Dealing With The Anger of Fatphobia

Angry FrustratedOne of things that changed for me (and that others often tell me changed for them) when I became a Size Acceptance Activist was that I started to see all of the size-based stigma, bullying and oppression (that I used to think I deserved because I had a fat body) for what it was.  And then came the anger.  Recently a reader asked me a question about this:

Hi Ragen, I am a fat woman who has been following your blog for years now and I had a question. How do we keep the anger from hurting us? I’m talking about my anger at the world for treating me so badly for being fat. I have a major chip on my shoulder about this, but it’s not like I’m holding a grudge against someone who did something to me in the past. I’m angry at a world who treats me horribly every day. This anger can help with activism, but I am suspicious of others, less friendly and open, and just generally angry all the time. I know this anger and resentment is hurting me. Channeling it into activism seems to make it even worse – the more I focus on the injustice, the angrier and more resentful I get. How do you deal with this? How have others you’ve known dealt with it? Any help you could provide would be much appreciated!

Before I get into this let me be clear that these are the ways that I deal with anger, and your mileage may vary.  It’s also cool if you do something else – each person gets to choose how to deal with the oppression that comes at them.

The first thing that I do about anger is remember that it is valid.  It’s not in my head – the way I am treated as a fat person in this society is severely fucked up and it absolutely shouldn’t be happening. There are lots of ways to deal with anger but for me first and foremost it’s about not internalizing it and not letting it eat at me.

So the second thing that I do is put the problem where it belongs, which is with the entity doing the stigmatizing, shaming, and oppression, and not with my body. I constantly remind myself that the crap that comes at me on a daily basis is not my fault and that, though it can become my problem because I have to deal with it, I’m not actually the one with the issue here.

Once I have those two things sorted I have a lot of options and what I do varies depending on the situation, the person, my goal in that moment, the day I’m having, and any number of other factors.

Often I choose some form of activism – blog about it, write an email or letter to the offending party,  sometimes I discuss the issue with someone in person.  I might put it on Facebook and suggest that other people get involved etc.  The tone with which I do this also varies depending on the situation.

Often (especially in person) I go for the teachable moment  – taking their intention into account, finding compassion, looking for opportunities to build bridges etc. But sometimes my goal isn’t to help them overcome their bigotry and/or I just don’t have it for the teachable moment and in those situations I sometimes react with anger and I don’t apologize for that – anger is a completely reasonable reaction to shaming, stigmatizing, and bullying.  It’s important to remember that when we quell our anger at being mistreated and go for the teachable moment we’re not fulfilling some obligation, we’re doing a courtesy to someone who is behaving badly

In a similar vein, I think it’s important to understand the techniques that people will use to derail conversations about oppression, or in defensiveness when they are called out on bad behavior.  Everything from can’t you take a joke to I’m just concerned about your health to all the other ways that someone (or a company) who has just had their fatphobic behavior pointed out doubles down on that behavior. I may or may not decide to continue the conversation but I again go through the process: recognize it for what it is, correctly assign the problem to the person doing it and then make a decision about how I want to handle it.

The final thing that I do is remember that I have all the options available to me.  One techique that people who engage in fatphobia often use is trying to tell you what you have to do – that you have to do this or that, that you have to prove this or that, that you have to react a certain way or use a certain tone or say certain things.  I always remember that the truth is that telling people who you are actively oppressing what hoops they have to jump through to woo you into not oppressing them anymore is the veritable definition of being a complete jackass.  The people who are telling me to hate myself (and have no business doing that) are also not the people who should get to dictate how I deal with that oppression.  So whether I politely ask someone if they wouldn’t mind not oppressing me so much, or I go home and hit a pillow with a tennis racket, or something in between, those are all valid reactions.

For me one of things that I think is important if I’m going to use activism to deal with my anger is to make activism the goal in and of itself, and consider any change that comes from it to be a bonus.  I can’t control other people’s behavior so I engage in activism for what it does for me – because standing up against the oppression that I deal with helps me to feel good about myself and not buy into the negative messages that get pushed on my for other people’s fun and profit. That said, if you find that participating activism is harming you then one completely valid option is to take a break, surround yourself with supportive people and go to your happy place.

Also, instead of focusing on injustices, you can focus your activism on supporting other fat people.  There are a bunch of fat people out there who are angry at their bodies instead of the people that stigmatize, shame, and oppress them because of their bodies, and while I have no interest in telling them how they have to live,  I want to make sure that they know there is another option.

So that’s me, as always other ideas are welcome in the comments!

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Become 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.  Click here for details

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

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 

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

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

Published in: on October 14, 2014 at 11:33 am  Comments (12)  

Just Say No…And Yes

DefendKeeping fat people feeling terrible about ourselves is big business.  The diet industry makes well over 60 Billion dollars a year selling a product that doesn’t work.  But we aren’t just oppressed for profit. We’re also often oppressed for other people’s self-esteem, or for their sport.

It sucks but there are sad people who base their self-esteem on being better than someone, and in current society fat people are easy targets for this.  There are also seriously messed up people who think it’s fun to be hurtful jackasses for sport.  These are the people who jump on the chance to say something terrible about a fat person any time we become visible for any reason.

So fat people stay out of the public eye.  Not because we want to necessarily, but because we don’t want to be publicly humiliated (which is a completely legitimate fear.)  So we don’t run for city council, take that class, go to the gym, go for our Ph.D to become a professor, we turn down that opportunity to speak at a local organization.  Again, not because we don’t want to do these things (which is a completely legitimate choice), but because we fear the junior high school teasing that we know all too well can come along with it.

This is one of the many negative outcomes of a society where we use body size as a proxy for health, and where we think it’s ok to judge people for their health.  Taken separately both of those are horrible ideas but together they create a toxic society where fat and the fear of being fat chip away at self-esteem, happiness, dreams, and eventually for some, physical and mental health.  This is not fat people’s fault, but it can quickly become our problem.  We do have options for activism around this. It may mean discomfort, it may mean sacrifice. The thing about social change is that to create it a lot of people have to be a little brave and make a few sacrifices, some people have to be brave and make a lot of sacrifices, and a few people have to be incredibly brave and risk everything.  To be clear, none of these people have to be you – nobody is obligated to do activism of any kind ever and choosing to opt out of being treated horribly by jerks is a completely valid life choice.  There are lots of options for activism and one of them is in the power of choosing when to say no and when to say yes:

No, I will not allow my life choices to be limited by your ridiculous juvenile bad behavior.

No, I do not care what you think of me.

No, I am not interested in losing weight.  No, I’m not interested in your thoughts about that.

No, you will not succeed at bullying me into quitting [insert activity here.]

No, you cannot live in my head rent free.  Hell, you can’t live in my head even if you paid rent.

No, I will not give you the power to hurt me or limit me in any way.

No, you cannot have my lunch money any more.

Yes, I love to dance so I’ll see you in class on Saturday.

Yes, I’d love to talk about how I xeriscaped my lawn at the homeowners association meeting.

Yes, I love myself and my body and it’s awesome.

Yes, I am running for Congress, vote for me!

There is power in yes and no and the ways we choose to use them.  (Feel free to put your yes and no statements in the comments!)

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Become 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.  Click here for details

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

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 

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

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

 

Published in: on October 13, 2014 at 9:42 am  Comments (13)  

Marathon Update: Me and My Feet a Love/Hate Story

Duck feetI have duck feet.  To be more specific I have duck feet 3.0.  My maternal grandmother had duckfeet 1.0 – they are short, wide, with high arches and a narrow heel.  My mom has duckfeet 2.o, shorter, wider, higher arches, narrower heel.  My feet are womens size 5.5 EEEE with arches that you could do the limbo under, and super narrow heels.

Not only are the feet passed down, so are the jokes.  I can’t remember a trip to the specialty shoe store (that only sold ugly blocky leather shoes) where someone didn’t say “just keep the shoes and give her the boxes.”  Hilarious.

There are many things I love about my feet.  They are super strong – almost any time I get a foot massage, or a regular massage that includes my feet, the massage therapist always comments on how strong they are.  The high arches give them a lovely toe point and as a dancer I was known for having “good feet” which means that they moved smoothly through the five basic foot positions which I’ve noticed that small feet and high arches can make having “good feet” easier.  I’ve never been tempted to participate in the culture of paying hundreds or even thousands of dollars for cute shoes, since nobody who makes cute shoes makes them in my size. I’m secretly hoping that their semblance to flippers will help me in the swim for my IRONMAN.

Still, finding shoes can be super frustrating.  My feet stopped growing around 8th grade and they looked exactly like they do now.  In my teens and twenties I considered finding out if there was a surgery that could make them more narrow  – not because there is anything wrong with my feet but because people with my size feet are not a market that most shoe companies are interested in pursuing apparently.  I don’t care about cute shoes so much but finding shoes for the activities I want to do is a pain in the ass.  I never had dance shoes that weren’t way too tight on the ball of my foot (and often too loose on the heel) and too big, and since New Balance changed their running shoes to have a more narrow toe box there are no running shoes that fit me.  My current choices are good fitting cross trainers with running insoles or running shoes that are 2.5 sizes too big and still not quite wide enough. Fruatrating, yes.  But I’m certainly not going to let it stop me.

So while I have been in a great place with my relationship with my fat body for a such a long time so that it’s almost on autopilot, I have to put more energy into my relationship with my feet, especially as I’m looking for running shoes for the marathon, bike shoes for my upcoming triathlons etc. There are three things that I do consistently to stay friends with my feet.  First is being really grateful to my feet for everything that they do for me – like carrying me around whether it’s in releve, or pedaling a bike, or running.  Also, just like when I’m frustrated with the clothes available in my size, it’s important to remember to put the problem where it belongs – in this case with the lack of shoes that are available in my size – not on my feet which are absolutely fine the way that they are.  Finally, I make it a point to take super good care of my feet, stretching them, rolling out the arches, massages, pedicures etc.

If you have a body part that you’re having some trouble finding the love for, maybe try some of these things. As for me, I’m off to put my feet up.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Become 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.  Click here for details

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

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 

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

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

Published in: on October 12, 2014 at 9:53 am  Comments (19)  

It’s Not An Obesity Epidemic

DefendAh the obesity epidemic.  The media can’t get enough of talking about it. But what are we fighting against? Trumped up charges of fat people causing additional health care costs, or how much we cost the workplace?  People who decided that we’ve have strayed too far from the stereotypical beauty standard?

And what are we fighting for?  A world without people whose weight in pounds times 703 divided by their height in inches squared is greater than 30?  A world where we find a group of people who we can identify by sight, decide that they are too expensive, and systematically attempt to eradicate them through means that hardly ever work but generate tremendous profits across multiple industries?

What weapons do we have?  The first study that showed that weight loss fails 95% of the time happened in 1959.  Since then the same result has been repeated in hundreds of studies and has never been disproved by any study.  We have no idea how to make fat people thin, the thing that we suggest fails 95% of the time, and up to 2/3 of the time actually has the OPPOSITE result when people gain more weight than they lost.  Yet the war on obesity encourages us to throw good money after bad on odds that I wouldn’t take on a hand of dollar blackjack.

Weight loss has been failing for 50 years and we’re still blaming fat people?  The tool that is most often wielded is shame.  Doctors, teachers, family and friends are encouraged to shame fat people, to make them feel horrible about themselves, hate the body they live in 100% of the time.

What we are really experiencing is not an obesity epidemic.  It’s an size bigotry and shaming epidemic.

We know that shame/stigma is correlated with the same diseases as obesity.  We know that concern about body weight was a stronger predictor of mental and physical illnesses than BMI (said another way, women who were concerned about their weight had more mental and physical illness than women who were fine with their size – regardless of their weight.  We also know that, while there are no obligations or guarantees,  healthy habits have been shown to increase of chances of health much more successfully than trying to manipulate our body size.

It’s not just that shame doesn’t work. The problem is that shame, like weight loss, often results in the opposite of the intended effect. We know that movement can be an option to support our health for people of all sizes.  However, in addition to the negative effects of shame mentioned above, the fat shame and weight bullying that are encouraged in our society mean that many fat people don’t engage in sports/fitness/movement that they want to try because of a well-justified fear of being mistreated. Fat kids grow up hating their bodies and feeling like they aren’t worthy of care because they are shamed by family, teachers, students and sometimes the First Lady of the United States.

There is a possibility that all of the “negative” health effects that are correlated with obesity will end if we simply stop shaming fat people, if we create a world that respects a diversity of body sizes and provides access to the foods that people would choose, movement options that are enjoyable and safe (which includes physical safety and also psychological safety – like the ability to go to the gym, pool, beach, ride a bike etc. without even the idea that we might face shame, stigma, and bullying), and affordable, accessible, evidence-based healthcare.

Instead, we have government-sanctioned shame, stigma and bullying. The government encourages people to look at fat people as scapegoats for the Nation’s ills.  Which is pretty convenient for the government – as long as we’re shaming and blaming fat people they don’t have to address real issues like a lack of access to healthy foods, safe stigma-free movement options and affordable evidence-based healthcare or the fact that the dieting that they’ve been pushing doesn’t work.

We’ve been trying weight loss for more than half a century and the best we have been able to do is 5% success. Which is exactly what all the evidence in those 50 years said would happen. I don’t believe that obesity is a disease, but since weight loss is considered a medical intervention, ask yourself this:  If we were having a “war on cancer” and were trying the same treatment protocol and 95% of the time all the Cancer came back and 2/3 of the time the cancer got worse; on year 53 would the government declare a war on cancer using that same treatment?

It’s obviously time to try something different.

If we really feel the need to have a war as it relates to fat people, let’s wage war against shame. Against stigma.  Against bullying. Against the suggestion that everyone who looks like us should be eradicated from the Earth and prevented from existing in the future.

I think a world free from shame, stigma and size bullying is a world worth fighting for.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Become 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.  Click here for details

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

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 

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

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

Published in: on October 10, 2014 at 10:07 am  Comments (25)  

I’m Not Blogging About This

Actual SizeDespite the offers I get (some stranger than others), I don’t write blog posts for money, or allow people to write posts and pay me to post them, or put ads on my blog.  The reason for this is that if the people paying me do something problematic, I don’t want to be in a situation of choosing between paying my rent or calling them out.  (Hence my membership program) But today I got an offer that was harder to refuse.

I was offered $125 to blog about an athletic wear/dance wear company.  The offer said “It doesn’t really matter what the subject is as long as you feel it would be the best fit for your site and audience.” Upon looking at the site the largest size was XL which, according to their size guide, is a US size 12.

I think that one of the ways that you can teach people a lesson is through their wallet, and $125 would buy some nice athletic wear from a company that does sell my size, so I toyed with the idea of doing the post and taking the money.

I decided not to for several reasons. First because the request came from an SEO company representing the actual company so the actual company probably had nothing to do with it and I’m not sure it’s fair to punish the company because their SEO dude is incompetent. Also because whether or not the company knew about it I didn’t want to (as my friends who actually know about SEO assured me I would) help their Google position by linking to them in my established blog, and finally because I thought of an option that I decided was both more fun and at least a little more likely to open a dialog.

So I sent the following e-mail to the company:

Hello,

My name is Ragen Chastain, I’m a blogger who was contacted by Sirius SEO on your behalf. They offered me $125.00 to to blog about your product. (I run two blogs – www.danceswithfat.org and www.ironfat.com, as well as co-running the Fit Fatties Forum and Facebook page with a combined following of 23,272 people.) I checked out your site and your clothes are super cute.  Unfortunately, as a size 26/28 you don’t carry any clothing to fit me. I decided to send you this e-mail and see if we might open a dialog about carrying clothing for athletes and dancers larger than a US size 12.  Please contact me if you’re interested, I’d be happy to put together a group of women to discuss it with you.

Sincerely,

~Ragen

I’ll keep you updated on how it goes.  Until then if you’re looking for plus size workout-type clothes, there is a discussion here – the comments have some great suggestions as well.

For those of you size diversity activists who wear smaller sizes, one option for activism is to buy your clothes at places that also sell clothes for people who wear plus sizes (or, as I like to call them, sizes.) That way, we reward companies that are inclusive and when companies choose to ignore fat people it’s not just our money that they miss out on.  Of course, what activism you engage in is always up to you.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Take Care of Yourself! The Super Earlybird rates for the RASCAL (Radical Acts of Self Care) Challenge are good through October 8th (that’s today!). This program was developed by the Fit Fatties Forum in response to requests to find a way to help us take good care of ourselves through the end of the year and all that entails. Check it out here!

Become 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.  Click here for details

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

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 

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

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

Published in: on October 8, 2014 at 9:32 am  Comments (16)  

I Know What Boys Like, I Know What Guys Want

Nothing to proveI often see women justify our worth based on what men think of us.   I was thinking about this because I heard the song “All About That Bass” on the way home.  In addition to the issues with cultural appropriation and thin shaming there is the message that fat bodies are better because “I’ve got the boom boom that all the boys chase” and that her mom said not to worry about her size because “boys like a little more booty to hold at night.”

I saw a post on Facebook that said “Men like meat not bones.”  So men are dogs, women are dog food, and women should strive to be the food that the men/dogs find most delicious?  And this empowers who now? Or the idea that fat women should feel good about ourselves because we can have sex with/date traditionally attractive guys – trying to fight the system that oppresses women by buying into that system as it applies to men.

Meanwhile Subway has a commercial suggesting that women should eat their sandwiches instead of burgers so that we can stay thin enough to look sexy in our Halloween costumes.  Ignoring the issues with the idea that Subway sandwiches will keep you thinner than burgers, or that fat women can’t look sexy in costumes, the idea that women should buy things because otherwise we won’t look sexy enough is, disturbingly, a tried and true way to sell beauty and diet products

These things always seem to ignore a number of factors – that some men aren’t sexually interested in women at all, that men’s attractions vary to include women of all sizes, that some women don’t care if men are sexually attracted to them (though this doesn’t seem to matter as much since it’s about the social reward for meeting the stereotype of beauty as defined by men,) that “men” and “women” aren’t the only gender categories, that men’s preferences are developed while they are steeped in a culture that shoves a single stereotype of beauty down our throats.  Oh, and THAT WOMEN’S VALUE IS NOT BASED ON WHETHER OR SOME  PLURALITY OF MEN WILL FUCK US.

The underpants rule applies here and so of course women are allowed to judge their value based on what men think of them, I’m not trying to tell anyone how to live.  I’m suggesting that if we work to dismantle a society where all women are encouraged to believe that they should base their self-worth on how attractive men find us – and where the way that we are treated depends on it in many ways – then each of us gets to choose how we determine our value. I think that the power is in creating a world where we have real options and then making an authentic choice, not finding a way to be ok with no choice at all.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Take Care of Yourself! The Super Earlybird rates for the RASCAL (Radical Acts of Self Care) Challenge are good through October 8th. This program was developed by the Fit Fatties Forum in response to requests to find a way to help us take good care of ourselves through the end of the year and all that entails! Check it out here!

Become 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.  Click here for details

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

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 

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

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

Published in: on October 7, 2014 at 6:36 am  Comments (42)  

Marathon Update – Disasters I Have Known

StuntsThis blog in two parts.  I’m writing the first part now, before I go running, I’ll write the second after.  I just started with my new IRONMAN Coach and preparing for the marathon is the first race on the way to the 2016 Arizona IRONMAN.  My training plan to this point has focused on run walk intervals and increasing the amount of time that I can run and the speed that I can walk. We’re trying something different for now, it’s still intervals but the idea at first is to make the runs faster and do the walk slower. (Fair warning – the info about time and distance will be vague since I’m paying him for the training, not for the rights to publish it on the internet.) Tonight is my first workout with the new style – it’s a long run using this style of longer faster run intervals and slower walk intervals.  I really have no idea how it’s going to go, and he was super clear that it may feel like stepping back at first, and this is our first workout, but I’m still feeling pretty stressed.

In my experience sometimes I can do much more than I think I can, but running isn’t something for which that has ever been the case. We are also trying some new nutrition stuff and so I ate and now have to wait 60 minutes to go on my run.  I’m trying to stay positive as the minutes tick by before I go out (currently t-minus 21 minutes and counting)  but I’m worried –  What if I just can’t hold a pace that fast?  What if I can’t finish the distance?

This is my first long run since we’ve started working together and we have some time before the marathon and lots of time before the IRONMAN (it’s one of the reasons that I decided to take a full two years) and I understand that it’s a process to dial in where I am and what will work blah blah blah but I just want it to go well.  Time to make final preparations and get going, see you in a few intervals… while I’m gone please enjoy this amusing song about a misunderstood kitty named Sparta

Aaaand I’m back.

When they write my biography, this will be the character building funny part. (As always, 10 points for getting the reference.)  Intellectually I know all the things that I already said – it’s a process, this is our first workout together so we don’t even have a baseline yet, but on a gut level I just want this to go great and it so very much did not.  I became apparent during the first interval that I was not going to be able to hold the pace over the time, I kept trying and failing for the first half of the long run, then I decide to cut the time by a third and that helped a lot, I still didn’t hold the pace, but I was able to keep it closer.

Unfortunately my pushing during the first half meant that I was super exhausted the second half, the last half mile wasn’t so much an interval run as it was me being unwilling to quit until I hit five miles.  (That scene from Burlesque where Cher says “I will never give it up” actually popped, uninvited, into my head.)

So I know that I have time, a great coach, and stubborness on my side.  I just have to keep moving forward and keep reminding myself that I decided to do the marathon and IRONMAN  because I wanted to do something that I’m not good at (and tonight is a big checkity check in that box) and I wanted to run right right at my fears.  So I’ll leave you with this video that I’ve always found super inspiring and remind you that you can read more about my IRONMAN journey at www.IronFat.com

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

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 

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

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

Published in: on October 5, 2014 at 11:03 am  Comments (7)  

F*ck PETA

Angry FrustratedFair warning, if you couldn’t tell from the title, today is a swearing ranty day.  PETA is up to their old tricks, using fatphobia to try to convince people to become vegan.

This time it’s with a proposed ad that creates the optical illusion that a bus is tiling to the right because of a fat man with the slogan “Time to Go Vegan.”

 

Fuck you PETA.

First of all, I’m not excited about a campaign that tries to get what they believe is the ethical treatment of animals accomplished through the unethical treatment of fat people. Maybe they should change their name to PUTOFF (People for the Unethical Treatment of Fat Fatties) at least the acronym would be apt.

Also, I hate to break it to PETA, but a guy who looks the one in their picture could easily BE a vegan.  There are fat vegans.  And they are often treated horribly by the vegan community because of bullshit like this that suggests that a vegan diet will make everyone thin, that being thin should be the goal of a vegan diet, and that any vegan who is not thin is a “bad example” of veganism. If you really believe that being vegan is the right thing to do morally, then perhaps take a pass on creating a culture of shame, stigma, bullying and bigotry toward people who are doing what you believe is the right thing, because you don’t like the way they look.

PETA spokesman Ben Williamson told Creativity (where you can leave a comment by the way) that the ad is “a light-hearted way of putting across a life-saving message.” This is a stunningly clear example of why people who aren’t the targets of bigotry (including and especially those creating the bigotry) should not get to comment on the severity or likely effects of it.

I hope that the irony of using humor based on bigotry to forward what a group believes is a social justice issue is not lost on anyone. And I hope that PETA takes their fatphobic bullshit and fucks right the hell off.

EDIT!  A note about comments:   One of the things that I love most about this blog is how awesome the comments section is and how respectfully people generally disagree and stay on topic.  That said, I know that food choices can be something that brings up a lot of emotions so a quick reminder that this is a space to talk about the Size Acceptance and Fat Activism, Health at Every Size etc., it is not a place to moralize about food, or shame anyone for their choices around food – even if you’re passionate about your beliefs, even if you’re certain that what you believe is right and what others believe is wrong.  Those are conversations that you are absolutely allowed to have, you’re just not allowed to have them here.  I ask that you please respect my request and don’t make me spend a bunch of time moderating comments. If you have questions you can check out this post and/or feel free to e-mail me at Ragen at danceswithfat dot org.  I hope you understand. Thanks.

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

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 

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

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

Published in: on October 3, 2014 at 9:07 am  Comments (37)  

Caffeinated Underpants for Weightloss?

Caffeinated UnderpantsReader Jenna sent me a link to an article that brings a whole new meaning to The Underpants Rule and has one of the best first paragraphs I’ve ever read:

“If you purchased caffeine-infused underwear because of promises it will make you thinner, federal regulators say you were hoodwinked — but at least you can get your money back.”

As I researched this story today I found that a lot of people used it to take cheap shots at people who have been made so absolutely desperate to lose weight by a society where there are very real negative consequences for not fitting a stereotype of beauty that they bought the shapewear, hoping that the promises were true.

Let me start by pointing out that the research shows that there is no intentional weight loss method whose long term success is more than a few percentage points better than caffeinated underpants.  Weight watchers own research shows that the average client loses 10 pounds, then gains back half of that by the second year. Then they stopped asking which is probably because research shows that most people gain it all back (with many gaining back more than they lost) within 5 years.  We’re currently seeing a trend of two year studies that finally admit that every single participant regained weight, but claim that it’s ok because they are still lower than their starting weight  – conveniently forgetting to mention that they’ve given themselves a three year cushion.

In fact, caffeine infused underwear might well be safer than dieting since you may avoid messing up your metabolism and levels of grehlin and leptin.  Plus you can take the undewear off, unlike dieting which leaves the body in a biologically altered state well after the diet is done. Not to mention that the underpants simply won’t change your body size, unlike dieting where you are most likely to lose weight in the short term and gain it back in the longterm which, when done multiple times opens people up to the dangers of weight cycling (aka yo-yo dieting.)

So instead of asking why people would choose to wear caffeinated shapewear (or shapewear at all…) why not ask why people laugh at caffeinated underwear as a weight loss attempt because it has a 0% success rate, while recommending methods that are only a couple percent more effective with major downside risk?  People are allowed to do what they want with their bodies but we need to start giving people honest information about the (very low chance of) long-term success and the rate of downside risk.  The FTC has taken another step by taking measures against the companies that lied about the effects of caffeinated underpants, but there are lots more steps to take.

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

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 

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

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

Published in: on October 2, 2014 at 8:35 am  Comments (22)  

Living a Normal Life

No apologyReader Deanna sent me an article   (TW: The article has some problematic language) about how her city has purchased ambulances that are created to accommodate fat people. Predictably many people disagreed with the decision, calling medical care for fat people a “waste of taxpayer dollars.”

Obviously it’s horrifying that people feel like that whether or not someone gets life-saving care should be based on how they look (and what stereotypes are associated with that) – the idea being that people like them having ambulances and medical equipment that fits them is a basic right, but fat people having access to the exact same things is a “special right.”  Nobody seems to care that items that accommodate fat people also often do a better job accommodating people with disabilities and the elderly, as well as accommodating thin people. (And of course that doesn’t even begin to discuss the ways that racism, ableism, and classism affect the ability to get good medical care.)

The fact that people feel like this is not a surprise to me, it has been made perfectly clear to me that there are people who are happy to “win the war on obesity” by making fat people thin, or dead.  I don’t think that this actually represents as many people as it might seem, I just think that people who hate fat people also love making anti-fat comments on the internet.

The thing I want to talk about today is a bit more insidious. Even among the comments that were supportive of the city buying the ambulances there were several that said that they hoped that they found a way for people who need the ambulances to lose weight so that they could live “normal lives.”  I’ve heard this before from people who are taking exception to my decision not to diet. This is an extension of the problematic idea that fat people who deal with social stigma should solve it by losing weight, rather than by fighting social stigma.  In the “normal life” scenario the idea is that the world is created to suit people of a certain size (and often those who are currently able-bodied, neurotypical, white etc.) and everyone else should do what they can to fit that mold, rather than making the world more accommodating.  This puts the responsibility for those who aren’t accommodated on them to change themselves rather than realizing that the issue is the lack of accommodation.

Of course I can’t speak for all fat people, I can only speak for myself, but if you want to help me as a fat person have a “normal life” then I would ask that you focus on the ways that our society currently fails to accommodate fat people.  If you’re not fat a good place to start can be looking at things that you get as a matter of course that fat people don’t – ambulances and healthcare items are a really good example, so is something as simple as seating at a restaurant, theater, or on public transportation.  Ask yourself what a “normal life” means to you, then ask yourself what could be done to give that to fat people without making fat people thin.

If you are fat and you’re dealing with the idea that your size means that you can’t live a “normal life” it can be helpful to remember that the reason for that is that many things were created by people who ignored the fact that fat people exist.  That’s not our fault, though it can become our problem. As with any oppression, the people on the receiving end get to deal with it in whatever way they choose. Those who wish to help dismantle it would do well, as a first step, not to suggest that we should blame people whose lives are affected by a lack of accommodation for that lack.  Not being blamed for the oppression I deal with would be a great start to me being able to live a “normal life.”

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 

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

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

 

 

Published in: on October 1, 2014 at 12:08 pm  Comments (27)