Transitioning from Dieting to Health at Every Size

It's Me!  As drawn by the fabulous www.tonitails.com!

It’s Me! As drawn by the fabulous http://www.tonitails.com!

I got a question from a reader today from reader Jeannie who said “I’m ready to get off the diet roller coaster and start focusing on my health instead of my weight, do you have any advice on the practical side of doing that?”  Indeed I do.

Before we go too far, I want to point out (for the first of several times) that health (including the pursuit of health by any definition) is not an obligation, barometer of worthiness, entirely within our control, or guaranteed regardless of one’s choices.

So, let’s start by comparing and contrasting the two methods:

A weight centered approach to health suggests that we try to manipulate our body into a specific height/weight ratio and hope that health comes along for that ride.  It suggests that we do something that nobody has proven is possible for a reason that nobody has proven is valid, and for which failure is a near statistical certainty.

Health at Every Size (HAES) is a health practice where the focus is on behaviors rather than body size, based on the evidence that habits are a much better determinant of future health than body size. (HAES is not to be confused with Size Acceptance, which is a civil rights movement that asserts that fat people have the right to exist without stigma, shame, bullying, or oppression and it doesn’t matter why we’re fat, what being fat means, or if we could/want to become thin).

HAES does not say that everyone can be healthy at any size – it says that body size and health are two different things and that people of all sizes get to choose how highly to prioritize their health and the path they want to travel to get there, and that the resources we need to support those choices should be available and accessible. With HAES the focus is on choosing behaviors, and allowing our bodies to settle at whatever weight they settle.

The transition from a weight-centered health practice to a health-centered health practice can be difficult.  The problem that I most often hear from people initially is how to set goals.  In a weight centered practice the scale is our judge and jury.  All eating and movement activities are centered around changing the size and shape of the body and the number on the scale.

For those who choose HAES, our activities are chosen based on our prioritization of our health and the path that we choose to get there, and are focused around nurturing our bodies and increasing our odds for good health, rather than trying to make them a certain size or height/weight ratio. Goals can be set around movement – for example, I want to be able to life my grandkid, I want to be able to walk around the block etc.  They can be set around the habits themselves – I want to get x minutes of activity a week, I want to eat x servings of vegetables a day etc.

There are lots of nuts and bolts to work out, and for most of us it’s an ongoing process – but for me the biggest step was deciding to stop hating my body for not fitting a societal stereotype of beauty or state-sponsored height/weight ratio,  and start appreciating it for everything it does and making choices as if my body and were on the same side, rather than “struggling” with my weight or seeing my body as the enemy.  I find that most people’s experience – including mine – is that once you make the decision to focus on your health and let your weight fall where it may, you’ve taken a huge step toward a HAES approach.

On your HAES journey you’ll try stuff – some things will be spectacular successes (like that time I took up dancing) and some may be spectacular failures and that’s ok. This is a lifelong journey and there is no right or wrong, there are just experiences and what you’re going to try next.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

If you’re looking for fun fitness stuff to do in the New Year without any diet talk, weight loss talk, or body shaming, but with lots of fun, flexibility, and body positivity, check out the Fit Fatties Forum Virtual Event Challenge!

Become 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.  Click here for details

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

Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information on topics, previous engagements and reviews here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

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

I’m training for an IRONMAN! You can follow my journey at www.IronFat.com

A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development (casting, finding investors etc.).  Follow the progress on Facebook!

If you are uncomfortable with my offering things for sale on this site, you are invited to check out this post.

Published in: on December 30, 2014 at 12:25 pm  Comments (8)  

Make a New Year’s Revolution

Stand up speak up fight backWe are reaching another of the Dieting Axis of Evil days – New Year’s. Where we are inundated with messages insisting that it’s in our best interest to resolve to diet, again. The Underpants Rule is very clear on this – people are allowed to do whatever they want with their bodies and that includes attempting to manipulate their size and shape because they think it will improve their health, or that it will stop bullying and stigmatization, or for whatever reason.

People are also allowed to choose NOT to try to lose weight for whatever reason we want – whether it’s because we believe that the research shows behavior, not body size, give us the best chance for health (knowing that health is not an obligation, barometer of worthiness, or entirely within our control), or because we believe that bullying and social stigma should be solved by ending bullying and social stigma, not by giving the bullies our lunch money.  But this time of year that group doesn’t find much support.

I get a lot of e-mails for people this time of year asking “If I’m not making a weight loss resolution, what resolution can I make?”

I’m glad you asked!

Instead of a New Years Resolution, we can make a New Year’s Revolution.  There is no doubt that we live in a culture that was created around the idea that there is there is only one standard of beauty, and that it requires digital retouching and photo illustration to achieve it.  There is so much pressure to buy into this culture where the beauty and diet industries make billions by convincing us that we are not good enough, and probably never will be, that just waking up and not hating ourselves is an act of revolution, and that’s a pretty good place to start!

With that in mind, here are some ideas to create your own New Year’s Revolution (as always, these are just suggestions,  your mileage may vary and feel free to change any of these to make them work for you.)

  • Resolve to make your first thought of every day one of gratitude for your body, maybe put a note on your ceiling that reminds you to start each day saying something like “You’re a great body and I really appreciate you” (if you need a little help finding the love, this might help.)
  • Create a little mantra to say to yourself (or, hey, out loud if you want to) every time you hear a message that’s meant to make you feel bad about yourself so that you buy a product.  My personal mantra is “That’s BULLSHIT!” but you create one that works for you (and feel free to share it in the comments if you’d like!)
  • Resolve to stop participating in negative body talk – about other people and your own body.  Start with what comes out of your own brain/mouth (when you start to have a negative thought or utterance, replace it with something positive), and then consider the conversations that you are part of. Maybe when others start body snarking you just walk away, or maybe you say “I wish we could live in a world where we saw the beauty in everyone and didn’t try to tear other people down,” or maybe you say “I made a New Year’s Revolution to stop negative body talk, I’m just not interested in being part of a toxic culture any more.”
  • Resolve to do one piece of activism every week (or day, or month, or whatever) it could be something as simple as posting something body positive to your social media, or interrupting negative body talk, or writing an e-mail to a company that is using the creation of self-loathing as a marketing tactic, or sending a thank you letter to someone who supports you on your journey to size acceptance, or posting a body positive comment to a body negative space online.
  • Resolve to reach out and join/create community – join/create a body positive club at your school or work, join/create a body positive meet-up or Facebook group, subscribe to blogs/tumblrs/instagrams etc. who supports your goals
  • If you are choosing health goals, consider making them about behaviors, consider making them additive (an extra glass of water, or serving of vegetables, or hour of sleep a night) rather than choosing “never to do/eat/be [whatever] again”.
  • Resolve to cut yourself some slack if you aren’t able to do these goals 100% of the time. We’re pushing back against a tremendous amount of time, money, and energy that is invested in convincing us to buy into a culture where self-loathing is the norm, and where we see buying diet and beauty products as our only way out. So if we slip back into this mentality it’s not a big shock – I think that the best thing we can do when it happens is recognize it and move on.

The diet and beauty industry machine that oppresses us runs on our time, energy, and money.  When we take the fuel away, the machine ceases to run.  That’s going to happen, but it’s going to take some time.  For now we can help change the whole world by changing our world, and staging a personal New Year’s Revolution.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

If you’re looking for fun fitness stuff to do in the New Year without any diet talk, weight loss talk, or body shaming, but with lots of fun, flexibility, and body positivity, check out the Fit Fatties Forum Virtual Event Challenge!

Become 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.  Click here for details

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

Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information on topics, previous engagements and reviews here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

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

I’m training for an IRONMAN! You can follow my journey at www.IronFat.com

A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development (casting, finding investors etc.).  Follow the progress on Facebook!

If you are uncomfortable with my offering things for sale on this site, you are invited to check out this post.

 

Published in: on December 29, 2014 at 11:44 am  Comments (19)  

Marathon Update: Ch…Ch…Changes

26.2 miles  Marathon  It was all worth it in the end!

Looks like it will be a while longer until I get my next one!

So in October I logged onto the LA Marathon site to register for the marathon and I noticed that the website had changed. Most importantly to me, the sentence that started “Participants who cross the finish line after…” had changed.

When I decided to enter the LA Marathon that sentence had read “Participants who cross the finish line after 8:00:00 are not guaranteed to be recognized as Official Finishers and are not guaranteed a medal or finishing time.”

The sentence as it appeared that morning in October read “Participants who cross the finish line after 6:30:00 are not guaranteed to be recognized as Official Finishers and are not guaranteed a medal or finishing time.”

I had set a goal to finish the LA Marathon in 7:30:00, an hour faster than I had trained to finish Seattle.  Now I would have to take another hour off my time in 8 months, and considering how much I do well and truly suck at running, that seemed unlikely.

This created a weird situation since, by that point, I was involved in my IRONMAN training (in fact, the idea to do the IM came from some audiobooks that I was listening to trying to psych myself up to do this marathon.)

I’ve been working to increase my speed but it has become clear that it would be very touch and go as to whether or not I would be able to finish in 6.5 hours, and I have no desire to DNF a marathon I don’t have to do.

So I’m definitely doing another marathon before the IM, but it’s not going to be LA this year. At this point I’m not sure which one, I’m looking at options and working with my coach – there is a lot to take into account including location and travel, my race schedule leading up to the IM, do I want to find one with a longer time limit sooner, or give myself more time to pick up my pace etc.

Meanwhile I’m happy that I’m making really good progress on the spin bike, and my first attempt at swimming laps went way better than I had hoped!  The running is still by far the most difficult thing for me, but I’ll get there. I’m sad not to run the LA marathon this year but I’m excited to finish a marathon, an IM, and everything in between.

Since the marathon training is getting swept up into the IM training, I’m going to move all of the updates to the IronFat blog, so if you are interested in keeping up with my progress you can check out (and even subscribe if you want) www.IronFat.com. Thanks to everyone for your continued well wishes and support, it really does mean the world to me!

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

If you’re looking for fun fitness stuff to do in the New Year without any diet talk, weight loss talk, or body shaming, but with lots of fun, flexibility, and body positivity, check out the Fit Fatties Forum Virtual Event Challenge!

Become 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.  Click here for details

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

Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information on topics, previous engagements and reviews here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

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

A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development (casting, finding investors etc.).  Follow the progress on Facebook!

If you are uncomfortable with my offering things for sale on this site, you are invited to check out this post.

 

 

 

Published in: on December 28, 2014 at 11:13 am  Comments (5)  

The True Public Health Threat

WTF are you doingA small study found that fat women who like their bodies have better sex than fat women who don’t.  I spent some time trying to muster surprise but I just can’t find any.  One of the things that I will never understand is these people who insist that not only do we have to be thin to be healthy, but that the only way to do that is to hate the bodies that we have now.  The concept of hating ourselves healthy and or thin (two separate things, let’s remember) has always seemed ridiculous to me.  In fact, the concept of attempting to make any choices from a basis of self-loathing seems like a terrible idea.

We live in a culture where people consider weight bullying to be everything from a public service to a super fun past-time, and where billion dollar industries make their money by convincing us that we are not good enough and that we should be terrified of never being good enough (and that we should buy their products to try to get better or at least keep from getting worse.)  People of all sizes internalize that message and that’s a problem because people don’t take good care of things that they hate and that includes their bodies.

One of the things about Size Acceptance that I think is undervalued for people of all sizes is the option to like yourself right now, exactly as you are, and then make choices for your health and your life. The idea that you can build a life from a perspective of liking and appreciating your body, rather than hoping that you can do something, buy something, be something – anything – to just hate yourself a little less.

If we, as a culture, really want to look at public health threats then I think that we should take all of the time, money and attention that is currently focused on body size and instead focus it on those who spread a message of body shame and self-loathing – from the weight bullies to the “for your own good-ers” These people are the true public health threat.  They try to convince us that our bodies are unworthy, and if they succeed it means that people often believe that their bodies are unworthy of care.  They create an environment where people are scared to move their bodies for fear of shaming, scared to go to the doctor for fear of being ignored, shamed or made the non-consenting subject of experimental medical treatments.  They create an environment where our food choices are moralized and scrutinized by strangers,  and we are told that our own bodies can’t be trusted and should be ignored in lieu of advice that seems highly questionable.

People who perpetuate self -loathing and who engage in weight bullying (under any guise including “trying to help” or “for your own good” or “for the good of society”) are a real and direct threat to public health and it’s time to stop focusing on the bodies of other people and start focusing on changing a culture that encourages self-loathing as the gateway to the good life.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

If you’re looking for fun fitness stuff to do in the New Year without any diet talk, weight loss talk, or body shaming, but with lots of fun, flexibility, and body positivity, check out the Fit Fatties Forum Virtual Event Challenge!

Become 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.  Click here for details

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

Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information on topics, previous engagements and reviews here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

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

I’m training for an IRONMAN! You can follow my journey at www.IronFat.com

A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development (casting, finding investors etc.).  Follow the progress on Facebook!

If you are uncomfortable with my offering things for sale on this site, you are invited to check out this post.

Published in: on December 27, 2014 at 10:29 am  Comments (14)  

Resources for the “Holidays”

Fatphobia ToolboxToday I’ve received several hundred emails from people who are dreading the holiday because their families treat them poorly because of their size – which is bullshit, obviously. For many people, holidays are filled with fun family get togethers and happy memories and festivities. For many people, it’s very much not.

People for whom “the holidays” aren’t so happy often don’t feel like they can talk about it, which makes it extra suck.  So I just wanted to take a moment to acknowledge that and let you know that this is a safe space, and to provide some resources:

Dealing with family and friends food police

Combating holiday weight shame

The Holiday Boundary Song

Dealing with people who can’t handle you setting boundaries

There is a discussion thread about this over on Shakesville.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

If you’re looking for a fun fitness stuff in the New Year without any diet talk, weight loss talk, or body shaming, but with lots of fun, flexibility, and body positivity, check out the Fit Fatties Forum Virtual Event Challenge!

Become 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.  Click here for details

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

Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information on topics, previous engagements and reviews here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

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

I’m training for an IRONMAN! You can follow my journey at www.IronFat.com

A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development (casting, finding investors etc.).  Follow the progress on Facebook!

If you are uncomfortable with my offering things for sale on this site, you are invited to check out this post.

Published in: on December 24, 2014 at 9:20 pm  Comments (4)  

But What Will People Think?

Haters Walk on WaterYesterday in response to my post about boundary setting for family and friends food police, I suggested that one option for creating a boundary with a consequence attached was to say “It is not ok to talk about my weight or eating. If anyone says one more thing about my weight or eating I’m going to leave” and then, if they fail to respect your boundaries, it’s time to go. I got the following comment in response, I think it’s a question that lots of people have and I want to address it:

But, if you just get up and leave, they will likely say that you are doing so because you “can’t handle the truth”, are “lying to yourself”, etc. If they don’t say it, they may at least THINK it. How would you and/or your readers deal with a possibility such as this?

One of the benefits of having so many haters so obsessed with me is that I get criticized for nearly every single thing I do or say – every blog post, Facebook post, Youtube video, etc. If I say that I like tea, there will be a thread on Reddit within 5 minutes about how I’m a liar and I really like coffee. This can actually be a really good thing since, though I don’t think I’d give into it, I’m never tempted to behave in a way that I think could avoid criticism, since I’ll be criticized no matter what I do. It has also solidified my answer to my commenter’s  question from yesterday, which is this:

They may well think or say those things.  If there’s anything that I’ve learned from my haters, it’s that people will go to any length to justify their prejudice to themselves and anyone who will listen.  I cannot control what people think of me, nor can I control their behavior.  I don’t care what people think, I care how they treat me in my presence.

So when I say “It is not ok to talk about my weight or eating. If anyone says one more thing about my weight or eating I’m going to leave.”  I’m not trying to control what people think – they can think whatever the hell they want, I am stating clearly what behavior I will and will not tolerate, and what I will do if they continue the behavior that I find offensive.

If they continue discussing my weight or eating and I leave, it’s not to control what they think – it’s to remove myself from a situation that is outside of what I will put up with.

If people want to spend time with me they have to treat me a certain way, which includes not body shaming or food policing me.  So while they are allowed to think whatever they want about me, my body, and my food choices, they are 100% responsible for keeping those thoughts to themselves if they want to spend time with me (and they are under no obligation to want to spend time with me, of course.)

Most of the people in my life with whom I’ve had to set this boundary have been able to pull it together and behave appropriately.  There are a few who haven’t, and they don’t get to spend time with me anymore.  I don’t know or care what they think about me, as long as I don’t have to put up with it. Of course your mileage may vary, but I’ve found that – when it comes to family and friends food police – if I stop focusing on what people think and start focusing on what I want, things become better right away.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

If you’re looking for a fitness challenge in the New Year without any diet talk, weight loss talk, or body shaming, check out the Fit Fatties Forum Virtual Event Challenge!

Become 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.  Click here for details

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

Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information on topics, previous engagements and reviews here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

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

I’m training for an IRONMAN! You can follow my journey at www.IronFat.com

A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development (casting, finding investors etc.).  Follow the progress on Facebook!

If you are uncomfortable with my offering things for sale on this site, you are invited to check out this post.

Published in: on December 23, 2014 at 12:40 pm  Comments (24)  

The Holiday Boundary Song

Biscuit the Pug and I wish happy, Body Positive, holidays to all who are celebrating (and a happy, body positive, week to those who aren't!)

Biscuit the Pug and I wish happy, body positive, holidays to all who are celebrating, and a happy, body positive, week to those who aren’t!

One of the most frequent questions I get during the holidays is about how to deal with family who are behaving badly.

For me the secret is boundaries. I think it’s best to start by deciding what constitutes behavior that you will put up with. If it’s anything other than “anything goes” then I would consider setting some boundaries with consequences that you can follow through with. So, for example “It is not ok to talk about my weight or eating. If anyone says one more thing about my weight or eating I’m going to leave.” and then, if they fail to respect your boundaries, it’s time to go.

I’ve heard from a number of people who have done this and the common thread seems to be that they only had to do it one time and then their families started respecting their boundaries. Of course your mileage may vary. I’ve written about dealing with the Family and Friends Food Police and Combating Holiday Weight Shame, but today I thought I would do it in song.

To serve as a reminder, I’ve re-written the lyrics to “Oh Christmas Tree” to be an ode to boundary setting, and the post is now a Dances With Fat tradition.

Note 1: In order for this to work, it helps to pronounce boundaries as a three syllable word (BOUND-ah-rees) If this is an affront to your sense of poetic license I completely understand, I’ll be back tomorrow with a post sans song.

Note 2: At the bottom you’ll find two amazing renditions of this song by Jeanette DePatie (aka The Fat Chick) and Nadja. Please also feel free to add your own verses in the comments, and/or post a video with your own rendition.

Oh Boundaries! Oh Boundaries! You help me deal with family.

Don’t talk about my weight or food.
Why can’t you see it’s hella rude?

Oh Boundaries! Oh Boundaries! You help me deal with family.

You know I love my family
But I will leave if you fat-shame me.

Oh Boundaries! Oh Boundaries! You help me deal with family.

My body’s fine, I don’t need your rants
You’re not the boss of my underpants

Oh Boundaries! Oh Boundaries! You help me deal with family.

Don’t say a word to my fat kid
Or I’ll leave so fast, my tires will skid

Oh Boundaries! Oh Boundaries! You help me deal with family.

Yes I do “need” that second plate
It’s not your business what I ate

Oh Boundaries! Oh Boundaries! You help me deal with family.

Quit saying someday I’ll get sick
Last time I checked you were not psychic

Oh Boundaries! Oh Boundaries! You help me deal with family.

The holidays are great family time
If you don’t shame, food-police or whine

Oh Boundaries! Oh Boundaries! You help me deal with family.

Two Readers (so far – hint, hint) have taken up the challenge of recording this piece, enjoy!

Jeanette DePatie (aka The Fat Chick) gave us an amazing opera/jazz rendition:

and Nadja killed it a capella in the middle of the night in her PJs:

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

If you’re looking for a fitness challenge in the New Year without any diet talk, weight loss talk, or body shaming, check out the Fit Fatties Forum Virtual Event Challenge!

Become 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.  Click here for details

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

Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information on topics, previous engagements and reviews here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

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

I’m training for an IRONMAN! You can follow my journey at www.IronFat.com

A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development (casting, finding investors etc.).  Follow the progress on Facebook!

If you are uncomfortable with my offering things for sale on this site, you are invited to check out this post.

Published in: on December 22, 2014 at 5:07 am  Comments (10)  

Is “Obesity” a Disability

DefendToday in a landmark decision a European Union court decided that “obesity”in and of itself does not constitute a disability, but that if it creates a situation that meets the criteria of disability (where, “under particular conditions, it hinders the full and effective participation of the person concerned in professional life on an equal basis with other workers“) then employers must treat it as a disability.

Being the internet, everyone agreed that this is a completely logical decision and moved forward to make appropriate reasonable accommodations for fat employees who meet the definition.

JUST KIDDING!

People freaked out about how unfair it is for employers to have to make reasonable accommodations for qualified fat employees instead of just firing them or refusing to hire them in the first place, how being fat shouldn’t constitute a disability because it’s fat people’s own fault that they are disabled and they could lose weight, and the always popular argument that this would promote obesity (because apparently unemployment – and really, making fat people’s lives generally terrible –  is the key to future thinness.)

Let’s talk about why this court decision makes perfect sense. For those of us in the States, the ADA definition of disability is very similar to that of the EU:

An individual with a disability is defined by the ADA as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment.

When it comes to asking whether obesity constitutes a disability, we have to examine the definition of “obesity,” which is someone whose weight in pounds times 703, divided by their height in inches squared is greater than or equal to 30.  That definition includes Tom Cruise, The Rock and me among many others.  Obviously, not everyone who meets the definition of “obese” (which is deeply problematic in and of itself) is going to meet the definition of “disabled/person with a disability” as defined by the ADA.

This is another area where we find intersectionality between ableism and sizeism. Many fat people may meet the definition, not because they have an impairment but because they are “a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment.” which is to say that people make all kinds of wild guesses about what fat people are capable of according to their appearance-based stereotypes and bigotry.  Also, fat people who have unrelated disabilities often find their disabilities blamed on their body size which can further complicate things.

Let’s examine the common arguments against the court’s decision, starting with the idea that body size can’t be a disability because it is the fat person’s “fault.”

Ignoring the complexity of body size, importantly, nowhere in the ADA definition does it say “unless the impairment is the fault of the person, in which case no accommodations shall be given.”  I assume that’s because the idea that we should try to determine if a person’s disability is their fault before providing  accommodations that allow them to be a welcome part of society is absolutely horrifying.

Are those who suggest that body size can’t be a disability because it’s the person’s fault also suggesting that we deny accommodations to people who were disabled by car accidents that were their fault?  People whose impairment is the result of choosing to be an athlete?  What about people whose disabilities are the result of elective weight loss surgery gone terribly wrong (as it so very often does)?  If someone meets the ADA definition of disabled/person with disabilities, then they should be covered and there shouldn’t ever be a discussion of fault.

Note that the idea that fat people could lose weight and thus shouldn’t be considered disabled also does not apply here.  First, because there isn’t a single study where even a tiny fraction of people have been able to maintain weight loss that would move them from the “obese” category to “normal weight” or even “overweight” long term.  But also because the ADA rules apply to the person standing in front of you who meets the definition right now, not the person you think they might someday be who would not.

Finally, onto the “it’s unfair to employers” thing. The idea of providing “reasonable accommodations” is actually about the fact that buildings and businesses are built by people who, either through ignorance or choice, create them as if disabled people/people with disabilities and, often, fat people, don’t exist.  Then many of them have to be forced by law to accommodate those who they ignored. And then many of them complain about it and do the bare minimum required by law, thereby missing out on amazing employees and contributing to a society that excludes many people.

So when someone asks me whether or not I think “obesity” is a disability, my answer is basically the same as the EU court.  If someone meets the definition of disabled/person with disability, then they should be given reasonable accommodations.  Moreover, I would love to be part of a society where businesses (and everyone really) were working hard to destroy the barriers to employment/participation in society, not working hard to justify them.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Become 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.  Click here for details

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

Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information on topics, previous engagements and reviews here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

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

I’m training for an IRONMAN! You can follow my journey at www.IronFat.com

A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development (casting, finding investors etc.).  Follow the progress on Facebook!

If you are uncomfortable with my offering things for sale on this site, you are invited to check out this post.

Published in: on December 19, 2014 at 12:23 pm  Comments (27)  

Want to Look Amazing Naked?

Picture courtesy of the fabulous Jodee Rose http://jodee.deviantart.com

Picture courtesy of the fabulous Jodee Rose http://jodee.deviantart.com

We live in a world where creating body dissatisfaction among women funds several billion dollar industries. The beauty and diet industries create messaging that is designed to (as my friend CJ Legare says) steal our self-esteem, cheapen it, and sell it back to us at a profit.  Whether they are making completely natural things (cellulite, aging, body diversity) into “problems” that can be solved by buying their products, or creating a world where there is only one standard of beauty and it requires digital retouching and photo illustration to achieve, we are drowning in a sea of messages carefully curated to create a big enough lack of positive body image to convince us to part with our money as well as our self-esteem.

One of the places where this can hit hardest is when we’re naked.  The fashion industry spends billions of dollars in marketing to convince us that our bodies are all “flawed” (boobs too big, boobs too small, too many hips, not enough hips, long waist, short waist, too tall, too short, too curvy not curvy enough blah blah blah) and that we all need to buy and wear clothes that “flatter” us, where “flatter” means to bring us as close as possible (which for many of us is still miles away) to the digitally re-touched pore-free standard of beauty, by manipulating the way that our bodies look and/or getting our tops under control.

My membership in the F*ck Flattering Club is not just about the clothes that I wear, but also about when I’m wearing no clothes at all.  Since I don’t use clothing to try to change the way my body looks, it’s an easier transition from clothed to naked.

Let me suggest the following as food for thought:

We have all been force-fed a single idea of what a beautiful naked body is and that idea is a complete and total lie, and we don’t have to continue to believe it.

There will be people who, for whatever reason, cannot appreciate your unique beauty – be you clothed or naked. That is their issue, not yours. It doesn’t make you any less beautiful, it just makes them unworthy of you.

One of the best ways to create armor to protect yourself is to get naked.  Stand in front of a mirror with nothing on and find things that are beautiful about you – if you’re not ready to find yourself beautiful, stand in front of the mirror naked and thank your body for all of the things that it does for you – smiling, waving, rolling your wheelchair, walking around, breathing, blinking, etc.

You already look amazing naked.  You always have, you always will.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Become 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.  Click here for details

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

Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information on topics, previous engagements and reviews here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

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

I’m training for an IRONMAN! You can follow my journey at www.IronFat.com

A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development (casting, finding investors etc.).  Follow the progress on Facebook!

If you are uncomfortable with my offering things for sale on this site, you are invited to check out this post.

Published in: on December 17, 2014 at 11:29 am  Comments (15)  

Sacrifices For Our Future Thin Selves

It's Me!  As drawn by the fabulous www.tonitails.com!

It’s Me! As drawn by the fabulous http://www.tonitails.com!

Last Friday I was heading out of San Francisco after having been part of an amazing conference.  I was driving across the Bay Bridge and feeling really happy when One Republic’s song “I Lived” came on the radio.  It was one of those moments that was movie-perfect.  Moments like this make me profoundly grateful that I discovered Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size.

A disturbing trend in the ever more disturbing “War on Obesity” is people – be it healthcare practitioners, government officials etc. –  who are perfectly willing to try to convince fat people to sacrifice our current happiness and quality of life for what they insist will be the high quality life of our future thin selves. Before I found Size Acceptance there was a time in my life when I absolutely bought into this.

This can take many guises, from people who suggest that fat people should think of ourselves as temporarily inconvenienced thin people, to people who suggest that fat people’s lives should be made more difficult as a way to “encourage” us to become thin. You can see this happen in lots of ways:

Refusing to show fat people being successful at anything other than weight loss.

These are people who say, with a straight face, that the key to making fat people thin is a complete and total lack of positive representation and role models in popular culture.

The Displacement Diet

These are people who suggest that fat people shouldn’t have fashionable clothes, or seats that fit us on public transportation or theaters etc., and that fat people with disabilities should actually be denied mobility assistance because apparently if we create a world where fat people can’t leave our homes or participate in society, the obvious outcome is that we will become thin.  Okie dokie then.

Prescribing to Fat People What They Diagnose In Thin People

Consider for a moment if someone who wasn’t fat told you that they were severely restricting calories, exercising 8 hours a day, eating large amounts of food that are “forbidden” on their current “diet” and then exercising all night to “make up for it”, and manipulating their weight for their weekly weigh in with dehydration. Would you cheer them on and tell them to keep it up?

That’s exactly what we do when we promote The Biggest Loser.

What these people are actually saying is that fat people should do really unhealthy things now – because if those unhealthy behaviors make us thin we will then be somehow magically healthy.  Stop the logic train, we had some passengers fall off. By this “logic” we should just give all fat people meth or cocaine.  Oh wait, they’re basically working on that already.

Suggesting That We Hate Ourselves Thin

Many people are perfectly happy to try to lower fat people’s self-esteem and create body image issues – suggesting that we see our bodies as flawed, ugly, unattractive, and the source of all of our problems.   I must have missed the study data that shows that self-loathing is causally (or even correlationally) related to future thinness.

In addition to convincing fat people to sacrifice our current happiness for our future thin happiness, this technique is also unfortunately successful in convincing fat people to believe that instead of fighting size-based oppression, we should try to solve our oppression by appeasing our oppressors.

I remember a time of my life when I was willing to sacrifice my current happiness for the happiness that I was sure would come along with my future thin body.  There was a time when I was waiting for another body to show up so that I could start living.

Now of course I know the truth about weight loss, but more importantly I know what a mistake it was for me to put my current happiness and life on hold in the hopes that happiness and living would show up once I had successfully manipulated the size of my body. I stopped waiting around for another body to show up and decided to take the body I have out for a spin. I am actively (often successfully!) pursuing life, liberty and happiness right now, in this big fat body, and I’ll never look back.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Become 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.  Click here for details

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

Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information on topics, previous engagements and reviews here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

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

I’m training for an IRONMAN! You can follow my journey at www.IronFat.com

A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development (casting, finding investors etc.).  Follow the progress on Facebook!

If you are uncomfortable with my offering things for sale on this site, you are invited to check out this post.

 

Published in: on December 16, 2014 at 7:03 am  Comments (9)