How NOT to Sell Leggings to Fat People

Ah, remeWTF are you doingmber the good old days when the most offensive thing that clothing stores did was using models for plus sizes (or, as I like to call them, sizes) who were far too small to wear the clothes.  Well, hold on to your hats because the ante has officially been upped.

Aliexpress, a division of huge import company Alibaba Holding Group Limited, is selling leggings up to 5x, which is totally awesome, often plus sizes (or, as I like to call them, sizes) only go up to 2x or 3x so it’s great to see a company carrying clothing in larger sizes.  Except…no… it turns out that the 5x is about the same as lululemon straight sizes (or, as I like to call them, sizes) Large. (Aliexpress’s 5x:  Waist:  30.4, Hips:  41.8 (converted from centimeters) – Lululemon Large waist 30.5, hip 41) Right.

But that’s not all, they chose to advertise these leggings by having a thin model stand with both of her legs in one leg of pants, stretching the waistband with the opposite hand, like so:

leggings

Now, in pieces that I’ve read about this in mainstream news, the authors seem to think that I should be insulted that they showed that there are people who can fit both their legs into one leg of my pants. I’m not insulted by that at all, I celebrate the diversity of body sizes that exist.

I’m insulted that I can’t swing an internet “news” article without hitting a television “news” story about how many of us are fat, but somehow clothing companies can’t seem to find a single fat person to model the clothes that they want fat people to buy from them.

While it’s difficult to tell what clothing will look like on me when I see it on a thin woman who is sealed into it by industrial sized clamps all down her back, it’s downright impossible to tell how leggings will look on me when a thin woman is wearing them as a skirt.  Companies that want my fat money will have to do better than this.

Women who wear plus sizes (or, as I like to call them, sizes) face a number of difficulties buying clothes: from companies who market their refusal to make clothes for us as a sign that they are “cool” (*cough* Abercrombie *cough*,) to clothing that is much more expensive than that of our friends who wear straight sizes (or, as I like to call them, sizes,) to stores that sell clothes in plus sizes (or, as I like to call them, sizes) only online meaning that we have even more expense in the form of shipping, and then return shipping since we don’t get to try on our clothes and we have to guess based on pictures of the clothes being worn models far too small to fit into them.

At an absolute least we deserve to see the clothes that we wear modeled by people who actually fit in the clothes (and companies should be creating jobs for plus size models or, as I like to call them, models), before we fork over our hard-earned money to buy the clothes.  According to all the news stories there are tons and tons of us fat people running around, if companies want to sell clothes to us, they need to hire some of us to model the clothes.

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

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

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Published in: on August 14, 2015 at 8:22 am  Comments (19)  

But What About Obesity?

You Forgot Your BullshitOne thing that I find really irritating is when someone wants to draw attention away from a discussion, and so they play a game of “look at the fatties.”  I’ve seen this won’tsomebodythinkofthefatties technique used in discussions from global warming, to contraception, to politics.  It goes like this – someone writes a blog or article that says  “here is my well thought out opinion on this issue (that has nothing to do with fat people).”  Then someone literally leaves a comment that says “But what about obesity?”

An example that I saw today:

Somebody was discussing the rise in restrictive eating disorders, and somebody asked “What about obesity?”

What about it?  Dude, this has nothing to do with fat people.  You might as well have said “What about Sharknado 3?” It’s exactly as relevant. Besides which, obesity is a body size – it’s not an eating disorder, it’s not a diagnosis, it’s not the problem, and it’s not part of every discussion. It’s just a body size.

The first problem with this is that it’s derailing – even if you massively don’t get it and mistakenly believe obesity is a problem, there are other problems and it’s ok to talk about those problems with absolutely no mention of fat people.

If you don’t want to discuss whatever the actual issue is that is being discussed, feel free to go find a place to talk about whatever you want to talk about, no need to throw fat people under the bus.

What’s worse about using obesity to derail a discussion is that obesity isn’t Sharknado 3, nor is it an abstract concept, it’s people.  People who are ceaselessly shamed, stigmatized and bullied in our society for how we look. People who should have a reasonable expectation of being able to engage in a dialog on the internet without someone suggesting that they are a worse issues than anything that is actually being talked about, or that we somehow compound every problem by our mere existence.  It seems like some people take joy in the idea that they can bash fat people all they want and justify it because, hey, that’s what everyone else is doing.  There are people who just want to take every opportunity to treat a group of people poorly with little fear of repercussion.  Look – making assumptions about people and/or attempting to blame them for things based on how they look is bigotry, straight up, there is nothing that can justify it.

Fat bashing for the purpose of derailing a discussion is still fat bashing and it has to stop.  If you’re up for a little armchair activism, you can always call that out when you see it.  Either way, if you’re fat know that it’s not you, it’s them, and it’s completely inappropriate.

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Published in: on August 13, 2015 at 5:06 am  Comments (6)  

Political Correctness, Donald Trump, and Fat Bashing

What a Load of CrapIn case you missed it, during the recent Republican Presidential Debate, Fox News debate moderator Megyn Kelly asked candidate Donald Trump

“You’ve called women you don’t like ‘fat pigs,’ ‘dogs,’ ‘slobs,’ and ‘disgusting animals,’

At which point Donald interrupted to say

Only Rosie O’Donnell

For reasons passing my understanding, the crowd cracked up. Because when you are a Presidential candidate who is being specific about which woman you are calling a fat pig, dog, slob, and disgusting animal, it’s suddenly hilarious?

Kelly continued:

Your Twitter account has several disparaging comments about women’s looks. You once told a contestant on The Celebrity Apprentice it would be a ‘pretty picture’ to see her on her knees. Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president? And how will you answer the charge from Hillary Clinton, who was likely to be the Democratic nominee, that you are part of the ‘war on women’?

Donald went right for the common excuse of “Political Correctness”

I think the big problem this country has is being politically correct,” he said. “I’ve been challenged by so many people, and I don’t frankly have time for total political correctness. And to be honest with you, this country doesn’t have time either.

When people use the term “Politically Correct” is this way, it’s typically an attempt to justify their choice to treat people – usually oppressed people – without basic human respect, thus adding to the group’s oppression. As if treating people with respect is somehow a massive waste of time and just too difficult to even contemplate. In a fabulous piece about this for Vox, Amanda Taub wrote:

“political correctness” isn’t a real thing. Rather, the term is a sort of catchall charge that’s used against people who ask for more sensitivity to a particular cause than we’re willing to give — a way to dismiss issues as frivolous in order to justify ignoring them. It’s a way to say that their concerns don’t deserve to be voiced, much less addressed.

The fact that this is bullshit can be easily illustrated by replacing “political correctness” with the concept of treating people with respect. Let’s illustrate using Donald’s quote:

I think the big problem this country has is treating people with respect. So many people have pointed out to me that my treatment of people is not respectful, and I don’t frankly have time for treating people with respect. And to be honest with you, this country doesn’t have time to treat people with respect either.

Because as President, Donald would make sure that we live in a country where we are all clear that calling women (including and especially Rosie O’Donnell) fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals is a time-saver that will really help our country be its best. (By the way, after the debate Trump claimed that he never said those things. It will likely not come as a surprise that he was lying.)

The idea that it’s completely acceptable, even Presidential, to get cheap laughs through sexism and sizeism,  and then (when people point out how it is disrespectful and oppressive) trying to make the problem the people pointing it out – rather than the people who are being disrespectful, oppressive, bullies – is very seriously screwed up.  I think that fighting against the concept of “Political Correctness” as a justification for oppression is an important of part of the overall fight against oppression.  I think that we do have time to treat people with respect, and I think that doing so it part of what would really make our country its best.

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

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Published in: on August 11, 2015 at 8:25 am  Comments (27)  

The Size We’re Supposed to Be

I get a lot of questions about set point theory – the idea that each person’s body has a genetically determined set point. I think it’s an interesting theory and not implausible – I do think that bodies come in varied sizes just like everything else in nature.

I think the evidence also pretty clearly shows that dieting messes with our bodies, since at least a year after dieting studies have shown that the mechanisms the body has for the express purpose or regaining and maintaining weight are still different than in someone who didn’t diet, and the majority of diets end in weight gain.

While I think this is interesting to think about, I also think that when it comes to size diversity and acceptance it’s important that we keep our eye on the ball.  We have to be careful that we’re not making it sound like we have to prove that our fat is “not our fault” in order to deserve to be treated well.

It doesn’t matter what size someone is or why they are that size, it’s absolutely none of anybody else’s business, and everybody deserves to be treated with basic human respect.  (Those wishing to make a “won’t somebody think of my tax dollars fatties are so expensive blah blah blah” argument can head to this post. )

Too often I see people respond to fat shaming, not by insisting that we should treat every body with respect,  but instead suggesting that we should do a “better” job figuring out who deserves abuse, stigma, and shame from society.  (See also:  “It’s ok to be fat as long as you’re healthy” ) Let me help out: NOBODY.  Nobody deserves to be treated the way that fat people are treated in this society and it doesn’t matter how fat we are, why we are that fat, or what being that fat means.

The idea that this is about behavior or personal responsibility is utterly laughable – there are plenty of sedentary thin people whose diet is based in fast food (which is fine and also nobody’s business) but people don’t scream epithets at them from their cars or argue that they should lose their civil rights until they exercise or try to calculate their “cost” to society.  Nope – this is about bullying a group of people because of how they look.

Imagine if we were honest about the fact that whatever size we are, and regardless of why we are that size, the truth is that we are unlikely to ever be significantly smaller in the long term and that it’s completely ok to be fat.  Maybe then we could stop talking about if our fat is our fault,  and start talking about the life we want to live in the bodies we have now.

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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

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!

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, you can 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 August 8, 2015 at 7:42 am  Comments (13)  

Freezing Fat People for Fun and Profit

You Forgot Your BullshitA company is joining the legion of diet companies perpetrated a fraud by suggesting that they can produce lasting weight loss.  In this incarnation, it’s shoes and a vest that make you cold. They claim that based on the research, being cold (almost, but not to, the point of shivering) will lead to weight loss. (Thanks to reader Elisabeth for letting me know about this.) How is this completely ridiculous?  Let me count the ways.

The “science” that they point to includes a study were 24 men sat in a room cooled to 61F for two hours, a study where 6 men remained inactive for three hours while wearing a cold suit,  a study where 12 men sat in a cold room for 2 hours a day for six weeks, a study of rats, and a Daily Mail article (none of which measured weight loss.)  Oh, and an anecdote about Michael Felps during the time he was training for the Beijing Olympics. Because clearly the most decorated Olympian of all time is a statistically significant, widely extrapolatable sample unto himself. (And if they want to play a round of “anecdata” I know plenty of fat people who live and work in the cold who are still fat.) 

So, based on the experiences of 43 people, one of whom is a 22-time Olympic Medalist who is still training for the Olympics, and none of whom lost any weight, we’re supposed to believe that this is an evidence-based weight loss “body hack” (They love to use the word “hack,” I guess “bullshit that doesn’t work” is just not as hip.)

And this is the state of “science” around weight loss – no matter how ridiculous the premise, no matter how weak the evidence, no matter how many embarrassingly lacking the scientific method may be, if someone thin says that they know how to make fat lose weight, we are all supposed to hop to and do whatever they say, and not ask any questions (because lord knows they don’t have answers.)

What’s sad is that there are real world applications for this technology, there are plenty of people who could use cooling clothing/shoes – those who work outdoors, athletes, people dealing with hot flashes, everybody who lives in Texas – but that’s not where the billions are.

The billions are in lying to people and telling them, even though there is not a bit of evidence that this will lead to long term weight loss, that they know how to manipulate people’s body sizes to move them out of an oppressed class, and give them better health. It’s snake oil, only colder. At least this isn’t likely to kill us, but it’s still unconscionable to prey on people who are the victims of so much oppression by lying and saying that you can change them to accommodate their oppressors.

Also, I just have to mention the sizing of this. It comes in men’s and women’s sizes, both start at XXS , the women’s go to 2XL, and the men’s to 3XL (though they claim that they can accommodate other sizes.)  If you need further proof that our society is super messed up when it comes to body image, look no further than the fact that they are selling a weight loss device in size extra-extra-small.  Not that it’s ok that they are selling it to fat people – it’s a crock of crap at any size. Unfortunately they can try to sell us whatever they want, but happily we don’t have to buy it.

By the way, big thanks to my Facebook friends for helping me decide on a title (it was between “Ice Ice Fatty” or “Fatties on Ice” or “Freezing Fat People for Fun and Profit”) In addition to helping me choose the title, they came up with some other suggestions and I didn’t want to deprive you of their comedic talents so here are some others that they came up with (feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments.)

Fatties on Ice? That’s Not Nice! (a little play on the old Riunite ads)

You’re ass cold as ice

The Iced Fat Cometh

Fatty Chills

Freezing Reason

fatcicles

The cold always bothers me anyway…Let us goooooo

Do you want to build a snowfat?

Fatties on (Thin) Ice

Sometimes, when something is this ridiculous, I just have to laugh about it.

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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!

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

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!

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, you can 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 August 7, 2015 at 7:47 am  Comments (33)  

When Good Friends Post Bad Fat Jokes

WTF are you doingThe internet is chock full of fat jokes so they can be difficult to avoid, but it’s always extra upsetting when someone we think of as a friend posts one of them.  I’ve talked about those terrible “People of Walmart” pictures before, today I’m talking about something more subtle  – jokes that suggest, for example, that just existing as a fat person is somehow hilarious, or cheap jokes based on lazy stereotypes.

Like all oppressive BS, we get to choose how to deal with this.  The choices we make might change from day to day, or even hour to hour based on the situation, our relationships with the people involved, and how we feel on any given day (maybe we feel like doing some activism, or maybe we need a break from standing up to bullshit behavior,) and all choices are valid.  Here are some options:

Do nothing

Yup, just ignoring this is an option.

Hide/unfriend

Depending on the platform where this is happening, it may be an option to hide this particular post, all future posts, or to unfriend the person.

Private message

You can send them a message and say something like “You may not be aware, but the post you made earlier was really hurtful in the way that it [insert issue here]

  • stereotypes people like me
  • uses people like me as the butt of a joke
  • tries to make appearance-based bigotry funny

We are [friends/family/etc.] and I know that you didn’t mean to post something hurtful, but you did and I’d really appreciate it if you take it down.

Or

Can we talk about that joke that you posted earlier, it really hurt my feelings that you would post a joke that is based on stereotyping people like me.

Be Prepared!  They may refuse to take it down and/or attack you. When people are confronted with their inappropriate behavior they often try to make the person who confronts them the problem – be prepared to be called “oversensitive,” to be accused of having no sense of humor, of not being able to take a joke etc.  At that point you’ll need to decide what to do moving forward and the options range from doing nothing, to trying to continue the conversation, to ending the friendship.

Reply publicly

Leave a reply explaining exactly why this “joke” isn’t funny, or cool to post.  Again, be prepared for people to try to make you the problem. Remember that you get to decide how to reply, how long to involve yourself in the conversation and you can opt out at any time.

It can be incredibly hurtful when a good friend posts a fat joke, to me the most important thing to remember is that your feelings are totally valid, and while you may be able to control your reactions, you can’t control their actions. If things get bad you can use a three-step boundary setting process:

  1. Explain what you would like.
  2. Explain the (realistic) consequence, if you don’t get it.
  3. Follow through.

Make sure to choose a consequence that you can truly follow through with.  So maybe you say:

  1. I need my facebook wall to be free from fat jokes
  2. If you insist on posting fat jokes I’ll need to unfriend you.
  3. If they post another fat joke, unfriend and let them know why.

or maybe something like this:

  1. I’m not willing to be friends with someone who engages in weight bigotry
  2. If you continue to engage in weight bigotry then we can’t be friends.
  3. If they continue to engage in weight bigotry then, in the words of DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, if they were laughing you don’t need ’em cause they’re not good friends.

Remember that this is not an argument about whether or not their behavior constitutes weight bigotry, you get to determine what you feel is offensive and you get to set boundaries based on that.

For more support around this check out

When you have to confront weight stigma

and

Five Phrases for Size Acceptance Self-Defense

It’s not you, it’s them.  Bullying, stigma, and oppression are the problem, fat people are not, and we get to choose how we deal with it and whatever choices we make are valid.

Join Me In a Q&A with Michelle Hess!

Today (8/5/15) at 4pm Pacific I’ll be a guest on Brave Girl Coaching’s Body Positive Q&A series.  Check it out here! You can listen in and ask questions of your own!

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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!

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

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!

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, you can 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 August 5, 2015 at 9:36 am  Comments (15)  

There’s No Such Thing as “Acting Fat”

facepalmThis is something that came up several ways in several places today so I wanted to address it.  It’s the concept that someone can “act fat.” The three situations that I saw were:

Someone ate a lot and said that they “ate like a fat kid”

Someone had a slow run and said that they “ran like a fatty”

Someone described skipping their workout as being “fatty for a day”

Dude, no.  Here’s what actually happened:

A thin person ate a lot.

A thin person ran slowly.

A thin person skipped their workout today.

Being fat is a body size/composition, it is not a behavior or group of behaviors – fat people have as wide and varied experiences and choices as any group of people who share a single physical characteristic. There are people of all sizes who eat “a lot”, run “slowly” (or not at all) and skipped their workout today (or don’t workout ever).  There are people of all sizes who eat “a little”, run “fast”, and didn’t skip their workout today. These are all totally valid choices, they are also all personal choices that are nobody else’s business.

When people say that they are “acting fat” what they are actually doing is acting like the kind of asshole who stereotypes people based on how they look.  This is actually two layers of crap. The first layer is the mistaken idea that our personal choices around food and exercise should be judged at all, the second layer is that we should associates specific ways of behaving with broad appearance-based categories (ie: fat and thin.)

Our body sizes and our behaviors are two different things, neither of which should be up for public comment, or be anybody else’s business unless we ask them to make it their business (anyone wishing to make a “but muh tax dollarz!” argument should check out this post.)  When a thin person chooses not to exercise they are not “acting fat” any more than when I train for an IRONMAN I’m “acting thin.”  We’re just different sized people doing (or not doing) our own personal stuff.

Own your choices – if you are a thin person who eats a lot, runs slowly, is skipping a workout, is licking donuts (that you already own!), etc. that’s all fine, but it has absolutely nothing to do with fat people, so kindly leave us out of it.

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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!

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

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!

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, you can 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 August 4, 2015 at 9:08 am  Comments (14)  

When Fat Women Prefer Thin Models

Ask QuestionsIn a conversation I was having today, several of us were talking about our frustration with stores that sell plus-sized clothing but don’t use plus-sized models (and by “plus-sized models” I mean models who wear actual plus sized clothes – preferably models in all the sizes that the clothing comes in, but definitely someone who could actually wear the clothes in real life, the idea being that seeing the clothes on the model should give us some idea how the clothes might look on us, rather than showing us how they would look on thin women while being gathered at the back with industrial sized clips.)

As often happens in these conversations, someone brought up the fact that there is research that shows that plus-sized women bought more clothes when they were advertised on a “straight sized” model than on an actual plus-sized model.  The person who brought it up acted as though that was the end of the conversation.  I think it’s just the beginning.

According to a controversial study from Arizona State University:

“We found that overweight consumers demonstrated lower self-esteem – and therefore probably less enthusiasm about buying products – after exposure to any size models in ads (versus ads with no models). Also, normal-weight consumers experienced lower self-esteem after exposure to moderately heavy models, such as those in Dove soap’s ‘Real Women’ campaign, than after exposure to moderately thin models.”

Here’s my question:  Do you think it just might, maybe, possibly be because we have been so aggressively sold the idea that there is only one body type that is “beautiful”/worthy to be seen, that we’ve started to believe it, and so as a culture when we see someone outside of the single image of beauty that we are sold  99.999999999% of the time we experience a conditioned response and immediately think “That’s a bad body.  That body is wrong.  My body is like that. My body is wrong.”?

Instead of looking at this study, asking the question that I asked, and pondering their culpability in the situation, what I see the media and advertisers and clothing companies doing is hiding behind the study and continuing to perpetuate their singular idea of beauty on the grounds that we like it better, which continues to reinforce that any body outside of that ideal is somehow unworthy of being seen, which means that we like the “ideal” more, and like our own bodies less.  Especially in a world where we almost never see an image that has not been so “retouched” that it is a completely impossible standard of beauty. Does this seem like a good idea to you?  I think it’s pretty much crap.  If we want things to change, then we’re going to have to get it done ourselves, which I think includes insisting that the stores that want us to give them our fat money put their clothes on fat models.

In the meantime, here are some things that we can do for ourselves:

Seek out pictures of bodies of all sizes, look at them every day.  Find things about them that you like. Start to really look around you at the diversity of bodies that exist, and appreciating that diversity.  I think that the ability to appreciate all kinds of bodies is a skill that, in most of us, is left under-developed because society tries to convince us that beauty is singular and objective.

Decide, right now, that you are above putting down other bodies to make you feel better about yours (even if you only think it), or for any other reason.  Start to notice any time you think anything negative about anyone’s body and stop yourself and replace it with a positive thought.  Refuse to participate in body snarking with other people.  Be the change.

Find ways to love your own body.  If you want some help check out Love Your Body More in Three Simple Steps

Want some places to start looking at beautiful bodies of all sizes?  Check these out for a start:

I have a gallery of my own pictures on this site.

The Adipositivity Project (NSFW)

VoluptuArt has amazing pieces to look at and buy.  I have done both and I love the stuff.  (Nope, they don’t give me anything to say that, they most likely have no idea who I am)

This post (check the comments for lots of amazing pictures of fat people doing awesome stuff from belly dancing to hammer throwing).

These videos:

As always, if you know of others please add them in the comments.

Our thin-obsessed culture makes it easy to believe the lie that some bodies are better than other bodies, but it’s still a lie, and we don’t have to be duped into believing it.

Like the blog?  More Cool Stuff!

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!

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

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!

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, you can 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 August 3, 2015 at 9:05 am  Comments (24)  

Nope, That’s Not a Compliment

Reality and PerceptionFat people get a lot of negative messages about our bodies every day. One way to fight this is to change the number of positive messages. Unfortunately I’ve found that some people don’t know the difference between an authentic compliment, and saying something really offensive. It’s cool though, I’m here to help.

Allow me to elucidate using personal experience from a meeting to which I wore a sleeveless shirt and a skirt (and where I typically wear pants):

“Look at you, rocking a dress!” (said positively, no hint of sarcasm).

Compliment.  Well done. (Yes, it’s technically a skirt and not a dress, but that’s not important right now.)

Oh (makes pensive face), I didn’t think you wore dresses.  I actually think pants suit you better.”

Nope, not a compliment.  Not a thing to say at all really.  Maybe should have used your inner monologue on this one.

facepalm

“Wow, I don’t think I’ve seen you wear a skirt before.  You look so cute.”

Compliment.  That’s how you do it!

“I just wanted to tell you that I think you’re very brave to wear a sleeveless shirt, I always feel like my arms are too fat” (said by someone less than half my size).

Swing and a miss, I’m afraid.  Not a compliment.  I appreciate that you’ve made it clear that this is your issue and not mine, but really if your “compliment” starts with “you’re so brave” and doesn’t end with the equivalent of “for saving those kids from those wild animals”, you might consider skipping it.

An open letter to that fat person I saw and made all those assumptions about.

World of no. Galaxy of no. Universe of no. No.  These people should stick to posting facebook updates with adorable animals and keep the stereotype-ridden open letters in their diaries.

WTF are you doing

So a quick summary of indications that what you are about to say is not a compliment:

  • You would be offended if someone said it about you (“I just wanted to tell you that I think you’re very brave to wear your hair like that”)
  • You can imagine that immediately after saying it you’re going to have to follow it up with “but I meant it as a compliment!”
  • …or “Don’t be so sensitive, I was trying to be nice.”
  • You are complimenting someone for not conforming to your stereotypes about them (“You’re not like those other fat people.”)

So, it’s pretty simple:

Think.

Compliment.

Repeat.

Like the blog?  More Cool Stuff!

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!

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

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!

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, you can 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 August 1, 2015 at 6:10 am  Comments (36)  

Two Common Questions about Health at Every Size

Ask QuestionsI got an e-mail from reader Sarah, who asked the two most common questions that I hear about starting a personal Health at Every Size practice.  I’m going to answer them but before I do, just a reminder that the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are not size, health, or “healthy habit”, dependent, nobody is obligated to pursue health or health habits by any definition.  Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size are two separate things, more about this here.

So the answers to these questions are for those who are interested in considering/practicing HAES, but we each get to choose how highly we prioritize our health and the path that we take to get their and that’s not anyone else’s business unless we decide to make it their business.  Now that we’re clear on that, here is Sarah’s e-mail:

I have been reading your book and like it so far. I like the message that fat and health are not synonymous. I’ve heard about the HAES movement and feel it is the best option for me. I do have have a question or two for you:

1) I think a big part of my own health needs to be loving myself and I find that difficult. Any tips?

2) How does one eat healthy and exercise without weight loss in mind?  Every time I try try a health approach,  I I was end up worried about weight loss so I become scale dependent and depressed if it isn’t going well.  I also tend to restrict too much and that never lasts long.

I don’t think that there is a single answer to question 1, I think it’s a process and it’s different for everyone.  My journey started without getting to a place of being really grateful for what my body did.  Then came the realization that the ability to perceive beauty is a skill (so if I can’t see the beauty in someone, it’s not because they aren’t beautiful, it’s because my skill set is lacking.) The last steps were the hardest and they started when I got to the point where every body but mine was beautiful.   Feel free to get support around this, using  books, blogs, classes and coaching. To me the  most important thing was making the decision – I wasn’t going to stop until I figured out how to love myself, no matter what it took.  From there it was about learning things, trying things and celebrating progress.

The second question is hands down the most common one I get.  Many of us have been so inundated with the idea that the only acceptable “outcome” of eating and moving is weight loss, that we can’t imagine what other goals there could be.  My advice here is to set goals that you can, for at least the most part, control and then measure those.

For example, one of my goals is five servings of vegetables a day.  Another is at least 150 minutes of movement a week (of course training for the IRONMAN I get way more than this.)   These are things that I can, for the most part, control.  I can then measure things like how I feel, my energy level, strength, stamina, and flexibility to see how I’m doing.  Sometimes I set specific goals, like as a random hypothetical completing an IRONMAN triathlon.   In that case I get a training program, set intermediate smaller goals, and work through that.

I want to suggest a bit of caution with using metabolic health (blood glucose, cholesterol, blood pressure etc.) as a measure of success. These things can be affected by behaviors, but they can also be affected by genetics, other medications, and other factors.  I think it’s interesting to get these measurements taken sometimes, but it’s important to remember that while you may be in control of the behaviors, you cannot control the outcome.

I would also recommend making your health practice blame free, shame free, and future oriented.  As far as I can see, there’s no point in having any blame or shame for where we are now.  The only thing that we can hope to control at this moment is our behavior moving forward (and that can often rely on how much privilege we have around access, money, and physical and mental health and other factors) .

To me, that’s at the heart of choosing the Health at Every Size.paradigm rather than the weight loss paradigm (and of course there are more than just two choices)  HAES holds that people at every size can make choices based on their prioritization of health and the path we choose and our current situation (rather than the weight loss paradigm which suggests feeding our bodies less food than they need to survive in the hope that they will eat themselves and become smaller, and also healthier.)

I think the research suggests that, while of course there are never any guarantees and health is never entirely within our control, healthy behaviors are the best way for me to support my body.  Based on the research I have rejected the idea that my best way to support my body is to use food and movement in an attempt to manipulate my size and hope that health comes along for that ride.

Finally, I think it helps to look at the whole thing as a journey, and remember that, like all journeys, there will be ups and downs and good days and bad days. What I know is that since i left the diet lifestyle to pursue Health at Every Size I’m healthier – but I also know that my health could change at any time, but  know that I’m happier, my ups are higher and my downs are less low, and I have healthy relationships with food, movement, and my body, and a sense of peace and partnership with my body that never seemed possible during my diet days.  Your mileage, of course, may vary.

Like the blog?  More Cool Stuff!

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!

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

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!

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, you can 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 July 30, 2015 at 7:27 am  Comments (35)