Who Is This Chick?

Hi, I’m Ragen Chastain.
Speaker, Writer, Dancer, Choreographer, Marathoner, Soon to be IRONMAN,
Fat Person, Activist.
Welcome to my little corner of the web.
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I believe that basic respect and the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are not size dependent.  I believe that it is impossible to tell somebody’s health based on their size.  I believe that public health is about making options for health  affordable and accessible to everyone, not making fat people’s bodies the public’s business. And I believe in respecting whatever choices others make about their bodies, whether or not they are the choices I would make.

Why “danceswithfat?”  I started to compete in partner dancing –   I just wanted to be a fat dancer but it turns out that I had to be a fat activist to get that done. I blog because there are people who hate themselves and their bodies because they don’t think they have another choice, because there are people who diet only because they think it’s the only way to pursue health.  I’m not trying to tell anybody how to live, I respect other people’s choices about their bodies just like I want my choices to be respected.  My goal is and has always been to let as many people as possible know about the options of Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size.

Want to see some dancing?  The first video is my coach and I doing a West Coast Swing showcase to Bette Midler’s I’m Beautiful.  The second is a former dance partner and I doing a fun showcase two-step routine to Jonathan Coulton’s version of Baby Got Back.  Enjoy!

You can color me!  I’m super excited to be part of Toni Tails new Body Positive Coloring Book, click the image below to download and color. (After you color it you can even post it to The Coloring Book’s Facebook page:

Toni Tails bear dance

I’ve been lucky to have had a lot of opportunities and experiences in my life. I’ve been a cheerleading captain, a multi-sport varsity athlete, my class valedictorian, a National Merit Scholar, and played Carnegie Hall. I’ve been sold for air conditioners in West Africa, published two books, started two successful businesses and won three National Dance Championships. In 2011 I left a career as a consultant and turnaround CEO to do Size Diversity Activism full time to help me reach my goal to make sure as many people as possible know about the Health at Every Size and Size Acceptance options.

But my greatest accomplishment has been learning to love myself and my body, and to be truly happy living completely outside the cultural beauty norm.  As a plus-sized professional athlete, I practice Health at Every Size and as a human being I am an unwavering advocate for Size Acceptance – the civil rights truth that every body deserves respect and that the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are inalienable, not contingent on size, health, or dis/ability.

What is Behavior-Centered Health?

It is a health practice in which healthy choices and behaviors are the goal, not a particular size, weight, or shape.

What is Health at Every Size?

  1. Accepting and respecting the diversity of body shapes and sizes
  2. Recognizing that health and well-being are multi-dimensional and that they include physical, social, spiritual, occupational, emotional, and intellectual aspects
  3. Promoting all aspects of health and well-being for people of all sizes
  4. Promoting eating in a manner which balances individual nutritional needs, hunger, satiety, appetite, and pleasure
  5. Promoting individually appropriate, enjoyable, life-enhancing physical activity, rather than exercise that is focused on a goal of weight loss
Published on November 19, 2008 at 3:16 am  Comments (281)  

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281 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I am so happy to discover this blog and what you’re doing. You go, girl! Just wanted to make sure you’re aware of some Health at Every Size resources that may support you. First, there’s the (free) HAES Community Resources, which provides a great opportunity for you to register your support of HAES and let others know about the great stuff you’re doing. Check it out at http://www.HAESCommunity.Org. Also, I’ve written a book called Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight, which discusses the science behind why we weigh what we do and helps support people in adopting Health at Every Size (www.HAESbook.com). Anyway, rock on…

    • Hi Linda,

      Of course I know who you are and I love your book – you are a huge inspiration to me! Thank you so much for all that you do. I signed the pledge at http://www.haescommunity.org. If there is ever anything that I can do to support you please just let me know. Rock on right back at you!

  2. I am absolutely thrilled to find this blog! You are amazing and keep up the good work!

    • Thanks so much! I checked out your website and you are totally a rock star – let me know if there is anything that I can do to support your work.

      • Thanks Ragen!

        I know you do competition dancing and I do burlesque dancing and there is a border and several states between us but maybe we could find some way to collaborate through our blogs.

        I am really trying to come up with some more ways to get involved in the body positive movement. :)

        • I think that would be fantastic. One of the things that I need to get up on my blog is a links page – I’m working on it in my infinite free time :) You will definitely be on that and if you ever want to guest blog just let me know. If you have other ideas definitely don’t hold back :)

  3. Ragen:

    just wanted to say you are AWESOME AWESOME AWESOME. I love what you are saying and how you say it. You are gorgeous! Thank you for being a voice of sanity in a gigantic chorus of destructive messages. What is said about size and health and beauty never fails to perplex me, since I think we all know from our personal experience what beauty and health really are and they are not correlated with one damn size. Anyway THANK YOU !!

    • Wow, thank you so much! You are so right – size and health and beauty are such different things and I think that people like us recognizing that and refusing to be bullied are changing the world :)

  4. Loved your article in Jezebel. I wanted to tell you about our project and invite you to come by. We would love to have a contribution sometime.

    PeopleOfSize.com is an online community that provides information, support, and interaction for “people of size” of all ages. We are not a diet site, though health and fitness are part of what we address. We focus on all aspects of life, from medical to fashion, relationships to daily living, entertainment to emotional well being.

    We are launching a new version of the website this month at http://www.peopleofsize.com.

    In the meantime the action is on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/peopleofsize

    Come check us out, please.

    Rebecca Weinstein

    • Glad you liked the article. I checked out your website – fantastic interview (with bonus points because the concept of the show is fantastic, and it’s in Portland – a city I absolutely love). I would be very happy to do a submission anytime. If you like any of my blogs you are welcome to re-purpose them with a link back, if you want me to do something specific just let me know. Thanks for doing awesome advocacy work for people of size, you ROCK!

  5. you rock Ragen! -hugs-

    • Thanks Paul, you rock more!!!!! -hugs back-

  6. Hey Ragen! I just read your article about the Wii fit in the Vancouver Sun,and decided to check you out.You.are.awesome.It’s about time that people realise that healthy can be all shapes and sizes;in my yoga class for example,we have tons of people who are fierce and curvacious and can rock out some super advanced poses!People used to tease me about my weight too,and i’m one of the “skinny bitches” It used to bug me a lot,being accused of not eating, by complete strangers no less.I envied some of my friend’s womanly curves.One of them said to me “why do you care what they think anyway?You have never looked at my body as anything but beautiful,and I learned to accept myself from that.Please learn to do the same!I love you for who you are!”That officially turned my insecurities on it’s head.I started to concentrate on building strength and health instead of just looking at the appearance.I still get an awesome kick out of the astonished looks that I get when i lift something that is 90% of my own body weight!;)stay wonderful!!-jude

    • Thanks for stopping by! I’m so glad that you liked the article (and thanks for letting me know that it got picked up by the Vancouver Sun – I had no idea) I love your idea of building strength and health…90% of your body weight? Sounds like you are doing a kick butt job :)

  7. Ragen, Just found your site and I just wanted to say I think what you’re doing is awesome! I’ve just started a journey to love myself and I’m so glad to know it’s possible! Thanks for the inspiration. Sam

    • Thank you so much! It’s a fantastic journey, have a wonderful time :)

  8. Just found your website, would like to say it is very interesting and i will be dropping by more in the future.Cheers

  9. It is people like you that make this world a better place. You are making a change in people’s lives. I am sure people around you must feel proud and joyful to know you are making a difference in their lifes. You are giving hope to those who feel depressed about their body size. Thank you for having this blog,it is very inspiring.

    • Wow, thank you so much. I really appreciate it and I’m so glad that you like the blog :)

  10. Hi Ragen -
    I really appreciated your post about not snarking slender women. As a feminist I want to support other women, not tear them down, and you said it well.
    I also am very glad to see another fat woman who dances. I loved to dance when I was really, really little, but stopped by sometime in grade school, because fat girls don’t dance. I’m in my mid-forties, and only in the last 2-3 years have I realized I could take dance classes – mainly because of the influence of burlesque, which at its best has room for every kind of beauty (one of the most prominent performers is the incredible Dirty Martini, who is fat and gorgeous: http://www.ten-in-oneproductions.com/teaser.html).
    Dancing has helped a lot in my efforts to find peace with my body, and I hope it helps other women.

  11. Congratulations on accepting who you are and all your accomplishments. There are so many beautiful, large women, but society can’t see past their size, which is sad. The media needs to quit glamorizing stick-thin models. You have a great site here that will help a lot of women accept themselves for who they are.

    • Thank you so much for the kind words :) I checked out your blog – wow, two teenagers! Good luck with back to school :)

  12. Hi Ragen,

    I’m a professional circus performer, and I found your blog through Jezebel. I just wanted to say that you’re lovely and a great dancer. Thanks for today’s inspiration!

    • Hi Tanya,

      Thank you so much. I checked out your website and you are fantastic, and after all the training it must feel great to say “I’m a professional circus performer”! I hope to catch a performance some time :)

  13. Regan,

    Your Jezebel article on JHud’s WW ad was spot-on. I know you got some pushback containing some misunderstanding (though you were perfectly clear) but I thought it was dynamite and so extremely prescient in pointing out that we are multi-dimensional human beings and sell ourselves short when we discount personal accomplishments at the expense of overarching ideas about what defines us- be it weight or any other feature.

    There are some people like you out there who are genuinely multi-talented, and we are richer to know them. Thank you again!!

  14. This weblog is being featured on Five Star Friday!

    http://www.schmutzie.com/fivestarfriday/2010/10/8/five-star-fridays-122nd-edition-is-brought-to-you-by-sylvia.html

  15. Hi, Ragen,

    Got your web-blog from your Mom. Loved the dance! I loved its grace, the interaction between the partners, and above all the humor!

    I’ll be back.

    • Hi Catherine, Welcome to the blog! Thank you so much for your kinds words about the dancing. See you around :)

      ~Ragen

  16. I’m typing this with tears streaming down my face having watched you dance…I’m a ‘big girl’ and I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to watch someone dance like that..as if you were flying..

    • Wow June, thank you so much, your comment made my day!

  17. Loved it! Got the link from Jezebel today on your challenge to David Duchovny to dance. Brilliant, my love, brilliant. I am so excited to add another fabulous blog to my daily reading! Bless you.

    • Hi Suzanne,

      Welcome to the blog, I’m so glad that you liked it and thank you for your kind words! Thanks for reading and for commenting :)

      ~Ragen

  18. Wow. Just. Wow. I love your courage, and your willingness to say what needs to be said.

    -Catherine
    http://www.3sharedpaths.com

    • Thanks so much! Welcome to the blog :)

      ~Ragen

  19. I WANT TO LEARN TO DANCE

    WHY AREN’T YOU IN TORONTO

  20. Very pretty picture in the yellow shirt at thetop of this page but WOW! What a dancer! That little video was really something and your partner was real good too, . You’re quite a dancer, man that was neat.
    I’m going to try to sent a link of this to my wife!

  21. Hi Ragen, just wanted you to know I referenced your blog in a response to an article today and I hope it brings you more visits. I posted the article and my response on the ASDAH serv.
    I hope to meet you some day…I wish you lived in N. Calif. we would love for you to guest speak at our book launch but don’t have funds to fly you in or pay you.(yet) Isn’t that the rub of the start up??
    Anyway, you are truly amazing!!!!
    Deah

  22. OMG! What a beautiful beautiful expression of God you are. You are more than even you realize; in your way of being, you are expressing the joy of your creator in every way. What a gift to so many people and you have no idea what a mission you are really on. (I think this is one of my top sites to stumble onto this month.)

    You will be receiving a very special gift soon and when it comes remember I let you know it was coming. Bye for now, but remember you are on a mission from God so don’t let anyone dissuade you at anytime from this work.

  23. Thanks for the inspiration chicka. You keep dancing – I’ll keep singing and we’ll both keep writing. It’s a great expression!

    • Sounds like a brilliant plan!!!

      ~Ragen

  24. Well, all I saw on the dancing I watched of you was an exquisite dancer who was graceful and had a lot of confidence. I wish I could have 1/10 of what you’ve got goin’ on!

  25. An inspiring blog message we need to hear more of, and an excellent music choice.

  26. Ragen,
    I’ve been directed to your site by a couple of friends recently and I’m so glad I finally checked you out! You’re doing such wonderful work here! Your message about health having nothing to do with appearance is one I’m very strongly for. I’m a PhD student who studies media ideals and body image, and my particular area of focus is how health is represented to women. As you know, it’s entirely appearance-based and exclusively revolves around thinness and weight loss.

    I spent a semester researching the BMI and other factors that contribute to the way we perceive healthy bodies, and I see you’re spreading a similar message: the BMI is BS! I wrote a post on my website about my research: http://www.beautyredefined.net/the-lies-we-buy-defining-health-at-womens-expense/. Understanding the sketchy evolution of this national standard for judging our bodies and recognizing the profit-driven ideals that so much of our “fitness” knowledge is based on is empowering! I’m sure you’re well aware of these facts, but I wanted to share. Thanks for your spectacular work that proves my points in a visible, irrefutable way!

    Lindsay
    BeautyRedefined.net

  27. Hey there. A friend of mine linked to your piece on Spanx (which, yikes!) and I have to tell you, you’re an inspiration. I’ve struggled with my weight since I was in my teens because I have stocky forbears and a tendency to comfort-eat that I haven’t started to address productively until recently, and you’re an inspiration. There’s so much pressure to focus on numbers rather than on living a healthy lifestyle and eating food that is made of food rather than chemicals and such a destructive culture of shame around food and eating and weight, but you’re the first person I’ve found who’s willing to talk about that kind of thing. Your blog is helping me find the strength to focus on eating and exercising in ways that are healthy and that work for me, and to value that independent of what it says on my scale. Thanks so much for having this blog and for being brave enough to put yourself out there this way.

    • Hi Jennie,

      Welcome to the blog, I’m so glad that you like it. And congratulations for finding your path to health :) I’m just a drop in the pool of amazing bloggers who talk about this stuff. If you’re looking for more stuff to read, you might want to check out the “Blogs I Love” page to find some truly amazing bloggers!

      ~Ragen

  28. Regan, I love your attitude and your blog. I have gained a lot of succour from what you write and the way you move. I have my own willpower to motivate me now and no longer weigh myself – my clothes tell me what I need to know (as does the good old BP monitor!)
    However, I tried to get onto the Body Positive site by clicking the link and it went to secure server (mobile.me???) I wanted to let you know in case…
    Keep up the great work! =)
    Rosie (Cornwall, England)

  29. Hello!
    I just read your article in the [Name Redacted] magazine. I’ve been reading your blog for a while, and am very inspired by you.
    Congrats on the article – It was so well written, and so hopeful to me.

    • Hi Von,

      Thanks so much, I’m really glad that you like the blog and I’m honored that you you find it inspiring ! I’ve redacted the name of the magazine because I was told that it wasn’t coming out until June and I wasn’t allowed to say the name of the magazine on the blog until it was on the shelves. If you don’t mind me asking – where did you find it?

      ~Ragen

      • Oops! Sorry about that!
        I work for another division of the same company that publishes that magazine, and I was given a copy.

  30. Hey Ragen! I just read your article about the Wii fit in the Vancouver Sun,and decided to check you out.You.are.awesome.It’s about time that people realise that healthy can be all shapes and sizes;in my yoga class for example,we have tons of people who are fierce and curvacious and can rock out some super advanced poses!People used to tease me about my weight too,and i’m one of the “skinny bitches” It used to bug me a lot,being accused of not eating, by complete strangers no less.I envied some of my friend’s womanly curves.One of them said to me “why do you care what they think anyway?You have never looked at my body as anything but beautiful,and I learned to accept myself from that.Please learn to do the same!I love you for who you are!”That officially turned my insecurities on it’s head.I started to concentrate on building strength and health instead of just looking at the appearance.I still get an awesome kick out of the astonished looks that I get when i lift something that is 90% of my own body weight!;)stay wonderful!!-jude
    +1

    • Hi Jude,

      Welcome to the blog and thank you for your kind words. I’m so sorry that people got on you about your weight and I think it’s completely awesome that you overcame that – also 90% of your body weight is freaking amazing – congrats on kicking ass!

      ~Ragen

  31. Hey Ragen! I love your blog and your attitude. I also love how helpful you can be with even one post- hell, I read one post and you ended my anorexic tendencies I picked up a few months ago after I saw how much weight I’d lost from my not eating with my jaw surgery. I started freaking out afterwords and for the last few months couldn’t look at myself without only seeing ugly and gross and losing all want to eat anything, and your blog put a stop to that. Thank you.

    • Wow, your comment made me tear up a bit. I’m so sorry that you’ve been struggling with this and I think that you are amazing to be able to rise above those issues, and I’m completely honored to have had any small part in your journey.

      Thank you,

      ~Ragen

  32. Hi Ragen!

    It thrills me to no end to see someone who shares my love for dance and non-traditional dancer’s build. I have been dancing since I was three years old and love every minute of it. Tap dancing makes my soul smile! I have been on competitive dance teams, traveling dance troupes, taken and taught everything from ballet to acrobats and still to this day teach tap and jazz to a very wide age and skill range. However, I have always felt out of place and not quite accepted in the dance world. I will never look like the traditional ballerina and I’m Ok with that, just sometimes I get tired of seeing surprised faces when I dance or tell people about it, not to mention the difficulty in finding costumes (but that is a different topic all together :P ).

    Thank you for sharing, leading, and innovating. I am SO happy to see you so happily (and beautifully) moving for the entire world to see!

    • Hi Brandi,

      Always awesome to meet a fellow dancer! I understand what you mean about not being fully accepted in the dance world – it can certainly wear on you. For the record I’m a fan of a costume custom made by a good seamstress! I hope that you keep dancing and surprising people and being awesome. Thank you for your kind words, I’m so glad that you like the blog :)

      ~Ragen

  33. Hi Regan,

    I picked up the new All YOU magazine, and was moved to the core on your story…Being pleasingly plump for most of my life your story has gave me more hope than all the books, and articles I have read on weight…I feel so blessed to have read your story, and be able to really look inside myself for love instead of what others, as well as myself make me feel…I have had no self worth for so long, but I honestly feel like I can start on this journey with the support I need…Thank you for sharing your story with the world…You are an amazing woman…

    Thank you again,

    Jackie

    • Thank you so much Jackie, your comment completely made my day. I’m so glad that you are finding a path to self-worth and finding love for yourself. Very best of luck and if there is ever anything that I can do to help just let me know!

      ~Ragen

  34. This is really fortuitous for me, finding your blog. Provident, even. I’ve been struggling lately with losing some extra weight and I’m so frustrated and angry. I’ve lost perspective on why it is I want to lose weight–to feel better. Not even to lose weight, just to feel better. It’s so hard to wrangle ones’ brain around this when all around us we’re being told we’re embarrassing, shameful, immoral, or “not in control” because we’re fat.

    Your blog is just what I needed. What a breath of fresh air. Thank you.

    Jules

    • Hi Jules,

      Thank you so much for the comment! I’m so glad that you like the blog and I know how frustrating it can be to try to make good choices when people make so much money and get so much superiority from trying to make us feel bad about ourselves. Hang in there :)

      ~Ragen

  35. Hi Ragen,

    Congratulations on your awesome accomplishments! I’ve just become aware of this site and the entire HAES concept thanks to a link from Feministe. I’m adding you to my favorites tab so I can have a good look around :) It’s really cool that you established this blog so long ago. Hopefully soon individual body and self-image health will get its throw down with the “lose weight fast!” messages so prevalent in mainstream media.

    I grew up “overweight” or “obese” and most of my family is too. Over the last eight or nine years I’ve slowly lost weight due to a lot of lifestyle changes, to the point where now I’m struggling to find a good balance for me and not be underweight :\ I never thought I’d be on this end of the spectrum but it’s been very interesting seeing how people react to and treat you differently based on their perceptions of you. I’m still working myself out – what I define as healthy life choices, emotional issues, positive self concept – and I think your blog might give me a lot of insight.

    So I wanted to say thank you in advance :) I look forward to reading.

  36. I posted an article about the metformin being given to babies on the body acceptance subreddit (on reddit.com) and got quite a defensive and negative response. Of course, it’s about body acceptance and not just fat acceptance so we have plenty of thin people (who deny thin privilege) who are all about accepting your body.. unless that body is fat because omg that’s so unhealthy.

    While we (the mods) try to keep it under control this particular story just caused a huge blow up with all of the typical suspects claiming that we didn’t care about the mother’s health, that it had nothing to do with weight or obesity- it had to do with blood sugar and didn’t we know that fat mothers can’t give birth naturally because we’re oh so at risk and their babies are all fat too? (i’m a fat mother who gave birth to a 6lb 0oz little boy).

    It became a battle of who was reading too much into what and semantics over what “diet” and “anti obesity drug” actually meant. You can’t call it a diet drug because it’s a diabetes medication- even if it’s being used as a diet drug apparently.

    I don’t know what to do to prevent this kind of fall out but I did want to say that you’ve done a great job of breaking it down and explaining why it’s so vitally important that we really take a hard look at what’s going on. I post a lot of your articles because they’re so wonderful and they really do help a lot of people.

  37. Ragen, I just found your blog and have not even gotten past the first page and love you already!!! I have recently given up dieting and have been looking for some stuff to reassure me that I am doing the right thing (I know I am). I LOVE to dance, not as professional as you mind and find moving my body makes me feel soooo good. I am going to make feeling healthy and energetic my goal and am also going to start living – it starts now.

    Thanks soooo much for your blog.

  38. You are awesome and if you haven’t heard of Nia, you really should check it out at http://www.nianow.com. Loved your video. Love your blog!

  39. You are making the rounds on Facebook thanks to my wonderful niece sharing your blog with me. There are so many folks who are finding your warrior spirit and your love for life quite refreshing and real. Thank you for being bold and genuine. Thank you for dancing through life!!

    • Niachick,

      Wow, thank you so much for your kind words, I’m really grateful to have the opportunity to interact with so many awesome people! And thanks for being awesome and teaching NIA, I’ve taken classes and really dug it!

      ~Ragen

  40. Every time I read a post I want to say “right on!”… Thank you for this.

  41. new to your blog. found u on bloglove.

  42. Wow. You are quite amazing. Found you through a link on Jezebel and can’t wait to read more. I turn 40 in a few weeks and am trying to accept my body while also trying to get healthy. I just started Zumba and am discovering you don’t have to be skinny to dance. I always wanted to dance but when I gained a lot of weight at ten years old I stopped. Now thirty years later I’m starting again and you will be my inspiration!

    • Hi Sally,

      Thank you so much, I’m so glad that you are finding your own path to health and completely honored to be part of the inspiration for that. Have fun at Zumba and I hope to see you around here!

      ~Ragen

  43. Great article. Thank you. And point well made – people are going to do what people are going to do, and some of those people will be unkind or dismissive based on weight. Just because they do doesn’t mean we should too – or that we should do it on their behalf in their absence.

  44. I just found your blog from a tweet by Gala Darling, I love it! Seriously it brought tears to my eyes!

  45. I read your post on Sociological Images. Thank you for sharing and I am so sorry that people responded to you the way that they did. They obviously have some deeper issues in their own lives that they need to speak to anyone the way they spoke to you. It seems they can’t bear to see someone happy who doesn’t fit their mold. Keep doing what you are doing, be happy and don’t let those insecure, full of hate jerks get you down!

  46. I just found your guest post on Sociological Images. I love you so much!!!!! I’ve had a losing battle with weight loss over the years. For a long time I fought it, but in the last year or so, I realized I may never be thin again. I volunteer on a farm doing hard farm labor, I do Bikram yoga, I make healthy meals – and I feel fit and healthy. While people keep warning me (in cruel and horrid ways) about diabetes, blood pressure, etc. I’ve always, always tested normally on my tests. I’ve decided that my body just wants to be big and that I love my body anyway. I have been facing the judgment and meanness of others for believing I am healthy from my mother to my husband. It can be so difficult to keep up the fight and I’m feeling teary writing this comment – just glad to know that I am not the only big, active, healthy woman out there. Sometimes just knowing you are not alone is a big deal!!!!

  47. Wow, followed you here from Soci Images. Thank you so much! I never understood why, as a physically active person who eats lots of “good” food (and a bit of sweets, too) I was still “unhealthy” (read: overweight). Whenever I talk to any professionals about my health, it is just assumed that I don’t exercise (I was recently told to try and get 30 minutes of activity a day – that would be a serious *decrease* in my physical activity!). Now I get it, and I never realized it before… I *am* healthy, just not skinny! Thank you!

  48. My friend posted a link to your blog, and I was truly inspired… Saw your video, AMAZING stuff! Well, I’m currently on a journey to discover my own gift, and my body image and self-perception greatly improved after I followed some exercises I saw on this documentary called Discover The Gift… It’s a really fantastic documentary that opened my eyes to the beauty all around me, helping me rediscover the pure truth of the word beauty and the many forms it takes. I’m a fat person too, but I know that there’s nothing wrong with that– I eat well :-). I love the energy you give off with your confidence and graceful yet energetic dancing.. Thank you so much for sharing with me your courage and beautiful body, mind and soul. My name is Eddie, nice to meet you :]. Here’s a link to that exercise I was talking about. http://bit.ly/iCveHi

  49. I just read you post on soci images. It was amazing! I totally agree with you.

    Did you know you have great balance a a marvelous souplesse? Your dance skills are great!

    • Hi Kitty,

      Thanks for your kind words. I haven’t heard souplesse in a while, it kind of made my day!

      ~Ragen

  50. You Go Girl! Much love to you!
    (also followed you here from Soci Images)

  51. Thank you for your post and your blog. More people need to hear this.

  52. I just read your guest post on The Society Pages, and I wanted to tell you that I think you are doing a great job with training your body for your goals, ie strength, flexibility and grace. It sucks that there are so many people who are determined to see you and your accomplishments in a negative light, so I just wanted to add my voice to the supportive side. Your pictures and videos are inspiring [and, I'll admit, I covet your workout setup]. Keep up the awesome work!

  53. Is it ever ok?

    In your opinion, is it ever ok to make assumptions about people’s health based on the their size?

    I was at a college campus today dropping a few things off. I was headed out the door, when a woman walked past me and into the restroom. I admit it, I was dumb founded. I stared in shock. This was the most skeletal woman I had ever seen. To say that she weighed 70 pounds would be a stretch. Every bone in her chest stood out, her hip bones and shoulder blades could cut someone. She was wearing designer jeans, lots of makeup, and clearly had collagen injections, a breast job, and recently had come off of either one hell of a sunburn, or a chemical peel. I shook off my shock and headed toward her. The only thing I could think was “oh shit, this woman is in danger HELP HER!” I followed her into the restroom, and she passed me on her way out. I said nothing. I didnt think of what to say on the way.

    After all, what could I say? ” excuse me, may I carry you down those stairs?” ” Would you like me to take you to a hospital?” “how can I help you?”

    There were two other ladies in the restroom, and when I met their eyes, one of them said ” Oh my god, should we do something?” I looked at the other one “she’s a student here, Im sure one of her teachers will pull her aside and check on her”

    That made me feel better. So I guess my question is, should people never make assumptions about other peope’s health? Should there be no such thing as an intervention? Should a teacher who has a 140 pound 5 year old in her class not inquire about the childs health? Is it possible that there are caring helpful strangers in our society that reach out, because they are compelled to do so, and make a positive change? Or should we all mind our own business?

    • This is a difficult situation but if I were in your shoes I would not say anything, simply because I don’t know anything about this woman or her circumstances. I would have no frame of reference to know what effect my comment might have on her. I’m sure people look at me and think the same thing and I don’t want to hear their thoughts on my health and so I don’t share my opinions on other people’s health. I work with people with eating disorders and generally they have trouble hearing the truth from the people they love and trust the most so I doubt that they could hear it from a perfect stranger.. The school situation is different and it’s something that I think the teacher should bring up gently with the parents, but not with the student. That’s just me though, other people might make different choices.

      ~Ragen

  54. Just want you to know that your two-step brought me to tears. It was beautiful to see someone representing us traditionally-built women with such grace and self-love. Keep on keepin’ on.

    • Thank you so much Kristen!

      ~Ragen

  55. You have a very encouraging blog, and it is so nice to see someone so positive in this day and age! Keep it up!

  56. Awesome, just found your blog. Wow, what a dancer. I would soooo love to learn to dance. I am the former skinny cheerleader everyone will be laughing at at the 20 yr reunion..sigh. I miss being graceful. I honestly didn’t know I could be possible at my size but watching you…absolutely beautiful. Do you teach?

    • Hi Heather,

      Thanks for your kind words. I was a cheerleader as well :) I do teach – I live in Austin, TX but I also travel and do workshops. Don’t sweat your 20 year reunion, it’s not about who you were, it’s about who you are now. (Plus everyone will be so worried about getting laughed at that they’ll be too busy to worry about anyone else.)

      ~Ragen

  57. Someone recommended your blog to me. It’s very cool! I learning Lindy and East Coast, and I’m generally the largest gal out there. I often encounter leads who don’t want to dance with me, but I keep doing it because I love it, and I’m getting good at it :)

    • Hi!

      Welcome to the blog :) Congratulations on learning to dance, rock on!!!!

      ~Ragen

  58. I saw this article today: http://shine.yahoo.com/channel/health/is-overweight-the-new-normal-weight-2545505

    With this quote: “In our country where the majority of individuals need to lose weight, it’s become too easy to live large, making it harder to motivate people to take steps to shed pounds. Vanity-sized apparel; Lycra (read: stretchy) clothing; larger plates, bowls, glasses and utensils; wider seats in cars and movie theaters; and bigger portions are all examples of ways the environment has changed to make it more comfy being overweight.”

    This was all news to me. I imagine it would be news to most fat folks who deal daily with the inability to find clothes that fit properly and don’t cost and arm and a leg, or who have to deal with long-distance travel and the inherent problems there.

    IT’S SO EASY TO BE FAT, Y’ALL.

    • Thanks so much for pointing this out, I blogged about it today. Also – bigger utensils? What in fat hell is she talking about?

      ~Ragen

  59. The beautiful Melissa McCarthy just won an Emmy for Best Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for Mike & Molly! :D

  60. Ragen,

    Could you be more specific about your schedule? You say you’ll be in NYC on October 12. Do you know where and about what time you’re going to appear?

    • We’re getting all of the events going now. The movie (America the Beautiful 2 – The Thin Commandments, is premiering on the 12th at the Quad theater at 7:20pm and we’re looking at doing something other events as well.

      ~Ragen

  61. Hi Ragen,
    I’m part of a listserve and one of the posters gave us a link to your site so I thought I would check it out and I must say I love your site! Your blogs are fantastic and much needed in this world where weight and size discrimination are not only normal but openly promoted. I enjoyed your video – you and your dance partner are amazing dancers and watching you made me realize how much activity I have been avoiding due to being self-conscious. Thank you for providing such a great site and for reminding me how important it is that I not let other people’s weight issues become my problem.

  62. Hi Ragen,
    Fiona again. Just read the “haters” section – crazy!!! Can you imagine how most of these people would react to real issues in their lives?! Loved your responses – made me laugh – you have a great outlook and sense of humor.
    Fiona.

  63. This comment would be on the site because it brought up a concern that could be answered. Except the commenter said that he/she was hoping to make the “troll hall of fame”. I’m not that interested in giving this person face time on my blog. The comment wasn’t interesting enough to make my hate mail site (www.danceswithfat.com/hate) so now it’s just gone.

    • This comment would be on the site because it brought up a concern that could be answered. Except the commenter said that he/she was hoping to make the “troll hall of fame”. I’m not that interested in giving this person face time on my blog. The comment wasn’t interesting enough to make my hate mail site (www.danceswithfat.com/hate) so now it’s just gone.

  64. A friend (who is completing a PhD focusing on body image and eating disorders in young women) pointed me to your site and your dance video. It’s a wonderful performance. I teach dance part-time, and I love to encourage people of all shapes, sizes, ages, genders, and social classes to learn to dance as a way of experiencing pure joy without the socially imposed stigmas of looking, acting, or being different from some arbitrarily decided norms. There is a beauty and grace that accompanies anyone who can move so elegantly to music as you do (and is as skilled a follow as you are). Thanks for sharing your talent and for encouraging those who have been convinced that they’re not “perfect” (after all, who is?) to enjoy a healthy life.

  65. I want to see more videos of you dancing! The video on your home page is just gorgeous. You and your partner have that Astaire/Rogers thing of making it look easy. :)

  66. I found this on facebook and thought some people might find it interesting and entertaining. Especially since haters call you a whale sometimes Ragen!

    A while back, at the entrance of a gym, there was a picture of a very thin and beautiful woman. The caption was “This summer, do you want to be a mermaid or a whale?”

    The story goes, a woman (of clothing size unknown) answered the following way:

    “Dear people, whales are always surrounded by friends (dolphins, seals, curious humans), they are sexually active and raise their children with great tenderness.
    They entertain like crazy with dolphins and eat lots of prawns. They swim all day and travel to fantastic places like Patagonia, the Barents Sea or the coral reefs of Polynesia.
    They sing incredibly well and sometimes even are on cds. They are impressive and dearly loved animals, which everyone defend and admires.

    Mermaids do not exist.

    But if they existed, they would line up to see a psychologist because of a problem of split personality: woman or fish?
    They would have no sex life and could not bear children.
    Yes, they would be lovely, but lonely and sad.
    And, who wants a girl that smells like fish by his side?

    Without a doubt, I’d rather be a whale.

    At a time when the media tells us that only thin is beautiful, I prefer to eat ice cream with my kids, to have dinner with my husband, to eat and drink and have fun with my friends.

    We women, we gain weight because we accumulate so much wisdom and knowledge that there isn’t enough space in our heads, and it spreads all over our bodies.
    We are not fat, we are greatly cultivated.
    Every time I see my curves in the mirror, I tell myself: “How amazing am I ?! “

  67. I’m thrilled to have discovered you — your message about loving your body and knowing how to be healthy are exactly what I try to convey when I teach, dance and live my life! Sometimes new students are surprised to meet me (I’m a 5’3″ 255lbs woman who teaches belly dance!) – the ones who stick around figure out that I’ve got a strong healthy body and a whole lot to teach them.

    Keep Rock’n it!

  68. Well, you have my attention… looking forward to reading your stuff! I love your outlook and philosophy.

    • Thanks and welcome to the blog!

      ~Ragen

  69. I wanted to share my excitement with you. I’ve just started a size acceptance group on facebook for people who live in my area. I was surprised to find that there are no size acceptance groups/pages on facebook at all apart from a page that gives information about what the movement is.
    So I have started this group and it is really exciting to see people following it! By starting one for people in my area I’m hoping that maybe we can meet sometimes and support each other.
    I wanted to tell you because you and your blog inspired me and made me feel strongly enough to do this!
    Thank you!

    • That’s awesome, congratulations! Let me know if there is anything that I can do to support you, we need every voice that we can get!

      ~Ragen

      • If you ever come to Australia you can come visit us! :D

        There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of resources here in Australia, so any advice you can give me on things I can do if we meet would be greatly appreciated.
        But really, just keep writing about stuff that inspires and makes people think.

  70. Hi :) Just discovered your blog from a friend’s post on FB. Nice work. You are right. There’s a horrible extreme in this society as to how women are “supposed” to look, and way too much focus on being a certain size. It irritates me when I hear or read the tag lines for weight loss commercials i.e. “I went from a size 14 to 6!” Who cares? Do these people want a medal? A whole food, active lifestyle for yourself will automatically lead to a healthier body and your body will find its own set weight point. Diets per se do not work and actually lead to unhealthy weight gain and screws up your metabolism for good. Hence lap band, lipo etc., it’s insane!

    • Hi Elly,

      Welcome to the blog! “Do these people want a medal?” made me laugh out loud. Hope to “see” you around here!

      ~Ragen

  71. Oops, this commenter is a jackass. To read this comment you’ll have to check out my hatemail page http://www.danceswithfat.com/hate There you can read my hatemail, my responses to it, and see how I use comments like this to fund my work around self-esteem, body image, and Health at Every Size.

    ~Ragen

  72. Wow! I *adore* that picture! You look so graceful, like you are about to fly off the floor.

  73. I had a thought recently for a (joke) advertising campaign to encourage the changing of perceptions of beauty. We could aim this campaign at men (and lesbians I guess), and ask them if they would like to increase the number of beautiful women in the world, and then tell them it’s simple – start seeing women of all shapes and sizes as beautiful and voila! The number of beautiful women they see every day will increase dramatically! I can’t think of the perfect wording. Any ideas?

  74. For those out there who have had eating disorders, what do you do when you are having a shitty day and you hate everything about yourself? Usually I can feel like health is enough, but recently I’ve been struggling.

  75. You are amazing !!!! I love that you are showing that just because you are not skinny doesn’t mean that you are not in shape. It takes some conditioning to do what you do and its not easy so kudos to you and keep up the great dancing !!!!! Rock those Curves

  76. Thank you offering reprieve from the diet loaded internet. Your message is so empowering. I especially love your recent letter to NEDA. Your investigation of STOP backers sheds light on their true goal, $.

    I am recovering from anorexia and bulimia. The positive feedback I got from friends and strangers when I was at my lowest weight made me cry at times. How could they encourage something so dangerous and hurtful? I am doing well now, I no longer have a scale, and am more and more accepting of my own body and others as well. No one should decide what weight is right for another. You go girl!

  77. I smiled all the way through your video. The happiest 2 minutes and 37 seconds of my day. Wow. Thank you so much for letting your light shine!

    • Thank you so much, I’m really glad that you like it :)

  78. Hi Ragen,
    I was reading your letter to NEDA about the partnership with STOP and I saw your name at the end and realized I met you last year at the IAEDP conference in Arizona. I’m so happy to have heard you share your voice then, and continue sharing your voice now. Keep your wonderful energy pouring out for all of us to hear please and thank you!

    -Rebecca Tishman

    • Hi Rebecca,

      Great to hear from you again. Thank you so much for the positive feedback – I hope to see you again soon!!!

      ~Ragen

  79. Hi Ragen,

    So happy to find this blog! I danced ballet, contemporary, jazz and tap up until I was 17 or so and I was a size 20/22 through most of my teens.

    I’m hoping to go back to dancing in the next few years, but I’ve been travelling the world and working in developing countries such as Indonesia and Timor Leste (and climbing mountains/volcanoes, swimming, snorkelling, and more, all in my fat bod).

    Just wanted to say that I loved watching your dance video… it reminded me how much fun it was to dance in competitions and perform! xx

    Ash

    • Hi Ash,

      I’m so glad that you like the blog. it sounds like you are having a fantastic adventure!!! I hope that you’ll stop in here and keep us posted about what you are doing :)

      Ragen

  80. Hi Ragen the Amazing! I just received an e-mail from Kashi promoting its partnership with HealthCorps. Any hope for its FitTown(tm) program to include HAES? Here is the site:

    http://www.kashi.com/realproject/about_charities?utm_source=email&utm_medium=Game&utm_term=Real_Food_Deficit&utm_content=20111115VA&utm_campaign=Real_Project

  81. Sorry the link was cut. It’s under the Events heading on the kashi.com site.

  82. Ragen I wish I had your level of self-esteem. But I don’t. Despite my good traits, my intelligence and open-mindedness, that I got my MA (finally, after surmounting many obstacles) – it doesn’t matter. The sad truth is that I would have 100% self-esteem if I was “hot” EVEN if I was a stupid mean person. Why? The hell I’ve been put through in my life for being heavy, the cruelty I am subjected to by strangers, and the life I’ve lived in a house with completely uncooperative and unsupportive parents has turned my brain into one big hater-filled machine. I don’t need to have people I don’t even know gawk at me on the street; I am the biggest hater of them all because I hate myself. I don’t even like taking my clothes off when I’m alone. And I read so much of your blog and didn’t believe a word of it, yet when I read JUST ONE of the messages from your haters it felt so true. Because that’s how my brain has been programmed to think. It’s terrible. So my question to you is, how do I end that vicious cycle and becmoe more like you?

    • Hi Andrea,

      First of all, congratulations on you Masters, that is a huge accomplishment!!!

      As far as dealing with the programming, we are inundated with this message in our culture and it can be really hard to break free of it. Sometimes I feel like like I woke up after taking the red pill in The Matrix. I have some suggestions in this blog http://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/2011/11/11/a-real-fat-intervention/ Also remember that you are assuming that you would have 100% self-esteem if you were “hot”, but you don’t know if that’s actually true. Whole books have been written about people who became hot and didn’t get the results (self-esteem, problems solved etc.) that they expected.

      Let me know what you think and if there is anything that I can do to support you :)

      ~Ragen

  83. What a great blog. Im short and fat and off to my ballet lesson! I would love to find a group to dance with! Im in Northampton MA.
    Tina

  84. Ragen,

    I checked out VoluptuArt in search of a Fat!So? Dayplanner calendar and decided to browse some of their other goodies. To my dismay, when I looked through the necklaces, I found that nearly all the ones with a listed chain length were only 18 inches long. To me, this is a slap in the face, like selling t-shirts that say Fat Power (or a similar sentiment), but only in sizes up to XL. I wrote a note but have not received an answer. Can you put in a word on behalf of your large-necked readers? Because of the size of your audience, you’d have much more clout, I’m sure.

    Thank you.

  85. Ragen,

    You are truly beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing your story and for being proud of being who you are. It’s the best thing you can do! Hopefully someday I’ll be able to be as positive as you about who I am. You inspire me!

    • Thanks Paul, I’m really appreciate the kind words and I’m glad that you are finding support and inspiration through the blog. Yay!

      ~Ragen

  86. You’re beautiful and so flexible! Woot! I like what you’re doing with this website. Keep it up — encouraging healthy thought patterns about beauty, weight, and health.

    • Thanks Samantha! I really appreciate your kind words :)

      ~Ragen

  87. You are an inspiration to curvy women (and men). Your positive energy is very powerful. Thank you for sharing who you are.

    • Thank you so much Heather, I really appreciate it :)

      ~Ragen

  88. I can’t remember just how I found this blog, but it was (obviously) while I was messing around on the internet. But upon reading it, I felt I just HAD to bookmark it – I couldn’t stop reading. It’s been helpful to me in realizing that there ARE fat people out there who are fit and healthy, and that how we as fat people are treated is SOCIETY’S issue, and not mine.

    I’ve lived a great deal of my life hating my body because it doesn’t fit society’s standards of what it should look like. I’ve had way too many people (including doctors) dub me as unhealthy because I’m fat (despite the fact that it’s a very rare occasion that I get sick), and I’ve seen one too many anonymous posts on websites online that are downright hateful towards fat people.

    I wouldn’t call myself an athlete, but I do try to be healthy, in general. I eat healthy, I get exercise. But to have been trying so desperately to lose weight because my doctor or whoever told me I should – to be told I need to exercise more when I was already busting my butt every day – to have doctors just ignore the fact that I just told them I got on my elliptical (yes, I have my own) three times a week for a half hour each time and tell me to live a less “sedentary” lifestyle – to have the fact that you’ve just lost 50 lb. just kind of shrugged off in a “That’s great! Now lose more!” sort of comment… yeah. After seeing this website, it’s opened my eyes. Why suffer trying to achieve an unrealistic goal? I SHOULD just strive to be healthy, and that’s that.

    I’ve made a resolution this year to start loving myself for who I am, to stop hating my body and to just focus on being healthy. It’s just the beginning of a journey to me, but hopefully it will be a healing one.

    Thanks ever so much for your blog.

    (Sorry for such a long post – I tend to ramble.)

  89. Hi Ragen,

    I absolutely adore your blog and it’s made me feel so much better about my own body. I was anorexic for a couple of years, and in the recovery from that I (surprise surprise!) gained almost all the weight back. I am currently trying to lose a little bit again, because I don’t want to have to keep buying new clothes, but it’s not an absolute life or death imperative for me like it used to be and your blog really inspires me to continue the journey to loving and appreciating my body.

    Anyway, I just wanted to ask — what’s your opinion on Jamie Oliver? I’ve been watching his show “Jamie’s American Food Revolution” from a while back (http://www.channel4.com/programmes/jamies-american-food-revolution/4od), and from what I can tell I think he’s all about healthy eating rather than weight loss. What do you think?

    Love and solidarity,

    M.

    • Hi Madea,

      Thank you so much for your kinds words. And welcome to the blog, I’m glad that you are enjoying it and I hope you find a path that works for you! I will have to admit that I don’t know that much about Jamie Oliver so I haven’t yet formed an opinion, but I’ll check it out for sure.

      ~Ragen

  90. Ragen,

    You are wonderful and an inspiration and I count it a blessing to have found your blog. I wish I had this question when you were taking questions, but I’ll give it a shot here.

    How did you get so brave? How did your skin get so tough? I stood up for fatties tonight and I got smacked back hard. I kept standing, I held it together, and I didn’t cater to the game and get into an insult match. I kept my dignity and hoped that I proved a point to the folks that were listening.

    However it hurts. Quite a bit. Ugh. I want to do this more but I want it to hurt less. Practice I guess?

    Thanks,

    Taevia

    • Hi Jezikhana,

      Sorry to take so long to get back to you,. One of the ways that I deal with it is to spend most of my time working with fat people rather than haters. It’s more important to me that fat people realize that we deserve respect than that haters feel like we deserve respect. When I do engage with haters I remember all of the other communities who have had to go through this. What you did is a really good idea – don’t get into an insult match, and don’t play the game. If there is anything that I can do to support you, please don’t hesitate to ask!

      ~Ragen

  91. Ragen,

    Thank you for existing and being you.

    I love reading your honest words and your well thought out and researched arguments. Knowing that there is a person in the world that fights stupidity and stigma with such grace and intelligence is inspiring. Thank you.

    • Thank you so much Sarah!

      ~Ragen

  92. Ragen,

    You are so awesome, thank you for this blog. I’m a 6’5″, 550lb gay male. I’ve had to deal with SO many people putting me down because of my weight and because of my sexuality. It’s taken me years to be able to care about myself, and I still struggle with my self esteem. Seeing and reading blogs like this by people like you helps me feel a lot less alone and helps remind me to appreciate myself more.

    Thank you for standing up for yourself and for the rest of us, too. It means so very, very much. <3
    -Zid

  93. Love your writing and your dancing!

  94. Hi Ragen,

    I’ve only been reading your blog for a couple of months, but it has already had a major impact on how I feel about my body, how I talk to my doctor about my health, how I do yoga. I was really challenged by your post on “same thing other way” – since reading that post I’ve noticed how often I’m not nice to people because of their smaller-than-me size. My nastiness stays in my head, but I’m not okay with that kind of junk, even there.

    I’m so grateful to be on a path to loving myself and others more than I have, and I can’t wait to see where I am a year from now!

    Here’s a link to a blog post that I thought you might appreciate:

    http://www.rachelsimmons.com/2012/01/mom-im-fat-one-mothers-inspired-response-to-her-7-year-old/

    Thank you for your joy and your stand for all people!

    Cheers,

    Michelle

  95. I love your mantra that the goal is to be healthy and accept yourself, no matter the weight. And this applies to ALL women…I’ve met women who are a size 2 and feel fat b/c they’re not a size 0. YIKES! In this day and age where we are visually bombarded with super anorexic models we really need a healthier body image to look up to. So bravo to you!

  96. I’m glad I found this blog. I love it!

  97. All right I got it done! Good night all. God Bless.

  98. Fabulous Ragen!

    Not only does Baby Got Back, but Baby Got Grace, A Fun Spirit, and a Love for Life.

    Thanks you for this wonderful message.

    You are both such good dancers. I so enjoyed the video.

    Thanks for inspiring others to love life as they live it!

    Many blessings to you,

    Margo DeGange

  99. Hello, I thought this was interesting (for all sorts of reasons):

    http://news.ninemsn.com.au/national/8425299/healthy-active-boy-labelled-obese-by-nurse

  100. Thought this was interesting….

    http://ca.news.yahoo.com/experts-deep-complex-causes-obesity-may-beyond-reach-115804654.html

  101. Absolutely adore the response ads to the Atlanta shame billboards. They are so much better! Thank you.

  102. https://iamnotshe.wordpress.com/2012/03/01/ay-bee-cee-award-hooked-on-phonetics/ You’ve been nominated for the ABC Award! Go get it xooxox melis

  103. I am so happy to come across your site. after years of yo-yo dieting and dealing with the stigma. I am 31 – I have perfect bloodpressure – low cholesterol and am considered ‘obese’. Now the thing is, the ONLY health problem I have is athsma, which I got from trauma at age 10 – when I wasn’t considered obese. I am active, I eat healthy and I have finally (through your site) learned that I am a hot momma – society be damned =)

  104. Hello! I just read your hate mail from http://www.danceswithfat.com/hate/ and I just want to say that I am sorry. I am so, so, so sorry for the hate mail and horrible comments you receive. I’m not one of the people who said any of that crap, and clearly you are confident and positive enough that you don’t need me to help you with this, but it just hurt my heart to see that people seriously say such God-awful things to you simply because you are overweight and – Heaven-forbid – you like yourself!!! Oh the humanity! Those people suck!!!

    Plus, I am sorry for the fact that I have harbored negative thoughts about people who are overweight. Fortunately, your blog and others like it have really helped me see what a judgmental bitch I’ve been! Furthermore, I may be pretty close to society’s ideal weight, but so far, I can only dream of being as confident and self-accepting as you are. Instead, I bash myself regularly for not being perfect and I constantly worry about what others are thinking. Maybe if I keep reading all of your positive and inspiring entries, it will help me be more at peace with myself.

    Thank you for being one of the positive voices! With all the negativity, the world needs more people who can just live and let live.

    Take care and God bless!
    Kata

    • Hi Kata,

      Thank you so much for your comment. I can’t thank you enough for reconsidering your view of people of size – it takes a really strong and self-aware person to face their prejudices and do something about it and it’s really commendable that you did. I hope that you are able to find some compassion and mercy for yourself as well when you’re not perfect. Thanks again for the comment.

      Big Fat Hugs!

      ~Ragen

  105. Very graceful! You’re an AWESOME dancer!!!

  106. Hi Ragen,

    I found your blog through a comment someone made on Jezebel.com. Your work struck me because I lost about 25 lbs 4 years ago and since have gained about half of that back. When I went to the doctor for my physical year before last, my weight had gone up 5 lbs but all my health indicator levels including BP, glucose, cholesterol, etc. were actually showing at healthier levels. My doc said, you are fine, don’t worry about the 5 lbs. (She’s good!)

    At times I feel schizophrenic because some part of me feels like I should freak out and try to lose that weight again and be able to fit into the size 14 clothes. But I walk and ride my bike to work, and do yoga, and have a lot of fun in my body. I can go and another part of me says, pheh! I can’t be bothered to ride the “weight-loss” and “weight-gain” entertainment ride again. I’ve already done it a few times and it’s fun on the way down but sheesh there are more important things and more fun things I’d rather do with my time.

    Reading your perspective, and especially relating that to actual research has really given me FOOD for thought. :-) I appreciate you! Keep at it. This world has a lot of problems and we need visionary thinkers who will cut through the accepted view and the corporate views and try to see a future for humanity that is uplifting.

    Thanks!!!

    –Laurel

    • Hi Laurel,

      Thanks for the comment, I think a lot of people can relate to what you’re going through – I know that I certainly can. I’m glad that you are finding a path that works for you and I’m really honored that this blog has had a part in supporting you!

      ~Ragen

  107. I’m really glad I found your blog. I recently became “overweight” by the BMI standard. (165-170 at 5’8”, day by day.) I’ve actually had doctors give me a hard time about this and suggest I start dieting because of some unattractive family history. However they’re talking to a person who runs three miles every other day, walks everywhere, and does ballet twice a week. I don’t sit around and do nothing all day and I eat very healthy.

    I do feel shamed about it. It’s a strange thing that you can know that your shame is misplaced, and wrong, but do nothing about it. I really, really hope someday I can get to where you are, and feel good about my body.

    But for now? My body’s curved like a Greek statue. No amount of dieting is going to get rid of my hips and breasts, regardless, and having a little layer of fat on my belly is a part of being a woman. And the fact I can’t feel okay about this is sick.

    • Don’t let them shame you. Your great just how you are!

  108. ragen, it’s anissa! from the fattie clothes swap! i’m your new fbff!
    i was wondering if you teach dance classes for the fat? because my fatness would pay for that considering i really miss contemporary dance and no once can teach a fattie to dance better than a fattie!

  109. >>there were people who believed that if they couldn’t get skinny they should hate themselves[,]

    Yeah. Been there, still doing that, can’t find a t-shirt I like.

  110. Ragen I just wanted to add my voice to the list of admiring souls!
    I would LOVE to use some of the photos of you dancing as a starting point for illustrations. Would that be OK?
    we can talk on twitter, FB or email if you prefer

    • Thanks so much Elizabeth. I’m absolutely a fan of your work and I would be honored for you to use these pictures as a starting point for illustrations, and it would be awesome if you could send me a digital copy if you do.

      ~Ragen

      ________________________________

  111. Ragen! I absolutely LOVE your work, your blog and your passion. I just preordered your book that is coming out and I am in such dier need of it. I live in a world where my friends/family are obsessed with being thin. Reading about a woman (you) who is confident, beautiful and not scared of being herself is the most inspiring thing I can read. You inspire me to be proud of me. It brings tears to my eyes when my own friends/family can’t see how beautiful they are. It infuriates me that so many people I know hate themselves. I want them to love their bodies and in turn, respect the bodies of others. Thank you for all that you do. I cannot wait to get your book. When is it coming out?

    • Hi Carolina,

      Thank you for all the kind words. I’m waiting for my proof copy of the book which I’m supposed to get this week, as soon as I’ve approved it I’ll order the books and start shipping them out!

      ~Ragen

  112. Hello! I’ve been reading your blog for a couple of months now (love it, of course :) ), and I came across something today that I thought you might be interested in. I don’t know if you spend any time on tumblr, but there’s this one blog there called eschergirls that is all about pointing out the weird, disproportionate anatomy of women characters in mainstream and other professional comics.

    Sometimes discussions pop up along the lines of ‘but now you’re making them look fat, and they don’t look healthy anymore,’ which, well. You know. I thought that this response was pretty spectacularly good and that you/your readers might be interested in it: http://eschergirls.tumblr.com/post/24558904069/on-fat-and-health

  113. Great sight, as a classical ballet teacher, I believe all can and should do ballet. IDear Dance lovers of all ages, I have the luck to teach professional and amateur dancers from all ages. I must say teaching adult classes is some thing I enjoy very much. I will explain why!
    If your already taking classes or want to begin. There are many reasons why one should take it up or continue doing classes. If your looking for a studio many studios will have specific course for adult ballet, so you can very easily ask for information. Or some studios will have beginner’s classes for all ages. Which is also a very good option.
    Goals are very important elements so some one has something to strive for or measure ones self. I personally find it very important that one checks if they have some kind of final year performance or programs to measure and have a time frames associated with tracking ones achievement.

  114. Well, I just read all this and went right over and cancelled my WW account. In 2006 I succeeded in losing weight with the program, and was sure that I could use it again. But all of this stuff is true for me; I gained all the weight back. By the time I got to maintenance, it wanted me to eat something like 1100 calories. I did it all without exercise, which is clearly not good. The only reason it worked was because I brute forced it.

    I do need to eat healthier but you’re right, that’s not the way. Gosh.

    • Hi Kim,

      Congratulations, it can be really hard to accept that what gets sold to us is not the same thing as what is good for us! If you are looking for resources I would highly recommend Linda Bacon’s Book “Health at Every Size, The Surprising Truth about Your Health” and http://www.TheFatNutritionist.com Both of those have resources on healthy eating from a Health at Every Size Perspective. If there’s anything that I can do to support you, you can always e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org.

      ~Ragen

      • Thanks much. I’m definitely a mess when it comes to thinking about this, but I really don’t need to waste money on things that I know are bad based on a thin, misplaced hope.

        I’m wondering if you have any thoughts on the recent CRAZE of Crossfit. I just quit my gym because there was a lot of shamey messages going on there and it’s cheaper to just go to my school’s gym; but since many of my friends are talking about Crossfit all of a sudden, I am all beset with curiosity and suspicion.

  115. Ragan: This is wrong on so many levels. It’s supposed to be a satire on Hansel and Gretel. *head shake* https://sphotos.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-snc6/250766_400784626629382_1432904034_n.jpg

  116. Ragen: In your bio above it says: “I’ve been sold for air conditioners in West Africa”. I’m sure it is a typo. Otherwise it means you were sold (into slavery?) and the price was air conditioners. Just trying to be helpful. Your writing makes me think. Thank you.

    • Hi David,

      Nope, not a type. When my mom was in the Peace Corps in West Africa I was considered a great beauty by their cultural standard and she was getting all kinds of marriage proposals. Eventually she sold me to a man for air conditioners. He was aware that I might refuse to come to Africa and the deal they struck was that if I didn’t come to be his wife she would return the air conditioners at the end of her term, which is what happened so the deal is square. Glad that you like the blog.

      ~Ragen

  117. Thank you for posting on this blog so regularly. I started reading it daily about a year ago, and it has been hugely helpful in getting over my body image issues. Now I got after people with facts and a fuck you attitude, and me and my lovely fat body are so much happier for it.

  118. Thank you so much for what you do. I listened to you on public radio. It’s been so encouraging. I’m not considering myself obese, although my BMI says otherwise. A few months ago I encountered an Orthopedist who didn’t take my rotator cuff injury seriously (meaning brushed me off with a terrible cortisol injection) until I asked him if I’d be able to do my regular 17 mile kayak run this summer. He was shocked and I said “you know, aft people move, too” and he back-pedaled. Needless to say I don’t want to see him again. I also keep complaining to REI that they don’t carry nice outdoors clothes for larger women coz not everyone is “cute and little” that loved to be outdoors. And it goes on from there… Anyway, THANK YOU :)

  119. I’ve nominated you for a One Lovely Blog Award!! http://forgoditestify.wordpress.com/2012/06/29/one-lovely-blog-award/

  120. Just swinging through and thought I’d send some love your way. Keep on dancin’ and being you!

  121. *happy book dance*

    The idea that we shouldn’t question doctors is laughable. Doctors are people with emotions and limitations, imperfects knowledge, and sometimes–egos to spare. And that Emailer illustrates the problem perfectly. Far too many people think “Well, s/he’s a doctor and I’m not–who am I to disagree?”

  122. I have been reading your blog for the past few months and I just wanted to be able to just drop by to say that you are an inspiration to me. You’re the sort of person I wish I was: self-assured, happy, active, athletic, intelligent, revolutionary and kind. I’m still wallowing deep in my eating disorder and I’m desperately trying to fight it on my own. Even just reading your words on this blog really helps let me step just a little bit closer to self-acceptance. Maybe I might recover without getting help, ’cause I don’t want to tell my family because I know they won’t understand why I’m doing this to myself. We already have enough financial trouble and I don’t want to add my problems to the ever growing list of stuff they have to deal with.

    The fact that I’ve never really been fat (even the untrustworthy BMI considered my heighest weight as low end of “normal”) and that I’d never experienced any of the horrific treatment that fat people go through makes me feel humiliated that I’m even in this situation. I wish I’d read about the research behind the 95% failure rate of weight loss long before this started or the fact that health doesn’t equal thinness, I wouldn’t be here. I wish I didn’t internalize the bigotry that this culture had. Even if I would never have thought of the same hateful things I thought of myself to any of my friends and family, I was still repeating the same things to me inside my head. In the end I’m still guilty of that bigotry.

    Because I know the horrible people who send you hate mail wouldn’t do so, I want to be able to say on behalf of all those who participates in the culture of thin: I’m sorry. And thank you so much for being the wonderful, inspiring person that you are. I hope one day I’ll be able to get the courage to dance and live my life to the fullest just like you do.

    • Hi There,

      I’m so sorry that you are having to deal with ED, it’s a long hard road to recovery but you are on the road and that’s awesome and I hope that you get the support you need. If there is anything that I can do to support you please don’t hesitate to ask. You can also e-mail me privately at ragen@danceswithfat.org.

      Offering Big Hugs!

      ~Ragen

  123. Yes, I wanted to see some dancing, and it was beautiful. I want to confess, I thought your dance partner would be a slender guy. My stereotyping got in my face. Thanks for you.

    • Thank you for being honest and open to rethinking your stereotypes, that’s awesome!

      ~Ragen

  124. Ragen,

    I am a student at the University of Washington School of Medicine, and I just heard your story on my local NPR station. I took what you said to heart and I am looking forward to reading more.

    • Hi Chris,

      Thanks for being willing to consider what I said and congrats on being on your way to becoming a doctor!

      ~Ragen

      • Ragen,

        Encouragement costs so little to give but can be worth so much to those who receive it. I graduate in a few short months as a Physician Assistant and will have the “training wheels” taken off when it comes to the interactions with my patients.

        I have encouraged many patients to loose weight. This has been to curb the effects of hypertension, diabetes, coronary artery disease, joint damage and osteoarthritis as just the start of a list of health issues that present as a result of increased adipose tissue and weight on the body. This problem though is not as simple as more fat equals being unhealthy.

        The logic of more weight equals more health problems works as well to describe the issue as more speed equals more vehicle crashes or more consumer spending equals a stronger economy. These associations use one variable to explain a situation that is immensely more complex. If the issues were this simple skinny people would never get sick, people who drive in parking lots would never get into a fender-benders, and everyone associated with people who max out their credit cards would have jobs. Also there would be no need for hospitals and clinics, the National Transportation Safety Board, and economic experts and their various institutions (well, we would probably be better off without the last one regardless).

        So for what it is worth coming from a mere PA student, my philosophy of medicine and my encouragement to all is this: health and beauty has less to do with the amount of skin covering a body and more to do with the comfort of the one who wears it.

        ~Chris

  125. Ragen, Thanks so much for your site! I’m so glad i finally stumbled upon it. I knew i wasn’t the only round woman in the world that liked to dance! LOL! i look forward to reading all your post past and moving forward.
    Love & Light my new found friend!
    Teriese Stubblefield
    xoxo

  126. oh, and your dance video is very cute :)

  127. I was reading your “hate mail” and just had to stop in and say thanks again for creating a SAFE place to discuss HAES, SA and other “fat” issues.

    Can’t wait to receive my book – it’s in the mail!

  128. How did this get past me? We are totally going to include this in our Punk Rock Hoops Teacher Training! I’ll message you so we can work out the details.

  129. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and life with us. Your Baby got Back dance is just so beautiful it made me tear up. You’re so graceful.

  130. Love your style, confidence and perspective. Your wit in face of hate mailers is inspiring. Blessing for the journey.
    Luke

  131. Hello Ragen!

    You inspire me! What a beautiful dancer and lovely soul you are.

    Dance is what has helped me connect to and accept my body. After 34 years of an unhealthy relationship with both food and exercise, I’ve found my spirit in my dancing.

    I see that in you too.

    Godspeed.

  132. Hi Ragen,

    Because of your blog, I have finally started treating myself with kindness and realizing what a kick ass body I really have–one that’s been with and gotten me through everything in life.

    When I was trying on my wedding dress, my Mom tried to convince me that I need spanx to “smooth out the bumps”. I told her that I didn’t need them because my dress was a-line and that the only reason I’d be wearing them was if I was ashamed of my body, which I’m not.

    I never would have been able to say that a couple of years ago.

    Thanks for the work you do.

    • Amanda,

      I appreciate the praise and I’m honored to have supported you but you’ve done the really hard work here and I so admire you. Congratulations on your body positive wedding and rock on!

      Big Fat Hugs!

      ~Ragen

  133. Hi Ragen! I LOVE your blog! I have a question for you and anyone else in the community that might be able to help me. I work at a school, and down in the teacher’s lounge people post things on a bulletin board about how to minimize stress and the importance of getting enough sleep, etc. Well, of course, there are also some weight loss tips. I would really like to post an eye-catching flyer about HAES and maybe one about Fat Acceptance too, but my google-fu fails me on finding any printable flyers I could use. It would be extra cool if it looked like it was going to be more weight loss tips at first but then when you start reading it’s a surprise. Does anyone know where I can find something like that? Thanks!

  134. I feel moved to highlight another article from the UK Daily Mail newspaper entitled “World junior tennis champion was told to lose weight by USTA or forfeit her chance to compete in U.S. Open”

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2200045/Taylor-Townsend-Tennis-champion-told-lose-weight-USTA-forfeit-chance-compete-U-S-Open.html#ixzz25sq3sF8w

    So the USTA is concerned about her “long term health” is that why they would do something that could trigger an eating disorder? No, more concerned about their image and revenues more like. I’m livid!!!

  135. Amazing blog and I have to say it is great what you are doing. Good luck in future.

  136. WOW–I cried! I recently just got brave enough to do something-(Dance) – I have wanted to do for a long time and I am a big girl as as well. I have always been told I cannot do this or that because I am fat etc. I am believing like you that there will be success and that others will view me in a new or different light. I have never been afraid of anything other than peoples reactions to me and my accomplishments. With God on my side and advocates like you out there inspiring us–we will rise and meet the challenges we were always told we should never face!

  137. I just stumbled upon your blog while looking for other dance blogs. Nice digs! Congrats on the self acceptance award. I love your blog title and just followed your blog.

  138. Just discovered your blog via Alreadypretty. I don’t even know where to start… Your wise words, your courage, your sense of humor, your gorgeous, poised dancing…. My oh my have you just lit up my day and my life with inspiration. So much love to you, this world is so improved by beautiful people like yourself.

  139. Thank you so much, for being yourself! I watched you dance, and it is some of the most beautiful moves i have ever seen, it really is… real, love, it is… well, I think it look divine! No kidding.
    You are beautiful, all of you, and you inspire me to think new…
    It is not the size that matters, it is that inner glow… very few people have that. I just want to be myself, as I am. I am not overweight, but I do have my own “beer stomach”, and I am a girl who doesn`t drink beer so often… I had this since I was a child.. thank you for helping me accepting myself as I am. I can also dance, I am not to old to try, or not to ugly/fat/newbie.

    Thank you. My life will rock, this is also because of you. Thanks <3

  140. What a lovely discovery!
    Love the point about – some people only move to change the shape of their body. I used to gym for that reason – and never enjoyed exercise. Then I discovered Zumba and other dance classes – which I love for their own sake. Never dread a class, look forward to them – exercise and any potential trimming is the bonus!

  141. Dear Ragen:
    I just want to say thanks for this blog. I’ve been searching for this kind of Blog for a long time. Thank you for being a powerful voice for all of us! Blessings from Puerto Rico, La isla del Encanto! :)

  142. Dear Ragen:
    I just found your blog today, and I want to say it is very refreshing to hear a sane voice calling out in the din of insanity that surrounds the “great weight debate.”
    As a pediatrician, I have worked with underweight kids, overweight teens, and everything in between, and my advice is always the same: do the right things, treat yourself well, and ignore the number. As I’m sure you know, in our culture, its easier said than done. I really wish people in the medical profession and the general public paid more attention to what they said and treated others with the respect to which we are all entitled.
    As someone from the “skinny” side of spectrum, I can tell you that I spent a good part of my life incredibly unhappy with my body, until I started practicing yoga, running, eating healthy, and really liking myself for the things I could do rather than what I looked like. The truth is, none of us are really safe, no matter what our shape or size. And skinny or not, we can all benefit from your message, and the example you set.
    Keep up the good work!

  143. I just read what you wrote. I love you r words. I felt ashamed when i got over 200 when i was bedridden with my 2nd for 3 months. Your heart is kind

  144. You so inspire me!

    I’ve recently noticed some magazines aimed at women have started calling the thin body type they use to solve readers fashion dilemmas, ‘athletic’. I’m contacting the editors of these every time I see this, to point out this error!

    • You are awesome for taking action on this! Thanks :)

      ~Ragen

  145. So excited to see this blog! Being a dancer/baton twirler growing up was how i came to terms with my fat body and inspired me to do body positive work. It’s because of this that I even have my own blog!!!! You are awesome!4

    • Thanks Roxie! I’m so glad that you are finding a path to loving your awesome body and that you’ve got your own blog – you are an inspiration. Rock on!!!!!

      ~Ragen

  146. Its a wonderful blog, very interesting. I made a mistake; i choose to read the hate mail; i cant belive how people can be so mean. I like your cleverness, tough; that made the hate mail so much funny. I hope this is readable, english is not my fist languaje.

  147. Hi Ragen, I just wanted to share a remarkable little piece of the coming age of size acceptance with you. It appears IKEA is on trend when it comes to size acceptance. I just found this IKEA-promotion video on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=4K9sB45q1yc. You don’t need to watch the whole thing, but in minute 2:38 a fat lady appears in a kitchen to take something out of a closet. I was quite stunned when i saw her because it made me realize that generally in adds there are only people of one body size. If a fat person appears it’s generally as a caricature. But in this IKEA video she is not a caricature but just a normal person. It felt great to watch this. I felt like I was catching a tiny little glint of how the world could be if size acceptance was the norm.
    All the best (and by the way: thanks for your great blog, which is an inspiration)!
    Lisa

  148. Regan i am listening to you on the Telesummit and your words mean so much to me, as well as your voice is lovely to listen to. thank you

  149. I’ve read this post several times and made it through all the comments. I went to HuffPost and read the material there. I’m feeling a bit slow on the uptake today, so it really did take me seeing the pix of this man to get it to sink in that he’s in his 80′s.

    Now, I don’t mean to sound ‘age-ist’ here, but in my experience with people, you can kind of get a better understanding when you look at the past they’ve lived through. Being 82 means he grew up during times when people often didn’t have much to eat. My own parents were from that time period and mom often said that people were criticized if they were big, because the assumption was that they were taking more than their fair share. Also, if you look at parenting and educational methods from the 40′s through 60′s, shaming and bullying were frequently part of the system. There wasn’t much tolerance for those who didn’t measure up or behave properly. I’m not trying to excuse his comments or say his suggestions are appropriate… not at all. This guy also probably clings to ‘spare the rod – spoil the child’, ‘get over it and get on with it’ and other old-timey phrases for discipline, depression, etc.

    I’m just thinking, my dad’s recommendation of ‘consider the source’ kind of brings me down off my anger-high. I’m still not happy about his message or even that he’s getting so much attention… but at least I can realize he’s speaking and living his own truths and experience. If he were 42 or even 32 and spouting that drivel… then I’d begin to wonder what the world is coming to. And really, managing my anger-high is important to my well-being.

    This is one of the reasons I so respect Regan and you folks for your posts… you seem to have a handle on managing the stress of anger and are eloquent in your comments.

  150. http://thebodyloveblog.tumblr.com/post/32881501880/warning-picture-might-be-considered-obscene

    This young woman is amazing.

  151. Hi Ragen,
    I just wanted to let you know how awesome I think you and your website are!
    I am a person who has long been terrified of becoming fat and, by extension, of fat people. But this attitude is so damaging and wrong to both myself and my fellow humans. In our silly anorexia-loving society, we desperately need more people like you to set everyone straight! I want to thank you for what your work has done to help me personally overcome my unhealthy ideas and behavior. Keep up the good work!

  152. I’m a regular reader, but I’m going through and re-reading right now, because I’m having a really hard time today accepting my body for how it is. I’ve tried every diet, every exercise routine, had a personal trainer… nothing has made me lose weight. I have reproductive issues that no one will help me with because of my weight. And to top it off, I’m very fit.

    So I’m here reading through your posts to give me the boost I need to get through this rut. Thank you, Ragen.

  153. You are amazing in your dance routine. I think I smiled all the way through it. I have been having a difficult time with my health and it is taking it’s toll on my emotions. Thanks for drying my tears.

  154. I love this site, and I love that video. It made me smile so much.

  155. I’ve been reading your blog regularly – and I feel like others are too. A great piece in a local paper about plus-sized fashion options – the comments nearly got derailed by a “concern troll” (LOVE THAT PHRASE!) and I thought you’d like to see the comments lobbed back at her.

    http://www.thegridto.com/life/fashion/the-bigger-picture/

  156. Thank you for this post, truly inspiring (and some great dancing too). I especially loved your 5 points near the end. Great way to promote happiness from different aspects, and as a combined mechanism, not only focused on one thing. I really loved it!

  157. Ragan, you are a beautiful dancer! I mean, I don’t know much about dance, but that almost made me cry. I find all the beautiful pictures of you around this site to be very healing, as well.

    Thanks for all you do, COURAGEOUS COURAGEOUS WOMAN!!!! You are so inspirational to me. I think you’re doing a great job.

  158. What a dancer. You dance like you have ants in your pants lol. Wish I could move like that. Much love x

  159. I just stumbled across your blog and it’s very inspiring. I’m 6′, 270lbs, a size 16/18 and recently, I returned to my first love, dance. I danced when I was younger but I was told I don’t have the body and so I let go of that dream. Now 10 years later I said F*ck it and found a great studio with an amazing adult program. The problem was that although now I feel comfortable in my classes and with the new friends I’ve made, I didn’t feel comfortable enough to dance in the year end show because I though, “who would want to see a fat dancer? These people come to enjoy a show and wouldn’t they be grossed out to see my flab flopping on stage.” I’ve spend the better part of the last 3 hours on here exploring and looking at your links and I wanted to tell you that I’ve decided to dance in next years show – thank you for opening my eyes to the world of plus size dance and fitness! I thought I was out here alone.

    • Hi Meg,

      I’m so inspired by you – that you found a path back to dance and that you are planning to perform. I can’t even imagine how many people you’ll inspire, not to mention those to whom you’ll provide an opportunity to question their stereotypes and size prejudice. Rock on!!!

      ~Ragen

  160. http://www.thegeekmemoirs.com/what-is-fat-positive/

    This post was amazing (and the video – wow! Shows you don’t have to be built like a ballerina to dance fluidly). I’ve made my own FP post which I believe falls in line with this one. I hope you enjoy it :)

  161. Wow, found your blog while searching the best way to start a blog. I am happy I did. I am impressed and inspired by you.

  162. I love your blog and what it and you represent. You are an inspiration. Love the dancing too :)

  163. Ragen, you inspire me!

  164. Holy cow! I loved that video! :) I used to dance when I was younger and smaller and its one of those things I was feeling like wasn’t really possible at this size, but you looked just gorgeous and like you could dance circles around anyone of any size. I’m gonna have to start looking around for some dance opportunities!

  165. As a non straight size dancer this blog inspired and reminded me of something I’ve always loved to do and that is dance whether it’s choreographing or performing I love being able to create art through movement…I’ve been discouraged so many times even by people I love that I have no business on stage at my size and I just wanted to Thank you…And if we ever cross paths I hope we would be able to dance together.

    (link to an image of my split and extension)

    • Hi Rukiah,

      Thank you so much for your comment and for sharing your pictures, they are fabulous! I’m so sorry that you’ve had to deal with people discouraging you and I have to say that I’m really glad that you haven’t let it stop you. I definitely hope that our paths will cross and we will get to dance together. If you’re ever in LA, let me know!

      ~Ragen

  166. Hi Ragen,

    I think you are an absolute inspiration! A wonderful friend (who is a Facebook friend of yours) told me about you and sent me the link to your site. I love that you are a professional dancer. I am as well and its funny, the bulk of my dancing career happened after I gained a whole bunch of weight! Most of my weight gain is due to hypothyroidism and losing weight is truly a huge undertaking. I’ve been about 75-120lbs overweight for the last 20 years and it truly killed me to know that I would be that much overweight. My family has been primarily overweight (mom, sister, grandmother, aunts, etc ) and all anyone ever told me growing up was to stay slender and not to gain weight. Honestly, I never thought I was fat as a teenager but my dance teachers ridiculed me and told me constantly that I’d never make it in the dance world. I was only about 10-15lbs overweight back then! Fast forward to 2013 and yes, whil ei gained a bunch of weight, I also gained a career. I am a choreographer for theater groups in New York and New Jersey, an artistic director of Darknight Productions (theater group in the Bronx) and I have a wonderful man who loves me for me. While people always say “you can dance…for a girl your size”, I just say thank you because despite my size, I know I can move better than half the skinny people in the room! :-) I just wanted to say thank you for being who you are and doing what you do. You are beautiful! Keep on dancing girl!!

    All the best,
    Danielle

  167. Wow Ragen, over 7000 followers! I bet THAT keeps you busy :-). Wonderful dancing, I got dizzy just watching! Your program sounds sensible and healthy-good for you and all of your followers! A focus on being active and healthy vs losing weight sounds like an approach long overdue-keep on keepin’ on!!

  168. PS. A friend just posted this on FB, thought you’d like it. http://hopeave.wordpress.com/2013/07/29/how-to-talk-to-your-daughter-about-her-body/

  169. Hi ya. Just thought you might find this interesting. I clicked on it because I thought it might be size positive but discovered that
    Samoa air charges people per kilo!

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/travel/destinations/pacific-islands/8858511/Samoa-Air-makes-room-for-the-plus-sized

  170. Wow. What beautiful inspiration. This blog is just amazing. I will be checking back in for my daily inspiration. Im currently a “plus size” dancer attending a performing arts school.while majoring indance. Keep being so strong and beautiful, its such a great thing to see in this world. <3

  171. Спасибо большое за то, что вы есть! Вы помогаете мне жить! Обнимаю!)))

  172. I’m just now finding you, and I’m thrilled that I have. Even after having weight loss surgery, I am still a “woman of size:”. I’ve spent a lot of time beating myself up because I wasn’t “lucky enough” to get skinny, so your take on things is very refreshing!

  173. I think I’m going to respond to all fat bashers now with “Do you have eggs?” Just to see the confused look on their face.

    Ragen, I think you might have started a thing!

    Your strength gives me strength. Thank you for all that you do to help make things a little better for us fat folk! (:

  174. Heya my names Mystorri and I’m a plus size singer, dancer and model.

    I am so pleased to find you, you are beautiful and I thank you for being a strong voice for lifesized women in this crazy media driven world.

    Currently I’m on some down time as I broke my leg in three places dancing in a music video, unfortunately I let my voice of doubt and opinion clog up my brain and didn’t listen to my inner needs…. My mind crumbled under the pressure of my insecurities in my constant pursuit of perfection.

    You see my body is as healthy as a star athlete but my mind is not, my mind focuses on all the negative self hate loathing that I have been taught everyday of my life from tv, magazines, movies, so called medical opinion and just plain uninformed and unsubstantiated opinion.

    I try to stay strong and to not let it get the better of me, and it works for a while but everynow and then I come crashing down and I just can’t see myself for what I truly am, a beautiful, talented and driven women with the power to change the world, the world that sometimes hurts me so but has allowed me to also be this amazing person with this amazing body that I do love, that had the magic to heal and recover from my false media driven mind to become my true whole self.

    What I need you to know is in all this I am imcredibly greatful to you, to know of your strength, beauty and accomplishments and your pursuit if a living tolerant and understanding world that we to deserve to shine and to have the same love and recognition of those of our skinnier peers.

    Thank you again for you voice in this world and in your efforts of promoting plus sized love.

    Yours Mystorri x

  175. Oh my God, you’re such a wonderful dancer! My whole life I wanted to learn how to dance but I’ve always been so self-conscious about my body, and being overweight is only one of the reasons; I don’t know, I’m really awkward when it comes to movement, so I gave up. So I just stopped by to say that I loved your blog! Nowadays it’s really hard to find a person that doesn’t have some sort of body issue – be they underweight, overweight, obese or even in the “normal” range of weight – and yet the pressure put in ourselves because of this borders on ridiculous. It’s such a vicious vicious circle that most of the times doesn’t end well.. So it was really refreshing to see your outlook on health :)

  176. I first found your blog when I followed a link to the recent entry you posted about the toddler being given weight loss surgery. I have to just say tank you for being such a huge inspiration and so very awesome.

    As someone fighting her way out of depression and trying to take back the body I used to have, I appreciate the perspective and sanity you bring to the discussion about self-love and self-acceptance. I’ll certainly be following you for a long while.

    Thanks,
    Shaunte.

  177. I just read your article “Completely Offensive Halloween Costumes that Make Us Sad for Humanity” at iVillage. I love it. I’m glad to know there are others who believe that ridiculing and or demeaning another for laughs (or holiday) is not acceptable. thank you :)

  178. You’re amazing and brave like I wish I could be. <3 You are my hero. Thank you!!!

  179. Did you see this? http://www.today.com/moms/swapping-letters-candy-trick-or-treat-8C11493000

    I’m ill. How dare she fat-shame a large group of children in her community.

  180. YOU…..ARE….AWESOME!!!!

  181. I was looking for a site like this! This is exactly how I feel! Every person is unique and beautiful and put on this planet for their own soul purpose. Thank heaven we are all different shapes and sizes. Life is good!

  182. http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/healthy-eating-adds-2k-a-year-to-family-grocery-bill-1.2452451

    Another study to add to your arsenal.

    Cheers!

  183. I love this blog because I almost gave up a while ago. I was very suicidal (still am but for other reasons) and depressed being so obsessed with my body weight and image. Then to make things worse every online space I went to was/is full of fat shaming, body hatred, and self loathing weight loss talk. I was literally driven insane. Luckily I found this blog which is the best thing that ever happened to me. Unapologetic people fighting for the rights of people of size. This blog deserves all the success it can garner, it’s amazing.

  184. I was actually searching for info on whether one can be obese and start Kung Fu. Which led me to your Kung Fu Panda post. Then I thought “who is this chick?” And so I watched your video dancing to Baby Got Back. You are super graceful.

    Thanks for helping me along to the conclusion that it is silly for me to look to others (e.g. the intertubes) to see if there are recommendations as to what I can and can’t do depending on weight.

  185. This TED talk is almost completely awesome in backing you up as to why diets don’t work and are actively harmful. There are a few expressions of hers I would have wanted to be more fat-positive, but the chart showing that people with good habits have the same risk of death regardless of body size is good too.

    PS I have joined the Fit Fatties program and look forward to sending you my photos!

  186. Awesome, love the video and the philosophy of your site.

  187. UO Active Minds, cannot wait for your to join us at the University of Oregon! February 12th, we look forward to your appearance!

    • I can’t wait either, see you soon!

      ~Ragen

  188. Fantastic article and amazing dancing! I so appreciate bloggers who support all sizes as that’s incredibly rare. I also agree with your views on movement and dancing. I am a plus size woman who belly dances and I can tell you that I do get negative comments about it even from those who ought to darn well know better. Don’t care, not stopping just because someone thinks a chubby chick shouldn’t shimmy. The point of this ramble is: thank you for doing what you do.

  189. I’m guessing the above note was from one of my belly dancing friends. I am sorry that she has had possible fat comments within the belly dancing community. I have always found it to be the most female affirming, size is irrelivent, dance community. In fact, curves are an advantage, it takes less work to show movement. The “skinny” girls, especially the ones that are like a board, have to work 2-3 times as hard to actually show a hip slide, figure 8s, a good shimmy, etc.

    I have always been a big girl, taller than average, muscular, chunky when younger. I see pictures of the dance recitals when I was 7ish, and I loom over all the other little girls, but I loved it. Both of my parents suffered and still struggle with their own weight and body image, they are both near 70. My father loves to dance, he is a big ol’ goof ball, and he told me years ago, that since there was no way for his 6′ 5″ frame not to be noticed and to likely look totally silly while dancing, he decided to embrace it and not let that stop him from his pleasure in dancing.

    Over the years I have had the opportunity to teach and perform various historic and folkloric dances. There is a level and type of dance for everyone, even if it is in the privacy of your own home, but why limit yourself? I will always remember the words of my first belly dance instructor, Leila Gamal (master level teacher), at the time she was in her 40s and had put on some weight and the class was struggling with a difficult combination move of a hip lift and drop, drop simultaneously with an angled, upward body roll, “I’ve had three kids and my body is not what was, but if I want it to scream, sex, SeX, SEX! Then it will!” So, let your body scream, “I’m comfortable in my own skin” or “I’m sexy” or “I am health and strong” or “I will not let the world dictate my sekf-image” or (put it in your own words), take ownership and acceptance of you!

    Katia

  190. ragen,

    i love and admire you to death but when i clicked on your t-shirt shop i was deeply disappointed.

    why are people of larger sizes like me supposed to pay more for one of your larger shirts? i thought this was one of the things you spoke out against.

    i wear a 4xl. why do i have to pay $7 more than someone who starved themselves into size s – for the exact same shirt?

    i don’t mean to attack you. i check you blog on a daily basis and bought your e-book which helped me a lot.
    i just want to know… why?

    • Hi Lisa,

      Thanks for your support and for speaking up about this. I am aware that they charge more for larger shirts. I would be charged more for my size and I agree that totally and completely sucks (though I wouldn’t make assumptions of that eating habits of people who are a size small.) People asked for the shirts and I wanted to make them available, this store had the best deal that I could find. If you don’t want to buy the shirts for this reason I completely understand. If you know of a site that doesn’t charge or charges less for larger shirts let me know and I will gladly move to them!

      ~Ragen

  191. As an overweight coach working in wellness, thank you for your blog. You keep me grounded and out of fat phobia every day, when sometimes my clients are wanting to be obsessed with numbers. I just ordered your book.

  192. I needed to see this today. I danced daily when I was thin and loved every moment, but since life happened and I gained some weight in the process, I’ve been referring to myself as a “former dancer”. Thank you for showing me the error of my thoughts, giving me hope, and inspiring me to dance again, and do what I love-whatever my weight.

  193. Just seen an interesting piece on an online magazine I receive here int the UK, called “Feminist Times”, they are self and crowd funded, so no horrible advertising you have little control over,

    http://feministtimes.nationbuilder.com/r?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.feministtimes.com%2Fhappy-fatties-are-erased-from-the-media%2F&utm_campaign=digest_140414&n=12&e=314964dcbe8051b61de6903ded12bf1729c72cf2&utm_source=feministtimes&utm_medium=email

  194. Meant to say, unsure if that link works properly and apologies if not, I’m not very tech friendly but you can search “Feminist Times” here in UK and their weekly update was posted today, 14th April and that article was one of many.

    I wanted to run something by you Ragen and anyone else that would like to comment, I belong to a local area Fibromyalgia Group and we meet once a month for lunch and coffee in a garden centre restaurant (meeting tomorrow actually) and there have been issues with the mostly females, going on about diets/food to not eat etc. I usually try to keep out of this if possible as I think if I say what I think, they won’t like it and it will cause bad feeling. It’s funny as they don’t seem to mind if I and any others are annoyed at them going on about food, but hey?!!!

    One of those members is the editor of the local magazine that is sent out quarterly, there is another monthly national one too. At the Christmas meal we had in December, a carvery meal, she was talking at that of watching her weight as the Doctor had “suggested” and I did wonder if that was appropriate? But it always seems to be that weird mix with females of going to food things and then bringing up what they can/can’t eat and why etc.,

    Anyway, the latest local area magazine, edited by her arrived on Saturday and on the 3rd page, there is an article entitled, “TOO MUCH SUGAR”==== I’ve put that in caps as in the magazine it was in bold type and it listed 75 different horrible things that sugar can do to you. I thought, great, just what we need, at the end of it, she said she’s finish there as that was only half of it, would put us to sleep and she’d cover the rest next time!

    What was even more disturbing, I thought was, she put a “Editor’s Bit” near the end saying she hoped we found the piece useful, there had been a lot in the news recently about the evils of sugar. she added that she, like many of us, hate being told what to eat, but finds most of what she eats is good for her?? She concluded by saying that it was helpful to know what you should and should not eat and to avoid the “bad” stuff, and that she was shocked at what was claimed to have been bad about sugar.

    I don’t know about anyone else, but seemed to me, she was trying to tell us all what was bad for us, what we should and should not be eating and of course much of this would be dressed up as helping us with Fibromyalgia etc.? Are we not as adults capable of finding this out for ourselves or if we weren’t sure and wanted advice/knowledge, wouldn’t we ask? To top it all, at the the top of the comments she made, there was a cake recipe for Easter Fudge Cake, talk about mixed messages!!

    I will see what happens at tomorrow’s get together and at subsequent ones, as if this is going to be more regular, i will have to think if it’s right for me. There is always info you can get online about Fibro and other illnesses and the social aspect of it is not so pressing as I’m involved in campaigning&political local groups and meet, get to meet many people that way.

    All the best, Marion, UK

    • This is problematic on a number of levels – first the idea of someone who is in charge of a group for a specific health issue giving general food advice. As we know the same advice isn’t appropriate for everyone because food considerations must include preferences, sensitivities/allergies, as well as religious and moral beliefs around food. Any discussion of food choices that doesn’t take those into account cannot hope to even begin to be a good discussion.

      Moralizing food can lead to disordered eating, and is one of the red flags for eating disorder development. You might also point out how often nutrition advice changes when it comes to what is “good” or “bad” and that listing these things as if they are true is problematic and should be beyond the scope of the magazine and the group. Sorry you are having to deal with this.

      ~Ragen

  195. My job coach told me about your site, I’m overjoyed to read your story! I’m transitioning through a career change from nursing to wellness and am looking for stellar “role models”. I’m especially intrigued by you because, I too am plus sized and I dance! Me and my husband dance salsa among a few other things. You’re incredible and I can’t wait to read more! Keep on keeping on!

  196. Taking a quick look around your corner of the web and the more I read, the more I love you!

  197. Hello. I wrote an article on a similar topic, titled: Is Disney Propagating the ‘Ideal Body Image’ Myth? I have quoted you into that, and also provided a link to your blog. In case you wanna read the article, this is the url: https://campusdiaries.com/stories/is-disney-propagating-the-ideal-body-image-myth

  198. I read your hate mail section and I’m saddened by people and their decision to dump their obvious issues on you. Nobody deserves that. Although the hate mail section was lengthier than I thought, it seems as if there are plenty of people on here who are supportive. I felt terrible after reading what people wrote, like we live in a world full of hate. I had to read the nicer comments to feel better again.

  199. You dance really well, it is a pleasure to see your moves. It makes me a bit jealous to be honest, I look like a dinosaur when I try to dance.

  200. I think you are awesome! I’ve just watched your vids on YouTube. And whilst I am just a teeny weeny bit jealous of you (I love to dance, but don’t have half of your grace or fluidity), I just loved what I watched. My fav has to be your “I’m Beautiful” dance. You surely are.

  201. You are incredible! It’s people like you that restore my faith in humanity! :).

  202. I just found out about you from another blog and I have to say you are wonderful! I love what you are doing and you are an incredible inspiration to people unhappy with their weight. You are beautiful and graceful when you dance and I thoroughly enjoyed the videos of you dancing. Please keep it up and continue your message!

  203. Just found this blog & it is AMAZING! There are so many women out there that need support in accepting themselves and loving themselves the way you do. You’re an inspiration (and an awesome dancer). Keep up the good work!


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