Thin Fat Activists

I’ve missed you!  Sorry for the lack of posting – the move to California and getting ready for the NAAFA Convention just caught up with me and I got a little behind but I’m back!

I received an e-mail with some really good questions about how to be a thin fat activist.  I know that some people prefer to use the term thin ally but the very wise Marilyn Wann once talked to me about this and reminded me that fat phobia and a completely unattainable standard of beauty hurts everyone.  So people can identify as allies or thin fat activists or whatever they want and I’m cool with it.

The scripting I use below is really generic and I totally encourage rephrasing it into something that is authentic to you.

Also, you may want to keep in mind that my style of activism is very outcome-based so I will often forgo doing what I have a right to do based on oppression theory, and instead choose activities and behaviors that I feel are the most likely to have the outcome that I want.  That’s just my style, it’s certainly not the only valid choice.
I’ve been trying, both explicitly and more subtly, to spread the word about fat not equaling unhealthy, diet claims being bogus, etc. – plus spreading body positivity – through conversations, Facebook links and so on.

Awesome, you totally rock.  Thank you very much!

But, I’ve run into situations where I’m with other “thin” people and I think they assume some kind of solidarity. So, they make uneducated or insulting comments about people who are fat or the “obesity problem”. Many times, I can respond with an alternative point of view, but sometimes I don’t know what to say that’s diplomatic and gets the point across.

I hear this from a lot of thin fat activist – this occurs when a size bigot assumes that everyone who looks like them shares the same bigotry.   Sadly, it happens both ways.  I get strange looks and push back when I defend a model that someone says is “obviously too thin” or when I complain about the use of phrases like “real women have curves” or anything that attempts to elevate some bodies at the expense of insulting others. (Don’t believe me – take a look at some of the comments to my Things I’ve Heard about Thin Women post on Jezebel“) When it happens to me with another fat person, there are two options that I go for.  the first is the “dumb question”

“Oh, do you know her?”

“Um, no”

“Wait, so how do you know anything about her health?”

“I can see she’s fat”

“There are plenty of healthy fat people, and plenty of unhealthy thin ones.  Either way nobody deserves to be called names – this isn’t Junior High.”

Or, I’ll try to point out that it is an assumption, then try to get them to feel some empathy, using myself as an example.

For example:  “Interesting that you should make that assumption about her.  You know, I’ve been trying really hard not to make guesses about people based on their appearance – It makes me so angry when people assume that I’m lazy and unhealthy because of my size, and I don’t want to turn around and do the same thing to someone else.”

I wonder if this could be used on someone of “normal” or “thin” body size, using a stereotype that fits you. – For example, if you are blond “Interesting that you should make that assumption about them.  I try not to make assumptions about people based on their appearance – it drives me crazy when people assume that I’m a ditz because I’m blond, I wouldn’t want to make the same mistake”.  Etc.

This is where it gets tricky because people will get defensive/give you push back and you have to decide how much teaching you want to do in this teachable moment – do you want to go into the science of it or just assert that you believe that people should be treated with respect – it’s totally up to you.

One creed that I live by is that I don’t try to control anyone else’s behavior, I simply control my reaction.  So you might try something like:   “You know, I’m really not comfortable with talk like that.  I think it’s shameful that in our society there is so much pressure to hate our bodies or fit into some ideal body type.  I doubt making people feel bad about themselves will help them be healthy (AND/OR) People can be healthy and happy at any size.  I’m going to [remove myself from this situation] until you’re done with this conversation.  When you’re done just come find me [at the place I'm going to].   I would probably add a bit of science to this because I’m a big giant nerd but that’s entirely up to you.

Some examples:

  • At dance class, where an unknown neighbor always complains about the music being too loud, new acquaintance says laughing, “What’s their problem? Maybe they should get off their fat butts and do some exercise.”

This seems a bit non sequitur  and I would likely point that out “I guess I can see how our music would be loud to someone nearby who is trying to work.  Of course they moved in knowing we were here so it’s pretty much their problem.  I never felt the urge to call them names though.”

  • I mention how our Zumba class was such a crazy workout and had me sweating my butt off, and she says something about now I have permission to eat whatever I want afterwards.

On this one I would go with something like “You know, I was just thinking about how we have this culture where people label foods as good or bad, or they starve themselves and just have really weird relationships with food.  I use the health at every size method and always give myself permission to eat whatever I want, that way I stay in touch with my body and make sure that I have a healthy relationship with food.”

  • She discusses a Zumba class she took in another part of the country where it was so great to see those people out there instead of eating potato chips in front of the television (something else about getting fat here, I think).

This is one of those situations where I would typically let her know that this conversation doesn’t work for me “You know, I’m sorry if this seems rude but that kind of stereotyping really bothers me. I’m going to head out.  I’ll see you next week”.

The reason these comments are weird to me is b/c it’s implied that fatness is bad rather than when people say, “well, obesity is such a problem, people need to be less fat and lazy”.

So my response to this is mostly that I’m the boss of my underpants and nobody else’s:   “It actually really bothers me when someone guesses about other people’s habits or health by looking at their size.  There are plenty of healthy people and plenty of unhealthy people of all sizes.”  and/or”I don’t have the right to tell other people how to live.  I can’t make people look both ways before they cross the street, or not talk on the cellphone when they are trying to drive and I can’t make people of any size live by my definition of health, it’s really none of my business. I try to concentrate on myself and let other people make their own choices”.

I guess my main point is – people assume incorrectly that b/c they think I fit a thin ideal that I’ve never had body image issues or that I don’t truly believe in body positivity. Or that b/c of my genes, I have some kind of “right” to eat whatever I want b/c I won’t gain as much weight as the next person. And that I’m OK with “fat talk”.  None of these things are true – but I don’t how to point that out exactly.

I think that what you said right there is genius.  When something like this comes up, say just that “I don’t know if you are doing this but I notice that a lot of times people assume that because I’m thin I’ve never had body issues, or I am ok with people saying nasty things about other people’s bodies, or that Health at Every Size doesn’t apply to me.  None of that is true and that kind of thing really bothers me.”

In the end, you have to be ready for backlash.  Being a fat activist of any size isn’t always easy.  You’re going to get the “everybody knows that fat is unhealthy” argument (not only doesn’t everybody know that, but there’s a mountain of evidence to the contrary.)  You’re going to get “Well they cost so much money in healthcare or at the workplace” (bullshit!)  You have to decide how much teaching you want to do in any given teachable moment, and that means you have to decide how much information you want to be armed with.

One that works in almost every situation “You know, I think that people of all shapes and sizes deserve to be treated with respect and I don’t feel like you are doing that now.  If you’re going to continue to act this way, I’m just going to end the conversation.”

Like the blog?  Check Out the Book.  The E-Book is “Name Your Own Price”!

I wanted everyone to be able to afford Fat: The Owner’s Manual – Surviving a Thin-Obsessed World with your Health, Happiness, and Sense of Humor Intact  so it  is now available in soft cover and e-book which is “name your own price

Become a Member, Support The Work!

This month’s member deals come from More of Me to Love, Jodee Rose, The Fat Nutritionist, Golda Poretsky, Jeanette DePatie and of course me. If you are a member and haven’t received the e-mail with details and passwords just let me know!

I do HAES and SA activism, speaking and writing full time, and I don’t believe in putting corporate ads on my blog and making my readers a commodity. So if you find value in my work, want to support it, and you can afford it, you can  become a member (you get extra stuff, discounts, and you’re always the first to know about things) or you can support my work with a  one-time contribution.  The regular e-mail blog subscription (available at the top right hand side of this page) is still completely free. If you’re curious about this policy, you might want to check out this post.  Thanks for reading! ~Ragen

Published in: on July 31, 2012 at 9:25 am  Comments (20)  

Big Fat Inspiration

I like to meet other people who work in health and fitness – especially those who work from a Behavior-Centered Health model.  A friend of mine, Dave, once tried to introduce me to the owner of a gym, we’ll call him Gary. Dave described me including the fact that I’m a fat athlete.

Gary was apparently confused about why we were being introduced and immediately said “We wouldn’t want a trainer who was really big” because I would be a “poor example”.  Dave told me the story and I shrugged it off – certainly not the first time that I’ve been told that being a successful, healthy, happy, fat athlete is setting a bad example.

That same night I was at one of the Eating Disorder Facilities where I taught dance classes.  I found out that the girls had named me to their list of Role Models.  One of them told me that I was her hero. These are girls who have body dymorphia and an irrational fear of being fat.  And I, at 5’4 284 pounds, I made their list of role models.  It took everything in my power not to cry – not just because I was honored but because those women inspire me.  They fight against near-impossible odds, they fall down over and over and they just keep getting back up.

The moral of the story here is that we don’t get to decide to whom we are an example, to whom we are an inspiration, or when.  We can only decide what we are an example of, and what we want to inspire.

I’ve written before about my feelings on inspiration.  Basically, that I believe that the only way you can inspire by someone is presenting a new option – then they have to choose to walk toward or away from that option.  Just the other day I was watching Coach Carter (I have an unabashed love of all sports movies) and was reminded of this Marianne Williamson Quote:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?  Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do.  It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

So, may I suggest that it can be kind of fun to ask yourself:  If someone were watching your life – if they were looking to you as a role model – what would you give them permission to do? Are you proud of what you are an example of?

I don’t ask this hypothetically… I can assure you that someone is looking to you.  For whatever reason – someone you know is relating to you right now and looking to you for inspiration.  What are you inspiring them to consider?

I think that one of the most revolutionary acts that we can commit, at any size but especially as fat people, is to publicly with unabashedly love our bodies.  Sadly, in this culture if you wake up and don’t hate yourself you are committing an act of revolution. If you can model not hating yourself, you are a full on revolutionary, and you give other people permission to consider that their bodies just might possibly be amazing and worthy exactly as they are.

Love your body, and you give the world the chance to change.

Like the blog?  Check Out the Book.  The E-Book is “Name Your Own Price”!

I wanted everyone to be able to afford Fat: The Owner’s Manual – Surviving a Thin-Obsessed World with your Health, Happiness, and Sense of Humor Intact  so it  is now available in soft cover and e-book which is “name your own price”

Become a Member, Support The Work!

This month’s member deals come from More of Me to Love, Jodee Rose, The Fat Nutritionist, Golda Poretsky, Jeanette DePatie and of course me. If you are a member and haven’t received the e-mail with details and passwords just let me know!

I do HAES and SA activism, speaking and writing full time, and I don’t believe in putting corporate ads on my blog and making my readers a commodity. So if you find value in my work, want to support it, and you can afford it, you can  become a member (you get extra stuff, discounts, and you’re always the first to know about things) or you can support my work with a  one-time contribution.  The regular e-mail blog subscription (available at the top right hand side of this page) is still completely free. If you’re curious about this policy, you might want to check out this post.  Thanks for reading! ~Ragen

 

Published in: on July 27, 2012 at 9:47 am  Comments (21)  

The High Price of Superficial Self-Esteem

From my point of view, one of the most damaging things about the current slew of weight loss shows, diet books etc. is newly thin people trying on clothes, smiling into the camera and saying “I’m wearing single digits!  I finally love myself after all these years!!!!”.

If someone chooses their life partner or friends based entirely upon how they look, we call them superficial.  So why is it considered ok in our society to make our self-esteem contingent upon how we look?

I take a decent amount of flack for being a body positive fat person.  For the bazillionth time today I got an e-mail from someone unable to understand my work that said: “I don’t think it’s a good thing for you to tell people it’s ok to be fat”. They said a lot of other really mean-spirited stuff, including calling me a fat bitch, but that was the gist of their argument.

Here’s the thing, I’m not interested in being in the business of telling other people what is or is not ok for their body.  There are size 0 women who do not have an eating disorder and are sick of people assuming that they do, or hearing bitter fat women call them “skinny bitches”.  There are healthy fat people who are sick of the death fat police telling them that if they don’t lose weight they are just going to keel over and die, or hearing insecure thin women call them “fat bitches”.

What I am trying to show people is that they have the option to love themselves in the body they have now, even if they feel that they want to change it.

If someone chooses to lose weight, or gain weight,  I respect that (because, hey, it’s their decision and I want my decisions about my body and weight to be respected and supported and I don’t see how I can justify asking for something that I’m not willing to give).  And while it’s their right, I do personally think it’s unfortunate when people make their self-esteem contingent upon that weight loss or gain.

There is the option of choosing to love yourself and appreciate your body for what it CAN do now.  I know for me that was a much more stable platform from which to make other decisions about my health.

People might be able to afford to be completely superficial when choosing dates, but I think they might find that the price for superficial self-esteem is just too high.

Like the blog?  Check Out the Book.  The E-Book is “Name Your Own Price”!

I wanted everyone to be able to afford Fat: The Owner’s Manual – Surviving a Thin-Obsessed World with your Health, Happiness, and Sense of Humor Intact  so it  is now available in soft cover and e-book which is “name your own price”

Become a Member, Support The Work!

This month’s member deals come from More of Me to Love, Jodee Rose, The Fat Nutritionist, Golda Poretsky, Jeanette DePatie and of course me. If you are a member and haven’t received the e-mail with details and passwords just let me know!

I do HAES and SA activism, speaking and writing full time, and I don’t believe in putting corporate ads on my blog and making my readers a commodity. So if you find value in my work, want to support it, and you can afford it, you can  become a member (you get extra stuff, discounts, and you’re always the first to know about things) or you can support my work with a  one-time contribution.  The regular e-mail blog subscription (available at the top right hand side of this page) is still completely free. If you’re curious about this policy, you might want to check out this post.  Thanks for reading! ~Ragen

Published in: on July 26, 2012 at 10:30 am  Comments (27)  

Exercising Common Sense

People do the following things, often at the recommendation of their doctors,  to be “more healthy”

  • Completely cut entire food groups from their diet.
  • Eat highly processed soy-based food 5 times a day and then one  meal of protein and vegetables only.  Avoid activity.
  • Eat only bananas one day a week.
  • Eat only processed foods that come out of a plastic bag and that they cook in the microwave.
  • Eat candy bars and milkshakes as long as they stay below a certain number of calories per day.
  • Eat little enough that they are hungry all the time.  Ignore their body’s signal that it needs nourishment and instead go workout when hunger strikes.
  • Take a pill every day whose side effects include: “You may feel an urgent need to go to the bathroom.  Until you have a sense of any treatment effects, it’s probably a smart idea to wear dark pants, and bring a change of clothes with you to work.”  I am not in any way making this up – this actually appears on the documentation.
  • Eat extremely strictly Monday through Saturday.  Binge eat on Sunday.
  • Eat food which has replaced natural ingredients with heavily engineered artificial versions of those ingredients, which are shown to cause cancer in animals. (edited because the original was poorly worded and punctuated, making me sound like an idiot.)
  • Eat chips whose label indicates that they “may cause anal leakage”. Oh yes, you read the right.  Anal leakage.
  • Replace two meals a day with a thin chocolate beverage that acts as a laxative.

To be clear, people are allowed to do all of those things and more, as they are the boss of their underpants.  I think it’s important that people have access to true information.  Like, for example that nobody has been able to prove that anything works for long-term weight loss for the vast majority of people, but doctors prescribe things as if they work and then blame the patient if they don’t, and diet companies claim responsibility for the short term weight loss that almost anyone can achieve, and then blames their clients for the long term weight regain that almost everyone experiences.

BMI was created by an epidemiologist in the 1800′s to be used as a statistical tool to evaluate sizes of large populations, and yet we continue to use it as a tool to measure health in individuals.  As I once heard the very wise Jon Robison say – it’s not that BMI is a poor indicator of health, it’s that BMI is NOT an  indicator of health.

Babies come in a multitude of sizes and shapes.  People come with wildly varying shoe and hand sizes, but people still claim that our bodies should all fit the same narrow ratio.

A great many of the studies from which we derive our information about the effects of being “overweight” and “obese” are funded by diet industry giants like Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig.

Weight Watchers defines “success” as maintaining a 5% weight loss. So if you were 5’4 and started out at 210, lost 90 pounds to reach your “goal weight” of 120, then gained back 80lbs and ended with a weight of 200,  you would have started and ended in the “obese” BMI category, but Weight Watchers would count you as a success for their efficacy studies. (While trying to convince you to keep paying them for another round of weight loss and if you weight cycled again then you would still be obese and they would be counting you as a success twice.)

The FDA received 23 reports of serious health problems from a diet pill.  These report included  jaundice, elevated liver enzymes, liver damage requiring liver transplant, seizures; cardiovascular disorders; and rhabdomyolysis, a type of muscle damage that can lead to  kidney failure among other things. Because the diet lobbies have done such a good job of restricting the FDAs authority where weight loss supplements are concerned, these reports weren’t enough to take the pill off the market.  They weren’t able to ban it until somebody died.

Just think about it is all I’m asking – does it make sense that we’ll be healthier if we’re thinner, even if we do extremely unhealthy things to get there?  If that’s the case why not just give all the fatties cocaine.  That ought to make us thin in no time.

Doesn’t it seem more likely that healthy habits will lead to a healthy body, even if they don’t lead to weight loss?  It’s a shame that it’s so difficult to get good information about what healthy choices mean because the diet industry is so busy lobbying to sell pre-packaged foods wrapped up in shame and guilt.  Mmmmm, that sounds super-healthy (hey, look:  sarcasm).

Studies tell us that people are more likely to maintain health improvements over the long term if they make healthy behaviors their goal instead of a specific weight.  There is a mountain of research that shows that regular exercise improves health indicators, even though it doesn’t typically lead to weight loss in people who are obese.  Why is that not the topic of discussion?

Maybe because it’s not as sexy as a “war on obesity”.  Maybe because it would be harder for people to make wild, baseless assumptions about our health if we insisted that people’s health be judged based on their health and that it is their business and nobody else’s how they prioritize their health and how they get there?  Maybe it’s because the diet industry spends plenty of it’s 60 Billion dollar a year profits to lobby our government to wage a war against over 60% of its citizens for how they look?

Who knows?  What I believe is that we have the option to take our health into our own hands and for me the first step was thinking critically about the messages that we are getting, where they come from, and why those sources might say that.  Then the first thing that I exercise is a little common sense.

Like the blog?  Check Out the Book.  The E-Book is “Name Your Own Price”!

I wanted everyone to be able to afford Fat: The Owner’s Manual – Surviving a Thin-Obsessed World with your Health, Happiness, and Sense of Humor Intact  so it  is now available in soft cover and e-book which is “name your own price”

Become a Member, Support The Work!

This month’s member deals come from More of Me to Love, Jodee Rose, The Fat Nutritionist, Golda Poretsky, Jeanette DePatie and of course me. If you are a member and haven’t received the e-mail with details and passwords just let me know!

I do HAES and SA activism, speaking and writing full time, and I don’t believe in putting corporate ads on my blog and making my readers a commodity. So if you find value in my work, want to support it, and you can afford it, you can  become a member (you get extra stuff, discounts, and you’re always the first to know about things) or you can support my work with a  one-time contribution.  The regular e-mail blog subscription (available at the top right hand side of this page) is still completely free. If you’re curious about this policy, you might want to check out this post.  Thanks for reading! ~Ragen


Published in: on July 25, 2012 at 8:49 am  Comments (9)  

What About Preventing Obesity?

I got a question from a reader who is a personal trainer.  She is absolutely into working with her clients from a Health at Every Size, but she very respectfully asked the following question:

If we encouraged people before they were fat to practice intuitive and mindful eating, and healthy joyful movement habits, would people get fat? (Of course barring instances where weight gain is due to medication or other unintended cause). *This insinuates that preventing fatness would be desirable for that person- of course, not everyone’s goal/choice*

How does a non-fat child, for example, become a fat teen or adult, without taking in more calories than their body needs and not moving enough to counteract the extra food, barring a unintended cause like medication side effects?  Where does HAES stand on this in terms of preventing weight gain through mindful eating and movement?   Would preventing fatness be anti-HAES?

Thanks for asking!  First, to be very clear I can only speak for my own understanding of HAES, I am not speaking for the whole movement or for anyone else.

I believe that bodies, like everything in nature, come in many shapes and sizes.  When you consider that adult shoes come in 200 different size/width combinations just to try to suit the wide variety of human foot lengths and widths, it’s silly to think that human bodies only naturally come in one narrow ratio of height and width.  So I think that if everyone followed HAES practices we would see body diversity.  I think the thing that is getting in the way of the expression of the natural diversity of body sizes is dieting – which, for the vast majority of people, artificially lowers body weight in the short term, but it the most statistically reliable way to cause weight gain in the long term.

The idea that people don’t gain weight unless they take in more calories than their bodies need is also more tricky than it sounds.  The amount of calories that a body burns can change in both the short and long term and is affected by a number of things including body composition (amount of muscle, fat, bone, amount of type 1 vs type 2 muscle etc.), stress, sleep, hormonal cycle, movement, age and more.  Also, though very efficient bodies may not “need” as many calories to function, the person’s hunger may exceed that number of calories and constant hunger has not been shown to lead to positive mental or physical health.  HAES suggests taking satiety and food enjoyment into account, rather than attempting to treat the body like a machine.

I think the problem that we are having is that we are stuck believing that body size determines health and so we suggest that people focus all of their eating and exercise on achieving that particular body size.  The problem isn’t that we haven’t found the right way to manipulate body size through eating and exercising  to create health- the problem is that’s the wrong goal.  We don’t need to use body size as a proxy for health – we can inexpensively measure health in terms of metabolic health, strength, stamina and flexibility.  Then we can focus on health and healthcare practitioners can prescribe health based solutions for health issues, rather than body size solutions for health issues.

A mountain of evidence shows that habits are a better predictor of health than size, and even though we know that there are healthy fat people and unhealthy thin people, and there are no diseases that fat people get that thin people don’t also get, so body size is certainly not a guarantee of health.

My understanding of Health at Every Size is that it’s a health practice where one focuses on healthy habits and allows their body to settle at whatever weight it settles and so I think that any attempt to manipulate/prevent a body size through food and exercise does not fall under the HAES umbrella.

Check Out My New Book.  The E-Book is “Name Your Own Price”!

I wanted everyone to be able to afford Fat: The Owner’s Manual – Surviving a Thin-Obsessed World with your Health, Happiness, and Sense of Humor Intact  so it  is now available in soft cover and e-book which is “name your own price”

Become a Member, Support The Work!

This month’s member deals come from More of Me to Love, Jodee Rose, The Fat Nutritionist, Golda Poretsky, Jeanette DePatie and of course me. If you are a member and haven’t received the e-mail with details and passwords just let me know!

I do HAES and SA activism, speaking and writing full time, and I don’t believe in putting corporate ads on my blog and making my readers a commodity. So if you find value in my work, want to support it, and you can afford it, you can  become a member (you get extra stuff, discounts, and you’re always the first to know about things) or you can support my work with a  one-time contribution.  The regular e-mail blog subscription (available at the top right hand side of this page) is still completely free. If you’re curious about this policy, you might want to check out this post.  Thanks for reading! ~Ragen

 

Published in: on July 23, 2012 at 9:39 am  Comments (59)  

Fatties are a Sound Investment

In a report this week, Sarbjit Nahal, an equity strategist at BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research said  “Global obesity is a mega-investment theme for the next 25 years and beyond.”

It seems that there is big money in pathologizing body size and then selling a bunch of things to “cure” this “problem” all of which fail spectacularly.

Like Qysmia, a diet pill which in two separate trials, when combined with diet and exercise, lead to weight loss of 6.7% and 8.9% respectively after a year. It should be noted that for someone with a BMI of 30, an 8.9% weight loss would leave them in the overweight category which they were only barely out of to begin with.  For someone with a BMI of 35, an 8.9% weight loss would leave them still obese (and therefore, even by the mistaken definition of obesity as an illness, the best case scenario for this pill hasn’t really “improved” the users’ health at all).

Also, no news on what happens after year one (which one might think is significant since the vast majority of dieters gain their weight back between years two and five), and no news on what happens if you go off the pill (which one might think is significant because in the past the effects of the diet pill only continued while people continued to take the pill.)

The FDA did acknowledge that it appears to cause heart issues, but don’t worry – after approving it they’ve insisted that Vivus Inc.  conduct a long-term cardiovascular outcomes trial to assess the effect of Qsymia on the risk for heart attack and stroke.  I’m sure that comes as a great comfort to people whose doctors prescribe them this medication without benefit of the results of that assessment.  But think of how much money they’ll make before they might find out that it kills people.  Really you don’t have to think about it – just google what happened with Fen-phen (phentermine by the way – the Phen in fen-phen – is  half of this new drug) Sure, people might die, but what’s a few deaths when there’s so much money to be had, a few dead people is acceptable damage considering the amount of profit they stand to make.

Ok, so here’s my idea to make us all rich.  Americans are getting taller – just imagine the profits to be made if we declare tallness a disease. We’ll start doing studies to figure out what is correlated to tallness (it won’t matter that it’s not actually caused by the tallness, because the media doesn’t seem to know the difference.) Then we’ll use that information to make tall people terrified of their tallness, willing to pay billions every year on products to get shorter.  Sure it’s pesky that nobody actually gets shorter, but I’ve got us covered -  we’ll just say they aren’t trying hard enough to get shorter – the products didn’t fail, the people did…they lack personal responsibility.  Americans love to bully people who are accused of lacking personal responsibility, soon it spins itself!  Of course we’ll have to learn to live with the fact that we are profiting off lies and fear mongering but we’ll be rich.

Meanwhile in the real world not only are fat people scapegoats,  used for everything from punching bags to political cover, we also get to be a commodity and profit center for people who work very hard to keep the systems by which we are stigmatized and oppressed in place. Isn’t that great? Aren’t you just, like, so happy right now?

And they are still trying to convince us that everyone is just concerned about our health?  Sell bullshit somewhere else, we’re all stocked up here.

Check Out My New Book.  The E-Book is “Name Your Own Price”!

I wanted everyone to be able to afford Fat: The Owner’s Manual – Surviving a Thin-Obsessed World with your Health, Happiness, and Sense of Humor Intact  so it  is now available in soft cover and e-book which is “name your own price”

Become a Member, Support The Work!

This month’s member deals come from More of Me to Love, Jodee Rose, The Fat Nutritionist, Golda Poretsky, Jeanette DePatie and of course me. If you are a member and haven’t received the e-mail with details and passwords just let me know!

I do HAES and SA activism, speaking and writing full time, and I don’t believe in putting corporate ads on my blog and making my readers a commodity. So if you find value in my work, want to support it, and you can afford it, you can  become a member (you get extra stuff, discounts, and you’re always the first to know about things) or you can support my work with a  one-time contribution.  The regular e-mail blog subscription (available at the top right hand side of this page) is still completely free. If you’re curious about this policy, you might want to check out this post.  Thanks for reading! ~Ragen

Published in: on July 21, 2012 at 6:58 am  Comments (19)  

She’s Not Fat

Recently two Olympic Athletes and a model have been the subject of rants by people – who seem to be to be writing with more than a little desperation to feel better about themselves  – calling these women fat.

As is so often the case when famous women are called fat in public, the overwhelming answer to these hate-driven rants has been “she’s not fat.”  And that’s missing the point.

Would these women somehow deserve to be the subject of this abuse if they were fat?  No.  And saying “she’s not fat” says that these women don’t deserve to be insulted (which is true) but at the expense of reinforcing the incorrect idea that being called fat is an insult to begin with.

Unbelievably, with some regularity people tell me “you’re not fat”.  That’s ridiculous, I’m really quite fat.  What they are typically trying to say is that I don’t fit their stereotypes of fat people and they want to make me an exception so they can hang on to their stereotypes and keep judging fat people.  Which is obviously bullshit.

Assigning value to bodies based on their size is just wrong.  Yes, it is ok to be fat.  Bodies come in lots of different sizes for lots of different reasons and instead of jumping to the defense of one woman by insisting that she is not fat, we have the opportunity to make things better for everyone by pointing out that there is absolutely nothing wrong with fat bodies, or bodies of any size.

The E-Book is “Name Your Own Price”!

I wanted everyone to be able to afford Fat: The Owner’s Manual – Surviving a Thin-Obsessed World with your Health, Happiness, and Sense of Humor Intact  so it  is now available in soft cover and e-book which is “name your own price”

Become a Member, Support The Work!

This month’s member deals come from More of Me to Love, Jodee Rose, The Fat Nutritionist, Golda Poretsky, Jeanette DePatie and of course me. If you are a member and haven’t received the e-mail with details and passwords just let me know!

I do HAES and SA activism, speaking and writing full time, and I don’t believe in putting corporate ads on my blog and making my readers a commodity. So if you find value in my work, want to support it, and you can afford it, you can  become a member (you get extra stuff, discounts, and you’re always the first to know about things) or you can support my work with a  one-time contribution.  The regular e-mail blog subscription (available at the top right hand side of this page) is still completely free. If you’re curious about this policy, you might want to check out this post.  Thanks for reading! ~Ragen

Published in: on July 19, 2012 at 10:22 am  Comments (26)  

Irresponsible Me

I got a bunch of hate mail today calling me “irresponsible” for writing what I do.  I was going to blog about it and realized that I had already.  Here’s an oldie but goodie about how my readers are not idiots:

When people disagree with my blog, there are three main points that they tend to make:

1.  I am a liar.  It is impossible to be healthy and obese.  I covered that here.

2.  I’m must hate thin people and encourage thin bashing.  I find this incredibly offensive.  I covered it in detail here.  And Here.   And Here. And about a hundred other places.

3.  It’s fine for me to think what I want (even thought it’s obviously wrong and stupid), but I’m incredibly irresponsible for putting it in a blog because people will read it and choose Health at Every Size like I did and then they’ll die of fatness and it will all be my fault. Oh, where to begin with this one.

The diet industry in this country makes nearly 60 billion dollars a year convincing people they should want to be thin.  They are assisted by almost every major news and media outlet buying into the conflation of weight and health and giving us 386,170 negative messages about our bodies every year, along with extraordinarily irresponsible reporting. Then there is the multi-billion dollar beauty industry.  Self Magazine put 34 weight loss stories on their cover in 2010 alone.  That’s an average of almost 3 cover stories every month for just ONE magazine, and that doesn’t take into account the fact that they choose nearly every model in every picture based on a single standard of beauty . Billions of dollars and billions of work hours going into convincing people that they should want to be thin and that thin and healthy are the same thing.

I am one woman blogging.

What I’m getting at here is that if my message is that much of a threat to the mainstream then I think they should consider how weak their message really is, and whether or not they want to keep pushing that message.

Even more to the point, my readers (with the possible exception of the people who stumble onto this blog and make this kind of comment) are not idiots.  They are capable of weighing evidence and making their own decisions.

I can’t even count the number of times I’ve said on this blog that I’m not trying to tell anyone how to live, simply demonstrating an option. People are allowed to make choices that are different than your choices or my choices, and that in no way invalidates your choices or my choices. We are all the boss of our own underpants, and we are not the boss of anyone else’s underpants.  Why everyone except these commenters is able to grasp that I will never know.

The E-Book is “Name Your Own Price”!

I wanted everyone to be able to afford Fat: The Owner’s Manual – Surviving a Thin-Obsessed World with your Health, Happiness, and Sense of Humor Intact  so it  is now available in soft cover and e-book which is “name your own price”

Become a Member, Support The Work!

This month’s member deals come from More of Me to Love, Jodee Rose, The Fat Nutritionist, Golda Poretsky, Jeanette DePatie and of course me. If you are a member and haven’t received the e-mail with details and passwords just let me know!

I do HAES and SA activism, speaking and writing full time, and I don’t believe in putting corporate ads on my blog and making my readers a commodity. So if you find value in my work, want to support it, and you can afford it, you can  become a member (you get extra stuff, discounts, and you’re always the first to know about things) or you can support my work with a  one-time contribution.  The regular e-mail blog subscription (available at the top right hand side of this page) is still completely free. If you’re curious about this policy, you might want to check out this post.  Thanks for reading! ~Ragen

Published in: on July 17, 2012 at 12:02 pm  Comments (20)  

The Fattest Woman in the World

Picture by the amazing and talented Substantia Jones for http://www.adipositivity.com

Reader Kristin sent me the link to a website where one can enter height and weight and  it will calculate your BMI, and show you how you compare to people in your country and in the world, and how much more (or less) the world’s population would weigh if everyone was your size.  Obviously I’m not linking to this – I’ll not be giving them traffic.

Before we look at the deeply flawed premise, let’s look at the deeply flawed math – I promise it will be fun.

I looked up Dkembe Mutombo’s stats.  Mr. Mutombo is 7’2 and 245 pounds.

So I entered that I was 5’4 and weight 245 pounds.  According to the site, if everyone was my BMI it would add 221,841,307 tonnes to the earth.

It says that if everyone was Mr. Mutombo’s BMI it would remove 5,204,897 tonnes from the total weight of the world’s population.

Let’s review:

If everyone in the world weighed 245 pounds and was 5’4 that would add 221,841,307 pounds to the total weight of the Earth’s population.

If everyone in the world weighed 245 pounds and was 7’2, that would subtract 5,204,897 pounds to the total weight of the Earth’s population.

Right, that absolutely makes sense…

EDIT:  There has been some confusion so let me clarify.  Yes, I understand that they are assuming that everyone has the same BMI (not the same weight) but that we fall on a regular distribution of heights.  What I was trying to point was how ridiculous that is – both because of the math and because to acknowledge that we have very different heights due to human diversity while simultaneously calculating what would happen if we were all the same BMI is a waste of time at best and that using it to try to shame people about their body size is despicable. It should also be noted that at 5’4 245 it said that I had a higher BMI than 98% of the US, and a higher BMI than 100% of the world – did they kick us out and nobody told me?  Also, people at various weights and heights end up having the same BMI so calculating exactly how many more pounds the world’s population would weigh if everyone was my BMI is impossible (since someone could be shorter than me and weight less than I and have the same BMI or taller than me and weigh more with the same BMI.) END EDIT

Let’s look at my actual results as a 35 year old woman who is 5’4, 284 pounds:

You have a higher BMI than 100% of females aged 30-44 in your country

You have a higher BMI than 100% of females aged 30-44 in the world

If everyone in the world had the same BMI as you, it would add 302,843,305 tonnes to the total weight of the world’s population

While I would be fine being the fattest women age 30-44 in the world, I think it’s demonstrably not the case. Perhaps the fuzzy math is because these numbers are based on a study that is absolutely ridiculous in its research methods. But the premise (decide if your body is ok based on what would happen if everyone in the world was the same weight as you) is completely flawed from the beginning.

Human diversity exists for a reason.  Some people are 7’2.  If everyone was 7’2 it would have a major impact on the way the world works.  Some people are 4’8.  If everyone was 4’8 we would have to seriously change things, or at least crank up ladder production.  That doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with very tall or very short bodies or that there is any point in speculating about what would happen if everyone was a certain height.  Just like there is no point in speculating about what would happen if everyone was a certain weight, especially since the studies that exist say that your chance of losing weight is only about 5% higher than your chance of changing your height.

It’s become very popular to focus on body size, trying to convince everyone that they should look at fat people, stereotype us, and blame us for all of the world’s problems (including the eventual end of humanity).  I see plenty of this happening, what I don’t see is any good coming of it.

On an individual level, people don’t typically take care of things that they hate and that includes their bodies; so telling people that they should dislike and feel guilty about the body that they live in 100% of the time is not likely to end well. From a societal perspective, history tells us that attempting to scapegoat a group of people because they share physical characteristics is an absolutely horrible idea.  It’s time to stop.  We may not be able to make it stop immediately (that will take some work)  but we can damn well stand up for our amazing bodies instead of being ashamed or apologizing for them.

Like the Blog?  Check out my new book!

Fat: The Owner’s Manual – Surviving a Thin-Obsessed World with your Health, Happiness, and Sense of Humor Intact is now available in soft cover and e-book at a price anyone can afford!

Become a Member, Support The Work!

This month’s member deals come from More of Me to Love, Jodee Rose, The Fat Nutritionist, Golda Poretsky, Jeanette DePatie and of course me. If you are a member and haven’t received the e-mail with details and passwords just let me know!

I do HAES and SA activism, speaking and writing full time, and I don’t believe in putting corporate ads on my blog and making my readers a commodity. So if you find value in my work, want to support it, and you can afford it, you can  become a member (you get extra stuff, discounts, and you’re always the first to know about things) or you can support my work with a  one-time contribution.  The regular e-mail blog subscription (available at the top right hand side of this page) is still completely free. If you’re curious about this policy, you might want to check out this post.  Thanks for reading! ~Ragen

Published in: on July 16, 2012 at 11:22 am  Comments (41)  

What if You Hate Your Fat Body?

I hear a lot from people that they are “unable” to like themselves – that they can’t look in the mirror and be happy with the reflection, that they can’t be ok with their bodies, that they can’t accept being fat or be happy in a fat body etc.

I remember really struggling with this in my life and I know that it was a long hard process. And the first thing that I had to realize was that I’m literally the only person in the world who can decide how I feel about myself.  Nobody can crawl into my brain and force me feel any way about my body. The way that I feel about myself is an amalgamation of the opinions and thoughts that I’ve allowed myself to believe either consciously or unconsciously.

I spent a lot of time trying to blame other people for how much I hated myself and, at least for me, it never made anything better. Yes, I have a major issue with the way that women are portrayed in the media, and with industries like the diet and beauty industries that do everything in their power to make us hate ourselves so that we will buy their products in an attempt to stop hating ourselves.  Yes, I think it’s bullshit that they try to take our self-esteem, cheapen it and sell it back at a profit.  But that doesn’t change the fact that whether or not I buy into that and how I feel about myself is my decision – it has to be, there is simply no one else who could make it.

Now, was realizing this a magic spell that changed everything instantaneously?  No.  Not even close.  I had a ton of hard work ahead of me.  Still, the most important thing that I ever did for myself was take responsibility for how I feel about myself and my body. Because that allowed me to make the decision, the declaration (if only to myself in my living room) that I was going to learn to love myself no matter what it took.  At that point I didn’t like myself any more than I had the minute before I made the declaration but, for the first time in a long time, I had a glimmer of hope.

One day soon after that I was spending some time thinking about how I felt about myself and how I could feel better and why I felt so bad and I realized that I had spent so many years hating my body for how it looked I hadn’t taken any time to thank my body for what it does. So I got out some paper and made a list of everything that I could think of that my body does.  I think it was more than 60 pages long and I know that it included breathing and blinking (as well as smiling, talking, walking, hugging, waste elimination…it was extensive, is what I’m saying here.)

Then I decided to really put some energy into noticing my thoughts, interrupting negative thoughts about my body and replacing them with gratitude for things from my list.  Any things.  I might walk by a window and start to think something negative about my stomach but I would stop myself and think “hey body, thanks for blinking so our eyes don’t shrivel up!” Whatever it took to get to a place of gratitude.  Doing this exercise for a few weeks was the single most life changing thing that I’ve ever done.

At the end of those weeks I was no kind of poster girl for fat pride, I still didn’t love the shape of my body – that would come later – but I appreciated my body for what it did and for me that changed everything. It’s what paved the way for me to ask myself why I hated the shape of my body – was it really about what I thought or was it external messages that I had internalized and, since I had internalized them how could I kick them the hell out?  But it all started with the realization that I was in charge of this.  As painful as it was to realize that there was nobody else to blame for my seeming inability to be happy with my body, it also meant that my ability to love my body didn’t depend on anyone else and that was good news.

There’s a beautiful quote by Og Mandino that is one of my favorites, a portion of which I used to repeat to myself all the time while I was in this process:

 I will act now. I will act now.  I will act now. This is the time. This is the place. I am the person.

Like the Blog?  Check out my new book!

Fat: The Owner’s Manual – Surviving a Thin-Obsessed World with your Health, Happiness, and Sense of Humor Intact is now available in soft cover and e-book at a price anyone can afford!

Become a Member, Support The Work!

This month’s member deals come from More of Me to Love, Jodee Rose, The Fat Nutritionist, Golda Poretsky, Jeanette DePatie and of course me. If you are a member and haven’t received the e-mail with details and passwords just let me know!

I do HAES and SA activism, speaking and writing full time, and I don’t believe in putting corporate ads on my blog and making my readers a commodity. So if you find value in my work, want to support it, and you can afford it, you can  become a member (you get extra stuff, discounts, and you’re always the first to know about things) or you can support my work with a  one-time contribution.  The regular e-mail blog subscription (available at the top right hand side of this page) is still completely free. If you’re curious about this policy, you might want to check out this post.  Thanks for reading! ~Ragen

Published in: on July 14, 2012 at 7:55 am  Comments (18)