Bob Harper’s Heart Attack

bob-harper

I wonder if everyone in this hospital gets to bring their dog into the room?

I think this broke the record for fastest time to me getting 100 requests to write about something: Bob Harper has suffered a heart attack.  If you’re not familiar, Bob is one of the original trainers, and now the host, on the abomination of a show that is The Biggest Loser.

He was working out in a gym when it happened and luckily an MD was nearby to give him CPR and use the defibrillator to keep him alive. He was unconscious for 2 days. (At this point I’d like to point out that you can get CPR certified and learn how to use the Automated External Defibrillators and possibly save a life.)

I want to start here:  I’m sorry that Bob had a heart attack, I’m glad that he is recovering (and that he is lucky enough to be able to afford the care he needs – including a 10+ day stay in the hospital.)  I take no joy whatsoever in his health issues.

I also understand, and experience, the frustration that the people e-mailing me and asking me to write about this are talking about.

Because every story about Bob’s heart attack mentions his genetics, and the fact that genetics are a huge part of heart attack risk. That’s true, of course.  The issue here is that you won’t hear Bob telling that to the contestants he is screaming at on the show, and you will never see a paper fall all over themselves to talk about genetics when a fat person has a heart attack.

Bob makes his money telling people to attempt to manipulate their bodies in ways that are dangerous – sometimes very dangerous (and also, by the way, hardly ever work) because, he tells them, it will help them avoid heart attacks.  Bob makes his money suggesting that fat people should be blamed for having heart attacks (as if genetics don’t play a part in body size, or risk of heart attacks,) but now suggests that thin people should not –  even if those thin people participate in under-eating and/or over-exercising which can also predict heart issues.

For the record, I believe in blame free, shame free, future oriented healthcare, so even if Bob’s habits around food, exercise, sleep and/or stress played a part in his heart attack I don’t think that he should be blamed or shamed for it.

This situation brings the following into sharp relief:

  • Thin people have all the same health issues as fat people, so being thin or becoming thin (even if it was possible for more than a tiny fraction of fat people) can neither be a sure preventative nor a sure cure for any health issue.
  • Regardless of anything else, health is not an obligation or barometer of worthiness. Though research suggests that behaviors (rather than body size, or body size manipulation) are the best way to support health, there are many other aspects that contribute to health outcomes that are not in our control (including the oppression that comes from being fat in a sizeist world.)
  • The Biggest Loser is a horrific show in which fat people are physically and emotionally abused and it needs to go off the air. If the show were done with dogs instead of humans it wouldn’t have lasted even a single season because animal rights activists would have (rightly) gotten it shut down for cruelty.  This has nothing to do with Bob’s heart attack, it’s simply a fact I like to point out at every available opportunity.

A big part of fat phobia in our culture revolves around the idea of a “healthy weight” as if there is a weight you can achieve at which you will be immortal unless and until you get hit by a bus.  This does a disservice to everyone since it suggests that for fat people the only thing we can do to support our health is try to manipulate our body size (which, again, is not what the research says) and it suggests that thin people are healthy because of their body size, which is also not what the research says.

What we need is a paradigm that is based on health, not body size, where the focus is on creating a world where people have the opportunity to love and appreciate their bodies, and see them as worthy of care, and where everyone has access to types of movement they want to do, types of food they want to eat, and the kind of healthcare that wealthy people like Bob Harper get. That’s what Health at Every Size is about.  So let’s have a reality show about that.

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Published in: on February 28, 2017 at 7:11 pm  Comments (21)  

Stanford Children’s Hospital Excited To Harm Fat Kids

kids-wlsStanford Children’s center is super proud that “Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford’s Adolescent Bariatric Surgery program is the first and only adolescent bariatric surgery program on the West Coast to receive accreditation by the American College of Surgeons Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program.”

While I don’t believe that Weight Loss Surgery meets basic medical ethical guidelines for a number of reasons, I’m not going to go into that today because the surgery is legal, and I believe that adults should have bodily autonomy. So whether they want to partially amputate their stomach or their arm (whatever their reasons) it’s their own business.

But that’s not what we’re talking about here.  We’re talking about children whose incomplete brain development can make them incapable of fully understanding the consequences of this irreversible choice (indeed the press release highlights patients talking about being willing to risk their lives so that they can “ride a bike” and “shop for clothes at regular stores.”)

It may be difficult if not impossible for children to understand that they are signing on for a lifetime of restrictive eating and supplementation to balance the needs of a mostly amputated stomach while avoiding malnutrition.  They may not be able to fully process the potentially very serious consequences of failing to follow the post-surgical diet and supplementation program – either because they would rather live off pizza and ramen like the rest of their college friends in a few years, or because they can’t afford (or decide they have better uses for) $125 a month on supplements for the rest of their lives, or for many other reasons.

It’s also highly unlikely that these kids have been fully educated on the dangers of this surgery. They’ve typically only been presented with stories of people who are happy that they had surgery, not given a balanced presentation that also includes people who deeply regret it and desperately wish they could change their choice, as well as hearing from the families of people who died.

Nor is it likely that they are presented with the concept of Size Acceptance (such that they are clear that there are options other than trying to accommodate bigotry and bullies through dangerous surgical interventions) or evidence-based approaches to health like Health at Every Size (since there are thin kids with the same health issues as fat kids, but they are given interventions that do not include amputating most of their stomachs.)

These kids will be left facing the very real possibility of a life full of horrific side effects and malnutrition, and it’s worth noting that if that’s the case doctors are very likely to simply blame the patients and their body size. Those patients can also safely assume that they will not be interviewed, or have their before and after pictures trotted out, for the next press release. Nor will other children likely be told their stories when trying to decide if they should enter adulthood without most of their stomach.

Tragically, there is also the inescapable fact that some of these children will die from this surgery. So instead of riding a bike (which lots of fat people do) or shopping in  “regular stores” (and the fact that a healthcare facility would use the term “regular” in this way shows how deeply ensconced in fatphobia they are,) these children will be dead.

Their parents will have to bury them.  Their family and friends will have to mourn them, they won’t ever ride a bike or shop again. They will be tragic casualties of the war on “obesity,” a war that wants us thin or dead and doesn’t much care which.  Dead children will be the legacy of the war against body diversity and actual health-based (rather than size-based) health interventions.

So before anyone celebrates the fact that people who perform a barbaric (and highly profitable!) surgery on adults are accrediting people who perform barbaric surgery  on kids, let’s maybe have a moment of silence for the children who will be killed by a combination of fatphobia and surgeons.

If you wish to contact them about it you may do so here:

The Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health
400 Hamilton Avenue | Suite 340
Palo Alto, California, 94301
(650) 497-8365 | info@lpfch.org

Samantha Dorman
sdorman@stanfordchildrens.org
(650) 498-0756

Kate DeTrempe
kdetrempe@stanfordchildrens.org
650-721-8527

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

Published in: on February 24, 2017 at 2:59 pm  Comments (24)  

The #FATANDFREE Movement

Image may contain: 1 person, textI recently wrote about the serious issues with the Body Positive Movement that Lady Gaga’s post-SuperBowl body shaming brought into sharp relief. A lot of people have since asked me for examples of projects that are doing a better job. I think one amazing example is the #FATANDFREE project led by Saucye West*.

Saucye is an extended plus size model and a fat activist. She started the #FATANDFREE campaign to show that “with total body love comes true freedom”

Saucye created this campaign to not just showcase proud, fat, beautiful women, but to show how embracing your body can give you true freedom. The campaign started on New Year’s Day and included photos with women toasting and making a pledge to live fat and free for 2017! The hashtag is now all over social media with amazing pictures of fat folks, and more live events are planned like the sip and shop party that happened at the self-acceptance palace that is Curvy Girl Lingerie!

To learn more you can:

Watch the video below (possibly NSFW)

Check out the press release

Find Saucye online:
www.facebook.com/saucyewestplusmodel
www.instagram.com/saucyewest

Check out the #FATANDFREE on social media

*Disclosure: I received permission from Saucye and Chrystal Bougon of Curvy Girl Lingerie to blog about the project, including the video and the links.  I approached them, and none of us is being compensated in any way for this blog post.

If you have suggestions for Fat Activism/Size Acceptance/Health At Every Size projects that I should let people know about, feel free to leave them in the comments or e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

If you enjoy this blog, consider becoming a member or making a contribution.

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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!

Published in: on February 23, 2017 at 2:55 pm  Comments (2)  

Fat-Shame, Get Fired

civil-debateAlan Linda was a columnist for a local paper.  Then he decided he would jump on the bandwagon of people who write fat-shaming pieces about sitting next to fat people on planes in his “humor” column. The paper apologized for having published the piece in the first place, and then they fired his fat-shaming ass.

Before 27 constitutional scholar trolls leave comments about “free speech,” let me remind you that “free speech” means that Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech.  It doesn’t mean that newspapers are required to publish harmful bigotry and bullying.  Nobody is guaranteed a platform for their speech, and nobody is guaranteed consequence-free speech.  So you can be a fatphobe, but if you wish to do it in writing, you may find yourself without a newspaper willing to help you get your message of weight-based oppression out to the masses.

In fact, we already acknowledge that there are constraints on free speech based on its effects, because if I yell “fire” in a crowded room where there is no fire, my speech can hurt people and I’m responsible for that. So too, articles that seek to perpetuate oppression are harmful,  so good for this paper for refusing to be used as a tool for oppression.

In terms of the ways that airlines and their passengers treat fat people, I’ve covered that here, here, and here, but the bottom line is that fat people deserve the same thing that everyone else already gets, which is transportation from one place to another in a seat that accommodates them.  If the fact that the airlines aren’t providing that inconveniences thinner people as well, then their problem is with the airline, not with the fat people (and tall people, and broad-shouldered people) who are not being offered the same service that the thinner people feel they deserve and should expect, but don’t think others should get.

The larger issue here is that bigotry and bullying – whether it’s in speech, or writing, or executive order – should not be tolerated.  The argument “I want to oppress you, and you don’t want to be oppressed. See we both have valid, differing opinions and we need to respect each other’s opinions” is bullshit.  “I like cherry ice cream and you don’t” are two valid differing opinions.  “I think that my rights to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and basic human respect are inalienable, but yours are debatable ” is just straight up oppression.

There is no way to have a civil debate about whether or not a group of people should be eradicated. There is no way to have a civil debate about whether we have the right to exist.  Nobody has the right to require fat people to debate them for our lives.

Key to this situation is that the author not only didn’t learn from it, or even attempt to offer an apology. Rather, “Asked to comment on his release, Linda e-mailed that he didn’t understand what the dispute was about.”

For their part, the paper did understand what it was about, and they released a statement to prove it:

Bullying others is not OK. Body shaming is not OK. Racist views are not OK. Homophobia is not OK. The list goes on, but you get the picture. Let’s debate the issues, not make personal attacks on people.

The Daily Journal is more than a newspaper. We are people — people who care about this community and we come in all shapes and sizes. Not one person here at the Daily Journal likes or agrees with body shaming. Ever.

It’s unfortunate that the paper published this in the first place (according to their statement the editor was out sick and the staff published it because it was a regular column, and they’ve taken steps to avoid this in the future) but I appreciate that they saw their mistake and took appropriate steps.

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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!

Published in: on February 22, 2017 at 1:22 pm  Comments (26)  

The Problem With Body Positivity

defendAfter performing her ass off at the half-time show of Super Bowl LI, Lady Gaga was body shamed by the kind of people who think their opinions about women’s bodies matter, and who want to attract other sexist misogynist assholes by taking to the internet to show off their bigotry. Though they are a plague worth ending, I’m not focusing on them today. What I want to talk about are the “Body Positive” responses, because the Body Positive community has some serious problems, and those problems tend to perpetuate exactly what we want to be fighting.

The Body Positive (BoPo) movement as it often appears today is a watered-down version of the much more radical Fat Acceptance movement. BoPo inherited problems that Fat Acceptance had and still has, including a lack of inclusion and centering of the voices of People of Color, disabled people/people with disabilities, and Trans and Non-Binary people. And in seeking to apply the concepts of Fat Acceptance to people of all sizes, BoPo created new problems as well as exacerbating old ones which tend to exclude those who are most oppressed because of their bodies.

You can read my full piece about it here!

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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

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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!

Published in: on February 14, 2017 at 10:16 am  Comments (6)  

Hero Burlesque Dancer Names and Shames Her Trolls

trollsJessica Davey-Quantick, a Burlesque dancer, posted videos of a performance along with pictures of herself in costume to her social media.  A troll started leaving inappropriate comments. By the following morning more trolls had joined in.  According to Davey-Quantick the most prolific troll told her that she should “slit my own wrists and eat my own blubber.”

This is often the time when people chime in to tell the person being bullied that they should “turn the other cheek,” or to “just be positive,” or that they should not “feed the trolls” by talking about what’s happening to them. Each person who deals with trolls and bullies gets to choose how they want to deal with them, and these are completely valid choices.  But they’re not the only choices.

In my experience (which includes everything from the lazy “fatties gonna fat” style trolling, to having entire forums and websites dedicated to trolling me personally, to having people show up where I’m at to video and photograph me and my family, edit: and, in response to this piece, a threat to doxx and harass my partner and her family,) ignoring bullies allows them to bully in peace with no push-back. I’m pretty sure that the person who started telling people that “ignoring the bullies will make them go away” was, at best, never bullied and, at worst, a bully trying to pull one over on us.

Jessica took a different approach. She said “I am over the idea that we have to somehow protect the individuals [involved],” And to prove it, she found the first troll’s father and headmaster, and she let them know what was going on.  The dad started off apologetic and then later claimed his son wasn’t involved, chided Jessica for calling him out, and said that if she didn’t want to be abused she should lock her Instagram account. Sooooo, lying and victim blaming…I guess the troll doesn’t fall far from the tree.

She found greater success with the Headmaster.  It turns out that, as is so often the case, the trolls were children – which doesn’t make their behavior any less harmful, but does help to explain the mentality of doing it in the first place.  Several of them attend Westminster School, an exclusive private school that was “appalled” to find out that their students behaved this way.  So appalled that they suspended the three boys and they’ll be reviewing the boys hand-written apology notes before they are sent to Jessica.

The main troll had already reached out to let Jessica know that they had been suspended, and lost their phone privileges. According to Jessica:

“More importantly, he was so apologetic. And I got this email from him basically telling me he is so ashamed of himself. He is so ashamed that he has done this to his parents, to his friends, that he doesn’t do this normally, and that he’s learned his lesson.”

This is the best possible outcome.  Unfortunately we can’t force internet trolls to grow a conscience, or behave with basic human respect.  One thing we can do, if we choose, is to help them experience the consequences of their actions, thus giving them the opportunity to make better choices moving forward.

For her part, Jessica is committed to helping trolls experience “the army of feminist flying monkeys who descended upon him like a glittery wave of retribution.” She says:

We have to start opening up, because these people who do it generally have private pages and you can’t imagine them sitting down at dinner with their parents and their spouses or their girlfriends and saying, ‘Well, what did you do today honey?’ ‘Well, today I told someone to kill themselves on the internet. Pass the peas, please.’ So we need to take it to their world. We need to make it something they have to own. Not just us.

“I’m probably going to keep getting [abusive messages], and I’m probably going to keep posting and I’m probably going to keep finding their mothers.

If you enjoy this blog, consider becoming a member or making a contribution.

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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!

Published in: on February 11, 2017 at 11:49 am  Comments (31)  

Dr. Platkin of Hunter College Issues Embarrassing Media Alert

diet-companiesWhen I got an e-mail with the subject line “Media Alert: “Super Bowl” Calorie Costs—in Exercise” I rolled my eyes so hard that I saw my brain. It did not get better in the introductory paragraph (content warning for discussion of trading activity for food, and also terrible staff work.)

Dr. Charles Platkin, executive director of the NYC Food Policy Center at Hunter College and editor of [ridiculous website I’m not publicizing] demonstrates how much you would need to do to burn off typical “Big Game” snacks. For instance, you would have to run 49 football fields to burn off just two handfuls of potato chips or do “the wave” 6480 times to burn off 6 Buffalo Wild Wings Dipped In Ranch Dressing. Please see below news release.

Later on it uses the reflux-causing phrase “Is it splurge-worthy?” I don’t know why they would spam a fat activism blogger who has written several posts about the ridiculous things that diet companies say in media alerts just like this, but as long as they asked me to write about it, I decided I would.

I’m going to go into the snake oil salesman that I think Charles Platkin is in a moment, but let’s be clear that his credibility was shot the moment he started listing generalities about calories burned.  In truth age, gender, body size, and body composition are a few of the things that effect how many calories one burns during exercise. So if Kacy Catanzaro, Meb Keflezighi, and Shaq all ran 49 football fields, the calories they burned would be quite different. (Not to mention “two handfuls of potato chips?”  Whose hands – The Rock’s or mine?) Charles’ devil-may-care attitude toward accuracy is just the tip of the BS iceburg.

Just so we’re clear, Chuck is NOT a medical doctor.  He received a Ph.D. in Public Health from Florida International University.  He’s also an ACE certified personal trainer, so it’s hard to believe that he doesn’t understand the basics of how calories work. but I’m forced to assume that either he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, or he’s betting that we don’t. Regardless, it is unacceptable for him to spread misinformation for profit, though it seems like that may be his specialty.

His website is chock full of cheesy fad diet books (and, oddly, two screenplays) with absolutely no evidence to suggest that they have any better success than any other body size manipulation technique (which is to say, basically none.)

The tips from the media alert are equally ridiculous but this one is far and away my favorite:

FOUR SAMUEL ADAMS BOSTON LAGER BEERS = 68 MINUTES OF PLAYING PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL
The only problem is that, according to The Wall Street Journal, there are only about 11 minutes of actual ball playing in a football game.  That means you need to play more than six games of professional football to burn off 4 Samuel Adams Boston Lager beers at 180 calories per 12 ounces.

Fit Tip: There are some great light beers out there. Do a taste test before the game and see if you can make the event more special with some fancy low calorie beers. Miller 64: 64 calories; Bud Select 55: 55 calories; Michelob Ultra: 95 calories; Natural Light: 95 calories; Miller Lite: 96 calories.

I mean – what the hell? The media alert says “the idea is to use exercise equivalents to provide a frame of reference that is familiar and meaningful… ” Playing professional football is what he considers “familiar and meaningful?”

Even if playing professional football was an option for more than .08% of people who played in high school, there are still problems here. Is he talking about “playing professional football” as a running back? A kicker?  A long snapper? (As a band geek I feel compelled to mention that another tip includes “Performing in a marching band” with no suggestion as to whether he means playing in the pit, or marching with a piccolo – or a sousaphone.  Familiar and meaningful?)

Apparently he knows as much about how calories work as he does about beer since he considers Bud Select, Michelob Ultra, Natty Light, and Miller Lite to be “fancy low calorie beers?” Really? I’ll bet the folks at Stella Artois Light are pretty pissed.

I’m not going to go through all of the “tips”, but suffice it to say that nowhere does he take into account that people actually need food and that the food they eat on Superbowl Sunday might maybe, just maybe, be part of that need. Which leads us to the far more serious point:

On the surface it’s funny that a snake oil selling PhD (and would-be screenwriter?) had this media alert sent to a fat activist blogger. But below the surface it’s less about hilarity and more about gross incompetence.  This guy is the Executive Director of the NYC Food Policy Center at Hunter College and he is selling books that are no better than a bag of magic weight loss beans, and issuing media alerts that are based on inaccurate information, for which there is no evidence to suggest that they will create health or thinness (which are two separate things.)

Worse – this idea of “trading exercise for food”, or the belief that one must “earn” food, can trigger and perpetuate disordered eating and eating disorders. You can read a heartbreaking first person thread out it here, a piece by an expert from PsychCentral  and another first person piece here. (trigger warning for eating disorder talk.) His website claims : “This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information.”

Let’s just say, I’m far less convinced.

If you enjoy this blog, consider becoming a member or making a contribution.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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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!

 

Published in: on February 8, 2017 at 10:59 am  Comments (20)  

Super Bowl LI, Fat People, and Hypocrisy

super-bowl-dwfWhen fat people insist that we deserve to be represented by the media in positive ways, one of the ridiculous reasons given for refusing to represent fat people in the media as happy or successful at anything other than weight loss, is that fat people aren’t “prioritizing our health” and are therefore bad examples who must be kept out of the media.

For today I’m setting aside the fact that this is both completely untrue and that it even if it was true it would still be extremely messed up, to discuss the almost unbelievable hypocrisy that is committed anytime this argument is made and, specifically, on Super Bowl Sunday, as I try to explain in this annual DWF post.

Today was Super Bowl LI (for those not into sportsball, it’s the annual championship game of American Football.) It had an anticipated audience over 100 million people. Advertisers paid $5 Millon for a 3o second spot on FOX.  And the event is entirely comprised of men – many of them meeting the (totally bullshit) definition of “obese” – putting their health on the line and risking serious injury in the service of sportsballing better than other men, and winning jewelry.

If we really believe that the media should not give positive representation to people who don’t “prioritize their health” by whatever definition of “health” and “prioritize” that someone is using, then I’m pretty confused here:

First is this incredibly long list of injuries for the past month.

And what about the massive impact of concussions on players future lives (and the NFL cover-up thereof.)

Or the fact that the rate of bankruptcy means that taxpayers will likely pick up the cost of most of the future healthcare they’ll need.

Football players are given massive media exposure despite the fact that they are clearly not prioritizing their own health.  The NFL makes more money than any other sport and its commissioner has predicted that they will achieve $25 billion in annual revenue by 2027.  (That will still be less than half the current revenue of the diet industry but that’s a whole other blog post.)

So if we think that people who don’t “prioritize their health” are poor role models and shouldn’t be represented positively in the media, what was that whole Superbowl thing about?  Where is the hand-wringing that football players aren’t good role models because they aren’t prioritizing their health.  Where are the calculations about how expensive football players (from Pop Warner to Pro) will be – not just with sports injuries while they play, but with the fallout from concussions, and the constant pounding their joints take? Where is the WON’T SOMEBODY THINK OF THEIR KNEES hand-wringing?

Where are the calculations of how much money could be saved if instead of playing football those who participate just walked 30 minutes a day 5 days a week?  Where’s the government-sponsored “War on Football Playing”? And all of that despite the fact that body size is complicated and not entirely within our control and we don’t have a single study where more than a tiny fraction of people were able to change their body size, but playing (or not quitting) football is absolutely a choice.

The truth is that this whole “It’s because of fat people’s health” thing is just a crappy justification for size-based discrimination, and it’s long past time to stop using healthism and ableism to justify sizeism, and to end all of them instead.

If you enjoy this blog, consider becoming a member or making a contribution.

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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!

Published in: on February 6, 2017 at 12:26 pm  Comments (13)  

Damn Right I’m Still Doing Body Positive Activism

fundamentalI received an e-mail from reader Lynnette saying:

With everything that is going on in American right now, and your obvious gifts at politics (your Facebook posts are keeping me going right now) does it still make sense for you to focus on Body Positive activism?

First of all, thank you for the kind words about my Facebook posts. And I definitely understand the question – with everything that’s going on right now it can be hard to focus on anything but trying to keep up with what’s happening, calling elected officials, and keeping our heads above water.

For the reasons below, I’ll continue to focus on Body Positive Activism (and when I say “Body Positive” I mean radically intersectional activism, I mean including and especially fat people, People of Color, Queer, Trans, Nonbinary people, disabled people/people with disabilities, and all of those who live outside the current stereotypes of beauty and/or have not been, and are still not being, appropriately included and represented in body positivity/size diversity activism/fat activism.) Of course I can only speak for myself, I’m not suggesting that anyone else should/has to see it this way, this is just how I see it:

I believe that I have to pay attention to what’s happening, and that we have to organize and advocate for ourselves and use our privilege to advocate for others.  I’m also clear that, while there are differences in the ways and intensities that each of us can be activists, there’s no such thing as “not being political” if you are someone who needs, for example, clean air, drinkable water, healthcare, bodily autonomy, and a planet to live on. Finally I’m clear that those of us who are afforded more privilege in a culture rife with systemic oppressions need to understand and wield that privilege.

That said, I’m absolutely going to keep doing the work I’ve been doing, because our relationships with our bodies are FUNDAMENTAL to our desire and ability to pay attention to what’s happening, organize, and advocate for ourselves and others. We don’t take care of things that we hate, and that includes our bodies.

The more we believe that we (and our bodies) are worthy and deserving – of clean air; drinkable water; space to exist; bodily autonomy; a life without shame, stigma, bullying, and oppression, the more we will be willing to fight for those things and to resist anyone who tries to steal them from us.

If any group or government wanted to take away my right/ability to do this work, they would have to do it over my beaten, bloodied, dead body. So if I stop doing this work voluntarily, I’m just doing their job for them. I’m allowing them to try to convince us that we aren’t worthy, that our bodies aren’t worth defending or protecting. And I KNOW that’s not true.

And I have the platform and skills to get the word out that fatphobia, negative body image, poor self-esteem, and eating disorders (and their intersections with oppressions like racism, ableism, healthism, ageism, homophobia, transphobia, classism and more) will continue to ruin lives and kill people – and if some have their way, the victims will believe that we got what we deserved. The work that I and so many amazing people do provides an alternative to that – an alternative that could literally be life or death.

It’s always been important work. It’s always been work worth doing. And it still is, maybe now more than ever.

If you enjoy this blog, consider becoming a member or making a contribution.

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

Published in: on February 3, 2017 at 1:30 pm  Comments (10)