Over 4 Million Served

Four Million page viewsDuring the excitement of the Fat Activism Conference my little blog reached a few milestones that I’m just getting around to writing about.  I wrote my 1,000th post, got my 10,500th follower, and reached 4,000,000 views.  I know for a lot of sites that’s not much but me those numbers are just completely overwhelming and humbling and I am profoundly grateful to everyone who reads, interacts with, and supports this blog and me I am also incredibly grateful that I get to do size diversity activism work full time.

In fact, almost exactly two years ago I transitioned my last business consulting client and started doing this work full time. It definitely hasn’t been easy but it’s been totally worth it. Sometimes people ask what it’s like – essentially what I do all day – so today I thought I’d talk about that, if you’re not into it then feel free to skip this post and I’ll be back tomorrow with more standard fare!

Most of the work that I do is unpaid and a lot of it has to do with e-mails.  When I answer e-mails I sort them into one of three categories – general request, teacher/professor requests, and student requests.  So far this year I’ve answered 45,464 general requests (these range from people looking for help with a personal situation – sometimes heartbreaking-  to people looking for resources), 13,644 teacher/professor requests (these are usually about resources or curriculum development), and 19,630 student requests (these typically ask for help with a fatphobic teacher, an interview for a project, or help with research).  So that’s 78,738 e-mails so far this year (for those playing the home game, that’s a little over 320 e-mails a day).

I get somewhere around a couple hundred hate emails a day, but those are just a quick skim and delete unless they are entertaining enough to make the hatemail page.  I also get a few (like 20-50) requests from people to blog about things each day – those definitely come in handy when I’m trying to think of something to post about late at night!

Then there’s Facebook: I moderate the Rolls Not Trolls group on Facebook as well as my own FB page and I get between 300-500 Facebook messages a day to my personal page.

I post a blog almost every day, depending on how much research it takes these can take anywhere from just a couple of hours to many hours over a period of days.

I run More Cabaret which is a three hour rehearsal each Sunday, during the week there’s creating the choreography, working to book gigs, plus producing a few shows a year.

I moderate this blog, and Facebook pages for More Cabaret, Rolls Not Trolls, and my personal page to create safe spaces and spaces that encourage and support activism.

I work on big projects like the Fat Activism Conference and the Fat Activist History Project.

Jeanette DePatie and I run the Fit Fatties Forum which includes moderating the forum, moderating the Facebook page, and doing the work for various contests that we run (some of which actually generate a little money which helps pay the bills!)

Speaking of paying the bills, when I went full time doing this work, what that meant to me was that I was going to find a way to make a living by providing people with resources that help them live the life they want despite a fatphobic world, while simultaneously fighting fat phobia. Here’s how I do that:

I get paid for some of my speaking engagements, and like almost everything I do I utilize a sliding scale so that if people want to bring me as a speaker money doesn’t get in the way.  I also get paid for some of the writing I do.  I make money selling books  and dance classes. I also teach workshops (like how to deal at the doctor’s office), I’m planning to do more of that in the reasonably near future!

I have members (and big, giant, massive thanks to all of you!) whose memberships provide stable, predictable income which is super important because the speaking gigs are, of course, not guaranteed, and they are seasonal since I’m predominantly booked by Universities during the regular US school year.

In my free time I’m training for my next marathon and I hang out with my awesome partner and two very adorable dogs!

So that’s my life in a nutshell.  I am able to get by doing work that I love, I’m grateful to be able to do that and I know that it’s due to a combination of luck, privilege, hard work and support from my family, friends, and the community  and I really can’t even say how  grateful  I am!

If you want to support my work. there are lots of ways to do that:

You can become a member! For ten bucks a month you can support my work, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you.  (Seriously, THANK YOU to my members, I couldn’t do this without you and I really can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support!)   Click here for details

You can book me!  I give talks all across the country about self-esteem, body image, health and wellness for people of size and more, and I’d love to speak to your organization. (I’ll be in Central Pennsylvania, Cleveland, Austin and Las Vegas in the next few months if you are in those areas and would like to add an event to those trips.) You can get more information on topics, previous engagements and reviews here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

You can buy my book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

You can buy dance classes DVSs or downloads: ! Click here for details 

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

No money?  No problem!  You can share the blog posts that you like to your social media, you can leave a comment or send me an e-mail telling me you like the blog or if it helped you in some way, you can subscribe to the blog (the box in the top right hand corner – the number of subscribers helps when I look for sponsors for events or literary agents or whatever) you can think nice thoughts about me!

One other thing that I get to do sometimes is fun interviews. Recently I was a guest of the fabulous Gina Pond on the podcast This Week in Heresy to talk about religion and Fat Shaming. You can check it out here!

So thanks for the first 4,000,000 views, here’s to the next 4,000,000!

Published in: on September 2, 2014 at 11:43 am  Comments (5)  

Marathon Update: Pushing It

DenialIn a recent marathon update I talked about working as a team with my body instead of treating my body like a limitation to be overcome.  I mentioned how working with my body instead of against it improved my performance immediately.

I got a lot of e-mails asking me how I could possibly improve if I never wanted to push my body, and telling me that the only way to improve athletic performance is to ignore your body and push past what your body thinks is possible.  I disagree with that, strongly, so I wanted to clarify a bit.  The only way that I know to improve athletic performance is to push beyond what is currently comfortable.  I am definitely pushing my body, I just don’t think that’s the same thing as treating my body like a limitation to be overcome or ignored.    Just like any physical challenge that I face, I never want it to be me against my body. I want it to be me and my body against a problem.  Whether that problem is an injury, or whether  I can get up that hill faster than I got up last time, or how to take another minute off my mile time.  If I achieve the goal, make the improvement, cross the finish line and get the medal, it will be thanks to my body, not in spite of it.

While I’m clarifying things, let me say this one more time:  nobody is obligated to be involved in fitness or sports in any way.  Those of us who do enjoy being involved for whatever reasons are no better or worse than those who choose other hobbies or pursuits or no hobbies.  The good fatty/bad fatty dichotomy is bullshit and it needs to die. We shouldn’t let the fact that other people impose their beliefs on us to keep fat people from being involved in fitness/sports, or from talking about it, or talking about the stigma that we face trying to pursue something that we enjoy, nor should anybody put us on a pedestal because of the hobbies we choose.

For those who choose to pursue athletic achievement it can definitely be about pushing, but it can be about pushing against barriers and goals and, at least for me, it doesn’t have to be about pushing against, or ignoring, my body.

Like this blog? Consider supporting my work by becoming a member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you. I get paid for some of my speaking and writing (and do both on a sliding scale to keep it affordable), but a lot of the work I do (like answering hundreds of request for help and support every day) isn’t paid so member support makes it possible (THANK YOU to my members, I couldn’t do this without you and I really can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support!)   Click here for details

Book Me!  I give talks all across the country about self-esteem, body image, health and wellness for people of size and more, and I’d love to speak to your organization. (I’ll be in Northern New York and Central Pennsylvania in the next couple of months if you are in those areas and would like to add an event to those trips.) You can get more information on topics, previous engagements and reviews here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

Here’s more cool stuff:

My Book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

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

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

Published in: on September 1, 2014 at 11:44 am  Comments (9)  

Asking for Acommodation

ShamelessBy reader request, a repost of my a blog offering ideas for how to ask for accommodation:   Reader Dayna asked me “Would you please address what to do when you’re making appointments for stuff? Like, when do we tell the person at the (doctor’s office, spa, conference center, realtor) that we’re fat and might need accommodations?”  I’m happy to!  My post yesterday talked about getting okay with being accommodated.  Today we’ll talk about how to ask for the accommodations that you need/want.

For me there are three basic principles to remember:

  1. I have every right to be accommodated, it’s not “special treatment”, it’s what the business should do to earn my money
  2. I cannot control the reaction of the person I am asking
  3. I can make decisions for me

There is a process that I go through that includes some or all of these steps depending on the situation and  how much I know about what I need.

  1. State that I am fat
  2. Ask for what I need
  3. Ask if there are other concerns that I haven’t thought about
  4. Put the responsibility on them (I often ask some version of  “Was [your business] created with a fat customer in mind?” If I don’t get the answer I’m looking for I often ask “What do you suggest to solve this problem?”)

Let’s do some examples.  I’m a big proponent of calling ahead whenever possible because I think that takes the stress off both the possible confrontation, and then when I’m traveling to whatever the thing is I’m not stressing out that it’s not going to work out or that I’m going to have to deal with drama, not foolproof but it definitely helps.  Some call ahead examples:

If I am calling a restaurant I will say something like:

“I’d like to eat at your restaurant and I am fat so I’m just calling to make sure that you have tables with chairs without arms that will work for me.”

I almost always say that I’m fat because I consider it part of my activism but, as always, I’m just speaking for me.  You may not want to do that at all and that’s completely cool.  You could just call and say “Do you have tables with chairs without arms?”

If I’m going for a massage I will say something like:

“I would like to book a massage.  I’m about 300 pounds so I want to make sure that you have tables that will be comfortable and sturdy for me.  I also want to make sure that I get a massage therapist who is completely comfortable and enthusiastic about working with a fat person from a size positive perspective.”

To me this one is super tricky and I would probably not go to a massage therapist who hadn’t been recommended as size positive except in an emergency.  Regardless I would likely also talk to the therapist before we go back to the room and double check the table and his/her enthusiasm because I’m damn sure not laying mostly naked on a table and letting someone put their hands on me until I am CERTAIN that the table will be comfortable and they are qualified to work with me.

If I was going to a spa/resort etc:

“I’m coming with my friends for a spa day.  I’m very fat and so I want to make sure that your spa/resort has been created with a fat customer in mind. I’m specifically wondering about robes, massage tables, chairs for facial treatments and anything else that you can think of.”  I might also just say “I’m considering coming to your spa and I’m very fat and so I want to make sure that your spa has been planned with a fat customer in mind.  Can you share with me how you accommodate your customers of size?”

The doctor’s office I covered here.

Airlines I covered here.

So let’s talk a bit about how to deal with things that come up in real time, when you can’t call ahead.  You go to an office meeting and find out that there are no chairs that fit you, your friends throw a surprise birthday lunch at a restaurant full of booths etc.

You’ll have to evaluate the situation and decide what you want to do. For some people the discomfort of sitting on the edge of a chair that doesn’t fit them is much less uncomfortable than asking for a chair that works for them.  Some people get excited about this as an opportunity for activism.  It’s all up to you, remember that you shouldn’t have to do this – you did nothing wrong and you have every right in the world to exist in the exact body you have. When we ask for accommodation we’re not asking for something special, we’re doing the business the courtesy of letting them know where they have dropped the ball and giving them the chance to pick it up again.   When confronted I would suggest asking for exactly what you need and putting the onus on them.

So let’s say you get to the concert, movie, sports event etc. and find out that there aren’t any chairs that fit you.  Find an employee and say, with great confidence “I need a chair that works for me.” If they push back consider something like “I paid for a ticket just like everyone else here – they all have a seat that fits them and I’m just asking for the same thing.”

If you are told that you can’t have what you want I would suggest putting the responsibility on them, saying something like “What do you suggest we do about this?”  or “How do you want to fix it?” If it goes terribly wrong I try to remember that I am not the jackass whisperer, and if it is at all possible I take my money somewhere else.

Though I am clear that this isn’t my fault, I also know that it becomes my problem and so I choose that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of drama so when I think about my schedule I try to anticipate and issues and call ahead.  For me asking for accommodation is another way to honor my body and everything that it does for me by requiring that it be accommodated and made comfortable.

Like this blog? Consider supporting my work by becoming a member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you. I get paid for some of my speaking and writing (and do both on a sliding scale to keep it affordable), but a lot of the work I do (like answering hundreds of request for help and support every day) isn’t paid so member support makes it possible (THANK YOU to my members, I couldn’t do this without you and I really can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support!)   Click here for details

Book Me!  I give talks all across the country about self-esteem, body image, health and wellness for people of size and more, and I’d love to speak to your organization. (I’ll be in Northern New York and Central Pennsylvania in the next couple of months if you are in those areas and would like to add an event to those trips.) You can get more information on topics, previous engagements and reviews here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

Here’s more cool stuff:

My Book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

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

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

Published in: on August 29, 2014 at 10:28 am  Comments (7)  

Not Flawed Problems

Wrong RoadYoga Journal posted a “Love Your Curves” article that is seriously messed up. One of the many issues with the article is that their idea of loving your curves seems to be using yoga clothes as “style solutions” to hide flaws.  Apparently a journal that wants us to believe that it is an authority in the practice of Yoga also wants us to believe that our practice will be improved if our shoulders look less wide, if we look as tall as possible, and if people are distracted from our stomachs.  Namaste Fatties.

The thing I want to talk about today is the phrase “Style Solutions.”  It’s not the first time I’ve seen this phrase and every time I reflect on the fact that this is bullshit.  These are not solutions, because they aren’t solving any actual problems.  Wide shoulders are not a problem, cellulite is not a problem, being short is not a problem (unless I’m trying to  reach something and no amount of avoiding capri pants is going to help me get something off the top shelf.)

Of course people are allowed to wear whatever they want for whatever reason they want including trying to approximate the cultural stereotype of beauty.  As for me, I’m a member of the Fuck Flattering club.  I sometimes wonder if I would be more of a fatshionista if there were more clothing options easily available to me.  It makes me laugh when I see quizzes about what my “personal style’ is.  I realize immediately that these are written by people who have more than three stores at which they can shop.  Still, I’m not even safe from body shame at the fat girl stores anymore with their “control top” leggings, “Tighter Tummy Technology,” padded sports bras promising “glamour” and “lift” but unable to hold my boobs down on a walk to my car, and yoga pants with spandex inserts to “tighten and flatten.”

It’s not just clothes either.  I saw an article today that offered complicated make-up solutions for people whose eyes are “too widely spaced”.  What with the who now? Of course you can do whatever you want, but may I just humbly suggest that anytime you are spending in the morning trying to make your eyes look closer together – maybe just bump your alarm time back by that many minutes and enjoy sleeping in tomorrow.

We know that it’s incredibly profitable to make us believe that our states of being and looking are “problems” that need to be solved through the buying of things. But there’s another group of people who have an interest in this for less profit driven reasons.   There are people who derive their self-worth from looking a certain way. For many of those people just believing themselves to be superior isn’t enough, they need everyone else to buy into it to, and part of that is making us, and everyone else, see our bodies as inferior.   Yoga Journal may have been participating in this or merely trying to profit from it (the classic “we’re just given customers [who have been conditioned to see their bodies as flawed by our magazine] what they want!”)

It doesn’t really matter why, what matters is that we see what’s happening, and then we decide what we want to do about it. Maybe we want to buy fashion magazines (that, in my opinion, shove a single stereotype of beauty down our throats while selling us products by insisting that we’re not good enough,) and that’s cool, people are allowed to do that.  We can also choose to opt out.  There are lots of ways that we can opt out.  We can do it in our own heads – when we see things like these we can silently say “No, I’m not buying into this.  My body is not a problem or a flaw.”  We can opt out with our wallets by refusing to buy things that deliver these messages to us or that profit from them (this may involve sacrifice. I don’t know any way of creating social change that doesn’t.) We can also speak out about it and call it out when we see it.  As always, the choice is ours.

If you missed the Fat Activism Conference, today is the last day to register and get the recordings.

Like this blog? Consider supporting my work by becoming a member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you. I get paid for some of my speaking and writing (and do both on a sliding scale to keep it affordable), but a lot of the work I do (like answering hundreds of request for help and support every day) isn’t paid so member support makes it possible (THANK YOU to my members, I couldn’t do this without you and I really can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support!)   Click here for details

Book Me!  I give talks all across the country about self-esteem, body image, health and wellness for people of size and more, and I’d love to speak to your organization. (I’ll be in Northern New York and Central Pennsylvania in the next couple of months if you are in those areas and would like to add an event to those trips.) You can get more information on topics, previous engagements and reviews here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

Here’s more cool stuff:

My Book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

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

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

Published in: on August 27, 2014 at 11:05 am  Comments (23)  

Natasha is Pained

facepalmAs I write this I am basking in the excitement of having  completed the (first annual) Fat Activism Conference – 40 speakers, 30 workshops, almost 400 registrants so far (registration is open until Wednesday 8/27/14 for those who want to access the recordings) and so much amazing, inspirational, and educational content. I am beyond grateful to everyone who made it happen: Jeanette DePatie my co-producer, all of the speakers, all of the people who registered, listened, asked questions, live-tweeted/facebooked/blogged and. I’m also frustrated with myself, as I always am after completing a big project, for the things that I could have done better. But it looks like we’ll have a chance to do it bigger and better next year!

I was trying to decide what to blog about when I saw this comment come up for moderation, and it basically yelled “BLOG ABOUT ME!”  And I said, OK!  The comment is in response to my marathon update from yesterday:

Ragen, it pains me to see you do a marathon once AGAIN. The amount of stress doing a marathon puts on your body is extreme, and, it is unnecessary. You made your point. You did it. You have your medal (medals??) to show for it. Now, go do something gentle for your body, and not for making a point. Swim, get a foot massage, shoot another dance video. Natasha.

My original idea was just to type “Fuck You Natasha” and then end the post.  But that would likely lead to people concern trolling me about being angry, and deprive me of the joy of breaking this down:

First off, let me do a quick translation from Concern Troll to English:

Ragen, it pains me that you are setting and pursuing your own goals instead of doing what I think that you should do.  I have both psychically divined your reason for doing the marathon and, as I am the boss of everything, I’ve decided that reason isn’t valid.  (See how much easier it is when I get to control both sides of the discussion?) Don’t worry your pretty little head about what you want, obviously you’re neither the best witness to your experience nor competent to choose your own goals. So I’ll just tell you what to do and then you do that. Kthxbye! Natasha

This is what happens in a society where people mistakenly believe that public health means making people’s (and especially fat people’s) bodies the public’s business.  This is also what happens when someone with an incredibly over-exaggerated sense of self-importance has access to the internet.

I don’t know where Natasha got the idea that I’m doing the marathon to prove a point, it must have been when she was busy ignoring me writing about my actual reasons. But if my goal was to prove a point, it still wouldn’t be any of Natasha’s damn business.  To be clear, I have no interest in telling Natasha how to feel, Natasha is allowed to be pained by whatever she wants. Where she went wrong here was when she decided to tell me about it despite the fact that I’ve been very clear that doing a marathon (and not, say, getting a foot massage) is my goal.  Perhaps she’ll be happy to know that, in addition to the marathon, there’s every chance that I’ll get a foot massage, swim, and do another dance video (a bunch of people have asked for a seated dance video so I think the next one is going to be Seated and Sassy, but I digress).

This is something that happens to fat people all the time – we’re told that we should only  dream as big as other people’s prejudices, stereotypes, and preconceived notions allow.   That a fat body is a sign that other people need to tell us what we think, how we act, and what we should be doing.  It’s bullshit of course, no matter how well meaning it may seem.  Nobody is obligated to do a marathon and doing a marathon doesn’t make anyone better than anyone else. While it’s absolutely true that nobody should be obligated to choose any goal whether it’s finishing a marathon, singing professionally, crocheting a badass baby blanket or whatever, it’s equally true that nobody should have to squeeze their goals and dreams into the tiny frame of someone else’s bigotry, not even if it pains them for us to live beyond their prejudice.

Like this blog? Consider supporting my work by becoming a member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you. I get paid for some of my speaking and writing (and do both on a sliding scale to keep it affordable), but a lot of the work I do (like answering hundreds of request for help and support every day) isn’t paid so member support makes it possible (THANK YOU to my members, I couldn’t do this without you and I really can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support!)   Click here for details

Book Me!  I give talks all across the country about self-esteem, body image, health and wellness for people of size and more, and I’d love to speak to your organization. (I’ll be in Northern New York and Central Pennsylvania in the next couple of months if you are in those areas and would like to add an event to those trips.) You can get more information on topics, previous engagements and reviews here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

Here’s more cool stuff:

My Book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

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

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

 

Published in: on August 25, 2014 at 9:58 am  Comments (33)  

Marathon Update: Different Dreams

I’ve recently joined some forums online about marathons, running etc. just to see what conventional forums are like and if there’s some benefit for me there.  I chose forums whose policies are cool with me lurking first.  I want to understand the conventions and community and gauge the level of fat hate/fat bashing etc. before I decide whether or not I want to actually engage. One of the things I’ve noticed is that the reasons for running that people often talk about in these forums are very different than my reasons.

The first idea is running to eat – people talk about how they run so that they can eat what they want, so they can eat a specific thing, so they can eat a specific amount of [insert food here], so they can “be bad” so they can eat “something sinful.” etc.

The cousin of running to eat is running to drink. Typicaly beer, though margaritas also factor highly.

Of course people of all sizes are allowed to choose to run for these or any other reasons, it’s interesting to me because there was a time when these were my reasons for exercising, and they are so far from my reasons now (predominantly cross finish line, get medal). It makes me grateful that I no longer moralize food, that I practice intuitive eating rather than calorie calculus, and that my ability to nourish myself or enjoy food or drink isn’t dependent on my run.

Next, as you might imagine, is the goal of running for body manipulation. The first incarnation of this is running for weight loss. Again as you might imagine, the boards are full of people who are having the “success” that we would expect in the first year, and those who are having the failure that we know is the most likely outcome 3-5 years out. It seems that as long as you aren’t happy with your body and you’re trying to lose weight you’ll be supported. I’ve not yet seen a not thin person in the forums who doesn’t talk about wanting/trying to lose weight.

The second body manipulation is for the attainment of a “runner’s body.” I’ve discussed before my frustration with the idea of a the dancer’s body, runner’s body, swimmer’s body etc. Again, these are choices that people are allowed to make. I definitely spent a lot of time, energy and money trying to use food and exercise to pull and stretch and manipulate my body into the way I thought it “should” look and reading these posts helped me realize just how grateful I am not to be there anymore.

Ever since I chose to be a Fat Activist and a Health at Every Size practitioner I’ve noticed that I have different dreams than a lot of people and that people have different dreams for me than I have for myself – I get e-mails and comments all the time about this, in one I got today the person said that she “understands where [I'm] coming from with health for every size” but that  “my wish for you is that your marathon training will lead to weight loss.”

I’m going to go ahead and assume that if you wish I lose weight then you don’t understand where I’m coming from because I’m coming from a place where we don’t wish weight loss on people who don’t want it. (And if Buffy the Vampire Slayer taught us anything wasn’t it that you shouldn’t make wishes to strangers?)

I don’t know if I’ll interact on the forums I’m currently checking out but this whole thing has made me super grateful for the Fit Fatties Forum and the people there who make sure that I always have a place to talk about my fitness goals from a weight neutral perspective, and very grateful for my hard-won relationships with food, exercise, and my body.

It’s here!  Today is the last day of the Fat Activism Conference  You can still register and listen to the live workshops today, as well as accessing recordings of anything that you missed, only $39 with a pay-what-you-can-afford option to make it accessible to as many people as possible.  Check it out!

Like this blog? Consider supporting my work  by  becoming a member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you. I get paid for some of my speaking and writing (and do both on a sliding scale to keep it affordable), but a lot of the work I do (like answering hundreds of request for help and support every day) isn’t paid so member support makes it possible (THANK YOU to my members, I couldn’t do this without you and I really can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support!)   Click here for details

Book Me!  I give talks all across the country about self-esteem, body image, health and wellness for people of size and more, and I’d love to speak to your organization. (I’ll be in Northern New York and Central Pennsylvania in the next couple of months if you are in those areas and would like to add an event to those trips.) You can get more information on topics, previous engagements and reviews here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

Here’s more cool stuff:

My Book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

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

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

Published in: on August 24, 2014 at 6:12 am  Comments (12)  

Scooby Dooby Don’t

Daphne Scooby-DooSo if you haven’t heard, in the new Scooby-Doo movie [spoilers throughout] “Scooby-Doo! Frankencreepy” main character Daphne gets “cursed” and goes from a “size 2 to a size 8″.  Just so we can be certain that kids understand the message she not only talks about how terrible it is, but she looks in the mirror and recoils in complete horror.  Got that boys and girls?  The absolutely worst case scenario for a girls is that she could end up being a size 8.

I’m not going to spend time on the fact that “size 8″ is about 3 sizes smaller than the average American woman.  I’m not going to spend time on the fact that the drawing of “size 8″ Daphne looks more like size 28 Daphne (that would be my size btw).  I written before about the issues with using “she’s not fat” as a defense against fat shaming and all of those things apply here (including and especially the fact that when we fight fat shaming behavior with “but she’s not that fat” what we are also saying is that there would be a size at which she deserved that to be fat shamed and that’s not true.)

In a great piece for The Good Men Project Tom Burns wrote “It’s sad to think that my daughter can’t even watch a cartoon about a dog solving mysteries without negative body stereotypes being thrown in her face.”  Right?!  What does this tell girls about their friends who are fat, their moms who are fat, their teachers who are fat, or themselves if they are a size 8 or bigger?

Suggesting that looking the way other people look is a “curse” is highly problematic in every conceivable way, which many people pointed out and so Warner Brothers issued a statement to HuffPost in which they seem to have decided that the best way to get out of a hole is to just keep on digging:

All of our content is run through Standards and Practices, and there is always sensitivity to obesity and self image, especially when it comes to programming made for children and a family audience.

Although you are correct that Daphne becomes bigger in the course of the story, the message is actually a much more positive one.

The plot of the movie involves the Scooby gang becoming cursed and losing what means the most to each of them. Fred loses the Mystery Machine, Shaggy and Scooby lose their appetites, etc. Daphne loses her good looks (mainly her figure and her hair).

While Daphne is at first upset by the sudden change, there is a touching moment where Fred points out that he didn’t even notice a change and that she always looks great to him.

At the end, when Velma explains how they figured out the mystery, she points out that the curse actually DIDN’T take away what means the most to each of them: their friendship.

The loss of Daphne’s regular appearance is proven to be a superficial thing, and not what actually matters the most to her.

Oh, let’s break it down:

There is always sensitivity to obesity and self image, especially when it comes to programming made for children and a family audience.

So they think suggesting that being fat is the worst thing that can happen to a woman, and that fat women (here defined as a size 8 or bigger) looking at themselves in the mirror and recoiling in horror  is “sensitive”?  What would have done if they were trying to be insensitive?

The plot of the movie involves the Scooby gang becoming cursed and losing what means the most to each of them. Fred loses the Mystery Machine, Shaggy and Scooby lose their appetites, etc. Daphne loses her good looks (mainly her figure and her hair).

So the message is that being fat and looking good are actually mutually exclusive.  Warner Bros wants us to know, in the most sensitive way possible, that if we are fat and/or have frizzy curly hair then we do not and cannot look good.  Also, it’s perfectly reasonable for “not being fat” to be the thing that means the most to women.

While Daphne is at first upset by the sudden change, there is a touching moment where Fred points out that he didn’t even notice a change and that she always looks great to him.

Another great lesson girls, if you want to know if you’re ok – ask a boy. You should always judge yourself by whether or not boys think you’re attractive. If the way you look changes substantially – even instantaneously – you should not be creeped out if that boy says that he didn’t notice.  All that matters is if he thinks you’re pretty. (Boys, girls should base their self-worth on what you think of them!)

At the end, when Velma explains how they figured out the mystery, she points out that the curse actually DIDN’T take away what means the most to each of them: their friendship.

The loss of Daphne’s regular appearance is proven to be a superficial thing, and not what actually matters the most to her.

So just to be really clear, it’s definitely not possible to be fat and pretty but it’s ok, because, friendship!

I’ve seen people giving all kinds of ideas why this is ok (“They’re not saying fat is bad, they’re saying that Daphne thinks fat is bad!”) The truth is that this is being marketed to kids and even taking the chance of creating body shame is a terrible idea ( and completely unnecessary since they could have made her into a literal monster, or made her green with yellow spots or something).  I am really happy to see how many people identified this as the bullshit that it is, and I think that that’s a step in the right direction.

It’s here!  There’s still time to register for the  Fat Activism Conference Three days, 40 speakers, 30 workshops, teleconference style so that you can access the workshops on the phone or computer from wherever you are, recordings so you can access the workshops live or on your own time, tools for everything from armchair activism to marching on the White House only $39 with a pay-what-you-can-afford option to make it accessible to as many people as possible.  Check it out!

Like this blog? Consider supporting my work with a donation or by  becoming a member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you. I get paid for some of my speaking and writing (and do both on a sliding scale to keep it affordable), but a lot of the work I do (like answering hundreds of request for help and support every day) isn’t paid so member support makes it possible (THANK YOU to my members, I couldn’t do this without you and I really can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support!)   Click here for details

Book Me!  I give talks all across the country about self-esteem, body image, health and wellness for people of size and more, and I’d love to speak to your organization. (I’ll be in Northern New York and Central Pennsylvania in the next couple of months if you are in those areas and would like to add an event to those trips.) You can get more information on topics, previous engagements and reviews here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

Here’s more cool stuff:

My Book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

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

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

Published in: on August 22, 2014 at 8:20 pm  Comments (36)  

If Our Fat is Our Fault

Ragen Chastain 5’4, 280lbs Photo by Substantia Jones of adipositivity.com

Recently I’ve seen a lot of discussion around the idea of fat and fault so it seems like a good time to repost this. One of the comments on my blog asked:

Basically, even though I may be genetically predisposed to it based on my family’s size and the fact that I have PCOS, I feel that I am overweight because I spent 15+ years eating crap and not exercising. This leaves me vulnerable to the blame/shame messages that society sends me about my weight – I feel like I can’t defend myself because I did it to myself.

I understand the FA movement is in part a push back against mistreatment and oppression, but is there a difference between being fat-accepting and being pro-fat?… I don’t see my fat as a natural part of me, I see it as the consequences of mistakes that I am now stuck with.

We know that different bodies react to things in different ways.  Someone else could have engaged in the same behaviors and ended up thin while this person ended up fat, this person could have engaged in different behaviors but still ended up the same size, the truth is that we’ll never know.

Although I knew that, I’ve still been in that cycle of blame and shame.  When I learned that dieting causes weight gain I went through a period of “blaming myself” for my body size because of all the dieting that I had engaged in. I went through a time of alternating between feeling bad about myself, feeling sorry for myself, being mad at myself, and being mad at the people who encouraged me to diet.

The first conclusion that I came to was that even if I could have been thin, even if being fat was my fault, wondering how I got to be fat and who I should blame for it does not serve me in any way. This is the body that I have.  It is fat.  It is also scarred because of death-defying bike tricks as a kid and working with aggressive dogs as an adult.  I don’t begrudge my body those scars, why would I begrudge my body its size.  What difference does it make if things could have been different?  This is what’s happening.  I have a fat body and my choices at this moment are to love that body, or hate it.  I choose to love my body.  At the time I didn’t know how I was going to do it, the important thing was making the choice that I was going to figure out how to love my body no matter how long it takes.

It took a lot of work, and it took fighting to keep my focus on the goal.  This exercise did more to shift the way that I feel about my body than anything else.  I had to fight through a time when I could appreciate the beauty in every body but mine.

After time I realized something deeper – all of this angst about my body size is based on a social construct that a fat body is a bad body.  That’s just not true.  Every body is beautiful as it is right now, at every size.  I sometimes get stuck around the idea of “size acceptance” because I want better than just to “accept” my body, which often comes with a connotation of resignation.  I love my body, I appreciate my body.  I have a fat body and that body is what does everything for me – from breathing and blinking to dancing and hugging.  That body deserves to be nurtured, loved, and defended from anyone who dares to say a negative word about it.

I owe this body my unconditional love, devotion, and full-throated support. So I’m not just fat accepting, I’m a pro-fat fat-loving fat activist fatty. More importantly,  (thanks in part to the privilege of neuro-typicality) I am the only person who can decide how I feel about my body.  I can choose to accept other people’s opinions, I can choose not to do the work to make shifts if my current feelings aren’t the way I want to feel; but at the end of the day I have no idea why my body is the size it is, but I do know that the way I feel about my body is on me. I’m the only person in the world who can choose how I feel about my body.  As long as it’s my choice, I choose love.

It’s almost here!  There’s still time to register for the  Fat Activism Conference Three days, 40 speakers, 30 workshops, teleconference style so that you can access the workshops on the phone or computer from wherever you are, recordings so you can access the workshops live or on your own time, tools for everything from armchair activism to marching on the White House only $39 with a pay-what-you-can-afford option to make it accessible to as many people as possible.  Check it out!

Like this blog? Consider supporting my work with a donation or by  becoming a member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you. I get paid for some of my speaking and writing (and do both on a sliding scale to keep it affordable), but a lot of the work I do (like answering hundreds of request for help and support every day) isn’t paid so member support makes it possible (THANK YOU to my members, I couldn’t do this without you and I really can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support!)   Click here for details

Book Me!  I give talks all across the country about self-esteem, body image, health and wellness for people of size and more, and I’d love to speak to your organization. (I’ll be in Northern New York and Central Pennsylvania in the next couple of months if you are in those areas and would like to add an event to those trips.) You can get more information on topics, previous engagements and reviews here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

Here’s more cool stuff:

My Book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

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

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

Published in: on August 21, 2014 at 11:32 am  Comments (10)  

It’s Not About Them

OrganizeIn a situation that is both exciting and a little bit terrifying, the Fat Activism Conference is almost here.  Starting Friday afternoon and ending Sunday night, we’ll bring together hundreds of participants and forty amazing speakers from around the world to give everyone involved tools and perspectives to support intersectional fat activism.  It’s an exciting ride, a bit bumpy sometimes but also really amazing.  I’m so grateful to my co-coordinator Jeanette DePatie and all of the fabulous speakers.  If you want to know more about the conference, you can check it out at www.fatactivismconference.com. (And if you want to request some good vibes from the technology gods for us this weekend, I wouldn’t be mad!)

But what I want to talk about today is why the conference exists.  It started during the Q&A at a lecture series I was giving at a college.  One of the students asked me what I thought was the most important thing for the fat activism movement going forward and I said that it was having more people doing fat activism.

When I talk to people about this one of the common things I hear is that in a world that is so full of fatphobia  it seems like we never make any progress and activism seems pointless.  I know that progress does get made, but the reason I think that we need as many people as possible doing fat activism isn’t because of changing the world, or convincing the haters.  It’s not about them.

To me it’s first and foremost about what activism does for us.  It is going to take some time to end fatphobia, at this moment in time we may not be able to stop everyone from stereotyping, stigmatizing, bullying and oppressing fat people, but we can stop buying into it and we take a stand against it.  Nobody is ever obligated to do activism of any kind, and it can definitely involve risk, but it’s an option (and risk is the currency of revolution.)

To me the first, and possibly the most powerful, moment of activism is when somebody, whether it’s the diet industry, a hater, or some misguided soul who actually thinks that they can oppress us for our own good, tries to make us believe that we are flawed, that we are not enough, that we should hate ourselves, and we say No.  Not this time.  Never again.  No.

That’s activism.  In fact, in this culture waking up and not hating ourselves is not just activism, it’s an act of revolution. I don’t ever want to tell anyone how to live, but I do want to make sure that people know that they have options and that those options include refusing to participate in their own oppression, even if the only place they do activism is in their own head.

Every bit of activism changes the world, not just because it affects the world, but because it affects the person doing the activism and the way that they relate to the world.  Once we are liberated everything is different.  We may have bad days, we may have times of hopelessness, but we know that we will never again allow our oppressors to convince us to take part in our oppression, we will never again give the bullies our lunch money.  I don’t know about you but as far as I’m concerned if they want a “War on Obesity” I will damn well give them one and I want to support as many people as possible who want to do the same, however they want to do it – whether they want to change how they feel about themselves or change the whole fucking world.

If you’re looking for some tools for the revolution, check out the Fat Activism Conference Three days, 40 speakers, 30 workshops, teleconference style so that you can access the workshops on the phone or computer from wherever you are, recordings so you can access the workshops live or on your own time, tools for everything from armchair activism to marching on the White House only $39 with a pay-what-you-can-afford option to make it accessible to as many people as possible.  Check it out!

Book Me!  I give talks all across the country about self-esteem, body image, health and wellness for people of size and more, and I’d love to speak to your organization. (I’ll be in Northern New York and Central Pennsylvania in the next couple of months if you are in those areas and would like to add an event to those trips.) You can get more information on topics, previous engagements and reviews here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

Like this blog? Consider supporting my work with a donation or by  becoming a member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you. I get paid for some of my speaking and writing (and do both on a sliding scale to keep it affordable), but a lot of the work I do (like answering hundreds of request for help and support every day) isn’t paid so member support makes it possible (THANK YOU to my members, I couldn’t do this without you and I really can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support!)   Click here for details

Here’s more cool stuff:

My Book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

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

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

Published in: on August 20, 2014 at 8:34 am  Comments (8)  

Pretending There Are No Fat People

Angry FrustratedI was reading a piece that discussed how fat people are more likely to die in a car accidents because the safety equipment is not made (or tested) to accommodate them.  In the comments a number of people said that car manufacturers shouldn’t change their safety equipment because fat people can lose weight.

Let’s be clear that people who are making this argument are saying that they are ok with fat people either never traveling in cars or dying, unless or until we become thin.

I’ve heard the same thing about other accommodations for fat people, whether they are for safety, transportation, medical care, or entertainment, the idea is that fat people shouldn’t be accommodated because they can, in theory, eventually become thin people.

Let’s start with the fact that there is no study in which more than a tiny fraction of people were able to lose weight long term, and most of those studies define success as an amount of weight loss so small (2-5 pounds) that it wouldn’t make a difference in whether or not a fat person could fit in a seat, or utilize a seat belt properly.

But even if we had any reason to believe that all fat people could become thin, none of them could become thin this minute, which leaves the matte of fat people who need to get to work, access medical care etc.

The truth is that the people who run companies that make cars, build and stock hospitals,  etc. are well aware that fat people exist, and they use social prejudice against fat people to give them cover for their money-saving, fat-people-harming decisions.  It makes me cringe every time I hear a commercial where some car manufacturer waxes poetic about how customer safety is their first priority (though their safety features don’t work for fat people), or a medical facility has a commercial talking about how important patient care is though they don’t have equipment to handle high weight patients.

I don’t think that pretending fat people don’t exist should count as a safety policy, medical care policy, or good customer service, and I think that anybody who suggests that it’s ok to risk fat people’s safety now based on the belief that we could be thin later is a dangerous bigot. We’re customers too, and we deserve to be accommodated.

It’s less than a week away!  Check out the Fat Activism Conference Three days, 40 speakers, 30 workshops, teleconference style so that you can listen on the phone or computer from wherever you are, recordings so you can listen live or on your own time, tools for everything from armchair activism to marching on the White House only $39 with a pay-what-you-can-afford option to make it accessible to as many people as possible.  Check it out!

Book Me!  I give talks all across the country about self-esteem, body image, health and wellness for people of size and more, and I’d love to speak to your organization. (I’ll be in Northern New York and Central Pennsylvania in the next couple of months if you are in those areas and would like to add an event to those trips.) You can get more information on topics, previous engagements and reviews here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

Like this blog? Consider supporting my work with a donation or by  becoming a member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you. I get paid for some of my speaking and writing (and do both on a sliding scale to keep it affordable), but a lot of the work I do (like answering hundreds of request for help and support every day) isn’t paid so member support makes it possible (THANK YOU to my members, I couldn’t do this without you and I really can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support!)   Click here for details

Here’s more cool stuff:

My Book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

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

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

Published in: on August 19, 2014 at 10:44 am  Comments (25)