Debating Dieting – You Go First

Research - you go firstMy path into Health at Every Size started with a review of all the diet literature that I could get my hands on. That’s how I first learned that there’s not a single study where more than a tiny fraction of people succeed at significant, long-term weight loss. (I also learned that the state of the research around weight loss and weight and health goes beyond shoddy to being negligent.)

Because of that research, and because of the speaking I do – which includes speaking to healthcare practitioners who are looking for an in-depth discussion of data and research – I have a lot of research and statistics on the tip of my tongue. My natural reaction when I’m in a situation where someone is perpetuating weight loss and diet culture in a way that affects me – whether it’s an internet debate, or a fatphobic doctor’s office – is to start quoting the research.

A while ago I realized that this wasn’t necessarily the best approach. It leaves me open to all kinds of logical fallacy from the person arguing with me – including their insistence that “everybody knows” statement are equal to all of the research I’m quoting, not to mention sealioning which is an annoying waste of my time, and people who think they are clever saying “prove that there are no studies.”

So I started a new policy – if someone wants to tell me that dieting is likely to make me thinner and/or healthier, including and especially a health care provider, then when it comes to research, they can go first. They are the ones who are hawking dieting, they can start by providing me the research that they believe backs up their point of view.

To be clear, we are all allowed to make choices for our bodies for whatever our reasons, and we don’t owe an explanation or debate to anyone. “This is none of your business” and “I have no interest in talking about this with you,” are complete answers to someone who wants to challenge our choices around our food, health, and bodies.

Further, there is absolutely no debate when it comes to Size Acceptance, ever. Fat people have the right to live and thrive in fat bodies and it doesn’t matter why we are fat, what the “consequences” of being fat might be, or if we could or want to become thin. Size Acceptance doesn’t say that people aren’t allowed to try to manipulate their bodies (however futile those attempts may be,) it simply says that nobody has to become (or attempt to become) thin to deserve equal rights and basic human respect. There’s no debate here – you either agree with Size Acceptance, or you are wrong.

What I’m talking about here is that if and when we decide we want to respond to someone who asks for a debate, or to a healthcare provider who is suggesting that we attempt to manipulate our body size, we don’t have to come to the table with all the evidence first. We can engage in debate on our terms – which includes insisting that if someone is telling us that diets and weight loss are safe and effective, they can pony up the proof.

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

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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)

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

Book and Dance Class Sale!  I’m on a journey to complete an IRONMAN triathlon, and I’m having a sale on all my books, DVDs, and digital downloads to help pay for it. You get books and dance classes, I get spandex clothes and bike parts. Everybody wins! If you want, you can check it out here!  (Members get an even better deal, make sure to make your purchases from the Members Page!)

Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

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

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

 

Moving Beyond Weight-Neutral to Body Affirming

NEDAwarenessI was recently named an official Ambassador for NEDA (the National Eating Disorders Association) It puts me in absolutely incredible company and I’m truly honored. It’s NEDA’s National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, and this year the theme is “Come As You Are.”

As part of that, I contributed a piece to NEDA’s blog about making the move from being Weight-Neutral to being fiercely body affirming – a move that is mandatory if we truly want to prevent eating disorders and allow for full recovery:

Diet culture and fatphobia perpetuate eating disorders and can make full recovery impossible. They create an environment in which we, as the brilliant Deb Burgard has said, prescribe and encourage the same behaviors for fat people that we diagnose and treat as eating disordered in thin people (which also results in missing or even encouraging eating disorders in people of higher weight). The popularity of dangerous weight-loss medications and surgeries make it seem perfectly acceptable to risk a fat person’s life and quality of life in pursuit of thinness–which is not only dangerous for fat people, but also a dangerous message to send to those of any size who may have or may develop an eating disorder.

It’s difficult to believe your recovery is the most important thing when diet culture and a fatphobic world are telling you that the most important thing, by far, is being thin by any means necessary. And it’s difficult–if not impossible—to let go of your fear of being fat/gaining weight/having an “imperfect” body if you can plainly see you live in a culture where your fear is absolutely justified.

That is why we know that the Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size paradigms are the only option that makes sense if we truly wish to prevent eating disorders and allow for full recovery.

This often takes the form of creating “weight-neutral” spaces, which includes no diet or weight loss talk, no negative body talk, no fashion magazines, no recommendations of weight loss as a cure for physical health issues or for stigma, etc. These are all important things that are critical in creating spaces that don’t perpetuate oppression or eating disorders. A weight-neutral space is a good start, but if we truly want to prevent eating disorders and create an environment that allows for full recovery, we need to move from weight-neutral to fiercely fat affirming.

Read the full piece here! 

To check out all of the ways to participate in Eating Disorders Awareness Week, check out this post.

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

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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)

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

Book and Dance Class Sale!  I’m on a journey to complete an IRONMAN triathlon, and I’m having a sale on all my books, DVDs, and digital downloads to help pay for it. You get books and dance classes, I get spandex clothes and bike parts. Everybody wins! If you want, you can check it out here!  (Members get an even better deal, make sure to make your purchases from the Members Page!)

Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

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

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

Study Plans To Starve Kids “For Their Health”

No On Fast TrackIn another example of so-called medical professionals deciding that it’s acceptable to risk fat people’s lives and quality of life to try to make us thin, the Fast Track study will quite literally starve 186 adolescents, ages 13-17.

Louise Adams, Clinical Psychologist and author of Untrapped,  has written about this extensively, the basics are:

“The “Fast Track To Health” study is about to kick off in Sydney & Melbourne. The research team have a $1.2 million grant from the NH&MRC, and these funds are being used to put teenagers through a gruelling and prolonged semi starvation experiment.

Teens aged 13-17 are facing a horrifying experience: for an entire month they will be allowed just 800 calories a day. After that, for an entire YEAR of their lives, the kids will be starved for 3 days of the week, allowed only 600-700 calories a day”

Ruth Leach wrote a brilliant, extensively cited, point by point explanation of the short and long term dangers of this horror of a study, which was co-signed by 37 different professionals and sent to the Human Research Ethics Committee at Syndey Children’s Hospital Network. You can read it here.

It should go without saying that starving kids is dangerous and unethical, but  unfortunately it needs to be said:

Please consider adding your voice by signing this petition created by Louise Adams.

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

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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)

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

Book and Dance Class Sale!  I’m on a journey to complete an IRONMAN triathlon, and I’m having a sale on all my books, DVDs, and digital downloads to help pay for it. You get books and dance classes, I get spandex clothes and bike parts. Everybody wins! If you want, you can check it out here!  (Members get an even better deal, make sure to make your purchases from the Members Page!)

Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

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

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

Risking Fat People’s Lives “For Their Health”

One of the ways in which diet culture harms, and can even kill, fat people is its perpetuation of the idea that a fat life is more risk-able than a thin life. The underlying belief of diet culture is that it’s better to be miserable, or even dead than to be fat.

We see this in lots of ways.

Medications being prescribed to fat people that risk our health and lives for a few pounds lost (and quickly regained.) 

Gruesome and barbaric recommendations, like pumping food out of our stomachs into a bucket, are seen as totally reasonable, without any regard for how they will affect our physical or mental health.

And of course there is the horror of stomach amputation and binding (aka “bariatric” or “weight loss” surgeries.):

A pretty clear example: a thin person and a fat person go to the same doctor. Both have elevated blood sugar. Their numbers are exactly the same. The thin person is prescribed medication with few side effects that is shown to help control blood sugar. The fat person is referred for a surgery during which most of their stomach will be amputated causing a risk of death on the table, short- and long-term death from complications, and horrible lifelong side effects. The fat person is asked to risk their life and quality of life to control blood sugar. The thin person is asked to take medication.

The same thing happens when a fat person who actually needs knee surgery is told that they can’t get it because knee surgery is too dangerous, and then they are given the recommendation to have stomach amputation surgery, which is far more dangerous with far worse possible side-effects.

Sadly this isn’t limited to adults, in Australia the “Fast Track to Health” study will literally starve children, despite the fact that the evidence does not suggest that it will do anything to change their weight, there are serious questions about severe food restriction during children’s growth years, and the study perpetrators know that they are risking inducing eating disorders. (There is a fantastic take-down of this here.)

I’m writing about this because I think it’s important to realize that when we are advocating for our health and healthcare, we are often advocating against a system that thinks that it’s worth killing us, or ruining our lives, to make us thin – no matter what we think.

Fat people have the right to exist, in fat bodies, and it doesn’t matter why we’re fat, what the “consequences” of being fat might be, or if we could (or want to) become thin. Fat people have the right to healthcare that supports our actual bodies, rather than insisting that we risk our lives to be thin before we are treated as human beings, worthy of appropriate, evidence-based healthcare

Nobody knows what fat people’s health outcomes would look like if we lived in a society that celebrated the diversity of body sizes, gave us the opportunity to love our bodies and see them as worthy of care, and the access to take good care of them. I’d like to find out

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

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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)

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

Book and Dance Class Sale!  I’m on a journey to complete an IRONMAN triathlon, and I’m having a sale on all my books, DVDs, and digital downloads to help pay for it. You get books and dance classes, I get spandex clothes and bike parts. Everybody wins! If you want, you can check it out here!  (Members get an even better deal, make sure to make your purchases from the Members Page!)

Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

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

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

Salad-Eating Fatphobe on Plane Gets Just Desserts

Pink Background, a black and white image of thin woman in a dress and heels leans on a table and waving. Black text says "Wait, Come back. You forgot your bullshit." someecards user cardOk, let me start by apologizing for that title, I just couldn’t help myself. Now on to the good news.

A fatphobe found herself seated in the middle seat on a plane between two plus-size people, and decided that her best choice was to verbally abuse her row-mates. She started on the phone to someone, complaining loudly that they were “squishing her” (though a video taken by Norma Rodgers, one of her row-mates does not substantiate that claim) Fatphobe then turned her ire to the flight attendant saying ““Get me out of here. I can’t do this. I can’t breathe, I’m so squished,” she said, before adding, “I eat salads, okay?”

Throughout the interaction we see the cruelty of fatphobia, but here we see the ridiculousness. Seriously, Fatphobe? “I eat salad.”? That’s what you went with?  Plenty of fat people eat salad, plenty of thin people don’t. Airlines have tons of promotions but “Eat a salad, choose your seatmates” is not one of them.

What isn’t funny at all is that she is white and her two row-mates are Black, so we have to ask ourselves to what extent racism was also at the root of, and driving her behavior.

At that point, in a bit of video that makes me want to stand up and cheer in my living room, Norma Rodgers – the hero we need – had e-fucking-nough and asked the flight attendant to find Fatphobe another seat because “I will not be abused by this bitch, or anybody else, I will not be verbally abused by anybody. I’m not tolerating it.” Tell her Ms. Rodgers.

The flight attendant asks Fatphobe to move to the back of the plane while they look for another seat and as she is leaving the row she says again “I eat salad.” That’s where it gets good.

While Ms. Rodgers asks the flight attendant how to report Fatphobe, repeating that she is not going to be treated this way, and the flight attendant empathizes and assists, the rest of the plane lets Fatphobe know that her behavior is not ok. In a glorious finish to this story, Fatphobe got kicked off the plane. I can only hope that her seat remained empty so that her abused row-mates could stretch out and enjoy their Fatphobe-free flight.

A few final points:

Much has been made in online discussions that I’ve seen about the fact that Fatphobe isn’t particularly thin. I don’t care about that, since there’s no weight at which her behavior would have been appropriate.

If you’re thinking something like “Making fat people buy two seats for one flight isn’t fat shaming, it’s just economics” then head over to this post.

If you’re thinking something like “But fat people on planes taking up space aren’t fair to thin people!” then head over to this post.

If you know what’s up, then just take this time to enjoy the fact that two fat people flew to their destinations while Fatphobe watched them take off from the airport, where flight attendants booted her ass after being shamed by fellow passengers of all sizes. Progress, far too slow and far too painful, but progress.

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

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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)

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

Book and Dance Class Sale!  I’m on a journey to complete an IRONMAN triathlon, and I’m having a sale on all my books, DVDs, and digital downloads to help pay for it. You get books and dance classes, I get spandex clothes and bike parts. Everybody wins! If you want, you can check it out here!  (Members get an even better deal, make sure to make your purchases from the Members Page!)

Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

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

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

The Super Bowl, Fat People, Prioritizing Health, and Hypocrisy

Super BowlOne of the reasons most commonly given for refusing to treat fat people with basic human respect, or to represent fat people in the media as happy, or successful at anything other than weight loss, is that fat people aren’t “prioritizing our health” and thus deserve to be treated poorly and denied positive media representation.

For today I’m setting aside the fact that this is both completely untrue and that it even if it was true it would still be extremely messed up, to discuss the almost unbelievable hypocrisy that is committed anytime this argument is made and, specifically, on Super Bowl Sunday, in this annual DWF post.

Today Super Bowl LIII will be played (for those not into sportsball, it’s the annual championship game of United States Football.) It has an anticipated audience of over 100 million people. Advertisers paid $5.25 Millon for a 3o second spot.

The dudes who will play in the game – many of them meeting the (totally bullshit) definition of “obese” – will be putting their short and long term health in jeopardy in the hopes of scoring more points than some other dudes, and winning jewelry.

If we really believe that people who don’t prioritize their health should be treated poorly and denied positive media representation, then I’m pretty confused here:

First is this incredibly long list of injuries.

And what about the massive impact of concussions on players future lives (and the NFL cover-up thereof.)

Or the fact that the rate of bankruptcy means that taxpayers will likely pick up the cost of most of the future healthcare they’ll need.

Football players are given massive media exposure despite the fact that they are clearly not prioritizing their own health.

So if we think that people who don’t “prioritize their health” are poor role models and shouldn’t be represented positively in the media, what is this whole Superbowl thing about?  Where is the insistence that football players aren’t good role models because they aren’t prioritizing their health? Where are the calculations about how expensive football players (from Pop Warner to Pro) will be – not just with sports injuries while they play, but with the fallout from concussions, and the constant pounding their joints take? Where is the WON’T SOMEBODY THINK OF THEIR KNEES hand-wringing?

Where are the calculations of how much money could be saved if instead of playing football those who participate just walked 30 minutes a day 5 days a week?  Where’s the government-sponsored “War on Football Playing”? And all of that despite the fact that body size is complicated and not entirely within our control and we don’t have a single study where more than a tiny fraction of people were able to change their body size, but playing (or not quitting) football is absolutely a choice.

To be clear, people are allowed to play football. My point here is that this whole “It’s because of fat people’s health that we treat them badly” thing is just a crappy justification for size-based discrimination, and it’s long past time to stop using healthism and ableism to justify sizeism, and to end all of them instead.

Did you like this post? 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 from myself and other cool businesses, a monthly e-mail keeping them up to date on the work their membership supports, and the ability to ask me questions that I answer in a members-only monthly Q&A Video!)

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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)

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

Book and Dance Class Sale!  I’m on a journey to complete an IRONMAN triathlon, and I’m having a sale on all my books, DVDs, and digital downloads to help pay for it. You get books and dance classes, I get spandex clothes and bike parts. Everybody wins! If you want, you can check it out here!  (Members get an even better deal, make sure to make your purchases from the Members Page!)

Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

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

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

Photoshoot Friday – My Fat Positive Session with Lindley Ashline

Ok, let’s start here: Photoshoot Friday isn’t so much an actual thing as an excuse for using alliteration. Which is to say it won’t be an every Friday kind of thing. The name just popped into my head and I couldn’t let go of the alliteration (regular readers readily remember that I’m always all about alliteration.) Photoshoots are pretty far out of my comfort zone, so when Lindley Ashline offered to do this shoot while I was in Oregon, I decided it was a face your fears kind of thing – especially since her commitment to fat positivity made it far less scary.

Lindley is the photographer behind Sweet Amaranth: Body Positive Boudoir & Portrait Photography and she is also the person behind the Body Love Box, a fat positive and intersectional monthly subscription box.

We did three locations around Portland. The pictures in the red dress are taken at the Rhododendron Garden. It was beautiful and freezing cold (for an LA by way of Austin girl – it turns out that the cold weather tolerance I developed in my youth is looooong gone!)

In addition to giving me posing tips (I have talents, but modeling is not one of them) and creating a delightful air of fat positivity around the whole shoot, Lindley would tell me what parts of me weren’t in the shot and let me cover them with a coat – she’s the best!

The pictures of me walking and running are also in the Rhododendron Garden and running around, not to mention wearing pants, helped me keep warmer. Normally I’m not a big proponent of pants but in this case… A million bonus points to Lindley since she was working in those conditions.

Lindley then drove out to the ruins of a stone house. My experience of Portland was that you can fall off any curb and into the woods – there are trees EVERYWHERE. This was no exception – a stunningly beautiful location that was just a few feet off the highway. Though I will say that those feet were straight up a muddy embankment with me lugging my suitcase full of various outfits and other photoshoot detritus, and Lindley having to haul all of her stuff up as well. It was totally worth it and we had fun playing with the existing “furniture” at the site, as well as Lindley’s fabulous blue sequin fabric.

We finished with a little scale smashing in my Fatties Against Fascism Shirt (get your own here!) I’ll let you in on a little secret – because we were on a public street and we didn’t have the supplies we needed to clean it up properly, we didn’t actually smash the scale.

It was an incredible day, working with Lindley was a joy, and I’m thrilled with the pictures. (You can click on them to enlarge if you would like.) Pictures are not authorized for use without express permission. If you’d like permission to utilize the photos, e-mail me at ragen@danceswithfat.org

A million thank yous to Lindley, who is a true professional and a joy to work with! You can find her, and her fab pictures, in all of these places:

Instagram: @sweetamaranth

Twitter: @sweetamaranthus

http://www.sweetamaranth.com

Representation Matters  – Diverse Stock Photos

Disclosures for Transparency:

Lindley gifted the photoshoot to me (Thank you!)  I don’t get compensated for linking to her work, or for any purchases made from her.

Junonia gave me the red shirt from the walk/run photos as part of a campaign that they are working on, these pictures may become part of that campaign. Other than the shirt, I won’t be compensated for the campaign, and I don’t get compensated for linking to their site, or for any purchases made there.

I’m not affiliated with the makers of the Fatties Against Fascism shirts (other than loving their work) I paid full price for my shirts from them, and don’t get compensated for linking to their site, or for any purchases made there.

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)

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

Book and Dance Class Sale!  I’m on a journey to complete an IRONMAN triathlon, and I’m having a sale on all my books, DVDs, and digital downloads to help pay for it. You get books and dance classes, I get spandex clothes and bike parts. Everybody wins! If you want, you can check it out here!

Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

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

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