Fatty Family Holiday Survival Guide

This Memorial Day weekend in the US, families will gather to thank our Veterans. Those family BBQs often come with an unhealthy side of body shaming and food policing.  If you’re headed to a family feast for the holiday, here’s an oldie but goodie post to help you through:

Your body is amazing – it breathes for you, pumps blood around all the time and does all kinds of cool things.  It deserves respect and admiration. If people don’t recognize that, it’s 100% their problem and a big flaming sack of not yours.

Everything that people say to you is a reflection of where they are in their life  – if people are engaging in body shaming, food policing or other inappropriate behavior, remember that it’s about them, not about you. You do not have to take it personally or internalize it.

That doesn’t mean that you have to allow it to happen either.  You decide how people treat you and then you teach them how to treat you that way.  Don’t be afraid to set boundaries and consequences and then follow through. It’s ok to stand up for yourself, it’s ok to leave the room, it’s ok to leave the State.  It’s also ok to just get through it, but if you take that path may I suggest that you spend a lot of energy making sure that you aren’t internalizing those messages.

Good intentions do not negate bad behavior unless you decide that they do.

People are allowed to be on diets, but if they feel the need to be incredibly vocal about it consider that they may have some issues that they are dealing with.  Again, this is a big flaming sack of not your problem.  Other people’s choices do not invalidate your choices, and vice versa.  Some dieters have a hard time with this – they need everyone to buy into dieting so that they can feel comfortable about their decision.  That doesn’t obligate you to buy in.

Once more with feeling:  Your body is amazing – it breathes for you, pumps blood around all the time and does all kinds of cool things.  It deserves respect and admiration. If people don’t recognize that, it’s 100% their problem and a big flaming sack of not yours.

If you need some comic relief there’s new hate mail (with my witty retorts) up on my hate mail page.  Enjoy!

 Pre-order my book (for you and/or that food policing family member) and  get an autographed copy and free shipping!

Fat: The Owner’s Manual – Navigating a Thin-Obsessed World with Your Health, Happiness, and Sense of Humor Intact, with foreword by Marilyn Wann is now available for pre-order.   A book about living life in the body that you have now, making decisions about what you want in the future, and how to get there.  Whether you want to change your body, fight for size acceptance, just live your life, or understand and support your fat friends and family, this book was written to provide the insights, aha moments, humor, and hard facts to help.

Join the Club, Support My Work!

I do HAES and SA activism, speaking and writing full time, and I don’t believe in putting corporate ads on my blog and making my readers a commodity. So if you find value in my work, want to support it, and you can afford it, you can  become a member (it works like a fan club – you get extra stuff, discounts, and you’re always the first to know about things) or a you can support my work with a  one-time contribution.  The regular e-mail subscription (available at the top right hand side of this page) is still completely free. If you’re curious about this policy, you might want to check out this post.  Thanks for reading! ~Ragen

Published in: on May 26, 2012 at 10:03 am  Comments (15)  

15 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thank you for this blog. An oasis of sanity. Everyone in my office is dieting and I am surrounded by it. I just keep my lips pressed shut as hard as I can, but it’s bizarro to see all these average sized women bemoaning their failures and remonstrating each other about something they ate. I hate it. I get angry about it. I am involved in a lot of political action and I think “you would have some much time to care about something other than your weight if you would drop this.” Shallow stupid and infuriating.

    • I hear you! on of my colleagues at work is on a perpetual diet, which is fine – but she is so freaking juvenile about it. Reminds me so much of me as a teenager.

      For example, if somebody brings in doughnuts or bagels, she can’t just eat one (or not). No, she has to go on about how she “shouldn’t” eat one, and if she does, she’s “bad.” This is not a healthy way to approach food, physically or mentally!

      For so long, I have wanted to say, “Eat the frickin’ doughnut or not, just stop going ON about it! Nobody thinks you’re virtuous if you don’t eat it, and nobody (but you) thinks you’re bad if you do eat it! In fact, nobody really cares whether you eat it or not, until you call attention to it! So shut up and eat it (or not) already! It’s just food, for chrissake!”

      The sight of a mid-50s woman beating herself up as “bad” for eating a doughnut makes me sad.

      • Wait, slavicdiva, do we work in the same office? 😉

        I have actually been known to mutter, “It’s cake, not genocide.” during our office “celebrations.” Thank heavens I can go back to my office and read Ragen.

  2. I love your work, thanks. Not being a great fan of reading blog comments (most of them are so hateful) I don’t know if this has been said before but you’re an inspiration for folks like me who are trying to lose weight. Not in any kind of rubbish way but in recognising that my choice is about self-image, not health and that therefore what I want to see in the mirror is nothing to do with anyone but myself. Also that if (as happens with trying to lose weight) the scales tip in the opposite direction to the way I want then that’s not a cause to go all food-phobic, it’s just the way bodies are. Thanks for letting me have a guilt and stress-free weight loss experience, and also for reminding me that my choices are mine alone and I have no business putting them on anyone else.

  3. Thanks so much!! This is always good to hear, even if you are not seeing family for the holiday.

  4. Wow, those fat hate comments (well, especially your responses!) are friggin’ hilarious! People who want to look like cows! LOL! But then, as my 11-year-old daughter says, “Ragen doesn’t look like a cow! She looks like a pretty fat lady!” Btw, to which I responded, “And when she’s dancing, she looks like she’s floating!” And she laughed and said, “She does!”

    But seriously, it really helps me to see the hate reframed that way. As it is my first impulse to believe people rather than think they’re wrong, sometimes I take things people say a little too much to heart.

    • I loathed that person so damned much that I deliberately bought Linda’s book because of him. It just does my heart good to know that I “retaliated” by supporting a cause he hates. 😀

  5. Just read the hate mail and your replies, and still laughing. I hope those idiots got to read them too. Thanks for the daily jolt of positive reinforcement.

    Right now I’m undergoing radiation treatment for oral cancer and have dropped 30 pounds. Everyone tells me how good I look. At 5’5″ and 187 pounds, size 16, the stupid BMI chart tells me I’m obese. I will always be that because of my dense bones (doctors tell me this repeatedly). also, it occurs to me that people with a long torso and short limbs are always going to weigh more than a person with a short torso and long limbs. So I can’t win on that account.

    Once I’m through this treatment, I’m going to start practicing health at every size. I gave up exercising once in the past because I couldn’t get my weight under 170 and figured it wasn’t doing any good. Now I know better.

    • Sending you good wishes for a speedy and complete recovery, Marla Shin. Cancer sucks.

  6. Ooh! Some backup, some laughs for me and a wake-up call for my husband (he didn’t realize how hard some people have the hate on for fatties, bless him), and I followed an ad click and found out that the HAES book is on Kindle! Kaching!

  7. You updated your hate mail! Yay!!

  8. This is very helpful. Thank you.

  9. Love the hate page! Wish I had the patience or time for this. Riffing trolls? Brilliant!


  10. Note: I edited this comment to remove examples. While I absolutely agree with the question that you are asking, the reason that my hatemail is on a completely separate page is that I don’t it here.

    There’s something I don’t get about the hate page. Nothing to do with logic – you don’t expect that from trolls. No, it’s the fear that shines through. Where does all that fear come from?

    Such terror! Such desperate desire to make us the “other”, when a few of them probably fit into the overweight/obese category themselves.

  11. Needed this post in mind this weekend to keep me sane. My aunt is a super health/weight loss advocate and kept telling me my eating habits are going to “catch up to me one day” when I’m older when I’ll put on a whole bunch of weight all at once/have health problems and that I should be more pro dieting since that one time I lost all that weight once (uhhh you mean when I had my severe eating disorder? Which you know about?) I was also informed (when I tried to gentle argue how I saw it differently) that while some people MAY be healthy with a BMI over 30, the vast majority just eat too much/the wrong foods and that weight watchers really is a great program for that since it’s worked every time for my aunt when she was o nit. Well okay since you said so it must be true?

    I never lecture people on how to eat or exercise, why do people, who really, their only authority knowledge is based on what they saw on Oprah or Dr. Oz and decades of yo-yo dieting, feel the need to do it with me?

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