A Girl and Her [Impossible] Room

Photographer Rania Matar created a project called “A girl and her room” where she photographed girls and young women in their bedrooms.  It sounded like a really interesting project to me, so I clicked the link.

A couple of the rooms really struck me:

These girls have surrounded themselves with images that are impossible to achieve and, in some cases, highly sexualized.  Thanks to photoshop, The MODELS in these photographs don’t even look like the photos in real life.

Is it any surprise that girls would put so much emphasis on this when they live in such a thin-centric society?  When the First Lady of the United States is at school shaming their fat classmates as a constant reminder of what will happen if they don’t fit the very small “proper” height/weight ratio as defined by the sixty B…B…B… Billion dollar a year diet industry?  Even if they weren’t hung intentionally as inspiration, what does it do to a girl to be surrounded by unattainable images in the room that is her sanctuary?

When I was a kid I had Rudyard Kiplings “If” on my ceiling (yes, I was a weird little kid) and 16 years later I can still recite the whole poem and it jumps into my head in lots of situations.  Will these images sink in like that for these girls?

What can we do?

There have been some efforts to put warnings on photoshopped pictures and I think it might be a good idea.  Even if they are aware that they are photoshopped, does it really sink in for these girls or does the diet industry’s message  that if you just have enough discipline you can have any sized body win out?  What does it do to them subconsciously?  It seems that at least they would have to see the label every time they look at the picture – that would be a start.

It’s just a suggestion but it’s time to do something because we can do better for our girls.

Published in: on April 28, 2011 at 7:28 am  Comments (27)  

I’m Making You Fat Right Now

Ragen Chastain: 5’4, 284 pounds. Pilates Instructor: Kate Wodash, Mindful Body Center Austin

Gotcha!  You looked at the picture of me and now you’re going to eat cookies until you explode.  If you are my friend in real life you should stop hanging out with me now before you weigh 5000 pounds. Set your computers to not show images  – HURRY!!!!!

I’m not making this up – it’s “research” (research here having the meaning of highly questionable marketing copy).  You can find an abstract here.

Basically these two women conducted a study where they did things like ask random people to take a survey:

The surveys had photos of an overweight person, a person of normal weight, or a lamp. After completing the survey, the researchers asked respondents to help themselves from a bowl of candy as a thank you. “People who completed the survey that included a picture of someone who was overweight took more candies on average than people who saw either of the other two pictures.”

“Seeing someone overweight leads to a temporary decrease in a person’s own felt commitment to his or her health goal,” the authors explain.

Explain?  I do not think this word means what you think it means.  That’s not an explanation – that’s a theory that their research can’t back up.  It also reads as patently offensive to me because their false dichotomy suggests that fat people DON’T have a commitment to health.  (And for that, they can bite me.)

By this logic I should be an alcoholic.  You see I don’t drink.  I just never started:  I don’t care for the taste, it’s an expensive hobby and I have enough of those, and I don’t like headaches or puking.  But I’m the CEO of a company that owns a bar, a restaurant, and a performance venue where we sell a ton of liquor.  I’m around people drinking CONSTANTLY.  Yet somehow I’ve managed to find the resolve to make my own choices.  Which is amazing since it seems that according to the researchers I’m a big fat fatty who can’t stop stuffing myself while bringing everyone around me down with me.

TIME Magazine let me WAY down by running with the headline “Why Seeing Overweight People Makes Us Eat More, Not Less”.  It’s not  “Why.”  TIME Magazine, it’s still “Does?”, nobody has proven anything. I’m normally a fan of TIME but what the hell?  Is it just a mistake, is your headline writer a moron, or do you not care about journalistic integrity?

Not to mention the “not less” part implies that seeing fat people would for some reason cause people to actually lose their appetite.

Correlation means that things often happen at the same time.  Causation means that one thing can be proven to cause another thing.  Say it with me regular readers:  Correlation never ever, never ever, never ever implies causation.  The headlines are saying that a majority of people who looked at a picture of a fat person ate more candy, therefore seeing a fat person makes you eat more.   You just can’t do that.  For example:  in 2003 the month of August had the most ice cream eaten, and the most murders committed in the United States.  So TIME should have run a headline saying “Why Eating Ice Cream Makes You Murder People”.   WAIT… if having fat friends makes you more likely to eat sweets, and ice cream is a sweet, and ice cream makes you murder people, then I’m not just making you fatter – I’m also making you a murderer.  GET OUT WHILE THERE’S STILL TIME!

As long as you’re still here, let’s talk about the study.

  • Who chose the pictures – who judged what was considered “overweight”?  Actual scientific studies have shown that different people have different interpretations of overweight, meaning that some participants might have thought that the “overweight” picture was normal weight and some might have thought that the “normal weight” picture was underweight or overweight.  Did they ask the participants?  If not do we feel that brings the conclusions into question?
  • Were the researchers handing out surveys and candy all the same size?
  • Was there some other connection between the participants who saw the fat picture?
  • Did it matter that the pictures were all female?
  • The respondents were asked to “rank” the pictures (ostensibly a sham task) – rank them how?  Did that affect results?
  • Did it matter if the researcher was male or female (participants may have been more likely to eat more candy from a male researcher for example).
  • Could the researcher’s (possibly subconscious) fat bias have lead them to offer the candy in a different way to those who saw the fat people?
  • Did anybody see if the study was different if they just left the participants alone in the room with the candy?
  • Was a control group offered celery?
  • How many participants are we talking about here?  Was the sample size statistically significant?

I’m also wondering how the lamp fared.  Was it a skinny lamp or a fat one?  Would that make a difference? Maybe everyone should get rid of any big furniture before they inexplicably polish off a gallon of ice cream.  Or, if the people who saw the lamp ate the least candy, maybe those seeking to change their eating habits should carry around a picture of a lamp.  Why didn’t the study’s authors draw conclusions about the lamp?

And the big question – who funded the study? I know that you’ll be shocked to learn that I couldn’t find that information.  I’ve e-mailed the contact to ask, I’ll let you know what I hear back.

I don’t know why people took more candies and neither do these “researchers” (and I use the term loosely).  It could have been complete coincidence, it could be because fat people have such a stigma attached to them that people see fat people, think about how their body will never match up to the ideal, and then eat candy as an emotional crutch, or as an act of rebellion. Nobody knows.

And really, what’s the point of this research?  With all the actual problems in the world, who in their right mind spends money to research whether looking at a picture of a fat person make you likely to eat more candy?

Margaret C. Campbell is an Associate Professor of Marketing at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Her thesis was called “Perceived Manipulative Intent: A Potential Risk to Advertising”  Some of her published papers include:

  • When Attention-Getting Tactics Elicit Consumer Inferences of Manipulative Intent: The Importance of Balancing Benefits and Investments
  • What Makes Things Cool? How Autonomy Influences Perceptions of Coolness
  • Implicit Theories about Influence Agents: Factors that Affect the Activation and Correction of Persuasion Stereotypes
  • Persuasion Sentry and Goal Seeker: How Consumer Targets Respond to Interpersonal Marketing Persuasion

Gina S. Mohr is a Ph.D student in Marketing.  I couldn’t find out much about her.  She has 4 connections on LinkedIn, I hope they’re not fat.  Maybe someone should publish an article that says “Why Getting a Ph.D. in Marketing Means You’ll Only Have Four Friends”

You know I’m all about healthy eating and movement – maybe the first thing that we should do on our path to health is exercise some common sense. Then again, I’m hungry – any thin people want to make an ice cream run with me? Come on, you know you wanna…

Huge thanks to the always fabulous Virginia Sole-Smith for telling me about this.  You can read her fantastic blog about the subject here!

Published in: on April 22, 2011 at 9:16 am  Comments (12)  

Diet Lipgloss: Sign of Fatpocalypse or Just Stupid?

I love the show Sharktank.  It features a group of wealthy Angel Investor/Venture Capitalist types.  People come on the show, pitch their business, and the “sharks” decide whether or not to invest.

I was watching an episode and a women came on to talk about her business. According to her story (and just for you I went back to listen to this again and get the quote exactly right):

Several years ago I attended a Christmas Party and I discovered that two ladies at the party that I had met referred to me as chubby.  So I began to take diet pills.

What with the who now?  You read that right and I didn’t leave anything out of the quote – she heard that two people she had JUST MET called her chubby so she went out and bought diet pills.

I’m all for people making whatever choices they want about their own health and I respect her choice, but I do think it’s worth it to note that we live in a world where someone goes from getting second-hand knowledge of being called chubby by perfect strangers to taking diet pills.

Ok, so it turns out that the pills had side effects (shocking, I know) and so she stopped taking them.  The one day

I began to re-apply my lipgloss in the rear view mirror… and I thought oh my gosh, I wonder if there’s a smell or an herb or something that you can put in a lipgloss that may help to curb my appetite”

Long story short, she developed a lip gloss that you smell and then apply and it’s supposed to help you lose weight.

What followed made me endlessly happy:

A shark asked her if she had any clinical trials.

She said “I’ve spoken to an FDA attorney to ensure that what I’m talking about [pause[ in talking about [product name] as a cosmetic is that it enhances the appearance of women”.

A shark followed up and asked if she could put a sign up in a store that said “Lose weight” .

She responded “No, that’s exactly what I won’t say but what I will say is that I invite my customers to try the product for themselves”.

I did a little research and it turns out that her main ingredient was judged not safe enough by big pharma (the people who were comfortable putting a diet pill on the market with a label warning that  you should wear dark pants and bring an extra pair to work because of anal leakage).  That wasn’t on the show – it’s just a fun bonus fact for you readers.

There was some sad (at least sad to me) news.  So far she has $44,000 in sales.

What?

At $28 a tube (nope, you read that right $28 magical lipgloss) that’s a little over 1,500 tubes.

Happily (at least happily to me) she did not get funding from the sharks.

I looked it up online and she is now selling it  2 for $19.99 with a “7-day detox kit” which includes “nutrition guide, 12 min exercise video, and subconscious mindset audio”.  She’s also billing herself as a motivational speaker.

With that I return to my original question.  Is the fact that someone can sell $44,000 of a “weight loss” product with absolutely no proof of efficacy, using marketing that is legally required NOT to say that it causes weight loss, proof that the OMGDeathFatPanic has actually become a fatpocalypse, or is it just stupid?

I’ll leave it for you to decide.  I’m going to go squeegee my third eye and apply brain bleach until I forget all about this.

Published in: on April 18, 2011 at 7:04 am  Comments (17)  

Chicago Fat Panic – Think of the Children!

In case its not immediately apparent, these are enchiladas. Source: Chicago Tribune

Today we’re going to talk about how the Fat Panic has lead to a school telling parents that they are not allowed to send their kids to school with lunches, but must pay for the school lunches – one of which is pictures in the photo – and doesn’t it just look tasty and nutritious.

Before I get started, if you’ll allow me some quick shameless self-promotion.  I’ll be in NYC in May and the fabulous Golda Poretsky and I will be putting on a  “Dancing with Body Positivity” workshop.  Click here for details (and to see the amazing flyer that Golda made!

Onto today’s blog:

Readers Karen and Lauren sent me an article about what passes for helping children be healthy these days:

In this article  a public school in Chicago has banned students from bringing their own lunches, except in cases where a student has a medical excuse.  Although this has been in place for 6 years, it is getting coverage now because of the whole won’t-somebody-think-of-the-children obesity epi-panic that is being led by our First Lady.  The school Principal said “Nutrition wise, it is better for the children to eat at the school…It’s about the excellent quality food that they are able to serve (in the lunchroom). It’s milk versus a Coke.”

The excellent quality of food, huh?  This time last year Chicago students got National press for PROTESTING the quality of the lunches. According to the school they’ve got more vegetables and less junk now, and they only offer reduced fat and fat free mayo and salad dressings. We just talked about this, I highly doubt that foods predominantly composed of chemicals are more healthy than real food.  The students say that the food tastes bad and parents say that means that more food goes in the trash and their kids go hungry.

Take another look at those enchiladas.  Yikes.

This doesn’t really add up to me, I wonder if there could be another reason the school wants to do this? Hmmm…Each school lunch is $2.25 for those who don’t qualify for school lunch.  That’s about $400 per student per year in revenue. It’s a k-8 school so each student is worth $3,600 over the duration of their stay to the schools food supplier.  I wonder if they were involved in getting this implemented?  In cases where students are on free or reduced lunch, the school is paid money by the Federal Government.  I wonder how much that revenue factored into this situation?  I know that I could pack a healthy lunch for less than $2.25 and if parents are having to pay extra for school lunch that’s less budget they have for healthy foods at home.

There is something else that I think bears looking into and that is the way that childhood obesity is measured.  It’s our old friend BMI.  As flawed as it is for adults, it is even worse for children.  You know how some children will gain a lot of weight and then have a big growth spurt?  I wonder what happens to those kids when parents and schools restrict calories and force movement in an attempt to make them lose that weight? BMI certainly can’t tell us how tall a kid is going to get.

The original article calls this “Nutritional tough love”, and part of an effort to “Combat the country’s childhood obesity epidemic”.  First of all, it’s not an epidemic.  Second, since when do we want kids in the firing lines of “combat” of any kind?  Why can’t we manage to be for healthy kids without being against obese ones (especially when Health at Every Size is an option).

Let’s not forget that according to sources sited on the non-profit National Association of Anorexia and Associated Eating Disorders website:

•47% of girls in 5th-12th grade reported wanting to lose weight because of magazine pictures.

• 69% of girls in 5th-12th grade reported that magazine pictures influenced their idea of a perfect body shape.

• 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner.

• 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat.

If we really stopped to think of the children, I think we would be doing better than this.

Published in: on April 17, 2011 at 6:19 am  Comments (17)  

The Trouble with Before and After Pics

Before: 5’4, 284 lbs, photo by Richard Sabel

After: 5’4 284lb photo by Richard Sabel

I find Before and After pictures to be one of the most ubiquitous and insidious forms of body shaming.

First, they are designed to create a situation where we judge bodies as good and bad or, at the very least, better and worse.  I don’t believe that anything good comes out of this.

Second, they are used in money making contexts to “help” me identify my body as bad/worse, and show me that it could be good/better if I just bought whatever they are selling.  That, as the brilliant CJ Legare says, is trying to steal my self-esteem and sell it back to me at a profit. And that’s not ok with me

I can’t help but notice that the person in the before shot always looks miserable and in the after shot they look so happy.  The message seeming to be that anyone who looks like that cannot/should not be happy and that happiness is/should be reserved for those whose bodies are “right and good”. The worst for me is when the before picture is of someone in their sweat pants, eating on the couch before their shower; and the after picture is them standing in the sun, bronzed, sucking in until they are on the verge of fainting, fully made up, dressed up and smiling like they won the lottery.

Also, let’s not forget that they can be fake as hell with or without photo re-touching, as demonstrated in this video from “Bigger, Faster, Stronger” which is a really interesting documentary about steroid use (trigger warning, there are models in the video and also some negative body language)

I’m just suggesting that whether or not you want to get healthier or change the size and shape of your body, you might want to appreciate the body you have now and all of the millions of things it does for you every day (if you’re reading this, consider thanking your body for your vision/hearing, heartbeat, breathing, blinking, etc.)  If you want somewhere to start, try Love Your Body More in Three Simple Steps

Also consider the possibility that there’s no such thing as “before” or “after; maybe there’s only “during” and maybe we are all perfect exactly where we are right this minute.

Like the blog?  Here’s more of my stuff:

Interviews with Amazing Activists!!  Help Activists tell our movement’s history in their own words.  Support In Our Own Words:  A Fat Activist History Project!

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The Book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

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Published in: on April 16, 2011 at 10:20 am  Comments (13)  

I’m Supposed to Eat What?

Awesome reader Karen sent me an article about healthy foods in schools that I will do a blog on later.  Today I want to focus on one piece of it and that is that in order to be healthier, the schools were only offering low-fat and fat-free options.

It seems that this is the recommendation of Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign, the abhorrent fallacy of which I have already covered in this blogA couple of times.

While of course I still think it’s monumentally stupid to be against obese children instead of for healthy ones, today I want to discuss how healthy these low fat and fat free options really are.

Let’s do some comparison shopping:

Ingredient for Regular Sour Cream:  Grade A Cultured Cream

Ingredients for Fat Free Sour Cream:  Cultured Pasteurized Grade A Fat Free Milk and Cream, Modified Corn Starch,Grade A Nonfat Dry Milk, Gelatin, Propylene Glycol Esters, Artificial Color, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Phosphate, Agar, Sodium Citrate, Locust Bean Gum, Vitamin A Palmitate.

I find it very difficult to believe that all of those chemicals are  healthier than just eating Grade A Cultured Cream.  How and why did they modify Corn Starch?  Propylene Glycol Esters?  What the hell?

Let’s look at cookies:

Newman’s Own Creme Filled Cookies: Organic Unbleached Flour, Organic Sugar, Powdered Sugar, Organic Palm Oil, Canola Oil, Organic cocoa, Cocoa, Organic Unsweetened Chocolate, Natural Flavor, Salt, Sodium Bicoarbonate, Soy Lecithin.

Snackwells Creme Cookies:  Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine, Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid) Sugar, Vegetable Shortening (Partially Hydrogenated Canola, Soybean, and/or Cottonseed Oils), Dextrose, Corn Flour, Glycerin, Whey, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Leavening (Baking Soda, Calcium Phosphate), Cornstarch, Emulsifiers (Datem, Mono- and DiGlycerides, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate), salt, Wheat Starch, Cellulose Gum and Gel, Natural and Artificial Flavor.

The part where they say “partially hydrogenated canola, soybean, and/or cottonseed oils” I find particularly charming.  What do you mean “and/or”?  If you don’t know what’s in these cookies then who the hell does?

And the prize for ingesting all of that crap?   20 calories and 2 grams of fat less than the version that doesn’t contain Datem, Mono- and DiGlycerides and Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate.  Pass.

I once saw salad dressing that was “No calories, fat, carbs, gluten or sugar”.  Ok, anything that makes that claim and isn’t AIR or WATER doesn’t pass my test for being something that goes in my body.

Look, I’m happy for people to eat whatever they want, but when I hear that schools are taking away all of the options except those filled with manufactured chemicals and devoid of actual food, I have to wonder how strong the fat free foods lobby is and who is REALLY looking out kids’ health.

As for me and my house, we will eat real food.

Published in: on April 15, 2011 at 8:06 am  Comments (43)  

Your Money and My Fat Ass

“As long as my insurance and tax dollars continue to pay for there [sic] diabetes, and heart disease, I’ll continue to feel justified in telling every overweight person I see that they need to lose weight.  Shame is powerful and there [sic] fat is costing me real money”

So I read when I broke the cardinal rule of being fat on the internet and read the comments.

First of all, when someone brings this up I typically demand to see their list of things that their tax dollars pay for broken down into things that they want to pay for and things that they don’t.  Nobody has ever produced such a list – that’s because this really doesn’t have anything to do with their tax dollars, it’s simply a convenient way to couch their size bigotry.   Nevertheless, I hear this argument a lot and I think that today is the day to break it down.

It is based first and foremost on the assumption that fat people are unhealthy and going to get diabetes and/or heart disease and that losing weight is possible for most people and will make fat people healthier.  I’m going to look at this two ways.  First the reality/truth, and then if those assumptions were true:

Reality:

We’ve already talked about the “Diabesity” myth.  Also, independent research has shown that the money argument is seriously overblown.  The truth is, you cannot tell how healthy a person is by looking at them, you can only tell what size they are.  There is no such thing as a healthy weight. There are healthy fat people and unhealthy thin people. There are physically active fat people and sedentary thin people. There are fat people who eat a “well balanced diet” (which is to say a diet of which concern trolls would approve) and thin people who eat fast food almost exclusively.  I think almost everyone has a thin friend who eats a ton of crappy food and stays thin, and typically people accept that.  But let a person eat well and still be fat and, in my experience, those same people call you a liar.  Regardless, all of these choices are the right of the person making them, everyone gets to choose how highly they prioritize their health and the path that they choose to get there.   But I digress.

Health is complicated, multidimensional, and not entirely within our control.

But let’s pretend that the assumption is true.

In that case:  I’m fat, so I’m unhealthy. But…

I pay taxes too, and my taxes go to pay for the war on obesity – I’m actually funding a war waged against me by my government. Meanwhile, prior to the Affordable Care Act I had been without insurance for 14 years because insurers were allowed to exclude me based entirely on my BMI.

I’ve never even smoked a cigarette.  And yet my tax dollars go to all the people who get health problems related to smoking.

I don’t drink.  I’ve never even been drunk. And yet my tax dollars pay for cirrhosis, drunk driving accidents and  alcohol poising.

I’ve never done drugs.  And yet my tax dollars pay for people whose lives and bodies fall apart due to drug abuse.

I look both ways before I cross the street.  And yet I have to pay for people who get run over after failing to do so.

I don’t mountain climb, but my tax dollars pay for the healthcare costs of people whose attempts to do so are unsuccessful.

And well they should, because that’s how civilized societies behave. I would rather my tax dollars pay for antibiotics to cure bronchitis than pay for hospitalization for pneumonia.  And I’d rather my tax dollars pay for hospitalization for pneumonia than pay for a public funeral because someone didn’t have access to healthcare. I think that a society with access to healthcare is better from every possible angle and so I’m interested in removing barriers to healthcare, not justifying them with an argument about my tax dollars.

I’ve also noticed that people who want to police my “health” (and by health I actually mean body size which is not the same thing) are never that excited to have other people police their health.  Should vegans only have to pay for the healthcare of other vegans if they believe that’s the healthiest lifestyle?  Should Christian Scientists taxes not have to pay for any healthcare at all?  Since I think that people who make this argument are bullies should I not have to pay for their healthcare since I don’t like bullies?

Marathoners drop dead of heart attacks.  People who do everything “right” die of diseases to which they were genetically predisposed. Other people live their lives in ways with which we disagree, we live our lives in ways with which other people disagree, and all this “won’t somebody think of my tax dollars” hand wringing is nothing but thinly veiled fat bigotry.

Bottom line:

Even if you could prove that being fat makes me unhealthy (which you can’t). And even if you had a method that was scientifically proven to lead to successful long term weight loss  (which you don’t). And even if there was proof that losing weight would make me healthier (which there isn’t). And even if you were going to go around yelling at smokers, drinkers, jay walkers, and thin people who don’t get exercise (which you aren’t) this slope is still too slippery.  And that doesn’t take into account the reality that your premise is completely flawed, your assumptions are faulty, and your method of shaming people is utterly ineffective since you can’t make someone hate themselves healthy.

So I think it would be dandy if they would just shut up.

Like my blog?  Looking for some holiday support or gifts?  Here’s more of my stuff!

The Book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

Become a member: For just ten bucks a month you can keep this blog ad-free, support the activism work I do, and get deals from cool businesses Click here for details

Dance Classes:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details 

Interviews with Amazing Activists!!  Help Activists tell our movement’s history in their own words.  Support In Our Own Words:  A Fat Activist History Project!

If my selling things on the blog makes you uncomfortable, you might want to check out this post.  Thanks for reading! ~Ragen

Published in: on April 12, 2011 at 7:31 am  Comments (52)  

Kirstie Alley Did Not Fall Down

I’ve had literally twelve people e-mail me to ask me what I thought about Kirstie Alley’s fall on Dancing with the Stars (video at the end).  So here it is:

She didn’t fall – he dropped her.  Stated a different way, he fell when he suffered an injury and she went down with him.  Based on my viewing it looked to me like he pulled a muscle as he shifted the weight to change direction and finish the move.  His strength didn’t go out as if she were too heavy to hold- he clearly pulled or strained a muscle which could also have to do with how much he warmed up, how hydrated he was, previous injuries etc.  In the interview after she kept saying “We did it a thousand times”.  This move does require the gentlemen to take on a lot of the lady’s weight but there is a lot of physics involved  and I can’t imagine they would have risked it if it didn’t go well in practice.  Injuries happen to dancers and men drop their thin partners- I’ve seen it happen. Go to YouTube and search for ballroom dance bloopers and you can see thin woman after thin woman get dropped on her ass, her knees, her head, and her pride.

Still, I would be lying if I didn’t say that this sort of scenario terrifies me.  My dance coach is incredibly strong and can absolutely hold me up but if one of the things that caused one of those thousands of YouTube blooper moments happen (the floor is too slick, he slips on an errant rhinestone, he gets a cramp etc.) I’m just a fat girl falling down.

And fat girls falling down are apparently more hilarious than other people falling down.  They sell shirts that say “If a fat girl falls down in the woods, do the trees laugh?”  (No, of course I’m not linking to it here so don’t ask!) And really the only response that I have to that is bite me.

I’m actually quite used to falling down. On the dance floor people often comment on my grace.  Off the dance floor I can be a serious klutz. My ankles are double jointed so sometimes they just roll and I fall down out of no where.  I’m frequently thinking of three or four things while walking around I just run into things.  Big, stationary object things.  It has nothing to do with my weight – I was like this at my lightest weight, I’m like this now.  Today I fell UP some stairs.  I’ve got skills in this area is what I’m saying.

It happened to me at the National Championships.  I was waltzing and I don’t know what happened but my right ankle folded in half (the inside of my food touched the inside of my leg) and I landed hard on my left knee.  When I got up the knee hurt only slightly more than the ankle which was in excruciating pain and I limped my way through two days of competition (there are parts of it I can’t even remember, but I do remember doing East Coast Swing – a really bouncy fast dance that uses a lot of knee and ankle – and  thinking “Can you die from pain?…Shut up brain, we have to dance now.. come on Ragen, get it together and keep smiling”)  But the trees didn’t laugh.  Nobody laughed.  Everybody cheered when I got up and kept dancing and I went on to win a Couple’s National Title. Kirstie got up as well and danced a kick ass routine under a lot of pressure – and that’s what I wish the story was.  Not “fat girl falls down” but “Dancer Rises Up”

I guess my point in all this is to say that people who are laughing at her for “falling” are people who 1. don’t know anything about dancing and 2. would probably wear that shirt about fat girls in the woods.  And who really cares what these people think?  I hope Kirstie doesn’t.

So watch the video and see for yourself, but I think it’s a crime that people watched the fall over and over again instead of watching the trick at 1:00, because that’s bad ass, and her footwork throughout is beautiful.

Published in: on April 7, 2011 at 8:41 am  Comments (27)  

Spanx – WTF?

First, I know that I’m treading on dangerous ground here as I have friends who swear by their Spanx.  As always this blog is all about me in general, and today it’s specifically about my experience with Spanx.  I’m not trying to tell anyone else how to live.  If you wear Spanx, that is awesome and I fully support you.  Are we good?  Excellent, let’s continue:

I don’t really wear shapewear. I think my body’s shape is fine, and  I highly value the ability to have full range of motion, and to take full deep breaths. When I am dancing, I sometimes wear shapewear-esque stuff because I have a very long torso and my shirt will rise up and bare midriff is a penalty. The things I wear for this are purposefully a size larger than I normally wear and offer coverage only – no compression.

For a routine that my cabaret group did this weekend, we wore skin-tight cropped pants and our leader asked us to wear shapewear. Thus began my first date with Spanx. I went by the height/weight chart on the back panel and selected something called Higher Power.

First of all, I broke a sweat trying to get them on, and think I pulled something I’ll need in later life. At first they felt like jeans that are out of the dryer and I was just waiting for them to stretch out. One of the girls on my team burst that bubble. So, with my range of motion and ability to breathe compromised I went off to the show.

Today as I was cleaning up I found the package that my medievil torture device Spanx came in. And I got irritated all over again.

It says “Spanx started with $5000 and a dream – to make the world a better place…one butt at a time!”

Big fat fail over here- my world is a better place when I can freaking breathe. My world is a better place when someone is not trying to convince me that making myself into a human sausage will make the world a better place.

Then I saw the picture on the back:

Are you kidding me with this crap?

Cook a meal:  If you happen to be cooking me a meal in the hopes that it will get you laid…congratulations you’ve got an excellent strategy there.  If after that meal we find ourselves naked, and your body is suddenly a different size and shape than it was a minute ago, I’m going to think that’s weird and it will probably kill the mood.  Just sayin’.

Put Out a Fire:  First of all, I hate to nitpick (ok, no I don’t) but the girl in the high heels and compression undergarments is not putting out a fire – she is defying gravity and any modicum of ladder safety in her snazzy underpants, leaving the fire raging behind her.  Second,  I have to wonder how female firefighters feel about this portrayal.  Third, I think I might rather fend for myself than deal with a rescue attempt by someone whose attention is on whether or not she has a muffin top.

Win a Race:  This one really kills me (and not just because this woman appears to be running in high heels without a bra on, beating people with the wost running form I’ve ever seen, and has been awarded her medal WHILE breaking the tape at the finish line):  it turns out that doctors are having to tell teen athletes to stop wearing Spanx because tight garments can cause pain and numbness in the thigh if they squeeze the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve, which runs down the abdomen just below the hipbone.   This article is from “Shots” which is the health blog for NPR.

Unfortunately the last line says “Shot’s Advice:  Kids, leave the Spandex to us middle-aged women, who really need it.”  I’m calling bullshit. First because we all have a lateral femoral cutaneous nerve – it doesn’t go away after our teen years so adult women are at the same risk.  More importantly,  I’m going to say that nobody NEEDS Spanx, and I think that a health blog telling middle-aged women that they need Spanx is disgusting.  And the fact that the author included herself doesn’t make that better. I’m curious if they got paid for that endorsement. (For a really interesting ancillary article about the differences between uniforms of male and female athletes, check this out.)

If you want to wear Spanx, then awesome – rock those bitches.  But don’t try to make it an issue of my self-esteem by attempting to convince me that I will somehow be better or, even more ludicrously, make the WORLD a better place if I use super-tight underwear to temporarily change the size and shape of my body. You can sell a false sense of self-esteem somewhere else, I’m all stocked up with the real stuff here.

Published in: on April 5, 2011 at 12:34 am  Comments (39)