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.

 

 

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

Breaking Body Biases in Fitness

I had the chance to be interviewed by and chat with Christine DeFilippis for her Breaking Body Biases podcast. Christine is an anti-diet fitness entrepreneur, and so our discussion centered around dismantling fatphobia and toxic fitness culture. As always, a reminder that nobody is obligated to participate in fitness, and participation does make people better than others (I’ve done both and can tell you for sure that completing a marathon and watching a Netflix marathon are morally equivalent activities.) So, again, nobody is obligated to participate, but everybody should be welcome!

You can listen to the podcast here!

If you want to learn more about weight inclusive fitness (and/or want to earn continuing education credits!) I’m teaching a class on creating inclusive fitness spaces on October 30th at 10am Pacific as part of Lawrence Biscontini’s StayVention series! (Note – I cannot guarantee that the other presenters will come from a full fat-affirming perspective, but I certainly will!)

You can see the details here.

And you can 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

What’s All This About Fat Being A “Chronic Lifelong Health Condition?”

I got a question emailed today from reader Renee. “I’ve been seeing articles that say that being fat is considered a “chronic lifelong condition.” Can you explain what’s going on to me?

I’m happy to try! The word is getting out that intentional weight loss doesn’t work to make fat people thinner or healthier, and that almost everyone gains their weight back long-term. That’s not great news for the diet industry, including companies who sell “treatments” that are extra dangerous and extra expensive, like drugs and surgery.

So these companies have been pushing a narrative wherein being fat is, in and of itself, a “health condition” regardless of health status (Gary Taubes recently, tragically, showed us how this is done.) . And that it is “chronic and lifelong.” They’ve pushed this narrative though many channels, perhaps the most insidious is through organizations that claim to be “advocacy groups” but are, in fact, fully funded by (and function as lobbying arms of) the drug and surgery companies (looking at you, OAC.)

This narrative provides a lot of benefits to these weight loss peddlers, including:

1. Expanding their market (to literally anyone who is fat)
2. Helping them make a case that health insurance should cover their dangerous and expensive “treatments”
3. Helping the drug companies work around the fact that as soon as people go off the drugs they gain their weight back
4. Allowing drug companies to sell drugs to people for their entire lives

There’s just one itty bitty problem…it doesn’t make any sense. There are people of the same weight who have vastly different health statuses, and there are people of vastly different weights who have the same health statuses. And blaming health conditions on fat bodies rather than on the weight stigma, weight cycling, and healthcare inequalities fat people experience is beyond dubious.

While this concept drives a ton of profit to the weight loss industry, it drives a ton of harm to fat people. There is absolutely no shame in having a chronic lifelong health condition – or health conditions of any kind. There is no shame in getting treatment. This is isn’t that. Pathologizing a body size subjects fat people to “interventions” that drive profit to the weight loss industry while risking our lives and quality of life, all under the guise of “healthcare.”

So if someone tries to tell you that simply existing in a fat body is a “chronic, lifelong health condition,” you might tell them that whatever they’re selling, you’re not buying it.

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

Body Truth – The Truth About Weight Loss

I had the chance to chat with Katelyn Parsons on her Body Truth Podcast. We had a great time and talked about everything from being a fat dancer, to practical tools to set boundaries around educational social conversations!

I was honored to get to be a guest on the podcast. and you can listen to the full episode and read the full transcript 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!) You can get more information here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org

Fat People Don’t Owe You Justifications

Image Text: Weight stigma and diet culture can fool fat people
into believing that we owe explanations and justifications for our body size, food choices, and health
to anyone who thinks they deserve them. We don’t.

Weight stigma and diet culture work hard to to make fat people believe 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.

The truth is that commenting on someone’s food choices, body size or health without invitation is completely inappropriate. And we are under no obligation to act like it’s not.

We get to respond to this in whatever way we want. We can choose to try to educate (though it’s helpful to remember that we can’t control whether or not they take advantage of our generosity by learning.) We can react in ways that are snarky, or angry, or even “rude.” We can laugh in their faces and walk away.

No matter how we react (and sometimes it’s not in our control in a given situation,) the important thing to remember is that our bodies aren’t the problem – their inappropriate behavior is.

We don’t need to change, they do.

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!) You can get more information here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org

My Trip to Fad Camp

When I got the invitation to be a guest on the Fad Camp podcast , which deals with diet culture through comedy, I couldn’t agree to be a guest fast enough. As the cherry on top of this fabulous fat cake, several years ago I got a chance to visit Ireland and I fell in love with the place. Since I’m not traveling right now for COVID reasons, that made it an extra treat to sit down with the fabulous Grace – if I can’t be in Ireland, at least she can!

Our episode covers topics from fat liberation in general, to the problem with actors in fat suits, to fat athletes and the bullshit of the good fatty/bad fatty dichotomy, and more.

You can listen to it, and their other hilarious episodes, 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!) You can get more information here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org

That Tragically Flawed Gary Taubes Article

What would fat people's health outcomes look like if we weren't constantly subjected to whatever "interventions" the diet industry thought would make them money Let's find out. 
@RagenChastain
danceswithfat.org
Image Text: What would fat people’s health outcomes look like if we weren’t constantly subjected to whatever “interventions” the diet industry thought would make them money Let’s find out.

Gary Taubes recently wrote a piece called “How a ‘fatally, tragically flawed’ paradigm has derailed the science of ob*sity” in which he congratulated himself for debunking bad science around fatness while… wait for it…promoting bad science around fatness.

Before I get too far into this I want to be clear that, while I think it’s important to talk about the science because it’s (mis)used to harm and abuse fat people, that should never detract from the fact that it’s fine to be fat no matter what, that adding healthism to fatphobia does not make either ok or justifiable, and that fat people have the right to live without shame, stigma, bullying or oppression no matter why we are fat, no matter what the “health impacts” might be, and whether or not we could, or even want to, become thin. That includes the rights to equal accommodation, including in healthcare.

So, let’s talk about this article. He starts out by saying, correctly, that fatness is not just about a “calories in, calories out” equation. (I wrote a blog post about this called The Calories In/Out Myth in 2011, which cited the work of just some of the people who have been talking about this since long before that, but I guess…welcome to the party Gary?)

Gary is correct that the calories in/out paradigm is deeply flawed (and is still being widely used, including the absurd medical “diagnosis” of fat people as “ob*se due to excess calories” by doctors who have never even asked about calorie consumption. This is driven by weight stigma which is fundamentally linked to racism and anti-Blackness (resources around this include Sabrina Strings Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fatphobia and Da’Shaun Harrisons Belly of the Beast: The Politics of Anti-Fatness as Anti-Blackness)

The tragic flaw comes in the next leap of logic, in which Gary suggests that while fatness isn’t caused by a calories in/calories out equation, it’s still about what fat people eat, being fat is still something that should be pathologized and medicalized, and we should still push for the eradication of fat people. Let’s take a look
[Note, the quotations include harmful language, including terms that were created to pathologize and medicalize fat bodies, and may be triggering – you can skip them and still get main points of this piece]

I might have embraced this thinking as well if the prevalence of ob*sity had not risen relentlessly for the past half century; if ob*sity — along with type 2 diabetes, its partner in pathology — had not become the dominant non-Covid health crisis of our time. But I can’t…

Regular readers will know that I am an alliteration super stan, so I want to give him at least some credit for for “partner in pathology.” But I can’t.. because this concept is so harmful and wrong. The article does a decent job of debunking the “calories in/calories out argument” (but since people have been doing that for literally decades, including in Fat Activist and Health at Every Size circles, I can’t give him much credit for that either) Blaming fatness and calling it a health crisis without examining (or even mentioning) the impacts of weight stigma, weight cycling, and healthcare inequalities on the wellbeing of fat people is bad science that drives more weight stigma, weight cycling, and healthcare inequalities.

So Gary is late to the party on calories in/calories out, but at least he is here, right? I mean at least he’s being clear that being fat isn’t something to blame on what fat people eat…

People don’t get fat because they eat too much, consuming more calories than they expend, but because the carbohydrates in their diets — both the quantity of carbohydrates and their quality — establish a hormonal milieu that fosters the accumulation of excess fat…

Oh. Never mind. He’s just pitching another “it’s what they eat” claim. How can this account for the fact that people can eat the same things and be vastly different weights, and that people can eat different things and be the same weight? Gary’s has an answer there to…sort of…

Since not everyone is ob*se or overw*ight, some people clearly do balance their intake to their expenditure even in an environment where food is everywhere. Shouldn’t a viable hypothesis of ob*sity be able to explain why some people remain lean and others don’t without implicitly or even explicitly blaming character?

This problem is solved by simply defining ob*sity as what it clearly is: a disorder of excessive fat accumulation. 

I had to take a minute to bang my head on my desk, but I’m back. If you’re touting a paradigm that pathologizes fat bodies, I can see how it’s convenient for you if we all just accept that fat bodies can be pathologized because they are fat, but, I can’t back you on it for reasons I’m about to discuss, as well as the fact that people with the same weight/amount of fat have vastly different health statuses.

And here’s where this all goes, arguably, the most (tragically) wrong.

The undeniable evidence is the enormous increase in the prevalence of ob*sity worldwide. In the U.S., 12% of Americans lived with ob*sity 60 years ago; more than 40% do today. Something has changed in the environment — in diets or lifestyles — to trigger such a dramatic rise in the prevalence of ob*sity. But is it nature or nurture that the environment triggers, behavior or physiology, minds or bodies?

In this paragraph he is almost there, but then he takes that left turn at weight stigma. In order to rush to his preferred way to pathologize fat people, Gary blows right by the possible answers to his own question. What has changed?

Well, for one thing, in 1998 (driven by the weight loss industry) the definition of “ob*sity” was lowered, impacting the weight classification of tens of millions of people. I wrote about that here and I’m just one of many, many people who have pointed this out. If you are talking about the so-called increase in fatness without mentioning that, I feel like it calls your methods and intentions into some serious question.

The other thing that has changed is the advent of the weight loss industry (or, more correctly, the weight cycling industry, but we’ll get to that.). Intentional weight loss products and programs started to become commercially popular in the 1930’s, became even more popular post WWII, and have steadily grown since. The industry has grown to $71 BILLION dollars a year.

Why is this important? Because intentional weight loss attempts (whether we’re calling them diets, lifestyle changes, health plans, or something else) end up in weight regain about 95% of the time, and up to two-thirds of those people gain back more than they lost. And the advice those people are given is…try again! (The industry has brilliantly taken credit for the first part of the biological response (weight loss) and blamed their clients – and convinced their clients and everyone else – to blame themselves for the second part of the biological response, which is the only way that they could have seen such exponential growth with a product that fails almost all the time and has the opposite of the intended effect the majority of the time.)

Put plainly, tens of millions of people were made fatter by definition literally overnight in 1998, and intentional weight loss attempts predict weight gain, and they have been prescribed to more and more people, at younger and younger ages, since the 1930’s (and those are just two of the possible reasons that people might be a bit bigger than in the past – there’s also life changing/saving medications that cause weight gain and a myriad of other reasons.) But Gary doesn’t think that’s worth mentioning in his discussion of the possible reasons that people are fatter. Again, there is nothing wrong with being or becoming fat(ter), but there is something deeply wrong with not just putting such a focus on why people are the size they are, but then also ignoring the fact that the thing that anyone bigger than the (racist, diet-industry-driven) standard of “normal weight” is told to do most often results in weight gain and health issues, which we’ll talk about momentarily.

In truth we have no idea what people’s sizes or health statuses would be if we didn’t try to manipulate fat people’s bodies with weight loss attempts, often from childhood, and we will never get to find out if people remain myopically focused on eradicating fat people instead of supporting our health in the bodies we have.

So, the most common outcome of intentional weight loss attempts is weight regain. And the most common advice to those who experience this is to try intentional weight loss again (and again, and again.) This results in weight cycling (aka yo-yo dieting) and weight cycling which, Gary conveniently leaves out of his article, may also be the driver of the health issues that he is so quick to assign to fatness.

Bacon and Aprhamor covered this (and much more) in their paper “Weight Science – The Evidence For A Paradigm Shift”


Consider weight cycling as an example. Attempts to lose weight typically result in weight cycling, and such attempts are more common among ob*se individuals [62]. Weight cycling results in increased inflammation, which in turn is known to increase risk for many ob*sity-associated diseases [63]. Other potential mechanisms by which weight cycling contributes to morbidity include hypertension, insulin resistance and dyslipidemia [64]. Research also indicates that weight fluctuation is associated with poorer cardiovascular outcomes and increased mortality risk [6468]. Weight cycling can account for all of the excess mortality associated with obe*sity in both the Framingham Heart Study [69] and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) [70]. It may be, therefore, that the association between weight and health risk can be better attributed to weight cycling than adiposity itself [63].

Similarly, to connect fatness with diabetes without pointing out the ways that dieting has been correlated with insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes is disingenuous at best. Even though they are still coming from a flawed weight loss paradigm, even the American Diabetes Association points out that weight cycling and insulin resistance and type diabetes are linked, including that a 2017 study in The New England Journal of Medicine found that people who experience weight cycling were 78 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes over a period of about five years compared with those whose weight remained more constant.

Peter Muennig’s work also found a link between the stress of constant weight stigma type 2 diabetes.

What would happen if we stopped trying to eradicate fat people? What would fat people’s health outcomes look like if we weren’t constantly subjected to weight stigma, weight cycling, healthcare inequalities, and whatever “intervention” the latest person who was trying to profit from weight stigma decided to cavalierly foist upon the general population of fat people, without any evidence of long-term efficacy in either creating thinness or greater health (which are two different things.). We don’t have a clear answer to that, but we have some signs.

Studies like Matheson et. al., and Wei et. al. show that (understanding that health is not an obligation, barometer of worthiness, or entirely within our control,) behaviors are a much better predictor of future health than body size. Peter Muennig’s study found that cis women (unfortunately, as is all too common, there was no trans or nonbinary representation) who felt good about their size had less physical and mental illness than cis women who felt they were too large, regardless of their size (with the understanding that the blame isn’t on those who had internalized the weight stigma that is all around them, the problem is that the weight stigma exists)

And Tylka et. al. also looked at this comprehensively, concluding

The weight-normative approach is not improving health for the majority of individuals across the entire weight continuum. Weight is overemphasized for higher-weight individuals (i.e., assumptions are made that they are unhealthy) and underemphasized for lower- or “average-” weight individuals (i.e., assumptions are made that they are healthy). Furthermore, we know that weight loss through dieting is not sustainable over time for the vast majority of higher-weight individuals and is linked to harmful consequences. Therefore, we argue that it is unethical to continue to prescribe weight loss to patients and communities as a pathway to health, knowing the associated outcomes—weight regain (if weight is even lost) and weight cycling—are connected to further stigmatization, poor health, and well-being. The data suggest that a different approach is needed to foster physical health and well-being within our patients and communities.

Advocates of a weight-inclusive approach assert that we are acting on behalf of our patients’ and communities’ interests when we centralize health for people at all points along the weight continuum and work to eradicate weight stigma in all settings, including health care and public health. This paper has reviewed the data in support of a weight-inclusive approach to foster physical and psychological well-being. We encourage both scholars and practitioners to study and document what happens when health professionals and their target populations shift their focus to developing sustainable healthy behaviors for every body.

Whipping people up into a frenzy about an “ob*sity epidemic” is highly profitable, and can be a way to get attention, but it doesn’t actually do anything helpful or good. As I have said before, we can solve the “ob*sity epidemic” right this minute in one simple step – just set the whole concept down and move to a paradigm that respects and supports bodies of all sizes.

UPCOMING ONLINE WORKSHOP:

Dealing With Fatphobia At The Holidays

As people start to get together again, between in-person and zoom 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 as another layer. 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.

The workshop will be on November 10 and there is a video if you can’t make it live!

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!) You can get more information here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org

How Can You Ignore The Correlation Between Weight And Health?

This is one of the most common questions I get. The question goes something like: there is such a strong correlation between being higher weight and having health issues, how can you just dismiss that? Especially when so much of the research you point to is correlational in itself.

The thing is, tt’s not about just dismissing the correlational relationship between weight and health out of hand, it’s about examining the evidence around that correlation to test the strength of it.

Before I get too far into it, the relationship between correlation and causation is at the foundation of research methods (my first research methods teacher made us repeat “correlation never ever, never ever, never ever implies causation in every class!). If two things are correlated, it means that they happen at the same time. What it doesn’t mean is that one of those things causes the other. For example there is a strong correlation between cis male pattern baldness and cardiac incidents. If we assumed that baldness caused heart attacks that would be a faulty assumption. If we then assumed that making affected people grow hair would reduce cardiac incidents (creating a government sponsored “War on Baldness” blaming people for not growing hair, etc.) that would be another faulty assumption. In fact a third factor causes both the baldness, and the higher rates of cardiac incidents.

So, when we see a correlational relationship between weight and health, but without a causal mechanism, the first question we have to ask is – what is the quality of the evidence?

We have to examine the research that finds this correlation for quality, and when we do, we find it lacking in some of the most basic principles of research. For example, if fat people are tested early and often for a health condition and thin people are almost never tested unless they have advanced symptoms, it’s spurious to assume that the health condition occurs more often in fat people. In another example, since too-tight blood pressure cuffs give too-high readings, and often fat people’s blood pressure is tested using a too-tight cuff, we have to ask ourselves how accurate that correlation is.

The next question we have to ask is – could something else be causing this relationship?

In this case there are at least three major candidates – weight stigma (as examined in Muennig’s studies for example), weight cycling (for example, in their paper Weight Science: Evaluating the Evidence for a Paradigm Shift, Bacon and Aphramor found that the health impacts of weight cycling could explain all of the excess mortality that was attributed to “ob*sity” in both Framingham and the NHANES), and inequalities in healthcare (examined in Lee and Pausé’s Stigma in Practice: Barriers to Health for Fat Women for example.)

So again, it’s not about simply dismissing the correlation out of hand. It’s about the reality that until we can account for the possible impacts of the research issues and confounding variables, the correlation between weight and health has to be held in serious question.

Not to mention, the fallout from the extremely questionable acceptance of the correlation of weight and health as a causal relationship (and the follow up extremely questionable assumption that weight loss is the “solution”) drives massive additional harm (looking at you Weight Loss Industry.). That’s even more significant considering that studies like Wei et. al., Matheson et. al., etc. show that (understanding that health is not an obligation, barometer of worthiness, or entirely within our control) there are plenty of ways to support the health of people of any size that have nothing to do with body size manipulation (you can find diagnosis-specific weight neutral practice guides and a resource and research bank at www.HAESHealthSheets.com)

Finally, while I think it’s worth having these discussions since so much of fat people’s treatment, including in healthcare, is driven by this, we can never lose sight of the fact that fat people have the right to live without shame, stigma, bullying or oppression no matter why we are fat, no matter what the “health impacts” might be, and whether or not we could, or even want to, become thin. That includes the rights to equal accommodation, including in healthcare.

UPCOMING ONLINE WORKSHOP:

Living Your Best Fat Life – Surviving and Thriving As A Fat Person In A Fatphobic World

In this talk I’ll share realistic strategies, tools, tips, and tricks I’ve learned for dealing with weight stigma – including our own internalized body issues, and the fatphobia that the world throws at us. This talk will focus on ways that we can stop making ourselves small to satisfy our bullies and the weight stigma that drives them, and start living life large.

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!) You can get more information here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org

Sarah Paulson’s Fat Suit Problem

Image Text: Excellent fat actors struggle to get good roles, so we don’t need thin actors wearing our bodies like a costume and cosplaying fat people.

In the upcoming series “”Impeachment: American Crime Story” Sarah Paulson plays Linda Tripp, wearing a fat suit. (Many of those defending this are calling it a “prosthetic” but, as Shakespeare once said, a fat suit by any other name would still be some harmful, fatphobic bullshit.)

David Oliver wrote about this in a piece for USA today in which I and several other fat activists are quoted.

When you give a quote for an article like this (in this case via email) it’s extremely common that they pull parts of it, break it up, etc. so for posterity, here is my full quote:

I’ll start by saying that I have been a fan of Sarah Paulson and I think she’s incredibly talented, I also know that there are equally talented fat actors who will never have the opportunities that Sarah Paulson has had, because there are so few roles for which they will be considered. I want a world where actors of all sizes get to play the lead, the romantic interest, the hero etc. but in the meantime, at the very least, I think that instead of having thin actors wear our bodies like a costume and cosplay fat people, fat actors should be cast in fat roles. This role should not have been offered to Sarah Paulson and, when it was, she should have said no and used her power and privilege to advocate for a fat actor to be cast.

You can read the full article here!

UPCOMING ONLINE WORKSHOP:

Living Your Best Fat Life – Surviving and Thriving As A Fat Person In A Fatphobic World

In this talk I’ll share realistic strategies, tools, tips, and tricks I’ve learned for dealing with weight stigma – including our own internalized body issues, and the fatphobia that the world throws at us. This talk will focus on ways that we can stop making ourselves small to satisfy our bullies and the weight stigma that drives them, and start living life large.

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!) You can get more information here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org

David’s Bridal Distributes Unsolicited Diet Propaganda To Plus Size Customers

Image Text: Dear David’s Bridal, sell wedding clothes not weight stigma

A reader let me know about this TikTok, where @stassiesims discusses the email that she got from David’s Bridal that was an advertisement for Weight Watchers (aka WW) She talks about the fatphobic nature of the email and laments the fact that she can’t return her dress to them since their return policy is seven days after purchase, even though it took them six months to get the dress to her, and to reveal themselves as a company that is willing to harm their fat customers for money.

In good news, there is a follow up, which is that David’s Bridal corporate got in contact with her and when they said it was in response to their customers wanting to work on wellness, she pushed back that weight loss (which, she had the receipts to show, is what WW was explicitly selling by name in their ad) has nothing to do with wellness. David’s has agreed to let her return the dress, but not to end this toxic partnership.)

By the way, if this was really about “wellness” then why (according to a number of comments on the original video) did David’s thin customers NOT receive this email? Does David’s not want them to be “well?”

I call bullshit.

The fact that you have fat clients who want to buy your wedding clothes does not make it ok to send them unsolicited weight loss propaganda, which can be harmful to their physical and mental health, including and especially when you send the propaganda in the name of physical and mental health.

We will never know how many fat people David’s harmed, how many eating disorders they contributed to, how many customer’s self-esteem was damaged, how many will take another dangerous ride on the weight loss rollercoaster.

We know that, based on their own numbers, Weight Watchers program almost never succeeds in producing significant, long-term weight loss . In fact, the only things they do succeed at producing are weight stigma and a shit ton of profit.

Once a snake oil salesperson, always a snake oil salesperson. Yes, even if Snake Oil, Inc. claims that they are not selling snake oil, they are selling “wellness”. Yes, even if Snake Oil, Inc changes their name to SO, Inc. It’s. Still. Snake Oil. And I still don’t want it all over my wedding dress.

As someone who is currently in the market for a wedding dress, David’s Bridal is off my list unless and until they correct this. I will find a way to get a dress that doesn’t support the diet industry.

If you’d like to tell them how you feel, you can contact them here:
1 (844) 400-3222
customerservice@dbi.com

UPCOMING ONLINE WORKSHOP:

Dealing With Fatphobia at Work – From Interviews, to Accommodations, To Workplace Wellness, Co-Worker Diet Talk and more

Fatphobia can create all kinds of challenges and difficulties in the workplace that fat people are left to navigate in order to simply make a living. These things aren’t our fault, but do become our problem so we’ll discuss options for navigating fatphobia at work.

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!) You can get more information here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org