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)  

Over 4 Million Served

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published in: on September 2, 2014 at 11:43 am  Comments (7)  

Marathon Update: Pushing It

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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

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

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

Asking for Acommodation

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

For me there are three basic principles to remember:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If I was going to a spa/resort etc:

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

The doctor’s office I covered here.

Airlines I covered here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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

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

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

Not Flawed Problems

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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

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

Published in: on August 27, 2014 at 11:05 am  Comments (24)  

Natasha is Pained

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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

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

 

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

Marathon Update: Different Dreams

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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

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

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