Because Fat Bias Kills, That’s Why

What Will you DefendEvery once in a while someone asks why I bother fighting anti-fat bias an oppression, suggesting that it’s no big deal. That hasn’t been my experience, or the experience of people who have found themselves ostracized from family and friends, unable to access the world because of lack of accommodation, fired/not hired/paid less because they are fat, at the losing ending of the tremendous about of medical bias, or subject to the many forms of oppression that fat people experience on a daily basis often encouraged by the government, our employers, and even our families and friends.

In a piece called “My Cancer Pt. II, Medical Fat Shaming Could Have Killed Me” Rebecca Hiles explains the experience of being diagnosed as fat and prescribed weight loss regardless of symptoms – and how that put her life in jeopardy.  She is not alone, certainly fat people suffer and die because fat bias leads to medical malpractice. And because of doctors buying into the lie that being thin is so important that putting fat people’s lives at risk in an effort to change the way we look is a completely reasonable thing to do – whether it’s pills that have been shown to kill us, or surgery that amputates a healthy organ and very often results in life-altering complications and death – it is made clear to us every day in so many ways that we should consider death a reasonable alternative to living in a fat body.

But it’s not just medical bias that kills us.  It’s people whose lives don’t ever get started because they are waiting until they are thin, living their lives as a perpetual “before” picture. (something that affects not just fat people but our families and friends as well.)

It’s people who aren’t able to do the things that they want to in their lives because so much of the world – restaurants, theaters, transportation, healthcare facilities –  is built by people who are either pretending that fat people don’t exist, or don’t care that they are excluding us – or they are celebrating the fact that they are excluding us (paging Abercrombie and Fitch…)

Fat bias kills when people who are the victims of bullying, including online bullying, take down their blogs, or youtube channels, or give up on their dreams, or stop leaving their homes to try to get some relief from being harassed and terrorized.  Fat bias kills when it hurts our ability to build a strong social network because our government is trying to engage our employers, family, and friends to see us as the enemy and fight against us in an incredibly ill-advised War on Fat people, in which we become unwilling combatants and casualties.

Fat bias ruins lives. Fat bias kills.  And that’s why I spend my time fighting it.

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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!

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 June 29, 2015 at 7:00 am  Comments (9)  

A Big Fat Fairytale

DragonA reader sent me an article today that claiming that most fat people have no idea that we are fat. I’ve seen articles about how doctors don’t talk to their fat patients enough about weight loss, how fat people don’t know they are fat, that nobody is brave enough to talk about obesity.

What the hell are they talking about?  Are these surveys based on 9 out of 10 people who live under a rock?  All of those articles should start with “Once upon a time” because they are fairytales.

Magazines at the grocery store can’t stop talking about weight loss.  I, and many of the readers who e-mail me have almost never been to the doctor and not had our weight brought up and that includes, in my case, occasions when doctors suggested that I should lose weight for strep throat, a separated shoulder, and a broken toe. My theory is that the media likes to interject this idea into their stories so that people don’t call them out for reporting the same “everybody knows”  crap in multiple stories day in and day out without checking the evidence or, you know, asking questions as journalists might be expected to do.

The big problem happens when people believe this story and think that fat people are wandering the world oblivious to the fact that everyone from the media, to healthcare professionals, to them wants to stereotype us based on how we look, or that god forbid we don’t hate ourselves and spend all of our free brainspace, time, and money trying to be thin –  and they think it’s somehow up to them to disabuse us of these notions, or remind us that if we’re not giving all of our efforts to self-hatred – if we dare to enjoy our lives in any way – then we’re just not trying hard enough.

The fairytale is based on another fairytale:  Once upon a time, we got the idea that other people’s bodies were our business.  And we all lived miserably ever after.

Until we called bullshit on these fairytales, made public health about providing options to the public instead of about making people’s health the public’s business, and chose to respect and appreciate people of all shapes and sizes.  Maybe it’s not happily ever after, but it’s a much better start.

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Like my work?  Want to help me keep doing it? Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you.  Click here for details

Book 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!

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, you can 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 June 27, 2015 at 11:21 am  Comments (14)  

Should We Be Fat Talk Free?

Actual SizeThanks to reader Harmony for providing the inspiration for this post!  Part of it is a re-post from a past blog and part of it is new to address new questions. Reasonably often I see somebody – typically somebody well intentioned – suggest that we should stop using the word fat.  Recently I actually saw someone say that fat people “shouldn’t be allowed” to call ourselves fat.  Sometimes when it is discussed, “fat talk” is short hand for negative body talk, but often it’s literal.

The issue here is that, however well meaning, saying that we shouldn’t call people fat suggests that being fat is such a terrible thing that we shouldn’t utter the word out loud.  Fat people are not Voldemort and making fat seem like the “physical descriptor that must not be named” actually further shames and stigmatizes people who are, in fact, fat (whether we call them/ourselves that or not.)

Many people who meet the social definition of fat don’t identify as such. This is typically because society has been allowed to heap all kinds of nastiness onto a perfectly good adjective. In response, many of us choose to embrace the word fat because we get to choose what words have power over us and we have decided that when it comes to how we describe our bodies, the bullies can no longer have our lunch money. Of course, nobody is obligated identify as fat, but at the end of the day even those who choose not to identify with the word fat – either because of the negativity that has been heaped upon it, or because it was used as a weapon against them, or for some other reason – are still fat by the social definition. So when someone says “Don’t call people fat” because it’s body shaming, they are saying that there’s something wrong with being fat, which is – you guessed it – body shaming.

The problem isn’t that people are fat.  The problem is that there is so much social stigma around being fat.  It is in this way that we get sayings such as:

you’re not fat, you have fat,

“you’re not fat, you’re beautiful”

and people who think that their lack of condescension for a fat person who went running is so important that they should write about it.

To understand the problem, try substituting a characteristic that is more socially neutral.  I’m also brunette, so we’ll use that:

“You’re not brunette, you just have brown hair!”

“You’re not brunette, you’re beautiful”

“To the brunette running on the Westfield track, if you’d look at me when you pass you’d see that there’s no condescension in my eyes, I have nothing but respect for you.”

The first one sounds patently ridiculous.  The second is offensive – since obviously being brunette and being beautiful are not mutually exclusive. The last one is just whackadoodle, why would it be noteworthy that someone didn’t have condescension for a person with brown hair who went running?

The fact that these three phrases are vastly different with two different adjectives speaks to the effect of society’s weight bias, and that won’t be solved by calling fat people something else.

The trick is to end body shaming and negative body talk full stop – not to suggest that we should abandon the use a perfectly good physical descriptor because people have been allowed to heap negativity onto it.

Here’s what I think:  We don’t need an end to “fat talk”, we need an end to fat stereotyping, fat stigmatizing, fat bashing and fat-based healthism (along with all healthism while we’re at it.) We need to acknowledge that bodies come in lots of different sizes for lots of different reasons and that people of all sizes deserve to be treated with respect – which includes the absence of stereotyping based on physical appearance.  I think that we need to end body snarking and body bashing of all kinds, and I think part of that is creating a world where calling someone fat doesn’t constitute either.

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Like my work?  Want to help me keep doing it? Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you.  Click here for details

Book 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!

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, you can 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 June 25, 2015 at 10:48 am  Comments (13)  

Who Looks Healthy

Picture thanks to reader Morgan!

Picture thanks to reader Morgan!

I saw a picture on Facebook comparing Marilyn Monroe to a very thin woman.  The picture was about their “beauty” but many people responded with some version of “Neither of them look healthy to me.”  I saw a piece about diversity in yoga criticized by people suggesting that we should be giving the participants attention because “doing yoga or not these people do not look healthy,” and I deleted a number of comments on a video of inspiration for fat people who want to participate in fitness that insisted that people like us shouldn’t be seen because we’re “obviously not healthy.”

There are a lot of ways that this is screwed up, let’s take them one by one:

First of all, judging how healthy people are based on their picture, or looking at them, is ridiculous.  Not only does this feed into various appearance based prejudices and stereotypes, but it also harms people who deal with invisible disabilities who have to put up with busybodies questioning them about any accommodation they might use.

The next issue is that even if we could judge people’s health by looking at them, it’s absolutely none of our business. Other people’s health is not for us to guess about, or judge, or comment on unless someone is inviting us to do so.

Finally, the suggestion that only people who are “healthy” (by whatever definition) deserve to participate in the hobbies of their choice, or to be seen in photographs, or be role models, or be in the public eye, is a blatantly disgusting display of healthism that is often used as another way to enforce oppression intersectionally, including sizeism, racism, ageism and ableism.

The truth about health is that it is complicated, multi-dimensional, not an obligation, not a barometer of worthiness, not entirely within our control, and not guaranteed under any circumstances.  But even more important, it is deeply personal. The push to have public health focus on making the individual’s health the public’s business, and the accompanying suggestion that people should have to “perform” health or “look healthy” to avoid social stigma, bullying and harassment etc. takes our attention away from things that we could be doing to support people’s choices for their bodies – including removing barriers to healthcare (many of them rooted in the same prejudice that this “who looks healthy” culture perpetuates,)  making sure that everyone has access to the food that they want to eat and that movement options are accessible and safe – not just physically safe, though that’s very important – but also psychologically safe. Until everyone can show up for the movement options they are interested in – whether that’s a local swimming pool or body of water, or the free weight area of the gym, or a pole dancing class or whatever – and know for absolute certain that they will not face bullying or harassment for how they look, then we aren’t providing safe options. Public health needs to be about making information and options available to the public, not making the individual’s health the public’s business.

There are things that we can do as individuals:

  • don’t use phrases like “she looks healthy” or “he doesn’t look healthy”
  • don’t use health status as a response to fat shaming – make it clear that fat people have the right to exist without bullying, stigmatizing, and oppression regardless of our size, or our health status
  • speak out when you see people engaging in this kind of discussion.  instead of countering “they obviously aren’t healthy” with “they look healthy to me! ” consider making it clear that the idea that we can know how healthy someone is from a picture, and that even if we could we should consider it our business, is absurd

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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!

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, you can 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 June 24, 2015 at 9:30 am  Comments (33)  

Questions for Diet Companies

Ask QuestionsBesides the obvious question for the diet industry – How can you live with yourselves making 60 billion dollars  a year selling a product that hardly ever works? –  I have some other questions for the diets I’m seeing advertised.  Of course, health is complicated, multi-dimensional, not an obligation, barometer or worthiness, completely within our control or guaranteed under any circumstances. Adn I would never tell anyone else what to eat or what path to health they should choose – these are just my questions base on the health and weight loss claims that the diet industry is so fond of making.

NutriSystem and Jenny Craig:  With all of this talk about how the healthiest thing is to eat farm to table/slow food/food as close to whole as possible, why are you suggesting to fat people that we should eat meals that are highly processed, frozen, and packaged in plastic bags to be microwaved back to warmth?

Medifast, your plan of five shakes a day and one lean protein and vegetable meal not only replaces almost all food with reconstituted soy protein, but it puts people at a caloric level that is less than what has been used  to study starvation, and is so low fat that women may stop menstruating and lose their hair. Your “health coaches” become “health coaches” by buying into your multi-level marketing program to resell the product (I personally know someone who was an unemployed social psychologist one day and a health coach the next.)  Explain again how this is a good idea?

Slimfast:  You want us to believe that replacing two-thirds of our food with a drink that has a laxative effect and a ton of sugar will bring greater health.  Are you serious?

The Cabbage Soup Diet:  Just one of your 7 days says “Eat as many as eight bananas and drink as many glasses of skim milk as you would like on this day, along with your soup.” What the fuck?

Alli Diet Pills:  Your side effects include uncontrolled anal seepage, spontaneous bowel movements, and life-threatening liver damage and your information suggests that people should wear dark pants, all for 4 pounds more weight lost A YEAR than those who didn’t take Alli (and it sounds like a fair amount of that weight leaks out their asses.)  What the actual fuck?

Weight Watchers: When your study showed that your average participant lost around about 10 pounds in six months and kept off half of that for two years, your chief scientist –  Karen Miller-Kovach – said: “It’s nice to see this validation of what we’ve been doing.”  If you are so comfortable with those numbers, why doesn’t your advertising say “Join Weight Watchers and maybe lose 5 pounds in two years” with before and after pictures of people who have lost 5 pounds?

Maybe if I asked representatives from these diets they would have answers – but then I have to ask if it matters what those answers are, when the diets don’t have any evidence that they lead to significant long-term weight loss or health benefits?  So my last question is “Why in the world would I give you my money?”

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Like my work?  Want to help me keep doing it? Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you.  Click here for details

Book 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!

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, you can 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 June 23, 2015 at 8:22 am  Comments (8)  

Fat People Claiming Our Place

Design by Kris Owen

Design by Kris Owen

People choose lots of different hobbies. for many fat people our choice of hobby can mean extra work and/or activism on our part. For those who knit or sew it can mean having to learn to make their own patterns since patterns in their size may not exist. For those who like to travel it may mean a fight to get the same service that everyone else on the plane gets (travel to their destination in a seat that fits them). The world is set up in ways that exclude fat people and that can make everything from going out to dinner to going on a cruise to sewing a dress more difficult.

Some of us choose fitness/athletics as a hobby.  Sometimes people suggest that fat people who participate in fitness deserve to be treated better than those who don’t.  This is often called the “Good Fatty/Bad Fatty Dichotomy” and it is complete bullshit and it needs to die.  Participating in fitness does not make someone better or worse than those who choose different hobbies, or no hobbies.

That said, being a fat person in the fitness world can mean dealing with frustrations including a lack of clothing and gear that fits you, and everything from online bullying to physical violence from people who believe that we don’t belong in “their world” or who have issues that are triggered by fat people living lives that we love and taking up space in public.

As a fathlete this is something that I’ve been involved in fighting for a long time. I co-created the Fit Fatties Forum and Facebook Page with Jeanette Depatie to have a place for people of all sizes to talk about Fitness from a weight-neutral perspective (without weight loss talk, diet talk, negative body talk, or food moralization).  I’m also working with Candice Casas, Courtney Marshall, and Jeanette DePatie to put together an anthology of stories of fat people in fitness (if you’re interested in doing a first person story, academic paper, poetry, art, being interviewed, or joining the newsletter to be kept posted on our progress check out the website here)

Recently the members of the Fit Fatties Forum created this video to remind the world that, while nobody is obligated to participate in fitness, the fitness world is for Every Body who wants to participate. You can check it out below (I was involved in making it and I still cried the first time I saw it so I want to give a big fat thank you so all the awesome people who let us use their amazing photos.)

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Like my work?  Want to help me keep doing it? Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you.  Click here for details

Book 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!

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, you can 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 June 19, 2015 at 9:27 am  Comments (11)  

Tell the EEOC Not to Allow Workplace Discrimination

What Will you DefendThe Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (which had previously filed lawsuits on behalf of employees negatively affected by “voluntary” wellness programs that force them to either turn over personal health information that their “wellness” program can use to further penalize them, or pay thousands of dollars) is now considering changing their protections to allow employees to be penalized up to 30% of the cost of employee only coverage for not participating in “voluntary” wellness programs and/or failing to achieve “health” outcomes which can include weight loss.  See the full EEOC text here.

First of all, these screening programs are supposed to be voluntary, but the cost of not “volunteering” can be thousands of dollars (in the Honeywell Case about which the EEOC lawsuit was filed, it was around $4,000) So it’s only really voluntary for those who can afford $4,000 a year to take a stand for their own civil rights (at my house we call this getting “volun-told”)

These programs measure things that are not completely within  – and sometimes not at all within –people’s control, and in some cases require people to enter into programs on their own time (Weight Watchers meeting at lunch anyone?) that not only don’t have a track record of efficacy, but may not be in keeping with the person’s health philosophies or the plan that they and their doctor created. If they refuse, they face monetary penalties.

These programs typically use BMI, a ratio of weight and height that isn’t a poor indicator of health so much as it its not in any way an indicator of health.

When we start messing with the acts that protect people from workplace discrimination on the basis of dis/ability and/or genetics we are at the top of a very steep slippery slope.

Not for nothing, but these programs don’t actually save any money (let alone make anybody any healthier.)

In the randomized controlled trials(RCTs) — the Gold Standard for research trials and the one exclusively used by the Food and Drug Administration to evaluate new drug applications — ROIs for the interventions studies had an overall mean value of -0.22. This means that for every dollar invested in these programs, 78 cents was returned. In other words, the programs did not pay for themselves.”

There is not one shred of evidence that a corporate wellness program can reduce the costs of your health benefit at all, let alone by more than the cost of the program.”

And the research itself is super sketchy for a lot of reasons.

The argument is that employees who lead “healthy lifestyles” shouldn’t have to subsidize those who don’t.  Neither body size nor metabolic numbers can tell you someone’s lifestyle, I also note that these programs don’t do anything about employees who participate in sports – including particularly dangerous sports – and are thus much more likely to cost the company money due to sports injuries. Apparently employees who don’t participate in sports are expected to subsidize those who do.

It seems to me that businesses aren’t necessarily looking at cost savings through employee “wellness” programs, but rather are looking at the fact that they’ll save thousands of dollars every time an employee stands up for their right to not literally turn their blood (and the blood of their spouses and children) over to their employer, not to mention making it easier to penalize employees for not meeting “wellness standards” that they cannot meet due to disability or genetics, and the EEOC is willing to weaken their protections of employees with disabilities to allow them to do that, and that is absolutely horrific.

These protections were put in place on purpose, to avoid exactly the kind of discrimination that this EEOC rule change would allow.

So what can you do?

Read this and sign this statement on behalf of people of size who will be affected by this. (Comments due by midnight on 6/18/15)

Read and comment on this ACLU statement on behalf of disabled people/people with disabilities. (Comments due by midnight on 6/19/15)

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Like my work?  Want to help me keep doing it? Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you.  Click here for details

Book 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!

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, you can 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 June 18, 2015 at 4:36 pm  Comments (6)  

Weight Loss as Revenge?

You Forgot Your BullshitIn response to my piece about those clickbait “nobody could believe what happened next” videos (where the only thing that happens is that a person who isn’t stereotypically beautiful is talented) I heard a lot of something that has now become a familiar refrain for people who want to find a way to bully me into weight loss.

They say “Wouldn’t losing weight be the best revenge?” I’ve seen it on talk show episodes where people who were bullies for their appearance and have snice dedicated considerable time, energy, and money, to becoming closer to the stereotype of beauty “confront” their bullies and demand to be acknowledged for the change they made.

While people are allowed to do whatever they want, this, to me, is no kind of revenge.  This is spending a ton of time, energy, and money to give the bullies exactly what they wanted, and then asking for their approval.  It’s like saying “give the bullies your lunch money, that’ll show ’em!”

We don’t owe our bullies anything, least of all manipulation of our bodies.  Oppression takes a lot of different forms, and oppression against people who are believed to be able to move out of an oppressed group often leads to people feeling vindicated in their suggestion that the best way to solve social stigma is for stigmatized people to change ourselves.

As a queer woman I’ve been told that if I don’t like being the victim of homophobia I should date a dude. As a fat woman I’ve been told that if I don’t like being the victim of fatphobia I should become thin.  In both cases it doesn’t actually matter if it’s possible to change myself, because the cure for social stigma is ending social stigma – not for stigmatized people to try to squeeze ourselves in a mold someone else created for us.

The problem here isn’t that I’m fat, it’s that people treat me poorly because I’m fat, and I don’t care about revenge, but I do demand social change.

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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!

Like my work?  Want to help me keep doing it? Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you.  Click here for details

Book 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!

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, you can 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 June 17, 2015 at 5:02 am  Comments (28)  

Five Phrases for Size Acceptance Self Defense

Fatphobia ToolboxIn a world that is consumed with “thin” as the ideal of both beauty and health, and where many mistakenly believe that public health should be about making fat people’s bodies the public’s business, practicing Size Acceptance and/or Health at Every Size can mean dealing with conversations that are everything from irritating to downright insulting.

Sometimes I have the time and energy to open a dialog and sometimes I don’t.  Here are five phrases that I keep in my back pocket for when I want to end an inappropriate interaction quickly and move on with my day.

I’m not soliciting opinions about my [body/health/food choices etc.]

I’ve found this super useful when dealing with concern trolling of any kind. It’s not a response that people are expecting, it doesn’t take me down the road of buying into the idea that this person is owed an explanation, and it shuts down further conversation.

Random person at grocery store:  Should you really be buying that ice cream?

Me:  I’m not soliciting opinions about my food choices.

or if the advice is particularly bad, I might add a touch of snark:

Random person at the running track:  At your size, you really shouldn’t run, it’s bad for your knees.

Me:  I’m not actually soliciting bad advice from random strangers.

I can’t imagine why you would think that’s your business. 

Works for concern trolling, works for inappropriate questions, works for people who are under the mistaken belief that my body is somehow their business.

Random person at random place:  You would be so much prettier if you just lost a little weight.

Me:  I can’t imagine why you would think that’s your business.

I have absolutely no interest in weight loss.

Great for whenever somebody assumes that I’m interested in weight loss, or that I’m doing something with weight loss as a goal. I used to add “My body is perfect as it is,” but I found that led to people concern trolling me (ie: Oh, of course you’re beautiful but I’m just worried about your health blah blah blah…) so now I just stick with the single sentence, said with finality.

Random person at a lunch event:  You should try this [insert ridiculous weight loss scam here]

Me:  I have absolutely no interest in weight loss.

Person at the gym:  I see you here all the time, how much weight have you lost so far?

Me:  I don’t weigh myself. I have absolutely no interest in weight loss.

How are your bowel movements?

I use this to respond to especially inappropriate personal questions about my body, food or exercise. When people look confused I often append it with “I thought we were asking each other inappropriate personal questions.”

Person at a restaurant:  Do you need to eat that?

Me:  How are your bowel movements?

Show me your list…

This one is more involved, but I have found it to be worth it.  I developed it specifically for people who give a “But muh tax dollarz”  defense of their weight bigotry.

Some jerk: Your body is my business because muh tax dollarz!

Me:  Show me your list.

SJ: What?

Me:  I need to see the list of things your tax dollars pay for, broken down into things you do and don’t agree with, and the interventions you are involved in for everything you think makes your taxes too high. Otherwise, I’m going to assume that this is a bullshit excuse for engaging in weight bullying and this conversation is over.

Remember that each of us gets to choose how we deal with the oppression we face, sometimes that might mean opening a dialog, and sometimes that might mean ending the conversation and walking away as quickly as possible.  These phrases are just more tools for toolbox.

Like the blog?  More Cool Stuff!

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Like my work?  Want to help me keep doing it? Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you.  Click here for details

Book 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!

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, you can follow the progress on Facebook!

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Published in: on June 16, 2015 at 7:06 am  Comments (14)  

Everyone Should Have Expected What Happened Next

facepalmYou’ve seen them.  Videos with clickbait titles that say things like “Nobody expected what happened next!”  or “Everyone was shocked by what happened next” when the only thing that happened is that a person who doesn’t meet people’s stereotypes of beauty is talented.  This hit home for me again when someone shared a video of one of my favorite dancers  on Facebook with the comment “Nobody expected what happened next – People didn’t expect much when he walked out, but what happened next shocked everyone!”

Not so much. John and Stephanie are champion dancers, known for being really entertaining. Everyone there who knew them was pretty sure this was going to be amazing. Anyone who didn’t know John, and didn’t expect much because John is fat, is a size bigot who has some issues to work out.

This is super frustrating not just because of the suggestion that a talented fat person is somehow shocking, but because it re-writes an experience that wasn’t full of fat bigotry into one that was chock full of it.

Actual situation:  a multiple time world champion swing dancer takes the floor, everyone is excited to watch him dance because he and his partner are known to be fabulous and entertaining dancers, they are awesome, everyone cheers.

Re-telling:  It’s the middle of the highest division in the competition.  Some fat guy walks out, of course everyone knows that fat people can’t be good dancers so we all assume it must be the drunk beer delivery guy who just stumbled out onto the dance floor because.. no…wait…he’s actually a dancer.  Holy crap, he’s a good dancer. NO FREAKING WAY!  People faint from shock. A truly benevolent person writes it up and posts a video that focuses not on his dancing but on fat bigots’ reactions to it.

Bonus bullshit:  Anyone who complains about this has to deal with people saying “why can’t you just be grateful that they are posting the video?”  Oh, I don’t know, maybe because it’s stereotyping, weight-based bigotry and total bullshit?! But I don’t know, I’m just spitballing here.

Yes, in this society we very often choose our singers, actors, dancers etc. based on their ability to meet a stereotype of beauty first and the ability to sing, act, or dance, a distant second.  Thus, unsurprisingly, almost every singer/actor/dancer is thin and stereotypically beautiful. But we take it to the next level when we allow ourselves to assume that those who are not stereotypically beautiful are not talented.

There are more and more reality shows where people can get 45 seconds to display their talent.  When a fat person risks the stigma, shame and bullying that so often come from just existing in public and go onto one of these shows  and turn out to be good at what they do I think we could live without a million YouTube videos and Facebook posts discussing how absolutely shocking, shocking I tell you, it is that they have talent.

I would like to see a bunch of posts about how shocked people are that they allowed themselves to be lulled into the view that someone who doesn’t fit the cultural stereotype of beauty is without talent.  I would like to see a bunch of comments about how absolutely ridiculous it is that every time a talented fat person gets in the public eye we have to endure people wringing their hands and shrieking about how they are “bad role models” who, they claim even more ridiculously,promote obesity (like people will hear them sing and think – I wish I could sing like that, I guess the first step is to get fat…)

This all leaves me to wonder, how many amazingly talented people are we missing out on as a society?  How many horrible actors and actresses do we suffer through because the industry chooses them for their ability to fit a narrow stereotype of beauty before their ability to act? If we chose singers based on their ability to sing first would auto-tune even exist?

We’re so conditioned to think that talent only comes in a stereotypically beautifully package that we lose it when Susan Boyle stands up and belts out I Dreamed a Dream.  I don’t mean to shock anyone here, but how someone looks has literally nothing to do with their chances of being a good singer, or actress, or dancer, or anything else.  I think it would be just fantastic if we chose people based on their talent and not on their ability to walk a red carpet in a sample size dress, and even more fantastic if we were more shocked at our society’s prejudice than a fat person’s talent.

Like the blog?  More Cool Stuff!

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!

Like my work?  Want to help me keep doing it? Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you.  Click here for details

Book 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!

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

A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development, you can 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 June 15, 2015 at 8:59 am  Comments (20)