Thinking About Joining A Gym This New Year?

My Best Friend Kelrick got this figurine for me in a little shop in Astoria, Queens.  Sadly I don't know the artist.

My Best Friend Kelrick got this figurine for me in a little shop in Astoria, Queens. Sadly I don’t know the artist.

As you may have noticed, I’m taking a bit of a break from new blog posts.  I’ll be back with new stuff in the new year, for now, another annual tradition post:  A lot of people make a New Years Resolution to join a gym or to go to a gym more.

This is a, well, let’s call it a unique time of year to join a gym because at the moment gyms are  packed to the gills with people. It does die down – by mid-February you won’t be waiting in lines for equipment, there won’t be a line at the front desk to check in, and you will be able to get a bike in spin class without showing up 2 hours early and tying people to poles in the locker room.

For many people the gym is a big scary place.  I’m a gym rat from way back so for me it’s really more like home.  All the sights, sounds – yes even the smells – of the gym make me feel comfortable.  If you read this blog regularly then you know that I don’t think that going to the gym, or any kind of movement or exercise, is any kind of obligation – whether or not someone chooses to move their body within their ability is absolutely their choice (and is a choice that can be limited by external circumstances) and all choices are valid.  I’m writing this because I just don’t want someone who wants to go to the gym to skip it because the gym seems so unfriendly.  Here is some stuff that might help:

Choosing a Gym

This is a matter of money, vibe, location, and what you need in a gym. Typically more money means more amenities so decide what you want.  I once toured a gym that had a $10/month membership fee but didn’t have locker rooms.  That obviously works for some people, but it doesn’t work for me.  There are gyms that are snotty, gyms that are laid back, gyms that are more based on group exercise and gyms that don’t even have a cardio room.  Some have a pool, some have a pilates center etc.

It’s worth it to take the time to check out the gyms in your area and see what’s available (a lot of this can be done online.)  Some of them will have incredibly pushy salespeople who say that you can only get this special if you sign up Right.  This.  Second.  Ask to speak to a manager and ask what’s wrong with their gym that they don’t think it will stand up to a little comparison shopping.  Then ask for the deal in writing and two weeks to make a decision.  Be prepared to negotiate down to a week or so and your mileage may vary, but this has always worked for me.

Being a Newbie:

First, try to have some old timer empathy.  Imagine if you shopped at a store 5 times a week every week for years.  Then all of a sudden the store is filled with new people who don’t know where anything is, they start moving things around etc.  Suddenly your 30 minute shopping trip takes 2 hours and the things that you buy 5 times a week are all sold out.  Of course it’s nobody’s fault, you have every right to be there and use the gym, and it’s not an excuse to be an ass, but some empathy can help.  I, like many old-timers, are glad that the newbies are there, and appreciate it when we all follow some basic etiquette:

Take a deep breath, everyone around you was once a Newbie too – none of us was born knowing how to adjust machines that look complicated enough to require launch codes.  If your gym offers classes to help you learn to use the equipment, it may behoove you to take them.  If you aren’t sure how to adjust a machine:  Do ask a friendly looking person.  Do ask someone at the front desk for help.  Don’t ask a personal trainer who is in session – remember that someone is paying that person for their undivided attention.

Look around before you just start grabbing things and moving them around. Think of it as a new job, you learn the office etiquette before you start playing your radio, making coffee, taking breaks etc. It’s the same at the gym–figure out what’s appropriate before you re-arrange furniture like it’s “Trading Spaces–the Weight Room Addition”.

When you go into a group class for the first time, it may help to stand back around the edges for a little while to get the lay of the land, let the regulars get their spots etc.  Pay attention to things like how far apart people tend to stand – unless you want to tell your grandkids about that time you got kicked in the head in step class.

People might say ridiculous things to you.  While it’s pretty rare that someone says or behaves in a way that is mean, plenty of people may behave in a way that is annoying.  Some people may congratulate you for starting an exercise program (even if you’ve had an exercise plan for the last 10 years)  or encourage you on your weight loss, even though you aren’t interested in manipulating your body size. While this is a very real concern, I personally think that if I stay home because people might be jerks, I’m the one who loses out in the end, so I strategize.

Of course it’s your choice how you deal with this: thank them while you think really hard about rolling your eyes, use it as a teachable moment for Health at Every Size/Size Acceptance, put Bengay on their sweat towel (that was a joke, please don’t actually do that).  I typically prefer teachable moments, but whatever you choose I would recommend deciding beforehand and practicing.  It’s harder than you might think to say what you intended to say when you are sweaty, exhausted, and surprised by a perfect stranger weighing in on their assumptions about your life choices.

Crap Old-Timers Try to Get Away With

Most old-timers are going be on a spectrum from awesome to at-least-they-leave-you-alone.  Sometimes old-timers will try to get away with the following behaviors.  Here’s what you might do:

Time limit?  What time limit?

This one is usually accompanied by a look of wide-eyed innocence.  During this time of year many gyms put time limits on their cardio machines.  People who’ve been around awhile tend to try to get around this by:  putting their towel over the clock, restarting the timer every 10 minutes, or just ignoring it thinking nobody will say anything.

You can handle this directly with them (excuse me, but can I take a look at the timer on your machine to see what kind of wait I’m looking at?  I’m sorry, you may not have noticed but you’re over the time limit).  Or you can tell the good people at the front desk.*

Opposing Muscle Musical Chairs

A lot of resistance training programs are based around working opposing muscle groups.  Some people like to alternate between the two (one set of biceps/one set of triceps, lather rinse repeat) so they will work on one machine and leave their water bottle and towel on the other.  This is not cool.

You can deal with it directly (Normally I ask “may I set in” – in other regions they say “may I work in” – but if someone is pulling this you can just say “I’m going to set in on this machine” or don’t say anything, just move their stuff and start working out, or ask the nice people at the front desk to deal with it.*

Mine. All Mine.  My Precious.

Some types of weight lifting require the person lifting to use a number of different weights.  While that’s fine, it is NOT FINE to get 12 sets of weights and put them under your bench at peak times at the gym.

Again, I typically come by and ask “Mind if I use this” indicating the weights that I need.  You can also talk to the people at the front desk.*

*A note on talking to the front desk people about your issues.  I don’t particularly recommend it unless someone’s behavior is egregious or they don’t respond to polite inquiry.  Most people will start to act like they’ve had some home training if they are gently confronted.

A last note:  I’ve noticed at my gym, it’s as if every year there’s a “newbie class” who meet each other and then wave and say hi at the gym forever.  It’s not that they all hang out or even chat very much, it’s just that in 2008 they all survived being gym newbies who work out around 6pm, and now they are bonded.  It’s pretty cool.  I’m an early morning or late night worker outer.  We seem to have a camaraderie all our own.  While we basically communicate only through grunting and pointing,  when you lift weights with someone at 3 in the morning a few times a week for a while, you’ve bonded.

A last, last note about the gym and Health At Every Size.  The gym is NOT the only path to fitness.  So if you think it would be fun to take water aerobics or spin class, if you love the elliptical or  the idea of getting strong through weight lifting then I highly encourage you to try the gym.  If you want to move more but you’d rather have a root canal than come to the gym then it’s completely cool for you to find a movement option that makes you happy!

If you want some support, feel free to check out Fit Fatties, it is a fun and supportive group, founded by two fathletes, for people of all sizes who are interested in talking about fitness from a weight neutral perspective.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support fat activism 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 December 28, 2016 at 9:27 am  Comments (2)  

Resources for the Holidays

Holiday Biscuit

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

Every year, this is one of my biggest e-mail days – when I receive the most e-mails asking for help or support dealing with fatphobia during the holidays – from those who are celebrating and those who aren’t.  For some people, the holidays are filled with fun family get-togethers and happy memories and festivities. For many people, it’s very much not.

People for whom “the holidays” aren’t so happy often don’t feel like they can talk about it (or are discouraged from talking about it), which makes it extra suck.  So I just wanted to take a moment to acknowledge that and let you know that this is a safe space, and to re-post some resources, if you have additional resources please feel free to post them in the comments!

Dealing with family and friends food police

Combating holiday weight shame

The Holiday Boundary Song

Dealing with people who can’t handle you setting boundaries

This article was written for Queer people, and has good tips for everyone.

There is a past discussion thread about this over on Shakesville that has some really great ideas and discussion.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support fat activism 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 December 24, 2016 at 9:10 am  Comments (3)  

Setting Holiday Boundaries – In Song!

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

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

One of the most frequent questions I get during the holidays is about how to deal with people – especially family – who are behaving badly – food policing, fat shaming, diet and weight loss talk and more.

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

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

I’ve re-written the lyrics to “Oh Christmas Tree” to be an ode to boundary setting, .

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

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

Oh Boundaries (to the tune of Oh Christmas Tree)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support fat activism 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 December 14, 2016 at 10:22 am  Comments (5)  

Putting the Ass in Aspirational

Reality and PerceptionAnother company has discontinued athletic wear that I use.  This is a big deal – there isn’t a lot of good technical gear for fathletes so once you find something you want to be able to buy it over and over.  So I called them.  The reason they initially gave me is that they didn’t sell enough in my size.

We had this conversation, it’s not the first time that I’ve had a conversation like this. (I’m keeping the company private because I don’t want to get the guy I spoke with in trouble since he was honest with me and it’s not his fault.)

Me:  “Do you mind if I ask how you marketed them?”

Him:  “I’m not sure.”

Me:  “I’m asking because I’m looking at your website and based on all of the pictures on there I would think that you didn’t sell anything over an adult medium”

Him:  Laughs uncomfortably.  “I see what you’re saying and I agree that’s probably a big part of the problem. It’s come up in conversations but [the company] feels that the images on our website should be aspirational.”

Me:  “So [the company] feels that everyone should aspire to be thin and that people of other sizes should not have role models or have a chance to see people who look like us wearing your clothes, even though you sell clothes in our sizes and want our money?”

Him:  “I don’t agree with it, but basically yes.”

Me:  “I know it’s not your fault, but that is total crap.  If there is anywhere to put my feedback, you can let folks know that I buy several pieces of clothing from you besides the one that was discontinued in my size, and while it doesn’t seem like the company wants me as a customer anyway, it’s definitely lost me now.”

Him:  “I understand and I’ll pass it along.  Do you want me to give them your contact info in case they want to contact you?”

Me: “That would be great.”

This idea of “aspirational” images is far too often used as a way to justify reinforcing the current stereotype of beauty which is typically thin, white, cisgender, able-bodied (and which, thanks to Photoshop, at this point is only actually achievable via digital enhancement.)  Representation matters. Seeing people who look like you – whether it’s in athletics, or television and movies, or on stage, or doing whatever it is that you want to do – is important.  Denying people role models who look like them isn’t aspirational, it’s cruel, and it’s oppressive, and it’s bullshit.

We each get to choose what we aspire to, and none of us is obligated to aspire to a stereotype that is used to exclude and oppress us and others. We have the opportunity to speak out against the idea that the choice to exclude so many people is doing anything other than putting the ass in aspirational.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support fat activism 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 December 12, 2016 at 2:40 pm  Comments (13)  

Fixing Bad Fatty Memes

Bullshit FairyThere is a concept in Fat Activism called the “Good Fatty Bad Fatty Dichotomy.” coined by Kate Harding. Basically, it’s the idea that fat people should be treated differently based on health status or performance of “health” (foods eaten, exercise undertaken etc.)  There is a more complete discussion here.  The end result of this is to create hoops that fat people have to jump through in order to be treated with basic human respect by the person who is creating the hoops and judging how well fat people are jumping through them.  It’s bullshit, of course, but it’s ingrained in our culture and it comes out often in memes that are well meaning, but messed up.  Here are some that I’ve corrected:

why-would-you-make-fun-of-a-fat-person

And while we’re on the subject –  fat people’s bodies are not “problems” to be “fixed.” Extra shame on the person who created this for besmirching the good named of Captain Picard.

Original pictures is a fat person on a machine at the gym, photographed from behind with the caption "Making fun of a fat person at the gym is like making fun of a homeless person at a job fair." This image and caption are crossed out, the image is copied on the right with the new caption "Making fun of a fat person or a homeless person is a shitty thing to do no matter where they are. Don't be an asshole."

Another version of this compares fat people in the gym to sick people at the hospital, which is ridiculous since it pathologizes fat bodies and suggests that they have some special need to go to the gym to “fix” themselves that thinner people don’t. Super extra shame on the person who created this for using homeless people as a tool in their bullshit good fatty argument.

goals-based-on-size

This person took the popular meme “confession bear” and turned him into “stereotyping, patronizing bear.” As Fat Activists and Health at Every Size practitioners who have been asked intrusive and clueless questions by perfect strangers at the gym (like “how much weight have you lost?”) can attest, this is crap. Don’t make assumptions about people based on their size – not at the gym, not anywhere else.

run-or-dont

Ugh.  People who are running are not morally better than people who are sitting on the couch. People who run faster are not morally better than people who run more slowly.  We do not have to be “better” than someone else in order to be happy with ourselves.  I blogged more about this one here.

As always, think before you meme and when you see memes that put some people down as a way to prop other people up you can remind the people who post it that it’s not necessary and, in fact, it’s extremely harmful. No more good fatty bad fatty BS please. If you know of questionable memes you are welcome to link to them in the comments and I’ll be happy to take a stab at fixing them.

If you’re struggling with celebrating your body, consider joining us for the 2017 Body Love Obstacle Course!

This year we have two separate options – the BLOC Power Circle – an intense course that includes a series of live calls and is limited to only 10 people, and the BLOC e-Course which is self-paced and utilizes recordings. Both include the same curriculum and are coached by me, Jeanette DePatie, and amazing guest coaches.

“I got everything I hoped and more from this course. I now have an alternative inside of myself – of love and realness – and it keeps getting stronger. This love and realness is pushing out the oppression, and the pain, and body cruelty in my thinking and being. It’s getting so much more fun, interesting and beautiful inside of here! I’m in a growth and stretching phase now, and I’m starting to see the beauty and power and goodness in all bodies, including this one. From my heart and from my body – Thank you thank you thank you.”

Super Early Bird pricing is available during the pre-sale until December 15 so
get the details and register here! 

Note:  if you are a Danceswithfat member be sure to check your e-mail and/or the member page to get your $50 and $30 discount.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support fat activism 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 December 11, 2016 at 11:36 am  Comments (12)  

Old Statue, New Fat Shaming

Archaeologists found this marble figure at a dig in Çatalhöyük, Turkey. According to the Ministry of Culture the statue dates to between 8000 and 5500 B.C., weighs about 2 pounds, and is around 6.7 inches long.

Of course some people took this opportunity to fat shame the statue (because some people have too much free time.) What I want to talk about today is the comments that I saw that seemed to unravel the whole fat shaming argument whilst trying to make it.   They went something like this:

“I didn’t know that they had [insert fast food restaurant, name of soda, type of food] back then.”

Wow, so funny I forgot to laugh.  The thing is, they didn’t.  They didn’t have any of the things that they are trying to get rid of, or tax, in an effort to eradicate fat people.  And guess what, there were still fat people. There always have been fat people, there always will be fat people and eradicating fat people is not a worthy, or even remotely appropriate, goal.

The good news is that the existence throughout history of art that featured fat figures means that we have opportunities to see bodies that look like ours celebrated!

By coincidence, the same day I saw this, I received a package in the mail, a present from Julianne from the completely fabulous LAUGHING GODDESS MAGICKAL APOTHECARY a “gleefully fat and body positive grotto where handcrafted bath, beauty, and magickal goodies await you!

One soap that says I Love My Rolls:

and another fabulous goddess soap:

These join the positive representations of fat that we make sure to have all over our home. 

Bodies of all sizes have been celebrated throughout history and our bodies should be no different! If you have some favorite body positive art feel free to leave it in the comments so that we can all appreciate it.

If you’re struggling with celebrating your body, consider joining us for the 2017 Body Love Obstacle Course!

This year we have two separate options – the BLOC Power Circle – an intense course that includes a series of live calls and is limited to only 10 people, and the BLOC e-Course which is self-paced and utilizes recordings. Both include the same curriculum and are coached by me, Jeanette DePatie, and amazing guest coaches.

“I got everything I hoped and more from this course. I now have an alternative inside of myself – of love and realness – and it keeps getting stronger. This love and realness is pushing out the oppression, and the pain, and body cruelty in my thinking and being. It’s getting so much more fun, interesting and beautiful inside of here! I’m in a growth and stretching phase now, and I’m starting to see the beauty and power and goodness in all bodies, including this one. From my heart and from my body – Thank you thank you thank you.”

Super Early Bird pricing is available during the pre-sale until December 15 so
get the details and register here! 

Note:  if you are a Danceswithfat member be sure to check your e-mail and/or the member page to get your $50 and $30 discount.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support fat activism 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 December 10, 2016 at 11:23 am  Comments (16)  

Santa Fat-Shames Nine-Year-Old

ShamelessLike many children, a nine year old boy in North Caroline went to visit Santa and share his Christmas list. Unlike most children, this Santa lacked the self-control to keep is size-based bigotry in check and couldn’t let the boy go without fat-shaming him.

Anthony Mayse, 9, asked for an iPod Touch and a drone for Christmas when he was allegedly fat-shamed.

“When he got done, he said, ‘Lay off the hamburgers and french fries,” Mayse told WLOS. “And that really just disrespected me, and I felt awful.”

It affected me so bad that I was crying until I went to bed that night,” Anthony said. “And I want to say to him, ‘You don’t want to disrespect a 9-year-old. Even though what shape and size you are, it doesn’t matter.”

I’m so happy that Anthony is clear that this is completely disrespectful and inappropriate. It’s easy to write this guy off as an asshole, but I think it’s important to look at how messed up our culture has to be for a mall Santa to think it’s cool to fat-shame a child.

First let’s look at what he did, then we’ll look at why he did it.

Stereotyping:

He felt that, based on what the kid looked like, he could ascertain what he ate.  Let’s remember that for all he knows this kid is a vegetarian who has never had a burger in his life.  But our culture – from the government down – actually encourages people to stereotype fat people based on how we look.

Bad advice:

First he states his guesses about what the kid eats as fact, then he suggests to the kid that he should stop eating two specific foods.  He never really says what the point of that is – does he believe that the kid will be healthier or thinner as long as he doesn’t eat burgers and fries?  Maybe he should stick to being jolly and taking pictures with screaming toddlers.

Out loud:

It’s unfortunate that he is a stereotyping bigot, but it’s more unfortunate that he chose to be a stereotyping bigot out loud.

But Why?

The question as to why this would happen has, as its center, the fact that stereotyping, stigmatizing, bullying, and harassing fat people is encouraged in our culture. To be very clear – fat is NOT the last acceptable prejudice – racism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, Islamophobia, ageism, classism and more are all alive and well and far too accepted.  So too is weight-based bigotry.  There are a few reasons why I think people typically engage in this type of behavior:

Ego

I find that very often this is about people who want to say that they earned their “Save the Fatties” jacket and commemorative pin. These people need to remember that other people’s bodies aren’t their business, and that they are not the Fat Person Whisperer.

Cruelty

Some people like to be cruel (often because they are desperate to feel better about themselves and trying to get that done by putting other people down) this is an opportunity to do so under cover of claiming it’s “tough love” and claiming credit for the incredible “bravery” of fat shaming children.

They think they are helping?

If this is actually true (and not just a crappy justification for one of the above reasons) then I think that the person is pretty out of touch. I would compare it to a dude catcalling a woman from a moving vehicle and then saying that it was because he really wanted to get to know her. Even if that’s true, it’s still just completely not ok. And intent doesn’t override impact.

The fact that there are mall Santas who think it’s ok to fat-shame children who are supposed to be there to have a joyful experience, the fact that many children (and many adults) believe that they deserve to be shamed and given unsolicited food advice by total strangers, shows us that our culture has a problem with weight-based bias and harassment.  We need to be clear that this is not ok, that there is no justification that makes it ok, and we won’t put up with it.

Announcing the 2017 Body Love Obstacle Course!

Last year 30 people participated in the first ever Body Love Obstacle Course. Some joined on the live calls, and some used the recordings on their own time. Based on their feedback, we’ve created two separate options – the BLOC Power Circle – an intense course that includes a series of live calls and is limited to only 10 people, and the BLOC e-Course which is self-paced and utilizes recordings. Both include the same curriculum and are coached by me, Jeanette DePatie, and amazing guest coaches.

I got everything I hoped and more from this course. I now have an alternative inside of myself – of love and realness – and it keeps getting stronger. This love and realness is pushing out the oppression, and the pain, and body cruelty in my thinking and being. It’s getting so much more fun, interesting and beautiful inside of here! I’m in a growth and stretching phase now, and I’m starting to see the beauty and power and goodness in all bodies, including this one. From my heart and from my body – Thank you thank you thank you.

Super Early Bird pricing is available during the pre-sale until December 15 so
get the details and register here! 

Note:  if you are a Danceswithfat member be sure to check your e-mail and/or the member page to get your $50 and $30 discount.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support fat activism 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 December 8, 2016 at 11:58 am  Comments (16)  

Flying While Fat – Brilliant Documentary Animation

Stacy Bias is an absolute badass.  You may remember her from her Cards Against Humanity expansion pack – Fats Against Humanity, and her amazing Rad Fatty Merit Badges. Well she is back with a documentary animation that perfectly captures the difficulty faced by fat people who are trying to access air travel.

Stacy explains:

Flying is uncomfortable for many people, but when the physical infrastructure of the plane doesn’t accommodate your body and/or the social attitudes of other passengers make the plane environment a hostile space, flying can be a particularly anxious thing to do. News stories about fat passengers often present them as unreasonably taking up space that is not their own, as a problem for others, dehumanising fat people akin to ‘excess baggage’. To challenge these narratives, this animation presents the voices of fat passengers as they explain the challenges of fitting into spaces that exclude them both socially and materially. The animation encourages people to empathise with fat people as fellow passengers and human beings, and to think about the political and economic relations that contribute to this exclusion.

For more reading about flying fat you can check out:

Stacy’s site:  www.flyingwhilefat.com 

Flying Fat:  But It’s Not Fair to Thin People

Flying Fat:  You’re Right, It’s Not Fat Shaming

I will admit that I have some envy of people for whom the hassles of flying are limited to flight delays and lost luggage, and not whether they’ll be left clinging to the last shreds of their dignity by their connecting flight. Still, I feel like we’re making progress and the more the airlines know that fat flyers are here and not going away, and the more our fellow passengers can see us as living breathing human beings, the more progress we will make and the faster we will make it.

Announcing the 2017 Body Love Obstacle Course!

Last year 30 people participated in the first ever Body Love Obstacle Course. Some joined on the live calls, and some used the recordings on their own time. Based on their feedback, we’ve created two separate options – the BLOC Power Circle – an intense course that includes a series of live calls and is limited to only 10 people, and the BLOC e-Course which is self-paced and utilizes recordings. Both include the same curriculum and are coached by me, Jeanette DePatie, and amazing guest coaches.

I got everything I hoped and more from this course. I now have an alternative inside of myself – of love and realness – and it keeps getting stronger. This love and realness is pushing out the oppression, and the pain, and body cruelty in my thinking and being. It’s getting so much more fun, interesting and beautiful inside of here! I’m in a growth and stretching phase now, and I’m starting to see the beauty and power and goodness in all bodies, including this one. From my heart and from my body – Thank you thank you thank you.

Super Early Bird pricing is available during the pre-sale until December 15 so
get the details and register here! 

Note:  if you are a Danceswithfat member be sure to check your e-mail and/or the member page to get your $50 and $30 discount.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support fat activism 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 December 7, 2016 at 10:50 am  Comments (7)  

Trump Appointee Wouldn’t Hire Fat People

Bad DoctorDelos “Toby” Cosgrove, CEO of the Cleveland Clinic, was recently selected by Trump to join an advisory committee that, according to a news release by the administration”brings together CEOs and business leaders who know what it takes to create jobs and drive economic growth. My administration is committed to drawing on private sector expertise and cutting the government red tape that is holding back our businesses from hiring, innovating, and expanding right here in America.”

You may remember Toby from that time he told a New York Times reporter (for an article whose misinformation could be the subject of its own blog post) that he thinks “obesity” is a disease, and that if it were up to him he would refuse to hire “obese” people.  There are massive problems with the idea of considering a body size to be a disease.  There are massive problems with a medical professional insisting that eating less and exercising more “solves obesity” despite the fact that  the research doesn’t, in any way, back him up. There are also massive problems with the Cleveland Clinic’s own wellness program and hospital performance, which wellness expert Al Lewis points out in this great piece.

Those are serious problems, but not the biggest problem here.  The biggest problem is that Toby thinks that “obesity” is a disease,  and he would refuse to hire “obese” people.  So what he is saying is that, as a doctor and healthcare executive, he thinks it’s ok to discriminate against people who have a disease (in this case a disease whose only common “symptom” is the end result of a math equation.)

He is a medical doctor who is literally advocating healthism and sizeism as a hiring strategy, completely disregarding the qualifications of the applicant. And now he is on a forum that’s going to make recommendations to the government about hiring.  Not great news for fat people who want to be hired and paid for our skills, and not based on other people’s bigotry, stereotypes, and misconceptions.

To be clear, donald campaigned on a platform of blatant racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, misogyny, and anti-queer and anti-trans sentiment, was supported and endorsed by the KKK, and has created his cabinet with people who believe the same, so fat people in the US are among many groups who now find ourselves citizens of a country where members of the administration are excited to oppress us.

That’s why it’s important that we not let things like this go by without comment, that we not allow this to become normalized, and above all that we not allow other people’s bigotry to make us question our self-worth.

Imagine if instead of refusing to hire qualified, talented fat people, we refused to hire bigots to consult with the government about hiring. That would be progress.

Announcing the 2017 Body Love Obstacle Course!

Last year 30 people participated in the first ever Body Love Obstacle Course. Some joined on the live calls, and some used the recordings on their own time. Based on their feedback, we’ve created two separate options – the BLOC Power Circle – an intense course that includes a series of live calls and is limited to only 10 people, and the BLOC e-Course which is self-paced and utilizes recordings. Both include the same curriculum and are coached by me, Jeanette DePatie, and amazing guest coaches.

I got everything I hoped and more from this course. I now have an alternative inside of myself – of love and realness – and it keeps getting stronger. This love and realness is pushing out the oppression, and the pain, and body cruelty in my thinking and being. It’s getting so much more fun, interesting and beautiful inside of here! I’m in a growth and stretching phase now, and I’m starting to see the beauty and power and goodness in all bodies, including this one. From my heart and from my body – Thank you thank you thank you.

Super Early Bird pricing is available during the pre-sale until December 15 so
get the details and register here! 

Note:  if you are a Danceswithfat member be sure to check your e-mail and/or the member page to get your $50 and $30 discount.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support fat activism 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 December 6, 2016 at 2:25 pm  Comments (5)  

We’re Fat People, Not Metaphors

Actual SizeOne of the ways that weight-based bigotry is perpetuated is the use of fat people and being fat as metaphor.  Recently reader Jen commented about a situation where this was happening to her and gave me permission to blog about it.

I am the only fat person, in a group of 14 people, for whom issues like alcoholism, drug abuse and domestic partner violence seem to play third chair to the issue of: “at least I don’t look like her.” And no, I can’t prove this, but when half of the examples from the books that the groups’ facilitators use have to be examples of how “not to eat too much”, “because that is a short time reward vs a long time goal” (ie a cookie vs weight loss), I get sort of…paranoid. Like one can BE paranoid about an issue that seems to run 24 7 in every element, aspect and goal of modern American Society.
Seriously, have they NO other examples?

As they say – it’s not paranoia if they’re actually after you.  Fat bodies, being fat, and stereotypes about being  fat are used to represent everything from  greed to laziness to capitalism and more.  Our bodies are freely used for whatever the negative metaphor, comparison, or representation of the day is.  As if we have no feelings about seeing people who look like us constantly used to represent everything bad in the world, or as if those feelings aren’t important.

Our bodies are not yours to photograph and throw all over the internet as a metaphor for anything (or as some bullshit People of Walmart nonsense.)  We are PEOPLE, these are our BODIES, and EVERY BODY deserves respect.

Of course we each get to choose how to deal with the oppression we face. For me, when this happens in person I’ve found that one of the most effective tools is to use confusion, acting like I don’t understand the comparison and making the person explain until the problem is obvious and they get too uncomfortable to continue.

When it happens online, I propose a little bit of simple at-home activism.  Every time you see fat people or being fat used to represent something negative, leave a comment like “Fat people aren’t yours for the metaphor-ing. Every body deserves respect!” If you want to take it one step further send an e-mail to the source of the story – tell them your personal story, send them this blog whatever, but let’s teach people that this behavior isn’t ok.  Also, I’ve found that this kind of activism can reframe this issue for me – now instead of feeling angry or hurt or ashamed when I see this happen, I can look at it as a chance to educate, and advocate for myself.

I am super excited to announce the 2017 Body Love Obstacle Course!

Last year 30 people participated in the first ever Body Love Obstacle Course. Some joined on the live calls, and some used the recordings on their own time. Based on their feedback, we’ve created two separate options – the BLOC Power Circle – an intense course that includes a series of live calls and is limited to only 10 people, and the BLOC e-Course which is self-paced and utilizes recordings. Both include the same curriculum and are coached by me, Jeanette DePatie, and amazing guest coaches.

Both are a step-by-step program that gives people the tools, coaching, and community to create a rock solid foundation of self-esteem and body love, and teaches the strategies and skills to leverage that to create the life you’ve always wanted.

Super Early Bird pricing is available during the pre-sale until December 15 so
get the details and register here! 

Note:  if you are a Danceswithfat member be sure to check your e-mail and/or the member page to get your $50 and $30 discount.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support fat activism 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 December 5, 2016 at 2:53 pm  Comments (12)