Downsides of Diet Culture

Pie-1-1

Picture of a adorable pug named Biscuit walking toward the camera saying “If I want the Food Police I’ll call Pie-1-1”

Today a new blog reader asked me “I’ve heard you talk about “diet culture” but what do you mean when you say that, I mean, what are the downsides?” Well, unless you are one of the people profiting from diet culture, it’s pretty much nothing but downside. Still let’s look at some specifics:

Conflates size and health, pathologizes some body sizes

Diet culture sells the lie that weight and health are the same thing (despite the fact that it’s plainly observable that there are healthy and unhealthy people of all sizes – knowing, of course, that health isn’t an obligation, barometer of worthiness, or entirely into our control.)  Diet culture seeks to pathologize body sizes (with terms like “overweight,” and “obese”) because it creates a greater market for diet products that don’t work.

Encourages following external rules about what, when, and how much to eat

Diet culture tries to convince us that we can’t be trusted to choose what to eat or how much as if what they suggest instead isn’t completely ridiculous.

Suggests that people are more or less good/moral/worthy based on their body size

We see this in the headless fatty pictures, and in the suggestion that someone’s body size tells us whether we should vote for them.

Creates thin privilege – makes thinness a gatekeeper for jobs/benefits/comfort/accommodation

In telling us that thin people are worthy and fat people are not, diet culture creates a culture where fat people are not seen as “deserving” of the same basic accommodations as thin people – chairs, blood pressure cuffs, seats on a plane, safe restraints on amusement park rides, etc. It also makes being thin the gatekeeper for being hired and paid fairly. It tells us to assume that someone’s size can tell us how good a singer, actor, or dancer they are, or you in a way that makes being thin a privileged identity (even though, yes, bad things still happen to thin people, and diet culture still hurts people of all sizes.)

Suggests movement as punishment for, or prevention of, being fat, rather than for other reasons like fun, or personal goals

Nobody is obligated to participate in fitness, and participating in fitness doesn’t make someone better than those who don’t. But for many of us, things that could be fun hobbies get ruined by a culture that suggests that the only reason to exercise is to punish or bodies for being fat, or prevent them from getting that way. That’s total crap. Many a messy breakup with exercise could have been avoided if people weren’t given such messed up ideas about movement.

Views fat people as less valuable – more risk-able

A thin person goes to the doctor with type 2 diabetes. They are given interventions that are shown to control T2D with minimum risks. A fat person goes to the doctor with the exact same symptoms. They are told that they should have a surgery that amputates part of their stomach and creates disease in the small bit that remains, even though organizations who advocate for this procedure claim that it kills 15 out of 1,000 people who have it (likely a low-balled number because of the tendency for blaming the patient for dying because they are fat.) Those who do survive can be left with horrible lifelong side effects and require many more surgeries, many people gain their weight back, and many people end up seeing their T2D return. Not to mention that fat people are prescribed (highly profitable) medications that could literally kill us, for the small hope of losing just a few pounds. Fat bodies are seen as infinitely more riskable than thin bodies. Doctors seem to believe that the misery that is created by fatphobia means that we are better off literally dying to be thin than trying to live our best life in a fat body (rather than, you know, ending fatphobia.)

Diet culture creates a world that is permeated by discussions of food, weight, exercise, diets. The supposed “right” to discuss these things in every environment is fervently defended.

In diet culture you can’t turn on a radio, television, look at a billboard, open a magazine (or look at the cover for that matter,) without hearing diet and weight loss talk – this is significant because weight loss talk reinforces the idea that thin bodies are better than fat bodies which reinforces all the downsides we just talked about. Diet culture means that you can’t have a Facebook group with a no weight loss talk rule, without needing an army of moderators to delete all the posts of people who insist that, even though they know that the rule is no weight loss talk, they feel that their weight loss talk is special and that they should be able to talk about it.

Diet Culture Perpetuates Eating Disorders and Prevents Full Recovery

In a culture where hating your body and being terrified of being or becoming fat or gaining weight is considered normal, eating disorders can be expected and full eating disorder recovery can be impossible.

Nothing good comes from diet culture. If we want a world where people can actually pursue health by their own definition, prioritization, and path – then they need people to be able to get honest information, we need people (and their families, friends, and healthcare providers) to have the opportunity to see their bodies as worthy of care, and the access to the things that they need to pursue their goals. Diet culture (and the for-profit healthcare system it rests upon) will never allow that to happen. So we need a paradigm shift to a Health at Every Size and Size Acceptance paradigm.

If you value my work, you can support my ability to do more of it with a one-time contribution or by becoming a member.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

 Wellness for All Bodies ProgramA simple, step-by-step, super efficient guide to setting and reaching your health goals from a weight-neutral perspective.  This program can be used by individuals, or by groups, including as a workplace wellness program!
Price: $25.00 ($10 for DancesWithFat members)
Click here for all the details and to register!

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 May 20, 2018 at 9:24 am  Comments (8)  

Asking For Accommodations As A Fat Person

High bar chairsThis popped up in three Facebook messages from readers at virtually the same time today, so I decided it was a sign to post about it. One reader did her research to make sure that a destination that she wants to check out at on vacation is accessible, but is worried about how to ask for it when the time comes. Another was uncomfortable at the doctor’s office because they don’t have many fat friendly chairs (don’t even get me started about fat people and chairs,) and the ones they had were taken up by thin people. The third wanted to know when it’s appropriate to ask for accommodations (spoiler alert: you are obviously never obligated to ask for accommodations, but it’s appropriate to ask whenever you need them!)

Asking for accommodations can bring up a lot of emotions – stress, embarrassment, shame, fear, anger, guilt.  I think that one massive problem is that we’ve been told that asking for accommodations is asking for some kind of favor or special treatment above and beyond what everyone else gets.  Also, as fat people, we are told that we should simply get thin so that we don’t need the accommodations (which, even if it was likely to work – and it’s not – doesn’t help me fit in that small chair with arms for this office meeting I’m required to attend.)

Let’s examine the situation: There is plenty of evidence to show that people are a variety of sizes for a variety of reasons which are not necessarily within their control and that we have no proven method to change size over the long term.  More importantly, it doesn’t matter why someone is fat or even if it was possible to be thin.  We have every right to exist in our bodies as they are, and we don’t owe the world a body that fits in a restaurant booth. The same goes for people who desire or require accommodations due to physical or mental illness, disability or any other reason.

Asking a business for an accommodation is not asking them for special treatment. It is doing them a favor, and one you shouldn’t have to do.  You are doing them the great courtesy of pointing out something that they probably should have thought of already, or at least should be grateful to know about now. The people who opened that restaurant know that fat people exist and eat out, so why didn’t they make sure to have chairs that fat people can fit in? When the hospital opened to provide healthcare to the community they were aware that the community includes fat people; so please don’t act all surprised and inconvenienced when my fat ass shows up and needs a bed that fits me, you should have ordered that bed when you ordered all the rest of them. If people on the plane who aren’t fat have a seat they can fit into, then when a fat person asks for a seat they can fit into they are not asking for special treatment, they are asking for what everyone else already has.

So what can you do about accommodations?  First, realize that you shouldn’t have to ask for them and that if you do you aren’t doing anything wrong or asking for anything special, you’re doing the business a kindness. They should be embarrassed.  Second, you get to decide how this works depending on how you feel on any given day. Let’s use restaurants for example: If you want to be confrontational you can go into the restaurant and ask for a chair without arms and if they don’t have one then ask for the manager, raise loud hell, start a letter writing campaign etc.  Or, if you’re not up for a fight today you could call the restaurant ahead of time and ask if they have chairs without arms or pick a restaurant that you know works for you.

You can tell the host/ess “Three for a table please” to avoid being seated at a booth. Is there a policy that parties of less than four have to sit in booth?  Well, that policy is for other people – how about we cruise on over to that six top so that I don’t have to eat with my boobs resting on the top of the table and my spleen being compressed, you can take away the three extra chairs. Obviously this isn’t just for fat people – maybe you need a seat out of the sun or close to the entrance, somewhere to put your walker, a table that works with your wheelchair, a place to sit in your class that is not a tiny chair with a connected desk, to not have to sit at a long bench with your table super-close to strangers.  You are paying this business money so making you comfortable should be a primary goal for them, not an inconvenience.  If it’s not, then you get to choose what to do. It turns out that fat money spends the same and so if a business isn’t interested in attracting and keeping me as a customer then I take my money to one that is.

You can also help others out by reviewing businesses (positive or negative) on Is It Ample – a site that is basically Yelp marginalized bodies in the US, including fat bodies, trans bodies, and disabled bodies/bodies with disabilities.

Remember that none of this should be necessary, and each person gets to choose how they handle it in each situation. Whatever decision you make is the right one, as long as it’s the right decision for you.

If you value my work, you can support my ability to do more of it with a one-time contribution or by becoming a member.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

 Wellness for All Bodies ProgramA simple, step-by-step, super efficient guide to setting and reaching your health goals from a weight-neutral perspective.  This program can be used by individuals, or by groups, including as a workplace wellness program!
Price: $25.00 ($10 for DancesWithFat members)
Click here for all the details and to register!

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 May 18, 2018 at 9:09 am  Comments (10)  

When Is It Ok To Be Fat?

Actual SizeRecently I’ve seen a lot of people saying things like “It’s ok to be fat as long as you’re happy with your body”  or “It’s ok to be fat as long as you’re healthy.”  The idea being that if a fat person is not happy with their body, or not healthy (by whatever definition we’re using) then it’s time to try to become thinner. So I’m reposting this post as a reminder of exactly when it’s ok to be fat.

First of all, we know that being unhappy with our bodies and having health issues are not exclusive to fat people – there are people of all sizes who hate their bodies, and people of all sizes with health issues, which means that being thin can neither be a sure preventative, nor a sure cure. The idea that if a thin person is unhappy with their body or is not “healthy” then they should focus on things that would make them happier and/or healthier, but that a fat person in the same situation should focus on being thin is sketchy at best.

And that doesn’t even take into account that the most common outcome of intentional weight loss attempts is weight gain, and thus even if someone thinks that being fat is the problem, recommending intentional weight loss is statistically the worst possible advice.

We live in a world where many National governments (including in the US, my home country) suggest that fat people should be singled out, stereotyped, stigmatized, and blamed for everything from global warming to health care costs (actual evidence be damned.) Under those circumstances, someone being fat and not liking their body isn’t exactly shocking.

The problem, to me, occurs when people (often the same people perpetuating fat hate and stigma) suggest that fat people should try to solve social stigma and oppression by changing our bodies, rather than insisting on an end to stigma and oppression. This is tantamount to telling a kid to give the bullies her lunch money and hope that they stop beating her up (when we know damn well that the bullies will always find another reason to pick a fight after school, and find more and more that they can take. )

As far as health goes, health is an amorphous concept, it is not an obligation or a barometer of worthiness. Nobody, of any size, owes anybody else “health” or “healthy behaviors” by any definition,   Health is also never guaranteed and never entirely within our control.  Genetics and the effects of past behaviors (like repeated dieting attempts!) can affect our health.  Access plays a major part– that includes many things including the ability to get and afford things like evidence-based healthcare, the food we want to eat, and any types of movement that we would like to do (in ways that are both physically and psychologically safe). Finally, the link between weight and health (yes, including our knees) is more complicated than what is often suggested by the media and even healthcare practitioners, and the idea that becoming thin is the same thing as becoming healthy, and that  weight loss behaviors are the same thing as healthy behaviors are simply not supported by the evidence.

The bottom line is that it’s ok to be fat. Full stop. No matter what. It doesn’t matter how you currently feel about your body, or your current health status, it’s still ok to be fat and to not try to become thin.  If we don’t like our fat bodies, we have the option (but never the obligation) of working on loving them as they are.  If we are having health issues, we can research the options for dealing with those issues (including asking our doctors the magic question – “what do you do for thin people with this issue?”)

Each of us gets to make choices for our bodies, and if we want to do something regarding other people’s bodies or health we can work on creating a world without appearance-based stigma, shame, and oppression, (or racism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, agism, misogyny and other marginalizations) and we can work to make sure that everyone has the food, movement, and healthcare choices that they want available to them.  And then we can mind our own business, because public health should be about making information and options available to the public, and not about making the individual’s health the public’s business.

Nobody has any right to create qualifications for when it is ok for fat people to exist. It is absolutely fine to be fat!

If you value my work, you can support my ability to do more of it with a one-time contribution or by becoming a member.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

 Wellness for All Bodies ProgramA simple, step-by-step, super efficient guide to setting and reaching your health goals from a weight-neutral perspective.  This program can be used by individuals, or by groups, including as a workplace wellness program!
Price: $25.00 ($10 for DancesWithFat members)
Click here for all the details and to register!

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 May 16, 2018 at 10:57 am  Comments (10)  

Grey’s Anatomy, WLS, and the Thin/Fat Double Standard

facepalmI was watching an old episode of Grey’s Anatomy (I think it might even be from the first season.) That illustrates perfectly an issue that is still happening in the double standard of care between thin and fat people.

In the episode, a girl with an extremely critical and overbearing mother is discovered to have gone to Mexico to have secret Weight Loss Surgery. (Note that this practice is still happening, for example, it was recently discovered that the owners of LuLaRoe were profiting from sending fat consultants to Mexico to have their stomachs amputated.)

The players here are: Dr. Bailey, the resident who is supervising Dr. Grey, who is an intern. Claire is the patient. Let’s take it bit by bit.

After discovering that the girl had surgical scars,  Dr. Grey gets the required scans and shows them to Dr. Bailey where they note that she has had a stomach amputation.

Bailey: Is this girl fat?

Grey: Not at all, she’s a normal college kid.

WT Actual F?  “Normal college kid” is not the opposite of “fat girl!” Fat college kids are normal college kids (inasmuch as “normal college kid” is really a thing.)  But it sets up the foundation for the rest of this episode which is something that the brilliant Deb Burgard first pointed out to me – that we prescribe to fat people the same things that we diagnose and treat in thin people.

 

Next we move to a conversation with the parents:

Grey: Gastric bypass is a procedure normally done on obese patients to help them lose weight.

Dad: Claire? She doesn’t need to lose weight.

Mom: Are you kidding? This means the world to her. But it is so typical of this girl to take the easy way out. She’s done it with everything since she was a little kid.

Bailey: Mrs. Rice, nothing about this is going to be easy. She’s gonna face a lifelong struggle with malnutrition unless she has surgery to reverse the procedure.

Note that if the girl was fat, they would not only be fine with a lifelong struggle with malnutrition, they would have recommended the procedure rather than freaking out and insisting it be reversed.

Next Dr. Grey is explaining to Claire that her parents have agreed that the best option is to reverse the surgery and she balks. Dr. Grey explains that there are “serious complications” and says “This is about your health.” Claire responds “But I’d rather be thin.”

This is supremely frustrating to me because when fat people tell doctors that they aren’t interested in being thin if it means risking serious complications, we are scoffed at. But here it’s shown as absolutely tragic that a thin girl would ask for the exact treatment that a fat girl would be pushed to accept.

During the surgery to reverse the procedure the doctors speak to each other:

Bailey: This poor girl, what was she thinking

Grey: She wants her mother’s approval, she wants to please her.

Bailey (sadly): and this damaage is the result?

Again, not to put too fine a point on it, but if a fat girl agreed to undergo this dangerous, often deadly, procedure to please her mother, doctors would congratulate the mom for helping her daughter make the right decision.

Dr. Grey tells Claire’s mom “I think Clarie is killing herself to please you.”

Then Dr. Grey lets Claire know that she’s called social services to help her parents, telling her:

“You don’t know this yet, but life isn’t supposed to be like this. It’s not supposed to be this hard.”

“Killing herself” by having a surgery that is recommended to fat people literally every day. And I can’t help but note that the behavior that we are all supposed to see as overbearing, overly critical, and harmful from Claire’s mom (because it is!) is behavior that is the recommended treatment for fat people, even by (severely misguided) bio-ethicists.

And I’m pretty sure what she meant to say was “life isn’t supposed to be like this FOR THIN PEOPLE. It’s not supposed to be this hard FOR THIN PEOPLE,” because doctors and plenty of other people seem to want life to be precisely this hard for fat people.

I’m here to tell you that if you are a fat person facing medical fatphobia and doctors who would rather risk your life to make most of you disappear, than help you live your best life in a fat body, life ISN’T supposed to be like this. It’s NOT supposed to be this hard. Your body is never the problem, fatphobia always is.

If you value my work, you can support my ability to do more of it with a one-time contribution or by becoming a member.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

 Wellness for All Bodies ProgramA simple, step-by-step, super efficient guide to setting and reaching your health goals from a weight-neutral perspective.  This program can be used by individuals, or by groups, including as a workplace wellness program!
Price: $25.00 ($10 for DancesWithFat members)
Click here for all the details and to register!

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 May 11, 2018 at 12:24 pm  Comments (13)  

Is There A Connection Between Fat and Cancer?

Whenever anyone claims to be studying the _effects_ of having a fat body, they are also likely studying the effects of constant stigma, and the of a lifetime of weight cycling.More and more we are seeing the suggestion that being fat is connected to having cancer. Some sources lie and say that research shows that being fat causes cancer. Some are slightly less dishonest and claim that being fat is related to higher rates of some cancers. So what is true here? Let’s take a closer look.

What are they actually studying?

These studies look for correlations between larger bodies and types of cancer. Correlation means that the two things often (but not necessarily always) happen at the same time, not that one thing causes the other. In fact, the first thing you learn when you study research is that “correlation never ever, never ever, never ever, implies causation.” That’s because if A and B are correlated, it’s possible that A causes B, it’s possible that B causes A, it’s possible that they are both caused by a third factor, and it’s possible that they are actually unrelated. Implying causation when all you have is correlation is not only unprofessional and unethical, it can be harmful.

What variables aren’t they controlling for?

Studies attempt to control for confounding variables – these are extraneous variables that can ruin the experiment by affecting the variables being studied. In a society rife with weight stigma, where fat people are subject to a government-sponsored “war on obesity” that produces a tremendous amount of shame, stigma, bullying, and oppression, and where fat people are encouraged to diet early and often, there are some variables that can have a major effect on study outcomes that cannot be controlled for. Thus, whenever anyone is studying the “effects” of having a fat body, they are also studying the effects of constant stigma, and the effects of a lifetime of weight cycling (aka yo-yo dieting.)

That means that if something is actually causing a higher cancer risk, it’s just as likely that the culprit is stigma and/or weight cycling, and not body size. If that’s the case then a “public health” message that suggests that fat causes cancer, in a culture where people with health issues are stigmatized, will cause additional stigma and thus more cancer risk. And/or if weight cycling is actually the cause of cancer, recommending that fat people try to become thin(ner) as a way to reduce their cancer risk (when we know that the most likely outcome of dieting is weight-cycling) will actually increase cancer risk – that’s why we have to be extremely careful not to draw conclusions for correlation. The bottom line is that this so-called “public health” message is phenomenally irresponsible.

What Do They Want Us To Do? (Hint: follow the money.)

There isn’t a single study of any intentional weight loss method where more than a tiny fraction of people succeed at significant long-term weight loss. (For more in-depth information about the embarrassing state of weight loss research, check out this piece.) Stomach amputation surgery kills people, and often leaves the survivors with horrific lifelong side effects (you can’t find them in groups with names like “Weight Loss Surgery Ruined My Life.”) So the idea that we should risk our lives purposely create a disease state in our currently healthy digestive system to try to avoid a risk of cancer that may or may not have anything to do with our body size seems ill-advised at best.

If you’re anything like I was, you’ll also be surprised to learn that there is literally NO study that compares formerly fat people who have maintained weight loss to people who were always thin to see if they have similar health outcomes. The study has never been done – partly because there aren’t enough fat people who have maintained weight loss.

As usual, when it comes to the weight loss industry, we just have to follow the money. It turns out that a lot of this research about cancer was funded by weight loss companies, who are now using the research to try to sell their weight loss products. (With thanks to readers Kat and Maria for sending the info on this.)

So What Should We Do?

Just when you thought you were going to get through a post of mine withotut reading this: health is multi-faceted, not an obligation, a barometer of worthiness, not entirely within our control, and not guaranteed under any circumstances. The decision of how highly we prioritize our health and the path we take to get there is intensely personal – and it’s nobody’s business unless we ask them to make it their business. The problem (and the issue that public health needs to focus on) is that currently not everyone has access to the same choices and options because of issues like poverty, oppression, and for-profit healthcare and insurance.

So when it comes to the idea that fatness increases cancer risk, we each have to make our own decisions about what we believe, and how we react.  As for me, I think that bodies come in lots of different sizes for lots of different reasons, and I have not seen any evidence that attempts to manipulate our body size are likely to be effective, and I’ve seen tons of evidence (and my own experience corroborates) that attempts to manipulate body size lead to nothing but yo-yo dieting, and a life that was nothing like any life I would want to live.

Maybe I’m at greater risk for some health issues because I’m fat, but I’m also at greater risk for some health issues because I’m a cis-woman, and because of my genetics, and because of the places that I’ve chosen to live (and the places that I didn’t choose to live as a kid, ) and plenty of other reasons. That’s the way health goes, it’s a moving target and, as much as we’d like to think it was, a lot of it isn’t within our control.

So I’ll put my time and energy into ending medical fatphobia so that doctors will actually give me proper examinations to detect health issues and treat them properly, rather than just diagnosing me as fat and prescribing another diet with absolutely no reason to believe it will help. I’ll put my time and energy into trying to counteract the effects of a fatphobic society I’ll spend my time and energy giving my body my full-throated supported and being clear that, no matter my size, my health, what illnesses I may or may not have or be at risk of having, my level of ability or disability, my body is amazing and worthy of love and care.

If you value my work, you can support my ability to do more of it with a one-time contribution or by becoming a member.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

 Wellness for All Bodies ProgramA simple, step-by-step, super efficient guide to setting and reaching your health goals from a weight-neutral perspective.  This program can be used by individuals, or by groups, including as a workplace wellness program!
Price: $25.00 ($10 for DancesWithFat members)
Click here for all the details and to register!

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 May 10, 2018 at 7:49 am  Comments (9)  

The Dangers of “Fitspo” and Young Girls

Nothing to proveBella Miranda has been an all-star cheerleader for five years. That level of cheerleading is elite and requires an almost unbelievable level of athleticism. These cheerleaders are expected to hold other girls on their hands and balance on someone else’s hands while doing feats of flexibility that most people couldn’t do standing on solid ground. They have to dance, jump, do tumbling sequences across the mat that will remind you of the Olympics, and do a standing back tuck, all while smiling and looking like none of it requires any effort at all.

Bella is involved in track and field, volleyball, softball, and cross country. Her current schedule sees her “in track and field at 3:30 p.m., then she goes straight home at 4:00 p.m. to be at the gym at 5:00 p.m. Mondays are 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the [cheerleading] gym, so that’s four hours. She does open gym twice a week. Some days she does private training for two hours. Every day she trains for two to three hours. At home, she does burpees and V-ups and push-ups. She has competitions on weekends.” Her “fitspiration” Instagram account has 17,000 followers.

Bella is also ten years old.

Her mom Carrie, who helps her run the account, says that she wants her daughter to be “a symbol of fitness” and inspiration for other girls who may come across her posts.

Before I break this down, I want to tell you a little something about me. I decided around 5th grade that I wanted to be a professional clarinet player. I practiced for hours every day while also playing soccer and volleyball, being a cheerleader (the regular school sport kind, not an all-star,) taking dance classes, competing in figure skating, singing in choir, acting in school plays, competing in math and science competitions, and getting grades that would eventually make me valedictorian.

I don’t say this to brag (my junior year of college I decided I didn’t want to be a professional clarinet player, but I did get to play Carnegie Hall, so it wasn’t a total bust). I say this to explain that I was also a driven kid, involved in lots of things, and busy all day too, and my mom supported the hell out of my dreams. My issue isn’t that Bella and her mom have decided on this path for now.

And before anybody starts, I have no problem with Bella’s pictures, poses, or what she is wearing in them. If you are sexualizing a ten-year-old, you have a problem, and you need to fix that, like, yesterday. We need to place blame on abusers, and not their victims.

What I want to talk about is the idea that her mom wants Bella to be a “symbol of fitness” and an “inspiration” for other girls. That’s where this whole thing falls right off a cliff.

You can read the rest of the piece here!

If you value my work, you can support my ability to do more of it with a one-time contribution or by becoming a member.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

 Wellness for All Bodies ProgramA simple, step-by-step, super efficient guide to setting and reaching your health goals from a weight-neutral perspective.  This program can be used by individuals, or by groups, including as a workplace wellness program!
Price: $25.00 ($10 for DancesWithFat members)
Click here for all the details and to register!

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 May 9, 2018 at 8:32 am  Comments (3)  

Dr. Oz – Fatphobe, Charlatan, President’s Fitness Council Member

You Forgot Your BullshitYou may remember Dr. Oz from being “flabbergasted” that readily available research exists. Or trying to make the argument that since every fat person on whom he performs open heart surgery has an unhealthy heart, every fat person has an unhealthy heart (apparently he’s cracking the chests of thin people just to declare them healthy and close them back up.)

You may remember him from his ill-advised fat suit exercise, in which he somehow managed to perpetuate fatphobia while claiming to be the victim of fatphobia and not engaging with any actual fat people.

You may also remember him for being called in front of Congress to admit that when he said things like suggesting that green coffee extract was a “magic weight loss cure for every body type” he may have been, you know, completely full of shit. He finally admitted “I recognize they don’t have the scientific muster to present as fact…”

Well, now this bastion of anti-science and anti-honesty has found a champion in donald trump. donald has appointed him to the president’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition. To be sure, it’s typical for appointments to this council to be famous people (and not necessarily medical experts,) but they aren’t typically well-known grifters who have been brought before Congress to be scolded for lying to the public.

But such is the nature of this administration and fatphobia in general. Sure, Dr. Oz converted the affection of Oprah into his own show, all while being called out by critics (many of whom are colleagues) for being a total crackpot, but the people he is harming are, by and large, fat people, so he’s been allowed to keep doing it, and is now being elevated to a position in a government that is comfortable spending billions of dollars waging war on fat people that wants us thin or dead, and doesn’t seem to much care which.

So just a reminder that this is not normal. This is not ok. Fat people (and all people, really) deserve better than this.

If you value my work, you can support my ability to do more of it with a one-time contribution or by becoming a member.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

 Wellness for All Bodies ProgramA simple, step-by-step, super efficient guide to setting and reaching your health goals from a weight-neutral perspective.  This program can be used by individuals, or by groups, including as a workplace wellness program!
Price: $25.00 ($10 for DancesWithFat members)
Click here for all the details and to register!

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 May 8, 2018 at 9:00 am  Comments (7)  

Making Every Day “No Diet Day”

Success and DietsAs we wrap up another International No Diet Day, I’m reminded of a time when every day in my life was “Totally Diet Day.” I used to hate my body like it was a job – like I was getting paid to do it. It didn’t make me happier, healthier, or thinner – just miserable and tired.  I can tell you for sure that I don’t miss those days at all!

One of the most common questions I get is how I made the transition from diet culture to Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size (which are two different things.)

I recently wrote about it for the Better Humans platform in a piece called How To Leave Toxic Diet Culture Behind And Pursue Actual Health. 

So that was my path, but I thought it would be fun for y’all to talk about the great things that have happened in your lives since you quit dieting. If you are so inclined, please leave all that awesomeness in the comments!

 

 

Published in: on May 7, 2018 at 9:16 am  Comments (7)  

LuLaRoe Founder Profits From So-Called Weight Loss Surgeries

WTF are you doingFour LuLaRoe consultants interviewed by Bloomberg reported that they were pressured by founder DeAnne Brady or her sister Lynnae to go to Tijuana, Mexico and have so-called weight-loss surgery.

Sam Schultz, the sisters’ nephew explained “Lynnae charges $5,000, but it only costs $4,000. You pay her through PayPal, she gets a cut, then takes you to Mexico.” Consultant Courtney says “the sisters referred to themselves as the Tijuana Skinnies.” Stacy Kristina, a LuLaRoe consultant, told Bloomberg “I was told by DeAnne herself that she likes her leaders to be a size small or medium.”

Let’s be clear about what’s going on here: Not happy enough with cheating fat consultants out of their money through her pyramid scheme, LuLaRoe’s leader was making $1,000 a pop for sending fat independent consultants have a surgery that may leave them thin, or maimed, or dead – and nobody knows which until it’s all over.

Read The Full Piece Here!

If you value my work, you can support my ability to do more of it with a one-time contribution or by becoming a member.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

 Wellness for All Bodies ProgramA simple, step-by-step, super efficient guide to setting and reaching your health goals from a weight-neutral perspective.  This program can be used by individuals, or by groups, including as a workplace wellness program!
Price: $25.00 ($10 for DancesWithFat members)
Click here for all the details and to register!

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 May 5, 2018 at 7:05 am  Comments (5)  

One Weird Trick for Swimsuit Season

Pink Argyle Bikini

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

Golda Poretsky (of Body Love Wellness) tweeted;  “Rec’d a link to “How Not To Look Fat In A Swimsuit”. Wld ♥ to see “How Not To Obsess Abt Looking Fat In A Swimsuit & F-ing Enjoy Yourself” several years ago.  The result is this post, which is a Danceswithfat annual tradition. Today I saw my first bullshit “swimsuit season is coming” diet ad, so today is the day I post this.

Seriously, let’s talk about this.  It seems that a lot of the people I know, of any size, start to panic the first time they see swimsuits out on the floor of their favorite store;  their pesky cheerfulness belying what seems like their “true purpose” of prodding us into paying the diet industry for products that don’t work, and considering a move to Alaska.

I’m doing more open water swimming these days (which involves a wetsuit) but when I am in the gym at the pool, I  wear my bathing suit with no worries.  Here are a few reasons why:

1.  It’s my BODY.  I live with it 100% of the time.  It does awesome things for me like breathing, and heartbeat, and swimming and I decided long ago that I am not going to allow anyone to convince me to hate or be ashamed of something that I am with 100% of the time for the rest of my life.  I get to choose how I feel about my body and I choose to

2.  Because it’s a pool and when I go to the pool, I wear a swimsuit. It’s not for vanity (though it would be fine if it was!) – it’s practical.

3.  I do not care if people are offended by my body.  People are allowed to be offended by whatever they want and it’s really none of my business.  I’m offended by people who are offended by my body, but it turns out nobody gives a damn which is as it should be.  It is my BODY, if we all treated each other with basic human respect it would be impossible to be offended by the mere existence of people because of their body size.  The very idea is ludicrous to me. Regardless, it is not my job to protect people’s delicate sensibilities – if they don’t want to look at me they are welcome to follow any of these options.

4.  Hypocrisy is an ugly thing.  It always seems like the same group of people who are telling me that because I’m fat I have some obligation to exercise (which is bullshit by the way) are subsequently offended by my body in a swimsuit.  The message apparently being that they want me to exercise, but in my house with the shades drawn and wearing an outfit fashioned from a bed sheet.  Screw that.  Don’t like it?  Your problem.

5. It is maddening to me that the diet industry makes over 60 BILLION dollars a year convincing us to hate themselves.  They create fear and uncertainty by saying things like “Swimsuit season is just around the corner, are you ready to wear a swimsuit?”  Well, let’s see here…  Swimsuit?  Check.  Body to put it on?  Check.  Yup, I’m all set thanks.  Plus I think I’ll keep my money you bloodsucking leeches.

6.  People can see me.  So they know how big I am whether I’m in a swimsuit, or jeans and a t-shirt.  If they are shocked at my size in a swimsuit, they should have been paying better attention.  That’s just a big flaming sack of not-my-problem.

I realize that my swimsuit preferences are not everyone’s which is awesome.  Not everyone, regardless of size, is comfortable with how much skin a swimsuit shows.  There is no obligation to rock a bikini or a swimsuit of any kind in order to love your body.  Here are some more ideas to help you stop obsessing and start having fun in the sun (or the oh-so-lovely incandescent glow of the overhead lights at the gym).

1. Alternative Swimsuits.  These are often created for women who want to keep to specific religious clothing guidelines or who just want a more modest look.  I did a quick Google search and found http://www.modestkini.com/.  I’m not affiliated with them at all so I make no guarantees, but it will give you an idea of what’s out there (and some of their plus size swimwear is actually modeled by plus-sized women.  Woot!)

2.  Fabulous Cover ups:  If there’s a particular part of your body that you prefer to keep covered for whatever reason, an (aptly-named) cover-up might be just the thing.  Here are some examples (again, no affiliation, check out the vendors before you buy!)

3.  Safety in numbers.  Go with a group of people who make you feel good about yourself and focus on the fun and not on any body insecurities you might have.  Think about how fantastic your body feels when you are swimming, or going down a water slide, or splashing in the waves.

4.  Reality check.  One of my favorite quotes is by Mark Twain “I’ve had thousands of problems in my life, most of which never actually happened”  When I’m worrying about something I try to remember that I am wasting energy on something that is not actually part of reality.  So instead I…

5.  …Expect the best, plan for the worst.  Think about what your true fears are about going out in a swimsuit.  Write them down and then create a plan to deal with each of them.  Are you afraid people will say something mean to you?  Create some scripting and practice it until you feel comfortable. Afraid of chaffing?  Hie thee to Google and read up on the various lotions, powders etc. that can help with that, or look into swimsuits that can help. Worried people will talk about you behind your back? Maybe that’s the best possible outcome since you don’t have to hear it!

In the end of course it’s your choice.  For my part,  I’m not willing to allow my options for fun, activity, movement etc. to be controlled by what other people might think or say.  If my own fears or insecurities are getting in the way I try to find a way over (modest swimsuit), under (cover up), or through (F this, I’m wearing a thong) the fear and insecurity because I’ve found that very often the pure joy lies just on the other side.

If you value my work, you can support my ability to do more of it with a one-time contribution or by becoming a member.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

 Wellness for All Bodies Program: A simple, step-by-step, super efficient guide to setting and reaching your health goals from a weight-neutral perspective.  This program can be used by individuals, or by groups, including as a workplace wellness program!
Price: $25.00 ($10 for DancesWithFat members)
Click here for all the details and to register!

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 May 4, 2018 at 6:46 am  Comments (3)