Pink’s IG Picture is Not Body Positive

Body PositivityRecently singer/songwriter Pink was widely praised for positing a picture to Instagram that many people and publications have been calling “body positive” :

The picture is Pink in the gym, posing for a full body selfie in black and pink workout clothes including leggings, a tank top, sneakers and a cap, and the caption reads:

“Would you believe I’m 160 pounds and 5’3”? By ‘regular standards’ that makes me obese. I know I’m not at my goal or anywhere near it after Baby 2 but dammit I don’t feel obese. The only thing I’m feeling is myself. Stay off that scale ladies!  #feelingmyself #strongismygoal #bodygoals @msjeanettejenkins#happysaturday #getitin #GIJaneismyWCW

P!nk Mistake

While she’s certainly had some missteps I’ve been a fan of Pink, her music, and her message for a while. I think she’s done some very cool things in terms of body image. But as a woman who actually is “obese” or, as I prefer to call it, fat as hell, I’m here to say that this is not one of them.  I don’t think that she intentionally set out to fat shame, but that’s what she did.

Not for nothing, but her math is wrong.  At 5’3 and 160 pounds she is in the “overweight” and not the “obese” BMI category. Of course, BMI is complete bullshit so that’s the least of the problems with this. The main issue is that what Pink is doing (and, unfortunately, being praised for) is trying to perform “body positivity” by fat bashing.

In terms of things that people say that add to the widespread marginalization and oppression of fat people, “Dammit I don’t feel obese” is right up there with:

  • It’s ok to be fat, as long as you’re healthy
  • At some point you’re just too fat
  • I’m ok with people being fat, as long as they take care of themselves
  • I now weigh x pounds and I NEVER want to be over y pounds again
  • I’m so depressed because I registered for a triathlon and I qualify for the Clydesdale/Athena group
  • I’m chunky but I’m not like [insert weight that this person thinks is “a lot.”]

Nobody is obligated to love their body, but everyone should have the option, without any kind of hoops to jump through.  There are no health, behavior, ability, or size requirement for loving/appreciating/respecting our bodies. There is also no such thing as “feeling obese.” It doesn’t make any more sense to say that I “feel fat” than to say that I “feel brunette.” They aren’t states of mind, they are simply things that I am.  In suggesting that one can “feel obese” – in the context of it being a bad thing – Pink is stereotyping fat people and setting up being fat as the opposite of feeling good about ourselves which, in a fatphobic culture such as this, too often becomes a prophecy fulfilled by oppression.

I absolutely agree with her about staying off the scale, but the idea that we should stay off the scale lest we find out that we are “obese” is clearly fat-shaming, and not even in same zip code as “body positive.”  Finally, any use of the terms “obese” and any “overweight” offensively pathologizes bodies of a certain height/weight ratio.  I prefer to reclaim the term fat. I’m fat, I’m not “over-weight,” just like I’m short, I’m not “under-tall.” If fat doesn’t suit you, there are plenty of other neutral terms to use: people of size, larger bodied, heavier people etc.

While Pink is, sadly, allowed to say these things, she is not allowed to call it Body Positivity, nor should anyone else.  Body Positivity is not about feeling good about our body by suggesting that it’s better than other bodies, or by throwing other bodies under the bus. Body Positivity is not about engaging in stereotyping or pathologizing bodies of a certain size. Body Positivity does not come with exceptions or size limitations.

Body Positivity grew from the Fat Activism movement, and while I understand why people of all sizes would want to engage in a culture that affirms and respects their bodies, that doesn’t make it ok to co-opt a movement and then exclude, even oppress, those who founded it. Body Positivity must center and champion the bodies that are the most marginalized in society, otherwise it becomes just another tool of oppression. Unfortunately, in addition to its tendency to exclude fat people, Body Positivity has inherited many of the issues that Fat Activism had and still has including not doing nearly enough to combat white supremacy and ableism, and that must be addressed and fixed by both movements.

Being Body Positive isn’t just how you feel about your body, it’s about how you feel about all bodies – and how you express that.  It’s about creating a world that respects and affirms people of all sizes – and in particular those whose bodies are the most oppressed in our current culture.

While people are allowed to do whatever they want with their bodies, Body Positivity requires sacrifice when it comes to how we talk about it. We can’t be Body Positive and still participate in diet and anti-fat language and culture, even though participating confers privilege and opting out invites ridicule. That means that if our body size changes – regardless of the reason – we talk about that in terms that do not disparage other bodies, including bodies that are the size (or larger than the size) we are/were.  It requires that we think about how we talk about our personal choices, and whether what we are saying oppresses or marginalizes other bodies, and we make choices accordingly.

Body Positivity requires that when people tell us that our “body positivity” is hurting them, we listen, care, and make changes, rather than acting like we know more about their oppression than they do, or that our personal body positivity is worth creating body negativity for others.

Body Positivity is not a free-for-all where we find a way to love our body regardless of the consequences to others. It’s a movement that demands that we create a world where everyone has the opportunity to love their body. It’s learning about and avoiding ableist, sizeist, healthist, racist, classist, transphobic and queerphobic language and acting, speaking, and writing accordingly.  If you’re not here for the most marginalized bodies, then you’re not here at all.

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Published in: on May 3, 2017 at 12:08 pm  Comments (20)  

Weight Loss – The Credit Thief

Success and Diets

In our weight-obsessed culture there is a tendency to tell fat people that we should blame our body size for everything that is wrong in our lives, and that the only way to succeed is to lose weight. This is a damaging lie, and today I wanted to look at three ways that it plays out.

This is a re-work of a past post in response to a number of conversations I’ve been having lately.

Health Improvements

Let’s say that someone adds some behaviors that are known to perhaps support health to their life, they experience some health improvements, and they lose weight.

The story we get is the weight loss leads to greater health, but back it up a minute.

Why do we rule out behavior changes as the reason for health improvements? It seems much more likely that the health improvements and the body size change are both results of the behavior change. Especially since there is good research that shows that behavior changes often lead to health improvements regardless of body size, or change in body size. On the flip side, research shows that weight loss without behavior change (for example liposuction) does not show health improvements.

Athletic and Mobility Improvements

Someone starts a program to increase strength, stamina flexibility, and/or mobility. They increase strength, stamina, flexibility, and/or mobility, and their body weight goes down.

The story we get told is that weight loss is responsible for these results. But thin people begin programs like this all the time, and everyone is clear that it’s the program that causes their athletic and mobility improvements. But in a fat person we’re told that it’s the change in body weight? Not to mention that there are definitely limitations on what our bodies can do and so the idea that we are completely in control of these things/ obligated to control them quickly becomes ableist and healthist.

Confidence

Someone’s body weight changes and they become more confident.

The story we get told is that weight loss increases confidence with no examination of the fact that a society rife with sizeism is what prevented the person from being confident in the first place.  There is no reason for someone not to be confident at a higher weight -and even living in a society that gives us near constant negative messages about our bodies, there are still plenty of confident fat people.

On the surface there is a frustrating lack of logic here, but this problem goes way deeper than that.  The truth is that all of the incidents of weight loss that I described above are likely to be temporary.  The truth about weight loss is that most people can lose some weight for a short amount of time, but almost everyone gains it back and many gain back more than they lost. The constant lie that fat people are told is that our fat is to blame for anything and everything we’re not happy about in our lives, and that the “solution” to all of that is weight loss.

These lies convince fat people to put our goals and lives on hold and put all of our eggs in the weight loss basket, despite a mountain of evidence that suggests it will never happen, and a complete lack of evidence that it will actually help us achieve any of our goals. It means that when fat people give up on weight loss (wisely, since it almost never works) many of us also give up on all the goals that lies told us required weight loss to achieve.

It’s important to remember that health, athletic ability, confidence and all of the other things that supposedly come with weight loss are never obligations, barometers of worthiness, or entirely within our control, and we might do well to think twice before we buy the party line that they are body size dependent – because when weight loss gets the credit, nobody gets the truth.

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

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Published in: on April 27, 2017 at 1:14 pm  Comments (9)  

Doctor Kills Fat Person, Gets Slap On The Wrist

Bad DoctorReader Amy passed on the article “Weight loss clinic doctor suspended; Slimband Substandard care of gastric banding patients” which was sent to her news package at work, where she receives any and all health and mental health-related articles.  I thought I would translate it from sizeist bullshit to English.  The article’s actual text is indented and may be triggering for all the reasons you might think, you can skip those parts and still get the gist of the post.

As I’ve written about before, at best weight loss surgery is a crap shoot that might kill you. This clinic’s assembly line approach, and its medical director’s negligent behavior, are perfect examples of that:

The medical director of Canada’s busiest private weight−loss surgery clinic has been suspended three months for substandard care of patients, including one who died in a Calgary hotel room a day and a half after his operation. Dr. Patrick Yau has said he conducted 6,000 gastric banding surgeries at the Slimband clinic in downtown Toronto whose colourful advertising was once widespread.

A doctor, who chose to advertise a dangerous surgery as if it were a hot new movie, was suspended for three months because he did a shitty job – including killing a patient.

His discipline related to two specific cases, including one where he gave weightloss surgery to a 61−year−old woman who had a normal BMI. Experts say such treatment, which can have complex physical and emotional side effects, should only be for the morbidly obese.

In the first case, the issue was that he gave a life-threatening surgery to a thin person, and people are only comfortable with fat people’s lives being put at risk in that way.

The other case involved a 38−year−old obese man from High Prairie, Alta., with type 1 diabetes, who was released a day after his operation without any testing of blood sugar. He flew back to Alberta that day and was found dead in a hotel room the next morning, the hearing heard. The Alberta coroner said he died from bacterial meningitis and complications of his diabetes. The College discipline committee chastised Yau for not having proper procedures in place before patients are discharged.

In the second case they were ok with the risking the patient’s life because he was fat, but the doctor didn’t bother to test the blood sugar after his operation despite the fact that the patient was a type 1 diabetic – maybe the doctor was late for his tee time, maybe he just didn’t care that much about a fat patient, maybe he’s just wildly incompetent. Regardless, this led to the patient’s tragic death.

He pleaded “no contest” to charges of failing to meet standards of the profession, and in exchange the College withdrew a charge of incompetence. It was not his first run−in with the regulator. The hearing heard he had been cautioned − a lower form of censure − three times before for similar issues. And he was twice ordered to undergo remedial education, including having a personal “coach” in 2015.

Even though he killed someone, and he had a history of incompetence (with three prior censures for “similar issues,” twice being required to undergo remedial education courses, and being required to have a personal “coach,”) they let him take him plea that he failed to “meet the standards of the profession” and withdrew the incompetence charge.  I mean, the person he killed was fat so it barely counts, right? In three months he can be back to putting fat people’s lives at risk, but not thin people since we consider it criminal to give thin people a surgery that is recommended for fat people – even if they have the exact same actual health issues.

With extensive advertising on TV and the Internet, Slimband was the most visible of private clinics across the country that offer weight−loss surgery, and described itself the busiest. Yau said he has performed over 6,000 gastric−band surgeries, more than any other physician in the country, usually with “excellent results.”

The doctor claims that in his assembly-line style practice he has performed over 6,000 surgeries usually with “excellent results” – except when he kills the patient or does something that requires censure and remedial education of course.

A 2012 National Post report, however, quoted malpractice lawsuits and former Slimband employees who raised questions about whether patients who signed on following a persistent sales effort were adequately screened, sufficiently warned about possible complications or provided sufficient post−operative care.

Turns out that when the doctor said he usually had “excellent results” what he meant was that there are malpractice lawsuits and former employees who are concerned that in the company’s quest to profit off fatphobia, they failed to give patients true information about possible complications, or provide them with appropriate post-operative care.

The company said at the time that patients are fully informed of the risks and receive post−op service that is the best in the industry. It also cited customer surveys that showed the vast majority of patients were satisfied.

The company says that things are fine, because the “vast majority” of clients who filled out a survey said that they were satisfied.  Of course, the patients they killed would be less likely to fill out the survey, so…

Though its website is still live, Slimband closed on March 22, said Elisabeth Widner, the College’s prosecuting lawyer. She did not explain reasons for the shutdown.

In the only bit of good news, the clinic is now shut down and no longer mutilating fat people for profit.

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

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Published in: on April 20, 2017 at 1:39 pm  Comments (8)  

Tell The Food Police To Take A Holiday with the Help of My Dogs

As some people are celebrating holidays that include things like chocolate, candy, and feasts, I am seeing a ton of food shaming, food policing, and food moralizing.  All of this is crap for the reasons I explain here, but I thought what I would do today is give you some options for response. Note, today’s responses are in pictures (mostly starring our adorable dogs – you can click on them to enlarge them) If you are looking for verbal responses, head over here.

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

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

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

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

 

Published in: on April 16, 2017 at 6:45 pm  Comments (5)  

Double Chin? Have You Tried Injecting Acid?

Doug 10

Me and my glorious double chin in stage make-up.  Photo by Doug Spearman

Chins, like human bodies, come in lots of different shapes and sizes.  But, as they do with human bodies, our society’s screwed up stereotypes of beauty try to tell us that there are only certain chins that are acceptable.  And then the medical industry steps in to make money from this ridiculous notion. Enter Kybella.

Kybella is an Allergan product.  If that company sounds familiar it’s because they also sell Latisse (it will grow your eyelashes and don’t worry, that eye discoloration is probably temporary,) and the lap band device that tries to use stomach binding to force body size manipulation. This is a company that has committed atrocities of research, and once ran a contest where the prize was a dangerous abdominal surgery that you could “gift” to a friend or family member.

Kybella involves a series of injections of deoxycholic acid into the chin to destroy the fat cells. According to their website:

KYBELLA® is a prescription medicine used in adults to improve the appearance and profile of moderate to severe fat below the chin (submental fat), also called “double chin.”

Moderate to severe fat below the chin?  Seriously.  We’re talking about a double chin like it’s a medical problem? Also, if you have only “mild” fat below the chin apparently you’re shit out of luck. These people will stoop to literally any low to make money.  As my friend CJ Legare says – this is about stealing our self-esteem, cheapening it, and selling it back to us at a profit.

So what are we risking to have a differently shaped chin?

KYBELLA® can cause serious side effects, including trouble swallowing and nerve injury in the jaw that can temporarily cause an uneven smile or facial muscle weakness. In clinical studies, nerve injury in the jaw resolved on its own in a median of 44 days (range of 1 to 298 days), and trouble swallowing resolved on its own in a median of 3 days (range of 1 to 81 days).

The most common side effects are swelling, bruising, pain, numbness, redness and areas of hardness around the treatment area. These are not all of the possible side effects of KYBELLA®. Call your healthcare provider for medical advice about side effects.

And for what are we risking a possible 298 days (that’s almost 10 months!) of nerve damage and 81 days of trouble swallowing? Here are some “before and after” pictures from their own website (you can click on the images to enlarge them:)

Lucky that they labeled them “before” and “after,” otherwise it would be hard to tell which is which.

And how much are we paying for these chin transformations? According to Glamour.com, around $5,400.  For some perspective, I could choose to have a slightly different looking chin or I could pay for 2,168 school lunches for kids who need some help.

I think that this passage from their website captures the full on ridiculousness of this entire situation:

Do you have some extra fullness beneath your chin? Maybe it’s something you’ve had your whole life, something that developed over the years, or something you noticed recently. This is a condition called submental fullness, which some people refer to as “double chin.”

People are allowed to do whatever they want with their bodies, regardless of the reason or risk.  I just want people to be aware that there’s a lot of money being made by companies who are convincing us that normal things (like double chins, fat bodies, any and all signs of aging) are somehow “problems” requiring dangerous and expensive medical interventions. I also want people to be aware that we don’t have to buy into that. We have the option to opt-out of that system.  The option of finding love for our double (triple, quadruple) chins, our fat bodies, our grey hair and wrinkles, and we can use our time, energy, and money for other pursuits.

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

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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

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

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

Published in: on April 13, 2017 at 1:11 pm  Comments (19)  

When You Don’t Want To Hear About Someone’s Diet

Cuddlebug McnopeGetting a filling at the dentist last Friday certainly wasn’t comfortable, but it was checking out that really got uncomfortable. I was being checked out by an employee who has worked with both me and my partner Julianne and has always been super nice and truly helpful.

They asked me what I was doing tomorrow and I said going on a run (Saturday is long run day, it dominates literally my entire day.)  They immediately responded “my stomach used to go out too much  too, but I found this great diet” then stood up and pulled their shirt back to show me how flat their stomach is. The numbing agent had me numb from my chin to the top of my forehead so my WTF? expression game wasn’t where I wanted it to be, plus I was focused on trying to keep from drooling out of one side of my mouth so I was going to just let it go.

Then they sat down and started to go into exactly what the diet entails (“First, I bought a big bag of tomatoes…”)  I interrupted and said in what I was hoping was a friendly but firm tone that conveyed finality (and didn’t involve drooling) “Yeah, I don’t want to hear about your diet.”  They said “ok” and then moved on to non-diet discussions.

Why am I telling you this story?  Of late, there has been a lot of discussion of whether people have the right to talk about their diet/weight loss in various situations, regardless of how it might affect folks practicing Size Acceptance, Health at Every Size, or dealing with eating disorders.  Regardless of the context of a sizeist world where those with large bodies face shame, stigma, bullying, and oppression and where weight loss talk is deeply tied not just to sizeism, but also to healthism, ableism, “goody fatty” tropes, and privilege. So, knowing that, the question seems to be: Is it ok for people to talk about their diets?

The answer depends on context. So we’ll look at this in various situations.

First, if it’s a space where the rule is no diet or weight loss talk, then it’s simply not ok to talk about diets or weight loss. Fat people live in a world where we get ceaseless messages conflating weight and health, that giveweight loss the credit for health improvements in highly dubious ways, suggesting that becoming thinner is – in basically every way – synonymous with becoming “better.”

It is vital that fat people who want to opt out of a weight loss paradigm and a thin-obsessed culture have the ability to create non-oppressive spaces that center their needs and feelings, and that means spaces without diet or weight loss talk. People dealing with eating disorders need to have spaces where they aren’t triggered by diet talk.  Put simply – our spaces, our rules.

Next, let’s look at general conversation.  Of course in these situations people are allowed to talk about their diet/weight loss.  We don’t have the option to control what other people talk about, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have options.

We can choose to talk about our Size Acceptance and/or Health at Every Size practice in the same way that people talk about their diets. Or we can just remove ourselves either without comment, or by saying something like “Oh, I don’t do weight loss talk.  I’m happy to talk about something else, or to go over there if you’d rather continue to talk about your diet.”

Which brings us to the clerk at my dentist’s office. This interaction shows exactly how screwed up our society is around weight loss talk.  I say I’m going for a run and the person responds “my stomach used to stick out too much too.”  WT actual F? There’s nothing wrong with my stomach – it sticks out just the right about (and if it changes, it will stick out just the right amount then too.)

The fact that me saying I run was enough for someone to think they “know” that I think there’s something wrong with my body tells you all you need to know about the prevalence of diet and weight loss talk in our culture. If I’m a paying customer somewhere, then I’m not about to listen to diet talk. I’m not necessarily going to be unfriendly, but I’m going to be firm and clear that I’m not there to buy a diet, so I’m not interested in hearing diet and weight loss talk.

People are allowed to attempt – and believe whatever they want to about – weight loss. We are allowed to create rules for our own spaces, and we are allowed to create boundaries in our own lives.  It’s perfectly ok to opt out of diet culture, and it’s perfectly ok to choose to avoid talk that suggests that fat bodies will be somehow “better” if they are a different size.

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

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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

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

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

Published in: on April 12, 2017 at 1:31 pm  Comments (18)  

Self-Compassion is NOT a Diet

Talking NonsenseI saw an article posted on Facebook called “The Big Problem With Oprah And Other Celebs Who Tout Diets”  I started reading the piece and it was pretty good. The author, Jean Fain, who identified herself as “a psychotherapist specializing in eating disorders” was doing a decent take-down of the celebrity diet culture including the quote:

From where I sit, clean eating, lifestyle plans, weight management programs, juice cleanses, support systems… they’re all diets, and they’re all bound to fail. But with their intoxicating blend of impossible expectations, misguided authority and restrictive guidelines, celebrity diets are predestined to fail spectacularly.

Yes!  This all day! The article was going great until it hit this:

Self-compassion also means never going on a diet. When you’re self-compassionate, there’s no need to count points or calories or carbs. That’s because you generally appreciate your body and the food you feed it. You naturally eat less and weigh less without dieting.

What? I couldn’t believe it (that’s not true – I could believe it because we live in such a screwed up diet culture, I just didn’t want to believe it.)  It turns out that the author of the article is also the author of the book called “The Self-Compassion Diet.” The irony of her claiming that diets don’t work – except her diet – and that “Self-compassion means never going on a diet…you naturally eat less and weight loss without dieting” while marketing her book “The Self-Compassion Diet” was not lost on me.

I left a comment in the Facebook discussion:

I think that this is seriously problematic, especially in an eating disorder context. She conflates weight and health, and then she says “When you’re self-compassionate, there’s no need to count points or calories or carbs. That’s because you generally appreciate your body and the food you feed it. You naturally eat less and weigh less without dieting.” While I’m sure saying that helps her sell her diet book, it is completely unsupported by evidence.

She replied:

Ragen, there actually is a study that says just that. I don’t have the citation handy, but if you email me I’m happy to send it to you after vacation.

 

So she sent me the study that, remember, she claimed showed that “When you’re self-compassionate… You naturally eat less and weigh less without dieting.” Let’s take a look, shall we:

  • The entire sample was 159 college students from 18-25 years old (9 were omitted from the final results by the study authors for being “outliers”) so the sample is not exactly robust.
  • 74% of the subjects were “normal weight” to start with so, even using their own messed up ideas about weight and weight loss, we’re down to 39 of the participants having “weight to lose”
  • BMI was only taken only once, by self-report. They did not track a change in BMI or a change in weight at all in the study, so the data are silent on whether self-compassion leads to weight loss.
  • In fact, it’s a study of “associations.” That means that the study is completely correlational, and causality cannot be drawn at all. That’s why the word “may” occurs 53 times in 10 pages.
  • There seems to be quite the hurry to suggest, based on correlation, that having self-compassion leads to a lower BMI.  But it’s just as (if not, perhaps, more?) likely that having a lower BMI in a thoroughly sizeist society may lead to greater self-compassion, since a person with a lower BMI will likely have less experience being ceaselessly barraged with an epic ton of sizeist shame, stigma, bullying, and oppression, while living in a world that isn’t built to accommodate them, all of which gives fat people the message that we aren’t worthy of any compassion – self or otherwise. But sure, it could be that having higher self-compassion causes a lower BMI….  Regardless, that conclusion is beyond the scope of this study.

I asked Deb Burgard, a PhD, eating disorders specialist, and psychologist to check my work just to be sure, and she generously agreed and provided this excellent analysis as well:

The actual hypotheses come back as:

Self-compassion will be positively related to mindful eating      

Yes (college students who are exposed to one are probably more likely to be exposed to the other)

Self-compassion will be inversely related to eating disorder symptomatology

Nope (only dieting)

Self-compassion will be inversely related to BMI  

Yes  (but we don’t know if thin privilege makes it easier to have self- compassion or if dieting is actually the moderator here since the process of dieting is a mindfu*ck that creates a barrier to self-compassion, or if weight stigma creates the barrier, or something else)

Mindful eating will be negatively related to eating disorder syptomatology

Yes   (This is pretty much a tautology since the operational definition of one is the opposite of the other)

Mindful eating will be negatively related to BMI                                            

Nope

Mindful eating will moderate the relationship between self-compassion and eating disorder symptomatology

Nope

Mindful eating will moderate the relationship between self-compassion and BMI

Nope

Here is what I find most interesting:  (From the discussion:) “This study found that self-compassion negatively predicted eating disorder symptomatology and dieting-related eating disorder symptomatology specifically . . .” (p 234).     Actually, self-compassion was unrelated to actual ED symptoms (bulimia, food preoccupation, oral control) and only to the dieting subscale (which was not one of the hypotheses).

So you can imagine that people who are thinner are less likely to diet and also less likely to be exposed to cultural expectations that one is a loser if one can’t “successfully” diet/be thin.

The fact that these researchers are touting mindfulness or intutive eating or self-compassion as a way to be thin is an expression itself of weight stigma.

There are numerous examples in the text of the assumption that higher BMI people must eat more, eat in a more disordered way, etc. but their own finding is that mindful eating is unrelated to BMI!

In any case, this research says exactly zero about the idea that if a higher-weight person has self-compassion, they will lose weight. In fact, that idea may itself be an example of how stigma and oppression make it harder for people to feel supported in practicing self-compassion, since the fact that their bodies don’t stay thin must mean they do not really deserve self-compassion, or they must not be doing it right, or whatever specific f*ckery is on today’s menu.

I think it’s worth delving deeper into that last bit, because it’s easy to think “Hey, even if the weight loss doesn’t happen, the person still ends up with more self-compassion right? So isn’t that a good thing?”

The problem is that’s there’s every chance that when you tell fat people to believe that self-compassion will lead to weight loss, then those people are likely to end up believing that they are not doing self-compassion “correctly” and/or that they don’t deserve self-compassion if they aren’t simultaneously becoming thinner (which they are unlikely to do, especially in the long-term.)

At the same time, you suggest that other people can judge by someone’s body size whether or not they have self-compassion, which just adds to the tremendous stigma and stereotyping that fat people deal with.  And that’s oppressive.

So I think that, however well-intentioned she may be, Jean is harming people. From my perspective, she is co-opting the idea of self-compassion in order to make a profit by misleading fat people into buying a big book of magical weight loss beans. Regardless of her intentions – which, again, may well be good – I think that the impact of her work is harmful, and her belief that this study supports her claims is nothing short of disturbing, as is the idea of someone who conflates self-compassion with body size (and markets the diet book she wrote) identifying as a specialist in working with people who have eating disorders.

To be clear, what she is doing is legal – people are (for now) allowed to try to sell promises of weight loss, however unlikely they are to be successful. But we don’t have to buy what they are selling – and we have every right to expect that they will be able to provide evidence that actually backs up their claims.

Regardless, the bottom line here is that we are all worthy of compassion, including self-compassion, at any weight. The only outcome we can currently prove about developing more self-compassion is that it will increase the amount of compassion we have for ourselves (and I’m a fan of that.) I think that self-compassion is not a diet; and anyone who says it is, is trying to sell something.

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

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Published in: on April 11, 2017 at 12:47 pm  Comments (38)  

They Want Fat People to Swallow Balloons Now

WTF are you doingA bunch of you have asked me to blog about this new weight loss trend.  I think it says a lot about this that I couldn’t remember the clinical name so I googled “balloon you swallow to lose weight” and it came right up.  So, you know, yikes.

The basics: Orbera is a balloon that a doctor places into the stomach and then fills with saline.  It then floats around the stomach, taking up space.

Let’s see what we can learn from their own website:

During the first two weeks you can expect:

Placement of the balloon within the stomach produces an expected and predictable reaction characterized most commonly by a feeling of heaviness in the abdomen, nausea and vomiting, gastroesophageal reflux, belching, esophagitis, heartburn, diarrhea and, at times, abdominal, back or epigastric pain and cramping. Food digestion may be slowed during this adjustment period. These symptoms can be treated with antiemetic, antispasmodic, and anticholinergic medications

But hold on because there’s more in store for you:

• Gastric discomfort, feelings of nausea and vomiting following balloon placement as the digestive system adjusts to the presence of the balloon.

• Continuing nausea and vomiting. This could result from direct irritation of the lining of the stomach or as a result of the balloon blocking the outlet of the stomach. It is even theoretically possible that the balloon could prevent vomiting (not nausea or retching) by blocking the inlet to the stomach from the esophagus.

• A feeling of heaviness in the abdomen.

• Abdominal or back pain, either steady or cyclic.

• Gastroesophageal reflux.

• Influence on digestion of food.

• Blockage of food entering into the stomach.

• Bacterial growth in the fluid which fills the balloon. Rapid release of this fluid into the intestine could cause infection, fever, cramps and diarrhea.

• Injury to the lining of the digestive tract as a result of direct contact with the balloon, grasping forceps, or as a result of increased acid production by the stomach. This could lead to ulcer formation with pain, bleeding or even perforation. Surgery could be necessary to correct this condition.

 

• Balloon deflation and subsequent replacement.

And there are at least a couple of ways that it can kill you:

• Death due to complications related to gastric or esophageal perforation is possible.

• Death due to complications related to intestinal obstruction is possible.

In their own study the 160 people who got the balloon experienced a total of 810 “device-related Adverse Events.” in six months or less.

 

And what are we risking this for?

The average participant lost 21.8 pounds in the six months they spent having adverse events (that, luckily, didn’t kill them) from a silicon balloon floating around their stomachs.  The control group lost 7 pounds.

Six months later, our balloon swallowers had regained 5.6 pounds (25.69%) of the weight that they lost in the first 6 months which puts them right on track to have gained back all of their weigh (with some regaining more than they lost) within 5 years. The control group had regained .7 pounds (10%,) also on track for the weight regain that the long-term studies of weight loss tell us to expect. Of course, like almost all weight loss studies, at this point they simply stopped following the subjects.

The only possible “good thing” about this that I can see is that some people whose doctors might want to amputate their stomachs might stick a balloon in them instead.  It’s still terrible, but at least it is reversible and fewer people will die, or live the rest of their lives  with horrific side effects, as a result.

So, basically, once again, they are asking fat people to risk our lives (not to mention quality of life) for nothing. Welcome to the “War on Obesity” which wants us thin or dead, and doesn’t much seem to care which.

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

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Published in: on April 10, 2017 at 10:26 am  Comments (24)  

Finally a Fat Positive Salon

Actual SizeAs I wrote about recently, going to a salon – whether it’s for mani/pedi’s, a haircut, or special occasion make-up – can be a terrible experience for fat people. From worrying whether the salon had the sense to purchase chairs that accommodate us, to worrying that the person treating us will be a massive fatphobe who will ruin what should be a lovely moment of self-care (raise your hand if you’ve had a hair stylist or makeup artist suggest something to you because it will be “slimming” or argue about your request because it won’t be “slimming,”) to patrons (or even stylists/technicians) who look at us like they’re going to catch fat from getting a brow wax in the same place as us, there are lots of ways that this can go wrong.

Enter Babydoll Beauty Couture salon.  A salon by plus size people, for plus size people. The stylists themselves can recall “being turned away from a nail salon because of fears she would break their chair, the awkward maneuvering to fit her thighs into a standard salon chair and many furtive glances from others.” They also discuss having been discriminated against by employers who, it seems, were more interested in the stereotype of beauty than skills and experience.

After having been the victim of a weak chair in a salon, Jamie Lopez had sworn off salons altogether. She decided that fat people deserved better from their salon experience. Her salon, Babydoll Beauty Couture, is giving fat people in Vegas the experience we deserve. A waxing bench and salon chairs that support up to 800 pounds, stylists who are excited to be there and excited to serve fat folks.  If you find yourself in the Vegas area, stop by for a well-deserved treat – they are happy to work with people of all sizes!

For now, you can check out their video!

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

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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

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

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

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

Published in: on March 28, 2017 at 12:25 pm  Comments (11)  

Fat Bias at the Red Cross

Do Bettter Red CrossI received the following e-mail today:

I am so angry about this and I’m hoping you can get the word out and maybe stop this from happening to someone else.  Donating blood has always been a really big deal to me – I’m a “universal donor” and even though the homophobic rules about blood donation piss me off, this is a chance that I have to possibly save someone’s life (and I’ve researched and it seems like the Red Cross doesn’t make the rules and there isn’t anyone who takes blood that doesn’t have those rules.)

After exchanging several e-mails to make sure that they could accommodate me, I headed to the Red Cross today. I had chosen to donate platelets because they are always in need of them and people are less likely to donate them because it takes two hours, and they aren’t stable like blood so they are only good for five days.

As I went in the guy at the front desk showed me his Bandaids from where he had just donated and he told me how happy and appreciative they were that I was also donating platelets because they were so low that a few days ago they had to suspend surgeries because they literally ran out.

I had filled out their “fast pass” form so that they didn’t have to go through all the personal questions, they just needed to test my blood for iron deficiency  and then they could get to the donation.  I’ve donated platelets a lot of times so I know the drill, I just hadn’t been to this location before since I moved her pretty recently.

They took me back to the “intake rooms.” On the way we passed the place where I would donate and, as they had told me, the chairs had arms but they were able to swivel so the chairs would absolutely accommodate me.

Then I saw the intake rooms.  They were four VERY small rooms (the size of the bathroom in my apartment) and they included a big desk and chair for the Red Cross employee which took up most of the room. While there was an armless chair, it was wedged between the wall and the desk so that there was about the space of a plane seat left, and it was very obvious that there was no way I could fit.

I pointed out to the woman that I couldn’t fit in the room and she just said “we have to close the door for your privacy.”  I said that I was ok leaving the door open.  She said that she had to get her supervisor. As she went I looked around and the place was huge, there were lots of places that we could go that we would have been out of anyone else’s earshot, I figured this would be no problem.

The supervisor then came up and very curtly said “we can’t move the furniture.”  I blinked a couple of times, taken aback by how rude she was, and then said “Okay, can we just leave the door open?”  She said – again very curtly –  “No, you need your privacy.” They were both staring at me like I had two heads, mouths agape, looking very uncomfortable so I said “So do you just want me to leave?” and she said “We can’t move the furniture.”  So I just left and, sadly, took my literally life-saving platelets with me. It was so upsetting – they should have created spaces that accommodated fat people to begin with, but still this was a solve-able problem if they had just gotten over themselves.

There are so many things wrong with this, but I’ll try to narrow it down to the two most egregious.

First, they didn’t anticipate that larger people would want to donate blood?  If it was my job to convince people to let me take their blood to save the lives of others (especially when a quick google search finds all kinds of “emergency” requests for platelets), I would make sure that I was as accommodating as I could possibly be to as many people as possible.

Second, say it with me, fat people are more important than furniture.  Obviously the supervisor should have come out apologizing – maybe something like “I’m so sorry for all of this, we should have been more prepared.  Do you mind if we figure this out together ” rather than “We can’t move the furniture.”  But as long as she opened up with that – why can’t they move the furniture?  Maybe it’s bolted down, but if not then let’s move the damn furniture and accommodate the human being in front of us.

Fat people exist.  If you are involved in an organization like the Red Cross, you are going to interact with fat people and you owe it to them to, at the very least, learn to cover up your fat bias and, even better, address and overcome it. If you are responsible for a room/building that is used by the public consider taking some time today to look around and see if your space accommodates fat people – are there armless chairs and/or loveseats, benches and other accommodating seating? Do you have adequate space in rooms that fat people may be asked to use?  How could you be more welcoming and accommodating to fat people?

In the meantime, the e-mail’s author gave me the information about the Red Cross location she visited, so I’ll be contacting them tomorrow to offer to help them learn how to work appropriately and respectfully with fat people. If there’s something that you’d like them to hear please leave your thoughts in the comments and I’ll pass them along.

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

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published in: on March 22, 2017 at 12:33 pm  Comments (27)