The World the Diet Culture Built

A couple of my posts got linked to on forums for body building and fitness (forums, I will point out, that I could easily have been legitimately a part of).  I have now received over 260 comments (none of which I approved) including the following (WARNING:  these may be triggering – skip the bullet points if you want to skip the comments and preserve your faith in humanity without the need for a big bottle of brain bleach):

  • Fat people should all be killed. Fact. Deal with it, stretchmarks.
  • Sorry fattcakes [sic], fat is unhealthy no matter how much you can do.
  • I hope you know people, deep inside, laugh at you dancing.
  • You look like a beached whale that grew legs.
  • 23 commenters (with different e-mail and ip addresses) said “fucking fatty, I hope you die”
  • One person said “I want to punch you over and over in your fat stomack [sic] and watch you die landwhale”
  • While I’ve been typing this I got a comment that said: “If your doctor killed you it would’ve been a good thing, it would have improved the gene pool. Kidding of course, there is no way any man would ever fuck you” (I can tell them that last claim is false.  Turns out that boys – and girls – DO make passes at girls with fat asses.)

You know, there’s an Ani Difranco song that I love called  Willing to Fight (entire song and lyrics below).  She sings:

Tell me who’s your boogey man

And that’s who I will be

You don’t have to like me for who I am

But we’ll see what you’re made of

By what you make of me

My first reaction to the comments was:  Are these people happy with who they are?  Would they be proud for their moms, or their kids, to see what they said to me?  Would they say it to my face, without the anonymity of the internet?  How does the person who wants to punch me in the stomach and watch me die act in real life?  Does this person have a fat brother, sister, mother?  Do they want to punch them in the stomach and watch them die?  If we met on the street should I actually fear for my life?  Why are these people so angry?  Why isn’t it enough to live the way that they think is right rather than saying that they want people who disagree with them to die.

But as stranger after stranger called me names and said that they wanted me to die or that they personally wanted to kill me, I started to get angry at a culture that makes this seem reasonable.  We live in a culture that’s gone beyond a fascination with thinness to a vocal, socially acceptable, hatred of fat, and this culture spends a tremendous amount of time, energy and money justifying fat hatred. Most often for profit, but it’s not just the diet industry that creates a culture of hate.  Good intentions are not enough and I believe that we need to hold the people who contribute to a culture of hatred accountable.

Doctors who were paid by diet companies successfully had the definition of a healthy weight lowered and then recommended their funding diet companies’ products to ‘solve” the new health “problem” that their definition change created. Those doctors are part of a culture of hate.

Allergan (maker of the lap band) funded a study with deplorable research methods that said that fat people cost businesses $70 Billion a year.  They are using that study to convince insurance companies that it’s cheaper to pay for lap band surgeries than employ fat people.  But every major news outlet ran the story without saying anything about the limitations of the study, and most didn’t mention who funded it. I assume because articles about fatties attract readers which attracts advertisers which makes them money.  Regardless of why they ran with the story, those news organizations are part of a culture of hate.

By the way Allergan is also the same company who ran a contest where the prize was a major abdominal surgery, a side effect of which is death. One of the provisions of the contest was that you could give the surgery to a friend. Allergan is most definitely part of a culture of hate.

Michelle Obama may have good intentions but she is encouraging fat hatred starting in elementary school.  Her war on childhood obesity amounts to a war on obese children and runs completely in opposition to her anti-bullying message.  Michelle Obama is helping to create a culture of hate.

And it’s not just companies, it’s individuals, people I know. DK is a Ph.D. Social Psychologist and she and I spent hours and hours talking about health and self esteem.  She and I nearly wrote a book together about self-esteem in fact.  We were so excited about talking about health instead of weight and talking about Health at Every Size.  Instead, she committed herself full-time to a pyramid scheme that sells weight loss products, calls herself a “certified health coach”, posts studies to her Facebook that she has more than enough training to debunk as poor research, and spends her days trying to make people terrified of being fat so that she can sell them her shakes and bars. DK is part of a culture of hate

As far as I’m concerned, every single person – regardless of intention – who encourages thinness under the guise of encouraging health is part of a culture of hate, bullying and intimidation wherein a complete stranger feels comfortable saying that he/she wants to punch someone in the stomach and watch them die because they are fat. Are you telling people that they have to lose weight to be healthy (or attractive, or deserving of respect)?  Do you participate in negative body talk about other people?   Do you make judgments about the health, abilities, or intelligence of people based on their size?  Then I’m talking to directly to you.

This is not the best we can do.  Together we can create a society that values health.  Actual health.  That focuses on giving people the best options for health:  affordable, accessible healthy food; affordable movement options that people can enjoy without the threat of stigma; an opportunity to love and appreciate our bodies while we decide what we want to do with them, an awareness that health comes in a variety of body shapes and sizes, and a world that has respect for our choices when it comes to our own health.  If you believe that health and thinness are the same thing then you are free to pursue a thin body but there is no reason for you not to respect someone else’s belief in Health at Every Size and there is no reason to create a culture of hate against people because they don’t think the same thing that you do.  To paraphrase Larry Kramer, one of my personal life heroes, “Our culture declares us to be unequal, which means, in this culture, that our enemy is you. You treat us like crumbs. You hate us. And sadly, we let you.”

We can do better.

The upside (I always like to have an upside) is that 3000 views have been directed to my site by these boards which is great for my stats.  Only 268 of them have left negative comments so far which is actually less than 10%, and I got 8 new subscribers so maybe I found more like-minded people and maybe, just maybe, I gave some people the opportunity to consider a new point of view.

Most importantly, I get to walk around knowing that I am part of a culture of health:  I am proud of my actions and what I write, I say what I believe under my own name – not anonymously with a fake e-mail address, I have way more than 263 comments from people who have been positively affected by my work,  I will sleep soundly tonight damn proud of the big fat life I lead.

The windows of my soul
are made of one way glass
don’t bother looking into my eyes
if there’s something you want to know,
just ask
I got a dead bolt stroll
where I’m going is clear
I won’t wait for you to wonder
I’ll just tell you why I’m here

’cause I know the biggest crime
is just to throw up your hands
say this has nothing to do with me
I just want to live as comfortably as I can
you got to look outside your eyes
you got to think outside your brain
you got to walk outside you life
to where the neighborhood changes

tell me who’s your boogieman
that’s who I will be
you don’t have to like me for who I am
but we’ll see what you’re made of
by what you make of me

I think that it’s absurd
that you think I
am the derelict daughter
I fight fire with words
words are hotter than flames
words are wetter than water

I got friends all over this country
I got friends in other countries too
I got friends I haven’t met yet
I got friends I never knew
I got lovers whose eyes
I’ve only seen at a glance
I got strangers for great grandchildren
I got strangers for ancestors

I was a long time coming
I’ll be a long time gone
you’ve got your whole life to do something
and that’s not very long
so why don’t you give me a call
when you’re willing to fight
for what you think is real
for what you think is right

Published in: on May 11, 2011 at 3:38 am  Comments (107)  

107 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Ugh, I am so sorry that you have been the target of such hateful language. You are such an incredible role model and inspiration. I’m continually impressed by how you present your perspective in a calm, clear, non-judgmental way.

    You’re right: We can do better. Thanks for demonstrating how.

    • Thank you so much, I really appreciate the support🙂

      ~Ragen

      • I know it’s hard but these people – in expressing these opinions – reveal a lot about themselves and their own relationships with their own bodies. It’s not a good one. These people live in abject terror of gaining a pound or eating food that they enjoy. Everything must be measured and weighed and/or run off immediately. This hate is terror-driven. If this is really how they see the world, then they are living in a dark, dark place. Feel pity for them, if you can. And please, don’t stop being the wonderful person that you are. Thank you so much for doing what you are doing! You are beautiful and amazing!

  2. Ragan,

    I am sending you so much of my respect and admiration. I hope that it counteracts (in some small way) the toxic, cowardly energy of those comments. One of the reasons I keep reading your work is that you don’t shy away from conflict. You don’t allow others to silence you with their thoughtless venom. And, by shining your light on their behavior, you make the world somewhat safer for all of us. Thanks for your courage. Thanks for your conviction. Thanks for being an advocate of love & compassion. You’re a rockstar!

    Warmly,
    Ann

    • Thanks Ann, it definitely does counteract it and I appreciate it very much.

      ~Ragen

  3. The cynical me suspects that they’d have no problem showing their comments to their moms (or dads). After all, someone raised these people and forgot to teach them manners.

    Thank you for responding to their drivel with a forthright and civil post.

    • You may be right, I’m just thinking that if I were behaving like that my mom would be looking for a switch.

      ~Ragen

  4. Brain bleach applied. I can’t say I wasn’t warned.

    Before I even read your comments, my first thought (after my initial horror) was also that those commenters were people who really, really hated themselves. Nobody who loves or even likes themselves ever feels the need to project such hate toward someone else. And then they hate you for doing what they can’t: to dare to love yourself in this culture of hate.

    You are my personal hero!

    • Glenys – thank you so much! And I agree that the people who are doing this have some serious personal issues – mostly I think I threaten their sense of superiority and so they are desperate to show themselves that they are still better than me and they’ve gone with fourth grade bully tactics to get that done. Sad all the way around really.

      ~Ragen

  5. Hello Ragan, I found your site last week and I’ve been reading past entries along with new ones.

    I really appreciate that you post about your perspective on being fat and healthy. I love your style and how you take a rational and objective approach to so many things that would have me either nonplussed or frothing at the mouth.

    And what these posters have tried to smear on your blog has me frothing and extremely sad by turns. I believe the root of hatred is fear, and those are some very frightened people. Also, I am happy that you can meet their fear with bravery.

    Rock on.

    • Hi Holly,

      Welcome to the blog! I’m glad that you are liking it and I really appreciate your support and I absolutely agree with you that I must terrify these people for them to lash out like this. If they weren’t saying that they want me to die I would be able to muster up some pity for them.

      ~Ragen

  6. Ragen, seriously I adore you. I mean really really adore you, and I can’t believe my good fortune to count you as a friend. Heck, The Hubster even commented to me the other day that it must feel awesome to be on such good terms with someone who has such notoriety. I couldn’t help but turn to him and tell him that it felt good to be on such good terms with such an awesome person. Notoriety is just an added benefit. Thank you for being such an awesome person, who also happens to be my friend. Much love and hugs from a fellow Texan. 🙂

    • Karen,

      I hope you know how much I adore you and value your friendship and support. Thank you for everything!

      ~Ragen

      • I know you do. I just can’t tell you enough how much your posts and your replies to the occasional twisted comment brighten my day. I had found HAES before I came here, but basically lost my little corner of the net where I found that support because the people running that area decided they needed time for other things. I totally get that, and support their choice to do so.

        I actually end up reading out loud a lot of what you say (especially the snark laden stuff) to The Hubster because well, we are a household built on snark. Having a place I have been able to go to for a little over a year and remind myself that WHO I am is much more important than WHAT (fat) I am. So what if I have extra weight? I live a fairly healthy life and I rock, I’m just glad I have someone like you to remind me of that.

        Keep on rockin’ my friend, and one day I will get my butt to Austin (or I’ll get super lucky and you’ll pass through Houston) and we can rock together. 🙂

  7. Seriously wtf. These people trolls have no sense of decency. I do get why some people find it hard to accept that health and weight are not proportional (there are cases at both endpoints of the scale where weight is endangering health, people are better at remembering extremes, and even more relevantly there’s this whole thinness cult you aptly describe), but even if they disagree with your experience that doesn’t justify wishing these horrid things upon you. I fully support your stance and hope the world will slowly get better…

    • WTF indeed. I am clear that people disagree with me and we have civil discussions about that on this blog all the time, but disagreement does not logically lead to health threats, especially when the path that I choose for health doesn’t, in any way, affect anyone else’s path. Thanks for your support, I do believe that the world will get better.

      ~Ragen

  8. I continue to be amazed at the lack of compassion and empathy out there. I think you are doing amazing work. My work is a little different, but I am trying to promote loving yourself and your life no matter what people think you should look like. Please keep it up – so many people need your message.

    • Hi Colleen,

      Thank you – I appreciate your support. I think that there is room for lots of different work and lots of different opinions and we should all be free to choose our own path.

      ~Ragen

  9. 263 trollz, 2750 looky-looz, and 8 people who want/needed to hear what you’re saying. I know because that was me; when I read your post about thanking my body for my beating heart as though it were a friend, I cried. I wanted to love myself but never had the right words, and you helped me find them. Thank you. Never stop.

    On a side note, did you see the Google home page tonight? Martha Graham!

    • Hey Skyfire,

      Damn, I totally missed Martha Graham. Your post made me tear up. I think it’s amazing that you made the choice to love yourself and appreciate your body and I’m honored that I had a tiny part in that.

      Thank you!

      ~Ragen

  10. The people that said those vicious things have the same mentality as the Nazis did–literally. They follow the mob rules mentality. In the 1930’s in Germany, it was Jews who were scapegoated as bringing down society. In this time, large people are the scapegoats for those who are unhappy with their lives and haven’t the brains to realize that scapegoating someone does nothing to change bad circumstances. It saddens and frightens me that overall people never change, they just find new targets.
    As the late Ronnie James Dio so rightly said, “when you’re dealing with fools, the mob rules.” Sadly, the world is full of fools.

  11. My dear, my gorgeous new friend, I stumbled across your blog yesterday. I read, and I watched some fabulous videos of you dancing, and I thought HEY! I can dance!

    I haven’t danced in years because fat people just don’t do that, but duly inspired by you I spent 20 minutes today doing plies and tendus and holy crap it felt so good. I moved my arms and stretched my back and WOW.

    For reminding me of one of the great joys in my life, lost for too many years but now so wonderfully found, I thank you. Those haters? I wonder how many of them wept for joy today, because I did and it was awesome.

    My body made me smile today. Oh, my God. My body made me smile!

    Thank you for being my inspiration today. I’m looking forward to more ballet tomorrow. Happy happy me!

    Thank you.

    • Adrienne,

      Welcome to the blog! I love your story so much! I am so very happy that you are dancing again, congratulations and have a blast and thank you so so so so much for telling me your story, you totally made me smile on a really bad day!

      ~Ragen

  12. Oh I really, really needed to read this today. After a massive argument with my (newly-qualified-as-a-doctor) best friend about Health at Every Size — she basically agreed with everything that’s wrong with how obesity is portrayed — I was feeling awful. I cried and cried to think that my friend of 15 years is ‘one of them’ now. And my confidence wavered.

    Thank you for reaffirming what I already know. I am fine, and HAES is real, and it works. I am not just “lucky” to be fat and healthy.

    How to deal with my friend and her newfound “knowledge” about my health? I have no idea.

    • How to deal with my friend and her newfound “knowledge” about my health?

      I don’t know that there’s any one answer, and I know that this is *not* “the” answer, but something that works for me.

      When they’re sure they’re right, I know I can’t change that, and I don’t try. Once the conversations start going in circles, I chalk that part of it up to an exercise in futility that’s not worth the frustration to me.

      However, if they start to talk about fat-hating or -shaming stuff in front of me, I do end up saying things like, “Out of respect for me — since, you know, I’m right here — I’d appreciate you not making these remarks right here in front of me. And if you’re not willing to do that, I’m not willing to be a part of this conversation.”

      The catch in that is that it does sort of need to be a conversation that one *can* reasonably “walk away” from either literally or figuratively (like defriending someone on Facebook or whatever). It can be tricky in some situations (e.g., eating out with a group of friends) and near impossible in others (e.g., driving in a car). But as a general principle, it seems to work well for me.

      • I have indeed been doing that for quite some time among my friends.
        It’s amazing how people are able to separate those they love, put them in a separate category in their heads, when talking about obesity and health.

        I know for certain I won’t be having a conversation about weight with that friend again — for my own sanity — but knowing that she feels that way about overweight people, and therefore about me (we all need to lose weight, in her opinion) will weigh a little on my heart.

    • Hi Shellymc,

      I’m so sorry that you are having to deal with this. You might try some of the techniques in this blog (https://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/vfht-the-vague-future-health-threat/)

      I’m big on setting boundaries. If I wanted to keep someone in my life who held these opinions then I would sit them down in a non-charged environment and set the ground rules about the behavior and treatment I require for you to be friends with me. For me this is never about telling the other person what to say, but simply explaining the requirements of what you can say around me and still be my friend.

      Hope that helps. Good luck!

      ~Ragen

  13. I used to be so hurt when I read troll comments like this but after spending a long time reading blogs such as yours, it doesn’t phase me. Not at all.

    It makes me pity these trolls instead of listening and believing their hate like I used to.

    If it wasn’t for FA and HAS and people like you behind it, I would never have felt more confident in myself than I have in years. I finally believe in myself and I finally feel beautiful and I refuse to listen to what others tell me how I should feel miserable. I’m done with that self-loathing business.

    Thank you, Ragen. Thank you.

    Because of people like you, I finally feel like the worthy human being that I am.

  14. I saw the comments on youtube…I didn’t want to read them because I had a feeling…and I was more appalled than I even imagined I would be. I almost cannot believe it…despite the atrocities people have committed since people have been around…I was still so shocked that someone should tell you to die…I just can’t process it.

    Thank you though for turning it around. Turning it in to something positive and showing how our society makes this behavior okay. You are so admirable and such an inspiration – an enormous force of positivity with just the right amount of righteous anger. =)

  15. I don’t even know what to say…comments like those make me so, so sad for our society. We’ve obviously got a long way to go until people understand the seriousness that is the culture of hate (to your your words) against fat people.

    Thank you so much for writing, dancing, speaking out, sharing this, and everything you do to break down stereotypes and and call people on their shit.

    I can’t imagine the feelings involved in receiving hate mail like that. I appreciate you very, very much and I’m so happy that I came across your blog. I’ve become quite the dedicated reader. I wish more people would take a very serious look at what your saying and give it pause. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  16. Hearing things like this make me a little sad to be human! Just a little. Because there are good people and they are the ones I concentrate on instead of the haters.

    I believe we have all been brought up to hate fat and everything it encompasses. Because I find myself judging people many times when I shouldn’t. I’m getting so much better though since reading your blog!

    And I loved the comment from Adrienne and smiled. Because reading your blog has made me believe I can dance if I want to. I like the feeling of “I can” instead of “I can’t.”

    You are an amazing strong person and I admire you! You’ve handled this blog (not just this post!) with grace and decency. I can learn from you!

    xo Susie

  17. Here’s a positive comment for you:

    You’re awesome. Live long and prosper!

    xx
    Jewel

  18. I think you’re a fantastic person. Most people who makes nasty comments to anyone not fitting in a narrow view of perfection are insecure and petty. Why should someone who has less mass be better than someone who has a bigger shape. I’m proud to be a bigger person in all the ways that count.

  19. Fantastic post!!

    I was on the treadmill one day next to a man who probably weighed about 350 pounds. He was walking and sweating profusely. Luckily he had headphones in, because two girls who were about to get on the treadmills next to him scoffed, and one said, “Let’s not work out next to him. Look how fat he is. He’ll probably die on us.” The two girls walked away and slowly rode the elliptical for 15 minutes and then wandered out of the gym. The fat guy? Well, he kept on walking on that treadmill for another HOUR.

    That being said, I love my gym. The membership is cheap, there are a lot of locations, and the equipment is well-maintained. I love going in, doing something I enjoy (instead of forcing myself to wreck my body for 3 hours to lose a pound, like I used to do), and seeing people of all shapes and sizes ALSO doing things they enjoy. The two stupid girls making the comment about the fat guy on the treadmill was the ONLY time I’ve ever seen or heard fat discrimination in my gym.

    I also wanted to tell you about another win for HAES. I saw a new primary care physician last year after a few years of skipping my check-ups. I am in perfect health. However, she told me at the end of the appointment that I needed to go on the South Beach Diet and work out 3 hours a day. With a history of heart disease in my family, I need to drop a lot of weight and quick, she said. 1) I was already eating a healthy diet and following a healthy and enjoyable exercise plan. 2) How would a sudden increase in duration and intensity be better for my heart? 3) How would the South Beach Diet, based on MEAT and rapid change in weight, be good for my heart? I found out just last week that she was told to leave her practice because the other doctors didn’t feel she promoted healthly lifestyles. WIN!!! I was so happy to hear that.

    Again, excellent post, and thank you for being strong in the face of all this discrimination.

  20. It really is sad that complete strangers feel it is ok to discuss someone else’s body as if it’s their property. But society really does encourage this behavior, unfortunately.

    Regardless, reading your blog has been really a great thing for me and I suspect many others too. I’m overweight (though in a “socially acceptable” way) and felt pretty terrible about myself until I got to college. I actually just posed in a bathing suit in last month’s glamour magazine and probably wouldn’t have done that if it wasn’t for your super positive attitude! While I know magazines don’t have enough of women at every size they officially have a picture of me looking super hot in a size 16 bathing suit. They even quoted me: “You don’t have to be ten pounds thinner to look great.” I stole that straight from your post about those “ten pound thinner” bathing suits.

    So screw those people! They should worry more about themselves and their own choices/bodies.

  21. Ragen,

    Those comments make me want to weep. I don’t understand what it is about humanity that makes us want to wound each other so deeply. I should have heeded your warning to skip past the comments, I guess.

    Thank you for being who you are. Thank you for your blog.

    You’re one of my role models. I wanted to be a dancer from such a young age, but I was always the chubby girl so I didn’t think I could. (I literally thought I wouldn’t be ALLOWED in to a dance class.) Then as I got older, I was too embarrassed to admit that I wanted to dance. But guess who’s going to start her first dance class this summer? Me. And part of that is because of your inspiration with this blog and the way you live your life.

    So thanks. {{{hugs}}}

  22. They can be hateful all they want online but I bet you each one of those trolls would never dare to say what they said if they actually saw you in public. Most people like that are nothing but cowards who would probably turn into mush if someone came back at them.

  23. i’m reposting this everywhere that I can think of! I think it’s easy, even for those of us who are fat, to forget just how serious fat hatred can get. Yeah.. sometimes we do have to fear for our safety or even our lives.. especially as activists (which pisses people off and makes us targets in addition to just the act of being fat). I know I was definitely shocked reading the beginning of this post and it gave me a reality check.

  24. Outstanding post. Thank you.

  25. Haters gonna hate!! I think your amazing! Don’t let jerks bring you down!

  26. Just when I think you couldn’t be any more amazing, you are!
    I saw a bumper sticker on my way to work this morning
    Humankind – Be Both
    Love you~

  27. I’m amazed at this. I can’t believe that these people have nothing better to do. All I can say is, I’m proud of you. It might seem so to you, but you have to know that your courage isn’t the norm. The norm is what they’re doing; hiding behind a fake email address and attacking from the shadows. Good for you for owning your thoughts and sharing them openly and without apology.

    • Nikki,

      Thank you so much – your support as a fellow courageous woman is invaluable and I adore you🙂

      ~Ragen

  28. I am so terribly sorry. No one deserves this. These people are indeed sick, unhappy, & self-hating. There is no excuse for that kind of blind hatred & cruelty, but the culture does indeed encourage & foster it.

    I do not watch tv, but share living space with someone who does. Unfortunately, this person will watch almost anything, including such claptrap as “The View”, where for few minutes this morning I was ‘honored’ to hear Whoopee Goldberg, Barbara Walter, & whoever else discussing why it is such a great idea that Skechers is now making their ‘Shape-up’ sneakers for kids & showing commercials apparently full of little girls who are using these shoes to tone their butts & little boys who are leering at said toned butts. Goldberg’s brilliant observation was that it was probably a good tool in the ‘fight against childhood obesity.’

    I am seriously considering going to live in a cave. And my admiration & respect for you for standing up & saying what you know & believe.

    • Hi Patsy,

      Thank you so very much for your kind words. As for the Sketchers thing it seems almost sadly inevitable that someone would think of marketing by combining the sexualization of young children with the obesity epidemic. And don’t you know that little girls bodies aren’t valuable unless little boys find them sexy. Sigh – just gross. I may join you for some cave time…

      ~Ragen

  29. Where as I generally agree with what you post, I have to say that I find it a bit far-fetched that Michelle Obama is bringing bullying to greater numbers. As a teacher who works in middle/high school classrooms, bullying about weight has been an on-going problem FOREVER! I think that the only way to bring about change with children is through knowledge. How are children supposed to know what choices they should be making if nobody is showing/telling them? Apparently, the parents aren’t the ones who can do this, otherwise they would have set better examples and rules about what should be eaten and how much exercise should be included daily. I respect you and what you represent on your blog; however I think that it’s a shame that you see the efforts of Michelle Obama to be a negative when in reality, she’s only trying to help.

    • Hi Amanda,

      I agree that bullying has been going on forever. I do not believe that the First Lady singling out fat children will make anything better. Instead of being against childhood obesity, she could just as easily be FOR children’s health – all children’s health. She could give the same information to children about healthy food choices and healthy movement without stigmatizing fat children. I appreciate that she has good intentions but I do not believe that good intentions should give someone a pass when they are risking the mental health of children when there is clearly a better path.

      ~Ragen

    • As a parent I don’t believe you can place the “blame” solely on the parents unless you’re blaming the “genetics game.” My son is not rail thin, but he is incredibly active and at times eats healthier than I do, and that’s saying a great deal. This is the child who requests fruits and veggies for snacks way before anything sweet, and eagerly eats such things with or even AS his dinner. To say that the parents aren’t doing their job is kind of a low blow if you ask me. I will grant you that some parents don’t bother with teaching healthy eating habits, but we are, after all, still human. I think (and what Ragen has said in her reply to you) that it would have been much better if the focus had been on simply healthier habits, than trying to march in this “war” AGAINST childhood obesity. Maybe if we had been asked to march in a crusade FOR childhood healthy habits then it would be better accepted by those who do not correlate weight and health.

      Just my 2 cents though.

    • I think that it’s a shame that you see the efforts of Michelle Obama to be a negative when in reality, she’s only trying to help.

      I respect that Michelle Obama is trying to help, but I also think that’s a far cry from — and in this case, partly at odds with — actually helping. I think it’s awesome to teach about healthy eating and movement. I think fundamentally linking them to a war on obesity is inherently harmful to some people with fat bodies.

    • I think one of the fundamental problems with people attempting to “teach parents about nutrition” in regards to health, is that those looking to teach about health don’t actually see the larger problems.

      Here’s a map of what are known as Food Deserts- places in the US where healthy, affordable food is ridiculously difficult to obtain. http://www.news10.net/images/640/360/2/assetpool/images/110505020944_food-desert-map-640.jpg

      Literally, there are places all over the US where all the ‘health education’ in the world isn’t actually going to make anything better, because parents simply can’t afford it.

      Also, people (usually who are privileged), seem to think that even with healthy, affordable food, this would ‘solve’ the nutrition problem, when it wouldn’t. The places where the lack of nutrition hits the hardest are the poorer parts of the country- places which are populated by single parents (usually single mothers), who work however many jobs they need to simply to put food on the table- any food. And at the end of the day, even if they had affordable, healthy food, they simply don’t have the energy or time to prepare the food. [And yes, any such thoughts that they should do more/should be better parents/etc, is a privileged one]

      And there’s more to it too. I think I’ll be doing a blog post about it later, so if anyone sees this comment and wants to check it out, we’re at:

      http://girlbraintrust.blogspot.com/

      Thanks for another great post as always, Ragen =)

      • Just coming back to say that map is enlightening. The majority of my state is a food desert, even though fully 1/3 of the land area is devoted to agriculture.

  30. As a professional fat contemporary dancer, I got this kind of feedback all the time. Sometimes the discrimination was subtle -being snubbed, other dancers assuming i was in the wrong dance class (‘the beginners are in THAT studio’), not getting gigs, not building cred with other professionals despite a significant body of well-reviewed work. Sometimes the hatred was overt, with some of the same vitriolic words you’ve posted about here.

    The body politic, indeed. but we dance for love.

    I’ve just added you to my RSS feed. Thank you.

    • Hi!

      Awesome to meet another fat dancer and congratulations on having a career against cultural odds. I’m sorry for what you had to deal with and really glad that you fought through it! Thank you for your kind words🙂

      ~Ragen

  31. WARNING: This comment is paternalistic, misrepresents opinions as facts, is not based on good science, assumes that the commenter’s experience is everyone’s experience, and includes elements of fat hatred.

    I found your blog through a post on facebook today.

    I haven’t read through all your posts so I don’t understand everything you stand for…I just felt the need to comment.

    I have always been intrigued by the connection between women’s bodies and their self-esteem. Admittedly, in our culture, a woman who is overweight and has high self-esteem is a rarity.

    I don’t think it does anyone any good to claim that being fat is not unhealthy. It is unhealthy, it causes cancer, heart disease, arthritis, stroke– the list goes on. Further, eating too many calories is also damaging because of the chemicals in food. If the dose makes the poison and someone is getting 3x’s a normal dose, it certainly becomes poison faster.

    That being said, being fat is no different from my skinny friend that smokes a pack a day (almost the same health risks- smoking is slightly worse). She voluntarily inhales carcinogens everyday, just like an overweight person eats too much food. She doesn’t have low self-esteem because she smokes, and no one expects her to.

    I support your movement, to the extent that it is about woman excepting themselves, loving themselves. I think your movement is damaging to the extent it equates a woman’s body with who she is as a person and tells her to accept her body as overweight instead of loving herself enough to make a change for the better.

    I think anyone who claims that they are fat and loving it is lying to themselves. Further, anyone who claims they can’t do anything about their fat (just like a smoker) is lying to themselves. I, for one, battle my disordered emotional eating everyday. However, there is something to be said for self-control and loving yourself enough to put down those vices that trap you in a body that can do less and a life that is shorter.

    I’ve never been obese, but I have recently lost 30 pounds through diet and exercise. I can tell you that my body is much happier now than it was 30 lbs ago. It can’t all be a conspiracy as you portray when I feel so much better everyday.

    • Elizabeth,

      First, you’re confusing correlation and causation I’m not sure if you don’t know the difference or if you may have bought into some diet industry myths. There is zero scientific proof that fat causes the any of the diseases that you mentioned. The only thing that we know is that being fat and having those diseases sometimes, but not always, happen at the same time. There are plenty of fat people who never have those issues. For more on this, check out this blog: https://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/2011/02/28/im-just-concerned-for-your-health/

      You said “eating too many calories is also damaging because of the chemicals in the food”. Calories and chemicals are too different things. You could eat hundreds of thousands of calories or organically grown, hormone free food and you would never ingest chemicals. You could drink a 0 calorie diet soda and consume lots of chemicals. To me this sentence is so uneducated and nonsensical that it basically negates any credibility you might have had, but I’ll move forward to address your other concerns as a courtesy.

      I appreciate that you used the phrase “I think” before your diatribe about people who say that they are fat and loving it. A common thing for people who lack emotional maturity is confusing their experience with everyone else’s – they have a difficult time understanding how anyone could have their same life circumstance but feel differently about it than they do. That being said, I find it very interesting that a stranger on the internet feels comfortable calling me a liar. I’ve already addressed this here: https://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/2011/02/17/liar-liar-plus-sized-pants-on-fire/

      As for fat being only a matter of self-control or your claim that all fat people eat too much, my guess is that you haven’t done much research and are just parroting back what you’ve heard from somewhere else. 95% of people who lose weight gain it back within 5 years. Caloric deficit weight loss has an abysmal success rate. Weight loss is the only thing that doctor’s prescribe to a majority of patients that has a 5% success rate. Your experience is your own, if you lost weight and you are happy about it that’s great (and considering your belief about not being able to be fat and love yourself I hope that you are part of the 5%). Regardless, your experience can’t be extrapolated beyond yourself. Again it’s simply emotionally immature to assume that other people’s experience would, or should, be like yours.

      If you want to understand more about my choice I would highly recommend this post:

      https://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/2011/01/19/why-health-at-every-size/

      ~Ragen

    • … just like an overweight person eats too much food.

      Please consider me shocked, awed, and amazed that you can tell how much food I eat over the Internet. I had not realized the technology had improved so much.

      I can tell you that my body is much happier now than it was 30 lbs ago.

      I can tell you that my body is also much happier than it was 30 pounds ago. When I weighed less, I had less energy, less strength, and less stamina to make it through my day. I started making better choices for me and ended up gaining those pounds as a result of good health choices.

      I certainly don’t claim that my experience matches what’s best for everyone, but neither does yours.

    • I’m going to try to respond to this in a way that isn’t dripping with irony. You think that because you have problems with overeating, that must be everyone else’s problem as well? Really? You’re applying your own disorder to EVERY other person who has a higher weight than you think they should have? That would be like someone fighting a tendency toward anorexia telling me that I should really work harder to gain weight. It’s not MY disorder so there is no reason for her to tell me HER solution.

      Also, thinking that everyone eats a diet heavy in chemical-laced foods baffles me. You’re again revealing your own tendencies and applying them to other people.

      And for the final offense: smoking and weight cannot be correlated. Ever. No, seriously. Food is a necessity. It isn’t a habit. So unless your mother gave you a cigarette the minute you came out of the womb, this is an incredibly weak argument you’re trying to make.

      I’d sympathize with your disorder if you were honestly trying to discuss it, but you aren’t. You’re trying to make yourself feel better by lumping other people in with you and saying, “Hey! Look how much better I am than you!” And I have seen too much of that from the other side of the weight spectrum to tolerate it.

  32. It never ceases to amaze me the unkindnesses that people throw at one another, especially on the internet. Being a girl and playing video games online can be a harrowing experience. I was the points leader for an XBox Live trivia game for a week, and in that week I received hundreds of messages speculating about my weight and my looks, calling me names, threatening me, and a litany of hatespeech from people I’d never met. When I play Halo Reach with my husband and we jump online, I get angry at the small-minded comments and homophobic name-calling. I’m with Patsy. A cave sounds nice sometimes. But then I’d miss my geek community, who for the most part, are actually nice people.

    It sounds kinda silly, but I cried the first time I saw the commercial advertising Shape-Ups for kids. My husband looked at me funny and asked me why it upset me. I said, “As someone who was only a little chubby as a kid and teased at school, I can tell you how hurtful it was to have my grandmother tell me how pretty I could be if I’d only lose a few pounds. I can only imagine what kind of comments to little girls accompany purchases of these shoes.” It’s hard enough for little girls to have self-esteem in an image-conscious society, and it’s irresponsible to market toning products to tone little bodies that are still developing.

    • Stacey,

      First of all, I love that you are a geek and that you are kicking ass at video games. I’m really sorry for the jackasses you are meeting and I may join you and Patsy for some quality cave time. I hadn’t heard of shape-ups – I feel the exact same way that you do. If I had kids I feel like I would want to allow them to be different or conforming in whatever way they choose, but I don’t think that I would give them shoes that will likely cause other kids to make fun of them.

      ~Ragen

  33. Ragen…all I can say is thank you for inspiring me to be a better person and a better dancer. I hope that knowing you are helping people change their own lives for the better is enough to outweigh those horrible comments.

    • Thank you so much, I really appreciate the support🙂

      ~Ragen

  34. You know, the vitriol in these comments seems to be very common on the internet. Fatties are not the only recipients, I’ve noticed that any post/video/what-have-you on the web that can be criticized in any way eventually draws this kind of verbal garbage. I share your sense of bewilderment over the mental state of these commenters. I was raised in a home that did not allow four-letter words; to say anything so brutal whether out loud or in print would have been unthinkable. I just can’t get my head around anyone being so vicious as to tell someone they’ve never even met that they want to kill them. I just don’t get it. I’m sure the anonymity of the web is part of it but the web is not the source of this hatefulness. I would blame the diet culture but this hate is not just directed at fatties, it’s directed at anyone with a perceived weakness. Remember that horrible song “friday” that teenage girl made into a video?That song got a ton of media attention and airplay just because it was so bad. This girl got thousands of messages, including lots of horrible hatemail just like you printed here. Why would anyone tell a teenage girl she should be tortured and killed– just for making a bad video? Utter lack of empathy seems to be running rampant. How depressing it is. Ragen, you must have cojones the size of beach balls, dealing with this verbal vomit would turn me into a quivering heap. Thank you for providing a lucid, logical, RESPECTFUL forum for all of us.

    • Hi,

      Thanks for the comment! I absolutely agree with you that the internet has somehow managed to create a situation wherein people who need to feel better about themselves can attempt to do that by behaving HORRIBLY towards complete strangers.

      “Cajones the size of beach balls” made my day.

      Thanks for utilizing the format respectfully🙂

      ~Ragen

  35. Im usually hanging around on the forum in question, and id like to point out that first of all many on the internet will exagerate a lot, and obviously none would actually harm someone just for being fat, secondly we are not really “fat hating”, in fact, if we see someone who asks for help how to lose weight etc we will cheer them on etc and help, and personally i do not have any sort of problem with overweight ppl who does not complain about being overweight and dosnt blame it on anything, they are just normal persons, but most of us do however really dislike when someone says that its not unhealthy to be overweight (there is something called morbidly obese for a reason) and that losing weight and not regaining it later is impossible, thus maybe scaring away someone who might actually have successfully begun to live a healthier life if they fixed their eating habits etc (yes dieting is retarded, many belive that “once i lose these XX pounds i can eat whatever i want again” and thats obv not how it works, you need to make a lifestyle change for it to work, and thats ofc not for everyone)

    • Dear Horse (if that is, you know, your real name…),

      Congratulations, your comment is the most ridiculous and thus the blue ribbon loser and only comment that I have approved so that I can say:

      Are you kidding me with this? Let me replay your argument to you and see if you can actually stand by it: Twenty three people told me to die, one person said they wanted to punch me over and over and watch me die, 260+ people called me all kinds of childish names and used all manner of abusive and bullying language – but it’s ok because they are just exaggerating. And you’re not fat hating because it’s actually my fault for not agreeing with you and doing what you think it right and never voicing a contrary opinion, because you would all stop bullying me and making death threats if I would just do what you say – and of course it’s perfectly reasonable for you to punish anyone who doesn’t agree with you through the use of abusive, bullying language and death threats. Unbelievable. Is your sense of self-importance really this exaggerated? Or, to speak in the vernacular of the peasantry, have you lost your damn mind?

      Let’s just get clear: I’m not Tinkerbell – I don’t need your applause to live. If someone is so incapable of dealing with an opinion that does not agree with theirs that they would sit at their computer and type that they want to punch someone in the stomack [sic] and watch them die, then maybe the internet is not for them. Or at least maybe they should stay off my website. I didn’t post on your forum – I don’t have the kind of free time you people do and so don’t surf around to find blogs I disagree with so that I can make death threats to strangers. I set up a little corner of the web to say what I have to say and you came to me. While you are free to disagree with me (and I won’t even call you names or wish you dead), your idea that the fact that we have different ideas about health makes it ok for people to bully and abuse me and tell me that they want to kill me is ridiculous, and I deleted, and will continue to delete all of the other comments because this is my forum and I didn’t create it as a platform for people who choose to behave as though their parents didn’t raise them properly.

      Sadly, it looks like your e-mail is fake and anonymous so I’m guessing you’ll never get this response. I noticed that nearly all of the comments I received from people on your forum were anonymous because, unlike me, they are too cowardly to post their point of view under their real name and contact information.

      ~Ragen (my real name)

      • I just want to say that that was a fucking fantastic reply! You completely rock Ragen!

      • Awesome, Ragen, as always. You may not be Tinkerbell but I applaud you anyway. I noticed a familiar vibe in Horseface’s comment. It’s the excuse abusers and playground bullies have been hiding behind for years: “I didn’t really mean it, it was just a joke, come on whassa matta, doncha have a sense of humor??” I find it very hard not to stoop to namecalling at the sheer idiocy of this attitude. Abusive language IS abuse!! It is NOT OK to abuse ANYONE in any way, for any reason!! The blame for this hate speech does not fall on this site, it falls squarely on the thugs who think it’s OK to send people death threats online. I was kinda disgusted by Horseface’s pathetic attempt to justify himself and the forum punks with his “well yeah, they shouldn’t do that but lots of people do it so it’s not a big deal, but not me I’M cool, I think UR OK if UR a good fatty who’s trying to get thin but I think it’s morally wrong to disagree with the whole OMGDEATHFAT thing cuz everybody knowz fat is bad(they call it MORBID obesity so it must kill you, right?) and you couldn’t POSSIBLY have a reasonable disagreement with all that so you kinda brought the hatemail on yourself.” And wasn’t it nice of him to inform you that diets are retarded, what fatties need is a LIFESTYLE CHANGE. Wow. I think he may have found the answer. What a wealth of wisdom!! Hmmm. I can think of another name for Horseface, but I won’t say it here.

  36. The paragraph after you talk about DK is, to me, the single strongest thing I have read in your blogs. We may not see each other as often as before, but I still love you and think you’re amazing!

    • Awwwww, thanks! Love you back and hope to see you soon kurmie🙂

      ~Ragen

  37. Ragen,
    you are changing the world. thank goodness!

    Deb

  38. I’ve already commented, but I swung back by to read all the other supportive words (which I’m enjoying almost as much as if they were directed at me).

    Anyway, I just want to echo some of the comments about starting or getting back into dance becuase of you and your blog. Reading DWF has helped me reconnect with my love of dancing. I took ballet and tap when I was five, but dance and gymnastics gave way to swimming and tennis (more “practical” pursuits, according to my parents). I was on the pom squad in eighth grade but didn’t make the high-school team; I didn’t dance again until my mid-twenties, when I spent a couple of years taking college dance classes at 5’7″ and 245 lbs. I LOVED it. I wasn’t great at it, but I got a little better, and I adored every minute. (Although tap class sometimes made me want to cry.)

    But I got away from dancing, gained weight, opened a business, and grew increasingly out of shape. I’m happy to report that although I’m still fatter than I was back then, I now enjoy moving my body in ways I never have, even when I danced. And I am determined–DETERMINED–to find an adult dance class sometime soon, damn the cost.

    Anyway, thank you SO much for helping me realize how much I miss dancing And thanks for demonstrating that size is no barrier to being an amazing dancer.

    • I am so excited about you finding an adult dance class. I hope that you’ll let me know how much you rock it!

      ~Ragen

  39. Wow, I am just so sorry that those people said that to you. You have a great attitude and seem to let it roll off your back but I wouldn’t blame you if you sat down and cried. Even if those people were right about the correlation between fat and health (and I know they’re not!) there is no excuse for that type of hate.

    Thanks so much for the inspiration you have been to me and so many other readers. Keep up the good work and don’t listen to the crazies who have nothing better to do than spout such cruelty.

    • Thanks Rachael, I really appreciate the support!

      ~Ragen

  40. Ragen, I came to your blog this morning after having a really frustrating week, which culminated in some nice body hate I found through a news article (which admittedly was making fun of the body hate but was nonetheless very disheartening). I was extremely upset to read those comments – to the point that I almost didn’t finish reading the post. But as usual you handled them in an incredibly reasonable but still impassioned way.

    I visit your blog because you’re the only person I’ve ever come across who talks about self-worth with such a consistent “Well, duh” attitude, and you apply it indiscriminately. It’s something that really should be intrinsic but so often isn’t, or is made to seem like it isn’t. Sometimes it just gets hard to fight back, and your posts are always wonderful reminders that we are our best defenders. And often our only defenders.

    You show many of us that we’re worth fighting for, regardless of how the world seems to see us, because we have a natural right to our self-esteem. And letting other people rob us of it really is a terrible thing.

    • Hi Ellie,

      Sorry that you’ve had a rough week. I hope that your weekend is much better. Thank you for your kind words and I absolutely agree with you that our self-esteem is our birthright and we are the only ones who can stop someone from stealing it from u.

      ~Ragen

  41. Hi Ragen,

    This post just confirms my belief that you are the best blogger in the world. If a bunch of strangers had written such evil things to me, I’d have broken down. I’m so impressed by your response. You are so courageous! Thank you so much for all the work you do!

    Elisabeth Harrison

    • Elisabeth,

      Thank you so much! Your comment made my day🙂

      ~Ragen

  42. Hey Dances With Fat! I came across your blog through Beauty Schooled and just want to say that you are SO STRONG for not only putting yourself out there, but also giving incredibly articulate and poised responses to the bigoted bullies who direct such cruelty at you. With this one post you have become a huge role model for me, and I just want to thank you for being so brave, smart, and kind. (And also funny, because seriously, it takes a lot of guts to still have a sense of humor after everything people have said to you.) Please keep doing what you do! I wish that all my friends in college would read your blog religiously, as I hope to do from here on out. KEEP AT IT!! And also, the picture of you that’s posted on Beauty Schooled is *gorgeous*!

  43. This link came to my Dance Your Ass Off FB page and I, like you, am appalled – but, sadly, not surprised at the flourishing “size-ism” that is our last, completely acceptable prejudice. I am encouraged by voices like yours that fight. I created DYAO for that reason. I did, in fact, write a book about women and self-esteem to help combat negative body-image issues! http://www.harpercollins.com/books/Best-Thing-About-My-Ass-That-Its-Behind-Me-Lisa-Ann-Walter/?isbn=9780062025746 It’s funny and very empowering – I hope you get a chance to take a look, you are very inspiring. Best, LAW

    • Lisa Ann,

      First, I am such a fan of you and especially your performance in Shall We Dance. While I am honored that you would consider me inspiring and the book looks fantastic, you are breaking my heart because I believe you that you think that Dance Your Ass Off helps to fight fat hatred. However I, who am a fat National Champion Dancer, am certain that your show and others like it are partially responsible for creating a culture where a stranger feels comfortable telling me they want to punch me until I die because I’m fat. You are an amazing actress and comedienne with a platform much bigger than mine and if I could truly inspire you, I would inspire you to encourage a focus on actual healthy habits rather than a focus on thinness that only adds to the stigma against fat people and doesn’t actually increase anyone’s health. Your show sends the loud and clear message that talent is not enough and health is not enough – you must be thin to win. I wrote this post https://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/2010/05/28/the-real-biggest-loser last year specifically to discuss the dangers of shows like yours, I hope you’ll read it, think it over, and then do whatever you think is right.

      Thank you for the comment and very best of luck to you,

      ~Ragen

  44. Well, I guess this means you’re doing something right.

    I’d also like to mention that Julian Michaels in in our area today and tomorrow, and I can probably find out where she is going to be. And it is very tempting to show these people what it is like to respectfully, if artfully and loudly, disagree.

    • *Jillian Michaels (of Biggest Loser fame).

      Sorry, I’m failing at the internets today, especially since my comment possibly came across as more stalker-y than I meant it to. I’m just inspired by the INDD hi-jinx in San Francisco, and possibly by Common’s visit to the White House.

  45. I am just wondering when you started getting those hateful messages. A little over a week ago a linked to your post that debunked the calories-in/calories-out myth, in a comment I made on the Jezebel site.

    Some people were positive, but some were not so. I don’t know if that had a negative effect, but I sure hope not. If it has, I really am sorry.

  46. keep dancing! keep writing! keep fighting! I admire your strength Regan.

  47. Ragen, you are all kinds of awesome!

  48. I am not “fat” person, and I couldn’t read it all. How horrid! I am not super thin. My kids are healthy and not overweight. If I heard of them making any of these comments they would be tasting soap.

    Yes, there is an obeseity problem, and not a single diet will work either. First, let’s fix kids self esteem, than teach how to eat properly and exercise.

  49. Oh thank you, thank you for your comments about Michelle Obama. People just don’t get it when I tell them about that. She is not only fostering fat hatred in young children, she is also telling those same kids that their parents don’t care about them and thus don’t love them. Schools are forcing kids to eat the school lunch (which is rarely healthy) while telling the kids that it’s because ‘parents aren’t making the right choices’.

    It depresses me how fat hatred runs rampant. When I point out to people that per BMI (which was never a medical tool ANYWAY), Lance Armstrong is considered overweight, they stare at me almost bug-eyed.

    I personally come from a stock of big-boned people. Everyone in my background is larger; even family members that went through the military. I also have hypothyroidism which wasn’t found until my 20’s.

    It took 2 years as a teen to learn that soccer had destroyed one of my knees because so many doctors decided it was because I was “overweight”. They called me a liar when I said I had soccer practice daily and swam at least 3 days a week.

    This is deplorable behavior, but people are too busy stopping bullying against gays and racism, while ignoring that people with weight issues are treated just as bad.

  50. I thought of something else. I think there is an element of dominance in these fat attacks. We humans are a very dominance-oriented species, highly status-conscious, and we guard our perceived status jealously (think “keeping up with the Jones’s”). The status of fat people in our society is the rough equivalent of the omega wolf. The fat haters perceive themselves as being of higher status(i.e. better) than all those lazy, piggy fatties. They don’t really have a problem with fat people who accept their low status, “good fatties” who hide themselves away and ‘ask for help with weight loss’. But just as higher ranking wolves will marginalize the omega and give it a beat-down should it step out of line, so too will fat haters immediately pile on any fatty who dares to disagree with their assigned status, thus challenging the hierarchy. In other words, ‘stop being uppity, fattcakes. Get back in your place.’ Sound familiar? I guess since it’s no longer acceptable to treat African-americans like omegas, society has chosen others to fit the bill. It’s up to us to opt out of the competition and treat everyone as if our status were equal. Human nature does not change, but individual humans can, and can encourage others to do likewise.

    Also, the typical bullying of fat people bears a strong resemblance to the regular harrassment the omega wolf receives as part of its daily life.

  51. I just wanted to add my happy thoughts to the others. I can’t imagine why people are so hateful. I know the weakest groups are often the ones first attacked, but I think plus sized women and men and learning to have their voices heard, and we won’t be the fat kids in the cafeteria that silently take everyone’s abuse any longer. Having been one of the ‘fat kids’ most of my life, as well as an avid dancer, all i can do is applaud you.

  52. I am sorry you took such abuse for your body. I wish we could stop picking on people for being themselves…so far as I know we don’t really choose what we look like. You get what you get..end transmission.
    Why don’t we work on getting rid of the ugliness inside? Tolerance is beautiful and so are you.

  53. I am saddened and horrified at the level of hate in our society. I am even more insprired by the courage of people to speak out. Thanks for writing this blog post.
    I often have discussions with people only to be shut down by nasty, judgemental, propoganda type comments. So many people just don’t want to hear this message. They want to keep shaming, blaming and picking on those they feel ‘deserve’ to be reminded of their fatness. They want to keep being critical no matter the target. While they may not be as nasty as some of those comments above, I am sure it still hurts to know that people think less of you because of how you look. Many of these people consider themselves to be overweight and constantly focus on this with every bite of food or activity. I think it has become so habitual to beat themselves up that it then becomes easy to do that to others. There are a lot of people with low self esteem who fail to realise they are also part of this thin obsession.

    • I think that you nailed it. I also think that with fat on fat hate there’s an element of “I’m spending my life trying to get approval from society, how dare you be happy when I can’t be”. Sad regardless.

      ~Ragen

  54. I ran into this post from a friends facebook page. I was truly horrified to read the things that people have said to you, and I’m so sorry that you have to face this. You are obviously a very respectable and intelligent person, and remarkable for being able to take this in stride and not spew hatred back.
    I think you forgot to mention the cosmetic and fashion industries that also promote this hatred of fat. There is seriously something wrong with a society that promotes deathly thin women as being the ideal of beauty. I have struggled with health problems that have left me underweight, it has been a struggle to get up to a healthy weight, and women, including female doctors, always say that they’re jealous of that. What is wrong with a society wherein it is better to be sick or dying and thin, than to be bigger and healthy?
    I just wanted to say that I respect and admire you. Thank you

    • Hi Sonnen,

      Welcome to the blog and thank you very much for the support! You are very right about the cosmetic and fashion industry. I’m really sorry that you are dealing with the backlash that comes at thin women and it’s especially deplorable that you it’s coming from doctors.

      ~Ragen

  55. Keep in mind that all great thinkers phased opposition. It just means you are doing something right!

  56. It’s depressing that there would be so many people who would be so mean about a physical and genetic aspect (size). ** sigh ** As your upside stated, lots of folks looked at your blog and you have a lot of fans including me! I think those comments which were negative come from psychologically sick folks but it’s a bit upsetting (even if many of them are kids) that so many people have psychological problems like that. Let’s hope that was just a lot of the maladjusted folks collected in one place and not that society has that many sick people.😦

  57. A couple of thoughts:
    1. The people leaving the lousy comments are probably males of the 18-34 year old bracket and relying on the anonymity of the internet to be total jerkwaters. They are also probably under the influence at the time and small gangs encouraging each other.
    2. With the foregoing in mind, people do not attempt to inflict that kind of pain unless they’re in a world of it themselves. And they cannot stand your pity of them. It’s like throwing water on the Wicked Witch of the West.
    3. YOur comments on Mrs. Obama’s intitiative contributing to fat hatred (and this is my one criticism): I would have liked to see an example follow up the statement.
    4. And all those haters? They can’t achieve that pose that’s on your blog; God knows I’d love that kind of balance and flexibility. That’s a few yoga classes down the road.

    • Hi Susan,

      Thanks for the comment.

      1. I absolutely agree with you.
      2. Agreed again.
      3. The short version is that Michelle Obama could be for healthy children but she chooses instead to be against obese ones. A war on childhood obesity is a war on obese kids and does a disservice not just to the fat kids it stigmatizes but also to the kids who it ignores – those who are thin but unhealthy. I did a whole post on it if you are interested https://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/2011/03/10/michelle-obama-what-are-you-thinking/
      4. I know that one of the things that makes it easier for me is that I walk around knowing that most people can’t do what I can do – I’m very lucky in that respect.

      Thanks again🙂

      ~Ragen

  58. Don’t listen to the haters! They are wrong. I know this is a very simplistic comment but I really just want to show you my support for you and your blog.

  59. People are disgusting. Good on you for standing up for what you believe.

  60. Thank you for being an advocate and leader for all of us who do not fit into society’s wishes. It is painful to read the comments and my heart goes out to you.

  61. It is never okay to hurt someone. It is never okay. It is never okay. It is never okay. It is never okay. It is never okay. It is never okay.

    It. Is. NEVER. OKAY. TO. HURT. SOMEONE.

    No one ever ‘asks’ for it, no one deserves it.

    When we hurt each other, we hurt ourselves and we lose our humanity.

    I choose to be human.

  62. It’s interesting that you mention Ani DiFranco because she has the fat hate. She used to play at my college quite often and at one show was quite vocal. A shame really. I used to be a big fan but I can’t get past that.

  63. I was agreeing with everything you said until the Michelle Obama part. Encouraging young people to be active and eat healthy is not the same as fat shaming. Education on these subjects is important. I really do see the emphasis being on health, not size. It’s easy to make that connection though when our culture is permeated with the message that fat = unhealthy.

    What boggles my mind is this attitude I keep seeing everywhere where people act ike fat people are somehow committing a crime against everyone else. Reading the vitriol regarding Gabourey Sidibe saying her size isn’t unhealthy, you’d think she had committed murder. It was shocking to read.

    I just don’t get it. What should it matter to anybody else how big someone else is? It’s stupid and mean and just another thing people can use to make them feel a little bit better than other people. It’s disgusting.

    • I understand what you are saying about Mrs. Obama. I think that Michelle Obama has good intentions and lately her messaging has centered more around health which I appreciate, but she has stated over and over that she is “against childhood obesity” and “going to eradicate childhood obesity” and that obese children are a “problem that needs to be fixed” and I think that messaging includes a layer of stigma and shame that isn’t necessary. We can support the development of healthy behaviors in kids of all sizes without singling out fat kids and I just wish that she would commit to that.

      Thanks for the comment!

      ~Ragen


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