Tag Archives: body love

Asking for help.

HELP

If I’ve learned anything this week it’s this.  Ask for help.  Ask for it sooner rather than later.  Do NOT spend time exhausting every other option on the planet first.  Just ask for help.

I think a lot of my identity is tied up with the notion that I am self sufficient.  I can handle anything.  Like I’m some sort of hybrid of Bear Grylls and Macgyver.  Just set me down with a laptop, a sharp object and a roll of duct tape and I can HANDLE it.  But this self view sometimes really gets in my way.

This week I’ve had two moments where I finally broke down (often sobbing) and asked for help about technical stuff I just didn’t understand.  And both times, the person I asked was able to help me.  And both times the helper asked me, “Why didn’t you come to me sooner?”  This is a really good question.  My stubbornness.  My need to be smart and independent and RIGHT cost me untold hours of frustration that could have been avoided.

And  I think this is part of the reason why Ragen and I have created the Body Love Obstacle Course.  I mean of course, many of us can get to a place of loving our bodies on our own.   In many ways Ragen and I did just that.  But why go it alone when you don’t have to?  Why suffer untold hours of frustration?  Why not ask for help a little sooner?

I’m proud to say we’ve released the second of our free BLOC videos here:

Click Here to check out the video!

I hope you’ll take a minute, click the button and take a look.  It’s all about being grateful for the body you have right now.  You might have to opt in.  But I hope you will.  Because we’ll all get by with a little less stubbornness and a little help from our friends.

 

Love,

Jeanette DePatie

AKA The Fat Chick

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5-year-olds on a Diet

Sometimes people ask me why I do this.  I work in Hollywood.  Writing a blog doesn’t really pay all that well.  And it can be a solitary process at times without a lot of feedback.

But sometimes I come across something that reminds me why.  Like this study which talks about “dietary restraint” (the cognitive restriction of food intake for the purpose of controlling weight) among 5-year-old girls. Five. Years. Old.

At five kids should be coloring and tormenting their older siblings and screaming and playing and dressing up.  They should not be worrying about the size of their thighs.  They should not be counting carbs.  They should not be worrying about fitting into their skinny jeans.

But according to the study, nearly 35 percent of the 5-yr-old girls were displaying “dietary restraint”.  The study points out not only is dieting at age 5 distressing, it is also an important precursor or marker for eating disorders in the future.  And that future might not be very far away for a number of these girls.  The study states:

Despite eating disorders typically emerging during adolescence, cases have been reported in early elementary school children.

The study reviewed the influences that caused these girls to restrict their food intake.  While most of the girls were pretty happy with their body at the moment, over 50 percent showed some evidence that they had taken the “thin ideal” to heart.  And the girls who had clearly taken the thin ideal to heart, that had experienced more media that represented the thin ideal and had more discussions about appearance with their peers, were the girls more likely to be restricting their food intake.

Which leads me to ask some questions.  If we know that BMI report cards are ineffective, and we know that kids are learning behaviors that lead to eating disorders as early as age 5, why don’t we work harder to include body image education into the curriculum–the earlier the better?  Anorexia is deadly and notoriously difficult to treat.  Why don’t we put some real, sensible, research-based curriculum in place at the earliest possible age to help these kids not develop this problem?  And since adults who hate their bodies are fairly likely to project these feelings onto impressionable children, why don’t we require training for teachers and strongly encourage training for all adults who deal with kids?

We have an opportunity to make a world where girls don’t grow up hating their bodies and hating themselves.  That’s why I write this blog.  That’s what I do what I do.  I add my tiny voice to the growing chorus singing the song stating that we are beautiful, we are worthy of love, we are okay just the way we are.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Want to hear me talk about body positive at your school?  Click HERE.

Listening to your body means listening.

There has been a lot written about the notion of listening to our bodies.  Many people (including me) have written volumes about how our bodies have wisdom that can answer questions like:

1.  What does my body need right now?

2.  What do I need to eat?

3.  What sounds delicious to me right now?

4.  How does my body need or want to move right now?

5.  Do I need to rest right now?

Our bodies do have wisdom.  And we can learn a lot by learning to ask our bodies what our bodies need.  But a lot of people that I work with say that they have a hard time hearing the answer.  And I invariably reply, “I’m not surprised.”  In my experience, we are taught from a young age how to talk.  We are taught to perform and demand and emote and share.  What we are not taught, is how to listen.  Sadly, our culture does not seem to place sufficient value on listening.  And I think a lot of the problems in our world stem from the lack of emphasis placed on this important skill.

One of my favorite authors, Terry Pratchett, writes about this in one of his Discworld novels called Pyramids.  In this novel, our hero wanders off to Ephebe, where we find a whole lot of philosophers all talking at once.   Except for one character known as Endos.  You see, Endos is a professional listener.  His job is to sit quietly and absorb what other philosophers have to say.  From time to time he encourages them by saying things like “you don’t say” or “please, continue”.  For this service, Endos is paid handsomely.  Because you can’t toss a grape in Ephebe without hitting a philosopher, but a good listener is worth their weight in wine and gold.

So if we want to learn to listen to what our bodies have to say, it often helps to start by learning to listen, period.  As Endos would tell you, listening is a skill like any other.  It has specific techniques that can be  learned.  With that in mind, I’d like to share some of the listening techniques I’ve gathered and share with you how I feel they can be applied to listening to our bodies.

1.  Be Quiet.  It’s kind of obvious, but if we want to listen to somebody talk, we first need to stop talking.  In the case of listening to our bodies, that means that we should sit quietly and without distraction from television or radios or computers.  And then we need to stop talking to our bodies.  We need to stop telling it what we think it SHOULD want or it SHOULD need.  This is step one, but it is often the very most difficult.

2.  Be Encouraging.  My body is not going to talk to me if my body is sure I am going to scoff or treat it with disdain for the things it has to say.  If my body says, “I’m hungry,” and then I tell it, “You can’t be hungry because it isn’t noon yet,” we’ve got a problem.  Next time I ask my body what’s up, will it answer?  If I want my body to tell me things, I need to take a cue from Endos and be encouraging. I need to say things like, “Fascinating!  Do continue.”

3.  Be Patient.  Our bodies are used to being ignored.  It might take a while for our bodies to communicate with us again.  We need to give it time and space.  We need to accept that we won’t always get answers the moment we ask for them.  We need to treat our bodies with respect and patience.

4. Be Impartial.  If our bodies are convinced that we will judge it and treat it harshly for letting us know what it needs, it will stop telling us.  We need to listen to our bodies without judging.

5.  Be Responsive.  If we constantly respond to our bodies needs by denying those needs, our bodies will stop talking.  If our bodies learn that they are rewarded for telling us what they need by GETTING WHAT THEY NEED they will become more communicative.

I have lots more I could say about this, but I’d like to practice some active listening with you right now.  Do you have some thoughts about your experiences in learning to listen to your body?  I’d love to hear them.  Please share in the comments section below.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Want to listen to me talk at YOUR group, classroom or organization?  Click HERE to learn more about my speaking programs.

Body Love is not a Pant Size

Let me be clear.  I think people should learn to love their bodies, full stop.  I don’t think they have to wait until they lose ten pounds to love their bodies.  And I CERTAINLY don’t think they should “love their bodies enough” to lose ten pounds.  If you want to lose ten pounds and you can safely lose ten pounds and it makes you happy then you should go for it.  I mean, it’s your body and you should do whatever you think is best.  But let me be clear.  I don’t think body love means fixing up your body in a way that is more socially acceptable and then grudgingly deciding it’s okay.  And I don’t think insisting that other women do to their bodies exactly what you chose to do to your body in order to learn to love their bodies is okay either.  I think body love means being grateful and happy for your body the way it is right now.

Let me be clear about another thing.  Loving your body isn’t always easy.  We are surrounded by images and toys and directives and advertising that convinces us that we can only love our bodies after certain conditions are met.  We are told we can love our bodies after we get rid of stretch marks and cellulite and age spots and wrinkles and back fat and rolls and achieve a perfect thigh gap.  In fact we are encouraged to love our bodies ENOUGH to spend the gobs of money and time purchasing creams and potions and pills and exercise torture devices and DVDs and costly and painful medical procedures to ensure that our body no longer has cellulite or wrinkles or stretch marks or age marks or chubby thighs and is finally, eventually (for the moment) acceptable.

And  loving our bodies isn’t always easy, because as we age, our bodies change.  We sag in places we didn’t.  Strange marks appear on our skin.  Our bodies are sometimes less able to do things they could before.  We have to pee all. the. time.  And sometimes we get sick.  And if we get sick, there are plenty of people including medical professionals, large multinational companies, friends, families and complete strangers eager to tell us that if we had only tried their procedure or exercise or potion or pill or program or cleanse we wouldn’t have gotten sick in the first place.  They tell us if we had loved our bodies enough to fix our bodies the way they said we should, everything would have been okay.   So sometimes it’s hard to love our bodies.

Body love can be a rewarding but often frustrating and deeply confusing process.  That’s why I get so angry about companies and experts that are taking the “body love” theme and turning it into a tool to sell their “body improvement” messages, products and other crap.  Because that ish is NOT OKAY.  If you want to sell body improvement.  Sell that.  Sell the heck out of it.  But don’t make body acceptance conditional on the thing or the process or the potion or pill or exercise torture device or major surgery you are selling and then call it body love.

There have been some striking examples of this in the past.  One that immediately comes to mind is Kellogg’s and Marilyn Wann.  You see, my dear friend Marilyn Wann came up with this amazing idea.  She makes bathroom scales that say positive words like “sexy” or “beautiful” instead of numbers.  Go to about 1 minute in to the video below to see what I mean.

Now a while after Marilyn’s wonderful Yay! Scale was released for sale, Kellogg’s released a scale that looked pretty darn similar.  What’s wrong with that?  Well aside from the fact they seem to have “borrowed” an idea from an inventor without giving credit or compensation, they were using their scale to promote the idea that you should replace meals with cereal in order to lose weight.  And the promotion around the new scales had the tagline, “What will you gain when you lose?”.  Check it out in the video below:

This strongly implies that those words on the scale will apply to your body only after you lose weight using their products.  You see the difference between the two messages?

Look, I don’t think loving your body means that you stop doing things to care for your body.  I don’t think loving your body means you can’t change anything about your body.  But I don’t think body acceptance should be conditional on those things.  It’s the difference between “I’ll love my body after I”, or “I love my body enough to change it” and “I love my body.  Oh and I’ll do this too.”  It’s subtle, but it’s important.

It’s important because we are seeing other companies and special interest groups using the power of the body love movement to dress up body improvement products and schemes.  And that’s not only confusing, but dishonest and wrong.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

 

Jillian Michaels Co-opts Body Love Messaging (This is why we can’t have nice things…)

Body love courtesy of Jillian Michaels.

In an epic moment of facepalm, my facebook feed threw up this little fact:  Jillian Michaels has published her “Top 3 Guidelines for Improving Body Image” at EverydayHealth.com.  (No, I’m not gonna link to that ish.  Nope.)  This seems in line with her recent move to distance herself from Biggest Loser after she made untold millions from screaming at fatties on the show.

Now the irony of Jillian Michaels would be really funny if it weren’t so very sad.  This woman styled her entire career on being the queen of mean.  She came into our living room every week screaming at the fatties–about how ugly we were and how we were killing ourselves.  And some might suggest that Jillian Michaels might be making a genuine change or shift in attitude.  And I might even consider believing her if she started pulling products like her “6-week Six Pack” or her “Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism” or her “No More Problem Zones” off the shelves.  Nope, no, nopety nope.  You don’t get to give advice like “Be realistic about your body type.” when you are actively marketing a product called “1 Week Shred”.  And you don’t get to advise people to “Stop negative self talk.” while marketing a product called “No More Problem Zones.”

And if that didn’t tickle my sarcasm zones quite enough, this little gem is posted on EveryDayHealth.com with the tagline, “Always choose well.”  Seriously?  You put the queen of scream in charge of body image on your site?  For REALZ?  Is that choosing well?  Look, I’m sorry guys.  Just because Jillian is wearing a nice soft stripy sweater, and you’ve got her on a white set with a soft filter, it doesn’t make her nice.  And it certainly doesn’t make her qualified to talk to women about body image.

But can we talk here?  This is really a bigger issue than the Biggest of the Biggest Loser Meanies trying to change her image.  The real issue is the co-opting of important messaging in the body acceptance movement by people who just see it as the latest way to add market share to their products.  And I think as we go forward, and we start to gain traction, this is likely to become a bigger and bigger issue.

Let me take a moment and disclose some facts about me.  First, I acknowledge that even as “The Fat Chick”, I have an awful lot of privilege.  I’m white, middle class, and heterosexual.  That makes a lot of things in this society a lot easier for me.  Also, in terms of my size, I’m what you might call a mid-size fatty.  I’m certainly “plus-sized”.  But my size and my shape make certain things a lot easier for me than for many other fat people.  I face discrimination, but nowhere near as much or as intensely as many of my brothers and sisters in the movement.  I don’t receive these privileges as a result of anything virtuous I’ve done.  I was born with them.  And thus, while I can sympathize with people of all sizes, I can’t say that my experience is the same as all other fat people.  It just isn’t true.

I also have to admit that, having been in this space for many years, some messages are easier to sell.  Some messages are more palatable for the general public and as such, are more fun to say.  I get a lot more rewards for telling people to love themselves than I get for saying that society is brutalizing entire segments of the population, and that it is not okay and it has to stop.  A lot of people look at my midsized status and nudge me and say, “Well you’re okay, you’re not THAT fat.”  To which I usually respond, “ALL bodies are good bodies.  And people thinner than me are okay and people fatter than me are okay.  You don’t get to decide what sized body is acceptable for the general population.”  I say usually.  Because sometimes I just don’t have the spoons to deal with it and I just walk away.  I am not a persona.  I am not perfect.  I’m just a person.

But I think it’s important going forward to acknowledge that it’s not really okay to co-opt body diversity, size acceptance and body love language just to soften a campaign of ongoing body hatred.  It’s not really okay to call yourself an activist against weight bias or weight stigma if you still adhere to the “fat but not that fat” ideal.  It’s pretty easy to accept that nobody looks like a supermodel.  “Not a supermodel” is a pretty safe position to take.  Only a few of us in the world look like that, and even those few are Photoshopped beyond recognition.  But true work against weight bias and weight stigma includes recognizing that weight stigma and weight bias are institutionalized, rampant and ubiquitous.  It includes recognizing that even if most of us hate our bodies, that stigma and bias are likely to be different at size 12, size 22, and size 32.  And that weight stigma is not allowed once you are beyond a certain size.  Body acceptance is not just loving your body, unless you are, you know, really fat.  Body acceptance is for EVERY BODY.  And this work demands that you accept that you can’t simply solve the problems of weight stigma and weight bias with a poster and a little boost to your self confidence.  Working on your own feelings and confidence are important first steps to coping with weight stigma and weight bias in your own life.  But they are only first steps.  If you really want to fight these problems, you have to move on to finding these oppressions out in the world and making things better–no matter how uncomfortable or unpalatable these messages might be.

And for those of you who want to feel better about your  body, here are three pieces of advice:

1.  Don’t listen to Jillian Michaels.

2.  Don’t listen to Jillian Michaels.

3.  Don’t listen to Jillian Michaels.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Want to hire me to speak about size acceptance, weight bias and weight stigma? CLICK HERE.

Want to join me in making the world a safer place for bodies of ALL sizes?  Click here and join me!

Don’t Slim me Down! Wooooo!

A very good friend of mine turned me on to the story of model Meaghan Kausman’s very public outcry over recently released images that have made heavy use of Photoshop to slim down her physique.  The notion of models having their images retouched with Photoshop is certainly not new.  Slimmed down hips and arms are fairly common.  And some infamous images have been retouched with such a lack grace that some models have found themselves missing very important body parts.

What is unusual in this case is that the model is speaking out very publicly against the retouching of her image.  She posted the original image versus the retouched on her Instagram account.  And she was quick to point out that the image below is how she really looks.  This may have something to do with the way she was raised.  You see Meaghan’s father is one of my colleagues.  Dr. Rick Kausman is one of Australia’s leading advocates of Health At Every Size and one of its most outspoken opponents of body shaming and diet culture.  Maybe this important grounding in body love is one of the reasons that Meaghan spoke out about the situation.  “They had drastically altered my body, thinning out my stomach and thighs in an attempt to box me into the cultural ideal of beauty,” continued Kausman. “Above is their version, below is the real version. My body is a size 8, not a size 4. That’s my body!”  You can take a look at an interview with Dr. Kausman, Meaghan, and the photographer on the Australian version of “Today” HERE.

So naturally, given the way my brain works, I woke up with the ELO classic “Don’t Bring Me Down” running through my head.  Except the lyrics were now magically changed to “Don’t Slim Me Down” in honor of this story.  In fact, I’ve come up with a whole new set of lyrics:

You gave me thin thighs and a really big head
You made me look like I’ve never been fed

Don’t slim me down, no no no no no
Don’t change my weight
I already look great
Don’t slim me down

Removed a rib and my arms are too long
Lifted my booty and now I just look wrong

Don’t slim me down, no no no no no
Believe it or not
I already look hot
Don’t bring me down

Don’t bring me down, Grroosss
Don’t bring me down, Grroosss
Don’t bring me down, Grroosss
Don’t bring me down

Here’s the original music video so you can sing along: (P.S. note amazing drum majorette neon animation!)

All kidding aside, I am so inspired by this model and her amazing dad.  And I am so inspired by all the models, actresses and others who have spoken out about having their bodies publicly “shopped” against their will.  Because for every one of these iother-worldly, weirdly-elongated, hyper-skinny, totally fabricated model images, there are hundreds and thousands and even millions of young girls trying to mold their bodies into shapes like these pictures.  They are trying to mold their bodies into shapes that are completely make-believe and don’t exist in nature.  Which sets them up for a lifetime of frustration, weight cycling and in thousands of cases, for a lifetime of eating disorders.

So hurrah for Meaghan who took a stand and said, “Don’t Slim Me Down!”

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

Want to hear me talk about body image, photoshopping and Health At Every Size to your peeps?  Book Me!

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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!