobia. Plus this year all the talk of COVID-related body changes adds another layer of nonsense All that diet culture can really get you down. In this workshop we’ll talk about tips, tricks, and techniques to help us deal and have a happy holiday season on our own terms – whether we celebrate any holidays or not.

Full details and Registration: https://danceswithfat.org/monthly-online-workshops/
*This workshop is free for DancesWithFat members – login info is on the member page
Become a member here!

Missed one of my monthly workshops? You can still get the video here!

Like This Blog? 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!)

Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization (and I can do it remotely!) I speak to healthcare, college, corporate, and general audiences about topics including weight science, weight stigma, and the Health at Every Size paradigm. You can get more information here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org

Novo Nordisk – Harming Fat People For Money And Calling It Advocacy

Reader Alison let me know about a new campaign that Novo Nordisk has launched to sell their new “weight loss” drug, that is part of the long-game of those in the weight loss industry to expand their market by pathologizing living in a fat body. I was even more upset to see that The Mighty was a partner, since they should absolutely know better. Having written for them before I reached out to my editor and received an explanation, an apology for their mistake in promoting it, and an offer to write a paid piece on their site critical of the program and their involvement.

You can read that piece here.

Here is a preview:

A new campaign called “It’s Bigger Than Me” has launched worldwide. The campaign purports to be about “destigmatizing ob*sity” but is, in fact, funded by Novo Nordisk as part of what they have promised will be “one of the fastest Novo Nordisk launches after approval ever” of their new weight loss drug Wegovy. Per their Chief Financial Officer, Karsten Knudsen, they hope to more than double their “ob*sity sales” by 2025 versus their 2019 baseline. 

Novo Nordisk has explained to the press that one of the barriers to this massive profit play is insurance coverage (including Medicare, Medicaid, and the ACA), and so they are using campaigns like this to try to turn fat people, desperate to escape the weight stigma that the diet industry perpetuates, into an unpaid marketing force to do their dirty work for them.  

At the time of writing this article, partners in this effort include the Obesity Action Coalition, the Media Empathy Foundation, and The Mighty.

This part of their massive, profit-driven rollout is the kind of wolf in sheep’s clothing campaign that the “Obesity Action Coalition” was purpose-built to launch and run. The OAC bills itself as an advocacy group for fat people but is, in fact, fully funded by (and operates as a lobbying arm of) powerful pharmaceutical interests that seek to sell progressively more dangerous and expensive weight loss treatments. As you can see on their website, their “Chairman’s Council” (aka group of funders) is made up of weight loss drug and surgery companies, with Novo Nordisk at the top, as their sole “Platinum” member with a minimum funding commitment of $100,000.

The Media Empathy Foundation appears to be a legitimate organization with the noble and critical goal of destigmatizing illness. They should, but apparently don’t, understand the difference between their actual mission and this co-option of anti-stigma language for money. So instead of undoing harm they are perpetuating it. They are responsible for the harm that they are causing here and they should address it and do whatever they can to repair that harm.

As for The Mighty, it was heartbreaking to see their logo on the site as a named partner. In response to my pitch, editorial director Ben Berkley shared with me that The Mighty has a business relationship with Novo Nordisk and through that affiliation, the editorial team supported the initial launch of the “It’s Bigger Than Me” campaign with a social media post. (Editor note: The Mighty was not paid to promote the “It’s Bigger Than Me” campaign.) Berkley said the editorial team looks to fulfill these partner requests as a way of navigating the balance between editorial independence and the funding The Mighty receives through pharmaceutical sponsorships, which allow The Mighty to continue operating. At the time, Berkley told me he was “foolishly unaware” of the harmful nature of the campaign and, while he shared that he didn’t know if The Mighty’s larger business relationship with Novo Nordisk would continue, he assured me The Mighty’s editorial team would no longer be promoting or supporting the campaign. He promised to invite this article’s submission (and others like it) that are critical of the “It’s Bigger Than Me” campaign, wanting to stand “as a force for good in combating fatphobia and any other instance of body biases.”

I appreciate the candid response and the opportunity to use The Mighty’s platform to speak out about the harm that is being done, and I hope to see them publicly withdrawal their support from the project, acknowledge the harm and actively work to repair it, including insisting that their logo and information be removed from the campaign page.  

The weight loss industry has been working hard to co-opt the idea of ending weight stigma and transform it into a marketing tool, and they have deep pockets to hire the best people to do it, so it can be difficult to tell what’s going on. Here are some of the ways you can tell this campaign is about weight loss propaganda and not about ending weight stigma or supporting fat liberation: 

Read the rest of the article here.

UPCOMING ONLINE WORKSHOP:

Dealing With Fatphobia At The Holidays

Between in-person and online family gatherings, work parties, New Years bashes, New Years Resolution, and a ton of diet ads… the holiday season can be a perfect storm of fatphobia. Plus this year all the talk of COVID-related body changes adds another layer of nonsense All that diet culture can really get you down. In this workshop we’ll talk about tips, tricks, and techniques to help us deal and have a happy holiday season on our own terms – whether we celebrate any holidays or not.

Full details and Registration: https://danceswithfat.org/monthly-online-workshops/
*This workshop is free for DancesWithFat members – login info is on the member page
Become a member here!

Missed one of my monthly workshops? You can still get the video here!

Like This Blog? 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!)

Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization (and I can do it remotely!) I speak to healthcare, college, corporate, and general audiences about topics including weight science, weight stigma, and the Health at Every Size paradigm. You can get more information here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org

Train Happy – Fighting Fatphobia in Fitness

I recently got the chance to be a guest on Tally Rye’s  Train Happy Podcast

Tally was incredible despite some technical difficulties (including an unexpected power outage on my end!) and we talked about dealing with fatphobia in fitness and beyond, and the options for fighting back.

You can listen here!

I’m also teaching a workshop for fitness pros about creating inclusive fitness spaces on October 30th. You can even get continuing education credits for it!

The event (which has four workshops) starts at 10:45 Eastern, my workshop starts at 1pm Eastern. You can attend live and/or watch the video. You can get one continuing education credit per hour you attend.

Sign up here!

UPCOMING ONLINE WORKSHOP:

Dealing With Fatphobia At The Holidays

Between in-person and online family gatherings, work parties, New Years bashes, New Years Resolution, and a ton of diet ads… the holiday season can be a perfect storm of fatphobia. Plus this year all the talk of COVID-related body changes adds another layer of nonsense All that diet culture can really get you down. In this workshop we’ll talk about tips, tricks, and techniques to help us deal and have a happy holiday season on our own terms – whether we celebrate any holidays or not.

Full details and Registration: https://danceswithfat.org/monthly-online-workshops/
*This workshop is free for DancesWithFat members – login info is on the member page
Become a member here!

Missed one of my monthly workshops? You can still get the video here!

Like This Blog? 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!)

Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization (and I can do it remotely!) I speak to healthcare, college, corporate, and general audiences about topics including weight science, weight stigma, and the Health at Every Size paradigm. You can get more information here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org

Dealing with Pushback When Setting Boundaries Around Fatphobia

Image Text: When I say “It is not ok to talk about my weight or food, if it continues I will leave,"
I’m not trying to control what people think, I am stating clearly what behavior I will and will not tolerate, and what I will do if they continue behavior I find intolerable.
Image Text: When I say “It is not ok to talk about my weight or food, if it continues I will leave,”
I’m not trying to control what people think, I am stating clearly what behavior I will and will not tolerate, and what I will do if they continue behavior I find intolerable.

Sometimes people worry that if they set a boundary, like saying “It’s not ok to body shame me or I will leave” that other people will think that they “can’t handle the truth” and are “trying to control what I think.”

People may well think or say those things.  If there’s anything that I’ve learned from my trolls, it’s that people will go to any length to justify their prejudice to themselves and anyone who will listen.  We cannot control what people think of us, nor can we control their behavior.  For me in these situations, I’m less concerned with what people think, and more concerned about how they treat me in my presence.

So when I say “It is not ok to talk about my weight or eating. If anyone says one more thing about it I’m going to leave.”  I’m not trying to control what people think – they can think whatever the hell they want, I am stating clearly what behavior I will and will not tolerate, and what I will do if they continue behavior I find intolerable.

If they continue discussing my weight or eating and I leave, it’s not to control what they think – it’s to remove myself from a situation, to keep myself safe and well, and to make it clear that I’m serious about my boundaries.

People who want to ignore and break our boundaries will use all kinds of tactics, including suggesting that we are trying to control them, that we are creating the problem etc. We don’t have to fall for that.

If people want to spend time with me they have to treat me a certain way, which includes not body shaming or food policing me. So while they are allowed to think whatever they want about me, my body, and my food choices, they are, at the very least, 100% responsible for keeping those thoughts to themselves if they want to talk to me.

It’s not that I “can’t handle” what they think is the truth, it’s that I don’t have to, and so I won’t.

UPCOMING ONLINE WORKSHOP:

Dealing With Fatphobia At The Holidays

Between in-person and online family gatherings, work parties, New Years bashes, New Years Resolution, and a ton of diet ads… the holiday season can be a perfect storm of fatphobia. Plus this year all the talk of COVID-related body changes adds another layer of nonsense All that diet culture can really get you down. In this workshop we’ll talk about tips, tricks, and techniques to help us deal and have a happy holiday season on our own terms – whether we celebrate any holidays or not.

Full details and Registration: https://danceswithfat.org/monthly-online-workshops/
*This workshop is free for DancesWithFat members – login info is on the member page
Become a member here!

Missed one of my monthly workshops? You can still get the video here!

Like This Blog? 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!)

Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization (and I can do it remotely!) I speak to healthcare, college, corporate, and general audiences about topics including weight science, weight stigma, and the Health at Every Size paradigm. You can get more information here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org