Really Fat People with Health Problems

Things you can tell by looking at a fat personToday I got a comment from a nurse asking some often asked questions about health and fat, specifically for the “super fat” (of which I am one)  You can read the full comment here (it may be triggering, though I feel it was asked very respectfully) but the basic question was -and I’m paraphrasing – what about when very fat people have health problems, surely then obesity is considered a medical problem?

The first thing I want to make clear is that, as Ann mentioned in her comment, there are simply no proven ways to make fat bodies thin. In fact statistically the far and away most common outcome of intentional weight loss attempts is weight gain, so even if one thinks that being fat is a medical problem (and I don’t agree that it is for the reasons that follow) then prescribing dieting is no better than prescribing a cancer treatment that cures cancer a tiny percentage of the time, but the vast majority of time makes the cancer worse.

But I think the real solution is to take weight out of the health discussion and treat the medical issues as the patient wishes (which is to say that people are allowed to make choices for the prioritization of their health and the path they choose to get there including medical care).  If a thin person is dealing with immobility, we treat the immobility.  If a fat person is dealing with immobility, we “treat” the body size.  I think that giving body size interventions for health problems is a major part of the problem. If a person is fat and has mobility issues, then we should treat the mobility issues with options including physical therapy, massage, surgery, mobility aids etc.  If a fat person has diabetes, then we should give that person interventions that are shown to control diabetes (weight loss is not one of them.)

Studies show that, no matter what size someone is healthy habits are still the best way to increase our odds of health (though of course nobody is obligated to do so), and working on fitness goals like strength, stamina and flexibility, at whatever level the person in interested in doing, is still the best way to improve strength, stamina and flexibility.

I think that the medical world would be helped greatly by treating a fat person with a medical issue the same way they treat a thin person with the same issue.  For example, when I was thinner and had knee pain I was given tons of options – physical therapy, medical massage, surgery, crutches etc.  When I was fat and had knee problems I was told to lose weight.  Because of my previous experience with a knee issue I was able to use the same things that had worked when I was thin to solve the issue but had I increased my exercise as the doctor suggested in a bid to lose weight, I would have been almost certain to exacerbated the injury.

In order to give fat people appropriate medical care, there are three main things that the medical establishment needs to do:

First, they must stop confusing body size with a physical or mental health diagnosis.  A doctor cannot tell from someone’s size what their health status is, if they have an eating disorder, or anything other than the size of the fat person’s body, and that doctor’s preconceived notions about people that size.  I believe that healthcare professionals need to be specifically aware of, and manage, their preconceived notions and prejudices.

Second, they must let go of the fantasy of weight loss as a miracle cure all, or as evidence-based medicine at all.  Healthcare practitioners need to stop prescribing weight loss for everything (I’ve been prescribed weight loss for a broken toe, a separated shoulder,and strep throat.) In fact, they need to stop prescribing weight loss at all.

Once we give up the weight loss fantasy, we can start giving actual evidence-based health interventions to fat people. Once we take weight loss off the table, it can open our eyes to other treatment options.

Finally, we must work to end shame and stigma against fat people by the medical establishment and beyond.  If fat people are ashamed of their bodies or shamed for their bodies or health conditions then they are less likely to take care of themselves and more likely to avoid the doctor, and avoid things that can help them (like mobility aids) and that’s definitely detrimental to fat people’s health.

If we take weight out of the health discussion we give ourselves the opportunity to actually, finally, have a health discussion and that’s better for  the health of everyone of every size.

If you’re looking for the evidence I discussed above, just click here and scroll down.

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If my selling things on the blog makes you uncomfortable, you might want to check out this post.  Thanks for reading! ~Ragen

Published in: on August 30, 2013 at 2:32 am  Comments (80)  

Troubling Responses to Fat Bullying

Angry FrustratedThis is the last in what will hereafter be known as the “egg trilogy” of posts.  I blogged about  my experience getting eggs thrown at me, and then I blogged about being accused of lying about the egg incident.  In both cases I’ve received an outpouring of support that I can’t even tell you how much I appreciate.  I want to first and foremost thank every person who sent a supportive comment or e-mail, who shared the story on their Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr etc.  I seriously can’t tell you how much it means to me.

Among the responses were some that were pretty highly problematic that I wanted to talk about.  I want to be clear that if one of these sounds like something that you wrote, and you wrote your comment with good intentions, I absolutely appreciate your intentions, I’ve certainly said things with the best of intentions that I later learned were problematic, and so I just ask that you think about what I’ve written here.

It’s not cause you’re fat!

Example:  So, although they did yell “HEY FAT BITCH” I wouldn’t take this as hatred against overweight women, just stupid teenagers.

First of all, as I said a couple times in my blog they were adult men.  Even if they were stupid teenagers, they were stupid teenagers committing hatred against fat women and the way that you know that is they yelled “HEY FAT BITCH” at me.

But other people get eggs thrown at them!

Example:  I’m a white male and I’ve had eggs thrown at me, this wasn’t because you were fat.

No, it was still because I was fat.  The fact that other people have had eggs thrown at them for other reasons, while completely egregious, does not negate the fact that they threw eggs at me because I was fat.  People are targeted for all kinds of reasons and none of those reasons negate the other reasons. EDIT:  If you sent a comment that talked about your experience of being harassed, I’m totally fine with that – I prefer that we find common ground to work from for social justice.  My issue is with those who said that because non-fat people had experienced this kind of assault, my experience couldn’t have been because I was fat.

They would have thrown eggs at you no matter what! 

Example:  If you had long hair they would have yelled “LONG HAIRED BITCH” being fat had nothing to do with it.

They threw eggs at me and yelled FAT BITCH, so being fat had at least something to do with it. In fact I do have long hair, and yet they chose to yell FAT BITCH.  They passed a bunch of people before they got to me who they did not choose to throw eggs at.  I have not heard of the National War on Long Haired People.  Long haired people aren’t used as metaphors for everything from greed to laziness.  Imagine the reaction of the general public to me saying “I love that I have long hair.”  Now imagine the reaction to me saying “I love that I’m fat.”  It’s possible that someone has had eggs thrown at them because they have long hair, but that doesn’t change the fact that the bullying of fat people is institutionalized and this is an example of it.

Are you starting to see the trend here?  It’s another way that, whether intentionally or unintentionally, fat people become oppressed and our experiences get erased.  When we share our experiences of oppression, stigma, bashing etc., people who either don’t want to believe that it happens, or don’t want to think about it happening, can’t see the fact that it happens because it doesn’t happen to them, want to play the Oppression Olympics, or want to minimize it for some other reason, try to use some magic bullshit fairy dust to erase those experiences or explain them away as anything but what they are.  Fat shaming/bashing/stigmatizing?  No, no surely not.  It’s not about your fat – it’s about your health, it’s about stupid teenagers, it’s about people being mean blah blah blah.

Just Be Nice!

Example:  By talking about this and accusing them of hate you are hating them right back.  Practice tolerance and live in the love – that is how we can end hate.

Um, no.  I don’t have to tolerate fat bashing like it’s some quirky next door neighbor, and I believe that being silent about bullying means that bullies get to bully with no consequences.  Others are welcome to make this choice but do not try tell me how to deal with shit that happens to me.

Hey, I’m missing the point.

Example:  That is so awful that they called you fat, what’s wrong with people!?

I have no problem being called fat as I am, in point of fact, fat.  The issue wasn’t being called fat (or even being called bitch).  I was more concerned with the flying eggs, the fact that they were not using fat as a neutral descriptor is crappy, but comes in a very distant second.

Maybe You’re the Problem?

Example:  It just seems from reading your blog that a lot of bad stuff happens to you

It doesn’t just happen to me, it happens to lots of fat people. I write about it on this blog which you read.  If every fat person kept a blog many, many of them would be filled with stories like this.  Also, I’m out in the public a lot as a dancer and now doing this marathon training so it gives people more chances.  I will say I think that many  people who aren’t fat can’t conceptualize the sheer amount of bullshit that we deal with on an everyday basis. A lot of that ignorance comes from not recognizing fat bullying when they see it, or trying to explain it away as noted above.

…But you’re a good fatty!

Example:  “They should known better than to throw eggs at someone who is trying to be fit.”

The good fatty/bad fatty dichotomy is the mistaken idea that fat people who do whatever the person making the judgment thinks are the “right” things to do (in this case exercising) are “good fatties” and are less deserving of shame and stigma than “bad fatties” who aren’t doing that thing. The good fatty/bad fatty dichotomy needs to die.  They should know better than to throw eggs at anyone, there is no circumstance that justifies throwing eggs at random strangers from your car.  If I was sitting on the corner drinking a cheesecake milkshake through a licorice straw immediately after having polished off a bag of burgers and fries and 10 gallons of Mountain Dew wearing a shirt that says “fuck exercise,” they should still not throw eggs at me.

In the world that we live in people are often encouraged to stereotype fat people and, evidence notwithstanding, blame us for everything from global warming to healthcare costs.  This never ending game of “What can we blame the fatties for next” creates an environment where people first blame, then hate, then mistreat us, then excuse it away.  I don’t think that we can afford to let that happen in silence – I think that as a fat person it’s important to speak out about the poor treatment that we receive. and refuse to let it be erased or silenced.  Stand Up.  Speak Up.  Fight Back.

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Published in: on August 28, 2013 at 9:43 am  Comments (66)  

Big Fat Liars

fight backOne of the tools that is used to silence fat people who speak up about the oppression, stigma, and mistreatment that we experience is to just call us liars.  This can be incredibly frustrating because often it’s really difficult to talk about in the first place.  I recently blogged about having eggs thrown at me and in amongst the outpouring of support that I received – for which I am incredibly grateful – there were people who just had to insist that it didn’t happen.

The comment below was, to me,  the most egregious example and was e-mailed to me by blog reader Missy.  It was in a fitness forum [TW: weight loss talk] where there were a bunch of really supportive comments and then there was this:

anyone else think its a fake story?
i dont want to think that but shes not just a blogger
she is selling her book on her site too
she is selling dance routines, t-shirts, and dvds
she calls herself a “fatctivist”
this story just seems like a publicity stunt
i wouldve believed eggs being thrown at her
but then another car called her fat? on the same run?
and she just so happened to have a good punchline for that part
she posted a pic for proof but you cant even tell its there
why post a pic at all? like anyone wanted to see the egg shells
sounds like she went above and beyond in fabricating the story
i dont believe it

Let’s break it down, bit by bit:

anyone else think its a fake story?
i dont want to think that but shes not just a blogger
she is selling her book on her site too she is selling dance routines, t-shirts, and dvds

Yup, you’ve uncovered my nefarious plot.  I’ve been secretly commissioning studies and it turns out that people are 83.27% more likely to buy books, t-shirts, and dvds from people who’ve been pelted with eggs.  You totally caught me.  Anyone who has an issue with me working to make a living doing work that I think is important and helps people is welcome to check out this post.

she calls herself a “fatctivist”

No. I really, really don’t.  (I just did a search of all my posts just to make sure, you can take the quotation marks right off that.)  I don’t know what the hell a “fatctivist” is and I think I’d need to buy a vowel to be able to pronounce it.  In reality I call myself a fat activist.  Easier to pronounce and I don’t have to make up an awkward word.

this story just seems like a publicity stunt

Again, I can’t believe you knew that my life goal was to be known as the fat woman who had eggs thrown at her. You must be psychic!

i wouldve believed eggs being thrown at her
but then another car called her fat? on the same run?

The second group wasn’t in a car – they were standing on a lifeguard station as I walked down the beach, regardless I wish that getting slurs yelled at me twice on the same walk was a rarity, it happens All. The. Time.  A quick read of the comments on the original post will show you that this happens to fat people a lot.

and she just so happened to have a good punchline for that part

First of all, I didn’t just so happen – the egg thing was pretty fresh on my mind since walking for 9 miles is boring as hell and it was a pretty impactful experience.  Also,  having a witty thing to say has never been a problem for me.  My problem is saying it without thinking (as in “That was witty, but I shouldn’t have said it to the Dean of my college.”)  In this case it served me well.

she posted a pic for proof but you cant even tell its there
why post a pic at all? like anyone wanted to see the egg shells
sounds like she went above and beyond in fabricating the story

Sorry about the pic – my hands were shaking when I took it, what with having just had eggs thrown at me.  Also, it was dark and I was using my cell phone.  I actually thought about not posting it because it was so crappy, but thought that if I didn’t post some proof then people would call me a liar, which is exactly what I imagined you would have done had I not posted a pic.

i dont believe it

Fuck you.

Calling us liars is just another form of fat bullying. I think it’s important to stand up to these attempts at erasing our experiences. In my experience and from what I hear from other fat people, we people experience an incredible amount of bullying and harassment – much of it government sanctioned as part of the “War on Obesity” and supposedly for our own good.  I hope that we don’t stop talking about it just because some jackass will call us liars, in fact, that’s motivation to talk about these things more.

Like my blog?  Here’s more of my stuff! (and you should totally buy it cause, you know, flying eggs… 🙂

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Published in: on August 27, 2013 at 2:50 pm  Comments (50)  

Lady Gaga, the VMAs and Fat Shaming

ShamelessA little over a year ago to great fanfare Lady Gaga started her “Body Revolution”  She opened up about her struggles with an eating disorder and reached out to her fans saying

My weight/loss/gain since i was child has tormented me. No amount of help has ever healed my pain about it. But YOU have.  This is who I am. And I am proud at any size. And i love you, and want you to be proud in any form you may take as well.”

I thought that was a decent step and it was nice to see someone who supported my rights as a queer person also support body positivity.

Tonight one of her songs was used on a really unfortunate commercial for KIA that aired on the VMAs:

If you don’t care to watch, it’s a commercial for KIA using the hamsters from previous ads. It starts with the hamsters (who are fat) having difficulty running, doing a ton of exercising and then finally stepping out of the KIA onto  the red carpet with Lady Gaga’s song “applause” in the background. According to Kia

It’s sleeker, sexier and more sophisticated than ever. And we’re not just talking about the 2014 Kia Soul. The formerly frumpy Kia Hamsters have totally transformed themselves into lean, mean, head-turning machines, much like the all-new Soul. Watch as they hit the gym and shed their furry folds to the tune of the latest and greatest anthem from Lady Gaga, Applause.

So what have we learned?  Fat people are frumpy, thin people are attractive, and companies like Kia will use fat shaming to sell anything and everything.  It’s not that hamsters have jack to do with cars, it’s that Kia is expecting that their Hamster Biggest Loser episode will go viral. It’s doubly unfortunate that they are using a song from someone who knows firsthand how dangerous this can be, which sort of says “yeah body positivity or whatever but, I mean, obviously not for fat people!”

When we talk about these things we often get criticized for discussing things that are   “too trivial,”  Fat hamsters losing weight they’ll say, who cares?  I care, because the message that fat is bad and thin is good is so ubiquitous as to be inescapable and the way you can tell is that it’s being done with anthropomorphized hamsters to sell a car, using the music of someone who has spoken out against the single stereotyping of beauty upon which the commercial is based. By the way, I am well aware that Lady Gaga may not have anything to do with the use of her song in this ad campaign, but it would be great if she spoke out against it.

EDIT:  Reader araresoul110 pointed out that Lady Gaga posted the video on her Facebook with the caption “This is exactly my hip rehab gym routine” So it seems like she’s fine with it.

If we don’t notice these things and call bullshit then they can easily slip into our subconscious and we can start to buy into the idea that of course thin is better than fat.  When we don’t say anything then companies think that it’s perfectly fine to use the “thin good/fat bad” concept to market anything because fat people are totally acceptable to use as scape goats, that fat bodies are just theirs for the metaphoring and, to me, that’s not ok.  So I’ll let those involved know how I feel and a Kia will not be in my future.

Activism Opportunities are below in case this one speaks to you as something to speak out about:

Let Kia know how you feel:

Ask Lady Gaga to speak out

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Published in: on August 26, 2013 at 3:43 pm  Comments (37)  

To the Guys Who Threw Eggs at Me Tonight

Who throws and eggI was five miles into a nine mile training walk for my upcoming marathon when your car pulled up beside me, I didn’t think much of it until I heard you yell “HEY FAT BITCH!”  I stopped and turned to look at you and you took that opportunity to throw 2 eggs and, somewhat inexplicably, an empty egg carton, at me. (Picture at the bottom of this blog)

To recap – adult males threw the eggs and carton at me for daring to exist outside my house in a fat body.  Of course they are utter cowards who sped away immediately, leaving me with so many questions:

  • First of all, how did you come to have 2 eggs and an egg carton in your car? Did you throw the first ten at other fatties, or are you now dealing with 10 eggs and no carton in your car?
  • Were these fatty-specific eggs that you had planned to throw, or are you guys eating cereal for breakfast until somebody can get to the store?
  • How do you miss a 300 pound woman who is three feet away from you? I mean, I’m happy that I didn’t have to walk 5 miles covered in egg, but let’s work on that follow through son, you never know when a softball game might break out.
  • Finally, what the hell kind of person throws eggs at strangers from their car?

It also set up a second interaction around mile seven wherein someone yelled “YO FAT BITCH!” and I yelled back “DO YOU HAVE EGGS?”  The looks on their faces were priceless as they asked “What?”  and I said “The last people who harassed me today threw eggs, if you don’t have eggs then you’re behind the fat bashing curve tonight.”  The guy who had yelled in the first place ducked his head and said “Wow, that’s crazy.  I’m sorry ma’am.”

I’m laughing about this and making jokes, and I’m allowed to do that because it happened to me, but let’s be clear that assault isn’t actually hilarious.  The purpose of fat bashing is to intimidate, to terrorize; to make fat people afraid – afraid to chase our dreams, afraid to leave our houses, afraid that every stranger will be a fat basher, afraid of our bodies, hating ourselves.

So let’s just get some things clear:

You will not intimidate me. This is my neighborhood and I will not be scared to walk around it.  I refuse to be scared to leave my house, I refuse to be worried that every car that slows down is going to be filled with jackasses who throw eggs at people. You will not make me forget the amazingly supportive people who exist, you will not make me lose faith in humanity, just in you.

Lest, as others have, you attempt to make the absolutely ridiculous argument that your bullying will “motivate” me to exercise, complete my marathon etc. and is therefore done for my own good, let me be clear that what you did was assault – not motivation.

What motivates me to blog, to dance, to walk a marathon, to go after my dreams, to be an activist, is the fact that there are fat people who hate themselves because they don’t know that there is another option.  That there are fat people who are scared to follow their dreams because it might mean that grown ass men will literally throw eggs at them in the street.

I choose the life of an activist but let me be clear that I do not intend to suggest that my way is any better or worse than any other way fat people deal with oppression, bullying, harassment etc.  To those who choose to avoid this kind of crap using whatever means works for you, you have all my respect.  This is not something that should happen, you should not ever have to deal with it, or overcome it in any way.  Nobody is under any obligation to take on the people who behave this way. People who throw eggs at you are seriously screwed up, you are absolutely fine.  This isn’t our fault but it becomes our problem and we each get to choose how to deal with it.

In a world where prejudice, stigma, bullying, and oppression  are heaped on us just,getting out of bed and not hating ourselves is a revolutionary act. And every day more and more fat people get out of bed and refuse to hate themselves, refuse to be intimidated, refuse to be held down, refuse to give up on our dreams because of fat bashing bigots. And every day there are more fat people demanding to be treated with respect, going after our dreams, and challenging fat bigotry, bullying and oppression.

And you’re still just some guys chucking eggs.

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Egg with captions

You can only see one of the eggs, due to what I can only characterize as truly pathetic throws, the other egg and carton didn’t even make it all the way to the sidewalk.

Published in: on August 23, 2013 at 2:53 pm  Comments (228)  

You Just Never Know

First they ignore youYesterday I came upon something on Facebook that I felt was fat bashing. The person who had posted it had over 40,000 likes so I tried to post a very calm explanation of why the picture wasn’t cool. I talked about it on the blog, and I alerted the members of Rolls Not Trolls.  There were hundreds of comments – calm and rational arguments, impassioned pleas, graphics, resources etc. trying to explain why the picture was problematic. The original poster totally didn’t get it  – to me she seemed to be aggressively poor at reading comprehension. In the end she celebrated the fact that she had ignored over a hundred commenters telling her that she was stigmatizing fat people by leaving the picture up and deleting most comments.

As you might imagine this was  frustrating to many of the people who were involved.  Some even questioned why we would bother since the person obviously wasn’t going to listen.

To me this is one of the things that is both frustrating and fabulous about activism.  You just never know what the effect of your activism will be.  The person we were trying to educate proved un-educatable in this moment for whatever reason. But I got over fifty e-mails today from people telling me that they were really grateful for what we did because it helped them feel better about themselves.  I even got one from a former member of the FB group in question who told me that she didn’t understand what we were upset about at first but that after reading the comments she got it, has resolved to stand up against fat bashing, is reading through the resources that fat activists suggested in their comments.

To me that’s totally worth it.  Even if it only made one person feel better it would still have been worth it to me.

I believe that the trick is that I can’t ever choose who I will be an example to, I can only choose what I want to be an example of.  I can choose what I want to say and how I want to say it, I can’t choose how it will be received.

My activism is rarely done for those who post hateful things or fat bashing memes or whatever.  It’s for the people who read them  – it’s so those things don’t go unchallenged. One of the reason that I started the Rolls not Trolls community was because in my ideal dream world, things like this would never, ever go unchallenged – the price for fat bashing would be an onslaught of people telling you exactly why it’s not ok.

It’s also for the fat person reading the Facebook page who has never heard of fat acceptance, or the one who has but needs some ammo to fight back against the war on obesity, it’s for the thin person who started with “what are these people so upset about” and ended at “holy shit, this is oppression and it’s really not ok and I’m going to get involved”

It’s also for me.  I sincerely hope that my work as an activist makes the world better, I also acknowledge that a lot of that is out of my control.  I know for sure that it makes my world better – I feel better about myself when I am sticking up for myself by engaging in activism – whether it’s a big project like the Fat Activist History Project, or something as small as making a comment on Facebook, every time I engage in fat activism I am reminded that the world is fucked up and  I’m fine, and if they want a war on obesity, I will damn well give them one!

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Published in: on August 22, 2013 at 3:42 pm  Comments (25)  

Of Course It’s About Fat People

OrganizeI was alerted to a post on Facebook that shamed fat people in an attempt to make a point about gay rights.  It was a picture of a fat woman in a Chik-fil-A chair that was too small for her with the caption “Welcome to Chik-Fil-A where being obese is “genetic” but being gay is a “lifestyle choice”. The conversation that followed illustrates the kind of ridiculous defense of fat shaming that people try to get away with, and that we can speak out against.

(Note:  The quotes from “Strong Intelligent Women” can be triggering, you can skip them and still get the idea.  Also, I was not the first or the only person to point out the issues, I’m including only my quotes because I want to get this out and I don’t want to use other people’s comments without permission)

Here’s what happened:

Ragen (that’s me!)

Trying to shift prejudice, bigotry and shame onto another group is not a way to win a civil rights battle with integrity.

As a queer woman I’m told that being queer is a choice, that other people know more about my sexuality than I do, and that I can change if I really try and so I deserve to be treated poorly. LGBT civil rights activism fights against that, and says that even if being queer is a choice, I deserve to be treated with respect.

As a fat women I am told that being fat is a choice, that other people know more about my body/habits/health than I do, and that I can change if I really try and so I deserve to be treated poorly. Fat civil rights activism fights against that, and says that even if being fat is a choice, I deserve to be treated with respect.

“Strong Intelligent” Women

For the people making jokes about weight: This is not the point of this meme. The point is hypocrisy. Second, that behavior is not permitted on this page. The members here make great points. This page is about equality and love for ALL people. We support people with any kind of weight issues. Please focus on the true points of this meme.

Ragen

Pro-tip: If your hypocrisy point requires shaming fat people, then it’s about weight and fat people. The fact that you refer to fat people as having “weight issues” illustrates your issues with us. Please focus on the fact that, as several commenters have already told you, you are hurting people – if your civil rights action requires shaming and stigmatizing another group of people, then it’s time to think of another way to make your point. What you’ve done here is wrong, it’s bigotry, and the fact that you are choosing to tell fat people what is and is not fat shaming is unconscionable.

Strong Intelligent Women

Many people say that obesity is genetic. Eating fried chicken daily, can make you obese. These are 100% truthful but secondary points of the meme. The main point is hypocrisy. Millions of people who subscribe to those points, deny the empirical evidence of genetically gay people. A large portion of these people are Christians who actively promote and eat at that restaurant, because it donates to official LGBT hate organizations. Is the issue that the person in the pic, has a weight issue? Should such people’s pics, be banned from the media and public display? Isn’t that a prejudice? This meme has very little to do with weight and isn’t the point. I have had many complaints from overweight people for not posting enough pics of overweight people. No matter what we post, someone is ready to be offended and complain. We received racism complaints for a pic yesterday, simply because black people were in it. People can try their best to twist or invent bogus intentions of our postings but it will not change the obvious real messages. People may not like some pics but none of them will be removed unless they can be proven false. We will never censor facts for feelings.

Ragen

This is the absolute most weak and pathetic defense of obvious fat shaming, stereotyping and prejudice that I have ever seen. I’m embarrassed for you. If you don’t understand the difference between requests from fat people to post positive images of fat people, and the picture you’ve posted that is clearly meant to be derogatory – with the goal of shaming fat people for the purpose of trying to put queer people in a more positive light then you should take “intelligent” out of your name immediately. You’re just trying to justify fat bigotry when you could be fighting it.

Activism Opportunity:  Speak out:  Click here to comment, like comments that you support, and/or see the full discussion.

To be clear about the activism, for me it’s not about the original poster, I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I’m not the bigot whisperer.  It’s for the fat people who read things like this that go unchallenged, and for the people who are reading this and have the initial thought “Hell Yeah” but then read something that a fat person has written about fat shaming and think “oh yeah…” and then read another post by a different fat person and get to “Oh Hell No!”

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Published in: on August 21, 2013 at 12:28 pm  Comments (57)  

The Great Fat Debate

Nothing to proveWe often hear about “debates” about fat rights, size acceptance, and Health at Every Size. Though I often take such opportunities to get the word out about Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size, there’s something that I want to make clear. There should be no debate.

The reason that civil rights in the United States have been and continue to be up for debate is not that they should be debated.  It’s that they have been, and continue to be, stolen from groups of people through a misuse of privilege and power, and those people are forced to fight to get them back which often involves debating. When people forget or refuse to acknowledge that, you get situations in which people actually believe that they should get to vote on whether or not someone else should be allowed to get married to the person that they love, while insisting that nobody should get to vote on their marriage.

This is often reinforced by the idea that successful oppression is self-legitimizing – suggesting that because people’s rights were successfully stolen in the past, that’s a legitimate reason to keep doing it.  Except, it’s absolutely not. It’s a great reason to rectify the issues as soon as possible, preferably right damn now.

The idea that it’s ok to discriminate against fat people in hiring, or college selection, or employee benefits is just wrong. The claims of the “cost” of fatties are questionable at best, but those calculations should never have been made. The idea that it’s ok to try to calculate the cost of a group of people who share a single physical characteristic and suggest that based on your calculations that group of people should be eradicated to save society some money is not ok.  It. Is. Not. Ok.

It is not ok for the government to wage war against a group of people for how they look, whether or not they could look differently if they tried. The fact that fat people have to fight for our basic rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, that we have to “debate” about our right to exist, is not an interesting meeting of the minds, it is yet another gross transgression against our civil rights.

There is absolutely no outcome that justifies the oppression of fat people.  As I’ve said before, fat people have the right to exist in fat bodies regardless of how we got fat, what being fat means, or if we could be thin through some means – however easy or difficult. There are no other valid opinions on this – we have the right to exist without shaming, bullying or stigmatization, period.  This is not debatable.

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Interviews with Amazing Activists!!  Help Activists tell our movement’s history in their own words.  Support In Our Own Words:  A Fat Activist History Project!

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Published in: on August 20, 2013 at 11:50 am  Comments (22)  

Size Acceptance in Kind of Crappy Graphics

I often have the desire to create fabulous graphics to express Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size concepts.  Unfortunately, the tools that I am working with are Microsoft Paint and my wits so this is the reality!  The first four basically stand alone. the second four may be best explained in the articles that accompany them – you can click a graphic to get a blog post with more information:

BMI Graphic Final

Underpants boss

Success and Diets

My Body My Business

 

Cookie Monster Truvia

Just to clarify, I’m not trying to food shame those who eat Truvia. My issue is that they market it using self-hatred and serious misinformation. I created this graphic to accompany a blog about it that you can see by clicking on the graphic if you want the full scoop.

 

Before After

Can't believe I'm not butter

Gatorade Body

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Interviews with Amazing Activists!!  Help Activists tell our movement’s history in their own words.  Support In Our Own Words:  A Fat Activist History Project!

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Published in: on August 18, 2013 at 11:57 am  Comments (21)  

Weight Loss is Not Revenge

Angry FrustratedReader Rachel let me know about a new show called “My Big Fat Revenge” where women are encouraged to lose weight to “get revenge” on people who bullied them for being fat. Here are some quotes from the press release:

After being discounted, humiliated, and rejected because of their weight, these women are ready to take control of their lives, put their painful pasts behind them, and finally stand up to the people who inflicted the hurt.

The premiere episode features Jennifer, who met Hiren on a plus-size online dating website. At first Jennifer thought she was living her fairy-tale romance with a man who accepted her, but Hiren soon started suggesting she lose weight, dye her hair blonde and change other physical characteristics. After never introducing her to his friends or family, he finally told her they could never truly be together because she was fat

For these transformed women, this is their golden opportunity to settle their scores and hopefully get the apologies they deserve.

From their intense workout regimens to dietary changes and weigh-ins, the [companion] web series will reveal the powerful transformations and show how the two women featured in that week’s episode lost the weight and found their confidence.

I was contacted for this show – or a show like it. they didn’t give me a name – and I asked the PA what the weight loss had to do with it.  She said it was “the point.”  I said that if I were going to confront my bullies I would demand an apology because they were wrong to bully me and that it had nothing to do with my weight then or now.  She said she didn’t think I was a fit for the show.  No kidding.

I’ve seen this done on talk shows and I’m not a huge fan of revenge shows for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that I’m not sure if someone who would meet a woman on a plus-size dating site and then not be willing to date her because she is fat  is going to be capable of grasping the message.  It can also do more harm than good for the person who was bullied when it turns out that they have been thinking about this incident and that this bully has been affecting their life since 10th grade but the bully doesn’t even remember being their lab partner.

Even if I was excited about an “eye for an eye” revenge show, the women losing weight has literally nothing to do with it.  The show would work perfectly well without the dieting, and mixing weight loss with confronting bullies comes dangerously close to suggesting that weight loss should be the cure for social stigma when, in fact, ending social stigma is the cure for social stigma. I do not think that losing weight is getting revenge on someone who bullied you for being fat  – I think that it’s the equivalent of giving the bully your lunch money and then insisting that they apologize for demanding it.

It also sets us up for having to deal with people saying “See, bullying ultimately lead to these people “getting healthier” (because people are confused that weight loss and health are the same thing) so bullying fat people is a actually a great idea, and for their own good – giving people and corporations another chance to be  “brave” and make the sacrifice of bullying fat people.  This is not hypothetical, it’s already happened. People are allowed to do what they want for the reasons that they want, but I think making a television show about this is wrong.

Finally, this show, like all weight loss shows, is setting these women up for all kinds of later issues.  First, by reinforcing the information that changing one’s body size is the same thing as, and the only way to, improve one’s health. Then by encouraging and cheering short term weight loss which at this point everyone should know almost always ends in weight regain. Finally by tying their “confidence” and willingness to stand up to poor treatment to being thin.  None of this is doing them, or anyone else, any favors.

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

Interviews with Amazing Activists!!  Help Activists tell our movement’s history in their own words.  Support In Our Own Words:  A Fat Activist History Project!

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

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

Published in: on August 15, 2013 at 7:52 am  Comments (49)