Say Something Sunday – “You Put Yourself Out There” Edition

Say Something SundayIt’s “Say Something Sunday,” a day dedicated, at least on this blog, to personal Size Diversity activism. I’ve got some suggestions below and/or of course you can do your own thing and feel free to leave a comment about it.  If you have ideas of things to do for Say Something Sunday I’d also love for you to share those.

I did the math and if everyone who views the blog each week did one piece of Size Diversity Activism a week, it would add up to over 1.5 million body positive messages put out into the world this year.  Multiply that times the number of people who might see each of those messages and things start to increase exponentially. To be very clear, nobody is obligated to do activism so if this doesn’t appeal to you that’s totally cool, I’ll be back tomorrow with your regularly scheduled blog post!

Today’s theme is “You put yourself out there…” Here’s how it goes; someone – and often a woman – is in the public eye as   an actress, or a blogger/activist, r to give a talk about gardening to her homeowner’s association, or by leaving her house and existing in public,in any way. Some people consider this an open invitation for to comment on her appearance, compare her to a cultural stereotype of beauty that she has absolutely no obligation to care about or try to emulate.

They believe that unless she has somehow managed to look like a photoshopped image of herself – devoid of pimples, cellulite, and pores –  then her body is still a work in progress and people are free to be part of that “progress” by way of unsolicited advice and appearance-based online bullying.  When people point out that this is crappy behavior that values women for their appearance first and their achievement a distant second, these people justify it with “Well she put herself out there!”

I lost a friend of almost a decade because she kept insisting that it was totally fine to post “people of Walmart” photos because those people put themselves out there for criticism.  Funny, I thought they were just trying to go shopping, and other people’s clothing choices do not obligate us to turn our online spaces into cruel junior high locker rooms where we put up pictures of people taken without their consent for ridicule. After a number of discussions, I told her that she just wasn’t someone who I wanted to be friends with and that was that – this one’s a deal killer for me.

So this is something that we can speak out about.  When people say this, we can point out that it’s a crappy justification for crappy behavior.  We can remind them that this contributes to a world where women’s achievements are ignored and it it’s place there is a lively discussion of our judgments of what they are wearing, or how much they weigh, and that’s not cool.  We can remind them that it is never necessary to comment negatively on someone else’s appearance. And we can focus our own comments on the achievements of people, or the points that they are making (whether we agree or disagree) rather than on how they look.

If you want to do more of this kind of thing, consider joining the Rolls Not Trolls group on Facebook, it’s a group created for the specific purpose of putting body positive things in body negative spaces on the internet and supporting each other while we do that.  It’s a secret group so if you want to join just message me on facebook (I’m Ragen Chastain on FB – I know, super creative!)

Have a great Say Something Sunday!

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

Buy the book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

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

Dance Classes:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details 

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

A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development (casting, finding investors etc.).  Follow the progress on Facebook!

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

Published in: on April 26, 2015 at 8:48 am  Leave a Comment  

What the Hell is Going on at Protein World?

Supplement company Protein World recently put this ad into wide circulation.

Embedded image permalink

Oh good, another advertisement meant to terrify women into believing that our bodies aren’t good enough to be seen in public without buying a bunch of products.  Another message to teen girls that the only good body is a photoshopped body. Another company trying to steal our self-esteem, cheapen it, and sell it back to us at a profit.

Looking at Protein World’s online presense, at least the ad is in keeping with their tendency to show women as objects (their most common social media picture is a woman’s ass – no head necessary because who cares about what’s in a woman’s head amirite!  .

People started to write over the ads and create responses  in glorious fashion, as well as calling Protein World out on social media.  And then PW responded in a way that makes me think that they want to be the official supplement company of Reddit and 4chan:

In response to the backlash, Protein World stated that critics of the advert had "insecurities".

When Burton continued tweeting the company, it replied with the following message.

Note the common technique here – start by suggesting that women should have to look a certain way to deserve to exist in the world, trying to create insecurity as a sales tactic.  When called on it, try to act like it’s about “health.”  (We’re not oppressing you ladies, we’re making you feel like shit so you buy our product in the hopes that you can manipulate your body so that we’ll approve of the way you look…ya know, for your health.  CAN’T YOU SEE IT’S FOR YOUR OWN GOOD!!!!)

Like their supplements, I’m not buying this for a second.

And then this from the company CEO:

In a now deleted tweet, the CEO of Protein World, Arjun Seth, answered one critic with this.

Keep it classy there Arjun.  PW continues to double down on social media, being proud of the fact that they won’t back down from hardcore stance of trying to create and prey on female insecurity to sell pills and shakes. People who think that they deserve better continue to fight back:

There is a petition with over 35K signatures at https://www.change.org/p/proteinworld-arjun-seth-remove-are-you-beach-body-ready-advertisements/u/10605866 

You can find them on Twitter:  https://twitter.com/ProteinWorld

You can find them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/proteinworldnutrition

You can also always buy your supplements elsewhere, and you can remember:

Picture courtesy of the fabulous Jodee Rose http://jodee.deviantart.com

Picture courtesy of the fabulous Jodee Rose http://jodee.deviantart.com

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

Buy the book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

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

Dance Classes:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details 

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

A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development (casting, finding investors etc.).  Follow the progress on Facebook!

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

Published in: on April 25, 2015 at 5:03 am  Comments (13)  

That Ridiculous “Outrunning Obesity” Article

bad scienceAn article in Mashable today called “You Can’t Outrun Obesity” begins:

A team of British cardiologists have said it’s time to “bust the myth” that regular exercise tackles obesity.

The strongly-worded editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, published in the May edition of the journal, says you can’t outrun a bad diet and that although regular exercise reduces the risk of developing a number of health issues such as heart disease, dementia, some cancers and type 2 diabetes, it doesn’t promote weight loss.

I hate when they say “tackle” obesity – like people should be running at me in the street or something. But that’s not what’s super messed up here  What’s super messed up is that these doctors are aware that movement reduces the risk of developing heart disease, dementia, some cancers, and type 2 diabetes (the exact reasons that we’re given for losing weight,) and instead of saying “Hey, this seems like more evidence to suggest that maybe we should be more focused on evidence-based health interventions and less focused on manipulating people’s body size,” they are trying to downplay the actual health benefits because the evidence-based health intervention that they’ve found doesn’t make people’s bodies smaller.

They go on to suggest that a low carb diet is best, citing an article that isn’t even primarily about weight loss, that notes that health benefits can be seen without weight loss, that spends most of its conclusion section trying to justifying why we should accept shitty studies as good enough, and relies for its proof of low carb diets as “the best for weight loss ” on two studies, neither of which had weight loss as a primary outcome measure, one of which looked at 26 people over three months, and another that looked at 82 people over three months. Whoooeee that’s some good sciencing!  (Sarcasm meter 10 out of 10)

The problem here is that we’ve become so obsessed with trying to get everyone into the same height weight ratio that we’ve taken our eye off the ball of giving people options and information that will support their actual health.

Most studies about weight and health don’t take behavior into account, which is weird because those that do take behavior into account find that behaviors, and not body size, are the best predictor of future health.  To be clear, health is complicated, multi-dimensional, not entirely within our control, not guaranteed under any circumstances, not an obligation or a barometer of worthiness.

But if scientists were going to be honest with us they would say “Even if making people thin would make them healthy (and that’s an unproven hypothesis,) we have absolutely no idea how to make more than a tiny fraction of people thinner long-term and most of those people are losing very small amounts of weight.  We have no idea how to make fat people thin, and many of the things that we are trying have horrible side effects, including death.  We do know that stigma and oppression can be dangerous for people’s health, and that behaviors can positively impact health without impacting weight at all.  So we recommend making sure people have access to the information, food, and movement options (if any) that they would choose, and that we do everything we can to avoid shaming, stigmatizing, or oppressing people, and then let people make their own choices about how to prioritize their health and the path that they want to choose to get there.”

Instead, we live in a world where scientists who get grants from the Atkins Foundation [for low-carb dieting] write papers trying to sell people on the benefits of the diets that they are payed to endorse (check the small print in the footnote on page 1) and irresponsible, scientifically illiterate media that report them as if they are the gospel-according-to-weightloss truth.  And it’s always the people who are paying the diet companies – and not the scientists being paid by them  – who suffer for it.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

Buy the book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

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

Dance Classes:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details 

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

A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development (casting, finding investors etc.).  Follow the progress on Facebook!

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

Published in: on April 24, 2015 at 12:10 pm  Comments (17)  

Things You Don’t Owe Anybody

What a Load of CrapWhen it comes to a lot of areas of our lives we get to choose what we do and why, and who – if anyone – we do it for.  Sometimes people get confused and think that we owe them behaviors, states of being, or explanations.  Let’s just clear some of this up:

Pretty – Nobody owes anybody else attractive by any standard.  People who get upset that there are others walking around who are not aesthetically pleasing to them have an over-exaggerated sense of self importance.  Don’t like what you see?  Too lazy to expand your skills for perceiving beauty?  Then feel free to follow the advice of the band Chicago and look away, baby, look away.

Health – Nobody owes anybody else health or healthy habits by any definition. Each person gets to decide how to prioritize their health, and the path they choose to meet their goals.  That’s why people are allowed to be professional bullriders and X games athletes, and NFL Players. The suggestion that fat people have some obligation over and above what everyone else has (which is none) is thinly veiled bigotry and nothing more.  I think that public health should be focused on making as many options as possible available to as many people as possible (including eliminating issues of access and oppression that cause people’s choices and options to be limited) rather than trying to make the individual’s choices and health the public’s business.

Sexiness – One of the more ridiculous types of hate mail that I receive are e-mails letting me know that the sender would never have sex with me.  These are always phrased in a way that suggests they are under the impression that I care.  I don’t understand why they would think that – that’s the kind of thing that they can really keep to themselves.  Regardless it’s not our job to comport ourselves in such a way that other people will want to have sex with us (unless you want to, then comport away!)

Food Rationale –  Food talk is a cultural phenomenon that I could very much live without.  I would be perfectly happy if I went the rest of my life without hearing “I want a muffin but I can’t because I’m being good” or “I’m going to have to do 3 hours on the treadmill to make up for eating these grapes” or whatever “Will Perform For Food” thing society wants from us.  Sometimes I try to imagine if we made all of our personal decisions out loud “Hmmm, I kind of have to pee, but not that badly so maybe I’ll finish this blog, or maybe I should go now and finish it with full concentration….” Who cares? Regardless, we don’t owe anybody an explanation of what we eat or don’t eat ever.

Apology/Explanation for Our Size –  I see lots of people, even those in the Body Positive movement who say things like “sure I have some extra pounds” or “I don’t go to the gym enough” or “If I’m honest, I could work harder at being healthy”  of course people are allowed to say whatever they want, but we can also explore the joy of not apologizing!

I’m sure there are plenty more but that’s a start, remember that not only do you not owe these things to anyone in any specific situation, you have every right to reject the entire premise and suggest that people drink a big steaming mug of None of Your Damn Business.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

Buy the book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

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

Dance Classes:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details 

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

A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development (casting, finding investors etc.).  Follow the progress on Facebook!

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

Published in: on April 23, 2015 at 10:48 am  Comments (24)  

Jamelia Shows Us that Pop Stars Can Be Bigots Too

You Forgot Your BullshitToday on the UK show Loose Women, singer/songwriter Jamelia suggested that women who are too fat or too thin should not have the same access to clothing that other women do:

I do not think it’s right to facilitate people living an unhealthy lifestyle. In the same way [that] I don’t believe that a size zero should be available, it’s not a healthy size for an average woman to be.

I don’t believe they [high street stores] should be providing clothes for below that range or above that range. Yes, have specialist shops but you should feel uncomfortable if you are unhealthy … to be available in every high street store, I don’t think that’s right.

So Jamelia has proven (once again) that becoming a celebrity doesn’t stop you from being a massive bigot. And make no mistake, this is bigotry.  Saying “that person shouldn’t have what I have because they look different than me” is bigotry, pure and simple however one tries to justify it. Even if we buy into her idea that we can tell someone is unhealthy based on their size, saying “those people shouldn’t have the same access I have because they are less healthy than I am” is still bigotry (healthism FTW!).  After people attempted to educate her, she went on Good Morning Britain to whine about how “absolutely awful” it was for her that people didn’t respond positively to her blatant bigotry, and then gave possibly the worst apology of all time:

Knowing that I made people question themselves and their choices, it really did upset me. All I can do is apologise for that.

Thanks for apologizing, I’m glad you learned… oh wait, there’s more:

“I didn’t make it clear on the show that I was talking about extremes, I was talking about above size 20 and below size six, those sizes being available en masse, I do stand by what I said. I’m a real woman with real opinions. I get paid to voice my opinions.”

Getting on TV and saying “I don’t like stripes with polka dots” is voicing an opinion. Getting on TV and saying “People who are a different size than me shouldn’t have the same access to clothes that I do” or, as she has clarified “If I don’t think that people are healthy based on how they look, they shouldn’t have the same access to clothes that I do” is an abuse of power and privilege specifically and purposefully intended to create oppression. I think that if she is that excited to use her platform to oppress women (in this case women above size twenty and below size six, but who knows what group she’ll want to oppress tomorrow), maybe people and television shows shouldn’t be so excited to pay her for her opinions.

For those Constitutional Scholars about to yell about “free speech”  free speech is not the same thing as consequence free speech.  Even if we are talking about the way it works in the US,  the first amendment says “Congress shall make no laws…abridging the freedom of speech” it does not say people aren’t allowed to speak out against your bigoted bullshit, nor does it say that television shows are obligated to give you forum to spread your bigoted views.

She rounded things out with this:

I genuinely love people and believe everyone has the right to feel wonderful and feel beautiful and it was never my intention to make people feel any less than what they are.

Riiiiight. Let me rephrase this: “I love people, I just think that they should have difficulty clothing themselves, feeling uncomfortable and ashamed until they reach a size that is neither too thin nor too fat for my liking because, having a dramatically over-exaggerated sense of self-importance I, Jamelia,  think that I should be the judge of what size other women are allowed to be if they want clothes.” As a woman above a size 20 (and thus on the official Jamelia “NO CLOTHES FOR YOU!” list) suffice it to say that I’m not feeling the love.

Obviously, being unable to easily access clothing is not even remotely correlated with people becoming healthier, or being between a size 6 and a size 20 (I’m not sure if her range is inclusive of sizes 6 and 20 or if they are on the NCFY list as well?  Maybe I should ask her to clarify?) Horrifyingly, the original discussion was about the health of teen girls – the group most susceptible to eating disorders, so way to go there Jamelia. Perhaps more horrifyingly, Jamelia is a parent herself. Yikes.

Do you want to do something about this?  Great, because this is some bullshit and people need to know that we won’t stand idly by while they trumpet size bigotry as if it’s public health policy. Here are some options for action:

You can tweet her @jamelia

You can post on her facebook page (where she is trying very hard to re-write history, which is going to be tough since those opinions she’s paid to voice are voiced on camera).

You can tweet the show @loosewomen

You can contact the show at viewerservices@itv.com

You can let other people know what’s going on and encourage them to take action!

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

Buy the book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

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

Dance Classes:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details 

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

A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development (casting, finding investors etc.).  Follow the progress on Facebook!

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

Published in: on April 22, 2015 at 11:42 am  Comments (21)  

Back Off My Big Fat Body

Photo by Richard Sabel.

Photo by Richard Sabel.

Everyday I hear messages from society about my fat body. I’m told that it’s a sign of moral failing, laziness, it’s a shortcoming, it’s unattractive, blah blah blah –  the negative messages are incessant and ubiquitous.

I spent a lot of my life so intent on hating my body for not meeting the cultural stereotype of beauty that I never once appreciated it for what it did.  Instead of defending the amazing body that helps me do every single thing that I do every moment of every day, I joined in the chorus of disapproval that suggested that I should hate my body and do ridiculous things to my fat. I sold my own body out to buy into an arbitrary social stereotype of beauty, and a modicum of begrudging approval that was contingent upon my keeping myself down so that my detractors didn’t have to bother doing it themselves.

If I’ve learned anything on my journey away from self-hatred, disordered eating, and compulsive exercise, it’s that my body deserves nothing less than my unconditional love and full-throated support. So to all of those who would suggest that my body is anything other than magnificent, or that I should  I say this:

My fat body is far too valuable to be treated like a car whose worth is lowered because of some wear and tear.  It’s far too astounding to be a metaphor or a political statement.  It’s far too complicated to run on the same formula used to fuel a lawn mower. It is far too profound to be reduced to a ratio of weight and height.  And it is far too amazing to be judged by anyone.

My fat body is not a representation of my failures, sins, or mistakes. My fat body is not an indication of my level of health or fitness, neither of which is any of your business anyway. My fat body is not up for public discussion, debate or judgment. My fat body is not a signal that I need help or input to make decisions about my health or life.  My fat body is the constant companion that helps me do every single thing that I do every second of every day and it deserves respect and admiration.

If you are incapable of appreciating my body and treating it with respect and admiration that is your deficiency not mine; work on it or not, but I do not care. Nor am I interested in hearing your thoughts on the matter so, if you want to be around me, you are 100% responsible for doing whatever it takes to keep those thoughts to yourself. If you are incapable of doing that I will stop spending time with you – I spend my time with people who can treat me appropriately.

I will wield my beautiful fat body like a weapon.  I will love it, I will care for it, I will move it, I will show it in public, I will viciously defend my body against anyone who seeks to classify it as anything but amazing. You’ve been warned – back off.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

Buy the book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

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

Dance Classes:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details 

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

A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development (casting, finding investors etc.).  Follow the progress on Facebook!

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

Published in: on April 21, 2015 at 11:45 am  Comments (9)  

Congress Trying to Suspend Civil Rights Protections at the Workplace

DefendReader Ali let me know about some dangerous legislation that is on the table right now that would nullify important worker protections on the basis of genetics and disability of workers and their families.

As I’ve discussed before on this blog, the Affordable Care Act (which, full disclosure, gave me the opportunity to have insurance by insisting that insurance companies stop denying me coverage based on my BMI) also had some problematic things, including Workplace “Wellness” Program provisions that allow workplaces to penalize workers for not submitting to invasive blood tests and mental health questions and/or not participating in “wellness” programs regardless of whether or not there was proof of efficacy.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a series of lawsuits claiming that these screenings and their associated penalties are in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA)

Enter Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and co-sponsors including Orrin Hatch of “dazzling display of hypocrisy” fame.  These wellness programs are supported by companies that give Lamar money (like Blue Cross Blue Shield for example, one of his second largest contributors and the insurer involved in the EEOC lawsuit.)  Now, Lamar can’t argue that these wellness programs aren’t in violation of the ADA and GINA, so he doesn’t try. Instead, he’s filed legislation to essentially stop these Acts from applying to workplaces. Because when civil rights protections may not be the best for corporate bottom lines, then the obvious solution is to suspend civil rights protections.  Or wait, no… it should be the opposite of that, right?  RIGHT?

His Senate Bill 620 is called the “Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act. ”  Apparently “Preserving Employee Bottom Lines Over the Civil Rights of Employees Act” just didn’t have the same ring to it. Basically, he is seeking to (retroactively) exempt workplace “wellness” programs from the protections of the ADA and GINA and thus stop the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission from being able to enforce these provision and protect workers civil rights.

So why is this a problem?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These protections were put in place on purpose, to avoid exactly the kind of discrimination that Senator Alexander and his buddies are trying to help businesses engage with this legislation.

So what can you do?

Ali’s created a petition that you can sign. (And thanks to Ali for her help with the research for this piece!)

You can also always write your congress people.

You can tell other people what is happening and encourage them to take action.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

Buy the book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

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

Dance Classes:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details 

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

A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development (casting, finding investors etc.).  Follow the progress on Facebook!

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

Published in: on April 20, 2015 at 9:59 am  Comments (13)  

Say Something Sunday – Politics Edition

Say Something SundayIt’s “Say Something Sunday,” a day dedicated, at least on this blog, to personal Size Diversity activism. I’ve got some suggestions below and/or of course you can do your own thing and feel free to leave a comment about it.  If you have ideas of things to do for Say Something Sunday I’d also love for you to share those.

I did the math and if everyone who views the blog each week did one piece of Size Diversity Activism a week, it would add up to over 1.5 million body positive messages put out into the world this year.  Multiply that times the number of people who might see each of those messages and things start to increase exponentially. To be very clear, nobody is obligated to do activism so if this doesn’t appeal to you that’s totally cool, I’ll be back tomorrow with your regularly scheduled blog post!

The theme this week is politics.  As various politicians are announcing their bid for the Presidency here in the US, Facebook memes are being created and discussions are being had.  Unfortunately, a number of these memes and discussions attack candidates for the way they look rather than for their politics.  So this week I suggest that if you see a politician being attacked for their appearance (for example, if that politician is fat and people are suggesting that based on that you can tell something other than – as the brilliant Marilyn Wann says- 1. what size their body is and 2.  your personal prejudices and preconceived notions about their body size, or if people are suggesting that the candidate is not attractive enough to be President) you speak up. You can say how disappointed you are that people are focusing on appearances rather than the person’s actual qualifications. You can say that you hate the person’s politics but that doesn’t excuse fat bashing or appearance-based bullying.  You can say something on Facebook, on Twitter, in conversations with family and friends.  You can say something.

If you want to do more of this kind of thing, consider joining the Rolls Not Trolls group on Facebook, it’s a group created for the specific purpose of putting body positive things in body negative spaces on the internet and supporting each other while we do that.  It’s a secret group so if you want to join just message me on facebook (I’m Ragen Chastain on FB – I know, super creative!)

Have a great Say Something Sunday!

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

Buy the book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

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

Dance Classes:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details 

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

A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development (casting, finding investors etc.).  Follow the progress on Facebook!

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

Published in: on April 19, 2015 at 11:39 am  Comments (4)  

Why Do You Call Yourself Fat?

my name is

This name courtesy of hatemail from someone who clearly missed the mark since I’m thinking about changing my name to this and buying a castle.

Today I want to talk about a question that I get asked a lot in many forms.  From “Why would you call yourself fat?” to “how can fat be a good thing?”  to “Do you have to call yourself fat?”  The word “fat” can definitely stir a lot of emotions which is one of the reasons that I use it.

I consider fat to be a reclaiming word.  It’s been used by people whose goal was to bully, intimidate, and stigmatize me through its use.  My use of it is one of the ways that I tell the bullies they can’t have my lunch money anymore. This reflects my belief that I can shift power around the words that are used to oppress me by reclaiming them and using them as my own. I resent the fact that people have heaped a ton of negativity and shame onto word that accurately describes me and I refuse to participate in that. Of course that’s my belief, others may choose something else and, as always, your mileage may vary.

I also use fat as a tacit rejection of euphemisms. For me, calling me anything but fat makes it seem that my size is something that requires “dancing around” – like a fat body is Lord Voldemort – that which must not be named.  I would rather be called fat than fluffy (though to be honest I’d rather be called almost anything than fluffy.) There are plenty of people who love being called “fluffy” or prefer to use any term besides fat and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Similarly, I reject that idea that “I’m not fat, I have fat” there’s a more complete explanation here, but basically my problem with this is illustrated by considering some other examples: When is the last you heard someone say “I’m not brunette, I have brown hair”  or “I’m not tall, I have above-average height.” When I’m flying in for a speaking gig I typically tell the person who is responsible for picking up that I’ll be the short, fat, brunette in the blue dress or whatever.  People often respond by telling me not to call myself fat, nobody in my life has ever told me not to call myself brunette.  Therein lies my problem with this – it seems to me that the reason to draw a distinction between being fat and having fat is that we are considering fat to be a negative thing from which we want to disassociate, and/or we want to see it as so temporary that we don’t want to be identified as fat.

Finally, I use the word “fat” as a rejection of the medicalization/pathologizing of fat bodies – terms like “obese” and “overweight” suggest that body size should be the same as a diagnosis and I strongly disagree with that.  Over what weight?  I’m over some weights and under others.  People come in different sizes, this is the size I come in.  As I once heard The Fat Chick say, I’m fat – not overweight, in the same way that I’m also short- I’m not medically undertall.

The word fat is just a physical descriptor on which people have been allowed to heap negative beliefs. From my perspective, the problem isn’t the word fat, it’s the way that people have tacked on their negative notions onto the word fat, and the way that they’ve used it to oppress those of us who fit the description.  They way I see it, we’re fat whether we call ourselves fat or not.  What we do once we realize that is up to each of us.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

Buy the book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

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

Dance Classes:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details 

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

A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development (casting, finding investors etc.).  Follow the progress on Facebook!

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

Published in: on April 17, 2015 at 8:33 am  Comments (34)  

P!nk and Janelle Monáe Show Us How It’s Done

NO Negative Body TalkThis week two stars gave us glowing examples of how to deal with the bullshit that many people think they deserve for doing their jobs well.  Let’s start with P!nk.  She went to a benefit to raise money for literally curing cancer.  As usual people were not able to keep their eye on the ball and had a go at her for her weight.  P!nk was not having it, tweeting:

I can see that some of you are concerned about me from your comments about my weight,” You’re referring to the pictures of me from last night’s cancer benefit that I attended to support my dear friend Dr. Maggie DiNome. She was given the Duke Award for her tireless efforts and stellar contributions to the eradication of cancer. But unfortunately, my weight seems much more important to some of you. While I admit that the dress didn’t photograph as well as it did in my kitchen, I will also admit that I felt very pretty. In fact, I feel beautiful.

She went on to tweet

Willow said to me the other day whilst grabbing my belly-“mama-why r u so squishy?”And I said..”b/cuz I’m happy baby”

and

and my hubby says “it’s just more to love baby” (and then I smack his hand off my booty cause we’re in a supermarket)

A number of people in the comments went to the highly problematic She’s not fat defense“, but I appreciate that P!nk didn’t do that, but did point out how messed up this kind of body shaming is.

Janelle Monáe was even more succinct.  When some dude tweeted

“girl stop being so soulful and be sexy..tired of those dumbass suits..you fine but u too damn soulful man.”

Monáe shot back

sit down. I’m not for male consumption.

And that’s the truth of it. Can we please stop pretending that it’s perfectly acceptable to pick apart someone’s appearance just because of the job they happen to have, or that all women – and especially women in the public eye – have some obligation to be attractive to any man who happens to look at them, and that if they aren’t it warrants some kind of public comment? Could we all please consider taking a pass on contributing to a world where women are told early and often that our appearance, as judged by anyone who can manage to create a Twitter account, is more important than anything we could ever accomplish.

While we’re at it, consider this – it is never necessary to comment negatively on another person’s appearance.  Ever.  IT IS NEVER NECESSARY. Imagine a world where someone supporting the eradication of a deadly disease doesn’t get reported as “She gained weight!”  Imagine a world where nobody comments negative on anybody else’s appearance. That world starts with a life where we choose not to say anything negative about anyone else’s appearance. We can literally change the world just by changing the conversation, starting with our own talking and typing. What if you decided that you were done talking negatively about other people’s bodies and appearances? What if you started right now…

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

Buy the book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

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

Dance Classes:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details 

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

A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development (casting, finding investors etc.).  Follow the progress on Facebook!

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

Published in: on April 15, 2015 at 10:39 am  Comments (23)