Fat Shaming at Commencement

What Will you DefendI often hear from people who don’t understand the many ways that fatphobia affects fat people every day – and on special days, as well as folks who don’t understand how these incidents increase the fatter we are.  I recently heard from reader Rene about a terrible experience that she and her mother had at her commencement (and that I’m sharing with her permission.)

To start with, Rene had to go to effort that she wouldn’t have had to do if she were thin or if her school’s graduation ceremony was accommodating to students of all sizes in the first place. So she started almost a month ahead of time:

From:   Rene
Date:   Wednesday, May 24, 2017  03:35 PM
To:   commencement@XXXXXX.edu
Subject:  Seating at commencement

Hello,

I’m registered with DRC for seating accommodations in my classes, and I’m wondering what steps I need to take to ensure that there is appropriate seating for me at commencement? Specific to the ceremony, my concerns are that I may need a stronger chair if folding chairs are used for graduates, and that if I’m seated in the middle of a row of students, I might need additional space between myself and the people next to me for everyone’s comfort. Please let me know what the next steps are.

Thank you,

Rene

The university responded:

From: <commence@XXXXX.edu>
Date: Jun 13, 2017 6:49 PM
Subject: RE:’=773-094′ Seating at commencement
To: Rene

Hi Rene,

We will have a bariatric chair available for you at [the site]. It will be placed on the side of the bowl near the bachelor SSW area. I will be instructing the line’s staff that you have requested that chair so that way they can move one of the regular chairs at the end of the row and replace it with your bariatric chair. Please remind the lines staff as it is close to your turn to sit down once entering the space.

Let me know if you have any questions!

Sounds easy enough, but sadly that’s not how it happened:

—–Original Message—–
From:   Rene
Date:   Monday, June 19, 2017  05:44 PM
To:   commencement@XXXXXX.edu
Subject:  Re: ‘=773-094’ Seating at commencement

Hello,

I wanted to follow up after the commencement ceremony. I was placed at the end of a row (separated from my BSW classmates), however no bariatric chair was provided, and the staff seating us seemed to have no idea that one was required or where it might be. As a result I spent an agonizing 3 hours perched on the edge of my seat, standing in the side aisle each time we were asked to stand. It’s extremely disappointing that after being assured that appropriate seating would be available, that it was not in fact present on the day of the ceremony.

I’d also like to bring to your attention that my mother was denied access to ADA seating in the audience when she arrived at [the site]. While she doesn’t appear disabled at first glance, having to climb a large number of stairs then sit in the poor seating in the “nosebleed” section was physically challenging for her.  I had specifically requested ADA seating when I picked up my tickets, and she is not comfortable advocating for herself when she’s denied services in public. I’m deeply disappointed that watching me walk caused my mother to be in physical pain for the rest of the day

I hope this feedback will help spark a discussion about how to better serve the disabled individuals graduating and supporting graduates.

Rene

The response that she received:

Hi Rene,

I apologize that these things did not go as planned. I will make sure to provide the feedback to [the site] about your mother’s situation. If your mom had the ADA tickets, she should have received the ADA seating.

For the bariatric chair we had it ready for you. We made several announcements in the Exhibition Hall where you lined up, to come and identify your self. It was loud in there so you might not have heard the announcement, but there was no other way to identify you. As you might have noticed there was also no way of knowing where you’d be sitting. I apologize that it didn’t happen and you had an unpleasant experience. We will think of another way in the future to connect with students prior to the ceremony.

And finally Rene’s beautiful response to this victim blaming nonsense:

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Rene 
Date: Tue, Jun 27, 2017 at 6:45 PM
Subject: Re: ‘=773-094’ Seating at commencement
To: commencement@XXXX.edu
Cc: <drc@XXXXX.edu>

Had I been instructed to listen for an announcement in the Exhibition Hall, I might have been able to connect with the staff there.  However, that was not the instruction I was given. I was told to alert the line staff when I was being seated.  Another way to handle this would be to have a station near the entrance where students with ADA accommodations can check in as they arrive…perhaps with a big sign since clearly announcements are completely futile in that space.

Please also consider that the tone of your reply regarding my seating is such that it places the blame on me for not being accommodated.  That’s a really problematic attitude, especially considering that a) the university was already aware of my seating needs well in advance of commencement and b) I specifically reached out to the commencement planning office several weeks in advance to ensure that my needs were communicated.  As a result of the failure of commencement staff, I was extremely uncomfortable at my graduation ceremony, and chose to leave early (after walking, but prior to the end of the ceremony). I’m struggling right now to express how frustrating this experience has been, and how angry I am regarding the response I’ve received.

I’m completing my master’s degree next June, and now I find myself questioning whether participating in commencement is worth my time and frustration. That should never be the case.  I’m looping the DRC in on this conversation, and I’m pasting in the last set of instructions I received from Natalie prior to commencement.  It’s absolutely unacceptable that this has been handled so poorly.

Rene

This is the world that fathpobia and ableism has wrought, and it sucks. I’m so glad that we have Rene to represent for fat community in Social Work!

Update from Rene!  “I’ve now heard from both the director of the DRC (disability resource center) and the person primarily responsible for commencement planning. They’re implementing my idea of an ADA check in station. The ceremonies will also be broken up so they’re smaller, and held in a different location. I’m just glad that I found a community of rad fatties and activism before I started back to school, and that as a non-traditional student I’m comfortable using my voice.”

Want to fight back and create a more inclusive world? Then:

Click Here to Register for the Fat Activism Conference!

The Fat Activism Conference is an online conference, so you can listen by phone or on your computer wherever you are.  Plus you get recording and transcripts so you can listen/read live and in your own time.  The conference is happening October 6-8, 2017!

If you enjoy this blog, consider becoming a member or making a contribution.

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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!

 

Published in: on July 10, 2017 at 8:20 am  Comments (7)  

Spirit Airlines Screws Over Fat Passenger

WTFPreparing for a trip from Las Vegas to Denver on Spirit Airlines and knowing how terribly most airlines treat fat people, Joey Cordova went to the trouble and expense of purchasing two seats and calling ahead to make sure that they would have a seatbelt extender for him.

Unfortunately, Spirit oversold Mr. Cordova’s flight and, apparently to accommodate one more thin person, they kicked him off the flight.

Let’s look at all the ways that this is screwed up:

First, he should never have had to purchase two seats.  The airline is in the business of transporting people from one destination to another, and that should include a seat that accommodates them. Plane manufacturers knew that fat people existed when they built those planes, and airlines knew that fat people existed when they bought them. To blatantly exclude fat people and then try to make that our problem — asking us to pay twice as much as thin people for the exact same service — is simply indefensible.

And don’t buy into the BS that it’s not financially feasible. Canada has had a “one person, one fare” rule since 2008, and the airline industry is doing fine. In the U.S., Southwest Airlines offers a free second (and third) seat to those who need one, and they are making record profits.

Second, he should never have been thrown off the plane so that two thin people could fly. When a person needs two seats, then those two seats should be treated as one seat — which means that they should be kept together. (Harrowing stories of fat people who had to fight the airlines to put the two seats they purchased next to each other abound.) And they should not be viewed as an opportunity to seat an additional thin person should one materialize.

So if the airlines find that their choice to sell more seats than they actually have is blowing up in their face, then the proper course is to use a volunteer system offering greater amounts of money and perks to passengers who are willing to take a later flight. It is not to throw the nearest fat person off the plane and call it a day.

Read my full piece about this here!

Update:

When this was originally reported, the article cited said that Mr. Cordova was kicked off the flight. The article appears to have been updated to say that he was forced to give up his extra seat and fly in a single seat.  Some sources are still reporting that he was kicked off the plane (http://fox17online.com/2017/06/25/colorado-man-says-he-was-kicked-off-flight-for-being-overweight/, others are reporting that he was forced  to fly in one seat. Apologies for the confusion.  In either event, this should never have happened and the airlines should not get to decide that it’s ok for a fat person to have no option to be accommodated. Thanks to blog reader Lisa for this correction!

Want to help create a world where fat people get the same experience as thin people when we fly?

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If you enjoy this blog, consider becoming a member or making a contribution.

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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!

 

 

Published in: on June 30, 2017 at 9:29 am  Comments (10)  

Girl Scouts Lead In Size Acceptance

Think of the childrenThe Girls Scouts have created a guide for what to do when your daughter calls herself fat.  I want to start with the good stuff because there’s a lot of it:

According to studies, a whopping 80 percent of 10-year-olds are afraid of being fat. Why? Because they’re constantly surrounded by both subtle and direct messages that curvier or heavier girls aren’t as well liked, aren’t as likely to succeed in business, and in general, aren’t going to have as much fun or happiness in their lives. Think about it: many of the animated heroines they idolize have unrealistically thin bodies, gossip magazines and websites are quick to call scandal on even an ounce of celebrity cellulite, and so called, “fat jokes”—despite their inherent offensiveness—remain completely acceptable in many circles as well as in movies and TV shows. It’s a pretty sad state of affairs.

Thank you!  There’s nothing wrong fat bodies, but there’s plenty wrong with a society that disparages fat bodies so much that 10 year olds have completely bought into it.

by telling her that she’s not fat, she’s pretty, you’re reinforcing the idea that fatter, rounder, curvier or heavier bodies aren’t beautiful—which simply isn’t true. There are endless ways to be beautiful, and your daughter will grow up with a much healthier relationship to her body if you teach her that in a genuine way from a young age.

Yes – the idea that fat and pretty/beautiful/attractive etc. are mutually exclusive is absolutely fat shaming, not to mention total crap.

If she says she thinks her legs are bigger or her tummy is rounder than those of her friends, those may actually be correct observations—and there’s nothing wrong with acknowledging that. “Your daughter should never be ashamed of the realities of her own body,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald, “

Yup, yup, yup.  Teach kids early and often to appreciate and respect the diversity of body sizes.

Make sure she has positive body-image role models. Both the red carpet and the boardroom are becoming more diverse in terms of body size and shape, but girls might not see that reflected in the magazine aisle or on her favorite websites—so go the extra mile to compensate for some of the less-healthy messages your daughter may be getting from other sources. For younger girls, it might be helpful to show her some beautiful images of a women with very different body types, and tell her all about what they’ve accomplished, and what they’re best known for—their brains, their talents, their speed, their sense of humor. She needs to know you don’t have to be a certain size or shape to make it big in life.

The importance of having role models who look like you cannot be overstated – whether it’s people of color, people of size, disabled people/people with disabilities, queer and trans folks, or those with other marginalized identities. It’s also important that kids who aren’t part of marginalized groups) have examples role models who DON’T look like them.

Another reason your girl might call herself fat is because she’s heard you do the same to yourself. Your daughter listens to everything you say—and if you’re picking yourself apart in front of the mirror or complaining about your weight, there’s a good chance that she’ll follow in your self-disparaging footsteps. So do everyone a favor and be a little kinder to yourself. Identify parts of your body that serve you well and make note of the things you really do love about the way you look. Healthy habits like eating right and exercise are good for everyone, and should be a daily part of your routine, but fixating on your body and how it could or should be different isn’t healthy for anyone.

This is how internalized fatphobia reproduces itself – adults who have been beaten down and have crap self esteem are trying to raise kids with high self-esteem and that’s difficult to do because kids believe what they overhear more than what they’re told. So if you’re constantly engaging in negative body talk, but then try to turn around and tell a kid (including, say, a kid who may look like you due to being your genetic off-spring) that their body is perfect, they are going to smell the BS from a mile away. This isn’t the fault of parents and other adults, it’s the fault of a culture where we are encouraged (often by those with a profit interest!) to hate our bodies early, often, and out loud.  One of the ways that we can help kids break this cycle is by finding ways to break it within ourselves.

Sadly, there’s no instant fix to society’s fat-shaming problem and the limiting depictions of beauty that are held up as standards for girls and women. But there are things you can do at home with your daughter, and in your daily life in general, to help fight against this culture and create a better one where all are celebrated as wonderful and worthy.

This is the world that I want to live in.

So there’s a LOT of great stuff in this guide, unfortunately the first paragraph says:

“I’m fat.” Those are just two little words, five letters in total, but coming from your daughter, they’re enough to make your heart totally sink. How could a girl who’s typically so kind and accepting of others be so disparaging of herself?

Um…no. The idea that someone calling themselves “fat” is “disparaging” is the exact opposite of basically everything else this guide says which I felt I needed to mention, but only in the context of all the amazing things that they did. Overall I’m thrilled with the work that the Girl Scouts are doing to end fatphobia.

Want to help create a better world where all are celebrated as wonderful and worthy? Then:

Click Here to Register for the Fat Activism Conference!   

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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!

 

 

Published in: on June 29, 2017 at 11:55 am  Comments (9)  

Fat Is Not A Feeling

facepalmIn a recent piece in People Magazine called “Ashley Graham Opens Up About Confidence: ‘There Are Some Days I Feel Fat,’” the author claims, “No one does confidence like Ashley Graham,” and then calls her a “supermodel” who has “changed the fashion game when it comes to inclusion and acceptance of different body types in campaigns and on runways, and helped many real women embrace their own shapes.”

Ashley Graham was asked about confidence and responded: “There are some days I feel fat. I’m not convinced there’s going to be a moment where every woman in the world wakes up and feels like a million dollars. So, what I want to do is give women the tools that will help when those moments come up. Sometimes it can be as easy as telling yourself that you are beautiful.”

I don’t even know where to start with this mess.  Let’s start with making it clear why this is a mess.

In Graham’s quote, she is suggesting that being fat is a feeling, that being fat is what happens when you wake up and don’t feel like a million dollars.

That being fat is something that comes and goes in “moments” that are to be dealt with using “tools” like telling yourself that you are beautiful.

Except that this is total crap.

You can read my full piece about this here!

If you’re interested in making the world better for fat people,

Click Here to Registerfor the Fat Activism Conference!   

If you enjoy this blog, consider becoming a member or making a contribution.

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!

 

 

Published in: on June 26, 2017 at 4:55 pm  Comments (6)  

Roxane Gay, Mamamia, and Fat Exclusionary Radical Feminism

What Will you DefendThe problem of some women excluding other women from their feminism is not new: you need look no further than SWERFs (Sex Worker Exclusionary Radical Feminists) and TERFs (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists). I object both to the practice of excluding sex workers and trans folks, and to characterizing any feminist who does so as “radical” unless we’re saying that it’s radically terrible behavior. Although not given an acronym, racism has also been and still is a huge problem in feminism.

There’s another common exclusion of these so-called “radical” feminists, and that’s fat women. The exclusion of fat women works differently than that of trans women and sex workers in that it’s less direct…more subtle. It comes in forms like concern trolling of fat women (ie: responding to demands for respect and accommodation with unrequested non sequitur hand-wringing about our health), lack of representation of fat women, diet and weight loss messages that suggest that a thinner body is a better body in feminist spaces, and push-back against feminist spaces that don’t allow diet and weight loss talk.

And, in the recent failure by Mamamia in its interview of Roxane Gay, the refusal to accommodate fat women, and the failure to treat us with respect.

Read my full piece about this here!

Want to talk about fat activism from an intersectional perspective?

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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!

 

Published in: on June 23, 2017 at 12:18 pm  Comments (9)  

Hashtag Highlights Early Body Shaming Experiences

ShamelessA heartbreaking new hashtag is trending. People are using #TheySaid to tell their stories of experiencing body shaming. The hashtag was started on May 25th by Sally Bergesen, who kicked things off by talking about her own memory of body shaming.

https://twitter.com/oiselle_sally/status/867768961718517762

This kind of crap needs to stop, like, yesterday. If you tell kids they should hate their bodies — they’ll believe you. If you tell them it’s OK to hate kids who are bigger than they are, then they’ll believe you and they’ll create the next generation of stories for #TheySaid.

Sally Bergesen, the woman who started the hashtag, is also the CEO of Oiselle, a sports apparel brand. As an athlete who wants to support people who are doing the right thing when it comes to Size Acceptance, I immediately headed to her website. Sadly, what I found was pretty disappointing.

You can read my entire piece about this here!

Want to make sure that we live in a world where “Body Positivity” includes all bodies?

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If you enjoy this blog, consider becoming a member or making a contribution.

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!

Published in: on June 16, 2017 at 9:45 am  Comments (6)  

Exactly How Not To Fight nazis

This meme is making the rounds and we need to talk about it:

How not to protest Nazis

As activists one of the things that we always have to be careful about is that we don’t add to the marginalization of other groups with our activism.  In this case, the person who created this meme is trying to fight nazis through the use of fat shaming.  And that’s just crap.

Even if you are someone who purposefully engages in fatshaming (aka: an asshole) this is still a terrible idea – nazis are legitimately horrible, dangerous, and need to be stopped, and making this about how he looks massively minimizes the issue.  What would the makers and sharers of this meme do when presented with someone who did fit the current stereotype of attractiveness – say “Well, I guess he has a point”?

In order to fight nazis and white supremacists we must reject the entire ridiculous premise of their argument.  Making it about whether or not each individual meets some definition of “genetically superior” accepts the premise which means that the argument has already been lost. Fat shaming is wrong no matter how horrible the subject is, because the subject’s body size has nothing to do with it.

So let’s take another stab at this:

Fight nazis without fat shaming by learning more about Intersectional Fat Activism! Register for the Fat Activism Conference and get tools, skills, and community:

Click Here to Register!   Earlybird registration ends June 15th!

If you enjoy this blog, consider becoming a member or making a contribution.

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!

In training for an IRONMAN triathlon.  If you’re interested, you can find my training blog here

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

Published in: on June 14, 2017 at 2:34 pm  Comments (13)  

Stereotypes, Sizeism, and Ableism

LiesAs my regular readers know, I have another blog dedicated to my journey to complete an IRONMAN triathlon. Today I got a comment (that I did not approve, for reasons that will become obvious) that said “None of this is true, nobody who weighs as much as you can walk around the block let alone complete the training you are claiming to complete.”

This kind of comment is really tricky to deal with because it invokes a tangled mess of intersectional oppression, stereotypes, and weight loss myths.

On one hand, it’s not ok for people to attempt to replace the lived experiences of fat people with their stereotypes, or to erase the existence of fat athletes, or to call us liars based on the fact that we don’t fit their stereotypes. On the other, if we’re not careful challenging stereotypes such as this can end up adding to the oppression of fat people who are dealing with disability/mobility challenges etc. by engaging in the completely bullshit Good Fatty/Bad Fatty dichotomy.

The truth is that fat people and our mobility/athleticism have nothing to do with this – fat people have different levels of mobility and athleticism, just like thin people do. The problem here is the stereotyping of fat people, the constant suggestion that we should blame everything on our fat, and the oppressional intersections of sizeism and ableism.

The oppression that lies at the intersection of sizeism and ableism is absolutely staggering and it leads to horrific treatment of disabled fat people/fat people with disabilities. And, in a way that is similar to how those who have (however temporarily) manipulated their bodies to be smaller are used to shame fat people, often fat athletes are used (by the same fatphobes who bully and harass us in other forums) as a way to further the oppression of fat people who aren’t athletes. The goal being to pit fat people against each other, convincing some to throw others under the bus in an attempt to get a modicum of respect from people whose opinions we shouldn’t care about at all.

Then there is the suggestion that we should blame our body size for literally anything and everything that we aren’t happy with in our lives. This includes everything from the assumption that any mobility limitation is because of we are fat (ignoring the fact that thin people can have the same limitations) as well as the tendency to give weight loss the credit for gains in mobility or athleticism such that if a fat person starts a fitness regimen that sees them gain strength, stamina and/or flexibility, as well as (at least in the short term) weight loss, our fatphobic society encourages us to  credit the weight loss and not the fitness routine for any gains in fitness.

This also leads to discrepancies in healthcare, when thin people with mobility limitations that can be rehabbed (of course, not all can, and those that can are under no obligation to do so) are given tons of options for building strength, stamina, flexibility, and mobility, while fat people in the same situation are typically just given diets whose most common outcome is weight regain.

So to review:

  • Stereotypes are bullshit. Sizeism is bullshit. Ableism is bullshit.
  • Participating in movement/fitness/exercise is not an obligation or barometer of worthiness and fat people who participate are not better than, nor should they be “held up as examples” to (or against), fat people who don’t participate.
  • There should be no shame or blame when it comes to disabilities or mobility limitations ever.  The discussion should revolve around increasing accessibility and eliminating oppression.
  • Stereotypes are bullshit. Sizeism is bullshit. Ableism is bullshit.

Want learn more about Intersectional Fat Activism? Register for the Fat Activism Conference and get the tools, skills, and community you need

Click Here to Register!   Earlybird registration ends June 15th!

If you enjoy this blog, consider becoming a member or making a contribution.

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!

In training for an IRONMAN triathlon.  If you’re interested, you can find my training blog here

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

Published in: on June 12, 2017 at 12:48 pm  Comments (6)  

Bounced Because of Our Size

Recently, I saw the following post on Facebook from Stephanie Gagos that reminded me of another way that fat people face discrimination for just trying to do the same things that thin people do:

“My beautiful, kind, big-hearted daughter was denied entry to a popular club in NYC called One Oak last night because, as they put it ,’they don’t like girls with       love handles.’ They only allow a particular type of girl into this place.

They even went so far as to say her roommate could go in but she couldn’t.

What in the world are we doing to girls, to women?? How disgusting and low can you get? Women have enough body image issues as it is. We are so totally wrapped up in our weight, our looks, that we forget what truly matters in life. We are made to feel less for a few extra pounds, and it is appalling.

My first response was, you don’t want to be in a place like that. I mean, what reason would this even be a criteria except to objectify women and make men feel better about themselves?

It broke my heart when she said “everyone deserves to have a good time.” I echo that, and everyone deserves to be loved, to feel beautiful, to have a good time, to be accepted for who they are instead of how they look.

So shameful.”

This isn’t the first story like this that I’ve heard. I’ve heard too many of my fat friends talk about being kept out of the club by “policies” that didn’t seem to apply to thin people. It’s bullshit and it needs to stop.

Read the full story here!

Want learn how to respond to fat shaming? Register for the Fat Activism Conference and get the tools, skills, and community you need

Click Here to Register!   

If you enjoy this blog, consider becoming a member or making a contribution.

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!

In training for an IRONMAN triathlon.  If you’re interested, you can find my training blog here

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

Published in: on June 2, 2017 at 7:37 am  Comments (8)  

If You Are Inviting Fat People to Your Event…

High bar chairsThis weekend there are tons of BBQ’s and such going on here in the states, but events and meetings happen every day.  And every day, fat people are “invited” to events and meetings at which they aren’t accommodated in even the most basic ways. Most often this isn’t done on purpose, it happens because  thin people don’t know what they don’t know. I know that you want to truly welcome fat people to your event, so let me help you out:

Seating:

The importance of fat friendly seating cannot be over stated. Seating that is sturdy and accommodating (ie: loveseats, armless chairs, benches etc.) The seating should also fit in with the seating that other people have (if everyone is in the yard but the bench for your fat cousin is on the porch, that’s not cool.) Don’t make your event another fat people and chairs hate story.

I’ve Got a Blank Space Baby

Is there enough room for fat people to navigate your event?  Whether it’s between the tables at a buffet, or throughout your home, or in the restaurant you’ve chosen, accessible seating won’t help if we can’t get to it without knocking over the dessert table on the way. Clear the widest spaces possible to accommodate the most people.

Everybody Poops

Does the event space have a fat friendly bathroom?  You may not be able to change the size of the bathroom in your house, but there are some things you can do – if the hip space is being limited the the hanging toilet paper roll, you can put the roll on the sink or towel rack.  Make sure that you don’t have a garbage can blocking the door from opening the door all the way etc.

Nobody Should Be a Shit

Consider putting something on your invitation about this being a body positive event (no body shaming or food policing allowed.)  And/or, if you’ve invited people who you are worried will fat shame or food shame your guests – consider having conversations with them ahead of time.  You are creating this space, so you are the boss of it! Make it a priority not to invite people into a hostile environment.

Finally, I want to point out that accommodation is not just for fat people – consider ways that you can make everyone on your guest list as comfortable as possible.  Is there easy parking and access for people who use a wheelchair or have limited mobility?  Are you inviting People of Color and racists to the same event (or Queer and Trans people as well as homophobes and transphobes, Muslims and Islamophobes etc.)? If so, remember that “I want to oppress you” and “I don’t want to be oppressed” are not simply two equal but differing viewpoints – the first is an expression of harmful oppression, the latter is a statement of basic human rights.  So think about how are you going to make it a safe space for your friends/family with marginalized identities, and make sure you’re not inviting people into an oppressive environment without warning them.

When I posted this to Facebook there were a couple of commenters whose knee-jerk reaction was “You should bring your own chair” (and, apparently, our own bathroom?) While my partner and I do often bring our own chairs to events (and doctor’s offices!) just to be sure, we shouldn’t have to do this.  The idea that some of your guests should be coming to a BYOC situation is not inviting at all. Take responsibility for making your space/event inclusive and accommodating for the people you are inviting into it. As K.C. said on my Facebook post about this: don’t just mean well – do well.

Want learn how to create a more fat friendly world? Register for the Fat Activism Conference and get the tools, skills, and community you need
Click Here to Register!   

If you enjoy this blog, consider becoming a member or making a contribution.

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!

In training for an IRONMAN triathlon.  If you’re interested, you can find my training blog here

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

Published in: on May 28, 2017 at 11:11 am  Comments (34)