Powerful new Resource Helps Medical Professionals Understand HAES.

I am very excited to tell you about an epic new article that has appeared in the Journal of Obesity.  This article called, “The Weight-Inclusive versus Weight-Normative Approach to Health: Evaluating the Evidence for Prioritizing Well-Being over Weight Loss” reviews much of the available literature on doctors and weight loss and comes to a very firm conclusion: our medical obsession with weight loss is not making us any healthier.  The article defines the difference between the Weight Inclusive and Weight Normative approaches this way:

In this paper, we review evidence that challenges the weight-normative approach for health promotion and offer evidence to support a weight-inclusive approach for health promotion. Instead of imagining that well-being is only possible at a specific weight, a weight-inclusive approach considers empirically supported practices that enhance people’s health in patient care and public health settings regardless of where they fall on the weight spectrum [1, 2, 22]. These approaches differ in the emphasis each one places on weight. While health care professionals using either approach may share some commonalities (e.g., recommending similar self-care practices), they contrast in the relative importance they place on body weight in the context of health and medical treatment, their perceptions of the malleability of weight, and how they respond to patients based on their weight.

The article is very long and rich and cites hundreds of sources.  But I thought I’d pull out

10 things you can learn about weight-focused healthcare in this article:

1.  Recommending weight loss is actually a less conservative approach than recommending HAES because there are negative consequences associated with weight loss attempts.  Thus prescribing weight loss can go against the edict to “first do no harm”.

2.  The data do not support the notion that higher BMI causes poor health outcomes.

3.  Prescribing weight loss supports the notion that permanent weight loss is largely under a person’s control, and that fat people cost society more money.  Neither of these notions are supported by the data.

4.  Weight bias not only exists, but is common in clinical environments.  This is a part of the general increase in weight stigma in the wider world, and weight stigma is dangerous to your health.

5.  Not only does weight loss not work on a permanent basis, but weight cycling (the common result of repeated weight loss attempts) is dangerous for your body.

6.  Obsession with weight loss has led to an increase in eating disorders.

7.  But there is another way.  The  weight inclusive approach focuses on weight as a simple data point in a much larger view on health and focuses on positive behaviors.

8.  The basic principles of the weight inclusive approach are these:

1)Do no harm.

(2)Appreciate that bodies naturally come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and ensure optimal health and well-being is provided to everyone, regardless of their weight.

(3)Given that health is multidimensional, maintain a holistic focus (i.e., examine a number of behavioral and modifiable health indices rather than a predominant focus on weight/weight loss).

(4)Encourage a process-focus (rather than end-goals) for day-to-day quality of life. For example, people can notice what makes their bodies rested and energetic today and incorporate that into future behavior, but also notice if it changes; they realize that well-being is dynamic rather than fixed. They keep adjusting what they know about their changing bodies.

(5)Critically evaluate the empirical evidence for weight loss treatments and incorporate sustainable, empirically supported practices into prevention and treatment efforts, calling for more research where the evidence is weak or absent.

(6)Create healthful, individualized practices and environments that are sustainable (e.g., regular pleasurable exercise, regular intake of foods high in nutrients, adequate sleep and rest, adequate hydration). Where possible, work with families, schools, and communities to provide safe physical activity resources and ways to improve access to nutrient-dense foods.

(7)Where possible, work to increase health access, autonomy, and social justice for all individuals along the entire weight spectrum. Trust that people move toward greater health when given access to stigma-free health care and opportunities (e.g., gyms with equipment for people of all sizes; trainers who focus on increments in strength, flexibility, V02 Max, and pleasure rather than weight and weight loss).

9.  Along with the data that shows the weight normalization (weight-loss focused) approach is ineffective and harmful, is significant data showing the weight inclusive (HAES-oriented) approach is more successful, and that it does not share the negative side effects of the weight normalization approach.

10.  With these thoughts in mind, it makes sense to move to a weight inclusive approach in both personal and public health and actively work to reduce stigma both within and outside of the world of medicine.

I urge you to take some time to work your way through this epic piece of work.  And I urge you to print a copy and bookmark this for sharing at a later date.  Maybe you could take this along to your next doctor appointment.  Maybe you have a friend that is struggling with health care that can use the data to his advantage.  In any case, I’m very, very excited about this and couldn’t wait to share it with you.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

New Slacker Shocker Appliance Designed to Jolt Fatties into Compliance

Move along. These are not the Wonder Woman bracelets you were looking for.

Okaaaaaay.   So today I read about a new bracelet that is coming on the market that will give you a respectable electric shock if you don’t exercise.  This thing is the Fitbit meets the Spanish Inquisition and it scares the living crap out of me.  It tracks your daily steps and should you fail to meet your quota ZAP!  Don’t get up on time? POW!  Don’t get your daily free weights power lift in? KABLAM!

Oh how can I even begin to explain all that is wrong with this picture?  It looks like a superhero bracelet. It SHOULD be a superhero bracelet, because that would be cool.  Instead it is a torture device designed to disconnect us from our bodies, disconnect our own experience with exercise and infantalize us to the point that we are functioning like lab rats in a freaking maze. 

AAAAAARGH!  Let me lay out 10 reasons why I think this is the exact opposite of what what we want to do for exercisers:

1.  This stupid thing supports the idea of no pain, no gain.  This idea MUST DIE as it convinces people to work out in a way that is unsustainable, causes injuries and prevents them from exercising.

2.  This stupid thing associates exercise with something extremely unpleasant instead of something deeply awesome and wonderful.

3.  If you hate your exercise program so much that you would rather experience torture than do it, I humbly suggest that you need to find a new program STAT!  Exercise should be fun.

4.  Rather than seeing exercise as a loving thing we do for our beautiful bodies, this stupid thing encourages us to see exercise as a punishment for not having the right body.

5.  This stupid thing encourages me to think of myself as less than human.  I have to use torture to do what’s good for me because I can’t be trusted.

6.  Company wellness programs are already punishing people who refuse to use biometric recording devices to track their “habits”.  How long before my boss can deliver a shock to me for not meeting corporate wellness goals?

7.   Eventually it won’t be enough to sit around in the locker room with stinky, sweat-stained garments.  You’ll need to be sporting one of these to prove your commitment.

8.  This stupid thing is the fitness equivalent of a purity ring.

9.  Anyone think it’s a coincidence that this thing is in development at the same time as Shades of Grey the movie?

10.  Yellow and black just don’t color coordinate well with my wardrobe.

I could go on and on.  The only bright side I see to this is a side market in these bracelets that have the shock thingy removed.  All the cool with none of the zap!  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

Greater Than the Sum of Our Parts (Boobs, Bellies and Butts)

beautiful woman gets a tattoo

Over the past week or so, a number of things have floated across my path about the objectification of fat bodies.  Whether meant for good or for ill, the objectification of any body is not good.  Whether fat or thin, we are not simply boobs and butts and bellies that happen to be floating around in space.  We are people–whole and complete.

While both fat and thin people suffer from objectification, it seems there are some sorts that are more common for fat people than thin.  One is the “headless fatty syndrome”.  Anybody who has ever read or watched anything about fat people in the news ever has encountered the headless fatty syndrome.

Headless fatty is a term coined by activist Charlotte Cooper which refers to photographs or video of anonymous fat people used in news media stories about obesity. The term was created in 2007 when Cooper first noticed the trend in anxiety-laden news coverage of the Global Obesity Epidemic and the War on Obesity.[1] A “headless fatty” photograph features one or more fat person, usually in a public place and unaware of being photographed, with his or her head cropped out of the image. Cooper argues that this representation of fat people is dehumanizing, decontextualizing, and results in the continued disenfranchisement of fat people.

As Charlotte notes in the above definition, showing a fat person in this way treats them as somehow less than human.  It characterizes them as bellies or butts walking around and not as unique people with needs and wants and talents and personalities.

One of my famous friends also went off on a journalist who recently interviewed her for a piece festooned with decapitated and chubby torsos.  While she admits that the journalist may have not been responsible for choosing these images (often the publisher adds them after the story has been written), she says the journalist should have insisted that respectful images be used.

The reality is that using “headless fatty shots” in the media is currently completely unnecessary.  There are several stock libraries available which include whole fat people doing a variety of amazing things like cycling and dancing and eating vegetables and going to the doctor.  Two notable libraries are available at stockybodies.com or the Rudd Center.

The Rudd Center claims that they created their stock image library after an analysis showed that over 65 percent of overweight/obese adults and over 77 percent of overweight/obese young people were portrayed in a negative light.  Images in both stockybodies and the Rudd Center library may be used by the media free of charge.  So there really is no excuse for using the headless fatty shot.  It costs less than many of the stock images media outlets are already using.  The only reasons for still using these shots are prejudice and/or laziness.

But quite aside from the headless fatty trope, I came across another fascinating video this week (CAUTION NSFW):

This video is interesting to me for so many reasons.  First of all, I want to give a shout out to button poetry.  They are posting some righteously awesome stuff.  And a shout out to Samantha Peterson, one amazingly talented woman.  But this poem really made me think of how we so often use inanimate objects as references for a large woman’s body.  How we talk about the landscape and the rolling hills of her.  And the problematic nature of so many of the euphemisms we use to talk about fat women.  What does curvy mean?  Does it refer only to model bodies that are amped up hourglasses with nipped in waists and swelling hips?  Are bodies only curvy if they come with large breasts?  Do curvy bodies include round tummies and flattish bums?  And really, aren’t all bodies curvy in some places?  What is the definition of pleasingly plump?  Who is is pleased?  How do we know?  And who the heck really understands what zaftig really means?  And don’t even get me started on how the comments section of virtually any of my carefully moderated social media outlets define me as an animal–rhino, hippo, elephant, land whale.

In the end, I think it all comes down to seeing fat people as people.  We have to move beyond our deconstruction.  We must insist that we are seen as more than a collection of boobs and bellies and butts and seen in our rich, beautiful, sophisticated, personal entirety.  We must be allowed to inhabit the media and the world in all of our glorious, individual richness.

Love, Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S.  Don’t forget about the Fat Activism Conference coming up soon. Click here to register for the Fat Activism Conference!

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BACK (sorta)


 

Hello my dear readers.  As you may have noticed, I’ve been gone for a while.  Fortunately I had the opportunity to meet and speak with over 400 schoolteachers this past week and share the word about shame-free fitness and Health At Every Size for children.  It was wonderful, engaging and fun.  It was also a set of 7 grueling days with a very intense schedule.  Nevertheless I planned to continue blogging while away.

Alas, the universe had a different plan.  Shortly after I started at the conference, I reached for a piece of paper in my bag and something in the region of my lower back and right hip went completely out of whack.  My friends at the conference insist that it makes a better story that I hurt myself busting a move, that the limbo initiated my lumbago or SOMETHING.  But the truth is, I was sitting in a chair reaching for something in my bag, and I had that MOMENT.  There’s a moment when time stops and that surprising pain comes and all you can think is “WHOOOOOOAAAAA, that can’t be good!”.

I managed to fulfill all my obligations at the conference and even have some fun.  But sitting aggravated my pain the most and I simply couldn’t bring myself to blog last week.  Sorry about that.  But I thought I would take this moment to share a few thoughts with you about my back experience.

1.  Sometimes poop occurs.  It just does.  I could make myself crazy wondering if it was tension or a posture problem or lack of sleep or the size of my hips or the tilt of the universe that caused that pain.  But at the moment that the pain occurs I need not to focus on that.  I just need to deal with it.

2.  Dealing with it means that sometimes your plans have to change.  When pain or a serious setback happens, it’s time to reorganize priorities.  Some stuff will not get done.  You can either triage and choose which things you can do, or you can try to do everything and end up able to do nothing.  You wanna know how I know?  Experience.  So many times, I’ve been in denial about the fact that I can’t do everything.  So many times I’ve ended up at that point, in pain, completely spent, where I can’t do anything.  I really don’t want to do that any more.

3.  Pain is a sign that something is out of whack.  It could be posture.  It could be schedule.  It could simply mean something in my body isn’t working properly.  As I am healing this week, I will start, very gently to figure out what is out of whack.  I’ll see my doctor and start reviewing things in my life to see if I can figure it out.  But I may have to accept that the discovery process may be long and challenging.  And I may have to accept that I can never figure out exactly what caused this episode.

The good news is that hundreds of school teachers, councilors, administrators, and other employees were exposed to the notion of shame-free exercise and the Health At Every Size(TM) approach to wellness–many for the first time.  So I’m going to take an aspirin and take my leave glad for a job well (if shakily) done.

Love, Jeanette DePatie, AKA The Fat Chick

P.S.  Don’t forget about the Fat Activism Conference coming up soon. Click here to register for the Fat Activism Conference!

P.P.S.  Get access to free stuff!  Join my mailing list HERE.

ESPN Hits It Outa the Park with New Cover Model

OMG I am so excited that ESPN chose studly baseball man Prince Fielder as the cover model for their 2014 Body Issue.  Far from the typical wasp waisted, v-shaped Adonis types, Fielder’s muscular and substantial physique is a breath of fresh air.  While the Texas Rangers star shares some concern about a need to fuel his work with healthy eating habits in this decidedly NSFW video here, he also shares some candid thoughts about how he loves the skin he’s in.

Fielder: You don’t have to look like an Under Armour mannequin to be an athlete. A lot of people probably think I’m not athletic or don’t even try to work out or whatever, but I do. Just because you’re big doesn’t mean you can’t be an athlete. And just because you work out doesn’t mean you’re going to have a 12-pack. I work out to make sure I can do my job to the best of my ability. Other than that, I’m not going up there trying to be a fitness model.

And it takes even more courage to say these things in light of the fact that he’s recovering from surgery to repair a herniated disc in his neck.  He talks about the path of his physical therapy and says, “I can’t do much of anything right now.  I just have to let the process of healing take place.”

I think I might just be a teensy bit in love with Fielder.  He represents so much of what I think is important about fitness.  He’s way more focused on what his body can do than how it looks.  He understands the need to rest and heal from surgery and injury.  He’s lovingly caring for his body so he can get back to using it to do stuff that he really loves.  And he’s quite okay with the fact that he doesn’t look anything like a male underwear model.  *Swoons.* 

While every magazine can always do more to promote body diversity, I’m pretty impressed with the step ESPN took with this cover model.  And as long as you make a firm commitment with yourself not to read the comments (no feeding the trolls) I think you will derive a fair amount of encouragement from this as well.  Sure they’ve got Michael Phelps.  He’s a beautiful athlete.  But his body is trained to do something very different than Fielder.  So of COURSE Phelps and Fielder are going to look different.  That doesn’t mean that they can’t both be beautiful.  And as the French say, vive la difference!

Love,  Jeanette (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S.  Learn more about making the world safe for folks of all shapes and sizes at the upcoming Fat Activism Conference here. P.P.S.  And don’t forget to join my mailing list and get free stuff!

Women (truly) Kicking Butt and Taking Names in Male-Dominated Sports

Samantha Swords
Over the past few days, I have run into stories of some absolutely fabulous women kicking butt in sports traditionally populated only by men.  And when I say traditionally, I mean like long centuries of deep, masculine culture and history of manstuff.  It’s so cool!

One exciting example is Samantha E. Cato-Mott (AKA Samantha Swords).  She is a trained “European Martial Arts” expert and all-around ridiculously cool Renaissance Woman.  She works as a film props/armor creator, stunt fighter, actress and champion sword fighter.  Last year she not only competed against men in the Harcourt Park World Invitational Jousting Tournament, but also won the Longsword Competition.

You can see and hear an interview with her here:

Also this week, I ran into this piece from the New York Times about women who are competing in the male-dominated world of sumo wrestling.  These women are flexing their muscles and presenting their power in a sport with traditions that span back centuries.

One woman in the interview states:

“It’s one of the few sports where as a big girl, you can actually have physical contact and not have to hold back, and not have to [worry]–Ooo am I gonna hurt him?”

One of the cool things about these women is that they are fighting full out and for real.  They are not hypersexual parodies of fighters, they are warriors pure and simple.  (Although I recommend against spending too much time in the comments section of any of the articles about them if you’d like to keep your sanity points intact.)

I think this is so important for young girls and young women to see.  These women are stepping across traditional gender lines, fighting for the pure joy of athleticism, and kicking butt and taking names.  They are demonstrating that there is room for all of us under the athletics tent.  Whether male or female, thin or fit fatty, there is some wonderful way out there to get your sport on!

Love, Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S.  Learn more about making the world safe for folks of all shapes and sizes at the upcoming Fat Activism Conference here.

P.P.S.  And don’t forget to join my mailing list and get free stuff!

Hubris can be Bad for your Career, Bro.

AdamRichmanLostWeightSo Adam Richman, a guy who was originally famous for eating massive amount of food on a dare on cable television, lost some weight.  The star of the Travel Channel’s extremely lucrative show “Man vs. Food” lost over 60 pounds and as the picture above indicates he wants everybody to know it.  That’s all well and good.  We’ve all been there.  It’s part of the weight loss cycle.  The post-weight-loss, check me out in my skinny jeans euphoria.

So Adam Richman likes to post pictures of his new, skinnier self on Instragram (fine) with the tag “thinspiration”.  (Cue record scratch, car screeching to a halt, hold the dang phone noises.)  In case any of you are not familiar, “thinspiration” is a tag often used by people with anorexia and bulimia specifically to mark images of very thin or emaciated people to help “inspire” them to continue their disordered behaviors.  It’s okay if you didn’t know that.  It seems likely that Adam Richman didn’t know that either before he blithely used it in a public forum to document his weight loss.  Again, this mistake is understandable and probably forgivable.  It’s what happened next that caused the proverbial manure to hit the proverbial propeller.  When some fans tried to point out to Richman that he probably shouldn’t use the “thinspiration” tag, given its association with eating disorders, which by the way are pretty serious, and by the way kill people, Richman kind of lost his mind.  What ensued was an epic temper tantrum and classic case of celebrity hubris.

He responded to one person who politely pointed out the whole “thinspiration” tag issue with:

“(DILLIGAF, aka, “do i look like I give a f–k?”)”

So size activist Amber Sarah got on her personal Instagram account and encouraged her followers to write to Adam and tell him that eating disorders are no joke, that people die from them and that he should reconsider.  I think it would be fair to call Richman’s response “ill condidered”.

Among his responses were:

…Give me a f#$%%ng break.  If someone acts like a c$%t I’ll call them one.  It’s not misogyny, it’s calling a spade a spade.  Maybe you’re the one being aggressive & unfair and yes – if the use of the hashtag offended you, it was unintentional & for that I’m sorry.

Okay.  Let’s score this effort.  10 points for calling a woman a c$nt and then saying it’s not misogyny.  10 points for the spade a spade analogy (which boasts some deeply racist roots).  10 points for insulting black people and women in one little text, yelling at somebody who is calling out his behavior and privilege as unfair  and managing to finish up with a no-pology towards people suffering from eating disorders.  Dude.  This coulda been so simple.  If  you had just deleted everything in this post before  “It was unintentional & for that I’m sorry” you’d have been home free.  Some people would have still been mad, but it would have all ultimately calmed down.

But no.  He went on to post this little gem:

No, I legitimately don’t give a f$%k about haters & closed-minded internet loudmouths like you.  At all.  And don’t come to me with childishness when a hashtag throws you into a tizzy of comments about “never watching you again.”  Seriously, grab a razor blade & draw a bath.  I doubt anyone will miss you.

And this one:

Oh, eat a bag of sh#t dummy.  No apology is coming.  If it inspires somebody to attain a healthy thinner body – then that’s what it was meant to do.  Only f$%k up it seems is your Dad’s choice to go without a condom.

 

Okay.  So somebody calls you out for being unintentionally insensitive and among the responses you call women c#$ts, call a spade a spade and follow it up by suggesting that those who called you out should kill themselves because they never should have been born?  It’s perhaps not surprising if people find the ensuing “apology” you made after you started worrying about, I don’t know, not having a job the next day, a little disingenuous.

And the apology was also managed in fits and starts.  It was up on twitter and taken down, it was up on Instagram and taken down.  Finally, he apologized on Good Morning America saying “I’ve long struggled with my body image and have worked very hard to achieve a healthy weight. I’m incredibly sorry to everyone I’ve hurt.”

Nevertheless, The Travel Channel has announced that his upcoming show, “Man Finds Food” has been pulled off the schedule indefinitely.

Which leads me to the premise I laid out in the title.  “Hubris can be bad for your career, bro.”  Hubris: n. 1) Pride or arrogance.  2) In Greek Tragedy an excess of ambition, pride, etc, ultimately causing the transgressor’s ruin.

It’s perhaps not so surprising that Richman thought he could get away with publicly eviscerating fat people.  Lord knows he received his share of fat shaming as the star of Man vs. Food.  But as Paula Deen and Dov Charney and Terry Richardson are finding out, there is a point of no return.  Sexually assault and harass women and you could lose your job and the company you’ve spent your whole life building.  Tweet that fat people shouldn’t earn a doctorate and expect to be hauled up for some pretty serious disciplinary action.  Express profound racism even when you think you are in private and lose your show and your entire empire.  Tell people who call you out for racism and privilege and prejudice that they should kill themselves or should have never been born watch your new show get cancelled before it even airs.

Look, we all make mistakes.  But when you are a celebrity, and you make those mistakes in a very public forum like Instagram, there is a cost.  And just to be clear.  Deleting your mistakes after the fact, in a world where you can make screen shot with one little click of the mouse, is really not gonna work.

And frankly, I’m glad.  After all, those of us who write about rights for people of all sizes receive a lot of hate mail.  We have people calling us names every single day.  Some of us receive hundreds or even thousands of messages on social media in a single week telling us we are worthless, a scourge on humanity, we should have never been born and we should kill ourselves.  And frankly, seeing even a single person experience some consequences for this behavior is a little bit encouraging.

Love, Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Want to learn more about rights for people of size?  Ragen Chastain and I are hosting a Fat Activism Conference in August!  Click the banner below to register!
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