I’m Not Fingernails, But I Am Fat

Pink Background, a black and white image of thin woman in a dress and heels leans on a table and waving. Black text says "Wait, Come back. You forgot your bullshit." someecards user cardYou’ve probably seen the meme on social media:  “You are not fat. You have fat.  You also have fingernails.  But you are not fingernails.”  I’ve seen this in plenty of versions and I think it’s problematic on a lot of levels. It’s come up in a number of conversations recently and so I’m re-posting my response.

First of all, as regular readers have probably already sussed out, I would be much more comfortable if this was written from the perspective of how someone feels about/for themselves instead of dictating to others how we should feel (ie: “I’m not fat, I have fat” instead of “You are not fat, you have fat”.)  People are allowed to look at their bodies this way because, hey, underpants rule.  That said, I think it’s an idea worth some exploring.

Let’s consider some other examples – can you imagine Facebook memes that say “You are not brunette, you have brown hair” or “You are not tall, you have above-average height.” You’re not thin, you have thinness? When I’m flying in for a speaking gig I often tell the person who is responsible for picking up that I’ll be the short, fat, brunette -in the blue dress or whatever.  People often respond by telling me not to call myself fat, nobody in my life has ever told me not to call myself brunette.  Therein lies my problem with this – it seems to me that the reason to draw a distinction between being fat and having fat is that we are considering being fat to be a negative thing from which we want to disassociate, and/or we want to see it as so temporary that we don’t want to be identified as fat.

I don’t think the research suggests that most fat people will remove our fat.  Regardless, knowing that it’s possible that time and circumstance might change the size of my body, I don’t think that’s a reason to not identify the way that it looks now. I call myself a brunette even though it’s basically a certainty that I will someday have hair that is gray and not brown. So even though there’s the possibility that my body may someday not be fat (through illness etc. – it’s certainly not a goal of mine) I’m definitely fat right now. So why would I want to find a semantic way out of it?

The problem isn’t that fat people exist. The problem is the way that fat people are stigmatized, stereotyped, bullied, marginalized, and oppressed. I’m don’t think this can be solved by “having” instead of “being” fat. To me the fact that identifying a body as fat is considered an insult is a symptom of a problem, not the actual problem – so this can’t be solved through wordplay.  If brunettes were being oppressed I don’t think there is much to be gained by saying that I’m not a brunette, I just have brown hair.

Similarly, since fat people are being oppressed, I don’t think there is much to be gained by saying that I’m not fat, I just have fat.  Mostly because no matter how I describe myself, people can still see me, and these oppressions are based on how I look to others, not on how I describe myself.  I also understand that the word “fat” has been used as derisive and I understand that not everyone is into using it as a reclaiming term and everybody gets to decide that for themselves.  For me, using the word fat to describe myself without apology tells my bullies that they can’t have my lunch money any more, and avoids pathologizing my body in the way that terms like “overweight” and “obese” do.

It’s possible that people would give me slightly better treatment (however begrudgingly) if I said that I’m not fat – I have fat, or if I characterized myself as being “overweight” in a way that indicates that I believe there’s a problem with my body.  I’m ok with passing on that “approval”, because  I am far more interested in fighting stereotyping, stigma, bullying and oppression, than I am in trying to avoid it through wordplay or concessions that I can make to my oppressors.  Other people may see this differently and/or make other choices than I do and, of course, that’s completely fine. But as for me, I am fat because I have fat and I’m fine with that.

Did you appreciate this post? If you like the work I do, 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 – register on the member page)

Non-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 or on Instagram.

Weight Watchers By Any Other Name Would Still Be A Fraud

Deja Moo_When you know you've experienced this bullshit beforeWeight Watchers announced on Monday that they are changing their name to WW to reflect their focus on wellness and health. This is probably a clever move, though it’s not the first time they’ve made it. In 2015, they launched a program called “Beyond the Scale” that seems to be the same thing they are talking about now, minus the name change.

This idea that “everything old is new again” has been a long-running theme for the company. They have built their business model on getting repeat business from the clients they repeatedly fail.

You see, WW has never had success is creating sustained long-term weight loss. It’s a shameful track record — one they share with literally every other diet and lifestyle company that claims they can produce sustained, long-term, intentional weight loss. They know that most people lose weight short-term and almost all of them gain it back long term (with a majority gaining back more than they lost).

Moving forward, they will go by WW and will “focus on wellness.” They made sure to mention that they are still weight-loss focused, saying “We will never abdicate our leadership in the best healthy eating program for weight loss in the world, but we can be so much more today…” This isn’t their first foray into attempting to co-opt the language of Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size to sell diets — even as they’ve put out blatantly body shaming ads.

It’s easy to see the profit rationale for their hypocrisy. They get to continue selling their program to people, who they spent years successfully convincing to hate their bodies, and try to open up a new market amongst the people who have crawled and scratched their way up and out of the diet culture that Weight Watchers, excuse me, WW, immersed them in. So, it will likely make money, but that doesn’t make it right.

People are allowed to do whatever they want with their bodies  —regardless of the reasons, risks, or likelihood of success. And while I’m grateful that they seem to have stopped targeting children, that does not change the fact that it is impossible to sell weight loss from a wellness perspective. Here’s why…

You can read the rest of the piece here!

Did you appreciate this post? If you like the work I do, 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 – register on the member page)

Non-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 or on Instagram.

 

 

The Diet Industry Takes It All

Less ThanLately I’ve been getting more into Instragam (in the words of Sam Seaborn/Aaron Sorkin: Let’s forget the fact that I’m coming a little late to the party and embrace the fact that I showed up at all…”) I’m not sure how I got there, but I found myself on a page of things that IG seemed to think I would enjoy. Except IG was dead fucking wrong.

It was a bunch of “before and after” weight loss pictures (of course they didn’t include the “after after” picture that will happen when almost all of them regain their weight in a few years.) People were commenting about how their “prayers were answered,” and their “hopes and dreams came true,” and a bunch of them said something about “celebrating” with many asking people to celebrate with them.

And that’s when I was reminded that diet culture conditions us to hope and pray and dream that someday we will be less than we are now, and to celebrate – and ask others to celebrate when there is less of us (for however brief that time may be.) Back in my diet days I remember doing this, and expecting people to praise me for it.

This is a dangerous message that harms us in so many ways:

Because, in a world with so much oppression and marginalization – where so many people are made less than they could be by structural and institutionalized oppression, where so many voices are hushed and unheard – diet culture tells us to spend our time, money, and energy trying to make ourselves smaller.

Because most people will lose weight short term, but almost all of them will gain it back long-term with a majority gaining back more than they lost, and will then be told to try again. That means that this focus of our resources on becoming smaller will likely last our entire lifetimes, as those who are trapped in the cycle will yo-yo diet from childhood until they die. I was recently told a story (with permission to share) of a women in the advanced stages of Altzheimers disease – she had forgotten who her friends and family were, but remembered that she – and everyone else – was supposed to diet and be thin. Diet culture was literally the only memory she had left. Fucking tragic.

Because when dieting doesn’t work people will turn to dangerous drugs and surgeries recommended by doctors steeped in fatphobia, which will cause some to slowly waste away to nothing while others will be not smaller, but dead.

If we let it, diet culture will use the empty promise that we could be smaller (and the messed up culture that convinces us that’s a good thing) in order to take everything it can from us – time, energy, and money that could be used to live our best lives in the bodies we have, to fight injustice and dismantle oppression.

I no longer have any interest in making myself smaller so that the empty space can continue to be filled up by the status quo. I already gave too much of myself to diet culture, too much of my voice, too much of my time, too much of my energy, too much of my money, too much of my life trying to shrink – to create a world where there was less of me. Never Again. Diet culture cannot and will not take any more of me, it doesn’t deserve any of me and it never did.  I’m using all of me to help create a world where oppression, marginalization, and suffering are the things that there are less of.

Did you appreciate this post? My work is paid for by the people who get value from it. If you like the work I do, 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 – register on the member page)

Non-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 or on Instagram.

 

 

 

A College Degree Shouldn’t Require a Weigh-In – But This One Does

WTFMorgan Stacy is in recovery from bulimia. She has been behavior-free for six months, which is major progress.

However, Morgan’s college is putting her recovery in serious jeopardy with one of their required courses.

Morgan is a student at Vanguard University, a four-year, private “Christian” school that receives state funding. At Vanguard, every undergraduate is required to take a class in which they must calculate their Body Mass Index (BMI), which is a ratio of weight and height. They are also required to measure their body composition via Biometric Impedance Analysis (BIA) and measure and calculate their waist-to-hip ratio.

In another lab, they are required to keep a food log and answer questions about their caloric intake like “what are you eating too much of?” Students are next given an assignment to determine the “factors” that “influenced your performance in these tests,” create a “body composition goal,” and then develop a plan for how they will achieve the results.

In addition to this class being utterly inappropriate (because a weigh-in shouldn’t be required for an English degree)  and fatphobic, it’s dangerous. The University has no way of knowing the circumstances of each student — who might be on the edge of an eating disorder, who might be in the throes, and who is trying to recover. For those of us practicing Health at Every Size and/or Intuitive Eating for whatever reason, these assignments go against our core beliefs and practices and can conflict with the recommendations of our healthcare providers.

That the class exists at all tells us that the University doesn’t understand the danger they are dragging students into. They have no idea how many students they have hurt, are currently hurting, and will hurt in the future.

Read the rest of the piece here!

My work is paid for by the people who get value from it (and not companies that are harm fat people for profit!) 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 – register on the member page)

Non-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 or on Instagram.

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

 

 

 

 

Answer to Family Feud’s Fatphobia

Biscuit doesn't care about flatteringReader Mandy was watching Family Feud re-runs and the question came up: “Name something that should be against the law for people to wear if they are out of shape.”

If every single answer on the board isn’t “other people’s prejudices and insecurities”  and/or “this question is fatphobic bullshit and I refuse to answer” then we have some problems here.

In no particular order:

  • Fatphobia is so acceptable that game shows think it’s a funny joke
  • People are comfortable with the idea that they should be allowed to dictate what other people should wear
  • The idea that it should literally be illegal to dress how you want didn’t cause anyone on the show (those who created the survey, producers, hosts, or contestants) to be taken aback enough to keep this off the air

This makes me think of the “clever” signs that pop up during warm weather suggesting that we “dress for the body you have, not the body you want” (from everyone from ophthalmologists to social workers) Or the ridiculous notion of “flattering” which can totally bite me.

This is all crap. You don’t owe anyone else “attractive,” (or, while we’re at it,  “healthy,” or  “healthy behaviors” or “pretty,” etc.) by their definition or anyone else’s. If people don’t like what you are wearing, there are at least three other cardinal directions to which they can avert their gaze. How “in or out of shape” you are (whatever that means) doesn’t have to factor into your clothing decisions at all.

Wear what the hell you want. The only thing that should be against the law is for people to shame other people for their bodies or their clothes.

My work is paid for by the people who get value from it (and not companies that are harm fat people for profit!) 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 – register on the member page)

Non-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 or on Instagram.

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

 

 

Workplace Wellness – An Exercise in Frustration

that's not how this worksIf you are a regular reader of this blog or follower on social media, you’ve probably seen me discuss Al Lewis. Al is a wellness expert who often calls out the wellness industry on their fatphobia. Recently he took wellness companies to task saying, in part, “Attention, outcomes-based wellness vendors: can you please please stop harassing employees because of their weight…You are doing incalculable harm.”

I’m against compulsory workplace wellness plans entirely – I believe that the only facet of employees’ lives that employers should be involved in is compensating employees with a thriving wage in return for employees doing their jobs. Under the current US model compensation should include wages and benefits including health insurance. It would be my preference that health insurance not be attached to one’s job, but as long as it is, it should be looked at simply as another form of compensation. One’s employer should no more be allowed to get involved in how someone uses their health insurance than they should be allowed to get involved in how employees use their salaries.

But that, as Al pointed out, is not what’s happening. And reading through the comments as workplace wellness providers try to justify singling out fat employees for useless weight-loss “interventions” (instead of, much more sensibly, giving us ponies) was an exercise in frustration.

If you’re stuck in one of these workplace wellness nightmares, it’s important to remember that – thought it is becoming your problem, it is not your fault. There is nothing wrong with you, or your body. There is plenty wrong with workplace wellness culture.

Activism Opportunity: Add your voice to the comments on Al’s post! 

My work is paid for by the people who get value from it (and not companies that are harm fat people for profit!) 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 – register on the member page)

Non-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 or on Instagram.

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

 

 

Funding Fatphobia With Kombucha?

fat shaming naturalNora Haefele was downing a bottle of The Bu Kombucha when she saw it — the message on the bottle.

“Health is our priority. The Bu supports and donates to organizations that fight obesity.”

At that moment Nora realized that, as a fat woman, she had inadvertently funded the oppression of fat people with her drink purchase.

After some quick research, I learned that it’s not just on the bottles. The Bu proudly discusses their fatphobia on the front page of their website:

“Health is our priority. We, at The Bu Kombucha, are passionate about doing our part to curb the unhealthy American addiction to sugar. The Bu is a low sugar, low-calorie beverage alternative that is delicious to drink any time of day.  No one should have to choose between good health and good taste! Sugar-sweetened beverages significantly influence obesity rates.Obesity is a risk factor for the development of diabetes and heart disease. The American Cancer Society says obesity is ‘clearly linked’ with breast, prostate and several other cancers.The Bu supports and donates to organizations that fight obesity.”

Let’s break this bullshit down.

You can read the rest of this piece here! 

My work is paid for by the people who get value from it (and not companies that are harm fat people for profit!) 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 – register on the member page)

Non-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 or on Instagram.

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