How Not to Market Your Weight Loss Webinar

facepalmI get plenty of ridiculous hate mail, but sometimes I get something even more ridiculous. A company that so completely misunderstands my blog that they sincerely ask me to help them market their weight loss bullshit.  Here’s part of a recent example:

Our first webinar addresses a sensitive topic: weight loss. We know what you are thinking (and feeling). But, we urge you to keep reading. Don’t close this email!

[Our Ridiculous Company] does not promote getting skinny; we promote being well. And, weight loss is part of many woman’s journey to wellness.

Weight loss needs to be talked about in terms of wellness not skinniness. It is a touchy, yet important topic that we are brave enough to discuss.

Please urge your audience to attend our webinar: “Eat More and Lose Weight.”

The link featured the headline in huge font red letters: “Are You FRUSTRATED with
Trying to Lose Weight and Have a Body You LOVE?
” There was nothing about loving the body you have, just ridiculous claims that this doctor could not just help you lose weight but also “End sick days.” Right, this definitely has the ring of good science. Turns out it’s just another doctor (this one trained in “emergency medicine”) who has written another book claiming that she can help people lose weight with absolutely no proof that it will work, and a mountain of evidence to suggest that it won’t, trying to co-opt Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size for her own profit.

Some days I have it for the teachable moment, and some days I don’t.  These came to me just in time for Say Something Sunday, and so one of my Say Something Sunday suggestions was to e-mail these people and tell them to stop spamming me with their BS.  Many of you did, thank you so much! From what I’ve been told, everyone got back a form e-mail claiming that sending me an unsolicited request to promote something that I am emphatically against is not spam, and that they wanted to (I’m not even kidding here) “team up with Ragen to empower women.”  The e-mails ended with “p.s Please rethink blindly sending hate mail.”

First of all, not to go all Crocodile Dundee or anything, but saying “Your weight loss promotion is not appreciated.  In a blog like Ragen Chastain’s Dances with Fat  it is especially not appreciated.  Please just stop!” is not hate mail.  This is hate mail.

Also, when you go to a blog that is very specifically Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size, and waste the writer’s time asking her to help you promote that which she spends every single day fighting against, you might expect a little push back. Today I received yet another comment from them explaining that they don’t believe in dieting, just in losing weight for health reasons (right, and I’m not a brunette, I just happen to have brown hair.)  There is no magical phrase or reason for promoting or selling weight loss that makes it any less impossible, or less harmful, for the vast majority of people.

So these people struggle with the concepts of Health at Every Size, Spam, hatemail, bravery, and dieting.  But why am I telling you about this? First, because it’s funny and I don’t know about you but some days I can use a good laugh. Second, because I really appreciate everyone who sent them an e-mail and, hopefully, taught them a very valuable lesson about reading comprehension.  And finally, to say that you don’t have to put up with weight loss propaganda, or with people trying to co-opt Size Acceptance to sell dieting.

When people come into our spaces and try to promote something harmful, we don’t have to smile politely and say “no thank you” (though of course that’s an option)  I imagine someone will comment on this blog to say that I should have worked to build a bridge instead of reacting the way I did. I say fuck that.  I spend a lot of time politely asking people if they wouldn’t mind not oppressing me so much, and I don’t apologize for that, but I’m also not obligated to do it and it takes all kinds of activism to create change in the world.  Anger is a tool in the activism toolbox just as much as bridge-building is and each of us gets to choose how we respond to the bullshit that we face on any given day.

You can push back in any way that you feel comfortable: Mark every diet ad you see online as “deceptive” or “I don’t want to see this” or whatever, unsubscribe from magazines that advertise dieting and tell them why, return postcards from diet companies return to sender, declare your Facebook page/home/book club/game night etc. a Body Positive space – no diet talk allowed.  You can also go ahead and flip a table. You aren’t obligated to push back against diet propaganda, but you are allowed.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Join the The Brave Body Love Summit: 35+ speakers (including me) offering tools to support and improve your relationship with your body Check it out here!

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

Buy the book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

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

Dance Classes:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details 

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

A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development (casting, finding investors etc.).  Follow the progress on Facebook!

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

 

Published in: on February 17, 2015 at 9:13 am  Comments (12)  

Failed at Dieting? Welcome to the Almost Everyone Club!

The Almost Everyone Club

Biscuit the Pug models our demo jacket, maybe we shouldn’t create it in MS Paint.

A question that I get asked pretty often is “If dieting doesn’t work, how is it possible that it’s such a popular recommendation even by doctors?”  I’m glad that you asked!

For the last 50 years the research that has been conducted regarding long term weight loss has shown that weight loss almost never works long term.  Yet we are constantly told by the media, the government, our doctors etc. that anybody who tries hard enough can lose weight and keep it off. Plenty of studies have shown that the body has a number of physiological reactions to weight loss that are designed to regain weight and then retain that weight.  Yet we are told that those who regain their weight have just “gone back to their old habits.” But what really happens?

So a person begins one of a thousand intentional weight loss  (also known as a “lifestyle change”) programs.  They lose weight at first, then between 2 and 5 years after the loss they gain back all of the weight plus more, despite diligently maintaining their diet behaviors (aka “lifestyle changes”). They report these happenings to their doctor only to be told that they must not have been properly counting calories, they must have overestimated their movement. Their experience, they will be told, could not possibly have happened, it is impossible because…physics!  Or they tell their doctor that they couldn’t mentally and physically continue their dieting behaviors (aka “lifestyle change”) and are told again that they just weren’t trying hard enough.

All this despite the fact that their experience is exactly what the research tells us to expect. When millions of credible first person accounts match up with what research has found, typically that’s a good time to jump out of your bathtub and run around naked yelling “Eureka, I’ve found it.”

So why is dieting such a popular recommendation?  Those who are perpetuating this “weight loss works’ culture are doing a couple of things frighteningly well.

First, they are doing a great job of obfuscating the evidence.  Remember when a study found that Weight Watchers participants lost around about 10 pounds in six months and kept off half of that for two years (giving them a 3 year efficacy buffer but who’s counting) and Karren Miller-Kovach, chief scientific officer of Weight Watchers International at the time won the “I Said It With a Straight Face Award” when she told the media: “It’s nice to see this validation of what we’ve been doing.” Five pounds in two years.  Five pounds in two years.  Five freaking pounds in two freaking years?!?!?!?!?!.  But every time I say something about Weight Watchers people tell me how well it works (often, defying all logic, telling me that they’ve “done Weight Watchers 6 times and it worked every time“.)

Or the National Weight Control registry claiming to prove that weight loss works when the truth is that they would need 32,990,000 more success stories just to show a 5% success rate for dieting over the time they’ve been collecting data.  They’ve only managed to gather about 10,000 success stories since 1994, so they just moved the goal post and claimed victory at the fact that their numbers indicate that dieting works .009% of the time which means that if you walk to your Weight Watchers meeting in the rain you are three times more likely to die from a lightning strike than lose weight long term.

The second thing that they do alarmingly well is to discredit what are actually completely credible first person accounts of dieting failure.  Hundreds of thousands of people have diet failures every year.  Some of them have been convinced that they suddenly lost the ability to accurately maintain their diet behaviors, like people are saying “that’s weird, last week I could totally measure a cup of pasta but this week I forgot what a measuring cup is or how it works, so I just ate the whole package of spaghetti.”  They are told that they must be doing something wrong if they are regaining weight.  They are excoriated and discredited as “trying to justify their fatness”  (as if we need justification to exist in our bodies.)

But the diet industry and its cronies do it with shocking success.  Millions of people saying “I had the exact experience that research said was most likely” and somehow the diet industry, the government, and the medical establishment are able to discredit all of us in the eyes of the greater culture, often while continuing to profit.

This is all by way of saying that if you’ve tried dieting and ended up regaining all of your weight, or all of your weight plus more, then welcome to The Almost Everyone Club, we aren’t exclusive and we don’t have jackets (yet!) but we do have evidence and experience.  You have the right to claim and own the fact that you are indeed a credible witness to your experience, and you can refuse to allow someone else to substitute their completely  fabricated (and highly lucrative) experiences for your actual ones, and you can insist that they stop the diet roller coaster because you want to get the hell off.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Join the The Brave Body Love Summit: 35+ speakers (including me) offering tools to support and improve your relationship with your body Check it out here!

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

Buy the book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

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

Dance Classes:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details 

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

A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development (casting, finding investors etc.).  Follow the progress on Facebook!

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

Published in: on February 16, 2015 at 8:38 am  Comments (23)  

Say Something Sunday – Seventh Edition

Say Something SundayIt’s “Say Something Sunday,” a day dedicated, at least on this blog, to personal Size Diversity activism. I’ve got some suggestions below and/or of course you can do your own thing and feel free to leave a comment about it. If you have ideas of things to do for Say Something Sunday I’d also love for you to share those.

I did the math and if everyone who views the blog each week did one piece of Size Diversity Activism a week, it would add up to over 1.5 million body positive messages put out into the world this year.  Multiply that times the number of people who might see each of those messages and things start to increase exponentially. To be very clear, nobody is obligated to do activism so if this doesn’t appeal to you that’s totally cool, I’ll be back tomorrow with your regularly scheduled blog post!

The theme this week is “Take this junk and shove it”  –  telling people to stop sending you weight loss propaganda (as always these are just suggestions, feel free to change them to make them work for you, and if they don’t appeal to you feel free to do your own thing!)

  • Every time you see a diet ad on social media or online etc, click “I don’t want to see this” or “This ad is misleading” or whatever means stop with the dieting crap already.
  • If you get random diet ads e-mailed to you reply and let people know that you aren’t interested/that you believe they are doing people a disservice etc.
  • If you want to do me a favor, e-mail SexyDeliciousHealthy@gmail.com and tell them that you don’t appreciate them spamming the comments on my blog advertising webinars promoting weight loss with ridiculous language saying things like: weight loss is “a touchy, yet important topic that we are brave enough to discuss.” (You keep using that word, “brave.” I do not think it means what you think it means…)
  • If you get diet postcards in the mail return them to sender, or call the company and insist that you be removed from their mailing list.

If you want to do more of this kind of thing, consider joining the Rolls Not Trolls group on Facebook, it’s a group created for the specific purpose of putting body positive things in body negative spaces on the internet and supporting each other while we do that.  It’s a secret group so if you want to join just message me on facebook (I’m Ragen Chastain)

Have a great Say Something Sunday!

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Join the The Brave Body Love Summit  – 35+ speakers (including me) offering tools to support and improve your relationship with your body Check it out here!

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

Buy the book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

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

Dance Classes:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details 

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

A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development (casting, finding investors etc.).  Follow the progress on Facebook!

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

Published in: on February 15, 2015 at 7:14 am  Comments (6)  

The Tricky World of Weight Loss Compliments

What Will you DefendThis topic has come up a lot this week, so I thought I’d talk about it. It is definitely tricky! Let’s examine two scenarios: 1.  You are interacting with someone who has lost weight, and 2.  someone is talking to you about your weight loss (either real or perceived.) As always, these are just suggestions and your mileage may vary.

You are interacting with someone who has lost weight

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

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

If they don’t bring up the weight loss I don’t bring it up. Weight loss isn’t always welcome – it can be from medical issues, medication, stress, grieving etc. and I don’t want to bring up something painful. Plus this conversation is awkward enough, I’m not going to go through it if I don’t have to.

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

If someone mentions your weight loss:

I don’t know about you but I’ve had people do this as a passive aggressive way of pointing out that I haven’t lost weight.  So I cheerfully answer “Nope!”  On my IRONMAN blog I recently talked about what I would do if I lose weight as part of the training.

If you have lost weight intentionally and you want to support Size Acceptance, from my perspective it would be awesome if you said something like “I’m smaller but I still love my body just as much as before.” or “It’s so weird, I had no idea how many people were keeping tabs on my body size” or “I wish we lived in a world where body size wasn’t a topic of conversation.”  It would also be fantastic if you would point out and negate any attempts to make it seem like you are better than fat people who are still fat, or that you deserve to be treated better now that you are thinner.

I look forward to living in a world where bodies of all sizes and shapes are completely respected and celebrated. But until that time I think it helps to be mindful how we talk about these things.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

The Brave Body Love Summit is starting tomorrow – 35+ speakers (including me) offering tools to support and improve your relationship with your body check it out!

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

Buy the book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

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

Dance Classes:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details 

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

A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development (casting, finding investors etc.).  Follow the progress on Facebook!

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

Published in: on February 14, 2015 at 7:29 am  Comments (34)  

Thin People Only Clubs

What a Load of CrapI got an e-mail that said “I don’t care how athletic you are, there is no such thing as a fat athlete.”  Why would someone use their limited time on Earth to send me this is anybody’s guess.

It is definitely some extra special hater logic and it got me thinking about the way that so many people try to maintain their sense of superiority/maintain their stereotypes/oppress fat people by creating “thin people only clubs.”  They tell us that being an athlete isn’t just about athletics – but you also have to be thin; being stylish isn’t just about style, you also have to be thin; you have to be thin to be beautiful; you have to be thin to be sexy; you have to be thin to like your body and on and on and on.

At its base, this is about creating definitions that exclude people based on how they look – whether the club is athletes, fashionistas, or just confident people who are happy with their bodies.  I think a lot of it stems from people who have built their self-esteem on a foundation of weight bullying and fat shame.  Their self-esteem is predicated upon the idea that they are automatically better than a fat person because they are thin.  Since they can only feel good about themselves by convincing themselves that they are better than someone else, they have to protect this at all costs. Their self-esteem requires that the fatties go along with the idea that we can’t be part of their clubs until we are thin. When this is threatened, whether it’s by fathletes, fatshionistas, or just a fat person rocking a bikini on the beach, they seek to restore the balance of power by insisting that thin is a prerequisite for the “club”.

I suggest that we just say no, and insist on our place in the club.  You don’t have to want to be an athlete, but if you want to. you can be an athlete an any size (and the Fit Fatties Forum has over 3,000 fathletes of all abilities proving that.)  You don’t have to care about fashion but if it interests you then you can be a fashionista at any size.

Those who think that they get to decide the identities we claim for ourselves are making a massive Underpants Rule violation. They are laboring under the misapprehension that they are the Underpants Overlord of fat people’s identities –  that we need their consent or acceptance to claim our status as athletes, fashionistas, sexy, beautiful, or confident. We can eliminate the middle man and just claim and own these identities for ourselves, rejecting the idea that it’s anyone else’s job to tell us what we can or can’t be. So if someone tells you that you can’t be what you are unless you are thin, you have some options in reply. Remember that these are just suggestions, if they don’t resonate with you then obviously you’re free to ignore them!  If you have some ideas of your own, feel free to throw them in the comments:

“What in the world…I mean…what in the WORLD, would make you think that you get to tell me what I can be?”

“Bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, – you actually think you can tell me whether or not I’m a a fashionista? Dude, that’s hilarious.”

“I was not aware that you were made Underpants Overlord of the Athletes – I’m going to need to see the decree.”

(looking genuinely perplexed) “Sorry…I’m just having trouble imagining what would lead you to believe that I care what you think.”

“Oh, I see you’re looking for your beeswax. Sorry, but it’s definitely not here.”

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

Buy the book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

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

Dance Classes:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details 

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

A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development (casting, finding investors etc.).  Follow the progress on Facebook!

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

 

 

Published in: on February 13, 2015 at 8:16 am  Comments (25)  

The Incredible Bravery of Fat Shaming Children

WTF are you doingLaura Cacdac got a letter from her daughter Charley’s school, letting her know that her daughter’s BMI was “high” and that “From the results of this test, it is suggested that your child’s health be examined by a physician, particularly as it relates to the problem suggested by the screening. A problem such as this that goes uncorrected or untreated can severely affect both the health and academic performance of your child.”

The school delivered the letter in such a way that Charley, all 4’2 and 60 pounds of her, was able to read it, prompting her to ask her mom “Do they think I’m fat? Is there something wrong with me?’ and then to say “If I was fat it would make me kind of sad and kind of feel bad, like I’m kind of different from everybody else.” So good news, this girl has already internalized fat hatred and body shame, and she’s only six. Way to go Palm Beach School System for becoming part of the group of  “brave organizations” to body shame young children.

A study recently came out that found that 1 out of 4 children had dieted prior to turning 7, and that 80% of American girls aged 10 have been on diets. One-third of boys and the majority of girls ages 6 to 8 wish their bodies were thinner. So 25% of kids under 7 and 80% of 10 year old girls have been, or are currently, trying to feed their bodies less food than they need to survive in the hopes that their bodies will consume themselves and become smaller. And it seems like the Palm Beach School System wants to see if they can do a little better than 25% for the under 7 set.

For those of you currently wringing your hands and asking “Won’t somebody think of the children” and gearing up to tell me about how important it is that we focus on the weight of children as a path to their health, please be assured that I am thinking of the children, I would just like to think of them, and “health” interventions foisted upon them, from an evidence-based, empathy-driven approach that considers their physical and mental health and doesn’t fuck them up.

There is literally no evidence that these programs lead to healthier or thinner kids (two different things by the way, there are healthy and unhealthy kids of all sizes.) These programs were put into place based on the current hysteria-led idea that if a thin person thinks something will make people thin, it gets treated like an evidence-based health intervention (Thanks Michelle Obama!)

When people started doing the research, it turns out that not only don’t they work, but they have serious adverse effects.

Research from the University of Minnesota found that: None of the behaviors being used by adolescents for weight-control purposes predicted weight loss…Of greater concern were the negative outcomes associated with dieting and the use of unhealthful weight-control behaviors, including significant weight gain.

A Canadian study found that eating disorders were more prevalent than type 2 diabetes in kids.

The American Academy of Pediatrics reported that hospitalizations of children younger than 12 years for eating disorders rose by 119% from 1999 to 2006. (Children UNDER 12) There was a 15% increase in hospitalizations for eating disorders in all ages across the same time period.

Another study found that “school based healthy-living programs”  had some pretty big problems.  It turns out that these were and are being instituted in lots of schools, despite the fact that there is almost no research on the effectiveness of these programs or any inadvertent harmful effects on children’s mental health. This study found that these programs are actually triggering eating disorders in kids.  Dr. Leora Pinhas said “The programs present this idea that weight loss is good, that only thin is healthy…We live in a culture that stigmatizes fat people, and we’ve turned it into this kind of moralistic health thing.”

I also can’t find any research that discusses the impact that these programs have on the reality of kids and growth spurts – they gain weight, then grow, gain weight, then grow. At 6 years old, it’s pretty likely that Charley has some growing to do. If her school’s Public Weigh In and Body Shame Day falls during weight gain for a growth spurt, and everyone freaks out and tries to get her to lose weight, what does that mean for her growth?

There is no reason to expose kids to these risks because there is absolutely nothing that can be accomplished by singling out and shaming supposedly “fat” kids that couldn’t be accomplished by a program focused on health for kids of all sizes. Not just school lunches that are delicious, but cooking skills, PE classes with lots of options so that they are fun for kids even if they don’t enjoy having balls hurled at them or hoping that the popular athletic kid doesn’t pick them last for a sport they don’t enjoy playing. And since there’s no evidence that suggests that making kids hate or be ashamed of their bodies increases the likelihood that they’ll take care of them, how about teaching kids to respect and appreciate bodies of all shapes and sizes, including their own? How about not making exercise something that is either punishment or preventative for having a body that is “too big” and instead is something that kids can have a chance to actually enjoy? And how about taking all the OMGDEATHFATKIDS childhood obesity money and putting it towards removing barriers to health like oppression and poverty. That would truly be brave.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

Buy the book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

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

Dance Classes:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details 

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

A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development (casting, finding investors etc.).  Follow the progress on Facebook!

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

 

Published in: on February 12, 2015 at 7:02 am  Comments (39)  

Fat People’s Failure to Thrive

Nothing to proveFat people are failing to thrive.  That’s the message that many people in society try to say to, and about, fat people – we are “failing to thrive” unless we are thin, unless we have a body that fits the social beauty norm.   Nothing we do will ever be enough to “make up” for our fatness – You’re an amazing teacher, but are you thin? You’re a great mom, but are you thin?  You cured cancer, but are you thin? We couldn’t possibly be truly happy living outside the cultural beauty norm.  We can’t possibly be comfortable at our size and if we say we’re happy and comfortable with our bodies then we’re obviously lying.  The solution to all of this is obviously for fat people to change ourselves and couldn’t possibly be to end the stigma, bullying and oppression that fat people face for how we look.

Where does this heaping helping of horseshit come from? Some of it is guessing, some is projection, some is lies spread by the diet industry (that makes $60 billion a year selling a product that is such a disaster that they are legally required to say it doesn’t work every single time it’s advertised,) some is bullying, some is just BS.  The truth is that people come in lots of sizes for lots of reasons and we don’t now how to make people smaller for more than a short time, and the government declared and funded  “War on Obesity” has casualties. If we want people to thrive then having a society which – often by government decree –  bullies, shames, stigmatizes and oppresses them is the exact opposite of anything that is likely to work.

We will never know just how much of an effect stigma and oppression (not to mention dieting which is a whole other blog post) have on fat people’s physical and mental health – and ability to thrive – until we stop stigmatizing and oppressing them.  We don’t know how to make fat people thin but we do know how to stop stigmatizing and oppressing them, so how about we give that the old college try.  Being fat is not better or worse, it’s just one of many ways to have a body and every way is amazing. People of all sizes deserve a world that treats them with respect – instead of shaming, bullying, stigmatizing and oppression – and gives them the best chance to, by whatever their personal definition is, thrive.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

Buy the book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

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

Dance Classes:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details 

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

A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development (casting, finding investors etc.).  Follow the progress on Facebook!

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

 

Published in: on February 11, 2015 at 9:51 am  Comments (12)  

Things Obesity Isn’t

You Cannot Be SeriousWhether it’s in internet articles, comments on internet articles, or e-mails that I get, I see “obesity”/being fat used in comparisons that don’t actually make any sense.   Let’s clear up some of this confusion.

Obesity is not heroin addiction. 

Almost every day I get a couple of people, who think they are geniuses, who leave comments asking if I’m going to start a heroin acceptance movement since it’s the same as size acceptance. These are not comparable because heroin use is a single, specific behavior – everyone heroin addict does heroin.  “Obesity” is the end result of a math equation (weight in pounds time 703 divided by height in inches squared is greater than or equal to 30, a group that includes actors, professional athletes, and me.)  Obese/fat people cannot be identified by a single or even a group of common activities that are different from people who fall into different weight categories. Whatever your beliefs about heroin addiction and “obesity”, this comparison does not make any damn sense.

Obesity is not an eating disorder, nor is it the opposite of anorexia. 

An eating disorder is an illness with mental and physical components, and though sometimes it can affect body size, body size is not a definitive diagnosis of an eating disorder. People with active eating disorders participate in disordered behaviors around eating.  Eating disorders are serious, dangerous, and can be fatal.  Using anorexia and obesity as opposite sides of the same coin is a completely faulty comparison that ends up hurting fat people by suggesting that their body size is a definitive diagnosis of the need for a medial intervention, and for people with anorexia who have enough difficulty getting access to treatment without having a potentially fatal mental illness treated as the same thing as having a fat body.

The idea that someone can’t get “that fat” (for varying, subjective and completely random definitions of “that fat”) without having an eating disorder is a myth. Many fat people have very healthy relationships with food, and there are some fat people with eating disorders. It should be noted that while some fat people have Binge Eating Disorder, there are also fat people with anorexia and bulimia and other restrictive EDs and often family, friends, even doctors make the dangerous mistake of encouraging disordered eating behavior/full blown eating disorders in a fat person that they would correctly diagnose as dangerous in a thin person

Obesity is not a cost that can be calculated

Obesity is a body size, there are healthy and unhealthy fat people just like there are healthy and unhealthy thin people.  The current state of oppression, stigma and shame around obesity means that any calculation of the cost of obesity is impossible to separate from the cost of that oppression, stigma and shame.

Obesity is correlated to a number of diseases so it is considered a “risk factor” although the term is used loosely since there is no proof of causality of risk, it’s as if they found out that short people get a certain disease more often but they have no idea why so they say that shortness is a “risk factor”.  So naming “obesity” as a risk factor does not prove that it causes the health issue, nor does it prove that making someone thinner would change the risk factor (certain types of male baldness correlate very highly with an increased risk factor for heart attacks, but getting bald men to grow hair does not lower that risk.) Correlation does not imply causation. The calculations that are commonly used to show the “cost of obesity” are often based on the assumption that every “obese” person will get every disease for which they have a risk factor, and/or that every health issue they get is caused by their fat.   It’s just crap research that would get a college freshman failed in Research Methods 101.

Besides which, attempting to take a group of people who share a single physical characteristic and make an attempt to calculate their “cost to society” in order to promote the eradication of that population because the world would be cheaper if they didn’t exist is clearly dangerous and wrong.

Obesity is not a Metaphor

Using a fat person to represent greed, over-consumption, a negative view of capitalism etc. is stereotyping and bigotry, pure and simple.  It’s wrong on every level.  We are not yours for the metaphoring.

While we’re at it, let’s talk about Size Acceptance.

Size Acceptance is not the opposite of “Thinspiration”.

Thinspiration exists to reinforce a stereotype of beauty, and in many cases is used to reinforce disordered eating/eating disorders.

Size Acceptance is a civil rights concept that reminds us that everyone has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in the body they have now, and that other people’s bodies are not our business.  It is not about telling people who size body they should have, nor is it about the mythical, ridiculous notions of “promoting obesity” or “my tax dollars“.

Obesity is not your business, unless we are talking about your obesity, in which case it’s nobody else’s business unless you want to make it their business.  Other than that nobody has any business making comments, assumptions, metaphors, cost calculations or comparisons about someone else’s body.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

Buy the book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

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

Dance Classes:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details 

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

A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development (casting, finding investors etc.).  Follow the progress on Facebook!

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

Published in: on February 10, 2015 at 8:29 am  Comments (9)  

Fun With Inappropriate Personal Comments

Fatphobia ToolboxOne of the things that happens when you are fat in a fatphobic society is that people who are under the mistaken impression that their beeswax is located on our bodies, plates, shopping carts etc., make inappropriate comments about our bodies, food choices, shopping carts etc.

One of the options that I often suggest to counter this is replying with a personal inquiry of your own.  For example, if someone says “Do you really need to eat two of those?”  I might respond with “How are your bowel movements?” and when they look at me surprised I say “I’m sorry, I thought we were asking each other inappropriate personal questions.” Today one of my readers (who asked to remain anonymous but gave permission to share her story) wrote me to say that she used the technique successfully:

I was just at my local grocery store, buying groceries and the cashier spent a lot of time looking at my items, ringing them up, rolling her eyes, and then announced rather loudly. “What … umm… interesting food choices you seem to be making today.” (I am not telling you what I was buying, because what I am buying shouldn’t matter to anyone who isn’t paying for it, right?) I didn’t miss a beat and replied “I think you’d do better with a little less eyeliner.” She looked shocked and I smiled and replied, “I’m sorry, I though we were exchanging inappropriate personal comments.”

So awesome, I tip my hat to you reader!

There are a couple of things to remember about this technique.  First I try to pick something that people are going to think is too personal, but I am careful not to engage in body shaming  – I think it important not to do to someone else exactly what I don’t want done to me.  Also, I’m prepared for them to answer – if they say “My poop is great, thanks for asking!”  I say “Thanks for sharing that with me, it’s good to know that your bowel movements are an ok topic of conversation for us. My food choices are not, please respect that.”

Obviously it’s not right for every situation, but I think it’s a good tool for my “Dealing with Fatphobic Bullshit” toolbox. Have your own examples? Leave them in the comments!

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

Buy the book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

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

Dance Classes:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details 

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

A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development (casting, finding investors etc.).  Follow the progress on Facebook!

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

Published in: on February 9, 2015 at 10:53 am  Comments (12)  

Say Something Sunday – Sixth Edition

Say Something SundayIt’s “Say Something Sunday,” a day dedicated, at least on this blog, to personal Size Diversity activism. I’ve got some suggestions below and/or of course you can do your own thing and feel free to leave a comment about it. If you have ideas of things to do for Say Something Sunday I’d also love for you to share those.

I did the math and if everyone who views the blog each week did one piece of Size Diversity Activism a week, it would add up to over 1.5 million body positive messages put out into the world this year.  Multiply that times the number of people who might see each of those messages and things start to increase exponentially. To be very clear, nobody is obligated to do activism so if this doesn’t appeal to you that’s totally cool, I’ll be back tomorrow with your regularly scheduled blog post!

My ideas for this week are around gratitude (these are just suggestions, feel free to change them to make them work for you, and if they don’t appeal to you feel free to do your own thing!)

  • Write a letter to your body thanking it for everything that it does for you (breathing, blinking, hugging whatever).  Tell you body that you appreciate it, even if there are some issues that you need to work out. Publish the letter in a blog, on social media etc.
  • Thank someone who has helped you on your journey – send them an e-mail, post it to social media, leave a comment etc.
  • When you see a publication (digital or print) that posts an article on body positivity/Size Acceptance etc. leave a positive comment and write an e-mail to the author thanking them for covering these issues.

If you want to do more of this kind of thing, consider joining the Rolls Not Trolls group on Facebook, it’s a group created for the specific purpose of putting body positive things in body negative spaces on the internet and supporting each other while we do that.  It’s a secret group so if you want to join just message me on facebook (I’m Ragen Chastain)

Have a great Say Something Sunday!

Bring Me to Your Organization

I’m booking talks for Spring and Fall of this year.  If you want me to come to your school, business, or organization (even if you’re not sure how to get it done), just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org and we’ll talk about the options.  If you want to bring me to your community but don’t have funding or an organizational affiliation, I can help you with that too – e-mail me and we can talk about the possibilities.  See you soon!

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

Buy the book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

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

Dance Classes:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details 

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

A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development (casting, finding investors etc.).  Follow the progress on Facebook!

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

Published in: on February 8, 2015 at 11:59 am  Comments (5)