When Fat People Get Sick

ShamelessOne of the consequences of rampant size bigotry, discrimination and bullying in society in general is that it bleeds over to healthcare providers and healthcare concepts.  A new study concludes that “There are unacceptable levels of weight bias among UK students training to become nurses, doctors, nutritionists and dietitians.” [trigger warning:  this study is not necessarily Health at Every Size]

This leads to any number of issues but a major issue is that the misinterpretation of correlational relationships as causational relationships means that people believe that being fat causes diseases.  The fact that the media has jumped on this band wagon means that even though the Congressional Budget Office is clear that obesity is NOT the reason for the increase in healthcare costs, people keep insisting that it is.

That means that when a fat person gets sick, they not only have to deal with whatever illness they have, but also with the shame of being a “bad fatty” who brought this on themselves, and is increasing everyone’s health insurance etc.  And that’s bullshit.  And here’s why:

First is the issue of correlation vs. causation.  My first semester of my first research methods class we had to say “correlation never ever, never ever, never ever implies causation” every day during class.  It’s the cornerstone of good research.  Correlation means that two things sometimes – but not necessarily always – happen at the same time.  Causation means that we can prove that one thing causes the other.

Let’s say that every August there are more murders and more ice cream is eaten. We cannot conclude that eating ice cream causes murders. If there are a rash of murders we cannot say that there is an ice cream epidemic. And we cannot conclude that taking ice cream off the shelves will cut the murder rate.  They could both be caused by a third factor (maybe heat makes people cranky and they either eat ice cream or commit murder) or they could be completely unrelated and the correlation could be a coincidence.  (More thorough explanation is here.)

The same diseases that are correlated to obesity are also correlated with being under a lot of stress for a long period of time.  Like, perhaps the stress of living under constant stigma with the government waging war on you for how you look.  Since no study can control for the effects of stigma on fat people, no study can claim to know that diseases are caused by being fat. Not to mention the fact that there are health issues that cause both weight gain and other diseases, and that both weight and many diseases have strong genetic components.  This issue is not nearly so cut and dried as media hacks and people making money from it’s perpetuation would have you believe.

There’s no point in speculating how someone got a health problem, or blaming someone for a health problem.  They are a person with a health problem, it’s time for them to make decisions about their treatment and have those decisions respected, including the decision of who to tell by the way.  I remember people’s outrage that Paula Deen hadn’t been public about her Diabetes – that’s ridiculous.  It’s not anybody’s business.  Paula Deen has a cooking show and yet she still she doesn’t owe anybody cooking instruction let alone a medical history.

There are no such things as “fat people” diseases. Thin people get all the diseases that fat people do. People get to make their own decisions about priority of health, path that they want to take to reach their goals etc.  In order to avoid being massive hypocrites, people either support the idea that other people get to make their own decisions about their bodies, health, and habits, and have those decisions respected; or those people must be willing to let anyone who thinks they know better dictate what they eat and how they exercise.

Health is multi-dimensional and includes behaviors (past and present), environment, genetics, stress, and more.  Some of these components are within our control and some aren’t.  We cannot control the end result and if we get a disease we will probably never know for sure exactly why it happened.  More to the point, it doesn’t matter.  People of all sizes get sick for all kinds of reasons.  Once someone is sick it’s time to skip shame, blame, and bullshit and move to getting them the care they choose.  If you can’t help get them the care they want or find another way to support them – if you are interested in shame or blame – then, in the words of Henry Rollins, the captain has turned on the sit the f*ck down and shut the f*ck up light.

If you are fat and sick there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.   Nothing.  You deserve compassionate care of your choosing. You do not deserve any of the things that our culture’s stigmatization and oppression of fat people might create – that’s the result of bigotry, and that’s not your fault either.

To listen to this blog as a podcast, click here!

Like the blog?  Check this stuff out:

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

The Dance Class DVDs:  Fun classes for all levels! Click here for the details

Become a Member and Get Special Deals from Size Positive Businesses

I do size acceptance activism full time.  A lot what I do, like answering over 4,000 e-mails from readers each month, giving talks to groups who can’t afford to pay, and running projects like the Georgia Billboard Campaign etc. is unpaid, so I created a membership program so that people who read the blog and feel they get value out of it and want to  support the work I do can become members for ten bucks a month  To make that even cooler, I’ve now added a component called “DancesWithFat Deals” which are special deals to my members from size positive merchants. Once you are a member I send out an e-mail once a month with the various deals and how to redeem them – your contact info always stays completely private.

Speaking Schedule 2013 – I am now working on my speaking schedule for next year.  If you would like me to give a talk at your university, job/company, or organization just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org and we’ll talk about the options to make it work for your situation and budget.

Published in: on November 30, 2012 at 11:50 am  Comments (23)  

I Don’t Have Any Evidence But…

Today I was on HuffPo Live to talk about childhood obesity.  I was on the panel with Autumn Whitefield-Madrano from The Beheld which is a blog that I like, two self-identified “childhood obesity experts” both of whom were fat children, are now thin adults and claim to help children lose weight professionally, and the guy who runs the weight loss camp that was featured on MTV’s “Fat Camp.”  You can see the full segment online.  It was frustrating because it was 3 against 1, so I wasn’t able to correct all of the misinformation – confusing correlation with causation, substituting anecdata for actual data etc. without inappropriately dominating the conversation, but I did the best that I could.

What I want to talk about is what happened when the cameras went off.  We continued to talk in the online chat room.  I suggested that they look at evidence  – Wei et. al, Matheson et. al, the Cooper Institute Longitudinal Studies that show that habits are a much better indicator of future health then body size.

I pointed out that University of Minnesota researchers found that “None of the behaviors being used by adolescents (in 1999) for weight-control purposes predicted weight loss (in 2006).  Of greater concern were the negative outcomes associated with dieting and the use of unhealthful weight-control behaviors, including significant weight gain.”

I mentioned that a study that tracked 15,000 participants and was published in the Journal of Paediatrics,  found that adolescents who were put on diets were significantly more likely to gain weight than those who were not.

Autumn was respectful and helped support me in getting space to talk when others were trying to steamroll me. None of the three self-identified childhood obesity experts  named a single study to refute what I was saying or support their position. One claimed to know the research (though never citing any) but said that they didn’t need all these scientific studies  and evidence because they have common sense. Ah the cult of “everybody knows.”

This is not limited to the person who said it – I hear it all the time. “Studies change but I know in my gut…” or “I don’t have research but just do a Google search on Obesity and read some of the news stories….” So our kids’ health is at stake and we are dealing with a whole profession of people who call themselves childhood obesity experts, and make money with promises of weight loss for kids, who not only don’t have evidence to support their methods, nor refute evidence that suggests that their work does more harm than good; but who, terrifyingly, don’t seem to think that matters.

I’m pretty sure “I don’t need evidence, I have common sense” is what they said to Galileo.

To provide clarity, let’s do a quick exercise inspired by reader Ericka:

A child needs their arm amputated.

Their first option is someone who amputated their own arm during a climbing accident and succeeded despite near impossible odds, and plans to do the amputation guided by common sense and his own experience.

Their second option is a doctor who went to medical school and studied the research and evidence that have come from hundreds of thousands of arm amputations,  has performed many such amputations using this information, and plans to use that same information to perform this kids’s surgery.

Who do you want treating this child?

One person’s experience is not extrapolatable to others.  The fact that someone was a fat kid and became a thin adult does NOT prove that everyone else can do it – or that anyone else can do it.  Just like the fact that I’m a 300 pound National Champion Dancer doesn’t prove that every 300 pound person can be a National Champion Dancer – that’s why we have studies. Every scientist knows that they could be wrong, but to suggest that common sense and personal experience are a substitute for information gleaned from a statistically significant sample size through a properly designed study is ludicrous, dangerous and, unfortunately, really profitable in the adolescent weight loss industry.

It would be bad enough if people who claim that they can help kids lose weight were just making fat kids into lab rats by testing out their unproven hypotheses on them, but what they are doing actually flies in the face of the evidence that does exist. Again, there are no studies that show that any weight loss interventions are successful in the long run.  There are studies that show that weight control attempts in kids leads to weight gain and eating disorders (in fact, hospitalizations for eating disorders in kids under 12 are up 119% in the last decade.  Kids.  Under.  Twelve.)

If we’re going to have a discussion about our experiences, then that is a valid discussion and is worth having and each of us is the best witness to our own experience – but let’s not confuse it with a discussion of how to approach kid’s healthcare.  If we are having a discussion about children’s health interventions then it has to be based on evidence – our kids deserve better than anecdata and somebody’s so-called common sense.

Listen to this blog as a podcast here!

Like the blog?  Check this stuff out:

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

The Dance Class DVDs:  Fun classes for all levels! Click here for the details

Become a Member and Get Special Deals from Size Positive Businesses

I do size acceptance activism full time.  A lot what I do, like answering over 4,000 e-mails from readers each month, giving talks to groups who can’t afford to pay, and running projects like the Georgia Billboard Campaign etc. is unpaid, so I created a membership program so that people who read the blog and feel they get value out of it and want to  support the work I do can become members for ten bucks a month  To make that even cooler, I’ve now added a component called “DancesWithFat Deals” which are special deals to my members from size positive merchants. Once you are a member I send out an e-mail once a month with the various deals and how to redeem them – your contact info always stays completely private.

Speaking Schedule 2013 – I am now working on my speaking schedule for next year.  If you would like me to give a talk at your university, job/company, or organization just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org and we’ll talk about the options to make it work for your situation and budget.

Published in: on November 29, 2012 at 12:58 pm  Comments (29)  

Obama Administration Actively Encourages Discrimination

Reader Deborah alerted me to new regulations released by the Obama administration under the Affordable Care Act increase the maximum reward for participating in employer wellness weight loss programs.  Employees who participate in these programs will be “rewarded” up to 30% of the cost of health coverage.

Said another way, people will be penalized for refusing to participate in programs which, though called weight loss program, have absolutely no record of successfully creating long term weight loss.  I’ll say it again – these programs have absolutely no evidence that they can achieve long term weight loss or improved health. In fact, many of these so-called “wellness programs” partner with diet companies that have been successfully sued by the Federal Trade Commission for deceptive trade practices (you didn’t think that they voluntarily put those “results not typical” disclaimers on their ads, did you?)

I think that there should be an incentive for those people who have enough common sense NOT to sign up for a program with no track record of success, lead by companies that have lost so many lawsuits for deceptive trade practices that they are legally required to say that their product doesn’t work every time they advertise it.

This is discrimination based on how people look, straight up.  It has nothing to do with health because it’s not based on health – it’s based on body size.  Body size is not a measure of health and we know that because there are healthy fat people and unhealthy thin people and a K-2 sized mountain of evidence that says that habits are a better determinant for health than body size. Tall people have more health problems – maybe they should have to enter Height Watchers and work hard to get shorter or pay more for health insurance. Height Watchers’s success rate is only 5% less than Weight Watchers after all, let’s get cracking tall people. This is extra ridiculous since the Congressional Budget Office itself has said that fat people are not the reason for rising healthcare costs.  To be clear, if they were discriminating on health rather than body size, that would be no better.

Anytime we round up a group of people based on how they look and suggest that they need to change how they look or we’re going to charge them more money for something, we can be assured that we are headed down a bad road.  In this case it’s even completely contrary to the evidence that exists:

So the Federal Trade Commission has made it abundantly clear that dieting doesn’t work.  The Congressional Budget Office has made it clear that fat people are not the cause for rising healthcare costs.  Knowing this, the Obama administration is encouraging people to diet to lower health care costs.  Stop the logic train, we had a passenger fall off.

At the beginning of the year I was asked to write an article about why these so called “Carrot and Stick” benefit plans are a bad idea.  You can read the full article here but the gist is that dieting doesn’t work and organizations including the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, and National Women’s Law Association have come out against these programs because of legal issues. So if employers want a healthy workplace they should focus on providing a workplace free from discrimination and options for health like optional workplace walking clubs, discounts on gym memberships, fitness based workplace challenges (instead of weight loss challenges).  Now we can add to that not participating in government-encouraged discrimination.

To listen to this blog as a podcast, click here.

Like the blog?  Check this stuff out:

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

The Dance Class DVDs:  Fun classes for all levels! Click here for the details

Become a Member and Get Special Deals from Size Positive Businesses

I do size acceptance activism full time.  A lot what I do, like answering over 4,000 e-mails from readers each month, giving talks to groups who can’t afford to pay, and running projects like the Georgia Billboard Campaign etc. is unpaid, so I created a membership program so that people who read the blog and feel they get value out of it and want to  support the work I do can become members for ten bucks a month  To make that even cooler, I’ve now added a component called “DancesWithFat Deals” which are special deals to my members from size positive merchants. Once you are a member I send out an e-mail once a month with the various deals and how to redeem them – your contact info always stays completely private.

Speaking Schedule 2013 – I am now working on my speaking schedule for next year.  If you would like me to give a talk at your university, job/company, or organization just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org and we’ll talk about the options to make it work for your situation and budget.

Published in: on November 28, 2012 at 10:37 am  Comments (26)  

Lane Bryant Letdown

I recently received an e-mail about the new Lane Collection by Lane Bryant.  The e-mail effused about “Premium fabrics with fine details and trim, the runway-inspired Lane Collection is exclusively designed to fit and flatter you and your lifestyle.”  Which would be great, except that it’s exclusively designed NOT to fit me or my lifestyle because it only goes to a size 24 and I’m a 26/28.  I know that Lane Bryant knows women my size exist because they already carry clothes for us in the store.  I couldn’t imagine why they would design a collection and purposefully exclude women they already know shop for their clothes, so I sent an e-mail to customer service asking why they had stopped at 24.  Here is the conversation that followed:

Dear Ragen Chastain,

Thank you for taking the time to contact us.

I do apologize, at the current time the size availability for the Lane Collection are not intended to change.  If you would like to send me your physical mailing address I would be happy to send you a gesture of goodwill.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sheri A

Sheri,

While I appreciate the goodwill, I would also really appreciate it if you could answer my original question. Let me try to clarify, please let me know if I’m misunderstanding any of this: It seems to me that this is a line designed or at least commissioned by the Lane Bryant itself (since it bears your name). It seems that would allow you to choose the size range, especially since the clothes that you carry already go to at least a 26/28.  You say on the website it is “runway-inspired and designed to fit and flatter you and your life style,” and yet you’ve chosen to make that line available only to your customers up to size 24 which makes me, as a 26/28 customer, feel like you aren’t interested in dressing me in runway-inspired fashion.  Knowing, as you must, the dearth of fashionable clothing for plus-sized women – especially those in the larger sizes –  I’m curious why you’ve chosen to create a high fashion line of clothing that intentionally excludes your customers (and those who are not yet your customers) who are so very under-served to begin with?

Thanks for your help.

~Ragen

Dear Ragen Chastain,

Thank you for taking the time to contact us.

Your thoughts and comments are essential if we are to provide the best possible service and merchandise to our customers. It’s always helpful when a valued customer provides us with feedback or suggestions.

Please know I am sending your comments to our merchandise team so they can take your feedback into consideration when making decisions about future product lines.

Sincerely,

Sheri A

Hi Sheri,

I’m extremely disappointed in this answer.  I requested an explanation and what I got was a copy and paste platitude.  Let me try one more time.  Why are you excluding size 26/28 customers from your runway-inspired Lane Bryant branded clothing line?  It seems to me that if you are comfortable excluding size 26/28 customers, you should also be comfortable explaining why.  I look forward to receiving an answer to my question.

Thank you,

~Ragen

Dear Ragen Chastain,

Thank you for taking the time to contact us.

I sincerely apologize that you are not satisfied with the explanation provided.  Please know that we received word that, at this time, there are no plans to offer the 26/28 option for this particular line, I sincerely apologize.  Unfortunately, the reasoning was not included in the response we received and are unable to determine why this merchandise is not offered.  Please know that the decision is subject the change at any time and that your comments have been forwarded to our Merchandising department.

If there is anything else I can help you with, please let me know.

Sincerely,

Shawn C

I’ve already been really struggling with Lane Bryant’s modeling fiasco, and their crappy reasoning for their modeling fiasco. Then there’s “tighter tummy technology” and the fact that I can’t seem to get any leggings from them that aren’t control top – which is a problem since my top is not out of control.  I also noticed that there were less size 26/28 clothing options in the store.  I asked the store clerk about it and was told that they were getting less large sizes in stores and that they go the fastest, but that I could shop online.  LB isn’t the only store doing this and let’s be clear that they are saying:  We want your money, but we would prefer that people not see you in our stores.  Now LB is  saying that their top of the line runway-inspired fashion isn’t for those customers at all, which doesn’t even cover the issue that there are women over size 26/28 who LB could cater to if they chose.

More frustrating is the fact that many of the major fat girl brands – Lane Bryant, Cacique, Catherine’s, and Sonsi, are all owned by the same company – Charming Shoppes – so often I feel trapped.  I don’t particularly want to give Lane Bryant my money so that they can use it designing more lines of clothing that ignore me, but what else do you do?

I am fully aware that they are a business and they’re allowed to sell what they want.  I’m interested in exercising my rights as a consumer.  You all always have the best ideas, so my question to you is this:  what are your favorite alternatives to these stores? Please feel free to leave suggestions in the comments.

To listen to this blog as a podcast, click here.

Like the blog?  Check this stuff out:

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

The Dance Class DVDs:  Fun classes for all levels! Click here for the details

Become a Member and Get Special Deals from Size Positive Businesses

I do size acceptance activism full time.  A lot what I do, like answering over 4,000 e-mails from readers each month, giving talks to groups who can’t afford to pay, and running projects like the Georgia Billboard Campaign etc. is unpaid, so I created a membership program so that people who read the blog and feel they get value out of it and want to  support the work I do can become members for ten bucks a month  To make that even cooler, I’ve now added a component called “DancesWithFat Deals” which are special deals to my members from size positive merchants. Once you are a member I send out an e-mail once a month with the various deals and how to redeem them – your contact info always stays completely private.

Speaking Schedule 2013 – I am now working on my speaking schedule for next year.  If you would like me to give a talk at your university, job/company, or organization just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org and we’ll talk about the options to make it work for your situation and budget.

Published in: on November 27, 2012 at 1:04 pm  Comments (149)  

At Least We’re Trying

Before I get started, I’m trying something new – at the bottom of each post I’ll give you the option to listen to this blog as a podcast. Let me know if you’re excited about this.

Reader Angela sent me a great picture today of a fat man running in a race and someone had commented “at least he’s trying.” I can’t count the number of times that I’ve heard this – when someone fat eats a salad, or goes to the gym, or walks around the block.  The sentence is actually truncated – what the person is really saying is “at least they’re trying to lose weight.”

This is deeply problematic.  First the words “at least”.  Since we’re fat, whatever thing we’re doing that they’ve interpreted as a weight loss attempt is clearly the least we can do to get that body that matches the cultural stereotype of beauty.  It’s pejorative in a less than subtle way, and also suggests that we have some obligation to try to change our bodies.

Now, let’s talk about “trying.”  Of course since we’re fat we’re just trying – we’re not allowed to “succeed” until we’re thin.  We’re not succeeding at running a marathon, we’re failing at being thin. We’re not succeeding at eating a salad, we’re failing at being thin.  We’re not succeeding at curing cancer, we’re failing at being thin. This is reinforced by “But, But, But Syndrome.”  But at least, you know, we’re trying.  As if the only thing any fat person should ever focus on is losing weight. People want us to believe that there is no such thing as a fat person who is a success.

That’s just not true.

It’s ok for fat people not to care at all about being thin.  We can eat salads because we like salad and it’s none of anyone’s business.  We can eat a burger and fries because we like burgers and fries and that’s also none of anyone else’s business.  We can succeed at running a marathon if we don’t lose a pound.  We can succeed at any number of things in the bodies we have now without ever making those bodies any smaller. And we do.

So maybe the body bigots can retire this phrase, then we’d know that at least they’re trying.

Listen to the podcast of this blog.

Like the blog?  Check this stuff out (purchasing these also helps support my activism work, which I really appreciate):

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

The Dance Class DVDs:  Fun classes for all levels! Click here for the details

Become a Member and Get Special Deals from Size Positive Businesses

I do size acceptance activism full time.  A lot what I do, like answering over 4,000 e-mails from readers each month, giving talks to groups who can’t afford to pay, and running projects like the Georgia Billboard Campaign etc. is unpaid, so I created a membership program so that people who read the blog and feel they get value out of it and want to  support the work I do can become members for ten bucks a month  To make that even cooler, I’ve now added a component called “DancesWithFat Deals” which are special deals to my members from size positive merchants. Once you are a member I send out an e-mail once a month with the various deals and how to redeem them – your contact info always stays completely private.

Speaking Schedule 2013 – I am now working on my speaking schedule for next year.  If you would like me to give a talk at your university, job/company, or organization just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org and we’ll talk about the options to make it work for your situation and budget.

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

Miami City Ballet and What Not to Do

Ragen Chastain 5’4, 284lbs. Photo by Richard Sabel

Fat people who want to engage in movement – whether they want to walk around the block, or run a marathon – face some specific challenges because of the way our society views and treats fat people. Reader Elizabeth let me know that the Miami City Ballet provided us with an example of a lot of those issues when they posted the following picture on their Facebook page with the text “Happy Thanksgiving! Don’t eat too much turkey ;)”

I can’t find an original credit for this picture. If you know of one please let me know.

The obvious problem is that dance is for every body and the Miami City Ballet chose to perpetuate the idea that dancers who don’t look like the people in the Miami City Ballet should be held up for ridicule, as well as doing some quick fat bashing.  But if you look closer I think you’ll see more issues that this brings to light.

For fat athletes, it’s not just fighting stigma, oppression and stereotyping, sometimes it’s almost impossible just to get dressed. The person in the picture is wearing a Mawashi, which is lucky for him because finding actual dance clothes in large sizes is actually often more difficult than finding Bigfoot.

Hell, it’s a massive challenge just to find some decent affordable gym clothes in larger sizes.  If a fat person needs specialized clothes (triathlete, cyclist, dancer etc.) it can be next to impossible, and if we do find them we can often expect to pay WAY more than our straight-sized friends.  So not only do we face shame and stigma because people can’t get over themselves and let go of their narrow idea of what an athlete looks like, we often show up in clothes that don’t offer the performance or professional look of our competitor’s clothes.

Whoever posted this may not have even thought twice about it and that may be, at least partially, attributable to the social construct that says that fat bodies engaged in movement look “wrong” or are somehow funny just by existing. Because we’re often kept from view under the ridiculous guise of “not promoting obesity” people only see athletic thin bodies and so they get the idea that those bodies are “right” and fat bodies doing the same activities are “wrong”.  Once, in a forum that was doing a fat hate day focused on me (seriously, this is how some people spend their time), someone had a picture of my standing heel stretch next to a woman with a traditional ballet body doing a similar move.  They had diagrammed it to point out the differences, foolishly thinking that the additional flesh and fat of my heel stretch makes it “wrong” rather than realizing that the issue is with their narrow view of what a body should look like.

To me one of the saddest problems with what the Miami City Ballet has done here is that they are actively discouraging fat people from dancing by letting us know that, rather than having the respect and support of the dance community, they are more than happy to use us for the cheap, bigoted, laugh. When a little fat girl who wants to dance  seeks out the Miami City Ballet on Facebook they have the opportunity to encourage her to join the dance community or at least to not discourage her. Instead they’ve chosen stereotypes, shaming, and stigma and so maybe that little girl gives up on dance.  I know it happens because I get e-mails from girls who this is happening to and women who experienced it in their youth.

Movement and athleticism aren’t just for thin bodies and nobody who puts themselves out their should be ridiculed as this Miami City Ballet did here.  I hope that they’ll apologize and consider looking actively for ways that they can be inclusive and encouraging of dancers of all sizes and abilities.  I’m not complaining without offering to help – e-mail me:  ragen at danceswithfat dot org. I can help.

If you want to give the Miami City Ballet some feedback you can find them on facebook or you can e-mail the Executive Director at dhagerty@miamicityballet.org

Feel free to check out (and maybe even join) the Fit Fatties Forum – a free forum with over 1,100 athletes of all shapes and sizes talking about fitness from a weight neutral perspective – it also includes a photo and video gallery to help people expand their view of what an athlete looks like.

Like the blog?  Check this stuff out (purchasing these also helps support my activism work, which I really appreciate):

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

The Dance Class DVDs:  Fun classes for all levels! Click here for the details

Become a Member and Get Special Deals from Size Positive Businesses

I do size acceptance activism full time.  A lot what I do, like answering over 4,000 e-mails from readers each month, giving talks to groups who can’t afford to pay, and running projects like the Georgia Billboard Campaign etc. is unpaid, so I created a membership program so that people who read the blog and feel they get value out of it and want to  support the work I do can become members for ten bucks a month  To make that even cooler, I’ve now added a component called “DancesWithFat Deals” which are special deals to my members from size positive merchants. Once you are a member I send out an e-mail once a month with the various deals and how to redeem them – your contact info always stays completely private.

Speaking Schedule 2013 – I am now working on my speaking schedule for next year.  If you would like me to give a talk at your university, job/company, or organization just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org and we’ll talk about the options to make it work for your situation and budget.

Published in: on November 25, 2012 at 12:05 pm  Comments (27)  

Turkey, Mashed Potatoes, and Boundaries

Many of my friends are celebrating Thanksgiving today, many are having a “Screw Colonialism Turkey and Stuffing feast day”, many of my friends are just having Thursday.  For those of you who are having a feast holiday today, or have one coming up in the next few months, or ever deal with people pushing your boundaries about your health and weight, here are some ideas to help get you through:

The holidays in the US seem to bring with them a much higher chance of having to deal with unsolicited health advice, weight bullying, diet talk, diet encouragement, negative body talk etc.  There are some things that you can do to prepare and deal with it.

Consider the idea that your body is amazing – it breathes for you, pumps blood around all the time and does all kinds of cool things.  It deserves respect and admiration. If people don’t recognize that, it’s 100% their problem and a big flaming sack of not yours.

Things that people say to you are almost always a reflection of where they are in their life – if they are engaging in body shaming, food policing or other inappropriate behavior, remember that it’s about them, not about you. You do not have to take it personally or internalize it.

That doesn’t mean that you have to allow it to happen either.  You decide how people treat you and then you teach them how to treat you that way.  Don’t be afraid to set boundaries and consequences and then follow through. It’s ok to stand up for yourself, it’s ok to leave the room, it’s ok to leave the State.  It’s also ok to just get through it, but if you take that path may I suggest that you spend a lot of energy making sure that you aren’t internalizing those messages.

Good intentions do not negate bad behavior unless you decide that they do.

It’s a feast holiday, so it’s possible that feeling guilty about eating defeats the point.

People are allowed to be on diets, but if they feel the need to be incredibly vocal about it consider that they may have some issues that they are dealing with.  Again, this is a big flaming sack of not your problem.  Other people’s choices do not invalidate your choices, and vice versa.  Some dieters have a hard time with this – they need everyone to buy into dieting so that they can feel comfortable about their decision.  That doesn’t obligate you to buy in.

Once more with feeling:  Consider that your body is amazing – it breathes for you, pumps blood around all the time and does all kinds of cool things.  It deserves respect and admiration. If people don’t recognize that, it’s 100% their problem and a big flaming sack of not yours.

Looking for your input:

I’ve decided to write another book.  I’m an unwilling combatant in a war against me because of how I look. So is every other fat person.  The other side of the war has a battle plan, and I think it’s time that I had one too.  So the working title for my next book is “The War on Obesity:  A Battle Guide for the Fat Side.”   It will include sections about armor (studies that we can reference, facts and statistics etc.) as well as situational scenarios (both offensive and defensive) with real situations (at the doctor’s, at the gym etc.) and options and suggested scripting for handling them.  I’m in the proces of outlining the book now and I wanted to ask for some input:

The first chance for participation if you are interested is to let me know what scenarios you would like me to cover in the book, or what information would help you feel prepared to fight back against the war on obesity.  It would be awesome if you would e-mail your ideas to me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

Like the blog?  Check this stuff out (purchasing these also helps support my activism work, which I really appreciate):

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

The Dance Class DVDs:  Fun classes for all levels! Click here for the details

Become a Member and Get Special Deals from Size Positive Businesses

I do size acceptance activism full time.  A lot what I do, like answering over 4,000 e-mails from readers each month, giving talks to groups who can’t afford to pay, and running projects like the Georgia Billboard Campaign etc. is unpaid, so I created a membership program so that people who read the blog and feel they get value out of it and want to  support the work I do can become members for ten bucks a month  To make that even cooler, I’ve now added a component called “DancesWithFat Deals” which are special deals to my members from size positive merchants. Once you are a member I send out an e-mail once a month with the various deals and how to redeem them – your contact info always stays completely private.

Speaking Schedule 2013 – I am now working on my speaking schedule for next year.  If you would like me to give a talk at your university, job/company, or organization just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org and we’ll talk about the options to make it work for your situation and budget.

Published in: on November 22, 2012 at 2:13 pm  Comments (9)  

Not Sure What You Stand For?

I get a lot of reader e-mail from people who are struggling with where they stand and what they believe when it comes to Size Acceptance.  Sometimes they have questions about the basics or they are still going through the evidence but, for whatever reason, they just aren’t sure where they’re at.

Size Acceptance is a civil rights movement – it rests upon the idea that the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are not size, health, or healthy habit dependent – they are for everyone, of every size.  Those rights are inalienable and never contingent, and they include the right to live without having war waged on you by the government, media, diet industry, doctors, and every weight bully with an internet connection.  So if you’re not sure what you stand for, I would make the following suggestion:

Everybody of every size deserves to be treated with respect. The shaming, stigmatizing, bullying, discrimination and oppression of and against fat people needs to stop immediately, as does the conflation of weight and health. Health, as well as the priotization of it and the path to it, are intensely personal decisions that are not up for public debate or discussion. Public health is about making health options available to the public, not making fat people’s (or any people’s) health the public’s business.

If you’re not sure what you stand for, consider standing for that.

Looking for your input:

I’ve been getting a lot of e-mails asking if I’m going to do another book.  After a couple of things that happened this weekend, I decided for sure today that I am. I’m an unwilling combatant in a war against me because of how I look. So is every other fat person.  The other side of the war has a battle plan, and I think it’s time that I had one too.  So the working title for my next book is “The War on Obesity:  A Battle Guide for the Fat Side.”   It will include sections about armor (studies that we can reference, facts and statistics etc.) as well as situational scenarios – in the doctor’s office and they won’t treat your health issue – they just keep prescribing weight loss, walking around and a stranger suggests weight loss (happened to my friend this weekend!) with real situations and options for handling them.  I’m in the proces of outlining the book now and I wanted to ask for some input:

The first chance for participation if you are interested is to let me know what scenarios you would like me to cover in the book, or what information would help you feel prepared to fight back against the war on obesity.  It would be awesome if you would e-mail your ideas to me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

Like the blog?  Check this stuff out (purchasing these also helps support my activism work, which I really appreciate):

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

The Dance Class DVDs:  Fun classes for all levels! Click here for the details

Become a Member and Get Special Deals from Size Positive Businesses

I do size acceptance activism full time.  A lot what I do, like answering over 4,000 e-mails from readers each month, giving talks to groups who can’t afford to pay, and running projects like the Georgia Billboard Campaign etc. is unpaid, so I created a membership program so that people who read the blog and feel they get value out of it and want to  support the work I do can become members for ten bucks a month  To make that even cooler, I’ve now added a component called “DancesWithFat Deals” which are special deals to my members from size positive merchants. Once you are a member I send out an e-mail once a month with the various deals and how to redeem them – your contact info always stays completely private.

Speaking Schedule 2013 – I am now working on my speaking schedule for next year.  If you would like me to give a talk at your university, job/company, or organization just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org and we’ll talk about the options to make it work for your situation and budget.

Published in: on November 20, 2012 at 12:46 pm  Comments (9)  

It’s Not Because I’m Fat

Design by Kris Owen

I was with some friends talking about how society can tend to assume that everything that goes wrong in fat people’s lives is because we’re fat.  Single?  It’s because you’re fat.  Haven’t run a 5k yet?  It’s because you’re fat.  Stub your toe?  Blame your body size.  A friend of mine was telling me that she was in an appointment with her therapist when she had the realization that everything that had gone wrong in her life was not because of her fat – when her therapist told her that thin people sit on her couch with the exact same issues.

Let’s be clear – fat people are stigmatized, bullied, oppressed and discriminated against in our society and that has very real consequences.  But those consequences are not because we’re fat, it’s because people stigmatize, bully, oppress and discriminate against us – the problem is with them, not our bodies.  That’s why it’s crucial that we be clear that when someone suggests that we try to lose weight so that we can be treated better, they are working on the wrong end of the problem.  It is suggesting that we keep giving the bully whatever he asks for and hope he stops beating us up which is not a reasonable request.  The cure for social stigma is not weight loss. The cure for social stigma is ending social stigma.

It also means that we have the option to reject the societal idea that everything bad that happens to us is because of our fat.  There are a lot of situations where this really hurts us.  One is that people pursue weight loss with the belief that everything in their life will be better when they are thin – ignoring the fact that there are thin women who are single with knee problems.  Speaking of knee problems – this tendency bleeds into our healthcare.  I’ve happened to have had the same knee issues at two very different sizes and I got two very different treatment experiences.  When I was smaller I was asked very specific questions about the pain – when it started, where it was located exactly, and what type of pain it was. The asked about my activity, how I injured it etc. I got 4 treatment options from physical therapy to surgery and a referral to a specialist.

When I had the exact same issue but was fat, the doctor asked why I was there and I said knee pain.  He didn’t palpate my knee or ask any questions.  He turned around and left the room without saying a word. Ten minutes later a nurse came in with a piece of paper with a list that said “forbidden foods” (had they bothered to ask they would have known that I had recovered from an eating disorder, making this dangerous for me) and an exercise plan for taking 10 minute walks (at the time I was dancing and working out over 20 hours a week.)

We can insist that people start recognizing the stigma, shaming, oppression and discrimination that fat people face, acknowledge that being constantly treated poorly by every facet of society affects fat people negatively, and work on ending that stigma and oppression- never asking fat people to change ourselves.  We can also insist that people stop having the knee-jerk reaction of blaming things on our body size, especially since those things happen to people of every size.

Like the blog?  Check this stuff out (purchasing these also helps support my activism work, which I really appreciate):

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

The Dance Class DVDs:  Fun classes for all levels!  Click here for the details

Become a Member and Get Special Deals from Size Positive Businesses

I do size acceptance activism full time.  A lot what I do, like answering over 4,000 e-mails from readers each month, giving talks to groups who can’t afford to pay, and running projects like the Georgia Billboard Campaign etc. is unpaid, so I created a membership program so that people who read the blog and feel they get value out of it and want to  support the work I do can become members for ten bucks a month  To make that even cooler, I’ve now added a component called “DancesWithFat Deals” which are special deals to my members from size positive merchants. Once you are a member I send out an e-mail once a month with the various deals and how to redeem them – your contact info always stays completely private.

Speaking Schedule 2013 – I am now working on my speaking schedule for next year.  If you would like me to give a talk at your university, job/company, or organization just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org and we’ll talk about the options to make it work for your situation and budget.

Published in: on November 19, 2012 at 9:02 am  Comments (17)  

Talking to Kids About Food and Eating

Recently I got an e-mail from the editor-in-chief of the Magazine New Moon Girls letting me know that I was in an article about  food and eating. Even though the article was by Dr. Katja Rowell who I know does amazing work because I know her from the fat-o-sphere and her site,  www.thefeedingdoctor.comI will admit that I had a bit of trepidation.  As a Health at Every Size and Size Acceptance practitioner I have grown accustomed to articles, no matter how HAES or SA they start out to be, always having the “even though it doesn’t make any sense section” – so an article might spend 5 pages talking about why dieting and weight loss don’t work for almost anyone, but on page 6 the author says “But I’m still going to fight the odds and try.”  Or an article talks about why it’s so important to focus on kid’s health rather than their weight for four pages, but on page 5 they  say “of course childhood obesity is a horrible thing and we should definitely make sure that fat kids know that there’s a war on against them.”  So as I started to read this article, called “Eat Happy – Forget the Rules and Have More Fun”, I was elated at the content and also waiting for the other shoe to drop.  But it never did.  The article is completely evidence based and free from all obesity hysteria.  It’s amazing – it’s something that I wish all kids could read and the First Lady would take to heart.

You can check out the article at:  New Moon Girl Body Language

If you are looking for resources for girls, I highly recommend the New Moon Girls website.  Their mission is to help girls, age 8 and up, discover their unique voices and express them in the world. (Nope, they aren’t giving me anything to say this, I’m just really impressed.)

Like the blog?  Check this stuff out (purchasing these also helps support my activism work, which I really appreciate):

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

The Dance Class DVDs:  Fun classes for all levels!  Click here for the details

Become a Member and Get Special Deals from Size Positive Businesses

I do size acceptance activism full time.  A lot what I do, like answering over 4,000 e-mails from readers each month, giving talks to groups who can’t afford to pay, and running projects like the Georgia Billboard Campaign etc. is unpaid, so I created a membership program so that people who read the blog and feel they get value out of it and want to  support the work I do can become members for ten bucks a month  To make that even cooler, I’ve now added a component called “DancesWithFat Deals” which are special deals to my members from size positive merchants. Once you are a member I send out an e-mail once a month with the various deals and how to redeem them – your contact info always stays completely private.

Speaking Schedule 2013 – I am now working on my speaking schedule for next year.  If you would like me to give a talk at your university, job/company, or organization just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org and we’ll talk about the options to make it work for your situation and budget.

Published in: on November 17, 2012 at 10:16 am  Comments (17)