Why I’m Not Signing the OAC Petition

Company you keepOver the past few days I’ve received a number of requests to sign and share a petition.  On the surface the petition looks like a good cause – removing fat shaming apps for app stores.  On further inspection there are serious issues with this and, while I have tremendous respect for many of the people promoting it, and I think that they are very well intentioned, I also think what they are doing is a mistake that will have serious negative short and long-term consequences. And so, while I normally choose just not to participate in activism with which I disagree, this is really important to me and so I’ve decided to speak about it in my space.

The petition was started by the Obesity Action Coalition (Note: I’m not linking to the organization, I’m just am not interested in giving them traffic.  You’ll have to Google if you want to check them out for yourself.).  The problem with this group is that they lie, misinform, and make a profit on the backs of fat people by perpetuating the message that fat people are a problem that needs to be eradicated.  While I think there may well be limited situations where we can effectively use the power and privilege the OAC and groups like it receive for being fatphobic in a society that rewards fatphobia, I think that we should be careful to do so only where we can avoid actually promoting them or their message.

Let’s start with the lying.

They say “The OAC is the organization representing more than 93 million Americans impacted by obesity.”

This might give you the idea that they have 93 million fat members.  Not the case, they simply take an estimate of the number of “obese” people and claim to represent all of us. They sure as hell don’t represent me.  I’m know I’m not the only one but even if I was, this is still a lie.

Wondering who they really represent?  Let’s take a look at who funds them:

Companies that give $100,000 or more

  • Allergan – Manufacturers of the lap band
  • American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric [weight loss] Surgery
  • Covidien – “committed to better patient outcomes through bariatric surgery
  • Eisai – manufactures of the weight loss drug Belviq
  • Vivus – manufacturers of the weight loss drug Qsymia

In fact, it appears that every single member of the “Chairman’s Council” (those who give from $1,000 to over $100,000) is a company that profits from selling the promise of weight loss.  Is ending weight stigma so important to these companies that they are pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into the OAC?  Not exactly.  The OAC says that “Chairman’s Council members receive valuable exposure, such as a formal announcement in the OAC’s e-newsletter that reaches more than 30,000 individuals monthly, a listing in each issue of our quarterly magazine [which is called, I'm not even kidding here, "Your Weight Matters"], and a link on the OAC’s Web site which is a benefit only accessible through this level.”  It’s not exactly the 93 million people the OAC claims to represent, but make no mistake these companies pay the OAC to promote their products.

In addition to promoting weight loss methods that have been shown to be ineffectual and dangerous – even deadly – all to the tune of billions of dollars in profit, they also promote BMI as a way to judge health,

This group is for the eradication of fat people and the lip service they pay, in things like this petition, to not stigmatizing fat people is cold comfort.  I do not think that you can reasonably say “I profit from promoting the elimination of you and everyone who looks like you, but, you know, in a non-stigmatizing way.”

About that petition, let’s see what we’re signing onto when we support it.  This language comes directly from the petition:

30 percent of girls with excess weight and 24 percent of boys with excess weight report being teased by peers at school

Along with serious medical conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, sleep apnea and more, obesity carries the burden of being the last acceptable form of discrimination in today’s society.

Couching fat bodies as wrong with terms like “excess weight” shames the children they are pretending purporting to care so much about.  There is no shame in having a disease and suggesting that simply being fat or having any of the health conditions mentioned is a “burden” is a stigmatizing message.  Body size and health are two different things and by using language that constantly conflates the two, the OAC makes appearance into a disease which diverts funds from the research and treatment of actual diseases, and creates more opportunities for their high paying members to profit from their products that don’t work – leading to fat people being further stigmatized when we’re blamed for the failure of their products.

Also, Obesity is not the last acceptable form of discrimination. Saying this (especially when, like the OAC, you do it for profit) is an affront to the many, many people who experience discrimination in forms including racism, sexism, ableism, classism, homophobia, trans*phobia, and other forms of discrimination.

Let’s be very clear – every time someone promotes this petition they are suggesting that people read those words, and they are lending their support to them, including the idea that fat people are a problem that needs to be solved.  They are also sending people to the OAC’s website where they will be further indoctrinated with anti-fat, pro-diet culture. I think that couching this partnership as coalition building is a misapplication of the concept because, while there may be compromises to be made in building coalitions, I don’t think that promoting extremely well-funded organizations whose stated goal (and main form of profit) is eliminating you, constitutes a reasonable compromise.  Also, creating a coalition between a community that is fighting for the civil rights of a group of people and an organization that is for suppressing those rights (you know, in a non-stigmatizing way) by spreading misinformation for profit is not, to me, a worthy goal.

While I agree that fat shaming apps are a problem (though I don’t think they are nearly as much of a problem as partnering with the OAC) I think that a single point of agreement is not a good enough reason to create a partnership or even the appearance of one – I think we also have to consider downside risk.  If we give the OAC legitimacy as being part of, or friendly with, the Size Acceptance and Eating Disorder communities by helping to promote some of their work (work which is, in and of itself, deeply problematic), then we help to promote all of their work/agenda and give it legitimacy within our communities.

In fact I think that promotion of the OAC’s work can serve to drive more fat people who are exploring Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size to them, because they will believe that if we support them, then the OAC and their message (fat bodies are require treatment to become thin in order to be healthy) are part of Size Acceptance/Fat Activism/Health at Every Size. Those fat people will then be “educated” that, while they should “not be stigmatized”, their bodies are definitely wrong and bad, and need to be changed, preferably by buying the products sold by the members who donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to the OAC so that they will market them.

There are plenty of people and organizations that I agree with about one thing, but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to lend my name to their cause and I think that’s exactly what we do when when we promote a petition created by the OAC .

I think that suggesting that all people who look a certain way should be eradicated IS stigmatizing.  So  I do not think that it’s possible to be truly against weight bias and simultaneously support an organization that has, as its platform, the goal of eradicating fat people and preventing the future existence of fat people, in a way that creates billions of dollars in profit for their high paying members.

Civil rights work is difficult, and sometimes it seems like we should take progress where we can get it, but I don’t think that we are so desperate that we must partner with groups that have our eradication as their stated goal.

Activism Opportunity:

You can speak out against the apps without speaking up for the OAC and its oppressive mission and work.  Below is contact information for each organization (with thanks to Lizabeth at BingeBehavior.com for the research)

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:

Buy 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 15, 2014 at 7:34 am  Comments (11)  

Marathon Update: Bad Days

Motivation-catOne of the things about a long-term, difficult to achieve goal like a marathon is that it leaves ample opportunities to have bad days.  For me and this marathon that can mean days when I don’t meet my goals for speed or duration, days when my motivation flags,  days when I think maybe I don’t want to do this and days when I think maybe I can’t.

There are lots of different ways that I deal with bad days:

If I was slower than I wanted to be, I remind myself that improvement is more of a roller coaster than an escalator that goes straight up and I review my longer term progress to remind myself that I’m still on track.

If I have to cut a session short, or miss a session, I remind myself that it’s a long road and that things happen sometimes and that’s ok.

If I find my motivation waning I go full-on cheesy – inspirational songs, stuff on pinterest, the rah rah sayings on the walls of my gym, whatever it takes to get myself back into a good, positive, optimistic place.

When it comes to marathon training the truth is that it’s a long term commitment to doing something that I don’t really like to do,  for a goal that I really want to achieve.  I chose that, I accept it, and part of that for me is not just doing the training but also doing the work to keep myself in a good place mentally.

So, in the selfish interest of having more good stuff for my bad days, please feel free to post your favorite inspirational songs/pictures/things to get over a bad day etc. in the comments!

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:

Buy 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 14, 2014 at 10:48 am  Comments (16)  

The Food Morality Thing

Fad DietsAllison is a new reader, and she e-mailed to ask me  a question that I get a lot regarding my feelings about food moralizing – the practicing of labeling food as good, bad, clean, sinful, junk, trash etc.  Specifically she asked:

Because some foods, (such as fruits, vegetable, lean meats and dairy, etc.), contain more nutrients that are good for your body than some other foods (chips, cheese puffs, candy, etc.). So why is it bad label foods that can fuel your body better as “healthy” or “good”? It’s not like I’m saying people are morally obligated to eat certain foods. But isn’t it true that eating foods that can better feed your body is good for you. If you can just clarify on this a little bit, I would appreciate is so much. Thanks for running a good blog!

Thanks for asking Allison! First of all there are a lot of things that go into food choices – availability and affordability of foods, availability and feasibility of cooking methods, availability of time, tools, and skill for food preparation and consumption, allergies, sensitivities, health conditions, culture, religious beliefs, personal moral beliefs, tastes and preferences, and the circumstances at each time someone eats.

Next, the ideaa of foods as “healthy” and “unhealthy” are not absolutes.  For example, vegetables are generally seen as universally “healthy” but there are some people who can’t digest fresh vegetables because of health conditions so they aren’t healthy for them at all.

There are also many ways of eating that people believe are the “healthiest” way or “right” way to eat – many of them are diametrically opposed to each other:  low carb, low fat, raw foods vegan, vegetarian, paleo etc.  People are allowed to choose to eat any way that they want for any reason that they want, but making it a public and adding an element of food being good/bad becomes problematic really quickly.

Our culture encourages us to make our decisions about eating into a performance – we talk about our food choices in a way that we don’t talk about our other bodily function choices. (For example, it wouldn’t be unusual to be at lunch with three other people where we spent most of the lunch discussing what we eat and why.  It would be unusual if we spent the meal discussing how, when, and why we used the restroom even though that’s just the other side of the equation.)

When we turn our personal food choices into a public performance complete with moralization, we create a construct by which people are then judged and often shamed and stigmatized for their food choices, that ignores both context and personal choice.  This disproportionately affects the poor, people with health issues, and people from cultures and religions that are considered different than the “mainstream” (by which I mean the culture doing the judging.)  It also affects fat people since our current paradigm of size bigotry suggests that fat bodies are public property and our choices are up for public comment. It can also contribute to disordered eating and  eating disorders, the understanding being that genetics “loads the gun” by predisposing some to developing eating disorders, and environment- like one in which food choices are constantly put under a social microscope and it can seem that no choice is ever healthy “enough” – pulls the trigger.

So while it’s fine to believe that a certain way of eating is the “best” or “healthiest” for us,  if we feel the need to reinforce our choices by discussing them publicly, and calling other food/food choices “crap” or “trash” or “sinful” or “bad”or whatever, then I think we need to assess why that is.  Is it because we are trying to feel superior?  Is it simple pretension? A need to have our choices validated by insisting that those who make other choices are wrong and putting them down?  An attempt to gain social approval? Regardless I would suggest that, considering the negative outcomes that food moralizing/policing/shaming can have, opting out of it allows us to do a positive thing for our culture with no impact to our ability to make our own choices.

In my dream world everyone would have full and easy access to non-biased information about food and nutrition available to them, and would have access (including affordability, cooking method and time to prepare and the ability to learn the skills to make) the foods that they would choose to eat, and live in an environment where they are not judged for their choices.

For now I think that when it comes to nutrition we should confine ourselves to making decisions for ourselves and, if we are interested in helping others then we can work to make sure that people have access to neutral, unbiased information (giving advice only when directly asked,) and access to the foods that they would choose to eat, and respect their choices in the same way we want ours to be respected.

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:

Buy 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 13, 2014 at 12:03 pm  Comments (31)  

Of Course Katie Hopkins is Being Ridiculous

facepalmI have a few rules for this blog (they’re really more like guidelines…) and one of them is that if 100 non-troll people ask me to write about something I usually do.  Today the whole Katie Hopkins debacle passed that threshold so here you go 102 readers:

If you aren’t familiar (you lucky thing) Katie Hopkins is famous for having been part of a reality show, and subsequently saying horrible things to get attention, without a care in the world about the bigotry she perpetuates.  She’s now taking her bigotry against fat people further with a ridiculous stunt in which she gained about 44 pounds so that she can lose it to “prove” that people can lose weight if they try.  TLC has given her a two-part documentary to, in their words and not hers, “confront her attitudes and put her beliefs to the test, by following her own physical and emotional journey as she gains and loses weight, whilst exploring the broader issues of body image in our society.”

So far she has lamented about how difficult it is to eat 6500 calories a day for three months (if she’s surprised by that then clearly her meal plan did not include a bowl of No Shit Sherlock flakes) and then whined “This is a stupid project. I hate fat people for making me do this…” I agree with the first part.  As for the second, I’ve seen plenty of footage of her and in none of it did I seen a gang of menacing fat people threatening to harm her if she didn’t eat a tube of Pringles.  As far as I’m concerned the only thing I’ve seen more pathetic than her whining, is people complimenting her for her “bravery” and wishing her luck on her “difficult journey.”

In what I hope is obvious, whatever the outcome the only thing that she’s proven is what happens to her body when she engages in rapid weight gain and then attempts to lose it.  This has actually nothing to do with the experience of fat people or the likelihood of weight loss success. Luckily we don’t have to rely on n=1 publicity stunts, because we have actual research on the efficacy of long-term weight loss.  While we know that there are some people who manage to lose weight and maintain it we also know that the successes are a tiny minority. And what happens if she isn’t able to lose the weight?  What does that tell us?

But at the end of the day her “experiment” is even more pointless than that.  Fat people have the right to exist in fat bodies without shame, stigma, bullying or oppression.  Even if we could be thin.  Also, we’re completely competent witnesses to our experience.  The thing  that I find so insidious is that this “experiment” is being reported all over the place. And the idea that there is any shred of validity to it is based on the idea that we can’t believe what fat people say about their experiences, so we need a thin person to “try out” being fat, and then we’ll consider their single, completely atypical, experience to be a credible report, more valid that the lived experience of thousands of fat people, and the results of actual research based on the Scientific Method and not the Unholy Bible of PR Stunts.

There are plenty of credible reports about what it is like to be an actual fat person, so those who are interested in our experiences don’t actually need Dr. Oz in a fat suit or Katie Hopkins eating 6,500 calories a day, they could just listen to us.

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:

Buy 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 12, 2014 at 9:58 am  Comments (33)  

Paying for Our Own Oppression

Fat MoneyI was in an interesting conversation on Facebook where people were discussing whether or not, as Size Acceptance activists and/or Health at Every Size practitioners, they buy “diet’ products and why or why not. This is something I’ve thought about a lot.

There is a quote by Anna Lappe that says “Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.”  As an activist, that rings really true for me – the way that I spend my money is a form of activism.  I can spend money in a way that supports companies that support me, or I can fund companies that do something between ignoring and outright oppressing me.

First, to be clear I’m not talking about a boycott –  boycotts have absolutely proven to be effective tools in the right circumstances, and it’s true that if everyone stopped buying products that attempt to sell things to us by convincing us that we’re not good enough, they would stop doing it, but this is something different than that.  This is about making choices for how I  spend my money regardless of how anyone else spends theirs.  These decisions are rarely cut and dried, and they typically involve sacrifices. They are also personal decisions for each of us, and it’s not anybody’s job to tell us what to spend money on and our choices don’t make us better or worse than anyone else.  I’m not trying to tell anyone else how to live,  it’s just something I think is worth talking about, so I’ll confine the discussion to me.

A few years ago I made the decision to stop buying or consuming anything sold using a weight-loss or anti-obesity message.  It occurred to me that I spend a great deal of time trying to counteract these messages and that giving the people who create the messages money is a bit counter-intuitive.  So I decided to stop funding the very thing that I am trying to fight.  It has eliminated a lot of drink options, a lot of food options, there are stores where I don’t shop, and items that I don’t buy, but when I make the oatmeal from the brand that took me 10 minutes to find and cost $0.50 more, I feel good that I’m not paying for more oatmeal containers that try to terrify people into eating oatmeal in an effort to prevent them from looking like me.

Of course this leads to all kinds of judgement calls – I don’t want this to become a thing that overtakes my life but I do want my purchases to be in integrity with my beliefs.  Sometimes it is easy –  “Biggest Loser” branded carrots are right out, I’m not giving money to a show that abuses fat people for profit.  Then there are some others that are much more judgment calls – does Sweet and Low count? For me it’s easy to over think, and worry about being perfect and I have to remind myself that, just like the rest of civil rights, it’s not about perfection, it’s about making the next choice and doing the next thing in front of me.  Nobody can do everything but we can all do something, and this is one of the things that I try to do.

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:

Buy 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 11, 2014 at 11:23 am  Comments (20)  

Using Haters Wisely

Haters Walk on WaterCivil rights change always happens against the vehement objects of those who cling to the old beliefs, typically for whatever it buys for them – privilege, a false sense of superiority reinforced by social contract, fear of change, there are plenty of reasons.  In fat civil rights that brings us fairly quickly to haters, a group of people who are so upset that there are fat people who won’t hate ourselves and spend our lives dieting and professing our inferiority, that they dedicate significant amounts of their own lives to obsessing about us and everything that we do.

In fat rights activism for the foreseeable future there will be sad people who spend their time spewing hate and bigotry trying desperately to feel ok about themselves by putting others down (and, based on the ridiculously overwrought death threats I receive, playing a lot of Call of Duty.) Each of us gets to deal with this in whatever way works for us.

For me, I think that while I can create safe, hater-free spaces, I can’t eradicate them.  So one of the options I choose is using them. This post was inspired by this e-mail exchange that happened over the last few days:

A friend of mine linked to your blog on FB.  I want to respectfully challenge your premise.  I just don’t think there’s a bunch of fat discrimination and hate out there that it’s worth having a movement to fight.

I e-mailed back, sending her this blog about oppression and for hate I sent her to a couple reddit fat hate groups as well as several specific threads about me, and my hatemail page.  Today I got this e-mail back:

Thanks for answering my e-mail.  I agree with some of the examples of oppression but I would need to do more research on others which, honestly, I’m not going to take the time to do right now. I can see what you’re saying though.  I checked out those forums and I have to tell you I’m seriously horrified.  Obviously these are some messed up people and I see your point that this level of hate couldn’t exist if discrimination or stigma against big people didn’t exist in society.  Anyway,  I made a donation through your hatemail page and I followed your blog.  I doubt I’ll agree with everything you have to say but I’m willing to listen.

My haters yammer on and I spend a lot of time laughing at their antics, but I definitely find ways to use them to my advantage.  When people can’t see the fatphobia that’s all around them, these groups help put it into extremely sharp relief and help people see why the work I and other fat activists do is necessary  And it’s not just me, there are a number of fat activists and fat activism projects that have received boosts in fundraising, media, and  visibility when they used their haters wisely.

So again, you shouldn’t have to deal with haters, and if you do then you get to choose how to deal with them.  Using them wisely is just one option, whatever option you choose is completely valid.

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:

Buy 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 10, 2014 at 9:14 am  Comments (11)  

Not Up For Debate

Reality and PerceptionAs my regular readers are no doubt aware, I moderate my spaces – this blog, my Facebook page, the Facebook pages I manage etc.  This often angers the people who would like to use these spaces to forward their agenda of fat hatred and bigotry and/or call me unoriginal names.   Sometimes I get the ridiculous “You’re infringing on my freedom of speech” argument (newsflash to these Constitutional scholars –  the first amendment says “Congress shall make no laws…abridging the freedom of speech” it does not say “bloggers shall be required to post your bullshit comments”.)

The one that I want to talk about today is:

If you really believed in your cause you would allow open debate on your blog (or Facebook etc. )

In order to fight oppression, and have some respite from it, marginalized populations have every right to create spaces where their oppressors do not have a voice.   The insistence otherwise is about further oppressing people, as well as the shock of people who are laboring under the misapprehension that they should get to say whatever they want, anytime and anywhere they want, and are experiencing the rude awakening that there are spaces that aren’t for them to speak in.

Let’s also be clear that fat civil rights activism shouldn’t be necessary. The idea that our right to live in a fat body without being oppressed is debatable is a pretty clear indication of the problem.   The truth is that fat people have the right to exist in fat bodies without shaming, stigma, bullying or oppression regardless of why we are fat, what it means to be fat, or if we could become thin.  There are no other valid opinions about that.  Our rights to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and basic human respect should never be up for debate. At some point our society got confused and started to think that some people should have to debate for their civil rights with people who are already enjoying theirs. That’s complete and total bullshit.

The reason we have these spaces in the first place is that people are threatening and stealing our rights through an inappropriate use of power and privilege.  We are under no obligation to help them out.  That means that, while we may be forced to fight for rights that should already be ours, believing that we shouldn’t be oppressed does not mean that we have to allow our oppressors in our spaces to “debate” about whether or not we have the right to exist.

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:

Buy 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 8, 2014 at 7:43 am  Comments (21)  

The Joy of Not Apologizing

No apologyIn the past couple of days I’ve seen the following responses from fat people to fat shaming behavior that they experienced:

“I mean it’s true I’m a big lady, but being big shouldn’t be a reason to treat me like crap.”

“Yes, I had a second piece of pie, but nobody asked him to be my food police.”

“Sure, they weren’t the most fashionable workout clothes but I was focused on my workout, I didn’t ask her to comment on my outfit.”

There’s nothing inherently wrong with any of these, and people get to to deal with inappropriate behavior that is directed at them anyway that they want. This is not a criticism, just another option, which is that we don’t apologize for ourselves when the problem is actually someone else’s behavior.

Fat people are constantly told that we are wrong just for existing in fat bodies, it’s not a surprise if we start to internalize that.  I think that an incredibly powerful form of fat activism is to not apologize in any way for being fat, for doing things that are considered “bad” because we are fat (like eating, existing outside our homes in non-approved non-slimming clothing, exercising without the blinds closed in our own homes etc.).  When people behave inappropriately toward us, we have the option to point out their bad behavior with no apology for our existence in a fat body.

We may not yet be able to convince everyone that shaming, bullying, stigmatizing and oppressing fat people is wrong, but we can be sure of it ourselves and we can vocalize that with authority.  When someone says something inappropriate, we can respond with certainty and resist, with conviction, the urge to apologize in any way.   There are some options below, you can use these to end conversations or to start them.  As always it’s entirely up to you:

“Wow are you out of line.”

“I can’t imagine what would make you think that was an appropriate thing to say.”

“Nobody asked you to be my food police”

“What I eat is absolutely none of your business.”

“If you’re going to treat me that way, then we simply can’t be friends.”

“What I’m wearing is not your concern.”

“Honestly, I’m kind of shocked you would think that was ok to say.”

“[Your behavior] is completely inappropriate.”

Feel free to leave your ideas in the comments.  In the meantime try it, and you too may experience the joy of not apologizing.

EDIT:  One reader asked how to respond when people say that our body size/health/behavior is their business because it costs them tax dollars.  My thoughts on that can be found right here!

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 6, 2014 at 12:30 pm  Comments (15)  

LA Times Confused About Science

bad scienceThe LA Times ran a headline in their science section that read “Diets work, but brands don’t make much difference, study finds”

It goes on to talk about a meta analysis that found:

Low-carb diets were linked to 8.73 kilograms of lost weight (19.25 pounds) at 6 months, and 7.25 kg (15.98 pounds) at 12 months. The low-fat diets were close behind, with 7.99 kg (17.61 pounds) lost in the first half-year and 7.27 kg (16.03 pounds) at the one-year mark.

The careful observer will note that at some point between 6 months and 12 months weight loss turned to weight gain.  This isn’t a surprise, it’s what the long term studies of weight loss tell us – almost everyone on almost any diet can lose weight in the short term, and almost everyone gains it back in the long-term with many regaining more than they lost regardless of whether they keep their diet behaviors going or not. It’s one of the reasons why most weight loss studies (many of which are funded by weight loss companies) don’t go beyond a year or two.  When confronted by the FTC about this, weight loss industry reps said that they wouldn’t do long term studies because it would be “too depressing” for their clients.  I love the smell of for-profit “science” in the morning.

I don’t believe that weight loss should be used as a medical intervention at all, but even if doctor’s believe that it should they are still going about it in a way that doesn’t make any sense. What they’re doing at this point is the equivalent of prescribing a pill for a diagnosis that 60% of the population has, that has been shown in every long term study to work short term, but in the long term return the patient to their original sick state, making the majority more sick than they were within 5 years., then telling those who “failed” long-term (which is almost everyone) that they just need to try harder at not being sick because the treatment worked for 6 months so there’s no possible way that it can’t work forever or could stop working.  That’s not even in the same galaxy as the ethical  practice of medicine.  Again, I agree with the AMA Council on Science and Health that body size isn’t a disease,.my argument is that even if doctor’s believe it is a disease, recommending weight loss does not constitute the ethical practice of evidence-based medicine. Of course the study authors don’t agree, they claim:

This supports the practice of recommending any diet that a patient will adhere to in order to lose weight,”

Except it doesn’t, it support the practice of recommending any diet plan if the goal is for the patient to lose weight for 6 months and then start gaining it back. And here is the problem with weight loss research:  Studies show that weight loss doesn’t work long term but study authors just go ahead and say that it does.

Sometimes it’s a study where more than 2/3 of participants dropped out and the rest lost an average of 2 pounds. Sometimes it’s Weight Watchers own studies finding that the average client loses 10 pounds in the first year and gains back 5 in the second year, and their chief scientist calls that “validation” of what they are doing. Today it’s these chuckleheads finding, clearly,  that most people lose weight in the first 6 months and start gaining it back in the next 6 months and saying that supports the practice of recommending diets to patients (and I’m not even getting into the fact that this is based on the untested and scientifically challenged hypothesis that weight loss will lead to better health.) The obesity epi-panic is so completely out of control that scientists grossly misconstrue their findings, and the LA times puts in in the science section.

Activism Opportunity:  Comment on the article at http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-diet-low-fat-carb-brand-best-weight-loss-study-20140902-story.html

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 4, 2014 at 10:43 am  Comments (15)  

We’re Not Gonna Take It

Well, at least I’m not going to take it, everyone else gets to choose whether they are or aren’t.  What is it I’m not going to take? The insistence that I have to put up with poor treatment.

When I wrote about ways to deal with the Friends and Family Food Police, I got an e-mail saying that I should just “keep my mouth shut and appreciate that they care enough about to say something”.

Um, no.  I’m not going to do that. I respect everyone’s right to handle these situations in their own way, but that’s not how I roll. To me this behavior is inappropriate and I’m not going to smile pretty and take it.  The people who are in my life must respect my choices (even if they don’t agree with them) and must treat me with the level of respect that I require. I do my best to give clear communication, set specific boundaries and consequences, and follow through.  I respect someone’s choice not to be in my life, and I will not hesitate to remove someone from my life if they aren’t able to get it together. What I won’t do is be surrounded by family and “friends” treating me in a way that I find inappropriate while I shrug and say thanks.

When I wrote denouncing bullying behavior disguised as being for our own good, I got an e-mail saying that I should “stop worrying about the words people are saying and appreciate their intentions instead.”

I get why this can make people uncomfortable.  It’s difficult to see someone get upset with  a person who seems (or says that they are) well intentioned.  And I think that’s exactly what’s so insidious about this type of bullying.  People get to mistreat us and then side step while waving their red cape of “good intentions” and the compassion police will step up to misplace the blame on us.  That doesn’t work for me.

When I did a video condemning the fact that Dr. Oz, who makes MILLIONS of dollars scamming people with weight loss promises, was shocked to find out that there is research that disagrees with him, I received e-mails saying that I “need to find more compassion for Dr. Oz and where he is at in his journey”.

I might be able to locate my compassion if Dr. Oz admitted that he was on a journey, and had bothered to do a basic literature review and wasn’t a big scammy scammer. But he chooses to call himself an expert and tell millions of people (as a medical doctor who they trust, and for profit) to do something when he hasn’t even bothered to look at the research and/or he knows that it’s not going to work.  I’m not scraping up a lot of compassion for Dr. Oz, though I do have tons of compassion for the people he is so confidently and profitably lying to.

In this culture fat people deal with a whole bunch of crap and everyone has their own way to deal with it and that is totally cool, but I will not give up the option of insisting that I be treated with respect, and pointing out fat shaming/hating/stigmatizing when I see it.

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 3, 2014 at 8:40 am  Comments (26)