Yoga, Sizeism, and Randy

Talking NonsenseA fat yoga instructor and blog reader asked that I blog about this, and it’s my pleasure to do so because it’s important that we discuss the ways and places that fatphobia rears its oppressive head, and that we remind ourselves that fat bodies aren’t the problem, fatphobia is.

The fat yoga instructor asked the 20,000+ members of a fat yoga teachers group on Facebook to please consider dealing with any weight-based biases they might have that are keeping them from being able to properly welcome and teach fat students:

Yoga one

A svadhyaya is an introspection or self-study. “I’d like to ask all y’all to do a little svadhyaya…” Sounds like a reasonable request to me, but apparently not to Randy Hodur who took it upon himself to speak for most of the group, insisting that the post offended a whopping 90% of its members.

Despite having to deal with someone proving that he is an asshole by pulling percentages out of it, the OP remained calm and collected:

Yoga 2

As if striving to prove the OP’s point for her, Randy immediately misplaced all of his shit (trigger warning for misogynist bullshit and language from here on out. Feel free to skip Randy’s messages if you don’t feel like dealing with it.)

Yoga 3

Remember – this isn’t some pathetic reddit fat hate group, this is a professional group for professional yoga professionals…

Yoga 4

It’s ending with “just a thought” that really puts the shit icing on this crap cake. I’m not 100% certain that anything he’s said here qualifies as a thought, but we’ll leave that analysis for another day. It turns out that Randy’s girlfriend owns a yoga studio and people in the group were wondering if maybe nobody should ever go there lest they run into Randy.  He decided to fix the situation by attempting to win gold in the Non-Apology Olympics:

yoga 5

We’ve replaced this actual apology with some bullshit…let’s see if they notice…

Yoga 6

And it goes on…because it wouldn’t be a real non-apology unless the person who did terrible things attempted to make themselves the victim

Yoga 7

There is a great breakdown of the “apology” here.

Randy’s girlfriend reach out to the fat yoga instructor to apologize for her boyfriend’s abuse and to assure her that Randy does not teach in her studio, which is definitely a relief.

The Yoga world has many issues including appropriation, racism, sizeism, ableism, classism, queer and trans phobia and more.  A great place to start understanding and dismantling these issues in addition to the excellent teachers mentioned by the OP (and in addition to ongoing svadhyaya) is Decolonizing Yoga.

In general, notice fatphobia when it happens, call it out when you can, and always refuse to normalize it or blame the victim.

Ready for a world where fitness doesn’t come with a side of sizeism:

Click Here to Register for the Fat Activism Conference

The Fat Activism Conference is all online, so you can listen by phone or on your computer wherever you are.  Plus you get recordings and transcripts of each talk so you can listen and read live and/or on your own schedule. The conference is happening October 6-8, 2017!

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

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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

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

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

Published in: on July 25, 2017 at 7:28 am  Comments (10)  

Is Slate Not Hiring Fat People?

Yesterday I was moderating friend requests on Facebook and I was reminded that far too many people connected to social justice are still rampant weight bigots. I’ll be scrolling through someone’s profile and see them on the right side of all manner of social justice movements; supporting Black Lives Matter, Queer and Trans rights, opposing Donald and all he stands for. I’m ready to press the “accept” button when I see that they have posted and defended articles and memes engaging in crystal clear oppression of fat people.

This experience prepared me for reading Slate’s recent job posting for a Political Editor. No, I’m not looking for a new gig, I was reading the post after receiving an onslaught of e-mails from fat and disability activists who were horrified by the bullet under “Requirements

  • A fast metabolism and strong organizational skills

What the hell?

Are they really saying that they don’t want a Politics Editor with hypothyroidism? Or are they stating a preference for editors with hyperthyroidism? Is this an attempt to suggest that only the thin need apply? Did they not know that they could be in violation of DC Human Rights Act (which is one of few that protects from discrimination against appearance) and ADA/EEOC guidelines?

The question I was being asked most in the e-mails flooding my inbox was, “Why in the world would a fast metabolism have anything to do with an editing gig?”

I had heard this term in journalism before, so I had an idea about the misunderstanding, but I still felt it was a terrible choice of words for a job posting. I e-mailed Slate for comment.

Click here to read my full piece about this!

Ready for a world where we don’t use sizeist, healthist, ableist metphors in job descriptions?

 

Click Here to Register for the Fat Activism Conference

The Fat Activism Conference is all online, so you can listen by phone or on your computer wherever you are.  Plus you get recordings and transcripts of each talk so you can listen and read live and/or on your own schedule. The conference is happening October 6-8, 2017!

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

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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

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

 

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

 

Published in: on July 19, 2017 at 7:32 am  Comments (2)  

The Biggest Loser – Ding Dong the Witch is Dead!

Don't let the door hit youon your way out!Reports are coming in saying that The Biggest Loser is cancelled. That’s excellent news and I could not be happier. Let’s recap this crap:

The Biggest Loser was a horror of a television show in which fat people were physically and mentally abused as they tried to lose as much weight as possible, as fast as possible, regardless of the danger, for a chance to win a tiny fraction of the amount of money that the show made off their abuse.

I am thoroughly convinced that if this show was shot with dogs rather than fat people it would have been pulled off the air after the first episode, because people wouldn’t have stood for this kind of mistreatment of dogs. The fact that fat people would subject themselves to this show is not a justification for the many abuses the show perpetrated.

Now the show finds itself under a cloud of suspicion as former “competitors” talk about the abuses that they suffered at the hands of their “trainers” and the show’s doctor, Robert Huizenga.

Click here to read the full piece, including how the show hurt not only their contestants, but also their viewers.

Want to create a world where The Biggest Loser would never get on the air in the first place?

Click Here to Register for the Fat Activism Conference

The Fat Activism Conference is all online, so you can listen by phone or on your computer wherever you are.  Plus you get recordings and transcripts of each talk so you can listen and read live and/or on your own schedule. The conference is happening October 6-8, 2017!

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

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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

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

 

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

 

Published in: on July 17, 2017 at 1:17 pm  Comments (8)  

We’re Supposed To Worry that Dust Makes Us Fat?

You Forgot Your BullshitToday we have a “study” that illustrates two of the truly ridiculous things that often happen in the “science” of weight and health.

1. You can get funding and published for literally any anti-fat study you can imagine 

In the tiny study, cells from mice were exposed to dust samples from 11 (not a typo, just eleven) homes to see if they would be linked with metabolic disruption including triglyceride and preadipocyte accumulation.

2. The most scientifically illiterate journalists will be allowed to write about it

A piece about this by Henry Bodkin (who, on the same day, had a piece published titled “Wild boar pictured roaming streets of city centre at night”) appeared in The Telegraph. The headline was ‘Household Dust Makes People Fat, Groundbreaking Research Indicates.” Seriously Hank (can I call you Hank?) WT Actual F are you doing?

Even if we assume that Henry isn’t responsible for the headline, surely he’s responsible for the actual reporting.  His piece didn’t bother to link to the actual study nor was it clear about the study’s limitations.  But it began, ambitiously, People should keep their homes spotless if they want to avoid putting on weight, new research suggests.”

That delayed this piece being written by a few hours due to the concussion I experienced from banging my head against my desk.

What the researchers actually said was “Our results delineate a novel potential health threat and identify putative causative SVOCs that are likely contributing to this activity.”

The words “potential,” “putative,” and “likely,” are important here as they all essentially mean “maybe” and do not remotely translate to the ability to suggest – at with with any kind of journalistic integrity – that if your house has dust you’ll become fat.

Now parents (and, let’s be honest, predominantly moms in our misogynist society) of fat kids will be blamed and, perhaps more tragically, blame themselves for not keeping their houses dust-free enough. We need to shut this bullshit down.

Today I’ve seen no less than four articles that included some version of “Is [XYZ] Making Us Fat?”  If an article asks that, I immediately ask myself “is this article a fatphobic (and quite likely ableist, classist etc.) piece of shit?” Hint: the answer is probably yes.

People are lots of different sizes for lots of different reasons and  I would personally prefer that we affirm the diversity of body sizes and spend research money figuring out how to support the health and happiness of people of all sizes, rather than trying to prevent or eradicate people of a certain size.

If you’re sick of researchers getting funding to figure out how to eradicate fat people, join us at the Fat Activism Conference!

Click Here to Register for the Fat Activism Conference

The Fat Activism Conference is all online, so you can listen by phone or on your computer wherever you are.  Plus you get recordings and transcripts of each talk so you can listen and read live and/or on your own schedule. The conference is happening October 6-8, 2017!

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

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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

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

 

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

 

Published in: on July 16, 2017 at 12:09 pm  Comments (23)  

Dress For the Body I Have? Done!

Every year we have to endure businesses and social media friends who for some reason think the fact that it’s summer means it’s totally ok to body shame people by putting out this ridiculous sign.

 

Image may contain: sky

It’s a picture of a sign at an eye doctor’s office (cleverly named “The Eye Doctor”) on which they’ve taken the time to arrange letters to say:

“Welcome to Lewiston When it’s hot please dress for the body you have, not the body you wish you had – thanks.

Can you imagine how it would feel to be a fat person arriving at your eye doctor wearing weather appropriate clothes? Too bad that these supposed healthcare practitioners are so comfortable stigmatizing their clients for a cheap joke.

First, while I’m certain that I’m the target demographic for this sign, the body I have is the body I want so they can G right TFO with this nonsense.

More to the point, it’s like 1,000 degrees outside which means that the body I have is hot AF and my concern is dealing with that, not being aesthetically pleasing to fatphobes. If someone doesn’t like the way I look in these clothes, then there are always at least 3 other cardinal directions in which they can fix their gaze.

Let’s give this another shot, shall we:

Please dress

Want a world with more fashion choices and less bullshit body shaming?

Click Here to Register for the Fat Activism Conference!

The Fat Activism Conference is all online, so you can listen by phone or on your computer wherever you are.  Plus you get recordings and transcripts of each talk so you can listen and read live and/or on your own schedule. The conference is happening October 6-8, 2017!

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

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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

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

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

Published in: on July 14, 2017 at 6:59 am  Comments (10)  

If She Wasn’t Trying to Fat Shame, She’s a Natural

fat shaming naturalI received this Facebook post from blog reader Annette today with the note “I know that she’s wrong, but I don’t know how to break it down for her, can you help?”  Well Annette, I can try! Please note: this is some fat shaming BS, if you’re not in the mood to deal with it you can skip the indented parts (which are quotes from the nonsense) and still get the gist of things. I’ll start with the quote in its entirety:

For those who didnt see my post, I posted a pic of a pair of shorts with a 70″ waist. I found them hilarious, and laughed all through the thrift store I saw them in. I meant no harm to any living being, and stated so in the post, nor was I trying to shame anyone who suffers with their weight. I, myself, have weighed 240 pounds. I have suffered with eating disorders my entire life, yet I was lectured by people who presumed that I was fat shaming people. What? So let me say… I send merit to all those who are obese. I pray that you can get this under control… NOT BECAUSE OF THE WAY YOU LOOK, but because obesity leads to heart issues, diabetes, depression, some forms of cancer, and an overall unhealthy life. I respect all human life, and am sorry for those who assumed that they knew I was intentionally implying something else. What a world we live in. Oh, and by the way, I am still laughing

The short answer to why this is wrong is that you can’t say “I respect all human life” while in the same breath engaging in stereotyping, fat shaming, and healthism. If you want to be credible you can’t just say “I respect all human life,” you have to, you know, actually do it.

Let’s break it down:

For those who didnt see my post, I posted a pic of a pair of shorts with a 70″ waist. I found them hilarious, and laughed all through the thrift store I saw them in. I meant no harm to any living being, and stated so in the post, nor was I trying to shame anyone who suffers with their weight.

So this person saw a pair of shorts made for a fat person, and then felt the need to tell everyone she could reach on social media that she found them “hilarious.” But she wasn’t “trying to shame anyone who suffers with their weight.” Riiiiiight.

I can’t imagine what she would have done differently if she had intended to shame fat people. If she wasn’t trying, then she’s a natural. By the way, this is exactly what I mean when I say that I’ve never suffered from my weight, but I have definitely suffered from fat shaming.

I, myself, have weighed 240 pounds. I have suffered with eating disorders my entire life, yet I was lectured by people who presumed that I was fat shaming people.  

Thanks for the PSA that internalized fatphobia is a thing.  The fact that this person used to be fat isn’t doing fat people much good right now is it? I’m sure some of her best friends are fat or whatever, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is fatphobic bullshit.

What?

YOU ARE FAT SHAMING! IT IS SHITTY! YOU SHOULD STOP! That’s what.

So let me say… I send merit to all those who are obese. I pray that you can get this under control… NOT BECAUSE OF THE WAY YOU LOOK, but because obesity leads to heart issues, diabetes, depression, some forms of cancer, and an overall unhealthy life.

You send merit? You can always tell that someone has a grossly over-exaggerated sense of self-importance when they think that they are in a position to grudgingly bestow honor on others. Fat people don’t need your “merit.”  We need shorts that fit us and not to be fat shamed.  We also don’t need your stereotypes, your prayers, or your healthism.

Even if you somehow still believe that tripe that weight and health are the same thing, other people’s health is not your business. In truth, there are people of all sizes with heart issues, diabetes, depression, cancer and whatever the hell she means by  an “unhealthy life” and those people – like all people – deserve respect and access to healthcare, and nothing else about their health is anybody else’s business unless they ask us to make it our business. They should certainly not be used as cheap fodder to justify hand-wringing “Won’t somebody think about the health” fat shaming.

I respect all human life, and am sorry for those who assumed that they knew I was intentionally implying something else. What a world we live in. Oh, and by the way, I am still laughing

You don’t respect all human life.  Those who assumed that you were fat shaming are right. What a shitty fat shaming world we live in because people do crap like this. I’m not laughing. Fix it.

Inevitably people (probably this woman) will turn to the “Can’t you take a joke” defense, so I’ll end with a quick reminder that it’s totally messed up to ask groups of people to become better at being stigmatized and made fun of without complaint, so that other people can laugh at our expense without having to feel badly or have their atrocious behavior pointed out.

Want to help create a world where this kind of fat shaming is seen as completely unacceptable?

Click Here to Register for the Fat Activism Conference!

The Fat Activism Conference is all online, so you can listen by phone or on your computer wherever you are.  Plus you get recordings and transcripts of each talk so you can listen and read live and/or on your own schedule. The conference is happening October 6-8, 2017!

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

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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

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

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

Published in: on July 12, 2017 at 8:42 am  Comments (24)  

Jumping Through Hoops for Knee Surgery

knee surgeryOne of the most read and shared blog posts I’ve ever written is about fat people and our knees.  Today we’re going to look a a specific situation. An incredibly common question that I get is from someone who needs knee surgery but whose orthopedist has refused to perform the surgery unless and until the person loses weight.  This happens with other surgeries as well, but the one I hear about the most is knee surgery.

Sometimes the doctor suggests weight loss through diet and exercise.  I would point out that even if diet and exercise might lead to short term weight loss (and even if they could manage exercise on a knee that required replacement!) the most likely outcome, based on the research, is that they would end up heavier than they started within a few years, which begs the question: If you think that my size is the problem, then why are you are giving me what is  statistically the worst possible advice?

Now I’m hearing more and more from people whose doctor has claimed that knee surgery is “too dangerous” at their weight and has recommended … wait for it … weight loss surgery.  You aren’t reading that wrong – doctors are refusing to fix someone’s knee until they are willing to have their stomach almost entirely amputated.

The first issue here is that the weight loss requirement is generally an arbitrary percentage or number of pounds, creating a situation where even if the patient achieves the prescribed amount of weight loss (short term at least) they are then offered surgery at a size at which the surgeon would have denied them if it was their starting weight. If that’s not completely ridiculous I don’t know what is.

But far worse, suggesting surgery is an extraordinary breach of the idea of “do no harm” since they are asking fat patients to risk their lives and quality of life by having a surgery that is a complete crapshoot in terms of outcome (some people are happy, some people die, some people have horrific lifelong side effects and people don’t know which group they’ll be in until they are in it) so that the patient can get a simple surgery, and the doctor can perform an easier surgery despite the fact that two surgeries are riskier than one. Jumping through hoops to receive knee surgery is bad enough, risking your life to receive it should be out of the question.

But doctors use the realities of surgery on larger bodies as reasons not to give us healthcare, rather than working to solve these issues (for example, if a fat person’s leg is too heavy for one person to hold during the duration of surgery the correct answer is to find another way to hold the leg – an extra person, a device etc. – not for fat people to simply live with chronic knee pain and limited mobility while medical science aggressively shrugs its shoulders.)

Even if you believe that fat people face additional risk from the surgery and/or have less benefit, that doesn’t mean that the procedure should be denied. Less pain and more mobility is a reasonable motivation for seeking healthcare even for patients who are unlikely to have the absolutely best outcome for any of many reasons (which is why Shaquille O’Neal received knee surgery even though it was his plan to continue the professional athlete lifestyle that trashed his knee in the first place.)

None of this is to suggest that if you are refused knee surgery you are under any obligation, or even recommendation, to try to change your doctor’s mind.  That’s certainly an option (and for those who live in areas with limited practitioners and the inability to travel to see another doctor it may be the only option.)  Many people have found that their best option was simply to find a more compassionate and talented surgeon who isn’t interested in simply cherry picking only the easiest surgeries.

Remember that you get to choose the path you take. While you shouldn’t have to do it, you might decide that it’s worth it to try to crash diet to lose that 20 pounds the doctor asked for so that you can get your surgery – knowing, of course,  that you’ll be gaining the weight back again and probably more. Maybe it’s worth it (and you have the resources) to travel to see a surgeon who doesn’t practice from a base of fatphobia.  Maybe you want to turn this into activism and start insisting that the doctor provide proof that you can lose weight long term (they can’t) or that you won’t die or have horrific longterm side effects from the surgery (they can’t) and then lobby for the procedure since their position is baseless.  Or be super extra nice and try to sweet talk them into it. Sometimes trying to access medical care in a deeply fatphobic society means doing whatever it takes to get the care we deserve.

If you’re looking for a fat friendly doctor you can check out the international fat friendly doctor list at http://fatfriendlydocs.com (If you have a fat friendly doctor, please take a moment to add them to the list!.)

If you want to help make the world – including medical care – less fatphobic, join us (online!) for the Fat Activism Conference:

Click Here to Register for the Fat Activism Conference!

The Fat Activism Conference is all online, so you can listen by phone or on your computer wherever you are.  Plus you get recordings and transcripts of each talk so you can listen and read live and/or on your own schedule. The conference is happening October 6-8, 2017!

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

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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

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

 

 

Published in: on July 11, 2017 at 9:47 am  Comments (20)  

Fat Shaming at Commencement

What Will you DefendI often hear from people who don’t understand the many ways that fatphobia affects fat people every day – and on special days, as well as folks who don’t understand how these incidents increase the fatter we are.  I recently heard from reader Rene about a terrible experience that she and her mother had at her commencement (and that I’m sharing with her permission.)

To start with, Rene had to go to effort that she wouldn’t have had to do if she were thin or if her school’s graduation ceremony was accommodating to students of all sizes in the first place. So she started almost a month ahead of time:

From:   Rene
Date:   Wednesday, May 24, 2017  03:35 PM
To:   commencement@XXXXXX.edu
Subject:  Seating at commencement

Hello,

I’m registered with DRC for seating accommodations in my classes, and I’m wondering what steps I need to take to ensure that there is appropriate seating for me at commencement? Specific to the ceremony, my concerns are that I may need a stronger chair if folding chairs are used for graduates, and that if I’m seated in the middle of a row of students, I might need additional space between myself and the people next to me for everyone’s comfort. Please let me know what the next steps are.

Thank you,

Rene

The university responded:

From: <commence@XXXXX.edu>
Date: Jun 13, 2017 6:49 PM
Subject: RE:’=773-094′ Seating at commencement
To: Rene

Hi Rene,

We will have a bariatric chair available for you at [the site]. It will be placed on the side of the bowl near the bachelor SSW area. I will be instructing the line’s staff that you have requested that chair so that way they can move one of the regular chairs at the end of the row and replace it with your bariatric chair. Please remind the lines staff as it is close to your turn to sit down once entering the space.

Let me know if you have any questions!

Sounds easy enough, but sadly that’s not how it happened:

—–Original Message—–
From:   Rene
Date:   Monday, June 19, 2017  05:44 PM
To:   commencement@XXXXXX.edu
Subject:  Re: ‘=773-094’ Seating at commencement

Hello,

I wanted to follow up after the commencement ceremony. I was placed at the end of a row (separated from my BSW classmates), however no bariatric chair was provided, and the staff seating us seemed to have no idea that one was required or where it might be. As a result I spent an agonizing 3 hours perched on the edge of my seat, standing in the side aisle each time we were asked to stand. It’s extremely disappointing that after being assured that appropriate seating would be available, that it was not in fact present on the day of the ceremony.

I’d also like to bring to your attention that my mother was denied access to ADA seating in the audience when she arrived at [the site]. While she doesn’t appear disabled at first glance, having to climb a large number of stairs then sit in the poor seating in the “nosebleed” section was physically challenging for her.  I had specifically requested ADA seating when I picked up my tickets, and she is not comfortable advocating for herself when she’s denied services in public. I’m deeply disappointed that watching me walk caused my mother to be in physical pain for the rest of the day

I hope this feedback will help spark a discussion about how to better serve the disabled individuals graduating and supporting graduates.

Rene

The response that she received:

Hi Rene,

I apologize that these things did not go as planned. I will make sure to provide the feedback to [the site] about your mother’s situation. If your mom had the ADA tickets, she should have received the ADA seating.

For the bariatric chair we had it ready for you. We made several announcements in the Exhibition Hall where you lined up, to come and identify your self. It was loud in there so you might not have heard the announcement, but there was no other way to identify you. As you might have noticed there was also no way of knowing where you’d be sitting. I apologize that it didn’t happen and you had an unpleasant experience. We will think of another way in the future to connect with students prior to the ceremony.

And finally Rene’s beautiful response to this victim blaming nonsense:

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Rene 
Date: Tue, Jun 27, 2017 at 6:45 PM
Subject: Re: ‘=773-094’ Seating at commencement
To: commencement@XXXX.edu
Cc: <drc@XXXXX.edu>

Had I been instructed to listen for an announcement in the Exhibition Hall, I might have been able to connect with the staff there.  However, that was not the instruction I was given. I was told to alert the line staff when I was being seated.  Another way to handle this would be to have a station near the entrance where students with ADA accommodations can check in as they arrive…perhaps with a big sign since clearly announcements are completely futile in that space.

Please also consider that the tone of your reply regarding my seating is such that it places the blame on me for not being accommodated.  That’s a really problematic attitude, especially considering that a) the university was already aware of my seating needs well in advance of commencement and b) I specifically reached out to the commencement planning office several weeks in advance to ensure that my needs were communicated.  As a result of the failure of commencement staff, I was extremely uncomfortable at my graduation ceremony, and chose to leave early (after walking, but prior to the end of the ceremony). I’m struggling right now to express how frustrating this experience has been, and how angry I am regarding the response I’ve received.

I’m completing my master’s degree next June, and now I find myself questioning whether participating in commencement is worth my time and frustration. That should never be the case.  I’m looping the DRC in on this conversation, and I’m pasting in the last set of instructions I received from Natalie prior to commencement.  It’s absolutely unacceptable that this has been handled so poorly.

Rene

This is the world that fathpobia and ableism has wrought, and it sucks. I’m so glad that we have Rene to represent for fat community in Social Work!

Update from Rene!  “I’ve now heard from both the director of the DRC (disability resource center) and the person primarily responsible for commencement planning. They’re implementing my idea of an ADA check in station. The ceremonies will also be broken up so they’re smaller, and held in a different location. I’m just glad that I found a community of rad fatties and activism before I started back to school, and that as a non-traditional student I’m comfortable using my voice.”

Want to fight back and create a more inclusive world? Then:

Click Here to Register for the Fat Activism Conference!

The Fat Activism Conference is an online conference, so you can listen by phone or on your computer wherever you are.  Plus you get recording and transcripts so you can listen/read live and in your own time.  The conference is happening October 6-8, 2017!

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

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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

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

 

Published in: on July 10, 2017 at 8:20 am  Comments (7)  

Spirit Airlines Screws Over Fat Passenger

WTFPreparing for a trip from Las Vegas to Denver on Spirit Airlines and knowing how terribly most airlines treat fat people, Joey Cordova went to the trouble and expense of purchasing two seats and calling ahead to make sure that they would have a seatbelt extender for him.

Unfortunately, Spirit oversold Mr. Cordova’s flight and, apparently to accommodate one more thin person, they kicked him off the flight.

Let’s look at all the ways that this is screwed up:

First, he should never have had to purchase two seats.  The airline is in the business of transporting people from one destination to another, and that should include a seat that accommodates them. Plane manufacturers knew that fat people existed when they built those planes, and airlines knew that fat people existed when they bought them. To blatantly exclude fat people and then try to make that our problem — asking us to pay twice as much as thin people for the exact same service — is simply indefensible.

And don’t buy into the BS that it’s not financially feasible. Canada has had a “one person, one fare” rule since 2008, and the airline industry is doing fine. In the U.S., Southwest Airlines offers a free second (and third) seat to those who need one, and they are making record profits.

Second, he should never have been thrown off the plane so that two thin people could fly. When a person needs two seats, then those two seats should be treated as one seat — which means that they should be kept together. (Harrowing stories of fat people who had to fight the airlines to put the two seats they purchased next to each other abound.) And they should not be viewed as an opportunity to seat an additional thin person should one materialize.

So if the airlines find that their choice to sell more seats than they actually have is blowing up in their face, then the proper course is to use a volunteer system offering greater amounts of money and perks to passengers who are willing to take a later flight. It is not to throw the nearest fat person off the plane and call it a day.

Read my full piece about this here!

Update:

When this was originally reported, the article cited said that Mr. Cordova was kicked off the flight. The article appears to have been updated to say that he was forced to give up his extra seat and fly in a single seat.  Some sources are still reporting that he was kicked off the plane (http://fox17online.com/2017/06/25/colorado-man-says-he-was-kicked-off-flight-for-being-overweight/, others are reporting that he was forced  to fly in one seat. Apologies for the confusion.  In either event, this should never have happened and the airlines should not get to decide that it’s ok for a fat person to have no option to be accommodated. Thanks to blog reader Lisa for this correction!

Want to help create a world where fat people get the same experience as thin people when we fly?

Click Here to Register for the Fat Activism Conference!   

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

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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

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

 

 

Published in: on June 30, 2017 at 9:29 am  Comments (10)  

Girl Scouts Lead In Size Acceptance

Think of the childrenThe Girls Scouts have created a guide for what to do when your daughter calls herself fat.  I want to start with the good stuff because there’s a lot of it:

According to studies, a whopping 80 percent of 10-year-olds are afraid of being fat. Why? Because they’re constantly surrounded by both subtle and direct messages that curvier or heavier girls aren’t as well liked, aren’t as likely to succeed in business, and in general, aren’t going to have as much fun or happiness in their lives. Think about it: many of the animated heroines they idolize have unrealistically thin bodies, gossip magazines and websites are quick to call scandal on even an ounce of celebrity cellulite, and so called, “fat jokes”—despite their inherent offensiveness—remain completely acceptable in many circles as well as in movies and TV shows. It’s a pretty sad state of affairs.

Thank you!  There’s nothing wrong fat bodies, but there’s plenty wrong with a society that disparages fat bodies so much that 10 year olds have completely bought into it.

by telling her that she’s not fat, she’s pretty, you’re reinforcing the idea that fatter, rounder, curvier or heavier bodies aren’t beautiful—which simply isn’t true. There are endless ways to be beautiful, and your daughter will grow up with a much healthier relationship to her body if you teach her that in a genuine way from a young age.

Yes – the idea that fat and pretty/beautiful/attractive etc. are mutually exclusive is absolutely fat shaming, not to mention total crap.

If she says she thinks her legs are bigger or her tummy is rounder than those of her friends, those may actually be correct observations—and there’s nothing wrong with acknowledging that. “Your daughter should never be ashamed of the realities of her own body,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald, “

Yup, yup, yup.  Teach kids early and often to appreciate and respect the diversity of body sizes.

Make sure she has positive body-image role models. Both the red carpet and the boardroom are becoming more diverse in terms of body size and shape, but girls might not see that reflected in the magazine aisle or on her favorite websites—so go the extra mile to compensate for some of the less-healthy messages your daughter may be getting from other sources. For younger girls, it might be helpful to show her some beautiful images of a women with very different body types, and tell her all about what they’ve accomplished, and what they’re best known for—their brains, their talents, their speed, their sense of humor. She needs to know you don’t have to be a certain size or shape to make it big in life.

The importance of having role models who look like you cannot be overstated – whether it’s people of color, people of size, disabled people/people with disabilities, queer and trans folks, or those with other marginalized identities. It’s also important that kids who aren’t part of marginalized groups) have examples role models who DON’T look like them.

Another reason your girl might call herself fat is because she’s heard you do the same to yourself. Your daughter listens to everything you say—and if you’re picking yourself apart in front of the mirror or complaining about your weight, there’s a good chance that she’ll follow in your self-disparaging footsteps. So do everyone a favor and be a little kinder to yourself. Identify parts of your body that serve you well and make note of the things you really do love about the way you look. Healthy habits like eating right and exercise are good for everyone, and should be a daily part of your routine, but fixating on your body and how it could or should be different isn’t healthy for anyone.

This is how internalized fatphobia reproduces itself – adults who have been beaten down and have crap self esteem are trying to raise kids with high self-esteem and that’s difficult to do because kids believe what they overhear more than what they’re told. So if you’re constantly engaging in negative body talk, but then try to turn around and tell a kid (including, say, a kid who may look like you due to being your genetic off-spring) that their body is perfect, they are going to smell the BS from a mile away. This isn’t the fault of parents and other adults, it’s the fault of a culture where we are encouraged (often by those with a profit interest!) to hate our bodies early, often, and out loud.  One of the ways that we can help kids break this cycle is by finding ways to break it within ourselves.

Sadly, there’s no instant fix to society’s fat-shaming problem and the limiting depictions of beauty that are held up as standards for girls and women. But there are things you can do at home with your daughter, and in your daily life in general, to help fight against this culture and create a better one where all are celebrated as wonderful and worthy.

This is the world that I want to live in.

So there’s a LOT of great stuff in this guide, unfortunately the first paragraph says:

“I’m fat.” Those are just two little words, five letters in total, but coming from your daughter, they’re enough to make your heart totally sink. How could a girl who’s typically so kind and accepting of others be so disparaging of herself?

Um…no. The idea that someone calling themselves “fat” is “disparaging” is the exact opposite of basically everything else this guide says which I felt I needed to mention, but only in the context of all the amazing things that they did. Overall I’m thrilled with the work that the Girl Scouts are doing to end fatphobia.

Want to help create a better world where all are celebrated as wonderful and worthy? Then:

Click Here to Register for the Fat Activism Conference!   

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

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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

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

 

 

Published in: on June 29, 2017 at 11:55 am  Comments (9)