Perceiving the Beauty of All Bodies

defendI just got back from giving four days of talks at Smith, Amherst, Mount Holyoke, and UMass Amherst. The students, faculty, staff, and community members I had the honor to meet were absolutely amazing and I had a blast. (I also got to see and walk through snow – it’s possible I was the only one who was happy about that part!)

During one of my talks – The World is Messed Up, You Are Fine – I talked about beauty. In particular I talked about the ways that the diet and beauty industries leverage the idea of beauty for profit, in the process disempowering well, just about everyone.

I also talked about the idea that, rather than the suggestion that “beauty” is limited to certain people, the truth is that perceiving beauty is a skill set – which is to say that everyone has inherent beauty, and the ability to see that beauty is a skill that can be learned and expanded. Some people have never bothered to expand their skill-set beyond the stereotypes that we get spoon-fed. Stereotypes that are too often grounded in privileged identities in our culture like whiteness, thinness, appearing cisgender, heteronormativity, appearing able-bodied, and more.

Now, regardless of how we think of beauty, let’s be clear that nobody owes anybody else beauty or attractiveness by any definition. And there are plenty of other ways to deal with toxic beauty culture, including deciding that beauty just isn’t something that we should care about/talk about/value. I like the idea of perceiving beauty as a skill-set because it acknowledges that people around the world have the ability to appreciate many different types of beauty, and it puts the responsibility where it belongs – on the person who is doing the perceiving, not on the body that is being perceived. So if we can’t see the beauty in someone, that’s on us because there is nothing wrong with the person we’re looking at. And if someone can’t see our beauty – that’s on them because there is nothing wrong with us.

Now, if we don’t have a great skillset for perceiving beauty, that’s not exactly a galloping shock – we live in a society that lies to us early and often about beauty for reasons including profit and power, and media that makes it nearly impossible for us to even see people who fall outside the Hollywood stereotypes of beauty in any kind of positive light.

What we can do is take responsibility for expanding our skill-set. I think a good place to start is to notice when we can’t see the beauty in someone, and ask ourselves why. We can start by asking ourselves if it’s tied to an identity or characteristic that is marginalized in our society – this could be anything from racism/colorism to things like gendered ideas of height, or sizeism and more.

Regardless of where the idea came from, we can actively work to overcome our conditioning and see the beauty in bodies like these. One option is to create a powerpoint or other slideshow and add pictures that represent the types of beauty that we are struggling to see. Then go through the deck each day and work to see the beauty in each person. As you see people in your daily life, work to perceive their beauty (though, of course, please don’t visit your issues on them – this is about your own growth.)

I got an e-mail from one of the students who was at my talk that I wanted to share with you (with their permission.)  They wrote:

I wanted to thank you for what you said about perceiving beauty. I’ve never thought about it like this before. I’ve been forcing myself to really be aware of the thoughts I have and I’ve realized that even though I’m committed to social justice, I’ve been couching a lot of bigotry in my ideas of beauty. Like, I am clear that these folks should not be oppressed, and I fight against their oppression, but I still believe that their appearance makes them less…attractive…worthy…something not good. Anyway, it’s already created a big shift for me, and it has the bonus of making me feel much more confident myself since I know that even if someone doesn’t see my beauty, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t there. You are my shero, your whole talk was amazing and I learned a ton, but this has really stuck out so I wanted to tell you.

So there are lots of reasons to take responsibility for our ability to perceive beauty. When it comes to fat bodies, people who can’t see our beauty have plenty of options, one of them is to accept responsibility for their inability to see our beauty and to work on that. Regardless, we are never under any obligation to buy into sizeist (or any other negative) ideas about our bodies.

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!

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

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

Published in: on February 25, 2018 at 6:09 am  Comments (2)  

Lies About Health At Every Size

Public HealthI see a LOT of misinformation being spread about Health at Every Size, sometimes by well-meaning but misinformed people, sometimes by those intentionally trying to discredit the concept. So today I thought I would repost this to help clear up some of what I think are common misconceptions:

1. Health at Every Size says that if you love your body you will be healthy

First of all, “healthy” is complicated to define. More to the point health – by any definition – isn’t an obligation, barometer of worthiness, entirely within our control, or guaranteed under any circumstance. To me, HAES on a personal level is about putting the focus on habits and behavior that support our personal health concept (rather that putting the focus on trying to manipulate our bodies to a specific height/weight ratio.)

It’s also about acknowledging that we don’t have as much control over our health as we might like to think we do, and creating environments that are conducive to health, and I don’t mean fat-shaming and soda taxes, I mean creating environments that are free from stigma and oppression, removing barriers to access and information, making healthcare accessible and affordable for everyone, giving people the option to appreciate their bodies and think of them as worthy of care.

Finally, everyone has the option (though, of course never the obligation) to love their bodies regardless of “health” or anything having to do with “health.”  People are allowed to having complicated feelings when it comes to their bodies and “health.”

2. Health at Every Size is only for fat people

Nope-ity nope.  HAES is practiced by people of all sizes.  The reason that it’s most often talked about in conjunction with fat people is that fat people are typically told that the only path to health is to become thin (despite the fact that there are thin people who have all the health issues that fat people are told to lose weight to avoid) and so while many fat people find it while looking for an alternative to the intentional weight loss recommendations that have been failing us our entire lives, HAES is an option for those who want to pursue health rather than body size manipulation, it’s also practiced by people of all sizes who want an evidence-based health practice.

3.  Good Fat People Practice Health at Every Size 

The good fatty/bad fatty dichotomy is the idea that fat people who participate in “healthy” behaviors or are “healthy”  (as defined by the person who inappropriately and incorrectly thinks that it’s their right to judge) are better than the “bad fatties” who don’t practice “healthy” behaviors or aren’t “healthy” (by whatever definition.)

The GF/BF dichotomy is wrong and it needs to die.  Each person should have the right to define and prioritize “health” for themselves, and to choose the path that they want to travel -those are personal decisions and aren’t anyone else’s business (those wishing to make a “but muh tax dollarz!” argument can head over to this post) Public health isn’t about making fat people’s health the public’s business, or about creating healthism in the name of health, or about using “health” as a thin veil for fat bigotry.

4. I disagree with the science behind Health at Every Size, therefore I am justified in treating fat people like crap.

Noooooooo. World of no. Galaxy of no. Universe of no. No. People are free to believe whatever they want about body size and health. None of those beliefs are a “get out of Sizeism free” card.  Fat people have the right to exist without shame, stigma, bullying, or oppression. Period.  What someone believes, or what is true, about Health at Every Size does not come into play here.

The seed for my HAES journey was reading the research about weight loss methods and realizing that there wasn’t a single study that would lead me to believe that future efforts at long term significant weight loss would have any different outcomes from my past attempts (which is to say, I had the same experience as almost everyone – losing weight short term and gaining it back long term, often plus more!)  Realizing that I had been sold a (massively profitable) lie about my size and health, I went looking for what the research actually said. And the research seemed pretty clear to me that, understanding that my health wasn’t entirely within our control, a focus on behaviors rather than body size was a much more evidence-based way to support my health.

There are people out there riding the weight loss roller coaster even though their experience, and the research, tells them that there is no reason to believe that attempting intentional weight loss will leave them thinner or healthier in the long term, because they want to be “healthy” and they don’t know that there is another option.  HAES is important because it provides a paradigm for personal choices and (perhaps more important) wellness care that doesn’t revolve around doing something that nobody has shown is possible for an outcome that nobody has proven is valid.

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!

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

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

Published in: on February 16, 2018 at 11:03 am  Comments (14)  

“Success” and Stomach Amputation

fat people have the right to existA popular online publication recently published a piece that purported to talk about the pros and cons of stomach amputation and stomach binding (also known as “bariatric” or “weight loss” surgery.)

There’s no way I’m giving it traffic, so there won’t be a link. And while people are allowed to do whatever they want with their bodies, including amputate or bind their stomachs (though that doesn’t mean it’s appropriate to discuss in every space,) it’s important that we talk about the realities of these surgeries. The story mentioned a failure rate of 1 in 10, which seems low based on the research, but perhaps that’s explained at least a little bit by what people consider a “success.”

One woman who says she’s “very happy” and has “no regrets” has had three of these surgeries. A lap band that had to be removed when “For five days, I wasn’t able to keep food down. At the hospital, I found out the lower portion of my stomach protruded through the band to the top, so I was basically choking on my stomach.” Next a gastric sleeve that caused “a lot of acid reflux” and “stopped losing weight around 220 pounds.” Then she went to Mexico and payed “$5,800 to $6,000” out of pocket (she notes that it’s half the price as the surgery in the US) because her insurance wouldn’t cover a third surgery. She currently weighs 180 pounds, has low iron and notes “I can’t eat really dry chicken. Certain textures are uncomfortable. Sometimes I get woozy from sugar.”

Another “success” story had to have her lap band removed and “The tubing on the band kinked, so the fluid in my stomach got in my lungs in the surgery.” Then she got gastric bypass, followed by eight plastic surgeries due to the discomfort her loose skin created.

Yet another chased her stomach amputation with two surgeries – hernia repair and emergency gallbladder removal.

Some people called their surgery successful because they don’t feel like they “take up too much space” anymore, their Tinder success increased, they are no longer interested in eating food, and that “unhealthy” food gives them “overwhelming nausea, ”that pizza would cause them to “throw up immediately and start getting cold sweats,” that they now have a single cookie for lunch. Others mention health improvements that many people have made without these surgeries.

Remember, those are the “successes.” The failures include a woman whose constant vomiting from her lap band triggered bulimia. Another had bulimia triggered by gastric bypass and still has to “puree a lot of my food to keep it down.” Others mention that they developed alcohol addiction.

The first thing I want to point out is who is missing in this article – the many people who gain all of their weight back, and the people who were killed by the surgery (even the Canadian Obesity Network admits that they kill more than 14 out of every 1,000 people – and that’s only the people who die quickly. When people die later due to complications, get blamed for their own deaths.

.I also have to point out that any of the people interviewed – whether they consider themselves successes or not – could have been killed by the surgery. While I’m glad that they survived it, the surgery is – at best – a crap shoot in which a very few don’t experience horrible side effects, some people are happy despite pretty horrible side effects, some people are unhappy about the horrible lifelong side effects, and some people die, and there’s no way to know which group you’ll be in until you are in it.

So let’s talk about all this “success.” Can you imagine the reaction people would have if after they got their tonsils out they had to eat pureed food and throw up all the time for the rest of their life? Or if they were likely to have to have 8 plastic surgeries (that their insurance may not pay for) after having their appendix removed? What about if their bunion surgery was considered a success even if it meant that they threw up immediately after eating pizza and got woozy after eating sugar for the rest of their lives, and  they got blamed if their bunion grew back worse than before in a few years? Or, imagine there was a surgery that actually did improve the health of fat people with absolutely no negative side effects, but didn’t lead to any weight loss – would they call that a success?

The fact that horrific lifelong side effects and possible death are considered to be perfectly reasonable outcomes of so-called weight loss surgery is an admission that healthcare professionals believe it’s completely ok to kill, or severely harm, fat people under the guise of “healthcare” as long as there is a chance we might end up thin.

And that’s not the only way that fatphobia plays into this. Notice how many of the things that are considered “pros” of the surgery would not be pros at all if we didn’t live in a fatphobic society. Is there any other surgery that doctors claim is about health, but sell using “more right swipes on Tinder” as a benefit? Have you ever heard a doctor try to talk a patient into surgery they don’t want by claiming that they’ll get more dates? It happened to one of my blog readers.  The problem is fatphobia and the solution is to end fatphobia, not to pressure fat people to risk their lives in an attempt to satisfy their bullies.

Far too often the medical centers and device manufacturers that profit handsomely from these procedures don’t give potential victims the complete picture – they trot out the few and far between “success” stories, downplay the risks, and somehow fail to mention the distinct possibility that you’ll die – or that the side effects will make you wish you were dead. They even lie about whether or not the surgery is reversible.

Christine had lap band surgery about 7 years ago. Her weight didn’t change but her health did, she says “I refer to my band as medically – induced bulimia.” She vomits every time she eats. She wants it removed, but the company that made it was sued and went out of business. Surgeons refuse to remove it because they claim that, since the vomiting is coming from the top of her pouch (and so doesn’t contain stomach acid,) it’s not a complication and thus doesn’t justify removal. She says “There was absolutely no problem whatsoever operating on a perfectly healthy fat person to make them smaller – but Oh hell no! we can’t fix the problem we created with our fat-biased, completely unnecessary procedure!!!”

Even worse – there are some doctors who are insisting the fat patients get this surgery before they will give them the same healthcare that a thin person would receive immediately. Thin people are not required to get a surgery that risks their lives and forces them to engage in behaviors that approximate an eating disorder just to get basic healthcare. Fat people shouldn’t either. (One of the most craven examples occurs when doctors refuse to give higher weight Trans people the gender confirmation surgeries they want, claiming it’s too dangerous at their weight, then suggest that those same people get…wait for it…stomach amputation surgery.  It’s disgusting.)

And as one of the comments in a Facebook thread about the original article said “Wow. I knew the risks with this surgery but it’s awfully sobering to read a giant thread of people who have died from it. So sad that as fat people it’s better for us to die skinny than live fat in this world”

You see, when you’re a fat person, you can’t trust doctors to see you as a human being worthy of care. We always have to remember that our doctor may be perfectly comfortable risking our life  in order to make us into a thin person who they would, only then, view as a person worthy of evidence-based non-lethal healthcare options. If we just want to get appropriate, evidence-based treatment (which is to say, the same treatment that a thin person would receive) in the body we have now, we have to do a ton of extra work, and even then it’s definitely not guaranteed.

People are allowed to do whatever they want with their bodies, including binding or amputating their stomachs. But nobody should be required to bind or amputate our stomachs just to be treated with basic human respect, or to get decent healthcare. And for those who have the surgery, whatever they are hoping to gain had better be worth dying for, because they very well might.

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!

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

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

Published in: on January 29, 2018 at 9:10 am  Comments (17)  

Your Justification For Fat Shaming donald Is Bullshit – Here’s Why

No Fat ShamingNot Even OnceNo Even donaldAfter donald’s recent physical and his physician’s questionable press conference, the internet exploded with all manner of fat shaming of donald, followed by people being called out for, and subsequently attempting to justify, their fat shaming. Y’all, I have seen some nonsense today.

Sadder still, a lot of it came from people who normally get it when it comes to fat activism.  If you’re wondering what constitutes a bullshit justification for fat shaming donald, I’m here to help:

It’s not fat shaming because he is a horror of a human being!

It’s totally fat shaming, even when you fat shame a horrible human being. If you argue that it’s ok to fat shame someone you don’t like, your fat friends and loved ones (and everyone who interacts with you, including co-workers) know what you really think of us – and what you’ll start saying about us if you don’t like what we do.

If you are saying something about donald that you wouldn’t want said about you, or about a fat loved one, you are fucking up. We all fuck up, but there’s no need to get defensive, try justify it, and make it into a permanent state. Admit your mistake, examine your own fatphobia (and remember that we fat people are not immune – we need to examine our internalized fatphobia,) and do better moving forward.

It’s not fat shaming because he (and his doctor) lied about his weight!

Online trolls speculate about the weight of fat people all the time. I know because it happens to me. Do you really want to engage in the same behavior as a reddit troll? You can’t say “it’s not about his weight” if you are talking about his weight. And you can’t call the doctor a liar unless you have proof, or you’re some kind of licensed weight psychic.

More to the point, if you’re angry because you believe that he/his doctor is lying about his weight, you are lending credence to the idea that his weight matters at all. It does not. It has literally nothing to do with anything. I actually saw a fat person claim that while they are fat, they can deal with some fat shaming if it helps bring him down.  Pro tip – he bragged about sexual assault and called nazis “some very fine people.” Claiming that he lied about his weight is not going to be the straw that broke the despot’s back. You’re not hurting donald – you’re just hurting other fat people.

We are talking about a “president” who is a proud racist, misogynist, xenophobe, sexual predator, and white supremacist who lies about nearly everything – including matters of national security. Who gives a shit about his weight or height? Or his doctor for that matter? I certainly wouldn’t put it past him to threaten/pay off/blackmail the doctor, I just think it’s the least of our problems. He’s got republican congresspeople, cabinet members, and the press secretary lying for him about things that affect many people’s  life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, his weight and height don’t affect anyone.

The good news is, by not talking about his weight we can avoid engaging in fat shaming, and stay focused on things that matter.

It’s not fat shaming because it’s about his health!

Not if you’re talking about weight it’s not. Weight and health are two separate things, neither is an obligation, barometer of worthiness, or entirely within our control. Also, this justification moves us from just fat shaming into fat shaming and healthism – not a good look. Again, let’s use our energy to point out the ways at which he is utterly failing and terrifyingly dangerous as “president,” getting him the hell out of the office he stole, and finding ways to negate the dangerous things he’s trying to do until then. Let’s not waste our time and energy talking about his weight and height. There are specific policies in place to deal with a President whose develops a health problem. There are not specific plans in place to deal with a “president” who might get us all killed with a tweet. Again, let’s keep our eyes on the ball (and off donald’s ass.)

It’s not fat shaming because he is a fat shamer himself!

I very seriously doubt that the path to liberation is paved with hypocrisy. Fat shaming is fat shaming no matter who the victim is. If you mention Donald’s weight as part of your criticism of him, you are engaging in fat shaming.

And make no mistake, when you engage in fat shaming, your victim is every single fat person. So don’t fat shame. Ever.

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

NEW!!! Wellness for All Bodies ProgramA simple, step-by-step, super efficient guide to setting and reaching your health goals from a weight neutral perspective.  This program can be used by individuals, or by groups, including as a workplace wellness program!

Over the course of eighteen self-paced, content-packed, quick videos you’ll get the tools you need to create healthy relationships with food, movement, and your body, and you’ll map out a path to health that makes sense for you, in an easily digestible format. Built-in tools allow you to track your progress and keep notes individually or as a group.
Price: $25.00 ($10 for DancesWithFat members)
Click here for all the details and to register!

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

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

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

Published in: on January 18, 2018 at 2:09 pm  Comments (14)  

Understanding and Dealing with Online Harassment

Haters Walk on Water“Fatties Gonna Fat.”

That’s the first message I ever received from an internet troll. I had two immediate thoughts: What does this even mean, and who has enough free time to send this kind of nonsense to strangers?

Now, over six years later, I’ve become an expert in online harassment the hard way. There are forums devoted specifically to hating me, and the largest has over 4,000 members. Websites exist with the sole purpose of ruining my reputation, and there are coordinated efforts to convince people to cancel bookings and abandon partnerships with me. Map routes from my home to the places I work out have been published online, along with my home address and telephone number. Trolls have shown up at events I attend, including at speaking engagements and triathlons. They’ve taken pictures and videos and harassed me, the event organizers, and other participants. Once they even tripped the fire alarm during a speaking gig.

It’s one thing to have to deal with the trolls who inevitably show up in every comment section and social media platform, but the stakes are raised even higher when you become personally targeted for harassment. Here is what I’ve learned about trolls and harassers, and how to deal with them.

Click here to read my full piece about this over at Better Humans!

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

NEW!!! Wellness for All Bodies ProgramA simple, step-by-step, super efficient guide to setting and reaching your health goals from a weight neutral perspective.  This program can be used by individuals, or by groups, including as a workplace wellness program!

Over the course of eighteen self-paced, content-packed, quick videos you’ll get the tools you need to create healthy relationships with food, movement, and your body, and you’ll map out a path to health that makes sense for you, in an easily digestible format. Built-in tools allow you to track your progress and keep notes individually or as a group.
Price: $25.00 ($10 for DancesWithFat members)
Click here for all the details and to register!

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

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

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

Published in: on January 17, 2018 at 6:27 am  Comments (5)  

Roxane Gay, Midwest Writer’s Workshop, and Breaking the Silence of Fatphobia

No Fat ShamingRoxane Gay recently outed the Midwest Writer’s Workshop board for committing blatant fatphobia against Sarah Hollowell:

Roxanne Gay

Image shows a series of tweets from Roxane Gay, @rgay, text as follows:

I am going to call out the Midwest Writers workshop for fatphobia.

Sarah Hollowell, who I met through MWW has worked with them for five years. She was voted to be on the organizational committee.

But then someone said “do we really want someone like her representing us?” That person elaborated “someone so fat. It’s disgusting.” Only two people in that room spoke up for Sarah

They committee decided to NOT bring Sarah on board. Because of her body. But because she is “so talented” they are willing to hire her for less public things.

This is unacceptable. And cruel. And cowardly, Midwest Writers Workshop. And you thought you could get away with it. You very nearly did.

I guess I too am too fat and disgusting for your workshop. Which is fine. But Sarah was a tireless worker on your behalf. She is intelligent, passionate, and brave. You would be LUCKY to have her.

You owe Sarah a public and genuine apology. And then those of you who objected to her fatness or were silent in the face of this fat phobia need to really take yourselves to task. It’s horrifying what you’ve done.

Also, Midwest Writers Workshop, never use my name as a past faculty member in your promotional materials, ever again. I’m too fat and disgusting to be associated with you.

First of all, it’s important to note that – once again, it’s a Black woman leading the way. There were plenty of people with much more privilege in that room who either committed the fatphobia, agreed with the fatphobia, or stayed silent. So thanks to Roxane Gay for taking this risk.

MWW issued an apology that seemed pretty suspicious to me even before I read Sarah’s own Tweets about it.

Sadly, this isn’t an isolated incident – fatphobia goes on in corporations, non-profits, and all types of organizations, way too often, and we cannot let it go unchecked. Here are some options for calling out fatphobia when you see it in a work environment. As always the people with the most privilege should be taking the lead, if you are a fat person dealing with fat phobia, know that it’s reasonable to decide to take care of yourself first, and to not confront this.  Here are options for these situations:

Say Something Right Away

If you can address fatphobia without causing the victim(s) more damage, do it in the moment. If you want to be really direct you could say something like: “Are we a company that discriminates based on size? If so I think we should make that public so that people are aware.” Or you can say “I’m not comfortable with weight-based bigotry, can we please focus on the candidates actual qualifications?” One way to call out fatphobia without being as accusatory is to do it in Jeopardy style – in the form of a question: “Does anybody know if our state/city/company has a non-discrimination policy that includes weight-based discrimination – I think we may be violating the law/company policy.” If someone pipes up that there’s no law, you can ask if size discrimination is company policy. If confronting fatphobia in the moment will harm fat people who are in the room, then have these conversations as soon as you can after the fact. You know your organization best, so choose what will work best.

Move it up the Chain

Contact HR, talk to folks higher up to find other allies (notice who in the room is also speaks up, who looks uncomfortable, who doesn’t say anything.) Don’t assume that fat people will get on board – they shouldn’t have to take on the additional burden of dealing with fatphobia, and they may well be affected by internalized fatphobia. If your company doesn’t have a policy against size discrimination, look into what it would take to create one. Keep pushing.

Take it to the Tweets

Consider going public with it (with the permission of the victim, if there is a specific one.) Visibility is the first step to change.

When it comes to fatphobia, as with so much other bigotry, sunlight is the best disinfectant, so before we can end fatphobia, we have to drag it – and those who perpetuate it, out into the open.

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

NEW!!! Wellness for All Bodies ProgramA simple, step-by-step, super efficient guide to setting and reaching your health goals from a weight neutral perspective.  This program can be used by individuals, or by groups, including as a workplace wellness program!

Over the course of eighteen self-paced, content-packed, quick videos you’ll get the tools you need to create healthy relationships with food, movement, and your body, and you’ll map out a path to health that makes sense for you, in an easily digestible format. Built-in tools allow you to track your progress and keep notes individually or as a group.
Price: $25.00 ($10 for DancesWithFat members)
Click here for all the details and to register!

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

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

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

Published in: on January 15, 2018 at 7:57 am  Comments (7)  

Fatphobia At The Spa

A number of blog readers let me know about an incident at a nail salon where they hung a sign saying “Sorry, but if you are overweight, pedicures will be $45 due to service fees for pedicurists. Thank you!”

I’m not sure if I’m more insulted about “Sorry” (are you, really?) or “Thank you!” (Um, you’re welcome? You sizeist ass). I blogged about this specific incident here, but it’s part of a much larger issue of fatphobia that affects fat people’s every day lives. A “fat tax” is an additional fee that is charged to fat patrons by services like pedicurists, spas, even massage therapists. Sometimes it even goes beyond a tax to complete exclusion. I asked some fat folks to share their stories.

One of the most common forms of exclusion is to simply create an environment that doesn’t accommodate fat people.

MH faced this as a massage therapist: “When I was a new massage therapist, I worked at a spa that did not have tables large enough to accommodate people of all sizes. It was really frustrating for me as well as my clients. When I was able to outfit my own studio, I splurged on the largest/highest weight capacity portable table on the market. It was expensive but worth the relief on my clients’ faces.”

LSK faced this issue from the client side of the table: “I’ve had a few massages here and there and feel like I’m going to fall off of the table because there wasn’t enough room for my arms. I could never relax into the experience because one arm or the other would pop off of the table and I would be laying there embarrassed as all hell and wondering what to do with my arms. Don’t get me started on the teeny-tiny robes!”

And robes aren’t the only thing that people had trouble fitting into; MK was one of many folks who faced this issue at the salon. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve not fit into chairs when I go to get my hair done. They almost never had capes to fit me. Last year I went to go get waxed and they expected me to jump on to a table that looked so flimsy I actually laughed out loud while shaking my head.”

AC has had some luck with insisting on what she needs: “I go to Spas as often as I can, and always ask for a robe that will fit me (as I am unapologetically fat). It sometimes takes them a REALLY long time to dig one up. The places where they give you a little scrubs like outfit to wear (mostly Korean style spas) often have to give me the mens one, which is awkward when you are a cis-female trying to use the single sex areas of the spa. The best service I ever had was at the Madonna Inn. They asked my size before I arrived, did not balk at my 3X/24, and had a robe that fit me in the locker for me upon arrival. Really appreciated that.”

Asking for accommodation is definitely an option – but taking your time and energy to remind a place that serves people that people of all sizes exist can be difficult, stressful, and the exact opposite of the relaxing experience that someone might be looking for when they head to the spa.

The responsibility shouldn’t fall on a fat person who is just trying to get the exact same experience other people are already given.

Read the rest of this piece here!

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

NEW!!! Wellness for All Bodies ProgramA simple, step-by-step, super efficient guide to setting and reaching your health goals from a weight neutral perspective.  This program can be used by individuals, or by groups, including as a workplace wellness program!

Over the course of eighteen self-paced, content-packed, quick videos you’ll get the tools you need to create healthy relationships with food, movement, and your body, and you’ll map out a path to health that makes sense for you, in an easily digestible format. Built-in tools allow you to track your progress and keep notes individually or as a group.
Price: $25.00 ($10 for DancesWithFat members)
Click here for all the details and to register!

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

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

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

Published in: on January 12, 2018 at 11:36 am  Comments (9)  

Dealing With Diet Season

A Big Bag Full of Nope (1)It’s New Years – part of the Diet Industry Axis of Evil (which also includes “bikini season” and “the holidays are coming.”) That means that you can’t open your eyes without being assaulted by diet industry propaganda, and your Facebook feed will be chock full of people (who you likely thought knew better) starting (yet another) diet. Ugh.

Let’s start with the onslaught of propaganda. Unfortunately, people who are still duped by diet culture give the diet industry over $60 Billion a year (I don’t know about you, but I definitely used to be one of them!), and the diet industry isn’t shy or stingy about using that money to advertise. Add to that all of the gyms, health and wellness coaches, and anyone in any industry that is willing to jump on the weight loss bandwagon and we are all being bombarded with misinformation and false promises and all kinds of weight loss BS all the damn time.

This sucks for everyone who has managed to get off the diet roller coaster, and can be especially difficult for those who are new non-dieters. My best tip for dealing with this is to create a little saying that you use each time you come across something like this. Mine is “Hey, that’s bullshit!” but other people use sayings like “Nope!Nope!Nope!” or “Not this time, assholes.” Pick something that works for you and start to consciously respond to any and all diet/weightloss/fatshaming that you see, hear, or read with your new phrase. Soon enough, it will start to happen automatically and the messages will have less and less effect on you (except maybe to frustrate you.)

When it comes to our friends who are on diets, it can be particularly difficult. We know that any attempt at becoming thinner buys into and perpetuates a harmful fatphobic paradigm – and it’s perfectly reasonable to be angry about that, even while acknowledging that people are allowed to diet if they want to.

We also know that there is an almost certain chance that, even if they lose weight short term, they’ll gain it all back; with a better than average chance that they’ll gain back more than they lost. But in the meantime we may be subjected to any number of conversations, Facebook updates, tweets etc. and they’ll likely expect us to support them in their attempt to manipulate their body size based on their belief that a smaller body is somehow better.

First of all, each of us gets to decide how we want to handle this with each of our friends. That said, I want to remind you that we are under no obligation to support this behavior. As a queer woman, I would acknowledge that a queer friend is allowed to attempt reparative therapy, but I would not support it. As a fat woman I feel the same about a friend who is dieting.

Because I don’t tolerate people giving me their opinions about my health choices or body size unless I ask, I don’t give friends my opinion about their choices unless they ask. But I also draw the line at hearing/reading/talking about it. How I deal with it depends on the friend. Anyone on my FB who mentions dieting/weight loss gets unfollowed or blocked, anyone who tries to talk about their diet with me gets cut off.  If I want to try to maintain a friendship, I’ll explain that they can do whatever they want with their body, but that I don’t participate in conversations that perpetuate fatphobia and engage in diet or weight loss talk. If they decide that they can’t be my friend under those rules then that’s fine.

Regardless of how you deal with this, I definitely suggest that you remain neutral about their weight loss. All of the compliments that they are getting now are going to really sting when they gain their weight back, so reminding them that you think that they are amazing at any size will be comforting later, and will keep you from perpetuating fatphobia. (I’ve got some tips for dealing with this situation here.)

Whatever you do, hold on to your hard-won victories over the diet industry, and remember that this season too shall pass,

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

NEW!!! Wellness for All Bodies ProgramA simple, step-by-step, super efficient guide to setting and reaching your health goals from a weight neutral perspective.  This program can be used by individuals, or by groups, including as a workplace wellness program!

Over the course of eighteen self-paced, content-packed, quick videos you’ll get the tools you need to create healthy relationships with food, movement, and your body, and you’ll map out a path to health that makes sense for you, in an easily digestible format. Built-in tools allow you to track your progress and keep notes individually or as a group.
Price: $25.00 ($10 for DancesWithFat members)
Click here for all the details and to register!

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

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

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

Published in: on January 5, 2018 at 8:05 am  Comments (15)  

Non-Diet New Year’s Resolutions

No Diet t-shirt (2)Earlier this year I wrote a piece about failed New Year’s Resolutions. Now, another Resolution season is almost upon us, and I find myself reflecting on one of the most commonly failed New Year’s Resolutions — weight loss. Even for those who manage to lose weight, almost everyone will gain it all back, with the majority gaining back more than they lost.

Trying to make major life changes at the end of a holiday season that can leave us broke and physically and mentally exhausted is difficult enough and sets us up for failure.

But what’s the alternative?

Every year people make the life-changing, life-affirming decision to stop waging a losing war with their bodies and get off the diet roller coaster. However, when it’s time to make their resolutions, they often get stuck with a pretty basic question — if not weight loss, then what?

The good news is when we decide to stop spending our time, money, and energy trying to manipulate our body size, a whole world of possibilities opens up.

Instead of just another destined-to-fail New Year’s Resolution, we have the chance to create a New Year’s Revolution.

Here are some ideas to kick of the New Year by ditching dieting and creating a revolution in your own life, and ideas for resolutions that will take the revolution to the streets.

Let’s start with the personal.

One of the best places to start your revolution is to resolve to stop participating in negative body talk, starting with your mouth. When you have a negative thought or utterance, replace it with something (anything!) positive.

Decide to start and end every day by appreciating your body. Maybe put a note on your bathroom mirror or the ceiling above your bed that reminds you to bookend your day thinking or saying something like, “You’re a great body and I appreciate you” or “Thanks for everything you did for me today!”

While you’ve become wise to the ways of the diet industry, they are still out there duping people. And they’re good at it — to the tune of over $60 billion a year. They use plenty of that money to pummel us with a ceaseless barrage of marketing.

To avoid being tempted back into the weight loss equivalent of three-card Monty, you can resolve to create a quick phrase and say it to yourself (or out loud if you want to) every time you hear a message meant to make you feel bad about yourself or sell you a diet. My mantra is “Hey, that’s bullshit!” I have heard from other people who use phrases like “Never again, diet scum” and “Nope! Nope! Nope!” It can be anything that helps remind you to appreciate and support your body in a way that dieting won’t allow.

If you are choosing goals that support your health, first remember that health is not a barometer of worthiness entirely within our control or guaranteed under any circumstance. So, focus on setting goals around behaviors you can control rather than outcomes you can’t.

While you’re at it, consider making them additive (start getting body work, drink an extra glass of water, eat a serving of vegetables, or get an extra hour of sleep at night) rather than restrictive (like saying that you’ll never do/eat/be [whatever] again). If you’re looking for support in weight neutral discussions of fitness, check out Fit Fatties.

Now let’s talk about resolutions that create a greater revolution.

You can read the rest of this piece here!

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

NEW!!! Wellness for All Bodies ProgramA simple, step-by-step, super efficient guide to setting and reaching your health goals from a weight neutral perspective.  This program can be used by individuals, or by groups, including as a workplace wellness program!

Over the course of eighteen self-paced, content-packed, quick videos you’ll get the tools you need to create healthy relationships with food, movement, and your body, and you’ll map out a path to health that makes sense for you, in an easily digestible format. Built-in tools allow you to track your progress and keep notes individually or as a group.
Price: $25.00 ($10 for DancesWithFat members)
Click here for all the details and to register!

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

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

 

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

 

 

 

https://ravishly.com/new-years-resolutions-create-revolution

Published in: on January 1, 2018 at 8:32 am  Comments (2)  

The Worst Holiday Diet Tips

Guilt Free EatingThe “holiday season” means being bombarded with ridiculous diet advice (“The Holidays are Coming” being one third of the Dieting Axis of Evil along with “New Years Resolutions” and “Bikini Season is Coming”.)  Since you’re likely to have to deal with this whether you celebrate the holidays or not, in another DancesWithFat annual tradition I’ve compiled a list of so-called holiday diet tips from actual serious online articles, with thoughts on why we might be better off skipping each of them:

10 Diet Tips You’ve Never Heard Before!

You’ve totally heard these tips before. They didn’t work then, they don’t work now, they will never work.

Start Our Program Now and Get a Head Start on Your New Years Resolution

If you start earlier, you can fail at weight loss sooner while giving the diet industry (who are fully aware of the massive failure rate of their product) a boost on their fourth quarter earnings.  Or, you know, not.

Eat a Big Bowl of Fiber Cereal and Drink Lots of Water Before A Party to Avoid Snacking.

Spend the party in the bathroom with your friends awkwardly knocking and asking if you’re ok while you miss out on delicious snacks.

Buy Your Party Dress a Month Early and a Size Too Small for Inspiration to Lose that Last 10 Pounds

Frantically search through your closet on party day for something, anything, that fits and is party appropriate, end up going to the party uncomfortable in a dress that’s too small.

Save Your Calories For the Party by Eating Very Little During the Day

Show up at the party absolutely ravenous, bribe a cater waiter to get your hands on an entire tray of shrimp puffs, scarf them in the bathroom.

Make low-calorie egg nog with skim milk, egg substitutes, and artificial sweeteners.

Oh…I just…I can’t even…Just…  Ok, by the underpants rule you can totally make this beverage if you want and I will support you in drinking it – whether it just sounds good to you or it works or food allergies/sensitivities, whatever – as long as you support me in not drinking it.  Ever.

Only Eat Desserts that Are Truly a Sensual Experience for You

This author has a different relationship with food than I do…  I’m looking for desserts that taste good, not desserts that turn me on. I would change this to “only eat desserts that you want to, and that aren’t expired or poisonous.”

Don’t Taste The Food While You Cook – Those Calories Add Up

Serve your guests delicious-looking appetizers that taste like a salt lick, or like nothing at all, who knows?  If only there was a way to tell how the food tastes before we give it to other people…  The person who wrote this article obviously never watched Hell’s Kitchen or Chopped.

Choose Foods that Won’t Make You Feel Guilty the Next Day

Here’s the super secret trick to guilt-free eating:  Eat. Don’t feel guilty about it. Done.

Bring Fruits and Veggies to Parties and Work and Remind People About Their Weight Goals, They’ll Thank You!

They will not thank you.  They may, in fact, throat punch you. There’s nothing wrong with bringing fruits and veggies to the party, there may well be something wrong with being what we Southerners call a “superior sumbitch,” you may be able to avoid that by skipping the second part of this advice.  Instead consider “Bring fruits and veggies to parties and work and then shut up about it – find something more interesting to talk about than weight goals.”

Enjoy Fat Free Mock Versions of Your Favorite Holiday Foods, You’ll Never Miss the Full Fat Variety

I doubt that very much, and I do not think that the words “mock” and “food” should be put together, but of course that’s just me.

Divide Foods into Naughty and Nice

Use the holidays to ease yourself into a disordered relationship with food.

Don’t Read Articles About Holiday Diet Tips

You caught me, this one didn’t come from an article, it’s my advice – take it or leave it.

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

NEW!!! Wellness for All Bodies ProgramA simple, step-by-step, super efficient guide to setting and reaching your health goals from a weight neutral perspective.  This program can be used by individuals, or by groups, including as a workplace wellness program!

Over the course of eighteen self-paced, content-packed, quick videos you’ll get the tools you need to create healthy relationships with food, movement, and your body, and you’ll map out a path to health that makes sense for you, in an easily digestible format. Built-in tools allow you to track your progress and keep notes individually or as a group.
Price: $25.00 ($10 for DancesWithFat members)
Click here for all the details and to register!

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

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

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

Published in: on December 21, 2017 at 9:16 am  Comments (27)