Model Fat Bashes, Then Claims To Be The Victim

WTFAlysse Dalessandro, a fashion and beauty writer, and designer for the brand Ready To Stare, posted an excellent article from Everyday Feminism called “11 Reasons Your ‘Concern’ for Fat People’s Health Isn’t Helping Anyone” on her personal Facebook page. Then a plus sized model and self-described “body Activist” named Ali Tate Cutler took it upon herself to demonstrate why the article from EF was necessary, and illustrate the cycle of fat phobia – fatbash (using “the science!”), non-apology/demand education/tone police, claim to be a victim.

It’s also an example of casual fat elimination. which is when people suggest, during the course of normal conversation, that it would be cool to eradicate fat people because the world would be better in some way if we didn’t exist.

Step 1 –  Make an argument that sounds all “science-y” but is actually based on stereotypes, prejudices, and …rectal pull.  Ali has this step down pat

Sorry but I don’t care about people’s health who are fat, that’s their own prerogative and their own life to lead. They are free to make their own choices. I am a staunch feminist, followed by a close second environmentalist. While some people are genetically obese and are vegetarian, and eating relatively low carbon foot print foods, most obese people are not. I do care about the excessive amounts of carbon, nitrous oxide, and methane gases it takes to produce a large person; the amount of animals that have been killed; the amount of exploitation that is going on to create fat. That’s not even being mentioned. Being obese is simply bad for the environment, and in this day and age, we cannot afford that lack of empathy anymore.

First let’s clarify – if you missed her point (and it would be easy to do since it is a poor argument, very poorly made) she is suggesting that people whose weight in pounds times 703 divided by their height in inches squared is greater than 30 (aka obese people) shouldn’t be allowed to exist because of her assumptions about the amount of meat that we eat and its impact on the environment.

Ali is a plus sized model and self-described “body activist”, but she appears to be one of those people whose “body positivity” only expands far enough to include herself.  Just as her “body activism” is questionable, so is her “environmentalism” since it seems to include lashing out irrationally on other people’s Facebook pages using numbers that she makes up. Suggesting that size = amount of meat eaten is patently ridiculous, especially considering the popularity of the paleo diet.  Ali seems to know that there are fat vegetarians and fat vegans (and thus that you can’t tell how much meat someone eats based on their size)  but she’s not one to let facts get in the way of a good fat bashing.

Regardless of what you believe about fat people and our carbon footprint, any time someone like Ali suggests that it’s ok to take a group of people who are identifiable by sight, calculate (or, in Ali’s case, make completely random guesses about) their cost on society, and then suggest that they shouldn’t exist, they are going down a bad, bad road.

But it gets more hypocritical. Having spent some time looking at Ali’s social media she is very proud of the time that she spends flying around the world, apparently the expanded carbon footprint that requires is justified in her case because of the importance of Ali wearing clothes in many locations.  To be clear, I have no problem with Ali being a model traveling around the world to do it, I do have a problem with her throwing carbon stones from her carbon house.

Finally, in the “adding insult to injury” and “horrible irony” categories, the winner is…Ali’s use of the phrase “lack of empathy.”

Step 2 – Issue a Non-Apology, demand education, and tone police

Like so many before her, Ali seems to suffer from NAS (Non-Apology Syndrome.) So, after seeming to be super surprised that people didn’t jump on her “stereotype the fatties for the environment” bandwagon and instead insisted that she stop saying ignorant shit and educate herself, she issued the kind of non-apology that  far  too  often follows this kind of fat shaming. This is better than some, but still fails at the core goal of apologizing  for doing something wrong:

I wrote a comment on @readytostare instagram about obesity and its relationship to over consumption. I was coming at this from an environmental viewpoint. After reading some of the viewpoints and comments on the thread, I can totally understand how my comments came off rude, coarse, and inappropriate. And definitely not the truth for many people. I didn’t want to offend ANYONE and I’m so sorry that I did. I hope you can forgive my poorly written comments.

Except the problem isn’t that what she said “came off” rude, coarse, and inappropriate it’s that they, in fact, WERE rude, coarse, and inappropriate. And the problem isn’t that people were offended, it’s that she stereotyped fat people and suggested that our existence is a “lack of empathy”. And the problem isn’t that the comments were “poorly written” it’s that they were inaccurate, bigoted, and suggested that fat people shouldn’t exist.

At this point Alysse said on Facebook

From the emails she has continued to send me, I’m clear that she’s not open to understanding how what she said was wrong, she just doesn’t want people to be mad at her.

Ali doubled down with a note telling Alysse how she should have responded:

This is Ali Tate. Thought I should write you about our interaction on Facebook. I’m really, I didn’t meant to offend you! I’m a body positive activist as well, and am passionate about talking and learning about these things.

But I don’t think I warranted a “fuck you” on Facebook. If I am wrong and wrote a false claim please, by all means, tell me why it is wrong and engage in rational discussion? The last thing I meant was to offend, just a good conversation. Anyways, hope you could unblock me and we can Converse about it.

Let’s give her the benefit of the doubt and assume that in the second sentence she actually meant to say “I’m sorry.” This is still not ok.  First of all, bigots don’t get to control both sides of the conversation. This (all too common) technique of fat shaming and then telling fat people how they should respond to your bullshit, is bullshit.

Also, you have to come from a particular combination of privilege, bigotry, and ignorance to think that you can suggest that people shouldn’t exist, and call it “just a good conversation.”  There is no way to have a “good conversation” about whether or not fat people should be eradicated. There is no way to have a “good conversation” about whether fat people have the right to exist.  Nobody has the right to require fat people to debate them for our lives.

Step 3 – Claim to be the Victim

At this point Ali posted to her own Facebook

Wow. Now I really know what it feels like to be cyber bullied. It’s rough guys. Hope no one has to go through this.

Sorry Ali, my tiny violin is in the shop. This is another common tactic of bullies – engage in bullying behavior and then accuse those who stand up to them of being the bullies, using claiming victim status as their exit strategy from the situation. This also makes it clear that Ali has never actually been the victim of cyber bullying and I hope that continues for her, because it is horrible.

Let’s examine the situation:  Ali, a plus size model and “body activist,” voluntarily went onto the Facebook page of a fat activist, on a thread about why concern trolling fat people is not ok, and hijacked the space and the thread to concern troll fat people – stereotyping us and calling us a “lack of empathy” that the world “cannot afford.”  Ali is the problem here, and so is the idea that people who stand up to oppression are bullies.  Many people have offered to educate her so I’m not going to spend my time and energy on it, but I sincerely hope that she educates herself, or at the very least keeps her stereotyping and fat bashing to herself.

In the words of Alysse (who was kind enough to give me permission to write about this and answer my questions)

I initially had blocked Ali from seeing the post because I didn’t want to cause any trauma to her because I knew I couldn’t control how people would respond but then I decided then that blocking her wouldn’t give her a chance to respond either. It was a difficult situation for both me and her. I believed that she should be held accountable for what she said about the community that both employs her and that she claims to advocate for. I hoped that the experience would educate and multiple people who I consider to be strong body advocates have come forth and offered to educate her. I hope she takes them up on that.

Here is the story in pictures:

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Published in: on January 27, 2016 at 10:17 am  Comments (14)  

The Worst Reason to Lose Weight

Concern Troll Venn DiagramToday I’m not talking about people’s individual reasons to attempt to manipulate their body size.  People are allowed to do whatever they want with their bodies including trying to shrink them and it’s not my business.  What I’m talking about is the worst reason that we are told to lose weight.

“For our health” is a pretty terrible reason – what with there being absolutely no evidence that would suggest that attempts at weight loss will leave us any thinner or healthier (two different things, by the way.)

“To be more beautiful” is a pretty terrible reason since it presupposes that we want to buy into the current social constructs and stereotypes of beauty and try to manipulate our bodies to meet them.

But the worst, the absolute worst, as far as I’m concerned is something I saw in marketing literature for a weight loss product (that I will not be linking to for what I hope are obvious reasons:)

Heavier people are often teased and taunted starting in childhood and continuing for the rest of their lives.  These insults can cause early emotional wounds that get ripped back open with every new jab and joke. [Insert Product Name] can give you a life free from this emotional baggage!

The first two statements (everything up to [insert product name]) are completely accurate, and as far as I am concerned form the most inappropriate and despicable way to try to sell weight loss to people.

The message that those who are the victims of poor treatment should change themselves to suit their bullies is horrifying. As anyone who tried to appease a bully in junior high school learned, once you give them your lunch money, they are going to want something else.  One day it’s your lunch money, the next it’s your lunch money and your pencil, then you’re skipping lunch, borrowing someone else’s pencil and letting the bully copy off your homework.  Soon you find your head – and your self-esteem- in the toilet while the bully makes off with your entire backpack.

It’s the same with losing weight as a way to stop being treated poorly.  As if the kind of people who would treat you poorly because of your weight won’t pick something else if you become thin. Not to mention that research shows that even if you manage to be in the tiny fraction of people who become thin, if people know you were previously fat you may still face discrimination:

“We were surprised to find that currently thin women were viewed differently depending on their weight history,” said Dr Janet Latner, study lead at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, US. “Those who had been obese in the past were perceived as less attractive than those who had always been thin, despite having identical height and weight.”

Again, people are allowed to attempt weight loss for this or any other reason, but for weight loss companies and other organizations that actually contribute to a climate of fat hate to suggest weight loss as a cure for fat hate is completely ridiculous – they are helping to create a problem that they then suggest we buy their product to solve.  And that is borderline criminal.

The problem is never that fat people exist. The problem is always the mistreatment of fat people. Fat people have the right to exist in fat bodies without shame, stigma, bullying, or oppression and it doesn’t matter why we’re fat, what being fat means, or if we could (or want to) become thin.

It’s true that heavier people are often teased and taunted starting in childhood and continuing for the rest of our lives.  It’s true that these insults can cause early emotional wounds that get ripped back open with every new jab and joke.

But I don’t need a company to come along and offer to change my body, because the problem here is the perpetrators of the oppressive behavior, not the victims of it. The only people in this situation who need to change are those who engage in appearance-based teasing and oppression.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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 January 26, 2016 at 1:58 pm  Comments (12)  

Dillard’s Body-Shames Teen Girl

NO Negative Body TalkOver 100 people told me about a Facebook post in which a mom talks about how a salesperson at Dillard’s showed us exactly how not to sell dresses to teenage girls (or really, anybody) Let’s look at it bit by bit:

Dear sales lady at Dillard’s Towne East Mall,

The phone number for this Dillard’s is (316) 685-0341, that may become important to you later on in this blog post. 

This is my teenage daughter who wanted to try on dresses for an upcoming formal.  I found this dress and asked her to try it on.  She told me this was not her style, but tried it on for me.  I told her how grown up it made her look and she smiled, and told me this made her look too old but still, she let me take a picture.

Adorable mother daughter moment right? I’ll show you the picture in a minute, but not yet, because I want to highlight that what I’m about to say would be true regardless of what the girl looks like in the dress.

Right after that, you entered and told my daughter she needed to wear SPANX if she wanted to wear this dress.

What the eff? What the ACTUAL eff? What the EFFING EFF? No. Just no. World of no, Galaxy of no, Universe of no. No. How freaking DARE this woman tell a teenage girl – part of a population who are most at risk for low self-esteem and eating disorders – that there is something wrong with her body that requires giant spandex underpants to fix?

(To be clear, I’ve discussed my feelings about SPANX before, but they are just my feelings. If you want to wear SPANX that is perfectly fine – this is a literal example of The Underpants Rule. However, if you want to tell a teenage girl that she needs to wear SPANX, you are a monster and you shouldn’t be around, or talk to, teenage girls, let alone be paid to sell them dresses.)

I told my daughter to go change. I told you that she was just fine without SPANX.  You continued to argue with me.  We left soon after.

Continued to argue. Continued to argue. CONTINUED TO ARGUE. CONTINUED TO ARGUE.

What kind of person says something that can be seriously damaging to the self-esteem and body image of a teenage girl, and when she gets called on it, instead of saying “Oh dear god, I can’t believe I did that, I’m so sorry, how can I make it right?” doubles down and argues that teen girls need to hear that their bodies aren’t good enough to wear a dress unless they are stuffed like sausages into expensive spandex casings?

Ok, seriously, retail work is extremely difficult, and typically under-appreciated and underpaid and that’s a problem that needs to be solved.  But that does not make it ok to body-shame teenagers. So while I will stand with the salesperson for better treatment, better scheduling, and better wages, I can’t stand behind her body shaming teenagers.

I wish I had told you how many girls suffer from poor self image and telling them they need something to make them perfect can be very damaging.  Girls of all ages, shapes and sizes are perfect because that is how God made them.  If they feel good in a dress that is all that should matter

Let’s talk about eating disorders and adolescents:

  • The National Institute of Mental Health reports that 2.7% of teens, ages 13-18 years old, struggle with an eating disorder.
  • 50% of teenage girls and 30% of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives to control their weight.
  • Over 50% of teenage girls and 33% of teenage boys are using restrictive measures to lose weight at any given time.
  • 35% of normal dieters progress to pathological dieting. Of those, 20-25% progress to partial or full-syndrome eating disorders.

So obviously it’s in every teenage girl’s best interest to be body-shamed as often as possible.  Or…wait…no…the exact opposite of that.

My daughter is tall, she swims, run, dances, and does yoga. She’s fit, she’s beautiful She did not need you telling her that she is not perfect.

It’s nice that this girl has hobbies that she likes, but let’s be clear that regardless of their height, weight, hobbies, or level of fitness, no teenage girl (or person of any age) should be body-shamed, and no teenage girl (or person of any age) is obligated to smush their body into some other shape to be able to wear a dress.  Again, if you want, or think you need, to wear shapewear then that is your right, but it begins and ends with you – if you suggest that other people need to wear shapewear you’ve crossed the line and you need to take your spanx-wearing ass back over it.

I hope this is shared and gets back to you so that you should not say something like that to a girl ever again. You never know what negative or positive thoughts they are thinking about themselves.

I hope it gets shared too, and I hope that this encourages not just this Dillard’s, but every store that sells clothing to teenage girls, to find ways to sell clothes and support high self-esteem at the same time. (Remember if you wanted to contact that Dillard’s and, say, ask that they apologize and create training about the difference between upselling and body-shaming, the phone number for this Dillard’s is (316) 685-0341)  Especially since this isn’t Dillard’s first foray into fat-shaming.

Sincerely,

Mother of a beautiful girl

Thank you for standing up for your daughter and against body shaming.  We may not be able to stop people from trying to poison our girls with body hate, but we can do our best to stand up for them and inoculate them (and here are some simple steps to do just that.)

Here are the pictures (with the girl’s face replaced with what I thought was an appropriate expression.)

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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 January 25, 2016 at 1:11 pm  Comments (19)  

Things “Fat” Doesn’t Mean

Reader Kele sent me this question (and gave me permission to blog about it!)

A friend of mine, who is herself fattish, shared a screenshot on Facebook today. I commented that in a way I understood where the poster was coming from, but I didn’t like the fat shaming aspect at all. My friend responded that she “didn’t mean to body shame, but when she hears the phrase ‘fat ass,’ her mind automatically translates it to ‘lazy.'” I told her equating fat with lazy is exactly body shaming, and she asked me to explain why! I did my best, but I have to say it’s so obvious to me and I was so confounded that a smart woman would pose the question that I’m not sure I did a great job.

Kele FB Meme

“How dare you say “what happened” to an aging actor while your fat ass is covered in butter and sour patch kids in a reclining theater seat.”

I have found that this is a common problem.  One of the ways that marginalization of fat people is kept in place is through this kind of “stereotype and substitute” situation. Instead of stereotyping all fat people as lazy (which is bad enough), people just start to use the terms interchangeably.

A good example of this was that ridiculous “fattest thing you’ve ever done” things which was actually just story after story of people who ate a lot one time.  That’s not “being fat” that’s eating a lot one time, and if there’s anything that meme proved it’s that people of all sizes do that.

Stereotyping like this creates issues in a number of ways:

First, it creates situations where behaviors are considered fine for people who look one way, but not for people who look another way.  For example, consider the likely reaction to a sitcom scene where a thin girl who has just broken up with a significant other is wearing sweats and no make-up, eating a gallon of mint chocolate chip from the container and squirting whipped cream into her mouth. Now imagine if it was a fat girl doing the same thing.  This type of stereotyping creates appearance-based double standards, and that’s bullshit.

It can create intersectional oppression for fat people who also deal with issues of racism/healthism/ableism that may come with stereotypes/preconceptions of laziness. Also it leads to “lazy” (by whatever definition) fat people being treated dramatically worse than “lazy” thin people, when neither is really anybody’s business.

This meme is particularly irritating to me because speaking out against celebrity shaming is important, and this totally botches it by employing the terrible strategy of fighting celebrity body shaming with fat body shaming. Based on this meme I might get the idea that it’s ok to shame celebrities as long as you are thin and eating kale chips in an uncomfortable chair.  That’s not how we make things better.

This kind of stereotype/substitute also creates a situation that encourages people to project their shame about behaviors in which they engage onto fat people to try to make themselves feel better.  If they feel like they eat too much or don’t get to the gym enough they can lash out at fat people, and then feel better about themselves. But fat people don’t exist to be punching bags for thin people with self-esteem issues, and using us that way is unacceptable.

Finally it takes an adjective that accurately describes people’s bodies, and turns it into an epithet used to shame and bully.  That, in turn, contributes to a climate of bullying and oppression in which people, like Kele’s friend, actually forget why it’s not ok to stereotype type people or substitute a behavior for an appearance.

Here are three easy steps to prevent this:

  1. Don’t confuse body size or appearance with behavior
  2. Don’t use an adjective that describes a group of people as an insult
  3. Think before you meme

Speaking of memes let’s see if we can’t make some improvements:

Aging Actor Meme

Same meme, but now with everything but “How dare you say “what happened” to an aging actor” crossed out.

There, fixed it!

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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 January 23, 2016 at 3:30 pm  Comments (12)  

When My Body Became My Friend

Splits on Wallstreet

Photo by Substantia Jones for http://www.adipositivity.com

I had an uncomfortable epiphany on my path to body love.  I was near the beginning of my journey and I was working on getting to a place of gratitude for all the things my body did for me, instead of focusing on hating it for not looking like a Photoshopped picture of someone else.

The more I appreciated things my body was doing – from breathing, blinking and heartbeat to smiling, waving and moving around – the more dissonance it created with the messages that I was getting from society about my body, and the way that I had always bought into those messages

It seemed like everywhere I turned I was told that my body was ugly, worthless, morally corrupt.  In the past I had agreed that a fat body was ugly, insisted that it might be worthless now but that I was “working on it,” and insisted that despite my fat body I was still a good person.

The more appreciation I had for my body, the more I was seeing my body as a friend.  The more I thought of my body as a friend, the more trouble I had continuing to participate in putting my own body down, whether it was self-deprecating jokes, or apologies for my size, buying into the idea that manipulating my body’s size would improve it, or agreeing that my body deserved to be constantly stereotyped and stigmatized.

I realized that if anybody treated my friends the way that they treated my body, I would never stand for it – I would flip out, not join in.  My body deserved better. My body, that does so much for me every single day, deserves the same respect and support and complete intolerance for mistreatment that I would have for any friend.  My body deserves nothing less than my full-throated support.

So I stopped putting myself down.  It wasn’t easy – when it came to beliefs about my fat body, I had had been shopping at shitmart and paying full retail price. I had employed the “beat everyone to the fat joke by making it about myself” technique for a long time so when I not only stopped making the jokes, talking badly about fat bodies, and engaging in the Good Fatty/Bad Fatty dichotomy, but also made it clear that I wasn’t going to stand for others making jokes, talking badly about fat bodies, or engaging in the Good Fatty/Bad Fatty Dichotomy it was a struggle not just for me, but for a lot of the people I interacted with.  I was a little shocked by how many interactions depended on both of us buying into the idea that a fat body was a bad body.

Now I know the truth – my fat body is amazing and beautiful, my body is worthy of love and respect, and I am a good fat person, not a good person despite my fat. Viewing my body as a friend has helped me to deal with injury and illness by conceptualizing them as me and my body against a problem rather than me against my body, it has helped me to treat my body better, and demand better treatment for my body.  My body and I are much better as friends than we were as enemies, and I’m never going back.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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 January 22, 2016 at 12:56 pm  Comments (13)  

Losing It With Jillian Michaels

Not everyone can combine body shaming, inaccurate information about health and fitness, and cultural incompetence – but Jillian Michaels sure can. A while ago some troll signed me up for Jillian Michael’s e-mail list.  I find it fascinatingly horrifying that she seems to have no professional ethics and will say absolutely anything for money and so I never unsubscribed, instead dumping her e-mails – all with the subject “Losing it with Jillian Michaels” – into a folder for future blogging.  Well, today is the day:

It will be no surprise to regular readers that I think Jillian Michaels is an abusive ego-maniac, who puts people in danger both on the abomination of a television show that made her famous, and in her subsequent solo work. Today I want to take a look at a few of the “greatest hits” from her “Losing it with Jillian Michaels” emails:

Losing it with Jillian 2

Screenshot of E-mail  Subject: Want to Get Into Your Skinny Jeans?  Try These Moves. Body:  Tone Your Abs and legs With These Moves.  Are you battling the dreaded “muffin top?”  Trust me, some heart-pumping cardio is going to make a world of different in helping you burn off the fat. These three killer moves will really help you sculpt those trouble zones.

“Skinny jeans”?  No, I’ll just rock my fat jeans, thanks.

“Dreaded Muffin Top”? Jillian loves to use this kind panic-inducing body shaming language. to get her readers to hate their bodies so that they keep paying her money. This is, as my friend CJ Legare puts it, stealing people’s self-esteem so that she can cheapen it and sell it to us at a profit.

“Trust me.”  Ha ha ha, ha ha ha ha. Good one Jillian, you might be dangerously incompetent, but at least you’re hilarious!

“Really help you sculpt those trouble zones”?  Say it with me, there’s no such thing as spot reducing, I started teaching aerobics in the early nineties and even then they told us that it was important to counteract the myth that you can “spot-sculpt” any part of the body. It’s 20 years later and Jillian doesn’t seem to have gotten the memo on this.

Losing it with Jillian 3

E-mail subject:  What is Your idea of Beauty?  Body: Why “Perfection” Isn’t Perfect for You Do you pick yourself apart or wish you looked a certain way? Compared to airbrushed photos of beautiful celebrities, we’re always going to come up short.  Let go of unrealistic notions and focus on living a healthier life.

This would be hilarious if it weren’t so messed up.  First she’s trying to make us fear the “dreaded muffin top,” now she wants us to focus on health and love our “imperfect” body?  The most ridiculous thing though, is the picture of Jillian that accompanies this message:

Losing it with Jillian 4

“Let go of unrealistic notions.” she said.  Maybe she can show us how it’s done by letting go of unrealistic Photoshopping.

Then there is the e-mail I noticed today:

Jillian Sumo Squat

Subject: Tone Your Legs With This Move  Body: Have you ever seen a sumo match?  These wrestlers may look funny (and flabby), but they’re actually powerhouses of strength and balance…You’ll probably never have to intimidate a competitor in the ring, but doing this sumo-inspired exercise will strengthen your inner and outer thighs.  Best of all, there’s no loincloth required.

First of all, this is hella disrespectful to Japanese Sumo culture.  No loincloth?  Wrestlers may look funny and flabby?  As long we we’re talking about words that start with F, I have one for Jillian.

Then there’s the “funny and flabby BUT strength and balance” mess. This “someone who looks like this” BUT “they are actually physically fit/talented etc.” is the language of stigma and stereotypes and, in this case, fatphobia. The wrestlers look “funny” to her because she’s culturally incompetent. The fact that she thinks that she needs to say that they are “flabby BUT they’re ACTUALLY powerhouses of strength and balance” tells you that Jillian holds certain stereotypes about fat people, and instead of using this opportunity to examine her appearance-based prejudices,  she’s creating a very specific exception so that she can hold onto her stereotypes.

I’m “Losing it with Jillian Michaels” alright – I’m losing any shred of respect, any lingering hope that she might become competent, and any patience or compassion that I might have had for her. I’m losing everything but the certainty that she will say absolutely anything for money and fame, and that she is hurting people and it no longer matters whether it’s because she’s delusional, incompetent, or she just doesn’t care.

Fat Activism Conference Speaker Nominations:  We are starting to plan for the 2016 Fat Activism Conference and the first step is nominating speakers.  If you know a speaker (we encourage you to nominate yourself and/or someone else) and/or if you are interested in being part of the Conference Organizing Committee, just fill out the quick survey here:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/K6RZNFL

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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 January 20, 2016 at 7:34 am  Comments (6)  

#ImFlattered Talks Back To Fashion Bashing

SmartGlamour, an NYC based size-inclusive clothing company, has created a campaign called #ImFlattered.  In the campaign women appear wearing clothing that they’ve been told is not “flattering” for them, holding signs with the words of the misguided people who confused these women’s bodies and clothing choices with their business (you can click on the pictures to enlarge them.)

Check out their page for more pictures, videos, and to shop their clothes from xs to 6x and up! I’ve been a card-carrying member of the f*ck flattering club for quite some time now, I thought that in honor of the #ImFlattered project, I would repost my thoughts about this:

A while ago on this blog I wrote about the issue of people who suggest that fat people are responsible for accommodating their size bigotry by wearing what they think we should wear.  You can read the whole post here.  It got a lot of positive reactions and some really strong reactions, both on the blog and around the internet where it got picked up, from people who said things like:

  • What’s wrong with wearing flattering clothes?
  • Why is it wrong to want to look my best?
  • I’m short and I prefer to wear heels because they make my legs look longer.
  • Some clothes look better on some bodies than others, that’s a fact.
  • I like to wear make-up so that my skin looks better and I feel more confident
  • I prefer to hide my rolls.
  • I like to wear shapewear to smooth out my stomach bumps

I said it in the original piece and I’ll say it again – people are allowed to wear what they want for whatever reason they want, including an attempt to get as much societal approval as possible, or to try to get as close as possible to the current stereotype of beauty.

I was not trying to tell people how to live or what to wear.  What I was suggesting was that it might be worth thinking about the social constructs that dictate what is “flattering.” Why do we, as a society, think that certain looks are better on certain bodies? Why is being seen as taller also seen as better (up to a certain point where women are seen as “too tall” and given suggestions on how to not appear less tall.)  Why are long legs “better” than short legs? What’s wrong with rolls and cellulite?  How do racism, sexism, ableism, ageism sizeism and homophobia play into our ideas of “flattering.”  Why do we, as a society, value clear skin – even if the make-up we wear to give the appearance of clear skin causes breakouts and ultimately skin damage.  Why does “looking our best” mean working toward being as close as possible to a single stereotype of beauty. How does access to clothing that we like/that fits play into this?

In short, why do we believe that looking our best means spending our time, money, and energy making our bodies look different through what amounts to a series of optical illusions?  Why can’t we learn to perceive beauty in every body instead of trying to make every body fit a single perception of beauty.

Again, I’m not saying it’s wrong to do these things – I’m suggesting we consider the roots of why we do them, and decide if we feel like that’s ok, which is a decision each of us gets to make.  Then what’s important is to be able to make our choices while not trying to push our ideas onto other people, or judge them through our lens.

As I said in my piece “F*ck Flattering” – you get to dress how you want for whatever reason you choose.  You can pick clothes because you like them, because you think they will gain social approval for you, because they highlight your shape, because they disguise your shape, because your significant other likes them, because your mom hates them, because you think they are flattering, because you think they are unflattering, or for any other reason.  It’s your body and they are your clothes and you are the boss of your underpants and also the boss of your regular pants.

Something that we are not often told is that we do have the option to throw off our jacket and give flattering the finger with our arm fat waving unrestricted in our tank tops, our breasts comfortable in a bra that neither lifts nor separates (or no bra at all), our skirt showing every roll of our stomachs, and our leggings showing every dimple of cellulite on our thighs.  We should all have access to clothes that we like. We get to choose how we dress our bodies and why, we can choose to wear things that are flattering by some definition of flattering or not.  But no matter what we choose, I think it’s important to remember that we do not owe anybody flattering by any definition, and nobody owes it to us.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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 January 19, 2016 at 11:24 am  Comments (14)  

Amazon Says “Stick a Fork In Him, He’s Fat”

Say Something SundayFor today’s Say Something Sunday post I want to talk about activism that reader Wendy Dirks recently engaged in (and gave me permission to share with you.) Wendy e-mailed me about an advertisement she saw from Amazon [linked provided, but trigger warning for fat hate]

http://www.advertolog.com/amazon/adverts/yoga-20911555/ The video is of a yoga class made up of women and one larger-bodied guy.  One of the women sees the man in Balasana pose (I think – I’m not a Yoga expert so correct me if I’m wrong…) she stares at him, and then a hand and wrist come into the frame holding a meat thermometer which then LITERALLY POKES THE FAT MAN.  In the next frame the fat man is replaced by a turkey which is then impaled with the meat thermometer and we find that all of the proceeding fat shaming was in the service of selling the Amazon app that would allow this woman to think about needing a meat thermometer and then buy one  using Amazon’s app.

Wendy e-mailed me:

I thought it was going to be something romantic – then, when the meat thermometer appeared, I was gobsmacked and burst out, “What the fuck is that!”

I am about to write to Amazon. Everyone should write to Amazon.

Wendy wrote a truly excellent letter:

Dear Customer Service:

If you check your records, you will find that I have been a customer of yours for many years and that I shop with you regularly. Last night I was watching the Newcastle United vs Manchester United football match when this advert came on: http://www.advertolog.com/amazon/adverts/yoga-20911555/.

At first I thought it was going to be something cute and romantic, like fat lad gets the lass. Then I watched as she imagined sticking a meat thermometer into him. Fat man as fat roasted meat. I cannot begin to tell you how offensive I found this. So many things were so incredibly wrong with this advert.

First of all, men do yoga. He was the only man in the class. Fat people do yoga. He was the only fat person in the class. If you doubt this, let me tell you that although I am a woman, I am fat woman who been practicing yoga for almost 30 years. Please have a look at this video, which is a lot closer to reality.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnkG8U5WCwY&feature=youtu.be

Or perhaps you need to see fat men doing yoga. Here’s a fat male yoga teacher.

http://buddhabodyyoganyc.com

We don’t need to apologise for ourselves in yoga classes and we certainly don’t need to have somebody broadcast adverts that compare us to fat juicy roast chickens. In fact, we don’t have to apologise for our existence at all. How many of your customers do you think are fat? We’re supposed to be the fattest nation in Europe. I would to guess that you have a lot of fat customers. Do you really want to alienate them that way? Our money is just as valuable as that of thin people.

I look forward to your response.

Dr Wendy Dirks

 

That’s how it’s done!  Maybe you change the world, and maybe you don’t.  Too often we don’t engage in activism because we’re afraid that we won’t be perfect or that it won’t be enough to create change.  But perfection isn’t the goal – taking action is. The outcome isn’t within our control, all we can control is what we do.  Nobody is obligated to engage in activism, but everyone is welcome to engage in whatever way works for them – from posting something fat positive on Social Media to going to a protest.

If you’re thinking about justifying this, or saying that it’s no big deal, or not worth fighting, I welcome you to check out this post. The fact is, that people can make engaging and interesting ads that do not, in any way, involve cheap fat jokes.  (And if they can’t then they should seek employment elsewhere.)

If you’d like to let Amazon know how you feel, you can e-mail them at complaints@amazon.co.uk  you can also contact Rattling Stick advertising agency, who created the ad, at info@rattlingstick.com

If you have activism that you’ve engaged in that you’d like to tell me about, feel free to leave it in the comments or e-mail me at ragen@danceswithfat.org

 

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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 January 17, 2016 at 11:13 am  Comments (15)  

If You Really Loved Your Body…

Bullshit FairyOne of the most often used, and poorly constructed, arguments leveled against those of us who do Size Acceptance Activism, is that if we really loved our bodies we wouldn’t need to do activism, and we wouldn’t be “so angry,” because we would “be at peace with ourselves.”

As a fat person I receive mistreatment at the hands of everyone from the government to strangers that I meet, I hear stories from readers all the time who tell me about abhorrent treatment from their jobs, their families and friends, their doctors and it makes me very, very angry. That doesn’t mean that I’m not happy – I’m happy about a great many things, and I’m perfectly capable of holding happiness for some things and anger for others at the same time.

To suggest that my anger with the way I’m treated indicates that I am “not at peace with myself” makes it seem to me that we should stop the logic train because we’ve had a passenger fall off.  I’m at peace with myself – I’m at war with a large part of the world, and not of my choosing.  Perhaps you’ve heard of the “war on obesity?”  That war is against me, and my body. That war tries to convince people (including me) that I, and everyone who looks like me, should be eradicated based on the shaky assumption that it will save society money (as if it’s ok to suggest that a group should be eradicated in order to save society some money.) Each of us gets to choose how we deal with our oppression – nobody is obligated to react to this with anger, but anger is certainly a valid response.

Not only am I at peace with myself, I’m at peace with myself despite the fact that I’m being constantly given the message that the way I look is proof that I’m a bad person who deserves shame, stigma and oppression.  It is that peace that makes me want to fight for my body and my rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness which includes the right to exist in a fat body without having the government wage war on me for how I look. It’s my love for my own body that drives the anger.

Let’s try this – Imagine that you have a best friend, and every single day that best friend is bullied, shamed, stigmatized.  If you become angry about the way your friend is treated, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have a good relationship with your friend, it means that you are justifiably angry at their mistreatment.

I spend a lot of time smiling politely and asking people if they wouldn’t mind not oppressing me.  I don’t begrudge that and I don’t apologize for it – it’s effective, it gives people the benefit of the doubt (that perhaps they weren’t aware of the consequences of their actions,) and it’s reasonably pleasant.  That doesn’t mean that I’m always obligated to do that, nor does it indicate that I’m not angry at a society that condones the behavior and the social constructs that support the behavior.  That anger is because I love my body, because I’m at peace with myself, and I’d like some peace with the outside world.

To try to characterized the anger of people who are oppressed as a sign of deficiency in our relationships with ourselves is dangerously (and I think often purposefully) dis-empowering – it suggests that to prove that we are happy with ourselves we must not speak out against our mistreatment (not to mention the serious issues with having some obligation to prove anything to anyone about how we feel about ourselves in the first place.) That’s flat out wrong – it’s way out of line, and, perhaps not surprisingly, it makes me very, very angry.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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 January 15, 2016 at 10:46 am  Comments (7)  

They Want Fat People To Eat Poop Now

You Cannot Be SeriousElaine Yu, an assistant professor and clinical researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital, will be conducting a clinical trial to see if taking pills containing the freeze dried fecal matter of thin people will make fat people thin.  If you’re thinking “How the everlovingcrap did this happen?”  let me assure you, you are not alone.

Here is how the everlovingcrap this happened:

A series of studies (of mice and humans) found that thin and fat subjects had differences in their gut microbes. Then in a 2013 study, microbes were taken from four sets of human twins. In each set of twins, one was thin and one was fat.  Those microbes were then transplanted into mice.  Those mice who received microbes from the fat twin gained weight regardless of which of three diets they were fed (my favorite part of this study may be the use of the phrase “mouse chow” but that’s obviously beside the point.)

Fecal transplants have been found to a legitimate, and very helpful, treatment to help people with bacterial infections, and the freeze-dried poo pill technology was developed as a way to facilitate these transplants. So now Professor Yu is going to give 20 fat people 6 weekly doses of poop pills (far fewer than in the bacterial infection studies where subjects were given 15 pills a day for 2 days), then track their weight at 3, 6,  and 12 months, telling subjects not to make changes to their eating and exercise habits (obviously, that’s difficult to determine, and I imagine that knowing that you are ingesting poo might have an effect on appetite – I know that researching ingesting poo did for me.)

Let’s talk about the issues with this:

The research upon which this  study rests is all correlational, with all  the inherent issues and weaknesses. There’s a lot we don’t know about gut microbes. According to Yu “we have no idea what the result will be.” That creates risk, since according to Dr. Elizabeth Hohmann – who did the research on bacterial infection and freeze-dried fecal matter -“There’s always the possibility that unknown infectious agents could be transmitted this way, we screen these people to be as healthy as we can determine in 2014, but who knows?”

This risk is even riskier when you consider that even if it makes fat people thinner, we have no way to know if it will make them healthier.   The entire thing is based upon the untested hypothesis that making fat people thinner (though a gut microbe transplant or some other reason) will make us healthier.  The keywords here being untested hypothesis. There is no study of fat people who have maintained long-term weight loss compared to those who stay fat, or compared to those who practice Health at Every Size to show that weight loss makes people healthier, the research simply doesn’t exist.

Consider this:  male pattern baldness is strongly correlated with cardiac incidents, but even if taking poo pills made these men grow hair, it wouldn’t make them less likely to have a heart attack, because trying to imitate health outcomes by making one group of people look like another group of people is not good science.  Especially when research shows that behaviors are a much better predictor of future health than body size (knowing, of course, that health isn’t an obligation, a barometer of worthiness, entirely within our control, or guaranteed under any circumstances.)

So while this poo pill study isn’t as bad as, say, the FDA approving a weight loss drug that is absolutely horrifying and possibly deadly,  I think this study isn’t worth the contents of the acid-resistant capsules. I would be very happy if all the time, money, and energy that goes into researching how to eradicate fat people would go into eradicating actual diseases.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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 January 14, 2016 at 11:06 am  Comments (29)