I Want to Love My Body, But How?

love-tummyOne of the most common questions that I get is “I want to love my body/myself, but how do I do it?”  I’m going to give some ideas but I’m really hoping that people reading this will leave their own ideas in the comments.

There are some things I want to acknowledge before I get too far into this.  First, it’s totally cool if people aren’t interested in the concept of loving their body. As always my goal is to provide options, not obligations.  I also want to be clear that we live in an environment that is absolutely toxic when it comes to loving our bodies – convincing us to hate ourselves has become incredibly profitable for industries including the diet industry, the beauty industry, plastic surgery etc. so people who are gifted at crafting persuasive messages get paid tons of money to convince us to see ourselves as flawed.  Because we are constantly bombarded with this messaging, at least from my perspective, loving ourselves is an ongoing process.

Finally, with any of these ideas your mileage may vary. I can only speak to my own experience which includes a lot of privileges – white, currently able-bodied and neurotypical, queer with passing privilege, cisgendered, and good fatty privilege because of the activities that I enjoy, and I’m sure I’m forgetting some.  Each of us comes to this with our own areas of privilege and oppression, and our own histories so I think it’s about trying different stuff and seeing what works.

My own process started with four realizations.

The first was that I had no problem with the bodies of other fat women – in fact I could find beauty in every body but mine –  and that was my first inkling that, if I didn’t hate their bodies, maybe I didn’t have to hate my body either.

The second realization was that I was the only person who could decide how I felt about my body (this also ties into the privilege of neurotypicality). That was a powerful realization for me because it meant that I could change the way that I felt about myself.  Again, I didn’t have a plan, but I did have a strong believe that it was possible.

The third realization was that I treated my friends way better than I treated myself.  This led me to shift my perspective to thinking of my body as somewhat separate – as a friend and partner.  It was easy for me to make good decisions for my body when I thought of it as a friend

The fourth realization was that I had spent so many years hating my body for not looking like a stereotype of beauty that I hadn’t had even a minute’s worth of appreciation for everything that my body did for me.  That was the realization that shocked me into action.  I went home and took out a notebook and started writing down everything that I could think of that my body did for me and that I liked about my body (I got granular – breathing, blinking, heartbeat, my curly hair, my eyes that change color) it was a pretty long list.  Then I worked to notice negative thoughts I had about my body and when I noticed them I would interrupt them and replace them with gratitude for something (anything!) on the list. It took about three months but at the end fo that time I had profoundly changed my relationship with my body.

At the same time I made a point of noticing something beautiful about every body that I saw.  When something about someone caught my eye because it was outside the stereotype of beauty, I focused on what was amazing about it.  When I had negative thoughts I reminded myself that I had been spoon-fed these ideas by industries that profit from my thinking them; and that if they didn’t serve me or didn’t feel authentic, then I was free to replace those thoughts with thoughts that I came up with on my own that did serve me and felt authentic.

I went on the only successful “diet” of my life – I went on a strict “no negative body talk” diet.  I stopped engaging in body snarking of any kind, and I either interrupted it or walked away when other people did it around me.  I stopped clicking on “best and worst bodies” and “who wore it better” articles, I stopped looking at magazines that had content or advertising that was likely to be body negative.  I created a nifty mantra to think immediately when I saw a commercial or ad or billboard or anything that had negative body talk – the mantra was “That’s Bullshit!”  I know, it’s really subtle – you may want to choose something more direct!

I realized how completely bombarded I had been with pictures of a single type of body and I actively sought out pictures of diverse bodies.  Some places I can recommend for this are:

Fat People of Color  (check out the great posts and help three of the members get the Detroit to present at the Allied Media Conference.)

The Adipositivity Project (NSFW unless your W is extra awesome)

Full Figure Entertainment Gallery

The Fit Fatties Forum Photo Gallery

The Visible Belly Outline Tumbler

Know others?  Put ’em in the comments!

And I had a lot of compassion for myself.  Changing thoughts and patterns that are ingrained and reinforced by the culture is really hard work.  It took time, there were often backslides and mistakes, and I found that the best ways to NOT succeed was not having compassion for myself in the learning process, not having patience, and trying to rush it along.  Patience, persistence, and belief that I would get there were the keys to my success.

As an epilogue, after I learned to love my body I faced challenges when I had injuries or illnesses so I’ll add a fifth realization – that in my experience the best way to handle this is to see it as me and my body against a problem rather than me against my body.

The bottom line for me is that my body is amazing, it does so many things for me and I believe that my body deserves nothing less than my full-throated support – whether it’s asking for an armless chair so that my butt can be comfortable, demanding good evidence-based healthcare, or standing up to societal stigma and bullying.  To me a big part of loving my body is making sure that I give my body the treatment it deserves.

So that’s me, I absolutely encourage other ideas in the comments – again, there is no “right” or “wrong” and this isn’t about convincing people that there is, it’s all about giving each other ideas and options!

Like the blog?  Consider becoming a member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you.

What do member fees support?  I get hundreds of requests a day (not including hatemail) from academic to deeply personal. I get paid for some of my speaking and writing (and do both on a sliding scale to keep it affordable), but a lot of the work I do isn’t paid so member support makes it possible (and let me just give a huge THANK YOU to my members, I really can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support!)   Click here for details

Here’s more cool stuff:

Are you looking for a way to do some fun movement this summer (and get prizes for it?)  Consider a Fit Fatty Virtual Summer Vacation!

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

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

If you are uncomfortable with my selling things on this site, you are invited to check out this post

Published in: on May 30, 2014 at 9:55 am  Comments (41)  

But Are You Thin?

Haters Walk on WaterAt the age of 16 Taylor Townsend was the top ranked junior girls tennis player in the United States. At 15  she had beaten a player twice her age in her first pro win. She won the Australian Open juniors title in both singles and doubles, and the Wimbledon girls’ doubles title.  She was headed to the US Open when the United States Tennis Association pulled her funding and said that they wouldn’t fund any more tournaments until she lost weight because they were concerned about her fitness.  One would think the fact that she was the top ranked junior girl would be proof enough of her fitness, and maybe even help people to realize that fitness and body size are not the same thing, but not at the USTA.

Townsend’s mother paid her fees, Townsend finished in the quarter finals, and the public went into uproar.  USTA then changed their tune saying that it was all a “misunderstanding” (A misunderstanding that included not paying her fees, pulling her coaches and denying her a wild card into the main draw of the U.S. Open or its qualifying tournament.  Also, they have some ocean front property for sale in Arizona.)

Townsend’s story has a happy ending, well at this point a happy middle.  After the US Open debacle she left the USTA program and started working with former Wimbledon finalist Zina Garrison who said “The biggest thing was just getting her to understand that she’s fine. Everybody doesn’t have the same shape of our bodies. She’s very clear on that now.”  Damn skippy Zina!  Oh, and did I mention that Townsend is kicking some ass?  Because she so very much is. Of course there’s a lot I don’t know  here – I don’t know how Townsend identifies in terms of her size, nor do I  know what role racism played in the situation, and I don’t know all of her thoughts about it. I am sorry that USTA decided to politicize her body, and I’m happy that she is having such triumph in spite of being caught up in our cultural obsession with thin.

Let me also be super clear that no type of exercise, including being involved in sport, is an obligation or barometer of worthiness. My concern is about people who want to pursue athletics and are discouraged because they don’t have the “right body.”  Athletic performance is about strength, stamina, flexibility, and technique  – and  the results depend on a combination of what you’re born with and what you’re able to achieve through hard work. Things go very wrong when people get confused and think that these things, done “correctly”  will produce a certain type of body.  Townsend’s run in with this was very public but often it all happens behind the scenes.  It happens to kids when those who are interested in sports but don’t “look athletic” aren’t given time or attention from coaches.  It happens when fat athletes are encouraged to give up their sport until they look different regardless of their abilities. It happens when companies that make athletic gear use not making clothing for fat people as a point of pride and marketing strategy. It happens when fat people who dare to participate in sport are moo’d at, or have eggs thrown at us.   The lack of fat athletes becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and is then used as proof that fat people can’t be athletic.

And it’s not just in athletics,  it’s part of a larger consequence of our society’s relentless obsession with thin, and the constant confusion of a stereotype of beauty with everything from health, to fitness, to talent, to morality.  A thin body is a requisite to have any other achievement recognized.  You’re the number one ranked tennis player in the country but are you thin? You’re a fantastic mother but are you thin?  You’re great at your job but are you thin?  You cured cancer but are you thin?

Nobody has any obligation to do activism around this or anything else, and I think it’s important to remember that  “If I can do it, anybody can!” is a massive lie. That said, one way to do activism is to follow our dreams, show up to do the things we want to do – whether that’s play tennis or competing in Scrabble tournaments or swimming at the local pool or whatever – unapologetically in fat bodies.

As fat people in a fatphobic society, refusing to hate ourselves is a defiant act of revolution.  So is showing up in our lives for the things we want to do – whether that’s playing tennis or competing in Scrabble tournaments or swimming at the local pool or whatever – unapologetically in fat bodies. So is refusing to bow to pressure from people who insist that owe them the body that their stereotypes and prejudices demand. The opposition we receive is proof both of the necessity, and the effectiveness of our activism.   It’s a risk of course, and not a risk that anyone is ever required to take.  For me, I believe that risk is the currency of revolution, I want a revolution, so I’ll take the risk.

Like the blog?  Consider becoming a member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you.

What do member fees support?  I get hundreds of requests a day (not including hatemail) from academic to deeply personal. I get paid for some of my speaking and writing (and do both on a sliding scale to keep it affordable), but a lot of the work I do isn’t paid so member support makes it possible (and let me just give a huge THANK YOU to my members, I really can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support!)   Click here for details

Here’s more cool stuff:

Are you looking for a way to do some fun movement this summer (and get prizes for it?)  Consider a Fit Fatty Virtual Summer Vacation!

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

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

If you are uncomfortable with my selling things on this site, you are invited to check out this post

 

Published in: on May 29, 2014 at 12:11 pm  Comments (41)  

An Inconvenient Fatty

First they ignore youWhen Rachel Ebert heard that a company was creating amazing 3D printed leggings with designs by local artists, but not in plus sizes, she went to work. She contacted the company and they were very receptive – now they are expanding their line to include plus sizes.  They are working with Rachel and encouraging input from the plus size community.  (If you’re in Seattle you can help, can check out Rachel’s request here.)

I think that Rachel is awesome for asking, and I appreciate that the company was responsive to her request, I really do.  But I also want to know why she had to ask?  I there are so many fat people, why is making clothes for us an afterthought? I’ve been in a huge mall in LA where they did not sell a single shirt, dress, skirt, or pair of pants that fit me.  It’s not just clothes either, recently I tried to take my partner to a performance and the theater in LA said they didn’t have seats that would work for us, we couldn’t bring our own folding chair – I finally asked “what can we do so that I can give you my money and we can see this show?”  the manager responded “I’m sorry, this just isn’t something we accommodate.”

And lest you think that it’s just clothes and entertainment, in things as critical as healthcare the needs of fat people are often simply ignored.  Despite the fact that healthcare facilities are put in place to meet the needs of the community, and the community obviously includes fat people, they often build and stock them as if we don’t exist.  Basic healthcare tools that other people take for granted, like a chair that fits them, a blood pressure cuff that’s the right size etc., fat people have to stress about, pay for on our own, or do without.

Then there’s the idea that we take up “too much space” as if some people “deserve” a world that they fit into, but others don’t.  Too often fat people are treated as an inconvenience whether it’s  “Oh do fat people wear clothes?” or “How dare you expect the doctor’s office to have a chair and blood pressure cuff that fits you!” the idea is clear that being accommodated if I’m thin is a matter of course, being accommodated if I’m fat is a special request.  (And of course we’re worlds away from expecting many businesses to accommodate us without us having to ask.)

This idea of fat people being inconvenient can even be internalized.  In response to a blog about fat people on planes I received a comment for a fat reader “It is inconsiderate to inconvenience others due to our size. Please, lets not go too far demanding equality.”

This person has the right to think this but I’m not going along for that ride.  I think that if someone feels inconvenienced because another person achieves equality, then the first person was most likely benefiting from the inequality.  It does not follow that the person who was unequal should say “Sorry dude, my bad.  I’ll just go back to a life of oppression- nothing is more important than your convenience.”

It’s pretty hard to fit “Equality Now! I mean, as long as nobody is inconvenienced in any way”  on a protest sign.  Or try chanting: “What do we want?  Equality!  When do we want it? Only when it doesn’t inconvenience anyone!” It just doesn’t have that ring to it, you know?

To me this is about equal treatment, not special requests.  I am asking for exactly what other people who look different than I look already have.  And if people don’t want to give up the “conveniences” that are the end result of the stigma and oppression that fat people deal with, then as far as I’m concerned they are going to have to learn to live with disappointment.  The truth is that we’re not inconvenient, we’re inconvenienced – grossly, sometimes life-threateningly, inconvenienced –  and we have every right to ask for equal treatment.

Like the blog?  Consider becoming a member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you.

What do member fees support?  I get hundreds of requests a day (not including hatemail) from academic to deeply personal. I get paid for some of my speaking and writing (and do both on a sliding scale to keep it affordable), but a lot of the work I do isn’t paid so member support makes it possible (and let me just give a huge THANK YOU to my members, I really can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support!)   Click here for details

Here’s more cool stuff:

Are you looking for a way to do some fun movement this summer (and get prizes for it?)  Consider a Fit Fatty Virtual Summer Vacation!

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

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

If you are uncomfortable with my selling things on this site, you are invited to check out this post

 

Published in: on May 27, 2014 at 9:00 am  Comments (48)  

Marathon Update: The Joy of Crossing Off Lists

Just a friendly reminder that Sunday is marathon update day, we’ll be back to our usual Size Diversity stuff tomorrow!  A number of people have asked about my training plan for this marathon.  I have been working with experienced trainers on putting a program together to get me to the finish line in time.  As I mentioned before, this marathon is different from the last one because there’s a time limit involved.  I’ve decided on 26 weeks to build up mileage and then 16 weeks to increase speed.  Because my goal this time is more than finishing I’ll be including intervals of running and walking, speed work, more hill repeats etc.  I’ll also be cross training with swimming and cycling as well as doing Zumba and dance classes (West Coast Swing for starters) for a bit of fun and of course stuff for More Cabaret.

My training exists in an Excel spreadsheet with cells for each planned activity.  Then I get to color them in.  Green if I completed them, yellow if I completed but had to move them, and red if I didn’t complete them.  This helps motivate me by feeding directly into my desire to cross things off lists. I also keep a log of all my workouts including time, distance, miles per hour etc. so after I cross stuff off the list I get to enter and process data, another of my favorite past times.

The thing about a training program is that you want to have a lot of faith in it – that if you just do the workouts, you’ll reach your goal, I’ve heard other people call it an “insurance policy.”  The trouble with that is that it didn’t work last time. I did a 20 week program to walk a marathon, I was at my desired finished pace (8.5 hours) on every walk I took (except the 14 mile walk when I learned what hitting the wall was), up to 24 miles. Then the marathon took me almost 13 hours to complete.  I know why it happened but it still makes me a bit nervous – since this marathon has a time limit the idea that I could do all the work and then finish too late to get a medal is something I’d really rather not even contemplate.  The fact that my training last marathon so very much did not equate to performance on marathon day was not something I cared about before – since my goal was finishing and I did that – but now that there’s a time limit, the memory adds to that anxiety.

So all there is to do is to keep coloring my Excel spreadsheet with green, entering my data, and have faith in the program.

Days Until Marathon:  295
Current Level of Confidence:  9
Fun I’m having on a 1-10 scale:  9

Like the blog?  Consider becoming a member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you.

What do member fees support?  I get hundreds of requests a day (not including hatemail) from academic to deeply personal. I get paid for some of my speaking and writing (and do both on a sliding scale to keep it affordable), but a lot of the work I do isn’t paid so member support makes it possible (and let me just give a huge THANK YOU to my members, I really can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support!)   Click here for details

Here’s more cool stuff:

Are you looking for a way to do some fun movement this summer (and get prizes for it?)  Consider a Fit Fatty Virtual Summer Vacation!

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

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

If you are uncomfortable with my selling things on this site, you are invited to check out this post

Published in: on May 26, 2014 at 7:23 am  Comments (10)  

Tell Me Something Good

victoryI’m working on a project, part of which will be a page for people to post their Size Diversity/Fat Activism successes.  This is part of a re-vamping of the Fat Activist History Project.   The revamping is geared to make the project more financially feasible as well as making it more diverse and inclusive.  I’ll be talking more about that later, right now the part of the project I am working on is a page that will tell activism success stories.

So if you have a story of Size Diversity/Fat Activism success I’d love to hear it – no success is too big or too small.  Whether you got your company to do a HAES-based fitness initiative rather than a “Biggest Loser” competition, or you got your mom to stop talking to you about your weight, or whatever your victory was, it’s important.  The idea is to create a place that we can go to see and celebrate our victories, knowing that there is always lots more work to do.  I am definitely interested in stories that are intersectional in nature, and stories from people who deal with multiple oppressions and/or are often under-represented in Size Acceptance Community (People of Color, Queer people, Trans* people, Disabled People/People with Disabilities, and anyone else who identifies as such.)  As always I am turning to my blog readers for the first round of awesome, of course I’ll be doing more reaching out soon, in the meantime please feel free to share this request, and/or share your ideas for making the project better!

You can share your stories below or e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org.  Make sure to let me know how to credit you (first and last name, first name, nickname, anonymous etc.)

Like the blog?  Consider becoming a member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you.

What do member fees support?  I get hundreds of requests a day (not including hatemail) from academic to deeply personal. I get paid for some of my speaking and writing (and do both on a sliding scale to keep it affordable), but a lot of the work I do isn’t paid so member support makes it possible (and let me just give a huge THANK YOU to my members, I really can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support!)   Click here for details

Here’s more cool stuff:

Are you looking for a way to do some fun movement this summer (and get prizes for it?)  Consider a Fit Fatty Virtual Summer Vacation!

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

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

If you are uncomfortable with my selling things on this site, you are invited to check out this post

Published in: on May 24, 2014 at 11:03 am  Comments (11)  

Marilyn Monroe and Me

These amazing pictures of Marilyn Monroe and me were sent anonymously as a gift.  I wish I knew who to give the credit to, thank you whoever you are!  The pictures of me were taken as part of a photo shoot with Richard Sabel. EDIT:  I thought these were a gift but it turns out that they were made by haters to try to make fun of me.  And so if anyone ever asks you to define Epic Fail, you can send them here.

Me and Marilyn Monroe side by side

Me and Marilyn Monroe overlay

I. Love. These. Pictures.  I love that they show two people with very different bodies enjoying similar movement.  Of course, movement is not an obligation or a barometer of worthiness. and obviously I can’t speak for Ms. Monroe, but for me this picture is about my joy of embodiment.

I know that Marilyn Monroe is often used as an icon for the plus size movement, and there’s lots of controversy around what size she was and whether or not she’s really “plus size”.  I don’t participate in that at all.  First of all, I can’t ask her what she thinks about it.  But mostly, I don’t think that we should have to justify our existence in any way. People of all sizes have the right to exist, to love our bodies, and to live without being subjected to shame, stigma, bullying, or oppression whether Marilyn Monroe was “plus-sized” or not.

I don’t need Marilyn Monroe to be plus sized to love myself.  I don’t have to look, or move, or be anything like her to find both of our bodies amazing and both of us beautiful.  I know that there’s also a lot of controversy around the idea of beauty and the amount of power and importance it currently holds.  To me the ability to perceive beauty is a skill, so if I can’t find the beauty in someone else then I’m the problem – the issue is that I haven’t done enough work to develop my skill set, their intrinsic beauty is never be in question.  In my activism I work to destroy the social construct of beauty-as-power by suggesting that everyone is beautiful and the difference is in our choice of whether or not to recognize that.  Regardless beauty is something that we get to claim and own for ourselves if we want to.  I get that not everyone believes that or thinks about it that way and I think that’s totally cool as well.  What’s important in my life is that, when it comes to other people’s ideas of beauty or how I should look or move, in the words of Glinda the Good Witch, “you have no power here, be gone.”

Speaking of pictures with me in them, Toni Tails is creating a Body Positive Coloring Book and she asked me if she could make me a page.  Of course I agreed because, hey, coloring book!  You can check out the project here and if you’re feeling creative, you can click on the drawing to get a full-size version of her super cute drawing to color.

Body Positive Coloring Book

Like the blog?  Consider becoming a member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you.

What do member fees support?  I get hundreds of requests a day (not including hatemail) from academic to deeply personal. I get paid for some of my speaking and writing (and do both on a sliding scale to keep it affordable), but a lot of the work I do isn’t paid so member support makes it possible (and let me just give a huge THANK YOU to my members, I really can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support!)   Click here for details

Here’s more cool stuff:

Are you looking for a way to do some fun movement this summer (and get prizes for it?)  Consider a Fit Fatty Virtual Summer Vacation!

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

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

If you are uncomfortable with my selling things on this site, you are invited to check out this post

Published in: on May 23, 2014 at 8:14 am  Comments (14)  

She’s Not That Fat

Nothing to proveOne of the things that I see a lot when someone is fat shamed is the response “But she’s not even that fat.”  Other (direct quote) versions of this are “They treated me terribly and it’s not like I’m horribly fat” or “I don’t think she’s fat at all.”  I absolutely understand why it happens, not only are fat people routinely shamed for our body size, but the fear of being, or being called, fat is used to control people of all sizes.

The thing is that if someone is being shamed, stigmatized, bullied etc. for being fat, and we say “they aren’t fat” or “they aren’t even that fat”  in their defense, what we are also saying is that there is a size at which they would deserve that treatment, and that’s just not true.

Countering fat shaming by denying fatness says that the person doesn’t deserve poor treatment (which is true) but at the expense of reinforcing the incorrect idea that they would deserve it if they were fat (or some greater degree of fat), or that being called fat is an insult.  There is no size at which people deserve to be treated poorly.

We can answer fat shaming without further stigmatizing fat people with responses like:

  • I wish we lived in a world where people of all sizes were respected
  • Body shaming is never ok
  • So what?  or So what if she is fat?
  • Fat isn’t an insult, it’s just a body size.

It doesn’t matter how fat someone is, or why they are that fat, or what the outcomes of being that fat may or may not be.  They deserve to be treated with respect and it is completely ok for them to be that size. Yes, even if they weigh 2000 pounds. Yes even if you think their weight is “their fault.” Yes, even if you would never ever want to be that fat.  Yes, even if you can’t understand how they live. Yes, even if they have problems that can be correlated with being fat.  Yes, even if they have problems that can be causally related to being fat.  Yes, even if studies show that they cost society more.  Yes, even if they actually cost society more.  It is totally, completely 100% ok for someone to be fat.  Nobody needs anyone’s encouragement, justification, or permission to live in their body.  Period. This is true whether or not people are able to achieve permanent weight loss.  Fat people have the right to exist without bullying, shaming, or stigma period.

Assigning value to bodies based on their size is just wrong.  Yes, it is ok to be fat.  Bodies come in lots of different sizes for lots of different reasons and instead of jumping to the defense of someone being fat-shamed by insisting that they aren’t fat, we have the opportunity to make things better for everyone by pointing out that there is absolutely nothing wrong with fat bodies, or bodies of any size.

Like the blog?  Consider becoming a member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you.

What do member fees support?  I get hundreds of requests a day (not including hatemail of course) from academic to deeply personal. I get paid for some of my speaking and writing (and do both on a sliding scale to keep it affordable), but a lot of the work I do isn’t paid so member support makes it possible (and let me just give a huge THANK YOU to my members, I really can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support!)   Click here for details

Here’s more cool stuff:

Are you looking for a way to do some fun movement this summer (and get prizes for it?)  Consider a Fit Fatty Virtual Summer Vacation!

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

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

If you are uncomfortable with my selling things on this site, you are invited to check out this post

Published in: on May 22, 2014 at 10:03 am  Comments (41)  

The Queen of the Fat Aria

WTFTara Erraught is singing Octavian in the Strauss opera Der Rosenkavalier. It opened Saturday night. Of the six opera critics from London who reviewed her performance, 5 of them body shamed Erraught in their reviews. Some called her names, some suggested that it wasn’t possible that she could be a thin person’s lover, one wrote a review of about 250 words that failed to mention her singing. It seems that the only female critic was also the only one who didn’t body shame Ms. Erraught. (A writer for NPR compiled the egregious reviews and examined the critic’s reviews of fat male singers finding that *shockingly* no body shaming occurred in those reviews, but there was quite a bit of discussion of their talent as singers.)

In our society we choose our entertainers – singers, actors, dancers etc. – based on how closely they can approximate a single, unattainable, photoshop stereotype of beauty.  This is so common that when someone who doesn’t look like this displays talent we share it on YouTube, completely flabbergasted, with titles like “YOU WON’T BELIEVE THIS” as if talented people who aren’t stereotypically beautiful are completely shocking.  That’s because we’ve been absolutely brainwashed to believe that only people who fit the current stereotype of beauty could possibly be talented.  We add another layer of crap when men get involve and try to enforce this stereotype of beauty based on their preferences.

In this iteration, five men who are opera critics have decided that they do not find women of Ms. Erraught’s size attractive.  They have also decided that, as professional opera critics, how attractive they find the singer is not only important enough to be worth comment in their reviews of the opera, but is in fact more important than how well she sings.

This idea – the women have must be attractive to men in order to be allowed to pursue our dreams, talents, goals etc. is rampant.  I get tons of hatemail that just says “no man would fuck you”  as if the most hurtful thing that any woman could ever hear (regardless of her sexual orientation) is that men don’t want to fuck her.

This, to me, is one of the critical intersections of feminism and size acceptance.  If we want to dismantle the patriarchy,  a huge part of that is ending this tradition of having “I would screw her” as an entrance requirement to the jobs we want or the ability to engage in things for which we have talent.  We have to stop allowing men to use the poor treatment of fat women as a way to try to control the behaviors and bodies of thin women.   What men find attractive should not drive who gets to sing, dance, act, be an administrative assistant, get into medical school or anything else.  Men who are paid to critique opera and instead choose to critique women’s bodies should be reprimanded and, if necessary, fired and replaced with people who are willing to critique opera.  To be clear, while I’m focusing on the treatment of women in this piece, these things aren’t ok when they happen to fat guy, or fat people of any gender.

If someone “can’t believe” a fat woman in a role because of her body size, it’s because that person holds prejudices against fat women.  That’s not necessarily surprising considering the culture we live in – where fat girls are relegated to the secretary or teacher in the school play, fat actresses almost never get to be the love interest but do get to deal with tons of concern trolling, and fat people who are successful at anything other than weight loss are ignored because of the ridiculous notion of “promoting obesity” until fat people are denied positive fat role models and representations of ourselves, and everyone else is denied these as well.  The fact that it’s not surprising of course does not make it ok, and we can and will continue to call it out when we see it, until the thing that is seen as clearly wrong is the body shaming opera critic and not the talented Mezzo Soprano.

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What do member fees support?  I get hundreds of requests a day (not including hatemail of course) from academic to deeply personal. I get paid for some of my speaking and writing (and do both on a sliding scale to keep it affordable), but a lot of the work I do isn’t paid so member support makes it possible (and let me just give a huge THANK YOU to my members, I really can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support!)   Click here for details

Here’s more cool stuff:

Are you looking for a way to do some fun movement this summer (and get prizes for it?)  Consider a Fit Fatty Virtual Summer Vacation!

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

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

If you are uncomfortable with my selling things on this site, you are invited to check out this post

 

 

 

 

 

Published in: on May 21, 2014 at 11:44 am  Comments (57)  

Food for Thought, Thought for Food

Reality and PerceptionRecently researcher Alia Crum gave a group of subjects a drink called Sensishake, the label let them know that it was low-calorie with zero percent fat, zero added sugar, and 140 calories.

Another group of subjects were given a drink called Indulgence, the label let them know that it had high sugar, high fat, and 620 calories.

After they drank the shakes, the subject’s levels of ghrelin were measured.  Ghrelin, often called the hunger hormone, works in the human gut.  As levels of the hormone go up so do levels of hunger (to let us know that we need to find some food), meanwhile metabolism slows down (in case we’re in a situation where food is not available.)

The belief has been that ghrelin is secreted based on the nutrition one ingests.  The subjects in this study fit that pattern, the ghrelin levels of the subjects who drank Indulgence dropped about three times more than the ghrelin levels of those who drank Sensishake.

Just one thing:  Both groups actually drank the same thing  – a regular old milkshake with 380 calories.  The only difference between the groups of subjects was what they thought they were drinking.

Crum is clear that more studies need to be done before we fully understand the effects our beliefs have on our reactions to food, and of course she is right.  There are people who eat tons of food and have small bodies, there are people who eat a small amount of food and have large bodies.  We don’t know exactly how or why the way we feel about food can change the way we process it. We don’t know what effect a culture that is obsessed with talking about food and weight has on our bodies.  There is a lot about the human body that we don’t understand.  What we know for sure is that we don’t learn anything when people are sticking their fingers in their ears and yelling “IT’S THERMODYNAMICS FATTY!!!!”, and that we can’t say with any certainty that the size of our very complicated bodies can be manipulated using very simple math. It’s time to start asking questions and stop repeating tired tropes.

Like the blog?  Consider becoming a member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you.

What do member fees support?  I get hundreds of requests a day (not including hatemail of course) from academic to deeply personal. I get paid for some of my speaking and writing (and do both on a sliding scale to keep it affordable), but a lot of the work I do isn’t paid so member support makes it possible (and let me just give a huge THANK YOU to my members, I really can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support!)   Click here for details

Here’s more cool stuff:

Are you looking for a way to do some fun movement this summer (and get prizes for it?)  Consider a Fit Fatty Virtual Summer Vacation!

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

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

If you are uncomfortable with my selling things on this site, you are invited to check out this post

 

 

 

Published in: on May 20, 2014 at 10:02 am  Comments (28)  

Yup, It’s the Underpants Rule

UnderpantsHere on DancesWithFat we have some posts that are annual traditions, one of them is this post about The Underpants Rule.

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 and it’s not their job to tell you what to do. To illustrate, if someone is 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 they 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, knowing that health is not an obligation, a barometer of worthiness, completely in my control, or guaranteed.

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 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) 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 I don’t want done to me seems 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. (I’m still waiting for my official fat person pony.)

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 maybe take a pass on trying to be the boss of someone else’s.  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. Underpants. Underpants.

Like the blog?  Consider becoming a member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you.

What do member fees support?  I get hundreds of requests a day (not including hatemail of course) from academic to deeply personal. I get paid for some of my speaking and writing (and do both on a sliding scale to keep it affordable), but a lot of the work I do isn’t paid so member support makes it possible (and let me just give a huge THANK YOU to my members, I really can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support!)   Click here for details

Here’s more cool stuff:

Are you looking for a way to do some fun movement this summer (and get prizes for it?)  Consider a Fit Fatty Virtual Summer Vacation!

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

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

If you are uncomfortable with my selling things on this site, you are invited to check out this post

Published in: on May 19, 2014 at 11:12 am  Comments (11)