School Dress Code – No Fat Chicks

know fat chicks

Design by Kris Owen

Brookhaven Elementary school in Mississippi prioritized students not seeing a 9 year old girl in a “too snug” t-shirt, over that girl’s education.  She was removed from her classroom and put into in school suspension her mother then brought another outfit which was also deemed inappropriate.  The school has verified that they are standing by their decision.

Let’s start with pictures of the “offensive” outfits:

 

According to the family, the school’s issue with both outfits was that the shirts were too tight and “Because of my nieces’ body, if she wears a larger shirt it comes past her knees, which is in violation of the dress code.”  According to The Daily Leader, the school’s dress code states that:

“…all tops must be size appropriate and should neither be overly baggy nor overly tight” and that “tights or legging/jeggings worn as outerwear, spandex, bike shorts, bathing/swimming wear, sleep wear (including pajamas). are not permitted.”

First of all, the idea that clothes are “size appropriate” is super messed up (as we discussed regarding prom fat shaming  here and here) and the fact that they wrote fat shaming right into their dress code should tell us a lot. This takes the issues in which dress codes are used to sexualize girls and prioritize boys having a “distraction free environment” over girls getting an education, and adds fat shaming to that mix. These dress codes also fail to take into account the difficulties of finding (and affording) clothes for fat kids that the kids like and that aren’t “too loose,” aren’t “too tight” etc.

But mostly what I want to say is that this kid is fricking nine years old and she deserves to be able to go to school to learn in pants and a t-shirt without having to worry about being dragged out of class in front of her peers and put into in school suspension because of a ridiculous fat shaming dress code and the sizeist teachers and administrators who choose how and when to enforce it.

Want to learn more about how to deal with sizeism like this?  Join us at the Fat Activism Conference:

THE FAT ACTIVISM CONFERENCE:
TOOLS FOR THE REVOLUTION! 

This year we have a kick ass line up of speakers talking about everything from Re-Imagining Fashion from an Inclusive Framework” to “Activism for the Introverted and Anxious” to “Building Fat Patient Power While Accessing Healthcare” and moreThis is a virtual conference so you can listen by phone or computer wherever you are, and you’ll receive recordings and transcripts of each talk so that you can listen/read on your own schedule.  We also offer a pay what you can afford option to make the conference accessible to everyone. The Conference will be held September 23-25, 2016

Click Here to Register!

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Check out the Body Confidence Blog Carnival! Eleven days of awesomeness

Like my work?  Want to help me keep doing it? Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, 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 September 19, 2016 at 1:05 pm  Comments (16)  

Come for the Clothes, Stay for the Stomach Amputations?

WTFReader Jen was in her local mall, trying to get herself some clothes at Torrid, a store that caters to plus size people.  What she got instead was a big sign advertising a free seminar about weight loss surgery. (To be clear the surgery is expensive, deadly, and can lead to horrific short and long term side effects, but the seminar about it is free.)

Now, I think that people are allowed to get weight loss surgery. It’s legal and it’s their body, they can do what that want – get weight loss surgery, jump out of a helicopter wearing skis, amputate their arm, whatever.

I don’t think that these surgeries meet the criteria for ethical, evidence-based medicine, but that’s a subject for another time. Even if you think that WLS should be an option, it does not follow that it’s ok to advertise it outside a store where fat people are going to buy clothes.

The idea that all fat people are seen as a “target demographic” for a surgery that is objectively dangerous is messed up. The fact that spending tons of money convincing us to have this dangerous, often deadly, surgery forms a profit center for companies like Mercy Care (and I don’t think that a facility that profits off this surgery should probably have to call themselves Have No Mercy Care) is more than a little ethically problematic.

The fact that anyone – whether it was “Mercy” or the mall – would force fat people who are trying to buy clothes to walk past a sign that advertises a dangerous, often deadly, medical procedure is just totally fucked up.

It’s bad enough that doctors suggest that fat people put our lives on the line to get this surgery, but I think it crosses a whole other line when fat people can’t buy a shirt without being given the message that our bodies somehow require (expensive, dangerous, deadly) surgical intervention.

In good news, activists were all over this.  Jen posted about this on Facebook, and while people made suggestions that included everything from permanent marker, to a tasteful drape, to re-purposing a Torrid dress,  someone called the mall.  They were told that the mall had already received calls and that the sign had been moved immediately.

It sucks that fat people are seen as a target demographic for the weight loss industry, but the good news is that if we are a target market, then that means we have influence. The more we work together, the more we throw our weight around, the less nonsense we’ll have to put up with.  Thanks to the actions of a few, every fat person who wants to buy some clothes at Torrid at this mall will do so without becoming the target of the predatory marketing of a dangerous and often deadly medical procedure!

Want to learn more about throwing your weight around?  Join us at the Fat Activism Conference:

THE FAT ACTIVISM CONFERENCE:
TOOLS FOR THE REVOLUTION! 

This year we have a kick ass line up of speakers talking about everything from Re-Imagining Fashion from an Inclusive Framework” to “Activism for the Introverted and Anxious” to “Building Fat Patient Power While Accessing Healthcare” and moreThis is a virtual conference so you can listen by phone or computer wherever you are, and you’ll receive recordings and transcripts of each talk so that you can listen/read on your own schedule.  We also offer a pay what you can afford option to make the conference accessible to everyone. The Conference will be held September 23-25, 2016

Click Here to Register!

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Check out the Body Confidence Blog Carnival! Eleven days of awesomeness

Like my work?  Want to help me keep doing it? Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, 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 September 13, 2016 at 9:06 am  Comments (4)  

Tim Gunn’s Plus Size Mistake

Image resultTim Gunn is “a design educator, author and Emmy-winning co-host of “Project Runway” according to the byline of a piece he wrote for the Washington Post.  The piece is called “Designers refuse to make clothes to fit American women. It’s a disgrace.” with the subtitle “Far more women in this country wear a size 16 than a size 6, but the industry seems not to have noticed.” I’m a fan of Tim Gunn on Project Runway and I had high hopes when I opened the article.  And it started off strong:

I love the American fashion industry, but it has a lot of problems, and one of them is the baffling way it has turned its back on plus-size women. It’s a puzzling conundrum. The average American woman now wears between a size 16 and a size 18, according to new research from Washington State University. There are 100 million plus-size women in America, and, for the past three years, they have increased their spending on clothes faster than their straight-size counterparts. There is money to be made here ($20.4 billion, up 17 percent from 2013). But many designers — dripping with disdain, lacking imagination or simply too cowardly to take a risk — still refuse to make clothes for them.

Yes!  This!  All of this!  Tell it Tim Gunn!

In addition to the fact that most designers max out at size 12, the selection of plus-size items on offer at many retailers is paltry compared with what’s available for a size 2 woman. According to a Bloomberg analysis, only 8.5 percent of dresses on Nordstrom.com in May were plus-size. At J.C. Penney’s website, it was 16 percent; Nike.com had a mere five items — total.

I know, right!  This is ridiculous.  Thanks Tim Gunn, I feel like you really get me!

This a design failure and not a customer issue. There is no reason larger women can’t look just as fabulous as all other women.

Right On Tim!

But then things took a disturbing turn:

The key is the harmonious balance of silhouette, proportion and fit, regardless of size or shape. Designs need to be reconceived, not just sized up; it’s a matter of adjusting proportions. The textile changes, every seam changes. Done right, our clothing can create an optical illusion that helps us look taller and slimmer. Done wrong, and we look worse than if we were naked.

Wait. What?  No. World of no, Galaxy of no. Universe of no.  Nooooooooo. Optical illusion?  I don’t need to be a walking magic trick, Tim, I just want options for clothes in my size. Also, it seems like you might be insinuating that fat people aren’t smoking hot naked, and if you are, then you’re wrong about that my friend.

Have you shopped retail for size 14-plus clothing? Based on my experience shopping with plus-size women, it’s a horribly insulting and demoralizing experience. Half the items make the body look larger, with features like ruching, box pleats and shoulder pads. Pastels and large-scale prints and crazy pattern-mixing abound, all guaranteed to make you look infantile or like a float in a parade. Adding to this travesty is a major department-store chain that makes you walk under a marquee that reads “WOMAN.” What does that even imply? That a “woman” is anyone larger than a 12, and everyone else is a girl? It’s mind-boggling.

You are so close, Tim – you are almost there.  Here’s the deal:  The idea is that fat women should have the same kind of clothing options as thin women in style, quality, and price point. We should be able to buy clothes that work for the reasons we want to buy them, whether it’s comfort, functionality, a personal style, something else, or some combination.

Some women may choose to wear clothing for the purpose of creating an optical illusion, and they are allowed to do that.  But many of us are members of the Fuck Flattering Club and don’t have a personal style that could be described as “now you see me, now you don’t.”

This season [on project runway,] something different happened: Ashley Nell Tipton won the contest with the show’s first plus-size collection. But even this achievement managed to come off as condescending. I’ve never seen such hideous clothes in my life: bare midriffs; skirts over crinoline, which give the clothes, and the wearer, more volume; see-through skirts that reveal panties; pastels, which tend to make the wearer look juvenile; and large-scale floral embellishments that shout “prom.” Her victory reeked of tokenism. One judge told me that she was “voting for the symbol” and that these were clothes for a “certain population.” I said they should be clothes all women want to wear. I wouldn’t dream of letting any woman, whether she’s a size 6 or a 16, wear them. Simply making a nod toward inclusiveness is not enough.

…I profoundly believe that women of every size can look good. But they must be given choices. Separates — tops, bottoms — rather than single items like dresses or jumpsuits always work best for the purpose of fit. Larger women look great in clothes skimming the body, rather than hugging or cascading. There’s an art to doing this. Designers, make it work.

So what I’m reading is that Tim is for more plus size clothes but only as he envisions them – created for the purpose of making us look smaller than we are, and certainly not as   envisioned by an actual plus sized designer who wants to dress fat bodies instead of disappearing them.  The problem isn’t Ashley’s collection, the problem is that it’s only one collection – one designer’s aesthetic. What we need is lots more fat people making clothes that they and other fat people want to wear.  If Tim Gunn wants to help out with that, and it seems like he does and I genuinely appreciate that, then his job is to make way for them, not stand in their way. Trust me, they’ll make it work

If you want to hear fat designers like Alysse Dalessandro and Yolanda Williams, and plus size models like Saucye West and Velvet D’Amour talk about plus size fashion, check out the Fat Activism Conference:

THE FAT ACTIVISM CONFERENCE:
TOOLS FOR THE REVOLUTION! 

This year we have a kick ass line up of speakers talking about everything from Re-Imagining Fashion from an Inclusive Framework” to “Activism for the Introverted and Anxious” to “Building Fat Patient Power While Accessing Healthcare” and moreThis is a virtual conference so you can listen by phone or computer wherever you are, and you’ll receive recordings and transcripts of each talk so that you can listen/read on your own schedule.  We also offer a pay what you can afford option to make the conference accessible to everyone. The Conference will be held September 23-25, 2016

Click Here to Register!

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Check out the Body Confidence Blog Carnival! Eleven days of awesomeness

Like my work?  Want to help me keep doing it? Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, 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 September 10, 2016 at 5:12 am  Comments (24)  

Dear Fat People: We Deserve Better

Angry FrustratedThe world is not built for fat people, and the larger we are the more things are inaccessible (and this often intersects with the oppression of other marginalized identities that some fat people hold, including racism, ableism, healthism, ageism, classism, homophobia, transphobia and more.)

Sometimes it’s annoying – like when there’s a restaurant we want to try, but they only have booths that are too small.  Sometimes it affects us professionally – like if a conference room only has chairs with arms that don’t accommodate us. Sometimes it limits our ability to move around our world – like fat people who aren’t able or are unwilling to pay twice as much as thin people for the same airline trip.  Sometimes it affects our health – like when the doctor doesn’t have the proper sized cuff to take our blood pressure.

Sometimes it affects our survival – like when they don’t have an ambulance built to transport us or medical equipment made to save us, or we have surgeons who don’t have any training working on fat bodies.  Sometimes it affects our death, like when we find out that the reasons doctors don’t have training on fat bodies is that they won’t accept our donation of our bodies into medical programs.

And adding insult to injury are the endless flimsy excuses that people always seem to have to try to justify this stuff. These combine to give us the message that we’re not worth considering in the first place (since they knew fat people existed when they built that hospital, and chose not to purchase items that would accommodate both us and thinner people as well.) And when it’s obvious that the lack of consideration has negative consequences for us (up to and including death) we get the message that we’re not worth the effort to fix the problem.  In the fat phobic, weight-biased society we live in, this can happen so often that we can begin to internalize the message and accept the flimsy excuses, the tired justifications, and even start to think that maybe this is all we deserve.

I am here to tell you:  Fuck. That. Shit.  Seriously, fuck a bunch of that. Fuck all of it. You are worthy of seats that fit you everywhere you go.  You are worthy of being able to access travel, and medical care just like a thin person. You deserve for the centers that handle cadavers to figure out a way to work with larger bodies so that doctors have proper practice on fat bodies (and if they can ship a fat body 5000 miles to do a completely unethical autopsy, it seems like this is a problem that can be solved.)

This lack of access can definitely become our problem, but it is NOT our fault. The problem is a combination of prejudice and the power to wield it. It’s easy to hear this stuff and think “Damn, I’m not worth a $100 blood pressure cuff or a $40 chair!”  But what it actually says is that someone harbors prejudice and bigotry against fat people, and is  in a position of power that allows them to put that into practice to harm fat people.” So it’s not our fault, and it’s not what we deserve, but often it becomes our problem, and it’s what we get.

When you are dealing with these situations you may or may not be able to do anything in that moment to change them.  I’m not even worried about that with this post (I talk about it here,  here and here.) Today I want to make sure you know, every single time this happens, that you deserve better. You are worthy, no matter what. So I offer this three phrase adage for you to use when these situations happen to you (feel free to change them up to work for you!)

  1. This situation is bullshit.
  2. I am not the problem here.
  3. I deserve far better than this.

No matter how you decide to handle the situation (and any way you handle it is absolutely valid,) no matter how many pathetic trolls comes out of the woodwork to claim that you are “delusional,” or that you deserve poor treatment, or that it’s “simple economics” or whatever, just keep repeating those three things until it sinks in, until you know it to your core – you deserve better.

If you could use more support, consider joining us for the Fat Activism Conference:

THE FAT ACTIVISM CONFERENCE:
TOOLS FOR THE REVOLUTION! 

This year we have a kick ass line up of speakers talking about everything from Re-Imagining Fashion from an Inclusive Framework” to “Activism for the Introverted and Anxious” to “Building Fat Patient Power While Accessing Healthcare” and moreThis is a virtual conference so you can listen by phone or computer wherever you are, and you’ll receive recordings and transcripts of each talk so that you can listen/read on your own schedule.  We also offer a pay what you can afford option to make the conference accessible to everyone. The Conference will be held September 23-25, 2016

Click Here to Register!

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Check out the Body Confidence Blog Carnival! Eleven days of awesomeness

Like my work?  Want to help me keep doing it? Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, 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 September 1, 2016 at 9:09 am  Comments (13)  

The Horror of “Obesity Autopsy”

Bad DoctorYes, the BBC is airing the autopsy of a fat person. No, it’s not ok. I can see the meeting now, someone stands up and says “how can we create programming that plays on and sensationalizes the social stigma against fat people, makes no medical sense, helps no one, and does tremendous harm?”  And thus “Obesity Autopsy” was born, eclipsing “Sharknado” as possibly the most ridiculous idea to get produced and aired but, of course, far more harmful.

Let’s start with the basics. They have flown the body of a “nearly” 238 pound woman, who died in her sixties of heart disease and donated her body to science, from Long Beach, California 5,000 miles to London so that Mike Osborn, a consultant for the Royal College of Pathologists, and Carla Valentine, an assistant pathology technician can perform an autopsy which will first be aired as part of a one hour program on BBC Three, an online service focused on the youth demographic, and then on a late-night slot on either BBC One or Two. The program will also include a panel of “obese young contributors,” who will explore the causes of obesity, and how it affects their day-to-day lives.

Before I get into this, let’s remember that fat people have the right to live and thrive in fat bodies without shame, stigma, bullying, or oppression and it doesn’t matter why we’re fat, what the consequences of being fat may or may not be, and if we could – or even want to- become less fat or not fat. Any suggestion otherwise will be some combination of sizeist, ableist, and/or healthist. The rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are not size (or health) dependent.

Now that we’ve got that crystal clear, let’s start with the many ways that this is medically unsound:

I can’t imagine why they would fly a body 5,000 miles unless the UK has laws that require greater respect for the dead than this debacle, or that they want to make a spectacle of the transport as well as the autopsy.

The idea that one can extrapolate information about all fat people from the autopsy of one fat person is patently ridiculous.  This is taking what I’ll call the “Dr. Oz Fallacy” (wherein he tried to claim that all fat people have bad hearts based on the fact that the fat people who had come to him for heart surgery had bad hearts – as if the thin people who came to him for heart surgery were actually fine…) to whole new lows.

The autopsy can’t even tell us everything about this woman’s body (let alone everything about all fat people’s bodies, let alone how they do or don’t relate to thin people’s bodies.) For example:

It can’t tell us about her genetics in terms of body size or cardiac issues. It cannot tell us if her autopsy results are due to her body size, or something else entirely.  The  entire premise is completely bereft logic and I absolutely question the ethics of the pathologist and the assistant pathology technician participating.

It can’t tell us how she was affected by the culture of fat hate (Peter Muennig’s studies have found that the diseases that are correlated with “obesity” are also correlated with the stress of constant stigma, and that women who feel they are too heavy have more physical and mental illnesses than women who are fine with their size, regardless of their size.)

It can’t tell us if she was affected by the chronic dieting (and subsequent weight cycling) that is almost never successful and yet is prescribed throughout our lives to fat people by our healthcare providers.

It can’t tell us if she was affected by taking extremely dangerous drugs that doctors suggest fat people should take for a very tiny chance to get thin, despite the risk of death (often from heart problems,) or if she was affected by the tendency to prescribe to fat people what we diagnose in thin people.

It can’t tell us if her actual health problems were ignored by doctors who prescribed manipulation of body size instead of the evidence-based interventions that a thin person with the same symptoms would have received. It also can’t tell us if she avoided the doctor  or delayed seeking treatment because of their tendency to substitute shame and diets for actual evidence-based care.

It can’t tell us if her healthcare was compromised by the epidemic of fat bias among doctors.  It can’t tell us if doctors would have worked harder to save her if she was a thin person on the table.

What it can tell us is that instead of using this woman’s donation of her body to science to advance the care that fat people receive (for example giving future surgeons a chance to work on a fat cadaver rather than seeing their first fat body when they are working on it) they are exploiting her life and death. I can’t imagine how I, or my loved ones, would feel if I donated my body to science and instead it was used in a mockery of science for television ratings.  It is inexcusable, it is unjustifiable, it is disrespectful, it is wrong.

And for everything this autopsy won’t tell us about this woman, it tells us exponentially less about every other fat person. And the people behind this are so utterly ignorant about that, that it’s embarrassing.  According to the Telegraph (not linking because of headless fatty picture) “Damian Kavanagh, the controller of BBC Three, said young people needed to be shown the impact of unhealthy eating.”

Body size is not the same thing as “unhealthy eating.” Fat people have behaviors around eating (and everything else) as varied as any other group of people. Speaking of questionably drawn conclusions,  I’m concerned about a panel of “obese young contributors  exploring the causes of obesity, and how it affects their day-to-day lives.”

First I’m concerned with the effect on these panelists. Even if one believes that “determining the causes of obesity” is a noble pursuit, it should follow that the pursuit should be undertaken with scientific rigor, not by asking fat people (who live in a fatphobic society and get messages like the one from Damian Kavanagh that suggest that “obesity” is the same as “unhealthy eating”) to speculate wildly – even if they weren’t handpicked to agree with the stigmatizing premise of this show.

I’m also concerned that they are asking about the effects of obesity on these kids’ lives, when it’s so common to try to convince us to blame on body size what is actually the effect of fat stigma.

Not to mention that even if this autopsy could draw medically sound conclusions about fat people (and let’s be super clear that it cannot) that wouldn’t change the fact that fat people should be able to live without sizeist, healthist, ableist stigma, nor would it change the fact that there is not a single study where more than a tiny fraction of people have maintained significant long term weight loss, so if the suggestion is that being smaller would make us healthier than it’s as useful as telling us that being taller would make us healthier.

This show is an abomination that can only serve to disrespect the dead and stereotype and stigmatize fat people, and it has no place on the air.

If you want to give feedback you can Send them your thoughts using their online form

Edit:  I wanted to share with you this response from Daniel Goldberg, a bioethicist at the Center for Bioethics & Humanities at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus:

Having just taught several sessions on the “Cadaver as First Patient” to medical students, I can suggest that there are enormous power issues that are involved in dissection. The learners generally feel this, and it can be overwhelming — to their infinite credit, most students I’ve encountered intuitively get this and apply a huge amount of respect and even reverence for the cadaver that marks the beginning of their entry into medicine.

Moreover, many learners, albeit not all, humanize their cadaver by giving them a name and even a narrative backstory — to symbolize their belief that the cadaver on the table is more than just a thing. This was a person, with hands that held and eyes that cried. The abomination described here countermands all of these ideals — it encourages seeing the body as an object, and as one that exists purely to explore pathology, disease, and dysfunction. A more offensive, stigmatizing, and structurally harmful display would be difficult to divine. FWIW, this bioethicist finds it utterly transgressive and reprehensible.

If you want to get more information and community support around making sure that stuff like this stops happening, join us at the Fat Activism Conference:

THE FAT ACTIVISM CONFERENCE:
TOOLS FOR THE REVOLUTION! 

This year we have a kick ass line up of speakers talking about everything from Re-Imagining Fashion from an Inclusive Framework” to “Activism for the Introverted and Anxious” to “Building Fat Patient Power While Accessing Healthcare” and moreThis is a virtual conference so you can listen by phone or computer wherever you are, and you’ll receive recordings and transcripts of each talk so that you can listen/read on your own schedule.  We also offer a pay what you can afford option to make the conference accessible to everyone. The Conference will be held September 23-25, 2016

Click Here to Register!

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Check out the Body Confidence Blog Carnival! Eleven days of awesomeness

Like my work?  Want to help me keep doing it? Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, 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 August 30, 2016 at 8:31 am  Comments (27)  

Our Spaces, Our Rules

This week there has been a rush of people on my social media who have been shocked , shocked I tell you, shocked and appalled, that I wouldn’t allow them to post anti-fat beliefs and diet talk, and that I deleted their comments. I’m surprised that they are surprised – I am responsible for the spaces that I create and I’m not going to allow people to turn them into a cesspool of anti-fat sentiments, concern trolling, and weight loss talk.

 

After I delete something something like “I’m allowed to diet if I want to, because [I want to fit into different clothes, I want to stop being treated poorly, I think it will make me healthier etc]!”is a common refrain, and an accurate one – people are allowed to do whatever they want with their bodies, whatever their reasons. “I’m allowed to [talk about my diet/express my disagreement and concern for your choices/say whatever I want] on your Facebook wall” is an inaccurate statement as it’s my wall and I get to decide what goes there.

As I’ve been deleting and, when necessary, blocking people I’ve been getting a lot of feedback from people who say that they are grateful that they know I moderate my space, and that they never realized that they could delete things they don’t want from their own social media and they are finding it really empowering. So I decided to repost this today as a reminder:

No matter how much we love our bodies, fat people face a lot of stigma for our size, and thinness confers tremendous benefit. I can understand the desire to try to solve social stigma through weight  loss, or to try to lose weight to solve the issues with getting clothing in our sizes, or buying into the idea that manipulation of body size is the path to health. People are allowed to do all of these things.

For my part I think it’s important for people to have access to information not paid for by the diet industry, including information regarding their odds of failure so that if their attempts fail it softens the self-esteem blow.  People are allowed to believe that manipulating their body size is the key to being healthy and feel that they need to lose weight for health reasons. I think they should have access to true and correct data about health and weight.  I don’t think that they are required to do any research or justify their choices in any way, I just think that they should have easy access to the information.

To me social change is more important than social approval.  I think that the cure for social stigma is to end stigma, not to insist that members of the stigmatized group change themselves.  In my experience when you try to change yourself to change the behavior of others or gain their approval, you soon find it’s never enough -there’s always something else that somebody wants you to change. If I was offered a pill that would make me into the perfect stereotypical beauty I wouldn’t take it. That doesn’t make me worse or better than those who make different choices. Our bodies – our choices.

People are allowed to want to, and try to, lose weight. However, where people get tripped up is in the belief that they should be allowed to talk about that in Fat Activist, Size Acceptance, and Health at Every Size spaces.  Nope nope nope. It is ok to have spaces that don’t allow diet or weight loss talk, it is ok to have 100% body positive spaces, it’s ok to have a policy of “absolutely no diet talk” or “absolutely no negative body talk.”  The spaces that we create – be they our homes, blogs, Facebook Pages, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram, Snapchat or other social media – are ours.  They exist because we created them and we have every right in the world to moderate them.

I notice that often bullies are still using every schoolyard bullying technique that exists to try to question our right to moderate our own spaces.  From calling us “chicken,” to creating some twisted logic, to trying to make us believe that allowing them to bully us is somehow our obligation.  We get bombarded by negative messages about our bodies every single day, and we have every right to create spaces that support us and our choices, even if that means excluding people who want to be in those spaces but refuse to respect the rules of the space, regardless of their reasons or even if they have “good intentions.”  Our bodies, our choices.  Our spaces, our rules.

THE FAT ACTIVISM CONFERENCE:
TOOLS FOR THE REVOLUTION! 

This year we have a kick ass line up of speakers talking about everything from Re-Imagining Fashion from an Inclusive Framework” to “Activism for the Introverted and Anxious” to “Building Fat Patient Power While Accessing Healthcare” and moreThis is a virtual conference so you can listen by phone or computer wherever you are, and you’ll receive recordings and transcripts of each talk so that you can listen/read on your own schedule.  We also offer a pay what you can afford option to make the conference accessible to everyone. The Conference will be held September 23-25, 2016

Click Here to Register!

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Check out the Body Confidence Blog Carnival! Eleven days of awesomeness

Like my work?  Want to help me keep doing it? Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, 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 August 29, 2016 at 7:44 am  Comments (12)  

Gym Fat Shames, Activists Shut It Down

WTF are you doingUsing the corporate logo, a Gold’s Gym franchise in Egypt posted a picture of a pear with the caption “This is no shape for a girl” to their Facebook page. There was an immediate backlash, which led to a bizarre non-apology apology that looks like it was written by Donald Trump’s full time “Apologizing for Stunningly Offensive Stuff” Team.

In my article for Ravishly I talk about the entire situation, including the franchises awful apology and corporate’s much better apology (thanks to the work of activists,) and the culture that created this and will keep creating situations like it until we fix it. You can check it out here:

http://www.ravishly.com/2016/08/18/golds-gym-posts-stunningly-misogynistic-ad-activists-shut-it-down

THE FAT ACTIVISM CONFERENCE:
TOOLS FOR THE REVOLUTION! 

This year we have a kick ass line up of speakers talking about everything from Re-Imagining Fashion from an Inclusive Framework” to “Activism for the Introverted and Anxious” to “Building Fat Patient Power While Accessing Healthcare” and moreThis is a virtual conference so you can listen by phone or computer wherever you are, and you’ll receive recordings and transcripts of each talk so that you can listen/read on your own schedule.  We also offer a pay what you can afford option to make the conference accessible to everyone. The Conference will be held September 23-25, 2016

Click Here to Register!

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Check out the Body Confidence Blog Carnival! Eleven days of awesomeness

Like my work?  Want to help me keep doing it? Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, 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 August 22, 2016 at 10:39 am  Comments (2)  

Those Trump Statues

Trump Statue ResponseAn organization called Indecline installed nude Trump statues in cities around the country, including New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Cleveland and Seattle. The statues show Trump as fatter than he is, with a “very small” penis, and no testicles.

There has been a lot of controversy about whether or not it’s ok, since Trump is so terrible, to revel in the shaming of him that these statutes are intended to create. I’ve received hundreds of requests asking what I think about it. I have very strong feelings about this, and I want to be clear that, as always, I can only speak for myself.

Let’s start with the fact that I am adamantly against fat shaming, body shaming (including genital shaming,) and transphobia. It therefore follows, for me, that I don’t want to participate in fat shaming, body shaming (including genital shaming) or transphobia.

That being the case, no matter how much I hate Trump’s behaviors and beliefs, no matter how much I’d like to take every opportunity to hate him, I have to be honest with myself that these statues (from premise, to installation, to much of the behavior around them) are fat shaming, body shaming (including genital shaming,) and transphobic as hell.

But don’t take my word for it, let’s look at what the artist has to say about them (and the criteria he was given) for this piece called “The Emperor Has No Balls.”

The criteria was he had to be naked, they wanted it to be pretty life-like, they wanted him to be chubbier than he is in real life, not that we were fat shaming him in anyway, you know he’s not that fat, and I’m not a skinny guy. He had to be in a regal, presidential stance. He had to have absolutely no testicles, and he had to have a very small manhood. There were a couple little things I personally put my artistic twist into and that was the saggy man bum, I was very proud of that ass, and the mason ring.

Explain to me why, if you’re not fat shaming him in any way, making him “chubbier than he is in real life” was part of the criteria? If you’re not fat shaming him in any way, why is this guy so proud of making his ass “saggy”?

Let’s move on to the blatant transphobia and cissexism: Not all men have testicles or penises. The existence and/or size of testicles and penises don’t define men or manhood, and the size of them should never be used to shame anyone – not outright, and not as a metaphor, not in any way. Not ever.

And how about misogyny? Not all emperors are, or should be, men, and sex organs should have absolutely nothing to do with who is qualified to be a political leader.

There are people who look very much like that statue.  If I shame the statues, I shame those people as well and I model to other people that they should do the same.

The cyber bullies and harassers who attack me and others often use the excuse that we deserve it because they disagree with us.  If I suggest that it’s ok to shame Trump for his appearance because I disagree with his views, I am making the same argument as internet trolls (certainly not the kind of company I want to be in) and I am lending legitimacy to that totally bullshit argument.

I cannot credibly make an argument that fat shaming, appearance shaming, misogyny, and transphobia are wrong…unless it’s in the service of ridiculing someone I don’t like, and then it’s totally fine and should be encouraged.

From my perspective there is nothing, absolutely nothing, that Trump could do that would make it ok for me to shame him for his size, his appearance, or his genitals.

Maybe his privilege protects him from the worst of it, but it doesn’t protect the people who I hurt by taking part in this, nor does it protect me from the reality of being a hypocrite, and that’s exactly what I feel I would be if I participated in this – I can only imagine my complete outrage if someone did something similar to Hillary Clinton.

To be perfectly clear, I’ve definitely taken part in this kind of snarky shaming behavior in the past, it’s entirely possible that I’ll make those mistakes again.  I can only realize and admit my mistakes, and try to do better moving forward.

There are so many things to criticize about Donald Trump – he is a racist, xenophobic, Islamophobic, misogynist, anti-queer, anti-trans liar who actively incites violence and hatred in an attempt to gain attention and power. How is that not enough to criticize?  What the hell does it matter how big his dick is?  Who cares how he looks?

Even if it wasn’t hurtful to others (and I know that it is, because people are saying so,) why would I want to cheapen my arguments against him by participating in body shaming? Why would I want to distract from the actual horror of a human being that he is, and the nightmare that his Presidency would be, to engage in the very behavior that I speak out against every day. Why would I want to take the chance of making him into a sympathetic figure?

It’s Say Something Sunday, so I’m taking this opportunity to say, as clearly as I know how, that I am against fat shaming, body shaming, and transphobia. No fat shaming.  No body shaming. No transphobia.  Not even once.  Not even Trump.

THE FAT ACTIVISM CONFERENCE:
TOOLS FOR THE REVOLUTION! 

This year we have a kick ass line up of speakers talking about everything from Re-Imagining Fashion from an Inclusive Framework” to “Activism for the Introverted and Anxious” to “Building Fat Patient Power While Accessing Healthcare” and moreThis is a virtual conference so you can listen by phone or computer wherever you are, and you’ll receive recordings and transcripts of each talk so that you can listen/read on your own schedule.  We also offer a pay what you can afford option to make the conference accessible to everyone. The Conference will be held September 23-25, 2016

Click Here to Register!

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Check out the Body Confidence Blog Carnival! Eleven days of awesomeness

Like my work?  Want to help me keep doing it? Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, 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 August 21, 2016 at 5:21 am  Comments (28)  

Fat Shaming Shouldn’t Be An Olympic Sport

What a Load of CrapAlexa Moreno recently found herself the subject of a whole lot of fat-shaming on social media. Normally, that would be no surprise since, sadly, there’s tons of fat-shaming on social media every day (ask any fat activist), but this was a bit different, in that Alexa weighs 99 pounds — and is a gymnast who had just finished competing in the freaking Olympics.

In my piece for Ravishly I talk about how fatphobia can affect people of all sizes (though, of course, thin privilege is a real thing,) how it’s often rooted in misogyny, the issues with some of the well-meaning but messed responses as to why she shouldn’t have been fat shamed, and how instances like this show just how flimsy the excuses cyberbullies use to try to justify their bullying and bad behavior really are.  You can check it out here:

http://www.ravishly.com/2016/08/17/fat-shaming-should-not-be-olympic-sport?

THE FAT ACTIVISM CONFERENCE:
TOOLS FOR THE REVOLUTION! 

This year we have a kick ass line up of speakers talking about everything from Re-Imagining Fashion from an Inclusive Framework” to “Activism for the Introverted and Anxious” to “Building Fat Patient Power While Accessing Healthcare” and moreThis is a virtual conference so you can listen by phone or computer wherever you are, and you’ll receive recordings and transcripts of each talk so that you can listen/read on your own schedule.  We also offer a pay what you can afford option to make the conference accessible to everyone. The Conference will be held September 23-25, 2016

Click Here to Register!

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Check out the Body Confidence Blog Carnival! Eleven days of awesomeness

Like my work?  Want to help me keep doing it? Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, 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 August 18, 2016 at 7:14 am  Comments (4)  

What Fat Olympians Prove (And What They Don’t)

Nothing to proveAs the Olympics happen, we’re seeing athletes of lots of different sizes compete and win, which is super cool! What follows is a lot of people trying to interpret what that “proves” which is often super not-cool. While almost all are well-meaning, some of these interpretations end up being healthist and problematic for lots of reasons. So I wanted to look at some of the claims that I’ve been seeing and break them down.  I’ll also point out that a lot of the mistakes that are being made are mistakes that I’ve made in the past, and my pointing them out are the ways of honoring the people who were kind enough to educate me.

 

This proves there’s no excuse not to be fit at any size

Nope, nope, nope.  Nobody of any size is obligated to “be fit” by any definition.  Nobody needs an excuse to make choices about their free time that don’t include fitness, just like nobody needs an excuse to make choices about their free time that do include fitness.  This whole “no excuses” fitness culture is a steaming heap of bullshit. Everyone should have the opportunity and access to participate in fitness if they want to, nobody has an obligation. People who participate in fitness are no better or more “moral” than people who do other things with their time.

This proves that anyone of any size can be an Olympian

Slow down there sparky.  Becoming an Olympian requires a combination of physiology, opportunity, privilege, and hard work. There are many, many people who have the  work ethic but don’t have the combination of physiology, opportunity and privilege required. When we gloss over this we ignore the fact that these opportunities are not accessible to everyone who is interested in them (and how that is often expressed in ways that are racist, classist, sizeist, ableist and more.)

This proves that everyone of every size can be healthy

This one is a problem for a lot of reasons.  First, don’t confuse athletically successful with healthy.  Many athletes push far beyond what would most support their bodies’ health – risking  and getting expensive sports-related injuries that they wouldn’t otherwise be at risk for – in order to be successful at their sport.  They are absolutely allowed to do that – their bodies, their choice (though that doesn’t meant that we shouldn’t be asking questions about the way that sports are managed/judged and what is really “required.”)  Moreover, health is difficult to define, multi-faceted, not an obligation, not a barometer of worthiness, and not entirely within our control or guaranteed under any circumstances.

This proves that anyone of any size can be an athlete

This should be true, and it would be true in a world where people had the same levels of access to the athletic endeavors that they are interested in, and didn’t deal with sizeism as an excluding factor (along with racism, classism, ableism, ageism and more.) Unfortunately that’s not the world that we live in.  Fat people regularly have terrible experiences within the fitness world, from people abusing them, to coaches refusing to work with them unless and until they become thin, to people insisting that no matter what they achieve they can’t be an athlete until they are thin.

This proves that we shouldn’t make assumptions about athletic ability based on body size

This one I can get behind, though I’d point out that we shouldn’t make assumptions about anything based on size.

In general, I think that if you want to celebrate fat athletes, that’s awesome, but be careful not to celebrate in ways that end up hurting others, and consider not letting your celebration get in the way of asking critical questions about how people are oppressed in the world of athletics, and how athletics are used to oppress people.

THE FAT ACTIVISM CONFERENCE:
TOOLS FOR THE REVOLUTION! 

This year we have a kick ass line up of speakers talking about everything from Re-Imagining Fashion from an Inclusive Framework” to “Activism for the Introverted and Anxious” to “Building Fat Patient Power While Accessing Healthcare” and moreThis is a virtual conference so you can listen by phone or computer wherever you are, and you’ll receive recordings and transcripts of each talk so that you can listen/read on your own schedule.  We also offer a pay what you can afford option to make the conference accessible to everyone. The Conference will be held September 23-25, 2016

Click Here to Register!

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Check out the Body Confidence Blog Carnival! Eleven days of awesomeness

Like my work?  Want to help me keep doing it? Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, 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 August 15, 2016 at 8:08 am  Comments (4)