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Dances With Fat Blog

Advocating at the Doctor’s Office – Say Something Sunday September 24, 2017 4:50AM

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.

A Comment Section Worth Reading September 22, 2017 6:22AM

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.

That Questionable “Fit and Fat” Study September 07, 2017 11:18AM

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.

 

Now An Actual Rain Cloud September 05, 2017 6:47AM

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

Rx to Swallow Balloons is Killing Fat People September 02, 2017 1:11AM

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.

Can I Call Myself Fat If I’m Just Chubby? August 31, 2017 9:11AM

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.

 

 

 

Food Psych Fun August 30, 2017 3:11AM

Food PsychRecently I had the chance to be on Christy Harrison’s Food Psych podcast for the second time. Christy’s work is about about intuitive eating, body acceptance, Health at Every Size, and eating disorder recovery.

You can find the podcast here!  (While your’e there check out the other amazing podcasts and consider subscribing why doncha!)

Since this was my second time on the show we were able to dig deeper into some things that I think are really important (and thanks a ton to Christy for such a great interview!)

We talked about:

  • The false narrative that weight loss cures issues with mobility, strength, and stamina
  • The truth about pursuing intentional weight loss, for health reasons or otherwise, and how it almost always results in weight regain
  • Fatphobia in the medical community and medical research
  • The “obesity epidemic,” and the impact weight stigma, discrimination, and dieting/weight cycling on creating the environment for larger bodies
  • The dangers of weight-loss surgery
  • Health insurance complications for those in fat bodies
  • Issues with the peer reviewed weight research out there
  • The difference between medical care for fat bodies vs thin bodies
  • Changing the biases and preconceptions of medical professionals about fat people
  • Barriers to health that aren’t often discussed, such as racism and oppression
  • The definition of health, and how ableist the concept of health is
  • The healthcare costs of the National Football League and other professional sports players
  • The “good fatty, bad fatty” dichotomy
  • Healthism
  • Considering mental health, stigma, neurodiversity, and varied communication styles in navigating the healthcare system
  • The impact of systemic oppression on seeking and receiving healthcare
  • How mainstream body positivity is a watered-down version of the fat acceptance movement
  • The problem with promoting weight loss within eating disorder recovery

If you enjoy listening to podcasts, you’re going to love the online 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.

 

Clothing For All Shapes and Sizes? August 29, 2017 3:03AM

Biscuit doesn't care about flatteringIn a recent press release, Linda Chang, Forever 21’s VP of Merchandising wrote:

“We are pleased to introduce 12×12 Denim as a part of our continued focus on celebrating fashion for all sizes. A key part of our mission is to empower our customers, to be confident with the bodies they have and for their fashion to be an extension of this.”

The 12×12 Denim line comes up to 3XL, but as Refinery29 found, those sizes are less than inclusive — ranging from a 2/4 to just a size 18 (which they are calling a 3x.)

The first issue this highlights is the complete mess that is the “some number of X’s and an L” sizing system. I’m a size 26/28 and, typically, I wear a 3XL. But I certainly can’t count on that. As I was (procrastinating) writing this piece, two different dresses from the same manufacturer appeared on my FB feed. The first dress has the sizing that I’m used to — XS (2–4), S (6–8), M (10–12), L (14–16), XL (18), 1X (18W–20W), 2X (22W–24W), 3X (26W–28W).

The second one… not so much — XS (0), S (2), M (4), L (6), XL (8), 1X (10–12), 2X (14), 3X (16), 4X (18), 5X (18W), 6X (20W), 7X (22W). Yup, you read it right: a size 8 is considered extra large and I would need it to come in a XXXXXXXXXL in order to fit into it.

So this new line by Forever 21 goes up to “3X” which they’ve defined as a size 18. Forever 21 may be better than some in terms of carrying larger sizes, and they may want to “celebrate fashion for all sizes,” but let’s be clear that they aren’t even close to creating fashion for all sizes. They aren’t the only ones either, despite lots of “all shapes and sizes” marketing language. Most plus size stores stop at 26/28, and you can maybe get “extended sizes” — or, as I like to call them, sizes — online, which means you’re paying for shipping (and possibly return shipping) to try on clothes with questionable sizing, that may or may not fit you, and are unlikely to be shown on models who look anything like you. (Those in between“standard” and “plus” sizes face their own challenges.)

It doesn’t have to be this way, though to hear many people in the industry talk, you’d think otherwise. It can be difficult to be size inclusive for sure, but it’s far from impossible. And too often in discussions of fashion, justification take the place of innovation.  I spoke to Mallorie Dunn, creator of Smart Glamour, an “affordable, fashionable, and customizable ethical clothing line for people of all shapes, sizes, heights, ages, identities, and styles” about how she does it:

“The thing about being inclusive is that if you are using words like “all,” “everyone,” “every body,” etc., then you need to mean it. Saying “all bodies” but stopping at a 22/3X isn’t “all.” Saying “every body,” but only showing one euro-centric version of beauty, isn’t it. Just not using heavy photoshop but then only making clothes up to an XL — [that] isn’t it. 

“Companies will cite reason after reason why they can’t do true inclusivity — demand, money, etc., and none if it is valid. I’m one human, hand making every item and casting every model.

“True, if you continue to exist within the corporate structure of fast fashion that ties heavily into fatphobia, sells confidence in a never ending circle where no one can reach the “goal,” and you care more about the bottom dollar (and how cheap you can make things off the backs of marginalized folks), then no. You can’t do it. But no one is going to actually own up to that. 

You can read more from Mallorie and the rest of my piece here!

If you want to keep pushing toward a world where everyone has access to the same clothes, join us 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.

 

 

Say Something Sunday – The Toledo Blade August 27, 2017 8:05AM

It’s been a while since we did a Say Something Sunday and today Sarah Millimen gives us a great example in her open letter to The Toledo Blade which published a ridiculously fatphobic editorial.  Content warning for fat shaming language, and pathologizing body size. Sarah also uses a lot of sarcasm (of which I’m a fan, but I know that it doesn’t work for everyone for lots of reasons, so I wanted to make sure you know in advance.) Here is her letter:

On August 25, 2017 you released an editorial entitled, “The glass city, the fat city”. You started if off by stating how unsettling it was that Toledo rates the seventh fattest city in the country. You then put a link to another article that was written on August 22nd, where the Health Department spokesperson (no worries, I fixed that for you) was quoted as saying this, “We don’t really put a whole lot of thought into these,” she said. “At the health department, we’re always telling people to be healthy, happy, and active in their lifestyle.” It also stated that the department plans on creating environments “promoting physical activity”.

This all sounds great. I like what that article said, and I feel the response given by the health department shows a lot of knowledge and for lack of a better word “smarts”. It sounds as though the health department realizes that the diet industry has a 90-95% fail rate. You know, a rate that would have closed down any other business by now, but because we equate “thin” with “healthy” it is still preying on the insecurities of people and taking their money.

Speaking of the insecurities of people, you did mention in the August 25th editorial that obesity and fatness is a huge cause of bullying. I would almost believe that you cared, except for the part where you say this, “And what does our reputation as a city of girth and sloth do to efforts to present the city as a hip, elegant place where young people might want to live?” It almost sounds like you are saying that people cannot be hip or elegant if they are fat. Which I am certain is not what you are saying since you are against bullying. One could possibly think that you are fat shaming. Is my fatness hindering your “hip, elegant” city rep? My bad.

This editorial also stated that the cities weight problem was, “arguably…the leading public health problem in our region”. Did I miss the resolution of the opiod crisis? Fat people are a bigger problem and a bigger danger than people shooting up, overdosing, and losing their children? Please, tell me more about that…

I’m really trying to find your sources, but the farthest I get is an online magazine called, “Best Life”. Imagine how I feel, when I’m reading this article and you cannot provide me with a shred of evidence, but you do provide me with a link to the August 22nd article where the health department is handling this, I would argue, the correct way, but you just aren’t satisfied with that. No, instead of doing some research, you write this editorial. You want people to think you care, but you are just spreading false narratives regarding fat people. A study by Dr. Linda Bacon of Health At Every Size, revealed that only 9% of individuals who are “obese” or “overweight” based on BMI have health issues directly related to their size. Or should I use your chosen word…girth. 91% of “obese” or “overweight” people HAVE NO HEALTH ISSUES RELATED TO THEIR GIRTH.

Other studies have shown that pressuring people to slim down often has the opposite effect. Pushing people to be thin actually makes them fatter. Oh man, I hope your editorial doesn’t cause more fatties to reside in Toledo. After all, we wouldn’t want any more fatties living here, it may push us up to fat city number 6! God forbid.

Sincerely,
Sarah Millimen

There are plenty of ways to do activism, and the more people saying something, the better!  If you want some support in your own activism, 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.

 

 

The Diet/Beauty Industry Cycle of Dis-Empowerment August 23, 2017 7:48AM

I had the honor of being part of the Summer of Body Love event last weekend.  It was an honor to share the stage with Virgie Tovar, Naomi Finklestein and Isabel Foxen-Duke. Sarah Jansen-Mount did an incredible job coordinating and I got to meet and hang out with SO MANY awesome people!!!!!  I did a version of my talk “The World is Messed Up – You’re Fine” and several people told me that the bit about the Diet and Beauty Industry Cycle of Disempowerment was really helpful so I thought I would do a quick blog post about it.

Diet and Beauty Industry Cycle of Disempowerment

The cycle goes like this:

Step 1:  The diet and beauty industries tell us what is good/beautiful.

This happens through a lot of different mediums – advertisements, billboards, fashion magazines and more.  We are told sold a stereotype of beauty rooted in white, thin cisgender, able-bodiedness.

Step 2:  We internalize the message.

We start to believe that the (completely made up) stereotype is reality.  We start to believe that bodies are better the more closely they approximate the stereotype. We even start to believe that only people who can fit the stereotype of beauty can be talented.

Step 3: We enforce the “standard” on other people.

This happens in so many ways.  It happens when we engage in negative body talk against other people. It happens when we care more about what an actress is wearing than the work she did that got her nominated for an award in the first place. It happens when we insist that people should dress in “flattering” ways (which is to say using clothes the create the optical illusion that we look closer to the stereotype of beauty.) In this way we become walking talking peer-pressuring advertisements for the diet and beauty industry.

Step 4:  People are disempowered, the diet and beauty industry profit.

This cycle is incredibly profitable for the people who sell the promise of bringing us closer to the stereotype because, as my friend Courtney likes to say, they are in the business of stealing our self-esteem, cheapening it, and selling it back to us at a profit.

We can break the cycle though, and we can do it in a lot of ways. We can stop engaging in negative body talk of any kind, we can interrupt other people when they start engaging in negative body talk (or we can just walk away.) We can examine our own prejudices and privilege as they relate to people who fall outside of the stereotype of beauty. We can purposefully celebrate bodies that fall outside of the stereotype in everything from our social media feeds to the art we have in our homes.  We can ask ourselves if the things that we buy, the bodies we celebrate, and the choices we make are supporting or challenging the current paradigm.

If you want some support, you can 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.

 

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness are Not Size Dependent provided by Dances With Fat. Subscribe at http://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/feed/.

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