Over Three Million Served

Three MillionMy blog now has over three million views.  I know that for a lot of blogs that’s not a lot but for me, it’s a lot.  It’s exciting and humbling and scary all at the same time.

My goal is, and always has been,  to create the largest possible platform to let people know about the options of Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size (which are two very separate things.) and question the status quo. I’m not trying to tell anybody how to live, but I have met way too many people who hated themselves because they didn’t know that there was another option, and way too many people who didn’t know that a weight neutral approach to health even exists and I think that people deserve to know all of their options, especially when options are kept from us by those making a profit on the status quo.

I have a bunch of things that I’m excited about for next year and I’ll tell you about soon, but today I want to say thank you.  Thank you to everyone who takes the time to read my meandering thoughts here, to all of the amazing commenters who have created a vibrant community here, to everyone who sends me kind e-mails, to everyone who checks in on me if I don’t blog for a few days. Thanks to everyone who has shared my blog with their friends and family and on social media.  Thank you to all of my members, to everyone who has supported my projects by sharing them on social media, or financially, or by encouraging me to move forward or being involved.  Thank you so, so very much. I can’t even tell you how much I appreciate it.

I hope you all know that I’m always open to your feedback, but today as I look forward to next year, I would love for you to let me know if you have ideas for how I can improve the blog, projects that I could undertake, ways that I can better support you etc.  You can leave a comment, or e-mail me personally at ragen at danceswithfat dot org.  You can also feel free to connect with me on Facebook and/or Twitter and leave feedback there.

Thanks for everything, you are the best!!!!

Happy New Year to those who are celebrating.  See you next year!

Like my blog?   Here’s more of my stuff!

Fit Fatties Virtual Events:  Don’t forget that the super early bird ratesexpire on January 1.  If you’re looking for a fun movement challenge that was created to work just for you, you can check it out here.

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

Become a member: For just ten bucks a month you can keep this blog ad-free, support the activism work I do, and get deals from cool businesses Click here for details

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

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!

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 December 31, 2013 at 11:48 am  Comments (19)  

Normalizing Obesity

Before After

Not hating ourselves shouldn’t have to be a revolutionary act.

The concept of normalizing obesity is used to justify practices including only showing fat people as a collection of negative stereotypes, only showing fat people as being miserable unless they are succeeding at weight loss, only promoting the voices of fat people who have succeeded at weight loss, and actively silencing the voices of fat people who speak out against the idea that the only positive fat identity is a self-loathing dieter.   Any media outlet, television show, movie etc. that shows fat people being successful at anything other than weight loss will be immediately criticized for normalizing obesity.

The theory that we are apparently currently working under,is that fat people will all get thin based on the “motivation” that we will never get to see anyone who looks like us shown in a positive light until we are thin.  I hate to have a Dr. Phil moment here, but hey how’s that workin for ya? Based on a preponderance of the evidence, not very damn well.  I get e-mails all the time from people who are new fat acceptance blogs or the Fit Fatties Forum, and they are so excited because they just found out that there are fat people doing whatever it was they thought they couldn’t do because they were fat.

It turns out that most people aren’t motivated by seeing everyone who looks like them portrayed as tired and worn out stereotypes. But heavens forfend we have a fat role model  or we’ll be accused of the (completely ridiculous) crime of “promoting obesity“ or its evil cousin “normalizing obesity”.

Who is anybody kidding, this is not about our health. So what is it about?  Maybe that if we stop shaming fat people then they might stop pouring money into the diet industry for a solution that almost never works, and then they’d lose our sixty billion dollars a year.

That’s not a good enough reason for me.  I don’t buy the idea that showing fat people in a positive light will make other people want to be fat (because I don’t think this is a V8 commercial where people see a happy fatty, slap their forehead and say “I coulda been fat”), and I don’t think that a ceaseless stream of shame is doing anything good for fat people, and oppression for fun and profit is not ok.

So let’s try a new experiment. Let’s normalize bodies of all sizes. Can you imagine if size was not an issue.  Movies with fat leading ladies, magazines filled with people of all sizes, billboards with fat people selling dish soap, a world without fat jokes, a world without articles about how Santa Claus promotes an unhealthy body image.

Take a minute to realize that everything fat people accomplish today – starting with finding the courage to leave our homes in fat bodies –  is done in spite of the fact that we live under the crushing weight of constant social stigma. Imagine what fat people could do if we didn’t have to live with a, ceaseless stream of societal stigma and shame -if the government wasn’t waging war on us and enlisting our friends, families, and employers to help.

Research from Columbia shows that stigma is correlated with many of the same diseases as obesity and that women who are concerned about their weight have more physical and mental health issues regardless of their weight. Imagine how positively the health of fat people would be affected if we took away the stigma.

Hey wait, you don’t have to imagine… just admit that the current plan of making us feel like crap about ourselves is not working, stop shaming and stigmatizing us, normalize obesity, and see what happens!

Announcing the Fit Fatties Virtual Events!

Are you looking for a movement challenge that’s fun and flexible with fabulous prizes? Well wait no longer, because the Fit Fatties Forum is excited to announce the Fit Fatties Virtual Events.  I’m super excited about this! Set goals and celebrate achievements in a way that works just for you. Train for and complete virtual events any way you like (in the gym, in your neighborhood, alone or with friends.)  Traditional events like 5k’s and triathlons, not-so-tradition events like “Toddle Baby Toddle,” “Drama, Drama, Drama” and “Shop Til You Drop”! You can even create your own event and have it added to the list.  Win fabulous prizes and bragging rights!

Check it out here
(Hurry – The Super Early Bird Special only lasts until January 1)

Like my 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

Become a member: For just ten bucks a month you can keep this blog ad-free, support the activism work I do, and get deals from cool businesses Click here for details

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

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!

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 December 30, 2013 at 12:04 pm  Comments (40)  

If Diet Companies Had Realistic Slogans

Success and DietsI saw a hilarious  post about what would happen if companies had realistic slogans  (TW: explicit language) and I thought that I would borrow the idea.  Please know that I’ve done almost all of these diets – most of which were prescribed by doctors – and it’s not my intention to criticize anyone who has done or will do them, just the people who sell them.   Without further adieu:

Weight Watchers: 

Pay $1270 to lose 5 pounds in two years – enjoy gaining it all back in the next three.

Eat our special Weight Watchers ice cream, don’t ask us how we got 4 grams of fiber into ice cream, you don’t want to know.

Those deceptive trade practice lawsuits?  Look, over there, it’s a shiny celebrity spokesperson!  results not typical

Alli: 

Uncontrolled anal seepage isn’t as bad as it sounds.  Really.

It’s not fecal incontinence, it’s “aversion therapy” and that’s always a great idea.  Say thank you, fatty.

Spend $800.00 to lose 4 pounds – most of which will leak out of your ass.

Jenny Craig/NutriSystem:

Forget everything you’ve heard about farm-to-table, locally sourced, whole, slow foods.  Get our highly processed food in a baggie and microwave that shit.

Are you hungry?  What would you like to eat?  Don’t worry your pretty little head about questions like this, just eat what we say when we say and don’t ask too many questions.

Hell yeah microwaved cheeseburgers!

MediFast: 

Eat reconstituted soy protein five times a day, stop menstruating, and lose your hair – you’ll feel so healthy!

The same powder can be made into a shake, a pancake, or soup.  That’s not a bug, it’s a feature, we promise!

Pay $40 to become a “health coach” and join our Pyramid Scheme, see if you just get three friends and then they each sign up three friends… we’ll all be thin gazillionaires!

Slimfast: 

Mmmmmm, laxatives!

Wait, our product is still legal?  Dude, that’s awesome.

At least you don’t have to drink it from a metal can anymore – but if you like that metallic edge to your chocolate sludge the can is still available.

If you want more information about the basis for these slogans check out https://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/2013/12/06/some-diet-company-questions/

If you have ideas for slogans, please feel free to leave them in the comments – maybe the diet companies will take us up on some of these!

Like my 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

Become a member: For just ten bucks a month you can keep this blog ad-free, support the activism work I do, and get deals from cool businesses Click here for details

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

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!

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 December 28, 2013 at 8:04 am  Comments (40)  

Crap I’m Sick of Hearing

I can explain it to youI got a couple of comments from “Renee” on my blog about Public Displays of Fatness that pretty well outline the poorly thought out, entitled comments and arguments I get on a regular basis.  This is a post for my readers, and also for me to refer these people to in the future.

Let’s begin:

As a formerly fat person I can say I understand the looks and remarks, however I can’t agree 100%.

Ok.

What about the lady who is facing reprocussions of her twitter post about her getting AIDS in Africa? It’s not for fat people only.

What about her? I get comments like this a lot from people who seem to think that the fact that other people have horrible experiences with bigotry  has some kind of bearing on the fact that fat people have horrible experiences with bigots.  It doesn’t.  All oppression is worth fighting. Like that woman’s tweet, for example.  Those fighting oppression can only do so much, and we get to choose how much we do, and what we do.  Trying to draw us into a game of Oppression Olympics only wastes our time.

Second, some of these people are actually only trying to be nice. You going “how dare you give me any love or encouragement because you’re a stranger” basically makes that person never want to give kind words ro someone again. It’s your attitude that makes genuine people “rude”.

Oh yes, the “they were just trying to be nice” excuse.  In the article I talk about people who looked at my food and say “This is why you’re fat,” people who responded to my eating a salad with “Good for you for you, just keep it up and you’ll lose the weight”  and those who saw me at the gym doing an intense workout and said “good for you for starting an exercise program, stick to it and you’ll lose the weight.“

The first one is just completely rude, if someone thinks that constitutes “trying to be nice” then we are too far apart to even have a useful conversation.  The second and third are problematic because the people saying them are making assumptions and judgments.  They are assuming that I’m a beginning exerciser which is annoying.  They are assuming that I’m trying to lose weight, which sounds to me like they are thinking that my body is in need of weight loss.

Nobody asked these people for their “encouragement” – when you choose to “encourage” a stranger, you risk them not wanting your encouragement, when you “encourage” someone based on your assumptions and judgments, you risk being called out on it. If I do so and someone is put off from ever “giving [what they think are] kinds words to a stranger” that’s their choice – it’s not on me.

In addition to the fact that I am under no obligation to smile and accept judgments and assumptions delivered as “encouragement,” as a fat activist when I encounter someone who assumes that I’m trying to be thin, that’s an opportunity for activism and I get to choose whether I take that opportunity and, if so, what I do with it.

Third, those who are obese do have more medical problems, and taxpayers pay for that. Want bigger beds/equipment and hospitals need lifts? Taxpayers pay for that. Sweeping it under the rug only discredits you.

I love it when random strangers on the internet think they are authorities on my credibility, it’s my favorite thing.  Not only don’t I sweep it under the rug, I blogged about it here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.  This argument is tired, and it has absolutely nothing to do with the blog about which Renee is commenting.  It seems like “Oh my tax dollars!”  is always the last ditch effort in these types of comments.  But I’ll be benevolent and address it anyway:

First of all, the idea that fat people have more health problems than thin people is problematic because of the confirmation bias informing the counts.  Also, fat is not a behavior, or a state of health,  it’s a body size and there are fat people and thin people who have the same behaviors and different body sizes.

But that’s not even the major issue with this argument.  Should the taxes of people who don’t mountain climb pay for the injuries of mountain climbers?  Should the taxes of people who don’t drink  pay for accidents and health issues that happen to people who do drink?  Should the taxes of fat people who exercise pay for health problems of thin sedentary people?  Of course they should! Health is not entirely within our control, and we all get to choose how we prioritize our health and what path we take to get there.  Unless you want to live in a world where there a  “health authority” controls what you have to do and how you have to look to get health insurance (what we eat, what movement we do and how much, how much we sleep etc. etc.) then you don’t have a leg to stand on in this argument.

I’m also going to ignore the fact that hospital funding is way more complicated than “taxes pay for beds”. Even if it were true, fat people pay taxes too.  If thin people’s taxes afford them beds and equipment that works for them then fat people’s taxes dollars should afford us the same thing.  Also equipment that accommodates fat people would also accommodate thin people (as well as the elderly who often require special equipment, but not necessarily those with disabilities and premature babies and everyone else who requires – and should get – special equipment for whatever reason).

Renee cannot point to even a single study that suggests that the majority of people can lose weight long term.  Weight loss is not evidence based medicine and requiring people to do something that only a tiny percentage ever succeed at in order to get proper health care is inhumane.  Those who truly care about people’s health are looking for ways to remove barriers to health care, not finding ways to justify them.

Lastly, it wasn’t until I lost the weight that I realized, most people are not staring because you’re fat. Or you ate that extra slice of pie. They don’t really care about how much you weigh. Only your attitude and behaviors.

Two tired tropes of oppression “it’s all in your head”  and “it’s all your fault.”  (This is also just weird since Renee’s first comment was “As a formerly fat person I can say I understand the looks and remarks.”)  Weirder still that she assumes that her experience is universally applicable.  Whatever.  Oppression is real. Fat people receive poor treatment, and coming into an anti-oppression space and telling people that their attitudes and behaviors are responsible for the oppression that they experience is a form of oppression in an of itself.

I copied the comment to write this blog and then trashed it.  Not one to sulk away in silence, Renee sent another:

I find it hilarious that my comment was deleted simply because I only agreed with this to a certain extent and argued other parts. I AGREED to part of this.  You want your voice to be heard but you won’t let anyone else speak who dissagrees with you even a little.

This is a great example of the sense of entitlement that many people have about my blog.  I created a space where I put my thoughts out.  I consider myself very lucky and privileged to have acquired an amazing audience who post thoughtful comments, and support me and each other.  I am under no obligation to hand that audience over to someone who I think is being oppressive.  Renee, and everyone else who feels this way, is welcome to create a blog, acquire an audience and say whatever they want.

I’m sure you’ll delete this too a call me a bitch or something, but I honestly feel bad for you. You are so full of hate you won’t even let anyone else speak. You didn’t even take the time to respond. How rude! And no, it’s not because your blog is a “loving, safe place”, it’s ensuring the delusion that everyone should agree with you. Because if it was a loving place you would at least have kindly rebuttled or said thanks for my input. But no. Rude. Rude. Rude. You’ve lost a kind reader who actually reads this and liked your style!

Wow, Renee did a whole thing all by herself there.  The idea that oppressed people must allow their oppressors a voice in every space they create or they are “full of hate” or whatever someone claims (insert chicken noises here) is a form of oppression and a way that oppressors try to keep control.  I just searched my whole blog and I couldn’t find anywhere that I said it was a “loving, safe place” so I don’t know why on Earth she put that in quotes except that she seems to be supplying both sides of the conversation here.  I am not required to educate oppressors, nor am I required to give an audience and a response to every person who is able to successfully publish a comment.   I consider what people think of the way I exercise my rights where this is concerned to be information for them, not information for me.

I get accused a lot of not letting my dissenters speak.  I have done a number of blogs like this where I respond to those who disagree, I even publish my hatemail.  I could be wrong, but I don’t think it’s about not letting my dissenters speak, I think it’s about not letting them speak on their terms. That’s just never gonna happen here, so I’ll wave goodbye to Renee and wish her the best finding greener blog pastures.

Like my blog?  Looking for some holiday support or gifts?  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

Become a member: For just ten bucks a month you can keep this blog ad-free, support the activism work I do, and get deals from cool businesses Click here for details

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

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!

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 December 27, 2013 at 10:25 am  Comments (67)  

Worst Christmas Card Ever

WTFHere is what happened today to two people on Christmas who may or may not be my partner and me.  Two women, we’ll call them Regina and Juliette were at Juliette’s parent’s house for Christmas.  Presents were being handed out and all was well.  Suddenly, Regina noticed that Juliette looked really upset.  Juliette handed her the card that she had just opened from her uncle (her mom’s brother) and aunt (his wife) both of whom she only sees once a year at Christmas

Dearest Niece,

We are worried about your long term happiness.  If you don’t start taking care of yourself, we’ll really miss you when you are gone.

Love,

Aunt and Uncle

Let’s examine some of the many, many issues with this.

First of all, even if this is well intentioned, even if they think this is what being supportive looks like, even if they believe that she needs some kind of intervention, a Christmas card handed out in front of the whole family is simply not the proper delivery method for an intervention.  And if they have to use a Christmas card because it’s the only communication they have with her, then maybe they should consider how relevant they are in her life and how appropriate it is that they dole out health advice in an assumptive and shaming way in a holiday card.

“If you don’t start taking care of yourself”

These are people who haven’t seen or spoken to Juliette since Christmas last year, and then Christmas the year before that.  They have literally no idea whether she does or does not take care of herself.  Even if other people’s health was your business, it is not ok to make assumptions about people’s habits or health based on their size. There are people of all sizes who engage in many different prioritizations  and paths to health, and are all over the spectrum of health for many reasons, none of which are anyone else’s business unless we invite them to make it their business.

“we’ll really miss you when you are gone”

Merry Christmas, also please don’t die an early death because mourning you would be a super bummer for us.

“We’re worried about your long term happiness”

Are you worried about someone’s happiness?  Then might I suggest you take a pass on giving them a shaming holiday card?

“Love”

Not from where we’re sitting. Juliette has definitely had a rough year, including a two week hospitalization.  When she was in the hospital the aunt and uncle didn’t visit, call, text, send flowers, or offer support of any kind.  Despite the fact that they are so concerned that she isn’t taking care of herself and is going to die young, at no point this year have they called, texted, asked if she needed, or offered any, support.

Fat bodies are not a representation of failures, sins, or mistakes. Fat bodies are not an indication of health or fitness. Fat bodies are not up for public discussion, debate, or judgment unless the owners of those bodies ask for that. Fat bodies are not a indication that we need help or input to make decisions about our health or lives.

Situations like this – where someone has never so much as asked about health or habits, nor made any offers of support or help, but feel the need to engage in this kind of behavior – indicate to me that this is probably all about the ego of the person doing the shaming.  They see this as their contribution to the “Save the Fatties Campaign.”  They want to feel good about turning the poor fatty around with tough love. Except that fat people aren’t in need of being turned around or tough love.

Maybe you noticed that in their crappy Christmas Card, they’ve  STILL not made any offer of support or help.  All they’ve done is make assumptions about her actions and health based on absolutely no information, and expressed how difficult it would be for them if she were to die.  Regardless of their intentions, they do not get a cookie for that.

Juliette addressed her family and spoke eloquently to the fact that if people want to support her they can reach out, ask what she needs, and then offer their support – and that, for her, support does not include them talking about her behind her back, making assumptions based on stereotypes, and writing them up in a Christmas card.  Then she left.

Regina, with Juliette’s permission,  got a chance to talk to the uncle.  He said, as expected, that it was out of love.  That may be true but the conversation revealed that it certainly wasn’t out of being informed.  Turns out he didn’t even know why she was hospitalized, he assumed that she has diseases that she doesn’t have,  he had no basis for his assumptions other than her size, and no knowledge of any of the research around weight and health, and he had no invitation to discuss it with Juliette.  He apologized but it was too little too late for this year. If her uncle and aunt are lucky (since, you know, they just care so much) she’ll give them another chance next year, but they’ll just have to wait and see.

If this happens to you, know that you get to choose how to deal with it – and it’s ok to set boundaries with your family (or anyone else) – you can choose who gets to talk to you about what on holidays, and every day.

Like my blog?  Looking for some holiday support or gifts?  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

Become a member: For just ten bucks a month you can keep this blog ad-free, support the activism work I do, and get deals from cool businesses Click here for details

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

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!

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 December 26, 2013 at 9:58 am  Comments (54)  

Activism – You’re Not Doing It Wrong

DefendToday I posted a link to a piece to Facebook called “Privilege, Oppression, and Being Nice.”  In the piece she says:

When privileged people tell oppressed groups “I would listen to you, but you aren’t being very nice” they are asserting their power in a subtle, but dangerous way. They are victim blaming. They are trying to hide the fact that when others have “asked nicely,” they just ignored them. When they tell you it is up to you to convince them to treat you like a human being, they are revealing that they never thought of you as human to begin with.

There was an immediate backlash from some people on my Facebook page saying things like “If your goal is to change people’s minds, then attacking them doesn’t make sense. If your goal is to vent, then by all means vent. Just don’t expect it to change anyone’s mind.”

As an activist I spend plenty of time politely asking people to please stop oppressing me, and patiently explaining why it’s in everybody’s best interest for them to do so.  I don’t apologize for it, it’s often a reasonably pleasant experience for me, and I’ve found it to be fairly effective in many situations that I end up in. But sometimes people get confused and think that I’m obligated to do that and that if I get angry then I’ve made a tactical error, or that anger is an inappropriate response to the bs I deal with on a regular basis.

I want to be really clear here: There are two separate issues –  what oppressed people have a right to do, and what will be most effective in achieving specific goals that oppressed people might have. The thing that is most important, from my perspective, is that people who are oppressed get to choose how they deal with their oppression.

Oppressed people are not required to have a goal of changing their oppressor’s minds. They are not required to have any goal at all.  Engaging in activism to change the world, or doing what we have to do to get through the day are both completely valid life choices.  The problem is with the oppression and those who are perpetuating it, not with the oppressed person/people who are dealing with it or with their reaction to it. People who say that the problem is that the oppressed person isn’t doing a good enough job trying to convince their oppressors to stop are contributing to the oppression.

There are discussions to be had about effective tactics for reaching specific anti-oppression goals, but I feel that those discussions are for oppressed people and those who they invite to the discussion, and they should always be couched in terms of options and never obligations. I think it is seriously problematic to say that an oppressed group should do x, y, and z if they want people to stop oppressing them, and that otherwise those perpetuating oppression shouldn’t be expected to listen, or stop the behavior.  Let’s remember that the behavior is wrong in the first place.  Anti-oppression activists aren’t asking for our oppressors to grant us basic rights and respect –  we are demanding that they stop keeping those rights and that respect from us through the inappropriate use of power and privilege.  We shouldn’t have to change people minds, and if we do them (and the world) the courtesy of trying, we definitely shouldn’t be told that we are doing it wrong because the oppressors don’t like our tone of voice.

Like my blog?  Looking for some holiday support or gifts?  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

Become a member: For just ten bucks a month you can keep this blog ad-free, support the activism work I do, and get deals from cool businesses Click here for details

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

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!

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 December 24, 2013 at 1:36 pm  Comments (13)  

Public Displays of Fatness

Mama kick line

The ladies of http://www.MoreCabaret.com being FIP.

I am a fat woman and the thing about the government waging a war on obesity is that you can’t separate me from my fat  – a war against obesity is a war against me.  And so the body I live in 100% of the time has become political.  No longer do I simply venture out of my house.  Oh no,  I commit PDFs – Public Displays of Fatness.

EWF:  Eating While Fat

This one is always tricky.  Any time you eat in public when you’re fat you risk having people comment to you.  Things that have happened to me:

Eating a burger and fries:  A perfect stranger says “This is why you’re fat”.  I respond “You are way out of line and you don’t know what you’re talking about.  How dare you.  Move on.”.

Eating a salad:  A perfect stranger says “Good for you for you, just keep it up and you’ll lose the weight.” I respond “You are way out of line and you don’t know what you’re talking about.  How dare you?  Move on.”

Either way, because I’m fat and dare to not only exist outside of my house in a fat body, but to eat in public, people feel that they are justified in commenting if my food choice doesn’t pass their test for what a fatty should eat or, alternately, they feel that they are doing me a favor by encouraging what must be an attempt to manipulate the size and shape of my body through salad.

WWF:  Working out While Fat

Picture this.  I am at the gym doing HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training).  I’m maxing out the speed and resistance on the elliptical, tracking my heart rate and my interval time. The person who has been walking on the machine next to me steps down and, before she leaves, says “good for you for starting an exercise program, stick to it and you’ll lose the weight. ”  Now, I have no problem with someone walking on a treadmill – especially if they enjoy it, but I do have a problem with someone who has watched my intense cardio routine feeling comfortable making an assumption OUT LOUD, TO ME that I’m a beginning exerciser, not just without evidence but in direct contrast to the evidence.  Also, why does it always seem like the same people who are  telling me that I should lose weight and are subsequently offended by my body in the gym?  I’d prefer they just shut up but shouldn’t they at the very least have to choose one?  I don’t care what they think so they can feel free to keep aaaaaall of that to themselves.

DFA:  Displays of Fat Affection

Remember when that goofy Marie Claire blogger said “I think I’d be grossed out if I had to watch two characters with rolls and rolls of fat kissing each other,  because I’d be grossed out if I had to watch them doing anything.”  That’s real, y’all.  That’s something that a blogger for a major womens magazine’s site felt comfortable publishing online, under her real name.  And her editors let it through.  So I am left to contemplate that there are people who are so broken that they feel the need to tell the world that they are grossed out at the thought of me receiving physical affection or, you know, doing anything, and that instead of dealing with their bigotry and prejudice, they feel that instead of working on their issues I should be home bound for their aesthetic pleasure. Um, no.

HFP:  Headless Fatty Pictures

With thanks to Dr. Charlotte Cooper for the term Headless Fatty – Anytime I’m out in public I run the risk of being photographed from my feet to my shoulders and tacked onto an article about obesity or health insurance or whatever.  Since they don’t use my face they don’t have to get my permission, or compensate me, or anything.

FIP:  Fat in Public

This covers all the rest of the time.  I’m always fat, but being fat in public can mean anything from a car full of high school boys making mooing sounds, or grown men throwing eggs at me,  or a well dressed gentlemen lecturing me about how I’m costing him insurance money.

So what is to be done?  We each get to choose how we deal with this. For me the first is realizing that the world is screwed up and I am fine.  The next step is choosing not to participate in that culture.  Here are some suggestions, your mileage may vary:

  • Stop negative body talk – negative talk about other people’s bodies, celebrities’ bodies, your body.  Focus on becoming aware of your own negative body thoughts, interrupting them, and replacing them with something positive.
  • Stop participating in conversations about negative model talk – interrupt or walk away.
  • In our society, waking up and not hating yourself is a revolutionary act.  Commit the absolutely revolutionary act of loving yourself and your body right this second.  Even if you perceive it as flawed, consider recognizing all of the amazing stuff that your body does for you and developing some gratitude for that.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go EWF, then head to the gym for a little WWF, hopefully avoid a HFP, and then see if I can get involved in a DFA.  After that I think I’ll just be FIP for a while.

Like my blog?  Looking for some holiday support or gifts?  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

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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!

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 December 23, 2013 at 9:38 am  Comments (15)  

The Heartbreak of HyperEgoRidiculousness

The jerk whispererI saw a beautiful graphic today on Facebook from Adam Bouska that said “If you’re going home to an unsupportive family this holiday season, remember that your worth is not defined by what they say or how they treat you.”  As far as I’m concerned nothing could be more true. Here are some things that help me when I’m in a hostile, or just less than friendly environment.

We are each the best witness to our own experience.  Sometimes people say things that let us know that they think they know better than us about our bodies (there’s a thin woman in you trying to get out, you just didn’t diet correctly,) or our sexuality (bisexuality doesn’t exist, being queer is a choice) our gender (trans* people have to act like blah blah blah or they’re not really trans blah blah blah) or whatever.  These people may not know it, but they are struggling with HyperEgoRidiculousness a condition I just made up to describe someone who has such an over-exaggerated sense of self importance that they actually think they are a better witness to our experiences than we are.

We each have the right to make decisions for ourselves – the way that we prioritize and pursue health is one of those decisions.  We also get to choose who gets to talk with us about our decisions.  People, in most cases, have a right to free speech, but not a right to an audience with us. It’s ok to take it as a teachable moment, it’s ok to just let someone babble while you think about something you actually care about, and it’s perfectly ok to have a policy of  – hey, you feel free to say whatever’s on your mind, I’ll be over there – come find me when you’re done.

I’m always a little bit amused when somebody feels like I should care whether they “approve of my lifestyle.”   If people don’t approve of Health at Every Size, then I invite them to do something else, if they don’t approve of being queer (not a lifestyle but that’s a whole other blog), then they are under no obligation to date someone of the same gender.

It’s really pretty simple. If people disagree with who we are or what we do, and based on that they choose personally not to do it, that’s fine.  If they feel the need to be vocally against who we are or what we do, and they do that at us, that is problematic behavior.  If they feel that rules or laws should reflect their beliefs such that our civil rights are compromised so that we are forced to do and be what they think we should do and be, that’s oppression.

Each of us gets to deal with this kind of bs in any way we choose, and all of those choices are valid.  If you’re looking for specific examples, I wrote about that in my column for Ms. Fit Magazine.  For now I’ll just repeat “If you’re going home to an unsupportive family this holiday season, remember that your worth is not defined by what they say or how they treat you.”  People’s poor treatment of you says nothing about you and plenty about them.  You may not always be treated with respect, but you deserve to be.

Like my blog?  Looking for some holiday support or gifts?  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

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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!

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 December 22, 2013 at 10:58 am  Comments (8)  

Tyra Banks Please Say No to Special K

DefendIt looks like Tyra Banks has joined Special K for their “Shhhhut Down Fat Talk” campaign.  I hope that she reconsiders, because there are a bunch of issues here.

I blogged about the many issues with using the term “fat talk” as a substitute for “negative body talk” , chief among them that saying that we shouldn’t call people fat suggests that being fat is such a terrible thing that we shouldn’t utter the word out loud.  Fat people are not Voldemort and making fat seem like the “physical descriptor that must not be named” actually further shames and stigmatizes people who are fat whether we call them/ourselves that or not. The trick is to end body shaming and negative body talk full stop – not to suggest that we should abandon the use a perfectly good physical descriptor because people have been allowed to heap stereotypes onto it.

This campaign falls prey to all of the issues I discussed in that post, plus they’ve upped the ridiculousness ante by suggesting that ending fat talk helps with weight management – that we should see our bodies needing to lose weight but not say it out loud – as a way to market their breakfast cereal-based diet plan.  This is the latest in a series of examples of Special K appropriating concepts from Size Acceptance to sell dieting.  It’s not cool and the research that it’s based on is embarrassingly poor both in its construction and its conclusions.  Their research also doesn’t challenge the existing research which shows that the vast majority of people who attempt weight loss gain their weight back in 5 years with the majority gaining more than they lost.

Tyra, if you’re reading this I’d like to say that I appreciate the work that you’ve done toward body positivity.  I remember cheering as you took a picture of you in a bikini that the media tried to use to shame you and threw it back in their faces, marching with women yelling “So What!” I can’t imagine the pressure that you’ve been, and continue to be, under and the body criticism that you’ve had to deal with.  So first I want to thank you for the work that you’ve done.

You’ve stated that you “don’t believe in diets” and, if that’s true, I would ask you to consider not promoting them.  I’d like to invite you to fully join the Size Acceptance Movement, and to become a proponent of the Health at Every Size option.   I invite you to consider that loving your body does not have to include trying to manipulate its size using a specific brand of breakfast cereal and cereal-related products, and that loving your body can mean choosing a prioritization and path to health and then letting your body settle at whatever size is settles.

I’d also ask that you reconsider your terminology of “Fierce Realness” in lieu of plus-sized woman.  All women-identified women are “Fiercely Real” and to imply other wise, however well intentioned, is to dip our toe in the pond of putting other people down to try to make ourselves feel better, and that trick never works. I would suggest that we take words back from the bullies and/or create words that work for us, making sure to be inclusive along the way.

If we truly want to create a world where people are able to appreciate their amazing bodies at every size and make choices about the prioritization and path to health based on their own desires and research, then we can’t allow the diet industry  – an industry that profits by taking credit for the short-term weight loss that is a biological response, but blames their clients for the long-term weight gain which is also a biological response, funds short term research but not long term research because “it would be too depressing to our clients,” and then uses that blame and shame to sell people their product again and again – to pretend to be leading the way.

First they told us to buy Special K so that you couldn’t pinch an inch on us.

Now they are telling us not to talk badly about our bodies, as long as we’re buying 1,460 Special K meals and snacks a year to do their diet.

They can sell whatever they want but we don’t have to buy it, and Tyra Banks, you don’t have to lend your name to it.  I think we can do better.

Like my blog?  Looking for some holiday support or gifts?  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

Become a member: For just ten bucks a month you can keep this blog ad-free, support the activism work I do, and get deals from cool businesses Click here for details

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

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!

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 December 21, 2013 at 1:05 pm  Comments (12)  

Who Gets to Condone?

In my jaunts around internet discussions of size acceptance I often hear the following troubling questions:

  • What about fashion models who are underweight, should we accept them?
  • What about people who are so fat that can’t get out of their beds, should we accept that?
  • Being fat is ok unless someone has problems with daily life activities, then those people have to do something
  • Being fat is one thing but when you’re morbidly obese it’s time to lose the weight.
  • We shouldn’t give acceptance to fat people, it will just encourage them to be [insert wild judgments about what all fat people do here]
  • How fat is too fat?  How thin is too thin?
  • Fat people cost tax payers money – I shouldn’t have to accept that, I should have a say in them doing something about it.

And to all of these I say (as politely as possible):

Who died and made them the underpants overlord?

Maybe it makes them feel important and superior to run around doling out acceptance to those who they deem “worthy”  – it’s a heady thing to feel that you are the person who gets to decide if someone else gets condoned –  but I remain unimpressed.   I would much rather see people choose to respect the choices, bodies, and lives of others than wonder out loud about who deserves their acceptance.

How exaggerated must their sense of self-importance be to think that it should be their job not only to decide that someone else’s life activities are made “difficult” by their size, but also what they should do about it?

As for tax dollars, this is seriously questionable but even if it wasn’t I’m going to suggest that even if fat people do cost the tax payer’s money, those who don’t like it are probably going to have to learn to live with disappointment – our tax money pays for things that we don’t like, and unless someone has a list of all the things that their tax dollars pay for broken down into what they do and don’t want to pay for with the interventions that they are engaging in for all of the items on the “don’t want” list, then they are using this argument to justify their fat bigotry.

When it comes to telling other people how to live their lives, I think it’s a bad idea.  I thank that at the most we should confine ourselves to saying, when asked “This is what works for me.  Your mileage may vary, I’ll be happy to show you how I do it if you want”.  And then we can shut up and respect other people’s right to make choices just like we want our choices respected. [Edited because I somehow deleted most of a sentence between proofreading and publishing, thanks for letting me know commenters!]

I don’t particularly care if people accept me, but I do require respect or they simply don’t get to interact with me – not because it punishes them, but because it means not punishing myself.

Like my blog?  Looking for some holiday support or gifts?  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

Become a member: For just ten bucks a month you can keep this blog ad-free, support the activism work I do, and get deals from cool businesses Click here for details

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

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!

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 December 20, 2013 at 11:50 am  Comments (20)