You don’t have to be scared

I do get a lot of feedback where people say that my work “scares” them. I received a comment that I wanted to respond to here because I think it captures the ways in which people hear my message and become uncomfortable:

I have just started following your blog because: I feel that loving your body and having a realistic and healthy body image in today’s society is incredibly important. I also agree with the healthy at any size movement.

Thanks!

However I have some concerns to raise with you, or perhaps a challenge. It seems from a lot of your writing that you are defending women who are more overweight than healthy(your mission)

You said that you agree with the Health at Every Size movement but I think you may be mistaken, or at least you are missing the point which is that weight and health are two different things. “More overweight than healthy” is a false comparison.  You can be heavier or lighter and you can be more or less healthy.  There are healthy and unhealthy people at every shape and size. Our culture erroneously started to use weight as a proxy for health and many people are now confused about it.

For example in this article you are defending the 60% fat majority in America, but how many of that 60% percent are large and healthy?

I object to the word defend because we have no need to defend or justify ourselves to anyone.  To answer your question, we have no idea how many of us are healthy since the medical care the we receive is often unbelievably poor – a diagnosis of fat and a prescription of weight loss.  I’ve had doctors try to prescribe me blood pressure medication BEFORE checking my blood pressure (which was perfect at 117/70)   We also don’t know how many of us would be healthy if we didn’t live under the stress of constant stigma.  We do know that:

“Women who say they feel they are too heavy suffer more mental and physical illness than women who say they feel fine about their size — no matter what they weigh…Stigma and prejudice are intensely stressful. Over time, such chronic stress can lead to high blood pressure and diabetes. – Peter Muennig, Columbia

You also mentioned in another article that you had plenty of studies backing the fact that overweight and obese people live just as long as others. I think the point here is not wether or not someone is physically alive with a heart beat and if this person is mobile, has joint, heart, and respiratory problems, if this person has diabetes, or many more weight-related issues.

You say “weight related” which is correct, but I’m not sure if you actually have an understanding of correlation vs. causation.  These diseases are correlated with obesity which only means that they sometimes happen at the same time and we don’t know why.  Obesity isn’t proven to cause any of them.  In fact most fat people will NOT develop Type 2 diabetes (according to the American Diabetes Association) and many thin people will develop it.  People of all sizes have issues with mobility, joint health and respiratory problems as well. The difference is that if you are fat, everything gets blamed on your fat (I’ve had doctors list my weight as a cause for issues including strep throat and a dislocated shoulder.) But saying it doesn’t make it the truth.  Research tells us otherwise:

“Consistently, physical inactivity was a better predictor of all-cause mortality than being overweight or obese.” -Annals of Epidemiology

“We’ve studied this from many perspectives in women and in men and we get the same answer: It’s not the obesity—it’s the fitness.” -Steven Blair, P.E.D., Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research

“Active obese individuals actually have lower morbidity and mortality than normal weight individuals who are sedentary … the health risks of obesity are largely controlled if a person is physically active and physically fit.”
-The President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports

By no means am I saying you need to be model thin, or that one will be riddled with health diseases if you put on a few pounds. In fact I think a persons actual weight is irrelevant but a woman should be big because she has a larger bone structure, or muscle, and not because she has masses of fat tissue clinging to her.

When did you get the job of telling other people what their bodies should look like and of what they should be composed? Was there a ceremony?  Was it nice?   You’ve already demonstrated a lack of understanding around the research about weight and health so honestly I don’t think you’re qualified to make predictions about will happen if someone puts on a few pounds, or decisions about what their bodies should be composed of.

I am scared that you are deluding unhealthy women into thinking that they do not have a problem. It should not be an incredible achievement for someone to play with their child, go for a walk, or climb a flight of stairs, that should be something every person expects from their body without any consideration.

Ignoring that fact that your comment is incredibly insensitive to people with any number of disabilities, and is also extremely healthist, now you’re also the achievement police?  What about if someone is injured in an accident and told that they will never walk again.  Would you allow them to think that climbing a flight of stairs would be an achievement?  This idea you seem to have that all thin people are energetic, mobile and healthy and that all fatties are unable to climb stairs or go for a walk or play with their children is something that you are making up in your head. We run marathons. We run triathlons, hoop dance, climb mountains and win National Dance Championships.  Image what we would do if we weren’t constantly told what we CAN’T do by people who have no actual idea.  Just yesterday I explained why I don’t believe that body size is a problem and  I believe that social stigma and access are problems.

Keep up your work with body image and health at any size, but please consider what you defend as healthy.

I will and I already have or I wouldn’t be defending it.  Please consider why you would ask me (well, actually you tried to tell me) to keep up my work with health at any [sic] size and then suggest that I should tell people that some body sizes are inherently unhealthy.  Also, please consider what assume to be true.

Also, why do you label yourself as fat if you believe you are at a healthy weight?

There you’ve missed the entire point again.  There is no such thing as a healthy weight. There is no weight that guarantees health – there are healthy and unhealthy people of every shape and size. I call myself fat because I am fat (I have a lot of adipose tissue) I call myself healthy because I am healthy (my metabolic markers for health are all in the healthy range, I have strength, stamina and flexibility in the top 5% of the country).  Were I to become unhealthy in some way, I would treat the health issue in the same way it would be treated in a thin person because if thin people get a disease then being thin cannot be the cure.

Published in: on October 14, 2011 at 3:58 am  Comments (66)  

66 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. What’s with all of these people who seem to think that fat people can’t play with kids? What does play involve that fat can get in the way of? Am I too fat for patty cake? What about peekaboo? Or Monopoly? Or … or… or? Why has this become one of the overused tropes? I don’t get it.

    • This big momma shot hoops with her 10-year-old this afternoon. Lots of people saw. A lady from the school took our picture. Then I went home and put my 10-month-old in a laundry basket and “drove” her all over the house in it while she giggled. Fat people play with their children. In active ways!

    • Because it only “counts” as play if you have as much energy as a two-year-old, and can run around tirelessly for five hours just like they do! Pattycake and Monopoly are for the thin moms, the fatties have more flaming hoops to jump through cos it’s good for ‘em.

      Seriously, though, it’s just sillyshit anyway. My mom has freakin’ COPD and can’t even go outside when the pollen levels are too high, and SHE plays with the 4-1/2-year-old twin grandkids. No problem. Look, even if you’re frigging bedridden the kids can still bring you games to play in bed. It’s just brain-frying ablism.

    • There does come a point where weight can cause physical activity and mobility issues. I think that is more of what they were referring to.

      • You could just as easily say that mobility issues caused the weight.

      • Skyfire, of course that is true as well.

      • true, but it seems that many people assume an unwarranted level of disability for all fatties. I think that was why they reacted so badly to Kelly Gneiting’s marathon accomplishment,they were so entrenched in their view that anyone his size would be barely able to cross a room that they just couldn’t accept anything else.

    • i think it stems from the WLS commercials that say “i couldn’t walk or play with my kids till i got this surgery” then they show the new skinny person happily cavorting in the backyard. OR this idea comes from Jennifer Hudson who claimed she wasn’t proud of herself till she lost the weight…excuse me? you have a fucking grammy and countless awards for your amazing singing and film work….but you didn’t accomplish anything till you lost weight? bullshit. THIS is why fat people are seen as lifeless blobs that don’t do anything….because that is how the diet companies want us and others to think about us…so they can sell us their shit.

      • I also felt odd about Jennifer Hudson losing weight. On the one hand it’s her body and I feel she has a right to do what she cooses to do with it, on the other hand,hse’s telling a fanbase of young girls that they need to change to fit the medias view of beauty. Those girls rely on her to say, “Hey, I’m big, I’m beautiful, and I’m talented”. She changed all that when she decied to become the poster girl for Weight Watchers. I have nothing against weight watchers, but Jennifer Hudson wasn’t even all that big. How sad that she feels she needs to change for all the people that don’t understand and never will.

  2. “It should not be an incredible achievement for someone to play with their child, go for a walk, or climb a flight of stairs”

    This stuff is always the tag line for the weight loss commercials, and even more so for the bariatric surgery commercials. Sounds like that’s where this “information” is coming from.

    Keep singing it Ragen!!!

    ~ManDee
    http://www.chubbygirlcomics.com

    P.S. My computer doesn’t recognize “bariatric” as a correctly spelled word. When I right-clicked to find a spelling suggestion, it proposed that I replace that word with “barbaric”. Thought you’d enjoy. ;)

  3. Love that, Chubbygirlcomics. “Barbaric”!

  4. Heh, finally I meet (well, see the writings of anyway) someone else who was told that their strep throat was caused by being fat. Although, to be fair, it did take several doctors before I found the one that blamed my fat for strep throat.

    The others just said I only had a sore throat because walking across a room was so strenuous I was gasping for air, and that caused it.

    I do like the idea that I should be viewing walking up stairs as an achievement. Because up until now, I just walked up the stairs without a single bit of fanfare… why, I didn’t even stop to think that maybe people afflicted with scary scary obesity can’t walk up stairs so why was I even contemplating it!

    Strangely enough, every normal everyday activity I do goes completely without fanfare… at a bmi of around 40, I guess I should be throwing a party every time I get out of bed in the morning huh? Because it’s not like someone suffering from obesity could possibly do any of these things. Why… just last week I tied my own shoes! I deserve a medal!

    • Here, here! I’ll give you a medal if you give me one. My bmi is about 44 and I work an active job, on my feet and on the move most of the day. I may walk several miles in the course of my shift and do things like sweeping, scrubbing and carrying heavy things. When I come home I take my dogs for a fast 30 minute walk. I had no idea all this was so remarkable for a fatty like me! We should all get prizes for rising above our deathfattyobeesity. Maybe that will make up for having “masses of fat tissue clinging” to us.

  5. I am completely loving the message of this post, and of course I adore the author. :-D

  6. Hi Ragen

    First of all, I have been reading your blog for about three months and I love it! You are a real inspiration.

    Secondly, thank you for dismantling this person’s ableist assumptions. I have a wheelchair using family member, and people who assume that limited mobility means NO quality of life and who fling around ‘shoulds’ about what they think people ought to physically be able to do make steam come out of my ears.

    Ankaret

  7. Being fat always seems to underscore everything, doesn’t it. Like those motivational posters showing a guy scaling a craggy peak, saying, “NO LIMITATIONS” (tacit understanding: “Unless you’re fat”). Or magazines proclaiming, “Read our jeans special. Something to fit every size and shape (as long as you’re not over a size 6)!”

    I once was told I had a yeast infection because I was fat and was given nothing to treat it with. Never mind I’d just come off a course of antibiotics. Apparently the cure for an out of control case of thrush was to lose weight. Yup.

    I do love educating people about HAES, but I have to admit, it’s a lot more fun when you can do it by not backing down and hammering down The Stupid.

    • I recently read an article in a magazine that said some gynocologists are turning down overweight patients because they tend to have more abnormal paps. Is that not the stupidist thing you have ever heard?! Who is to say that they wouldn’t have abnormal paps if they were “within normal weight range”? There was two sides posted to this article and the other doctor that disagreed with the first said that if anything overweight women might need more medical attention. My first thought when reading then reading this was that as a medical professional you are obligated to help those in need of medical attention. For example, when you learn CPR they tell you that by law if you know CPR and refuse to help a person in need of your training, and someone finds out you can and will be sued. It is a medical professionals duty to see patients of all shapes, sizes, and weights. Although, I personally wouldn’t want to see a doctor that judges me solely on my weight in that way, and since most of the population is “overweight”, sounds like that doctor would be out of business shortly anyway.

      • Um, WHAT?!? (Says the cytology clerk and cancer registrar who’s up to her ears in Paps at work.)

        The only way I could think of that that might work is that as many of us are only too well aware, a lot of fat women get treated like crap by doctors. So they might well be reluctant to go for routine checkups (if, in the US, they can get insurance in the first place). If and when they do, if they’ve been exposed to HPV (as the vast majority of sexually active women will be at some point), it’ll have had that much more time to develop into something more serious than in a woman who’s had regular Paps. And it may well need more attention at that stage. Which, as you rightly say, a good health provider is obliged to give.

        What happened to ‘first do no harm’? (Oh yeah, I forgot, there’s a website about that…sigh…)

      • I’m one of those who doesn’t get regular paps. Haven’t had one in 21 years, in fact. Don’t know how much difference it makes considering that I’ve been celibate for 13 years. I was sexually assaulted a couple of times as an adult and have some history of abuse in my early childhood, so I’m traumatized as it is to have anyone messing about “down there.” To have them berating me for my size would be even more devastating. So nope, this fat broad just doesn’t go there!

      • Just an FYI- you do not have to provide CPR to a person unless it is in our job description to do so and you are on duty. For negligence you have to have a duty to act, you acted wrongly (whether commission or omission) and there was harm. If you are walking down the street and somebody falls out of a tree and is bloody and needs CPR or resuscitation you will not be successfully sued if you don’t provide care. You can not be forced to put your life at risk for another. It may be an ethical problem, but not a legal one. Similarly, medical professionals do not have to see all patients- especially if they are in a private setting.

        I agree with your point though, I wouldn’t want to go to a MD who was insensitive to weight issues- especially if my weight was not a cause of my issues (as with an abnormal pap)

  8. Brilliant, brilliant post.

    My latest story. My doctor has a “health team” that does routine check-ups. Last week I saw the new “fitness” nurse, maybe early twenties, thin.

    Now I have a very aggressive arthritic condition. I had a hip-replacement at 45, and in the last 6 years I have had 3 operations to remove bone spurs etc, including this December, major rotator cuff surgery. Currently I am dealing with severe frozen joint problems in one foot where my toes and ball of my foot are completely immobile, and very, very painful.

    Just doing things like food shopping leaves me limping, with shooting pain up to my knee. I am doing physio and have an orthotic, but it looks like more surgery. Between recovering from surgeries, and the heavy arthritis and pain meds, I have put on weight.

    So…..I walk (limp) into the office of the fitness nurse, who I have NEVER met before. The very first thing out of her mouth after hello was “Now what is your weight loss plan?”

    I just looked at her. Then I told her, strongly, I do not have a “weight loss plan”.

    I DO have a “try to get through the day and manage to have a life plan”. I DO have a “try not to let the pain interfere with my work as an artist, and my work representing a major guild of artists and artisans” plan. I DO have a “try to maintain as much physical fitness as I can” plan. I DO NOT HAVE A WEIGHT LOSS PLAN.

    Silence. Then she said, very puzzled “Then what I do for you?”. I told her she needed to educate herself, and give her the address of this blog.

  9. I’m a long-time lurker, first-time commenter. Ragen, I really, really love your writing. I’ve struggled with an ED, and I’ve found your blog so helpful in starting to recalibrate my thinking.

    As several others have pointed out, the ableism in the “everyone should be able to walk!” is appalling, as is the ignorant conflation of unhealthiness with fatness.

    As one of the many people who deals with an ED, the conflation of healthiness with thinness, in particular, really frustrates me. It’s such a dangerous lie. When I eat very little, I can’t be active. I’m tired and weak. I don’t have the time to spend doing things I love because I’m spending so many hours fixating on my food/weight. Popular culture dismisses this phenomenon as something that just happens to really sick, “obviously” disordered people, but that’s false. All this happens to me– and I’ve never been underweight according to any popular standard. To the contrary, my BMI has always been in the “normal” range. When I was at my lowest weight, complaining to doctors about feeling lethargic and depressed, no doctor suggested I stop dieting. My knees ached, but doctors told me that every bit of weight loss was helping. Thinness isn’t health.

    When I eat what my body needs (like… until I’m not hungry), I gain weight. And I have energy! I can do tons of exercise! I am strong and fit! I sleep better! My head doesn’t hurt all the time! I can build muscle more easily, so my knees are supported and feel better! In short, I know I’m healthy then because my body says so. But our culture tells me over and over and over again that I look better bonier, and that larger size means laziness or ugliness or badness, and I can’t enjoy my health.

    I think your critic would tell me that she’s only warning you not to tell “obese” people they’re healthy. But as a “thin” person, I assure her that her basic premise– thin means health and power and vitality, and fat means the opposite– is simply false. And the popularity of argument is so damaging to people’s health.

  10. “Was there a ceremony? Was it nice?” had me ROFL 8) I regret not finding your blog until after your NYC visit…I’d have been at the dance class (next time?) My last doctor visit ( h ttp://minstrlmummr.livejournal.com/151995.html ) mirrors some of what I’ve read here. Thank you for being proud, and visible. Keep it up 8)

    • Hi!

      Glad that you like the blog! Sorry I missed you in NYC, I’ll definitely keep you posted for next time. Sorry that you had such a crap experience with a doctor, but I love the concept of a Weapon of Wit!

      Thanks!

      ~Ragen

  11. Ah yes, the fat-accepting apocalypse. Because inevitably, when you start telling people they’re okay the way they are with their fat bodies, they’re free to eat what they want, and they have a right to make their own decisions, everyone in the world will eat themselves to death. After all, the only thing motivating anyone to eat fruits or vegetables or whole grains, or to exercise more than the absolute minimum necessary amount, is constant lectures and shaming from everyone around them! /sarcasm

    Have you ever noticed that it’s really popular to create a picture of “most fat people” or “the average fat person” and pile on all of traits that can make it most justifiable to stigmatize fat people? It’s like they’re obsessed with the Platonic Ideal of the Bad Fattie. The Platonic Bad Fattie never does any exercise they don’t need to. The Platonic Bad Fattie is constantly eating massive amounts of whatever food the commenter envisions as exceptionally forbidden or wicked, and never actually wants to eat a small portion of the ‘bad’ stuff or any quantity of the ‘good’ stuff. The Platonic Bad Fattie has a massive number of obesity-related (which is taken to mean obesity-induced) health problems, and no non-obesity physical or mental health issues that might affect their eating or exercise habits. The Platonic Bad Fattie has plenty of time and money to make the healthy choice, and never has to worry about the bus to the grocery store being too expensive, the neighborhood being too dangerous to jog in, the local stores offering a tiny collection of half-rotten vegetables, or the place where they live not having a kitchen. The Platonic Bad Fattie has plenty of money for organic vegetables and gym memberships, but always chooses to spend it on bigger televisions and giant bags of candy. The Platonic Bad Fattie is completely ignorant and extremely suggestible, which means that if you tell them to get healthy they will rush out and jog, but if you tell them to accept their fat selves, they will eat a mountain of ice cream and then lie perfectly still forever.

    And for some reason, the Platonic Bad Fattie is assumed to be the majority of fat people, rather than an over-the-top stereotype.

    • And yet, simultaneously with having wads of cash to spend on junk food and a widescreen TV, the PBF is more often than not depicted as unemployed. Because fatties are all too lazy to work, of course, and they’ve also eaten themselves into disability, which isn’t really disability because they could easily cure it by just losing weight, and so they’re even more immoral for living their decadently indulgent lifestyle on the back of the ‘hard-working taxpayer’.

      This is becoming such a cliché in the UK that obesity epipanic articles regularly get the comment ‘Cut their benefits, that’ll make them lose weight’. It appears nobody has ever met a fat person with a job. (But at the same time, everyone seems to have worked with a PBF who spent more time eating than working. Very odd.)

      • I guess I’m not actually working then. Dammit! You’d think that if I was going to imagine things it would be something more fun than this!

    • YESSS!!! You hit the nail square on the head with that one! I believe that’s exactly what many anti-fat people think but most of them aren’t even consciously aware that they think it, because they are never confronted with the full picture of their beliefs. Very incisive comment.

    • Yay, someone has a name for the ridic stereotype of fat people! I call them “Daytime TV Fat People” or “Cartoon Fat People” because cartoons and Daytime TV are probably the only places where I see anyone who comes close to the Platonic Bad Fattie profile.

      Oh yeah, add the part where the Platonic Bad Fattie/Daytime TV Fat Person/Cartoon Fat Person doesn’t work and collects welfare checks from the multiple children they have (this is one that I’ve heard at least twice offline). It’s strange because the people who use this particular line also say that no one would want to have sex with a fat woman. Then where are the twelve kids coming from?

  12. The other thing that’s interesting about the Platonic Bad Fatty is that the class/money issues. They’re never not exercising because they have a responsible sedentary job and a long commute, or even a respectable hobby like playing a musical instrument. It’s always television and/or video games.

    They always gorge on junk food. The truth is, there’s plenty of expensive food that’s high simple carb and/or high fat.

    • Yeah, the chances of the Platonic Bad Fatty being accused of sitting around all day with a pile of classic novels gorging themselves on gourmet cheese and a baguette, is far less likely than them being accused of sitting around all day playing video games and gorging on pizza, even though the video-game-and-pizza option generally involves burning more calories and eating more vegetables.

      • I’ll always go for the higher calorie/fat whole food than the lower calorie processed food. My kids keep me pretty busy, but when I can I engage in sedentary hobbies like video games, social networking, reading. I don’t like it when people vilify video games. They’re a perfectly respectable hobby. There’s a point where one can obsess about them too much, but that’s true of any pursuit.

      • Actually sitting around all day with a book, baguette, and a good cheese doesn’t sound too bad… where can I sign up to be that kind of fatty mcfatterpants? Although I think I’d want some grapes too heh.

  13. I am shocked over and over again that people honestly think that fat people can’t do physical things. I am 5’3″, weigh 250lbs. I am also a bike commuter and bike at least 6 miles a day, am taking a modern dance class, and go to yoga and zumba on a semi-regular basis. Even my friends who are fat but don’t practice HAES still run, bike, dance, do yoga and pilates. I sometimes wonder if the people who are saying these things have just NEVER MET A FAT PERSON.

    • The thing is, they haven’t in their own minds. When the fat person has a name and a face and they KNOW them, they suddenly become “you’re just maybe a little overweight, I’m talking about really FAT people”.

      When they know the person, suddenly they are a PERSON and not an object to be vilified.

      • Exactly… you are never “that fat”

        I had a friend complaining about a “300 lb” patient in home health care that she had never seen yet.

        I said – well that’s my size.

        and she was like “no your not”

        “ummm yes. I. am.”

        it couldn’t seem to compute for her.

      • My weight, by BMI standards, puts me on the line between regular obese and morbidly obese. However, most people will tell me that I am not fat, or not really fat, or just kind of plump, or basically anything that makes it clear that those fat people are in a completely different category from me.

      • I posted a HAES article to FB the other day and said something about “us fatties” in my description, and IMMEDIATELY got comments about how I’m not fat. It was really unnerving. I was like, “uh, have you SEEN ME LATELY?” It was like their brains went “Fat people are gross/horrible/lazy/whatever, but Ealasaid isn’t any of those things, therefore she IS NOT FAT!” I may not be OMGDEATHFAT, but yeah, I’m fat (last I checked, I’m in the “obese” category, BMI wise). But “fat” is a bad word, so the instant I apply it to myself everyone has to rush to shush me.

        It made me want to make *booga booga scaaaaaaaaary* noises at them all. “Oh noes, someone you like is faaaaaaaaaaaaaat!”

  14. I woul like to make a clarification. I am overweight and have health problems, however, my health problems began BEFORE I was, as the BMI states “morbidly obese”. I got Type 1 diabetes at age 10, it was confused, as it often was at the time, with the flu. So I ended up in the hospital in a comma. When I could finally stand up to be weighed I came in at a mere 30 pounds. Now, due to my size, when I say that I have diabetes they all assume that it has to do with my weight, when the truth is that I could weigh 90 lbs and still not be rid of diabetes. People need to be educated in the fact that Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in childhood and will never go away (unless they find a cure) while Type 2 can be caused by a strain on the body by weight, old age, of just a lowered immune system. Diabetes should not be viewed as the fat persons disease. While diabetes is an epidemic, it is not a symptom of being fat.

    • Yeah, I’m betting the majority of people who judge you based on diabetes get all their diabetes info from tv, where there are no news stories about type 1 diabetes and the distinction is never mentioned.

  15. I loved this post. I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now. I think what you’re doing with this blog is so incredibly important and I want to thank you for all the great work you do.

    I’m not fat. But, I’ve been very thin at certain points in my life.

    Never have I been more physically capable of running, biking, swimming (or you know, climbing a flight of stairs) than when I have treated my body with the respect it deserves – eating healthy foods that I love each day when I’m hungry, eating the not-so-healthy foods on occasion when I want to, and doing the type of exercise I enjoy.

    The times of my life when I’ve had to take naps everyday and been tired doing just about anything is when I’ve been hyper-focused on my weight, counting every calorie that enters my body and punishing myself by working out for hours because I ate “an extra 100 calories” that day.

    I’d much rather eat and exercise for my happiness and health than to see a certain number on the scale or watch all the fat on my body disappear. I’d much rather everyone get to eat for their happiness and health than have to restrict because of someone else’s faulty notion of health or narrow and problematic idea of beauty.

  16. Hmmmm…..I’m a 200# fatty, and I just ran the stairs at Red Rocks this morning, ALL 192 of them, after working my physically intensive overnight job. Now, I think I deserve a goddamn medal for that. That’s bloody hard! :) While we’re handing out medals, can I get one for the 3 day mountain biking trip to Moab, Utah I did in July?

    This person is a bloody fool.

    • Holy hell–I couldn’t have done that when I was 20 years old and weighed 113 pounds. Kudos!

  17. a woman should be big because she has a larger bone structure, or muscle, and not because she has masses of fat tissue clinging to her.

    I have to admit, when I read this I thought “If I had masses of fat tissue clinging to me, I would scrape it off and then go take a shower! Ick!”

    Newsflash to the concern trolls: a person’s fat is part of that person’s body just like their bones and their muscles. It’s not some kind of detachable, removable accessory, and it doesn’t “cling to” a person any more than one’s tendons or ligaments do.

    • I thought it was like barnacles. Contagious barnacles. You get it from spending too much time around HAES activists!

      (Seriously. Love this post, and the many insightful comments!)

    • Newsflash to the concern trolls: a person’s fat is part of that person’s body…

      Lexica, I do not say this on the Internet often, but I think I might love you. :P

    • I know of someone who had liposuction and I think really wished this occurred to him before he went through with it. He seemed surprised by the incredible pain he was in from having a suction device pull parts of his body out; either they never warned him or he didn’t take the warning, the reality of what it is, seriously. This was a long time after, too, I don’t know if it ever stopped. But it’s always made to sound like they’re sucking something foreign out that you’d never notice. *boggles*

  18. What difference does it make with the health issue. I dont think she understand HAES. Fat and Health are 2 different subjects. Where is the health police when it comes to beauty pagents? You dont hear anyone saying, oh, they are thin but are they healthy. come on, get over it. Leave the fake health issue out of it.

  19. I hope also that we can remember that Type II diabetes is every bit as hereditary as Type I, that you CANNOT eat yourself diabetic, & that people of ALL sizes & shapes get diabetes. Yes, people get diabetes, but many of all sizes do not. At this moment in the US, 90% of fat people do not have diabetes & 75% never will. It is too bad that anyone has it, but I don’t think it is an ‘epidemic’. Contrary to what they love to scream about, a tiny percentage of children, btw, are diabetic.

    And, yes, it is good to remember that our fat is not a THING hanging off our bodies or clinging to us like barnacles, but as much a part of our bodies as bones, tendons, muscles, blood, organs. GOD, people are idiots & too many believe anything they see & hear spouted in the media & do not consider the source or the motivation for spreading the lies.

  20. Oooh this person and what he/she wrote angers me! But that’s good, because I will turn that anger into something positive for myself.
    I’d thank them for that but I’m saving my thanks for Ragen, her responses and her work.

    I currently weigh 227lbs. I’m 5’8
    I’m big because I have BOTH “a larger bone structure,and “masses of fat tissue clinging to her.”er me.
    BOTH! SO what say you SMartypants email writer?

    Also, I exercise for fun every day. I can run for well over 60 min and am able to recover nicely.I regularly lift between 35-60lbs in my weight routine. NOt bad hey?Too bad I’m so unheathly. Whatever will I do?
    Oh that’s right, keep living my life!

  21. “Was there a ceremony? Was it nice?” Love it. You have a great way of handling these types of questions/comments.

    Since stumbling onto your blog a vew months ago, my eyes have really been opened to how much weight is blamed in our culture for everything. The fact that you can’t tell how healthy someone is by what they weight seems like such an obvious one, but based on the responses you get from a lot of people it’s a misconception that many don’t want to let go of.

  22. Argh, stairs. I have an undiagnosed *something* wrong with me, which means some days getting up two flights of stairs is exhausting. On days when I feel better, then I’m back to being able to run up them.

    Grrrrrrrr.

  23. I am a bigger person who actually does have larger bones and have been diagnosed with them I also have chronic headaches which I have had since I was a teen. My Dr. put me on a medicine for my headaches which raised my blood pressure then proceeded to tell me that my blood pressure which has always been excellent was due to my weight and I need to start dieting and watching my cholesterol levels. I went off the meds and Wow my blood pressure went right down. I have many health issues which I have always had thin or heavy and yes I have been thin and lost the weight. Mine are with over stressed muscle and tendons due to my bones but people always just asume that I am unhealthy cause of my weight. I have a 14 boy that I play with constantly even sports (he is not allowed to tackle me though) I do yoga walk swim and many other activities I can even put my hands down on the floor from an upright position. I makes me upset that people just assume that you are unhealthy because of weight. I know so many thin people who eat more then I do who are very unhealthy eat junk and never take care of themselves but because they are thin are left alone. Its very unfair

  24. Look everyone, it’s a concern troll! The pharyngula way to deal with these jerks is to say “your concern is noted” and leave it at that. They never behave like someone who is actually concerned (like looking into matters instead of simply being willfully ignorant). They will always react negatively to your response unless you are grateful for their ridiculous concerns. It is a mighty effective way to rile people up in any discussion.

  25. Ragen,
    I have read your blog. You emphasize the importance of healthy habits, positive feelings about your body, and exercise. I read earlier that you were opposed to posting a food blog. Which I understand. Especially if you don’t already keep a food journal. Your readers were very upset about the thought that anyone would ask you to post a food log, commenting that it would be like divulging the details of your sex life, or lovers body. My question is, in your opinion, what constitutes a healthy relationship with food?

    • Hi Linda,

      I think that’s different for everyone. For me a healthy relationship with food includes not obsessing about it, not fearing it, enjoying it, and eating a variety of it, most of the time choosing foods that nourish my body and make me feel good, and the rest of the time eating foods for pleasure and not feeling any guilt about it.

      ~Ragen

  26. Ragen, I agree that a relationship with food should not be an overly complicated one. Eat, Drink, Be Merry. But it is an incredibly loaded topic in today’s world. You rarely discuss food in your forum, but you did post about your distaste at food being labeled “bad” or “Decadent” or “redeeming” etc. These of course are manipulative advertising ploys, and are ridiculous. But exercise, the amount of sleep that we get, how we handle stress, as well as, and in a huge way What we choose to eat, “FOOD”, are contributers to our health, or lack there of.
    For me, it is extremely easy to demonize certain foods. High fructose corn syrup and refined sugar for example. Artificial and genetically modified foods. It is easy to do this because where there is the lack of logistical support for the ” being fat causes every ailment from a-z” there is no uncertainty that refined white sugar suppresses the immune system considerably, too much sodium causes high blood pressure, aspartame is practically the devil etc.

    I was just curious to know what role you think food plays in health, if you think children should be told ” don’t eat too much sugar or it will make you sick” “salad is better than tootsie rolls” or “Sweets are an every-now- and-again food”

    Thanks!

    • Hi Linda,

      First I would suggest being careful about speaking in absolutes. You may believe whatever you want about food of course, but to say that there is “no uncertainty” is completely inaccurate. In this article several experts question that commonly held belief that sugar suppresses the immune system (http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/painter/2009-10-04-your-health_N.htm) There is much uncertainty and disagreement about the role that sodium cases in high blood pressure (here’s one study on the subject: http://www.math.montana.edu/~jimrc/classes/stat524/notes/Midgley-1996-SaltMetaAnalysis.pdf). The dangers of aspartame are questioned by many including by the American Cancer Society (http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/CancerCauses/OtherCarcinogens/AtHome/aspartame)

      I personally believe in an 80/20 to 85/15 rule. 80-85 percent of the time eat food that nourishes your body, the rest of the time eat whatever you desire and feel no guilt about it, and I think that we should teach children to eat a variety of foods and pay attention to how those foods make their bodies feel. I don’t agree that “Salad is better than tootsie rolls” I think that they can each be a better choice at various times. Telling children that eating too much sugar can make them sick is inaccurate – even if you believe that sugar suppresses the immune system it’s still the germs, bacteria etc. that make you sick – not the sugar. I believe in telling kids the truth – for example if you want to be honest with kids you would tell them that some people believe that eating a lot of sugar can make it easier for them to get sick, but some others don’t.

      ~Ragen

  27. I have asthma, walking up a couple flights of stairs without gasping for breath at the end is an accomplishment!
    My asthma, I recently found out is likely due to an wheat gluten allergy I have- and not related to my fat at all, as I had been led to believe my whole life. Funny that.
    When I started addressing the nutrition/allergy issue I was able to run a 12 minute mile. This is an achievement I wasn’t able to do 50 pounds lighter or 100 pounds lighter than I am now.

  28. Geez, another food troll….

    Linda, google HAES, Health at Every Size. Learn something. Let me give you examples. I am 31, I weigh 215. I try to cook my own foods and minimize how much processed food I take in. Because I don’t like how much chemicals are in them. Now, I don’t always stay away from them, but, LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE, in moderation. I walk several miles a week, my recent bloodwork and blood pressure are all normal. Normal. But I’m heavy.
    Now my aunt? Very thin, very appearance conscious. I bake wonderful stuff (been told), but she sniffs about calories. She subsists on salads, and brags about being a size four. Yet…..she smokes 2 packs a day, figures that since she is thin, she really doesn’t need exercise. She was told, with her high cholesterol that she is at risk for heart disease. Her reaction? “But I’m not fat!”

    Tell me Linda, who is healthier?

    Most of us have had love/hate relationships with food. Most of us are learning to accept ourselves and work for health. Food DOES play into it, but labelling foods good and bad doesn’t help. Personally, I need carbs to get my brain going in the morning. Later on, a headache tells me I need protein. I listen to my body. Sometimes I crave greasy food from a local chain in Tucson, but the stomach ache after curbs that from happening too often. I don’t do grease well or often. But I know my body well enough to make my own choices.

    Ragen is healthy and wonderful. A role model. None of US ask what she eats, its none of our business. If she shares, woo hoo for her. Health and food matter, but are not wrapped up in each other to the point that it supercedes exercise or self acceptance.

  29. Oh Ragen, Thank you SO MUCH for this blog. I was scrawny when I was young until I reached puberty and then I started gaining weight. I have since found out that might have been in part to my Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. I’ve been considered heavy ever since those sensitive years even though when I was a teenager I was built very strong and could pick up my 220lb father, but I wore a size 16/18 so I was overweight and even back then bugged to lose weight. I was healthy…I could keep up with the boys basketball players when we did sprints, yet I ALWAYS looked down on myself because I was so much bigger than my classmates. I look back now and see something totally different…I see a girl with a large bone structure and some nice curves, but back then all I saw was fat. .

    Time moved on, college caused me to be a little more sedentary, and then I developed Hashimoto’s Disease, a version of Hypothyroidism. It’s autoimmune, so basically my body turned against me. Slowly I gained more and more weight, no matter what I did. Matter of fact, I tease that my body is backward because while most people gain when pregnant, those are the only times I lost weight. Some people’s bodies are just DIFFERENT! We process things differently and react differently to different things. I have a great friend who is in the same boat as me. Her sister eats three times as much as her and is very slender, despite her unhealthy lifestyle of processed foods, etc. My friend is very selective in her eating, drinks mostly water, and is always moving and she’s 250 lbs. What really killed me though is she’s had major health problems, completely and entirely unrelated to her weight,and yet she actually had a surgeon tell her that she had to lose weight and that her hypothyroidism was a ‘Fat Person’s Excuse.’ Um EXCUSE ME? People can be so stupid. I do love that she told her Endocrinologist who promptly called him up and told him he was an uninformed, hypocriticical, unprofessional, and an embarrassment to the profession!

    The stigma is all around us and it hurts. People can be so mean and they don’t stop to think that the person they are bashing has real emotions. I swear I wanted to reach through the screen and pummel some of those ignorant individuals on the ‘hate mail’ page. How would they feel if we picked some random aspect of them and called them horrible names for it. They wouldn’t be so bold if someone chose their biggest insecurity and tore into them for it, so why do they think it’s okay to do that to other people? Has the golden rule been so far removed from our society?

  30. Hahaha…so today I was looking up my BMI and came across this fun little ‘game’ site. http://bmiscale.com/ The calculate your BMI then go on to show you who there with you according to the government. Did you know that according to their BMI David Duchovny, Matt Damon, and David Boreanaz along with a laundry list of others are overweight? Did you further know that according to this scale Dwayne Johnson (The Rock), Mike Tyson, and Matt LeBlanc (from friends) are Obese? I see a major flaw in this scale, because it doesn’t calculate any more than gravity’s pull on our body mass, not what our body mass is comprised of (percentage muscle mass, bone mass, fluid mass, etc. I was really pleased by this eye opener!


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