Fabulous Representations of Fat Bodies

One of the most powerful things that I do to reinforce my personal body love journey is to seek out positive representations of fat bodies.  I live in a culture that barrages me with negative images of, and messages about, fat bodies. It’s important to me that I counteract that.

I was thinking about it today because the Adipositivity Project Annual Calendar is out [link NSFW unless your work is really cool), and, as always, it is awesome! I was lucky enough to be an Adiposer for the awesome Substantia Jones’ fabulous fat positive project [NSFW] and it was an amazing experience..

Splits on Wallstreet

One of my pictures for the adipositivity project. I did the splits on Wall Street while business people stared at me and ate their sandwiches. http://www.adipositivity.com 

Hanging out with Substantia Jones in NYC #curlygirls

It inspired me to take pictures of some of the positive representations of fat bodies that we keep around the house…

I was also reminded of these soft sculptures by Yulia Ustinova on Facebook today (and thus reminded that I desperately want one!)

What are some of your favorite representations of fat bodies? Please feel free to leave links to them in the the comments!

Like the blog?  More Cool Stuff!

Like my work?  Want to help me keep doing it? 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

Book and Dance Class Sale!  I’m on a journey to complete an IRONMAN triathlon, and I’m having a sale on all my books, DVDs, and digital downloads to help pay for it. You get books and dance classes, I get spandex clothes and bike parts. Everybody wins! If you want, you can check it out here!

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

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

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

Published in: on October 30, 2015 at 9:16 am  Comments (16)  

Eating In Public While Fat

Concern Troll Venn DiagramBlog reader Linda wrote me the following question:

When I am with people who eat less than I do, I feel really uncomfortable. Sometimes I eat about what they do and have a snack later. Sometimes I eat what I want and just feel insecure.

This is NOT about anyone saying anything or looking at me funny or anything. I know it is an internal issue, but if you have any helpful thoughts, I would appreciate it. Just knowing that everyone has different needs at different times doesn’t make me feel less insecure.

Or maybe I just need to deal with being insecure.

One of the side effects of the OMGDEATHFATZ epi-panic is that people who have drafted themselves into the anti-fat-person army feel comfortable and justified in judging fat people’s food choices. Whether they are shaming us for eating something that they don’t think we should be eating, or congratulating us for eating something of which they approve, fat people can find ourselves dealing with all kinds of inappropriate interactions involving food.

It’s also not just fat people – our culture seems to have become confused, thinking that public health means making the individuals health and food choices the public’s business.  This was on my mind tonight when I overheard a conversation at the grocery store.  A guy asked a woman “Do you ever judge people by what’s in their cart?” and she responded “All the time!” Then there was a awkward silence followed by each of them rushing to make excuses for the “bad food” that they had in their carts, with an edge of defensiveness. It seemed so ridiculous to me that had been so instantly and obviously caught in their own trap.

This shouldn’t be a thing. If I were the underpants overlord  people would eat what they wanted for their own reasons and there would be no judgment. Unfortunately that’s not the situation.  I think our culture around food can best be described as “Will Perform for Food” with people expected to moralize, explain, and justify our food choices.  This can lead to people, especially fat people, being uncomfortable in situations where food is involved whether or not people are actually judging us.

This, in turn, can lead to us making choices not based on our sense of hunger or what we would like to eat, but based on what we think/hope people will think about us and/or trying to avoid judgment. Sometimes it’s about not wanting to be judged poorly in a work setting, or in a social setting, sometimes it’s because you’re trying to eat with a group of people who have a history of inappropriately judging your food choices (*cough* family *cough*) and sometimes it’s about people who are trying to get “good fatty” points.

It’s important to know that however you choose to handle this is a completely valid choice, and you may choose to handle it differently on different days depending on the situation, your dining companions, your mood etc.

Enjoy exactly what you want to eat, and talk about it as a way to do some proactive activism?  Cool.

Quietly eat way less than what you want and hit the drive through on the way home?  Cool.

When people start talking about why they are eating what they are eating you say something like “There must be more interesting things to talk about than this…how about that local and/or college sportsballing team?”  Cool.

Exit a conversation chock full o’ diet talk and food moralizing with “Guilt about food upsets my stomach so I’ve given it up, I’m going to go check out the desserts” Cool.

You decide to model for people what it looks like for you to have a healthy, happy relationship with food? Cool.

You decide to work on your feelings/insecurity/discomfort around eating in public?  Cool.

I think it can be helpful to look at the messages that we’ve received about food and eating, look at which of those messages we’ve decided are true, and decide if those beliefs are serving us. To me it can also help to decide what it is we want, even if we’re not sure how to get there yet.

For me it helped a lot to think about how much (and why) we care about what other people think of our food choices.  You can also seek out professional support from a HAES-based practitioner (there is a list here.)

Whatever you do, remember that we live in a society that is truly fucked up around food, even more when it comes to food and fat people, and even if that becomes our problem, it’s not our fault. So whether we decide to take the easiest path through the situation, to do some activism around it, or something in between, the choice is always ours.

Like the blog?  More Cool Stuff!

Like my work?  Want to help me keep doing it? 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

Book and Dance Class Sale!  I’m on a journey to complete an IRONMAN triathlon, and I’m having a sale on all my books, DVDs, and digital downloads to help pay for it. You get books and dance classes, I get spandex clothes and bike parts. Everybody wins! If you want, you can check it out here!

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

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

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

Published in: on October 29, 2015 at 8:51 am  Comments (7)  

When Someone Can’t Believe Fat People Can Be Happy with Our Bodies

Doug

Photograph by Doug Spearman Dress by http://www.igigi.com

I received this question from reader Jeanine:

I was talking to a good friend of mine about Size Acceptance and she said “I just can’t believe that you could be happy with your body!”  Except it sounded more like a judgment than an acknowledgment that she didn’t understand.  What could I have said?

This is a weird phenomenon that has certainly happened to me and to my friends who are open about their fat acceptance, and loving their fat bodies.  The commentary can take a lot of forms, usually something like “Well, I can’t believe that you are really happy.” or “I could never be happy with my body if I was your size.”

This isn’t something that I find appropriate for someone to share with me regardless, but I have noticed the same thing that Jeanine did – it’s not really said as if they want to share their thoughts about their own body with me.  What it can often sound like is “I know better than you how you feel about your body” as if it’s a (cowardly) way of trying to accuse us of lying.

The truth is that we don’t always have a frame of reference that allows us to understand other people’s situations and circumstances. If everyone did have this level of self-awareness, then people dealing with alcoholism, depression, and anorexia wouldn’t have to deal with people telling them to just stop drinking, cheer up, or eat a sandwich.

Sometimes we just don’t “get it,” sometimes we can’t get it. It’s ok not to be able to understand someone else’s experience or situation. But that doesn’t make it ok to disrespect them, or to insist that their experience can only be correctly viewed through our frame of reference. To me the appropriate reaction is to listen to those we don’t understand, consider them the best witness to their experience, and either offer them the support they are requesting or, at the very least, mind our own business without acting as if our inability to understand their situation is an indictment against it, or as if we are a better witness to what they are going through than they are, or that they must not be telling the truth since we can’t imagine it could be true.

So, if you say that you can’t imagine that fat people can be happy and love our bodies i believe you, but it has actually nothing to do with fat people who are happy and love our bodies, so please feel free to believe us (and perhaps acknowledge that you simply don’t have a frame of reference that allows you to understand) or don’t believe us and keep those feelings to yourself.

As far as Jeanine’s question about what she could have said, if someone says to you “Well, I can’t believe that you are really happy with your body.” here are some reply options (feel free to leave your ideas in the comments!)

Simple

  • Ok. (perhaps with a shoulder shrug, said in a tone to make it clear that it couldn’t possibly make the least bit of difference.)
  • You don’t have to understand, but feel free to be happy for me!

Starting a conversation (if that’s what you want to do, you don’t have to)

  • I’m happy to try to explain,  but if you aren’t able to get it, that’s ok too.
  • Why not?

Snarky

  • I can’t understand why you would think it was appropriate to say that, so I guess we’re even.
  • I’m not sure why you said that, but I can’t imagine you think it has anything to do with me.
  • Really? What a shame.

The bottom line for me is that we live in a truly fatphobic society and so I’m not surprised if people have trouble grasping that there are people who have opted out of that culture of body hate, but that doesn’t mean that it’s ok for other people to try to pull us back into it.

Like the blog?  More Cool Stuff!

Like my work?  Want to help me keep doing it? 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

Book and Dance Class Sale!  I’m on a journey to complete an IRONMAN triathlon, and I’m having a sale on all my books, DVDs, and digital downloads to help pay for it. You get books and dance classes, I get spandex clothes and bike parts. Everybody wins! If you want, you can check it out here!

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

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

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

Published in: on October 28, 2015 at 10:29 am  Comments (26)  

When Online Trolls Become In-Person Stalkers

21 Getting out of the waterI’ve written before about some of the ridiculous antics of my trolls. My IRONMAN 70.3 last weekend upped the ante, and resulted in not just online troll shenanigans, but also creepy in-person stuff. I’ve gone back and forth about how much of this to disclose – both because it will be disturbing to some people, and because of the idea that you “shouldn’t give trolls attention.” I understand that attitude and it’s how I deal with it most of the time, but today I think it’s time to talk about what’s been happening.

I know that some people may find this triggering and/or deeply disturbing and if you don’t want to read about it I totally support you in that, I’ll be back tomorrow with my usual blog fare.  Regardless please know that all of this has been reported, it is being monitored, I’m okay, and this won’t stop me from my activism, or my IRONMAN goal.

I’ve been harassed every single day for years by these people.  Most message come into my e-mail either sent directly or by blog comment, some are sent by FB private message, and a few are posted on my Facebook page. I delete those that are public and never publish the rest (unless they are interesting enough to make my hatemail page, which I haven’t had the time to update in a while.) They also troll  every interview and article about me, and everything I write that is published online, and I can’t always control the comments there.

A few years ago they started seriously trying to affect my livelihood,  they contact colleges, corporations and conferences that hire me to speak trying to get the talks canceled (including those I don’t make public which is pretty creepy), they contact publishers and people partnering with me telling them that they shouldn’t work with me. They’ve never been successful, which may be why they escalated.

It had started with constantly talking about me in fat hate forums. Then it was creating forums specifically about me, there is even someone who created an entire anti-me website (that is a tribute to rhetorical tautology and obsessive fixation.) That’s when the cyberstalking started. I started getting demands that I justify things in my past –  a quote that was printed in the margin of my tiny hometown paper when I was nine years old, a friend’s nickname, past dieting, my brother’s suicide, lies my father told in an interview, and more.  They try to get me to waste my time and energy answering a constant barrage of accusations and demands for information – it’s like have my very own little birthers and Benghazi committee.

I was doxxed with the excuse that if they were able to find the information then I deserved it, they created and disseminated a map from my home to the place I most often work out, they publish the details of events I attend or speak at, sometimes showing up to try to hijack the Q&A.

When I talk about what they do, they either claim it never happened or try to make it seem like I’m the problem and not them. My choice to do the IRONMAN has caused another escalation from online to in-person trolling and I think it’s important to talk about it so that they don’t get to do this to me in silence.  I’m going to talk about the online shenanigans and also the creepy scary in-person shenanigans.

Troll Shenanigans

The short story of the IM 70.3 is that I took 2 minutes too long on the swim and got pulled off the course.  After changing out of my wetsuit I got my phone and posted to my FB wall:

IM 70.3 was a Total disaster, way worse than my worst case scenario. 2 minutes over the time in the swim, didn’t even get on the bike. Thanks to everyone for your support. Sucks to have a setback like this, but now I have a year to get ready so I don’t feel like this next year at the full ironman. I’ll post a race report in ironfat.com at some point.

My family and I decided to go grab some lunch and by the time we got to the restaurant my FB page was trollapalooza – party at Reddit’s house and everyone’s invited!  They were also engaging in one of their very favorite pastimes – lying to accuse me of lying.  It’s very “meta.”

In this case the lie they had chosen was that I, in fact, didn’t finish the swim. Because they are not an organized army but rather a loosely affiliated group of jerks, things became a bit chaotic.  Some people said that I never got in the water. Some said that I had climbed out part way through. Some said that I had been pulled in by a rescue boat. When the dust cleared they decided to go with the story that I was pulled in by a rescue boat.

Soon people started to say that they were there and saw me being rescued.  My favorite said that she was there and saw me fail to complete the third loop of the swim and get rescued by a boat – which would have been slightly more plausible if the swim course wasn’t a single loop. This went on until my awesome Best Friend posted the picture of me that he had taken swimming up to the platform, and getting out of the water. Foiled again. Except some people didn’t get the memo and continued to post that they were there and saw me get pulled in by a rescue boat. Oops.

This is typical troll stuff, but the fact that they were posting it on my FB was pretty odd.  Instead of filling forums and websites with their hate, and sending it to me through comments and e-mails that nobody ever sees like they do every other day, my trolls were harassing and bullying me in public. So my FB friends were now seeing the hatred and vitriol that I usually try to protect them from.

The only reason I could think that the trolls did this was because they believed their own PR.  For months they had been telling me that if I failed at the IM 70.3 I would lose all of my readers, fans, friends, speaking gigs, etc. They insisted that because I set a personal goal of doing an IRONMAN, the validity of the rest of my work around Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size now depended on my succeeding at the endeavor (and every stage of it.)  I knew that wasn’t true, but I think that they accidentally started to believe their own lies.  Boy were they wrong.

What followed was a massive outpouring of support that has left me grateful, humbled, and crying tears of joy.  It’s a day on my FB thread, messages, and e-mail that I will go back to and read again on the tough days. Knowing that I would probably be away from my phone for awhile, people had taken it upon themselves to address the trolls on my Facebook wall until I could delete them, as well as posting on the wall, and sending private messages and e-mails filled with incredibly kind, supportive messages. Huge thanks to all of you for your support, you’ll never know how much it means to me.

But public online trolling wasn’t the only thing different about this day…

Creepy Scary IRL Trolls

The announcement of the IM caused another escalation, the trolls had become obsessed with every blog post and Facebook post I made, writing about them, tweeting about them, blogging about them, trying to get more information about my training using every tactic from insisting that I give it to them to pretending to be fans of my work. Meanwhile they kept telling me that they were engaging in letter writing campaigns to the IRONMAN organizers and that I would never be allowed to start.

Things got weird after I registered for a couple local triathlons.  I didn’t say anything about them publicly because I didn’t want the organizers to be harassed by my trolls. I ended up not doing them and after the second I got hundreds of e-mails/comments and even some posts on my FB wall telling me that they knew I hadn’t done them, as if I owe anyone an explanation for my training schedule.  I thought it was pretty creepy stalking behavior to have discovered that I had registered for two very small local triathlons, and extra creepy for posting about it online and contacting me to be sure I knew that they were stalking me at this level, but I brushed it off as just my trolls having too much free time.

That brings us to the IM 70.3.  I was standing in the athlete area at the swim start waiting for my wave to go. Another athlete walked up beside me and said “So what did reddit say this morning?”  I was so surprised I didn’t even think about it before answering him. “I didn’t look”  Then I asked, attempting to sound casual,  “How do you know about reddit?”  He stumbled through a story about how he was looking for information on this 70.3 and just happened to see a thread about me on reddit. I said that I thought those people needed to find a hobby of some kind, or volunteer somewhere, and he just looked away. In my experience anyone who has seen one of those forums and is not a troll agrees with me so I found it suspicious that he didn’t.

He then started telling me some story about learning how to swim three years ago. I half listened as I tried to calculate the odds that someone who just happened to stumble upon a reddit forums about me ended up standing next to me in a group of 1600 athletes, recognized me in a wetsuit, swim cap, and goggles, and thought it was appropriate to ask about a forum devoted to hating me, in a way that assumed I both knew about it and checked the forum.

Even though I thought that there was zero chance that this person wasn’t a troll (perhaps mostly because only a troll would think that at 3am on the morning of my IM 70.3 I would be checking reddit to remind myself how absolutely horribly they treat me) I decided to go with the charade that this was just some dude.  I congratulated him on his learning to swim, and wished him luck.

After the race I would find out that prior to the race the anti-me website had posted a minute by minute schedule of where I would be, including updating the site about my choice to wear my wetsuit and my 7:45am start time which I had talked about on my blog.

After my race ended, various forums and websites posted pictures and video that were taken of me and my family, some taken by people standing just feet away from me. Many of the pictures were taken after I had gotten out of the water and exited the athlete area, meaning that they couldn’t have been taken by someone competing in the race.  People online bragged about stalking me and my family, saying horrible things about my partner, my mother, and my best friend and his husband.

That’s when the paranoia started – I lost track of that guy after our conversation, had he been the one to kick me in the face? Had he been the one to grab my feet and pull me under water? When the results were published it showed a DNS (did not start) instead of a DNF (did not finish) I knew I crossed the timing mat so I assumed it was just some technical glitch, but now I wondered if they had they messed with my timing chip.  Laying in my bed that night there was a bright flash outside my window and I had a momentary panic that they were outside my hotel room taking pictures.

Other friends of mine who were there saw some of the people taking pictures and told me later that they got their faces on film. Apparently the stalkers saw this because they immediately started threatening lawsuits if their faces appeared anywhere.  (They’re not just the presidents of the “Dish it out but can’t take it” club, they’re also clients.)

They do it all anonymously, of course. Unlike me and the other fat activists, feminists etc. who they troll, they lack the courage to put their names to what they write. Often they try to justify their trolling – they say I deserve it because they disagree with me that fat people should be treated like human beings, or they disagree with the science behind HAES, or they believe me to be a liar/fraud/devil incarnate, one simile-happy troll recently compared me to Joe Camel.

I think, I hope, it’s pretty clear that regardless of what they think of me or my work, their behavior is ridiculously out of line. It’s a campaign of sustained harassment meant to silence me, to wear me down until I quit..  But it won’t work.  I will not be silenced, I will not be afraid, and I will keep speaking, and writing, and living my amazing life surrounded by love and support, and doing work that makes people’s lives better.  And I imagine that the trolls will keep standing outside, scratching at the windows trying to get in, desperate to feel like they are part of something. And how pathetic is that?

If you want the full race report and pictures from the IRONMAN 70.3  you can find them here.

Like the blog?  More Cool Stuff!

Like my work?  Want to help me keep doing it? 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

Book and Dance Class Sale!  I’m on a journey to complete an IRONMAN triathlon, and I’m having a sale on all my books, DVDs, and digital downloads to help pay for it. You get books and dance classes, I get spandex clothes and bike parts. Everybody wins! If you want, you can check it out here!

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

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

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

Published in: on October 23, 2015 at 9:27 pm  Comments (86)  

Oprah and Weight Watchers, a Match Made In…

facepalmIn 1988 Oprah Winfrey pulled a red wagon full of 67 pounds of fat – the amount of weight she had recently lost – onto the stage in what would become the highest rated episode in the history of her talk show.

In addition to being a powerful woman and a role model and hero to millions, this would be the beginning of Oprah’s journey as what appeared to be one of the vast majority of people who simply cannot achieve long term weight loss, no matter their money, resources, access, or will-power.

From 1988 until 201,1 Oprah would have the experience of almost everyone who seeks long-term weight loss.  She would lose weight, then gain it back in attempt after attempt, diet after diet. But because of who she was, she would have that experience publicly with all the stigma, shame, and mistreatment that comes with it. On the way she “introduced” us to all kinds of so-called health gurus (most unforgivably Drs. Oz and Phil,) making them millionaires while she lost weight, and letting each of them off the hook when she gained the weight back.

I can understand how this might happen.  Oprah was facing tremendous pressure to fit the mold of how someone of her celebrity should look, and she was no doubt dealing with racism and sexism in addition to sizeism. And, like all of us, she was being misinformed about the relationship of weight and health. And, most importantly,it’s her body and her choice.

Oprah is allowed to believe whatever she wants about weight and health and to do whatever she chooses with her body.  Now she’s putting her money where her yo-yo dieting is, choosing to be not just a Weight Watchers member, but also a spokesperson and 10% owner, investing $43.2 million for a 10 percent stake in the company, and Tweeting “I believe in the @weightwatchers program so much I decided to invest, join the Board, and partner in evolution.”

It’s a match made in heaven, if your concept of heaven is a place where people lose weight in the first year and then gain it all back.  Remember that WW’s own numbers show that the average person loses 10 pounds, and has gained back half of that at year two when they stop studying them so that they don’t have to record the rest of the weight gain, having once told the FTC that they wouldn’t do longer term studies because it would be “too depressing for our clients.”

Remember that Weight Watchers is required to have a disclaimer that says their product doesn’t work, every time they advertise it, because the Federal Trade Commission successfully sued them for deceptive trade practices. Remember that Weight Watchers used body shaming to try to sell us a product that they know doesn’t work.

As usual, due to the genius of their scam, Weight Watchers has nothing to lose in this deal. They’ve managed to take a near biological certainty – that people will lose weight short term and then gain it back, often more than they lost, long term – and turn it into a incredibly profitable business model that relies on repeat customers.  WW brazenly takes credit for the first part of the biological process (the weight loss) and blames their clients, and their failed spokespeople, for the second part (the almost inevitable weight regain) finally getting people to buy their product again and defend it, even thought it has failed them, often repeatedly.

So I say let’s celebrate the amazing person Oprah is, and the incredible things that she has done.  And let’s condemn the part of our culture that suggests that she would be somehow “better” at a different size, and that twenty seven years after she hauled that wagon full of fat on stage, she should still be riding the diet roller coaster.

And let’s be honest that, while Oprah has every right to join Weight Watchers, be a spokesperson for Weight Watchers, buy stock in Weight Watchers, get “I Love Weight Watchers” tattooed on her ass or whatever, that doesn’t make long term weight loss any more likely, and it doesn’t make Weight Watchers any less of a scam.

Like the blog?  More Cool Stuff!

Like my work?  Want to help me keep doing it? 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

Book and Dance Class Sale!  I’m on a journey to complete an IRONMAN triathlon, and I’m having a sale on all my books, DVDs, and digital downloads to help pay for it. You get books and dance classes, I get spandex clothes and bike parts. Everybody wins! If you want, you can check it out here!

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

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

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

Published in: on October 21, 2015 at 7:32 am  Comments (30)  

Vin Diesel Gets Fat Shamed

WTF are you doingActor Vin Diesel recently had the “nerve” to appear on his hotel balcony not looking like a retouched version of himself. So the kind of people who have the free time and over-exaggerated sense of self-importance required to comment negatively on other people’s bodies took to the internet to behave badly.

A lot of the articles I saw about this asked readers something like “What do you think? Should we be shaming Vin Diesel?”  I was going to comment but he took the words right out of my mouth on Twitter saying “Body-shaming is always wrong!”

Yes!  This!  A big hot steaming bowl of this! Instead of spending time body shaming people, and then spending time trying to justify body shaming people (including the ridiculous “you put yourself out there” defense,) how about just not doing it. How about spending that time volunteering somewhere, or watching Netflix, or putting something positive into the world.

It’s ridiculous that actors being talented isn’t enough. It’s cruel that we hold them to a standard of beauty that is only attainable through Photoshop and the stoppage of time. It’s oppressive that when actors (especially women) are nominated for awards for their work, all anyone seems to care about is what they are wearing and how they look. And it’s heartbreaking to think about the many talented performers whose gifts we will never get to appreciate and enjoy because they didn’t meet some arbitrary standard of beauty.

It doesn’t have to be that way. There are lots of actions we can take:

Be the Change

Stop negative body talk, starting with your own mouth.  Decide that you are going to be opting out of a culture of body shame.  Stop saying negative things about other people’s bodies.  Stop saying negative things about your own body.

Walk Away or Interrupt

When you hear negative body talk, walk away. Or speak up. You could address it directly “Yeah, I’m not up for trashing other people’s bodies, can we please change the subject?”  or say something softer like “I wish we lived in a world where we could appreciate how amazing all bodies are.”

Don’t fuel the machine

A lot of the machine that oppresses us runs on our time, money, and energy. If saying “Has VIn Diesel Let His Body Go” gets a media outlet a million clicks, then they are going to run it.  The less attention we give those articles, the less incentive they will have to run them. Link to articles that are critical of this kind of behavior, not articles that exploit it. Cancel subscriptions to magazines that engage in this, stop visiting website that engage in this, and let them know what you are doing and why. If we take the fuel away that machine will stop, but we have to overcome the ideas that we’ve been told (very profitably, for many of those doing the telling) like the idea that we can’t make a difference, that things will never get better, that it’s not worth trying.

This obsession with looks and “beauty” creates a climate where body shaming is seen as inevitable, normal, and accepted. That climate hurts us all, and we can all do something to make it stop.

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Like my work?  Want to help me keep doing it? 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

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

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

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

Published in: on October 15, 2015 at 4:58 am  Comments (14)  

Responses to Ridiculous Justifications for Fat Shaming

What a Load of CrapOften when we post something about Body Positivity, Size Acceptance, or Health at Every Size, someone responds to it with a reply that is full of some combination of stereotyping, concern trolling, fat shaming, weight stigma, grossly misinformed discussion of weight and health etc.

So then someone, either the original poster, one of their friends, or sometimes me if I have permission, responds.  They point out the issues with the person’s bigoted, bullying, stereotyping, oppressive rant. Then of course the fat-shamer says “Wow, you’re right! I was a total asshole, let me apologize, educate myself and stop engaging in this abhorrent behavior!”

Just kidding.  Then come the ridiculous attempts at justifying the bad behavior.  Here are some common justifications with responses that I often use (including links to blog posts with more specifics.) As always, feel free to change them to suit you, and your mileage may vary

I’m just trying to help/I’m just concerned 

My choice to post about body positivity/Size Acceptance/Health at Every Size should not be mistaken for an invitation to engage weight stigma, appearance-based bigotry or bullying, stereotyping, or concern trolling against fat people. This is not a tree, fat people are not kittens, you are not a firefighter. If people want your thoughts or assistance when it comes to their body size, health, or anything else, I’m sure that you will be among the first to know. I won’t tolerate your behavior here. See blog post This isn’t a tree, I’m not a Kitten.

If you really love yourself like you say, you wouldn’t care so much what I think.

This isn’t about how I feel about myself, it’s about the fact that if people don’t speak out against the kind of bullying, stereotyping, and bigotry in which you are engaging, then bigots and bullies get to harm people without any push back and I won’t let that happen. See post:  Things That Don’t Justify Concern Trolling

Blah blah blah my tax dollars

I need to see the list of everything your tax dollars pay for, broken down into things you do and don’t agree with, and the interventions you are involved in for everything you don’t want your taxes to pay for. Otherwise, I’m going to assume that this is a bullshit excuse for engaging in weight bullying and this conversation is over. See post:  Fat People and Tax Dollars

You are interfering with my free speech.

Free speech is not the same thing as consequence free speech.  Even if we are talking about the way it works in the US,  the First Amendment says “Congress shall make no laws…abridging the freedom of speech” it does not say people aren’t allowed to speak out against your bigoted bullshit, nor does it say that I’m obligated to give you forum to spread your bigoted views in my space. See blog post Not Open for Debate

I’m so sick of being people telling me to be Politically Correct

I understand why you don’t want to be called out on your ignorance, bigotry and stereotyping, I understand why you would try to couch your choice not to treat people with basic respect as some kind of bold stand for “not being PC”, but I won’t sit in silence while you try to justify your bigoted behavior, I will not be made complicit in your oppressive behavior by leaving it unchallenged in my space. See blog post Political Correctness, Donald Trump, and Fat Bashing  

Why is everyone being so mean to me?  If you want people to agree with you, you should be nicer.

You are not my primary concern here.  My concern is for the people you are harming with your bullying, stereotyping, stigmatizing, oppressive post.  I want to make sure that people who read this can see immediately why your behavior is completely inappropriate. I’m writing here for them. Ancillarily I’m doing you the courtesy of giving you the opportunity to rethink your bigotry, and I hope that you take that opportunity. Regardless of your choice, you will no longer find a forum for your bigotry here.  See blog post:  How Dare You Have Rules

Obviously you may want to couch this in softer terms, or say it more forcefully (F-bombs FTW!) depending on the situation, your relationship with the perpetrator, your own goals for your response, and your own beliefs about what will best help you reach those goals, your mood and how much energy you want/have to commit to this on any given day etc. All of those decisions are your to make.

Regardless of how you decide to handle this, what I would suggest is that you take care not fall into the trap that bigots will set for you by telling you that the reason they are choosing to remain bigots is because you didn’t ask them to stop being bigots the right way. That is some bullshit.

Remember that the problem here is their harmful behavior, not the semantics of our request that they stop that harmful behavior. This kind of behavior isn’t our fault, and though it can become our problem I think it’s important to remember that the fact that we do the bullies and bigots the courtesy of pointing out the issues with their behavior, doesn’t make us responsible for the behavior of bullies and bigots.

If you have any of these kinds of responses that you would like me to address, feel free to leave them in the comments and I’ll add them to the post!

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Like my work?  Want to help me keep doing it? 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

Book and Dance Class Sale!  I’m on a journey to complete an IRONMAN triathlon, and I’m having a sale on all my books, DVDs, and digital downloads to help pay for it. You get books and dance classes, I get spandex clothes and bike parts. Everybody wins! If you want, you can check it out here!

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

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

Published in: on October 13, 2015 at 9:51 am  Comments (7)  

Talking About Size Acceptance with Kids

I’ve had several questions about how to talk to kids about the fatphobic world that they live in. I wrote this post a few years ago and updated it for today. I got a comment from reader Kest about the struggle to help kids deal with living in a fat phobic environment.  It provides a great framework for talking to kids about Size Acceptance and weight stigma.

My kidlet just finished kindergarten… recently the Kidlet has started making comments about how he doesn’t want to be fat…the Kidlet claimed that he was getting these ideas from commercials…I can certainly attribute this to a combination of commercials and the messages the school is sending, but I don’t know how to counter it…How do we address size acceptance with a generation coming up with all these messages bombarding them?

I think it’s an utter shame that the government has decided to focus on the weight of children, putting a “middle man” between kids and their health that doesn’t need to be there and encouraging appearance-based bullying.  It’s particularly disturbing because there is no evidence that it will work, and lots of evidence that it is dangerous.  Kids are also barraged with the exact same 386,170 negative messages about fat bodies that adults are assaulted with every year.  They are also encouraged by the media, schools, even the government to stereotype people based on how they look. That can cause a lot of difficulty for kids who are fat, and for kids who have people close to them who are fat.  It can also be heartbreaking for fat parents.

There is an added difficulty with kids because no parent wants their kid to suffer, so I do want to point out that when people say that they don’t want a fat kid, what they may really be saying is that they don’t want their fat kid to grow up in a fatphobic society.  I suggest that focusing on the weight of the kid is working the wrong end of the problem.

I have neither kids nor qualifications to tell people how to raise kids (though my dogs seem pretty body positive) so, with that caveat, I’m just going to tell you what I think I would do, and also request that you use the comments to add your advice.  If I had a kid, I think I would be having two ongoing conversations.

The first would be about why we don’t stereotype people or treat them differently based on their size, health or anything else. The second would be an age appropriate conversation about how weight and health are two different things and that, as has happened before in science, medicine and society, some well intentioned people are making a big mistake and that we are among the first group of people to realize it, and how that poses its own difficulties.

You’ll need to decide if you want to encourage your kid(s) to challenge authority on this or perhaps have a mantra that they say in their heads when they hear things that they now know are problematic.  There’s also the issue of talking to them about sticking up for the fat kids who are being harmed by all of this (and other people who are being oppressed.)

I would continue to have these conversations, and work to find teachable moments.  I hope that it would be a continuation of my work to instill critical thinking in my kid, and that I could encourage them to look at the evidence about this, ask if they thought it sounded like what happened to Galileo etc.  If the kid has already been, or is being, fat-shamed, here are some things that you can try.

I think that some of the most important things that kids can be taught are critical thinking, questioning authority, the difference between opinion and fact, and the underpants rule. Again I want to encourage you to add your thoughts to the comments!

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Like my work?  Want to help me keep doing it? 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

Book and Dance Class Sale!  I’m on a journey to complete an IRONMAN triathlon, and I’m having a sale on all my books, DVDs, and digital downloads to help pay for it. You get books and dance classes, I get spandex clothes and bike parts. Everybody wins! If you want, you can check it out here!

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

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

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

Published in: on October 12, 2015 at 9:35 am  Comments (15)  

Say Something Sunday – My Birthday Edition

Today, Say Something Sunday, the Fat Activism Conference, and my birthday are all on the same day and if that’s not a confluence of events for fabulous fat activism I don’t know what is! “Say Something Sunday,” is a day dedicated, at least on this blog, to personal Size Diversity activism. 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!

Nothing says “Happy Birthday Ragen!” like standing up to fat bigotry and oppression, so my suggestion for this Say Something Sunday is to post something awesomely body affirming to social media, here is an option (if it’s not for you that’s totally cool, feel free to post something that makes sense for you!)

Fabulous drawings of bodies by Morgan Stanfield

Fabulous drawings of bodies by Morgan Stanfield

It’s “Say Something Sunday,” a day dedicated, at least on this blog, to personal Size Diversity activism. 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!

If you haven’t already, there is still time to register for the Fat Activism Conference. You can listen live to the rest of the conference and you’ll have access to recordings for listening and downloading so you can hear what you’ve missed (like Juicy D. Light and Marilyn Wann mixing Star Trek and responding to fatrassment in a moment of pure genius!) and listen to your favorites over and over again! There is a even a pay-what-you-can-afford option so that money isn’t a barrier to access! http://fatactivismconference.com/registration/

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!

Like the blog?  More Cool Stuff!

Like my work?  Want to help me keep doing it? 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

Book and Dance Class Sale!  I’m on a journey to complete an IRONMAN triathlon, and I’m having a sale on all my books, DVDs, and digital downloads to help pay for it. You get books and dance classes, I get spandex clothes and bike parts. Everybody wins! If you want, you can check it out here!

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!

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

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

Published in: on October 11, 2015 at 6:26 am  Comments (15)  

Lush Products’ Body Positive Ad Gets the Smack Down

ShamelessLush Australia is part of the beauty product company known for using ethically sourced ingredients, hand making their products, and fighting animal testing  (Full disclosure: Their Dragon’s Egg bathbombs rock my world and while they’ve never given me free product, I’m still holding out hope!) Recently they wanted to create an ad campaign to speak out against excess packaging They decided that they could also speak out for body positivity in the same ad  and this was the result:

LushNakedAd

Of course people were very excited to see a diversity of bodies represented, Lush agreed to have even more diverse sizes and skin colors in future ads, and everyone lived happily ever after.

Just kidding!  Some people insisted that it was pornography and that because it was hanging in a store window, rendering them unable to “shield their children” from it and so they complained to the Advertising Standards Board. The ABS conceded that the ad was not sexually explicit, but ruled that “The full body images and the fact that there are four women rather than an individual meant that the overall impact was increased and was confronting,”

So the ad was removed.  Many of the people who asked me to write about this asked if I think people would have complained if the ad was comprised of thin women.  Maybe they would have, there’s no way to know. Regardless, I deeply appreciate that Lush created the ad in the first place, and that they continue to stand behind it.

The Director of Lush Australia, Peta Granger, told SmartCompany “All of us who work for Lush were incredibly proud to stand by this campaign and we’ll continue to address excess packaging and promote body positivity with our staff, customers and the public in a similar way…we received a handful of complaints internally, which is pretty tiny compared to the thousands of message of support, praise and ‘likes’ from parents, teachers and retailers — let alone the hundreds of thousands of people who walked past our 39 windows over the three-week campaign.”

Representation of diverse bodies needs to become the rule, not the exception, and I appreciate Lush for being part of the progress.

Activism Opportunity:

If you want to send some feedback to Lush you can::

E-mail them:  customercare@lush.com.au  

Comment on their Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LushAustralia

The Fat Activism Conference is happening! 
This is a virtual conference so you can listen to the talks by phone and/or computer wherever you are. Whether you are looking for support in your personal life with family, friends, healthcare providers etc. or you’re interested in being more public with your activism with blogging, petitions, protest, projects, online activism, or something else, this conference will give you tools and perspectives to support you  and your work, and to help you make that work intentionally intersectional and inclusive, so that nobody gets left behind. Click here to get all the info and register!

Like the blog?  More Cool Stuff!

Book and Dance Class Sale!  I’m on a journey to complete an IRONMAN triathlon, and I’m having a sale on all my books, DVDs, and digital downloads to help pay for it. You get books and dance classes, I get spandex clothes and bike parts. Everybody wins! If you want, you can check it out here!

Like my work?  Want to help me keep doing it? 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

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!

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

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

Published in: on October 10, 2015 at 6:46 am  Comments (10)