Roxane Gay, Mamamia, and Fat Exclusionary Radical Feminism

What Will you DefendThe problem of some women excluding other women from their feminism is not new: you need look no further than SWERFs (Sex Worker Exclusionary Radical Feminists) and TERFs (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists). I object both to the practice of excluding sex workers and trans folks, and to characterizing any feminist who does so as “radical” unless we’re saying that it’s radically terrible behavior. Although not given an acronym, racism has also been and still is a huge problem in feminism.

There’s another common exclusion of these so-called “radical” feminists, and that’s fat women. The exclusion of fat women works differently than that of trans women and sex workers in that it’s less direct…more subtle. It comes in forms like concern trolling of fat women (ie: responding to demands for respect and accommodation with unrequested non sequitur hand-wringing about our health), lack of representation of fat women, diet and weight loss messages that suggest that a thinner body is a better body in feminist spaces, and push-back against feminist spaces that don’t allow diet and weight loss talk.

And, in the recent failure by Mamamia in its interview of Roxane Gay, the refusal to accommodate fat women, and the failure to treat us with respect.

Read my full piece about this here!

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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!

 

Published in: on June 23, 2017 at 12:18 pm  Comments (2)  

Hashtag Highlights Early Body Shaming Experiences

ShamelessA heartbreaking new hashtag is trending. People are using #TheySaid to tell their stories of experiencing body shaming. The hashtag was started on May 25th by Sally Bergesen, who kicked things off by talking about her own memory of body shaming.

https://twitter.com/oiselle_sally/status/867768961718517762

This kind of crap needs to stop, like, yesterday. If you tell kids they should hate their bodies — they’ll believe you. If you tell them it’s OK to hate kids who are bigger than they are, then they’ll believe you and they’ll create the next generation of stories for #TheySaid.

Sally Bergesen, the woman who started the hashtag, is also the CEO of Oiselle, a sports apparel brand. As an athlete who wants to support people who are doing the right thing when it comes to Size Acceptance, I immediately headed to her website. Sadly, what I found was pretty disappointing.

You can read my entire piece about this here!

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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!

Published in: on June 16, 2017 at 9:45 am  Comments (6)  

Exactly How Not To Fight nazis

This meme is making the rounds and we need to talk about it:

How not to protest Nazis

As activists one of the things that we always have to be careful about is that we don’t add to the marginalization of other groups with our activism.  In this case, the person who created this meme is trying to fight nazis through the use of fat shaming.  And that’s just crap.

Even if you are someone who purposefully engages in fatshaming (aka: an asshole) this is still a terrible idea – nazis are legitimately horrible, dangerous, and need to be stopped, and making this about how he looks massively minimizes the issue.  What would the makers and sharers of this meme do when presented with someone who did fit the current stereotype of attractiveness – say “Well, I guess he has a point”?

In order to fight nazis and white supremacists we must reject the entire ridiculous premise of their argument.  Making it about whether or not each individual meets some definition of “genetically superior” accepts the premise which means that the argument has already been lost. Fat shaming is wrong no matter how horrible the subject is, because the subject’s body size has nothing to do with it.

So let’s take another stab at this:

Fight nazis without fat shaming by learning more about Intersectional Fat Activism! Register for the Fat Activism Conference and get tools, skills, and community:

Click Here to Register!   Earlybird registration ends June 15th!

If you enjoy this blog, consider becoming a member or making a contribution.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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

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

In training for an IRONMAN triathlon.  If you’re interested, you can find my training blog here

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

Published in: on June 14, 2017 at 2:34 pm  Comments (13)  

Stereotypes, Sizeism, and Ableism

LiesAs my regular readers know, I have another blog dedicated to my journey to complete an IRONMAN triathlon. Today I got a comment (that I did not approve, for reasons that will become obvious) that said “None of this is true, nobody who weighs as much as you can walk around the block let alone complete the training you are claiming to complete.”

This kind of comment is really tricky to deal with because it invokes a tangled mess of intersectional oppression, stereotypes, and weight loss myths.

On one hand, it’s not ok for people to attempt to replace the lived experiences of fat people with their stereotypes, or to erase the existence of fat athletes, or to call us liars based on the fact that we don’t fit their stereotypes. On the other, if we’re not careful challenging stereotypes such as this can end up adding to the oppression of fat people who are dealing with disability/mobility challenges etc. by engaging in the completely bullshit Good Fatty/Bad Fatty dichotomy.

The truth is that fat people and our mobility/athleticism have nothing to do with this – fat people have different levels of mobility and athleticism, just like thin people do. The problem here is the stereotyping of fat people, the constant suggestion that we should blame everything on our fat, and the oppressional intersections of sizeism and ableism.

The oppression that lies at the intersection of sizeism and ableism is absolutely staggering and it leads to horrific treatment of disabled fat people/fat people with disabilities. And, in a way that is similar to how those who have (however temporarily) manipulated their bodies to be smaller are used to shame fat people, often fat athletes are used (by the same fatphobes who bully and harass us in other forums) as a way to further the oppression of fat people who aren’t athletes. The goal being to pit fat people against each other, convincing some to throw others under the bus in an attempt to get a modicum of respect from people whose opinions we shouldn’t care about at all.

Then there is the suggestion that we should blame our body size for literally anything and everything that we aren’t happy with in our lives. This includes everything from the assumption that any mobility limitation is because of we are fat (ignoring the fact that thin people can have the same limitations) as well as the tendency to give weight loss the credit for gains in mobility or athleticism such that if a fat person starts a fitness regimen that sees them gain strength, stamina and/or flexibility, as well as (at least in the short term) weight loss, our fatphobic society encourages us to  credit the weight loss and not the fitness routine for any gains in fitness.

This also leads to discrepancies in healthcare, when thin people with mobility limitations that can be rehabbed (of course, not all can, and those that can are under no obligation to do so) are given tons of options for building strength, stamina, flexibility, and mobility, while fat people in the same situation are typically just given diets whose most common outcome is weight regain.

So to review:

  • Stereotypes are bullshit. Sizeism is bullshit. Ableism is bullshit.
  • Participating in movement/fitness/exercise is not an obligation or barometer of worthiness and fat people who participate are not better than, nor should they be “held up as examples” to (or against), fat people who don’t participate.
  • There should be no shame or blame when it comes to disabilities or mobility limitations ever.  The discussion should revolve around increasing accessibility and eliminating oppression.
  • Stereotypes are bullshit. Sizeism is bullshit. Ableism is bullshit.

Want learn more about Intersectional Fat Activism? Register for the Fat Activism Conference and get the tools, skills, and community you need

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If you enjoy this blog, consider becoming a member or making a contribution.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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

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

In training for an IRONMAN triathlon.  If you’re interested, you can find my training blog here

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

Published in: on June 12, 2017 at 12:48 pm  Comments (6)  

Bounced Because of Our Size

Recently, I saw the following post on Facebook from Stephanie Gagos that reminded me of another way that fat people face discrimination for just trying to do the same things that thin people do:

“My beautiful, kind, big-hearted daughter was denied entry to a popular club in NYC called One Oak last night because, as they put it ,’they don’t like girls with       love handles.’ They only allow a particular type of girl into this place.

They even went so far as to say her roommate could go in but she couldn’t.

What in the world are we doing to girls, to women?? How disgusting and low can you get? Women have enough body image issues as it is. We are so totally wrapped up in our weight, our looks, that we forget what truly matters in life. We are made to feel less for a few extra pounds, and it is appalling.

My first response was, you don’t want to be in a place like that. I mean, what reason would this even be a criteria except to objectify women and make men feel better about themselves?

It broke my heart when she said “everyone deserves to have a good time.” I echo that, and everyone deserves to be loved, to feel beautiful, to have a good time, to be accepted for who they are instead of how they look.

So shameful.”

This isn’t the first story like this that I’ve heard. I’ve heard too many of my fat friends talk about being kept out of the club by “policies” that didn’t seem to apply to thin people. It’s bullshit and it needs to stop.

Read the full story here!

Want learn how to respond to fat shaming? Register for the Fat Activism Conference and get the tools, skills, and community you need

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If you enjoy this blog, consider becoming a member or making a contribution.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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

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

In training for an IRONMAN triathlon.  If you’re interested, you can find my training blog here

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

Published in: on June 2, 2017 at 7:37 am  Comments (8)  

If You Are Inviting Fat People to Your Event…

High bar chairsThis weekend there are tons of BBQ’s and such going on here in the states, but events and meetings happen every day.  And every day, fat people are “invited” to events and meetings at which they aren’t accommodated in even the most basic ways. Most often this isn’t done on purpose, it happens because  thin people don’t know what they don’t know. I know that you want to truly welcome fat people to your event, so let me help you out:

Seating:

The importance of fat friendly seating cannot be over stated. Seating that is sturdy and accommodating (ie: loveseats, armless chairs, benches etc.) The seating should also fit in with the seating that other people have (if everyone is in the yard but the bench for your fat cousin is on the porch, that’s not cool.) Don’t make your event another fat people and chairs hate story.

I’ve Got a Blank Space Baby

Is there enough room for fat people to navigate your event?  Whether it’s between the tables at a buffet, or throughout your home, or in the restaurant you’ve chosen, accessible seating won’t help if we can’t get to it without knocking over the dessert table on the way. Clear the widest spaces possible to accommodate the most people.

Everybody Poops

Does the event space have a fat friendly bathroom?  You may not be able to change the size of the bathroom in your house, but there are some things you can do – if the hip space is being limited the the hanging toilet paper roll, you can put the roll on the sink or towel rack.  Make sure that you don’t have a garbage can blocking the door from opening the door all the way etc.

Nobody Should Be a Shit

Consider putting something on your invitation about this being a body positive event (no body shaming or food policing allowed.)  And/or, if you’ve invited people who you are worried will fat shame or food shame your guests – consider having conversations with them ahead of time.  You are creating this space, so you are the boss of it! Make it a priority not to invite people into a hostile environment.

Finally, I want to point out that accommodation is not just for fat people – consider ways that you can make everyone on your guest list as comfortable as possible.  Is there easy parking and access for people who use a wheelchair or have limited mobility?  Are you inviting People of Color and racists to the same event (or Queer and Trans people as well as homophobes and transphobes, Muslims and Islamophobes etc.)? If so, remember that “I want to oppress you” and “I don’t want to be oppressed” are not simply two equal but differing viewpoints – the first is an expression of harmful oppression, the latter is a statement of basic human rights.  So think about how are you going to make it a safe space for your friends/family with marginalized identities, and make sure you’re not inviting people into an oppressive environment without warning them.

When I posted this to Facebook there were a couple of commenters whose knee-jerk reaction was “You should bring your own chair” (and, apparently, our own bathroom?) While my partner and I do often bring our own chairs to events (and doctor’s offices!) just to be sure, we shouldn’t have to do this.  The idea that some of your guests should be coming to a BYOC situation is not inviting at all. Take responsibility for making your space/event inclusive and accommodating for the people you are inviting into it. As K.C. said on my Facebook post about this: don’t just mean well – do well.

Want learn how to create a more fat friendly world? Register for the Fat Activism Conference and get the tools, skills, and community you need
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If you enjoy this blog, consider becoming a member or making a contribution.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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

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

In training for an IRONMAN triathlon.  If you’re interested, you can find my training blog here

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

Published in: on May 28, 2017 at 11:11 am  Comments (34)  

The Real Secret to Getting a Beach Body

Pink Argyle Bikini

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

Several years ago, the amazing Golda of  Body Love Wellness) tweeted;  “Rec’d a link to “How Not To Look Fat In A Swimsuit”. Wld ♥ to see “How Not To Obsess Abt Looking Fat In A Swimsuit & F-ing Enjoy Yourself” several years ago.  The result is this post, which is a Danceswithfat annual tradition.

Today I got my first ad from a diet company telling me that I should buy their ridiculous product because, ostensibly, I need a different body in order to go to the beach (not that they could give it to me, even if that were true.) So today is the day that I post this!

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

I’m doing more open water swimming these days (which involves a wetsuit) but when I am in the gym at the pool, I  wear my bathing suit with no worries.  Here are a few reasons why:

1.  It’s my BODY.  I live with it 100% of the time.  It does awesome things for me like breathing, and heartbeat, and swimming and I decided long ago that I am not going to allow anyone to convince me to hate or be ashamed of  something that I am with 100% of the time for the rest of my life.  I get to choose how I feel about my body and I choose to love it.

2.  Because it’s a pool and when I go to the pool, I wear a swimsuit. It’s not for vanity – it’s practical.

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

4.  Hypocrisy is an ugly thing.  It always seems like the same group of people who are telling me that because I’m fat I have some obligation to exercise (which is bullshit by the way) are subsequently offended by my body in a swimsuit.  The message apparently being that they want me to exercise, but in my house with the shades drawn and wearing an outfit fashioned from a bed sheet.  Screw that.  Don’t like it?  Your problem.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Want to do more Fat Activism? Register for the Fat Activism Conference and get the tools, skills, and community you need
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If you enjoy this blog, consider becoming a member or making a contribution.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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

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

In training for an IRONMAN triathlon.  If you’re interested, you can find my training blog here

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

Published in: on May 23, 2017 at 7:02 am  Comments (13)  

Gold’s Gym Fat Shames Kids

WTF are you doingA lot of fatshaming nonsense happens around working out. There are people complainingthat fat people have workout gear, and there was a Gold’s Gym franchise in Egypt that decided it would be a great idea to market using fat shaming and misogyny.

It couldn’t get worse, right? Wrong. A Gold’s Gym franchise in Kingwood, Texas said, “Hold my Michelob Ultra” and took up that challenge. They actually mailed out ads with pictures of two kids captioned, “My fat may be funny to you but it’s killing me,” and “It’s hard to be a little girl if you’re not.”

Are. You. Fucking. Kidding. Me. In case there are people who need to be told this (and there shouldn’t be) fat shaming kids is never, ever ok. And it does not lead to healthier kids. Convincing kids to hate their bodies doesn’t lead to them seeing those bodies as amazing and worthy of care.

According to American Academy of Pediatrics, in the last decade hospitalizations for eating disorders for kids under 12 are up 119%. Kids. Under. Twelve. Kids are plenty focused on their weight without getting a postcard from their local gym.

And if the gym is successful in getting them to try to manipulate their body size?

The outlook isn’t good. Research from the University of Minnesota: “None of the behaviors being used by adolescents (in 1999) for weight-control purposes predicted weight loss[ in 2006]…Of greater concern were the negative outcomes associated with dieting and the use of unhealthful weight-control behaviors.”

Considering that, let’s look at the captions real quick:

“My fat may be funny to you but it’s killing me.”

Could they have done any more to drive home the point that any kid who looks like this kid (or is larger) should hate their body? No. Just no. Also, a kid who assumes that everyone thinks their body is a joke is a victim of a society full of stigma, and they need to support — not encouragement to join in.

“It’s hard to be a little girl if you’re not.”

Being a little girl is not hard because this girl is a bit less little than some of her friends; it’s hard because she lives in a fatphobic world where her local gym mails out cards that fat shame kids. How much of the suffering of fat people would be immediately relieved by an end to discrimination? Especially since research is showing more and more that discrimination is correlated with the same health issues that are so often blamed on body size or behavior.

Thanks to the work of activists, Gold’s Kingwood branch — including the man responsible for this mess — apologized and promised to do better, saying:

 “As a father and a person who is deeply committed to children’s health and wellness, I was devastated to learn that some people saw my ad as an attempt at body shaming…

Reflecting on your remarks helps me to realize that there are more positive ways to communicate my commitment about the programs we offer. Moving forward, I will be more thoughtful as to how we seek to move our message.”

Here’s hoping.  Luckily, it’s not that hard to do…

You can read the rest of this piece here!

Get the knowledge, tools, community, and support you need – Register for the Fat Activism Conference
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If you enjoy this blog, consider becoming a member or making a contribution.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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

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

In training for an IRONMAN triathlon.  If you’re interested, you can find my training blog here

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

Published in: on May 22, 2017 at 8:31 am  Comments (15)  

Study Shows Link Between Discrimination and Type 2 Diabetes

Public HealthFat causes [insert health issue here.] We hear this every day.  The problem is, it’s not true. The research about weight and health isn’t about causation, it’s about correlation and that’s an important distinction.  Correlation means that two things happen at the same time.  Causation means that one thing is the result of the occurrence of the other thing.

This is not an unimportant distinction.  Let’s say that men with certain types of baldness have higher rates of heart attacks.  Let’s say the correlation is extremely high. So, healthcare practitioners say that obviously we’ve got to help these guys grow hair so that they can reduce their heart attack risk!  But let’s say that the treatments that lead to men growing hair only work on about 5% of men, the rest grow hair in the short term but lose it all again in a couple of years with a majority ending up with less hair than they started with.

So let’s say that healthcare practitioners (encouraged by people who sell the hair regrowth treatments) blame the men, claiming that anyone who tries hard enough can grow hair. People start to calculate the cost of these guys heart attacks and calling them a “drain on society.”  The government starts a War on Baldness and every person that bald men come in contact with are encouraged to let them know that they need to grow hair, that they are obviously weak willed, and they are a drain on society.  It becomes ok to not hire bald men (so that the companies insurance isn’t affected.) People suggest that maybe bald men shouldn’t qualify for insurance, or healthcare at all until they do what it takes to grow hair.  A dangerous surgery is developed that may help men grow hair, but is also likely to leave them with lifelong side effects, and the surgery kills many of them.

If this sounds ludicrous then look no farther than the way that fat people are treated. It’s happening right now. The thing about bald men having higher numbers of cardiac incidents is true by the way – and the correlation is very high. But what researchers found when the dug a little deeper was that both the baldness and the cardiac incidents were caused by a third factor.  That’s not unusual, the thing about correlation is that if A and B are correlated it’s possible that A causes B, it’s possible that B causes A, it’s possible that A and B are both caused by a third factor, and it’s also possible that they are, in fact, unrelated and the correlation is a coincidence.

I’m bringing this up because a new study shows a correlation between discrimination and Type 2 Diabetes. This isn’t new, Peter Muennig found correlation between stigma the comes with being fat in a fatphobic society, and the health conditions that are correlated with being fat.

This doesn’t just apply to fat people, it’s an issue for every marginalized person. And it’s one more way that hate speech and discrimination affect us negatively.  The study found that those who reported two or more major discrimination experiences had a 34% increased risk of diabetes (over nine years) than those with no reported experience of major discrimination.

While this study is correlational, there is no downside risk to NOT discriminating against marginalized people, so ending discrimination is something we could implement now as a public health priority.

The lead author, Kara Whitaker, said ““It may be beneficial for clinicians to ask patients about their experiences with discrimination as an additional method to identify individuals who may be at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease.”

I agree, but as a fat person who has dealt with all kinds of fatphobic nonsense at the doctor I would suggest that it may be beneficial for clinicians to ask themselves if they are contributing to that discrimination.  And people who create public health messaging should make sure that their messages aren’t adding to discrimination.  And while we’re at it, it’s important for all of us to remember that “everybody knows” is not the same as “evidence shows,” and correlation never ever, never ever, implies causation.

Get the knowledge, tools, community, and support you need – Register for the Fat Activism Conference
Click Here to Register!   

If you enjoy this blog, consider becoming a member or making a contribution.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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

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

In training for an IRONMAN triathlon.  If you’re interested, you can find my training blog here

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

Published in: on May 11, 2017 at 10:19 am  Comments (5)  

Avoiding Activism Burnout

Tired PuppyRecently I had the opportunity to speak as part of the EDRDpro Symposium and one of the attendees asking how we can avoid fatigue when trying to educate around Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size.  In our current fatphobic, thin-obsessed culture it’s super easy to do, so here are some idea to prevent burnout:

1. Create a grounding phrase. We are bombarded with false information about weight and health, and negative beliefs about fat bodies every day. So having a quick phrase that we use to deflect it can be really helpful. My personal phrase is “hey that’s bullshit!” but other folks have told me that they use things like “nope, nope, nope” or “what a load of crap.” I use it every time I see a diet ad, or hear something negative about fat people, or see an “everybody knows” article about weight and health. Pretty soon it becomes reflexive and fairly often the message gets dismissed before I’m even conscious of it.

2. Remember that you are the authority – it’s unfortunate the so many people have fallen victim to false beliefs and stereotypes, and even more unfortunate when they decide to be superior about it, but it doesn’t make them any less wrong.

3. Get support – join in person and online/social media groups that support folks who are practicing HAES and Size Acceptance and participate in them, read Fat Activism and Health at Every Size blogs and participate in the comment section, reach out to other activists when you need some support

4. Make it about options – I get e-mails every day from people who literally didn’t know that they had an option to like their body, or options to pursue health outside of weight loss. My work is about making sure that everyone knows that they have those options. Which leads us to…

5. Don’t take too much responsibility – All we can do is be as educated as we can, and provide people with information to the best of our ability. We can’t take responsibility for what they do with that information, or for the choices they make. If you try to take responsibility for the outcomes you’ll burnout fast. Engaging in activism is it’s own success, not just because of how it can change the world, but because of how it helps us activists to be fighting back.

6. Take breaks – you don’t have to go in for every battle, every bullshit comment on Facebook, every minute of every day.  You can take each day as it comes, respect where you are with your own mental and physical health, energy level, what you need to get out of the situation (for example, if you really need your prescription you might not want to argue with your doctor’s incompetent diatribe about weight loss and that’s ok.) Take time off, and remember that doing so is part of nurturing ourselves as activists.

7. Remember that you do not owe people who are shaming, stigmatizing, bullying, harassing, or oppressing you compassion or education on their terms or in their preferred words or tone, or at all. Their feelings don’t have to be your primary concern, the outcome of this conversation doesn’t have to be your primary concern, whether you will “catch more flies with honey” does not have to be your primary concern. Protecting yourself and doing what you can/want to do today can be your primary concern. Politely and gently asking people if they wouldn’t mind not oppressing you so much is an option, but never a requirement. Telling people to STFU and GTFO is also a valid option that is available to you.

Be vigilant about noticing who is being left behind and left out and use your privilege to remedy that, celebrate the smallest victories and keep pushing, we’ll get there.

Get the knowledge, tools, community, and support you need – Register for the Fat Activism Conference
Click Here to Register!   

If you enjoy this blog, consider becoming a member or making a contribution.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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

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

In training for an IRONMAN triathlon.  If you’re interested, you can find my training blog here

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

Published in: on May 5, 2017 at 9:04 am  Comments (6)