Fashion for Good and Evil

Biscuit doesn't care about flatteringAlysse Dalessandro is the designer, entrepreneur, and general badass behind Ready To Starea body positive clothing company that sells clothes from small to 5xl all at the same price, using diverse models.  In short Alysse uses fashion for good – for empowerment and size diversity activism, and encouraging people to find and rock their own personal style, which is awesome.  She posted the following picture to Facebook, highlighting some wide-calf thigh high boots she found that her readers had been requesting.

Alysse 1.png

Because she looks so damn fierce, this post got shared around Facebook.  And that’s when it ran into people who use fashion for evil. When I say evil, I mean people who use fashion to put other people down,  judge other people, and try to enforce body-negative, anti-fat stereotypes of beauty, including and especially using the coded concept of “flattering.”

We tend to see these comments, well, basically anytime a fat person posts a picture of themselves wearing an outfit that isn’t all black and designed to be “slimming.” There are lots of ways that people make this mistake – and it’s a mistake that’s encouraged by a fatphobic culture – so I thought I would take some time today and dissect one of the comments that managed to commit all of the mistakes at once.

I’m a big girl myself and I think those boots are horrible and way too tight, I understand embracing plus size etc but them boots and the whole style makes me feel uncomfortable. It looks so unattractive. But I suppose as long as she’s comfortable and happy that is all that matters.

Let’s break this down:

I’m a big girl myself

Internalized fatphobia is real.  It happens when fat people live in a fatphobic society and accept the opinions and messages of their stigmatizers, bullies, and oppressors as valid. They take this to the next level when they choose to become a stigmatizer, bully, and oppressor by engaging in anti-fat sentiment, like this comment. Often they aren’t even fully aware of what they are doing or how it hurts people because fatphobia is modeled so ubiquitously in our culture as normal.

Consequently,there may be plenty of fat people who are willing to participate in fatphobia, but that doesn’t make fatphobia any more valid, or any less oppressive and wrong.

I think those boots are horrible and way too tight, I understand embracing plus size etc but them boots and the whole style makes me feel uncomfortable.

At this point I want to remind you that Alysse captioned her picture “Since everyone always asks where I got these boots – I found some similar ones!”  and did not caption it “Please take this opportunity to direct your fatphobia (internalized or otherwise) at me.”

Sounds like maybe this person doesn’t “understand embracing plus size etc.” It’s ok to choose to wear clothes based on whatever your reasons might be.  It’s ok to dislike someone’s outfit, but there’s really no need to say (or write) it out loud, unless you feel that it’s important for you to vocally police other fat people who refuse to bow to the strictures of diet culture and/or choose to dress differently than you.

If someone’s outfit makes us feel uncomfortable, that might be a good indicator that it’s time for some self-work, not a Facebook comment. Either way, if someone doesn’t ask for our negative opinion about their outfit, there is literally no good reason in the world for us to give it.

It looks so unattractive.

Again, if we don’t like it, we should feel free not to wear it, but let’s not pretend that we are the arbiters of what is and is not attractive.  And let’s not forget that “attractive” is another coded word that, when used about fat people, all-too-often means  “slimming” or “making one look as tall and thin as possible.”  What is and is not attractive is subjective, so unless there is a ceremony appointing us the judge of attractiveness (and if there is, I would hold out for a glittery gavel) our opinion of what is attractive is a great way for us to decide what to wear, and has nothing to do with what other people wear.

But I suppose as long as she’s comfortable and happy that is all that matters.

Note that the person feels free to criticize the outfit and call it “unattractive” as if that is fact,  but couches this – the only factual statement in the bunch – with “I suppose…”

If the commenter understands this – and I sincerely hope they do –  then they should also understand that there was no point to voicing the rest of the comment, other than to put another fat person down in the service of fatphobia, which is the last thing that we need.

It’s difficult to live in a fatphobic society, and it’s easy to get caught in the trap of fatphobia (including internalized fatphobia.) So here’s one concrete action we can take:  if we see a fat person wearing an outfit we don’t like, it’s perfectly fine to decide that it’s not to our taste, it’s perfectly fine to take a pass on wearing it, but we can also choose to keep our negative thoughts to ourselves, thereby making sure that we don’t add to the epic load of fatphobic BS that we have to deal with already.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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

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 November 18, 2016 at 9:33 am  Comments (6)  

Khloé Kardashian Urges Bullied People to Hand Over Their Lunch Money

Nothing to proveKhloé Kardashian has a new show called “Revenge Body.”  The premise is “Let’s make our haters our biggest motivators” and to that end people who have been bullied are given a team of trainers and “beauty experts” to help them go to drastic measures to look like people they assume their bullies would not have bullied which, for Khloé, passes for “revenge.”

While people are allowed to do whatever they want with their bodies for whatever their reasons, this, to me, is no kind of revenge.  This is spending a ton of time, energy, and money to give the bullies exactly what they wanted, and then asking for their approval.  It’s like saying “give the bullies your lunch money, that’ll show ’em!”

We don’t owe our bullies anything, least of all manipulation of our body size, eyebrow waxing, or uncomfortable shoes – however “fashionable” they might be.  Oppression takes a lot of different forms, and oppression against people who are believed to be able to move out of an oppressed group often leads to people feeling vindicated in their suggestion that the best way to solve social stigma is for stigmatized people to change ourselves.

As a queer woman I’ve been told that if I don’t like being the victim of homophobia I should date a dude. As a fat woman I’ve been told that if I don’t like being the victim of fatphobia I should become thin.  In both cases it doesn’t actually matter if it’s possible to change myself, because the cure for social stigma is ending social stigma – not for stigmatized people to try to squeeze ourselves in a mold someone else created for us.

I will not try to manipulate my body size for some kind of twisted victim-blaming concept of “revenge.” I will wield my beautiful fat body like a weapon.  I will love it, I will care for it, I will move it, I will show it in public, I will viciously defend my body against anyone who seeks to classify it as anything but amazing. The problem here isn’t how we look, it’s that people bully us for how we look. I don’t care about revenge, but I do demand social change.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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

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 November 17, 2016 at 8:19 am  Comments (7)  

It’s Not Logic, It’s Fatphobia

facepalmThe Toronto Transit Commission created a campaign about public transportation that juxtaposed public transportation backgrounds with dancers from the National Ballet of Canada.  Fat activist Jill Andrew pointed out that the campaign falls short on inclusivity and representation when it comes to who uses the TTC. She explained:

We can’t deny that there is a lot of body-based discrimination that happens … within our moves around the city…My experience as a racialized woman, as a fat woman, I’ve been called an f-ing fat black b—- on the TTC, is this video really moving me? Is this video at all depicting me on the move?  The body types of most ballet dancers do not adequately represent those of most Canadians and, I dare say, most TTC users. This is simply an opportunity to reflect on who is being left out by an ad campaign such as this.

Predictably someone wrote an article to whine that Jill is being “too sensitive” (with thanks to the always amazing Tigress Osborn for making me aware of this.)  That someone is Erin Davis who wrote about this for Notable.com in a piece in which she prefaces an attempt to discredit the words of a fat activist by saying “I am all for the ever-important body positivity movement.” Right. Out of curiosity Erin, what would this piece have looked like if you weren’t “all for the ever-important body positivity movement?” You know what, never mind.

When requests for inclusivity and representation are met with shouts of “oversensitive” and “too-PC” it’s a pretty good bet that it’s being done by someone who is not thinking critically. As if to make it crystal clear that she just doesn’t get it, Erin makes the common mistake of confusing logic for fatphobia when she “explains” the lack body diversity of the ballet dancers in the ads saying: “Dancers look the way they do because they’re dancers.”

Except that’s not actually true at all. The truth is that dancers look the way they do because if they don’t look that way they have almost no chance of being employed regardless of how talented they are because of the rampant fatphobia that exists in the dance world.

So Erin has actually been duped by the very lack of representation that Jill Andrew is pointing out and that Erin is trying to shout down as being “over-sensitive.”  Priceless.

Representation is important, and it’s important to think about who creates the images that we see in the media, what their own prejudices and/or profit motives might be, and it’s important to question that lack of representation not just of fat bodies, but also of People of Color, disabled people/people with disabilities, and other under-represented groups and those with multiple marginalized identities.

So while I don’t love Erin’s article, I do appreciate the great job that she did of proving my (and, as far as I’m concerned, Jill Andrew’s) point: Representation Matters.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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

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 November 16, 2016 at 2:40 pm  Comments (7)  

So Your Friend is Suddenly a Weight Loss Genius

WTF are you doingI got this question from a blog reader:

How do you cope with people who have lost significant amounts of weight, and who suddenly seem to think that they have all the answers? I have seen this recently with a few acquaintances, one of whom has lost a massive amount of weight and now seems to spend most of her time criticising others for being unable to do the same. I’ve expressed my concerns to her- firstly that she’s using [a commercial weight loss program], which means she may well put all the weight back on again- but also that her manner has become incredibly toxic and fat phobic. She is not the only one, though.

I suppose what I’m saying is, how can people who know what its like to be the subject of fat-shaming and discrimination suddenly forget all that and perpetrate it against it others once their circumstances change?

This is something that has happened to every fat person I know.  We have a friend who experiences short term weight loss and suddenly they are a Weight Loss genius and expert on why everyone should be thin.  Often it doesn’t matter if they themselves struggled for a long time, or even if this isn’t their first ride on the diet roller coaster.  Of course, people are allowed to do whatever they want with their bodies, but that doesn’t make it ok for them to add to the oppression of fat people by diet culture.

Let’s start with some of the reasons this happens (of course your mileage – and everyone else’s – may vary so these things may or may not be true for your newly minted weight loss genius friend.) I think it’s a confluence of things having to do with our culture’s obsession with weight loss and thinness:

They have, for the moment anyway, moved themselves out of a stigmatized social class. They are like the kids who suddenly became popular in high school and then join their new “cool” friends in teasing the kids who used to be their friends in junior high.  They are enjoying their new-found privilege and acceptance and they feel like they need to use the language of the people who used to oppress them to keep it, so they now sound like a walking, talking weight loss add complete with before and after pictures and weight and measurement changes that they tell anyone who will listen.

This often comes with a double dose of anything from advice to scorn for the people in their lives who are fat, and especially those of us who aren’t engaged in weight loss. This is because the “cool” kids are only powerful if everyone else wants to be them, so if they are resting their self-esteem on thin being more valuable than fat, but we don’t buy into that and we don’t think that thin is any more valuable, that challenges everything for them from their self-esteem to their social status.

The second issue is the way that we are taught to credit everything good to thinness/weight loss and everything bad to fatness.  There is a more complete explanation here, but the basic issue happens when people make behavior changes and they experience health changes and weight loss (at least for the short term) as a result.  Instead of seeing both the health changes and the weight loss changes as side effects of the behavior changes, they give all the credit to the weight loss.

Often people will credit weight loss with better treatment socially, when the fact is that they have, at least in the short term, solved social stigma by changing themselves to appease their oppressors. Basically they’ve given the bullies their lunch money and, at least for the moment, the bullies have stopped beating them up. It’s important to make the distinction because otherwise they are oppressing fat people by blaming our bodies when the actual problem is the stigma, bullying, and oppression we face because of weigh bias.

And then, sometimes, it’s just blatantly done for profit.

As far as how to handle it:

I suggest that you resist, with conviction, the urge to tell them how good they look now – it sounds like you are saying that they looked bad before.  If we want to opt out of a world where some bodies are seen as better than others, then not suggesting that somebody’s body is better because it’s a different size is probably a decent place to start.

Often when this happens people are really excited and expecting a compliment. I know that there is an extremely high chance that they are going to gain the weight back.  For that reason I try to comment in a way that will lessen the self-esteem hit if they end up in the vast majority.

By the way, if they don’t bring up the weight loss I don’t bring it up. Weight loss isn’t always welcome – it can be from medical issues, medication, stress, grieving etc. and I don’t want to bring up something painful. Plus this conversation is awkward enough, I’m not going to go through it if I don’t have to. (If you’re dealing with unwanted weight loss compliments, or want some suggestions for talking about your weight loss without hurting fat people in the process, I have some suggestions for you here!)

If they bring up weight loss what I tend to say is something like “I’m glad that you are happy” or “You were beautiful before and you still are” or something that is as neutral as possible.  While it’s important to me that people be allowed to make choices for themselves including the choice to attempt weight loss, it’s also important to me that I not perpetuate and praise diet culture or make it seem as if I think a body is more valuable or in some way better if it is currently smaller than it was before. Other people feel differently about this, choosing to celebrate other people’s weight loss and of course that’s their right.

If you are uncomfortable with the amount/frequency of diet talk and weight loss talk, you have several choices. You can decide to just live with it (in this case having a mantra that you say in your head like can be helpful – I use “hey, that’s bullshit!”)

You can try responding to diet and weight loss talk with Size Acceptance and/or Health at Every Size talk (ie: Them: “I ate super clean today and I’ve lost however many pounds this week” you: “I just feel so much freer, happier, and healthier not moralizing food or talking about my weight!”).

You can change the subject. My friend Jeanette (aka The Fat Chick) told me about a friend of hers who memorized a bunch of facts about monkeys and every time someone brings up diet or weight loss talk, she uses one of her random facts to change the subject to monkeys.

It’s also perfectly ok to set boundaries. Something like “I respect the choices you make and how you feel about your body, but I’m not interested in diet or weight loss talk so if we’re going to hang out we need to find other things to talk about.”

However you decide to handle it, it’s also totally reasonable and ok to be disappointed and hurt by your friend’s actions, and remember that however you choose to deal with it on any given day is totally valid, as are your choices to not be part of diet and weight loss culture.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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

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

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

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

 

Published in: on November 15, 2016 at 11:56 am  Comments (16)  

That Fat and Fingernails Thing

that's not how this worksEvery once in awhile a meme starts going around social media that says “You are not fat.  You have fat.  You also have fingernails.  But you are not fingernails.”  I’ve seen this in plenty of versions and I think it’s problematic on a lot of levels. It must be going around again because I’ve been getting a bunch of requests about it, so I’m re-posting my response.

First of all, as regular readers have probably already sussed out, I would be much more comfortable if this was written from the perspective of how someone feels about/for themselves instead of dictating to others how we should feel (ie: “I’m not fat, I have fat” instead of “You are not fat, you have fat”.)  People are allowed to look at their bodies this way because, hey, underpants rule.  That said, I think it’s an idea worth some exploring.

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

I don’t think the research suggests that most fat people will remove our fat.  Regardless, knowing that it’s possible that time and circumstance might change the size of my body, I don’t think that’s a reason to not identify the way that it looks now. I call myself a brunette even though it’s basically a certainty that I will someday have hair that is gray and not brown. So even though there’s the possibility that my body may someday not be fat (through illness etc. – it’s certainly not a goal of mine) I’m definitely fat right now. So why would I want to find a semantic way out of it?

The actual problem is the way that people with fat bodies are stigmatized, stereotyped, bullied, marginalized, and oppressed. I’m just not sure this can be solved by “having” instead of “being” fat. To me the fact that identifying a body as fat is considered an insult is a symptom of a problem, not the actual problem – so this can’t be solved through wordplay.  If brunettes were being oppressed I don’t think there is much to be gained by saying that I’m not a brunette, I just have brown hair.

Similarly, since fat people are being oppressed, I don’t think there is much to be gained by saying that I’m not fat, I just have fat.  Mostly because no matter how I describe myself, people can still see me, and these oppressions are based on how I look to others, not on how I describe myself.  I also understand that the word “fat” has been used as derisive and I understand that not everyone is into using it as a reclaiming term and everybody gets to decide that for themselves.  For me, using the word fat to describe myself without apology tells my bullies that they can’t have my lunch money any more, and avoids pathologizing my body in the way that terms like “overweight” and “obese” do.

It’s possible that people would give me slightly better treatment (however begrudgingly) if I said that I’m not fat – I have fat, or if I characterized myself as being overweight in a way that indicates that I believe there’s a problem with my body.  I’m ok with passing on that “approval”, because  I am far more interested in fighting stereotyping, stigma, bullying and oppression, than I am in trying to avoid it through wordplay or concessions that I can make to my oppressors.  Other people may see this differently and/or make other choices than I do and, of course, that’s completely fine. But as for me, I am fat because I have fat and I’m fine with that.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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

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

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

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

Published in: on November 14, 2016 at 1:51 pm  Comments (14)  

Should You Wear a Safety Pin – Say Something Sunday

People in the US are borrowing a response to Brexit.  It’s the small act of wearing a safety pin to show that we are in solidarity with marginalized groups.  This is in response to the US having a president-elect who ran on a platform of blatant racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, misogyny, anti-Queer anti-Trans sentiment, and anti-Semitism, whose election was supported, endorsed, and celebrated by the KKK, and who has appointed a white supremacist and a boatload of viciously anti-queer and trans people to his transition team,

As word of this project has been getting around, there have been arguments against it, and a few hundred of you have asked me what I think.  I thought I would discuss the major arguments that I’ve seen and then give my thoughts:

The first argument I’ve seen is the idea that you shouldn’t wear the pin unless you have a plan to intervene in any and all situations that might occur, with all marginalized populations, wherever you are.

I think that this argument is flawed in its premise.  I don’t think that anyone is (or, at least, I think that anybody should be) expecting that everyone who is wearing a safety pin is going to have any specific competence when it comes to intervening in these situations.  I think that the safety pin serves as a simple symbol that a person is not part of the active bigotry that has been a cornerstone of donald’s campaign.

As a queer woman, when I’m out in the world there is often no way for me to know if someone is as virulently anti-gay as, say, our new vice president-elect Mike Pence (who wanted to divert funding away from caring for people with HIV and AIDS, to programs that claim – all evidence to the contrary – that they can literally shock the gay out of people.)  If I see someone wearing a safety pin, it comforts me to know that they do not wish to try to shock me straight, and I appreciate that.

However, I have no expectation that they would have any particular skills should some gay bashing go down, and I don’t think I have any right to.  They are wearing a safety pin, not a certification in de-escalation of difficult, dangerous, possibly life-threatening situations.

That said, creating these plans and skill-building around them is an absolutely a worthwhile undertaking that I encourage.

The other major argument I’ve seen is that the pins only serve to make the wearers feel better/assuage their guilt at being privileged, and do nothing to actually help in the situation.

I would never speak for groups to which I don’t belong, what I will say is that as a queer woman (and thus part of at least two of the groups who people wearing the pins are supporting) I disagree with this for several reasons.

First, as I mentioned above, I think that the safety pins show support for me – which I appreciate. Seeing a safety pin is comforting to me.

Perhaps even more importantly, I think that the safety pins serve to disrupt the assumption that bigots tend to have, that people like them hold the same prejudices they do. This happens to my thin Size Acceptance friends when other thin people assume that they are cool with fat bashing, it happens to me when another white person assumes that I am ok with racist jokes, it happens to straight (and straight passing) people when straight people assume that they are ok with anti-Queer and Trans talk.

When someone is wearing a safety pin, the bigots are forced to acknowledge that the person does not hold the same prejudices.  More people wearing safety pins = less comfort and sense of safety for bigots. In this way people can use their privilege to disrupt bigotry.

I think that research supports the idea that these small steps are important building blocks for future activism. In his book, Influence – The Psychology of Persuasion, Dr. Robert Cialdini talks about a study in which two psychologists asked people living in a neighborhood in California to agree to erect a huge billboard in their front yards supporting safe driving. As you might imagine, almost all of them said no. But in one small group, incredibly, about 75% of the residents agreed to put a big ‘ole billboard in their yard. The difference?  That small group had previously agreed to display a 3-inch safe-driving sign in their windows.

Cialdini explains that when they put up the tiny sign, it changed how they viewed themselves.  So when they were asked to say yes to the billboard, they were much more likely to agree because they saw themselves as agents of the cause.

As activists I think we sometimes want people to jump to doing big work, and we get frustrated by small gestures.  But, again speaking only for me and the marginalized communities to which I belong, I think it’s important to remember that those small gestures are more likely to lead to bigger work in the future, and that discouraging people from participating in activism is unlikely to encourage them to participate in the future.

Finally, I know that holding back the tide of bigotry and oppression is going to require a difficult and sustained effort, and I suspect that we are going to be encouraged at every turn to stop paying attention.  It’s my hope that putting on a safety pin every day reminds people that our constant vigilance and work is required.

[Edit:  This came up on my Facebook post and I wanted to address it] – someone copied a list of things that the writer said people must be willing to do if they were going to wear the pins.  My response was:  I appreciate people sharing their thoughts on what they think the safety pin should mean and what they think people should be prepared to do if they wear the pin. But I’ll point out that there are as many opinions about what allies should do as there are marginalized people – and they differ wildly.)

I think that the safety pin is a simple symbol that someone is not in active agreement with the platform of bigotry that saw donald elected and continues with his transition team. I also want to point out that the things people mention that people “should” be willing to do are things that some people can do, but they are things that many people can’t do because of physical ability, degree of neuro-typicality and more, and so when we demand specific things like this in order to be an ally, we are further marginalizing marginalized populations by telling them that their activism isn’t – and never will be – good enough, and can be profoundly ableist. [end edit]

Certainly there are issues with this project:

There are people who may be using the pins only to assuage their guilt, or they will consider the safety pins to be all they need to do.  The thing is, if that’s how they feel then they probably weren’t going to do anything else anyway, so at least they are doing something.

There are issues of privilege – as a white, currently able-bodied, currently neurotypical, cisgender person wearing the safety pin is less risky for me than it would be for people who have other marginalized identities. Also, while women are definitely marginalized and in danger with donald in office, a majority of white women who voted, voted for donald, and so we need to take responsibility for that, and be sure that all of the efforts we make to protect women include and center Women of Color.

The pin isn’t a perfect predictor of behavior or beliefs. There may be some people who are in support of some communities but not others. As a fat person I’m well aware that someone wearing a pin might be absolutely down with supporting me as a queer person, but still see no issue with fat bigotry. More problematically, this may be the most likely to happen to people in the most marginalized communities. We all need to hold ourselves and each other accountable for examining our own implicit and explicit biases and doing the work to overcome them.

It can’t be the only thing we do.  The next four years are going to require constant vigilance, this is the time to fight, to hold the line, to preserve our humanity and save our country, to try to make this the last stand of the bigots. Safety pins are a start, but they certainly aren’t the end.

The safety pins are meant to show support for People of Color, Muslims, Immigrants, Queer and Trans people, disabled people/people with disabilities, women, and all marginalized populations under attack. There are people in all of those communities who do want people to wear safety pins, and there are people in all of those communities who don’t want people to wear safety pins. No community is a monolith and so every time we do something that some people in the community ask us to do in solidarity, we will upset other people in that same community who disagree with the action. It’s the nature of trying to work in solidarity.

The safety pin project is imperfect.  But then, so is every activist project that has ever been undertaken. So it’s up to each of us to decide what we want to do.

In this case I’m choosing to wear the pin because I would rather err on the side of showing support and solidarity, with apologies to those who would rather I didn’t and who don’t feel supported by the gesture.  And, because it’s Say Something Sunday, I’m telling people that I appreciate them wearing a safety pin in support of the marginalized communities to which I belong.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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

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

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

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

Published in: on November 13, 2016 at 3:07 pm  Comments (30)  

Ann Coulter Finally Gets Something Right

Ann Coulter, a talking head who has made a name for herself by saying horrible things in front of as many people as possible, took advantage of the recent election protests to engage in some pretty weak attempts at fat shaming.

Her opening attempt:

ann-coulter-1

To be fair, there may be protests that don’t include fat people of any gender, but I’m always happy to be associated with activism, so thanks Ann!  I hope that fat people are at protests – and not just protests about the mistreatment of fat people, I hope that fat people are at protests against any oppression and mistreatment, and against any would-be despot.

Ann tried again:

ann-coulter-2

This is Ann Coulter in a nutshell – completely missing the point, and recommending things that aren’t supported by evidence.

This is what we mean when we talk about fat oppression, when we talk about size bigots – that there are people who are under the misconception that our body size somehow de-legitimizes not just our actions and lives, but anything that we are involved with. Thousands of people show up to protest, but the protest doesn’t count because some of those people are fat?  You’re going to have to sell bullshit somewhere else Ann, we’re not in the market.

This is what bullies do – they try to keep us down, they try to keep us from protesting the mistreatment that we are experiencing, and when that doesn’t work they try to say our protests don’t count because we are the ones protesting.  That’s bullshit, obviously, (though luckily in this case, Ann is genuinely terrible at it.)

Nobody is obligated to protest, but if you feel moved to protest then show up, wave that sign, be that fat person. There may be protests without us, but they will be better with us, so let’s keep showing up and speaking out making the world better, and people like Ann can keep complaining about it on Twitter.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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

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

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

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

Published in: on November 12, 2016 at 11:24 am  Comments (12)  

War on Obesity – Dead or Alive

WTF are you doingI’ve written before in this blog about how the War on Obesity is conducted in a way that lets us know that they want us thin or dead and they don’t much care which.  One of my many concerns with the horrific new US President is that he has promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare)

This is a big deal because before the ACA was passed, insurance companies were allowed to deny insurance to fat people.  I went fourteen years without insurance because insurance companies were allowed to consider my body size a “pre-existing condition” and deny me insurance in a country where medical care costs are predatory, profit-driven, and expensive far beyond all reason.

This is significant because those who don’t have insurance are often charged up to ten times the amount for the same procedure or medication as the insurance companies are charged (In this instance a two-day hospital stay would have been over $21,000 for a person without insurance, but the insurance company pays just over $2,000 for the exact same service.  A good friend of mine is on a medication for which he has a co-pay of $6 and his insurance pays another $68 for a 30 day supply.  Without insurance the same medication is $1,200.)

Some fat people in the UK are facing this situation in the face of funding shortages. Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has decided that patients with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or above will be barred from most surgery for up to a year.

Let’s be clear, they are not suggesting that the surgeries are less necessary for fat people, and they are not suggesting that waiting a year will be good for these populations. They are simply saying that they’ve decided that, in order to save money, if your weight in pounds times 703, divided by your height in inches squared, is greater than 30, you are less deserving of routine medical care. 

Don’t fool yourself, this isn’t about health, or “healthy behaviors” by any definition – this is about money, and it’s about the people in charge deciding whose blatant oppression the general citizenry will tolerate. Years of campaigns suggesting that it’s fine for people to stereotype fat people and blame us for their problems have led to a situation where people are comfortable with us being denied the same medical care that they receive.

You can read my full piece, including a look at the complete lack of logic in this decision, here…

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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 November 11, 2016 at 11:42 am  Comments (5)  

What Do We Do Now?

What Will you DefendWhat do we do now?  That is a question I’ve heard, and asked, hundreds of times in the last two days. In case you missed it, the United States has elected a proudly racist, misogynist, ableist, xenophobic, Islamophobic, fatphobic, anti-Queer, anti- Trans, anti-intellectual, anti-Constitution, climate change denying, white supremacist supported, horror of a human being to be President.

What do we do now?

Each of us will have to make that choice for ourselves. Immediate self-care in the aftermath is important – while you certainly aren’t required, it’s completely reasonable to take time to grieve, to mourn, to find solace, to take care of yourself.

I think that there has never been a time in my life that it has been more important to be an activist. Not just an activist for issues that affect me (attempts to steal the civil rights of Queer people, going back to a time when fat people are denied insurance coverage and more) but an intersectional activist.  My various privileges (being white, cisgender, currently able-bodied and neurotypical et al) will protect me from horrors that others will face and are already facing, and those are my fights as well.

I’m going to continue to do Size Acceptance and Fat Activism because I think that claiming and owning our bodies as our precious homes is crucial.  Remembering that our bodies are amazing and worthy of care is crucial.  Insisting that we deserve a world that celebrates and cares for bodies of all sizes is crucial.

This election may have kicked my ass, but believe that I’m going to be kicking back. I watched the movie “Big Miracle” today just to hear the line “There’s always something you can do.”  There is always something I can do.  And I’m going to find every way I can to do it.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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 November 10, 2016 at 8:08 am  Comments (24)  

UK Bans Irresponsible Diet Ad

A weight loss peddler called “The Diet Chef” created an ad utilizing the tired “before and after” trope in which a thinner (and, predictably, much better dressed and groomed) woman talks to a fatter version of herself:

In the advert, the later Cheryl tells her former self: “I know how you feel; you can look that good again, you know,” and “I bought a bikini last week, for the first time since this picture.”

The former Cheryl says: “You look amazing. I never dreamed I could be that slim again.”

Viewers contacted the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to say that they’re fed up with this “weight loss as the solution” to everything bullshit:

Objecting that the advert was irresponsible for exploiting women’s body insecurities by implying that they needed to be slim to be happy.

The ASA agreed saying that the ad:

“implied that weight loss was the only solution to her problems”.

It went on: “It therefore implied that those with insecurities about their bodies, and particularly their weight, could only achieve happiness and self-confidence through weight loss.

“We therefore concluded that the ad presented a socially irresponsible approach to body image and breached the code.”

It ruled that the advert must not appear again in its current form and told Diet Chef “to ensure that their products were advertised in a socially responsible way”.

This is definitely progress and a huge step in the right direction.  The problem is that there is no socially responsible way to talk about weight loss because there is no reason to believe that long-term weight loss is achievable by most people – in fact most people will lose weight short term, but almost all of them will gain the weight back long term with the majority gaining back more than they lost.  Talking about the benefits of weight loss as if it’s something to be pursued is like talking about the benefits surviving a skydiving accident as if people should jump out of planes without parachutes.

The reason that so many people are confused by this is that we live in a fatphobic society that celebrates, glorifies and – for reasons often passing logic and understanding –gives weight loss the credit for basically everything.  People who talk about weight loss as a positive thing will get guaranteed attention and accolades.  But 2-5 years later when they’ve gained back all of their weight the media will have moved on, they will be branded a failure by those who praised them (despite the fact that what happened is a statistical near-certainty,) and they will face the choice of opting out of this harmful cycle, or starting the cycle over again. Meanwhile we’ll only have heard about the “successful” short term weight loss.

So I’m appreciating the people who took the time to contact that ASA about this ad (activism works!) and celebrating that the ASA has taken steps to be clear that happiness and self-worth are not weight (or weight-loss) dependent. Since almost nobody will be successful at weight loss long term it’s incredibly important to  know that we have the option to get off the weight loss roller coaster, stop participating in harmful weight loss talk, and pursue the lives we want in the bodies we have right now.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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

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

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

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

Published in: on November 8, 2016 at 12:11 pm  Comments (10)