Sunday, 31 March 2019

On my 2018 academic year in review

Many academics write end of year reviews. It is a chance to reflect on goals met, accomplishments, surprises, and failures. I’ve never written one before, but felt that I should start as I enter the middle phase of my academic career. I am no longer an early career academic, but I am nowhere near retirement, either. I have big plans for myself and the scholarship I intend to complete. I have big plans for my activism and the country I now call home.

Reflecting on where I have been in the past year can only help me on my journey. Plus, it has the added benefit of letting others peak into the basic stats of my life as well. It isn’t meant to be a humblebrag, but I am very proud of the work I accomplished last year.

When I completed my sabbatical in Europe, one of the loudest questions I heard from graduate students and early career academics was, “I can make an academic career out of Fat Studies?” “Yeah”, I told them, “you can. And I am.” I understand where the confusion comes from. You cannot get a qualification in Fat Studies. There aren’t many Fat Studies conferences, and a single Fat Studies journal (it’s Q1, ya know!). Fat Studies scholars are spread across the world with little more than the Internet to hold us together. In addition to being a reflective exercise for me, I hope my review may show others that Fat Studies scholarship is thriving (I’ve stuck to scholarship in this review for that purpose).


Journal articles

Pausé, C. J. & Glover, M. (2018). Exploring the threats to sociable scholarship: An autoethnographic viewing of participatory news making. Journal of Social and Political Psychology, 6(2), 696-710.

Pausé, C. (2018). Hung up: Queering fat therapyWomen & Therapy, 1-14.

Pausé, C. J. & Grey, S. (2018). Throwing our weight around: Fat girls, protest, and civil unrest. M/C 21 (3).

Parker, G. C., & Pausé, C. J. (2018). “I’m just a woman having a baby”: Negotiating and resisting the problematisation of pregnancy fatnessFrontiers in Sociology3, 5.

Parker, G. & Pausé, C. J. (2018). Pregnant with possibility: Negotiating fat maternal subjectivity in the “war on obesity”. Fat Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Body Weight & Society, 7(2), 124-134.

Burford, J., Henderson, E. & Pausé, C. J. (2018). Enlarging conference learning: At the crossroads of Fat Studies and Conference Pedagogies. Fat Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Body Weight & Society, 7(1), 69-80.

Pausé, C. J. (2018). Borderline: The ethics of fat stigma in public health. Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 4(4), 510-517.


Book chapters

Parker, G. & Pausé, C. J. (2018). “The elephant in the room”: Naming fatphobia in maternity care. In J. Verseghy & S. Abel (Eds.), Heavy burdens: Stories of motherhood and fatness (pp. 19-32). Bradford, ON: Demeter Press.

Pausé, C. J. (2018). New Zealand. In S. M. Shaw, N. S. Barbour, P. D. Duncan, K. Freehling-Burton, & J. Nichols (Eds). Women’s lives around the world: A global encyclopaedia (Vol 3, pp. 214-226). Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO


Book reviews

Pausé, C. J. (2018). Review of Fat talk nation: The human costs of America’s war on fat, Susan Greenhalgh. Sociology of Health and Illness, 40(1), 234-235.


Journal reviews

Journal of Social and Political Psychology

Fat Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Body Weight & Society

Women & Therapy


Media Engagements

The Project. (2018, 11 October). Fat shaming. TV3.

The Panel. (2018, 11 October). Fat stigmatising. RNZ. Retrieved from

Williams, L. (2018, 11 October). Researchers calling for an end of ‘fat’ taboo. NewstalkZB. Retrieved from

Hobbes, M. (2019, 19 September). Everything you know about obesity is wrong. HuffPost. Retrieved from

Checkpoint. (2018, 23 July). Outrage over new Netflix ‘fat-shaming’ series. RNZ. Retrieved from

Bridge, R. & Owen, L. (2018, 18 May). GPs struggle to talk with patients about obesity. RadioLIVE.

Carter-Kahn, S. (2018, 5 January). How to advocate for yourself at the doctor as a fat person. Yahoo Sports. Retrieved from



Harrison, C. (2018, 15 October). How to combat fat stigma with Cat Pausé. Food Psych [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from Produced by Food Psych.

Hagen, S. (2018, 10 January). I’m THAT that fat. Made of Human [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from Produced by Made of Human.

Pausé, C. J. (2011-). Friend of Marilyn. [Audio Podcast]. Retrieved from iTunes. Produced weekly as a radio show on Manawatu People’s Radio 999AM, Palmerston North, New Zealand.


Conference keynote

Pausé, C. J. (2018, 5 January). Does my fat ass make my Instagram look fat? Bad fatties in (cyber)spaaaaaaaace. Invited keynote at Politics of Volume, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands.


Conference papers

Pausé, C. J. & Grey, S. (2018, 6 December). Throwing our weight around: Fat girls, protest, and civil unrest. Paper presented at Sociological Association of Aotearoa, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand.

Proctor-Thompson, S., Pausé, C. J., & Grey, S. (2018, 23 September). The gendered impact of the neoliberal project in tertiary education. Workshop presented at Women’s Studies Association New Zealand, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand.

Parker, G., Pausé, C. J., & LeGrice, J. (2018, 22 February). Fatness, Race & Reproduction in the 21st Century. Paper presented at Thickening Fat, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada.


Conference symposium

Pausé, C. J. (2018, May 30). Losing the love of movement: Fat kids and physical education. In R. Tinning (Chair), Critical health education and the affect of physical education. Symposium conducted at the Critical Health Education Studies Conference, Queenstown, New Zealand.


Invited Seminars 

Pausé, C. J (2018, 12 April). Fat stigma, discrimination, and bias in health. 2018 BMI Seminar Series, Transforming Research into Practice and Innovation, University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand.


Invited Lectures (Fat Studies)

Pausé, C. J. (2018, 11 May). Fat politics, nutrition, and you. 214.131 Introduction to Food and Nutrition [30]. Massey University, New Zealand.

Pausé, C. J. (2018, 21 March). Fattening up your feminism. 175.720 Advanced Psychology of Women [25]. Massey University, New Zealand.


Public seminars

Pausé, C. J. (2018, 22 June). Fat like me. Hosted by the Women of the Manawatu Country Club, Clubroom, Palmerston North, New Zealand.



via Friend of Marilyn

Monday, 25 March 2019

On the year in fat 2018

Earlier this year, I did some reflecting on the year that was 2018 and what it meant for the fat community. 2018 had a lot of great fat contributions, and a fat soundtrack to boost (HELLO LIZZO!) We had the usual setbacks (*cough* looking at you Insatiable *cough*), and a viral piece that both gave and took away (“Everything you know about obesity is wrong”). There were lots of cool things that happened (on top of all the regular non cool shit we have to put up with), and I wanted to reflect on those and invite my readers to share with me what their favourite fat things of 2018 would have been!


My lovelies

#FatStudyGroup was started by Kivan Bay (@KivaBay) as a resource for individuals interested in building a Fat Studies community on Twitter. Regular contributors include @KivaBay, @_iAmRoyal, myself (you can find all my threads from here). I think this technically started in 2017, but it gained a lot of traction in 2018 and others started participating and contributing more to the hashtag. It’s been a great way for me, for example, to share what I’m reading in the Fat Studies literature. Plus, it’s an easy way for us to continue building our shared understanding of the discipline and the experiences of being fat.

Fat Studies MOOO

The Fat Studies MOOO is a newly launched massive online open offering hosted by me. The intention is to provide an accessible space for those interested to come together and learn and engage around a Fat Studies topic. The MOOO allows for global advancement of the Fat Studies discipline through an innovative methodology/technology to enhance scholars, researchers, and activists, working in this space. It also allows for increased public engagement with Fat Studies research and related societal issues for fat people. This will improve social welfare, and enhance the quality of life for fat people across the world. Each MOOO has a different guest scholar and topic, and up to ten people can participate in each event. In 2018, the MOOOs explored topics included weight and the law, fatness – race – and reproductive justice, and anti-racist fat politics. The 2019 MOOOs have explored disability, public health, and more – follow me (@FOMNZ, Friend of Marilyn on FB) to find out more.


Fat Positive Television

I’m almost 40, and I can count on one hand how many fat positive television movies/shows (or even fat positive episodes of other shows) I have ever seen on a single hand. I’m thrilled to say that number just about doubled in size like an excellent second stomach in 2018 with the introduction of Dietland and Dumplin. Both based on popular fat positive books, Dietland (on AMC) and Dumplin’ (on Netflix), give us unapologetic positive fat representation. Both have great stories – strong acting – and delightful soundtracks. If you haven’t watched them yet, treat yourself this weekend!



As a super fat person, t-shirts have long been a unicorn for me. While I would love to wear t-shirts that promote my favourite bands or show off my school spirit, they rarely (read: never) come in my size. But in 2018 that all started to change as Corissa (of Fat Girl Flow) introduced her Fat Girl Basics collection. The collection has your basic white and black t-shirts in a few styles. Plus, a few other cute fat positive shirts. I’ve gotten them in 6x and am optimistic that my t-shirt drought may be over!



The number of fat positive podcasts continues to grow, which is so amazing! I’m afraid I cannot comment on the quality of all of the ones listed below; I immediately subscribe to any new fat podcast I discover, but I haven’t yet figured out how to make time to listen to everything!

Fat as Fuck is a podcast all about sex.

Fat Chicks on Top is a podcast about intersectional fat chicks.

Fatty Boom Boom is a podcast about all things fat in Africa and the diaspora. A favourite of FOM, this show is produced and hosted by FOM friend of the pod Whitney from South Africa, with frequent guest (and also FOM friend of the pod) Cynthia from Namibia.

Heavy Conversations is a podcast that covers many issues related to everyday living as a fat person.

Matter of Fat is a podcast about fatness with Midwest sensibilities.

Many other long running fat podcasts are still going strong, including my own, Friend of Marilyn. In fact, in 2018 FOM celebrated its 250th episode! The world tour (that started in 2016) is still going strong, with shows continuing their way across Europe in 2019.


SO – those of are some of my favourite fat moments of 2018 – what about you? And what are you hoping for fatness in 2019?

via Friend of Marilyn

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Colicky Baby? Nursing Problems? Consider Cranio-Sacral Therapy

When my first baby was born, she had a rough time. So did we. She spent hours screaming. She couldn't settle down to sleep for long until the middle of the night. She just wasn't a happy baby. I felt so bad for her, and I certainly felt like a bad mother.

She was like this for FOUR MONTHS, four verry longgggg months.

We tried everything we could think of but nothing worked. Going for walks often helps but not for this baby. Going for a drive helps many babies but just seemed to make this one worse. Jiggling and swaying sometimes helped but mostly it didn't. Vacuums and washing machines, no luck.

There were times I got so frustrated that I put her into her playpen, nice and safe, and let her scream while I went into the bathroom around the corner and pounded the walls with my fists and cried too. Better the wall than the baby, I reasoned. Afterwards I could return to her calmer and more able to respond lovingly. Sometimes I called up my husband at work and told him, "Get home NOW!!" because I couldn't stand it any longer. We would tag team parent to keep sane on the really tough days. There's no question, a colicky baby is extremely difficult at times.

My baby cried so much sometimes that even the neighbors heard. A neighbor who lived behind us diagonally suggested Craniosacral therapy. She had a child with cerebral palsy and said it worked wonders for him when he was a fussy newborn.

I was intrigued and tempted. But in the end it sounded way too "woo-woo" for me so I never tried it. I just couldn't trust my baby to it. She was my first baby and I just couldn't bear to try anything out of the ordinary. So we all suffered through together.

My daughter finally did outgrow the colic, but it was a loooooooooooong four months, let me tell you. While she was always a sensitive baby in many ways, after that she got a lot easier to deal with and she was definitely much happier.

My second baby was much more easy-going, thank goodness. As long as he got nursed on time and held plenty, he was a happy guy. He had his own challenges, as all babies do, but nothing like as his sister.

My third baby, though, was a lot like his sister. To this day, they follow each other's patterns in many ways. When he was born and started having troubles with crying and sleeping, I knew I was NOT going to go through Colic Hell again. So I decided to heed my neighbor's suggestion and try Craniosacral therapy.

Stresses from Birth

When a baby is born, there is a lot of twisting and turning to navigate the mother's pelvis. This can be stressful on the baby's head and neck areas. In addition, the baby's head is made of separate bones that can fold in on each other slightly like a vegetable steamer so it can fit through the pelvis more easily.

However, after the birth all the pressure and twisting and turning may not leave these bones moving freely. Craniosacral therapy aims to restore that freedom of movement and ease, as well as a free flow of cerebral spinal fluid.

Craniosacral therapy (CST) is a very light-touch, hands-on therapy. It uses the pressure of the weight of a nickel on the baby's skin to slowly and carefully address any misalignment in the baby's head, neck, sacrum, or soft palate. It aims to restore good nerve function so the baby's systems can operate optimally.

Some births are more stressful on the baby than others. Births that tend to benefit most from CST include:
  • Forceps/vacuum births
  • A very slow and/or difficult birth
  • A traumatic birth
  • A birth where the baby was malpositioned or got "stuck" 
  • An extremely fast birth
  • A cesarean birth
Some people might think that a cesarean would be easiest on the baby, but it's actually just a different kind of stress. Babies born by cesarean are pulled out sideways through a small incision; sometimes that happens easily and sometimes it doesn't. Thus some cesarean babies can also have a difficult time post-birth.

Some of the behaviors that CST might be able to help include:
  • Fussy babies who don't soothe easily
  • Babies who don't sleep well
  • Babies who have digestion or elimination problems
  • Babies with lots of spitting up or reflux
  • Babies with Colic
  • Breastfeeding problems
  • Difficult latching for baby; resulting sore nipples for moms
  • Babies who favor turning their heads to one side
  • Babies who favor one breast or position for nursing
  • Babies who seem overly sensitive
CST Controversy

Unfortunately, there is NO gold standard evidence on Craniosacral therapy. Like many alternative medicine fields, the research is mostly based on case studies, which basically amount to someone's story that it works. Anecdotal evidence is not irrelevant, but it is not science.

Critics charge that the idea behind Craniosacral therapy is nonsensical, that there is "no plausible mechanism of action," that studies end up producing conflicting diagnoses from different practitioners instead of consistent results, and that what studies there are mostly come from the inventor of the technique, which could easily bias the results. These are all valid concerns.

When you watch or experience Craniosacral therapy, it certainly appears as very "woo-woo." It certainly fits many stereotypes of alternative medicine quackery, and there really isn't any good proof that it works. All it has going for it are people's testimonials about how helpful it can be in some cases, which could be caused by a placebo effect as much as anything. As one critic writes, "No one can deny that craniosacral therapy is relaxing. But, then again, so is a nap & a nap is cheaper."

So I can't say there's proof that CST works, but there are plenty of stories out there of its helpfulness. Take that as you will.  For some people, these stories are enough to at least give CST a try. For others, it's absolutely not. If you are willing to try it, go for it. If it all sounds far too woo-woo and quackery to you, don't try it. The decision is always yours.

All I can do is share my personal stories in which Craniosacral therapy was helpful to my family. I started out as a total skeptic on it, completely unwilling to buy into it. But I was so desperate to avoid the 4-month Colic Hell I'd experienced with my first that I was willing to suspend my disbelief and give it a try on the desperate hope that it might help. I fully expected it to fail -- but it didn't. I have since used it in enough situations that I think it's worth considering if you find a very skilled and experienced provider that has the specialized training needed.


The first time our family tried CST, it was on baby #3. He had trouble settling down and going to sleep, had trouble sleeping for more than a few minutes at a time, and was just generally fussy, crying, and unhappy. At 2 weeks old I took him in for some CST. I used a pediatric chiropractor trained in CST. I stood right beside them so I could snatch him away if needed.

When we started, his arms and his legs were tucked up tight against his body and his little hands were held tightly in fists. He was a tense little guy. When the therapist started, she put one hand on his head and one hand underneath his sacrum. He began crying and tensed up even further. As his crying intensified (it didn't last long), I was just about ready to grab him and give up. Just then he gave a loud cry, a HUGE sigh, and relaxed his whole body. His legs fell to his sides, his arms relaxed, and his little fists uncurled. He stopped crying and fell deeply asleep. He napped all through the appointment and then was bright and cheery later on. That night, he slept SO well!

We used CST several times with him as a baby and he seemed to really breathe into it and enjoy it each time. It did seem to help him resolve whatever had been causing his colic.

There is an interesting description of CST for young babies, along with many CST resources, here.

Nursing Issues

We used CST on my 4th baby too. Not because she had colic but just as a precaution and because it had helped my other babies. But then one night when she was several months old, my husband fell asleep while holding her. He inadvertently relaxed his grip on her and she rolled off his lap and fell onto the floor. She cried very loudly but didn't seem hurt at all. However, after that, nursing all of a sudden hurt. It had been fine before that fall, but suddenly nursing seemed to pain her, and I know it pained me. Her latch had changed and I was left very sore. She was fussy too.

So we got her into our same pediatric chiropractor as soon as we could. She had me nurse the baby just before the treatment, then did the treatment, and had me nurse her again just after it. It was like night and day, the difference! It no longer hurt, the baby was satisfied and not fussy after, and I had no pain from her latch afterwards. Obviously, something about the treatment itself had changed things for the baby, even though the treatment looked like nothing was being done. It obviously had some effect.

It makes logical sense to me that CST might be able to help nursing issues. Often the CST therapist will put on a medical glove and have the baby suck on an upside down finger. In this way they are evaluating the baby's suck and latch, and if anything is off, they can adjust the palate with a little light pressure from the inside. Works like a charm and did not seem rough at all.

There is a good article describing what a lactation consultant is looking for when treating a breastfeeding baby, which can be found here.


My eldest child went on to develop fibromyalgia as an adult. She's pretty functional most of the time but she does deal with a lot of pain, including headaches. We have found that Craniosacral therapy is the ONLY thing that really dials down her pain levels effectively. Because fibromyalgia is a chronic condition, she seems to do best if she goes for CST treatment about once a month. She has to pay for her own CST but it helps her so much she makes room for it in her limited budget. She's a real believer in it.

There is one small study that supports the use of CST for fibromyalgia. The details can be found here.


In my fourth pregnancy I began to experience a lot of headaches. There was a lot of stress in my life at that point as I was a caregiver to a dying parent, but these felt like more than just stress headaches. None of my usual headache fixes were working very well, so when I was a few months' pregnant I decided to try CST.

Some people feel immense emotional releases during CST but I felt a weird physical release during my first session. The therapist was working on my sacrum, an area that has given me lots of trouble. All of a sudden my low back got really really warm. I asked her if she had turned on a heating pad or anything, but she swore she hadn't. The heat kept increasing until finally it peaked and went away suddenly. That was the only time that I have ever experienced anything like that during CST so it's not routine, but it was powerful and it was real. I don't see how it could have been faked. I wasn't expecting anything like that so it wasn't my expectations setting up a physical reaction. It was strange but I have to say the headaches disappeared afterwards.

Some years later, I was in a bad car accident. I was waiting to turn left on a country road when the car behind me struck me at full speed, 55+ MPH. He was on his cell phone and didn't notice that I had stopped. The impact shattered my car windows and totaled my van and changed my life.

I reminded myself it could have been much worse. There was no blood and no bones broken, so I counted myself lucky. I went home to my children that night. However, I didn't realize how much trauma my soft tissues, shoulders, neck, head, back, and knees took until later. It took me a long time to recover from the worst of it and I still have lingering problems from it even now.

One of the more difficult effects I had was headaches -- sudden, blinding headaches that felt like someone was suddenly stabbing me in the eye with an ice pick. This was different than any headache I'd ever had before. I tried chiropractic care and acupuncture; they were very helpful for the rest of my symptoms but didn't begin to touch my headaches, which were very debilitating.

Finally I decided to try Craniosacral therapy. I found someone who did CST for people with traumatic brain injuries, concussions, and veterans returning from war. She worked on me multiple times and slowly the blinding ice-pick headaches went away. It was effective for my headaches when nothing else was.

So that's my experience with Craniosacral Therapy. I've found it useful in several different scenarios, and I know a number of other women who have found it useful for colic, nursing problems, and head injuries.

CST still makes me cringe every time I watch it because it seems so woo-woo and unbelievable.  I would point out again that it's not been proven. It's possible the good results I and others have gotten have simply been due to the healing effect of hands-on touch and a desire to believe that it's helpful, but honestly I don't think a placebo effect is enough to explain it all.

I don't believe every claim that's made for CST, but I know it was helpful for me and my kids. I certainly believe it's worth considering for certain things like colic, nursing problems, headaches, and fibromyalgia.


Craniosacral therapy is light, hands-on therapy that many people report being helpful. I first got to know it as a treatment for colic and nursing problems but it may be helpful for other indications as well. It is very woo-woo in nature and hard to justify scientifically, yet the favorable anecdotal experiences of many should not be dismissed either.

Currently, there is no good-quality proof that Craniosacral therapy is effective. However, most of the material critical of CST is based on a few limited reviews from 2006 and 2011. It's time for higher quality protocols and less dismissive research.

Until we have that research, it is up to each family whether or not to try Craniosacral therapy. If you do try it, choose a practitioner who is very experienced and has several levels of training in it. Some will be massage therapists with advanced training, while others will be pediatric chiropractors who have additional CST training. If you use it for colic or nursing problems, you want someone trained in newborn issues.

You can find a directory of some Craniosacral therapy practitioners with training in babies and breastfeeding here.


Neonatal Netw. 2016;35(2):105-7. doi: 10.1891/0730-0832.35.2.105. Feeding in the NICU: A  Perspective from a Craniosacral Therapist. Quraishy K. PMID: 27052985
Completing full feedings is a requirement for discharge for babies in the NICU. interaction between the nerves and the muscles of the jaw, tongue, and the soft palate is required for functional sucking and swallowing. Jaw misalignment, compressed nerves, and misshapen heads can interfere with these interactions and create feeding difficulties. craniosacral therapy (CST) is a noninvasive manual therapy that is perfect for the fragile population in the NICU. CST can be used as a treatment modality to release fascial restrictions that are affecting the structures involved in feeding, thereby improving feeding outcomes.

via The Well-Rounded Mama

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Debating Dieting – You Go First

Research - you go firstMy path into Health at Every Size started with a review of all the diet literature that I could get my hands on. That’s how I first learned that there’s not a single study where more than a tiny fraction of people succeed at significant, long-term weight loss. (I also learned that the state of the research around weight loss and weight and health goes beyond shoddy to being negligent.)

Because of that research, and because of the speaking I do – which includes speaking to healthcare practitioners who are looking for an in-depth discussion of data and research – I have a lot of research and statistics on the tip of my tongue. My natural reaction when I’m in a situation where someone is perpetuating weight loss and diet culture in a way that affects me – whether it’s an internet debate, or a fatphobic doctor’s office – is to start quoting the research.

A while ago I realized that this wasn’t necessarily the best approach. It leaves me open to all kinds of logical fallacy from the person arguing with me – including their insistence that “everybody knows” statement are equal to all of the research I’m quoting, not to mention sealioning which is an annoying waste of my time, and people who think they are clever saying “prove that there are no studies.”

So I started a new policy – if someone wants to tell me that dieting is likely to make me thinner and/or healthier, including and especially a health care provider, then when it comes to research, they can go first. They are the ones who are hawking dieting, they can start by providing me the research that they believe backs up their point of view.

To be clear, we are all allowed to make choices for our bodies for whatever our reasons, and we don’t owe an explanation or debate to anyone. “This is none of your business” and “I have no interest in talking about this with you,” are complete answers to someone who wants to challenge our choices around our food, health, and bodies.

Further, there is absolutely no debate when it comes to Size Acceptance, ever. Fat people have the right to live and thrive in fat bodies and it doesn’t matter why we are fat, what the “consequences” of being fat might be, or if we could or want to become thin. Size Acceptance doesn’t say that people aren’t allowed to try to manipulate their bodies (however futile those attempts may be,) it simply says that nobody has to become (or attempt to become) thin to deserve equal rights and basic human respect. There’s no debate here – you either agree with Size Acceptance, or you are wrong.

What I’m talking about here is that if and when we decide we want to respond to someone who asks for a debate, or to a healthcare provider who is suggesting that we attempt to manipulate our body size, we don’t have to come to the table with all the evidence first. We can engage in debate on our terms – which includes insisting that if someone is telling us that diets and weight loss are safe and effective, they can pony up the proof.

Was this post helpful? If you appreciate the work that I do, you can support my ability to do more of it with a one-time tip or by becoming a member. (Members get special deals on fat-positive stuff, a monthly e-mail keeping them up to date on the work their membership supports, and the ability to ask me questions that I answer in a members-only monthly Q&A Video!)

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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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!  (Members get an even better deal, make sure to make your purchases from the Members Page!)

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 (still!) training for an IRONMAN! You can follow my journey at or on Instagram.

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

Thursday, 7 March 2019

the HAES® files: Recovering Abundantly in a One-Size-Fits-All World

by Erin Harrop

When I began my recovery journey from an eating disorder 13 years ago, I had a certain set of expectations about how the recovery process would go. Healthcare professionals told me to expect several things. They reassured me that as I learned to eat a broader variety of foods that my anxiety around eating would go down. What?! They said the more I faced my fears, the more comfortable I would feel. They also told me that my body would start to “adjust,” and that with regular consistent nourishment my hunger and fullness cues would normalize, my digestion would become more regular, and my physical discomfort with the eating process would decrease. It was hard to believe at first, but in the end, they were right. The more fear foods I approached, the less anxiety I had; and even though I felt very uncomfortable physically in the beginning, the more consistently I ate my meals and snacks, the more everything started to “flow” a little better.

They also measured my body with scales, bone density scans, and labs. They calculated my resting metabolic rate, my body fat percentage, my hormone and electrolyte levels, and exactly how dense my bones were. And they used all of these wonderful scientific measurements to tell me exactly how much my body would weigh when I was “fully recovered.” In fact, they were so precise about their measurements that they even gave me a mere five pound range for where my body would eventually settle and be the perfect weight—after I completed nutrition therapy. They reassured me time and time again that they were the experts, and my body would be and look a certain way—and that with time (even though it might be the last thing to get better) my body image would improve.

The problem is: they were wrong. For all the expertise of my medical team, for all the years of experience that my physician had in treating eating disorders, metabolic disorders, and high performance athletes, my body’s wisdom was different than they all expected. It was not (like many bodies) 100% predictable. During my nutritional rehabilitation, my body met, and exceeded their wildest expectations. Before I had even left inpatient treatment, my body had crept out of that “perfect weight range.” My body was not done restoring; after over a decade of restriction and compensatory behaviors, my body was healing. But it was not healing in the way my medical team had told me to expect.

This experience was difficult to accept. A sick, eating disordered part of myself had found comfort in the health professionals who had reassured me that “I would not get fat.” My eating disorder still feared fatness. Like many eating disorders, it feared being a different body size; it feared the seeming loss of control over my body (which I never really had in the first place). It feared the stigma that fat bodies experience every day.

When I found myself in a body that was larger than I had been told to expect, I worried that I had failed at recovery. Was I eating too much? Was I overcompensating by “bingeing?” Was I not following my meal plan carefully enough? Did I somehow do recovery wrong? Was that why my body had failed?

Fortunately, my outpatient team did not collude with my eating disorder. After asking me about my eating and behaviors, we determined that I was not “doing recovery wrong.” I was not experiencing “bingeing” or “overcompensating” or having other eating disordered behaviors—those fears were simply remnants of my eating disorder. I was, however, learning to eat more intuitively. I was honoring hunger and fullness—still with a tendency to restrict at times or push my body too hard. I was doing recovery—imperfectly, with bumps, but I was doing it. And my body was continuing to heal. My labs were improving, my blood pressure was stabilizing, my EKG’s were normal. And all of this happened (for me) at a higher weight, at a weight considered “obese” by current BMI standards.

Recovering into a fat body—and learning to embody, honor, and nourish my fat body—has been a journey. I have had to do a lot of work around my own fat phobia and body fears. I have also encountered others’ fat phobia—in society, in the medical system, and in the eating disorder recovery community. Sometimes I fear that I will be less believed because of my fat body; I fear that my recovery story will not be valued. It is easy to discount and devalue my own healing; it is also easier to slip back into eating disordered thoughts and behaviors when the world judges my body the way my eating disorders does.

Looking back on my journey, I realize I had put recovery in a box—and this box was simply too small. Today, I study eating disorders remission processes, and I hear from folks every day whose experiences do not align with what I was initially told to expect in my recovery process. Our healing journeys are unique and shaped by our lived identities—our races, genders, spiritualities, sexualities, abilities, ages, chronic illnesses, and bodies—and these do not fit neatly into one recovery box. We recover in different ways. We recover into different bodies. Today, as I listen to others’ stories of illness, daily coping, and remission, I am heartened that there are so many different stories and paths to healing out there, and I try to honor my own path in the process.

This blog post was also published on NEDA’s website.


Erin Harrop is a doctoral student in social welfare at the University or Washington. She researches eating disorders and weight-stigma utilizing patient centered approaches. Her research addresses how systemic factors of weight-stigma impact the illness journeys of eating disorder patients. She employs an interpretive, critical feminist theory and anti-oppression lens to her work, as well as an explicit Health at Every Size® approach to the promotion of health behaviors. Her research is informed by her clinical experience as medical social worker at Seattle Children’s Hospital, where she has worked for the past five years. Erin recently was funded for two NIH TL1 Translational Research Training grants for her dissertation research with women who have atypical anorexia. Erin is also active in the student group, SWAG (Sizeism, Weightism Advocacy Group), which she co-founded in 2012.

via healthateverysizeblog