Don’t All Fat People Want to Be Thin?

Splits on WallstreetLast year when I was training for the marathon I would often see a woman in my neighborhood walking her adorable dog.  I would pet the dog and we would chat, it was always lovely. For the first time since the marathon I saw her again last night on my run/walk and we had this conversation:

Her:  How did your marathon go?

Me:  I finished it!  It took me almost 13 hours! (I almost always round up my age, weight, and marathon time.)

Her:  How much weight did you lose?
Me (in my head):  WTF?
Me (outloud):  None.
Her:  Oh, I’m sorry.
Me:  Why?
Her:  Well, you did all that walking…
Me:  Yes, to finish the marathon.  I have no interest in losing weight, I wanted to finish a marathon and I did.
Her:  [looks really confused]  Well, congratulations on your marathon…
Me:  Thanks!

The idea that all fat people want to/are actively trying to lose weight is extremely common.  You may remember that in my debate with Dr. Howard Shapiro he became downright aggressive about it. While I understand how the deluge of advertising that we get from the diet industry could certainly give people this idea, and I understand people’s kneejerk reaction that I should try to solve the stigma, bullying, and oppression that comes at me as a fat person by changing myself and I try to take that into account when I deal with this because I understand that this is the product of a messed up society, the truth is that the cure for stigma, bullying and oppression is ending stigma, bullying and oppression – the solution for me is not to try to change myself and hope that the bullies will stop taking my lunch money.

I despise the assumption that I hate my body.  I am offended when people at the gym ask how much weight I’ve lost or what my weight loss goal is.  I completely reject the idea that  my body is something to be pitied or ashamed of.

First of all, my body is amazing.  Heartbeat, blinking, breathing, my body does a million things a day without me asking, and it does so many things that I do ask it to –  from giving hugs to doing the splits.  My body deserves nothing less than my love and full-throated support. I am fiercely protective of my body.

Me and my fat body live an amazing life full of great friends and fabulous experiences.  The only thing that interrupts my big fat fantastic life is the crap that comes at me from people who choose to give voice and form to their prejudices, preconceptions, stereotypes and bigotry about fat people, whether ill-intentioned or not.

When I do interviews I’m often asked “if you could be thin with no negative side effects, would you?”  My answer is always “No.  But if I had a wish, I would use it to end fat stigma and weight bullying – my body is fine, the world is messed up.”

Our fat bodies are fine, the world is seriously screwed up.  It’s not our fault but it becomes our problem.  For me that’s where fat activism comes in – to me a big part of my fat activism is about sticking up for the body that I live in 100% of the time and that let’s me do every single thing that I can do. I don’t know about you, but I’m certain that my body deserves nothing less that my complete support.

Fat Activism Conference

The schedule and workshops descriptions are out for the Fat Activism Conference! Three days, 38 speakers, teleconference style so that you can listen on the phone or computer from wherever you are, only $39 with a pay-what-you-can option to make it accessible to as many people as possible.  Check it out!

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

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 selling things on this site, you are invited to check out this post

Published in: on July 16, 2014 at 11:19 am  Comments (28)  

When They’re Concerned About Your Health

Bad DoctorIn response to my post about dealing with body shamers I had a number of people ask me how to deal with concern trolls – ie:  those who say something like “I think it’s fine that you like yourself, I’m just concerned about your health.”  These people may be well meaning, but here’s the deal with this – our health is none of anybody else’s business unless we choose to make it their business. The difference between education and concern trolling is request and permission.  If we don’t ask someone for their opinion about our health, and we don’t give them permission to discuss it with us, then they are allowed to feel concerned (or anything else) but they’re going to have to learn to self-soothe.

This can be difficult to deal with because, since people seem well intentioned, we can feel obligated to appreciate what they are doing, or accept it as ok.  Like everything, it’s your choice how to deal with it, but for me this is not ok.  People are allowed to be concerned about whatever they want, but it is not ok to unburden that concern onto me. Peter Muennig from Columbia did research about body size and shame and found that women who are concerned about their size have more mental and physical illnesses than women who are fine with their size, regardless of their size.  So, being incessantly barraged by the message that I should be concerned with my size is contraindicated for improved health.

And let’s not forget that however well-intentioned it might be, this kind of concern is based on all kinds of myths, misunderstandings, and misinformation that conflates weight and health. Health is not an obligation, barometer of worthiness, entirely within our control, guaranteed regardless of behavior body size or anything else, or anyone else’s damn business.

There are lots of reasons that people may choose to express their concern.  There are some who are truly  well-meaning, for others it’s about feeling superior, feeding their ego, or just killing fatties with kindness. For some it’s a knee jerk reaction from tons of programming that they’ve received about body size and health.  But if it doesn’t fit within what you consider acceptable behavior it does not matter why someone does it.

So when someone says “I’m just concerned about your health,” here are some options for dealing with it.

Basic responses:

  • No need.
  • I’m not currently soliciting opinions about my health.
  • My health is none of your business.

Responses for a teachable moment if you want one:

  • I practice Health at Every Size, if you want more information I’m happy to send you some resources.
  • According to research out of Columbia, people who are concerned about their weight have more physical and mental illness than those who aren’t – regardless of weight.  So every time you try to make me concerned about my weight you may be putting my health in jeopardy.
  • Can you tell me how you justify your beliefs based on the findings of Matheson et al., Wei et. al, the Cooper Institute Longitudinal studies, and Mann and Tomiyama 2007 and 2013?
  • The most likely outcome of weight loss attempts is weight regain, so even if you believe that fat is bad, weight loss attempts are the worst thing that you could recommend.

The things I think but do not say when I’m having a bad day:

  • My path to health is something that I’ve spent hundreds of hours researching – how about you?
  • I’m concerned that you don’t understand what is and is not your business.
  • I’m confused – what was it I said that made you think it was appropriate to make wild guesses about my health?
  • So it seems like you lost your beeswax, sorry I but haven’t seen it.
  • Are you feeling ok? I think you just hallucinated that you’re my doctor.

Edit:  It has been suggested that the last bullet point was ableist – disparaging to those with mental illness that cause hallucinations.  I wrote it specifically to avoid this since hallucinations can be caused by so many things (dehydration, lack of sleep, ingested substances etc.) and aren’t a definitive diagnosis of any mental illness. That doesn’t mean it’s not ableist but I wanted to leave it with discussion  and my apologies rather than simply deleting it and acting like it didn’t happen.

For more tools for dealing with a fat-phobic world, check out the Fat Activism Conference.  Three days, 38 speakers, teleconference style so that you can listen on the phone or computer from wherever you are, only $39 with a pay-what-you-can option to make it accessible to as many people as possible.  Check it out!

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

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 selling things on this site, you are invited to check out this post

 

 

Published in: on July 14, 2014 at 7:56 am  Comments (36)  

Unapologetically Fat

You Forgot Your BullshitLinda Kelsey has written a brilliant piece of satire showing just how ridiculous obesity hysteria has beco… wait… what?  It’s not satire?  Are you sure?  Really.  Holy shit! Linda Kelsey has written a piece of bigotry-riddled hate-ridden drivel that should make us all embarrassed for her.

While I’ll deal with her fat bigotry in this piece, it’s horribly unfortunate that in her rush to explain why fat people shouldn’t be treated with basic human dignity, she grossly mis-characterizes the very real dangers of eating disorders.

What has Linda’s panties in a such a bunch?  Well it turns out that three fat women (Linda makes it clear that they were “not chubby but fat”) were at the airport getting ready to go on vacation, and they had the gall to be happy and carefree, and dress in ways that Linda didn’t like. I mean, who do these girls think they are, right? Linda prattles on about what she feels is justification for her bigotry:

I am unapologetically fattist. It’s unattractive, it’s unhealthy and, given the problems that being fat can cause, it should be as unacceptable as smoking.

Let’s start with “it’s unattractive.”  Does Linda actually think that everyone in the world owes her “attractive” by her taste or they aren’t allowed to be in public?  I think that Linda needs to realize that the only people who should care what Linda finds attractive are Linda and people who express some kind of interest in her opinion.  The world does not owe Linda attractive by any definition and people who Linda doesn’t find aesthetically pleasing are allowed to leave their houses and even go to airports and go on vacation and be happy about it.

Next “it’s unhealthy.”   Ah this old chestnut. We’ve discussed before that the research shows that body size and health are not the same thing – there are healthy and unhealthy people of all sizes. Which brings me to my  point which is that even if she thinks that being fat is fat people’s fault, and that any health problem that has been correlated with fat people’s body size is fat people’s fault, her point of view would still be pure unadulterated bigotry.  Should people whose health issues can be correlated with their behavior not be allowed to be happy about going on vacation? Health is not an obligation, a barometer of worthiness, completely within our control, or guaranteed under any circumstances.  We each get to choose how highly to prioritize our health and the path that we choose to get there and those choices can be limited by things outside of our control. People who have health issues, regardless of their origin, are allowed to have joy in their lives including dressing like they want and going on vacation.

Finally “it should be as unacceptable as smoking.”  First of all, smoking and being fat are not at all comparable,. and when people can’t make the distinction it is a red flag for me as to their ability to engage in logical thought. Smoking is a behavior – it’s something that someone does. Every smoker smokes. Fat is a body size, it’s something that someone is.  Fat people are as varied in our behaviors as any group of people who share a single characteristic. Treating smoking and being fat as the same thing becomes really messed up really quickly.  For example whether you agree with it or not, banning smoking from a public place means that people aren’t allowed to engage in that particular behavior in those places.  Banning being fat from public places means that all people who look a certain way are banned from public places because they look different than other people.

Like so many bigots before her, Linda wants credit for being “un-PC.”  This is my absolute favorite use of the concept of Political Correctness (and by “absolute favorite” I mean the one that most quickly activates my facepunch reflex.)  Basically it suggests that if you call  treating people with basic human respect  “being PC,”  then you can brag about not doing it, instead of admitting to being a horrible human being who should probably take your own advice and stay out of public places.

After splashing around in a pool of her own bigotry, prejudice, and over-exaggerated sense of self-importance Linda ends the piece by saying “One way to start might be by calling a fat girl a fat girl.  No apology required.”

To break this down, in her mind calling a fat girl fat is rude, so she’s saying that because she doesn’t like how fat people look and she thinks we are unhealthy she shouldn’t have to apologize to being rude to us.  Though an apology would be appropriate here, it’s not because she called fat people fat, it’s because she’s promoting treating us without basic human respect or dignity – as if we are somehow less than human.

But y’all, that’s what bigots do.  The headline should have been “Bigot engages in bigotry.” And her bigot ilk will all come out and leave comments in the comment section because bigots always seem to have a lot of time on their hands for commenting on the internet. (Maybe they are bigots because their lives are so crappy so they spend a bunch of time trying to feel better by putting someone else down?  Just a guess.)

The good news is that those three fat women went on their fabulous vacation, and that’s what it’s about.  More and more fat people are doing what we want to do, wearing what we want to wear.  I wonder how many other fat girls those three inspired by living their lives with, in Linda’s words, a “let-it-all-hang-out faith in themselves and a don’t-give-a-damn attitude.”  Hell yeah, I’d love to see more of that.

Bigots suck and bigotry sucks and it’s not fair and we shouldn’t have to deal with it and it’s not our fault but it can become our problem.  The good news is that for social change to happen you have to convince enough people to take action and convince enough people to stop being bigots, but you don’t have to convince everyone.  In fact, most civil rights change happens under a certain amount of social duress, with the people who are against the change fighting it tooth and nail (see also: Linda).

I think that this kind of opposition, while it can definitely suck to deal with, is proof that we’re making progress.  It also helps the progress, because when people read about how people like Linda are proud to be bigots, or read the kind of hatemail we get, they understand what we’re dealing with and they start to come around .(the article at the link isn’t perfect and the picture definitely leaves something to be desired, but it’ s a step in the right direction.)  This kind of open hatred and bigotry helps us in the end.

I do agree with Linda about one thing, she says “no apology necessary”.  That’s just dandy because no apology is coming.  I do not apologize for being fat.  I do not apologize for availing myself of the rights to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness at any size, including this one.  Anyone who thinks that my basic human rights are somehow size dependent is a bigot, and I sure as hell do not apologize to bigots for not comporting my life to suit them.  Don’t like it, feel free to practice the ancient art of…wait for it… looking at something else.

Want to get some tools and support to help you fight the bigotry, stigma, and oppression of fat people (unapologetic or not)?  Check out the Fat Activism Conference.  Three days, 38 speakers, teleconference style so that you can listen on the phone or computer from wherever you are, only $39 with a pay-what-you-can option to make it accessible to as many people as possible.  Check it out!

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

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 selling things on this site, you are invited to check out this post

 

Published in: on July 11, 2014 at 10:18 am  Comments (60)  

Enough, Seriously

enoughI was reminded of this post today and it seemed like a good time to repost.  I think that one of the most damaging, despicable and erroneous messages that the diet industry uses to sell us their products (that don’t work even based on their own research), is that unless we’re thin, we will never be enough.  Our lives will never be enough, our accomplishments will never be enough.

Sure you won a Grammy for your first CD and an Oscar for your first film, but are you thin?  You’re the governor of a state and people want you to run for President, but are you thin? You’re thin now so we expect you to maintain that obsessively so that you are never not thin.  You’re a great mother but are you thin?  You’re a successful business person but are you thin? You’re 4 years old but are you thin? You’re 94 years old but are you thin? You cured cancer but are you thin?

Enough already.

Let’s take a moment to consider that this is an artificial construct.  That being thin is only more valuable because of what our culture values at this time.  The body size that is culturally valuable has been different at different times, and currently varies tremendously in different cultures and under different circumstances.

Let’s also be honest that if our body doesn’t match the ideal body for the culture and time in which we live, that can well and truly suck. We have some options:  we can try to change our bodies, we can try to change the culture, or we can live outside it (somewhere on the spectrum from deliriously happy to miserable).  But I’d like us to consider something.  Consider that doing any of those things doesn’t change one simple thing:  We are, each of us, already enough. Our intrinsic value is already beyond measure and, though we can forget that or try to profess it away, our inherent amazingness cannot be diminished by an arbitrary cultural stereotype of beauty, or an industry that seeks to make us hate ourselves so that we buy their useless products, or people who try to make us hate ourselves so that they can feel better about themselves.

Consider that we are not more valuable if there is less of us, or less valuable if there is more of us.

Imagine what our society would be like if we realized the value of all bodies.  If we expanded the concept of beautiful people to include everyone, thus rendering it completely powerless. Imagine how different our lives would be if we understood that comparing our body to anyone else’s is complete folly- as ridiculous as looking at two snowflakes and suggesting that one is more beautiful.

How would our lives be different – how would we use our time, energy, and money – if we decided that we are enough already.

Fat Activism Conference

Looking for more skills to deal with being fat in a fat-phobic word?  Check out the Fat Activism Conference. Three days, 38 amazing speakers, teleconference style so that you can listen from wherever you are by phone or computer, and downloads of the workshops so that you can listen live, or on your own time. Only $39 bucks with a pay-what-you-can option to make it affordable for everyone!  Join us and let’s talk about tools for the revolution!

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

Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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

If you are uncomfortable with my selling things on this site, you are invited to check out this post

 

 

 

Published in: on July 10, 2014 at 10:06 am  Comments (13)  

When You Have to Be Around Body Shamers

none of your businessMaybe it’s at a work function, or maybe it’s at a family event – if you know that you are probably going to have to deal with people who will mistake your body for their business, there are some strategies you can employ.

If you’re dealing with the friends and family food police (think “Do you need to eat that?”)  then you can use some of these techniques.

But if you’re in a situation where you feel like you can’t set a boundary and consequences, or you need some other strategies you definitely still have options.

Create a mantra

I recommend this one regardless of what else you choose to do. Come up with  simple phrase that you can repeat to yourself to remind you that these people are out of line, inappropriate, and don’t know what they are talking about.  Some examples:

  • You don’t know what you’re talking about
  • Wow is this inappropriate
  • Feel free to yammer on about things you don’t understand
  • So sad that you’ve bought into all this
  • This is bullshit! (my personal favorite)

Hey you, look at you!

Try to redirect the conversation by asking questions about them. Often people who feel so self-important that they think everyone will welcome their unsolicited advice are also people who love to talk about themselves.

  • What do you do?
  • That’s a great [article of clothing/accessory] where did you get it?  Follow up with how they have great taste and where they like to shop.
  • So what do you do outside of work?
  • Ask questions related to anything you know about them – kids, pets, hobbies, anything

How about that local and/or college sporting team

Redirect to common subjects, either your conversation will turn to common things, or they will move on to someone else.

  • How about that weather?
  • How about that sports team?
  • Did you hear about completely unexciting thing in the news?
  • Do you watch [insert television show]? If not what do you watch?

Scandalous

Move the conversation to something juicier – maybe politics, religion, or sex.  You’ll either start a much more interesting conversation, or they’ll move on.

  • Can you believe [that politician] did [that thing?]
  • Did you hear about that [awesome thing] that [celebrity]
  • How about that thing the Pope said?
  • What do you think of that Supreme Court Decision?

Educate

You can do this in an actual attempt to educate, or just to derail the conversation.

  • Have you heard of Health at Every Size?  Let me tell you about it.
  • Have you heard of Size Acceptance?  Let me tell you about it.
  • How do you reconcile the views your expressing with the findings of Wei et. al, Matheson et. al, Mann and Tomiyama, and the Cooper Institute Longitudinal Studies? Maybe we should just talk about something else then.

Not recommended but fun to think about

Burn the house down.

  • How are your bowel movements?
  • What’s your favorite sexual position?
  • So, how is being a completely inappropriate busybody working out for you?

Regardless of what you decide to do, I think it’s really important to remember to place the problem where it belongs – which is far away from you and your body and right smack dab on the person who feels like it’s ok to wax poetic about their thoughts on you, your body, your habits or anything else that you haven’t asked for their opinion about.

Fat Activism Conference

Looking for more skills to deal with being fat in a fat-phobic word?  Check out the Fat Activism Conference. Three days, 38 amazing speakers, teleconference style so that you can listen from wherever you are by phone or computer, and downloads of the workshops so that you can listen live, or on your own time. Only $39 bucks with a pay-what-you-can option to make it affordable for everyone!  Join us and let’s talk about tools for the revolution!

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

Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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

If you are uncomfortable with my selling things on this site, you are invited to check out this post

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published in: on July 8, 2014 at 7:26 pm  Comments (21)  

Yes Obesity is OK

Reality and PerceptionIs Obesity OK?  That’s the question the New York Times posed to readers on their opinion page. Is Obesity OK?

I hate the trope that “fat is the last acceptable prejudice” it’s demonstrably false, and patently offensive to all of the people who are dealing with prejudice that is acceptable to at least some people or it would be happening, and I would be super happy if nobody ever said it again.  On the other side of that, sometimes people insist to me that oppression of fat people isn’t really a thing – that fat stigma doesn’t really exist.  To them I say, the New York Times thinks it’s perfectly reasonable to invite people to casually debate whether or not fat people should be allowed to exist, in their opinion column.

Here is where someone is going to say that they’re not debating whether it’s ok if we exist, they’re debating whether or not we should have to lose weight. First of all let’s be clear that nobody can show me a study where more than a tiny fraction of people have successfully lost weight long-term and none of those studies (with weight loss like 2 pounds or 5 pounds over two years) even come CLOSE to showing that my chances of becoming “normal weight” are anything better than lottery odds.  So even if you believe that they are debating my right to not diet (and let’s be clear that I should have a right not to diet) rather than my right to exist, they are still debating whether or not I should have to do something that nobody can prove is a possible.

Then there is the argument that I’m not fat, I have fat (like that whole “You’re not fingernails, you have fingernails” thing.)  I’ve already written about my disagreement with this, it boils down to the fact that I wouldn’t say “I have brown hair, I’m not brunette” or “I”m not short, I just have lack of height” so I think trying to get around being fat is about anti-fat bias. My experience, of which I am the very best witness, is that my being fat is like my being brunette.  And just like I can temporarily dye my hair, I can temporarily lose weight. But my experience of trying to lose weight was much like that of the majority of people who attempt weight loss – I lost weight in the short term and, even maintaining my diet behaviors, I gained it back in the long-term.  Like I have heard from many other fat people, I dieted my way up to my weight and, knowing that the most likely outcome of intentional weight loss is weight gain, suggesting that obesity is not ok so we should all attempt weight loss is advice that makes absolutely no sense. (for a list of research check out this post)

Some respondents seem to be suggesting that fat people should have to do what is currently believed to be the “healthiest” thing, you know – for the good of society or because it would,  ostensibly, make us less expensive.  And if that’s the case then who is the “decider”?  If people have studies that show that everyone going raw foods vegan and doing hot yoga will save on healthcare costs and be better for the “good of society” do we all have to eat cashew cheez while sweating our asses off in downward dog? If people have studies that say that everyone going paleo and doing crossfit will save on healthcare costs and be better for the “good of society” do we all have to eat a steak while we flip tires in a garage with no air conditioning?  Or is this really just prejudice against a group of people who are identifiable by how we look?

Not to mention that this debate rests on appearance based stereotypes – the NYT isn’t  debating whether or not it’s ok for thin people to engage in the behaviors that they seem to  assume fat people do, or have the healthcare concerns that they are trying to link to fat people (even though people of all sizes engage in these behaviors and have these healthcare issues – all of whom should be offered blame free, shame free, future-oriented care.)  This is about taking a group of people who share a single physical characteristic and debating whether or not the world would be improved if we didn’t exist.  That’s. Fucked. Up.

If people are interested in improving public health may I suggest that they focus on making information and options accessible to as many people as possible, not trying to make fat people’s bodies the public’s business.

Yes, obesity is ok.  The rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are not size dependent, they are inalienable.  Fat people have the right to exist in fat bodies without shame, stigma, bullying or oppression.  It doesn’t matter why we are fat, what being fat means, or if we could become thin by some means however easy or difficult. Fat people have the right to exist, period.  There is no need for a debate because there are no other valid opinions about this.  Fat people have the right to be treated with basic human respect, and inviting people to debate whether or not our existence is “ok” is a dramatic and terrible violation of that.

This kind of crap is the reason that we created the Fat Activism Conference. We need as many people doing activism in as many ways as possible, so we put together three days, 38 amazing speakers, teleconference style so that you can listen from wherever you are by phone or computer, and downloads of the workshops so that you can listen live, or on your own time. Only $39 bucks with a pay-what-you-can option to make it affordable for everyone!  Join us and let’s talk about tools for the revolution!

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

Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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

If you are uncomfortable with my selling things on this site, you are invited to check out this post

 

 

 

 

 

Published in: on July 7, 2014 at 9:58 am  Comments (19)  

Marathon Update: The Stages of Training for a Second Marathon

Today I thought I’d do a pictorial representation of my second marathon journey so far.  Obviously this is just me, your mileage may vary!

Immediately after your first marathon, when everyone and their mother asks you when you’re going to do your next marathon:

 

Then you decide to do another marathon:

You start to research. Which marathon?  Which training program? 

 

Immediately before your first training run for your next marathon

Ten minutes into your first training run for your next marathon:

When you realize you have another year of this:

When you remember what it’s like to finish a marathon and get your medal

That’s it so far, I still have another 8 months to go and it’s been difficult to deal with training while I’ve been traveling the last couple weeks (and I know that there’s plenty more of that coming.  I do less speaking in the summer, but in the fall I go back to my regular schedule which is super awesome because I love speaking, and I’ll have to train while doing tons of travel.)  I’m still feeling good about getting to the marathon and reaching my goals!

Days until Marathon:  253
Current Level of Confidence:  9
Fun I’m having on a 1-10 scale:  7

Want to learn more about fat activism within athletics or fat activism in general?  Great! There’s a panel about that in the Fat Activism Conference!  Three days, 38 amazing speakers, teleconference style so that you can listen from wherever you are by phone or computer, and downloads of the workshops so that you can listen live, or on your own time. Only $39 bucks with a pay-what-you-can option to make it affordable for everyone!  Check it out!

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

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 selling things on this site, you are invited to check out this post

 

Published in: on July 6, 2014 at 5:31 am  Comments (5)  

So What If I Do?

How cute is this person rocking their scooter?!

Rocking that scooter!

One of the things that fat people deal with all the time is people’s preconceived notions about us.  Sometimes it’s from people who probably don’t intend to be rude (like when when people make assumptions about our food and/or exercise habits), sometimes they do intend to be rude, like when people from hate sites post on my Facebook (completely non sequitur of course) that I probably start wheezing after 25 feet of walking, or that I use a scooter, or that I need  assistance devices for self care.

In the activism toolbox, fighting stereotypes is definitely a tool that we can use, not necessarily for the people doing the stereotyping (though people are allowed to do activism for that reason) but also for fat people who have been inundated with the stereotype and are living based on it,. One of the reasons I talk about being a fathlete and co-founded the Fit Fatties Forum is that I get e-mails everyday from fat people who have wanted to pursue movement/athletics in some way but, because of the messages they get from society, thought it was literally impossible for someone their size to do so.

Fat people who are successful at anything other than weight loss often have to deal with being purposefully ignored, kept out of view, and publicly attacked because of fat bigotry, and there are definitely times when I utilize a stereotype fighting approach to activism as a way to overcome that.

But that’s just one tool in my toolbox and it has downsides –  especially that it can, intentionally or not, add to the Good Fatty/Bad Fatty dichotomy.  (The idea that fat people who do the “right” thing in the eyes of the people judging are “good fatties” who deserve to be treated better than the “bad fatties” who don’t do the right thing.) So I think it’s important to find ways to mitigate those issues. It’s one of the reasons that I try (though I’m sure sometimes I fail) not to talk about health or movement without being clear that they’re not an obligation, a barometer of worthiness, or entirely within our control.

There’s also another option.  When we’re faced with questions and “accusations” like these  one response can be to avoid the knee jerk response of denying or justifying and answer with “So what if I do?” or “So what if I am?” This can avoid creating a good fatty/bad fatty dynamic and also avoid giving people the idea that we owe them a justification for our existence.

To be clear each of us gets to decide how we deal with our oppression.  My goal here is to give an option for responding to a world where body size is a source of stigma, shame and bullying. I’m not trying to dictate a “right” and a “wrong” way to deal with these things – I’m saying that there are different ways and as always your mileage may vary.

If someone says that I probably start wheezing after 25 minutes of walking, instead of coming back with some statement about my athletic ability I can also choose to just look at them and say “So what if I do?”

If someone bullies us for being fat, and we have a “reason” for being fat, instead of saying “I’m fat because of [insert medication/condition/etc.]” we can say “So what if I am fat? Fat people have the right to exist in fat bodies without shame, stigma bullying and oppression and it doesn’t matter why we’re fat, what being fat means, or if we could or want to be thinner.”  That way we avoid (even unintentionally) indicating that we are the “good fatty” who has a “reason” for being fat, unlike those “bad fatties” who don’t.

When we are talking about Size Acceptance or against Weight Stigma and bullying, we can avoid starting out with a list of our “good fatty” qualifications ie:  “Let me start by saying that I do hot yoga and drink green juice etc.”  as if we should have to do these things to deserve basic human respect.

Those who believe in Size Acceptance but want to lose weight for whatever reason can choose not to respond to weight bullying by trying to appease the bully by saying that they want to lose weight (which can make it seem like they think that they don’t deserve to be bullied but those other bad fatties who aren’t attempting weight loss d0.) Instead they can say “so what if I am fat” or “other people’s weight are none of your business.”

I think one of the most egregious examples of this is when they try to make self-care shameful.  When someone says that I must need a scooter to get around, or a sealtbelt extender to fit on a plane, or a device to help with wiping myself  as if those things are accusations of which I should be embarrassed,  I can say “So what if I do?” I think it should be a crime to try to make self-care a source of shame and if someone is engaging in trying to make us too ashamed to do what we need to do to be mobile, or travel, or take care of ourselves, then they better not also be trying to use the “it’s for your health” line because, even more clearly than usual, that’s bullshit. People of every size should have every option available to them for mobility, self-care, and navigating the world. with absolutely no shame or blame.

Fat Activism Conference!

Speaking of activism toolboxes, have you checked out the Fat Activism Conference?  Three days, 38 amazing speakers and panelists, teleconference style so that you can listen from wherever you are by phone or computer, and downloads of the workshops so that you can listen live, or on your own time, and/or listen to favorite talks again. Only $39 bucks with a pay-what-you-can option to make it affordable for everyone!  Tools to help people who are interested in fighting fat stigma, oppression and bullying from an intersectional perspective whether you want to work with your family and friends and/or take on the world! Check it out!

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

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 selling things on this site, you are invited to check out this post

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published in: on July 5, 2014 at 7:49 am  Comments (8)  

Not So Fab, Fabletics

Actual SizeRecently everywhere I look I’ve been seeing ads for  Kate Hudson’s new clothing line – Fabletics.  A quality two piece outfit that can be work to workout or hangout for $25 and the press on their website said things like:

 

“It’s causal, chic, and affordable – and there’s something for every body type.” – Kate Hudson

“Kate Hudson and JustFab created a line of workout clothes for women of all shapes and sizes.”

Fabletics All Women

“At Fabletics, we believe all women should be able to have hip styles and amazing quality at prices that won’t break the bank,” Hudson, 34, said of her new venture.”

Fabletics for all

FIT, FORM, AND FUNCTION FOR ALL

I was super excited – finally a line of clothing (and, as a dancer and marathoner, workout wear!) that would include me.  After all, my body is included in “every body type,” I’m a “shape and size”, I’m part of “all women” and “ALL.” Shut up and take my money Kate Hudson!

Or not.  It turns out their line goes from XXS – XXL.  They are not just excluding anyone larger than an XXL from their clothing line, they are also using their star power and significant media presence to exclude us from their definition of “every body type,” “all shapes and sizes,” and “all women.” It’s stigmatizing and hurtful.

It’s not just Fabletics, I’ve seen this plenty of times with clothing lines, including some specifically designated as “plus size”.  I’m not making an argument today about why clothing lines should include larger sizes. I’m not having a conversation about patterns and fabric cost. (Though both of those are worthy topics of conversation.)  Today my point is very simple:  Unless you are actually prepared to make clothes for people of all shapes and sizes, don’t say that you make clothes for people of all shapes and sizes.

If you’re a regular reader you’ve probably already guessed that I  submitted an e-mail on their contact page explaining all of this and then saying:

Before I write about this I wanted to reach out to see if we can talk about it. I don’t know what the possibilities are but I’m interested in finding out. As a co-founder of the Fit Fatties Forum I can tell you that there are many fat women who have trouble finding workout wear in our size, including me.

Regardless, being excluded by your size choices, and then treated like we don’t exist in your PR and pull quotes is really problematic and I’d like to open a dialog about it. Just let me know what works for you and thanks for considering this.

They sent back:

Hello Ragen,

Thank you for contacting Fabletics we appreciate your interest in our brand. For any media or inquiries in our blogger program, feel free to send your information to media@fabletics.com.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us anytime between 9am-9pm everyday (est) at 1- 844-322-5384 or through live chat at www.fabletics.com. Thank you and have a great day!

I decided to save them from themselves and self-select out of the blogger program, but I re-sent my e-mail to media@fabletics.com and haven’t heard anything.  If you’re reading this Kate Hudson, I’m in LA and I’d love to take you to lunch and talk about this – I bet we could do some cool things!

Activism Opportunity

You can help give Fabletics a chance to see where they’ve missed the mark:

Send an e-mail to media@fabletics.com

Submit an e-mail on their contact page

Contact them on Facebook

Find them on Twitter @fabletics

Speaking of activism, after months of work I am so incredibly excited to announce that  Jeanette DePatie and I launched the website for the Fat Activism Conference today.   A virtual conference (so you can participate on the phone or computer from wherever you are), that features amazing speakers giving information, tools, and support for people of all sizes who are interested in fighting the bullying, stigmatizing, shaming, and oppression faced by fat people, and doing that work intersectionally.  The conference will be August 22-24th,  and there is a pay-what-you-can option to make the conference accessible to as many people as possible.  Registrants will have access to the live workshops as well as recordings so that you can listen on your own schedule, or listen to a favorite talk again and again.  Hope to “see” you there!

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

Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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

If you are uncomfortable with my selling things on this site, you are invited to check out this post

Published in: on July 3, 2014 at 7:57 am  Comments (15)  

Trolls Gone Wild

You Forgot Your BullshitOne of the favorite past times of my haters is accusing me of lying about absolutely everything, up to and including “I refuse to believe this person is real.”  There are entire groups of people who insist that I never won National Dance Championships, or never finished my marathon. Today a troll pretending to be a “fact checker” for a university saw their plan backfire spectacularly. Before I give you that story, let me give you a bit of background.

First why am I talking about this?  Because I agree with this amazing piece and I think that ignoring bullies allows them to bully us in silence. Plus, it’s kind of hilarious.  If these posts aren’t your thing that’s totally cool and I’ll be back with a non hater-related post (and a super exciting announcement) tomorrow.

Second, they send their list of accusations (as if they are truth) to Universities and corporations that hire me to speak. As soon as I announced on Facebook that the movie about me is getting produced, they sent it to the one of the Producers.  Of course these people are sharp enough to recognize it as bullshit, but this will be a nice place to refer people who aren’t used to this to show exactly how it works.

Finally, part of the goal of the trolls is to waste my time – they want me to spend hours  responding to their incessant accusations and “challenges” to prove things because if I spend my time doing that, then I’m not doing other activism work. (“Okay, dude. You’re not my nemesis…Look, I’m just trying to change the world, okay? I don’t have time for a grudge match with every poseur in a parka.” 10 DWF points for knowing the source of the quote.) This is a game to them, but it’s a civil rights fight for me, so I’m not going to do that.  This post will serve as a place to point people and save hours and hours of my time in the future.

So a quick how-to, in order to manufacture their lies they use a number of techniques:

Be Horrible at Research, Blame Me

I make my bio vague on purpose because as you’re about to see, if I don’t people who used to work with me will get harassed by internet trolls. So when they can’t “verify” something through their research (and this is a crack research team that often fails to spell my name correctly) they claim it must be false.

Purposefully Misconstrue Something I Said and Then “Disprove” It

It turns out it’s easy to call someone a liar if you make up what they say and then show why it’s not true. This is genius!

Pretend They’re Master of the Universe

I finish the marathon, I post pictures of me wearing my medal, I am clearly listed as a finisher on the marathon website, but they still want really me not to be a marathoner – that’s pesky!  It’s no big deal though, they just say that it doesn’t count because they don’t like the marathon’s rules, and then pretend that their opinion counts from something in this situation.

Deny Reality

Ask me for a screen shot. When I post a screen shot, insist it isn’t real. Repeat with each and every “request” and “challenge.” Easy peasy.

Be Aggressively, Purposefully,  Poor at Reading Comprehension.

I explain that the dog we rescued lived with someone who wasn’t able to get it get vet care for two months.  They say that I let him suffer without care for two months.  Done and done.

Just Straight-Up Lie

Seriously, they just make stuff up.  A recent favorite said that they e-mailed the dance circuit I competed on and were told that “She won a line dancing award in a category where she was the ONLY participant.”  Except, as you’re about to see, someone actually did e-mail the head of the circuit and they verified three National Championships as a couples dancer.  Oops.

Let’s Play Telephone

Remember that game where people sit in a line and the first person whispers something that is then whispered down the line, hilariously different by the time it reaches the last person?  This is the fat hate forum version. A reader once pointed me to a discussion where in one hate forum someone “joked” that I must have walked the first mile of my marathon and then taken a scooter to the end.  Then in another forum someone said that I had done my marathon on a scooter and people went on and on about how that shouldn’t count, or how I lied and said that I walked it when I really did it on a scooter.

It Wasn’t Me

When they get caught lying about me being a liar?  No problem, they just claim that I made the whole thing up! Problem solved.  This is also handy if they’ve done something particularly egregious and I called them on it in public.

Got it?  Good!  We’ll put it all together in a hilarious real life example in a minute, but first I’ll give away the ending which is that some cool things have come out of this:

First, I posted about this on Facebook and my friend Caroline gave me an idea.  She is one of the people who reads these reddit fat hate threads for fun.  It occurs to me that the people who do that could post links of those being trolled in the Rolls Not Trolls community (it’s a secret community that posts body positive things in body negative spaces on the internet, PM me on FB if you want in.) Then we could send those people lots of support and comments.  With a little help from us these troll communities can actually become a PR and Marketing machine for the people they troll.

Second, a long time ago a blog reader asked me why, if I have a “You Can Read My Hate Mail“page, don’t I have a “You Can Read My Love Mail” page. I got all excited and created the page but then it just seemed weird and I was worried that it would just look like I was bragging so I never published it.  After all of this I no longer care, screw anyone who doesn’t get why getting love mail is cool.  Want to read my love mail? Now you can!

Now for our real life example, see if you can spot the techniques we talked about earlier:

A troll pretending to be a “fact checker” e-mailed the person in charge of the dance circuit that I used to compete on, saying they need to confirm my three National Dance Championships.  The troll sent the e-mail from factchecker1210@gmail.com, and signed it “Jaime Rund, LIU, CW Post Campus.”

Quick lesson in fact checking:  Universities don’t have endless resources so they don’t just run around fact checking random speakers.  They typically don’t vet until they’ve contacted a speaker and verified their interest, availability, and that their fees are within their budget. They also e-mail from a University e-mail, not a gmail address, and they have a proper signature block that is specific as to their University and includes all of their contact information.  That’s because they want the person to trust that they are who they say they are (see what I did there?), and be able to contact them in every possible way so they can get the information they need.  They are also unfailingly polite because they know that they are asking someone with no vested personal interest to help them out.

Googling “LIU, CW Post Campus” brought me to Long Island University – where I spoke  a couple of years ago (Suggestion to my haters: if you’re going to pretend to be fact checking me for a University Speaking gig, try to pick a University that hasn’t already booked me).  Nobody from the Post Campus, and none of the people I know and contacted, have ever heard of Jamie Rund.  Shocking, I know.

The head of the circuit then sent an e-mail saying that he tried to call Jaime at Long Island University but couldn’t reach them, and gave them a number to call back.

Jaime did not enjoy being questions and shot back:

Never, in my time as an admin, have I ever had such a difficult time checking credentials for a potential speaker.  She is either a three time national dance champion with your company, as she claims.  Or she is not. A simple yes or no to confirm this is all that I need.   Thank you in advance for your help

Setting aside that “my time as an admin” was probably best measured in minutes, ever the professional, the head of the circuit sent an e-mail confirming “Yes, Miss Chastain is a 3 time National Champion!” and copied me on the e-mail.

Whew boy, Jaime was not happy. It turns out that “A simple yes or no to confirm this is all I need” was actually – wait for it – a lie!

In all my years of vetting speakers for the university I work for, I have never encountered anything as bizarre as this.  Normally, I e-mail to verify and I get a quick response.  And everything is always backed up by a simply web search.

The fact that you are cc’ing Ragen your responses to me is beyond sketchy.  This is a simple vetting of credentials and a run of the mill fact check for a potential speaker at our university.  This leads me to believe that you are a friend of hers and these ‘National Dance Championships’ aren’t real.

Needless to say, I am going to advise that there are way too many red flags here and that they should pass on this speaker.

Thank you for your time and for wasting mine.

Jaime

The head of the circuit tried again, e-mailing Jaime that “First of all, these records are correct.”and adding “I also thought it odd that no one would return a call back on the request.”

And that’s when Jaime just lost it:

Rest assured, there is a red flag next to her name if any educator from my state wants to request her as a speaker.  Along with copies of all of this correspondence.

As you claim ‘not to know’ Ragen personally, you are also cc’ing her your responses to me.  Which leads me to believe there is a personal relationship.  But you are spelling her name wrong.  Which makes me think you are a moron.

If this wasn’t the dumbest move ever, I don’t know what is.  I have never seen such stupidity. You have effectively, with two e-mails, gotten her shut out from an entire state.  From the elementary schools to the colleges and every state agency in between.  This correspondence is in the state files.

Congrats?!???

FYI – I cc’d ragen on this – best to let her know how you effectively banned her from any work in my state.

In case you’re worried, there is no state file of banned speakers, least of all one that is created by administrative assistants at Universities – because those people are typically ridiculously overworked and underpaid and don’t have time to ban speakers, especially not after the claims had been verified, and the speaker copied on the correspondence.  Also, just for the record, the head of the circuit never spelled my name wrong so I don’t know what that was about. Just to round things out, reddit immediately claimed that this never happened and I faked the whole thing, demanding that I publish a screen shot.  I posted it, they claimed it was fake.  I think we have hater lies blackout BINGO! Wanna see a screenshot?  You betcha! (You can click for a larger version, but if you’re planning to claim that it’s fake no matter what you might as well save yourself the trouble!)

Fact Checker Throws Tantrum 2

It makes me think of a couple lines from one of my favorite poems “Being lied about, don’t deal in lies and being hated don’t give way to hating.”  Good advice I think. I’ll keep telling the truth and finding compassion for my trolls while finding them, in turns, hilarious and pitiable.

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

Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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

If you are uncomfortable with my selling things on this site, you are invited to check out this post

Published in: on July 2, 2014 at 11:04 am  Comments (49)