Thursday 30 June 2016

Fatshion: Pink Hair and Pink Walls

Hi friends! I’ve sat on these photos since February! I love them all so much but I’ve struggled with what to write about it. I already told you about the wonderful day I had during the We...

Read more here!

via Skinned Knees

Fat is still a feminist issue

A book was published in the seventies called “Fat is a Feminist Issue” by Susie Orbach. And to this day, it remains a feminist issue, perhaps more so than ever. Women have always been under pressure to appear youthful, if not prepubescent, to appeal to men, to not indulge in food or anything else. It… More Fat is still a feminist issue

via Dead of Winter

the HAES® files: 3 Things Plus Size Pregnant Women Should Know

by Jen McLellan, CBE

Hi, my name is Jen McLellan and a little over 6 years ago I found myself sitting in front of the computer feeling devastated. You see, I had just found out I was pregnant. Now, this should’ve been a time of celebration for me. Yet, as a fat woman I was flooded with misinformation online that lead me to doubt my body’s ability to have a healthy outcome for my baby and for myself. I read that I would not only develop complications, like gestational diabetes, but that I was also a horrible person for wanting to become a mother as a plus size woman.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when expecting and I was working with an OB-GYN who was nice but didn’t spend a lot of time with me during my appointments. As my pregnancy progressed, I hired a doula and then switched to a midwife who had more belief in my body than I did. In fact, my midwife was the first care provider to ever touch my body in a compassionate manner. I remember telling her, “I read online that I’m going to have a big baby. Big girls have big babies!” She smiled and then replied, “That’s what your hips are for. You can birth a 10 pound baby!” She wasn’t telling me that I would have a big baby, but that if I did, my body was perfectly capable of doing what it’s designed to do.

And you know what, I started to believe her! I actually started to believe that my body was pretty amazing.

I ended up having a completely healthy pregnancy, thanks to being proactive with nutrition, physical activity and pulling together an outstanding support team. Along with having a healthy pregnancy, I gave birth naturally, on my knees and felt a level of strength and pride in my body that I had never experienced before!

A few months after I settled into motherhood, I wanted to tell my story. I wanted to help change the conversation around plus size pregnancy. Most of the stories from plus size moms I had read online were bleak in comparison to my experience. I read heartbreaking stories of women being shamed by their care providers and feeling like they were forced into having interventions during their birth that they didn’t feel were necessary, including cesareans. If it wasn’t for my doula and midwife, I truly would’ve had a hard time believing that my body was capable of having the positive outcome that it did.

I started a blog, Plus Size Mommy Memoirs, and Facebook page of the same name in April of 2011. Sure enough, I wasn’t the only fat woman to have a healthy pregnancy! Story after story was shared. Yet, those heart-wrenching stories also flowed in. Only this time, these women found a community to feel supported by!

Fast-forward 5 years and I’m now a certified childbirth educator, public speaker, and passionate advocate for plus size women during pregnancy and postpartum. My website, Plus Size Birth, has received over 2 million hits and my Plus Size Mommy Memoirs Facebook page has become a community of over 177,000 women supporting one another before, during and after pregnancy.

Over these past few years I’ve supported thousands of women and have spoken to hundreds of birth professionals. Yet with all of the headway I’ve made, I know the mistreatment of fat women during pregnancy is a very big issue that few people want to address. Therefore, I will continue to hit the pavement, speak at as many conferences as I can, and write as many articles as I can.

If you’re reading this now and you’re pregnant, there are 3 things I want you to know…

  1. Plus size doesn’t equal high risk.

Just as people of all sizes can be healthy, people of all sizes can have low risk pregnancies. Your weight alone doesn’t automatically qualify you as having a high risk pregnancy. If your care provider tells you that then they are not a size friendly provider, I encourage you to seek out a new provider (consider looking into the midwifery model of care, as midwives tend to be more size friendly).

There was a study done a few years ago that showed second time plus size moms lacking any underlying health conditions (like pre-existing diabetes or high blood pressure) actually have a lower risk profile than first time moms. As we all know, this isn’t a study the media picked up, but it’s certainly worth knowing about.

Please also listen to me when I say that even if you do develop complications, you shouldn’t feel ashamed. Your body is growing life within it, and thats amazing!

  1. You deserve to be treated with dignity!

I’m going to type these words again: you deserve to be treated with dignity!!! This doesn’t just go for pregnancy either. You should always receive evidence-based, compassionate and dignified care. Your care provider works for you… so they shouldn’t work against you.

Studies show that when people of size are shamed by their care provider they are more likely to gain weight and less likely to receive routine medical care. Don’t allow a bad experience with one doctor stop you from taking good care of your health by going to the doctor regularly.

I have resources on my website to help people connect with size friendly care providers and I’ll do whatever I can to help make these connections. I personally know what it’s like to receive outstanding care and so I’ve made it a mission of mine to help others have the same positive experiences.

I’ve found time and time again, through speaking with so many moms, that a good care provider can truly have a major impact on the outcome of your pregnancy, birth, and postpartum experience.

  1. Your Body is Amazing!

I know this is something that people of all sizes struggle to believe and yet, if we don’t love our bodies then it’s difficult to be our own best healthcare advocate. It’s also hard for us to teach our children to love their bodies if we don’t love our own.

I’m thankful that the internet isn’t all bad, and that there are many body positive and Health At Every Size® resources (including this blog you’re reading right now). Make an effort to filter your social media flow to only include positive resources and you’ll start to experience a shift in how you feel about your body. Read books like Jes Baker’s Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls (I have a guest essay in it, but this isn’t just a shameless plug because the book is awesome) and Fat!So? by Marilyn Wann.

Along with filtering your social feeds and media influences, practice good self-care and pamper yourself. You’re worth it!


Jen McLellan is a published author and certified childbirth educator who advocates for plus size women. She promotes positive information to empower healthy decision making during pregnancy. Within her blog, Plus Size Mommy Memoirs, she helps women navigate the world of plus size pregnancy, shares tips for embracing your body, and laughs along with the adventures of motherhood. Her work has been featured in major publications such as Yahoo Shine, Huffington Post, Everyday Feminism, and International Doula. In addition she co-authored the Amazon bestseller, The Peachie Moms Guide to Body Love for Moms. Jen is also a skilled patient advocate, professional speaker, wife, and mother to a charismatic 5 year old.

via healthateverysizeblog

Wednesday 29 June 2016

Historical vs. Modern Abortion Narratives in Dirty Dancing (1987, dir. Emile Ardolino) and Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982, dir. Amy Heckerling)

Check out my article on BitchFlicks for their current theme week: Ladies of the 1980s, where I compare two abortion narratives in mainstream Hollywood films of the 1980s and how their historical settings take them in different directions.  It’s not about fat characters (sadly, I couldn’t find a graceful segue to talk about Wayne Knight’s role as the obnoxious master of ceremonies in Dirty Dancing), but looking at how movies portray medical procedures with cultural baggage isn’t too far removed from how movies portray bodies with cultural baggage.  I’ll get you next time, Wayne.


via Consistent Panda Bear Shape

Fat Activism and Research Justice

I first came across the term 'Research Justice' at the Allied Media Conference in Detroit in 2010. This may have been the first time that the conference scheduled some sessions on the theme. Since then, the AMC has hosted Research Justice network gatherings and the concept has grown. You can find documentation on the AMC website.

As I understand it, Research Justice has grown out of indigenous participatory action research projects. DataCenter, in Oakland, California is an organisational proponent of the term, and has published various toolkits and reports. Research by and about Domestic Workers in Southern California that I have found through DataCenter have made particularly powerful reading. The organisation has a useful YouTube presence too. Last year Andrew J. Jolivette published a Research Justice anthology in Chicago, which looks pretty good but also somewhat academic and focused primarily on work in North America. It is important that Research Justice not become another academic discipline, especially when academia excludes so many, but remains something that anyone can use.

When I was first learning about Research Justice I was also inspired by the Young Women's Empowerment Project in Chicago, who produced a really great piece of research about their Bad Encounter Line. I'm not sure if the project still exists, but you can read about this research on their Media & Free Stuff page.

I have produced my own small-scale research projects using this concept, in particular No More Stitch-Ups, from 2014. My book is built on the idea that how knowledge is generated and owned is political, and that obesity discourse does not have to be the only way in which we might understand fat people.

Research Justice enables me to think of research as activism. It would be amazing is fat people were to undertake their own research, and not only with university support or under the patronage of thin academics. What might we find if we pursued our own research agendas? I am particularly interested in DIY research, using low or no-cost resources to find things out that might benefit communities of people who don't otherwise get a look-in. I am interested in developing research skill-shares around this stuff. It is a myth that research has to be expensive, obscure and highly academic.

I also want to encourage people working in research institutions to consider Research Justice as a form of methodology. There are certainly overlaps with Participatory Action Research, but I think that Research Justice is more than a method, it is a theoretical orientation that can underpin all kinds of research and places a commitment to social justice at its heart.

In June I made a little graphic with some questions to consider when either looking at or designing research. I made the mind-map as a response to a series of performances and workshops in Bristol called Emergenc(i)es, which was about developing new responses to the crises of the times we are in. It was a prompt to think about how to survive and thrive in difficult times. Emergenc(i)es was affiliated to the AntiUniversity a really fantastic para-academic project in the UK. The graphic is not exhaustive, I expect to come back to it and fill in gaps as I go along, but I hope it gives some idea of the critical nature of Research Justice as I see it, and encourages people to think about how knowledge is created, perhaps to become knowledge producers themselves.

Click on the image to see a larger-sized version. Extra point sif you can spot the accidental typo!

via Obesity Timebomb

Refusing co-option by the weight loss industry

I've been wondering why I had a 1050% increase in traffic to this blog over the past month. My stats tracker is somewhat perfunctory at best, so I wasn't getting much joy until this morning, when I found that this blog had been co-opted by a popular 'health' website as one of its best obesity blogs.

It took me a while to find the listing because this website crashed my computer every time I tried to have a look. Thanks guys! But there I was, amidst all the usual thinspo, unavoidable ads for Atkins crap, and creepy 'health experts'.

Part of me thinks that the author of this list is trying to be subversive by including me. But the whole thing looked as though it was put together by a robot, trying to extract the maximum clickage and monetisation-per-pixel that that fantasy quickly evaporated (also by the author: "Is Cheese Bad for You?"). The kicker is that there is some small print at the top to say that all of the entries had been "medically reviewed" by someone who must surely be a quack. Medically review my middle finger!

Although my traffic is currently very high there is very little increase in engagement with what I am posting. The stats are probably robots too. It's amazing how the killer keyword "obesity" racks up the page-views, and presumably money for other people without any substance. 16 years of fat panic and this remains what it's all about.

Let me get this straight: the medicalised concept of obesity represents a system of hate that I have spent most of my life trying to destroy. This blog represents some of that work. I called it Obesity Timebomb because I believe that obesity as a system of oppression needs blowing up and that fat people are the ones to push the button. Most people who come to my work have at least some understanding of that. But people in the world of obesity, particularly those who see it as a cash cow, are not smart, they think I want their free content and their patronage. They don't understand irony or punk. They think that fat people are passive and grateful, not dangerous.

I have written to the website to ask them to remove my listing, that it was put there without my knowledge, and to say that I loathe everything they stand for. I expect it will disappear into a black hole. But for the record I want readers of this blog to know that I will never allow myself to be co-opted by weight loss, this is not a diet blog, I am not part of that world, in fact I want to see it end. Co-option is a dirty trick of the weight loss industry to try and de-fang fat activism, I want our fangs to remain ready to bite. If you see my work on such a platform, it was done without my consent.

via Obesity Timebomb

Tuesday 28 June 2016

Euphemisms as Anti-Language

The essential purpose of language is to reach people, to describe, and to clarify. Otherwise, why have language? Why have words, signs, and characters that denote sounds, words, and concepts? Why be so cautious of tone, of body language, and context if language isn’t intended to do these things? This, in a nutshell, is my… More Euphemisms as Anti-Language

via Dead of Winter

Friday 24 June 2016

Fat 101 for Nurses and Health Professionals

I went to see the nurse to get my blood pressure checked and to book a cholesterol test and I ended up with one of the worst clinical encounters I've had for a very long time. A doctorate in queer fat activism, a publishing track record and nearly thirty years of experience in collectively critiquing fat hatred is a pretty good foundation for getting your blood pressure checked whilst fat, one of the most basic medical interventions around, but it does not protect you entirely from feeling as though the rug has been pulled out from under you when a nurse pulls some fatphobic moves. I ended up with old memories of self-loathing, feeling destabilised and confused, and this from a clinic that says it is passionate about supporting people's health and wellbeing in its mission statement. I worry about the people who don't have my experience and credentials.

I have no intention of ever booking an appointment with that nurse again, but I have some pointers from this experience that may be of use to other medical practitioners.

How nurses and other health practitioners can support people of all sizes to have optimum health


Keep a set of weighing scales in the middle of the room. It makes it look as though this is the most important tool of measurement for you and reveals how little you know about body weight and health.

Smirk when a fat person declines to be weighed. Declining is a brave act of self-advocacy in the face of monumental pressure to capitulate to a system that does not have fat people's best health interests at heart.

Judge. Fat people can tell you are doing it, we have had a lot of experience of this.

Be surprised when you ask a fat patient about their life and they reveal themselves not to be the saddest sack of the universe, especially if you find out that they more going for themselves than you do.

Gloat about your own thin privilege.

Get stressed or blame the patient when you struggle to find a pulse or do a basic check because you are not comfortable touching a fat person.

Treat patients as repositories of data for your poorly designed computerised records systems of questionable security.

Use any fat-sized medical equipment that has the name of a weight loss drug plastered all over it, especially if that drug has been implicated in the sudden deaths of fat people. Buy a large-sized blood pressure cuff, don't use one that is basically a giant advert for Reductil. How can your patients ever trust that you are not in the service of those brands?

"Take control," patronise patients with empty promises that "it will come together" to excuse your inability to listen to a person and support them with their needs that they have plainly stated.

Sneakily schedule blood tests for all the so-called fat diseases, which the patient has had before and for which there is no evidence that these diseases are a problem for them. Don't think your patient won't notice what you have done and know that you have been judging them the whole time. Don't be surprised when this patient does not go along with your great fatphobic plan. You may be tempted to stereotype fat patients like this as wilfully non-compliant and self-sabotaging. Don't do that.

Treat people as automatic fodder for the medical industrial complex. Maybe a medical solution is not appropriate.

Touch someone weirdly. Don't rest your hand on mine as you tell me about your ex-wife who was also a psychotherapist.


Remember that bodies come in all shapes and sizes and that this is human.

Listen to the patient. If they say their problem is stress, or anything else, do not assume that their problem is that they are morbidly obese(sic).

Listen extra hard if you have only just met that patient. Get to know them as a person.

If time is tight or the computer system determines what happens in the clinic, acknowledge that you are working within limitations.

Understand that being weighed is not a neutral act. Don't proffer it. Try and have some compassion and understanding for what scales might mean for a fat patient, even if your own experiences of being weighed are nothing to write home about.

Collaborate. Treat fat patients as people who are invested in their own healthcare, especially if they make an appointment out of the blue to get their blood pressure checked. This is proof that they care about their bodies.

Get consent. Share data with your patients without them having to drag it out of you.

Try and laugh when your patient makes a joke about being a zombie when you are unable to find their pulse because you are uncomfortable with handling a fat body. They are being generous and are trying to help you.

How to recover from a bad interaction with a medic

Remember it's more likely to be them and their system that is the problem than your fat body.

Talk to someone you can trust with your feelings, don't be alone with it. Perhaps resist posting on social media even if you feel alienated and upset, you may find that people's responses there are far from soothing.

Write down what happened, get it out of your head.

Make another plan for looking after your health.

Send the clinic some feedback if you feel up to it.

Make some tea.


via Obesity Timebomb

100 Fat Activists #14: Fat Feminist Activist Working Meeting

Image from the proceedings of the
First Feminist Fat Activists' Working Meeting
During 18-20 April 1980 the First Fat Feminist Activist Working Meeting took place in New Haven, Connecticut. This was the first ever fat feminist conference.

It attracted 17 participants. A number of fat feminists lived fairly locally including Karen Stimson, Judith Stein, Aldebaran and Sharon Bas Hannah. Some had set themselves up as the New Haven Fat Liberation Front. There was fat community forming in the Boston area. Others came to visit, including Judy Freespirit. There were workshops, talks and fat women's cultural entertainment in the evening.

The event piggybacked on a women's health conference that was also taking place concurrently. The following day there was a keynote panel about fat feminism with the title F.A.T. (Fat Activists Together). It was another first, the first time a feminist gathering had placed fat politics at its centre. From this gathering F.A.T. (Fat Activists Together) became the first national US coalition of fat feminist activists. Their work helped to establish a constituency for fat feminism and was pivotal in getting Shadow on a Tightrope published.

Judith Stein made audio recordings of the keynote panel. Stimson used the tapes to make a radio documentary called Nothing to Lose. Material from the proceedings was collated and disseminated. I have seen copies of this work in various archives. I have a digital copy of it but I can't remember where it came from!

The Largesse online archive is invaluable here, Stimson's archival gifts to fat feminist activism are visionary. She offers a full personal account of the gathering and uploaded Stein's recordings as digital audio files. There are also sound files of the evening's entertainment. I defy you to listen without feeling delighted and moved.

Largesse is no longer live, but you can still listen to and download the talks via the WayBack Machine. Remixers, here is where you come in: these talks need to be sampled, set to a deep bass and danced to by fat feminists everywhere.

WayBack Machine: From the Largesse Archives: Voices of Fat Liberation MP3 Audio Files

WayBack Machine: Fat Feminist Herstory, 1969-1993: A Personal Memoir by Karen W. Stimson

New Haven Fat Liberation Front 1978

via Obesity Timebomb

Fat activism goes to the opera

On Wednesday I spent about five hours in a too small seat watching a pair of fat people command a very large stage. I've been to the opera before but not often, I'm not a buff. I like different kinds of music and performance, including, sometimes, that which is ostentatious, epic and expensive.

Tristan and Isolde is an opera by Richard Wagner. There are many things to be said about the problematic genre of grand opera, and the problematic composer Wagner in particular. There are probably many things to be said about the problematic opera Tristan and Isolde, I know the reviews for this production were not that gushing either. Other people can say those things, I don't have the knowledge or the articulacy to say them here. This is not a blog about opera.

But it is a blog about fat and this is what I do want to say: if you can pick your way through the things that are problematic, it is fantastic to see romantic, heroic, dramatic fat leads singing their faces off in front of several hundred mostly thin people who have paid a lot of money to witness this extraordinary sight.

It would be nice if the seats were accessible, and if opera singers weren't pressured to lose weight. I am aware that fat opera singers are also a comic stereotype. But whilst many fat activists lobby for non-stigmatising media representation of fat people, and rightly so, there is a genre of opera and singer that takes for granted fat people's compelling presence on a stage. I wouldn't exactly call it mainstream entertainment, but it is entrenched in the establishment. It's right there.

In this production of Tristan and Isolde, Heidi Melton and Stuart Skelton were dressed in giant armour and farthingale respectively, they were really big. Tall hair too. Melton flanked by Karen Cargill as Brangäne, also fat. It's possible none of these performers would want to see themselves as I saw them, you're probably not allowed to say the unsayable, and I notice that reviews are coy in their descriptions of the singers. But what I saw was fat people taking up space and deservedly so. I love fat people who are no shrinking violets. The opera, the music, the scenery, the orchestra, the whole extravaganza was one thing, but to me the fat was far out. There should be fat activist opera groups if they don't already exist.

About ten years ago I went to see one of the Grand Sumo Tournaments in Tokyo. I had similar feelings, only this was a different kind of fat physicality and athleticism, enshrined in national pride. Massively fat wrestlers throwing each other into the air. The most expensive seats are at the very front, where you might find a Rikishi crashing down upon you.

Fat is so weird, hated and also adored. How can it be so?


via Obesity Timebomb

Thursday 23 June 2016

Welcome, Thank You and What Next!

Wow!  Since my last post, I’ve had a huge influx of new followers and readers of my little blog.  Welcome to you all!  And thank you to those who took the time to share my last post.  I’m also really pleased to see so much positive response to the JCPenney campaign, that’s what we need to see when fat positive stuff gets done well – it shared, spoken about and promoted!

So what’s happening?  As many of you know, I’m off to the New Zealand Fat Studies: Identity, Agency and Embodiment conference next week.  I’m officially on leave from my day job now and am gearing up to head over to New Zealand, thanks to so many people who pitched in to my GoFundMe campaign!  I will be speaking on Day 2 of the conference, I’m in the process of finessing the presentation now, just the shiny bits to go with the actual paper.  Thank you to all who helped me out with content for that as well.  I am SO excited about the conference, about taking one of my BFF’s with me to introduce her to the amazing community that happens around Fat Studies conferences and catching up with rad fatties from all over the world who will be attending.  Some of whom I haven’t seen in person for six years!

Don’t forget you can register online for the conference, which will give you access to the live-stream and to on demand videos after the conference.

Online promotion flyer 1

I’m also doing a reading/spoken word piece at an event at Palmerston North Library the night before the conference.  This event is being organised by Dr Jenny Lee of Victoria University and promises to be a fantastic event.  I hope to be able to publish the piece I have written for this event here on my blog afterwards, so that you can all read it.  I will do the same for my conference paper if possible as well.

I’ve also got a couple of other projects on the boil which I can’t tell you about yet, but I will as soon as I can.  2016 is shaping up to be an exciting year!

The next thing I want to do today is give a shout out to some other fat activists that are doing amazing work lately.  As I spoke about in a post the other week, it is getting harder and harder to find and hear actual radical fat activism, the stuff that really challenges the status quo, amongst the sea of “body positivity” coming from the mainstream right now.  But there are people doing amazing work, and I just want to highlight a few right now.

Ali Thompson has written this amazing piece for Everyday Feminism titled 4 Ways Fat People Need to be Included in Reproductive Justice.  I know Ali has done a LOT of research on this topic and really worked hard on this piece – and it shows.

Alysse Dalessandro does consistently good work on multiple platforms, both as a businesswoman with Ready to Stare, her indie fashion store, and with her writing.  This piece she wrote recently interviewing a whole host of people about body positivity is exceptionally good (and includes yours truly!)

Aarti Olivia Dubey of Curves Become Her is also another consistently strong voice, and covers an incredibly broad range of topics.  Plus she’s as cute as hell with her fatshion!

Michelle Allison aka The Fat Nutritionist never ceases to rock my world with her work on food and the culture around food.

Kelli Jean Drinkwater recently gave a fantastic and powerful talk for TedX Sydney.  Don’t miss it.

Finally, there are two fat podcasts I never miss.  Cat Pausé of Friend of Marilyn has a fantastic podcast which brings good value every week, including guests from all over the world.  And if you’re not listening to Ariel and KC of Bad Fat Broads, you’re missing out on so much.  Entertaining, thought provoking and sharp as hell.  And Ariel manages to make me laugh out loud on the train at least once per podcast.  I love you Ariel!

There are others out there, but these are the ones I’m really, really into at the moment.

Finally, I’m adding a donate function to this blog.  Cos I wanna do more activism stuff and I can’t do it without fundage.  I’m not going to harass people to donate and I don’t expect anyone to give if they can’t afford it.  I’ll keep it to a donate button on the page and a note in the footer of each post.  But if you can help, and want to support me in doing more activism work, I’ve got a GoFundMe here, or the donate button over there on the right side of the page.

Filed under: Uncategorized

via Fat Heffalump

the HAES® files: Pedagogy Matters: Addressing Size Diversity through Critical Education

by Erin Cameron, Ph.D.

How do we learn to live well in the world? This question has intrigued me for many years now; it is why I pursued a Bachelor of Education and eventually a Ph.D. in Education. Over the last four years, my work has focused specifically on developing teaching/learning strategies that promote size diversity and acceptance.  What I have learned most through this work is that how I teach is just as important as what I teach, if not sometimes more. In other words, the content alone doesn’t teach, but it’s also how I deliver the content that significantly influences the learning experience.

Pedagogy refers to the science and art of teaching, where learning theories serve as tools for educators in order to create valuable learning experiences. When I first started teaching about size diversity I was a passionate educator wanting to change student’s knowledge and assumptions about weight and health. What I quickly found out is that my passion was met with strong, sometimes overt, resistance from students and learners. I have had to unlearn much of how I was taught to teach and to explore new strategies. In the following paragraphs, I will endeavor to share what I have learned through this work.

For my PhD research, I explored how 26 faculty from 5 countries in both the sciences and social sciences were challenging dominant obesity discourses and addressing size diversity in the classroom. I was interested in exploring the pedagogies of well-known scholars in the field. What I learned through this research is that addressing size diversity is both a personal and professional journey. This clearly stood out in the four main themes to emerge from the research.

The first theme focused on “Bodies that teach”. Participants spoke about how teaching about size diversity put their own bodies and the bodies of others under the microscope. They spoke about how educational settings are entrenched with size privilege and that doing education around size diversity forces one to either “out” as fat or as having thin privilege. For instance, one participant remarked, “People can see that I’m fat. I’m not slightly fat. I could just say this is the research and it’s not anything on my experience, but I would be lying. If I were a thin person, maybe I could pull that off.”

The second theme focused on “Why I teach”.  Participants talked about how they felt drawn to teaching about weight bias because of personal and/or political reasons. Overwhelmingly, participants spoke about encountering resistance within the Academy but that due to the growing community of scholars in fields such as critical obesity scholarship and fat studies, that they felt that there was a shift happening that they felt inspired to be a part of. For example, one participant suggested that while other social justice issues have become more common in higher education, sizism is so new and provocative that it immediately challenges students to think differently. “I think, just in terms of where we are in history about talking about this topic, just raising it, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel now. Just raising it and talking about it is to teach them something. Nobody’s ever talked to them this way before. It might be like teaching LGBTQ studies twenty or thirty years ago or something like that.”

The third theme focused on the “What I teach”. Participants talked about the limited teaching resources related to weight bias and so many of them shared the diverse topics, resources, assignments, and activities they have found useful in teaching that challenges dominant obesity discourses. This work has been published in the Fat Studies Journal and offers some practical resources for teachers and educators.

The last theme focused on “How I teach”, what others and I are now calling “fat pedagogy”. Here participants spoke more broadly about how they approached teaching about weight bias and the type of pedagogy they used to engage students in learning about weight bias. This work has also been published in the Fat Studies Journal. In exploring this idea of fat pedagogy, four major things became clear.

1) First, how we frame the experience is critical. In other words, recognizing one’s context and intentionally creating an atmosphere of body-inclusivity is huge in the field of weight bias. This can be challenging, as one participant articulated, “I want it to be a place where we can talk and think and not be afraid to ask a question, but at the same time, not be offensive, yeah, not be offensive and sometimes that can get tricky too.”

2) Second, we need to layer the information, which in educational literature is something we refer to as scaffolding. We need to gauge what our audience already knows and build upon that knowledge, slowly increasing complexity of topics and analysis.

3) Third, we need to connect people to new ways of knowing. We need to engage different theories and perspectives of weight that allows them to access new ideas. For example, one participant articulated this well, describing how she used four different ways in which obesity can be presented: as a medical problem, as a food environment problem, as a moral problem, or, consistent with the fat acceptance movement, as not a problem at all.

4) Lastly, we need to teach content that draws attention to how language, history, and power are used in the construction of weight-based oppression.  As one participant explained, “The whole class is about kind of challenging and having them think a little bit more critically, about what is health in general, but more than just how much someone weighs and whether they exercise or eat well, and we talk a lot about what are the social determinants of health. So access to food, being able to live in safe housing and a safe neighbourhood, all of those elements…We talk about and I critique the idea of healthism and health discourses. I draw attention to how we read bodies and assign moral values to bodies often by their shape and size.”

Many of these pedagogical approaches are not, in fact, new to anyone with knowledge of educational theory and practice. They echo what has already been articulated in constructivist and student-centered approaches to education. However, what is new is that education and educational research could help to inform weight bias research. Like gender, race, and class, weight acts as another mark of difference that is being used to reinforce devaluation, status loss, and social marginalization; the very things that define stigma.

pedagogy readerI recently co-edited a book, The Fat Pedagogy Reader: Challenging Weight-Based Oppression through Critical Education, which brings together 34 international authors who, over 26 chapters, explore pedagogical strategies that address weight bias. Leading scholars in critical education, such as Richard Kahn, suggest this book helps expose how weight is being used as a site of oppression. The book highlights the need for more stories, evidence-based practices, and new ideas for the future.

The book ends with a call to researchers and practitioners alike to consider the core elements of an emerging pedagogy to reduce weight bias. This manifesto is summarized, in part, here:

  • Weight-based oppression affects us all
  • Starts with our lived experiences of oppression and privilege
  • Makes weight-based oppression visible in all its complexity
  • Is grounded in research and scholarship that is multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary
  • Understands no “one size fits all” approach – context matters
  • Starts where people are and then helps them build skills so that they can acquire a critical consciousness
  • Recognizes unlearning weight bias is an ongoing process

The book provides more detail and outlines all the aspects that should be considered in an emerging pedagogy. Perhaps this can be the focus of another blog. In the meantime, I’d like to conclude with two key messages.

  1. Firstly, pedagogy matters. Whether we are doing a presentation to healthcare professionals or working one-on-one with patients. How we approach the situation matters.
  2. Secondly, information alone, is not enough to address weight bias. In education we use the saying “Tell me and I’ll forget. Show me and I’ll remember. Involve me and I will understand.”


Erin Cameron is an Assistant Professor in the School of Human Kinetics and Recreation at Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada. As a retired professional athlete and public speaker on health and wellness, her research interests are interdisciplinary and span across the fields of sport development, health and physical education, health promotion, and critical pedagogy. Erin’s most recent research examines strategies to reduce weight bias and discrimination in diverse settings such as education and healthcare. She recently co-edited the Fat Pedagogy Reader (Peter Lang, 2015) and is involved in local, national, and international efforts to reduce weight bias. Through her research, Erin endeavors to create safe spaces for everybody, regardless of weight, shape, and size, to pursue active and healthy lives.

via healthateverysizeblog

If You’re Concerned For Your Fat Loved One’s Health

Concerned puppy is very concernedThis is a question I get a lot, and I got it five times yesterday so it seems like it’s time to blog about it. It goes something like this: “We love our fat [loved one], but we’re concerned about their health. We think they need to lose [insert number of pounds.]  How do we tell them that we love them as they are but we are afraid for their health and we want them to be around for a long time?”

I know that people dealing with this have the best of intentions, and I know that they are living in a society that encourages them to do this. Still, I think it’s something to think over very, very carefully.

First, consider that there is not a single study of any weight loss method where more than a tiny fraction of people actually lose weight, and the weight they lose is typically a few pounds. The odds of actually losing a lot of weight and maintaining that are basically lottery odds, gaining back the weight is a near certainty, and a majority of people gain back more than they lost, so if you’re worried about the person’s weight now, suggesting that they attempt weight loss is actually the worst possible advice that you can give.

To take that a step farther, I would suggest that everyone who wants to be involved in this intervention ask themselves the following: why do I think that this adult isn’t capable of making decisions for their own health?  Have they asked that folks comment on their body size/health/choices? Do I think they haven’t heard the (highly questionable) messages that thinner is better? Do I feel that I have some accurate expert information that they haven’t heard before? (Hint:  The answer to this last question is almost certainly “no.” If you’re planning to quote Dr. Oz, you’re making a horrible mistake.)

How are you going to bring this up?  Say your intended script out loud – have someone say it to you. I think you’ll find that there is really no way to say “We think you’re going to die if you don’t do something that nobody has proven is possible for a reason that nobody has proven is valid,and that would really be a bummer for us” that isn’t offensive or hurtful.

If you are still thinking about speaking with with this person, I would think long and hard about what information/options you think you can actually offer that they haven’t already heard, and if  your unsolicited advice in this matter is really likely to do anything other than rack them with guilt and shame that may be with them for the rest of their lives, or lead them to do something truly dangerous (and possibly deadly) like drugs, stomach amputation surgery, or medical contraptions, or worse. If your discussion drives this person to dangerous or self-harming behaviors, how will you feel about that?

Are you really prepared to accept the consequences, and your responsibility for them? Remember that you can’t take this conversation back. Once you tell someone that you have a problem with their size (even if it’s “just about their health”) you’ve let them know that you are judging them for the body they live in 100% of the time and for what you perceive their habits, behaviors, and health to be. It’s possible that, no matter how good your intentions, this may drive a wedge between you as they now assume that every time they see you,  you are judging their body/health/behaviors, and it may create a situation where they are no longer comfortable being around you. That’s a completely valid response on their part to you choosing to share your judgment, unsolicited opinions, and inexpert advice with them.

Be aware that you may ruin your relationship with this person, and if that happens it’s on you for busting out the unsolicited, unwanted judgment and advice.  From a personal perspective, I am “Type 3 – Super Obese” It’s as fat as you can get on the BMI chart, a category above “Morbidly Obese” and if my family members came at me to tell me that they had made up a number of pounds they thought I needed to lose to be healthy so I didn’t bum them out by dying, suggesting the same things that I’ve heard and tried already, I would be pissed off, and it might ruin those relationships completely.

Basically, I assume that if someone actually wants my opinion about their size, health, habits, or anything else, I will be among the very first people to know. Until them, I don’t make it my business. No amount of time is ever guaranteed with any loved one, I would recommend enjoying the time you have with someone, and not jeopardizing your relationship for a conversation that’s not likely to have any benefit, and could do some serious harm.


This year we have a truly kick ass line up of speakers, and there’s only one day left to take advantage of our Rush Registration – if you register before 12:01am on June 24th you’ll get the best rate for a Platinum Pass, and special bonuses. (If you’re a Dances With Fat member, check your e-mail for your member deal.)

Click Here to Register!

This is a virtual conference so you can listen by phone or computer, and you’ll receive recordings and transcripts of each talk so that you can listen/read on your own schedule. The Conference will be held September 23-25, 2016

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Like my work?  Want to help me keep doing it? Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you.  Click here for details

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!

I’m training for an IRONMAN! You can follow my journey at

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

via Dances With Fat

Wednesday 22 June 2016

How To Be A Worthy Fat Person

enoughOne of the ways that size-based oppression is created is by sizeists setting up an endless series of hoops for fat people to jump through in order to feel worthy.  This typically takes the form of vague things we “need” to do, with ever-changing definitions, and at the end of this rainbow they tell us we’ll find a pot of decent treatment.

Do we “take care of ourselves,” are we “living our healthiest life,” are we trying to manipulate our body size, are we self-deprecating, are we cruel to other fat people, are we at least eating salads in public, are we buying into and perpetuating the good fatty/bad fatty dichotomy, are we willing to risk our lives on dangerous drugs, stomach amputation surgeries, and contraptions to not be fat?  They add intersectional oppression – ableism, ageism, healthism, racism, homophobia, transphobia and more, but always with the promise that if we just do all the “right” things, we’ll finally get to be treated with basic human respect.

Except that it’s a set-up, a no-win situation. Because the true goal isn’t to create a process by which fat people can “prove” our worthiness (which would still be total crap, the only qualification to be treated with basic human respect should be a pulse.)  No, the goal is to create a system where fat people can never be thought of as worthy – and are never supposed to be allowed to think of ourselves as worthy, as good, as good enough.  And that’s total bullshit.

I’m here to tell you: no matter what you eat, no matter what you wear, no matter how you look, no matter if you work out, no matter your current health, no matter your current dis/ability, no matter what size you are, no matter why you think you are that size, no matter if you can or can’t change your size, no matter if you do or don’t want to change your size…

You Are Worthy.

You Are Worthy Right Now.

You Are Worthy No Matter What.

Anyone who is trying to tell you anything else is peddling hateful bigoted BS.  They can sell all they want, but we don’t have to buy.  You are worthy, right now, no matter what.


Y’all I am so excited about this year’s speakers and topics!  And, if you register before 12:01am on June 24th you’ll get the best rate for a Platinum Pass, and special bonuses. (If you’re a Dances With Fat member, check your e-mail for your member deal.)

Click Here to Register!

This is a virtual conference so you can listen by phone or computer, and you’ll receive recordings and transcripts of each talk so that you can listen/read on your own schedule. The Conference will be held September 23-25, 2016

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Like my work?  Want to help me keep doing it? Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you.  Click here for details

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!

I’m training for an IRONMAN! You can follow my journey at

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


via Dances With Fat

Tuesday 21 June 2016

Peak Libfem: How to Slut Shame a Kindergartener

A few years ago, I had a conversation that I will never forget, and I don’t mean that in a good way. Originally, the topic was about giving unsolicited fashion advice, and someone mentioned that they did not approve of certain fashions on young children because they attract unwanted sexual attention from pedophiles. To me,… More Peak Libfem: How to Slut Shame a Kindergartener

via Dead of Winter

Her Big Fat-Shamed Wedding

Mzznaki Tetteh, who lives in Accra, Ghana, recently got engaged to her boyfriend Kojo Amoah. She posted fabulous engagement photos, as many brides do, to her Instagram account.  But unlike many brides, she had to deal with strangers who showed up to fat-shame her, claiming reasons from being concerned about how she’ll look in her wedding dress, to being concerned about her partner, to the ubiquitous “just concerned about her health.”

We’ll talk about how these things are bullshit in a second, but right now I want to be clear that even if these people aren’t just pathetic internet trolls (though obviously they probably are,) and even if they actually have strongly held personal beliefs that the things they are typing are true, and even if they think that despite the fact that she is a nurse she needs health advice from strangers on the internet with no qualifications, how on earth would they think that it would be appropriate to bring these things up would be IN RESPONSE TO HER ENGAGEMENT PICTURES. Seriously, what the fuck?

That said, let’s be clear that this is totally bullshit. Not allowing fat people a moment’s happiness or peace is not, and never will be, the path to supporting our “health” and well being. These people seem to think that the fact that they view fat people as nothing but a “before” picture justifies their abhorrent behavior. But they are wrong.  We aren’t under any obligation to think of ourselves as “before” pictures.  And we don’t owe anyone their idea of an “after picture,” and they have no right to demand it of us, it is not their place. We may not be able to immediately stop pathetic trolls from trolling, but we can all be clear that their actions lack any legitimacy.

This also sheds light on another issue that I want to bring up, which is the misinformation that gets repeated quite bit that suggests that Black women, either in the US or in other cultures, have some cultural protection from sizeism and fat phobia. As Sesali B.point out in her excellent piece “STOP EXCLUDING BLACK WOMEN FROM FAT ACCEPTANCE MOVEMENTS” which I highly recommend you read in its entirety:

It is oft cited and mentioned that studies show that Black women have higher self-esteem and body image. However, high self esteem does not equal less fat-shaming, fatphobia, or other violence against fat Black women. For one, even if it were true that Black communities were more accepting of their fat women (which it isn’t), Black women don’t live in a cultural vacuum where they only engage and are affected by other Black people!

Just in case it’s not crystal clear: When a fat woman posts her engagement pictures, your options for response should be to say “congratulations” or to keep quiet – including and especially if you are nothing but a stranger on the internet.

Congratulations to Mzznaki Tetteh and Kojo Amoah!

engagement 6 engagement 1 engagement 2 engagement 3 engagement 8 engagement 7


Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Like my work?  Want to help me keep doing it? Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you.  Click here for details

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!

I’m training for an IRONMAN! You can follow my journey at

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

via Dances With Fat

Monday 20 June 2016

Ahhh! Update time! I know…I know!!! So long!

So yeah, employment is rad. It’s a real thing! I has it! Ha-ha!

3 weeks of proper full time employment under my belt and it feels good. I won’t disclose where I work exactly, but I can tell you that I’m an administrative assistant on a business operations team for a San Francisco startup and I love it! Everyone is soooooo great! And maybe it’s just my way, if you will, but I swear everyone is so good looking, too! Ha!

I have been struggling with my own adjustment period as far as my body is concerned. I have a train commute which took awhile to figure out my best options for. And my body has not been kind to me or maybe me to it? I had the dance show my first week with rehearsals to boot. I was in so much pain pretty much constantly. This happens but the added stress of new job and commute was tough. While the walking distance from the train to my office isn’t bad at all (two city blocks), the overall stress of being in this big ass city can overwhelm at times. And I’m no newb to SF, but as a daily routine it’s a bit of a shock to the old system.

For one thing, everyone walks so fucking fast! Like, they will mow you down and never take their eyes from their phone screens! Zero kindness, manners or friendliness on the city streets out there, but I can hardly blame anyone when it smells like an open sewer all of the time! Whew! It’s okay in the train station but the moment I get off the train I get a big waft of Subway bread smells (not terrible per se but not great ether) and once at the crosswalk, sewer smells. Blegh! And everything is under construction! Nothing but gravel, construction equipment and giant steel plates everywhere with things barricaded or fenced off. It’s a small part of what I must walk through twice a day but it has an impact. And everything just feels super dirty and covered in grime. Like thick black greasy dust? I dunno…it’s just gross and I don’t know how anyone can wear flip flops or open toed shoes in the city but they do. I do not. And I am so over walking through people’s second hand smoke clouds.

Actually, my feet have been the worst! Random inexplicable swelling and near-constant pain in my left foot (underside, outer bit). I thought I had plantar fascia-itis (sp) at first, but now I don’t think so.  My knees were really terrible the first two weeks but have since improved. I’d been going to bed with ice packs for the last few weeks but finally didn’t need to as of Friday. Woo! Though I must be more careful about my back when moving furniture at work. Some things are harder to learn than others, I suppose.

Another big adjustment of course is just having an actual schedule again! Getting up at 6am and all has been not fun but it does force me to be more responsible about my bedtime. I’m still coming home so exhausted I can barely think let alone cook but I’m hoping this will improve as well.

I’m quite happy with the job itself and my team! My boss is so cool it’s unreal! By cool I mean she randomly caught the Buzzcocks live while on a business trip a week ago. *MindBlown* Like what?!?! Yeah, she’s amazing! My coworkers are rad and there’s always dogs running around the office. I’m very lucky to be there. I’m starting to remember why it is that I have the professional reputation that I do! I am still carrying and healing from all of the trauma from my last startup job. Ugh! I still have fucking nightmares about those assholes. When my awesome new coworker asked to see me in the hallway my stomach dropped! I thought to myself, “This is it! It was all a mistake and they want me gone asap!” but no, she just wanted to show me where some cool stuff was. Ha-ha!

I had really hoped to keep writing and posting here and maybe that will come. I have a couple of ideas but seriously I’m brain dead by the time I get home at night. I was also super mega hoping that I’d have like a stack of guest submissions to post to spread out the gaps and fill in with some rad fatty content (I seriously get so inspired by y’all!). Alas, that did not happen. Of course I do realize that this is my blog and my responsibility, but I also really miss the days of Tank Top Tuesday and other fun things folks would submit to post here.

So, please consider guest posting, submitting a pic for Tank Top Tuesday or a fashion thing or whatever! I’m open to nearly anything! So lay it on me! I dare ya! 😛

Rad Fatty Love,

I’m looking for guest posts!!! Please consider submitting!

My blog’s Facebook page for things I share that aren’t on this blog (body positive always, funny sometimes):  Or get the same “shared” content on twitter: @NotBlueAtAll
I also have an Instagram, I rarely use it but would like to more…encourage me to?:
And as always, feel free to drop me a line in comments here or write me an email, I love hearing from readers:
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via I'm Not Blue at All

Prescribing Daily Stomach Pumping to Fat People

WTFThe FDA has approved a device called the AspireAssist, in which a thin tube is placed in the patient’s stomach that connects to a button on the outside of their stomach.  After each meal the patient uses the tube and a handheld device to pump up to 30% of the meal out of their stomach and into the toilet. I’m going to address the claims on their website, but first I want to talk about a misconception

[Trigger Warning – Eating Disorder talk for the next two paragraphs] The company that makes it claims that it isn’t an “assisted bulimia” device because they say in their fine print that it shouldn’t be used by people with bulimia.  That is, of course, ridiculous and it’s certainly possible that this device my be used by people dealing with bulimia and/or my perpetuate the development of bulimia.  But it should be clear this isn’t actually medically induced bulimia.  Bulimia, like all eating disorders, is a complex bio/psych/social illness.  Purging is one of the behaviors associated with Bulimia as well as other eating disorders, but it shouldn’t be confused with the illness itself and purging in this way, rather than through the use of vomiting, creates different possible issues/side effects.

My concern here is that this is another example of  prescribing to fat people what we diagnose in thin people. If someone says that they are evacuating food after every meal we shouldn’t treat it like a red flag for thin people, but a good idea for fat people – it should be considered a red flag behavior for someone of any size. Eating disorders are often confused for simply behaviors, or people become more “fascinated” with the behaviors/symptoms than they are compassionate to the person with the ED, so I think it’s important not to reinforce those misconceptions and issues because it leads to difficulties for people with EDs being taken seriously, getting treatment, and getting that treatment paid for.

I also want to be clear that I’m not against the people who individually choose to use it – their body, their choice.  I’m against the fact that a for-profit company is misleading people about what this device can do, and will be making money off the backs of anti-fat panic, not concerned with the fact that one of the side effects of their contraption is death.

Now, let’s talk about what the company who created these devices says, and what is actually true:

The AspireAssist has been studied in hundreds of patients in both the US and in Europe. In a large U.S. clinical trial with 171 participants, people using the AspireAssist lost 3 times as much weight as people who received only lifestyle counseling. The most successful patients – those who aspirate regularly and learn to make healthier choices – have lost 100% of their excess weight with the AspireAssist and have maintained that weight loss for more than four years so far. Compared to other approaches, the AspireAssist has similar results without requiring invasive alterations to the anatomy or digestive process

Sources: US PATHWAY Study (n=171): Data presented at Digestive Disease Week, May 2016 by C. Thompson; Pending publication; Completers only. European data collected from Sweden, Spain, Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Italy. N=80 at year 1 and n=25 at year 2 (ongoing studies, completers only included).

Here they use two of the most common tricks weight loss companies use to mislead us about outcomes. The first is to only study patients for a short time (from a few months to a couple of years) but define that as “long term” when, in fact,  most people are able to temporarily change their weight during a year, and then they gain the weight back between years 2 and 5, often regaining more than they lost. That US Clinical trial they talk about only studied the first year.

The second trick is to only include those who completed the trial so there is no follow up with those who dropped out (and possibly didn’t lose weight, or began to regain, or had side affects so horrible that they didn’t think any outcome was worth it.)  They cite a two year study that included 80 people in the first year, but was down to 25 people at year two, that means that almost 70% of the group dropped out, but they want us to be convinced by the average of what happened with 31.25% of the participants and ignore what happened to 68.15%.  As to their claim of people who have lost 100% of their “excess weight” and maintained it for four years, I can find absolutely no research anywhere on their site or anywhere else to back up that claim. I left to wonder if they are holding up a couple anomalies as the norm, or just completely making stuff up.

The AspireAssist allows patients to remove about 30% of the food from the stomach before the calories are absorbed into the body, causing weight loss. You’ll also need to chew carefully and eat mindfully, which helps give time for the fullness signals from your stomach to reach your brain.

Because aspiration only removes a third of the food, the body still receives the calories it needs to function.

First let’s realize that they are just assuming that fat people don’t need the nutrition from 30% of what we eat, regardless of what we eat, how much, our physical activity level etc. Well, either that or they just think it’s fine for us to be malnourished as long as we’re becoming thinner.  Second, when they say you need to “chew carefully” it’s because the tube is only 6mm  and larger chunks of food can get stuck in the tube which, if the patient can’t clear it with water, requires another trip to the doctor.

In addition to the machine, people also get “lifestyle counseling”

This therapy is used in conjunction with lifestyle counseling. This program combines one-on-one counseling and group support meetings to encourage healthier food choices, smaller portion sizes, and increased physical activity.

There is not a single study that suggests that this type of counseling leads to long term weight loss or better health, but that doesn’t matter since they can just blame the fat people when it doesn’t work. In the US a panel that recommended this type of therapy also acknowledged that “One problem with its recommendation was that no studies have shown such intensive programs provide long-term health benefits.” and yet the Federal Task Force still recommended it.(One wonders, if one of the problems is that there is no reason to believe this will work, does it really matter what the other problems are?) But none of that is getting in the way of Aspire charging $8,000 to $13,000 for it according to Aspire spokeswoman Christy Kaupinen.

Consider your schedule at work, at home, on weekends, and with your family or friends. Although missing an aspiration occasionally is OK, the most successful patients aspirate three times per day, almost every day.

You have to wait 20-30 minutes after each meal, and it then takes 5-10 minutes to drain the food into the toilet (after people gain competency, it takes longer in the beginning,) which they recommend patients do three times a day.  That’s 7.5 to 15 HOURS A MONTH that a patient will spend in the bathroom. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t been sitting around thinking “Man, I have 7.5-15 hours a month that I would love to spend in the restroom.” Plus there’s the time and expense of having to go back to the doctor every 5-6 weeks because the device is created to stop working until you replace a part that is designed to wear out for this purpose.

Let’s talk about side effects:


Here’s what the FDA press release said:

Side effects related to use of the AspireAssist include occasional indigestion, nausea, vomiting, constipation and diarrhea.

The endoscopic surgical placement of the gastric tube is associated with risks, including sore throat, pain, abdominal bloating, indigestion, bleeding, infection, nausea, vomiting, sedation-related breathing problems, inflammation of the lining of the abdomen, sores on the inside of the stomach, pneumonia, unintended puncture of the stomach or intestinal wall and death.

Risks related to the abdominal opening for the port valve include abdominal discomfort or pain, irritation, hardening or inflammation of the skin around the site where the tube is placed, leakage, bleeding and/or infection around the site where the tube is placed and device migration into the stomach wall. All have the potential to necessitate removal of the device. After device removal, there may be a risk of persistent fistula, an abnormal passageway between the stomach and the abdominal wall.

…and death.  …and death.  …and death. Once again it seems that in the “War on Obesity” they want us thin or they want us dead and they don’t seem to much care which it is, as long as they can make a tidy profit along the way.  And since the approval came on the basis of a study that only included 111 people using the device and 60 in a control group, who knows what side effects we’ll find if, heaven forbid, this thing gets into wide use.

It doesn’t have to be this way.  We can stop buying into the idea that”thin by any means necessary” to be the same thing as healthy.  We could refuse to participate in interventions that are extremely profitable for others, and potentially deadly for us.  We could insist that the discussion be about actual health – with all of its facets and complications – instead of about risking our actual health and even our lives in an attempt to manipulate our body size. We could say enough if enough and that, as long as they want a “war on obesity” we will give them one.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Like my work?  Want to help me keep doing it? Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you.  Click here for details

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!

I’m training for an IRONMAN! You can follow my journey at

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



via Dances With Fat

Sunday 19 June 2016

Fat news through June 14, 2016

Courtesy of me and Tante Terri . . .

May 25, 2016: Artist and activist Kelli Jean Drinkwater presents a talk on the word “fat” and how existing in a fat body can be a radical political statement.

June 2016: A letter to the editor published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings takes the publication to task for categorizing body fat percentage as a healthy lifestyle behavior in a previous article. Unfortunately, the letter continues with hand-wringing about the “war on obesity”.

June 8, 2016: A small study comparing weight loss intervention and weight-neutral health intervention finds that a weight-neutral intervention can yield many health benefits without weight loss, and those benefits are sustainable over a 2 year follow-up period.

June 13, 2016: Katherine DM Clover shares her struggle upon losing thin privilege and relearning to love her body when she became a fat person.

June 14, 2016: London mayor Sadiq Khan bans ads that feature or promote unhealthy body images or are fat-shaming from the London public transportation system.

June 14, 2016: The Aspire Assist device, a tube to the exterior of the body through which one can remove up to a third of the stomach’s contents, has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The second link is for a petition demanding the FDA withdraw its approval for this device.

June 14, 2016: Researchers look at five weight-loss medications approved by the FDA and find that none of them are particularly effective.

via Fatties United!

Saturday 18 June 2016

Marketing to Fat Women – This Is How You Do It

Oh. My. Glob.  Have you seen the new video from department store JCPenney “Here I Am”?  No?  Ok, watch this…

I mean what can I say?  It’s wonderful!  Including actual fat women, including fat women of colour.  Doing kick-arse stuff.  With nary a word about “health”.  No “plus-size” models that wouldn’t actually wear the plus-size range.  No faux-bo-po slogan accompanied by a bunch of tall, hourglass, white women.  Fat women actually speaking about themselves and their own experiences.  Fat women showing that you can have an amazing life, exactly as you are.

I am not ashamed to admit that this made me cry.  In a good way I mean.  I was just so overjoyed to see how fat women are represented in this video, I burst into tears.  Which is really saying something.  I don’t cry about fat stuff any more.  None of it ever reaches me emotionally – I’ve grown so jaded and frustrated at the way we’re portrayed, the way nobody has listened to us, the way businesses insult and disrespect us and then expect us to give them our money.  I’ve never felt represented by marketing that was supposed to be aimed at me, and certainly not by the media.

But this… this is everything I’ve been banging on about for YEARS, trying to get brands and marketing to understand.  That they can market to us in a positive, aspirational way that INCLUDES us.  That says “We see you, and here are some products that we’ve got for you.  We’d like you to shop with us.”

It shouldn’t be that hard.  I mean we’ve known for years what we want from them.  We’ve been saying it for so long, and until now, none of the major brands and marketers have bothered to actually listen.

I really hope that JCPenney continue this kind of marketing, and that they don’t fold at any of the bullshit criticism that you KNOW will come.  All that crap about “glorifying obesity” and “unhealthy lifestyles” – as though a group of amazing, accomplished fat women are somehow a danger to society.  As though fat women don’t actually need clothing to suit their lifestyles right here and now.  I know the hot takes are going to be coming out very soon, all the armchair experts are going to crawl out of their holes and try to shout JCPenney into ditching this campaign.

Well, we’ll just have to be louder.  Tell JCPenney that they’ve done good things with this, use the hashtag #HereIAm to share your posts, pictures, outfits etc.  Tell other brands that you wish their marketing could be like this campaign.  And if you can, buy stuff from JCPenney – especially Ashley Nell Tipton’s new range when it comes out, which I believe will run to a size 34US, which is bloody amazing.  They also have another range I understand goes up to a 5X.  I know I will be shopping from them as soon as I can, even if they don’t have something totally my style, I’m sure I can support their plus-sizes somehow!

Well done JCPenney – keep up the good work, and thank you to all those involved in this campaign, especially the amazing fat women who have put themselves front and centre to represent us.

Filed under: Uncategorized

via Fat Heffalump

Thursday 16 June 2016

the HAES® files: My Story. My Promise. My Hope

by Brian J. Souza, Ph.D.



My journey to appreciating and committing to size diversity and models of wellness (such as the Health at Every Size® [HAES] principles) began in 2001 when I earned my undergraduate degree in exercise science and began my career as a personal trainer. In the years that I was employed as a personal trainer, I would say that the primary goal of the majority of the fitness center patrons, especially younger and female patrons, was to lose weight and/or affect appearance. Many of those appearance (i.e., weight loss) goals were fueled by the familiar myths and stories perpetuated by the media, the weight loss industry, short-term anecdotes, and selected dissemination of science.

As most of the readers of this blog will know, nearly 100% of people I came across that hoped to lose weight experienced one of three outcomes: (1) he or she failed to lose the amount of weight set as a goal, (2) he or she did not lose any weight (perhaps even gained weight with added muscle), or (3) lost a trivial amount of weight and then gained back some, all, or more weight. As most readers will also know, there is no shortage of (mis)information suggesting that the expectation of weight loss from exercise is reasonable. Anyone who has hoped or expected to lose weight with exercise and did not (which is probably most people!) has likely experienced the myriad consequences including perceived failure, frustration, reduced motivation, blame, and shame (from self and perhaps others), among other harms.

I also experienced the consequences of the weight-normative paradigm of health, which suggests, among other fairytales, that weight loss is accomplished through sustained food restriction and exercise. First, as a trainer, I felt like a failure. I thought the people I gave advice to should be losing weight and felt like I had let several people down. Part of my identity (my occupational self) felt fraudulent. All my schooling had told me that losing weight was a quite simple formula: calories out > calories in = weight loss. So simple! The second, more serious consequence was that I also shifted some of the blame to individual patrons. Thoughts that ran through my head were “_____ must not be doing anything outside the training sessions,” or “what does _____ expect with only two exercise sessions a week?” I understand now that I needed more critical awareness regarding the social, psychological, economic, political, and social justice aspects of exercise, nutrition, weight, and health. I believe that information should be required in the curriculum of all Kinesiology/Exercise Science undergraduate programs, in addition to a general education “diversity” requirement.

After some years, but before I found approaches like the HAES principles, I started to question whether or not striving for weight loss was helpful. I was overwhelmed and dissatisfied by the negativity that so often accompanied the weight loss approach exercise. Many people, myself included, derive great physical and psychological satisfaction from being physically active. Indeed, the HAES principles implore individuals to find enjoyable forms (and levels) of bodily movement. I wanted to help people build a love of movement that I came to believe can only be achieved when the experiential motive is divorced from the weight loss motive (see here, for example). As I mentioned, I did not have much training in the psychology of physical activity, particularly the psychology of motivation. I could explain physiological concepts to people very well, but figuring out why people would struggle to be active when most everyone knew being active was “good” for you puzzled me. This led to my decision to go back to graduate school to study exercise and sport psychology with a focus specifically toward physical activity and exercise (i.e., non-sport contexts).

It was not until my second year of doctoral studies that I took a course called Women, Weight, and Body Image. The course content included literature that supported and explained exactly what I had been thinking about health and weight. Much of this literature is found on the Association for Size Diversity and Health (ASDAH) website and blog and is an excellent resource for other fitness professionals. I felt validated for past “failures,” angry, deceived, and motivated to create change. I am sure many readers experienced the same flood of thoughts and emotions when they had their “a-ha” moment; when everything that had been building inside you finally comes together and makes clear and total sense. It is a life-altering experience.



Another life-altering event that occurred during graduate school was the birth of my daughter. I already accepted and appreciated the HAES approach to health and saw that approach as the future of health and wellness, but her birth strengthened my commitment. I feel lucky that I am prepared to do my best to help her navigate messages she will receive about her intersecting identities, but there is a problem. As others have written, when one sees the amazing work that people committed to all forms of diversity do, getting involved can feel overwhelming. I often fall into feeling like nothing I can do will “measure up,” be good enough, or make a true difference. Publicly re-pledging my commitment to the HAES principles is one thing I can do in an effort to inspire others (hopefully many other men) to do the same, and to let every reader know that I will continue to work for you. When I do this, I am reaffirming my commitment not only to readers, the general public, and my students, coworkers, and colleagues, but also to my daughter.

In this spirit of commitment, I promise to do my best:

  • To help you understand that it is ridiculous to pathologize a person’s body weight. I will let you know that no person’s body is a disease. Some people have thinner bodies while others have fatter bodies. All bodies can flourish with the right support.
  • To challenge you by asking why all the TV characters, toys, advertisements/models, etc. all look the same (e.g., white, thin, perfect teeth…) and ask that you appreciate people of all sizes, colors, backgrounds, ages, etc. I will let you know there is beauty everywhere and in everyone.
  • To help you understand your own privileges, why some people are more privileged than others, and if you are inclined, help you find ways to empower others. I will let you know that disadvantage is rarely the result of poor character and/or moral failure.
  • To make it clear that respect for all individuals, regardless of her or his identities, is appropriate and valued. I will let you know that everyone deserves love, compassion, and care.
  • To allow you to eat when you are hungry, stop when you are full, and ask how the foods you eat make you feel. I will let you know that food is wonderful and should be explored not avoided.
  • To encourage you to move your body in fun ways, to explore sports, to explore nature, and to enjoy your body in motion. I will let you know your body was made to move in the way that you want it to, not the way others tell you it should be moved.
  • To make it clear that weight does not define you or anyone else, thin or fat.

To achieve all of the above by modeling the HAES principles and loving myself and my body. I will let you know that body dissatisfaction is something that few people know (until now) has been difficult for me. Finding the HAES approach to wellness has helped free me.



My hope is that other people will make similar promises to their loved ones. Even if you’ve been working as an advocate for years, reaffirm to yourself that you, your work, and the wellbeing of others is worth the seemingly never-ending uphill effort. I, myself, have not always subscribed to the HAES approach to health and wellbeing. I once contributed to weight stigma. I was (am?) also harmed by weight stigma. It took open-mindedness, opportunity, and readiness in order to challenge and change the assumptions and biases about weight that I was socialized to believe. It also took a great deal of self-care, love, and sensitivity. We are all directly or indirectly affected by weight stigma. Understanding how people, myself included, are harmed by weight stigma, even when one is not fat, was a galvanizing moment for me, and can be for many others, too. In particular, I hope to see more men acknowledge their privilege and power, and become weight-inclusive allies by joining ASDAH and committing to the HAES principles. Liberation can start with realizing how you or a loved one is affected, making a commitment/promise for change to yourself or others, and enjoying the places you go from there.


Brian Souza is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Food and Nutrition at Framingham State University. He teaches courses in personal and community health, introductory nutrition, fitness and personal training, and behavioral aspects of health and wellness. His research interests broadly relate to social and psychological aspects of physical activity as well as weight-neutral health and wellness promotion. He can be reached at

via healthateverysizeblog