Elly Kellner is Decent

Stand up speak up fight backYesterday we talked about the ridiculous notion that fat people shouldn’t be role models, appreciated for their talent, or seen as attractive.  Today we’re going to talk about those who say that maybe it’s ok for fat people to be appreciated for their talent, but only if they do certain things to make people who are uncomfortable with fat people more comfortable.

Singer/Songwriter Elly Kellner contacted More of Me to Love to get the word out about a song and video that she had written in response to dealing with this kind of asshole.  They told me about it, and now I’m telling you because I’m completely inspired by her story, her song, and her video.  Let me be perfectly clear that this sort of thing SHOULD NOT HAPPEN, she should not have to deal with it.  But it did and she did and she’s asked that her story be told and I want to do help with that, so here is her story in her own words:

My name is Elly Kellner, singer-songwriter and creative human being. After a recent concert I received feedback from a man and woman about my choice of clothing. I usually get feedback about my music, my lyrics and how people are touched by my songs but this time it was all about my looks. First I listened to what they wanted to tell me but in the end I just stood there crying…

Two strangers told me they were very distracted by my dress, was the back of the dress longer than the front!? And what sort of a legging was that!? And those shoes!? They assured me they only bothered to tell me all this because they thought my music was really good. But if only I wore a small heel, spike heels weren’t necessary, but a small heel and a sleeve then I would have been so much bigger in music already. The way I was dressed now distracted them too much from my music. I could take Ella Fitzgerald as an example. She was a big lady too and she wore beautiful garments!

I am and I will remain just a girl. I am overweight, I suffer from chronic pains, I exercise, I eat healthy, I eat unhealthy, I go from black-white to grey and all the colours of the rainbow, I love wearing dresses in my own way, I sometimes wear make-up and sometimes I don’t. I’m totally allowed to be here. And I’m all for positive body image! :)

The negative words that I heard after the performance kept ringing in my head like a negative mantra. Then I wrote a song about it… Then I wanted my friends to join me in dance… Then it was suddenly called ‘Ellybellyrep’… Then I wanted to make a video for it, so that’s what I did… Then I wanted to send it out into the world and this is how I came to your facebookpage. I made English subtitles to the Dutch song ‘Deugdelijk’ (Decent). I approached it with humor but my message is clear: “This is my body, I am thankful that I have one and I am the one that decides what clothes I put on it. Everybody gets to be themselves!”

PS: I am also wearing the outfit that started all of this, in the cow scene. Although I didn’t wear rubber boots on stage ;)

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Published in: on November 26, 2014 at 1:05 pm  Comments (22)  

The Healthy Role Model Myth

Bullshit FairyWhen I was doing research for my post about the most recent obsession with Melissa McCarthy’s weight, I broke the cardinal rule of being fat on the internet and read the comments. There I saw something that I see whenever a fat person is shown being successful at something other than weight loss – that people shouldn’t consider her a role model, or appreciate her talent, or find her beautiful, because her size makes her unhealthy.

Today I’m not even going to go into the fact that health and body size are two different things,  because this doesn’t actually have anything to do with that.

Let’s start here – In order to agree with the idea that fat people make poor role models because they are unhealthy you have to believe a couple of things. First, that you can tell someone’s health based on their weight, and second, that people who aren’t healthy shouldn’t be role models. Both of these are totally wrong.

First of all, you cannot tell how healthy someone is based on their size.  There are healthy and unhealthy people of all sizes, for lots of different reasons.  But even if someone is so misguided as to believe that body size is a reliable indicator of health, this “bad role model” idea is still bullshit.

I don’t think that people who suggest that fat people shouldn’t be role models because they think we’re unhealthy actually care about our health, I think that they are trying to use healthism as a cover for their fatphobia.

Health is not an obligation or a barometer of worthiness, it’s not entirely within our control or guaranteed in any circumstance, and “health,” by whatever definition, should not be a prerequisite for being a role model or acknowledged for one’s achievements. The idea that someone, of any size, should have to meet some level of “health” in order to be appreciated for their talent or be a role model is horrifying, and is the definition of healthism.

Even if people believe that fat people are fat because we engage in behaviors that they think are unhealthy, that still doesn’t justify this.  We can look up to people for their achievements, appreciate their talents and their beauty, we can make them our role models based on their accomplishments, even if we don’t agree with every choice they make about their personal health – because those choices are between them and their doctor and whomever they choose to include.

So every time you see someone comment on an article about a fat person being celebrated for their achievements with some crap about their health, you can choose to acknowledge to yourself that this is sizeist, healthist, and total, unadulterated, bullshit.  If you want to go a step further, you can leave a comment saying so.

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Published in: on November 25, 2014 at 9:44 am  Comments (40)  

Dealing With Family and Friends Food Police

Don't Judge just nomThis post is a danceswithfat tradition, offered for those who may have to deal with inappropriate friend and family behavior during this “holiday season” (whether they are celebrating any holidays or not.)

Ah, is there anything more fun than being under surveillance by the Friends and Family Food Police?  There are only a couple of things that I can think of – root canal, shaving my head with a cheese grater, a fish hook in the eye…

This happens to almost all of my fat friends, but to be clear it happens to thin people too – food judgment and shaming happens to people of all sizes and it’s never ok.

I think that we need to remember that fat hate and body shaming is modeled for people all over our culture, fear of being fat is a driver of a lot of behaviors.

First, I always suggest that you be prepared for boundary setting when you go into this type of situation.  Think about what your boundaries are, and what consequences you are willing to enforce.   So think about what you would be willing to do – Leave the event?  Stay at a hotel?  Cease conversation until the person can treat you appropriately?  Be sure that you know what you want and that you can follow through.

As an example, I’ll use that age old shaming question “Do you need to eat that?”

This is such a loaded question. What do they mean by “need”? Are they asking if my glycogen stores are depleted? If I am near starvation?  If my body at this moment requires the precise nutrients that are delivered by cornbread stuffing and gravy? Or do they feel that fostering a relationship with food that is based on guilt and shame is in my best interest?

This question is custom-made to make someone feel ashamed.  I think it’s asked for one of about three reasons:

Judgment

The person asking the question has decided that it is their job to pass judgment on your activities.  Being too cowardly to directly state their opinion, they use this question as a mode of passive aggression to “make you admit it to yourself”.  This is one of those situations where they would probably claim to be mistreating you for your own good, also known around this blog as “Pulling a Jillian“.

If the person asking this question truly cared about you and your health (however misguided they might be), they would talk to you about it in person, alone, at an appropriate time, and they would ask a question that invited dialog, not try to embarrass you in front of people while you’re eating what is supposed to be a celebratory meal. That right there is some bullshit.

Power/Superiority

Remember that some people never psychologically got past Junior High and nothing makes them feel so powerful as judging someone else and then making them feel like crap. Maybe because they are drowning in…

Insecurity

The person asking the question perhaps struggles with their weight, their guilt about eating etc. and since they feel guilty for enjoying the food, they think that you should feel guilty about it too, or they want to deflect attention from their behavior to yours.

The degree of difficulty on discerning someone’s intent in this sort of thing can range from “of course” to “who the hell knows”. Here’s the thing though, from my perspective it doesn’t matter why they are asking it:  I am not ok with being asked, and I get to make that decision.

So you’re at a holiday meal, you take seconds on mashed potatoes and someone asks the dreaded question:  “Do you need to eat that?” It seems like the table falls silent, waiting for your reply.  What do you say?

If it’s me, first I quell my rage and resist the urge to put them down (Yes, I do need these mashed potatoes.  Did you need to be a total freaking jerk?)

Second, as with so many situations where people lash out at you, remember that this is about their issues and has nothing to do with you.   If emotions well up, consider that you may be feeling embarrassed and/or sorry for them, and not ashamed of your own actions.

Finally I suggest you find your happy (or at least your non-homicidal) place, and try one of these:

Quick and Simple (said with finality)

  • Yes (and then eat it)
  • No (and then eat it)

Answer with a Question (I find it really effective to ask these without malice, with a tone of pure curiosity.  If you’re not in the mood to have a dialog about this, maybe skip these.)

  • Why do you think that’s your business?
  • What led you to believe that I want you to police my food intake?
  • I thought that you were an accountant, are you also a dietitian?

Pointed Response (be ready with a consequence if the behavior continues)

  • I find that inappropriate and offensive, please don’t comment on my food choices
  • What I eat is none of your business, and your commenting on it is not ok
  • I have absolutely no interest in discussing my food intake with you
  • I’m not soliciting opinions about my food choices.

Cathartic (but probably not that useful if you want to create an opportunity for honest dialog)

  • Yes, because dealing with your rudeness is depleting my glycogen stores at an alarming rate
  • If I want to talk to the food police, I’ll call Pie-1-1
  • I’m sure you’re not proud of the completely inappropriate behavior you just exhibited, I’m willing to forget this ever happened
  • Thanks for trying to give me your insecurities, but I was really hoping to get a Wii this year
  • No, but using my fork to eat helps to keep me from stabbing you with it

I don’t believe that guilt is good for my health and I’m definitely resisting arrest by the Family and Friends Food Police.

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Published in: on November 24, 2014 at 10:44 am  Comments (37)  

Did Melissa McCarthy Lose Weight?

Several readers let me know about an Entertainment Tonight article titled “Did Melissa McCarthy Lose 45 lbs?”  The article says that she looked “a touch slimmer” was “noticeably thinner” and “It’s being reported that McCarthy has lost an estimated 45-50 pounds.”  Reported where or by whom is undisclosed.

The pictures in question are:

 

I’m not convinced that these pictures show weight loss – I think that what they may show is how people can look different weights in different outfits, hairstyles, and angles.

In researching this, the “news” reports (which appear everywhere from Perez Hilton to CNN to Yahoo Australia) seem to be a game of round robin wherein sources site each other for reporting the weight loss (speculating everything from the amount of weight lost to her diet) but nobody has a quote from Melissa McCarthy to verify.

In fact, most articles quote her discussion about just the opposite, like the time she told People Magazine that while she’s been aware of the criticism about her weight, she’s “never felt like I needed to change. I’ve always thought, ‘If you want somebody different, pick somebody else…It’s like I’m managing to achieve all this success in spite of my affliction. Would you ever put that in the headline for a male star?”  Or talk about how she was discriminated against when she tried to get an Oscar dress.

I think a lot of this has to do with people who have joined the cult of thin who aren’t happy unless everyone joins with them.  These people put all of their self-esteem eggs in the thin basket, so when someone says that they don’t value a thin body over a fat one, that they don’t envy thinner women, that they aren’t interested in spending their time, money, and energy trying to manipulate their body size, it’s a direct challenge to the value system from which those who are in the cult of thin derive their self-worth.  So they want fat people to believe in the cult of thin, but let’s be clear that we certainly aren’t being invited to the compound (note that they report that she’s lost 45-50 pounds and call her “a touch slimmer.”  I seriously doubt that if they were reporting that she gained 45-50 pounds they would call her “a touch heavier” considering that when Charlize Theron gained 30 pounds for a movie role she was called “unrecognizeable” and when Vanessa Hudgons gained 15 pounds for a role they called it a “shocking transformation.”)

I think it’s super unfortunate that as a culture we feel the need to ignore the accomplishments of actors (especially women) as they relate to their craft and instead discuss their weight, clothes, hair, makeup and jewelry, reinforcing all of this by behaving like talented people who don’t fit the hollywood stereotype are somehow shocking.

So did Melissa McCarthy lose weight?  Don’t know. Don’t care. Can’t imagine how it’s any of my business.  I’m much more interested in the performance an actor gives in a movie than I am in how they look going to the movies, regardless of the color of the carpet.

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Published in: on November 22, 2014 at 10:52 am  Comments (19)  

Combating Holiday Weight Shame

You Forgot Your BullshitThe article “Tell Loved Ones They are Overweight This Christmas” is making the rounds again. I will not be linking to it because I have no interest in driving traffic there. I will say that should my loved ones take this advice the follow up article will be “I Told My Loved One She Is Overweight and She Told Me to Sit Down, Shut Up and Mind My Own Damn Business.”

The article says that in a poll of more than 2,000 people, 42% of 18 to 24-year-olds would not tell a loved one they should lose weight because of a fear they would hurt the other person’s feelings.

According to the article, this suggests that ” too many people shy away from the issue”.  According to me this proves that 42% of 18-24 year olds have common decency and/or realize that it is impossible for a fat person in our culture to not know that society has a negative opinion about our size.  Stated another way, 58% of 18-24 year olds did not eat their bowl of No Shit Sherlock Flakes on the day that the poll was taken.

According to their so-called expert (who works for an organization that appears to make money pretending that they successfully make fat people thin), “if someone close to you has a large waistline then as long as you do it sensitively, discussing it with them now could help them avoid critical health risks later down the line and could even save their life.”

No, it won’t.  Discussing it with them will do nothing for their health but may very well ruin their holiday and your relationship, so there’s no need to put on your “Concern Troll Man” tights and cape and self-righteously pretend that you are the super hero who saves fat people from ourselves.

Every person who deals with this kind of bullshit (whether it’s holiday related or not) gets to decide how they want to handle it. You are, as always, the boss of your underpants.

Let me suggest that you don’t have to put up with weight shame (during holidays you celebrate or any other time). You don’t have to put up with body snarking, body stigma, or concern trolling. You don’t have to allow a running commentary on your body, health, or food choices from anyone.   You don’t have to accept treatment you don’t like because people are your family, friends, or because they “mean well”.  And you don’t have to internalize other people’s bullshit, you don’t have to buy into the thin=better/healthier/prettier paradigm or be preached at by people who do.

Loving your body is an act of sheer courage and revolution in this culture. Instead of another article about how to avoid holiday weight gain, here’s what I would like to see all over Facebook, and hear on the radio, television and at gatherings all over the world during the holidays and every other time of year:

My body is not a representation of my failures, sins, or mistakes. My body is not a sign that I am in poor health, or that I am not physically fit neither of which is your business regardless. My body is not up for public discussion, debate or judgment. My body is not a signal that I need your help or input to make decisions about my health or life.  My body is the constant companion that helps me do every single thing that I do every second of every day and it deserves respect and admiration. If you are incapable of appreciating my body that is your deficiency, not mine, and I do not care. Nor am I interested in hearing your thoughts on the matter so, if you want to be around me, you are 100% responsible for doing whatever it takes to keep those thoughts to yourself. If you are incapable of doing that I will leave and spend my time with people who can treat me appropriately.  Please pass the green beans.

As always I think that preparation is the best friend of the fatty. If you suspect that you may be the victim of holiday weight shame then I suggest being prepared.  Here are some ideas:

Know what your boundaries are and decide on consequences that you can live with ahead of time.  Don’t threaten things that you won’t follow through on.  So try something like “My body is fine, your behavior is inappropriate. If there is one more comment about my weight, I am leaving.”  Practice it before you go so that you are ready. The common thread among my friends who have done this is that they’ve only had to do it once and then their bodies (and wishes) were respected, and they all report feeling incredibly empowered.  As always, your mileage may vary.

Consider talking with members of your family who have been repeat offenders prior to the holiday.  Or send out a holiday newsletter e-mail explaining your commitment to Size Acceptance and/or Health at Every Size and that comments about your weight are not welcome.  Remind yourself (as often as necessary) that there is absolutely nothing wrong with you – their concern trolling behavior is inappropriate.

Do what it takes to take care of yourself, have a friend you can call for support, create a mantra, or keep an index card or note on your phone with inspiring quotes.  Keep putting the problem where it belongs – which is on the concern trolls and not on your body.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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Published in: on November 20, 2014 at 7:23 pm  Comments (28)  

Why Don’t We Charge Passengers By Weight?

One person one fareA really common response to my piece yesterday about flying fat people is to suggest that, as one person put it, “the only fair thing is for airlines and trains etc. to charge people by weight – just weigh the person and their luggage and charge by the pound.”

I think that when you really look into it, charging people by weight isn’t fair, and doesn’t make sense at all.  Let’s move right past the highly questionable notion that people are self-loading freight and look into the reasons why this is a truly terrible idea:

First are the potential issues of discrimination based on size, gender, ethnicity, and ability/health (are we weighing mobility devices, casts, service animals, medical devices and medications that people have to travel with?) Then there are parents who have to pay for the weight of every diaper and baby wipe they need, not to mention juice, milk, snacks, toys, and whatever else they need to keep their kid as happy as possible in the air.

There’s also the issue of how it would work practically – would you enter your weight when you buy a ticket (and have to know the weight of your luggage weeks or even months in advance of your trip?) and then be weighed and have to pay more or get a partial refund if your weight had changed in the meantime (can you imagine the lines – the people who couldn’t afford the extra etc?) Also, what if your weight changes between the departing and returning trip? (If you believe all of the freaking out about holiday weight gain, the airlines should make a killing on people coming home after holiday travel.)

Women who bloat during their menstrual cycle would have to pay more to take the same trip during different days of the month. People on medications that cause water retention would have to pay more to fly than those who aren’t on that kind of medication.  Body builders would pay more or less for the same trip depending on if they were on the bulking or cutting phase of their training etc. People who are coming from or going to cold climates (or who are too cold based on the temperature of the airport and plane which they can’t control) would have to pay more to wear appropriate clothing/coats/boots etc.

Not to mention that if the problem we’re trying to solve is everyone having enough space on the flight then this doesn’t help at all since body weight does not indicate space need – some 300 pound people can fit in current airline seats, some 200 pound people cannot. The only thing that this does is charge some people more for the exact same service.

The airline should charge a single price for one person to travel from one destination to another in a seat that accommodates them, I think that’s the only fair thing.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information on topics, previous engagements and reviews here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

Dance Classes:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details 

I’m training for an IRONMAN! You can follow my journey at www.IronFat.com

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If you are uncomfortable with my offering things for sale on this site, you are invited to check out this post.

 

 

Published in: on November 18, 2014 at 9:54 am  Comments (16)  

10 Things More Annoying Than Fat People On a Plane

Share the SpaceI fly a lot and it has been made clear to me by people’s ridiculous complaint letters that get published on the internet, and even a few fellow passengers, that some not-fat people are irritated that fat people want to access the same modes of transportation that they do, and that it’s much more convenient for them to blame fat people for existing than to blame plane manufacturers for ignoring the fact that fat people exist when they make the planes, and most airlines for ignoring the fact that fat people exist when they make their policies. I have more to say about this in a minute, but first I’d like to suggest that, even if you are engaging in fat bigotry while you fly, here are 10 things that are way more annoying than flying fat people. All of these are things that I’ve personally witnessed:

  1. Gets off the plane, walks up the jetway, walks through the door into the airport and stops dead. Dude, are you serious? This activates my throat punch reflex. Remember all those people who were behind you on the plane? They’re still behind you on the jetway – move into the airport, find a seat or place out of the way and get your bearings. If the person stops in the doorway and checks their cell phone I become homicidal.
  1. Person using a wheelchair is waiting for the one accessible stall in the bathroom. There are about 10 open stalls that are not wheelchair accessible. Woman comes out of accessible stall, looks at woman in wheelchair and says “I’m not disabled, but it’s just so much easier to use that restroom when I have all this stuff and shrugs.” No apology. Woman in the wheelchair says “Well, as long as you’re comfortable I guess I’ll just hold it.”
  1. Roller bag, laptop bag, big ass bag from Disneyworld, bag from the bookstore in the airport, giant coat. First she ignores the rule for how many things she can carry on. Then she ignores the flight attendants imploring people to put only one bag in the overhead bins. When they make the announcement again she looks at me, smiles and says “Do you think that’s for me?” I don’t smile and say “yes.” She says, “If they ask me to move it I will.” Moments later the flight attendants announce that they’ll be checking bags because there’s no more room in the overhead compartments. She looks at me and cheerfully says “Sounds like they’ve got it taken care of!” I say “Sounds like you’re incredibly selfish.” We didn’t talk after that.
  1. Guy stops dead in the middle of the main walkway at a large, busy airport. Puts his suitcase down, opens it up and proceeds to – at a pace that could be described as leisurely, meandering, some might even say moseying – take off his jacket fold it up and lovingly put it away, rearranging his suitcase to make sure that the space for the jacket is optimal. Meanwhile people are veering around him like a fender bender on the freeway at rush hour, almost tripping over him and his sprawling stuff.
  1. Woman across the aisle from me spends the entire flight ignoring every signal from her seatmate (checking her phone, reading Skymall, answering with a noncommittal and progressively more irritated Mmm Hmmm etc.) trying to convince her that she needs to do the [Massive National Self-Improvement] Forum. I’ve also seen this scenario for multi-level marketing business opportunities. Way to put the “captive” in “captive audience.”
  1. Mistreating gate agents – everything from condescension to screaming at them. First of all, it’s not cool – they don’t control the weather in Chicago so how about you ratchet it down a notch. Also, even if you don’t have it in you to be a decent human being, let’s examine the situation – you need a new flight, they have a computer that can get you on a new flight, how about trying to act like you have some home training instead of irritating the crap out of this person right before the rest of us have to work with her.
  1. Threatening loudly to report the flight attendants for making the preflight safety announcement entertaining and funny because “the safety announcements are a serious thing.” You, sir, are a dick. If you’re that concerned read the safety card provided in the seatback pocket in front of you and STFU. (I’ve been told by another Southwest Airlines passenger that if someone complains about this they actually reward the flight attendant – I hope that’s true.)
  1. “I know I should have brought diapers but I was in a hurry this morning and so I was just hoping she would make it through the [3 hour] flight. Do you have anything I can use? And some wipes too – it’s a poopy one!” Flight attendant acquires a diaper and some wipes from another passenger with a baby. She starts changing her baby on the tray that comes down from the seat in front of her.   Flight attendant mentions that there is a changing table in the restroom “That’s ok, I’m cool here!” Flight attendant asks if she wants some paper towels to put down “No thanks, I think the tray will be more comfortable on her skin.” Finishes, doesn’t even wipe the tray with a baby wipe, just returns it to its original position and hits the call button and tries to hand the flight attendant a heaping handful of poo-covered refuse.
  1. Grabs the flight attendants ass. May he rot in hell.
  1. Fatphobes on a plane. Yes, I see the exaggerated eyeroll, yes I hear you make comments to your friend. Aren’ t you clever. Three cheers for appearance-based bigots. Or not.

You may note that I’ve left off things like crying babies, tantruming toddlers, etc. That’s because I don’t think that people existing in an airport or on a plane should be treated as an annoyance. The items above are all behaviors that people choose to engage in, not people simply existing in a space. If you think that you somehow deserve a seat and seatbelt that accommodate you while you fly but you think that other people don’t deserve the same thing and/or should have to pay twice as much as you for the same service, then congrats on being a magnificent douche. If you blame fat people for existing rather than airlines for not accommodating them, then I think that you are far more annoying than any two year old freaking out because their parent brought ducky and not goosegoose in the carry-on bag.   If you want to know if a fat person’s health issues are their fault to determine if they deserve room for an oxygen or a preboard with their mobility aid, then allow me to suggest that you never leave your house or interact with other people ever again because you are just a horrible human being.

As for me, I’ll keep pushing for airline customers to get the same experience regardless of their appearance, size, or dis/ability.

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Published in: on November 17, 2014 at 9:59 am  Comments (29)  

Thirteen Year Old Girl Refuses Weigh In

You Cannot Be SeriousReader Laney e-mailed me this story:  when she was called in front of her class to be weighed, Ireland Hobart Hoch decided to be brave, and said no.  Even when teachers and other students pressured her to do it, even when they sent her to the office,  Ireland Hobart Hoch refused to be weighed to have her BMI calculated.

“I really wasn’t comfortable with anybody but my mom and doctor knowing my weight,” Ireland said. “For another person to know — that’s not important to them.”

The adults involved used this as an impetus to look into the issues with publicly weighing kids at school and using BMI as a health measure and, based on the research, changed what they were doing with quiet dignity, modeling for the students that it’s ok to make mistakes and important to correct them.

Just kidding, they freaked out like feral cats in a bathtub.

“If it’s a math test, is a teacher not going to include something that is vital for a student’s math skills?” asked Jennifer Peterson, president of the Iowa Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.

A student’s height/weight ratio is not vital to any skills.  A measurement of a student’s height/weight ratio should not be compared to an academic test.  Jennifer Peterson should have to find another job.

“I think there are some body image issues with this girl,” Ellen Latham, Southeast Polk’s curriculum director said. “The more attention to it, the more it challenges her.”

How do these people get to be in charge of children?  Ireland made a very rational argument about why she wasn’t willing to be weighed, and their response is to call her “this girl” and claim that she is the problem? (And I shudder to think what they would have said about her if she were fat.)  Fuck that.

“The use of BMI is widely recommended by the Institute of Medicine, by the Centers for Disease Control and almost every other agency because of the obesity epidemic,” said Gregory Welk, professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University and scientific director for the Cooper Institute’s FitnessGram.

The use of heroin as a (“non-addictive”) substitute for morphine, and Lysol as a douche were also highly recommended but that didn’t make them good ideas.  Suggesting that the existence of a certain number of fat people somehow justifies the use of a deeply problematic measurement of “health” makes absolutely no sense.

But what does the CDC actually say?

The CDC “acknowledges that little is known about the outcomes of BMI-measurement programs and their utility for young people.”

“Little is known.”  And we’re strongly recommending it why? What has research found about the results of focusing on the weight of kids instead of focusing on health for kids of all sizes? Let’s take a look:

Research from the University of Minnesota found that: None of the behaviors being used by adolescents for weight-control purposes predicted weight loss…Of greater concern were the negative outcomes associated with dieting and the use of unhealthful weight-control behaviors.

A Canadian study found that eating disorders were more prevalent than type 2 diabetes in kids.

The American Academy of Pediatrics reported that hospitalizations of children younger than 12 years for eating disorders rose by 119% from 1999 to 2006. (Children UNDER 12) There was a 15% increase in hospitalizations for eating disorders in all ages across the same time period.

A study is looking at the effects of “school based healthy-living programs.”  Turns out that these programs are being instituted in lots of schools, despite the fact that, per the researchers,  there is little research on the effectiveness of these programs or any inadvertent harmful effects on children’s mental health. This study found that these programs are actually triggering eating disorders in kids.

Fat adults have been the unwilling, un-consenting victims of experimental medicine for years.  Now society is moving on to experimenting on kids (that’s the definition of an intervention where “little is known about the outcomes… [or their] utility”)  .

So let’s be clear on what’s actually happening here.  The CDC, the state of Iowa, and her school wanted to practice experimental medicine on Ireland Hobart Hoch, and she refused to consent.  Good for her, good for her mom supporting her, and shame on all of the so-called experts bloviating about things they obviously don’t know anything about.

Activism Opportunity:  Find out if your kids’ (nieces/nephews/grandkids etc.) school utilizes BMI and/or weight based health initiatives. Insist that they provide you evidence of efficacy in improving kids health and avoiding harmful outcomes like disordered eating and eating disorders.  When they can’t (because none exists) insist that your kids be pulled from the program.  Bonus points if you get other parents involved.

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Published in: on November 15, 2014 at 5:29 am  Comments (30)  

Fat Crash Test Dummy Drama

DefendWhen I talk about fatphobia being life threatening to fat people, I’m often told that I’m being over-dramatic. I don’t think so and here’s an example. Several news outlets ran a story recently about the manufacture of fat crash test dummies. It turns out that fat people are 78% more likely to die in an automobile crash, and the increase may be in large part because crash test dummies are built to model thin bodies, and thus car safety systems are built to protect only thin bodies. To combat this, a company called Humanetics is developing fat crash test dummies.

Here are some responses to this story:

“Instead of making obese test dummies they should actually use the 78% higher chance of death in an automobile accident to encourage weight loss for obese people.”

Even if there was a single study that exists where fat people were able to become thin long term, the message “Change your body size or you’ll die needlessly because we refuse to make safety equipment for you” is not encouragement, it’s criminal negligence.

“Hope none of this was paid for by our taxes”

Let me translate from asshole to English “According to statistics 70% of people are fat and I’m completely comfortable with their tax dollars paying for the safety of the 30% of us who aren’t, but you better not use their taxes or mine to pay for their safety. I’m an incredible asshole and I approve this message.”

“Why not put a whole extremely obese family in there to start with? Dad weights 400 mom weights 300 kids weight 280 and the dog weights 220. Lets see those test results!!!”

Asshole to English:  “I think that killing fat people and their pets is three-exclamation-points hilarious!!!”

“It shouldn’t be necessary to make obese crash test dummies. Overweight is one thing, obese is another. Its unhealthy and a drain on the healthcare system.”

Asshole to English Translation: “I think it’s cool to kill off entire groups of people if they meet my definition of unhealthy or if it makes healthcare cheaper.”

And this is what happens when we make appearance based discrimination into a national pastime, having wars against everyone who looks a certain way, funding research to figure out if a group of people who share a single physical characteristic can be shown to be more expensive than others etc. We get a world where people take to the internet (anonymously, of course) to suggest that some people don’t deserve to live based on their appearance.

Luckily this isn’t everybody. One thing to remember when we read comments like this is that these are left by a few people who, without much going on with their lives, have made online fat bashing their main activity during their free time (and, it would appear, many of their work hours as well.) They pounce on these kinds of articles, sharing them with each other and rushing to say that absolute most abhorrent thing that they can think of.

Obviously (or, it should be obvious), people of all sizes buy cars – many taking the safety rating of the car into account – and we all deserve to have a vehicle whose manufacturer actually included us in the safety system design. These crash test dummies are definitely a step in the right direction.

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Published in: on November 14, 2014 at 7:34 am  Comments (49)  

Dillard’s Bad Santa

A woman in Florida photographed a sign in a Dillard’s Department store that said ““Dear Santa, This year please give me a big fat bank account and a slim body. Please don’t mix those two up like you did last year. Thanks.”  If you’re thinking that the women shopping for clothes were appalled, you’re almost right.  The sign wasn’t in the womens department, it was in the girls department.  That’s right, cute stripey leggings and Christmas sweaters with a side of body hate, just what every little girl wants, whether she celebrates Christmas or not.

'Dear Santa' Sign Stirs Controversy

Dillard’s told WPTV that “the sign was put in the Girls department in error, and has since directed all stores to remove the sign from sales floors entirely.”  This leaves me with two questions:

1.  Where was the sign supposed to go?

2.  How could you think it was ok to put this sign anywhere but in a fire?

Gods forbid any woman or girl go more than 5 minutes without being reminded that, even if it were possible to be too rich or too thin, she definitely isn’t getting it done. And best to start as early as possible, why settle for just commercializing a holiday when you can use it to reinforce poor body image and fat hatred in little girls?

Of course this gets the inevitable “can’t you take a joke?” response. Anytime someone points out that an attempt at comedy may be hurtful, it’s almost immediately suggested that they lack a sense of humor, have a stick where normally there is none, that they need to learn to take a joke, etc. First of all, nobody is obligated to celebrate humor made at their expense so pardon me if I don’t think it’s hysterical to tell girls that they should ask Santa not to look like me.

Also, I’m having trouble distinguishing between the kind of body shaming that paralyzes girls and women, encouraging them to view themselves as constantly inadequate, spending tons of time, money, and energy approximating a stereotype of beauty, and that has encouraged a 119% increase in eating disorder hospitalizations for kids under twelve, and the kind of body shaming that’s somehow hilarious.  And let’s be clear that a couple talented people advertising people  could have come up with ten funny iterations of this that aren’t based on body shaming faster than you can finish a pumpkin spice latte.  Perhaps rather than complaining that people need to take jokes and pick battles we could invest time in creating funny things that don’t stigmatize people for how they look.

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I’m training for an IRONMAN! You can follow my journey at www.IronFat.com

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If you are uncomfortable with my offering things for sale on this site, you are invited to check out this post.

 

 

Published in: on November 12, 2014 at 4:44 am  Comments (18)