Tag Archives: Canada

New Fluffy Fitness Heroes and Heroines!

Hi everybody!  Today, I’m super excited to tell you about two new fluffy fitness folks that have just made my week!  First, Angela Meadows posted about this lovely lady on our Fit Fatties Forum.

Her name is Trinity Arsenault and at 14 years old, she has become the youngest woman ever to be named “Lady of the Lake” for swimming all the way across Lake Ontario.  Holy cow!  That is a long way.  Let me show you:

We are talking about a 52 Kilometer (over 30 mile) trek here guys!  Apparently the weather started off fine as she took off from Queen’s Royal Park, but bad weather (including 15 ft. waves!) towards the end of her swim caused her to change course several times and even backtrack for a bit.  All in all, she was in the water for about 23 hours.  And beyond the simple goal of finishing, Trinity was hoping to raise $10,000 for Canadian Tire’s Jumpstart program, which helps fund children’s sports.

Trinity is awesome!

And then, there’s this guy.  Dancing his heart out on a rooftop somewhere.  Check it out:


I actually don’t know who this guy is and have not been able to track down any info about this video.  All I know is that watching it makes me totally and unreasonably happy!  So not a lot to say today other than sharing these bits of fluffy joy with you and wishing you a very happy Thursday.

Love, Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S.  Don’t miss the Fat Activism Conference starting soon! 

A Killer Green Dress and other Fashion to Die For

Recently I heard about Fashion Victims: The Pleasures and Perils of Dress in the 19th Century a new exhibit at the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto, Canada.  The centerpiece of the exhibit is a bright green ballgown from 1860.  Like many other fashions of the time, the bright green color was accomplished with a dye created with arsenic.  The vivid green color was very popular at the time because it looked beautiful under the new electric lighting.  Other arsenic-laced fashions on display include electric green shoes, gloves and other items.

These arsenic laced items were known at the time to be dangerous to the fashionistas who wore them.  Arsenic was absorbed through the skin when the wearer perspired and frequently caused rashes and worse conditions.  And the garments were not only very dangerous to those who wore them, but also to those who created the fabrics and made them into clothing.  Similar to these dangers in dressmaking were the frequent poisonings by those who created the fashionable hats of the time.  The demand for a larger number of felted fur hats, required cheaper fur which used mercury in the finishing process.  Mercury is known to cause a wide variety of damage to the brain and nervous system.  The poisoning of hat makers became so well known that the phrase “mad as a hatter” came into widespread use.  Add to this the generally poor working conditions for those working in the garment district including terrible fires like the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire and you see a whole class of workers dying to help others look good.

The desire for using cheaper materials to replace more expensive ones, led to an explosion in products available to the middle classes, but sometimes it simply led to explosions.  On display at the exhibit you will find some hair combs created from celluloid rather than the more expensive tortoiseshell combs.  The material was so flammable, that houses burned when the combs came too near a fire.  The material was also used as a film base for motion pictures, and theater fires at the turn of the century were dangerous and sometimes deadly.’  Also on display in the exhibit are tightly-laced corsets and extremely narrow shoes and gloves which were considered fashionable during the day.

One might be tempted to believe that we have moved beyond all that and are no longer willing to die or kill for fashion.  But I wonder if this is really true.  We certainly have stricter regulations regarding the dyes we use in clothing.  And many items are now fire retardant.  But there are some studies indicating that the fire retardants themselves might be bad for our health.

Studies in laboratory animals and humans have linked the most scrutinized flame retardants, called polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs, to thyroid disruption, memory and learning problems, delayed mental and physical development, lower IQ, advanced puberty and reduced fertility. Other flame retardants have been linked to cancer. At the same time, recent studies suggest that the chemicals may not effectively reduce the flammability of treated products.

And while corsets are more often decorative than function in modern fashion, how often do we use spandex “shapewear” to smooth our bodies under certain kinds of clothing?  Even though we know that it literally squishes our internal organs and makes us more prone to yeast and bacterial infections?  And some women go as far as painful and dangerous surgery just to look better in their Jimmy Choos.

Fashions are still based on a very narrow vision of beauty attainable by no-one without a huge budget, great genes and Photoshop.  Women are still dying in droves trying to make their bodies conform to a size and shape that may not be attainable by anyone without significant photo retouching.

And plenty of people are still dying to create inexpensive fashions.  We may have created work regulations that make the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire  unlikely here in the U.S.  But plenty of people are dying in other countries in order to offer us the cheap clothing we still desire.

All of which leads me to ask this question.  When will it end?  When will we decide that it is unfashionable for people to die so we can buy more clothes?  When will we start demanding clothing fit us instead of asking our poor bodies to be starved, mangled, stretched and permanently damaged to fit clothing?  When will we stop impregnating our fabrics with chemicals that cause brain damage and cancer?  I hope it’s soon.  But however fast it is, in my opinion, is just not fast enough.

Love, Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

In Other News, Water is Wet: Research points out Biggest Loser Doesn’t Work

Late last week, I got notice of a study that was conducted in Alberta, Canada that looked at how the television show “The Biggest Loser” makes people feel about exercise.  It seems, despite the holier-than-thou rhetoric of the show’s creators, the show is more likely to turn people away from exercise than towards it.  And you know what?  I can’t say I’m even one tiny bit surprised.

The Biggest Loser depicts people going through hell in the name of losing weight.  These people are berated and screamed at by a nasty drill instructor/piece of work.  (I’ve heard rumors from insiders that she has a naturally fast metabolism and can eat a whole lot and still maintain that figure.  So she makes sport of screaming at people less genetically blessed than she is.  Nice.)  Show participants are put through a dangerous program where they are worked until they are in extreme pain, vomit, and/or collapse from exhaustion and dehydration.  Exercisers are often depicted weeping from frustration and pain.  And so I ask you, does this look like fun?  Does this look like something you want to jump up off the couch and try?

In my decades as a fitness instructor, I’ve learned a thing or two.  And one thing I’ve learned is that if you want people to exercise, you need to show people that it is FUN.  It needs to seem pleasurable and enjoyable.  It needs to be accessible so people think, “I could DO that!”  If it looks painful and shameful and miserable and dangerous, most people will not do it.

The study indicated that after watching just a short clip of The Biggest Loser people had a more negative view towards exercise than after watching the control clip (a segment from American Idol).  There are varying hypothesis as to why this is so.  Some researchers suggest that beginning exercisers might mistakenly believe that The Biggest Loser depicts “normal” exercise.  And as I mentioned, it certainly doesn’t look pleasurable or fun.

The Biggest Loser is extremely successful at their actual (as opposed to their often stated) goal.  It gets ratings.  People watch.  But do they watch to be inspired?  I don’t think so.  I don’t have a study to back me up on this, but my strong opinion is that The Biggest Loser is yet another example of the modern Roman Colosseum.  People aren’t watching other people be torn apart by lions because they want to learn to run faster and be better lion tamers.  People are watching other people be torn apart by lions because they want to feel superior, they want to feel in the right, and they want to feel better about themselves.  Because no matter how bad the viewer’s day is going, at least he isn’t that guy with the wrong religion getting torn apart by lions.

Look, we need to see the Biggest Loser as entertainment and understand it within the  context of voyeuristic entertainment.  Any talk about it being a way to help people get happier and healthier needs to be shut down right now.  It’s a blueprint for how to get disordered ideas around food and exercise.  It’s a handy guide to how to get sick and injured while engaging in “healthy” behaviors.

This study is just one more small piece of evidence on top of the growing heap that proves you can’t shame people into being thin.  So maybe it’s time we showed people fitness for what it really is, pleasurable, accessible, fun and great for every BODY.  Let’s throw out the vinegar and share a little honey.  Then maybe we can ALL enjoy the sweet, sweet taste of success.


The Fat Chick

P.S. Interested in finding a pleasurable way to integrate fitness into your life?  How about trying my DVD “The Fat Chick Works Out”?  It’s progressive (starting with just a 10 minute workout) and it’s super fun!