Actor Matt McGorry Does Some Serious Ally Work

Matt McGorryIf you’ve watched How To Get Away With Murder or Orange is the New Black, you’ve seen the work of actor Matt McGorry. If you follow him on Facebook you saw him do some serious ally work for Health at Every Size and Size Acceptance, even giving shouts out to people in HAES community:

This one is an important read. “Health At Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight” by Linda Bacon.
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I wish that all people, and especially health care providers, fitness industry professionals, and nutritionists would read this book.
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Like most people in our society, you’ve probably been on a diet aimed at losing weight. In fact, you’ve probably been on a diet MANY times. And when you inevitably “fall off” of the diet, you most likely blame yourself for not having enough willpower. You hope that next time will be different. But how many times has this happened? And should you really have to make yourself miserable with overly-restrictive eating and exercise plans in order to look a way that can make you feel worthy and valued? How is it that nearly everyone in our society constantly goes through this and yet we have grown to see it as “normal”?
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Health and body fat are not inextricably linked, despite what most of society believes and teaches us. This book breaks it down with studies and shows that the conflation of these 2 things is actually hugely damaging to health (mental and physical). It IS possible to be fat (or soft, or chubby, etc) and be healthy. Everyone deserves to live free of size-based discrimination.
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The more times and the more harshly we diet the more it makes our metabolism efficient at storing body fat as well as causing a host of health issues. Not the least of which is A WORLD WHERE JUST ABOUT EVERYONE IS CONSTANTLY DISSATISFIED WITH THE WAY THEIR BODY LOOKS. Many people hate the way their body looks. And women, of course, face greater pressures here than man due to societal expectations. For women of size, even more so.
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If you’re ready to accept (or at least learn about) how you didn’t fail your New Years resolution, but your New Years resolution (and societal expectations and lessons about weight) has failed YOU…then I highly recommend this book.
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This book and learning from many of the amazing people I follow (specifically women and folks such as @fyeahmfabello & @bodyposipanda who have personally helped me process ) in the Body Positivity movement has set me on my own journey to self acceptance and pursuing a happy and healthier life without obsessive eating and exercise tendencies. Moving from the extraordinarily restrictive behaviors of competitive powerlifting and bodybuilding to the pressures of the film and TV industry, and the current realization that my body is beautiful the way it is. Something that I know intellectually, but am on the continuous journey of working on accepting in my everyday life. It’s time to try something different.
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I have a great deal of privilege in regards to my body. I am a white, heterosexual, able-bodied, cis-gender, and famous man. And even in spite of these privileges that make my body much more accepted than others, I am often compelled to hide the way my body looks. Even if this is the norm… this shit ain’t normal!
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#LindaBacon #HealthAtEverySize
#McGReads

There’s a lot of great work that thin folks can do around HAES and Size Acceptance, and the good news is that a world without fatshaming helps people of all sizes.  If you want more ideas for how to be a thin ally, check out this post!

If you value my work, you can support my ability to do more of it with a one-time contribution or by becoming a member.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

 Wellness for All Bodies ProgramA simple, step-by-step, super efficient guide to setting and reaching your health goals from a weight-neutral perspective.  This program can be used by individuals, or by groups, including as a workplace wellness program!
Price: $25.00 ($10 for DancesWithFat members)
Click here for all the details and to register!

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 April 20, 2018 at 10:17 am  Leave a Comment  

Drew Barrymore Illustrates Our Issues with Food and Weight

Drew BarrymoreLet’s start with the fact that I’m a fan of Drew Barrymore – I recently went on a kick and watched a bunch of her movies (the song from the end of The Wedding Singer is still in my head.)

I also want to acknowledge that she is not typically “Hollywood thin” and her weight has fluctuated throughout her career, which means that she’s had to deal with all kinds of body shaming nonsense, and that’s total bullshit. Based on a recent People Magazine interview, it seems that she may have bought into diet culture in a way that illustrates the problems that many of us have, or have had that I think are worth acknowledging. Discussing her eating habits around her show Santa Clarita Diet she says:

“Let’s face it, I hate it, I would much rather eat fettuccine alfredo all day long…When I first started the show [Santa Clarita Diet], I was 145 lbs. and my life was kind of falling apart,” she said. “And I said, ‘Victor [Fresco, the show’s executive producer], can I lose 20 lbs. over the course of the show, and change my eyebrows and the height of my shoes and the body language and attitude and go from someone who’s kind of naïve and unhappy to someone who’s empowered and alive?’ And he said yes, and so I got to make that transformation.”

We have to let go of this idea that becoming thinner is the same as becoming more empowered and alive. For that matter, we should let go of the ideas that performing femininity in a way that brings us closer to a stereotype of beauty that reinforces things like racism, sizeism, ableism, healthism, cissexism, and heteronormaitivity, is the same thing as being empowered and alive.

She continued:

“When I’m doing the show I’m a vegan and I barely eat anything, and I workout every day, and it’s so healthy,” she said. “It gets to be euphoric, and then it’s like food poisoning, you feel like you’ll never eat again, and then before you know it you’re pigging out with the feed bag strapped to your face. And I’m a foodie, and love food and I travel the world for food, so I get heavy again between the show.”

“I heard Denzel Washington does this and I don’t know because I just want to believe it, I don’t want to know it’s not true. But he just enjoys his life and then pulls himself back together when he’s doing movies and looks amazing,” Barrymore said. “So I’m giving it the full ‘Denzel,’ even if that exists or not, and I let myself go.”

Holy shitballs. I’ve never heard anything that so clearly and accurately described disordered eating. Of course Drew Barrymore is allowed to do whatever she wants with her body, but let’s be clear that any competent healthcare provider would see this as red flag behavior for an eating disorder. This doesn’t have to be what’s normal. We can have a relationship with food that takes into account hunger, satiety, enjoyment, the social aspect of food etc. and does not involve severe restriction of food types and amount. Talented actors should not have to put their bodies through this kind of dangerous starvation cycle just to do their jobs.

If we would stop equating thinness with attractiveness, talent, morality, and being empowered and alive, then we could choose our actors based on their ability to act rather than their ability to approximate an impossible standard of beauty, and the characters they play could be whatever size the actor happens to be (including if they are a zombie on a high protein diet, since there are fat people on high protein diets in real life.)

For now I hope that Drew Barrymore’s disordered eating doesn’t escalate, and I hope that her casual discussion of it doesn’t lead anyone else to try it. And I continue to be a fan of a very talented woman who, it would seem, has been deeply affected by an extremely toxic diet culture.

If you value my work, you can support my ability to do more of it with a one-time contribution or by becoming a member.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

 Wellness for All Bodies ProgramA simple, step-by-step, super efficient guide to setting and reaching your health goals from a weight-neutral perspective.  This program can be used by individuals, or by groups, including as a workplace wellness program!
Price: $25.00 ($10 for DancesWithFat members)
Click here for all the details and to register!

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 April 19, 2018 at 11:22 am  Comments (3)  

Plus This! Talks All Things Fat Positive

Plus This Show CoverLast week I got the chance to be on Plus This! A show created by Eva Tingley and Kathy Deitch, two powerful plus size women in entertainment. Kathy’s credits include the original Broadway casts of Footloose and Wicked, and Eva’s credits include Scandal and Community.

I met Kathy at the Fattitude screening in LA and she invited me to be on the show. They have a lot of seriously famous guests so I was feeling nervous, but of course I agreed.

As we walked into the Universal Broadcasting Network studio, they pointed out that it’s in the same building as Scandal, and How to Get Away With Murder  – which didn’t help me feel any less intimidated, but did make me want to sneak on to the elevator to check things out.

Kathy and Eva are amazing, hilarious, brilliant, talented, and a total joy to be around so that put me at ease right away. Jarvis, the show’s producer was also amazing and incredibly kind despite doing roughly 1,000 things at once. I hung out through the first segment and then we were off to the races. You can check out the show below as well as the pictures I actually remembered to take this time! If the video below doesn’t work for you for some reason, you can check the episode out at https://www.facebook.com/PlusThisShow/videos/576581552718932/ While you’re at it, watch all the episodes, because they are awesome!

 

If you value my work, you can support my ability to do more of it with a  one-time contribution or by becoming a member.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

 Wellness for All Bodies ProgramA simple, step-by-step, super efficient guide to setting and reaching your health goals from a weight-neutral perspective.  This program can be used by individuals, or by groups, including as a workplace wellness program!
Price: $25.00 ($10 for DancesWithFat members)
Click here for all the details and to register!

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 April 18, 2018 at 9:44 am  Comments (4)  

Geneen Roth is Perpetuating Eating Disorders

NOIn case you are not familiar, Geneen Roth rose to prominence by writing about eating disorders. She has developed a sizable mailing list, to whom she sent the following e-mail (Trigger warning for fatphobia, eating disorder trigger.)

“It’s uncomfortable to walk around in a body that is uncomfortable. It’s hard to let innate brilliance or power express itself when you are schlepping around twenty or fifty extra pounds. It’s not impossible, just more difficult. And since there is already so much inherent difficulty in being alive, what with people getting sick, raising kids, dying, and the earth on the verge of destruction, why not make life easier on yourself? Why not make the effort to discover what enhances your aliveness and vitality? Because when you do, you become less and less fascinated with those foods, activities, and people that don’t. The only best reason to do this is that there, in that vast space, we find love itself, flagrant, unstinting, give-it-all-away love. Not just for our spouses or children or particular community, but for arms and legs and nights and fog, love for the mornings, floors, caterpillars, and trees. Love for the sounds your foot makes on the sidewalk, for traffic and honking horns, for the earth itself. Nothing is left out. Zen teachers call it discovering “your original face.” We do whatever it takes to keep the channel open because when we don’t, it hurts, and when we do, it doesn’t. Also, there is nothing better to do with a life. — This Messy Magnificent Life”
~Geneen Roth

Let’s start with the obvious fact that this is fatphobic bullshit. The belief that fat bodies are “uncomfortable” to live in rests on a foundation of weight-based oppression. It’s uncomfortable to live in a world where space isn’t made for you, where clothes aren’t made for you, where people are constantly comparing your body to other bodies and finding you lacking, where people are actually so brainwashed by sizeism that they believe that weight has anything to do with innate brilliance and power, where the government spends billions of dollars trying to recruit everyone you’ll ever meet to fight a war against you, and where the mailing list that you signed up for to support you in your eating disorder recovery sends you fatphobic drivel instead. I’m not “suffering from obesity,” but I am made to suffer by this kind of fatphobia.

The notion that some people’s entire body deserves to be “schlepped” around, but for others of us, only part of us is worthy of “schlepping” is patently ridiculous and offensive, Roth is one of these charlatans who sell the idea that “‘When people begin respecting themselves, and treating themselves well, it just so happens that weight loss becomes a side benefit.” That’s bullshit and Geneen doesn’t have any kind of evidence to back up the idea that she can help people produce long-term significant weight loss (she has this in common with literally everyone, because there is no method of weight loss that has been shown to work for more than a tiny fraction of people.)

She is also one of these dangerously misinformed so-called eating disorder experts who forwards the notion, despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary, that if someone is fat they are a compulsive eater who must be treated with paternalism and cannot be trusted as a witness to their own experience.”   (“…if someone weighs 22st…even though they will tell me outright that they are eating only for physical hunger – it’s safe to say there’s probably a reason for that compulsive eating.”) This alone should discredit her completely.

But it’s more than just fatphobic and misinformed paternalism, she is literally perpetuating eating disorders by trying to sell weight loss through sizeism. By telling people to be afraid of being heavier lest they have difficulty expressing their brilliance and power, (and, in an utterly ableist argument, have difficulty moving their body,) what Geneen is saying to everyone on her mailing list who may be developing, struggling with, or recovering from an eating disorder (especially those struggling with the accompanying weight gain) is: “the fears that perpetuated your eating disorder, and that help it keep its grip on you, are completely justified. Whatever you do, don’t get fat.”

Which says to someone with an eating disorder, that the (disordered) behaviors that are currently keeping them “thin” are a good idea. When she suggests that weight loss and maintaining thinness is a good idea, including and especially in eating disorder community, she supports the dangerous idea that we should recommend and prescribe to fat people that which we diagnose and treat in thin people.

Like so many before her, Geneen’s attempt to find ways to get a piece of the $60 Billion a year weight loss industry for herself is harming countless people of all sizes.

I recently had the honor of giving a keynote address at the MEDA (Multi-Service Eating Disorders Association) National Conference.  The organization’s leadership – including Beth Mayer, Rachel Monroe, Michelle Pierce and others – has been amazing in embracing intersectional social justice, including Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size as part of their work with eating disorders. (Sadly, that’ s not the case in all of eating disorder community.)

My talk was called Size Acceptance and Eating Disorders – A Critical, Crucial, Core Conversation. The premise was simple and obvious – if we truly want to prevent eating disorders, and allow those who suffer from them to experience complete recovery, then a Size Acceptance paradigm is the only option that makes sense.

Size Acceptance doesn’t just benefit fat people, it benefits people of all sizes, and especially those with body dysmorphia related to weight. The fear of being or becoming fat that drives so many eating disorders would be hard pressed to exist in a society where being fat wasn’t seen as a bad or negative thing.

It’s difficult to believe that your recovery is the most important thing when diet culture and a fatphobic world are telling you that the most important thing, by far, is being thin by any means necessary.

It’s difficult to let go of your fear of being fat/gaining weight/having an “imperfect” body if you can plainly see that you live in a culture where your fear is absolutely justified.

In a fatphobic world, rife with diet culture, where hating your body and being terrified of being or becoming fat or gaining weight is considered normal, preventing eating disorders, and making a full recovery can be completely impossible.

And that’s the kind of world that Geneen Roth is perpetuating with her ridiculous, harmful, irresponsible, blatantly fatphobic, ableist, and untrue e-mail. I call bullshit, and you should to.  She may not be intending to do harm, but harm is being done nonetheless. Here’s her contact page if you’d like to…a-hem…weigh in and help provide her with the education she needs to stop harming people. https://geneenroth.com/contact/

If you are looking for diverse eating disorder activists and providers, check out this list!

If you value my work, you can support my ability to do more of it with a  one-time contribution or by becoming a member.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

 Wellness for All Bodies ProgramA simple, step-by-step, super efficient guide to setting and reaching your health goals from a weight-neutral perspective.  This program can be used by individuals, or by groups, including as a workplace wellness program!
Price: $25.00 ($10 for DancesWithFat members)
Click here for all the details and to register!

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 April 17, 2018 at 10:42 am  Comments (10)  

I Don’t Have To Be Delusional To Feel Pretty

The premise is that a fat woman who can’t find clothes in her size, can’t get a bartender to serve her a drink, and frightens children with her visage alone, hits her head and suddenly sees herself as beautiful and capable. This newfound confidence leads to everything from entering a bikini contest to a love interest who seems to fall for her because of her newfound confidence.First, let’s talk about the way that Amy Schumer keeps trying to sell us this narrative that she is fat (and ugly, which she seems to think mistakenly are the same thing).

I’ll start by looking at her own words when she was included in Glamour’s plus-size issue’s “Women Who Inspire Us” feature.

“I think there’s nothing wrong with being plus size. Beautiful healthy women. Plus size is considered size 16 in America. I go between a size 6 and an 8. @glamourmag put me in their plus size only issue without asking or letting me know and it doesn’t feel right to me. Young girls seeing my body type thinking that is plus size? What are your thoughts? Mine are not cool glamour not glamourous.”

Setting aside the fact that there is nothing wrong with being fat regardless of health or perceived attractiveness, I think it’s pretty hard to believe Amy believes there’s “nothing wrong with being plus size” when she is so desperate to make sure that people know she isn’t. She thinks it’s a problem that young girls might think she is, and she claims it’s “not cool” and “not glamorous” that someone would suggest she is plus size. It makes me wonder how she would act if she did think there was something wrong with it?

I think it’s pretty apparent that Amy believes there’s something wrong with being plus size, but even if you disagree with that, she’s made it very clear that she doesn’t think she is plus sized — including shouting her dress size from the rafters. But suddenly, for this film, we’re all supposed to believe that she shares the plight of the plus size woman? What was the last store you were in that didn’t sell clothes in size six or eight? Even if we assume that she’s a size 12, which is what others seem to speculate, she’s still firmly in the realm of straight sizes, as she took the time to point out on Instagram.

To be clear, Amy is larger than the Hollywood ideal, and that has affected her career, and that’s bullshit. But the undeniable truth is that she’s relatively thin, as well as white, blonde, traditionally “pretty,” currently able-bodied, cisgender, heterosexual, and thus fulfilling most of the beauty stereotypes. Sure, she’s not a size zero, but that doesn’t make it okay for her to slip the identity of fatness on and off like a fatsuit in a way that suits her career goals.

But even if we pretend that Amy could pass for “fat” and/or “ugly” by some definition, we’re still left with a hot mess of fatphobic bullshit.

This entire movie is built on tropes that reinforce fatphobia, regardless of the intent. The “comedy” of this movie is based on the idea that it’s hilarious that a fat woman would have confidence…

You can read the rest of this piece here!

If you value my work, you can support my ability to do more of it with a one-time contribution or by becoming a member.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

 Wellness for All Bodies ProgramA simple, step-by-step, super efficient guide to setting and reaching your health goals from a weight-neutral perspective.  This program can be used by individuals, or by groups, including as a workplace wellness program!
Price: $25.00 ($10 for DancesWithFat members)
Click here for all the details and to register!

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 April 16, 2018 at 8:24 am  Comments (4)  

Dealing With A Fatphobic Coworker

Talking NonsenseRecently I asked folks on my Facebook wall what they would like me to blog about. Alison submitted the following:

Dealing with a coworker who is downright hostile towards fat women.. making comments, etc.. very triggering for someone who has suffered with body dysmorphia all my life and almost died from an eating disorder a while ago.. I just am not sure how to address it and feel like a wimp that I don’t.

First, as always, I want to remind you that the problem here is the fatphobic behavior, and not how anyone responds to it – especially those who are triggered by it. While I’m happy to give some options to deal with this, please also know that if you are dealing with this situation, you are allowed to make protecting yourself your first priority.

This is one of those situations where fatphobia compounds fatphobia since there is no guarantee that the person you complain to won’t share fatphobic beliefs, and (except in a few places) there are no legal protections.  If a co-worker was being inappropriate about a protected status, like race, disability and in some cases sexual orientation, there would be more clear cut options (obviously that doesn’t mean that the people you report to, or the structures underpinning your corporate management, wouldn’t be racist, ableist, or homophobic, there would at least be some legal precedent on your side.)

Here are some options (if you have other ideas please feel free to leave them in the comments!)

Deal directly with the offending co-worker:

When they something hostile you can say something general like “I wish we lived in a world where people respected all bodies,” or slightly more direct like “I wish people wouldn’t make inappropriate comments about other people’s bodies in my workspace,” or way more direct “That kind of talk isn’t appropriate. Please stop.” This can be even more effective if you can recruit other co-workers to do the same. You might not be able to cure their fatphobia, but you will likely be able to make them shut the hell up about it.

Talk to a Supervisor (or HR, if that exists in your workplace)

There are several paths you can take here. I would start by documenting some of the incidents (date, time, place, what was said etc.) but you can start with a complaint and see if they want you to document.

You can ask them for help directly, “My co-worker is making inappropriate comments about women’s bodies, I’d like you to tell them to stop.” If you don’t feel that the direct approach is best, you can try something less direct “There is a co-worker making inappropriate comments about women’s bodies and it’s making me uncomfortable – what are the options?”

You can also bring up the eating disorder issue “There is a co-working making inappropriate comments about women’s bodies in a way that makes me uncomfortable and can trigger eating disorder behavior, what can be done?” If you are comfortable, you can be clear that you have a history of eating disorder and that this behavior is a direct threat to your health. If you need to push farther, consider getting other co-workers to make similar complaints, or sign onto a letter that you turn in, to try to get more traction.

You also don’t have to make this about fatphobia – you can make it about demeaning women, commenting on women’s bodies, and/or creating a hostile work environment. As sad as it is, even among those who might be tolerant of fatphobia, those are things that tend to be taken more seriously.

This behavior is reprehensible. Nobody should have their body disparaged at work (or anywhere else for that matter.) Everyone who experiences this gets to decide how to deal with it, and every time we object to it we strike a victory for basic human decency and respect, and against fatphobia.

If you value my work, you can support my ability to do more of it with a one-time contribution or by becoming a member.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

 Wellness for All Bodies ProgramA simple, step-by-step, super efficient guide to setting and reaching your health goals from a weight-neutral perspective.  This program can be used by individuals, or by groups, including as a workplace wellness program!
Price: $25.00 ($10 for DancesWithFat members)
Click here for all the details and to register!

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 April 15, 2018 at 5:07 am  Comments (10)  

This Is Me In A Fatphobic World

Actual SizeAt the Oscars, Keala Settle performed the song This Is Me from The Greatest Showman. I hadn’t heard the song before and it hit me right in the feels.

Size-based oppression is structural, institutional oppression. Sadly, we are often told that the only option is to change ourselves – whatever the cost, whatever the risk, whatever the harm.

We are told that we should spend our time, energy, and money trying to force our bodies into someone else’s ideal with diets, dangerous drugs, even surgeries. I recently spoke with someone who was at a seminar on weight loss surgery where one of the “benefits” mentioned was more right swipes on Tinder. Our bullies aren’t even expected to engage in basic human decency, while we are expected to risk our lives so that they find us more pleasing to look at.

Size-based oppression is not in our heads and it’s not something that we can just overcome with body love, confidence, and a can-do attitude. We need social and structural changes to put an end to size-based oppression.

In the meantime, fatphobia isn’t our fault, but it becomes our problem. We each have to make our own decisions about how we interact with a world that shames, stigmatizes, bullies, and oppresses us. To me, Fat Acceptance is the first necessary step. In order to fight for our humanity, we must claim and own our humanity for ourselves.

It happens when we say I am a fat person, not a thin person covered in fat, and I am worthy, right now, in this body. I will wield my beautiful fat body like a weapon – I will love it, I will care for it, I will give it my full-throated support, and I will viciously defend my body against anyone who seeks to classify it as anything but amazing. I will not apologize, I will not back down. This is me.

 

That was the workshop version, for the Oscars version you can go here.

Lyrics:
I am not a stranger to the dark
Hide away, they say
‘Cause we don’t want your broken parts
I’ve learned to be ashamed of all my scars
Run away, they say
No one’ll love you as you are

But I won’t let them break me down to dust
I know that there’s a place for us
For we are glorious

When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me
Look out ’cause here I come
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me

Oh-oh-oh-oh
Oh-oh-oh-oh
Oh-oh-oh-oh
Oh-oh-oh-oh
Oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh, oh

Another round of bullets hits my skin
Well, fire away ’cause today, I won’t let the shame sink in
We are bursting through the barricades and
Reaching for the sun (we are warriors)
Yeah, that’s what we’ve become (yeah, that’s what we’ve become)
I won’t let them break me down to dust
I know that there’s a place for us
For we are glorious

When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me
Look out ’cause here I come
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me

Oh-oh-oh-oh
Oh-oh-oh-oh
Oh-oh-oh-oh
Oh-oh-oh-oh
Oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh, oh
This is me

and I know that I deserve your love
(Oh-oh-oh-oh) ’cause there’s nothing I’m not worthy of
(Oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh, oh)

When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
This is brave, this is proof
This is who I’m meant to be, this is me

Look out ’cause here I come (look out ’cause here I come)
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum (marching on, marching, marching on)
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me

When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I’m gonna send a flood
Gonna drown them out
Oh
This is me

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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

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

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

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

Published in: on March 6, 2018 at 10:38 am  Comments (12)  

Perceiving the Beauty of All Bodies

defendI just got back from giving four days of talks at Smith, Amherst, Mount Holyoke, and UMass Amherst. The students, faculty, staff, and community members I had the honor to meet were absolutely amazing and I had a blast. (I also got to see and walk through snow – it’s possible I was the only one who was happy about that part!)

During one of my talks – The World is Messed Up, You Are Fine – I talked about beauty. In particular I talked about the ways that the diet and beauty industries leverage the idea of beauty for profit, in the process disempowering well, just about everyone.

I also talked about the idea that, rather than the suggestion that “beauty” is limited to certain people, the truth is that perceiving beauty is a skill set – which is to say that everyone has inherent beauty, and the ability to see that beauty is a skill that can be learned and expanded. Some people have never bothered to expand their skill-set beyond the stereotypes that we get spoon-fed. Stereotypes that are too often grounded in privileged identities in our culture like whiteness, thinness, appearing cisgender, heteronormativity, appearing able-bodied, and more.

Now, regardless of how we think of beauty, let’s be clear that nobody owes anybody else beauty or attractiveness by any definition. And there are plenty of other ways to deal with toxic beauty culture, including deciding that beauty just isn’t something that we should care about/talk about/value. I like the idea of perceiving beauty as a skill-set because it acknowledges that people around the world have the ability to appreciate many different types of beauty, and it puts the responsibility where it belongs – on the person who is doing the perceiving, not on the body that is being perceived. So if we can’t see the beauty in someone, that’s on us because there is nothing wrong with the person we’re looking at. And if someone can’t see our beauty – that’s on them because there is nothing wrong with us.

Now, if we don’t have a great skillset for perceiving beauty, that’s not exactly a galloping shock – we live in a society that lies to us early and often about beauty for reasons including profit and power, and media that makes it nearly impossible for us to even see people who fall outside the Hollywood stereotypes of beauty in any kind of positive light.

What we can do is take responsibility for expanding our skill-set. I think a good place to start is to notice when we can’t see the beauty in someone, and ask ourselves why. We can start by asking ourselves if it’s tied to an identity or characteristic that is marginalized in our society – this could be anything from racism/colorism to things like gendered ideas of height, or sizeism and more.

Regardless of where the idea came from, we can actively work to overcome our conditioning and see the beauty in bodies like these. One option is to create a powerpoint or other slideshow and add pictures that represent the types of beauty that we are struggling to see. Then go through the deck each day and work to see the beauty in each person. As you see people in your daily life, work to perceive their beauty (though, of course, please don’t visit your issues on them – this is about your own growth.)

I got an e-mail from one of the students who was at my talk that I wanted to share with you (with their permission.)  They wrote:

I wanted to thank you for what you said about perceiving beauty. I’ve never thought about it like this before. I’ve been forcing myself to really be aware of the thoughts I have and I’ve realized that even though I’m committed to social justice, I’ve been couching a lot of bigotry in my ideas of beauty. Like, I am clear that these folks should not be oppressed, and I fight against their oppression, but I still believe that their appearance makes them less…attractive…worthy…something not good. Anyway, it’s already created a big shift for me, and it has the bonus of making me feel much more confident myself since I know that even if someone doesn’t see my beauty, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t there. You are my shero, your whole talk was amazing and I learned a ton, but this has really stuck out so I wanted to tell you.

So there are lots of reasons to take responsibility for our ability to perceive beauty. When it comes to fat bodies, people who can’t see our beauty have plenty of options, one of them is to accept responsibility for their inability to see our beauty and to work on that. Regardless, we are never under any obligation to buy into sizeist (or any other negative) ideas about our bodies.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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

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

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

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

Published in: on February 25, 2018 at 6:09 am  Comments (6)  

Lies About Health At Every Size

Public HealthI see a LOT of misinformation being spread about Health at Every Size, sometimes by well-meaning but misinformed people, sometimes by those intentionally trying to discredit the concept. So today I thought I would repost this to help clear up some of what I think are common misconceptions:

1. Health at Every Size says that if you love your body you will be healthy

First of all, “healthy” is complicated to define. More to the point health – by any definition – isn’t an obligation, barometer of worthiness, entirely within our control, or guaranteed under any circumstance. To me, HAES on a personal level is about putting the focus on habits and behavior that support our personal health concept (rather that putting the focus on trying to manipulate our bodies to a specific height/weight ratio.)

It’s also about acknowledging that we don’t have as much control over our health as we might like to think we do, and creating environments that are conducive to health, and I don’t mean fat-shaming and soda taxes, I mean creating environments that are free from stigma and oppression, removing barriers to access and information, making healthcare accessible and affordable for everyone, giving people the option to appreciate their bodies and think of them as worthy of care.

Finally, everyone has the option (though, of course never the obligation) to love their bodies regardless of “health” or anything having to do with “health.”  People are allowed to having complicated feelings when it comes to their bodies and “health.”

2. Health at Every Size is only for fat people

Nope-ity nope.  HAES is practiced by people of all sizes.  The reason that it’s most often talked about in conjunction with fat people is that fat people are typically told that the only path to health is to become thin (despite the fact that there are thin people who have all the health issues that fat people are told to lose weight to avoid) and so while many fat people find it while looking for an alternative to the intentional weight loss recommendations that have been failing us our entire lives, HAES is an option for those who want to pursue health rather than body size manipulation, it’s also practiced by people of all sizes who want an evidence-based health practice.

3.  Good Fat People Practice Health at Every Size 

The good fatty/bad fatty dichotomy is the idea that fat people who participate in “healthy” behaviors or are “healthy”  (as defined by the person who inappropriately and incorrectly thinks that it’s their right to judge) are better than the “bad fatties” who don’t practice “healthy” behaviors or aren’t “healthy” (by whatever definition.)

The GF/BF dichotomy is wrong and it needs to die.  Each person should have the right to define and prioritize “health” for themselves, and to choose the path that they want to travel -those are personal decisions and aren’t anyone else’s business (those wishing to make a “but muh tax dollarz!” argument can head over to this post) Public health isn’t about making fat people’s health the public’s business, or about creating healthism in the name of health, or about using “health” as a thin veil for fat bigotry.

4. I disagree with the science behind Health at Every Size, therefore I am justified in treating fat people like crap.

Noooooooo. World of no. Galaxy of no. Universe of no. No. People are free to believe whatever they want about body size and health. None of those beliefs are a “get out of Sizeism free” card.  Fat people have the right to exist without shame, stigma, bullying, or oppression. Period.  What someone believes, or what is true, about Health at Every Size does not come into play here.

The seed for my HAES journey was reading the research about weight loss methods and realizing that there wasn’t a single study that would lead me to believe that future efforts at long term significant weight loss would have any different outcomes from my past attempts (which is to say, I had the same experience as almost everyone – losing weight short term and gaining it back long term, often plus more!)  Realizing that I had been sold a (massively profitable) lie about my size and health, I went looking for what the research actually said. And the research seemed pretty clear to me that, understanding that my health wasn’t entirely within our control, a focus on behaviors rather than body size was a much more evidence-based way to support my health.

There are people out there riding the weight loss roller coaster even though their experience, and the research, tells them that there is no reason to believe that attempting intentional weight loss will leave them thinner or healthier in the long term, because they want to be “healthy” and they don’t know that there is another option.  HAES is important because it provides a paradigm for personal choices and (perhaps more important) wellness care that doesn’t revolve around doing something that nobody has shown is possible for an outcome that nobody has proven is valid.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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

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

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

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

Published in: on February 16, 2018 at 11:03 am  Comments (14)  

“Success” and Stomach Amputation

fat people have the right to existA popular online publication recently published a piece that purported to talk about the pros and cons of stomach amputation and stomach binding (also known as “bariatric” or “weight loss” surgery.)

There’s no way I’m giving it traffic, so there won’t be a link. And while people are allowed to do whatever they want with their bodies, including amputate or bind their stomachs (though that doesn’t mean it’s appropriate to discuss in every space,) it’s important that we talk about the realities of these surgeries. The story mentioned a failure rate of 1 in 10, which seems low based on the research, but perhaps that’s explained at least a little bit by what people consider a “success.”

One woman who says she’s “very happy” and has “no regrets” has had three of these surgeries. A lap band that had to be removed when “For five days, I wasn’t able to keep food down. At the hospital, I found out the lower portion of my stomach protruded through the band to the top, so I was basically choking on my stomach.” Next a gastric sleeve that caused “a lot of acid reflux” and “stopped losing weight around 220 pounds.” Then she went to Mexico and payed “$5,800 to $6,000” out of pocket (she notes that it’s half the price as the surgery in the US) because her insurance wouldn’t cover a third surgery. She currently weighs 180 pounds, has low iron and notes “I can’t eat really dry chicken. Certain textures are uncomfortable. Sometimes I get woozy from sugar.”

Another “success” story had to have her lap band removed and “The tubing on the band kinked, so the fluid in my stomach got in my lungs in the surgery.” Then she got gastric bypass, followed by eight plastic surgeries due to the discomfort her loose skin created.

Yet another chased her stomach amputation with two surgeries – hernia repair and emergency gallbladder removal.

Some people called their surgery successful because they don’t feel like they “take up too much space” anymore, their Tinder success increased, they are no longer interested in eating food, and that “unhealthy” food gives them “overwhelming nausea, ”that pizza would cause them to “throw up immediately and start getting cold sweats,” that they now have a single cookie for lunch. Others mention health improvements that many people have made without these surgeries.

Remember, those are the “successes.” The failures include a woman whose constant vomiting from her lap band triggered bulimia. Another had bulimia triggered by gastric bypass and still has to “puree a lot of my food to keep it down.” Others mention that they developed alcohol addiction.

The first thing I want to point out is who is missing in this article – the many people who gain all of their weight back, and the people who were killed by the surgery (even the Canadian Obesity Network admits that they kill more than 14 out of every 1,000 people – and that’s only the people who die quickly. When people die later due to complications, get blamed for their own deaths.

.I also have to point out that any of the people interviewed – whether they consider themselves successes or not – could have been killed by the surgery. While I’m glad that they survived it, the surgery is – at best – a crap shoot in which a very few don’t experience horrible side effects, some people are happy despite pretty horrible side effects, some people are unhappy about the horrible lifelong side effects, and some people die, and there’s no way to know which group you’ll be in until you are in it.

So let’s talk about all this “success.” Can you imagine the reaction people would have if after they got their tonsils out they had to eat pureed food and throw up all the time for the rest of their life? Or if they were likely to have to have 8 plastic surgeries (that their insurance may not pay for) after having their appendix removed? What about if their bunion surgery was considered a success even if it meant that they threw up immediately after eating pizza and got woozy after eating sugar for the rest of their lives, and  they got blamed if their bunion grew back worse than before in a few years? Or, imagine there was a surgery that actually did improve the health of fat people with absolutely no negative side effects, but didn’t lead to any weight loss – would they call that a success?

The fact that horrific lifelong side effects and possible death are considered to be perfectly reasonable outcomes of so-called weight loss surgery is an admission that healthcare professionals believe it’s completely ok to kill, or severely harm, fat people under the guise of “healthcare” as long as there is a chance we might end up thin.

And that’s not the only way that fatphobia plays into this. Notice how many of the things that are considered “pros” of the surgery would not be pros at all if we didn’t live in a fatphobic society. Is there any other surgery that doctors claim is about health, but sell using “more right swipes on Tinder” as a benefit? Have you ever heard a doctor try to talk a patient into surgery they don’t want by claiming that they’ll get more dates? It happened to one of my blog readers.  The problem is fatphobia and the solution is to end fatphobia, not to pressure fat people to risk their lives in an attempt to satisfy their bullies.

Far too often the medical centers and device manufacturers that profit handsomely from these procedures don’t give potential victims the complete picture – they trot out the few and far between “success” stories, downplay the risks, and somehow fail to mention the distinct possibility that you’ll die – or that the side effects will make you wish you were dead. They even lie about whether or not the surgery is reversible.

Christine had lap band surgery about 7 years ago. Her weight didn’t change but her health did, she says “I refer to my band as medically – induced bulimia.” She vomits every time she eats. She wants it removed, but the company that made it was sued and went out of business. Surgeons refuse to remove it because they claim that, since the vomiting is coming from the top of her pouch (and so doesn’t contain stomach acid,) it’s not a complication and thus doesn’t justify removal. She says “There was absolutely no problem whatsoever operating on a perfectly healthy fat person to make them smaller – but Oh hell no! we can’t fix the problem we created with our fat-biased, completely unnecessary procedure!!!”

Even worse – there are some doctors who are insisting the fat patients get this surgery before they will give them the same healthcare that a thin person would receive immediately. Thin people are not required to get a surgery that risks their lives and forces them to engage in behaviors that approximate an eating disorder just to get basic healthcare. Fat people shouldn’t either. (One of the most craven examples occurs when doctors refuse to give higher weight Trans people the gender confirmation surgeries they want, claiming it’s too dangerous at their weight, then suggest that those same people get…wait for it…stomach amputation surgery.  It’s disgusting.)

And as one of the comments in a Facebook thread about the original article said “Wow. I knew the risks with this surgery but it’s awfully sobering to read a giant thread of people who have died from it. So sad that as fat people it’s better for us to die skinny than live fat in this world”

You see, when you’re a fat person, you can’t trust doctors to see you as a human being worthy of care. We always have to remember that our doctor may be perfectly comfortable risking our life  in order to make us into a thin person who they would, only then, view as a person worthy of evidence-based non-lethal healthcare options. If we just want to get appropriate, evidence-based treatment (which is to say, the same treatment that a thin person would receive) in the body we have now, we have to do a ton of extra work, and even then it’s definitely not guaranteed.

People are allowed to do whatever they want with their bodies, including binding or amputating their stomachs. But nobody should be required to bind or amputate our stomachs just to be treated with basic human respect, or to get decent healthcare. And for those who have the surgery, whatever they are hoping to gain had better be worth dying for, because they very well might.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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

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

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

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

Published in: on January 29, 2018 at 9:10 am  Comments (17)