Colorado Preschool Takes Candy From a Baby

Grading lunchFour year old Natalee Pearson left for school with a ham and cheese sandwich, string cheese, and a 4-pack of Oreo cookies that her mom packed her for lunch. When she came back home the Oreos hadn’t been touched and she explained to her mom that her teacher wouldn’t allow her to eat them.

The teacher had sent home a note to clarify:

Dear Parents, It is very important that all students have a nutritious lunch. This is a public school setting and all children are required to have a fruit, a vegetable, and a healthy snack from home, along with milk. If they have potatoes, the child will also need bread to go along with it. Lunchables, chips, fruit snacks, and peanut butter are not considered to be a healthy snack. This is a very important part of our program and we need everyone’s participation.

This raises a lot of questions, but let’s start with this one:  Who the hell wrote these guidelines? I have no problem with a kid eating potatoes and bread together but it seems like an odd thing to require. They can have bread, cheese, and lunch meat on a sandwich, but they can’t have crackers, cheese, and lunchmeat (aka lunchables.) They are apparently required to drink milk regardless of preference or lactose intolerance. They can have potatoes (fried?) as long as they also have bread, but they can’t have chips. Peanut butter isn’t “considered to be a healthy snack” by whom?  Who gets to decide what is “healthy” for a child – if the teacher is vegan can he insist that kids only bring vegan food?  If a teacher thinks that paleo is the most healthy diet can she insist that kids bring paleo meals? Apparently if a teacher thinks that potatoes are only healthy when accompanied by bread they can enforce that rule on the class.

When Natalee’s mom Leeza called the school they told her that they had given her kid some “healthy alternatives” instead of her cookie.  Leeza replied “They don’t provide lunch for my daughter. I provide lunch. It’s between me and the doctor in terms of what’s healthy for her.”  The thing about “healthy choices” is that health can vary for different people (a vegan kid might find peanut butter to be a great source of protein, another kid might die if he eats it) but the operative word here is “choice” which the school took away from both the parent and the child.

I think that this is a really important thing to notice: Not only did the teacher refuse to allow a child to eat food that her parent chose for her, but they offered her food that her parent did not approve for her to eat. So not only doesn’t the school think that the kid can make the decision about what to eat from her lunchbox, they decided that the child’s legal guardian isn’t allowed to decide what to feed her child, and that it’s their right to offer the child whatever food they decide is healthy.

The school director reportedly refused to speak to Leeza, but once the media got involved the director said “the note should not have been sent out and is being investigated… the school does not have any policies regarding telling students what they can or can’t eat at lunch time.”  All evidence to the contrary.

Other parents have been chiming in online, talking about the difficulties they’ve had when the school food police thwarted their attempts to get their kids through picky eating phases, growth spurts, or *gasp* providing a variety of foods and let their kid make some food decisions.

One mom talked about packing a lot of different stuff in her kid’s lunchbox so that the kid can pick and choose what to eat based on how hungry she feels at lunchtime, but the teacher took her dessert away and told her she couldn’t have it until she ate every single thing in the lunchbox.  Another parent found out that her kid had taken to hiding in the bathroom to eat dessert after her teacher humiliated her by taking away her cookie in front of her class and lecturing her on healthy choices  – that’s definitely setting her up for a healthy relationship with food.

Upsettingly people are justifying this based on the need to “prevent obesity” which suggests that because fat people will likely continue to exist (as we always have) parents should lose their right to choose what to feed their kids.

I am tremendously grateful to teachers for the difficult work they do, and I think that they have enough to contend with, without being asked to serve as the food police. Let’s keep our eye on the ball here and focus on making sure that all kids (and all people while we’re at it) have enough food to eat, and all parents have access to the foods that they would like to feed themselves and their kids instead of trying to have the teacher supplant the parent as the person who chooses what to feed a child, if only on the off chance that the parent doesn’t think that potatoes must be accompanied by bread.

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

Buy the book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

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

Dance Classes:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details 

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

A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development (casting, finding investors etc.).  Follow the progress on Facebook!

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

Published in: on May 1, 2015 at 9:14 am  Comments (72)  

The Fallacy of “If You Really Liked Yourself…”

Stand up speak up fight backThis is sort of a “part 2,” based on a number of replies that I got from yesterday’s blog about “Hate the Fat, Love the Fatty”  Stop me if you’ve heard this one – someone is talking about, or doing activism against, the stigmatizing/bullying/shaming/oppression that they are experiencing. For our example today let’s use a random hypothetical example and say they are talking about fat hate. Then someone chimes in to say “If you really liked yourself then other peoples’ opinions wouldn’t matter!”

Maybe this person really means well. Maybe they are trying to shut down a discussion about oppression because it makes them uncomfortable.  Maybe they are very specifically trying to derail the discussion because they’re a jerk. Based on who is saying it we may understand their intention or we may not.

But one thing is clear: It’s a nice sentiment to be sure, and in some ways it can be true. But it ignores the pain of someone who we care about engaging in behavior that is stigmatizing, shaming, bullying, and oppressive toward us and it ignores the not uncomplicated process of deciding what to do about that.  This can be further complicated if there is a power dynamic involved – like we depend on that person emotionally or financially, they are our boss, they have some authority over us etc..

There’s also the fact that this isn’t just about people being prejudiced against fat people in their heads.  It’s about people making those opinions into laws, policies, and culture that stigmatizes, shames, bullies and oppresses fat people. Let’s try to clarify with a quick game of Opinion or Oppression:

I wouldn’t like being fat.

Opinion

I shame, stigmatize, bully, and harass fat people because I think that’s what’s best for them.

Oppression

I think being fat is a bad thing.

Opinion

I’m working to create a world where fat people’s access to clothing, or healthcare, or transportation is more limited than that of thin people

Oppression

I wouldn’t want to be married to a fat person.

Opinion.

I want it to be a law that consenting fat adults aren’t allowed to get married because I don’t want to marry a fat person and/or I think that the higher power I believe in doesn’t want fat people to get married.

Oppression.

There’s a difference between opinions and oppression, and self-esteem isn’t enough to fight it all. I love my fat body, and that can insulate me to some extent from other people’s fatphobic opinions, but it’s not enough to insulate me from a world full of weight-based oppression. Having a positive opinion about me and my choices is completely optional. Treating me with basic respect and not trying to limit my rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness based on my body size is absolutely mandatory. When people try to oppress us, we have every right to fight back and loving ourselves doesn’t make that option any less valid..

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

Buy the book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

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

Dance Classes:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details 

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

A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development (casting, finding investors etc.).  Follow the progress on Facebook!

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 30, 2015 at 11:14 am  Comments (8)  

Hate the Fat Love the Fatty?

It's Me!  As drawn by the fabulous www.tonitails.com!

It’s Me! As drawn by the fabulous http://www.tonitails.com!

I’ve been coming across this sentiment more and more often. It’s a play on the “hate the sin, love the sinner.” trope from Christianity. The idea being that people who don’t like part of who we are can simply, for their convenience, consider that part to be separate from us and insist that it’s fine that they hate it, because it’s not really who we are – because obviously other people know better than we do what our true sexual orientation, gender identification, body size etc. are.

Said another way “Currently part of you displeases me, but just as soon as you do what I want you to do and/or look how I want you to look, I’ll love all of you. Aren’t I gracious and benevolent.”

No, I don’t think so. As a queer woman I completely reject people’s insistence that my being queer is something that they can separate from me, and actively hate, while still claiming to love me. Screw that. As a fat woman I reject the idea that someone can wage war against my fat but not against the rest of me. I am not a thin woman covered in fat, I am a fat woman. A war on obesity is a war on me – the weight-based stigma, bullying, and oppression that stem from it affect all of me – not just my fat.

I’ve recently heard various people suggesting that those of us who have people close to us who subscribe to the “Hate the … Love the…” theory of personal relationships should try to “agree to disagree.”  While I completely support people’s choice to make peace with those who do not accept who they are, I reject the idea that it’s the only option, or the best option for me. Some people choose to agree to disagree and that’s entirely their right, but some of us choose another option – we choose to walk away from people who choose not to be in total loving acceptance of us. We decide that we deserve better than to be loved as a fat person but hated for our fat (or whatever “sin” people feel we’re committing by existing, which cannot be conveniently separated from who we are.) We demand that those who want to continue to interact with us examine a society that teaches judgment and intolerance and find it wanting. We demand that, if they want to love that society, they do so while hating its sins of judgment, intolerance, stigma, bullying and oppression, while fully supporting and celebrating who we are.

Nobody is under any obligation to love me, but nobody gets to be in my life if they claim to love me but in reality only love the person they wish I was.

Ask Me Stuff!  I get a lot of reader questions, so I thought it would be fun to start a new thing on Saturdays on the blog where I’ll answer those questions, kind of a “Dear Dances With Fat” you can ask for advice, or ask me a question about me – anything goes.  I’ll do it on video (and of course publish a transcription as well.  If you’d like to ask a question, please leave a comment here or e-mail it to me at ragen@danceswithfat.org.

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

Buy the book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

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

Dance Classes:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details 

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

A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development (casting, finding investors etc.).  Follow the progress on Facebook!

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 29, 2015 at 8:36 am  Comments (10)  

How To Not Obsess About A Swimsuit or How You Look In It

This is one of those posts that is a Danceswithfat tradition. Enjoy! 

Pink Argyle Bikini

Fantastic art by Jodee Rose http://jodee.deviantart.com/gallery/

Several years ago the amazing Golda Poretsky (of Body Love Wellness) tweeted;  “Rec’d a link to “How Not To Look Fat In A Swimsuit”. Wld ♥ to see “How Not To Obsess Abt Looking Fat In A Swimsuit & F-ing Enjoy Yourself”

Golda’s wish is my command!

Seriously, let’s talk about this.  It seems that a lot of the women I know, of any size, start to panic the first time they see swimsuits out on the floor of their favorite store;  their pesky cheerfulness belying their seemingly actual  purpose of prodding us into paying the diet industry for products that don’t work, and considering a move to Alaska.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently because I’m about to start doing a lot of outdoor swimming which isn’t something I’ve done a lot of in the past – I’m more of an ambient temperature controlled, swim in water in which no creature is a permanent resident kind of girl (I’m not high maintenance, I’m highly maintained.)  But I have, in the past, strutted around my gym in a bathing suit with no worries.  Here are a few reasons why:

1.  It’s my BODY.  I live with it 100% of the time.  It does awesome things for me like breathing, and heartbeat, and swimming and I decided long ago that I am not going to allow anyone to convince me to hate or be ashamed of  something that I am with 100% of the time for the rest of my life.  I get to choose how I feel about my body – nobody else can make me feel good or bad, it’s on me.

2.  Because it’s a pool and when you go to the pool, you wear a swimsuit. It’s not for vanity – it’s practical.  Once I was at the gym ready to make use of the pool and there was a “thin to average size” (probably a size 8 or 10)  woman in a large t-shirt with a towel wrapped around her legs and all the way to her ankles.  She scooted to the edge of the pool and threw the towel behind her as she jumped into the water as fast as she could whilst grabbing a kickboard off the side. The move was impressive for it’s flexibility and quickness and I was admiring it when I saw she was wearing control top pantyhose under her suit.  She looked at me and said “Nobody should have to see these legs without hose on”.  Before I could reply, she realized that her shirt was caught on the side railing, then her pantyhose got caught on her kickboard.  While I swam laps she spent most of the time dealing with being in the water with a giant shirt and pantyhose. That is her right, I have no judgment about her choices.  I am simply not willing to put up with, what to me seems to be a massive inconvenience, or have my technique interrupted by a ginormous swatch of cloth which, when it is wet, hides nothing anyway; and pantyhose which I will not wear under any circumstances in the world, ever because some people suggest that only some bodies should be seen without them.

3.  I do not care if people are offended by my body.  People are allowed to be offended by whatever they want and it’s really none of my business.  I’m offended by people who are offended by my body, but it turns out nobody gives a damn which is as it should be.  It is my BODY, if we all treated each other with basic human respect it would be impossible to be offended by the mere existence of people because of their body size.  The very idea is ludicrous to me. Regardless, it is not my job to protect people’s delicate sensibilities – there are at least three alternate cardinal directions in which they can look if they don’t want to look at me, they are free to choose one.

4.  Hypocrisy is an ugly thing.  It always seems like the same group of people who are telling me that because I’m fat I have some obligation to exercise (which is bullshit by the way) are subsequently offended by my body in a swimsuit.  The message apparently being that they want me to exercise, but in my house with the shades drawn and under some kind of tarp.  Screw that.  Don’t like it?  Take some advice from the band Chicago and Look away, baby. Look away.

5. It is maddening to me that the diet industry makes over 60 BILLION dollars a year convincing women to hate themselves.  They create fear and uncertainty by saying things like “Swimsuit season is just around the corner, are you ready to wear a swimsuit?”  Well, let’s see here…  Swimsuit?  Check.  Body to put it on?  Check.  Yup, I’m all set thanks.  Plus I think I’ll keep my money you bloodsucking leeches.

6.  People can see me.  So they know how big I am whether I’m in a swimsuit, or jeans and a t-shirt.  If they are shocked at my size in a swimsuit, they should have been paying better attention.  That’s just a big flaming sack of not-my-problem.

I realize that my swimsuit preferences are not everyone’s which is awesome.  Not everyone, regardless of size, is comfortable with how much skin a swimsuit shows.  There is no obligation to rock a bikini or a swimsuit of any kind in order to love your body.  Here are some more ideas to help you stop obsessing and start having fun in the sun (or the oh-so-lovely incandescent glow of the overhead lights at the gym).

1. Alternative Swimsuits.  These are often created for women who want to keep to specific religious clothing guidelines or who just want a more modest look.  I did a quick Google search and found http://www.modestkini.com/.  I’m not affiliated with them at all so I make no guarantees, but it will give you an idea of what’s out there (and some of their plus size swimwear is actually modeled by plus-sized women.  Woot!)

2.  Fabulous Cover ups:  If there’s a particular part of your body that you prefer to keep covered for whatever reason, an (aptly-named) cover-up might be just the thing.  Here are some examples (again, no affiliation, check out the vendors before you buy!)

3.  Safety in numbers.  Go with a group of people who make you feel good about yourself and focus on the fun and not on any body insecurities you might have.  Think about how fantastic your body feels when you are swimming, or going down a water slide, or splashing in the waves.

4.  Reality check.  One of my favorite quotes is by Mark Twain “I’ve had thousands of problems in my life, most of which never actually happened”  When I’m worrying about something I try to remember that I am wasting energy on something that is not actually part of reality.  So instead I…

5.  …Expect the best, plan for the worst.  Think about what your true fears are about going out in a swimsuit.  Write them down and then create a plan to deal with each of them.  Are you afraid people will say something mean to you?  Create some scripting and practice it until you feel comfortable. Afraid of chaffing?  Hie thee to Google and read up on the various lotions, powders etc. that can help with that, or look into swimsuits that can help. Worried people will talk about you behind your back? Maybe that’s the best possible outcome since you don’t have to hear it!

In the end of course it’s your choice.  For my part,  I’m not willing to allow my options for fun, activity, movement etc. to be controlled by what other people might think or say.  If my own fears or insecurities are getting in the way I try to find a way over (modest swimsuit), under (cover up), or through (F this, I’m wearing a thong) the fear and insecurity because I’ve found that very often the pure joy lies just on the other side.

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

Buy the book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

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

Dance Classes:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details 

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

A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development (casting, finding investors etc.).  Follow the progress on Facebook!

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 28, 2015 at 8:50 am  Comments (31)  

When They Say “War on Obesity” I Hear “Casualties”

Design by Kris Owen

Design by Kris Owen

Twenty-one year old Eloise Perry bought diet pills on the internet.  The pills are believed to contain dinitrophenol, also known as DNP.  The UK government had warned people about taking pills with DNP because it is very dangerous. The pills killed her. Many people are outraged because “she wasn’t even fat.”  I am outraged at the idea that her size would matter.

At the age of 32, Christina Mettias was pushed by her doctor to have Weight Loss Surgery. She was in perfect health and didn’t meet any of the criteria for having the surgery – including the ratio of weight and height – but her doctor scared her into having the surgery.  After 14 additional surgeries to correct the problems that landed her in intensive care for three months, she still suffers from painful abdominal scar tissue, daily vomiting, chronic eating problems and intolerance to oral food. But she’s thin. These complications are not uncommon. The $4.25M judgment against the United States (she received the surgery at a Department of Defense hospital that offers this it for free) must be cold comfort.

Zoya Khan had 80% of her stomach amputated.  At age one. You read that right, 12 months into her life doctors gave her irreversible weight loss surgery because she had become fat due to a genetic disorder. There is absolutely no research on what giving a one year old what amounts to a medically induced eating disorder before she can walk or talk will do to her.  But, hey, at least now she’s thi… no, wait. She didn’t lose any weight at all.  Doctors are baffled, baffled I tell you! But don’t worry because “the doctor plans to conduct a leptin gene (responsible for obesity) study on her once she turns five” and “The case will be presented in an international forum.” So they are holding off on a leptin gene test until she is five but they were completely happy to give her a major organ amputation at one. But at least the doctor will get to present the findings, right? This is the end result of the obesity epi-panic.

Whenever I hear “War on Obesity” I think “wars have casualties” A war on obesity is a war on fat people, and a war on people has injuries and deaths and collateral damage and that’s exactly what’s happening.  And the casualties are all sizes and all ages, and not a single one of them should ever have happened, or would have happened if our society wasn’t obsessed with manipulation of body size as a path to health.

We must end this war. These casualties are completely unnecessary and we could stop them today. We could understand that weight and health are two separate things that are both complicated, not an obligation or barometer of worthiness, not entirely within our control, and not guaranteed under any circumstances, and then we could be for creating access to food and movement options for everyone, instead of against fat bodies.  Doctors would need to get themselves together, leave their size bias at home, and provide a proper standard of care based on health and symptoms and not weight (which would include, you know, using a diagnostic tool besides staring at us fully clothed and guessing).  Fat bashers would need to find a new sport.  Everyone would need to remember that public health is about making information and access available to the public and not making the individual’s body the public’s business.

But the first step, the very first step, is for fat people to realize that we deserve respectful treatment and then demand it.  No matter what size we are, why we are the size, or even if someone wants to change their size, they can still claim their right to be treated with respect in the bodies they have now.  Respect, and the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness should not be contingent on body size (or “health” or “healthy behaviors” by any definition) and the more fat people who demand respectful treatment in every area of their lives, the more allies who will come forward to support us. Remember they say “War on Obesity” we hear “Completely unnecessary casualties” and that is not ok If they want a war, we will damn well give them one!

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

Buy the book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

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

Dance Classes:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details 

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

A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development (casting, finding investors etc.).  Follow the progress on Facebook!

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 27, 2015 at 11:53 am  Comments (14)  

Say Something Sunday – “You Put Yourself Out There” Edition

Say Something SundayIt’s “Say Something Sunday,” a day dedicated, at least on this blog, to personal Size Diversity activism. I’ve got some suggestions below and/or of course you can do your own thing and feel free to leave a comment about it.  If you have ideas of things to do for Say Something Sunday I’d also love for you to share those.

I did the math and if everyone who views the blog each week did one piece of Size Diversity Activism a week, it would add up to over 1.5 million body positive messages put out into the world this year.  Multiply that times the number of people who might see each of those messages and things start to increase exponentially. To be very clear, nobody is obligated to do activism so if this doesn’t appeal to you that’s totally cool, I’ll be back tomorrow with your regularly scheduled blog post!

Today’s theme is “You put yourself out there…” Here’s how it goes; someone – and often a woman – is in the public eye as an actress, or a blogger/activist, or to give a talk about gardening to her homeowner’s association, or by leaving her house and existing in public,in any way. Some people consider this an open invitation for to comment on her appearance, compare her to a cultural stereotype of beauty that she has absolutely no obligation to care about or try to emulate.

They believe that unless she has somehow managed to look like a photoshopped image of herself – devoid of pimples, cellulite, and pores –  then her body is still a work in progress and people are free to be part of that “progress” by way of unsolicited advice and appearance-based online bullying.  When people point out that this is crappy behavior that values women for their appearance first and their achievement a distant second, these people justify it with “Well she put herself out there!”

I lost a friend of almost a decade because she kept insisting that it was totally fine to post “people of Walmart” photos because those people put themselves out there for criticism.  Funny, I thought they were just trying to go shopping, and other people’s clothing choices do not obligate us to turn our online spaces into cruel junior high locker rooms where we put up pictures of people taken without their consent for ridicule. After a number of discussions, I told her that she just wasn’t someone who I wanted to be friends with and that was that – this one’s a deal killer for me.

So this is something that we can speak out about.  When people say this, we can point out that it’s a crappy justification for crappy behavior.  We can remind them that this contributes to a world where women’s achievements are ignored and it it’s place there is a lively discussion of our judgments of what they are wearing, or how much they weigh, and that’s not cool.  We can remind them that it is never necessary to comment negatively on someone else’s appearance. And we can focus our own comments on the achievements of people, or the points that they are making (whether we agree or disagree) rather than on how they look.

If you want to do more of this kind of thing, consider joining the Rolls Not Trolls group on Facebook, it’s a group created for the specific purpose of putting body positive things in body negative spaces on the internet and supporting each other while we do that.  It’s a secret group so if you want to join just message me on facebook (I’m Ragen Chastain on FB – I know, super creative!)

Have a great Say Something Sunday!

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

Buy the book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

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

Dance Classes:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details 

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

A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development (casting, finding investors etc.).  Follow the progress on Facebook!

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 26, 2015 at 8:48 am  Comments (2)  

What the Hell is Going on at Protein World?

Supplement company Protein World recently put this ad into wide circulation.

Embedded image permalink

Oh good, another advertisement meant to terrify women into believing that our bodies aren’t good enough to be seen in public without buying a bunch of products.  Another message to teen girls that the only good body is a photoshopped body. Another company trying to steal our self-esteem, cheapen it, and sell it back to us at a profit.

Looking at Protein World’s online presense, at least the ad is in keeping with their tendency to show women as objects (their most common social media picture is a woman’s ass – no head necessary because who cares about what’s in a woman’s head amirite!  .

People started to write over the ads and create responses  in glorious fashion, as well as calling Protein World out on social media.  And then PW responded in a way that makes me think that they want to be the official supplement company of Reddit and 4chan:

In response to the backlash, Protein World stated that critics of the advert had "insecurities".

When Burton continued tweeting the company, it replied with the following message.

Note the common technique here – start by suggesting that women should have to look a certain way to deserve to exist in the world, trying to create insecurity as a sales tactic.  When called on it, try to act like it’s about “health.”  (We’re not oppressing you ladies, we’re making you feel like shit so you buy our product in the hopes that you can manipulate your body so that we’ll approve of the way you look…ya know, for your health.  CAN’T YOU SEE IT’S FOR YOUR OWN GOOD!!!!)

Like their supplements, I’m not buying this for a second.

And then this from the company CEO:

In a now deleted tweet, the CEO of Protein World, Arjun Seth, answered one critic with this.

Keep it classy there Arjun.  PW continues to double down on social media, being proud of the fact that they won’t back down from hardcore stance of trying to create and prey on female insecurity to sell pills and shakes. People who think that they deserve better continue to fight back:

There is a petition with over 35K signatures at https://www.change.org/p/proteinworld-arjun-seth-remove-are-you-beach-body-ready-advertisements/u/10605866 

You can find them on Twitter:  https://twitter.com/ProteinWorld

You can find them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/proteinworldnutrition

You can also always buy your supplements elsewhere, and you can remember:

Picture courtesy of the fabulous Jodee Rose http://jodee.deviantart.com

Picture courtesy of the fabulous Jodee Rose http://jodee.deviantart.com

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

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Published in: on April 25, 2015 at 5:03 am  Comments (17)  

That Ridiculous “Outrunning Obesity” Article

bad scienceAn article in Mashable today called “You Can’t Outrun Obesity” begins:

A team of British cardiologists have said it’s time to “bust the myth” that regular exercise tackles obesity.

The strongly-worded editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, published in the May edition of the journal, says you can’t outrun a bad diet and that although regular exercise reduces the risk of developing a number of health issues such as heart disease, dementia, some cancers and type 2 diabetes, it doesn’t promote weight loss.

I hate when they say “tackle” obesity – like people should be running at me in the street or something. But that’s not what’s super messed up here  What’s super messed up is that these doctors are aware that movement reduces the risk of developing heart disease, dementia, some cancers, and type 2 diabetes (the exact reasons that we’re given for losing weight,) and instead of saying “Hey, this seems like more evidence to suggest that maybe we should be more focused on evidence-based health interventions and less focused on manipulating people’s body size,” they are trying to downplay the actual health benefits because the evidence-based health intervention that they’ve found doesn’t make people’s bodies smaller.

They go on to suggest that a low carb diet is best, citing an article that isn’t even primarily about weight loss, that notes that health benefits can be seen without weight loss, that spends most of its conclusion section trying to justifying why we should accept shitty studies as good enough, and relies for its proof of low carb diets as “the best for weight loss ” on two studies, neither of which had weight loss as a primary outcome measure, one of which looked at 26 people over three months, and another that looked at 82 people over three months. Whoooeee that’s some good sciencing!  (Sarcasm meter 10 out of 10)

The problem here is that we’ve become so obsessed with trying to get everyone into the same height weight ratio that we’ve taken our eye off the ball of giving people options and information that will support their actual health.

Most studies about weight and health don’t take behavior into account, which is weird because those that do take behavior into account find that behaviors, and not body size, are the best predictor of future health.  To be clear, health is complicated, multi-dimensional, not entirely within our control, not guaranteed under any circumstances, not an obligation or a barometer of worthiness.

But if scientists were going to be honest with us they would say “Even if making people thin would make them healthy (and that’s an unproven hypothesis,) we have absolutely no idea how to make more than a tiny fraction of people thinner long-term and most of those people are losing very small amounts of weight.  We have no idea how to make fat people thin, and many of the things that we are trying have horrible side effects, including death.  We do know that stigma and oppression can be dangerous for people’s health, and that behaviors can positively impact health without impacting weight at all.  So we recommend making sure people have access to the information, food, and movement options (if any) that they would choose, and that we do everything we can to avoid shaming, stigmatizing, or oppressing people, and then let people make their own choices about how to prioritize their health and the path that they want to choose to get there.”

Instead, we live in a world where scientists who get grants from the Atkins Foundation [for low-carb dieting] write papers trying to sell people on the benefits of the diets that they are payed to endorse (check the small print in the footnote on page 1) and irresponsible, scientifically illiterate media that report them as if they are the gospel-according-to-weightloss truth.  And it’s always the people who are paying the diet companies – and not the scientists being paid by them  – who suffer for it.

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

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

Dance Classes:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details 

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

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

Published in: on April 24, 2015 at 12:10 pm  Comments (22)  

Things You Don’t Owe Anybody

What a Load of CrapWhen it comes to a lot of areas of our lives we get to choose what we do and why, and who – if anyone – we do it for.  Sometimes people get confused and think that we owe them behaviors, states of being, or explanations.  Let’s just clear some of this up:

Pretty – Nobody owes anybody else attractive by any standard.  People who get upset that there are others walking around who are not aesthetically pleasing to them have an over-exaggerated sense of self importance.  Don’t like what you see?  Too lazy to expand your skills for perceiving beauty?  Then feel free to follow the advice of the band Chicago and look away, baby, look away.

Health – Nobody owes anybody else health or healthy habits by any definition. Each person gets to decide how to prioritize their health, and the path they choose to meet their goals.  That’s why people are allowed to be professional bullriders and X games athletes, and NFL Players. The suggestion that fat people have some obligation over and above what everyone else has (which is none) is thinly veiled bigotry and nothing more.  I think that public health should be focused on making as many options as possible available to as many people as possible (including eliminating issues of access and oppression that cause people’s choices and options to be limited) rather than trying to make the individual’s choices and health the public’s business.

Sexiness – One of the more ridiculous types of hate mail that I receive are e-mails letting me know that the sender would never have sex with me.  These are always phrased in a way that suggests they are under the impression that I care.  I don’t understand why they would think that – that’s the kind of thing that they can really keep to themselves.  Regardless it’s not our job to comport ourselves in such a way that other people will want to have sex with us (unless you want to, then comport away!)

Food Rationale –  Food talk is a cultural phenomenon that I could very much live without.  I would be perfectly happy if I went the rest of my life without hearing “I want a muffin but I can’t because I’m being good” or “I’m going to have to do 3 hours on the treadmill to make up for eating these grapes” or whatever “Will Perform For Food” thing society wants from us.  Sometimes I try to imagine if we made all of our personal decisions out loud “Hmmm, I kind of have to pee, but not that badly so maybe I’ll finish this blog, or maybe I should go now and finish it with full concentration….” Who cares? Regardless, we don’t owe anybody an explanation of what we eat or don’t eat ever.

Apology/Explanation for Our Size –  I see lots of people, even those in the Body Positive movement who say things like “sure I have some extra pounds” or “I don’t go to the gym enough” or “If I’m honest, I could work harder at being healthy”  of course people are allowed to say whatever they want, but we can also explore the joy of not apologizing!

I’m sure there are plenty more but that’s a start, remember that not only do you not owe these things to anyone in any specific situation, you have every right to reject the entire premise and suggest that people drink a big steaming mug of None of Your Damn Business.

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

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

Dance Classes:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details 

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

A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development (casting, finding investors etc.).  Follow the progress on Facebook!

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 23, 2015 at 10:48 am  Comments (24)  

Jamelia Shows Us that Pop Stars Can Be Bigots Too

You Forgot Your BullshitToday on the UK show Loose Women, singer/songwriter Jamelia suggested that women who are too fat or too thin should not have the same access to clothing that other women do:

I do not think it’s right to facilitate people living an unhealthy lifestyle. In the same way [that] I don’t believe that a size zero should be available, it’s not a healthy size for an average woman to be.

I don’t believe they [high street stores] should be providing clothes for below that range or above that range. Yes, have specialist shops but you should feel uncomfortable if you are unhealthy … to be available in every high street store, I don’t think that’s right.

So Jamelia has proven (once again) that becoming a celebrity doesn’t stop you from being a massive bigot. And make no mistake, this is bigotry.  Saying “that person shouldn’t have what I have because they look different than me” is bigotry, pure and simple however one tries to justify it. Even if we buy into her idea that we can tell someone is unhealthy based on their size, saying “those people shouldn’t have the same access I have because they are less healthy than I am” is still bigotry (healthism FTW!).  After people attempted to educate her, she went on Good Morning Britain to whine about how “absolutely awful” it was for her that people didn’t respond positively to her blatant bigotry, and then gave possibly the worst apology of all time:

Knowing that I made people question themselves and their choices, it really did upset me. All I can do is apologise for that.

Thanks for apologizing, I’m glad you learned… oh wait, there’s more:

“I didn’t make it clear on the show that I was talking about extremes, I was talking about above size 20 and below size six, those sizes being available en masse, I do stand by what I said. I’m a real woman with real opinions. I get paid to voice my opinions.”

Getting on TV and saying “I don’t like stripes with polka dots” is voicing an opinion. Getting on TV and saying “People who are a different size than me shouldn’t have the same access to clothes that I do” or, as she has clarified “If I don’t think that people are healthy based on how they look, they shouldn’t have the same access to clothes that I do” is an abuse of power and privilege specifically and purposefully intended to create oppression. I think that if she is that excited to use her platform to oppress women (in this case women above size twenty and below size six, but who knows what group she’ll want to oppress tomorrow), maybe people and television shows shouldn’t be so excited to pay her for her opinions.

For those Constitutional Scholars about to yell about “free speech”  free speech is not the same thing as consequence free speech.  Even if we are talking about the way it works in the US,  the first amendment says “Congress shall make no laws…abridging the freedom of speech” it does not say people aren’t allowed to speak out against your bigoted bullshit, nor does it say that television shows are obligated to give you forum to spread your bigoted views.

She rounded things out with this:

I genuinely love people and believe everyone has the right to feel wonderful and feel beautiful and it was never my intention to make people feel any less than what they are.

Riiiiight. Let me rephrase this: “I love people, I just think that they should have difficulty clothing themselves, feeling uncomfortable and ashamed until they reach a size that is neither too thin nor too fat for my liking because, having a dramatically over-exaggerated sense of self-importance I, Jamelia,  think that I should be the judge of what size other women are allowed to be if they want clothes.” As a woman above a size 20 (and thus on the official Jamelia “NO CLOTHES FOR YOU!” list) suffice it to say that I’m not feeling the love.

Obviously, being unable to easily access clothing is not even remotely correlated with people becoming healthier, or being between a size 6 and a size 20 (I’m not sure if her range is inclusive of sizes 6 and 20 or if they are on the NCFY list as well?  Maybe I should ask her to clarify?) Horrifyingly, the original discussion was about the health of teen girls – the group most susceptible to eating disorders, so way to go there Jamelia. Perhaps more horrifyingly, Jamelia is a parent herself. Yikes.

Do you want to do something about this?  Great, because this is some bullshit and people need to know that we won’t stand idly by while they trumpet size bigotry as if it’s public health policy. Here are some options for action:

You can tweet her @jamelia

You can post on her facebook page (where she is trying very hard to re-write history, which is going to be tough since those opinions she’s paid to voice are voiced on camera).

You can tweet the show @loosewomen

You can contact the show at viewerservices@itv.com

You can let other people know what’s going on and encourage them to take action!

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

Buy the book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

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

Dance Classes:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details 

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

A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development (casting, finding investors etc.).  Follow the progress on Facebook!

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 22, 2015 at 11:42 am  Comments (21)