Here’s to Us (and Major Georgia Billboard Update)

Before I get to the Georgia Billboard Project announcement, there’s some stuff I want to say:  There has been a lot of friction on this blog the past couple of days as we’ve talked about what we believe and who we are as a movement and I think that’s a good thing. We are working on a paradigm shift, and another word for paradigm shift is Revolution, and that’s not an easy thing to do. I think that one of the most difficult things about our task is that on top of the giant pile ‘o crap that we get from society, there are difficult conversations to have with each other and it can be easy to lose sight of our progress in the midst of all this, so I wanted to remind us of some recent victories:

When Strong4Life started their fat shaming project it took a ton of work to get anyone to question it but that work succeeded as the I Stand posters poured out,  statements against fat shaming were made by everyone from television stars to mommy bloggers to the National Institutes for health, and we raised over $20,000 for a counter campaign.

After all the work the community did around that project, the response to the fat shaming Disney Ride was swift and definitive as experts recognized the shaming nature of the ride and the community immediately responded in news stories around the world.  Disney closed the ride for re-tooling right quick (as we say in the South). We are starting to show the world that the worldwide HAES and SA communities will fight fat oppression and weight bullying wherever we find it.  Mess with one of us, mess with all of us.

The Rolls Not Trolls Facebook community has become a team of people who go into fat-negative online discussiosn and create a coordinated effort to inject a respectful HAES/SA message.

One of the major things that made all of this possible is the online HAES/SA community that is full of amazing activists who are educating, supporting each other, and fighting for the civil rights of people of size. In fact, I’m declaring today to be a “Thank a Fat-Positive Activist Day”.  Consider taking a moment to send an e-mail, facebook, or tweet to say thanks to an awesome activist/blogger who you appreciate.  Trust me when I tell you that this will make their day. Looking for someone to thank?   You can check here for a list of people whose work I love and am inspired by.

Speaking of that Georgia Billboard Project, I haven’t posted an update in a while and that’s because i didn’t want to tell you until I was sure: Remember how we wanted to raise $10,000 for one billboard and they told us it couldn’t be done.  Remember how we raised $21,720.20 in a week and we were super excited that we were going to get a billboard and five bus shelter ads?

Well, Allan – our billboard rep in Georgia – got excited about the project and he got us a deal. On March 26th, SIX (that’s right 6) full size billboards and TEN (yup, 10) bus shelter signs will go up around Atlanta.  The billboards and bus shelter signs will send a powerful anti-shame message and will send people to resource websites for information about the HAES and SA communities.  They will be up until 5/20 and the reach is going to be huge. There are so many people involved in this project – Marilyn Wann and Atchka, who helped initiate the whole thing including the idea for the Big Fat Money Bomb. NAAFA who helped with getting the word out and offered of all kinds of awesome support, BEDA who offered their support in lots of way,  More of Me to Love with their $5,000 matching donation, VoluptuArt with their sponsorship, everyone who donated any amount, everyone who talked about it on Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, and blogs, everyone who designed a billboard – this was a MASSIVE effort of the community and I am just busting out with pride for what we accomplished. I’m definitely going to Atlanta, if anybody wants to join me and plan a fatty & friends pilgrimage to Atlanta to look at our beautiful billboards and bus shelter signs and celebrate just let me know and we’ll get it coordinated. Viva La Billboards!

And I think that this deserves a song.  The song I pick is called “Here’s to Us” by a band called Halestorm because I just heard it tonight and it seems perfect for the occasion.  It has profanity that I happen to enjoy but that makes it NSFW unless your boss is cool.

This blog is supported by its readers rather than corporate ads.  If you feel that you get value out of the blog, can afford it, and want to support my work and activism, please consider a paid subscription or a one-time contribution.  The regular e-mail subscription (available at the top right hand side of this page) is still completely free.   Thanks for reading! ~Ragen

Published in: on March 9, 2012 at 10:28 am  Comments (51)  

Disney and Georgia Billboard Updates!

If you haven’t heard by now, Disney has closed the Habit Heroes ride and it is rumored that they are going to revamp it. If you have a moment and are so moved, you can always send them an e-mail thanking them for doing the right thing!  The response to this atrocity was focused, fast, and widespread – a perfect example of Fatties and Friends Kicking Global Butt!

The voting is over and our billboard is chosen.  Thanks to Sabrina for a wonderful design and thanks to Shawn, Brandon, Geri, Jeanette, and Marilyn for their great work as well.

There are more really exciting things developing that may expand the footprint of our campaign and I’ll tell you as soon as I know for sure!

I’ll be in LA next week.  I’m speaking at CalTech on Wednesday. The event is invitation only so if you want an invitation please e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

This blog is supported by its readers rather than corporate ads.  If you feel that you get value out of the blog, can afford it, and want to support my work and activism, please consider a paid subscription or a one-time contribution.  The regular e-mail subscription (available at the top right hand side of this page) is still completely free.   Thanks for reading! ~Ragen

Published in: on February 26, 2012 at 8:57 am  Comments (7)  

Taking the Fat Out of NAAFA?

NametagThe National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA) was founded in 1969 and bills itself as “North America’s oldest civil rights organization working to end size discrimination.”  It seems that they are considering a name change.

I received a copy of their May newsletter which read:

Life comes with very few guarantees but one of those is that things are going to change. Those of us who have been around for a while have seen tremendous evolution in our world. NAAFA has evolved to its present form in response to the changes in the world. Whether as an individual or as an organization, we must continue to evolve if we are to survive and thrive.

Over the course of its lifetime, NAAFA has undergone name changes in order to better communicate its purpose and goal. This is not a new idea but we believe that it is an idea whose time has come again.

NAAFA’s message is often obscured by the reaction of the public to the name National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance. Illustrating this point are the many rude and obnoxious comments following news articles online in which the organization is quoted. Many members refuse to read these comments because it consumes too many “sanity points” to do so.

With the pressure of society to demonize fat, organizations don’t look at common goals and interests, and disregard NAAFA’s requests for alliance because of our name. NAAFA needs to develop alliances and garner support of other organizations in order to further our goals in the civil rights and social justice arenas. We cannot continue to bury our heads in the sand and believe this problem will resolve itself. For us to affect change, we must be taken seriously.

NAAFA recently entered into an agreement with a public relations firm to seek corporate sponsorship for NAAFA’s annual convention and on-going programs. Sadly, its efforts were fruitless and, in most cases, the corporations indicated their objection, not to the mission, but to our organization’s name. This firm has recommended swift action to change the name of NAAFA.

Our mission is EQUALITY AT EVERY SIZE. The NAAFA Board of Directors believes that it is important that the organization’s name reflect its mission and goal. What do you think? pr@naafa.org

They’ve asked for thoughts, here are mine:

Full disclosure – I feel like I have a positive, if slightly complicated, relationship with NAAFA that I want to be open and transparent about.  There are amazing people in NAAFA doing excellent work and I appreciate them and respect what they do. The organization was very helpful with the Georgia Billboard Project and other projects that I’ve been involved with, and I was a super workshop speaker at last year’s NAAFA convention.  That said, I choose not to be a member of NAAFA predominantly because of the decision of the board not to hold elections at the National level.  Their chapters are required to have yearly elections and term limits, but the National Board has neither, describing themselves as member funded and board run.

While they are, of course, allowed to run the organization like this, I just don’t personally want to pay membership dues and lend my name to an organization where I have no direct way to influence policies, decisions, leadership etc., and where the National leaders don’t hold themselves to the best practices that they demand from local chapters.  Obviously the fact that it doesn’t work for me doesn’t make it wrong and I don’t expect that every organization will comport itself to my liking, and while I don’t want to be a member at this time, I do very much want to see NAAFA survive and succeed and I think that this name decision is an important one, which is why I wanted to write about it.

Mine is just one opinion and I sincerely appreciate their invitation to share thoughts before they make this major decision.   Remember that they are currently giving everyone a chance to share their thoughts about the name change at pr@naafa.org

As far as the name change, I’m a bit confused about the reason.  Are they trying to stop rude and obnoxious comments?  Is it because they want corporate money?  Or is it that organizations truly don’t want to work with them because they have fat in the name? Or maybe all three?  Let’s take them one by one:

As someone who runs websites for DancesWithFat, More Cabaret, the Size Diversity Task Force, I can tell you that, in my experience, any attempt at suggesting that fat people should be treated with basic human decency will meet with “rude and obnoxious comments” whether or not you actually use the word fat, so I’m not sure that a name change will do anything about that – for that you need to call the jackass whisperer and, try as I might, I can’t find the number.

If they are looking for corporate money I would suggest that, from my perspective based on what I read in the newsletter (and there may be information I don’t have here),  it seems that they hired a PR firm which was completely unsuccessful, who then blamed their lack of success on the name of the organization, and recommended a name change.  If that’s the case and if it were me, I would be leery of making failed salespeople into branding consultants, and might suggest that it could be worth it to try another PR firm.

If the concern is that other organizations won’t work with them because the word fat is in the name and, as they say “we cannot continue to bury our heads in the sand and believe this problem will resolve itself. For us to affect change, we must be taken seriously” then there are tough choices to be made.  I don’t think anyone’s asking them to bury their heads in the sand and I appreciate the difficult situation they are in,  but I also don’t think that “taken seriously” is the same thing as “backed down based on outside pressure”.  There is a choice here as to whether the name issue is, in and of itself, an opportunity for activism; or if it’s better to change the name in the hopes of gaining cooperation from organizations who would otherwise refuse to work with NAAFA because of their chosen identity.  Both are legitimate choices depending on goals, but I personally hope that they at least have the guarantee of that cooperation before making such a sacrifice –  it would be a shame to change the name only to be given another excuse as to why cooperation isn’t possible.

The NAAFA Constitution states

We choose to use the word fat to describe ourselves in order to remove the negative connotations normally associated with larger-than-average body size.
So I wonder how this name change would affect that sentiment?  It’s not that the strategy might not work, but I am concerned about the statement it makes – that we started out specifically reclaiming the word fat, but are now disavowing it. Are we to understand that they are suggesting that members do the same thing – that as a community we should stop calling ourselves fat because people and corporations may not like it?  Or is this just for the organization and not for its members? That said, there are people who would qualify as “fat” based on many definitions but do not choose to identify with the word, should we choose a path that gives them more opportunities to embrace a fat identity and remove the negative connotations, or change the name to bring down the barrier?
I fully acknowledge that it’s a difficult decision.  I do believe that there is a case to be made for inclusive language.  I was one of many people involved in naming the Size Diversity Task Force and we were specifically looking for a name that acknowledged that fat-phobia hurts us all and that spoke to not only fat-identified people, but also those who want to fight for justice in this arena who don’t identify as fat.  I was also involved in naming the Fit Fatties Forum and, though we are open to people of all sizes, we specifically chose to use the word fat because we wanted to claim a fat space in the fitness world.  Both decisions were cheered by some and criticized by others, none of whom were wrong. I empathize with the Board in that, whatever decision they make, they will meet with both support and criticism.
My concern here isn’t so much about a name, it’s about a name change.  They mentioned in the newsletter that there have been name changes  – the original name I found was the National Association to Aid Fat Americans, so it seems to me like it has been tied to the word “fat” since the beginning, and I am concerned about what it says that such an old and prestigious organization would makes a conscious, deliberate, and public move away from identifying as fat.  I wonder if they might end up trading criticisms – from being criticized for choosing a reclaiming identity, to being criticized for disavowing a reclaiming identity, thus making it a wash in the end.
Of course there pros and cons to either choice, and I obviously don’t have all the answers, I’m just trying to think it through.  If it were my decision, I don’t think that I would do it.  I don’t believe that corporate cooperation is worth disavowing a fat identity.  But then, identifying as fat is important to me and I recognize that it’s not important to everyone.   These are just my thoughts, if you want the NAAFA board to hear yours, remember that you can send your feedback to pr@naafa.org   In the meantime I wish the NAAFA board the best of luck and the greatest success in this and all of the work they do.
Update: 6/14/13
The leader of NAAFA was quoted in the media saying “The reason the word ‘fat’ was kept in the structure of our communications was it was an attempt to reclaim the word so it wasn’t seen as a bad word. Unfortunately, that part of the media war has been lost.” I don’t care what name NAAFA chooses, I am very concerned  that their leader seems to think that because they didn’t get something done “the battle is lost.” It’s fine if they aren’t up to this fight, I don’t think they are obligated to fight it. I just think it’s important that they be clear that just because they couldn’t get it done, or no longer want to try, doesn’t mean “the battle is lost”.

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Published in: on May 21, 2013 at 10:43 am  Comments (29)  

Fat Dating

JR in Muir Woods

I won the dating lottery.

When I heard about Golda Poretsky’s new master class on body positive dating, I was really happy – I think it’s a subject that doesn’t get talked about enough and can be really tricky.  I get reader questions about it  from time to time but I’m the opposite of an expert when it comes to fat dating – I’ve managed to luck my way into an amazing relationship but it’s not because I have any game, or any expertise when it comes to dating.

For me the difficulty with dating fat was that it wasn’t just about my body acceptance and how I felt about myself.  As a fat woman my potential partners live in a culture that tells them that my body is not just completely unattractive but in fact a moral failing and that to choose to date me is to open themselves up to the same social stigma with which I am currently .

That sucks, but it’s important to remember that there is a nothing “wrong” with our bodies that a little culture shift can’t fix (which is to say that there is nothing wrong with our bodies at all) – and that the cure for social stigma is ending social stigma and not weight loss.  Still here we are, with a dating pool inundated with the message that fat=bad.

Social stigma related to dating has something in common with all social stigma related to being fat – it is highly profitable for the diet industry.  The fear of not finding a mate sometimes means that people who might otherwise look at their abysmal success rate and take a pass instead go back again and again.  I have definitely wondered how far this idea that you must be thin to get a mate sets the Health at Every Size movement back?  I know people who have chosen to do what they consider to be unhealthy things to their bodies to be thin, even temporarily,  in the hopes of finding a partner.  (Knowing that if they succeed they may be setting themselves up for heartbreak in 2-5 years when they’ve gained the weight back ).

Then there are our own standards when we decide who we date.  I’ll speak for myself on this one.  I refused to date anyone who is interested in me in spite of my body.  (I inadvertently did it once and it was a disaster.)  I was also once part of a dating experiment that a grad student was doing and we self-selected into one of three groups.  A group who made being fat the first thing that they talked about on their profile, a group who made it part of the profile but not the first thing, and a third group who avoided telling people that they were fat until it became unavoidable.  In discussions that we had, the women in group three believed that their only chance was to get someone to fall in love with their personality enough to overlook their bodies.

If it works for them that’s completely cool, but I was committed that before I would date someone who felt that my body needed to be overlooked, I would get a bunch of rescue Great Danes and grow old as the weird dog lady.  On the other hand I was not willing to date someone who only loved me for my body.  With some regularity I get e-mails from guys (I’ve so far only received them from men) saying something to the effect of “I didn’t read the blog but I saw your picture and you are just so damn hot, let’s get it on”.  Um, no.

Obviously dating is not necessarily a walk in the park at any size,  I had to acknowledge that being fat may indeed have made dating more difficult. But looking at it logically my options were: to date someone who was willing to “overlook” my body, or to try something that fails 95% of the time in the hopes of attracting a mate who wouldn’t consider dating me as I am now, and then rolling the dice that they won’t leave me if I am one of the 95% who gains their weight back (As I had been so many times in the past), or to hold out for someone who was interested in all of me.  I chose option three.  I know I am extremely lucky to have found such a wonderful partner, but my choice also included an  understanding that I agreed with the old adage “better alone than in bad company.”

If you’re in an awesome relationship then today might be a great day to leave a comment and tell us about it!  Also, check out the Museum of Fat Love.If you’re dealing with dating, then you might want to check out Golda’s Body Positive Dating Masterclass.

February Speaking Schedule:  If you are at Dartmouth, Mount Holyoke, Amherst, Smith, or UMass Amherst, I’ll be seeing you later this month – final schedules to be published soon. If you would like me to give a talk at your University or company just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org. It’s totally ok if you’re not sure how to get it done, we can work through it together!

Like the blog?  Here’s more of my stuff:

The Book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

The Dance Class DVDs:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs (hint:  Free shipping was supposed to end on Monday but I haven’t had a chance to make the changes to the pricing so there’s still free shipping until I get it done)!  Click here for the details

Become a Member, Support My Projects, and Get Special Deals from Size Positive Businesses

I do size acceptance activism full time.  A lot what I do, like answering over 4,000 e-mails from readers each month, giving talks to groups who can’t afford to pay, and running projects like the Georgia Billboard Campaign etc. is unpaid, so I created a membership program so that people who read the blog and feel they get value out of it and want to  support the work I do can become members for ten bucks a month  To make that even cooler, I’ve now added a component called “DancesWithFat Deals” which are special deals to my members from size positive merchants. Once you are a member I send out an e-mail once a month with the various deals and how to redeem them – your contact info always stays completely private.

Published in: on February 2, 2013 at 2:50 pm  Comments (91)  

Disney Does It Better – Activism Works

OrganizeYou may remember the Disney “Habit Heroes” debacle – a “ride” where bad habits were represented by fat people who kids defeated with the help of “Will Power” and “Callie Stenics” and the character played by the kids started out as a fat kid who got progressively skinnier as the game progressed.  In short, it was an unmitigated disaster.  The readers of this blog were part of a successful protest that lead to Disney closing the attraction for revamping.

The ride is now revamped and re-opened. The bad habits are now represented by cartoon icons – like flames to represent dehydration, Will and Callie are gone, as is the shrinking kid. Participants now work with Director Jin and her agents Fuel, Quench and Dynamo to fight bad habits with fruits and vegetables, activity, and water.

I see this as proof not only that activism works and that people are capable of hearing our message, but that it is possible to talk to kid’s about healthy habits in a way that makes it fun, and doesn’t shame kids for their bodies.

If you get a chance and want to thank Disney, you can shoot them an e-mail at TWDC.Corp.Communications@disney.com

While I’m doing updates, people of all sizes, ages, and fitness levels have pooled their miles and minutes of activities and the Fit Fatties Across America effort has reached Parachute, Colorado.  You can add your miles and or minutes of activity to help us get to Los Angeles…then see what happens next.  Check it out at the Fit Fatties Forum!

The Size Diversity Task Force’s project to create a Guinness World Record paper mache sculpture entirely out of pages from diet books is off to a big start.  Thanks to donations of books and money from around the world, including a big donation from Brenda Oelbaum, we have over 14,000 pages so far.  If this project strikes your fancy,  there are lots of ways to participate – even if you don’t have diet books to donate.  (And hey – you can also join the Size Diversity Task Force  – a member-run organization that advocates for equal rights and social justice for people of all sizes, weights, shapes, and abilities and believes that everyone has something to offer.)  Check it all out at www.sizediversitytaskforce.org

Like the blog?  Here’s more of my stuff:

The Book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

The Dance Class DVDs:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs (hint:  Free shipping was supposed to end on Monday but I haven’t had a chance to make the changes to the pricing so there’s still free shipping until I get it done)!  Click here for the details

Become a Member, Support My Projects, and Get Special Deals from Size Positive Businesses

I do size acceptance activism full time.  A lot what I do, like answering over 4,000 e-mails from readers each month, giving talks to groups who can’t afford to pay, and running projects like the Georgia Billboard Campaign etc. is unpaid, so I created a membership program so that people who read the blog and feel they get value out of it and want to  support the work I do can become members for ten bucks a month  To make that even cooler, I’ve now added a component called “DancesWithFat Deals” which are special deals to my members from size positive merchants. Once you are a member I send out an e-mail once a month with the various deals and how to redeem them – your contact info always stays completely private.

Published in: on February 1, 2013 at 9:30 am  Comments (9)  

IDEA’s Massive Yoga No No

Ragen Chastain - superfat - picture by Substantia Jones for Adipositivity.com

Ragen Chastain – superfat – picture by Substantia Jones for Adipositivity.com

I was forwarded an article from the Idea fitness website [with my strong trigger warning for fat shaming, stereotyping and bigotry]about modifying yoga for fat people that aptly demonstrates everything that typically goes catastrophically wrong when fitness professionals try to talk about how to modify exercise for fat people.

The article lists fat people by categories of fatness in a patently offensive section called  “Know Your Plus Sizes”:The Athletic but Fat Person; The Soft, Large and Flexible Plus-Size Person; The Very Inactive, Inflexible, Unhealthy Person; The Supersized Person.

How many ways can one author go wrong?  “The Athletic But Fat Person.”  The word but should be removed completely – there is no but, this is not a paradox of any kind.  Athletes come in all sizes (just ask the members of the Fit Fatties Forum)

“The Soft, Large and Flexible Plus-Size Person; The Very Inactive, Inflexible, Unhealthy Person” – It’s like adjectives in a blender.  The only way that this makes sense is if the author accidentally published a section from the fat bigotry mad libs book that she was playing with while taking a break from trying to figure out how to make this article the most offensive of its kind ever published.

The Know Your Fatties categories are, perhaps unbelievably, the least offensive thing about the article.  Each category gets a description in which declarative statements are used to let readers know that someone’s size tells you everything you need to know about them.  From their attitude (the Athletic but Fat will “do everything he can to prove that he can keep up with your class, even though it may kill him for the first 2 weeks”) to their abilities (The Soft, Large and Flexible Plus-Size Person “is usually quite willing to begin an exercise program” – apparently Soft, Large and Flexible people couldn’t possibly have already started an exercise program), to their abilities (for Super Fat people – like me –  “Simply lifting the arms can be a challenge. The supersized individual can’t get up and down off the floor or be on her feet for long periods. Embarrassed and humiliated by her weight and health, she spends a lot of time at home.”)

There’s a word for making judgments about people based on how they look…wait, it’s on the tip of my tongue…

It is highly problematic to make assumptions about student’s fitness or mental state based on their size. There are fit and unfit students at every size, flexible and inflexible students of every size, students of every size who have trouble getting up and down off the floor. Students should be accommodated for their level without shame or judgment, and when it comes to fat students, modifications should be used in order to make the poses work for a larger body, not because we make assumptions about someone’s fitness/flexibility/confidence based on how they look.

Next the author includes a section called “What Plus Size People Want You to Know” that has four  unattributed quotes from people with fairly specific issues.The first of which is:

“I really don’t care and don’t want to know where my anterior deltoid is; I just want to relax my shoulders. Maybe later I will be open to learning anatomy, but for now I am here to learn how to relax, open and stretch my body in a way that won’t hurt me.”

There you have it…proof that fat people don’t care about anatomy – Maybe you could give us cues by pointing at a stick figure (drawn with an extra wide tip marker of course.)  I cannot for the life of me figure out how this has anything to do with being fat.  I’m sure that there are students of all sizes who don’t give a crap where their anterior deltoid is and that’s just fine.  Do let’s try to remember that just because some fat person thinks something, that doesn’t mean that all fat people “want you to know” it.

Many fat people don’t pursue yoga because of the bigotry and discrimination we find in classes, and authors and teachers who make assumptions like this are part of that problem.

If you’re interested in yoga for fat bodies, check out Abby Lentz at www.heartfeltyoga.com, and Anna Guest-Jelly at www.curvyyoga.com both plus-sized yoga teachers who give actual modifications that work for plus-sized bodies without all the stereotyping and assumptions.

Fitness professionals can benefit from reading the article and then doing the exact opposite of what it advises.  It is offensive to assume that students can’t do things because of their size.  It is dangerous to assume that students can do things because of their size.  Avoid stereotyping and stigma.  Take each student as they come, respect their bodies, respect their boundaries and be enough of a professional to know how modify the work that you do to fit students of many sizes and abilities.

Like the blog?  Here’s more of my stuff:

The Book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

The Dance Class DVDs:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs (hint:  Free shipping was supposed to end on Monday but I haven’t had a chance to make the changes to the pricing so there’s still free shipping until I get it done)!  Click here for the details

Become a Member, Support My Projects, and Get Special Deals from Size Positive Businesses

I do size acceptance activism full time.  A lot what I do, like answering over 4,000 e-mails from readers each month, giving talks to groups who can’t afford to pay, and running projects like the Georgia Billboard Campaign etc. is unpaid, so I created a membership program so that people who read the blog and feel they get value out of it and want to  support the work I do can become members for ten bucks a month  To make that even cooler, I’ve now added a component called “DancesWithFat Deals” which are special deals to my members from size positive merchants. Once you are a member I send out an e-mail once a month with the various deals and how to redeem them – your contact info always stays completely private.

Published in: on January 29, 2013 at 11:15 am  Comments (67)  

Bioethics or Biobigotry?

I can explain it to youSeveral of my readers sent me articles about Daniel Callahan, a senior research scholar and president emeritus of The Hastings Center, who is suggesting that what fat people really need is more fat shaming.  No, seriously.  It turns out he quit smoking because of social shame around being a smoker and he feels that smoking and being fat are basically the same thing and that shame will make fat people thinner faster.  He proposes things like public posters saying”“If you are overweight or obese, are you pleased with the way that you look?”

I’m Fatty McFatterson Mayor of Fatterworth and yes Dan (can I call you Dan?) I am pleased with the way I look. Meanwhile, I propose posters around The Hastings Center that say “If you are a bioethicist who can’t grasp the basic tenets of your field, are you pleased with your job performance?”

First of all, let’s be clear that smoking and being fat are not the same thing.  Smoking is a specific behavior – every smoker smokes. Being fat is a body size and when it comes to habits and choices, fat people are as varied as any other group of people who share only a single physical characteristic.

I’m not promoting shaming smokers, but I want to be clear that shaming smokers shames people for something that they do. Shaming fat people shames people for who they are.  If smokers want to continue their habit and avoid public shame, they can hide their smoking.  Fat people would have to hide ourselves. Both of them may be wrong, but trying to get people to be ashamed of a specific habit is a very different than trying to get them to be ashamed of their bodies.

In an article about this [Trigger warning for fat shaming] Deb Burgard, one of my life heroes, said “For him to argue that we need more stigma, I don’t know what world he’s living in,”  My sentiments exactly Deb!  386,170 negative messages about our bodies a year, but the secret to public thinness is more negative messages.  Right. And yes, public thinness – let’s not fool ourselves that this is about public health.  You can identify an evidence-based public health initiative because it is based on evidence and is focused on health.  This is 0 for 2.

In fact, Peter Muennig’s research from Columbia found that most of the same health problems that are correlated with obesity are also correlated with being under a high degree of stress for a long period of time (for example, the stress of constant shaming and stigma).  Muennig found that those who were concerned about their weight experienced more physical and mental illness than those who were ok with their size, regardless of their size.   I guess being a bioethicist doesn’t include doing basic research to see if what you are recommending is likely to have the exact opposite of the intended effect?

I am lucky to know Dr. Tiffany Cvrkel, a brilliant bioethicist who works at UCLA so I immediately e-mailed her for her thoughts.  She said:

I think Callahan is perhaps confused about the mission of bioethics. We are capable of doing many things to increase general public health. We can protect people from one of the leading causes of death and injury in very a straightforward way. All we have to do is forbid people from leaving their houses, for any reason. Maybe we should start a shame-based campaign?

Oh, wait. Just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should. It is the job of the bioethicist to be able to tell the difference. If Callahan thinks that shaming people for how they look is an efficient way to make them healthier — a claim that is simply empirically wrong, by the way — then he still needs an ethical argument for why that shaming is morally permissible. Simply saying “it’s for their own good” is not sufficient. I can forcibly prevent you from riding in automobiles for your own good, or from dating problematic people, or from voting for offensive political parties. Callahan is suggesting something equally ridiculous.

Suggesting that we should shame people for their own good until they hate themselves healthy thin offends me as a fat woman, as a human being, and as someone who appreciates  logical, rational thought and evidence-based public health interventions.  My  hope is that this is the kind of thing that makes more fat people stand up and say that they’ve had enough – that the evils have finally become unsufferable, that this is not a tree and we are not kittens, that it’s time to stand up and fight back and that if they want a war on obesity, then we’ll give them one.

Like the blog?  Here’s more of my stuff:

The Book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

The Dance Class DVDs:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs (hint:  Free shipping was supposed to end on Monday but I haven’t had a chance to make the changes to the pricing so there’s still free shipping until I get it done)!  Click here for the details

Become a Member, Support My Projects, and Get Special Deals from Size Positive Businesses

I do size acceptance activism full time.  A lot what I do, like answering over 4,000 e-mails from readers each month, giving talks to groups who can’t afford to pay, and running projects like the Georgia Billboard Campaign etc. is unpaid, so I created a membership program so that people who read the blog and feel they get value out of it and want to  support the work I do can become members for ten bucks a month  To make that even cooler, I’ve now added a component called “DancesWithFat Deals” which are special deals to my members from size positive merchants. Once you are a member I send out an e-mail once a month with the various deals and how to redeem them – your contact info always stays completely private.

Published in: on January 25, 2013 at 10:37 am  Comments (63)  

I’m Here to Recruit You

fight backEarlier this year I was asked to give a super workshop at the NAAFA convention following up on the Georgia Billboard Project.  I decided to use the talk to discuss ways that we can get people interested and involved in fat activism projects.  If you have trouble with the audio, you can read the transcription below (thanks to the amazing Julianne who did the transcription).

If you’re in the San Jose area this Sunday, I’ll be giving a talk about options for health, happiness, and high self-esteem that honor the body you have now at Center for Creative Living at 1460 Koll Cir, San Jose, CA 95112 on Sunday, 1/27  from 1:00 to 3:00, cost is $20.

Video Transcription:

Harvey Milk is one of my great life heroes. My name is Ragen Chastain and I am here to recruit you. I am here to recruit you to fat activism and to leadership of fat activism. Some of you are already doing it and some of you don’t know that you are fat activist leaders yet. And I am here to help you.

They asked me to talk about the Georgia Billboard project, and I will. The project that in 8 days raised $21,000 to put up a media campaign in Georgia to counter a horrible anti-fat child-focused media campaign. What I realized when I started to think about the project and its success, was that what made it successful are the things that make everything successful. In my background I’ve consulted for Fortune 100 Companies. I’ve been a turn-around CEO for a multi-million dollar corporate conglomerate. I’ve been a part of a team that turned 200,000 votes in two weeks to win the No on 9 Campaign in Portland.

All of these things are built on really successful principles. So, I wanted to talk about that today so that when you go out if you become interested in leading fat activism and running your own projects – and I hope that you will – you will have all of the tools that you need.

There are many things that successful activism and activist organizations are built on. Leadership, People, Empowerment, and Fundamentals.

Let’s talk about Leadership and what really happened in Georgia. I can take almost no credit for this project. It wasn’t even my idea. I blogged about the campaign in Georgia by Children’s Healthcare in Atlanta. Well-Rounded Mama said “I wish we could have our own billboard.” I was like, “I wish we could have our own billboard, too.” So I posted on my blog and said, “Would you guys like to have our own billboard?” And they said, “Yes!” More of Me to Love came online and said we could have $5,000 and, “What do you want to do?” And we talked about it and we decided to do a matching grant, like a challenge grant, to get people involved. The Big, Fat Money Bomb was Shannon Russell’s idea – that we were going to do it all on one day. Get tons of publicity and then everybody donate today to get momentum going. Allen at Ad Out was our billboard representative. He called me one day and said, “I just spent a bunch of time reading about this project and I’m so excited!” Originally, we wanted to get one billboard and it was going to be $10,000. We ended up getting six billboards and ten bus shelters and it was $21,000. Allen made that happen for us. Allen was amazing. He was just some dude that I found on the internet who rep’d a billboard company. It was amazing. Marilyn Wann came on board and allowed us to use her “I Stand” project for the bus shelters and sponsored the project. Sabrina Wilson and Elizabeth Tamny were our Graphic Design Gurus. They came in and Sabrina did the original design for the billboard and Elizabeth did all of the” I Stand”s to spec in like 24 hours because we found out they weren’t going to look good. She was a hero. We had a thousand donors. We had tens of thousands of participants. Almost none of it was me.

The way that it works is this – this is my favorite quote about leadership – “With the best of leaders when the work is done, the people will say, “we have done it ourselves.” If you are leading a project, it is 100% not about you, your ego, or credit. Right? It’s about empowering people. This isn’t about making people believe that your ideas were their ideas. That’s not what it means. It means that when you leave, the people are empowered to go on without you. They don’t need you. You’ve empowered them. You’ve given them a gift by showing them their value – which they came to you already having. People come to you valuable, people come to you amazing, people come to you talented. But they don’t always know it. And it’s criminal, as a leader, to not show them, to not help them discover that, to not give them the option.

Proper leadership recruits and empowers group members. It makes people want to act. It makes people do things that maybe they thought they couldn’t do. It makes people excited. It makes people want to be involved.

Proper leadership identifies and develops new leaders. Always looking for the next person. Who’s next? Who’s after me? Who can I recruit? Who can I get to help? Who else is there? There are leaders everywhere and it’s our job, if we are coordinating projects – we have the opportunity to identify those people. And what a tragedy to not do that.

Proper leadership seeks out and elevates people who are smarter and better. Everybody on that list I just mentioned is smarter and better than me. At least at what they do and probably many things. Maybe all things. That’s my job as a leader. If you think you are the smartest, best person in your organization you are failing as a leader. You are actively failing. Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. People who know other things. People that are better than you at what they do. That’s power. That’s how we gain momentum.

Credit kills campaigns. This was a sign in the first campaign office I ever worked in. I am sure you guys have heard the saying, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish if nobody cares who gets the credit.” It’s amazing what you can’t accomplish if someone does care who gets the credit. There is no room for credit in revolution. We don’t have room, we don’t have time. There’s no room for ego. We’ve got to get in a boat and we’ve got to row. And that’s how it goes. We are rowing that way. If you are also rowing that way, we welcome you in the boat. If you want to lead a team in the boat, that’s amazing. How can we help you and empower you to do that?

What happened in Georgia? The Georgia Campaign had 3 sponsors, had 1,010 donations, had tens of thousands of people who got the word out – and our policy was: “Everybody In!” We encouraged people to ask how they could help and when they asked, we gave them something to do. And that included people who had no money; that included people who had no internet; that included people who did not want to come out as fat activists in any way, shape, or form. We found a way for them to help – for them to make this their project. For them to become involved and want to become more involved and to take that next step. This is so important. Getting people involved. Showing them their value. Showing them that, maybe you don’t have money but you are valuable to this movement – you have something to give. We want to encourage that. It’s incredibly important.

I want to give an example of that. The NAAFA-LA chapter [now the Size Diversity Task Force] who are here in their red. Hi everybody. They spent this year fundraising, all year long, so that every single member of their chapter who wanted to come to Convention came to Convention. And that’s why they are more than a third of the people in this room. They got it done. And they empowered everybody to do it. Everybody was involved. Whether they were putting glitter on candles to sell or donating clothes for the Big, Fat Flea Market. Every single person got to be involved and got to feel valued. And here we all are. That’s amazing. That is activism! That’s how it works! And, people, understand – I was so inspired by this chapter that I changed where I lived! I want to be part of a community. I want to be involved with people like that. People who get it done. People who say, “Whatever your talent is, wherever you’re at, whatever you don’t have, we’ll make up for that. We can do that. We’re a group. You don’t have to be everything. Nobody can do everything but everybody can do something. Everybody who wants to.” And, I believe it’s our jobs to say, “What do you want to do? What are you good at? Let me help you. Let’s try some things.” Whatever it takes to get people involved and motivated and interested.

Because we are at a point in our activism where we want to tell the world, “This is what we want. This is what we deserve.” But, meanwhile, we have to turn around to our community of fat people, some of whom don’t identify as a part of the community at all, and say, “No, seriously. This is what you deserve.” So we’ve got this weird thing where we get it, we’re here, like we’ve got this gift of having discovered Health at Every Size and Size Acceptance. And that’s such a precious gift, we can’t hold onto that.

I get between 150-200 emails every day from people who read my blog. People who tell me their marriages are falling apart. People who tell me they are ready to commit suicide. People are suffering. People are dying. Every day, people are stigmatized, oppressed, and disenfranchised. And it is criminal, that we have discovered this, not to tell them about it – not to give them the option. I’m not about telling people how to live. Do whatever you want. You are the boss of your underpants. I’m the boss of mine. And there is no Underpants Overlord – and that’s how it goes. But if you want to get your underpants in the boat, I want you to know about the boat! There are people who don’t know that there is an option besides hating themselves. They don’t know! And that’s on us, because we know. We have got to tell people that. And we’ve got to get them involved and motivated and make them feel welcome and make them feel able and capable and smart – because they are – they don’t know it because the whole world tells them that they’re not.

So how did it work in the Georgia Campaign? Volunteer recruitment and management are the most important part of activism. No civil rights movement has ever succeeded because six people wanted to do something. Momentum of hundreds of people becomes a movement when they decide they have had enough. I’m ready to pick up a brick and throw it. There are consequences and I don’t care. “Risk is the currency of Revolution.” We have to take risks. So, getting people on board, giving them a way to get in – even if they aren’t all the way there. It’s not, “If they are not with us, they are against us.” It’s, “If they are not actively against us, maybe they’re with us. What can we do and how can we get them involved?”

Again, nobody can do everything, but everybody can do something. In fat activism, this is particularly important. We are told, as fat people, every day, from every direction, that we are worthless – that we are valueless – that we are lazy – and this just doesn’t count and it won’t count until we get thin. So, as leaders and fat activists, it is criminally negligent to perpetuate that. To make people feel that they are anything less than valuable and amazing. It is criminally negligent and to do it for the sake of your own ego is worse. We’ve got to start being active and getting people involved and getting them on board and letting them know that they are valuable. It’s one of the most important things we can do for fat activism.

Good volunteer management empowers. Again, you’re giving people the opportunity to find out something about themselves – to try something and fail spectacularly, and that’s okay, and that’s going to happen. Better to try and fail spectacularly and find somebody who wants to try again than to say, “No, I’ll just do it myself because I’m gonna do it better. It’s just too much of a pain to get you involved and teach you how. It’s too much of a pain. I don’t have time.” Better to get people involved. Even if they fail at their first shot.

Good volunteer management respects. Respects people’s time, respects people’s talent, respects people’s ideas. They are not going to come on board unless they know they are valuable. Good volunteer management uncovers value. Again, they come to you valuable, but they sometimes they don’t know it. And that is horrible. And that is something we can do something about!

Fundamentals. This is the last little bit I’ll talk about. So what happened in Georgia? We had clear goals. We had follow-through. We gave constant updates. We gave opportunities for input as well. Sabrina Wilson was a hero because she developed the billboard, that then thousands of people voted that they wanted to be the billboard for the campaign. She’s not just a hero for that. She’s a hero because she got on a phone call with six people and we made the billboard better together. She didn’t say, “This is my idea and it is perfect as it is and 4,000 people voted for it so it’s what we’re doing.” She said, “Who wants to help? How can I make it better? How can I get involved? How can I get other people involved?” Better, smarter people than me. Because that’s how we win, that’s when we’re powerful.

Transparency. We were clear the whole time. People could look at our financials and bank reports at any time. We were extremely clear about where we were.

Good organizations and campaigns respect people’s time. They begin and end meetings on time. They respect the amount of time people say they can put into the organization and give them something that matches that amount of time. They have good follow-through. They help people all the way through. Is that difficult? Yeah, sometimes it really is. Is it frustrating? I have a friend who says he can’t watch his kids clean the kitchen. Because it’s just too painful and he just can’t sit there and watch it. But they’ll never learn to clean the kitchen if he doesn’t let them try. So, try – feedback. Try – feedback. All the way through until they are kitchen cleaning experts. That’s the deal. That’s what leaders do.

Good organizations give opportunities for input and ideas from the group at every possible opportunity. Anytime they can get feedback and input and involve that and involve people and their ideas – they do it. Again, because we are a baby activist movement and people need to know that they are valuable and they’re welcome and there is a place for them for more than their money. We never want to make people think they are only valuable for what they can donate to our cause. Right? 1,000 people donated, but it took tens of thousands of people to get that done. And those people are just as, if not more, valuable than the people who were able to make a contribution. Because they got more people involved. Now 10,000 people consider themselves fat activists. There’s a really cool study where they went around with a picture of a really big, ugly billboard and they said, “Would you put this in your yard?” It was about community beautification. And 98% of the people said, “No, I will not do that.” Obviously. Except for one neighborhood where almost 80% of people agreed to put a big, ugly billboard in their yard. And the reason why is because two weeks previous, someone had come around and asked them to put a little sticker in their window that said that they believe in community beautification. And what they learned is that that tiny act changed the way people felt about themselves. They became people who cared about community beautification. Enough that they would put that billboard in their yard to talk about beautifying their community. It’s a little seed and it grows so fast. Because it changes how people see themselves, who they believe themselves to be. And that’s powerful.

Good organizations are transparent about their membership, their financials, their goals and projects. If you are leading a project and it turns into a bigger thing that’s going to go on for years and years and into an organization, it is time to call elections. There is no place for oligarchy in revolution. If you are a leader you want to be a leader because people ask you to be a leader. They said, “You’re the one. I pick you. I raise my hand. I want you out in front.” And if that happens to you and you become that person, it’s your job to find the next people and grow them – not to hold onto that leadership and hope that the people never, ever say that they don’t want you. You’ve already been chosen. Your time is there, it’s great, now it’s time to integrate new leadership. All the time.

So with the best of leaders, when the work is done, the fatties will know we have done it ourselves. They want a war on obesity? We will give them a war! And we will do it by empowering ourselves one at a time. By showing people that they are valuable and they deserve love and respect and that they can demand it. And so can we. We deserve the activist committee that will win. And we can create it for ourselves.

Thank You.

Like the blog?  Here’s more of my stuff:

The Book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

The Dance Class DVDs:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs (hint:  Free shipping was supposed to end on Monday but I haven’t had a chance to make the changes to the pricing so there’s still free shipping until I get it done)!  Click here for the details

Become a Member, Support My Projects, and Get Special Deals from Size Positive Businesses

I do size acceptance activism full time.  A lot what I do, like answering over 4,000 e-mails from readers each month, giving talks to groups who can’t afford to pay, and running projects like the Georgia Billboard Campaign etc. is unpaid, so I created a membership program so that people who read the blog and feel they get value out of it and want to  support the work I do can become members for ten bucks a month  To make that even cooler, I’ve now added a component called “DancesWithFat Deals” which are special deals to my members from size positive merchants. Once you are a member I send out an e-mail once a month with the various deals and how to redeem them – your contact info always stays completely private.

Published in: on January 24, 2013 at 10:51 am  Comments (12)  

Looking the Part

IMG_9103 - Copy

Ragen Chastain 5’4 284 pounds, wearing a dress that a judge once said she “couldn’t stand to look at me” in.  photo by Richard Sabel

I’ve taken some time off of competitive dance and recently I’ve been considering getting back into it.  I’ve had a number of conversations about it and in each of them the concept of “looking the part” has come up. Some people being very clear that, in their estimation, if I want to compete at the top levels there will be issues if I don’t “look the part” by being thin.

This is a pervasive idea – that only thin bodies “look right” for various activities.  Dance is an area where fat people are often told that the idea that our bodies are “wrong” is not opinion, culture, or discrimination – but absolute fact.  I am certain that is fiction.

Just as I am certain that it is fat bigotry that leads our culture to choose our singers, actors, and dancers not predominantly on their ability to sing, act, or dance, but on their ability to meet a culture stereotype of beauty.  Models for plus size clothing often  don’t “look the part” unless they are too small to fit into the clothes they are modeling.  Studies have found that, in general hiring practices, “strong obesity discrimination was displayed across all job selection criteria, such as starting salary, leadership potential, and likelihood of selecting an obese candidate for the job.”

In our society “looking the part” is almost always about being thin – whether “the part” is a professional actress or an administrative assistant.  This is size discrimination, plain and simple. Fat people are often advised to solve this discrimination by changing our bodies.  I certainly don’t hold it against anybody who chooses this path, though I feel for them since the actual likelihood of permanent long term weight loss is so small and I imagine that the stigma people experience does not go down if they lose a bunch of weight and then gain it back.  This illustrates one of the problems with trying to solve discrimination or social stigma with weight loss.  We can try to stop the bullies by giving them our lunch money but that doesn’t guarantee the bully will leave us alone, especially if we have more lunch money next week.

We have the option to challenge what “Looking the Part” means.  We have the option to become the best dancer, singer, actress, administrative assistant, plumber, HR specialist etc. that we can be in the body that we have now, and to relentlessly pursue our dreams and goals while refusing to change our bodies, even though the deck is stacked against us.  Fat discrimination is real and these things do not change overnight so there’s no denying that this is a risk.  As I said before, I harbor no ill will toward those who try to get thin in order to escape social stigma.  It’s just not for me.  I believe that risk is the currency of revolution.  For things to change a lot of people are going to have to risk – I choose to be one of them.  So I plan to return to competitive dance this year and see if I can expand what “the part” looks like.

Like the blog?  Here’s more of my stuff:

The Book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

The Dance Class DVDs:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs (hint:  Free shipping was supposed to end on Monday but I haven’t had a chance to make the changes to the pricing so there’s still free shipping until I get it done)!  Click here for the details

Become a Member, Support My Projects, and Get Special Deals from Size Positive Businesses

I do size acceptance activism full time.  A lot what I do, like answering over 4,000 e-mails from readers each month, giving talks to groups who can’t afford to pay, and running projects like the Georgia Billboard Campaign etc. is unpaid, so I created a membership program so that people who read the blog and feel they get value out of it and want to  support the work I do can become members for ten bucks a month  To make that even cooler, I’ve now added a component called “DancesWithFat Deals” which are special deals to my members from size positive merchants. Once you are a member I send out an e-mail once a month with the various deals and how to redeem them – your contact info always stays completely private.

Published in: on January 23, 2013 at 12:42 pm  Comments (62)  

I’m In a New Fat State of Mind

facepalmFirst of all, you may have noticed that I skipped a few posts last week.  Thank you to the readers who have sent e-mails and Facebook messages to check on me.  I am fine, my partner however is not.  She injured her knee and the healthcare debacle that has followed has been nothing short of shameful.  I will probably blog about it eventually but for now greatly appreciate happy thoughts directed at her knee and our journey through the healthcare system.  Thanks also to my friends in LA who have been so generous with support, rides, food (T, I’m looking at you)  Seriously, thanks.   Onward to the blog:

You may remember a while ago I was part of a panel on childhood obesity that included a bunch of self-identified childhood obesity experts who claimed that they didn’t need any evidence that their interventions work because they have common sense.  Oh let’s entrust as many children’s lives as possible with these people – don’t you think?

Another concept was brought up after the cameras were off that I’ve been wanting to talk about for a while.  One of the panelists claimed that calling ourselves fat was a source of the problem.  He explained that if you call yourself fat then that’s what you become – much better, he claimed, to say that you “have fat.” I was barely able to control my eye-roll reflex when another panelists explained that in her book (which I will never, never name or link to) she explained that it’s not that people are physical fat, it’s that they are mentally fat. Uh huh.

These are both highly problematic in different ways.  Let’s start with the idea of being “mentally fat”.  I hate to spoil the ending, but she is just regurgitating the same tired stereotypes that fat people don’t plan, prepare, and portion their food correctly and don’t move their bodies enough while thin people do these things, despite the fact that the evidence shows that this isn’t the case. I imagine that it’s only her insistence that evidence isn’t necessary if she thinks something is common sense that allows her to sleep at night after taking money for this book.

Fat is not a “state of mind.”  Fat is not a specific set of behaviors.  Fat is a body with lots  When it comes to diversity of habits and choices, fat people are just like thin people – only bigger.  There are people who eat the exact same things and move the exact same amount and have various different body sizes.  There are people who eat vastly different diets and move in drastically different amounts but have the same size bodies.  Our society accepts the fact that there are very thin people who eat very poorly and never exercise but remain thin, yet insists that it is impossible for someone to be fat unless they eat their body weight in big macs everyday.

To be clear people get to make choices about what they eat and if someone wants to eat their body weight in big macs everyday they get to do that and it’s nobody else’s business. My point is that the persistent myth that fat people just need to learn portion control and go for a walk and then they’ll be thin (both physically and, apparently, mentally) is dangerously misleading, is insulting  – at least to this fat person,  and keeps people who are interested in health from pursuing evidence-based methods for improving health that don’t involve some “eat less move more” platitude that has been shown to be an utter failure in over 50 years of studies.

Which brings us to the idea that people shouldn’t identify as fat, but should consider themselves to be a thin person covered in (ostensibly undesirable) fat.  Here’s why I think that’s bullshit.  First of all, I am with my body 100% of the time and this suggests that I should look at my body as flawed and needing to be changed in order to be worthy,  I don’t believe that is the case.  Since all the studies suggest that most fat people will always be fat, this suggestion means that we spend our whole lives unsatisfied with our bodies.  I spent a lot of years hating my body and it was awful and exhausting and it made me tired and sad and miserable but it did not make me thin.  I have come to believe that fat people are no more thin people with extra fat than tall people are short people with extra leg.  People come in lots of different sizes for lots of different reasons and none of us owe anybody an explanation for our size, and none of us should be expected to hate our bodies because they don’t look like somebody else’s body.

Finally, it ads another layer to the stigma and shame that fat people experience.  Now it’s not just our bodies that are wrong, it’s also our minds.  My fat is not a state of mind, I am not a thin woman covered in fat.  I am a fat woman, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Don’t forget that the Lose the Diet Gain Yourself Telesummit starts today (January 21, 2013)  I’m speaking at 2:30 Pacific Time – Truth, Lies, and Measuring Tape – What the Evidence Really Says About Weight and Health.  You can listen live and ask questions or listen to the recordings at your convenience.  Register here for free.

Like the blog?  Here’s more of my stuff:

The Book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

The Dance Class DVDs:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs (hint:  Free shipping was supposed to end on Monday but I haven’t had a chance to make the changes to the pricing so there’s still free shipping until I get it done)!  Click here for the details

Become a Member, Support My Projects, and Get Special Deals from Size Positive Businesses

I do size acceptance activism full time.  A lot what I do, like answering over 4,000 e-mails from readers each month, giving talks to groups who can’t afford to pay, and running projects like the Georgia Billboard Campaign etc. is unpaid, so I created a membership program so that people who read the blog and feel they get value out of it and want to  support the work I do can become members for ten bucks a month  To make that even cooler, I’ve now added a component called “DancesWithFat Deals” which are special deals to my members from size positive merchants. Once you are a member I send out an e-mail once a month with the various deals and how to redeem them – your contact info always stays completely private.

Published in: on January 21, 2013 at 9:08 am  Comments (41)