When Fatphobia Follows Us to the Grave

Angry FrustratedColleen McCullough created the department of neurophysiology at Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital, she served as head of the department for five years.  She worked at the Hospital for Sick Children in Great Ormond Street. She taught neuroanatomy, neurophysiology and neurological electronics at Yale. She wrote the best selling novels Tim and The Thorn Birds and 23 other books including cookbooks, a biography, romance, family history, crime and seven-book Roman series.  She was awarded the Scanno Prize for literature and several of her books have been made into films.

These are all things that you would have learned from her obituary in The Australian, but you wouldn’t have read them until after you read this:

COLLEEN McCullough, Australia’s best selling author, was a charmer. Plain of feature, and certainly overweight, she was, nevertheless, a woman of wit and warmth. In one interview, she said: “I’ve never been into clothes or figure and the interesting thing is I never had any trouble attracting men.

This appears in bold at the very front of her obituary. Before the fact that she was an accomplished scientist, or any details about her bestselling books, The Australian wanted to make sure that if people only read the bold print, they are aware that she was fat, and that they seem think it’s somehow surprising that she is also witty and warm (didn’t we just talk about this?), that she was not attractive based on the obituary author’s “standards” (which is such a ridiculous statement that I can’t believe I had to type it) and that she was able to attract men.

After being immediately criticized by, well, almost everyone,  the magazine claims that the obituary was written years ago by a writer who has since died, and that it was published without proper proofreading.  The magazine has also put an offer in on some beautiful ocean front property in Arizona where they plan to build a mansion for the Yeti and Abominable snowman currently living in their basement.

The statement not only appeared in the article, but appeared as the first paragraph, and in bold.  If they actually knew better than to lead the obituary of an accomplished woman with a critique of her looks, then they have a serious breakdown in the copy editing department.  Also, I note that I’m reading it online fourteen hours later and they haven’t changed it.

I’m already aware that, because of our fatphobic society, if I die at 112 years old because a aliens drop a space piano on my head from their mothership, people will still blame my death on my body size, so I won’t be surprised if my obituary tries to cast the body I love in a negative light, but it’s a damn shame. Lewis’s Law (coined by Helen Lewis) says that “the comments on any article about feminism justify feminism”. Perhaps we need a corollary – the obituary of a fat women in the Australian justifies fat activism and feminism.

RIP Colleen McCullough, you deserved better and you will be missed.

I’ll Come to You!

Schools are back in session and I’m booking talks for Spring and Fall of this year.  If you want me to come to your school, business, or organization (even if you’re not sure how to get it done), just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org and we’ll talk about the options.  If you want to bring me to your community but don’t have funding or an organizational affiliation, I can help you with that too – e-mail me and we can talk about the possibilities.  See you soon!

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 January 31, 2015 at 1:34 pm  Comments (22)  

Fat People’s Not So Hidden Talents

You Forgot Your BullshitA reader alerted me to an article (trigger warning- for diet and weight loss talk) about New Jersey governor and Presidential hopeful Chris Christie that includes the phrase “Obscured by the ambition, loose-cannon personality and, frankly, the girth, is the fact that he is an exceptionally gifted and nuanced politician.”

Whether or not you agree with the sentiment, this idea that his body size “hides”  his abilities is deeply problematic and speaks to the nature of fat prejudice in this country. Whether he is a great or a terrible politician, his size does not obscure that. (Not to mention that Christie did what his bullies wanted, got lap band surgery and, at least for now, has lost quite a bit of weight – and he is still being subjected to these cheap shots.)

Fat people’s talents are not obscured by our fat bodies, they are obscured by people’s prejudices, stereotypes, and preconceived notions about our bodies.

This is part of a larger issue of blaming fat bodies instead of blaming the shame, stigma, bullying, and oppression that fat people have to deal with. This is what happens when people suggest that fat people who don’t enjoy being shamed, stigmatized, bullied and oppressed try to become thin to “solve the problem”. As if the problem is that fat people exist, and not that people treat us poorly because of their own prejudices about how we look (and anyone foolish enough to make a “but they cost me tax dollars!” argument can head over to this post.)

This even gets medicalized when healthcare professionals suggest weight loss as a treatment for fat people who have depression or anxiety related to the poor treatment they receive from society, or in any way suggest that fat people should solve social stigma through weight loss.

We can see examples of this almost every day and for me it’s really important to notice when this is happening and put the problem where it belongs, which is on the poor treatment that I receive, and not on my body. So when you hear or see something that suggests that fat people’s bodies are the problem, you can substitute a phrase like “because of prejudice.”

So, for example:  “Obscured by the ambition, loose-cannon personality and, frankly, people’s prejudice about his size, is the fact that he is an exceptionally gifted and nuanced politician.”

Here are a few  more:

Wrong:  Her size caused issues in their relationship.

Corrected:  Her friend’s prejudice about her size caused issues in their relationship.

 

Wrong:  One of the problems caused by obesity is bullying.

Corrected:  One of the problems caused by weight-based stigma is bullying.

 

Wrong:   She didn’t get the job because of her weight.

Corrected:  She didn’t get the job because of the weight bigotry of the hiring committee.

 

If you have some of your own feel free to leave them in the comments. Either way, putting the problem where it belongs can be a powerful way to fight size-based bigotry, stigma, bullying and oppression.

I’ll Come to You!

Schools are back in session and I’m booking talks for Spring and Fall of this year.  If you want me to come to your school, business, or organization (even if you’re not sure how to get it done), just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org and we’ll talk about the options.  If you want to bring me to your community but don’t have funding or an organizational affiliation, I can help you with that too – e-mail me and we can talk about the possibilities.  See you soon!

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 January 30, 2015 at 1:05 pm  Comments (12)  

That J.K. Rowling Quote

The world is messed up you are fineA quote by J.K. Rowling (author of the Harry Potter series of books among others) has been making the rounds on social media again, and a number of people have asked me to discuss it.  The quote goes:

I mean, is ‘fat’ really the worst thing a human being can be? Is ‘fat’ worse than ‘vindictive’, ‘jealous’, ‘shallow’, ‘vain’, ‘boring’ or ‘cruel’?

I have mixed feelings about this.  First of all, I’m thrilled that an author with the fame and popularity of Rowling is speaking out about this, I’m grateful. We need more people like this speaking out. A lot of the people who e-mailed me about the quote mentioned that there was something about it that made them uncomfortable, but they couldn’t put their finger on it.

For me, it’s about the fact that the quote makes it seem like being “fat” is comparable to being “cruel.”  That is not the case – fat is a body size, and cruelty is a behavior that hurts others.  Also, in my own Size Acceptance work I hope to do a little better than my body being not “the worst thing” I can be. I’ll pass on the battle cry “We’re fat but at least we don’t stab people!”

Part of the issue is that this is actually part of a much longer statement (for which she may someday win an award for best use of the phrase “gust of stinking chihuahua flatulence”) which begins

“Fat’ is usually the first insult a girl throws at another girl when she wants to hurt her.

And is immediately followed by the part of the quote that gets passed around. It is significant because it gives us context – as I understand it she is saying that all of the things on her list are insults that girls throw at one another.  The bigger problem isn’t the quote, it’s the fact that body size is used as an insult because weight-based prejudice is highly developed in girls (in some cases very much on purpose) which is a problem that needs to be addressed.

Without the context it looks like Ms. Rowling thinks that the behavior of being cruel is comparable to having a fat body – to be clear I don’t think that’s what she was trying to say, but it’s the end result when the full statement gets truncated.

While I really enjoyed the Harry Potter books, this idea that fat people are bad/mean/lazy people does seem to come through in her writing.  I  think it’s particularly important for her to speak out about this since the fat characters in her books (though not all of them) tend to be bad people.  It’s possible that it’s a coincidence, or that it’s just my reading of it – others  may not feel the same way. Either way, I would love to see her write more positive fat characters.

Speaking out against the use of fat as an insult is important and I appreciate those who do so, including J.K. Rowling.

Let’s Hang Out!

Schools are back in session and I’m booking talks for Spring and Fall of this year.  If you want me to come to your school, business, or organization (even if you’re not sure how to get it done), just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org and we’ll talk about the options.  If you want to bring me to your community but don’t have funding or an organizational affiliation, I can help you with that too – e-mail me and we can talk about the possibilities.  See you soon!

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 January 29, 2015 at 11:24 am  Comments (21)  

Evidence, Who Needs It – Doctors Gone Wild Part 2

WTF are you doingA couple of days ago I wrote about the absolutely horrible medical guidelines that suggest that doctors should try to make fat people thin with diet drugs, and only then treat our actual health issues.  In response many people asked me why I don’t trust doctors (you know, besides the fact that the doctor who wrote the guidelines in on the payroll of multiple companies that sell diet drugs.)

Now the Task Force in Canada has come along and made my point for me. The Canadian Task Force on Preventive Healthcare has issued a “strong recommendation” that primary care physicians should measure body mass index (BMI) at every visit.  If you know anything about the deeply problematic nature of BMI, you might wonder why in the world they would make a strong recommendation to do that.  No problem, Dr. Paula Brauer (a Ph.D and Registered Dietician) was happy to explain the strong evidence basis that drove their strong recommendation:

“There’s no evidence [for BMI-based screening] But we made a strong recommendation anyway.”

Wait… What?  I… I just… Okay, let’s play healthcare madlibs shall we:

There’s no evidence for [purported medical intervention] but we made a strong recommendation anyway.

For example:  There’s no evidence that giving people a pony will make people thinner, but we made a strong recommendation anyway.

Now you try.  Or not, on the off chance that you happen to be someone who – unlike the  Canadian Task Force on Preventive Healthcare – supports the practice of evidence-based medicine.

How do these people still have jobs?  Oh, right, because they’re talking about fat people and we are perfectly comfortable as a society making fat people the non-consenting lab rats in experimental medicine.

The other “strong recommendation” that they made on “moderate evidence” is to treat obese adults at high risk of type 2 diabetes with structured behavioral interventions aimed at weight loss (and not structural behavioral interventions to, say, prevent type 2 diabetes, the interventions with which they treat thin people). Despite, as the good doctor pointed out, “there’s also a lack of knowledge in terms of outcomes for people who do lose weight.”  So even if the weight loss programs are successful, they don’t know what that will mean for the person’s risk of acquiring Type 2 Diabetes.  And this warrants a strong recommendation.

And the hits just keep on coming.  They also made a “weak recommendation” that, should their BMI “test” (for which there is no evidence) come up with a number that is “too high” then that person should be referred to a weight loss program, but they don’t know which one.

“From reviewing the evidence, we can’t pick out particular programs that seem more successful. Programs that provide the behavioral components, the physical activity, and dietary changes all seem to be similarly successful.”

And by “similarly successful” let’s be clear that she means “not at all successful.” But let’s examine the overall situation: This group gave two strong recommendations with no  evidence, and a weak recommendation that was supported by evidence. What the hell are they smoking at those Task Force guideline meetings?

But they are still one upping the Americans since they aren’t recommending diet drugs (could this be because drug companies can’t buy off Canadian doctors the way they can American doctors?) because “patients in these trials had more adverse events, particularly gastrointestinal adverse events, than those in control groups.”   But at least they aren’t recommending that fat people take dangerous, addictive drugs that don’t work, so fair play to the Canadians I guess.

Let’s be clear that there are evidence based ways to provide healthcare to people of all  sizes, which put a focus on actual evidence-based medicine and not body size interventions, which is what Health at Every Size is all about.

So if you’re one of those people wondering why don’t I just trust healthcare recommendations and after reading this you’re still not sure, let me try to make it super clear:  It’s because I’m a fan of logic, evidence, and informed consent, and when it comes to the way doctors are treating fat people, they’ve thrown all three of those out the window.  In the current state of obesity epi-panic and hysteria when it comes to fat people trying to get healthcare, to me it’s very clearly buyer beware.  If you are heading to the doctor’s office and concerned about getting evidence-based medical care, here are some ideas that might help. If you’re looking to get drunk and write some medical guidelines, I think you might have pretty good luck in Canada.

Let’s Hang Out!

Schools are back in session and I’m booking talks for Spring and Fall of this year.  If you want me to come to your school, business, or organization (even if you’re not sure how to get it done), just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org and we’ll talk about the options.  If you want to bring me to your community but don’t have funding or an organizational affiliation, I can help you with that too – e-mail me and we can talk about the possibilities.  See you soon!

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 January 28, 2015 at 12:33 pm  Comments (21)  

Hopping On The “Anti-Obesity” Bandwagon

Design by Kris Owen

Design by Kris Owen

One of the offshoots of the “War on Obesity” and the obesity epi-panic that has followed, is the rush of people, organizations, and movements that have tacked “anti-obesity” onto their platform.

PETA, for example, is proud to fight for what they believe is the ethical treatment of animals using the unethical treatment of fat people.

A reader who is into knitting sent me a newsletter she received where a woman who was described as a “mentor” said that “if everyone in the world learned how to knit” then “people wouldn’t over-eat (their hands would be kept busy)” and the we would all be “better-looking.”

I just saw a PSA about ending food deserts that talked about how it would end obesity.

A company will deliver delicious meals right to your door.  Convenient! Delicious! But then they throw in that their company helps end obesity.

An app that helps you reach your goals.  And, you know,  fight obesity.

I was reading an article about guerrilla gardening and stopped when they starting talking about how being part of this movement meant you are part of  “ending hunger and tackling obesity.”  I think it would be pretty hard to garden with people constantly trying to tackle me. Also, I’m pretty sure that these people are signing up to garden, not to be defensive linemen.

From a PR standpoint I understand why it happens – the media LOVES to write about anti-obesity, and there is tons of funding out their for those who say they are trying to figure how to create a world with no more fat people in it.

It’s also easy to do since, at our currently  OMGDEATHFATZ DefCon4 Fatty Level Orange status, all an “anti-obesity intervention” needs to be considered evidence-based and ready for implementation is a thin person saying it’s a good idea.

It is also incredibly oppressive. It says “Thin people should come to our movement for health, or ethical reasons, to fight poverty and hunger, or because they like to knit.  Fat people should join our movement so that we can fix you by changing the way that you look.”  That’s fucked up.  This is not a tree, fat people are not kittens, we are not in need of rescuing by a knitting newsletter. Throwing fat people under the bus to get PR, for funding –  making a movement in any way about eradicating fat people from the earth – is oppression pure and simple, it makes many fat people feel unwelcome, and it needs to stop.

We always have the opportunity to do activism around this – whether it’s sending an e-mail, posting something on Social Media, or creating our own communities around our interests and hobbies where people of all sizes are welcome. Of course we’re never obligated to be involved in activism and either way it can be helpful just to recognize this jumping on the “no fatties” bandwagon for what it is – completely messed up and totally not ok.

Let’s Hang Out!

Schools are back in session and I’m booking talks for Spring and Fall of this year.  If you want me to come to your school, business, or organization (even if you’re not sure how to get it done), just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org and we’ll talk about the options.  If you want to bring me to your community but don’t have funding or an organizational affiliation, I can help you with that too – e-mail me and we can talk about the possibilities.  See you soon!

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 January 27, 2015 at 9:57 am  Comments (20)  

Weight Loss and Size Acceptance

What Will you DefendThere has been a lot of talk lately about whether or not someone can want to lose weight and still be part of Size Acceptance.  I’ve received a number of e-mails asking me to write about it.  I want to talk about it today but first I want to be clear about a couple of things:

First of all, these are just my opinions – I do not speak for all of fatkind, or all of Size Acceptance. Nobody does.

Next, people are allowed to attempt weight loss.  It’s not uncommon for people who are part of a stigmatized group to want to find a way to get out of that group as a way to escape stigma, and people are allowed to do that. People are allowed to try to manipulate their body size as a way to solve social stigma, or to solve issues with lack of accommodation (like finding clothes that fit), or because they believe it will make them healthier, or more mobile, or for whatever reason they choose. People are allowed to believe that there is a size at which they can do everything they want to do in life and they are allowed to try to manipulate their body to that size.  They are allowed to try to lose weight even though the research suggests that if they are able to succeed short term they will likely gain it all back (plus likely more). People are allowed to continue trying to lose weight even if they’ve already experienced that kind of weight cycling (yo-yo dieting.) This is 100% Underpants Rule.

People are allowed to try to lose weight, the only question here is how people who want to/try to lose weight do or do not fit into Size Acceptance (SA.)  I’ll talk about my thoughs on the theory first, and then about how this plays out in the real world for me.

I think that when we talk about Size Acceptance, especially as it relates to weight loss messages, we are actually talking about two different things: What Size Acceptance is, and how we get it done.

To me, Size Acceptance is a civil rights movement that states that people of all sizes (including fat people) have the right to exist at their current size without appearance-based stigma, bullying, or oppression and it doesn’t matter why they are that size, what being that size means, or if they could be a different size. There are intersectionalities with other Civil Rights movements including the anti-racism, -homophobia, -transphobia, -ageism, and -ableism movements.

I believe that this message can be supported by people who are trying to change their body size, what they are saying is basically “I want to change my size, but I don’t think other people should be discriminated against,or forced to change their size.”   That’s ok, in fact everyone can and should support Size Acceptance because it constitutes basic human rights.

Looking at the second part – how we get it done – that’s about the communities, media campaigns, politics, laws, ordinances, and leaders that we create and support, as well as what we model in our own lives.  In my Size Acceptance work, this is about creating spaces were we don’t suggest body size manipulation as a positive thing or a solution, and spaces where people can come for refuge from the billion dollar diet industry and the incessant messages that fat bodies are bad and that body size manipulation is the solution to, well, just about everything.

So while I believe that someone can try to lose weight and still support Size Acceptance as a civil rights movement, and while I believe that people can do their best to appreciate the bodies they have now, even while trying to lose weight because they think their bodies would be better if they were thinner, and while I believe that people have the right to do both of those things and that some good can come from that,  I don’t think that someone can be trying to lose weight and say that they are practicing Size Acceptance simultaneously, since I don’t believe that saying “I love this body now, but I think it would be better if it was smaller” constitutes acceptance.

I think it’s also worth noting that those who support Size Acceptance for everyone, but talk about wanting to lose weight for themselves do get “good fatty” privilege for doing so (whether they want it or not) and that being part of the Size Acceptance Civil Rights Movement means acknowledging that,  and using that privilege to support Size Acceptance.  Also, if they use their reason for being fat, or their attempted weight loss as a way to avoid size-based prejudice that is highly problematic and definitely not Size Acceptance.  Finally, those who believe in fighting for Size Acceptance for everyone, but want to lose weight for themselves do have the option to simply not discuss their personal weight loss goals publicly since it is a personal decision.  But of course that’s just an option and people have every right to tell their stories.

So, how does this play out in the real world?  For me, I acknowledge that there are grey areas, and there are things that are incremental.  I certainly think that “love the body you have now, even if you want to lose weight” is a far better message than “hate yourself until you get thin.”  I think that there are a lot of people who either do not want to, or aren’t ready to, give up the pursuit of a thin body and everything that they believe will come with it, who can resonate with, and be really helped by, a message of body appreciation even while dieting. I’m very happy for the people who are helped by these messages and sometimes I cam involved in projects with people whose platform is those types of messages.

As for my personal Size Acceptance work, I’m done with weight loss. I work to solve social stigma against fat people by fighting social stigma, not by trying to change fat bodies.  I work to solve a lack of clothing options for fat people by creating more clothing options for fat people and not by trying to change fat bodies.  And I believe in evidence-based medicine which means that I simply can’t engage in, or promote, weight loss as a path to health. I also talk about the evidence, issues, and dangers that come with dieting, weight loss surgery etc., but I focus on the people and institutions that perpetuate them, and not the individuals who choose to participate.

I create spaces that are free from diet talk, weight loss talk, and negative body talk. While people are allowed to do and think whatever they want when it comes to their own bodies, and while it is ok for people to create spaces where those discussion can take place, it is ok to create spaces that are free from those discussions.  Especially since weight loss attempts have such wide support in society, and there are so many places to talk about it and receive support for that choice, it is perfectly ok for Size Acceptance spaces to prioritize the needs of people who are practicing Size Acceptance.  As a general rule, while I may point out the issues involved with the social obsession with weight loss,and various weight loss messages , I choose to fight people, businesses, and organizations that are blatantly promoting size discrimination, or co-opting Size Acceptance to sell weight loss, rather than fighting those who agree with Size Acceptance as a civil right but choose weight loss for themselves.

Note:  I’m being more lenient in what kind of diet talk I allow.  I’ve tried to add trigger warnings but if you’re not up for reading about people talking about manipulating their body size, you might want to skip reading through.

Let’s Hang Out!

Schools are back in session and I’m booking talks for Spring and Fall of this year.  If you want me to come to your school, business, or organization (even if you’re not sure how to get it done), just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org and we’ll talk about the options.  If you want to bring me to your community but don’t have funding or an organizational affiliation, I can help you with that too – e-mail me and we can talk about the possibilities.  See you soon!

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 January 26, 2015 at 9:57 am  Comments (20)  

Say Something Sunday – Fourth Edition

Say Something SundayIt’s “Say Something Sunday,” a day dedicated to personal Size Diversity activism. I’ve got some suggestions below and/or of course you can do your own thing and feel free to leave a comment about it. If you have ideas of things to do for Say Something Sunday I’d also love for you to share those.

I did the math and if everyone who views the blog each week did one piece of Size Diversity Activism a week, it would add up to over 1.5 million body positive messages put out into the world this year.  Multiply that times the number of people who might see each of those messages and things start to increase exponentially. To be very clear, nobody is obligated to do activism so if this doesn’t appeal to you that’s totally cool, I’ll be back tomorrow with your regularly scheduled blog post!

My ideas for this week (these are just suggestions, feel free to change them to make them work for you, and if they don’t appeal to you feel free to do your own thing!)

Speak up for healthcare without size discrimination.

  • Update the Cat Dragon Fat Friendly Healthcare Providers List with a practitioner you know who works from a fat friendly perspective
  • If you’ve had a bad experience with a doctor, leave negative reviews on yelp/Zodoc etc. (you can search your doctor’s name to see what review sites they belong to)
  • If you had a bad experience with a doctor, make a complaint to your local regulatory board

Post to Social Media and/or tell someone who is body shaming you under the guise of being “concerned about your health” that if they are really concerned with your health they will trust you to make decisions for yourself and honor your request that they not body shame you – because shaming, stigma, bullying and oppression are bad for your health.

Leave a comment on an article that shames people based on their body size that just says that size-based shaming, stigma and oppression is wrong, and do it with absolutely no qualifiers (ie, no need to talk about reasons why people are fat or thin, or people’s health or anything else)

If you want to do more of this kind of thing, consider joining the Rolls Not Trolls group on Facebook, it’s a group created for the specific purpose of putting body positive things in body negative spaces on the internet and supporting each other while we do that.  It’s a secret group so if you want to join just message me on facebook (I’m Ragen Chastain)

Have a great Say Something Sunday!

Let’s Hang Out!

Schools are back in session and I’m booking talks for Spring and Fall of this year.  If you want me to come to your school, business, or organization (even if you’re not sure how to get it done), just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org and we’ll talk about the options.  If you want to bring me to your community but don’t have funding or an organizational affiliation, I can help you with that too – e-mail me and we can talk about the possibilities.  See you soon!

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 January 25, 2015 at 10:34 am  Comments (9)  

Fashion and Normalizing Obesity

Fashion and Normalizing ObesityRivkie Baum created a plus size fashion magazine called Slink.  So the BBC radio show Woman’s Hour had her on for a wonderful segment about the the fat fashion movement, and how important it is that women of all sizes have access to clothes that they want to wear.

Just kidding!

They had her on with a self-described “weight loss expert” to discuss whether making fashionable clothes in plus sizes “normalizes obesity.”

I think that there is a place for debate, I’ve been involved in my share and I’m sure there will be many more.  But I think it’s a serious issue that we can’t talk about anything involving fat people without a “weight loss expert” toeing the OMGDEATHFATZ line.

I thought that Rivkie’s interview was as good as could be expected under crappy conditions.  When she was asked if she was afraid people would think that by publishing a women’s magazine for fat women that she was saying it is ok to be fat, she said that she thinks it’s more worrying that we think it’s ok to isolate people.  I couldn’t agree more, not to mention that it is totally ok to be fat.

As far as the idea of making clothes for fat people “normalizing” obesity, there are so many problems with this that I hardly know where to begin.

First of all, what is the alternative? Should I walk around naked and when they come to arrest me explain that I’m just doing my part to make sure that we don’t normalize obesity?   Our lives should be some sort of never ending toga party?

Even if they believe that trying to lose weight is a healthy choice, how completely out of touch with reality are these people who insist that making sure fat people don’t feel “normal” constitutes public health of any kind? Because I’m sure that hating ourselves and being hated by society and not being able to find clothes we like that fit is definitely the key to health (sarcasm meter is at 10 out of 10 here.)

Do people actually believe that the best thing we can do for fat people is to create a world that constantly reinforces that we don’t belong, where we can’t get clothing we like (not to mention clothing that we might need for our jobs, our hobbies etc.) where we can’t even hear about a magazine that shows clothes for us without also hearing some hand wringing won’t-somebody-think-of-the-fat-people “weight loss expert” whining about “normalizing obesity”  (who, not for nothing, makes money telling fat people that they can “rescue” us from the stigmatizing world that they are actively creating if we pay them whatever money we manage to make at the jobs we could get that allow us to come to work in a toga.)

Yet again, fat people say “we have the right to exist (and wear clothes) just like thin people do” and BBC Woman’s Hour says “Well, that’s debatable” No, it’s really not.

I’m on record as a member of the Fuck Flattering Club, and so I want to make it clear that I completely support fat people who are into fashion for themselves, and the fact that people should have the same fashion options regardless of size, and that fat people should be able to discuss fat fashion without comment from a “weight loss expert” about how important it is that we find a way to clothe fat people without allowing them to feel in any way “normal.”

Activism Opportunity:

Click here to give BBC Woman’s Hour some feedback

Let’s Hang Out!

Schools are back in session and I’m booking talks for Spring and Fall of this year.  If you want me to come to your school, business, or organization (even if you’re not sure how to get it done), just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org and we’ll talk about the options.  If you want to bring me to your community but don’t have funding or an organizational affiliation, I can help you with that too – e-mail me and we can talk about the possibilities.  See you soon!

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

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 January 24, 2015 at 11:20 am  Comments (20)  

Questionable Food Advice

Fad DietsI was sitting at the pool after my swim lesson and a woman was talking to someone on the phone very authoritatively and sternly:

“Salads have lots of vitamins in them, but if you put dressing on it then your body converts the whole thing to fat and the vitamins lose their nutrition.”

Um no.  World of no. Galaxy of no.  Big flaming sack of no.  Your body does not convert broccoli to fat in the presence of ranch dressing. It just doesn’t.  Vitamins don’t lose their nutrition because they are consumed in concert with vinaigrette.  In fact vitamins A, E, and K  (found or converted from vegetables) are fat soluble – they require dietary fat for absorption.

I don’t know who this person was talking to but I feel bad for them that someone is feeding them (see what I did there) this crap.  I did not say anything – I am adamantly against people giving me unsolicited advice about nutrition so I’m not about to do that to anyone else, but it’s definitely not the first time that I’ve heard something like this.

I think that this kind of thinking is an extension of the all-or-nothing, never-enough messages that get attached to the idea of food in our weight loss obsessed society. It is in this way that a meal with chicken, roasted vegetables, salad, and a brownie becomes a minefield. Is that white meat only?  Was that chicken cooked with the skin on?  It wasn’t cooked with added fat was it?  Were the vegetables roasted in olive oil? Is it possible to just get them steamed. with no salt? Is that cheese on that salad? Oh god is that ranch dressing?!  Do you have a lemon I can squeeze on it instead?  And do you have some fruit instead of the brownie, actually the fruit probably has too much sugar. Screw it, I’ll just have a glass of warm water for dessert.

The overarching, overwhelming discussion about food as a weight loss tool overshadows discussions about food in any other context, including important discussions about accessibility to food. Health is not an obligation or barometer of worthiness, it is not entirely within our control, and is not guaranteed under any circumstances.  Nobody is obligated to eat “healthy” by any definition, but we should all have access to accurate unbiased information from people who don’t lose all sense of objectivity and common sense at the sight of a fat person, and because our society inextricably links food with body size, that unbiased information can be almost impossible to obtain and people end up being scared of food and sincerely believing that salad dressing makes vegetables lose their nutritional value, and passing that information on.

The diet industry gives us questionable information and,  many people who choose to leave diet culture find that it has taught them things that aren’t evidence based, and that it has created a troubled relationship with food that is difficult to repair.  Dressing isn’t ruining our vegetables, diet culture is.

Let’s Hang Out!

Schools are back in session and I’m booking talks for Spring and Fall of this year.  If you want me to come to your school, business, or organization (even if you’re not sure how to get it done), just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org and we’ll talk about the options.  If you want to bring me to your community but don’t have funding or an organizational affiliation, I can help you with that too – e-mail me and we can talk about the possibilities.  See you soon!

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

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 January 23, 2015 at 10:52 am  Comments (60)  

What to Do With Doctors Gone Wild

Stand up speak up fight backA lot of people have contacted me, understandably very upset about the horrible “guidelines” for treatment of fat patients that I blogged about yesterday (the quick version is that the guidelines, written by a doctor with some major monetary ties to the diet drug industry, recommend that fat people not get treatment for actual illnesses until they’ve lost weight with, you guessed it, diet drugs.)

Fat people going to the doctor with actual health issues and leaving with a diet instead of the evidence-based healthcare that thin people would have received is not a new thing.  We are working to change the system but here are some things that fat people can do right now.

Before we start I want to be clear that these are suggestions that have worked for me and/or people I trust – there are no guarantees and there may be consequences – including having your doctor drop you as a patient, and of course your mileage may vary.  The solutions are predominantly US-based, and, sadly, they won’t be available to everyone due to the expense involved, the power structures involved, and additional oppressions that can come into play in the world of healthcare including things like racism, ableism, healthism, transphobia,homophobia, classism and ageism.)

Here are some suggestions, I welcome you to add yours in the comments:

Find a Fat Friendly Doctor and Tell Other People About Yours

Use the Cat Dragon Fat Friendly Healthcare Providers List (contains listings for multiple countries) both to find fat friendly doctors, and to add fat friendly doctors who you know of so that others can find them.

Call Ahead

Before going to a new doctor, call ahead and let them know that you are practicing Health at Every Size and so aren’t interested in weight loss interventions and ask if they are willing to agree to treat you on that basis.

Be Prepared

Prepare for the doctors appointment by using the media circle.

Ask Questions

When a doctor prescribes a weight loss solution to a health issue ask one or more of the following (feel free to change the wording to feel natural to you.)

  • I’m really interested in researching my healthcare, can you point me to a study where [the weight loss intervention you are recommending] worked on people my size to both [decrease weight long term as much as you are recommending] and [have the health benefit you are looking for]?  Spoiler alert:  They can’t because the research doesn’t exist.
  • I’ve been prescribed weight loss interventions [since I was a child, for the past 15 years etc.] and they’ve never made me healthier, thinner, or happier. My research of weight loss interventions tells me that my experience is very typical. What other interventions are available?
  • Out of curiosity, do thin people get this health issues?  (Spoiler Alert:  yes, they do) What is prescribed to them?  I practice Health at Every Size so rather than trying to manipulate my body size, I’d like to start by doing the same evidence-based interventions that you would recommend to a thinner person.
  • If offered weight loss drugs that you aren’t interested in :  My understanding is that those drugs [have some pretty serious side effects including everything from uncontrolled anal seepage, to addiction, and even death.  That many countries have refused to approve them because of safety issues, they they don’t result in that much more short term weight loss (only about 4 pounds over a year) and that in their own studies people began regaining the weight right away.]  I can’t give informed consent to that, what other treatment options are available? (consider asking the question about what thin people are prescribed above)
  • If offered weight loss surgery that you aren’t interested in:  My research has shown that weight loss surgery is extremely dangerous with serious long term side effects and a real risk of death. I’ve heard and read stories from many people with irreversible life-altering side effects. I can’t give informed consent to that, what other treatment options are available. (consider asking the question about what thin people are prescribed above)

Try an Online Doctor

A friend of mine who identifies as a Super Fat was just telling me that she has had great luck with online doctor services (she used Heathtap – which offered her a free month to try them out and then costs around $100 a month – and there are others available.)  Because the doctor couldn’t see her she was able to get the good healthcare without dealing with any size-based prejudice the doctor may have held from seeing her.

Try Urgent Care

When you have an issue that needs quick medical attention that one time visit can provide (like strep throat, the flu etc.) Urgent Care can be a better choice – often they are more likely to treat the actual issue that you came in with and skip the weight loss lecture.

Try the Alternative

There is plenty of fatphobia in “Alternative Medicine”  but I’ve personally had much better luck with those practitioners than practitioners of “Western Medicine.”  Perhaps due to the fact that they can’t be bought by big pharma, they tend to actually be involved in wellness care rather than waiting for us to get sick, and the relationship is different because, even though they are a respected and trusted counselor, they tend to agree that I have a place in the conversation about my wellness and that we are working in cooperation. It was still hard work to find practitioners who work this way (and I definitely med some duds along the way) and it’s expensive since it’s not covered by insurance.

Ask to see/update your chart

The HIPAA Privacy Rule requires that doctors allow you to see your chart in their office, and get a copy of your char (though they can charge you for copies). You can also add a note to your chart to correct mistakes – even if your doctor doesn’t think it is a mistake, you still have the right to have your disagreement noted in your chart. (here is an overview, and here is the actual HIPAA page ).

If you refuse weight loss interventions your doctor may have marked you as non-compliant.  This has actually been used to deny future life-saving treatment to people (organ transplants etc.) on the basis that the person will not do what is necessary to make the procedure a success because they are a “non-compliant patient”.

If this happens to you, you can add a note explaining your choice not to comply.  It might  say something like “Doctor suggested weight loss as a cure for [whatever].  I explained that based on my research the intervention wasn’t likely to lead to long-term weight loss, or long term improved health.  Doctor was unable to provide evidence to refute my assertion or validate her choice of intervention – I refused to give informed consent on the grounds that the intervention prescribed did not meet the requirements of ethical evidence-based medicine and I did not feel that, in this case, the risk of such a procedure was worth the possible benefit since other treatment protocols (like those given to thin patients who have the same health issue) are available which do meet the requirements of evidence based medicine.”

If you feel that your blood pressure reading was too high because the doctor didn’t have/refused to use the proper size cuff etc. , or if the doctor ignored your actual health concerns to focus on your body size etc., you can make a note of those mistakes as well.

Say It Loud

If you have a terrible (or a great!) experience with a practitioner, find them and leave a review – try places like yelp, Zocdoc, Google their name and see what review sites they are listed with, contact the reporting board in your state etc.

Litigate

I know that the idea of lawsuits is not everyone’s cup of tea and that’s ok. For me, I think that when fighting fat bias in medicine on the grounds that fat bias is wrong doesn’t work, and our lives hang in the balance, hitting healthcare practitioners in the wallet might be a good option.  Maybe we should start a legal fund for those who want to sue and/or find lawyers who are interested in helping us find the best way to go about it.  I think that if mistreatment of fat patients starts leading to expensive lawsuits, then we’ll see some guidelines for treating fat patients that make more sense than denying us  treatment until we lose weight.

These things that are being done to fat people under the guise of healthcare are wrong.  We shouldn’t have to deal with them, they are not our fault.  Unfortunately they can become our problem.  Each fat person gets to choose how to deal with this in their lives and all of those choices are valid.  I think that if we want change in the healthcare establishment, it’s going to take a whole lot of standing up, speaking out, and fighting back to get it done from fat people and our allies.

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 January 22, 2015 at 8:44 am  Comments (16)