When We Talk About Weight Loss Research

credible hulkOne of the reasons that I’m no longer interested in attempting weight loss is that my review of the literature informs me that it simply has no basis in evidence as being an effective way to either lose weight or become more healthy (which are two separate things).  When I say that, people often object insisting that there are studies where people have lost weight.

The problem is that any old research where a couple of people lost weight won’t do (go ahead, review the literature.  I think you’ll be shocked to find how often the average participant lost a few pounds, gained back half of it before they stopped tracking, and then the authors declare the study a success.)

The research we would need for weight loss to meet the criteria of an evidence-based medical intervention is twofold.  First, we would need a study where the majority of the participants lost the amount of weight that we are told we need to lose to change our health and maintain that weight loss long term (over 5 years).  If we had those studies – and we don’t –  we would then need some proof that weight loss actually caused health improvements – and this study already brings that into question.

This rules out the National Weight Control Registry because they’ve chosen to study 10,000 people who experienced weight loss while completely ignoring the up to 800,000,000 failed attempts that happened in the same time frame.  Then they just look for things that the 10,000 have in common. So when they say things like “eating breakfast contributes to weight loss” what they actually mean is that they asked the 10,000 people who succeeded what they did, and a majority of them said that they ate breakfast.  Note that they didn’t ask how many of the up to 800,000,000 people who did not lose weight also ate breakfast – that would be important information to have since if a majority of the people who didn’t lose weight also ate breakfast then breakfast may have absolutely nothing to do with it.

Imagine if I got together everyone who had survived a skydiving accident when their parachute didn’t open and started looking for things they have in common.  Even if every single one of them wore a green shirt and had oatmeal for breakfast, I cannot say that wearing a green shirt and eating oatmeal will allow you to survive a skydiving accident, nor can I ethically start Ragen’s School of No Parachute Skydiving “free green shirt and oatmeal with every jump!”  When your entire sample is a statistical anomaly, your research is useless. When all you’re looking for is random coincidence among a select group of outliers, you’d be better off using your research money on lottery tickets.

Other times, people bring up studies where phase 1 was weight loss and phase 2 was maintenance, the study lost between 40% and 70%  of participants during or after phase one, and then the researchers continued on as if the remaining people were the complete study group.  Not ok. Why did all of those people quit?  How will their experience be accounted for? Often the remaining subjects start gaining back the weight they lost so that at the end of phase 2 the average participant has gained back half of their weight with a net loss of less than 10 pounds.  Or they only follow up for a year or two when we know that most people gain their weight back by year 5.

People list study after study and all of them have one or more of the above problems, which I or someone else in the discussion points out.  At that point, the person listing the studies often gets frustrated and says something like “Why don’t you like my studies?” or “You just don’t want to believe.”   If they examined it, I think they’d find that their frustration isn’t with me, it’s with the fact that they’ve been sold a lie and they bought it at full retail price.

I certainly know that frustration, when I did my first literature review of weight loss research I expected to find that all diets worked – I was just looking for the “best” one, the one that had the most solid success.  I was so shocked at what I found that I read through all of the literature again.  I simply couldn’t believe that this thing – weight loss – that had been marketed to me more aggressively than anything else in my life had no basis in evidence.  I couldn’t believe that doctors had been giving me an intervention which had been shown repeatedly to almost always end in failure, and the majority of time had the exact opposite of the intended result.  When I found out that there weren’t even any studies that showed that weight loss caused changes in health I was just stunned.

It took me a lot of time and a lot of work to accept the truth.  It was hard to find out that I’d been lied to (on purpose and inadvertently), it was hard to find out that the thing that I’d been promised would solve all of my problems was never going to happen.  In many ways, at least for me, Health at Every Size was about giving up, but that’s what I do when I find out that I’ve been harboring a mistaken belief.  That’s what scientists (well, good scientists) do when their research does not support their hypothesis (however strongly held or widely believed it might be.)  They don’t suspend the rules or research and logic and argue for a belief that they can’t support with evidence.

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

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

Published in: on January 24, 2017 at 9:52 am  Leave a Comment  

Cheap Fat Jokes Are Not Political Commentary

Talking NonsenseOn Saturday millions of people around the world marched in solidarity for progressive, feminist goals*. Enter Mike from Mike’s corner who decided that the best thing that he could contribute was a crappy fat joke:

march-meme

Facebook post from “Mike’s Corner” It’s a picture of a protest march that says “IN ONE DAY, TRUMP GOT MORE FAT WOMEN OUT WALKING, THAN MICHELLE OBAMA DID IN 8 YEARS

This is obviously crap, and I’ve been asked to talk about why so that we can decide how best to respond.  There are several things happening here.

First it’s an attempt at humor based on stereotypes “ha ha fat women don’t usually walk ha ha” Just like people of all sizes, there are fat women who walk (and roll) and fat women who don’t but people who would make this joke are not likely to let the facts get in the way of their bigoted humor. There’s not much to unpack here other than to say that if someone thinks this is funny, they could maybe try to be less of a bigoted piece of shit moving forward.

There’s the issue of this being factually incorrect. Michelle Obama focused on kids (sometimes in ways that were horribly ill-advised) and didn’t have any programs about women walking.  I guess Mike is a fan of “alternative facts?”

The most dangerous takeaway that I’ve seen size bigots suggest is the idea that fat women delegitimize a protest simply by being there – as if the marches would have somehow been more legitimate had all the participants met Mike’s definition of “thin.” This isn’t original, the brain trust who created this meme was beaten to the punch by Ann Coulter (which is to say that this dude is getting his ass kicked by women from every direction.)

The size of the women (or people of any gender) who participated in the marches has nothing to do with anything, and yet fat phobia is so powerful in our culture that the first thing this guy decided to do was try to make a fat joke.  (I will say that I couldn’t find a single march whose platform included anything about size discrimination and so perhaps this will help us explain to organizers of future events why that’s important.)

When we respond to things like this, the most important thing is that we not reinforce the prejudices upon which they are built, or create more bigotry in the process. For this reason we want to avoid the mistake of responding about how fat the attendees were or weren’t, or using comebacks that are healthist and/or ableist.

If this appears in a space that you manage, I would suggest either simply deleting it or pointing out the issues as I have here. (If you’re interested in a discussion of moderating comments in personal online spaces as well as groups we manage online, I  recently wrote a piece for Ravishly about just that!)

If you see it in another space, you might leave a comment pointing out how widespread sizeism is, how messed up it is that women’s worth is judged by how closely we are able to approximate a stereotype of beauty, and how this meme proves the need for such marches.  You could also suggest that the person who posted it try to be less of a bigoted piece of shit moving forward.

If you have other suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments. Also, you may notice that the meme above was shared by Jack E. Sandlin.  What you might not know is that he is a Republican state senator. His office number is 317-232-9414 or 317-232-9400.

*They are many things to talk about when it comes to these marches and how we can do better moving forward including how they could have been more inclusive of groups like People of Color, Trans and Non-Binary people, Fat Acceptance as a platform and more. These are important discussions that are worth having – cheap fat jokes parading as political commentary are not.

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

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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

Published in: on January 23, 2017 at 11:28 am  Comments (13)  

One Last Time

Today I’m taking a break from my usual Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size writing to say goodbye and give my respect to President Obama.  I’ll be back tomorrow with my usual fare.

I’ve certainly publicly disagreed with the way that his administration has talked about and treated fat people. He wasn’t perfect, nobody is. But for eight years I’ve had the opportunity to live in a country with a leader I could respect, who worked to move us forward, make progress in civil rights, and be a mature, level-headed leader in the face of horrific racism and obstructionism. Thank you President Obama, I’ll miss you.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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 January 20, 2017 at 10:43 am  Comments (7)  

Fat Bodies Don’t Need Pity or Preaching

no-pity-no-preachingI saw a cooking show recently at a hotel and I made a note to blog about it.  It seems familiar so I looked back and, indeed, it turns out that it was a re-run and I had blogged about it before, so I’m re-posting it. There was a chef whose passion was “healthy cooking.”  She started out by talking about how many people in her family “struggle with their weight”, she teared up as she talked about how sad it was for her to watch.

Then, when she went in front of the judges with a soup that was, to me,  a horrific looking combination of black eyed peas and cabbage – pureed –   she suddenly got angry and went on a rant about how she was “fed up” how there is “no excuse for it.” Happily the judges were not into the attitude which neatly  summed up two reactions that people have to fat people that I find utterly inappropriate and unwelcome.

First – Pity.  Don’t want it, don’t need it, won’t listen to it.  There is nothing pitiable about my body.  As I’ve mentioned before I do not “suffer” from obesity, I do suffer from people’s attitudes about my body.  That’s a suffering that will end as soon as people acknowledge that bodies come in different sizes for different reasons, that there is no wrong way to have a body, and that it’s nobody else’s business at all.  When someone says that they pity me because of my body it indicates that they think there is something superior about their bodies. My body is amazing and I won’t allow it to be treated that way without sticking up for it.  People can keep their pity, and their opinions and assumptions of my body, to themselves.

Preaching is the second issue.  It seems like every time I turn around someone’s trying to score points by giving “tough talk” to us fatties.  Telling us that they are just fed up with us and our big, fleshy bodies like we should care how they feel.  Saying that the world needs to stop “coddling” us, asserting that the world would be better if we didn’t exist,  waging war on us for power, politics and profit.  Suggesting that the problem with fat people is that we’re just not bullied and oppressed enough.  Somehow certain that the reason we’re not thin is that 386,170 negative messages a year about our body are just not enough. That somebody needs to tell us we’re fat. If shaming fat people made us thin, we’d all be thin.

I reflect sometimes on how the achievements of fat people are made more impressive because we accomplish things under the crushing weight of near constant stigma and bullying. Despite the pitying, the preaching, and the constant drumbeat of “your body is wrong”, we keep rising above, keep fighting back.  Just getting out of bed when you know the work water cooler conversation is going to be about weight loss resolutions, or going to the gym when you know the junior high level fatphobia you might face, are gold medal sports some days and we just keep doing it.

So go fatties go! Everyone else can keep their pitying and preaching to themselves, we’re fine.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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

 

Published in: on January 19, 2017 at 1:20 pm  Comments (6)  

Terrible Trend – Private Message Diet Spam

pm-diet-spamI’ve been hearing more and more about a disturbing trend of people marketing their weight loss products through private message on social media.  It’s been happening for a while, but based on the number of e-mails I get about it it’s gaining a lot of traction.  Today Marjorie posted an example on my FB wall. In some cases a person joins a fat positive group and then starts private messaging people. In others they just look for fat people’s profiles and then spam them.

Let’s start with what should be blatantly obvious: This is disgusting.  This is harassment. This is objectively terrible. This should never, ever, happen.  While people who are the victims of this are allowed to handle it in whatever way they prefer, nobody is obligated to tolerate this in any way, nobody is obligated to look for “best intentions,” nobody is obligated to put up with this or hold back their profanity-laced rant.  And that would be true even if there was a chance in hell that their products would lead to long-term weight loss.

People are allowed to do whatever they want with their bodies.  People are, at least for now, allowed to sell weight loss methods that almost never work. None of that, in any way, justifies something like this:

 

Image may contain: text

Private message that says the following (all spelling and grammar from the original.) “Hi Ashleigh, I’ve just been here looking through your photos and I’ve noticed since after Christmas your face looks a little fuller, I don’t mean to cause offence this happens to a lot of people! I don’t no if you know but I work for [redacted] and we have some amazing products that will benefit you in loosing the weight.  If you would like to discuss more please reply to this message and we can get things sorted asap [smiley face emoji]  Thank you x

Nothing will ever justify this. (I’ll also point out that it’s creepy AF – why is this person randomly looking through someone’s photos and comparing face shapes between them?) If this has happened to you, the first thing to know is that THIS SHOULD NEVER HAVE HAPPENED TO YOU!  So what do you do?  Here are some options:

Ignore/Delete/Block 

Say nothing to the person, block them and move on with your life.

Reply

This could be anything from heartfelt paragraph about the dangers of fatphobia, and the chances that this person could be sending e-mail to people whose eating disorders will be triggered, to a fully annotated paper about Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size. Or you could just say “How fucking dare you? This could not be more inappropriate and you need to stop doing this right now!”

Report

Send their information to the company that they are representing.  Perhaps something like:

“I wanted to let you know that [insert name and social media link] is representing your company poorly by sending unsolicited messages like this [quote message.] Obviously you know that this is inappropriate, offensive, and in addition to being fatphobic could end up triggering eating disorders.  I hope you’ll address this before more people are harmed.”

You can also report them to the social media site that they used to send it.

Name and Shame

They are so comfortable sending this out, surely they won’t mind if you let other people know about this fabulous opportunity.  Take a screenshot and send it on its way on social media.

Again, you get to decide how you deal with this, all I care about is that you know that it is well and truly bullshit. If you have other ideas for responses, please feel free to leave them in the comments!

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support fat activism and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you.  Click here for details

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

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

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

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

Published in: on January 18, 2017 at 9:35 am  Comments (14)  

MasterCard Telling Our Weight to the Airlines?

travel-companiesIt was recently reported that MasterCard filed a patent for  “a system, method, and computer-readable storage medium configured to analyse the physical size of payment accountholders based on payment transactions, and allowing a transportation provider to apply the physical size of payment accountholders to seating.”

They are suggesting that they can guess your size, and the size of all of your family members, based on what you buy, and then report that information to transportation companies.  Their patent application states that this information might be used thusly: “for the comfort of their passengers, transportation providers should avoid seating physically large strangers next to each other”.

Riiiiiiight.  Also, in lieu of drink service, airlines will start handing out bags of magic beans courtesy of MasterCard. I seriously doubt that Mastercard is going to the time and expense of patenting this so they can give it away, so if this goes into effect (and they may not act on it, even if the patent is approved) we can assume that travel companies will be paying them for it, and passing that cost on to us – and by us, I mean fat people.

Let’s get real here. Travel companies decided to start a business that moves people from place to place. Then, despite the fact that people come in many sizes, they built their planes, trains, and buses to only accommodate people up to a certain size.  Now they try to charge people larger than that size up to twice as much for the exact same service (travel from place to place) in ways that are indefensible unless you think “we hate fat people” is a reasonable defense.  And now Mastercard is saying “Hey, let us help you out with that.”

Again, this is a patent that MasterCard has applied for –  they may not be granted the patent, and if they are they might not choose to use it.  But I’m not excited about doing business with a credit card company that is excited about helping transportation companies engage in sizeism.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support fat activism and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you.  Click here for details

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

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

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

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

Published in: on January 17, 2017 at 12:47 pm  Comments (21)  

Clever Comebacks: When You’re Mistaken for Pregnant

are-you-pregnant-no-but-the-night-is-young-betsy-boo-mitchell-henningin-the-book-fatsoMany fat people have been minding their own business, going about their lives, only to be jolted from their thoughts by someone asking “So, when are you due?”

As has been often said, if you can’t see the baby crowning, don’t assume someone is pregnant. This isn’t just because you have no idea if they are pregnant or fat (and of course there is no shame in being either or both) it’s also because it may be a person who is struggling with fertility, or has just lost a child, or doesn’t want to talk about their pregnancy status with some busybody at the grocery store, or any of dozens of other reasons.  One person’s desire – however well meaning- to make an out loud guess about someone else’s state of pregnancy isn’t more important than the harm they might do.

Reader Rachel asked if I would blog about what to do when you are dealing with someone who doesn’t get those things.   I asked this question on Facebook and, wow, did people respond.  The amazing answers that folks came up with are below (apologies in advance if I missed any.)

I want to point out that not all of the answers will appeal to everybody and that’s fine. Some people might think it’s awesome to say “Yup – twins…Hag and Daz…” while other people might be uncomfortable with the idea of possibly reinforcing stereotypes about fat people and food.

As with everything, your mileage may vary so feel free to pick, choose, and edit for what works for you. Remember that each person gets to choose how to deal with the oppression that comes at them,  so sarcasm, quick wit, and killing them with kindness are all equally valid choices, and you might choose different comebacks for different situations.

If you have other ideas for comebacks to this situation (or if there’s a situation that you would like to see me blog about) by all means leave them in the comments!

My personal favorite response is one that I heard from the always amazing Marilyn Wann “Not yet, but the night is young…”  Marilyn tells me that it was contributed to the FAT!SO? book by Betsy “Boo” Mitchell Henning, a brilliant spirit. According to the FB thread, it is also Hanne and Jasmine’s go to response.

By far the most popular response was saying “Nope, I’m just fat.” This was often delivered with a big smile and/or a belly pat. Suggested by Sarah, Rachel, Jen, Beth Ann, Beth, Jess, Liz, Courtney, Autumn, Chelsea, Dayna, Gisela, Holly, Samantha, Kay, Wendee, Amy, Denise, Lana, Sheila, Stephanie, Catherine, Karen, Theresa, Leslie, Rachel, Kit, Autumn, Holly, and Heather.

A fun variation on that theme: Diana: “Nah, just fat. Got an IUD to keep from getting pregnant, in fact, wanna see, I can just pull it out for ya?” *makes motion to reach into pants*  This usually freaks people the hell out and they ask why I’d say such a thing, then I respond with “oh, I thought you were totally cool with having intimate medical discussions with strangers since you asked such an invasive question to begin with”

Melia:  When they ask when I am due, I’ve told them “5 years ago.”

Tamara:  “Yep! I gave birth in 2005!”

Kim, Kat, Toni: “Twins. Ben, and Jerry.”

Tessa: “Yeah I’m pregnant…with 3 slices of pizza. Due to drop them in, like, 30 minutes.”

Robin: I tell them my baby is due when theirs is.
Always “I’m not pregnant”
… Ditto

Myrna: A friend of mine had a woman come up and touch her belly and ask when she was due and my friend looked her in the eye and said “stop fucking touching my fat.”

Jami: “Maybe in a couple years” is my go to. The confused look followed by the horror when they realize what I mean & frantic apologies is absolutely priceless.

Margo: “Wow. That was rude. You must be so embarrassed. ”

Grace:  Sometimes they escalate the intrusiveness and ask if I want to lose weight. That’s when I say “Honey, I’m not even done getting fat yet!” Shuts them down quickly.”

Heather:  “it’s a burrito baby!”

Melissa: “I’m fat, and you’re an ass.” I will often ask them in which universe, exactly, they thought asking that was ok or a good idea.

Linda: “It’s all me in there”

Friday:  When are you due? “20 years ago.”

Dorothy, Carly: I tell the truth and say “I can’t have kids.”

Lisa: “No, I just ate a bagel.” Then stare them in the eyes.

Rene: If the question is “when are you due?” I like to start rattling off the due dates of my library books, or when I’m due for my next pap smear.

Tzenah: My response: “For what?” *allow awkward silence to develop*

Elizabeth: “Well, I’m due at work in *checks watch* about 20 minutes.”

Mindy:  “No, but I had an abortion once.”

Deborah: “I’m due to watch you get super embarrassed in about 20 seconds from now.”

KeriAynn: “The 12th…of never…”

Meghan: I like to ask a question back such as, “When was your last pap or colonoscopy or recital exam? Oh sorry I thought this was inappropriate question time!”

Rene: “Oh thank you kind stranger, I was completely unaware of the joyous occasion. Were you present at the conception? Cuz I sure as hell wasn’t.”

Angie: Set scene: I am holding two screaming babies, both about the same size while pushing a grocery cart with my foot. Woman in checkout line in front of me points at my protruding stomach.
Her: “when are you due?”
Me, “about 13 months ago. I hope today is not the day.”

Roux-Toria: “Nope! Just gas!”

Thea: I drum on my stomach and say, “Nah, just a fatty.”

Brenda:  “Well, I’m not pregnant with a baby, but I always am pregnant with new possibilities in my own life – Life can be so surprising!” I was going for the Zen answer

Deidra:  Depends on how much of an ass they are being and how much of a smartass i’m feeling. “Nope, just fat” is usually the answer. sometimes, “Three hours and i hope to drop that food baby in the toilet later so my pants fit better!” or if they are nasty “I just had a miscarriage at eight months but thanks for asking!”

Caiti:  The only time I had this happen I was really young, but had started developing boobs early. They asked, I very calmly informed her that I was only in pre-puberty and hadn’t even gotten my period yet. She was all shocked and shaken and I informed her that she shouldn’t ask loaded questions if she didn’t expect a response. I walked away after that, but she apparently tried to tell my mom about weight loss strategies.

Michelle: “No. Are you?”

Meredith: I tell them “I’m due February 30th.”

Monica: “I’m in my 126th trimester.” (I’m 31 1/2 years old)

Liz: 18-year gestation. My “baby” is almost done with high school.

Andrea: I once feigned stupidity, like I didn’t know what the person was talking about and I kept saying “What?” as if I was confused until they shut up.

Shanna: “No, that is a cupcake and several seitan wings.”

Amy: “This is the size of my stomach; I’m not pregnant.”

Jan: “Yes, I DID just have a baby! Fifteen years ago.”

Janelle: I rub my belly, cackle like a witch and say, “Not pregnant but I do enjoy small children when they’re covered in barbecue sauce!”

Pia: “Oh I wish!”

Ashley: I want do a whole thing where I act like they’re informing me that I’m pregnant. “What!? I’m pregnant?? Ohmygodohmygodohmygod! My mom is going to be sooooo happy!! But what about my career? I’ll have to quit my job so I don’t work 18 hour days anymore. But my job is my life. I would be miserable. Maybe I should get an abortion. Kids are super expensive so it would be cheaper to pay for an abortion. But what will my husband say??” etc.

Amysue: I’m 55 and just say “no”. It’s not my job to disarm, humor or make someone less uncomfortable for voicing out loud a very personal assumption. That said, when I was younger it was so painful to hear because I wanted to be able to be pregnant and couldn’t. After I became a mom through adoption I’d sometimes agree if it was a stranger because I felt being in the pregnant camp was less “bad” than the fat camp. Now I have no patience with people who are uncomfortable around my body.

Gael: “Yes… and your bastard of a husband hasn’t called me back since I told him.” (contribution from my hubby

Elizabeth: Well if it meant they were offering me a seat on the subway I’d take it and THEN let them know I’m just fat. And not get up.

Sarah: “I’m pregnant with ice cream’s baby!”

Amber: It’s usually small children (I’m an elementary school teacher) and I say “nope, I just have a big belly.”

Macie: Response 1: “I usually poo around seven.”
Response 2: “September, 2010” ( last kids birthday)
Response 3: “My period is usually here by the fifth.”

Shaye: “I sure hope not.”

Rain: <utterly delighted tone, rather loudly, a bit wild-eyed> “No, I’m fat as fuck, and I’m so delighted you noticed! <stroking belly curve> Isn’t it gorgeous??”

Alannah:  “I’m not pregnant.”

Beda: Last time it happened a lady, I’ve never seen before in my life, places hand on my belly “you’re having baby?” “Nah, just a lot of pizza”.

LeeAnn: “You know, not everyone with a big tummy is pregnant. People have different kinds of bodies. Why didn’t your parents tell you that?”

Emily: If someone straight out asks whether I’m pregnant, I rub my belly and say with a smile, “Nope that’s all fat”.

One time my fiance’s great niece put her ear to my belly and asked if I had a baby in there. Her mom had just had her baby brother and looked like she was about to scold the little girl for asking such a question. I said “No baby there, sometimes people just have big tummies.” The niece was like “oh, OK” and went on her merry way.

Donna: “Oh am I? Thank you for letting me know”

Mia: As someone who works hard to ensure there will be no babies coming out of me, I respond, “Oh thank god no, I’m fat

Brenda: “This is just leftovers from the last 2 pregnancies…”

Laurel: Raucous laughter. I’m 57. That ship sailed long ago..

Phoebe:  “I’m not, but thank you for the compliment. I must be glowing. Pregnant women are so beautiful.”

Gretchen: “Do you really think so? We keep trying but there have been so many miscarriages!” Then burst into tears. Makes them feel really shitty.

Athena: “Actually I can’t have children, so I’m pretty sure I’m not, I’m just really fucking fat.”

Silva:  “If I’m pregnant, the child will absolutely for sure be the Messiah”

E-K: “My only babies have fur and four legs.”

Amanda: “Only until Thursday, it was the earliest the clinic could get me in.” This wasn’t weird until you made it weird, Sparky.

Katrina: “No. I’m fat. Shit, isn’t THIS embarrassing for you.” Or I (very sincerely) say “Nope. But you obviously are, hey?! So exciting! Wait-let me guess- yooooou’re 6 months? Have you picked any names yet?” And then I go in for a belly rub.

That’s if for now! Again, if you have comebacks for this situation, and/or a situation that you’d like me to blog about, please leave them in the comments!

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support fat activism and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you.  Click here for details

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

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

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

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

Published in: on January 8, 2017 at 3:04 pm  Comments (17)  

If You Would Bully Me, I Shouldn’t Exist?

fat-people-of-the-right-to-existIn a number of online conversations I’ve seen people who are selling weight loss (including organizations that lobby for the weight loss industry) suggest that the fact that fat people, including fat children, are bullied is a good reason for people to lose weight (and for congress to approve expansions on who is eligible for dangerous weight loss surgeries, and for the FDA to approve potentially deadly drugs.)

I’m not sure if I can even explain just how fucked up this is. Saying that “if fat people are bullied then they should become thin” is the ultimate vindication of the bullies.  What they are saying is that if people bully us, then we should try whatever the bullies deem necessary, including risking our lives, in an effort stop existing as fat people so that our bullies can be happy.

The problem isn’t that fat people exist, the problem is that fat people are shamed, stigmatized, bullied, and oppressed.  The problem is bullies and bullying, not their victims. The solution to bullying is for bullies not to bully, not for fat people to stop existing. Especially because it turns out that once you change to try to appease your bullies, you’ll likely find that they simply find something else to bully you about.

Of course people are allowed to try to manipulate their body size for whatever their personal reasons, but whenever you see someone say that other fat people should lose weight so they don’t get bullied,  I suggest you think (or perhaps say, or comment, or e-mail) That is Bullshit!  Fat people have the right to exist in fat bodies without shame, bullying, stigma, or oppression and it doesn’t matter why we’re fat, what being fat means, or whether it is possible for us to be thin.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support fat activism and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you.  Click here for details

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

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

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

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

 

Published in: on January 6, 2017 at 1:03 pm  Comments (14)  

When Eating Becomes A Performance

will perform for food.pngI think that our current culture seriously messes a lot of us up around food and eating, and that goes for people of all sizes.  One of the places where I often notice the results of that mess is the way that we talk about food.  I’m not talking about the way that we talk about liking or not liking food, or letting someone know what food allergies, sensitivities, needs one has, I’m talking about the way that we perform around food when we eat with others or – especially at this time of year – post to social media.

Sit at a restaurant for 20 minutes and I can almost guarantee that you’ll hear some version of each of these (possibly triggering) phrases:

  • This is SO MUCH FOOD, there’s no way that I could eat it all!
  • I’m going to have to do two hours on the treadmill to make up for this cookie.
  • I skipped lunch so that I could eat here tonight.
  • I’ve been so good, so it’s ok for me to cheat and eat this.
  • I exercise because I like to eat!
  • I did an extra mile on the treadmill this morning, I deserve this!
  • This fits into [my weight loss diet] for [these reasons].

Scroll through your Facebook feed and I can almost guarantee that you’ll see pictures of food with statuses about how the person is being are “being good” on their low carb/paleo/weight watchers/low fat/ whatever diet, or how this person suddenly loves steamed kale so much that they don’t miss ice cream.

All of these things might be true and I’m not trying to tell people what they should/should not feel or do around their food.  The ideas of “earning” food through exercise, or why we make food a moral issue (sinful, guilt free etc.) is the topic for another post.  My question today is more about why we feel the need to talk about this out loud.

We make lots of personal decisions every day without talking about them out loud.  Many people, who would think nothing of saying or hearing any of the above phrases at a business meeting with a catered lunch, would never be comfortable in the same meeting hearing or saying “I kind of have to pee but I don’t have to go that badly so maybe I’ll finish this TPS report and then head to the bathroom.” or “I really have to poo but I’m hoping the bathroom will be empty so I’m going to wait until the meeting breaks up and people get off this floor.” (Some people might be very comfortable with these things and of course that’s totally ok, I’m looking more from a cultural perspective.)

I think that a lot of it is the way that our society placing value, even morality, on food – “sinful” dessert, “reduced guilt” crackers, eating “clean” – leads to us treating decisions around food as a public performance that justifies our choices often at the expense of (purposefully or inadvertently) shaming or triggering others others.

If I get a plate of food and I decide that it’s more than I want for whatever reason, that’s fine.  If I decide to vocalize that, I may inadvertently shame the person next to me who ordered that same plate of food and does intend to eat it all for whatever reason, and I add to a world where food decisions need to be justified and rationalized out loud and I’d rather not be a part of that.  Just like I don’t want to engage in negative body talk, I also don’t want to engage in negative food talk.  I want people to be free to make their own decisions about food for their own reasons without feeling like they need to justify those choices to anyone.

At the end of the day I think that since I never know what’s going on with the people around me  (lots of people are dealing with disordered eating and eating disorders, food sensitivities and allergies, health issues etc.), I would rather be safe than accidentally triggering or shaming.  So while I’m happy to talk about food – what I like, what food I don’t, recipes and preparations etc.,  I eat what I eat and I don’t need to justify it.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support fat activism and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you.  Click here for details

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

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

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

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

Published in: on January 5, 2017 at 12:53 pm  Comments (11)  

Ridiculous Responses To Quitting Dieting

diet-roller-coasterOne of the ways that I practice Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size is to talk about my SA and HAES practices the same way other people talk about their diets.  When you announce that you are off the dieting roller coaster permanently, it is almost guaranteed that you will experience some truly ridiculous reactions.

Before I start, I want to point out that this post will discuss both Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size. These are not the same thing.  Size Acceptance is a civil rights movement that says that the rights to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and being treated with basic human respect should not be size dependent.  HAES is a paradigm for health (including healthcare, public health messaging, and personal health) that focuses on creating environments that support health and support people’s right to make choices for their health.  Size Acceptance, Fat Acceptance, and appreciating your body do not require “health” or “healthy behaviors” by any definition.

Finally, I asked for feedback on Facebook for this post and there are currently 102 comments on the thread.  I just want to thank everyone on that thread for a great conversation, some of which is paraphrased below:

So, let’s talk about some of the ridiculous response we get when we say things like “I don’t diet anymore.”

So you’re just going to eat junkfood all the time?

OMGWTFBBQ what is with people who literally think that there is nothing between “I’m starving my body to try to shrink it” and I eat junk food all the time. This is weight loss industry conditioning – the idea that there is no way of eating that is acceptable except one that is focused on manipulating our body size.  And it’s super very much totally bullshit.

Besides which, people are allowed to eat whatever they want – health (by any definition) is not an obligation, barometer of worthiness, entirely within our control, or guaranteed under any circumstances. We need to focus on making sure that people have access to the foods that they want to eat, rather than trying to police what other people are eating.

But you’ll get (insert illness and/or disability here.)

People of all sizes get sick and disabled.  It’s ableist, healthist, and fatphobic to use the chance of becoming sick or disabled as a way to enforce a stereotype of beauty or health. Knock that shit off.

It’s the same as someone just choosing to not take their medicine.

It’s really not.  Body size and illness are not the same thing. Attempting to manipulate your body size and taking medication for a health condition are not remotely the same thing.  That said, nobody is obligated to take medicine either.

But you’re not a doctor!

Doctors prescribed heroin as a cough suppressant. Doctors prescribed thalidomide for morning sickness. Doctors are subject to the biases of their time.  Doctors get it wrong all the time. That’s why I do my own research and make my own choices.

You’re telling people not to be healthy

We’re not telling people not to be anything.  We are making choices for our own bodies (choices that are based on plenty of research,) other people can do whatever they want, though I’ll point out that not dieting and not being healthy are not the same thing at all.

But how will you find someone to date you?

I will find someone who loves me for me and who does not only want someone who is the stereotype of beauty that has been shoved down their throat, or I will remain alone (better alone than in bad company.) As a bonus, since time will definitely change how I look, I will feel comfortable that I’m in a relationship with someone who is much more likely to be able to roll with that.

I know that if I tried that I would only eat chips and ice cream

I don’t think that’s true, I think you might do that for a while because your relationship with food may have been messed up by years of dieting, restriction and food moralization, but I think that once you got over that you would, with some self-work, develop a healthy relationship with food. But you make whatever choices you want to make as long as you realized that they have literally nothing to do with me.

Right – just focus on eating healthy and exercising and the weight will come off

Noooooo.  World of no. Galaxy of no.  Universe of damn no.  Body size is complicated and affected by a lot of things, some within our control and some outside of our control. People can have the exact same diet and exercise habits and have very different body sizes, and people can have very different diet and exercise habits and have the same body size.  HAES is NOT a weight loss scheme, some people get bigger, some people get smaller, some people stay the same.  The point is, we let our bodies settle where they settle and celebrate them at whatever size.

It’s ok as long as you’re healthy.

Nope.  There is no level of “unhealthy” (by whatever definition) that requires someone to diet or hate their body, and no reason to believe that either of those things will help them be healthier or happier.  This is bullshit

I knew someone fat and they had a lot of health problems (or, worse, I’m a healthcare practitioner and I treat people who have healthcare problems so I know what will happen to you…)

I knew someone thin who had a lot of health problems. By this logic I should stay fat for my health. I’m also brunette – do you know a brunette with health problems?  Should I dye my hair?  Stop with this.  If you are a doctor saying this totally illogical crap, you should know that you are in the company of Doctor Oz which should be enough to stop you from doing it.  If every fat person you see is sick, you should be aware that you have a sign on your door that says “sick people should come here.” I assume that the thin people you see are sick as well.

It’s the same as telling someone who is anorexic that they should keep starving themselves.

Nope.  Body size and disordered eating are two very different things.  In fact, the normalization of fat hate can actually prevent eating disorder recovery.

So you’re just giving up?

You bet, and I couldn’t be happier about it.  When I was a kid I wanted to be taller, but I gave up on that too, which is great since it means that I didn’t waste my life trying to do something that nobody could prove is possible for a reason that nobody could prove was valid.  This is a continuation of that theme.

You’re just glorifying obesity

I’m also short – am I glorifying being short?  Or am I maybe a short fat person choosing my best life.  The “glorifying obesity” myth leads to a harmful lack of fat role models, such that the only way we see ourselves represented is as self-loathing stereotypes.  Fuck that.

But what about your knees?

How are your bowel movements? Sorry – I thought we were asking each other random questions that are none of our business.  It’s possible that I’ll have knee problems – people of all sizes do.  The big problem that I see is that thin people with knee problems get actual treatment while fat people get lectures and diets that aren’t even likely to make us thinner, let alone help our knees. And if you think that being fat is a problem for my knees, let’s remember that the most common outcome of weight loss attempts is weight gain, so please quit giving people terrible advice about knee health.

Loving your body is fine, as long as you eat healthy and exercise

Nope. Loving your body is fine.  Period.  Then you get to make choices about food and exercise (choices that may be limited by things that are outside of your control.) There is no food or exercise requirement for loving your body.

So you’re saying every person of every size is healthy – even if they weigh [insert random number of pounds that seems like “a lot” to this person]

I feel like people who say this are being aggressively poor at basic comprehension.  There are healthy and unhealthy people of all sizes.  What HAES says is that people of all sizes can focus on choosing how to prioritize our health and the path to get there, without focusing on manipulating our body size. Health is not guaranteed to anyone of any size.

You have to try, otherwise you’re just saying it’s ok to be fat.

It is totally ok to be fat.

But my diet is ok – it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change. [It’s a lifestyle where you diet all the time.]  It’s totally great and you should try it or at least approve of it/applaud me for it.  I think it’s great for other people to love their bodies but I need vindication for my choice to try to manipulate my body size for [insert what this person thinks are very good reasons.]

HAES people are surrounded by dieters and people who constantly question our choices, but we’re able to be comfortable with making a different choice.  If you’re a dieter, you need to be able to be comfortable in your choice without trying to “sell” it to us, or hoping for our applause and agreement.  I agree that you can do whatever you want with your body and I support your right to do so, I do not agree to celebrate those choices, and I do not agree that you can talk about that stuff in SA and HAES spaces.

But sometimes dieting is the healthiest thing that you can do.

Totally, 100% disagree, and not just because it’s highly unlikely to make us thinner or healthier. I spent a lot of time dieting, and a lot of time researching dieting, and for me there is nothing healthy – mentally or physically – about it. You do what you think is best for you.

This is just an excuse to be lazy

I don’t need an excuse to be lazy. I can be lazy just because it’s Tuesday (as long as Dawn’s not in trouble… 10 points for getting the reference!)  People of all sizes are lazy to some degree or another at some time or another and that’s fine.

You’re just committing slow suicide

Someone on my FB wall said that people who say this should be “ejected into the sun” and I could not agree more.  By this definition literally everyone is committing slow suicide – it turns out that thinness doesn’t make us immortal and we’re all going to die no matter what we do.  None of us know how long we have to live, all we can do is choose what to do in the time we have.   The time I spent dieting felt far more like dying than the time I’ve spent practicing SA and HAES and if I’m wrong then I would absolutely take a shorter life of this than a longer life of that.

I’m 100% done with this dieting nonsense.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support fat activism and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you.  Click here for details

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

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

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

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

 

Published in: on January 4, 2017 at 2:09 pm  Comments (13)