When Your Fat-Shaming Meme is a Flop

WTF are you doingAs a fat woman on the internet I’m well aware that the first rule of being a fat woman on the internet is “Don’t read the comments. Never, ever read the comments.”

This is, of course, because the comments are typically a cesspool of fatphobia and bullshit. Well, not this time. This time, the comments are a virtual treasure trove of smackdown gold. (I’m seeing this more and more and I couldn’t be happier about it!) This time a dude took time out of his life to attempt to create a fat-shaming meme, and then it all went so very wrong.

You can read the rest of the piece here!

Upcoming Talk

Hey, are you in or near Lexington, Kentucky?  Because I’m going to be.  I’ll be speaking in Lexington on the 25th. Click here for all the details. (I’m also open to doing other talks while I’m there so if you know a group that would like to host a talk or dance class, or a class that would like a guest lecturer, e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!)

Last Chance for Fat Activism Conference!

Did you miss the fourth annual Fat Activism Conference?  Good news – for two weeks you can still get access to all the materials (recordings, transcripts, and handouts) for listening, reading and downloading!

Click Here to Register for the Fat Activism Conference

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

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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

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

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

 

 

Published in: on October 11, 2017 at 12:32 pm  Comments (3)  

Lying to Doctors for Healthcare

Bad DoctorI talk a lot on this blog about how to advocate for yourself with healthcare providers – facts and figures that you can use, and phrases that help etc.  I want to make sure I’m clear that fat people shouldn’t have to do any of that, and that the ability to do it is a privilege and a luxury that not everyone has.

I talked about this recently on Christy Harrison’s fabulous podcast Food Psych. I have a lot of privileges that allow me to stand up to doctors – I’m white, cis, currently able-bodied and neurotypical, currently have “good numbers,” and am typically assumed to be hetero which, because of racism, transphobia, ableism, healthism, and homophobia gives me a ton of privilege. Add to that,  I good memory for facts and figures (if not for names and dates!) an education in research and statistics, a lot of doctors to choose from (thanks Obamacare!) and the ability in these situations to be furious and remain calm and logical (which, because so many doctors have screwed up ideas of which patients should be listened to and respected, gives me a better chance of being listened to and respected.) That’s a lot of luck of the draw stuff that helps me out.

So a question I get a lot, especially after my recent post about self-advocacy at the doctor’s office, is what about people who don’t have this as an option. It can happen for lots of reasons – from a lack of choice of doctors, to not being a physical mental space where someone can self-advocate (and, again, there’s nothing wrong with that since we should have to prepare for a doctor’s appointment like we’re on the frickin’ debate team.)

First of all (yes, I’m going to say this again) remember that you shouldn’t be in this position in the first place – doctors should not try to prescribe dieting at all since the most common outcome is weight regain, with a majority of people gaining more than they lost – so weight loss does not meet the criteria for ethical, evidence-based medicine. Basically, your doctor is committing malpractice and you’re having to overlook it because of your circumstances, and that sucks, and it’s not your fault.

I want to dismantle medical fatphobia, but I also want the people who are being harmed and killed by medical fatphobia to get help now.  Knowing that, each person needs to decide their own personal boundaries, including taking into account that there may be downsides to misleading your healthcare professional  – it’s sad that sometimes we have to take those risks just to get a chance at decent healthcare, but that’s what happens when we have healthcare in a fatphobic world.

The most common situation that I hear about happens when a doctor is trying to prescribe weight loss for a health issue for which a thin person would get an evidence-based intervention (which is basically every health issue that exists.) Consider asking a question like “Out of curiosity, what is the treatment for thin people who get this health issue?” or “If I lose the weight and still have the health issue, what would my options be at that point?”

Once you’ve established that there is an actual treatment protocol besides attempting to manipulate your size (and there always is,) then you can request a simultaneous treatment, for example “That makes sense. Since dieting can be so unpredictable – especially for people like me with a life long history of yo-yo dieting, and can take a long time regardless, I would like to start the treatment that you just mentioned, and I’ll try weight loss as well, that way we’re doing everything we can for my health.” Then you can do the actual treatment and skip the weight loss. When you come back ask the doctor to focus on the actual health issue and say you’ll keep trying with weight loss.

When the doctor is asking you to consider amputating part of your stomach the stakes get a lot higher.  I once had a doctor tell me that he would withhold treatment unless I went to a stomach amputation recruitment rally (though I’m pretty sure they called it something else.) I refused and argued, but I could just as easily have said “sure, I’ll go.” It’s not like he could have un-set my broken toe if I never went (and unless I was actively protesting it there’s no way I would.)

Sadly in some cases doctors are insisting on stomach amputation (also known as “weight loss surgery”) as a requirement before a fat person can get other medical treatment.  This could not be more fucked up.  First of all, I can’t believe how many people I’ve heard from whose doctor said they couldn’t do a routine surgery because it they claim surgery is too dangerous at their size, and then recommend… you guessed it, stomach amputation surgery.

While people are allowed to choose to have their stomach (or any other body part as far as I’m concerned) amputated, I want to make it very clear that if you are going to choose WLS, then the thing you are trying to fix/improve had better be worth dying for, because dying is a distinct possibility. It’s also a possibility that you’ll be one of the many, many people who has such horrible lifelong side effects that they would do anything to take back the surgery.  To me, a doctor requiring that I amputate my stomach before they’ll treat an actual health issue is time to pull out all the stops  – look for a doctor out of network (or the state, or the country) and try to find a way to fund it, file a medical ethics complaint, do whatever I can do because that is a line that I will not cross.

I’m for healthcare without bigotry and from a Health at Every Size paradigm. Until that’s a reality, I’m for people doing whatever they have to do to get the care they need within their own personal boundaries.

Upcoming Talk

Hey, are you in or near Lexington, Kentucky?  Because I’m going to be.  I’ll be speaking in Lexington on the 25th. Click here for all the details. (I’m also open to doing other talks while I’m there so if you know a group that would like to host a talk or dance class, or a class that would like a guest lecturer, e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!)

Did you miss the fourth annual Fat Activism Conference?  Good news – for two weeks you can still get access to all the materials (recordings, transcripts, and handouts) for listening, reading and downloading!

Click Here to Register for the Fat Activism Conference

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

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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

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

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

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

Published in: on October 10, 2017 at 12:40 pm  Comments (24)  

When Fat Activism is Poetry in Motion

2017 FAC StickerI think this may be the longest I’ve gone without blogging since I started!  Everything is fine, just super busy (and many thanks to those of you who checked in on me!) One of the big things I’ve been working on is the fourth annual Fat Activism Conference. I am so very excited about this year’s conference, we have an extraordinary group of speakers and sponsored, coordinated by an amazing Organizing Team. I’m doing all the last minute things this morning but I wanted to take a moment and share a preview of something awesome that is new for this year – the Spoken World Collective – where you’ll hear the work of amazing fat positive poets and spoken word artists!

Once the conference is over I’m looking forward to blogging regularly again! For now, the conference starts today and there’s still time to register. It’s online so you can listen live on your computer or phone, and you get recordings and transcripts so you can also listen and read on your own schedule. Click here to register!

Enjoy these amazing poets and spoken word artists:

Published in: on October 6, 2017 at 12:17 pm  Comments (3)  

Why Can’t Plus Size Stars Find Dresses for the Red Carpet?

Actual SizeAward shows represent the big time for designers as they vie to dress the nominees and have their creations seen and talked about all over the media. A quick Google search finds thousands of articles that discuss, in exact details, precisely how the stars get ready for their big day — starting weeks or even months ahead. But there’s one story that doesn’t get told, the story of the plus-size nominees who can’t get designers to make dresses for them at all.

Melissa McCarthy talked about the issue in the July 2014 issues of Redbook:

“When I go shopping, most of the time I’m disappointed. Two Oscars ago, I couldn’t find anybody to do a dress for me. I asked five or six designers — very high-level ones who make lots of dresses for people — and they all said no.”

That’s right, even if they are incredibly talented, fabulously funny, able to break through Hollywood’s staggering size bias, and nominated for one of the most prestigious awards in their field, plus-size nominees still can’t get any respect from the fashion industry. You would think that designers would want their clothes to be seen on a woman who represents billions in buying dollars, but it turns out they would rather cling to their fat bias.

Two years later, as she was preparing for the premiere of the Ghostbusters reboot, Leslie Jones took to Twitter with a similar lament.

Read the rest of the piece here!

Hear fat actress Jennifer Ponton’s talk “So Long Wacky Neighbor – Buh-bye, Best Friend: Changing the Game as a Fat Actress” and more at the Fat Activism Conference:

Click Here to Register for the Fat Activism Conference

The Fat Activism Conference is all online, so you can listen by phone or on your computer wherever you are.  Plus you get recordings and transcripts of each talk so you can listen and read live and/or on your own schedule. The conference is happening October 6-8, 2017!

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!

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

 

Published in: on September 25, 2017 at 11:24 am  Leave a Comment  

Advocating at the Doctor’s Office – Say Something Sunday

Bad DoctorToday for Say Something Sunday, I want to tell you the story of how Rebecca absolutely killed it advocating for herself at the doctor’s office.  Before I tell you that story, I also want to be clear that nobody should have to deal with this kind of fatphobia at the doctor’s office or anywhere else, and that not everyone can/wants to handle it the way that Rebecca did, and that’s ok. This is just one example of how you might advocate for your own medical care.

I had to go get some breathing/respiratory tests yesterday. I had never been to this clinic but had met the doctor at another clinic before and had liked him.

I go in, chairs have arms but they are wide arms and I fit in them so I say nothing. I wait for the tech to take me back.

The tech, who I’ve never met takes me to a scale and says he wants to weight me and get my height. I ask if he will be prescribing any medication or having me be on a machine that has a weight limit. He says no.

I say I don’t want to be weighted then, he doesn’t need it and it’s detrimental to me.

He just stares at me and then asks if I know what my weight is and he can just write it down. I tell him that he can make a visual assessment and that is all he needs. He complies.

We go into the room and he carries out a series of breathing tests and then wants me to get into a chamber that I will not be able to fit in. He says “Oh, you’re too big”.

I say “No, I’m a patient. You do not have the proper tools to service your patients it seems.” He blinks and then nods and says I’m right.

Then they want to take blood. The chair they want me to sit in is a no go. I ask for a proper chair. It is brought.

They can not find my pulse. I am told that it is because my wrist is too round. I say “No, I am a patient, I would expect you to sort out how to do this without pain”. I stop the efforts and tell them not to jab me, that I take back consent. What I would have liked to have said that I thought of later: If you can’t get a proper vein/pulse, then get a machine or something that can- not my job.

I DID suggest that I go to a lab to get blood work if it was necessary. Apparently it was not.

I felt EXHAUSTED but really victorious. It never occurred to me that I could tell them to stop and that it was the fact that they did not have the appropriate tools to serve me properly. But it’s TRUE.

I did not get any hostility, just shock and then compliance. And I got a diagnosis and full treatment plan. So none of it impeded my care ultimately.

I had your cards for dr visit advocacy with me! I read them over for strength before going in!

I particularly love the way that she kept making it clear that her existence wasn’t the problem, and medical fatphobia is – far too often healthcare practitioners who lack the skill and equipment to properly treat fat people try to blame that on their fat patients, and the less we allow them to get away with that, the better.

The cards I created to help fat folks advocate for themselves can be found here!

If you have a story of self-advocacy in the doctor’s office, it would be awesome if you would share it in the comments.

If you want more support to fight fatphobia, join us for the Fat Activism Conference!

Click Here to Register for the Fat Activism Conference

The Fat Activism Conference is all online, so you can listen by phone or on your computer wherever you are.  Plus you get recordings and transcripts of each talk so you can listen and read live and/or on your own schedule. The conference is happening October 6-8, 2017!

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!

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

Published in: on September 24, 2017 at 8:50 am  Comments (7)  

A Comment Section Worth Reading

fat shaming naturalOne of the great joys of writing this blog has been the people who leave comments here.  It makes me happy beyond words that the comment section of this blog is full of great insights, advice, support, and conversation.  It means that people who come here can break the cardinal rule of being fat on the internet which is, of course, never read the comments. Recently a massively fatphobic Facebook post generated another comment section that helped restore my faith in humanity. But to tell the whole story, we have to back up a bit…

A “journalist” (who, admittedly, may have been looking more for attention than a great teacher for her kid) recently wrote a piece called “Why I refuse to let my daughter be taught by a fat teacher.” In her own words, the nursery assistant who would be working at the well-rated school with her toddler was “a lovely woman, kind and great with children.”

Unfortunately, this journalist’s stereotypes about fat people got in the way, and she decided to move her child to a different facility. Let’s be clear about what happened — this woman chose a school based solely on how the teachers looked.

She feels that this is acceptable because the teachers look fat and she thinks it should be ok to discriminate against fat people. As if any bigot doesn’t think that their bigotry is justified. Like so many bigots, she tries hard to paint herself as the victim:

“This is the first time I have publicly admitted to feeling this way. Aware that the reaction would be anger and vilification, I censored myself. I told everyone I preferred the other nursery because it was smaller and friendlier. I knew I would be accused of discrimination, or ‘fat-shaming’, if I admitted the truth.”

She’s wrong though, nobody is accusing her of discrimination or fat-shaming — since it’s not an accusation at all, but rather a statement of fact.

This is the textbook definition of discrimination and fat shaming. It’s awful for the teachers involved (apparently there was *gasp* more than one fat teacher at the nursery), though they also probably dodged a bullet avoiding having to deal with this woman. Mostly I feel badly for her child who is growing up with a proud bigot for a mother, and for any fat friends her child will make (if she’s allowed to be friends with fat kids at all.)

If you think this situation can’t get any more screwed up, Garry Robinson of Kaizen Outdoor Fitness would like you to please hold his beer while he uses his Facebook presence to double down on encouraging fat shaming/

But this is where the good news starts. The comment section on this Facebook post is EPIC!

Click here to read the rest of the piece!

Want to create a world where this kind of fat shaming is considered wrong by everyone? Join us for the Fat Activism Conference!

Click Here to Register for the Fat Activism Conference

The Fat Activism Conference is all online, so you can listen by phone or on your computer wherever you are.  Plus you get recordings and transcripts of each talk so you can listen and read live and/or on your own schedule. The conference is happening October 6-8, 2017!

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!

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

Published in: on September 22, 2017 at 10:22 am  Comments (14)  

That Questionable “Fit and Fat” Study

fat people have the right to existA blog reader asked me to take a look at this study.  It’s another one of those studies that headlines claim prove that you can’t be fat and “fit” (we’ve been here before and it was crap then as well.)  Let’s talk about this:

First, they are making an extremely basic correlation vs causation mistake – the fact that two things happen at the same time doesn’t indicate that one causes the other.  (Short example – they are suggesting that if people with fatter bodies have higher rates of cardiac incidents than thinner people, then making fat people look like thin people will give them the same health outcomes. That’s not good science. For comparison: men with male pattern baldness have higher rates of cardiac incidents than men without male pattern baldness.  Imagine if, upon finding out that information, researchers did as these researchers have done and suggested that in order to reduce the cardiac incidents, we need those bald men to grow hair – then the government started a “war on baldness,” studies calculated the cost of “baldness” on society etc. In this case while there is a correlation, there is no causation – both the baldness and the cardiac incidents are caused by a third factor, but if researchers had treated baldness like they treat body size we wouldn’t know that.)

One of the measures of “unhealthiness” that they are using is “increased waist circumference,” so they are studying whether it’s unhealthy to live in a larger body and they are using having a larger body as a measure of  “unhealthiness.” You can do that I guess, but you probably shouldn’t call it credible research.

They don’t control for the negative health effects of dieting and/or weight cycling (aka yo-yo dieting) which the larger bodied participants can be much more likely to have engaged in. Let’s not forget that in a diet culture, whenever anyone studies the effects of having a larger body, they are also studying the effects of dieting since that’s what is encouraged for fat people in our culture.

They don’t control for the negative health effects of living in a society where larger people are shamed, stigmatized, bullied, and oppressed in a number of ways including a lack of evidence based healthcare (because of systemic fat bias as well as doctor’s individual bias and the tendency to prescribe diets to fat people when they would have given a thin patient an evidence-based intervention), being hired less and paid less than thin people and, as Peter Muennig from Columbia found in his research, just living in a society where one is stigmatized is correlated with many of the same health issues that this study used to judge “unhealthiness.”

One of the quotes in the article my reader sent says that “information on physical activity, smoking, diet and social status could be adjusted for.” Looking at the study while they claim to have “adjusted the data” it does not appear that they actually had this information from the study participants. This is important because studies that do include behaviors (including Wei et. al; Matheson et. al; and The Cooper Institute Longitudinal Studies) have found that behaviors are a much better predictor of long term health than is body size, so studies that don’t include participant’s actual behaviors aren’t really relevant and are either poorly designed, or specifically designed to get exactly the results that this study did. (For an exhaustive list of evidence around this, check this out.)

The conclusion that if fat people are in more danger of cardiac incidents then it’s “not ok to be fat” or that one should attempt weight loss is problematic on a number of levels. First, they are acting as if body size is something that we can control, but provide absolutely no evidence for that. (Hint: it’s because there is none. The research shows that the most common outcome of weight loss attempts is weight gain, and there isn’t a single study where more than a tiny fraction of people achieve long term weight loss and even among those the weight loss is often just a few pounds.)

Again, saying that if fat people have more cardiac incidents than thin people then we should try to make them thin, is like suggesting that if men have more cardiac incidents than women we should recommend that they go through sex reassignment surgery (note that this is not be the same thing as correctly recommending gender confirmation surgery that a trans person might choose.)

People are at higher risk for health incidents based on everything from genetics, to race, to height and more, so suggesting that we try to make some people look like other people to make them healthier is seriously questionable. (Speaking of race, I think we should stop funding studies that under sample and/or ignore People of Color.  For far too long studies like this have been allowed to act as if white people are the only people worthy of study, and that’s bullshit.)

I also noticed that many of the doctors quoted in this article and others seem absolutely giddy that fat people might die sooner. I think that this is part of a (fatphobic) process by which scientists, healthcare professionals, and public health professionals are shirking their responsibilities to tackle the difficult things that would actually improve health – access to non-biased physical and mental healthcare for everyone, a good wage for everyone, enough vacation and down time for everyone, a world without oppression and more (these are often referred to as Social Determinants of Health.) Instead, these “professionals” shift the conversation to suggest that the “problem” is that fat people exist, and then they claim that fat people could be thin if we wanted, so they conclude that all the world needs to be healthier is just a little more fat-shaming and weight loss culture, which isn’t just lazy, it’s dangerous and wrong. We have to start calling them on this behavior.

More important than any statistical analysis is that health is a complicated, multifaced concept. Health is not an obligation, a barometer of worthiness, entirely within our control, or guaranteed under any circumstances. Nobody owes anybody else “health” or “healthy behaviors” by any definition. Fat people have the right to exist in fat bodies without shame, stigma, bullying, or oppression and it doesn’t matter why we are fat, what being fat “means” for our health, if we could become thin, or if doing so would make us “healthier” by some definitions. The right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are not size (or health) dependent.

The conclusions being drawn here (that if fat people have higher rates of cardiac incidents then fat people should be eradicated – yes, eradicated is the right word) are sizeist and healthist and add to the stigma that negatively effects fat people’s health, includingthe suggestion of dangerous so-called “weight loss interventions” that include things like drugs, stomach amputation surgeries, and balloon swallowing, that end up killing fat people. So the most important takeaway needs to be that, regardless of what any study finds, it’s ok to be fat no matter what.

Want to create a world where researchers don’t call for the eradication of fat people? Join us for the Fat Activism Conference!

Click Here to Register for the Fat Activism Conference

The Fat Activism Conference is all online, so you can listen by phone or on your computer wherever you are.  Plus you get recordings and transcripts of each talk so you can listen and read live and/or on your own schedule. The conference is happening October 6-8, 2017!

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!

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

 

Published in: on September 7, 2017 at 3:18 pm  Comments (24)  

Now An Actual Rain Cloud

Content warning – oops, this was meant to be posted over on my IronFat.com blog. I’m not sure how it ended up here, but I’ll just post it in both places.  Sorry for the repeat for those who are subscribed to both!  Trigger warning for discussion of exercise, no specific times or distances are mentioned.

I’ve been enjoying open water swimming recently and this weekend I headed to the ocean to try out my new Aquatard from Swimsuits for All  (full disclosure, they gave me a suit a while back to try out,  I liked it so much I paid my own money for this suit, I don’t get compensated for linking to it, I just thought people might like to know where they could get one.)  I bought it because I haven’t been able to find a tri suit in my size and this is one of the things I’m considering using as one. It was around 5:30pm and the beach wasn’t as crowded as I thought it would be, which was nice.  Julianne and her visiting family decided to play in the water while I did my swim.

I took off and felt really strong though it was tough going for the first half – the water was a bit choppy, and there were a ton of boats outside the swim area which made it even choppier in an totally unpredictable way.  It’s still a weird sensation to me to be swimming while little waves hit me in the head every few seconds, and I understand that this is nothing compared to people who swim in real waves.

Unfortunately there were lots of stand up paddle boarders and kayakers in the swim area.  Despite my efforts to avoid them one of them bumped up against me trying to get over the rope that divides the swim section.  I pointed out where the launch area where she wouldn’t have to deal with the rope for the way back, but she was struggling and I was afraid it would take her the entire time that she had rented the kayak for to get over there so I held the rope down so she could join her friend (whose sole contribution to the situation had been to float on the other side in his kayak and scream “PADDLE!”) and wished her well.

As I turned around and headed back I’m pretty sure the tide was coming in because the ocean was trying to push me back onto the beach. My sighting left much to be desired – I knew I was drifting but then I heard a conversation on one of my breaths and thought “What are people doing out here?” Turns out they were hanging out in the shallows and I should maybe take another less in sighting.

Maybe writing about my perceived personal rain cloud was tempting the whatever from high atop the thing, because I suddenly felt an odd sensation – I picked my head up and realized that it had started to rain – sprinkle, really but this is Southern California so people were freaking out and engaging in a mass exodus.  This become more comical a couple of minutes later when it started POURING down rain and people began to run from the beach like they might melt (and to be fair there’s no way to know if you will since there’s never rain here.)

On another breath I heard a stand up paddle boarders scream “Oh my god I’m getting soaked”  that would be something that I would assume was well within the realm of possibilities were I balancing on a piece of plastic in the middle of the ocean, but I imagine people who have some skill can expect that they will stay dry the whole time.

And lest you think that I’m immune to questionable behavior in the face of precipitation, I started to ask myself questions like “Does rain bring toothy sea creatures to the surface?” And “am I going to be hit by lightening?” It definitely put the proverbial spring in my metaphorical step and I finished the swim in a respectable time.

As we drove away Southern Californians were being Southern Californians in a way that made me smile – people beeping every few seconds and turning on the hazard lights to make sure that… I’m not sure actually but it’s adorable though Julianne’s relatives who were visiting from Montana were less than impressed with our inability to handle…really any weather at all.

The new suit passed the test, sort of.  I don’t love swimming in the aquatard, it’s a bit of the vague discomfort of a wetsuit without the speed and buoyancy benefits, but it may well work if I had to bike and then run after this.  And I think has more drag than a regular suit which, if it’s true, makes it a helpful training tool.

Workout selfie and post workout “look at this rain!” picture

Published in: on September 5, 2017 at 10:47 am  Comments (4)  

Rx to Swallow Balloons is Killing Fat People

not making us disappearA few months ago I wrote a blog post called “They Want Fat People to Swallow Balloons Now.” In the post, I talked about a fairly new “weight loss” method in which doctors place balloons into people’s stomachs and then fill them with saline. I pointed out that, according to their own literature, in addition to dangerous and miserable side effects, 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.

While it didn’t really take a psychic to figure out what was going to happen, I still hoped that I was wrong on this one. Heartbreakingly, I was not.

The FDA reports that five people died within a month of having the procedure, and three of the victims died within just three days. According to a safety alert from the FDA, they also received reports of two additional deaths — one from gastric perforation, the other from esophageal perforation.

According to their statement:

“The FDA continues to work with Apollo Endo-Surgery and ReShape Medical Inc. to better understand the issue of unanticipated death, and to monitor the potential complications of acute pancreatitis and spontaneous over-inflation. Additionally, as part of the ongoing, FDA-mandated post-approval studies for these devices, we will obtain more information to help assess the continued safety and effectiveness of these approved medical devices.”

Note that they aren’t going to ban the practice (thus ending the unanticipated deaths), but rather they hope to better understand the unanticipated deaths. I would point out that, based on the manufacturer’s own warning labels, they knew the risk of these deaths before they happened. Even if we are OK with them feigning ignorance on that, at this point future deaths should be considered “anticipated” — more causalities in the “War on Obesity” which wants us thin or dead and doesn’t seem to care which.

Read the rest of this piece here!

Want to create a world where doctors treat us rather than trying to make us disappear? Join us for the Fat Activism Conference.

Click Here to Register for the Fat Activism Conference

The Fat Activism Conference is all online, so you can listen by phone or on your computer wherever you are.  Plus you get recordings and transcripts of each talk so you can listen and read live and/or on your own schedule. The conference is happening October 6-8, 2017!

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!

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

Published in: on September 2, 2017 at 5:11 am  Comments (11)  

Can I Call Myself Fat If I’m Just Chubby?

Actual SizeI got a great question from blog reader Lois that I wanted to talk about (with her permission) here.

“Anyway I wanted to write to you because I follow your blog religiously and recently read an older one about coming out as fat. This really interested me because I thought- if I take the sting out of the word then it can no longer be a word that’s used to harm me. I don’t need to be in denial, constantly trying to tell myself that ” I’m almost thin but not really but a bit fat but oh my god what do you think people think I am and what if they say I’m fat or chubby again that would be the worst insult ever” (etc)

As you can see my inner dialogue indicates that I have some personal internalised fat phobia to overcome.

I want to feel a sense of liberation and OWN the words that have haunted me since I was a small child yet I do not feel right using the word fat as a descriptor for myself as fat as people face discrimination that needs to be recognised which I don’t necessarily experience.

So I am struggling to find a balance between feeling liberated and neutralising the word to describe my body ‘I am chubby’, ‘ I have chubby arms, they jiggle, I have a rounded belly’ etc but not co opting a word that the fat acceptance movement have worked hard to neutralise.

Please help- any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Best wishes

Lois.”

First of all, I really appreciate that Lois is thinking about this and asking these questions. Figuring out our privilege and how to wield it to advance social justice, especially for those with less privilege, is an important part of activism. I also appreciate her being honest about her internalized fat phobia. I’ll take this opportunity to point out that considering the culture we’re all living in, it’s not exactly a galloping shock that we would all have some internalized fatphobia to overcome – the important thing is realizing it, placing the problem where it belongs (on a culture of fatphobia and not on fat bodies,) and working on it.

Deciding who gets to call themselves fat is tough because it can be so relative, and we often think of it as based on who gets called fat vs. who gets to call themselves fat or who thinks of themselves as fat. But even that gets complicated since “fat” among would-be actors in Hollywood is different than “fat” among people in line at the grocery store.  (In triathlons I’ve seen the division for “larger” athletes start at 145 pounds and in forums those 145 pound women – literally half my size – absolutely believe that they are fat. And, sadly, some think that’s a bad thing.)

Size-based oppression is real and also relative. I face more oppression (including systemic oppression like the ability to access spaces and services) than someone who is 200 pounds, but I face less oppression than someone who is 400 pounds. There are all kinds of privileges surrounding fat including class, race, health, ability, and more.

I also think that there’s a difference between self-identifying as fat and reacting to being called fat in ways that neutralize the term. So, while someone smaller might choose to identify proudly as “chubby” or “small fat” rather than just fat, or to try to center the voices of fat people in conversations around fat oppression, I think that if they are called fat (or they are around when someone else is called fat) they can help neutralize it by saying something akin to “so what if I am, there’s nothing wrong with being fat.” People using fat as an insult only works if other people think fat is a bad, thing so we can help neutralize the term in our responses by asserting that there’s nothing wrong with being fat, rather than saying something like “she’s not fat” or “she’s not that fat.

I hope that people are thinking about privilege and self-identification the way that Lois is.  (That said, personally I’m less worried about people who aren’t fat identifying as fat than I am people who making their living modeling clothes made for fat people who think that being fat is a bad thing.)  However you choose to identify, you can look for ways to resist, dismantle, and opt out of a culture steeped in weight based oppression.

Want to talk more about ending weight based oppression?  Join us for the Fat Activism Conference:

Click Here to Register for the Fat Activism Conference

The Fat Activism Conference is all online, so you can listen by phone or on your computer wherever you are.  Plus you get recordings and transcripts of each talk so you can listen and read live and/or on your own schedule. The conference is happening October 6-8, 2017!

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!

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

 

 

 

Published in: on August 31, 2017 at 1:11 pm  Comments (1)