IDEA’s Massive Yoga No No

Ragen Chastain - superfat - picture by Substantia Jones for Adipositivity.com

Ragen Chastain – superfat – picture by Substantia Jones for Adipositivity.com

I was forwarded an article from the Idea fitness website [with my strong trigger warning for fat shaming, stereotyping and bigotry]about modifying yoga for fat people that aptly demonstrates everything that typically goes catastrophically wrong when fitness professionals try to talk about how to modify exercise for fat people.

The article lists fat people by categories of fatness in a patently offensive section called  “Know Your Plus Sizes”:The Athletic but Fat Person; The Soft, Large and Flexible Plus-Size Person; The Very Inactive, Inflexible, Unhealthy Person; The Supersized Person.

How many ways can one author go wrong?  “The Athletic But Fat Person.”  The word but should be removed completely – there is no but, this is not a paradox of any kind.  Athletes come in all sizes (just ask the members of the Fit Fatties Forum)

“The Soft, Large and Flexible Plus-Size Person; The Very Inactive, Inflexible, Unhealthy Person” – It’s like adjectives in a blender.  The only way that this makes sense is if the author accidentally published a section from the fat bigotry mad libs book that she was playing with while taking a break from trying to figure out how to make this article the most offensive of its kind ever published.

The Know Your Fatties categories are, perhaps unbelievably, the least offensive thing about the article.  Each category gets a description in which declarative statements are used to let readers know that someone’s size tells you everything you need to know about them.  From their attitude (the Athletic but Fat will “do everything he can to prove that he can keep up with your class, even though it may kill him for the first 2 weeks”) to their abilities (The Soft, Large and Flexible Plus-Size Person “is usually quite willing to begin an exercise program” – apparently Soft, Large and Flexible people couldn’t possibly have already started an exercise program), to their abilities (for Super Fat people – like me –  “Simply lifting the arms can be a challenge. The supersized individual can’t get up and down off the floor or be on her feet for long periods. Embarrassed and humiliated by her weight and health, she spends a lot of time at home.”)

There’s a word for making judgments about people based on how they look…wait, it’s on the tip of my tongue…

It is highly problematic to make assumptions about student’s fitness or mental state based on their size. There are fit and unfit students at every size, flexible and inflexible students of every size, students of every size who have trouble getting up and down off the floor. Students should be accommodated for their level without shame or judgment, and when it comes to fat students, modifications should be used in order to make the poses work for a larger body, not because we make assumptions about someone’s fitness/flexibility/confidence based on how they look.

Next the author includes a section called “What Plus Size People Want You to Know” that has four  unattributed quotes from people with fairly specific issues.The first of which is:

“I really don’t care and don’t want to know where my anterior deltoid is; I just want to relax my shoulders. Maybe later I will be open to learning anatomy, but for now I am here to learn how to relax, open and stretch my body in a way that won’t hurt me.”

There you have it…proof that fat people don’t care about anatomy – Maybe you could give us cues by pointing at a stick figure (drawn with an extra wide tip marker of course.)  I cannot for the life of me figure out how this has anything to do with being fat.  I’m sure that there are students of all sizes who don’t give a crap where their anterior deltoid is and that’s just fine.  Do let’s try to remember that just because some fat person thinks something, that doesn’t mean that all fat people “want you to know” it.

Many fat people don’t pursue yoga because of the bigotry and discrimination we find in classes, and authors and teachers who make assumptions like this are part of that problem.

If you’re interested in yoga for fat bodies, check out Abby Lentz at www.heartfeltyoga.com, and Anna Guest-Jelly at www.curvyyoga.com both plus-sized yoga teachers who give actual modifications that work for plus-sized bodies without all the stereotyping and assumptions.

Fitness professionals can benefit from reading the article and then doing the exact opposite of what it advises.  It is offensive to assume that students can’t do things because of their size.  It is dangerous to assume that students can do things because of their size.  Avoid stereotyping and stigma.  Take each student as they come, respect their bodies, respect their boundaries and be enough of a professional to know how modify the work that you do to fit students of many sizes and abilities.

Like the blog?  Here’s more of my stuff:

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

The Dance Class DVDs:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs (hint:  Free shipping was supposed to end on Monday but I haven’t had a chance to make the changes to the pricing so there’s still free shipping until I get it done)!  Click here for the details

Become a Member, Support My Projects, and Get Special Deals from Size Positive Businesses

I do size acceptance activism full time.  A lot what I do, like answering over 4,000 e-mails from readers each month, giving talks to groups who can’t afford to pay, and running projects like the Georgia Billboard Campaign etc. is unpaid, so I created a membership program so that people who read the blog and feel they get value out of it and want to  support the work I do can become members for ten bucks a month  To make that even cooler, I’ve now added a component called “DancesWithFat Deals” which are special deals to my members from size positive merchants. Once you are a member I send out an e-mail once a month with the various deals and how to redeem them – your contact info always stays completely private.

Published in: on January 29, 2013 at 11:15 am  Comments (67)  

Bioethics or Biobigotry?

I can explain it to youSeveral of my readers sent me articles about Daniel Callahan, a senior research scholar and president emeritus of The Hastings Center, who is suggesting that what fat people really need is more fat shaming.  No, seriously.  It turns out he quit smoking because of social shame around being a smoker and he feels that smoking and being fat are basically the same thing and that shame will make fat people thinner faster.  He proposes things like public posters saying”“If you are overweight or obese, are you pleased with the way that you look?”

I’m Fatty McFatterson Mayor of Fatterworth and yes Dan (can I call you Dan?) I am pleased with the way I look. Meanwhile, I propose posters around The Hastings Center that say “If you are a bioethicist who can’t grasp the basic tenets of your field, are you pleased with your job performance?”

First of all, let’s be clear that smoking and being fat are not the same thing.  Smoking is a specific behavior – every smoker smokes. Being fat is a body size and when it comes to habits and choices, fat people are as varied as any other group of people who share only a single physical characteristic.

I’m not promoting shaming smokers, but I want to be clear that shaming smokers shames people for something that they do. Shaming fat people shames people for who they are.  If smokers want to continue their habit and avoid public shame, they can hide their smoking.  Fat people would have to hide ourselves. Both of them may be wrong, but trying to get people to be ashamed of a specific habit is a very different than trying to get them to be ashamed of their bodies.

In an article about this [Trigger warning for fat shaming] Deb Burgard, one of my life heroes, said “For him to argue that we need more stigma, I don’t know what world he’s living in,”  My sentiments exactly Deb!  386,170 negative messages about our bodies a year, but the secret to public thinness is more negative messages.  Right. And yes, public thinness – let’s not fool ourselves that this is about public health.  You can identify an evidence-based public health initiative because it is based on evidence and is focused on health.  This is 0 for 2.

In fact, Peter Muennig’s research from Columbia found that most of the same health problems that are correlated with obesity are also correlated with being under a high degree of stress for a long period of time (for example, the stress of constant shaming and stigma).  Muennig found that those who were concerned about their weight experienced more physical and mental illness than those who were ok with their size, regardless of their size.   I guess being a bioethicist doesn’t include doing basic research to see if what you are recommending is likely to have the exact opposite of the intended effect?

I am lucky to know Dr. Tiffany Cvrkel, a brilliant bioethicist who works at UCLA so I immediately e-mailed her for her thoughts.  She said:

I think Callahan is perhaps confused about the mission of bioethics. We are capable of doing many things to increase general public health. We can protect people from one of the leading causes of death and injury in very a straightforward way. All we have to do is forbid people from leaving their houses, for any reason. Maybe we should start a shame-based campaign?

Oh, wait. Just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should. It is the job of the bioethicist to be able to tell the difference. If Callahan thinks that shaming people for how they look is an efficient way to make them healthier — a claim that is simply empirically wrong, by the way — then he still needs an ethical argument for why that shaming is morally permissible. Simply saying “it’s for their own good” is not sufficient. I can forcibly prevent you from riding in automobiles for your own good, or from dating problematic people, or from voting for offensive political parties. Callahan is suggesting something equally ridiculous.

Suggesting that we should shame people for their own good until they hate themselves healthy thin offends me as a fat woman, as a human being, and as someone who appreciates  logical, rational thought and evidence-based public health interventions.  My  hope is that this is the kind of thing that makes more fat people stand up and say that they’ve had enough – that the evils have finally become unsufferable, that this is not a tree and we are not kittens, that it’s time to stand up and fight back and that if they want a war on obesity, then we’ll give them one.

Like the blog?  Here’s more of my stuff:

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

The Dance Class DVDs:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs (hint:  Free shipping was supposed to end on Monday but I haven’t had a chance to make the changes to the pricing so there’s still free shipping until I get it done)!  Click here for the details

Become a Member, Support My Projects, and Get Special Deals from Size Positive Businesses

I do size acceptance activism full time.  A lot what I do, like answering over 4,000 e-mails from readers each month, giving talks to groups who can’t afford to pay, and running projects like the Georgia Billboard Campaign etc. is unpaid, so I created a membership program so that people who read the blog and feel they get value out of it and want to  support the work I do can become members for ten bucks a month  To make that even cooler, I’ve now added a component called “DancesWithFat Deals” which are special deals to my members from size positive merchants. Once you are a member I send out an e-mail once a month with the various deals and how to redeem them – your contact info always stays completely private.

Published in: on January 25, 2013 at 10:37 am  Comments (63)  

I’m Here to Recruit You

fight backEarlier this year I was asked to give a super workshop at the NAAFA convention following up on the Georgia Billboard Project.  I decided to use the talk to discuss ways that we can get people interested and involved in fat activism projects.  If you have trouble with the audio, you can read the transcription below (thanks to the amazing Julianne who did the transcription).

If you’re in the San Jose area this Sunday, I’ll be giving a talk about options for health, happiness, and high self-esteem that honor the body you have now at Center for Creative Living at 1460 Koll Cir, San Jose, CA 95112 on Sunday, 1/27  from 1:00 to 3:00, cost is $20.

Video Transcription:

Harvey Milk is one of my great life heroes. My name is Ragen Chastain and I am here to recruit you. I am here to recruit you to fat activism and to leadership of fat activism. Some of you are already doing it and some of you don’t know that you are fat activist leaders yet. And I am here to help you.

They asked me to talk about the Georgia Billboard project, and I will. The project that in 8 days raised $21,000 to put up a media campaign in Georgia to counter a horrible anti-fat child-focused media campaign. What I realized when I started to think about the project and its success, was that what made it successful are the things that make everything successful. In my background I’ve consulted for Fortune 100 Companies. I’ve been a turn-around CEO for a multi-million dollar corporate conglomerate. I’ve been a part of a team that turned 200,000 votes in two weeks to win the No on 9 Campaign in Portland.

All of these things are built on really successful principles. So, I wanted to talk about that today so that when you go out if you become interested in leading fat activism and running your own projects – and I hope that you will – you will have all of the tools that you need.

There are many things that successful activism and activist organizations are built on. Leadership, People, Empowerment, and Fundamentals.

Let’s talk about Leadership and what really happened in Georgia. I can take almost no credit for this project. It wasn’t even my idea. I blogged about the campaign in Georgia by Children’s Healthcare in Atlanta. Well-Rounded Mama said “I wish we could have our own billboard.” I was like, “I wish we could have our own billboard, too.” So I posted on my blog and said, “Would you guys like to have our own billboard?” And they said, “Yes!” More of Me to Love came online and said we could have $5,000 and, “What do you want to do?” And we talked about it and we decided to do a matching grant, like a challenge grant, to get people involved. The Big, Fat Money Bomb was Shannon Russell’s idea – that we were going to do it all on one day. Get tons of publicity and then everybody donate today to get momentum going. Allen at Ad Out was our billboard representative. He called me one day and said, “I just spent a bunch of time reading about this project and I’m so excited!” Originally, we wanted to get one billboard and it was going to be $10,000. We ended up getting six billboards and ten bus shelters and it was $21,000. Allen made that happen for us. Allen was amazing. He was just some dude that I found on the internet who rep’d a billboard company. It was amazing. Marilyn Wann came on board and allowed us to use her “I Stand” project for the bus shelters and sponsored the project. Sabrina Wilson and Elizabeth Tamny were our Graphic Design Gurus. They came in and Sabrina did the original design for the billboard and Elizabeth did all of the” I Stand”s to spec in like 24 hours because we found out they weren’t going to look good. She was a hero. We had a thousand donors. We had tens of thousands of participants. Almost none of it was me.

The way that it works is this – this is my favorite quote about leadership – “With the best of leaders when the work is done, the people will say, “we have done it ourselves.” If you are leading a project, it is 100% not about you, your ego, or credit. Right? It’s about empowering people. This isn’t about making people believe that your ideas were their ideas. That’s not what it means. It means that when you leave, the people are empowered to go on without you. They don’t need you. You’ve empowered them. You’ve given them a gift by showing them their value – which they came to you already having. People come to you valuable, people come to you amazing, people come to you talented. But they don’t always know it. And it’s criminal, as a leader, to not show them, to not help them discover that, to not give them the option.

Proper leadership recruits and empowers group members. It makes people want to act. It makes people do things that maybe they thought they couldn’t do. It makes people excited. It makes people want to be involved.

Proper leadership identifies and develops new leaders. Always looking for the next person. Who’s next? Who’s after me? Who can I recruit? Who can I get to help? Who else is there? There are leaders everywhere and it’s our job, if we are coordinating projects – we have the opportunity to identify those people. And what a tragedy to not do that.

Proper leadership seeks out and elevates people who are smarter and better. Everybody on that list I just mentioned is smarter and better than me. At least at what they do and probably many things. Maybe all things. That’s my job as a leader. If you think you are the smartest, best person in your organization you are failing as a leader. You are actively failing. Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. People who know other things. People that are better than you at what they do. That’s power. That’s how we gain momentum.

Credit kills campaigns. This was a sign in the first campaign office I ever worked in. I am sure you guys have heard the saying, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish if nobody cares who gets the credit.” It’s amazing what you can’t accomplish if someone does care who gets the credit. There is no room for credit in revolution. We don’t have room, we don’t have time. There’s no room for ego. We’ve got to get in a boat and we’ve got to row. And that’s how it goes. We are rowing that way. If you are also rowing that way, we welcome you in the boat. If you want to lead a team in the boat, that’s amazing. How can we help you and empower you to do that?

What happened in Georgia? The Georgia Campaign had 3 sponsors, had 1,010 donations, had tens of thousands of people who got the word out – and our policy was: “Everybody In!” We encouraged people to ask how they could help and when they asked, we gave them something to do. And that included people who had no money; that included people who had no internet; that included people who did not want to come out as fat activists in any way, shape, or form. We found a way for them to help – for them to make this their project. For them to become involved and want to become more involved and to take that next step. This is so important. Getting people involved. Showing them their value. Showing them that, maybe you don’t have money but you are valuable to this movement – you have something to give. We want to encourage that. It’s incredibly important.

I want to give an example of that. The NAAFA-LA chapter [now the Size Diversity Task Force] who are here in their red. Hi everybody. They spent this year fundraising, all year long, so that every single member of their chapter who wanted to come to Convention came to Convention. And that’s why they are more than a third of the people in this room. They got it done. And they empowered everybody to do it. Everybody was involved. Whether they were putting glitter on candles to sell or donating clothes for the Big, Fat Flea Market. Every single person got to be involved and got to feel valued. And here we all are. That’s amazing. That is activism! That’s how it works! And, people, understand – I was so inspired by this chapter that I changed where I lived! I want to be part of a community. I want to be involved with people like that. People who get it done. People who say, “Whatever your talent is, wherever you’re at, whatever you don’t have, we’ll make up for that. We can do that. We’re a group. You don’t have to be everything. Nobody can do everything but everybody can do something. Everybody who wants to.” And, I believe it’s our jobs to say, “What do you want to do? What are you good at? Let me help you. Let’s try some things.” Whatever it takes to get people involved and motivated and interested.

Because we are at a point in our activism where we want to tell the world, “This is what we want. This is what we deserve.” But, meanwhile, we have to turn around to our community of fat people, some of whom don’t identify as a part of the community at all, and say, “No, seriously. This is what you deserve.” So we’ve got this weird thing where we get it, we’re here, like we’ve got this gift of having discovered Health at Every Size and Size Acceptance. And that’s such a precious gift, we can’t hold onto that.

I get between 150-200 emails every day from people who read my blog. People who tell me their marriages are falling apart. People who tell me they are ready to commit suicide. People are suffering. People are dying. Every day, people are stigmatized, oppressed, and disenfranchised. And it is criminal, that we have discovered this, not to tell them about it – not to give them the option. I’m not about telling people how to live. Do whatever you want. You are the boss of your underpants. I’m the boss of mine. And there is no Underpants Overlord – and that’s how it goes. But if you want to get your underpants in the boat, I want you to know about the boat! There are people who don’t know that there is an option besides hating themselves. They don’t know! And that’s on us, because we know. We have got to tell people that. And we’ve got to get them involved and motivated and make them feel welcome and make them feel able and capable and smart – because they are – they don’t know it because the whole world tells them that they’re not.

So how did it work in the Georgia Campaign? Volunteer recruitment and management are the most important part of activism. No civil rights movement has ever succeeded because six people wanted to do something. Momentum of hundreds of people becomes a movement when they decide they have had enough. I’m ready to pick up a brick and throw it. There are consequences and I don’t care. “Risk is the currency of Revolution.” We have to take risks. So, getting people on board, giving them a way to get in – even if they aren’t all the way there. It’s not, “If they are not with us, they are against us.” It’s, “If they are not actively against us, maybe they’re with us. What can we do and how can we get them involved?”

Again, nobody can do everything, but everybody can do something. In fat activism, this is particularly important. We are told, as fat people, every day, from every direction, that we are worthless – that we are valueless – that we are lazy – and this just doesn’t count and it won’t count until we get thin. So, as leaders and fat activists, it is criminally negligent to perpetuate that. To make people feel that they are anything less than valuable and amazing. It is criminally negligent and to do it for the sake of your own ego is worse. We’ve got to start being active and getting people involved and getting them on board and letting them know that they are valuable. It’s one of the most important things we can do for fat activism.

Good volunteer management empowers. Again, you’re giving people the opportunity to find out something about themselves – to try something and fail spectacularly, and that’s okay, and that’s going to happen. Better to try and fail spectacularly and find somebody who wants to try again than to say, “No, I’ll just do it myself because I’m gonna do it better. It’s just too much of a pain to get you involved and teach you how. It’s too much of a pain. I don’t have time.” Better to get people involved. Even if they fail at their first shot.

Good volunteer management respects. Respects people’s time, respects people’s talent, respects people’s ideas. They are not going to come on board unless they know they are valuable. Good volunteer management uncovers value. Again, they come to you valuable, but they sometimes they don’t know it. And that is horrible. And that is something we can do something about!

Fundamentals. This is the last little bit I’ll talk about. So what happened in Georgia? We had clear goals. We had follow-through. We gave constant updates. We gave opportunities for input as well. Sabrina Wilson was a hero because she developed the billboard, that then thousands of people voted that they wanted to be the billboard for the campaign. She’s not just a hero for that. She’s a hero because she got on a phone call with six people and we made the billboard better together. She didn’t say, “This is my idea and it is perfect as it is and 4,000 people voted for it so it’s what we’re doing.” She said, “Who wants to help? How can I make it better? How can I get involved? How can I get other people involved?” Better, smarter people than me. Because that’s how we win, that’s when we’re powerful.

Transparency. We were clear the whole time. People could look at our financials and bank reports at any time. We were extremely clear about where we were.

Good organizations and campaigns respect people’s time. They begin and end meetings on time. They respect the amount of time people say they can put into the organization and give them something that matches that amount of time. They have good follow-through. They help people all the way through. Is that difficult? Yeah, sometimes it really is. Is it frustrating? I have a friend who says he can’t watch his kids clean the kitchen. Because it’s just too painful and he just can’t sit there and watch it. But they’ll never learn to clean the kitchen if he doesn’t let them try. So, try – feedback. Try – feedback. All the way through until they are kitchen cleaning experts. That’s the deal. That’s what leaders do.

Good organizations give opportunities for input and ideas from the group at every possible opportunity. Anytime they can get feedback and input and involve that and involve people and their ideas – they do it. Again, because we are a baby activist movement and people need to know that they are valuable and they’re welcome and there is a place for them for more than their money. We never want to make people think they are only valuable for what they can donate to our cause. Right? 1,000 people donated, but it took tens of thousands of people to get that done. And those people are just as, if not more, valuable than the people who were able to make a contribution. Because they got more people involved. Now 10,000 people consider themselves fat activists. There’s a really cool study where they went around with a picture of a really big, ugly billboard and they said, “Would you put this in your yard?” It was about community beautification. And 98% of the people said, “No, I will not do that.” Obviously. Except for one neighborhood where almost 80% of people agreed to put a big, ugly billboard in their yard. And the reason why is because two weeks previous, someone had come around and asked them to put a little sticker in their window that said that they believe in community beautification. And what they learned is that that tiny act changed the way people felt about themselves. They became people who cared about community beautification. Enough that they would put that billboard in their yard to talk about beautifying their community. It’s a little seed and it grows so fast. Because it changes how people see themselves, who they believe themselves to be. And that’s powerful.

Good organizations are transparent about their membership, their financials, their goals and projects. If you are leading a project and it turns into a bigger thing that’s going to go on for years and years and into an organization, it is time to call elections. There is no place for oligarchy in revolution. If you are a leader you want to be a leader because people ask you to be a leader. They said, “You’re the one. I pick you. I raise my hand. I want you out in front.” And if that happens to you and you become that person, it’s your job to find the next people and grow them – not to hold onto that leadership and hope that the people never, ever say that they don’t want you. You’ve already been chosen. Your time is there, it’s great, now it’s time to integrate new leadership. All the time.

So with the best of leaders, when the work is done, the fatties will know we have done it ourselves. They want a war on obesity? We will give them a war! And we will do it by empowering ourselves one at a time. By showing people that they are valuable and they deserve love and respect and that they can demand it. And so can we. We deserve the activist committee that will win. And we can create it for ourselves.

Thank You.

Like the blog?  Here’s more of my stuff:

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

The Dance Class DVDs:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs (hint:  Free shipping was supposed to end on Monday but I haven’t had a chance to make the changes to the pricing so there’s still free shipping until I get it done)!  Click here for the details

Become a Member, Support My Projects, and Get Special Deals from Size Positive Businesses

I do size acceptance activism full time.  A lot what I do, like answering over 4,000 e-mails from readers each month, giving talks to groups who can’t afford to pay, and running projects like the Georgia Billboard Campaign etc. is unpaid, so I created a membership program so that people who read the blog and feel they get value out of it and want to  support the work I do can become members for ten bucks a month  To make that even cooler, I’ve now added a component called “DancesWithFat Deals” which are special deals to my members from size positive merchants. Once you are a member I send out an e-mail once a month with the various deals and how to redeem them – your contact info always stays completely private.

Published in: on January 24, 2013 at 10:51 am  Comments (12)  

Looking the Part

IMG_9103 - Copy

Ragen Chastain 5’4 284 pounds, wearing a dress that a judge once said she “couldn’t stand to look at me” in.  photo by Richard Sabel

I’ve taken some time off of competitive dance and recently I’ve been considering getting back into it.  I’ve had a number of conversations about it and in each of them the concept of “looking the part” has come up. Some people being very clear that, in their estimation, if I want to compete at the top levels there will be issues if I don’t “look the part” by being thin.

This is a pervasive idea – that only thin bodies “look right” for various activities.  Dance is an area where fat people are often told that the idea that our bodies are “wrong” is not opinion, culture, or discrimination – but absolute fact.  I am certain that is fiction.

Just as I am certain that it is fat bigotry that leads our culture to choose our singers, actors, and dancers not predominantly on their ability to sing, act, or dance, but on their ability to meet a culture stereotype of beauty.  Models for plus size clothing often  don’t “look the part” unless they are too small to fit into the clothes they are modeling.  Studies have found that, in general hiring practices, “strong obesity discrimination was displayed across all job selection criteria, such as starting salary, leadership potential, and likelihood of selecting an obese candidate for the job.”

In our society “looking the part” is almost always about being thin – whether “the part” is a professional actress or an administrative assistant.  This is size discrimination, plain and simple. Fat people are often advised to solve this discrimination by changing our bodies.  I certainly don’t hold it against anybody who chooses this path, though I feel for them since the actual likelihood of permanent long term weight loss is so small and I imagine that the stigma people experience does not go down if they lose a bunch of weight and then gain it back.  This illustrates one of the problems with trying to solve discrimination or social stigma with weight loss.  We can try to stop the bullies by giving them our lunch money but that doesn’t guarantee the bully will leave us alone, especially if we have more lunch money next week.

We have the option to challenge what “Looking the Part” means.  We have the option to become the best dancer, singer, actress, administrative assistant, plumber, HR specialist etc. that we can be in the body that we have now, and to relentlessly pursue our dreams and goals while refusing to change our bodies, even though the deck is stacked against us.  Fat discrimination is real and these things do not change overnight so there’s no denying that this is a risk.  As I said before, I harbor no ill will toward those who try to get thin in order to escape social stigma.  It’s just not for me.  I believe that risk is the currency of revolution.  For things to change a lot of people are going to have to risk – I choose to be one of them.  So I plan to return to competitive dance this year and see if I can expand what “the part” looks like.

Like the blog?  Here’s more of my stuff:

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

The Dance Class DVDs:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs (hint:  Free shipping was supposed to end on Monday but I haven’t had a chance to make the changes to the pricing so there’s still free shipping until I get it done)!  Click here for the details

Become a Member, Support My Projects, and Get Special Deals from Size Positive Businesses

I do size acceptance activism full time.  A lot what I do, like answering over 4,000 e-mails from readers each month, giving talks to groups who can’t afford to pay, and running projects like the Georgia Billboard Campaign etc. is unpaid, so I created a membership program so that people who read the blog and feel they get value out of it and want to  support the work I do can become members for ten bucks a month  To make that even cooler, I’ve now added a component called “DancesWithFat Deals” which are special deals to my members from size positive merchants. Once you are a member I send out an e-mail once a month with the various deals and how to redeem them – your contact info always stays completely private.

Published in: on January 23, 2013 at 12:42 pm  Comments (62)  

I’m In a New Fat State of Mind

facepalmFirst of all, you may have noticed that I skipped a few posts last week.  Thank you to the readers who have sent e-mails and Facebook messages to check on me.  I am fine, my partner however is not.  She injured her knee and the healthcare debacle that has followed has been nothing short of shameful.  I will probably blog about it eventually but for now greatly appreciate happy thoughts directed at her knee and our journey through the healthcare system.  Thanks also to my friends in LA who have been so generous with support, rides, food (T, I’m looking at you)  Seriously, thanks.   Onward to the blog:

You may remember a while ago I was part of a panel on childhood obesity that included a bunch of self-identified childhood obesity experts who claimed that they didn’t need any evidence that their interventions work because they have common sense.  Oh let’s entrust as many children’s lives as possible with these people – don’t you think?

Another concept was brought up after the cameras were off that I’ve been wanting to talk about for a while.  One of the panelists claimed that calling ourselves fat was a source of the problem.  He explained that if you call yourself fat then that’s what you become – much better, he claimed, to say that you “have fat.” I was barely able to control my eye-roll reflex when another panelists explained that in her book (which I will never, never name or link to) she explained that it’s not that people are physical fat, it’s that they are mentally fat. Uh huh.

These are both highly problematic in different ways.  Let’s start with the idea of being “mentally fat”.  I hate to spoil the ending, but she is just regurgitating the same tired stereotypes that fat people don’t plan, prepare, and portion their food correctly and don’t move their bodies enough while thin people do these things, despite the fact that the evidence shows that this isn’t the case. I imagine that it’s only her insistence that evidence isn’t necessary if she thinks something is common sense that allows her to sleep at night after taking money for this book.

Fat is not a “state of mind.”  Fat is not a specific set of behaviors.  Fat is a body with lots  When it comes to diversity of habits and choices, fat people are just like thin people – only bigger.  There are people who eat the exact same things and move the exact same amount and have various different body sizes.  There are people who eat vastly different diets and move in drastically different amounts but have the same size bodies.  Our society accepts the fact that there are very thin people who eat very poorly and never exercise but remain thin, yet insists that it is impossible for someone to be fat unless they eat their body weight in big macs everyday.

To be clear people get to make choices about what they eat and if someone wants to eat their body weight in big macs everyday they get to do that and it’s nobody else’s business. My point is that the persistent myth that fat people just need to learn portion control and go for a walk and then they’ll be thin (both physically and, apparently, mentally) is dangerously misleading, is insulting  – at least to this fat person,  and keeps people who are interested in health from pursuing evidence-based methods for improving health that don’t involve some “eat less move more” platitude that has been shown to be an utter failure in over 50 years of studies.

Which brings us to the idea that people shouldn’t identify as fat, but should consider themselves to be a thin person covered in (ostensibly undesirable) fat.  Here’s why I think that’s bullshit.  First of all, I am with my body 100% of the time and this suggests that I should look at my body as flawed and needing to be changed in order to be worthy,  I don’t believe that is the case.  Since all the studies suggest that most fat people will always be fat, this suggestion means that we spend our whole lives unsatisfied with our bodies.  I spent a lot of years hating my body and it was awful and exhausting and it made me tired and sad and miserable but it did not make me thin.  I have come to believe that fat people are no more thin people with extra fat than tall people are short people with extra leg.  People come in lots of different sizes for lots of different reasons and none of us owe anybody an explanation for our size, and none of us should be expected to hate our bodies because they don’t look like somebody else’s body.

Finally, it ads another layer to the stigma and shame that fat people experience.  Now it’s not just our bodies that are wrong, it’s also our minds.  My fat is not a state of mind, I am not a thin woman covered in fat.  I am a fat woman, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Don’t forget that the Lose the Diet Gain Yourself Telesummit starts today (January 21, 2013)  I’m speaking at 2:30 Pacific Time – Truth, Lies, and Measuring Tape – What the Evidence Really Says About Weight and Health.  You can listen live and ask questions or listen to the recordings at your convenience.  Register here for free.

Like the blog?  Here’s more of my stuff:

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

The Dance Class DVDs:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs (hint:  Free shipping was supposed to end on Monday but I haven’t had a chance to make the changes to the pricing so there’s still free shipping until I get it done)!  Click here for the details

Become a Member, Support My Projects, and Get Special Deals from Size Positive Businesses

I do size acceptance activism full time.  A lot what I do, like answering over 4,000 e-mails from readers each month, giving talks to groups who can’t afford to pay, and running projects like the Georgia Billboard Campaign etc. is unpaid, so I created a membership program so that people who read the blog and feel they get value out of it and want to  support the work I do can become members for ten bucks a month  To make that even cooler, I’ve now added a component called “DancesWithFat Deals” which are special deals to my members from size positive merchants. Once you are a member I send out an e-mail once a month with the various deals and how to redeem them – your contact info always stays completely private.

Published in: on January 21, 2013 at 9:08 am  Comments (41)  

You Can Stop Wondering Why I’m Fat

Things you can tell by looking at a fat person

If you want a graph about fat people, I recommend this one.

Reader Michelle forwarded me a ridiculous graph called “This is Why You’re Fat America” listing the calorie counts for some very rich restaurant foods. I seriously doubt that The Cheesecake Factory is the patient zero from which all American fatness stems.  But this highlights a larger issue.

I have noticed that guessing why fat people are fat has become one of our cultures very favorite pastimes.  I don’t know a single fat person who hasn’t had to deal with people guessing why they are fat. I can’t even count how many times I’ve been told to “eat less and exercise more” by people who can’t possible know how much I eat or how much I exercise.  Or we get told that no matter what we’re doing our bodies make it completely obvious that we must not be doing it right.  We  are not doing enough cardio, we are doing too much cardio, we need to cut down on this food or eat more of that food or natures newest miracle berry blah blah blah.

This goes really bad because we’ve devolved so far from anything resembling scientific method and true healthcare when it comes to fat people that any theory that anybody comes up with becomes instantly actionable.  The mayor of New York thinks that banning extra large sodas will make people less fat, no need for any kind of evidence – just do it.  Michelle Obama wants to make her time as First Lady about focusing on the weight of children even though there are no interventions proven to lead to long-term weight loss in kids? No problem, take your best guess and turn kids into lab rats for 8 years.

I’m not going to go into explanations about why people are a lot of different sizes for a lot for different reasons, nor am I going to go into the fact that after over 50 years of intense study there is not a single intervention that has been shown to lead to long term weight loss, or that there is no study that shows that such weight loss would lead to greater health.  What I’m going to say is that this treatment of fat people is ridiculous.   It’s bad enough when people use their very limited time on Earth to make random guesses about why fat people are fat, but it’s worse when it comes to people who think that this constitutes some kind of evidence-based health intervention.    The way that you can identify an evidence-based health intervention is that it is based on evidence, and has something to do with health.  It is not based on somebody’s random guess about why people’s bodies are a certain size and how that size might be changed.

If I want someone’s rectal-pull-generated guess about why I’m fat, they will be among the very first to know.   Otherwise,  people are allowed to spend as much of their (possibly too much) free time wondering why I look like this, but I don’t give a flying frick. And I will continue to insist that my rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness include the right to exist, in a fat body, without being made the subject of a war on people who look like me, which includes a massive society wide game of “why is she fat” and “how can we change her.”

Like the blog?  Here’s more of my stuff:

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

The Dance Class DVDs:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs (hint:  Free shipping was supposed to end on Monday but I haven’t had a chance to make the changes to the pricing so there’s still free shipping until I get it done)!  Click here for the details

Become a Member, Support My Projects, and Get Special Deals from Size Positive Businesses

I do size acceptance activism full time.  A lot what I do, like answering over 4,000 e-mails from readers each month, giving talks to groups who can’t afford to pay, and running projects like the Georgia Billboard Campaign etc. is unpaid, so I created a membership program so that people who read the blog and feel they get value out of it and want to  support the work I do can become members for ten bucks a month  To make that even cooler, I’ve now added a component called “DancesWithFat Deals” which are special deals to my members from size positive merchants. Once you are a member I send out an e-mail once a month with the various deals and how to redeem them – your contact info always stays completely private.

Published in: on January 18, 2013 at 10:09 am  Comments (50)  

Yes, It’s the Underpants Rule

I'm ok you're okSometimes something just needs to be re-posted.  Based on a number of my interactions in the past few days, I think that this is one of those times  So I offer you, to read or read again, The Underpants Rule and You:

I have found  there are rules that, if I follow them, usually steer me in the right direction. There’s the Golden Rule (treat others as you would like to be treated) though I prefer the Platinum Rule (treat others as THEY would like to be treated).  But my most favorite life rule is The Underpants Rule and not just because I named it, and not just because its widespread implementation would end about 90% of the jackassery and fuckwittery that happens on the internet, and maybe 50% that happens in the real world.

The Underpants Rule is simple: everyone is the boss of their own underpants so you get to choose for you and other people get to choose from them and it’s not your job to tell other people what to do. To illustrate, if you’re considering saying something that starts with

  • People should
  • Everyone ought to
  • What people need to do
  • We should all
  • Nobody should
  • You shouldn’t
  • blah blah things that have to do with underpants that aren’t yours blah blah

then there is a 99.9% chance that you are about to break The Underpants Rule. The only “exception” to this for me is about Civil Rights because they are not to be voted on or conferred, they just are, therefore everybody needs to respect everybody else’s civil rights.

Of course telling you that you should follow the Underpants Rule is, in fact, breaking the Underpants Rule which is pesky, so let me instead make a case for the Underpants Rule and then you can make your own choice.

I chose a Health at Every Size practice because I am a fan of research, logic and math.  I think that the research clearly shows that a HAES practice give me a much better shot at health with way less downside risk than a weight loss- based health practice.

There are people who think the exact opposite of that.  I know that because they come here and tell me so – they say that I’m making a “dangerous choice”, they quote research and tell me that I should make a different choice.  This blog is my little corner of the internet.  It exists only because I created it and I am thrilled to pieces that people enjoy reading it, that people get inspired by it, that it gives people information to make choices etc. I try very hard to make sure that I always follow the Underpants Rule and never tell anyone else how they have to live and yet people come here and try to tell me how to live.  That’s annoying.

For this reason, I would never go onto someone’s weight loss blog and tell them all about Health at Every Size and quote research as to why I think it’s a better choice.  Those are not my underpants.

I do not enjoy (or believe) it when people tell me that I need to become smaller to be attractive.  Therefore I would never say that thin women need to become larger to be attractive.  Besides the fact that I don’t believe it, those are not my underpants. (Not to mention that the path to high self-esteem is probably not paved with hypocrisy so doing to someone else exactly what you don’t want done to you may be ill-advised.)

The war on obesity is an underpants rule breakdown on a massive scale. A group of government, public and private interests (with various profit and political motivations) has chosen a group of people who are identifiable by sight and is now trying to tell us everything from how we have to prioritize health, to the path we have to take to become healthy, to how our bodies have to look.  Who died and made them Underpants Overlord?  Nobody.

My metaphorical underpants and my actual underpants have something in common:  if I want somebody else in them, that person will be among the very first to know.  I have definitely not invited the executives at HBO, Kaiser Permanente, the government, or the diet industry into my underpants.

Now, I’m not telling what to do (cause, you know, Underpants Rule) but I’m suggesting that if you don’t like it when people attempt to be the boss of your underpants, then trying to be the boss of someone else’s is pretty hypocritical.  I’m fairly certain that “Do unto others exactly what you don’t want them to do to you” is the lead rule or the brick rule or something – at any rate a LOT of steps down from platinum and gold.

Remember, you are forever the boss of your underpants – occupy your underpants (with a nod to reader Duckie for that phrase)! I’m going off to see if there is a Guinness World Record for number of times the word underpants is used in a blog.

Underpants.

Like the blog?  Here’s more of my stuff:

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

The Dance Class DVDs:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs (hint:  Free shipping was supposed to end on Monday but I haven’t had a chance to make the changes to the pricing so there’s still free shipping until I get it done)!  Click here for the details

Become a Member, Support My Projects, and Get Special Deals from Size Positive Businesses

I do size acceptance activism full time.  A lot what I do, like answering over 4,000 e-mails from readers each month, giving talks to groups who can’t afford to pay, and running projects like the Georgia Billboard Campaign etc. is unpaid, so I created a membership program so that people who read the blog and feel they get value out of it and want to  support the work I do can become members for ten bucks a month  To make that even cooler, I’ve now added a component called “DancesWithFat Deals” which are special deals to my members from size positive merchants. Once you are a member I send out an e-mail once a month with the various deals and how to redeem them – your contact info always stays completely private.

Published in: on January 16, 2013 at 3:03 pm  Comments (24)  

If These Guys Can Get Healthcare

Bad DoctorIn response to my blog about “really fat people“, many people commented, e-mailed and facebooked me to let me know that they had an experience where a doctor refused to treat them because of their BMI and insisted on weight loss prior to working on them. Many people who contacted me were told that it was simply impossible to properly diagnose someone of their BMI, or that treating them is a “waste of time” since they are likely to re-injure themselves anyway.  One woman was told that, at 5’4, 250 pounds, she was simply to big to get an MRI.

I find that interesting because last week the following people received the absolute best medical  treatment, including in some cases MRI,  with no discussion of weight loss at all:

6’2, 308 pounds   – knee injury – “class 3 obesity” (Super Fat!)

6’4, 285 pounds – arm injury – “class 2 obese”

6’4, 263 pounds – ankle injury – “class 1 obese”

6’3, 260 pounds  – achiles injury – “class 1 obese”

These are, in fact, just a handful of “obese” people who were afforded evidence-based medical care for injuries without being required to lose weight and despite the fact that they are very, very likely to re-injure themselves. These people are Jerel Worthy, Justin Smith, John Abraham and Terrell Suggs and the thing they have in common is that they all play in the National Football League.  As of 2012 there were 352 players over 350 pounds. Every week during football season hundreds of guys who meet the BMI qualifications for being obese, including “super fat”, are given high quality medical treatment.  Apparently if you can  play football we can find an MRI machine that will fit your 6 feet tall 350 pound ass but if you’re a 5’4 250 pound woman we just can’t get it done.

Now, I’m not suggesting that there is no difference physiologically between a professional athlete and someone who is not a professional athlete, regardless of size. I am also painfully aware of the amount of money that people are willing to pay for medical treatment of professional athletes versus those who do something other than throw, catch, kick, and run for a living.   My goal is simply to point out that a doctor saying someone’s BMI category makes them untreatable, or that a risk of re-injury is a contraindication to treatment, is disingenuous.

I also think it highlights some of the major issues that stem from the amount of weight bias among doctors and those planning to become doctors.  I would personally like to see more healthcare professionals at the forefront of activism to help fat patients.  I would like to see more of them railing that they have sick patients and they don’t have the tools they need to treat us.  I would love to see them fighting for the right to use whatever MRI is used for the defensive tackle on the nearest NFL or College Football team.  I would like to see a word where fat people and our healthcare professionals are fighting against the problems that prevent us from getting good treatment, not healthcare professionals insisting that fat patients are the problem.

Like the blog?  Here’s more of my stuff:

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

The Dance Class DVDs:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs (hint:  Free shipping was supposed to end on Monday but I haven’t had a chance to make the changes to the pricing so there’s still free shipping until I get it done)!  Click here for the details

Become a Member, Support My Projects, and Get Special Deals from Size Positive Businesses

I do size acceptance activism full time.  A lot what I do, like answering over 4,000 e-mails from readers each month, giving talks to groups who can’t afford to pay, and running projects like the Georgia Billboard Campaign etc. is unpaid, so I created a membership program so that people who read the blog and feel they get value out of it and want to  support the work I do can become members for ten bucks a month  To make that even cooler, I’ve now added a component called “DancesWithFat Deals” which are special deals to my members from size positive merchants. Once you are a member I send out an e-mail once a month with the various deals and how to redeem them – your contact info always stays completely private.

Published in: on January 15, 2013 at 9:30 am  Comments (52)  

But What About REALLY Fat People

Ragen Chastain Class III - SUPER OBESE Photo by Richard Sabel

Ragen Chastain  Class III – SUPER OBESE Photo by Richard Sabel

Often I get comments that say something like “but what about people who weigh [usually some random amount of weight that seems really high to the commenter from 300 pounds to more than 1,000, or some life circumstance, illness, or disability that seems like a big issue to them], surely in these situations weight loss, including drastic measures (like stomach amputation or an at home stomach pump) should be taken.” or “Studies show that very fat people tend to die younger, what do you say about that?”

Let me start by saying that I am a “REALLY fat person”.  I am Class III – Super Obese, as fat as you can get on the BMI charts. When I first found that out, I ran to the mailbox for weeks hoping to receive my cape and secret decoder ring.  I’m still waiting – it turns out that it doesn’t come with a secret identity but it does come with a bunch of shame, stigma, and concern trolling.  I want my  freaking cape, but I digress.

As far as studies that say that very fat people (Class II and Class III) die earlier, that’s not as cut and dried as it sounds.  To clarify some things: this “class system” of obesity is based on BMI and its many, many problems.  Class III Obesity is defined by the World Health Association as a BMI of 40 or above. To use me as an example – I am 5’4 so anything over 232 pounds makes me Class III Obese.  I weigh 284 pounds. If I weighed 2,284 pounds I would be in the same class in study’s conclusions about weight and health, lifespan etc.  This does not exactly smack of stringent science.

It also doesn’t take into account that there are health issues and medications that cause weight gain and may also shorten lifespan as a side effect, or treat illnesses that shorten lifespan.  Nor does it take into account that many people who are super fat spent most of their lives dieting and, considering statistics on weight regain and the dangers of weight cycling (aka yo-yo dieting), it’s entirely possible that this lifetime of dieting is the source of their current size, their health problems, and a possibly shorter lifespan.  It doesn’t consider the dangers of being under the stress of constant stigma and shame and how that can affect someone’s health (Peter Muennig out of Columbia found that women who were concerned with their weight had more physical and mental illness that those who were ok with their size, regardless of their size.).

It doesn’t take into account the difficulties super fats can have getting proper healthcare – doctors who don’t listen to a word we say and suggest stomach amputation as a cure for everything from strep throat to near-sightedness, the dangers of being put on drugs for health issues we don’t have based on the idea that we might get them someday (I once had a doctor try to prescribe blood pressure medication before having my blood pressure checked – it was 117/70), and other issues including not being able to get proper treatment because machines aren’t built to fit us.  Then there are people who avoid healthcare because of the shaming, stigmatizing, bullying experiences they’ve had,  the fact that medical students don’t practice on fat bodies in gross anatomy classes and the first time surgeons see the inside of a fat body it will likely be when that body belongs to a sick patient, the fact that when we are sick, super fat people can be under-medicated because the amount of medication is based on someone much smaller, or over-medicated because the amount of a medication doesn’t necessarily depend on body weight etc.  So acting like body size=early death and the only solution is thinness is a massive oversimplification.

I also think that the larger someone is, the higher the temptation to suggest that whatever issues they are dealing with would be solved if they were just smaller. In truth, neither how fat a person is, nor the abilities and disabilities they may live with, change the fact that weight loss almost never works.  In fact, weight regain is the most common outcome of intentional weight loss attempts, so  even if someone is arguing that high body weight is dangerous, the worst advice they could possibly give is to try to lose weight. In study after study after study weight loss has not been shown to be successful at changing body weight or making people healthier.  In fact, the only thing that weight loss interventions are shown to be highly successful at is causing long term weight gain. Weight loss does not meet the criteria for evidence-based medicine, and a fatter patient doesn’t change that simple fact.  So even if someone thought it would solve all health problems if everyone was thin, we don’t know how to get it done.  But we could stop stigmatizing fat people, thereby solving many of the issues I talked about in the last paragraph, and we could do it today.   We’ll never truly know how much healthier fat people could be without all the shame, stigma, bullying, and oppression until we end it.

As always, people are allowed to make whatever choices they want about their bodies and health.  From my perspective a Health at Every Size approach makes the most sense regardless of size, health issues, or ability, based on the evidence – there are no guarantees and my health is never fully within my control but I think the evidence says that healthy habits give me the best chance at my healthiest body.

To me, Health at Every Size is about each of us prioritizing health for ourselves and then, if we want to set goals, setting them based on health/habits rather than body size.  And it’s about treating health issues with health interventions, not body size interventions.  So no matter what I weigh, I would set my goals based on what I want to be able to do within the parameters of my body’s abilities and disabilities and my situation, and I let my body weight do whatever my body weight does.

And no matter what I weigh, I would deal with any health issues using health interventions.  Let’s say I developed joint issues.  I would likely be told that weight loss would “cure” those issues.  You know what else would “cure” them?  Being able to fly – which is about as likely as losing weight, so I’ll start dieting to fix joint pain right after I jump off a roof and flap my arms really hard.  Or I could insist on being treated for my joint issues using interventions that are shown to actually help joint issues.  I know that those interventions exist because thin people get joint issues as well and they aren’t told to lose weight, but they are treated.

People of all sizes deserve to be treated with respect and those of us who are “really fat” are in no more need of concern trolling, stomach amputations, or at home stomach pumps than anyone else.  Everyone deserves access to foods that they choose to eat, safe movement options that they enjoy if they want them, affordable evidence-based wellness care and a life free from bullying, stigma, and oppression. Yes, even if we’re REALLY fat.

Like the blog?  Here’s more of my stuff:

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

The Dance Class DVDs:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs (hint:  Free shipping was supposed to end on Monday but I haven’t had a chance to make the changes to the pricing so there’s still free shipping until I get it done)!  Click here for the details

Become a Member, Support My Projects, and Get Special Deals from Size Positive Businesses

I do size acceptance activism full time.  A lot what I do, like answering over 4,000 e-mails from readers each month, giving talks to groups who can’t afford to pay, and running projects like the Georgia Billboard Campaign etc. is unpaid, so I created a membership program so that people who read the blog and feel they get value out of it and want to  support the work I do can become members for ten bucks a month  To make that even cooler, I’ve now added a component called “DancesWithFat Deals” which are special deals to my members from size positive merchants. Once you are a member I send out an e-mail once a month with the various deals and how to redeem them – your contact info always stays completely private.

Published in: on January 14, 2013 at 11:45 am  Comments (89)  

Once Upon a Fat Time…

Once Upon a TimWe talked a couple days ago about The Biggest Loser’s ridiculous claim that they are starting the dialog on childhood obesity.  That claim had already been made under pretty questionable circumstances by Michelle Obama and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.   Reader Malinda pointed out a headline that said “Most Americans Don’t Know the Dangers of Obesity.”  I’ve seen articles about how doctors don’t talk to their fat patients enough about weight loss, how fat people don’t know they are fat, that nobody is brave enough to talk about obesity.

What the hell are they talking about?  Are these surveys based on 9 out of 10 people who live under a rock?  All of those sentences should start with “Once upon a time” because they are fairy tales.

Magazines at the grocery store can’t stop talking about weight loss.  I, and the readers who e-mail me have literally never been to the doctor and not had my weight brought up and that includes, in my case, three occasions when doctors suggested that I should lose weight to cure my strep throat, separated shoulder, and broken toe. The media likes to interject this idea into their stories so that people don’t call them out for reporting the same “everybody knows”  crap in multiple stories day in and day out without checking the evidence or, you know, asking questions as journalists might be expected to do.

The big problem happens when people believe this story and think that fat people are wandering the world oblivious to the fact that everyone from the media, to healthcare professionals, to them wants to stereotype us based on how we look, or that god forbid we don’t hate ourselves and spend all of our free brainspace, time, and money trying to be thin –  and they think it’s somehow up to them to disabuse us of these notions, or remind us that if we’re not giving all of our efforts to self-hatred then we’re just not trying hard enough.

The fairy tale is based on another fairytale:  Once upon a time, we got the idea that other people’s bodies were our business.  And we all lived miserably ever after.

Until we called bullshit on these fairy tales, made public health about providing health options to the public instead of about making people’s health the public’s business, and chose to respect and appreciate people of all shapes and sizes.  Maybe it’s not happily ever after, but it’s a damn good start.

Like the blog?  Here’s more of my stuff:

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

The Dance Class DVDs:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs (hint:  Free shipping was supposed to end on Monday but I haven’t had a chance to make the changes to the pricing so there’s still free shipping until I get it done)!  Click here for the details

Become a Member, Support My Projects, and Get Special Deals from Size Positive Businesses

I do size acceptance activism full time.  A lot what I do, like answering over 4,000 e-mails from readers each month, giving talks to groups who can’t afford to pay, and running projects like the Georgia Billboard Campaign etc. is unpaid, so I created a membership program so that people who read the blog and feel they get value out of it and want to  support the work I do can become members for ten bucks a month  To make that even cooler, I’ve now added a component called “DancesWithFat Deals” which are special deals to my members from size positive merchants. Once you are a member I send out an e-mail once a month with the various deals and how to redeem them – your contact info always stays completely private.

Published in: on January 11, 2013 at 10:59 am  Comments (48)