Kerryn Feehan – Every Fatphobia Fallacy In 3 Minutes

WTF are you doingActress and comic Kerryn Feehan decided to use a publicity opportunity on KISS 95.1 FM to go after KISS intern/My Big Fat Fabulous Life star,Whitney Way Thore.

In a “whoever talks the loudest wins” style that she seems to have copied directly from famous-only-for-being-a-fatphobe MeMe Roth, Kerryn manages to commit every fallacy of fatphobia in less than three minutes.

It would have been impressive if it wasn’t so horrifying.  I wrote about it for Ravishly.com, you can read all about it at:

http://www.ravishly.com/2016/07/27/kerryn-feehan-concern-troll-fatphobe-and-bullshit-artist

REGISTRATION IS OPEN FOR THE FAT ACTIVISM CONFERENCE! 

Earlybird registration ends July 31st so hurry to get the earlybird rate!

This year we have a kick ass line up of speakers. This 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. 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 July 28, 2016 at 11:31 am  Comments (4)  

In Praise of Thin Allies – Say Something Sunday

AllyThe idea of a “thin ally” within fat activism is a complicated one- both because classifying body sizes can be difficult, and because (though relative privilege because of size is a real thing) the culture of fat hatred hurts people of all sizes. For the purpose of this piece I’m talking about people who don’t identify as fat who engage in fat activism (everything from retweeting size acceptance stuff or attending rallies.) I also want to point out that, as always, I’m speaking for myself here and other fat people may disagree with what I’m about to say.

First of all, I want to talk about why I think having thin allies is important:

They aren’t subject to the “you are only trying to justify your fat!” argument

In an ideal world people would understand that our bodies need no justification. But this isn’t an ideal world and the truth is that an entire panel of fat people can have their message dismissed in less than a minute by this (totally bullshit) derailment technique and the bigotry upon which it is built.

Their privilege can mean that they are listened to

In an ideal world people would listen to fat people about our experiences and what we think is best for us. But this isn’t an ideal world and sometimes people whose prejudices get in the way of hearing what fat people are telling them are able to process the information when they hear it from a thin person.

Is this incredibly frustrating? Yes. Is it totally bullshit? Yes. Is it theoretically how social justice is supposed to work?  No. Is it how it often works in real life?  Yes. And I’ll point out that good allies also center fat people’s voices and work as part of their ally work and/or to give people information for future study.

It’s just nice to have someone stick up for me

As a fat person I have had tons of bad experiences with fat phobia and fat bashing where other people either joined in or sat by and did nothing while I was forced to fend for myself. So it feels really nice when someone sticks up for me, even if they are doing it “imperfectly.”

This is especially true considering the difficulties and challenges that allies face:

They put themselves in harm’s way

The fat hate trolls who are always yammering on the periphery of fat activists also target our allies with the same range of cyberbullying to threats on health, safety, and family. Many fat people avoid activism to avoid dealing with this (which is a completely legitimate choice!) so when people open themselves up to this horrific treatment to help dismantle a system that actually privileges them, I appreciate that.

Many thin allies suffer professionally in terms of professional respect, accolades, and even promotions and pay.

They will never “do it right”

Fat community is not a monolith, and members of the community have very different ideas about our goals, and how we should accomplish them.  That means that every single thing someone does as an ally (including what they have been specifically asked to do by some fat activists) other people in fat community will disagree with.

Call Out Culture and Kick the Puppy Syndrome

The issue with never pleasing all the activists can become more difficult because of call out culture – where activists are often very quick to criticize someone doing what they see as imperfect ally work, sometimes harshly and very publicly.  And even though allies are theoretically supposed to roll with this form of education, in the real world it can definitely hurt, and it can definitely make someone less likely to do ally work.

This can be further intensified because our allies are around and open to listening to us, while the people who are actively and purposefully engaged in fat oppression are not around and are unwilling to listen to us. When we can’t take out our frustrations on our worst oppressors, we sometimes take them out on our best allies which makes them less likely to be allies and/or puts them in a state of paralysis where they are scared to make a mistake that will not only lead to public humiliation but, they fear, actually make things worse instead of better.

I’ve definitely been guilty of unnecessarily harshly calling people out, and taking out my frustrations on allies, and it has never benefited me or my activism.  The theoretical argument says that allies should just suck it up because they are not in as bad a position as fat people are, but I’m not sure that’s realistic or entirely fair, or helpful.

 

No cookie for you

There is a school of thought that allies shouldn’t be praised or rewarded for being allies because it’s what everyone should do.  This is often expressed as the idea that you don’t get a cookie for doing what’s right.

In terms of the way that I interact with allies, I disagree with this emphatically.  I think that even if it’s true theoretically, the reality is that it definitely isn’t what everyone does, and it’s difficult work with real negative consequences.

I also think it’s important to remember that allies don’t have to do this, they can stop at any time and their lives may well be better and easier for it, and often their ally work is about dismantling systems that are currently benefiting them.

So I don’t want to take allies for granted and I really appreciate people who take on ally work and I’m happy to give allies a cookie (though it will be store-bought because I can’t bake for shit.)

It doesn’t cost me anything to appreciate people, in fact it often makes me feel better to recognize people who are helping. And not for nothing but it’s certainly been my experience that giving positive feedback to my allies increases the likelihood of continued ally work (and shows other people that doing the right thing has benefits) which is something that ultimately benefits me and my work.

If You Are An Ally

Being an ally can be difficult, but that’s also part of the deal.  While I stand by everything I said, I also want to be clear that none of that is a “get out of jail free” card to not be constantly educating ourselves, centering the voices of the oppressed communities we are trying to work in solidarity with, doing our own research, trying to use incidents of being called out as educational opportunities, and trying to have compassion for people who are having a difficult time and taking their frustrations out on us.

So, for Say Something Sunday this week, I recommend you thank an ally! And if you are someone who is/wants to be an ally find a way to be an ally today – post something fat positive, challenge a fat phobic remark, spend some time researching questions you have about how to be an ally to fat activists. Speaking of research, if you want to hear a bunch of amazing speakers talk about fat activism from an intersectional perspective, then the Fat Activism Conference is for you!

REGISTRATION IS OPEN FOR THE FAT ACTIVISM CONFERENCE!

This year we have a kick ass line up of speakers. This 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. 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 July 24, 2016 at 9:36 am  Comments (9)  

Health, Confidence, and Worthiness

Nothing to proveThis piece is part of the awesome Body Confidence Blog Carnival that Victoria Welsby has created.  When I first suggested the topic, I was planning to write about it in the abstract but shit has, as they say, gotten real.

Two weeks ago I got sick with some kind of stomach virus.  Just as I started to feel a little better it was time to travel to a friend’s wedding (Mazel Tov y’all!) and I came home with a nasty cold/sinus thing that makes is hard for me to breathe, and makes me weak, tired and dizzy.

Normally this would just suck, but currently I’m in the last four months of a two year journey to complete an IRONMAN Triathlon, and so this has meant a bunch of missed or incomplete workouts, and workouts completed when I’m definitely far from at my best which is the last thing I need right now.  This is a journey that I started specifically because I’m not good at endurance athletics and I wanted to push outside my comfort zone. It’s not been an easy journey for me physically or emotionally and, as with nearly everything I do, it has been accompanied by daily bullying and harassment by internet trolls.

Earlier in my life this situation would have found me with my self-esteem down around my ankles. And in truth, I probably wouldn’t have even tried something like an IRONMAN because I tied my self-esteem and self-confidence to things like athletic success and the fear of failure (and all the subsequent troll rejoicing,) and how devastating that failure would be to my sense of self – might have stopped me before I started.

But on my journey to fat acceptance and body love I learned something that changed everything: I can love my body no matter what.  I can have high self-confidence no matter what. I can have high self-esteem no matter what.

It’s not magic, it’s been a long and difficult journey to get here because, like everyone, I grew up in a society that is steeped in sizeism, healthism and ableism (as well as racism, ageism, classism, homophobia, transphobia and more.)  A society that tries to tell us that we’re not inherently good enough or worthy, that we must always and forever be “proving ourselves,” including and especially if we are fat.  A society that tells us that we should judge ourselves and others based on things like body size and health and physical ability.

In fat activism community this is often called the “Good Fatty Bad Fatty Dichotomy” and it’s absolute crap, but I bought into it hard. I would say things like “I’m fat but I’m healthy, here are my numbers…” or “I’m fat, but I’m active” feeling like I was allowed to like myself “even though” I was fat, because I was “healthy,”  because I was achieving athletically.

This wasn’t about telling the truth about weight and health – which is important so that people can understand their options.  It was not about creating a space for fat people to have the right to choose to be involved in the fitness world without shaming, bullying, stigma, or harassment – which is also important because of the double-edged sword of being a fat athlete where some treat you better because you’re involved in fitness, and other people throw eggs at you.  This wasn’t about any of that, it was only about tying my self-confidence, my self-esteem, and my self-worth to outside achievement, and to things that weren’t entirely within my control. And that was a terrible idea.

The truth is that health is not an obligation, barometer or worthiness, entirely within our control, or guaranteed under any circumstance. The truth is that we should all have the opportunity, but never an obligation, to participate in fitness/athletics/movement at any level we choose. The truth is that we don’t have to make our self-confidence,  our self-esteem, or our self-worth  contingent on our health, our participation in fitness, or anything else. The truth is that the trolls can (and will) yammer on, but we don’t have to care what they say. The truth I realized for me is that I am the only person who can decide how I feel about myself and my body. The truth is that  we are worthy, no matter what.

REGISTRATION IS OPEN FOR THE FAT ACTIVISM CONFERENCE!

This year we have a kick ass line up of speakers. This 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. 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 July 23, 2016 at 11:42 am  Comments (5)  

Dieting Is Not the Same Thing As Brushing Your Teeth

facepalmThere are some things I can’t believe I have to say, and it appears that this is one of them. Yesterday I blogged about how my life changed after I found out that research shows that, while most people can lose weight short term, most people gain it all back (with the majority gaining back more than they lost) in the long term. Nearly every time I bring this up, I get comments like the one I received this morning:

shower, brush teeth, diet

Pictures shows a comment by “Barry” that says:

So why bother with anything? Why shower? Why brush your teeth? Eventually they’ll get dirty again, might as well just give up right?

My first thought is that if someone really can’t tell the difference between showering, brushing their teeth, and trying to manipulate their body size in a way that the research shows is nearly impossible and may harm your long term health, then I recommend they go ahead and stop showering and brushing their teeth and see if that helps them figure it out.

Seriously though, one of the things that holds a toxic, and sometimes deadly diet culture in place is the fact that people think giving your body so little fuel that (you hope) it will eat itself and become smaller, is roughly the same as brushing your teeth. That’s the world that diet culture has built.

Dieting can be a physically brutal, emotionally difficult, and expensive process that is often undertaken by those who have been misinformed – typically by the people selling the diet – about it’s likelihood of success either at making them thinner or healthier (which are two separate things,) and/or those who are trying to find a way out from under the soul-crushing horror of weight-based shaming, stigmatizing, bullying, harassment, and oppression that exists in our culture.

If we are to give fat people their rights to basic human respect, if we are to have any hope of a productive discussion about public health, then we have to stop normalizing dieting to the point that people consider attempts to manipulate our body size to be the same as basic hygiene.

REGISTRATION IS OPEN FOR THE FAT ACTIVISM CONFERENCE!

This year we have a kick ass line up of speakers. This 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. 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 July 22, 2016 at 8:48 am  Comments (18)  

What If Nothing Made You Thinner

Actual SizeA member of Rolls Not Trolls – a Facebook community that I created to put body positive comments in body negative discussion on the internet- let me know about a more-ridiculous-than-usual weight loss article (and that’s saying something.)  The article’s title suggested that it would be about how having sex doesn’t make people thin. So already this is really inane, and it’s about to get worse. (By the way, I’m not linking, there’s no way I’m giving traffic to that tripe.)

It starts out not talking about sex at all.  In fact we have to wade through 12 paragraphs of questionable statistics and “facts” about fat people and weight to get to the only two paragraphs in the entire piece that talk about sex. So the clickbait trifecta of sex, weight loss, and myths has been activated to make sure that people get their daily dose of justification (however shitty it might be) for fat hating. Charming.

But it reminded me of a really important part of my journey out of dieting hell. One of the things that I realized when I finally got off the diet roller coaster was how much of my time, money, and energy had been dedicated to trying to get thin – from reading articles and books about how to get thin, to doing things that were supposed to make me thin, to measuring how I was or wasn’t getting thinner and more.  It didn’t leave me happier, or healthier, or thinner, it just made me miserable and it had wasted an astounding amount of time.

I found out that the research showed that while almost anyone can lose weight in the short term almost everyone gains it back and the majority gain back more than they lost. That was certainly my experience. That led me to ask a simple question that helped my life open up in all kinds of amazing ways:

What if nothing will make me thinner?

It was a revolutionary way to look at my life because for years I poured my time, energy, and money into trying to figure out what would make me thinner and doing that no matter what the consequences to my happiness, my health, or my life. The idea that nothing would make me thinner meant that the whole world opened up for me.

Instead of viewing working out as punishment for having a fat body, I could move in ways that I enjoyed, and set goals on my own terms. Instead of hating my body for what it wasn’t I could love it for what it was. Instead of eating as a way to manipulate my body size, I could choose food based on what tasted good and what made me feel good.  Whether or not [sex, dancing, salads, etc.] would make me thinner no longer factored into my decision making process.  Instead I asked myself questions like:  Do I want to do this?  Why? Are there downsides?  Will this make me happy? etc.

I think it’s basically impossible to describe exactly how much better my life got when I started to make decisions based on what makes me happy, what makes me feel good, and what I want, instead of making them based on whether someone said that something will, or won’t, make me thinner.

REGISTRATION IS OPEN FOR THE FAT ACTIVISM CONFERENCE!

This year we have a kick ass line up of speakers. This 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. 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 July 21, 2016 at 9:09 am  Comments (28)  

Model Photographs and Shames Naked Woman at Her Gym

A sculpture of a fat dark-skinned woman with short hair and a daisy bathing suit curling pink weights.

My Best Friend got this statue for me. Sadly I don’t know the artist but if you do let me know!

Dani Mathers is a former Playmate of the Year, and is currently spending her time taking pictures of naked women in her gym’s locker room and then sending them out via snapchat with body shaming captions. (Thanks to reader KC for letting me know about this.)

You read that right. Dani took a picture of a naked woman who was just trying to shower in the gym’s locker room and captioned it”If I can’t unsee this then you can’t either”, then Dani took a Selfie with her hand over her mouth, then Dani sent them out via Snapchat.

After many people reacted with rage (thank you decent people of the world) Dani posted an apology video, which I will break down bit by bit.

I just want to acknowledge a photo that I accidentally posted.

Accidentally?  You took the time to take two pictures, write a caption and post them to social media. Out of curiosity,  what would you have done if you were trying to do this on purpose?

It was absolutely wrong and not what I meant to do.

What exactly did you “mean to do” when you took a picture of a naked woman in a locker room without her knowledge or consent?

I chose to do what I do for a living because I love the female body and I know body shaming is wrong, that’s not what I’m about and this is not the type of person I am.

It is the type of person you are, and the way that I know that is that you fucking did it. You saw a woman taking a shower in your gym and your first thought was to take a picture of her without her knowledge or consent, then send it out via social media to body shame her. That’s the type of person you are.  You can become a different type of person, and you should, but it’s going to take real work to unlearn the prejudices that are now so ingrained.

The photo was taken as part of a personal conversation with a girlfriend and because I am new to Snapchat I didn’t realise I had posted it, and that was a huge mistake.

Let’s go over this again:  It is not ok to take a naked picture of someone without their knowledge or permission. It doesn’t matter if you planned to share it with the world, your girlfriend, or keep it for your private collection.  Holy fuckballs lady. Quit apologizing for posting the picture and start apologizing for taking the damn picture.

I know I have upset a lot of people out there but please believe me this is not the type of person that I am. I have never done this before and I will never do this again, you have my word.

Here’s hoping – especially for the women who just want to take a shower in your gym’s locker room.  (It’s not lost on me that Trans people are being denied their basic right to use bathrooms and locker rooms based on bullshit claims that they will do what this woman actually did – does that mean we’ll have laws that try to preclude models from using the facilities?)

In the first few minutes after hearing this all I could think of was whether she could be prosecuted or this, and then unrealistic and inappropriate ways that I wanted to help educate her.  I considered getting a group of women of different ages and sizes to follow her around, naked, until she can respect the diversity of body sizes. I considered trying to publish the unphotoshopped versions and outtakes from her modeling sessions – after all, if this woman who is just trying to take a shower doesn’t get Photoshop or her choice of poses, why should Dani?  I thought about encouraging naked women of diverse body sizes to send their pictures to Dani with the hashtags #unseethis and #takenwithpermission Meanwhile I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the woman in the picture isn’t suffering because of this, and that nobody publicizes a response pretending to be her.

My rage isn’t so much for me – I’m lucky that I’ve found a path that has left me comfortable with my body and clear that the problem is with body shamers and not with me.  Most of my rage is reserved for women who will now be afraid to go to their gym, to change in the locker room, to take a shower, lest some chick with a self-esteem problem and a cellphone be hiding around the corner loading up Snapchat. My rage is for women who will internalize Dani’s bullshit body shame and women whose greatest fears of being at the gym were reinforced and realized today. No apology can fix that.

Here’s what I know is true:

Yes, it’s ok to be fat.

Yes, you are worthy no matter what.

I also know that this makes me twice as interested in using my gym’s locker room to change and shower, to claim and own that space for bodies of all sizes who want to be there, including mine. Don’t like it? Well that’s just too damn bad.

REGISTRATION IS OPEN FOR THE FAT ACTIVISM CONFERENCE!

This year we have a kick ass line up of speakers. This 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. The Conference will be held September 23-25, 2016

Click Here to Register!

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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 July 15, 2016 at 6:50 am  Comments (51)  

Things That Are Not Always Compliments For Fat People

You Forgot Your BullshitA society rife with fat shaming and fat hatred means that often even well meaning attempts at compliments are a swing and a miss, and fat people have to deal with a lot of back-handed compliments.

There are those who feel that we should just be happy that people aren’t outright hating us, but I think it’s worth it to think this through a bit to help those who are really trying to be fat positive, but just missing the mark because they live in a fatphobic society, and expose those who are doling out back-handed compliments on purpose.

That outfit is so slimming!

  • What they might think they are saying:  You look great!
  • What a fat person might actually hear:  I think  you look better when your clothes create the optical illusion that you look smaller than you actually are because I think that smaller bodies are inherently better than larger ones.
  • What they could say instead:  You look great!

Good for you for starting a workout program!

  • What they might think they are saying:  I’ll encourage this fat person who is new to working out.
  • What a fat person might actually hear:  I make wild guesses about people based on their size, including assuming that this person is a beginner.
  • What they could say instead:  “Hey” while walking by.  Unless someone has a shirt on at the gym that says “tell me about your thoughts about my workout” or they are making all kinds of eye contact, just leave them alone.

You’re so brave to wear that!

  • What they might think they are saying:  You look great!
  • What a fat person might actually hear:  I have beliefs about what people your size should wear and you are violating those beliefs.
  • What they could say instead: You look great!

You don’t move like a big person!

  • What they might think they are saying: You are very graceful/athletic.
  • What a fat person might actually hear:  I have stereotypes about how people your size move, you don’t fit into those stereotypes.  I’m making you into an exception so I can keep my stereotypes about all the other big people.
  • What they could say instead: You are very graceful/athletic.

You have such a pretty face…

  • What they might think they are saying: Obviously fat bodies aren’t pretty but at least your face is nice.
  • What a fat person might actually hear:  I’m incapable of seeing the beauty in fat bodies, this is a backhanded way for me to say that.  See also “You have such a pretty face, it’s a shame about your body…”
  • What they could say instead: You are beautiful.  Or, compliment something other than what the person looks like.

If you have others, feel free to leave them in the comments!

REGISTRATION IS OPEN FOR THE FAT ACTIVISM CONFERENCE!

This year we have a kick ass line up of speakers. This 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. The Conference will be held September 23-25, 2016

Click Here to Register!

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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 July 14, 2016 at 11:25 am  Comments (34)  

To Those Who “Love” Fat People But Hate Our Fat

Talking NonsenseToday I want to talk about the people who say things like:  “We shouldn’t treat fat people badly, but they are unhealthy and we need to help them get thin and prevent other people from becoming fat.”  I understand that these people are trying, so I also try, really hard, not to say “Hey, fuck off.”  While this is certainly better than the “let’s shame, stigmatize, bully, and harass the shit out of fat people!” crowd, it’s still not ok.

The evidence is not nearly so cut and dried as people think when it comes to weight and health. But that doesn’t really matter because our health is between us and our chosen healthcare providers, not us and anyone who has an opinion.

While I appreciate someone treating me well, what I truly value is people respecting that I am the best witness to my experience. So when I say that my body is fine, that I’m happy with the path to health I’ve chosen, the proper response is “awesome”, not “Well, I don’t think you should be treated badly, but I do want to eradicate you and everyone who looks like you from the Earth and make sure that there are no more.”

I don’t intend to speak for anyone else, but for me – I am my body.  The actual body that I live in.  Someone either respects my body, or they don’t.  Loving the thin woman they believe lives inside me is unacceptable to me.  Because I know that there is no thin woman in there – I’m a fat woman who deserves to be treated with basic human respect regardless of what someone believes I could or should look like. I am the best witness to my experience, if someone wants to know about me – they should ask.  They should not guess, or worse, have the audacity to think that they know better than me about me.

When it comes to me, if you hate the fat then you’re not allowed to love this fatty.

REGISTRATION IS OPEN FOR THE FAT ACTIVISM CONFERENCE!

This year we have a kick ass line up of speakers. This 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. The Conference will be held September 23-25, 2016

Click Here to Register!

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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 July 12, 2016 at 11:29 am  Comments (13)  

Yes, It’s OK To Be Offended 

What a Load of CrapThere are many ways that people who like to bully and oppress others try to justify their behavior. One of those is the notion of “political correctness” which can be easily debunked when we substitute the phrase “being politically correct” with what is actually being asked of them: “treating people with respect,” as seen in this example from Donald Trump.

Another way is to try to make it seem as if the people pointing out the inappropriate/bullying/oppressive behavior are actually the ones doing the bullying/oppressing.  This is something that fat-hate trolls try all the time with fat activists, and I saw a perfect example of this on the “era of wisdom” facebook page:

That is Offensive

A brown box with the following quote next to an outline of a person with bars (ostensibly to symbolize a jail) in front of their face. “To be offended by what someone else says is your own choice, as you don’t have to care about what other people think, and nothing has actually happened to you. Information merely passed from their mind to yours. To state that you are offended means that you wish the person hadn’t said it and won’t say anything similar again. In other words you actually want to stop certain information from being communicated. You must believe that you have some sort of right to dictate not only what people can and can’t communicate, but what they can and can’t think. To be offended is to take the first step in being a totalitarian megalomaniac.”

For many people the it-would-be-hilarious-if-it-wasn’t-used-to-oppress-so-many–people nature of this is obvious, but for others it seems to make sense on it’s face, so let’s scratch below the surface a bit, shall we?

To be offended by what someone else says is your own choice, as you don’t have to care about what other people think, and nothing has actually happened to you. Information merely passed from their mind to yours.

This ignores the very real power structures that exist in our society.  “Information” is not neutral, and speech has power (which is why, even though my country’s constitution guarantees a right to free speech, I’m not allowed to yell “FIRE!” in a crowded building – because it might hurt people. I’m also not guaranteed a right to consequence-free speech which is why television networks are completely within their rights to cancel television programs of people who spout bigotry.)

Even if we consider whatever comes out of someone’s mouth – however bigoted or oppressive – to  be “information,” that doesn’t make it neutral.  That “information” can encourage people to oppress – or even harm- others.  It can help hold in place systemic oppression and perpetuate stereotyping, prejudice and bigotry.  It can be harmful, and pointing that out (by explaining that it is offensive) can help to elucidate, and in some cases mitigate, that harm, whether or not the person pointing it out is directly affected by it.

To state that you are offended means that you wish the person hadn’t said it and won’t say anything similar again.  In other words you actually want to stop certain information from being communicated. You must believe that you have some sort of right to dictate not only what people can and can’t communicate, but what they can and can’t think.

This argument rests on their claims about the other person’s reason for speaking out, and the intended outcome, both of which they have made up out of whole cloth.

This is one of the techniques that people who perpetuate ideas that are harmful to others (is: racism, classism, ageism, homophobia, transphobia, sizeism, ableism, healthism, and more) use to keep others from pointing out the wrongness and consequences of their behavior.

To say that something is offensive is not telling someone they can’t say it. It’s telling someone that they are hurting people with their speech/actions and to give them the opportunity to re-think their actions in case they were done out of ignorance instead of malice. ie: Did you know that the word you used is a term of derision toward a community and perpetuates prejudice against that community- did you really intend to do that? Or – did you know that the idea you are arguing for will perpetuate harm against a group of people – is that what you want to happen?

When we tell someone what they are doing is offensive, we are doing them the courtesy of assuming that they are ignorant, rather than that they are cruel and/or trying to keep in place and perpetuate ignorance and oppression. We are also also pointing out to other people who are listening – who may not be aware – what the consequences of that type of speech and actions are.

We aren’t necessarily saying “you can’t say that” what we are saying is “we won’t tolerate that harmful behavior without pushing back.”

Nobody is obligated to feel offended or to speak out if they do, But if  we cannot speak out about offensive things, then bullies and oppressors get to bully/oppress others with no push back, all the while blaming their victims (and the allies of their victims) for not allowing them to bully/oppress in peace. That’s a good situation for bullies and oppressors, but not for anyone else. Also, this isn’t a new argument – it’s been used against people fighting for civil rights for all kind of groups including People of Color, the poor, queer and trans people, disabled people/people with disabilities and more.

To be offended is to take the first step in being a totalitarian megalomaniac.

Cool story.  Too bad it’s completely full of crap.

Let’s review this person’s argument:  Someone who states their opinion is transferring information and completely within their rights to do so.  Someone who finds that opinion offensive is on their way to becoming a totalitarian megalomaniac.

Riiiiiight.

It seems pretty clear to me who the problem is here, and it’s not the people who are offended.  To support people who say things that are offensive, but denigrate those who say that they are offended puts one well on their way to being a totalitarian megalomaniac.

If you find something offensive, you have every right to speak up about that.

REGISTRATION IS OPEN FOR THE FAT ACTIVISM CONFERENCE!

This year we have a kick ass line up of speakers. This 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. The Conference will be held September 23-25, 2016

Click Here to Register!

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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 July 6, 2016 at 8:43 am  Comments (18)  

Fat People and Chairs – A Hate Story

ChairsIf you’re not fat, then you may think of chairs as simply inanimate objects that you rest on, and not barriers to everything from entry to comfort.  Below are some situations where people choose chairs without thinking about how they might make a space horribly uncomfortable if not completely inaccessible to fat people. This is (usually) not intentional, and it’s not my goal to make people feel badly, but rather to help them think about how to include fat people.

If you are a fat person who finds yourself at odds with chairs, this is just a reminder that it’s not you, it’s them.  If a chair doesn’t work for you the problem is the chair, it’s not you. People of all sizes have a right to exist and be accommodated at the size they are.  If a chair doesn’t work for you – then you need a better chair!

Wedding Woes

wedding

These chairs are hella flimsy, the seats are tiny (and made smaller by the fact that the angle of the legs makes the back part of the seat completely inaccessible to those whose hips and ass are wider than the seat.) It also makes it almost impossible to use two chairs to be comfortable. So fat people end up spending the wedding perched one the end of the chairs, trying to do a half hover squat so they don’t break the chair. Congratulations on your special day.

Wedding More Wonderful

Wedding corrected

These chairs are still a bit flimsy (especially on uneven ground) but at least someone can sit all the way back and could use two of them if necessary.

Doctor’s Office Disappointment

Doctor's waiting room

Every chair here has arms so those whose butt/hips are wider than the arms won’t be able to sit down (not an ideal situation at the doctor’s office and happens surprisingly often.) They are also jammed together so if you have broad shoulders and the waiting room is busy you may not have enough room, and even if you bring your own chair (something my partner and I often do) there’s no place to put it.

Doctor’s Office Done Right

Doctor's waiting room corrected

This is so much better.  There are still some chairs with arms (that’s important because some people need/prefer chairs with arms.) But there are also big chairs without arms and people could use more than one of them if they need to.

Conference Room Carelessness

Conference room

Arms on every chair make this a nightmare for the wide of hip, and chairs like this that balance over a base (instead of having four legs) can feel less stable.

Conference Room Corrected

Conference room corrected

Ideally I’d like there to be a little more space between the chairs, and for some of the chairs to have arms for those who need/prefer them. But these chairs are more stable, and no arms means they are suitable for a better range of sizes and shapes.

Restaurant Ridiculousness

bar tables and chairs

What these chairs say to me:  “Fuck basically everyone.”

As a short person I have to climb up into these bad boys like some kind of mountain goat, and once I get up there my feet don’t reach the foot rest.  As a fat person, the seats are much smaller than my ass so the edges dig in very uncomfortably and there is no way to take the pressure off because my feet are just dangling helplessly.

People who use wheelchairs can’t see above the table and end up with a very awkward view. People with mobility challenges/disabilities often can’t get into these chairs at all.

If a restaurant has only tables and chairs like this, I would recommend that you go somewhere else (and feel free to let them know that it’s because they’ve created a space that is unwelcoming to you and/or your friends and/or other humans whose comfort you care about, even if it’s not an issue for you.)

Restaurant Righted

There are so many ways to correct this. One option is mixed seating that includes booths, tables with armless chairs and, if you must, high top bar tables and chairs.  But this kind of setup requires a host/hostess who is good enough at their job to know what tables and chairs are appropriate for which guests.

Again, if you are someone who fits in chairs and never has to worry about whether or not a chair will support you, then you may never have thought of this before. But you can think about it from now on.

REGISTRATION IS OPEN FOR THE FAT ACTIVISM CONFERENCE!

This year we have a kick ass line up of speakers. This 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. The Conference will be held September 23-25, 2016

Click Here to Register!

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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 July 1, 2016 at 8:58 am  Comments (64)