Health at Every Size and Eating Disorders

IMG_1846[1]

My Best Friend Kelrick got this figurine for me in a little shop in Astoria, Queens. Sadly I don’t know the artist.

new study from the Department of Psychology at the University of California Los Angeles, tells us what we would already know if we believed fat people who talk about their lived experience. Fat shaming doesn’t have any positive outcomes, but it has plenty of negative ones. In this case, the study found that fat shaming girls, especially by family, does not lead to healthy behaviors but instead can lead to eating disorders.

Oh, look — a big bag full of obvious!

The authors looked at data from a large, long-term study that included 2,036 girls. The girls reported at age 14 if they had been called “too fat” by their parents, siblings, best friends, boys they liked, any other teenagers, or their teachers. At ages 14 and 19, the girls completed an assessment of unhealthy weight control behaviors, body dissatisfaction, tendency toward bulimia, and drive for thinness, as well as reporting if they had engaged in unhealthy behaviors to around their weight. Controlling for variables including body mass index, race, parental income and education, and a girl’s level of disordered eating behaviors at age 14, the girls who had reported being called “too fat” at 14 had higher scores on the eating disorder inventory at age 19. The lead author, psychologist Jeffrey Hunger, told Reuters, “Labeling young girls as ‘too fat’ will never spur positive health behaviors; it is simply going to result in poor body image, unhealthy weight control practices, and disordered eating.”

This is not the first study of its kind…

To read the rest of this piece, click here!

If you value my work, you can support my ability to do more of it with a one-time contribution or by becoming a member.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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!
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!

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

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

Published in: on July 12, 2018 at 6:51 am  Comments (7)  

Why Are Doctors Trying to Guess Fat Patients’ Weight?

WTF are you doingI refuse to be weighed in at the doctor’s office.  There is no medical reason to weigh me in – I haven’t had unexplained weight changes, I don’t need medicine that is prescribed per body weight, so I don’t need to be weighed.

While I don’t think that weighing people is a medical intervention, the doctor does and therefore, like any medical intervention, I’m well within my right to refuse. If they had a good reason (ie: we have to dose this medication by weight) I would consider it. But since they just want to weigh me so that the can suggest that I try to change my weight – which is asking me to do something that nobody can prove is possible, for a reason that nobody can prove is valid, I’m out. For years this has been no problem, they say “step on the scale” and I, politely and firmly, say “no thank you” while I keep walking, slowing slightly to let them catch up after I pass them so that they can lead me to the exam room.

But recently something weird has started happening. When I refuse to be weighed the person asks me something like “do my mind if I make my best guess.” The first time it happened I was so surprised that I said the first thing that came into my head which was “This is not the State Fair…no you may not guess my weight.” She was taken aback and she immediately dropped it.

It was so weird that I did some digging. It turns out that insurance companies and Medicare have started to pay for something called “Intensive Behavioral Therapy for Obesity” In order to charge you, you must have a BMI over 30. BMI (Body Mass Index) is nothing more than a ratio of weight and height. Though it’s become misused as one, it’s not – and never has been –  a health measurement of any kind. It’s just your weight in pounds, times 703, divided by your height in inches squared.

Here’s where the guessing comes in. In order for doctors to get paid for “obesity counseling” they have to have your BMI on file. So if you refuse to be weighed, they simply guess the weight that they need to get paid.

Obviously this is crap, and not just because guessing people’s weight like you’re guessing  the number of jelly beans in a jar is exactly as medically relevant as it sounds. But more to the point, these doctors don’t have any idea how to create long-term weight loss. There isn’t a single study of any intervention that they could prescribe, that has been shown to lead to long-term weight loss for more than a tiny fraction of participants, and that weight loss is often less than 10 pounds. Once again, they would be better off just giving all fat people ponies (with the possible exception of those who are allergic.)

So what do we do? Every fat person gets to decide how to deal with this each time it happens. We shouldn’t have to deal with it at all, and we get to do whatever we have to do to get the medical care we need. That may include educating our doctors, lying to them, or placating them by letting them make up a weight to make a bullshit math calculation that they will use to get paid for giving us information that is useless at best, and most likely harmful.

Here’s some scripting that you might use. By way of a disclaimer, we have the right to refuse treatment, but doctors in most cases have the right to refuse us as patients. Unfortunately, there can definitely be consequences to fighting for our rights to be treated without weight stigma, so we have to take that into account when we decide how to respond.

Here are some options:

Per my rights to refuse a medical intervention, I refuse to be weighed, I refuse to allow you to guess my weight, I refuse to have a BMI calculation made, and I refuse any type of obesity counseling. Let’s focus on what I came in here for.

No, you may not guess my weight. Please just write “patient refused to be weighed and refused to allow me to guess their weight.” I’m happy to sign something if you need me to.

You can try asking them “why do you want to weight me?” or “Is this so you can bill my insurance for obesity counseling?” if they say yes, consider saying something like “I’ll submit to this if you can show me a study where this counseling has led to significant long-term weight loss for a majority of participants.” (Remember, no such study exists, so this might take awhile.)

Just continue to say “No thank you,” while walking past the scale.

If you decline, or don’t receive, “obesity counseling” it might be interesting to check and see if your doctor charged your insurance for it, and if they do then promptly report them.

Again, this shouldn’t be happening. People of all sizes should be able to receive competent, unbiased medical care. Nobody should have to prep for a doctor’s appointment like they are memorizing lines for a (literally life or death) audition. Unfortunately, that’s not something that fat people can always access, so we have to do way more to get even close to the same level of care. Fatphobia kills, fat activism is the cure for fatphobia.

If you value my work, you can support my ability to do more of it with a one-time contribution or by becoming a member.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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!
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!

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

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

 

 

Published in: on June 19, 2018 at 7:26 am  Comments (17)  

Bonding Over Our Body Hatred

Concerned puppy is very concerned

Recently I witnessed a conversation where two people were bonding over their hatred of their own bodies. I said nothing, because nobody asked my opinion and it was over immediately (so I didn’t need to remove myself from the situation or create a boundary.) But luckily I have the blog where I can write about it.

Bonding over body shaming. I’m not talking about bonding over body shaming other people (that’s for sure bullshit, it’s just bullshit for a different post,) I’m talking about bonding over body shaming ourselves. I’m sure we’ve all heard it, and I don’t know about you, but I’ve definitely been a part of it in days past. It goes like this:

“I hate [insert body part]”
“Ugh, me too…and my [body part] is way worse than yours for [bullshit beautystereotype reasons]

Sometimes more body parts get brought into the mix.

“Ugh, my [body part] is so [negative thing]!
“At least your [body part] is better than my [different body part.]
“Ugh I hate my [that new body part you just mentioned] too! It’s just so [quality that is supposed to be negative.]

Before someone freaks out in the comments – you are allowed to do whatever you want with your body – including hating it, talking negatively about it, and bonding with other people about the hating via the use of negative talk. My goal here isn’t to be the boss of you, but to make the case that we might want to knock this the fuck off. Also, I want to acknowledge that this can be made more complicated for those dealing with intersectional marginalization related to things like disabilities, chronic illnesses and/or pain, body dysmorphia, Trans and Non-binary experience, racism, ageism and more.

We all live in a society where the diet and beauty industries work hard to steal our self-esteem, and sell it back to us at a profit. (With eternal thanks to the brilliant Courtney Hanneman for that phrasing!) In a world where the stereotype of beauty is completely digitized (where not just almost every photo but even videos and movies are retouched – frame by frame – so that the people in the photos and films don’t look like the final versions of the photos and films,) this is an extremely profitable business model.

From the youngest of ages, we’re told to spend tons of time, energy, and money to climb the hill of beauty and thinness. But it is, by design, a Sisyphean task. You know that, right? You know that, no matter what we do, no matter how many times we say “I just want to fix [this one thing] and then I’ll be happy,” the diet and beauty industries will try to make sure that never actually happens. They want us to be climbing that mountain our whole lives – trying to look older while we’re young, trying to look younger while we’re older, trying to be thin not just our whole lives, but worried about leaving a thin corpse. Meanwhile they keep raking in mountains of money.

Now, you are free to believe that trying to render yourself as close as possible to the stereotype of beauty is “self-improvement.” In fact, you’re allowed to do it for whatever reason you want to. But we don’t have to. And we certainly don’t have to do it out loud in a way that perpetuates dangerous diet culture.  If we want to move away from buying into beauty stereotypes and then disparaging the only body we have, we have some options. I try not to be too hard on people, because we all live in a world that constantly encourages us to hate our bodies, so in this case (where someone is using body shame as self-deprecation,) I try to be gentle, but also set boundaries, and make sure that they know that there are, in fact, options here.

Someone says: “I have a big ass.” You can insert whatever body negative is happening
You say:
“I know, right! Big asses are so awesome!”
or
“Me too, I love having a big ass.”
or
“I think asses of all sizes are fantastic.”

Someone says: “Blah blah blah body hatred blah blah blah.”
You say:”Sorry, I’m doing a thing where I don’t talk badly about my body or anybody else’s.”
or
“Of course you can talk about whatever you want, but I just don’t do negative body talk. I’m happy to talk about something else though.”
or
“I wish we lived in a world that didn’t teach us to hate our amazing bodies.”

Sometimes people will push back and I’ll combine the two:
Them: I hate my big ass.
Me: I think asses of all sizes are fantastic.
Them: Oh, other people’s asses are ok, I just wish mine was smaller.
Me: I wish we lived in a world that didn’t teach us to hate our amazing bodies.

Again, people are allowed to think and say whatever they want about their bodies. How we respond will depend on our relationship with the person involved, and if we don’t know them we have to realize that telling them to feel differently about their bodies may be unwanted (and may be coming from a place of privilege if their feelings about their bodies are affected by things we don’t experience such as chronic pain, chronic illness, disability/ableism, and/or Trans and Non-binary experience/transphobia.)

Body love is never an obligation, but is ALWAYS an option and we do have the right to set boundaries around what they say to us, and how we engage with people who engage in negative body talk. The way we feel about our bodies affects every area of our lives, and so we can give our bodies our full-throated support, and refuse to engage in any conversation that questions the value of bodies.

If you value my work, you can support my ability to do more of it with a one-time contribution or by becoming a member.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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!
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!

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

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

 

Published in: on June 13, 2018 at 3:30 am  Comments (3)  

3 Questions To Work On Weight Bias

Actual SizeWe are all living in a culture where fatphobia and weight stigma are the norm. Many of us live in countries where our governments spend millions, even billions of dollars to wage war on fat people, a huge part of which is to convince everyone (including fat people) to stereotype, stigmatize, and oppress fat people. So if we have negative views about larger bodies, that wouldn’t exactly be a galloping shock.

In order to counteract this, we need to always be doing our own work around weight stigma (internalized or otherwise.) It’s important to mention here that the more privilege we have, the more responsibility we have to do this work, and when it comes to weight, privilege is relative. I have less privilege than someone who weighs less than me, and more privilege than someone who weighs more than me. This includes privilege in terms of everyday interactions (like how likely it is that a doctor will want me to amputate my stomach to address a problem that thinner people would be given a far less risky intervention for) as well as things like whether the airline or movie theater will try to charge me double for the same product, or if I’ll be able to fit in the roller coast etc.

Here are three questions to help you get started:

Do I engage in negative body talk?

If so, stop. Stop engaging in negative body talk of any kind – whether it’s overt (“she’s way too thin, she needs to eat a sandwich” or “at that weight he’s obviously not healthy”) or subtle and said as if it’s a “compliment” (“She has the perfect body, we hate he,” or “you lost weight- you look so good”) We can choose to never put someone else down to make us feel better: Even if they’ll never know,  it still usually ends up effecting us negatively in the end. Talking badly about someone else’s body is just never the way to go. No, not even in the situation you’re thinking of right now.

Here are some tips to stop engaging in negative talk around your own body.

Here is a way to address negative talk around other people’s bodies. 

How do I feel about bodies of different sizes?

This can start by asking yourself something like “What assumptions do I make about people based on their body size?” but we weight stigma is intersectional so we can use this opportunity to also address things like healthism, ableism, racism.

Racism is structural and underlies everything in our society, and Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size have always had issues with racism and lack of representation, so these intersections are everywhere. If you are not a Person of Color, seek out and read what People of Color are writing on the subject. Some places to start are this piece by Sonya Renee Taylor (and The Body Is Not An Apology in general,) this one by Ashleigh Shackelford, and this one by Donyae Coles.

Ableism is something like feeling more judgment or negativity about a fat person using a mobility device than a fat person who runs 5ks. Or judging a fat person who uses the escalator or elevator instead of the stairs. Again, please seek out and read what disabled people/people with disabilities are writing about this. You can start with this post from ThisIsAbleism and this piece by Renee Martin.

Healthism can look like feeling differently about a fat person who doesn’t engage in what you consider “healthy habits” than about a fat person who does. (Beware good fatty/bad fatty thinking.)

If you find yourself saying “It’s ok to be fat as long as…” stop talking and click here immediately.

It’s also helpful to look at other cultural issues – do you think a thin woman who can eat a ton of food is awesome and sexy, but a fat woman who eats the same food is disgusting and lacks self-control. Do you see a thin man in sweats as “laid back” but a fat man dressed the same as a “slob?”

It’s ok to be fat, period.

Become aware of your thoughts. Again, we live in a society that is sizeist, ableist, healthist, racist and more, so if you have these thoughts it’s not surprising, it’s also no excuse. Resist the urge to get caught up in feeling guilty about it (since that doesn’t help anyone) and move right on to fixing the problem.

Again, the first step here is to become aware of your thoughts. Then challenge them – ask yourself where you got this idea, recognize that other people’s bodies are yours for the judging. Consider creating a slideshow for yourself with pictures of bodies about which you currently have judgments. Go through this slideshow at least once a day and challenge your judgments, preconceived notions and prejudices.

How do I feel about the concept of weight gain for myself?

I was once in a conversation with a therapist who works in eating disorder treatment. It went like this:

Her: I really appreciate your work. Teaching my higher weight clients to love their bodies is such an important part of my work and I recommend your blog all the time.

Me: Thanks, I’m really happy to be able to support the work that you are doing.

Her: And I have to say, I’m so impressed by you. I don’t think I could ever be happy at your size.

Y’all, I literally heard a record scratch in my head.  This is complicated. On the surface, it can be difficult to be excited about the idea of joining an oppressed group, but the problem with fatphobia is fatphobia and not fat bodies, and so the idea that someone doesn’t want to be fat(ter) than they are is still an element of fatphobia (with possible shades of ableism and healthism) It’s something that we need to work on if we are truly doing self-work around our own fatphobia (including and especially if you are a thin person, especially if you are doing Size Acceptance and/or Health at Every Size work.) Not to mention that body sizes can change over time for lots of different reasons.

Here again, the exercises above – like the slideshow – can help you to get over some of your issues with fatphobia. Then just spend some time meditating on the idea of living your best life in a fat body – as negative ideas come up, challenge them and if they are rooted in fatphobia, ableism, healthism or other marginalizations let that help you get even more angry that these oppressions exist, and more committed to dismantling them.

If you value my work, you can support my ability to do more of it with a one-time contribution or by becoming a member.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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!
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!

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

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

Published in: on June 12, 2018 at 4:46 am  Comments (9)  

Is It Wrong To Shame Shamers?

DefendThose who mistreat us often try to shield themselves from the consequences of their actions by trying to create a false equivalence between their mistreatment of us, and our speaking out against that mistreatment. So when someone says “Stop oppressing me. You are harming me.” the bigot will try to respond with something like  “Why are you shaming me? What about my beliefs? Where’s your tolerance, huh?”

This is patently ridiculous, but it can still trip up otherwise rational critical thinkers because they DO want to be tolerant, and they DO want to be better people than their bigots. So let me be perfectly clear – “I want to oppress you”  and “I don’t want to be oppressed”  are not two reasonable sides of the same coin. They are not both legitimate viewpoints. Trying to oppress someone is not a viewpoint, it’s an act that harms someone.

Do not let some troll tell you that calling out bullies makes you a bully. Calling out people for harming others is not remotely the same as perpetuating shame, stigma, bigotry, bullying or oppression. Calling out bullies makes you a hero.

This comes up in professional situations as well. I’m commonly asked how to call out fat oppression that happens at conferences, online spaces etc. without shaming the person doing the oppressing. While I’m often willing to give the benefit of the doubt that the person doing the harm is doing it unintentionally, I believe that our primary concern MUST be the well being of the people they are harming, and not the feelings of the person doing the harming.

So the first time I see someone engaging in oppressive behavior – if it’s not blatant and I feel they should get the benefit of the doubt – I’ll take that person aside or shoot them a private e-mail. But if their behavior doesn’t stop, then neither will mine, because they are harming people and I’m not going to sit idly by while that happens. So I’ll continue to insist that they stop harming people, I may enlist other people to do the same, I may start a petition or a letter-writing campaign. The difference between activism and bullying is intent  – bullies intend to harm people. Activists intend to stop bullies from harming others.

This is summed up pretty neatly in something called The Paradox of Tolerance, coined by philosopher Karl Popper in 1945:

Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. — In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant.

There is a beautiful article by Parker Malloy that further explains the concept and shows how it applies to the current situation in the US.

Basically, the assertion that we have to tolerate people who are actively trying to harm us is best stated as “Please participate in your own (and other people’s) oppression by allowing me to oppress you (and other people) with absolutely no pushback.” That’s bullshit and you don’t have to prove your tolerance by allowing someone to harm you or others. People are allowed to believe whatever they want. But when they try to turn their personal beliefs into actions that harm you and/or harm others, you have every right to speak up and fight back.

If you’d like some help dealing with trolls – you can check out the Complete Guide to Dealing with Online Trolls.

If you value my work, you can support my ability to do more of it with a one-time contribution or by becoming a member.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

 Wellness for All Bodies Program: A 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!
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!

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

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

 

Published in: on June 6, 2018 at 9:29 am  Comments (4)  

Yes, Fat People Have the Right to Exist

know fat chicks

Design by Kris Owen

Fat people have a right to exist in our fat bodies.  We have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and those rights are inalienable – they are not size, health, or healthy habit dependent.  Those rights include not living under ceaseless institutional stigma, bullying and oppression, or being made combatants in a war waged upon us by our government, which is also trying to recruit our friends, family, co-workers, companies and anyone else they can get to engage in combat against us for how we look.

You cannot have a war on obesity without having a war against obese people.  You cannot have a war on childhood obesity without having a war on fat kids.  Wars have casualties.  So when you use words like “war” and “eradicate”, when you say that you want to eliminate obesity and suggest that fat people should do extremely dangerous things like have our stomachs amputatedor eating 500 calories a day and getting injected with  urine, all in the pursuit of thinness, it starts to sound like “eliminate obesity” means that they want us either thin or dead, and they don’t much care which.

The research about weight and health upon which this goal of eradicating fat people for the good of society is built does not meet the basic criteria for competent research.

The methods used to calculate the “cost” of obese people are at best incredibly poorly done and, at worst biased and profit-driven,

Even if the studies did meet basic requirements for competent research, it is not ok to choose a group of people who are identifiable by a single visible physical characteristic, attempt to calculate their cost on society, and based on those numbers suggest that they should be eradicated to make things cheaper for everyone else.

If you are fat, you have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness without shame, stigma, bullying or oppression, in the body you have now.  It doesn’t matter why you’re fat, what the “consequences” of being fat might be, or if it’s possible to become thin. You have the right to stand up and say that the war being fought against you is not only based on faulty intel, but is unjust in every way. Those are basic civil rights. LIke every fight for civil rights (none of which should be necessary) you have the right to fight back, to say that if they want a war, you will damn well give them one.

UPCOMING WEBINAR  – Size Acceptance and Eating Disorders – A Critical, Crucial, Core Conversation.
June 5th, 11am Pacific

If you’re interested in the use of the Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size paradigms in Eating Disorder treatment, then check out my webinar with EDRDPro. The webinar is June 5th from 11am-12pm Pacific time, and there are CEUs for RDs!
Get all the details here (scroll down to find me)
If you’re ready to register, click here!

If you value my work, you can support my ability to do more of it with a one-time contribution or by becoming a member.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

 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!
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!

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

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

 

 

 

 

Published in: on June 4, 2018 at 8:22 am  Comments (3)  

Is Dust Making Us Fat?

WTF are you doingI got an e-mail from a blog reader who prefers to remain anonymous who said “My mom just told me that studies show that dust makes you fat. I’m freaking out and I’m too scared to Google – do you know anything about this? Is this really a thing?  WTF?”

I did some Googling and found that the source is likely an article posted on a diet site that claims it can help people lose weight by showing them pictures of things they could eat instead of other things. The article (which I’m not linking to – if you want to give them traffic you can Google it,) was called “The Weird Way Your Dirty House Is Making You Fat.” After spending the first two -thirds of the article suggesting that this is based on research and evidence, they admit that the research team has, in fact, no idea if it’s true. Further, if it is true they don’t have any idea how much dust exposure might cause what amount of weight gain. The research team themselves say is it is only “a potential novel threat.”  This article does not smack of scientific rigor.

This is incredibly common. When it comes to weight and health – whether it’s a discussion of what makes people fat, or a discussion of what might make us thin, or if fat makes us “unhealthy” by some definition, scientific method seems to fly (or, perhaps more accurately, be thrown) right out the window. Sometimes it’s studies that are embarrassingly poorly designed (often for profit.) Sometimes it’s research that isn’t so much research as it is finding commonalities among outliers. So-called research on the efficacy of weight loss is even worse – as Lucy Aphramor clearly showed,

My point here is that a combination of scientific illiteracy among reporters, a 24-hour news cycle that too often cares more about eyeballs than getting to the truth of the story, and the profitability of anything and everything anti-fat, it can be absolutely impossible to get any kind of true information about weight and health. So we have to be smart about this. In the case of the fat and dust article they eventually came right out and said that their claim was ridiculous, but it’s not always that easy. We need to ask questions about things like who funded the research and how they are using it., how the study was designed. Regardless, we should start with the knowledge that there is every possibility that these studies are bullshit.

UPCOMING WEBINAR  – Size Acceptance and Eating Disorders – A Critical, Crucial, Core Conversation.
June 5th, 11am Pacific

If you’re interested in the use of the Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size paradigms in Eating Disorder treatment, then check out my webinar with EDRDPro. The webinar is June 5th from 11am-12pm Pacific time, and there are CEUs for RDs!
Get all the details here (scroll down to find me)
If you’re ready to register, click here!

If you value my work, you can support my ability to do more of it with a one-time contribution or by becoming a member.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

 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!
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!

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

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

 

 

 

 

Published in: on June 2, 2018 at 9:53 am  Comments (5)  

Moving Our Bodies From A Place of Joy, Or Not

Doug 6

Photo by Doug Spearman

I was recently interviewed by Maria Southard Ospina at Elite Daily about my thoughts on being fit and fat. There were a couple of points that I thought were the most important and Ms. Ospina highlighted them perfectly.

The first was the fact that, as I type in an article on a nearly daily basis, nobody is obligated to participate in fitness. Fitness is not a barometer of worthiness or morality. Participating in fitness does not make someone better than a person who does something else with their free time. Running a marathon and watching a Netflix marathon are morally equivalent activities (seriously.) Nobody of any size is obligated to participate in fitness, but everybody of every size should be welcomed.

The main point of the article was about separating fitness from weight loss and approaching movement from a place of joy.  The article quotes me as saying:

I hear from people all the time who gave up on exercise because it didn’t make them thin and who were miserable exercising because the only reason they ever moved their body was out of hatred of it. When they come back to movement from a size-positive perspective they get to have a magical experience in which they get to love and appreciate their body, while they enjoy moving it.

This is a big deal. Diet culture has screwed countless people over when it comes to their chance to approach movement from a place of joy, and that sucks. So what does it look like to approach fitness from a place of joy:

You pick the goal or lack thereof

Maybe it’s strength, stamina or flexibility gains. Maybe you want to be able to pick up your niece. Maybe you just want to dance because you want to dance and you don’t care about anything else. You can choose to do some epic fitness thing because you want to and not for the joy of it. You are in control here, any goal – or no goal – is completely valid.

You pick the venue

You might want to deal with a gym where you could face fatshaming bullshit, or you might want to find a class specifically for fat folks, or work out to videos in your living room. It’s all up to you. Remember that none of this should be necessary, since every fitness environment should be fat friendly, but until fatphobia is solved, we still have choices.

You can try different things with absolutely no commitment

Try olympic weightlifting, obstacle course racing, hot yoga, and pole dancing. Try them all in the same week, whatever (if you’re just getting back into movment or you’re trying things you’ve never done before, you’ll likely want to plan rest days. It’s no fun to be the most enthusiastic person in traction.) The point is that you can try things out at your own pace with no stress because…

You can quit whenever you want

Quit after two years, two weeks, or two minutes into your first class. This isn’t Junior High Softball where you made a commitment to the team – there’s no shame in learning that there’s something that you don’t really want to do anymore (or at all.) Not having fun? Feel free to walk away and never look back.

You don’t have to do this

I think the key to approaching movement with joy is the realization that you don’t have to do movement at all. Even if doing so would make you healthier (by any of the many definitions of health.) Our health isn’t entirely within our control, and there are a ton of things that we can do to try to support our health (including movement,) but we don’t have to do any of them (including movement.)

If you are looking for support around a weight-neutral health practice, you can check out my Wellness For All Bodies Program. It’s $25.00 ($10 for DancesWithFat members)
Click here for all the details and to register!

If you are looking for support around appraching fitness from a weight-neutral perspective, check out the Fit Fatties community on Facebook. We have over 5,000 members and a community with no diet talk, food talk or weight loss talk.

You can read the full article on Elite Daily here!

If you value my work, you can support my ability to do more of it with a one-time contribution or by becoming a member.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

 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!
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!

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

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

Published in: on May 30, 2018 at 6:17 am  Comments (2)  

All the BBQ, None of the Fat Shaming

keep it to yourself

Maltese in a basket with blankets looking cranky “I don’t remember asking for your opinion about my food. That’s because I DIDN’T! So keep it to yourself.”

Here in the US we are celebrating Memorial Day. For many people that means time with family and friends, with a BBQ or some kind of food situation being a very traditional way to spend that time.

Every time one of these holidays comes around I hear from readers whose families and friends are behaving badly – setting out a feast and then using the opportunity to food police, fat shame, and generally make their fat family members miserable. I offer the following repost, both to help if you are being food-policed and/or fat-shamed, and to help if you see someone being food-policed and/or fat-shamed and want to support them.

If you’re being food policed or fat-shamed:

Ah, is there anything more fun than being under surveillance by the Friends and Family Food Police?  There are only a couple of things that I can think of – root canal, shaving my head with a cheese grater, a fish hook in the eye…

This happens to almost all of my fat friends, but to be clear food judgment and shaming happens to, and hurts, people of all sizes and it’s never ok.

First, I always suggest that you be prepared for boundary setting when you go into this type of situation.  Think about what your boundaries are, and what consequences you are willing to enforce.  So think about what you would be willing to do – Leave the event?  Stay at a hotel?  Cease conversation until the person can treat you appropriately?  Be sure that you know what you want and that you can follow through. Then follow a three-step process:

  1. State your boundary clearly (ie:  it’s not ok to talk to me about my weight)
  2. State the consequences if your boundary is violated (if you continue to talk to me about my weight I’ll go home and we can try again next year.)
  3. Follow through with the consequences if it comes to that. This is really important, otherwise, you just teach people that your boundary setting is idle threats.

It can also help to have some responses ready.  So you’re at a holiday BBQ, you take seconds on Aunt Agnes’s potato salad and someone asks the dreaded question:  “Do you need to eat that?” It seems like the table falls silent, waiting for your reply.  What do you say?

I suggest you find your happy (or at least your non-homicidal) place, and try one of these:

Quick and Simple (said with finality)

  • Yes (and then eat it)
  • No (and then eat it)

If you were to eat it with exaggerated joy, moaning, exclamations of deliciousness etc., I would support your choice.

Answer with a Question (I find it really effective to ask these without malice, with a tone of pure curiosity.  If you’re not in the mood to have a dialog about this, maybe skip these, or use a tone that makes it clear that you aren’t so much looking for a response as you are looking for the person to think harder about what’s coming out of their mouth than what’s going in yours.)

  • Why do you think that’s your business?
  • What led you to believe that I want you to police my food intake?
  • I thought that you were an accountant, are you also a dietitian?

Pointed Response (be ready with a consequence if the behavior continues)

  • I find that inappropriate and offensive, please don’t comment on my food choices.
  • What I eat is none of your business, and your commenting on it is not ok.
  • I have absolutely no interest in discussing my food intake with you.
  • I’m not soliciting opinions about my food choices.

Cathartic (but probably not that useful if you want to create an opportunity for dialog)

  • Yes, because dealing with your rudeness is depleting my glycogen stores at an alarming rate
  • If I want to talk to the food police, I’ll call Pie-1-1
  • I’m sure you’re not proud of the completely inappropriate behavior you just exhibited, I’m willing to forget this ever happened
  • No, but using my fork to eat helps to keep me from stabbing you with it
  • I don’t believe that guilt is good for my health and I’m definitely resisting arrest by the Family and Friends Food Police.

What do you do if you witness food policing/fat shaming?

There are several options and which option you choose depends on how you feel on any given day, your relationship with the people involved, and what you are comfortable with:

Immediate and Direct

Say something immediately in the situation – you can be serious or try a little humor.

  • Wow, that’s seriously messed up.  We all like you better as an uncle than a self-appointed food policeman.
  • If we want the food police we’ll call pie-1-1.  Let’s keep our attention on our own plates.

Talk About It Later

When you say something in the moment there is the risk of further embarrassing/drawing attention to the victim of the shaming, or giving them unwelcome support (regardless of your intention.) So I suggest that you not use that tactic unless you are very sure that the person will be comfortable with you standing up for them. If not, then addressing it later might be a better choice.  For this you wait until later and then approach the two people separately.

You might share with the person who got shamed that you saw what happened and that you are sorry that they were treated so poorly.  You can share your own story of how you realized that the problem wasn’t you but the people who think that their beeswax is located on your plate (or body.)  You might share some tools that you use to deal with it.

Then you talk to the shamer, let them know that what they did was dangerous, that talking like that can lead to\ disordered relationships with food and their bodies that can cause them to develop eating disorders or see their bodies as bad and unworthy of care (especially for impressionable kids who overhear.) Maybe tell them that even though you believe they meant well, you are really uncomfortable with them commenting on other people’s food choices.

Global Statement

In this option you follow up a shaming statement with a non-specific global statement, it can be a little more immediate but without putting any more focus on the victim of shaming.

  • I wish we lived in a world where people didn’t make comments about other people’s food choices.
  • I wish we lived in a world where bodies of all sizes were celebrated.

Distract/Change the Subject

If you are going to go with the “Talk about it later” option, or if you aren’t planning to address it for whatever reason (a totally valid option) you can try to give the person being shamed some relief by distracting the shamer/changing the topic:

  • How about that recent/upcoming sportsball game and/or local sportsballing team?
  • How are your bowel movements? (and if they look surprised you can say “I’m sorry, I thought we are asking each other inappropriate personal questions.”)
  • I need to get this recipe from you – who knew that you could get this much stuff to float in jello! (This may only work in the South…)

To me the most important thing about understanding shaming is that the problem is the shamer’s bad behavior and not whatever their victim is doing. I’ve found it helpful to suggest that if someone who is being shamed is feeling embarrassment, they consider that they aren’t embarrassed for themselves, but for the shamer who is making a complete and total ass of themselves.

Have other ideas?  Please feel free to leave them in the comments!

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

 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!
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!

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 May 28, 2018 at 2:58 am  Comments (1)  

CrossFit Gym Confuses Fat Shaming With Advertising

You Forgot Your BullshitCrossFit Logan Martin in Pell City, Alabama has put up a sign that says “Tired of being fat and ugly? Just be ugly.” When people pointed out that being in the business of appearance-based shaming is not a great look for a gym (or, you know, anyone,) owner Scott White decided his best move was to tell the people who he targeted with his offensive ad how they should feel and react:

“Come in and talk to me. We’re super nice. I get along with everybody. I love everyone. We’re a Christian-based gym. And so a message of love is what we preach here. You know you can’t take yourself too seriously. Especially when it comes to a fitness journey.”

I’m not feeling the love there Scott (or the “super nice-ness”) and you’ve made it very clear how you feel about people who look like me, so the absolute last thing I’m going to do is walk into your gym to talk to people who put up this sign and then defended it. What I am feeling is that you think it’s perfectly ok to harm fat people. I’m feeling that you are likely being purposefully, aggressively obtuse. I’m feeling like it’s ridiculous to try to defend appearance-based shaming by claiming a “christian” identity. I mean, what’s next – selling WWJFS (Who Would Jesus Fat Shame) bracelets?

While obviously nobody of any size is obligated to participate in fitness (and participating doesn’t make someone better than those who don’t) the truth is that fitness culture can be incredibly unwelcoming to fat people, and then our thin-obsessed society turns around and blames and shames fat people for not engaging in fitness culture. Here is a place that is supposed to be about gaining fitness that, instead, is shaming fat people for how they look (and before somebody tries to claim otherwise, suggesting that fat people should want to look different than we do now is absolutely shaming people for how they look,) and suggesting that fat people should join CrossFit not to gain fitness, but so they aren’t the subject of shaming (like the kind of shaming the gym is doing with this sign.) Obviously, that’s total crap and what this gym is trying to do is profit from appearance-based stigma, and thus, they can bite me.

I also want to point out the all-too-common practice of someone who isn’t in a marginalized group making a “joke” at that group’s expense, and then trying to make themselves the arbiter of how the people they are oppressing should react – and the “correct” reaction always seems to be to calm down and learn to “take a joke.” I don’t think the problem is that marginalized populations can’t “take a joke,” I think the problem is that we live in a society that is comfortable telling groups of marginalized people that they need to “toughen up” and become better at being stigmatized and made fun of without complaint, so that other people can laugh at their expense without having to feel badly or have their bullying behavior pointed out. Oppressive behavior is not ok just because some people think it’s funny.

Most of the articles I’ve seen about this focus on whether or not the sign is legal. The gym was asked to take it down or face a $500 fine because it doesn’t meet the local requirements for a sign. Apparently, they’ve worked with the city and received a deadline extension and fatphobes have created a GoFundMe to cover the fees lest the gym not be able to shame fat people through signage.  Other articles claim (though without giving any method of calculation that I’ve seen) that the majority of people want the sign to stay up.

If that’s true it’s quite sad, but it really doesn’t matter to anyone who wants to be a decent human being, because it doesn’t matter how many people want to oppress a group, oppression is still wrong. And because internalized oppression is a thing, and no community is a monolith, it doesn’t even matter if some people who are part of the marginalized group think it’s ok. The standard shouldn’t be how many people are ok with a marginalized group being oppressed, the standard should be doing our best not to shame or marginalize anyone.

If you value my work, you can support my ability to do more of it with a one-time contribution or by becoming a member.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

 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!
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!

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 May 24, 2018 at 6:10 am  Comments (6)