Why I Support Damienne Merlina

What Will you DefendDamienne Merlina is a self-described “fat, one-armed comedian.”  Recently another comedian, Ari Shaffir, took some time on his Comedy Central special to call her out by first and last name and proceed to do a series of jokes about her body size and the fact that she has one arm.

She posted a beautiful video response (embedded below) and of course the trolls took to the comments to support Shaffir’s sizeist, ableist comedy, and – never ones to miss an opportunity –  engage in some bullying, sizeism and ableism of their own (with a side of “you should judge your value based on whether or not I would fuck you” thrown in for good measure.)

Some claimed that what Ari did was ok because Damienne had done a bit about an unnamed guy with a small penis and they felt that it was body shaming.  Some disagree that the bit was about shaming men with small penises.  I think that regardless of what someone thinks of it, it isn’t even in the same galaxy as stating someone’s first and last name on a special on Comedy Central – a cable network –  and then making sizeist and ableist “jokes” specifically about that person.  I also think it’s entirely possible to find her small penis bit problematic, and still believe that what Ari did is super fucked up cruel bullying that shouldn’t be allowed to go unchecked.

Others supported him because “FREE SPEECH!”  To be clear for those constitutional scholars bringing up the First Amendment, I’m not suggesting that he should be precluded from engaging in shitty comedy by congressional edict, so calm down. This isn’t about whether or not his shitty sizeist and ableist comedy is legal, it’s about whether or not his shitty sizeist and ableist comedy is something that we’re going to stand for, because freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences when you say something shitty, sizeist and ableist. So it is within the purview of our free speech to say that we don’t support sizeism, ableism, or comics who are so dramatically untalented and/or lazy that they can’t write material that isn’t just about naming people and then getting cheap laughs from berating their physical appearance.  It is well within the purview of our free speech to say things like  “Try harder Ari.” or “Sizeism and ableism aren’t hilarious Ari.” or “I’m not paying money to see you Ari.” or “Good edgy comedy punches up Ari.” or “That was super fucked up Ari.”

Speaking of using that free speech, you can check out Damienne’s video below and you can show her some love by commenting on the Youtube video and also at:
Twitter: @whatsinadame – http://goo.gl/t6A9EU
IG: @whatsinadame – http://goo.gl/vWs4lo
Facebook: http://goo.gl/P5s4iR
Tumblr: http://goo.gl/4crju1

You can let Comedy Central know what you think:about them airing that mess:

Twitter: @comedycentral

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ComedyCentral

You can let Ari know what you think::

Twitter:  @arishaffir

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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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 March 30, 2015 at 8:23 am  Comments (9)  

Say Something Sunday – Say Something Nice 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!

The theme this week is Say Something Nice. Earlier this week my Facebook page got trolled.  I was away from the computer and there were over 100 comments by the time I saw the thread.  My FB readers handled it brilliantly and at one point reader Caroline suggested “Shall we take this opportunity to, instead of engaging with them, write messages about the awesome things that Ragen has inspired us to do, whether it be physical, psychological, or emotional?”  The things that people wrote brought me to tears.and reminded me why I do this work. So today I want to focus on giving support to people who are doing cool Size Acceptance/Size Diversity/Body Positive work.  You can start here for some ideas, if you have ideas you can leave them in the comments, and you can also keep your eyes on social media for Size Acceptance stories that come your way – share them, re-tweet them, leave positive comments, e-mail the authors and tell them that you like their work and how it’s affected you.

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)

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 March 29, 2015 at 8:44 am  Comments (3)  

The Trouble with Before and After Pictures

Before After

There was a dust-up on the popular effyourbeautystandards instagram when a mod allowed someone to post “before and after” pictures of her weight loss.  People tried to explain that the idea of celebrating having a smaller body, especially with a “before and after” shot, is problematic in a body positive space. They also pointed out that before and after pictures seem to be very much the beauty standards that the community purports to want to eff.  I agree with the sentiment and I’m glad that people pointed it out (you can see the post here if you would like, trigger warning for, you know, weight loss pictures, and possibly NSFW for underwear and partial nipple.)

effyourbeautystandards decided to defend the choice and leave the picture up (and it looks like they deleted some of the comments around it, including one where the mod, in an incredibly problematic post, accused someone who was speaking out against the use of before and after pictures in a body positive space, of being against working out.)  It’s their instagram and they are allowed to include whatever they want on it. I will say that it certainly discourages me from being interested in participating, and it’s one of the reasons that I create and moderate spaces that are body positive based on my specifications – which includes absolutely no weight loss talk, which includes – obviously, I would think – before and after weight loss pictures. I find these pictures problematic for a number of reasons:

First, they are designed to create a situation where we judge bodies as good and bad or, at the very least, better and worse.  I don’t believe that anything good comes out of this, and it reinforces the idea that, especially for women, manipulation of our body size is to be of primary importance as an “accomplishment” – that until we’ve accomplished thinness, we are works in progress.

Second, they are often used in money making schemes to “help” me identify my body as bad/worse, and show me that it could be good/better if I just bought whatever they are selling. That, as my friend CJ Legare says, is trying to steal my self-esteem and sell it back to me at a profit. And that’s not something I’m going to allow to happen.

In those money making contexts, I can’t help but notice that the person in the before shot always looks miserable and in the after shot they look so happy.  The message seeming to be that anyone who looks like that cannot/should not be happy and that happiness is/should be reserved for those whose bodies are “right and good”. The worst for me is when the before picture is of someone in their sweat pants, eating on the couch before their shower; and the after picture is them standing in the sun, bronzed, sucking in until they are on the verge of fainting, fully made up, dressed up and smiling like they won the lottery. Also, let’s not forget that they can be fake as hell with or without photo re-touching.

People are allowed to do whatever they want with their bodies.  They are allowed to choose body size manipulation as a goal. They are allowed to buy into the idea that their body would be somehow “better” if it was different and they are allowed to take pictures of their body over time and make comparisons. That doesn’t mean that it’s appropriate to post those pictures in every community, which is why apparently you can post them in effyourbeautystandards, but you can’t post them in the body positive communities that I moderate.

One of the things that commenters on effyourbeautystandards pointed out was that the person could simply have posted the “after” picture by itself and celebrated her body as it is now without the need to compare it to her body at some past date.  I think that’s an excellent idea, and I think it’s worth considering the possibility that there’s no such thing as “before” and “after,” there’s only “during.”

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 March 27, 2015 at 10:21 am  Comments (25)  

Nothing is the New Skinny

WTFI got an e-mail from blog reader asking me what I think about “strong is the new skinny” and  “healthy is the new skinny” campaigns.  I’ve seen these phrases on everything from t-shirts to websites.  I think it’s total crap.

Strong, healthy, and skinny have different meanings and priorities for different people and none of them are entirely within our control.

I’ve seen at a lot of so-called “fitspiration” sites that claim “strong is the new skinny” and what I’ve seen is a whole lot of bodies that all look the same.  Cheryl Haworth is almost 300 pounds and is an Olympic medalist who was once the third strongest woman in the world, but I’ve never seen her, or anyone who looks like her, on a “strong is the new skinny” website, the sentiment seems to be much more “skinny with muscles” is the new “skinny.” It’s not that there’s something wrong with skinny bodies, or skinny muscular bodies or any other bodies – there’s not – it’s just that none of those bodies are any better or worse than other bodies.

The pervasive myth that thin is healthy and fat is unhealthy means that “healthy is the new skinny” is often code for “skinny, but not too skinny, (whatever the hell that means) is the new skinny.” It’s also healthist and often be ableist – people have many different health conditions for many different reasons and nobody should be judged for their health.  Besides making sure that everyone has access to the healthcare they want and is accommodated, people’s health is nobody else’s business.(and if you’re about to whip yourself up into a “but muh tax dollars” frenzy, head on over to this post.)

At the end of the day, this is basically about giving women the message that we should all try to be “This!” which is the new “That!” which will make us worthy/good/socially acceptable/fuckable or whatever.  It’s like climbing out of one hole, falling into another hole, and then celebrating that we’re in a different hole.

It’s also really unkind to women who identify as skinny who are told that their body is somehow “out” and that they need to look like, or be, something else. I believe that all bodies are amazing and I’m absolutely against the idea of trying to feel better about ourselves but insisting that our bodies are better than other people’s bodies.

How about we stay away from the message that skinny used to be the thing that everyone should want to be, but now there’s a new thing that everyone should want to be?  New boss, same as the old boss. I think the message we’re looking for is “we shouldn’t measure our worth based on a standard of beauty” not “we should measure our worth by a different standard of beauty.”

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 March 25, 2015 at 12:50 pm  Comments (16)  

Wear ALL the Stripes! Or Not.

Biscuit doesn't care about flatteringRecently plus-size retailer Roaman’s posted four stripe patterns on Facebook with the request “Help us choose a new stripe pattern for our ultimate tees collection!  Which one is your favorite?” Patterns 1-3 are horizontal strips of varying widths.  Pattern 4 is a diagonal stripe pattern.

I have my frustrations with Roaman’s, in particular their use of models who are too small to actually wear their clothes, but I appreciate that they reached out to their customer base to ask about preferences.  And their customer base responded – some to give a preference, and some to tell them what all fat women do/should want to wear, or to reinforce the idea that people should value looking as thin as possible.  Some examples:

4 if I have to choose. Vertical is more slimming for a big girl.

4. Only because it doesn’t t go around. It has a little angle to it. Big people usually try and stay away from strip unless it is top to bottom

None. You trying to make big women look bigger?
 -
How about lines that go up and down instead of across. Lines going across makes one look bigger.
 -
4- because stripes that go across broad bodies like mine are not flattering at all.
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4……horizontal stripes fail to flatter the majority of plus size women…..and while you are at it, be generous with the sleeve length. I am guessing that the majority of your customer demographic does not have young firm arms…
 -
Big & Beautiful women need vertical stripes, all you ever sell is horizontal.
 -
None. Stripes should be vertical for full figures.
 -
bigger women shouldnt wear these stripes at all, it empasizes ones figure
 -
NO horizontal stripes for BIG GIRLS, please!
 -
heavy set people don’t look good in stripes or big flowers
 -
Nobody looks good with stripes going around a big stomach or butt!
 -
None of those stripes! Vertically for heavy women!!! It makes them look thinner!
 -
none stripes in a row make you look fat.
 -
People are allowed to choose clothing for whatever reason they want, including using clothing to create various optical illusions to try to manipulate the way they look to be closer to the current cultural stereotype of beauty.
-
But that isn’t what these commenters are doing.  These commenters are speaking as if they speak for all fat people.  I think that this is the end result of the propaganda forced on us by the diet companies – not only do they pour money into convincing us to hate our bodies, but they manage to make some fat people (and plenty of thin people as well) into a vast unpaid sales and marketing team.  Making fat women into body police who try to enforce the idea that a smaller-looking body is better than a bigger-looking body, or assume that their feelings about that are shared, or should be shared, by every fat woman.
-
These women take to the internet, the dressing room of Ye Olde Fat Girl Clothing Store, even the grocery store to spread the gospel of “flattering, slimming, hiding your problem areas.”  Don’t choose clothes because you like them they tell us, choose clothes that make your body look smaller/thinner/more like an hourglass etc. This is the world that creates companies that sell swimsuits in my size 26/28 that bill themselves as a “Miracle” promising to make me look “10 pounds lighter” as if at my size a 10 pound difference is perceptible to the human eye, let alone worth an extra $80 above the cost of a regular suit.I think the Miracle is that they sell any suits at all in my size, but to each their own.
 -

Often confusing their opinions with fact, these women declare themselves the enforcers of fatshion – telling other fat women how they should dress, sometimes even suggesting that if fat women don’t dress in ways that are “slimming” or “flattering” – or do dress in ways that draw attention to them – that they deserve any poor treatment that they get. This perpetuates the dangerously absurd idea that the solution to bullying is for those being bullied to do what their bullies want, rather than to end bullying.

While I am personally a card carrying member of the “F*ck Flattering Club” I’m also in full support of women choosing to wear clothing based on their definition of “flattering” or “slimming” for for whatever reason they choose. What I am not in support of is women suggesting that the way they choose to dress is how every fat woman should/must choose to dress, or that their opinions about what “looks good” are actually fact, or answering a request from a retailer who sells plus sizes (or, as I like to call them, sizes) as if they speak for all of fat-kind.  Wear ALL the stripes! Or not. I suggest that we all work together to make sure that the clothes people want to wear are available in their size, and then we can all make choices for ourselves and take a pass on policing the clothing choices of others.

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 March 24, 2015 at 8:39 am  Comments (31)  

If Not Weight Loss, Then What?

Celebrate Small VictoriesOne of the most common questions I get from people who are starting out with Health at Every Size is – if I’m not making weight loss goals, then what goals can I make? Considering the way that weight loss is advertised as the end all and be all of health (to the tune of Sixty Billion a year in profits to the diet industries) it’s not surprising that many people have never thought of making goals outside of that.

First of all, this is a post about Health at Every Size (HAES). Before I get into it I want to be clear about the difference between HAES and Size Acceptance.  Size Acceptance as a civil rights movement is based around the fact that the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are not size, health, or “healthy habit” dependent by any definitions thereof.  It says that fat people should be able to live in fat bodies without shame, stigma, bullying and harassment.

Health at Every Size is an evidence-based paradigm for approaching personal health, public health, and healthcare.  Understanding that health is not an obligation, a barometer of worthiness, entirely within our control or guaranteed under any circumstances, HAES puts the focus on health and behaviors that support it (instead of body size and weight loss) as well as encompassing all aspects of health including ending stigma, oppression and lack of accessibility. That said, health is absolutely not an obligation or anybody else’s business unless we choose to make it their business, and nobody is required to practice Health at Every Size (or any other path to health) to be covered by Size Acceptance.  There’s a more complete explanation here.

So back to the question.  If you are interested in practicing HAES and you are interested in goal setting (and you don’t have to do so – many people focus on health without setting specific goals) you have lots of options. Before we get to the specifics, here are some general suggestions:

  • Make it an additive process rather than restrictive (so maybe “I’m going to do xyz” rather than “I’m never going to do abc ever again!”
  • This is a long term process and it’s not all or nothing, so don’t be afraid to try something, decide it doesn’t work for you, and then try something else.
  • Make changes over time – add one or two things and when they become a habit add one or two more things. Every spring emergency rooms fill up with people who decided to reach all of their lifetime fitness goals in one day.  I would suggest that being the fittest person in traction might not be the best goal.
  • Consider making goals that around doing things that make you happy.
  • Celebrate lots.  It may sound cheesy but celebrating victories early and often can really help you with your goals.
  • Remember that this is a lifelong journey and sometimes we’ll make choices based on what seems like the best thing for our health, and sometimes we’ll make decisions for different reasons and that’s totally ok.
  • Blame, shame, stigma, and guilt are not good for your health, the only thing that we can do is keep a forward focus.
  • Throughout your life, and especially if you’re just starting HAES, your weight may shift.  When people start to practice Health at Every Size some people’s weight goes up, some goes down, some stays the same.  The idea behind HAES is that we focus on behaviors and health (based on our own choices about prioritization) and let our weight settle where it does, so feel free to chuck your scale.

Here are a some suggestions for specific goal setting, as always your mileage may vary:

You can make the behaviors themselves the goal. (Some people use some or all of the habits from Matheson et. al. Don’t smoke, drink in moderation, 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, exercising regularly etc. Some people choose behaviors around movement, sleep, drinking water, doing specific activities that they enjoy, etc.  Whatever behaviors you decide on, you can make them your goal and celebrate each time you succeed by doing them, create a list to check off, give yourself gold star stickers, whatever works!

For fitness/movement goals, you can also take a “baseline” for things like perceived exertion (how tired you are during/at the end of a workout), heart rate, number or duration of an activity you can perform, ability to do an activity etc. and then note how you improve over time. You can even set yourself up a little baseline test and record the information and then repeat the test at regular intervals to see how you’ve improved.

You can set a goal that’s currently out of your reach (a duration of activity, a weight to lift (whether it’s x number of pounds or your grandkid or whatever) , a number of repetitions of an activity (X number of pushups; x number of feet/blocks/miles walked or rolled in your wheelchair etc.) and then work towards it, celebrating your progress along the way.

You can start a program (like couch to 5k, 100 push ups, or whatever movement you are interested in) and use those milestones as goals.

Some people choose to get their bloodwork taken at regular intervals and look for improvements. If you go this route, it’s important to be aware that some things are genetic and so may or may not change with behavior changes.

Those are a few ideas, feel free to leave your HAES-based goal ideas in the comments. If you are interested in more discussions like this, you can check out the Fit Fatties Forum and Fit Fatties Facebook page – we welcome anyone, of any size, who wants to discuss fitness from a weight-neutral, Health at Every Size perspective.

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 March 23, 2015 at 12:40 pm  Comments (7)  

Say Something Sunday – Accommodation 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!

The theme this week is accommodations. Let’s start with the fact that when fat people ask for a chair that works for us, or a seat on transportation, or medical equipment that accommodates us, we aren’t asking for something special – we are asking for what everyone else already has.Businesses may or may not be legally required to accommodate us (depending on where we live) but that doesn’t mean that we can’t do activism. Suggestions of what to do with this:

Call ahead and ask if a restaurant has armless chairs/booths with tables that move etc.If a movie theater has seats with arms that lift, (bonus intersectionality – ask if the space accommodates those with dis/abilities) If not ask to speak to a manager and let them know that you aren’t going to patronize their business and why (hint: you can do this even if you aren’t fat or don’t have a disability yourself.)

Realize that, whatever size you are, you take up exactly the right amount of space, don’t be shy about existing in the world in the body you have.

Speak out against the idea that people of some sizes “deserve” to exist in the world comfortably, while others don’t.

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)

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 March 22, 2015 at 2:37 pm  Comments (4)  

A Different Kind of Spring Break

It’s that time of year – my friends who are involved in academia are talking about what they are doing on Spring Break – vacations, staycations, taking a break from school, from work.  It got me thinking about a couple other things that we might try taking a break from this spring.  As always, these are just suggestions, if you have other ideas feel free to leave them in the comments!

Negative Body Talk

Consider taking  Spring Break from making negative comments about people’s bodies, including yours.  We live in a world where companies make billions of dollars convincing us that our bodies will never be good enough.  We are encouraged to hate ourselves and all too often this leads to us putting down other people to try to make ourselves feel better – directing our anger at each other instead of a culture of body hate and the industries that create and profit from it. Putting down others to lift ourselves up didn’t work in Junior High and it won’t work now.  This is the perfect time to take a break from negative body talk – notice your thoughts about your body and replace negative thoughts with gratitude for the things that your body does (check out this post for more specifics on this.) Look for something to compliment in every person that you see.  When people start engaging in negative body talk resist the urge to join in – consider walking way or even interrupting it by changing the subject or saying something like “I wish we lived in a world where all bodies were celebrated.” or “I’m on a Spring Break from negative body talk.”

Food Policing, Morality and Performance

We all make choices about what to eat for lots of different reasons – many people have choices that are limited by lack of accessibility (to foods and/or cooking methods that they might prefer), time, sensitivities etc…  Our culture encourages us to make these choices into morality and public performance.. and to comment and judge other people’s choices.  Consider taking a Spring Break from from thinking of food as good/bad/sinful/clean/dirty etc.  Consider taking a Spring Break from talking about what you’re eating and why (and instead thinking of something else to talk about,) and consider taking a Spring Break from food policing.

Who knows, maybe these will start as a Spring Break but end up lasting the whole year long!

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 March 21, 2015 at 1:46 pm  Comments (4)  

Willful Suspension of Disbelief

What a Load of CrapSuspension of disbelief is the idea that you ignore the implausibilities of a story so that you can enjoy the greater themes.  I’m not against the concept on its face – it’s why I can love the A-Team Movie and the final choreography from Center Stage.

I am not willing to run my life with suspension of disbelief at the center, but that’s what the diet industry and plenty of doctors seem to think I should do.  Over half a century of research has failed to produce a single study where more than a tiny fraction of people lose weight long term.  There is not a single study showing that long term weight loss leads to better health.  When I point this out to doctors they typically agree with the numbers, then suggest that I still try to lose weight:

Weight Watchers own numbers show that the average client loses 5 pounds in two years (paying $254 PER POUND in meeting fees alone for the privilege.) but people are still on my television gushing that this time it’s going to work.

Ads for weight loss products are legally required to have a disclaimer because they sell a scenario that almost never happens, but I’m supposed keep trying.

Thin people are told that the healthiest thing they can do is eat a variety of foods in moderation, locally sourced etc.  As a fat woman I’m told that the healthiest thing I can do is

  • Drink two thin chocolate beverages that contain laxatives, eat one meal a day that is low fat and low carb
  • Eat reconstituted soy protein shakes five times a day and one meal of low fat protein and green vegetables
  • Eat a bacon double cheeseburger but hold the tomato and the bun
  • Take pills whose label suggests that I “wear dark pants and bring an extra pair to work” because of uncontrolled anal seepage”
  • Eat an extremely limited low calorie diet 6 days a week, binge eat on the 7th day
  • Eat breakfast cereal 4 times a day, eat a meal of lean proteins and low carbs for dinner
  • Eat a ton of cabbage soup and on Tuesday eat as many bananas as I want but nothing else

I’m often met with incredulity by those who tout weight loss when I discuss my choice to focus on behaviors rather than body size manipulation to support my health (knowing that health is not an obligation, barometer of worthiness, completely within my control, or guaranteed.)  The reason is pretty simple – when it comes to the concepts of weight loss, especially as a path to health, I just can’t muster this kind of suspension of disbelief necessary to go down the weight loss path (and that’s saying something because I love the Iron Man movies.) I have a right to make choices that make sense and that I believe have some basis in reality and, for me, dieting simply doesn’t qualify.

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 March 19, 2015 at 9:54 am  Comments (12)  

Banning Anorexic Models

NO Negative Body TalkThere has been lots of press lately covering a proposed law in France, similar to laws in Spain, Italy and Israel, banning models with a body mass index below 18.  There is research that suggests that being inundated with images of very thin women does psychological damage to women and young girls (I will note that I object to the use of “too thin” to describe the models in the article to which I linked.)

Many readers have asked how I feel about this, and the answer is that I’m disturbed by it for a number of reasons.  The first is that BMI is not a measure of health, nor does it constitute an eating disorder diagnosis.  It’s wildly inappropriate to say that they are banning “anorexic” or “unhealthy” models, when what they are really doing is banning models whose weight in pounds time 703 divided by their height in inches squared is less than 18. Anorexia and other eating disorders are extremely serious health issues and we need to drastically improve the treatment options that people are given, but that’s a subject for another post, and it’s not what’s happening here. Let’s be clear that this isn’t about providing options for treatment to these so-called “anorexic” models, they’re just trying to put them out of work.

I don’t think the problem is that there are very thin models. I think the problem is that there are almost exclusively very thin models – and actresses, and dancers, and singers. If the research is correct, I don’t think that it’s that girls are exposed to very thin women that damages them, I think it’s that they aren’t exposed to women of other sizes, or shown the diversity of body sizes that exists. And I seriously doubt that anything will be solved by having models with a BMI of 18 instead of 17.5. I think that what we need to do isn’t shift the “ideal body” stereotype half a BMI point, but rather to realize that there is no “ideal body” and celebrate and represent women of all sizes.

Even before I became a full-fledged member of the Fuck Flattering Club, I was clear that the clothes should be made to fit the people, not the other way around. I think that a big part of the problem is that people argue with a straight face that all models should be very thin because the “clothes look better” on them as if that’s not the function of a social construct that is used to reinforce classism, racism, sizeism, and sexism. Women of all sizes wear clothes, so I think that if our current designers aren’t talented enough to design clothing that looks good on women of all sizes then they are incompetent at the most fundamental level, and it’s well past time to find ourselves more talented designers.

While we’re at it, people could stop wringing their hands and acting ridiculous, blathering on about “promoting obesity” every time a woman who isn’t thin dares to be talented, or happy, or to insist on her right to exist in her body without being shamed, stigmatized, bullied or oppressed because of how she looks.

I don’t want to ban models of any size, I want to see models (and actresses, and dancers, and singers) of every size.

Comment Moderation Reminder:  Any comments suggesting that we can judge someone’s health or habits by their size, or that someone at a certain weight couldn’t possibly be healthy etc. will be deleted. Any negative body talk will be deleted. I don’t allow that kind of discussion about fat people, and I’ll not allow it about thin people. I have no interest in doing to others exactly what I’m asking them not to do to me or allowing this forum to be used for that purpose.

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 March 18, 2015 at 11:26 am  Comments (42)