Monday, 29 May 2017

Fatshion: Black Eyelet Dress

Hello friends! Happy three-day weekend! I hope you’re all having a nice relaxing and fun weekend. I’ve had a good weekend myself but I’ll get into that in a bit. First, let me say...

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Sunday, 28 May 2017

If You Are Inviting Fat People to Your Event…

ChairsThis weekend there are tons of BBQ’s and such going on here in the states, but events and meetings happen every day.  And every day, fat people are “invited” to events and meetings at which they aren’t accommodated in even the most basic ways. Most often this isn’t done on purpose, it happens because  thin people don’t know what they don’t know. I know that you want to truly welcome fat people to your event, so let me help you out:

Seating:

The importance of fat friendly seating cannot be over stated. Seating that is sturdy and accommodating (ie: loveseats, armless chairs, benches etc.) The seating should also fit in with the seating that other people have (if everyone is in the yard but the bench for your fat cousin is on the porch, that’s not cool.) Don’t make your event another fat people and chairs hate story.

I’ve Got a Blank Space Baby

Is there enough room for fat people to navigate your event?  Whether it’s between the tables at a buffet, or throughout your home, or in the restaurant you’ve chosen, accessible seating won’t help if we can’t get to it without knocking over the dessert table on the way. Clear the widest spaces possible to accommodate the most people.

Everybody Poops

Does the event space have a fat friendly bathroom?  You may not be able to change the size of the bathroom in your house, but there are some things you can do – if the hip space is being limited the the hanging toilet paper roll, you can put the roll on the sink or towel rack.  Make sure that you don’t have a garbage can blocking the door from opening the door all the way etc.

Nobody Should Be a Shit

Consider putting something on your invitation about this being a body positive event (no body shaming or food policing allowed.)  And/or, if you’ve invited people who you are worried will fat shame or food shame your guests – consider having conversations with them ahead of time.  You are creating this space, so you are the boss of it! Make it a priority not to invite people into a hostile environment.

Finally, I want to point out that accommodation is not just for fat people – consider ways that you can make everyone on your guest list as comfortable as possible.  Is there easy parking and access for people who use a wheelchair or have limited mobility?  Are you inviting People of Color and racists to the same event (or Queer and Trans people as well as homophobes and transphobes, Muslims and Islamophobes etc.)? If so, remember that “I want to oppress you” and “I don’t want to be oppressed” are not simply two equal but differing viewpoints – the first is an expression of harmful oppression, the latter is a statement of basic human rights.  So think about how are you going to make it a safe space for your friends/family with marginalized identities, and make sure you’re not inviting people into an oppressive environment without warning them.

When I posted this to Facebook there were a couple of commenters whose knee-jerk reaction was “You should bring your own chair” (and, apparently, our own bathroom?) While my partner and I do often bring our own chairs to events (and doctor’s offices!) just to be sure, we shouldn’t have to do this.  The idea that some of your guests should be coming to a BYOC situation is not inviting at all. Take responsibility for making your space/event inclusive and accommodating for the people you are inviting into it. As K.C. said on my Facebook post about this: don’t just mean well – do well.

Want learn how to create a more fat friendly world? Register for the Fat Activism Conference and get the tools, skills, and community you need
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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.

 

 



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Thursday, 25 May 2017

On Fat Visibility, Taking Risks and My New Album, “A Little Luck”!

Golda playing liveHello my dear BLW-ers!

I know it’s been wayyyy too long.

So much has changed in the last few years. I’m not doing very much coaching anymore. For better or worse, I’m back in the corporate world working as an attorney again.

And though I loved working for myself (and, most important, working with rad fat women), having a steady job has allowed me to pursue one of the great loves of my life, which is music.

About two years ago I decided to get serious about learning to play bass. I had always sung, and I’ve played a few instruments back in school (mostly baritone and tuba), but bass was just FUN. And after playing bass for a while, I started writing songs. Strangely enough, they were good. Other people actually liked them.

But when my awesome bass teacher/ producer approached me about recording an album, I got really nervous.

I wasn’t giving talks on body acceptance anymore. I wasn’t blogging. I wasn’t out there in the world in any way. And being sort of anonymous had felt pretty great.

Plus, how did I know if I was good enough? Was my voice good enough? Was my bass playing good enough? It all seemed a bit overwhelming.

But I decided to take the leap. If nothing else, it would be a great learning experience.
GoldaLittleLuckFinal CD Cover
Fast forward a few months, and I have a beautiful album that I’m so proud of and so excited to share with the world.  (You can check it out on itunes, amazon music, spotify, or wherever else you like to hear music! My new site is here and you can get all the links there too.)

Here I am, nearly forty years old, fat AF, and putting out deeply personal songs, both on stage and digitally. And it feels really great.

So though I’m not coaching and blogging anymore, I hope that this post reaches you and makes you think about what you might like to pursue. What do you desire to be/do/have at this stage in your life, whatever that stage may be?

With love,

Golda

P.S. If you want to stay up to date on shows, new releases and more, get on the GOLDA list right here!

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On Fat Visibility, Taking Risks and My New Album, “A Little Luck”! originally appeared on Body Love Wellness (http://ift.tt/GY7f6u) on May 25, 2017.



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Tuesday, 23 May 2017

The Real Secret to Getting a Beach Body

Pink Argyle Bikini

Fantastic art by Jodee Rose http://ift.tt/1gQqLMq

Several years ago, the amazing Golda of  Body Love Wellness) tweeted;  “Rec’d a link to “How Not To Look Fat In A Swimsuit”. Wld ♥ to see “How Not To Obsess Abt Looking Fat In A Swimsuit & F-ing Enjoy Yourself” several years ago.  The result is this post, which is a Danceswithfat annual tradition.

Today I got my first ad from a diet company telling me that I should buy their ridiculous product because, ostensibly, I need a different body in order to go to the beach (not that they could give it to me, even if that were true.) So today is the day that I post this!

Seriously, let’s talk about this.  It seems that a lot of the women I know, of any size, start to panic the first time they see swimsuits out on the floor of their favorite store;  their pesky cheerfulness belying what seems like their true purpose of prodding us into paying the diet industry for products that don’t work, and considering a move to Alaska.

I’m doing more open water swimming these days (which involves a wetsuit) but when I am in the gym at the pool, I  wear my bathing suit with no worries.  Here are a few reasons why:

1.  It’s my BODY.  I live with it 100% of the time.  It does awesome things for me like breathing, and heartbeat, and swimming and I decided long ago that I am not going to allow anyone to convince me to hate or be ashamed of  something that I am with 100% of the time for the rest of my life.  I get to choose how I feel about my body and I choose to love it.

2.  Because it’s a pool and when I go to the pool, I wear a swimsuit. It’s not for vanity – it’s practical.

3.  I do not care if people are offended by my body.  People are allowed to be offended by whatever they want and it’s really none of my business.  I’m offended by people who are offended by my body, but it turns out nobody gives a damn which is as it should be.  It is my BODY, if we all treated each other with basic human respect it would be impossible to be offended by the mere existence of people because of their body size.  The very idea is ludicrous to me. Regardless, it is not my job to protect people’s delicate sensibilities – if they don’t want to look at me they are welcome to follow any of these options.

4.  Hypocrisy is an ugly thing.  It always seems like the same group of people who are telling me that because I’m fat I have some obligation to exercise (which is bullshit by the way) are subsequently offended by my body in a swimsuit.  The message apparently being that they want me to exercise, but in my house with the shades drawn and wearing an outfit fashioned from a bed sheet.  Screw that.  Don’t like it?  Your problem.

5. It is maddening to me that the diet industry makes over 60 BILLION dollars a year convincing us to hate ourselves.  They create fear and uncertainty by saying things like “Swimsuit season is just around the corner, are you ready to wear a swimsuit?”  Well, let’s see here…  Swimsuit?  Check.  Body to put it on?  Check.  Yup, I’m all set thanks.  Plus I think I’ll keep my money you bloodsucking leeches.

6.  People can see me.  So they know how big I am whether I’m in a swimsuit, or jeans and a t-shirt.  If they are shocked at my size in a swimsuit, they should have been paying better attention.  That’s just a big flaming sack of not-my-problem.

I realize that my swimsuit preferences are not everyone’s which is awesome.  Not everyone, regardless of size, is comfortable with how much skin a swimsuit shows.  There is no obligation to rock a bikini or a swimsuit of any kind in order to love your body or go to the beach.  Here are some more ideas to help you stop obsessing and start having fun in the sun (or the oh-so-lovely incandescent glow of the overhead lights at the gym).

1. Alternative Swimsuits.  These are often created for women who want to keep to specific religious clothing guidelines or who just want a more modest look.  I did a quick Google search and found http://ift.tt/1gQqM2F/.  I’m not affiliated with them at all so I make no guarantees, but it will give you an idea of what’s out there (and some of their plus size swimwear is actually modeled by plus-sized women.  Woot!)

2.  Fabulous Cover ups:  If there’s a particular part of your body that you prefer to keep covered for whatever reason, an (aptly-named) cover-up might be just the thing.  Here are some examples (again, no affiliation, check out the vendors before you buy!)

3.  Safety in numbers.  Go with a group of people who make you feel good about yourself and focus on the fun and not on any body insecurities you might have.  Think about how fantastic your body feels when you are swimming, or going down a water slide, or splashing in the waves.

4.  Reality check.  One of my favorite quotes is by Mark Twain “I’ve had thousands of problems in my life, most of which never actually happened”  When I’m worrying about something I try to remember that I am wasting energy on something that is not actually part of reality.  So instead I…

5.  …Expect the best, plan for the worst.  Think about what your true fears are about going out in a swimsuit.  Write them down and then create a plan to deal with each of them.  Are you afraid people will say something mean to you?  Create some scripting and practice it until you feel comfortable. Afraid of chaffing?  Hie thee to Google and read up on the various lotions, powders etc. that can help with that, or look into swimsuits that can help. Worried people will talk about you behind your back? Maybe that’s the best possible outcome since you don’t have to hear it!

In the end of course it’s your choice.  For my part,  I’m not willing to allow my options for fun, activity, movement etc. to be controlled by what other people might think or say.  If my own fears or insecurities are getting in the way I try to find a way over (modest swimsuit), under (cover up), or through (Eff this, I’m wearing a thong) the fear and insecurity because I’ve found that very often the pure joy lies just on the other side.

Want to do more Fat Activism? Register for the Fat Activism Conference and get the tools, skills, and community you need
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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.



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Monday, 22 May 2017

Gold’s Gym Fat Shames Kids

WTF are you doingA lot of fatshaming nonsense happens around working out. There are people complainingthat fat people have workout gear, and there was a Gold’s Gym franchise in Egypt that decided it would be a great idea to market using fat shaming and misogyny.

It couldn’t get worse, right? Wrong. A Gold’s Gym franchise in Kingwood, Texas said, “Hold my Michelob Ultra” and took up that challenge. They actually mailed out ads with pictures of two kids captioned, “My fat may be funny to you but it’s killing me,” and “It’s hard to be a little girl if you’re not.”

Are. You. Fucking. Kidding. Me. In case there are people who need to be told this (and there shouldn’t be) fat shaming kids is never, ever ok. And it does not lead to healthier kids. Convincing kids to hate their bodies doesn’t lead to them seeing those bodies as amazing and worthy of care.

According to American Academy of Pediatrics, in the last decade hospitalizations for eating disorders for kids under 12 are up 119%. Kids. Under. Twelve. Kids are plenty focused on their weight without getting a postcard from their local gym.

And if the gym is successful in getting them to try to manipulate their body size?

The outlook isn’t good. Research from the University of Minnesota: “None of the behaviors being used by adolescents (in 1999) for weight-control purposes predicted weight loss[ in 2006]…Of greater concern were the negative outcomes associated with dieting and the use of unhealthful weight-control behaviors.”

Considering that, let’s look at the captions real quick:

“My fat may be funny to you but it’s killing me.”

Could they have done any more to drive home the point that any kid who looks like this kid (or is larger) should hate their body? No. Just no. Also, a kid who assumes that everyone thinks their body is a joke is a victim of a society full of stigma, and they need to support — not encouragement to join in.

“It’s hard to be a little girl if you’re not.”

Being a little girl is not hard because this girl is a bit less little than some of her friends; it’s hard because she lives in a fatphobic world where her local gym mails out cards that fat shame kids. How much of the suffering of fat people would be immediately relieved by an end to discrimination? Especially since research is showing more and more that discrimination is correlated with the same health issues that are so often blamed on body size or behavior.

Thanks to the work of activists, Gold’s Kingwood branch — including the man responsible for this mess — apologized and promised to do better, saying:

 “As a father and a person who is deeply committed to children’s health and wellness, I was devastated to learn that some people saw my ad as an attempt at body shaming…

Reflecting on your remarks helps me to realize that there are more positive ways to communicate my commitment about the programs we offer. Moving forward, I will be more thoughtful as to how we seek to move our message.”

Here’s hoping.  Luckily, it’s not that hard to do…

You can read the rest of this piece here!

Get the knowledge, tools, community, and support you need – Register for the Fat Activism Conference
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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.



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Sunday, 21 May 2017

Fatshion: Gingham Dress

Hi babes! I’m having a lazy Saturday but by the time you read this, it will be Sunday. I’m working on a blog post all day on Sunday for a really exciting Mexican recipe. I will share it...

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Friday, 19 May 2017

Internalised Fathphobia is Still Fatphobia

First a tiny bit of housekeeping – thank you so much to all of those who have donated so far to my GoFundMe to get to Sydney for the Cyberhate Symposium.  Your support means so much to me!  If you’d like to know more about that, please click here.

Now, on to the topic of the day.

Yesterday I posted this to Instagram, and it struck some really strong chords with people:

I posted this because yet another high profile, supposed fat positive person in the public eye has cropped up in the mainstream media trumpeting about their weight loss surgery and how they are only doing it for themselves, their own health, their own happiness.  In a huge article in a mainstream publication where they were likely paid for the piece, if not they are going to get commercial benefit from doing so.  Simply because there is massive societal benefit in publicly trying to not be a fat person.

Sigh…

I am not going to talk here about personal choice, the pressures fat women face and I am not going to to recite the litany of evidence that shows that weight loss surgery (gastric mutilation) does not cure any illness long time, does not cure depression and has vast detrimental health risks including a high death rate.  I’ve done that before and other people have done it time and time again and it’s all easily retrievable with some simple Google searches.

What I want to talk about today is the damage that these “personal journeys” in the mainstream media do to fat people in general and secondly, the sheer hypocrisy of people who have been in the mainstream media and big business arenas selling themselves as fat positive role models, only to turn around shortly afterwards and in the same media, throw fat people under the bus with their narratives of “personal choice”.

There comes a responsibility with public visibility.  That responsibility is that you are to do your best not to do any harm to those out there that don’t have the platform that you do – be they people you have privilege over, or those you share marginalised identity with.  I take that very seriously with my small platform, and while I will inevitably fuck up, I am always working to do my best to avoid doing so, and I will do my best to own it and fix it when I do fuck up.  I take the time to think about what I am saying, to ask myself who I am leaving out, and who I might be doing harm to.

Personal narratives are important, yes.  But there is always a time and a place that must be carefully chosen.  It is not OK to just jump out into the mainstream media or major business platform with your personal narrative when that narrative is going to do damage to other people.  Having a mainstream media or business platform is a position of power that most marginalised people simply do not have, so there is little to no reply or rebuttal to damaging narratives that are given air time.

Put simply, it’s in no way a big risk to put yourself in the media and parrot the dominant paradigm about fatness.  It’s a safe bet that is going to get you support from the majority, because the majority actually do believe that fat is bad, and that one must go to any length to not be fat.  This is not a brave step, or one that has never been heard before.  It’s a safe bet that to do so you are going to have people patting your back and telling you “You go girl, good on you.”

But what is also a safe bet is that people are going to read/see your story, and regardless of whether or not you’ve put any caveats in that it’s your own personal story, they’re going to see it as a reassurance that they are right, that all fat people are unhealthy, sad, depressed, gross, sickly and miserable – you are simply reinforcing the existing narratives.

The other problem I have with these types of stories is that they are so often coming from someone who has made themselves a name, a business, a career, money and fame from other fat women – as the post that Virgie Tovar shared on her Facebook page this morning says:

Image text: These celebrities are escaping their fat bodies to more fully engage in capitalism, period. Their justifications for doing so are gaslighting defined. They were willing to utilize the language of bopo/fat acceptance to open the door for themselves. They used the right coded language to tacitly ask for our fidelity, and they’re using the same coded language to disavow/escape us all the same. It is so insidious and hurtful when things play out like this. Fuck choice feminism.

 

Meaghan O’Malley is so right when she says this.  It is a deep hypocrisy to have stood up and said “I love my fat body and I’m here for you, my fellow fat women!” to build a career and platform, only to throw them under the bus down the track by using the same coded language to declare in a highly public platform that you are taking drastic steps to not be a fat person.  Particularly galling is that some of this was in a HUGE media campaign for a major department store less than a year ago.  It’s all well and good to jump on the bandwagon to sell yourself as radical self love, build a career, align yourself with several brands using the language and works of decades of fat activists, and in fact getting several very prominent fat activists to stand beside you, only to turn up in a major tabloid magazine not even a year later saying that all of those things you said are not true.  Particularly having launched a major new product line aimed at fat women mere days beforehand.

Of course, this is only one example of a prominent fat person declaring publicly the opposite to the very things they were saying and riding to their fame after gastric mutilation (or any other type of intentional size reduction).  We’ve seen it from singers, actors, models, writers, all kinds of very public people.

Every time this happens, there are those who have absolutely nothing to do with fat activism at any other time who get themselves in the media and start screaming for the “mean fatties to leave [insert famous ex-fat person] alone”.  When we critique the messages these very public people are putting out on their sizeable platforms, we are accused of being “mean” towards the person or being “bitter and angry because we’re still fat”.  It’s fucking exhausting to constantly have to argue straw man arguments from people who refuse to listen to what we are saying.  The other particularly galling argument is that by somehow critiquing the messages put out by these narratives that fat activists lack compassion or empathy.  Fuck that bullshit – nobody wants to have compassion or empathy for the fat people they are pummelling into the dirt with their lies about health and happiness being unattainable to fat people, or their faux-moralising to hide their open loathing of us, but the minute we raise valid questions about the damage being done by those who are suddenly pro-weight loss after having built careers off our backs, we’re the ones lacking compassion and empathy.

There is no shame in feeling disappointment and hurt that yet another of the people you believed were on your team is in the media very publicly trying not to be like you.

Nobody is saying that your body is not your own to do with what you will.  What we are saying is that if you have a highly public platform, perhaps you should examine the rhetoric you are spewing out and how it harms people who don’t have the same platforms.  It’s not like you’re saying anything new with these narratives that fat = miserable/unhealthy/disgusting.  You’re saying the same thing the world has been saying about you all along, now you’ve jumped the fence and are saying them about other more vulnerable people.  You have become one of the bullies.

How anyone can wear that on their conscience, I don’t know.


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Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Fatshion: Pink Floral Maxi Dress

Hi friends! How is your week going? My week was mellow but good. I’m making some changes to my class schedule so I have more free time on my hands now.  I wore this outfit last week to have...

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Tuesday, 16 May 2017

You don’t get to talk about abortion unless…

Okay, new rule.  All the dudes who want to enforce pregnancy on anyone who can’t prove to their satisfaction that they were raped or that the pregnancy will kill them need to meet the following qualifications:

  1. Blood and Organ Donor: You must donate blood every time you are eligible. Not once or twice a year or when it’s convenient. Every single time you’re eligible. You’re off the hook if the Red Cross won’t actually take your blood, but fear of needles, passing out, or throwing up aren’t an excuse. Likewise, you must be registered as a bone marrow donor and donate marrow whenever needed. You must also give a kidney to anybody who needs one if you’re a match. If an embryo has the right to use someone else’s body for nine months to sustain its life, then sick people in hospitals absolutely have the right to your blood, your bone marrow, and any organs you have multiples of.
  2. Sex: You must never in your life have had sex that could get another person pregnant without confirming with that person that they actually wish to become pregnant. Since all birth control has a failure rate, that includes protected sex, unless one or both of you has been permanently sterilized.
  3. Charitable Giving: You must actually contribute 5-10% of your income to help people in poverty. If you’re a member of a religious organization, only the portion of your contributions that actually serve that purpose count.  If you tithe 10% and your church spends 30% of its budget on benevolence, then you’re at 3% and still have at least 2 to go.
  4. Social Safety Net: You must actually support a society in which everyone has food, shelter, clothing, and medical care. If you vote Republican, that’s pretty much an auto-disqualifier.
  5. Dependable Friend: If a friend or family member who is pregnant or has an infant needs anything from you at any time, no matter how expensive, annoying, or inconvenient, you have to help. Sister wants you to skip the football game and babysit for free?  You’re on the hook.

You might argue that this is all terribly unfair, and who am I to dictate how you live your life. What right do I, a total stranger who knows nothing about you, have to decide how much you can tolerate, the nature of your intimate relationships, and what parts of your life and your very body you have to give up?  You’re right.  I don’t have any.  You’re an autonomous human who gets to decide what you can handle, how you want to live, and what obligations you’ll submit to.  But, and this is the key point—So. Is. Every. Pregnant. Person.




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Series Review: The Cousins O'Dwyer

Lately, instead of my usual heavy fantasy fare, I've been picking up light romances or fantasy romances to read. Jacqueline Carey's Agent of Hel trilogy was fun, and I go back and reread Anne Bishop's Black Jewels books because I like the characters so much. Ephemera is alright too and has a very interesting world concept. Another trilogy I go back to over and over again is Nora Robert's Key series; three women have to find a trio of magical keys to save three young souls from a power hungry god. Along the way they forge friendships, build a business and find true love (of course). My other fave series by her is The Three Sisters trilogy; both series have magic in common, though in Three Sisters the story literally centers around three women who are the reincarnation of three witches who have to fight an ancient evil sorcerer. There are a lot of rhyming phrases and white light references, very New-Age. In the Key books the three women have no magic of their own but their very humanity is their greatest strength as they battle their ancient evil sorcerer-god. Seeing a pattern?

The latest series I picked up is named after the three main characters, the Cousins O'Dwyer. Set in County Mayo, Ireland, I fell in love with the rich descriptions of the rolling green hills, lush forests, babbling rivers and local history. There are enough Irish phrases thrown in to know she did some research on the area, plus actual dialect, to make it feel real; that's important as the more truth to your fiction, the better your fiction! As usual we have a trio of important characters; Branna, Iona and Connor, each who must overcome their own challenges and find love in each book. All three are descended from the original Dark Witch of Mayo and are witches in their own right, and of course they're fighting an evil sorcerer from long ago that battled the first Dark Witch. If not for the setting this would read almost exactly like the Three Sisters trilogy, right down to a snarly fourth witch, a man to boot, who loves the selfless, most powerful and wise witch, Branna.Three Sisters has that exact dynamic too, except his power comes from a Selkie heritage and not the evil sorcerer they're fighting against.

Despite the charm of Ireland I was bored with this series, only finishing it to see if there was some kind of twist or surprise ending; there wasn't. There are long stretches where nothing happens and then the bad guy attacks in some way, and someone gets hurt and it's oh, family! Yes we trust you! We're a circle! Don't be a fecking idjit! And then nothing. happens. Like, an entire year goes through the series and it just doesn't work. In the Key trilogy there is a time-table that has to be met; each woman only has one phase of the moon to try and find her key or else all is lost. That urgency is sorely lacking in Cousins O'Dwyer; if they fail to kill ... Wow. I can't even remember the villain's name, he is so forgettable. I'll just call him McWolf; if they fail to kill him it's the end of all the cursing and such anyway as Branna will have no children to carry on the curse, or eventually the Three will come again and get another chance.

Of course they defeat him, discovering along the way that SPOILERS McWolf made a deal with a demon in order to get his powers, so all they need to do is separate the two and kill each. In order to do that they need a name but until the last damn page, they don't have it. It's unclear who or what gives the name of this dreaded demon to Finbar Burke, our broody love interest to Branna, but I just about pitched my book across the livingroom when he named the creature; Cernunnos.

Are you kidding me, Nora Roberts? In a trilogy set in Ireland, steeped in New-Agey magikal tropes, you throw the name of a revered God out as belonging to an ancient evil demon? It's like she went to Wikipedia, picked a Celtic deity based on a cool name, and threw it in last minute. "I gotta wrap this up, so many more mediocre books to write! So little time! Maybe the next trilogy with three magical people, probably ladies, I write I'll set  in Australia! Exotic!" I'll admit I'm biased because I am a Pagan, and it hurts me to see the name of a God thrown carelessly about. Someone who doesn't know anything about Celtic Paganism will either think it's totally made up, or worse, associate it with evil the next time they hear it.

So Cousins O'Dwyer is a pale shadow of The Three Sisters, and doesn't even compare at all to the Key Trilogy in depth of story telling. It's literally a retelling of The Three Sisters set in Ireland instead of somewhere on the North East coast of the United States. It's tame, even in the sexy parts, and I'll be trading it in at the local bookshop as soon as I can get there. It's taking up valuable space on my shelf.

2/5 stars and Ireland itself gets one of those stars just for being so damn pretty.



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Monday, 15 May 2017

Manual Lymph Drainage and Bandaging --- Does It Work?

My feet, before and after Manual Lymph Drainage and wrapping
Images copyright Pamela Vireday, April 2017. Please ask permission before using. 
After many years of stage 2 and 3 lipedema, a serious health crisis recently propelled me into stage 4 lipo-lymphedema, where the body cannot dispose of its lymph fluids properly.

This led me to try some manual lymph drainage and bandaging to see if that could help the lipo-lymphedema.

It did. It wasn't a miracle cure but it did help, as you can see in the pictures.




The process starts out with a soft cotton stocking, then the leg gets wrapped in more padding..


Then the bandaging continues with special bandages until it's all covered.


You leave this on for a day to two days. This is the hard part. You want to take it off! It's restrictive but not too bad, fortunately. It's just hard to be patient.



Then you take it off for the final reveal. Here you can see how different in size the two feet are after treatment. Huge difference, if it it's not obvious in the pictures. I recently had the second foot done to help it reduce too.

Has it been worth the trouble of treatment? Yes, it has in my situation. I am much more comfortable now than before. Has the treatment maintained itself? Yes, to some degree. Some edema has returned but most has not and I'm still better off than I was before the treatment.

It's up to you whether or not to try this therapy, and it's not a miracle cure, it should be noted. To get best benefit, you should use compression stockings on it afterwards. However, even by itself it is helpful and that may be worthwhile to you.

It's another tool for the lipedema toolbox.




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A Year In Selfies

A little over a year ago, I posted an ode to the first year of my thirties, toasting what was to come.

Then I took a break.

Halloween 2016. I was a Spider Queen!

Year 31 was a year of growth, both personal and professional. It was a year of putting myself out there and dating, a year of expanding my makeup artistry into freelancing, a year of honing my writing skills and creating projects I am happy to work on (and can’t wait til they’re finished to share with y’all!) It’s been a year of being honest about where I see myself as a professional, what I want in my personal life, and really having the best time experimenting in between.

Game Night Selfie!

It has been a year of being social, and actually taking time to enjoy life and not making work my be all and end all.

Quite a bit of that was finding my new love, who encourages me to rest and enjoy the fruits of my labor. I’ve done more traveling this country in the last few months than I have in years, and it’s been amazing to have these new experiences. Naturally, having her by my side to experience it with me was doubly amazing and made it even more special. In finding her, I found more of me, and that’s been valuable.

New Year, Same Fabulosity!

I brought in the new year with my closest friends, good drinks, and loud music. I had the best time and needed a day of sleep to recover (alas, I don’t bounce back like I used to.) I’m still evolving my personal style. I’m still experimenting with colors. Still loving my frohawk. Still taking up space unabashedly. Trying to remember to take my own damn advice sometimes. Trying to remember to call people more, let folks know that I love them, let folks know that I care; no matter where my life takes me or how busy I get. Doing my best to support my friends’ events when I can make them, and sending them love, light, and good vibes when I can’t.

Valentine’s Day Slay

I’m still loving and recognizing my beauty. I am still remembering I deserve love. I am enjoying celebrating myself, and happy to have someone to spend holidays and love with.

It’s basically been a year of finding and nurturing love and relationships of both the romantic and platonic nature. It’s been a year of growing professionally and trying to find a space where both my soul and wallet are fulfilled equally. It’s been a year of trying to find balance.

I’m still working on the balance, but it’s definitely getting better.

Birthday trip to the National Aquarium in Baltimore!

By the time I was ready to celebrate year 32, the growth of the past year was at the forefront. The work I’ve done on myself, both by myself and with my therapist, has put me in a place where conflicts roll off my back. Uncertainty is always going to be present, but I have learned how to deal with it and keep moving forward. I’ve had to learn to forgive my past mistakes and let them go. I’ve had to constantly remind myself that “no” is a full sentence that does not require explanation or apology. I’ve had to be honest about people and situations that are toxic to me and give myself the space and permission to let both go without guilt. It’s work that has carried through to my personal new year.

Birthday dinner slay! Top and necklace from Old Navy.

Year 30 was good to me. Year 31 was even better. I welcomed year 32 with open arms, with open heart, with anticipation of the most wonderful times yet to come.

I’m back, y’all. Happy birthday to me. 🙂



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Sunday, 14 May 2017

Three 2017 Movies with Awesome Fat Female Characters (and one from 2012 because why not)

Admittedly, I haven’t been great about keeping up with the Monthly Roundup feature.  I like having an overview of the fat characters I’m exposed to as part of my regular moviegoing, but something about its current format doesn’t feel quite right, and I’ve decided to shelve it until I’m more confident about what I’m doing with it.  However, I’m pleased to report that in the space of one short month (admittedly not a calendar month, but still), I have seen no less than four films with kickass fat female characters.  Most amazingly, I only sought out one of the four because I knew in advance that it had a fat female character; the others were complete surprises.  Check these out if you’re able.

Deidre and Laney Rob a Train (2017, dir. Sydney Freeland)

It’s not uncommon for a socially awkward protagonist high school girl to have a frenemy, someone in her social circle who is overly assertive and selfish, but gets away with it because of her social capital and ability to be manipulative. (Mean Girls. If it’s not patently obvious, I’m referencing Mean Girls.)  In a subplot, Laney (Rachel Crow) is strong-armed into auditioning for a beauty pageant by Claire (Brooke Markham), a Lady Macbeth-in-training who is determined to become Miss Iowa and wants Laney to make her look better by comparison.  Claire is ruthless, ambitious, struts around with a cute boy on her arm, and the film never so much as comments on the fact that she’s bigger than the other girls in the competition.  I don’t automatically cotton to fat female antagonists for merely existing, but considering that Claire’s threat to Laney is fueled by her confidence, social prowess, and beauty, it’s heartening that the role was given to a larger-bodied actress.

GLOW: The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (2012, dir. Brett Whitcomb)

A compelling documentary about the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, a short-lived tv phenomenon in the late 80s that helped legitimize women in the world of professional wrestling.  The film basically opens with footage from the tv show of two fat women, Mountain Fiji (Emily Dole) and Matilda the Hun (Dee Booher) throwing down in the ring. Although the other GLOW members featured in the documentary are thin and conventionally good-looking, Mt. Fiji and Matilda also stand out for their dedication to their craft.  The other women talk about their time with GLOW as a fun adventure they had in their youth, mostly sending them on to other careers.  As Matilda the Hun, a “glamazon” heel, Booehr views wrestling as her vocation, having struggled to wrestle in male-dominated venues long before being hired by GLOW, and continuing to wrestle long after it ends.  Dole, a former Olympic-level shot putter, doesn’t have a story quite as happy as the others– the present-day segments show her struggling with health problems– but her reunion with the rest of the GLOW cast shows that not only was she one of the main faces on the show, but that her castmates truly looked up to her as the heart of the phenomenon.

A scripted series based on GLOW is releasing this summer on Netflix… we’ll see if they fuck it up, I guess!

Mountain Fiji
Mountain Fiji
Matilda the Hun
Matilda the Hun

My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea (2017, dir. Dash Shaw)

I went into the theater thinking that the title was metaphorical, and I was dead wrong. Daria meets The Poseidon Adventure, with an inventive visual style along the lines of of Belladonna of Sadness.  Dash (Jason Schwartzman), our protagonist, is a self-centered sophomore who sees himself as the star journalist of the school’s newspaper.  He makes several comments about his best friend Assaf (Reggie Watts) being fat, but Assaf’s character design isn’t markedly different from the other not-fat characters.  Lunchlady Lorraine (Susan Sarandon), however, is drawn fatter than the other characters, and her size belies remarkable strength and ability.

myentirehighschoolsinkingintothesea_02.jpg

Patti Cake$ (2017, dir. Geremy Jasper)

An underdog story about Patricia “Killa P” Dumbrowski (Danielle Macdonald),  a young woman from a working class town in northeast New Jersey who dreams of making it as a rapper.  Her best friend Jheri (Siddharth Dhananjay) encourages her to share her talent with the world, but she feels held back by a host of reasons, including her peers who deride her for her size.  Fatphobia isn’t the only problem she faces, though, and she channels her feelings her body– both anger at her haters and defiant pride in herself– into her lyrics.

Deidre and Laney Rob a Train and GLOW: the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling are on Netflix, My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea is currently in theaters, and Patti Cake$ is due for a wide release in July (I got to see it early thanks to the Chicago Critics Film Festival).

 

 



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Saturday, 13 May 2017

Cyberhate Symposium – Can You Help?

Sometimes I can’t believe where the world has taken me.  Sometimes I have to stop, blink and ask myself whose life this is that I am living.  Sometimes I need to remind myself that I’m not a frightened kid who doesn’t fit in and that I have come so far in my 44 and bit years of life.

Being a vocal and public feminist and fat activist is never easy.  Families get angry, friends turn their back on you, you have to put up with a lot of ridiculous demands on your time and energy, people sometimes push you out in front of them to fight their battles for you, and it draws you a lot of abuse and harassment.  Abuse and harassment that you never would have had if you hadn’t put your head above the parapet and said “This is not acceptable.”

But that said, it has brought me to so much more than it has taken away.  I have found stronger friendships that give so much to me.  I’ve had so many amazing opportunities to work with incredibly talented and dedicated people, and it has given me a sense of confidence and accomplishment that I never had before.  So while it is not easy, it is always worth it.

And sometimes, the whole thing goes full circle – you engage in activism, it draws you harassment and abuse, amazing people who are also subjected to that harassment and abuse ask to work with you, and then new opportunities for activism come your way.  This is how I came to be involved with The Cyberhate Project.  Some time ago, I heard about Dr Emma Jane from the University of NSW and The Cyberhate Project and that she was conducting interviews with Australian women who had experienced online abuse and harassment.  Emma is doing some amazing work on this project and you may have already seen her book Misogyny Online, and if you’re in Australia, the TV series on the ABC, Cyberhate with Tara Moss.  Not to mention a whole slew of papers and events, more of which you can find out about here.

Recently, I was invited by Emma to participate in the upcoming Cyberhate Symposium, in Sydney in July.  After we discussed the possibilities of my attending, Emma has asked me to be one of the keynote speakers at the symposium, something that I consider a great honour.  Cue one of those “whose life is this?” moments!

I am planning on attending and speaking about my experiences with dealing with online abuse and harassment as a feminist and fat activist, with particular focus on the long term impact that it has on those of us who are subjected to it, and how far we have yet to push the law and technology to meet the changing nature of the abuse and harassment of women – both online and off.

However, financially I am not in a position where I can afford to cover my own costs to fly to Sydney and for accommodation.  This is where you come in dear reader – I am starting off a GoFundMe page to help me cover these costs.  In return, I hope to be able to publish my symposium piece here (or at least be able to share with you where it is published) and will write about the symposium here on my blog.  I hope to be able to network with other participants and that this may open up more opportunities for activism, so that we collectively may be able to shift how the abuse and harassment of women online (and off) is both viewed by society in general, and more specifically be part of making changes to the law and technology to protect women and other minorities, while also putting in place more suitable repercussions for those who do engage in this abuse and harassment.

I would also like to have a fatty meet up in Sydney while I am down there, so that we can both make community connections with each other and generally just hang out in our fabulous fatness together!

I don’t make money from my work as a feminist and fat activist, and a lot of the time it is a full time job on top of my day job.  I have consciously chosen not to monetise this blog and the only time ads appear are the ones that WordPress puts at the bottom of this page (which can be removed by signing up to WordPress and remaining signed in to that account BTW) which I receive no revenue from.

So it would mean a lot to me if any of you could help – particularly those who have stuck by me for about 9 years now of doing this work.   I have set up a GoFundMe page here, and if you can help me meet this goal – anything you can afford is definitely appreciated.


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Friday, 12 May 2017

Fear

There is a pillar of stone in the middle of a deep, gurgling swamp. On top of the pillar is a small fire, some food, a basket for collecting rain water, and a tent. The food never quite runs out, the fire never fully extinguishes. Rain always comes, eventually. Atop the pillar she watches the seasons pass, charts the stars in their courses, observes the alligators and piranhas down in the muck live their lives, and some nights when the moon is dark she sees a glimmer of something in the far distance. There is something beyond the swamp's borders, something more than a pillar of stone, food, water and shelter. She has tried to reach it many times. 

It always happens the same way; she will feel brave, prepared both mentally and physically. She has a Plan to avoid the alligators and piranhas. This time will be different. This time she will succeed, moving forward bearing the marks of previous journeys; bite marks, scratch scars, and those inside where she wakes at night. In the past she had been rescued by others passing by, people with nice boats who returned her to the pillar, healed her wounds, then left on their own journey. Rescue comes when she can no longer fight off the creatures of the swamp, when she is bleeding from a hundred wounds and is ready to lay down and drown, when the stench of it, the deep sucking mud has pulled the strength right out of her bones. 

The stars pass overhead many times, shifting slowly in their eternal dance with the sun and moon. The food never quite runs out. The rain always comes eventually. The shimmer on the horizon continues to beckon in the night but she sits with her back to it and instead gazes into the fire. Here she is warm and safe.



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Thursday, 11 May 2017

Fatshion: Black Floral Midi Dress

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. Hi friends! Happy full moon in Scorpio. What are you releasing? I am trying to release...

Read more here!

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Study Shows Link Between Discrimination and Type 2 Diabetes

Public HealthFat causes [insert health issue here.] We here this every day.  The problem is, it’s not true. The research about weight and health isn’t about causation, it’s about correlation and that’s an important distinction.  Correlation means that two things happen at the same time.  Causation means that one thing is the result of the occurrence of the other thing.

This is not an unimportant distinction.  Let’s say that men with certain types of baldness have higher rates of heart attacks.  Let’s say the correlation is extremely high. So, healthcare practitioners say that obviously we’ve got to help these guys grow hair so that they can reduce their heart attack risk!  But let’s say that the treatments that lead to men growing hair only work on about 5% of men, the rest grow hair in the short term but lose it all again in a couple of years with a majority ending up with less hair than they started with.

So let’s say that healthcare practitioners (encouraged by people who sell the hair regrowth treatments) blame the men, claiming that anyone who tries hard enough can grow hair. People start to calculate the cost of these guys heart attacks and calling them a “drain on society.”  The government starts a War on Baldness and every person that bald men come in contact with are encouraged to let them know that they need to grow hair, that they are obviously weak willed, and they are a drain on society.  It becomes ok to not hire bald men (so that the companies insurance isn’t affected.) People suggest that maybe bald men shouldn’t qualify for insurance, or healthcare at all until they do what it takes to grow hair.  A dangerous surgery is developed that may help men grow hair, but is also likely to leave them with lifelong side effects, and the surgery kills many of them.

If this sounds ludicrous then look no farther than the way that fat people are treated. It’s happening right now. The thing about bald men having higher numbers of cardiac incidents is true by the way – and the correlation is very high. But what researchers found when the dug a little deeper was that both the baldness and the cardiac incidents were caused by a third factor.  That’s not unusual, the thing about correlation is that if A and B are correlated it’s possible that A causes B, it’s possible that B causes A, it’s possible that A and B are both caused by a third factor, and it’s also possible that they are, in fact, unrelated and the correlation is a coincidence.

I’m bringing this up because a new study shows a correlation between discrimination and Type 2 Diabetes. This isn’t new, Peter Muennig found correlation between stigma the comes with being fat in a fatphobic society, and the health conditions that are correlated with being fat.

This doesn’t just apply to fat people, it’s an issue for every marginalized person. And it’s one more way that hate speech and discrimination affect us negatively.  The study found that those who reported two or more major discrimination experiences had a 34% increased risk of diabetes (over nine years) than those with no reported experience of major discrimination. In terms of health care for fat people this is important because, while we don’t know how to make fat people thin, we do know how to stop discriminating against them and we can start right now (and of course that goes for other marginalized groups as well.)

The lead author, Kara Whitaker, said ““It may be beneficial for clinicians to ask patients about their experiences with discrimination as an additional method to identify individuals who may be at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease.”

I agree, but as a fat person who has dealt with all kinds of fatphobic nonsense at the doctor I would suggest that it may be beneficial for clinicians to ask themselves if they are contributing to that discrimination.  And people who create public health messaging should make sure that their messages aren’t adding to discrimination.  And while we’re at it, it’s important for all of us to remember that “everybody knows” is not the same as “evidence shows,” and correlation never ever, never ever, implies causation.

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Wednesday, 10 May 2017

If you’re trying to make a problem worse, I have trouble believing you when you say you’re solving it.

The New York Times recently published an op-ed arguing that all economic problems with abortion can be solved with private charity. It should be obvious to anyone paying attention how false that is.  It’s nice that, in the course of lying to you about breast cancer and depression and withholding your test results, a crisis pregnancy center might also hook you up with a low-cost car or help you with utility bills. But that only scratches the surface of the economic issues–everything from life-long medical costs from pregnancy complications to lower earning potential as someone with a kid to take care of. Crisis pregnancy centers frequently stop helping women as soon as they can’t obtain a legal abortion.  They’re certainly not going to help with daycare costs when the kid you didn’t abort is five, or help you out with the cost of insulin for the next twenty years if gestational diabetes never goes away.

It occurred to me that crisis pregnancy centers are, as far as I’m aware, the only charities working on an issue who are actively trying to make sure more people need their services. Every other organization at the front lines of addressing a problem at least encourages measures that would prevent the problems they address in the first place. Animal rescue groups hold free spay and neuter clinics and encourage people to get their pets fixed. Groups who help homeless people find places to stay are also often trying to address substance abuse, mental illness, and economic issues.  And you won’t see crisis hotlines for LGBT kids saying, “Sure, go ahead & reject your kids for being gay! We’ve got this covered.”

Crisis pregnancy centers, in contrast, actively oppose measures that would result in fewer unplanned pregnancies. The author of the NYT Op-Ed wrote an abstinence-only “sex ed” curriculum—the very kind that drives up teen pregnancy rates. Additionally, by trying to make abortion illegal, they’re looking to massively increase the number of people who need their assistance.

There were about 660,000 abortions reported to the CDC in 2013, and there are between 2300 and 3500 crisis pregnancy centers. Divided evenly, that’s a couple *hundred* additional people in need of help per clinic per year, without even counting the increased abortions if schools that are currently teaching medically accurate sex ed switch to abstinence only.

An American Independent article lists some statistics on the number of people seen by crisis pregnancy centers. According to the Family Research Council, approximately 230,000 ultrasounds were performed at a thousand centers, 230 per clinic.  Even if those centers only did ultrasounds for *half* of the pregnant people they see, providing services for the 650,000 people who currently have abortions would be a 50% increase.

Any other charity might panic at the idea of 50% more people needing their help.  Ask a homeless shelter to add 50% more beds or a cancer treatment center to see 50% more patients, and they’ll be frantically trying to figure out where the money, staff, and resources will come from. But a CPC’s apparent response is a shrug and a blithe “We got this.”  The op ed doesn’t mention any such numbers, or any concrete plans for how the author’s organization would handle such an increase, only the vague generalization that conservatives “must sacrifice their time and treasure to serve women in need”. It’s worth mentioning that this sacrifice of time and treasure is totally voluntary, with no guarantee it’ll actually happen if abortion rights disappear.

To me, that’s a pretty strong indication that CPCs aren’t looking to solve the economic problems associated with unplanned pregnancies as much as they’re trying to put a fig leaf over them. “See, women don’t need abortions! Crisis pregnancy centers will provide them with charity so they can take care of their babies.” Whether their help is sufficient for the actual needs of the pregnant person isn’t really their concern, as long as they prevent that person from having an abortion.

(Hat tip to @AnaMardoll for her thread on how disingenuous the idea that abortion isn’t an economic issue “because private charity” is)




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Tuesday, 9 May 2017

the HAES® files: Food is the New Classism

by Glenys Oyston

The argument (really just a friendly debate; not an actual fight) has stuck in my head for years.

A self-proclaimed foodie friend and I were discussing the qualities of the best grilled cheese sandwiches. I declared that my favorite was still the kind made with processed cheese slices. She was horrified. “Ugh no!” she gasped. “That’s not REAL cheese!”

I burned a little with shame remembering my childhood growing up eating my mother’s classic grilled cheese sandwiches made with those processed cheese slices that came wrapped in plastic, the bread slathered on all sides with butter – one of the few foods I really enjoyed through those years. It never occurred to me back then whether my food was “real” or not – it was just the food I ate.

As a dietitian, I now know that processed cheese does in fact contain “real” cheese which has been combined with emulsifier and some other ingredients to make it melt better and last longer. This was a fun fact we learned in food science, where food additives were demystified. All food is “real” food – we don’t create it out of thin air from non-edible sources. We don’t turn, like, plastic chairs into donuts. Some food may be more “processed,” but it is still food.

Sadly, we live in a culture where all types of foods are demonized for various reasons. For a while, some time ago, I indulged in this behavior myself (I’m not proud). Once into adulthood and well out of the lower socioeconomic class I was raised in, I wanted only the “freshest,” most “organic,” “grass-fed,” “local” foods I could get my hands on. (This was, unfortunately, one of the ways in which I propped up my extreme disordered eating.) I was ashamed of some of foods I grew up on: frozen pizzas and TV dinners, packaged sweets, canned vegetables. The diet that, while perhaps not optimal, kept me alive.

Ironically, many of us have dieted on “processed” foods, encouraged by all to do so in the name of thinness; or we might even eat or drink them as a part of a regular diet. During my smug-foodie days, I wouldn’t have thought twice about eating a highly processed, low-fat, packaged dessert-food to save calories, while snubbing my nose at conventionally farmed chard as not being “healthy” enough.

In reality, there are many foods that are processed that no one complains about. Coffee, especially decaf, is highly processed and it never goes out of style. Bread is somehow supposed to better for us in Paris than here, despite the fact that it is still white bread (gasp!). That soy milk didn’t leap out of the bean on its own; it was processed out. Vegan foods made to look and taste like meat are also highly processed, yet remain virtuous. And the greatest mystery to me – people following so-called “whole foods” diets who have no problem blending up protein powder (processed!) with everything.

Despite the complete hypocrisy of it all, there is still so much judgment being tossed around about food and health. This isn’t really a new phenomenon; I remember after diving into diet culture more than 20 years ago hearing people poo-poo the diets of the “lower classes,” attributed to an ignorance that could be cured only by benevolent education (read: shame) from better-off people. Ew to all of that.

Yes, it is well documented that higher weights (I’m refusing to use the “o” word here) are prevalent among people with less education and less money. So often –really often! – I’ve heard this chalked up to a “processed food diet” issued in a “shame on them” tone. Rarely is food insecurity, food availability, stigma or stress discussed, all possible contributors to higher weights, all problems experienced in lower socioeconomic classes. “Just eat better food!” is the standard advice. Case closed, problem solved, further thought not needed.

Let’s call this what it is: classism. When some foods are okay being processed but others aren’t, it’s not about the food; it’s about who’s eating it and proclaiming one’s righteous status through the stigmatization of others’ diets.

If we want to actually help people to live better, let’s talk about making more food more available and affordable. Let’s smash a diet culture that creates food-fear in the name of profit. Let’s talk about food justice issues without stigmatizing people for what they eat or weigh, because this does not contribute to health. As a Health at Every Size® dietitian, I truly do feel that all foods can fit, but they only fit well if someone can afford them and feel good about eating them.

I still sometimes eat grilled cheese sandwiches with processed cheese slices. Sometimes I use the other kind of cheese (which is still “processed,” by the way, as most foods are to some degree). I eat “whole” foods and the supposedly “unholy” foods, too. I eat all the foods because, thankfully, I can afford it now and I’m free of food-fear. Let’s focus on creating that situation for everyone instead of food and weight shaming others as a part of yet another unfair class system.

 


Glenys Oyston is a registered dietitian and eating coach who helps people recover from toxic diet culture and eating anxiety. As someone who struggled with her weight and feeling out-of-control around food for years, she knows exactly what others are going through and how to get them to food freedom. She coaches people in person in her Los Angeles office and virtually through one-on-one and group coaching programs. This year she launched Dare to Eat, an online program that helps people to learn to eat as much as they want, without guilt, in total freedom. You can find her at http://ift.tt/2q0LtsJ and on her podcast Dietitians Unplugged.


Tagged: diet, health, Health At Every Size, nutrition

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Fatshion: Little Black Dress

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. Hi friends! How are you all doing this week? My life changed big time in the last few...

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Sunday, 7 May 2017

AHCA BS

I was out at Steampunk World’s Fair all weekend, so this isn’t much of a post.  But I do want to say that if you live in one of the districts of any of the 217 Congresscritters who voted for the AHCA, please yell at them.  Send them letters, fill their voicemail, @ them on Twitter.  Don’t yell at their staffers, because they didn’t vote for the bill, but please, do your damnedest to make sure that not a single one of these people is ever elected for so much as dog-catcher again.

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Friday, 5 May 2017

Avoiding Activism Burnout

Tired PuppyRecently I had the opportunity to speak as part of the EDRDpro Symposium and one of the attendees asking how we can avoid fatigue when trying to educate around Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size.  In our current fatphobic, thin-obsessed culture it’s super easy to do, so here are some idea to prevent burnout:

1. Create a grounding phrase. We are bombarded with false information about weight and health, and negative beliefs about fat bodies every day. So having a quick phrase that we use to deflect it can be really helpful. My personal phrase is “hey that’s bullshit!” but other folks have told me that they use things like “nope, nope, nope” or “what a load of crap.” I use it every time I see a diet ad, or hear something negative about fat people, or see an “everybody knows” article about weight and health. Pretty soon it becomes reflexive and fairly often the message gets dismissed before I’m even conscious of it.

2. Remember that you are the authority – it’s unfortunate the so many people have fallen victim to false beliefs and stereotypes, and even more unfortunate when they decide to be superior about it, but it doesn’t make them any less wrong.

3. Get support – join in person and online/social media groups that support folks who are practicing HAES and Size Acceptance and participate in them, read Fat Activism and Health at Every Size blogs and participate in the comment section, reach out to other activists when you need some support

4. Make it about options – I get e-mails every day from people who literally didn’t know that they had an option to like their body, or options to pursue health outside of weight loss. My work is about making sure that everyone knows that they have those options. Which leads us to…

5. Don’t take too much responsibility – All we can do is be as educated as we can, and provide people with information to the best of our ability. We can’t take responsibility for what they do with that information, or for the choices they make. If you try to take responsibility for the outcomes you’ll burnout fast. Engaging in activism is it’s own success, not just because of how it can change the world, but because of how it helps us activists to be fighting back.

6. Take breaks – you don’t have to go in for every battle, every bullshit comment on Facebook, every minute of every day.  You can take each day as it comes, respect where you are with your own mental and physical health, energy level, what you need to get out of the situation (for example, if you really need your prescription you might not want to argue with your doctor’s incompetent diatribe about weight loss and that’s ok.) Take time off, and remember that doing so is part of nurturing ourselves as activists.

7. Remember that you do not owe people who are shaming, stigmatizing, bullying, harassing, or oppressing you compassion or education on their terms or in their preferred words or tone, or at all. Their feelings don’t have to be your primary concern, the outcome of this conversation doesn’t have to be your primary concern, whether you will “catch more flies with honey” does not have to be your primary concern. Protecting yourself and doing what you can/want to do today can be your primary concern. Politely and gently asking people if they wouldn’t mind not oppressing you so much is an option, but never a requirement. Telling people to STFU and GTFO is also a valid option that is available to you.

Be vigilant about noticing who is being left behind and left out and use your privilege to remedy that, celebrate the smallest victories and keep pushing, we’ll get there.

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