Ask Me Anything Day + A Giveaway!

This blog is NOT [entirely] a cop out.  Sure It’s 2:42am and I’m working on renewing my AFAA (Aerobics and Fitness Association of America) certification and my brain is fried and annoyed.  BUT, I’ve also been wanting to do this for a while and with the whole giveaway thing today seemed like the perfect day.

Go ahead, ask me anything – I have no hang-ups and no filter so the only qualification is that you should only ask if you want an honest answer. Ask a question about me, ask me about a blog that you would like to see…whatever, it’s a free for all!   I’ll either answer it in the comments or create a future blog post out of it.

Plus, everyone who leaves a comment asking me something will be entered in a drawing to win a signed copy of Marilyn Wann’s awesome Fat!So? Dayplanner .  I already have mine and it is so awesome I can’t even tell you (and not just because I’m a flip book in it!)

I’ll announce the winner on Tuesday the 27th.  Ask away…

This blog is supported by its readers rather than corporate ads.  If you feel that you get value out of the blog, can afford it, and want to support my work and activism, please consider a paid subscription or a one-time contribution.  The regular e-mail subscription (available at the top right hand side of this page) is still completely free.   Thanks for reading! ~Ragen

Published in: on December 24, 2011 at 8:59 am  Comments (169)  

169 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. When you were a child what did you want to be when you grew up? And who did you look up to most in the world?

    Happy Holidays and thankyou for everything you have written and done for FA this year! You rock!

    • Before fifth grade I wanted to be a criminal defense attorney (I had read Truman Capote’s The Defense Rests when I was really young). After fifth grade I wanted to be a professional clarinetist. I got a scholarship to the University of Texas to study clarinet performance and got to play Carnegie Hall but decided I didn’t want to live that lifestyle (spending my time hoping that one of the very few people who got paid enough to pay their bills died so that I could get their job).

      My two ultimate heroes are Nelson Mandela (for his ability to walk out of 9,000 days of imprisonment and say “Now what can we do to make things better”) and Harvey Milk (for his willingness to be fearlessly, authentically himself and to stand up for a group of people man of whom, at the time, were too scared to stand up for themselves).

      ~Ragen

      • Ooh, nice timing. I just reread The Mayor of Castro Street!

  2. If there were a biographical film made about your life, who would you want to play you and why?

    Happy Holidays Ragen – I love your blog!

    • Funny story – there is a filmmaker who is actually working on this right now – which seems completely crazy to me. We’ve done the first round of interviews and now he is interviewing some of the other people involved. If the project actually gets sold, my current choice would be Nikki Blonsky or Ashley Fink because they have both been consistently positive about their bodies (as opposed to actresses who embrace the Size Acceptance and HAES communities in between weight loss endorsements). I think that trying to lose weight is their choice, and I respect those women’s journeys but I’d like to be portrayed by an actress who does not also hawk Jenny Craig or whatever.

      ~Ragen

      • Wow, very cool! Congrats! I like your choices for actresses. Melissa McCarthy has also been positive about her body. She was recently asked if she’s been attempting to lose weight (perhaps by Anderson Cooper?) because OBVIOUSLY that’s THE measure of success in Hollywood and life (sarcasm off the charts, and looking at you, Jennifer Hudson) and she said that she has more important things to do and she wants her daughters to love themselves for who they are and she wants to be a role model for them. LOVE!

      • But Nikki Blonsky is a racist, violent thug. Remember that airport brawl she got into?

  3. How do you interact with people who are losing weight and are proud of it? How do you respond when they “brag” or comment to you about their own “accomplishments?”

    • Hi Amy,

      I basically try to say something positive without reinforcing the weight loss since I know that they have a 95% chance of gaining it back and I don’t want to add to the pile of affirmation that is going to fall like a house of cards if they are not in the 5%. Something like “You’ve always been beautiful, I’m glad that you are happy.” I blogged about it here if you want the long answer! http://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/2011/12/17/wading-through-weight-loss-compliments/ Thanks!

      ~Ragen

  4. This is a tricky question, I guess. But I really don’t know how to do it so I need to ask an expert.

    How to you learn to love your body? To learn to accept yourself, despite everything?

    I know the theory. Trying to tell myself all the time, trying to accept compliments without thinking the person is just delusional … I just … I can’t. How do you do it?

    • Hi Tmara,

      I think that the trick is that you can’t leave room for the possibility that you can’t do it. If you believe it’s impossible than it is. The way that I did it was to decide that I was GOING to figure out how to love my body. Then there was no “can’t”, there was only “haven’t figured it out yet, still working on it”. I blogged about a way to get started here: http://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/2010/06/27/love-your-body-more/ Start there and if it doesn’t work start looking for other stuff, or e-mail and let me know where you are struggling and I’ll try to help. You might also check out Golda Poretsky at http://www.bodylovewellness.com, she does a lot of work with people in this area. Good luck!

      ~Ragen

  5. Was there someone in your life who helped you to see that being a fathlete was possible? Who encouraged and supported you, and what did they say or do that helped?

    • My mom always told me that I could be whatever I wanted to be and fought for my right to do exactly that. My first dance partner, Andy, was dancing with me when I decided to work from a Health at Every Size perspective and he was amazingly supportive. My best friend Kel has always believed in me. The most supportive thing that they did was to let me make my own choices and then respect those choices.

      There are a bunch of amazing fathletes who continue to inspire me – Jayne Williams, Jeanette DePatie, Kelly Gneiting, all of the people on the Athletes of Every Size Flickr. I’m also really inspired by people who are starting out, especially those who have never been athletic before – I think that deciding to be a fathlete in this culture is an absolutely amazing act of courage.

      ~Ragen

  6. Do you ever question what you are doing and do you ever look at someone’s thinner body and wish you could/should be like that? And should we feel bad if we ever “secretly” wish that? I have to admit to that sometimes and then I feel guilty for falling into that trap-work that out!!

    Thanks so much for your blog and what you write all year, I absolutely love it, it inspires me and you have such wisdom and insight into how we view our bodies and all the crap we face every day about it.

    Marion, UK

    • Hi Marion,

      I no longer question what I’m doing but I do have days when I’m envious of thin privilege. Considering the vast amount of privilege that exits, I think it’s perfectly natural to feel that way.

      ~Ragen

  7. Are you familiar with binge eating disorder? And, if so, what do you think about it in general and as a psychiatric diagnosis?

    • My question is similar. Do you believe in food addiction? If so, how does is fit within FA / HAES? If someone is addicted to drugs or alcohol or gambling, it seems right and reasonable to me for loving family members to approach them about it, as those behaviors are very self-destructive. If you support FA and HAES, does that mean you should take a giant step back and ignore something that seems to be food addiction? (I’m thinking here of behavior I myself have engaged in–secret binging, purging, obsessive hoarding of food–and that I’ve seen in loved ones.)

      • Very interested in the answer. My own belief is that it would be along the lines of, Health at Every Size is about being the healthiest you can be rather than focus on weight – and eating disorders, food addiction etc – are NOT healthy and therefore, not to be ignored under HAES. They are so destructive. They take lives. Please don’t ignore them if a loved one is struggling with it

      • I have dealt with binge eating (whether or not it’s a disorder). That combined with my hypothyroid led me to gain 50 lbs in a few months…and a lot of self loathing. When I first learned about FA it was the very first step in teaching me there was another way out there. FA led me to HAES and the concept that food doesn’t fall into the categories of good or bad. THAT has helped me with my binge eating…along with knitting. I know it’s not for everyone, but for me HAES and FA have indeed helped me deal with my binge eating. I do occasionally binge, but I’m aware of what I’m doing and I use it as a symptom for a bigger problem that I need to acknowledge.

      • My basically unqualified opinion is that food addiction as a diagnosis is questionable. Mostly because everyone is “addicted” to food inasmuch as if they don’t eat they die. I do believe that compulsive overeating can be part of disordered eating but I don’t think that the solution is to engage this person in a way that shames them about their eating or their body. As far as the way that it fits into HAES, my practice is to eat most of the time based on my bodies internal queues and a little bit of the time just for fun. That’s not everyone’s practice and I think it can be difficult, as an outsider, to tell if someone is making choices that are different than the choices we would make, or if they are suffering from a disorder.

        Before someone decides to step in and say something I think that they should be very sure that they 1. Understand what they are seeing and 2. Understand all possible outcomes of their getting involved. For example, are they prepared if their involvement makes the situation worse?

        ~Ragen

    • Hi Cindy,

      I have heard of the diagnosis – I don’t think that I’m qualified to take a stand about it as a psychiatric diagnosis, but the idea of it makes sense to me as part of the continuum of eating disorders that includes restriction, binge purge, and compulsive overeating. I am very concerned about the confusion of body size with eating disorders (for example the idea that if someone is obese they MUST have some kind of eating disorder).

      ~Ragen

  8. How did you get into public speaking? Do you still get nervous before a presentation?

    Have a great holiday and thank you!!!!

    • Hi Nichole,

      I’ve been public speaking since I was a kid = it seemed to be the best way to get other people interested in causes that I thought were important. I sometimes get a bit nervous, I wish I could remember who told me that nervousness is just excitement without breathing but that has been my experience so I try to breathe. But basically I’m one of those people who really enjoys public speaking.

      ~Ragen

  9. If something with a 100% success rate came up – something that would quickly take your weight down to ‘normal’ (whatever that is) but mean that you lost a lot of weight and it stayed off forever – would you ditch fat acceptance and take it?

    • I don’t think so. I love my body – the shape of it and the way that it works and everything that it can do – I don’t think I’d give that up to be closer to the cultural stereotype of beauty. I’d also be concerned with how it would affect my dancing (and that 10 years later we’d find out that it has horrible side effects!)

      ~Ragen

      • That is what I wanted to know! I love that you love your body – I wish more of us could. That is what makes me so sad about the society we live in, it is so hard to have a good relationship with our bodies. i truly believe that what makes us unique makes us beautiful, and that if we were meant to be someone’s idea of ‘perfection’ we would have been rolled of some production line instead of born the way we are. I love what my body can do, feeling strong, healthy. That is more important than it’s weight. I wish I could follow through with that (I’m battling anorexia and bulimia so huge body issues) but that’s the best I remember feeling about my body, when I felt good about what it could do and how healthy it was.
        Thank you SO much for being such a healthy role model for so many!
        And as far as sterotype of beauty goes, they are so so so wrong. you are so beautiful AS YOU ARE.
        I love the saying ‘perfect in our imperfections’
        The other day I was having a coffee with a friend who has relapsed with her anorexia and is always anxious about perfection. I picked two leaves and we marvelled about how perfect and beautiful they were. And then I pointed out their flaws – and there were quite a few! It was a good lesson to both of us that perfection IS IMPERFECT.

    • Yikes! And lose masses of muscle?!

  10. How and when do we know to pursue possible medical causes for our large size? For instance, thyroid issues, etc.?

    • Hi Diane,

      I think that it makes sense to get a physical that checks out all systems of the body, I think anytime people have a large unexplained weight gain or loss it makes sense to check it out. Hope that helps.

      ~Ragen

  11. What is your favorite stores to score cute clothes? I have such a hard time finding things I like that also fit. It’s very disheartening…

    Have a very Merry Christmas! Hope your get togethers are troll free!!!
    <3 Jen

    • This is pretty similar to my question. I was going to ask about finding plus size athletic wear — especially sports bras.

      • If that’s ok, I’d like to recommend shock absorber. they work through pressing the breasts to your body. there is no more uncomfort or pain from too much breast movement. if the band is not long enough, you can get two thingys to make the band longer. the cups only go up to a uk HH.

        royce has quite big sports bras, but they don’t work that well for me.

        • Thanks! Last time I’d checked, US retailers hadn’t been carrying Shock Absorbers in my size. Looks like that’s changed now, though! :)

    • Oh yeah I want to know the answer here too especially if it’s anywhere local in Austin!

    • This is such a tough question. I LOVE igigi but that collection is limited and expensive. I tend to shop at Lane Bryant although I don’t love all of their policies. Up until now I haven’t been much of a fatshionista but I’m thinking about paying more attention to it this year…

      ~Ragen

  12. 1. Do you struggle with body image issues at all?
    2. What are they?
    3. How do you cope with those?

    I ask primarily because despite considering myself an advocate for Health at Every Size and Size Acceptance, I seem to be having more and more trouble accepting my own size- you seem so confident and comfortable and I wondered if that’s all the time, or if you ever waiver- but I also don’t want to assume that everyone’s body image issues are related to size because I know that to be entirely untrue. Anyway, would love to either see a blog about this or a comment answer…whichever! Thanks for all you do!!

    • Hi Rachel,

      I don’t struggle with body image issues anymore. I do get frustrated by a society that has a problem with my body and doesn’t always accommodate it. When I was really struggling with body image I would always try to go back to gratitude – for everything that my body does and is and that would usually get me back on the right track. My only other advice is that if something specific is causing you to have body image issues, ask yourself “is someone trying to sell me something”. Marketers have become very skilled at making us hate our bodies as a way to encourage us to buy their products.

      ~Ragen

  13. What five words would you use to describe yourself? And what five words would you LIKE to have describe yourself? Thanks for being so candid. Enjoy your day!

    • I would describe myself as brave, nerdy, forthright, athletic, and authentic. I hope that people would describe me as brave, athletic, revolutionary, inspirational and authentic.

      ~Ragen

      • I would describe you exactly that way!

  14. Regan:

    I recently saw my uncle whom I had house-sitted for over the summer and he noticed that I had dropped a couple pounds, and he said “Hun, you look a fair bit thinner – I don’t know if that was intentional or not, but I *will* say it’s noticeable.” I realized this might have been the exact *RIGHT* thing for him to say, at least for me. Is there any way to thank him without launching into a full explanation of why weight-loss complements aren’t necessarily the best thing? (Partly because a lot of my other relatives at the event were piling on the nice things they were saying in light of a major weight shift on my part over the last two years)

    • I think I would use the compliment to reframe the situation, maybe something like: “Thanks for noticing, there’s nothing to worry about – I’ve changed some of my habits which changed my weight, at least for the time being. I know that most people gain their weight back, and I’m good either way since my focus is on health”. That thanks him for his attentiveness, makes it clear that you know that weight loss isn’t always a good thing and may be temporary.

      Does that help?

      ~Ragen

  15. Is there someone in History (more further past history then recent) Who you feel a connection to or who’s words have always inspired you with either your work as a Dancer or your work as a HAES Advocate?

    Why did you choose this person, and what words or phrases stick with you from them.

    Have a Joyous Holiday, and know that Because of learning about this, I feel stronger about my body and ideals then I already did (I accepted and learned to love my body a LONG time ago, but it;s nice getting reassurance then I am not just deluding myself) I am Preparing to do a Performance with a Mirror to “Beautiful” as a piece that speaks about this and general beauty in every person. So I tip my hat to you and Say Thank you.

    • Hi,

      I’m so excited about your upcoming performance, I hope you’ll send me a YouTube link so that I can check it out. Thank you for your kind words, I’m really glad that I have the chance to support you.

      It may sound weird but I feel very connected to Galileo – the fact that he was looking at evidence and pointing out that it did not support common belief. He apocryphally said “Still it moves” after being forced to recant and put under house arrest. I don’t know if he did, but I like to think so.

      I’ve also always felt connected to Harvey Milk and his words “You gotta give ‘em hope”. I blogged about that here : http://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/2011/09/08/you-gotta-give-them-hope/

      Thanks for the question!

      ~Ragen

      • Yes and thank you! I was originally intending to do the Performance at a “Celebrations” Themed show in December but sadly some medical issues held me back (AKA I over extended at the LAST performance on the 30th of December and messed up my back /rib cage a bit) SO I will wait for the right opportunity and then bring it out. It’s going to be quite interesting in that it will be a full length mirror on a dolly that I can move with and use as a dance partner. So really the whole shtick is that I am dancing with the audience who is reflected in the mirror as opposed to just dancing with the mirror. Very cool idea, and I thank the artistic director I am friends with for offering it to me.

        Also your inspirational people were quite wise themselves. I never would have considered Galileo, but yes it was VERY much like what the HAES and what you and others are doing. The similarities are just wow. But at least we know that EVENTUALLY people had no choice but to believe what was actually true, so that is a GREAT person to look to in a troubled moment as is the other.

        Thank you VERY much for your reply, and I will e-mail you the youtube video when I perform it and get it :) I WANT it to be a piece that is shared so the message can be spread. I plan on dedicating the piece to the HAES movement. Beauty is in us all.

  16. I know you believe that everyone is the boss of their own underpants, and each person has the right to choose healthy activities or not.

    But what do you think when people want to get fatter and they do so using unhealthy means? I am not talking about what you think of /them/ as people, but moreso what you think of the act of doing so?

    Not that I want to point fingers and negatively judge this specific lady, but she came to mind while thinking of this question: http://news.ninemsn.com.au/world/1027360/woman-aims-to-become-worlds-fattest

    • Hi Sika,

      I think it’s their choice. Just because I don’t understand something or wouldn’t choose it does not give me the right to say that someone else shouldn’t do it. I also wouldn’t jump a motor cycle over a series of school busses but other people do and I respect their right to do it. I mostly wonder if this kind of thing is also a casualty of a culture obsessed with weight – if we treated weight the same way that we treat height or other characteristics, would someone choose to do this?

      ~Ragen

      • Whether we are striving to gain weight or lose – it still means we haven’t accepted ourselves AS WE ARE. :(

    • http://www.officialdonnasimpson.com/
      This woman is in recovery now, here is her update

      • I don’t see the connection between binge eating and the “victims” of feeders.

  17. What’s your favorite song to dance to? In competition or da club? :)

    • Hi Kate!

      I don’t dance a lot in da club – I am trying to gain more appreciation for social dancing – I am a very technical and choreography based dancer. There’s a Waltz called “The Flower that Shattered the Stone” that I like to compete too. In Zumba I love Waka Waka by Shakira. I don’t see how anyone can hear the song “That’s Life” by Frank Sinatra and not want to dance, and when I saw the movie Burlesque I wanted to do choreography for almost every song. My favorite routine that I’ve ever done was a West Coast Swing to “I’m Beautiful Damn It” by Bette Midler with my coach.

      ~Ragen

      ~Ragen

  18. I just found your blog and as a fat woman (and previously fat teen & fat child) who has always loved to dance (any kind of dance), I burst into tears seeing what you do. I’m rather inspired! My mom told me I was too fat to dance once when I was little & I think it made me want it even more. Way to go for being an excellent role model!

    Where can I find effective & fat friendly exercises to strengthen my core muscles & support my joints for dance? I have loose joints so I want to make sure the muscles around them are strong & doing their job.

    • Hi Meredith,

      Thank you so much for your kind words. I am a big fan of pilates. I am hyper-mobile through some of my joints and my pilates work really helped me to improve core strength and stability as well as fixing movement patterns that make me more prone to injury. If you can I would suggest working with a trainer. If you can’t afford to do that regularly I would suggest that you save up for one appointment with a professional pilates trainer and use that time to develop a program and have them show you proper form. Then you can work at home, once you’ve mastered that routine, go back in for another session. If you happen to be in Austin, Texas Kate Wodash at the Mindful Body Center is a miracle worker (no, she doesn’t pay me to say that – she is just awesome!)

      General muscle strength and muscle balance are really important – if you run out of strength then you’ll tend to transfer the load to your joints. I’m a big fan of wall sits (where you hold yourself as if you were sitting in a chair against a wall), squats, lunges – start slowly and work your way up. Also check how you walk – if you have a tendency to walk with locked out your knees then you are most likely underworking the larger quad, hamstring and glute muscles and overworking your calves as well as putting more stress than necessary on the knee joint. It will feel awkward as hell (or at least it did for me) but work on walking (and dancing) with soft knees. Stretching is also really important – a ton of knee and ankle pain gets caused by muscles that are too tight and pull the joints out of alignment.

      Hope that helps!

      ~Ragen

  19. Hi Ragen, I read your blog regularly. I have forwarded it to friends. Long before I found your blog or ever heard about HAES I was in process of healing my own issues around body image.
    In the early ’90′s I started attending clothing optional pagan events. At first I had so much body shame I couldn’t go there at all. But I kept pushing my own limitation to the point where I am now comfortable being “sky clad” in appropriate settings, ie pagan or Goddess retreats, my own home, etc.
    I’ve often wondered if you have ever explored being in the nude in your home, outdoors, with others. What are your feelings and level of comfort with being “sky clad” anywhere?
    Hugs to you!
    Cat

    • Hi Cat,

      What an interesting question! I currently live along and I’m a fan of running around naked, although not outdoors because I’m just REALLY not that outdoorsy a person. Any reservations I have about being naked in groups are not about my body but that I prefer to save my naked body to share with special people (of course that’s just my deal, I’m completely cool with people who don’t think of it like that).

      ~Ragen

  20. Who inspires you?

    • Hi Heidi,

      Logs and lots of people – People who e-mail or comment telling me that they have made the decision to begin a journey to love themselves or that they’ve just done something that they were scared to do, other fathletes, Harvey Milk, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Jr., the 1993 Philadelphia Phillies, people who fight the fights that believe are important instead of just the fights that they think they can win, Marilyn Wann, Jayne Williams, Jeanette DePatie, Linda Bacon, Kath from Fat Heffalump, Virginia from The Beauty Schooled Project, I’m sure that there are bunches of people I’m forgetting…

      ~Ragen

      • Ragen — I am so beyond honored that you would mention me on such an amazing list! Just wanted to say that you are such an inspiration to me as well. XOXO

  21. Did you ever hear anything from George Takei regarding his unfortunate facebook post? I was hoping for a follow up.

    • He posted a non-apology on his Facebook saying that we should be able to laugh at ourselves (he seemed to not realize that he wasn’t laughing at himself, he was laughing at me and people who look like me) and then did another fat bashing post the next day. I didn’t waste anymore time on him.

      ~Ragen

  22. What’s your favorite Christmas cookie?

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

    • Any cookie my mom makes! She does thumbprint cookies which are cakey chocolate cookies with a thumbprint in the middle filled with icing (which she dyes red and green for the holidays) those are probably my favorite!

      ~Ragen

      • Can I get the recipe? lol I’m looking for cookies to make and that sounds yummy. I totally heart chocolate!

    • Here is the recipe (my Mom sent it to me when she read your comment!)
      Ingredients
      • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
      • 2/3 cup sugar
      • 1 egg, separated
      • 2 tablespoons milk
      • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
      • 1 cup all-purpose flour
      • 1/3 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa
      • 1/4 teaspoon salt
      • VANILLA FILLING (recipe follows)
      Directions
      1. Beat butter, sugar, egg yolk, milk and vanilla in medium bowl until fluffy. Stir together flour, cocoa and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, beating until blended. Refrigerate dough at least 1 hour or until firm enough to handle.
      2. Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease cookie sheet or line with parchment paper. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll balls in granulated sugar. Place on prepared cookie sheet. Press thumb gently in center of each cookie.
      3. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until set. Meanwhile, prepare VANILLA FILLING. Remove cookies from cookie sheet to wire rack; cool 5 minutes. Spoon about 1/4 teaspoon filling into each thumbprint. Cool completely. About 2 dozen cookies.

      VANILLA FILLING: Combine 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon softened butter or margarine, 2 teaspoons milk and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract in small bowl; beat until smooth.

      • Yummy! Thanks so much! I even have all the ingredients on hand already so I can make them today if I want to. Need to plan my baking though, my oldest turns 6 tomorrow!

  23. What is the meanest comment someone has made about your weight in real life and what was your response?

    (Love the blog, BTW. I’ve been reading every new post since I found it!)

  24. I am a high school secretary. Almost every day I hear some of the girl students complaining about their body. I don’t know how to respond to them. These are brief encounters. Can you help me find something encouraging and appropriate to say?
    Cassandra

    • as someone who had and eating disorder all through high school and would often make those remarks, i can simply say this…..when you can, try to take the time to look them in the eye (or hug htem if appropriate, i know it can be hard they are teens) and say “i think you are beautiful just the way you are. i have always liked your (blank).” and keep saying it. it may be the thing that snaps somebody back from the brink. All it takes is one teacher, librarian, secretary, hell LUNCH LADY saying the right thing at the right time to save or change a life. (for me it was a librarian)

    • Hi Cassandra, I really like what Erylin says below. When I was in a place of really disliking my body the thing that most got to me was when someone was (or at least they were acting) surprised. I would make some negative comment about my body and they would say “Wow, I’m surprised – I thought that you loved your body, you’re so athletic!” It jarred me out of my idea that hating my body was normal or expected and made me think about my body based on what it did instead of just how it looked.

      ~Ragen

    • I would like to add that these kinds of things can be said to anyone. Yes, it’s especially important to get these messages through to teenagers and even younger kids, both boys and girls. However, I have made it a personal mission to also get these messages through to adults. There is way to much body hate all the way around.

      Not totally body related, but a co-worker who I don’t know very well made a comment while a group of us were sharing birthday cake that she was going to get back down to a size 14. The next day I made a point to tell her that even though it was none of my businees and it whatever she wanted to do regarding her body was all good. BUT, that she is a lot more than her dress size. I cited four or five wonderful things unrelated to her dress size that I know about her. She was all smiles by the time I finished.

      • Totally agree with this. I cannot believe the amount of body hating I see on mothering forums. Many women are really negative about the toll that pregnancy took on their bodies. To carry and birth a child has got to be one of the greatest things a body can do and yet, so many despise the results that those things leave like the stretchmarks, the pouches, the saggy boobs, etc (now me, I had most of that before I had kids so my only real lament is the fact that I can’t cough/laugh without peeing myself! lol). It’s not easy to read that stuff because it’s not just the body hating that’s so prevalent, many of these mothers are planning future surgeries on their bodies once they are done having kids and can get enough money together and that does sadden me because it’s all due to these impossible ideals that have been set in our society. I’m really just having to avoid a lot of those posts so that I can stay away from the negativity. I definitely understand that they are the boss of their underpants and I am the boss of mine but I won’t lie, the negativity bothers me, especially when I’m trying NOT to be negative about my own body, you know?

  25. Hi Ragen,
    I hope your certification studies are going well. My question is personal and perhaps invasive. As a physically active woman, can you offer any advice for dealing with issues that might be more of a concern for a plus sized woman. I am thinking along the lines of chaffing, rolls and valleys of the body, blisters, and infections that may occur. I have read tons of advice for easing discomfort caused by friction, sweat, etc., but I hope you may have some tips you have learned along the way. My hope is for information that I may use to battle the endless crap reasons I have for not moving my body enough to be as healthy as I would like to be.
    I hope your holiday season is and goes well. Thanks for your blog; it has made a real difference in my life on certain days. Also, thank you for the chance to win the journal.

    • Hi there,

      First, to be healthy most research says that the key is 30 minutes a day about 5 days a week of moderate exercise (like walking) so you don’t have to work out for hours or be drenched in sweat to be healthier.

      Beyond that, I think that prevention and early intervention are the keys. First of all, start slowly – if you haven’t run since the sixth grade and you try to start off with a 10 mile run, a great many things may go very wrong. With blisters, you’re probably going to get them with any new activity – but it has nothing to do with your size. Pay attention to hotspots and use bandaids or other blister treatment stuff right away to prevent and treat blisters (be sure that you buy what you need before you start working out so that a situation doesn’t become worse waiting for you to go to the store. Good socks are highly under-rated – get some good socks. Also, mix up your workouts – repetitive injuries are caused by repetitive motions so avoid doing the exact same thing, the exact same way every day. Vary terrain, type of workout, speed, the clothes and shoes you wear etc.

      For prevention of chaffing I’m a fan of leggings or bike shorts under skirts and tank tops under loose fitting workout clothes. The combination of Texas heat and big ‘ole boobs sometimes causes heat rash for which I’ve discovered Pambra’s Bra liners work great, before I found out about that I would wear cotton tank top under my bra and that worked well too. There are all kinds of powders and such for chaffing. Take lots of showers, clean your whole body including all of the folds, and make sure that you dry your whole body. Your body is awesome, don’t be afraid to touch it and care for it.

      Hope that helps!

      ~Ragen

      • May I add to the above great advice above by Ragen, that I was suffering from rashes, infections and skin discomfort in skin folds no matter how many times I showered, used medicated talcs etc. I finally got onto an anti-fungal cream (Canesten) which has been fantastic. I have not had a single problem since using the cream, only a little bit is needed to apply. I am in Australia, I hope the cream is available in your part of the world – if not, please respond and I’ll give you the ingredients listed on the tube.

      • Forgot to add – I don’t keep the cream visible in the bathroom in case I end up in a repeat of a Seinfeld episode :D

      • Ninja Squirrel–
        I have asked my dermatologist the same question about the chafing and whatnot with exercise. She recommended a powder called Zeasorb. You can get it at Walgreen’s, Walmart or Rite-Aid, it costs less that $15 a container and she said it absorbs 6 times it’s own weight in moisture. I haven’t had any problems since I started using it. Hope this helps!

      • smartwool socks are the bomb. They absorb moisture, are cushiony and comfy, and fit well. I love them so much I ask for them for christmas!

    • Thanks to Ragen and everyone who offered suggestions! I hope 2012 is your best year yet.

  26. Do you ever have “what if I’m wrong?” moments? Like, say you hear someone talking about their weight loss and how they did it. Even knowing what you know from research and personal experience do you ever secretly worry that maybe they are right? Or do you ever feel like just giving up on your message because there is so much resistance? If you did ever feel this way, did time or something else change it? (sorry i know that was kind of more than 1, choose any or some blend!!)

    I ask because I myself worry and feel threatened by people on weight loss journies…That maybe I was just too weak when I developed an ED from dieting and severe weight loss and what if they just have more will power than me, etc. Or I think that even if I am justified in believing what I do, I just want to fit in and not be different by not dieting/hating my body. But then of course I come to these blogs for support and encouragement, and yours is one of the best, Ragen!

    • Hi Lindsay,

      From a scientific perspective, I know that I might be wrong and I accept that.

      The bottom line for me is that my choice is evidence based, but if I’m wrong, then I lead a weight loss lifestyle and it was horrible. I don’t think I’m wrong but if I am I would rather have less years and live them happy from a health at every size perspective than having more years of diet misery, weight cycling, and hating my body. I blogged about this a while ago: I blogged about this here: http://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/2010/12/06/dying-of-fatness/

      Thanks for the question!

      ~Ragen

  27. Everyone has days where loving their body is hard. Even the most body-positive people have off days where they dislike what they see in the mirror. (and that’s okay, it’s a part of being human!) My question is, when days like that come along, how do you cope? Do you ever fear reactions from people such as ‘HA! I KNEW she wasn’t as comfortable with her body as she claims!’? I tend to not ever want to talk about it when I have those off days because I’m afraid of ‘told ya so!’ reactions.

    • I’m going to question your assumption – I don’t have days where I dislike what I see in the mirror, and I don’t think that it makes me not-human (or better or worse than anyone else), it just puts me outside of our culture. There are TONS of humans around the world who are not part of beauty-obsessed societies and who are perfectly happy with how they look. I do think it’s absolutely unsurprising that people who live in our culture have days when they don’t like what they see and I think it’s important to realize that, while our culture is effed up and designed to create this effect (so that we buy products to make us feel better) we are the only people who are in charge of how we feel about our bodies.

      I do have days where I’m frustrated with society – that I can’t find a decent pair of jeans that fit or that some movie theater seats aren’t made to suit me, but I’m aware that my frustrations aren’t with my body but with society. I also have frustrations on an athletic level when my body isn’t doing something that I want it to do but again I realize that’s a matter of strength, stamina, flexibility and technique – all of which can be increased.

      ~Ragen

  28. What do you consider your best, spur-of-the-moment comeback against a rude fat-related remark?

    • Hi Christine,

      I think it was at the gym. I was toward the end of an intense interval training session which meant that I was having to track my heart rate, keep interval times and work my ass off while being close to exhaustion. As I finished an interval a person walking by said “Keep at it, you’ll lose that weight” to which I replied “Keep at it, you’ll learn how to appropriately interact with strangers.”

      ~Ragen

      • I LOVE THIS. See above re: You = inspiration. That is all. (Also this whole thread of comments is completely awesome!)

  29. What is your favorite fiction book?

    Keep up the great work!

    • Hi Katje,

      Hmmm, I almost never read fiction – I honestly can’t remember the last work of fiction that I read. Maybe Stranger in a Strange Land? Sorry, what a crappy answer.

      ~Ragen

  30. I’ve seen you refer briefly to queer identity. Wondering what your thoughts are on the intersection of queer and fat identities/realities?

    • I think it’s a really interesting area to look at. I think that there are a lot of parallels between fat and queer oppression since both groups are told that they are in the group by “choice”, so both face the ludicrous idea that the cure for social stigma and oppression is to stop making people want to stigmatize and oppress us so much. I’ve been out since 1995 and I’ve been fat since then as well – I’ve noticed fat hate growing more and more in the queer community especially in the past few years. I worry that there is a part of the queer community that thinks of fat people as the rung below them on the ladder – the group who they pick on because other groups picked on them.

      As someone who dates both women and men I do find more size acceptance among the female queer dating community than the straight dating community. My gay male friends do not find the same thing.

      ~Ragen

  31. Ragen, do you watch Dance Moms on Lifetime? I know, random and totally unrelated to your blog, but I gotta know! :)

    • I watched the first season – it was like a train wreck, I just couldn’t look away…

      ~Ragen

  32. What’s the most fat-friendly city you’ve ever visited? Also, what are your thoughts about fashion advice and fat bodies? It seems that even “plus size” columns in magazines like Marie Claire are aimed at making fat women look less fat, so not exactly helpful from a body acceptance perspective….

    And Merry Christmas!!! Love you and all that you do.

    • Hi Isis,

      San Francisco! That’s a big part of why I’m moving there. If I could do one thing it would be to erase the words slimming and flattering from our vocabularies – since they seem to predominantly be used in the context of “clothes that make you look more like the cultural stereotype of beauty”. Our obsession seems to be looking thinner than we are, no matter what our weight. I would like to see us celebrate all bodies of all shapes and sizes as they are, not as they could be wearing underpants that restrict breathing and “flattering” clothes.

      ~Ragen

  33. Hi Ragen,
    How did you learn how to do spins when you’re dancing? I belly dance with a troupe and always seem to be behind in the turns. I wonder if it’s because I’m larger or because I’ve never learned how to do it properly…I still get dizzy, too.
    Lisa

    • Hi Lisa,

      First, I don’t know the technique for bellydance turns so I can only speak from my experience. Also, part of it is luck of the draw – I’m a natural spinner and I dance kinesthetically so I can usually watch someone do something and then reproduce it. But when I switched from jazz to ballroom the turn technique was different so I had to work hard on it. First, learn to spot – that will cut down on the dizziness. Then learn the technique for whatever turn you want to do, separate it into distinct movements and practice it super slowly. For example, when I learned ballroom chainees I would step onto the foot, then pause, close the feet as I turned halfway around, then pause, turn to the front and pause, spotting throughout. I would do it seven times slowly and then once fast, working both sides. I worked on it 15 minutes a day, every day, for a year. Now it’s just there and I don’t even have to worry about it. Dance is built on the pillars of strength, stamina, flexibility and technique and I think that we have to exhaust those before we think look at body size as the issue. With turning the technique is really important, as is strength. (I think that most people who think that their size is holding them back are actually just under-strong).

      Does that help?

      ~Ragen

      • Belly dance turns can be fairly similar to ballroom and ballet turns so your advice is really useful. I’ve never been able to figure out how to spot.
        My troupemate attended a workshop from a belly dancer with vertigo who taught a class on turns and one thing she mentioned is that your head can change position just slightly during a turn can throw off your equilibrium, especially if you’re doing a series of turns.

      • I used to be a ballet dancer, I found that concentrating on quarter turns first, then half, then full turns, then multiple, was the way to go. Find a focus in front of you level with your eyes, and turn a quarter, keeping your face and eyes focussed on your spot, then move your head to follow (so that you are looking forwards again). Repeat, and when you feel confident, increase it to half turns, then full turns.. that is how I learnt to do that head-whip that helps you turn without falling over and getting dizzy! It does work! Of course there are other techniques that matter – like lots of foot and leg exercises helped me be strong enough to control my turns as well as gave me the power to turn more, and faster. And core strength helped me control them overall. Hope this helps some.

  34. I have heard you state before that people should be able to do whatever they want because it is their choice (even if that means eating unhealthily and not exercising), but what if they have children to look after? It has always been my belief that a mother needs to be physically fit in order to keep up with the kids, and eat healthy as a way to set an example. I recently talked to a fat mom who hired help because she doesn’t want to put in the effort for her children, because she doesn’t like exercise. She also doesnt buy healthy food for her kids and she lets them talk her into buying whatever junk they want. She doesnt want to put her foot down because she doesnt want them to whine and cry. It makes me think of those moms who go on Maury with their obese children. I just was curious of your thoughts on this.

    • Hi Ashley,

      I always get uncomfortable at the “won’t somebody think of the children scenario” because of how often I see it used as a way to justify a prejudice by causing panic (for example, when people freak out about gay teachers, or fat parents). I’m not saying that’s what you’re doing but I do think we have to be aware of it. If you think that it’s important to be physically fit and eat healthy as a mom, then you should definitely do your best to do that when you are a mom, I’m just not so sure that your beliefs should be the universal standard. It’s problematic at best to assume that weight is the issue – there are moms of all sizes who are physically fit and eat healthy and moms of all sizes who aren’t. I don’t see how the weight of the mom in your story is pertinent at all – there are lots of moms like her of many different shapes and sizes – and you acknowledged that the mom in your story is getting help. Also, I think anytime you bring Maury Povich guests into an argument it’s time to re-think what you are asking. I have a concern that the idea of moms having to be “physically Fit” is problematic for mothers who are disabled. I think that the most important part of being a mother is the type of human being you raise and that amazing human beings can be raised by all kinds of moms. I believe in doing everything we can to give parents access to health which includes information, food, safe movement options and healthcare and then respect their choices.

      ~Ragen

      • I would rather have had a ‘ fat mom who hired help because she doesn’t want to put in the effort for her children, because she doesn’t like exercise.’ than mine, who was fit, nothing wrong with her but she was neglectful, cruel, abusive. I would rather have been fed junk food than starved or force fed horrible, really off food. So if a mother is ‘unfit’ but she’s doing the best she can, including hiring help, then I’m fine with that. i would like her to feed them well though – that’s important. Healthy food and enough of it, and NO DIETS. I hate it when parents put their kids on diets – have met too many people who have had their body image screwed up that way and eating disorders triggered.
        The most important thing is to be LOVED. A parent who can’t afford to give their kid lovely toys and clothes and really nice food, is not a bad parent if they give their LOVE and CARE. You can’t buy that, you can’t substitute that with ‘perfect’ health either.

  35. Hope this finds you well Ragen! My question is this: what advice do you have for those of us who struggle with adopting HAES and are stuck at the ‘HAES is ok for people who are only x fat but not for me cuz I’m twice their size’ or whatever? I feel like I was at my happiest when I was about a 26/28 and could still shop at Lane Bryant and the Avenue and such. Yes for most this is not their dream size but I’m 5’10 and was about 300 pounds then and find myself still wishing I could get back to that size or smaller instead of truly embracing HAES and really being ok with the idea of being ‘stuck’ at a size CantBuyPantsInStores even if/when I’m eating healthy and exercising and ‘doing everything right’.

    • Hi Jennifer,

      I can absolutely understand how frustrating it is. For me it’s about understanding what is, and then doing the best I can with what I have. I’m pretty short with a really long torso, so rather than wishing I was taller with a shorter torso,I learned how to hem pants and skirts, and that if I wear a tank top under a shirt I can dance without flashing people. I’m pretty fat and so instead of trying to change that I put time into finding stores that work for me and figuring out how to navigate the world as a fat woman. I also decided that I would do things that were healthy with no expectation of where my body would end up and that I’d stay in gratitude about my body and deal with whatever happened.

      Does that help?

      ~Ragen

  36. If you have to choose, what is the single one coolest thing you’ve accomplished so far?

    • This one is so difficult. I think it’s being in the film because I have an opportunity to get the HAES message out to so many people!

      ~Ragen

  37. I have a kind of dorky question. Well, more that I can’t tell if my answer to said dorky question is a betrayal of my HAES loyalties or not. So there are these Doctor Who aliens, the Adipose, who procreate using the fat cells of other creatures. (More or less.) Basically, you take a pill and a cute (seriously, adorable) little creature sort of pops out, usually while you’re sleeping. (The details on the exact mechanics are a bit fuzzy. This is Doctor Who we’re talking about.) So in the episode, Partners in Crime, all these people were losing weight while unwittingly “birthing” these aliens. It struck me as kind of funny, because I’m sure that if the aliens had been up front about what they were doing, plenty of people would still have gone for it. And there’s my issue. I think I totally would. Mostly because of the cute alien aspect. Because usually when faced with a magic pill situation my answer is no, but… cute! So am I a traitor to the cause or just a sucker for a cute alien? (Okay, I am a sucker for a cute alien, especially if he has a sonic screwdriver.)

  38. How can I find a HAES medical practitioner in my community? I’m in a small, rural community, so I’m skeptical that there is one, but I’d like to know how to look.

    Thanks!

    • I don’t have an answer, but I did want to say thanks for asking this question!

    • There is a list here: http://fatfriendlydocs.com/ but in a small town I would just call around. Call the receptionist and say “I am looking for a new doctor, I am a fat person who practices Health at Every Size so I need a doctor who is willing to focus on health and not weight, which includes not weighing me except to prescribe medicine and not recommending or discussing weight loss. Do you have a doctor who would be interested in having me as a patient?” If they say no, call the next person. When you get there for the appointment, remind the receptionist and make sure that it’s on your chart.

      ~Ragen

      • Thanks for your response, Ragen. My list has already been shortened by at least a couple of docs, particularly an orthopedic surgeon who would barely talk to me. I got help from a massage therapist who practices structural therapy relief. She taught me what you talked about above, keeping soft knees. It is awkward but it works.

  39. How many roads must a man walk down… no, wait, Bob Dylan already asked that one.

    Is there an animal for which you feel a natural affinity? What is it? And why?

    • 42 roads? No wait, that’s something else.

      I love pit bulls. It is one of the great sadnesses of my life that I cannot have one now. I love them because they are sweet and hilarious and snuggly and wrestling size. I think it’s a crying shame that some of them have been ruined by their owners and have given all of them a bad name.

      ~Ragen

  40. I want to start a community dance group for “uppity fatties”! Your suggestions on how to get started in Northampton MA. I have a great choreographer to work with……

    • Decide what you want for your dancers, find a space and put a call out on Craigslist and any local boards for auditions, then kick it in the ass and tell me how it goes!

      ~Ragen

  41. Has your blog caused you to lose friendships or relationships with family members?

    • Hi Yorkie,

      I lost a friendship with a woman whose words I blogged about (it was the blog about saying “Does this outfit make me look fat”), even though I told her I was going to do it and she said it was fine. I did lose a couple of friends this year (they were friends who needed losing) but I’m not sure that the blog was to blame as much as a shift from being a business consultant to an activist and wanting friends who supported me instead of wanting me to be what I had always been.

      ~Ragen

  42. At some point, did you come out as fat to your family and friends? How did that go?

    • When I decided to go Health at Every Size I “came out” to everyone and explained that I wouldn’t be dieting anymore. It went really well, the family and friends who I keep in my life are very supportive.

      ~Ragen

  43. What’s your favorite dance/ dance style? I’ve always wondered. (Random question, I know…)

    • Yikes – this is like asking which of my kids is my favorite. Solo dancing allows me to be really explosive and powerful – leap, drop, hit the floor etc. whereas partner dancing is much more controlled but allows the opportunity to work in a very close partnership which is cool. If I had to choose, I would choose contemporary because there are so many options for expression and such a focus on technique.

      ~Ragen

  44. Hi Ragen,

    Love the blog it makes me feel a lot better about myself.

    what do you think of fashion designers who wouldnt make clothes for fat people since they think fat bodies proportions “deform” the clothes/designs?

    • Um, I think that they can bite me. That’s not a great answer – My best guess is that they live in a world of insecurity, that they try to make what they do inaccessible so that they can feel “special”. And I think that they are confused about clothing – if you truly want to design clothes as an artist, you design the clothes to fit the bodies – not the other way around.

      ~Ragen

  45. I find myself occasionally asking myself “what would Ragen do?” whenever I’m having a tough time with the negative voices in my head.
    I started burlesque a few months ago and I’ve even done a couple solos (and I never solo when belly dancing). You always come off as so confident and as if you’ve never been insecure in who you are. Do you ever have the voice in your head that says, “They don’t really want to see you on stage?” I never really felt that way during my belly dance performances, but it seems to come up every time I go on stage in my burlesque performances. I tell the voice to F off and go on stage and do my best…and I am doing something right because the responses to my performances have been 100% positive…but is there a way to get rid of such negativity inside?
    And one last question on a lighter note: any idea where one might find nude fishnet pantyhose? Me and my fellow plus size troupe mate haven’t had any luck tracking them down.
    Anyways, thanks so much for being such an inspiration for me and so many others. I can’t tell you how much you’ve helped me grow in my dancing and other aspects of my life.

    • Hi Laurie,

      Thank you so much! I’m completely honored that you use me to help support you through tough times! I love the you are doing burlesque and belly dancing, I hope you’ll send me the YouTube urls!

      I think the key to getting rid of negative thoughts is becoming 100% certain that you are the only person in charge of how you feel about your body. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of it. Then get into gratitude for how amazing your body is and all the awesome stuff that it does and remember how amazing you are!

      I get my nude fishnets here: http://www.welovecolors.com/shop/PlusSizedLycraFishnets.htm

      ~Ragen

  46. What advice do have for MEN who are subjected to the “Thin is in” mentality? Have men written in to the blog? Being female, I’m curious about the other half and how they deal with it.

    • Hi Tracey,

      I have some male readers, not a lot though. I’m not sure if it’s something that has to be dealt with differently – I would still recommend getting into a place of gratitude about your body, understanding what the science says is possible and then making choices.

      ~Ragen

  47. Hi Ragen!
    My question is, what do you think of the insistence from a large part of society that all is takes to be thin is healthy eating and exercise and therefore any fat person who claims that they eat healthily and exercise is lying or deluded? (Before I found FA I spent ages trying to figure out what I was doing “wrong” that meant I was fat. I spent a long time thinking that I must be kidding myself about how much I really ate or something. So glad to have found FA/HAES)

    • I think it’s a Galileo issue. The evidence doesn’t support common belief so people choose to ignore the evidence so that they don’t have to let go of whatever that belief is buying for them. I think some people are genuinely misinformed, but I think that others do it as a way to maintain a sense of superiority.

      ~Ragen

  48. I just had another question pop in to mind – what is your take on the “Toddlers and Tiaras” show? **personally I hate it! Playing dress up is one thing but setting your child up to impossible and ridiculous standards should be child abuse. Just my two cents**

    • I have a really hard time watching that show. I could be wrong but I just don’t see how it can be healthy for little kids to have that many people focused on how “attractive” they are, especially the glitz pageants where “attractive” means that they look like miniature, often highly sexualized, adults.

      ~Ragen

  49. What exactly makes you so awesome? Explain.

    • Yes, this is my question, too! How exactly did you get so awesome? Please include an instruction manual for achieving similar said awesomeness with my Fat!So planner! :-)

    • You are hilarious. Thank you for thinking that I’m awesome. Any awesomeness (real or perceived) should be credited to my mom who fought teachers and principals and band directors for my right to be myself and always encouraged me to stand up for what I believed in and to be authentically me.

      ~Ragen

      • Ragen was awesome on the day she was born. I had very little to do with that. Just like all of you are awesome, maybe somebody told you that you weren’t awesome exactly the way you are. Please never believe them.

  50. What do you eat? Not in a food log kind of way but in a general, what you believe to be healthy way. Did you have to adjust your food intake based on your dance schedule? When I started taking kung fu it was really hard for me to wrap my head around the amount of food I had to eat to not collapse halfway through class.

    • Hi Kate,

      I am a horrible cook (one of my goals for this year is to get better at it!) so i eat a lot of really simple foods – salads, soups, sandwiches. I try to focus on getting enough fruits and veggies and eating whole grains a lot. I do have to eat differently as an athlete – I absolutely hate the feeling when I’m working out and I realize that I’ve just run out of fuel and it took me a while to figure out that was the problem. Also, one of the things that stuck with me after my eating disorder is that I don’t always recognize my hunger, so if I’m focused on something else I can forget to eat for a really long time so I have to watch that.

      ~Ragen

      • Learning to cook (and learning to like it!) is on my goal list for the year too! :) Thanks for the answer.

  51. No question. Just thought I’d post greetings for the season. Whatever winter holiday is your preferred celebration, here’s wishing you a joyful one, and a Happy New Year!

    • Thanks Rick, right back at you!

      ~Ragen

  52. Hey!

    I’m trying to get back into regular movement–mainly to increase strength and flexibility. Can you recommend a resource (preferably a DVD, but I’m open), something to get me started? Though I consider myself a smart shopper, I really have no idea what I should be looking out as far as at-home workout media. Thanks in advance!

  53. Joyest Season!

    This is a little out of the general area of questioning, but please bare with me. If you, knowing what you know now about people, acceptance and life in general, could go back and have a heart to heart with your 21 year-old-self, about what would you talk/warn/suggest/celebrate?

    Also, just a wee little note, I love seeing your posts in my reader feed. You are wonderful to read, even for a punky college fatty like me!

    • Shanna,

      By the time I was 21 I had already dealt with my eating disorder and was on my way to finding HAES. This is going to sound totally cheesy but I wouldn’t change anything because I’m so happy with where I am and I don’t think I would be here without the journey that I took. Does that make any sense?

      I’m really glad that you like the blog, I am a great fan of punky college fatties!

      ~Ragen

  54. Hi Ragen,

    Happy Holidays! Hopefully your weekend is going well and no one has given you a hard time about dinner. I’ve noticed that you’re passionate about a broad range of topics. Have you ever been tempted to post about something besides HAES on your blog?

    • Hi Kris!

      I am tempted quite a bit. I specifically keep the topics on this blog tight so that my readers know what they are getting and I can concentrate my time and energy, but I’m currently exploring other outlets to write about related topics. (For example I’m going to be in Texas CEO Magazine writing about carrot and stick benefit programs).

      ~Ragen

  55. I’m curious about what formal/technical dance training you’ve had, & what your experience has been with finding teachers (of any size) who are supportive of your dancing. As a dancer myself I know how much judgement of size there is in many “dance communities,” & how common it is to equate thin with healthy – ironically as particularly in ballet & modern dance so many thin dancers get that way through starving &/or purging, & are the furthest thing from healthy.

    Thanks for the great blog, especially for promoting dance & movement as available for all.

    • I’ve danced my whole life but we lived in small towns so I was poorly trained until I started working with Rowdy. I have been lucky to have found many people who are supportive of my dancing (as well as facing a lot of judgment from others). I am lucky to be a naturally talented dancer and I don’t know that I would have received such a kind reception were I not able to challenge stereotypes. A big part of my work is to make dancing accessible to people of all bodies and abilities.

      ~Ragen

  56. Do you have any ballet training?

    I love your blog and your humor and I try to pass it on to everyone I know who could use some help accepting themselves they way they are.

    • Hi Piper,

      I have very little ballet training. Everything about my body is wrong for ballet and so I did it for the requisite 6 months and then I quit. Thank you for passing along the blog, it’s the absolute greatest compliment when someone likes the work enough to show it to someone else :)

      ~Ragen

  57. Thank you SO much for your blog. My mom and sister are visiting, and I am trying very hard to not get sucked into their diet mentalities and negative body image comments. Seeing your blog posts in my Google Reader this afternoon is a nice reality check!

    Do you plan to write a book at some point?

    • Hi Christine,

      Glad that I could help! The first draft of my book is being read by a group of reviewers now. I’m looking forward to getting it out there!

      ~Ragen

  58. Something only you could answer:

    When you were sold for air conditioners in West Africa, how much did you fetch (i.e., the value of thee A/Cs)?

    • My mom sold me for 2 air conditioners which was twice the dowry of a princess (which she tried, unsuccessfully, to use to justify the fact that she had sold me ).

      ~Ragen

      • It was 120 degrees for months at a time………..cold season was 85 degrees…..they thought you were the most beautiful person they had ever seen, of course I agreed with them, you ARE the most beautiful person.

  59. So I’m in the process of creating a healthy eating and exercise plan and yes, I want to lose weight with this plan, but the #1 priority is ensuring that I’m doing things to create a healthier life that I can live for a long time.

    I’ve had quite a few people come back at me for saying I want to lose weight, telling me it’s not important, being thin isn’t going to make me happy, so forth and so on. Much of the time they use HAES as their foundation and basis for their statements.

    I respect that they’re happy with who they are, at any size so I would hope they would respect me for wanting to change things in my life which will, more than likely, lead to weigh loss. I made it very clear that my priority is not the weight loss, but the health issues I have and the ones that (if heredity is any indication) will end up plaguing me as I get older.

    My question is shouldn’t the respect go both ways? And how do I sensitively make my stand clear to them without unconsciously implying that I think what they’re doing or how they’re living is wrong?

  60. My question: if days had more hours, what interests/hobbies would you pursue?

    • Ealasaid,

      I would dance many more styles – I would do tap, belly dance, modern, all the ballroom dances, anything dance that I could find a teacher for!

      ~Ragen

  61. I’ve had a great hour or so reading the questions, comments, replies, following recommended links etc – for a while all was right in the world :) I do have a question which may make me sound like a fat acceptance vigilante (well – I guess I am) … Do you know of a website, a central registry of sorts, which lists companies/retailers/fashion designers that are not fat friendly? I am also hoping that this kind of site would list and document articles that are bigoted, misinformed, fat shaming etc – so that people who are pro-acceptance can add their voice in force and drown out the fat shame affirming.

    I undertook a mini email campaign earlier this year to online retailers (e.g. Anthropologie, TopShop, Net-a-Porter etc.) if they sold clothing to above average women and that I hoped their range included that socially sophisticated vision. The responses ranged from polite No’s to smarmy patronising declines. I am loathe to see organisations profit by selling unsized items to fat people. In a sense, I’d love to see these companies and designers exposed, blacklisted. I believe the process of engineering social change is helped by the power of numbers, the more people who vote with their pockets or speak up against fat bigotry, the faster fat people can thrive in an environment that supports them.

    It has been suggested that I undertake setting up such a website. I don’t know if I can cope mentally with pending legal action against an employer for fat discrimination and other messy/traumatic events. If the framework already exists somewhere, I would dearly love to check it out. Many thanks…

    • Hi again … was disappointed not to get a reply but before I assume anything, I sincerely want to check whether or not you know of any kind of website that I’ve referred to above. Regards, K.

  62. do you have any favorite fiction authors? or are you too busy being a rockstar! to read? :D

  63. Late to the party, sorry, but I can’t pass up the chance to ask a couple things!

    What got you into dance in the first place? (Apologies if that was already asked, I’ve read the thread but I might’ve missed something) And did you ever struggle with the dearth of representation of fat bodies doing things like dance? I have found that one of my biggest recurring stumbling blocks as I work on my self-acceptance is that I have a really hard time visualizing myself doing cool shit – like dance, or getting all the awesome tattoos I want, or whatever – because while a thin person can look around at the culture and see millions of images of someone who looks close enough to them to identify with, doing whatever it is they might imagine doing, when I’m looking for pics or videos to inspire and encourage myself, I have a hard time inserting myself into what I find because my brain immediately starts saying “Yeah that looks awesome BUT YOU WON’T LOOK ANYTHING LIKE THAT, REMEMBER?” Which can be so demoralizing that I respond by sighing and saying “Yeah, I know. I’d probably look stupid trying to do it.” and giving up.

  64. What is your number one tip for self love?

    • Hi Emma,

      Thanks for asking- it would be to replace negative thoughts about your body with positive thoughts and gratitude for things that you like about your body as well as things that it does (even things like breathing, pumping blood, eyes blinking etc.).

      ~Ragen

  65. How old were you when you first started to accept your body? What was the starting point for that?

  66. Hi Ragen!

    This is more of an advice type question: My family members ( direct and my stepdad’s side) are nearly all overweight and some of us are *BMI wise* obese, myself included. I am very healthy based on my blood work and strength plus lots of fresh foods and walking 2 miles to campus each day. However, there are people (mostly on my stepdad’s side) who eat poorly and don’t move. That in itself wouldn’t present a problem; I’m all for people making their own choices. But my family also happens to be fat-hating. They are always talking about losing weight and critiquing each other’s eating habits, particularly my dad of my younger sister. I try to tell them about fitness versus outward weight, I bring up Steven Blair’s studies. I want everyone to move and do things but when they don’t lose weight they lose interest, thinking it’s doing no good.

    I guess my real question is how I can make those around me okay with HAES and their bodies and realize that being fat does not put you in a box.

    • Hi There,

      So sorry to take so long to get to you on this. I blogged about this a bit today. I think that the best thing that you can do is set boundaries and consequences for yourself and make decisions for your health and body, and then let other people make decisions for themselves. Does that make sense?

      ~Ragen


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