Tag Archives: discrimination

I run because–t-shirts and food policing.

Today, while visiting my sister, I happened to look at an ad flyer for a local department store.  And guess which t-shirt was being advertised (just in time for back to school body hatred…)

CupcakeShirt1Look, I have no problem with people making their own choices.  Want to run?  Awesome, me too!  Want to eat cupcakes?  Yes, please.  I’ll have mine with extra sprinkles.  What burns my butt is the notion that we are not allowed to eat certain kinds of foods unless we do certain kinds of exercise.  What chaps my hide is the notion that we share a whopping dose of food policing and body shame as some sort of back to school special.  And by the way, this shirt was conspicuously absent from the section of the flyer advertising plus-sized clothing, junior or otherwise, because, duh.  Fat girls don’t get to eat cupcakes EVAR.

It always astonishes me that clothing buyers at these stores are so incredibly clueless that they still think this is okay–this after the controversy over the “girls can’t do math” t-shirt and the “asking Santa to bring me a new butt for Christmas pillow”.  Seriously?  Don’t these guys pay attention to social media, like ever?

This notion of fitness as punishment or penance or atonement for some sort of sinful eating is one of the reasons we have such a hard time sticking to exercise.  Rather than seeing fitness as something joyful we do because we love the way we look, we see exercise as something painful and awful we have to do because our bodies are in some way unacceptable or because we have to avoid even the slightest chance our bodies will become less acceptable in the future.  We don’t bother finding fitness that we love because we don’t feel we deserve it.  And then we are surprised when we choose not to stick with the icky, painful, punishing routine we pick for ourselves.

But in the end, this sort of body shame and food policing is unproductive, punishing and downright damaging.  It doesn’t help us feel better.  It doesn’t help us feel better about ourselves and it doesn’t help foster healthy behaviors of any kind.

So my advice is to go ahead and run for a different reason.  I’ve even immortalized it as a t-shirt.  Here ya go!

Bodyshirt2

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Want me to speak at your school or company or organization?  Learn more HERE!

Skinny Scientists and Pseudoscience and the New Scientific Method

This week was kind of a bad news good news week for the science of fatties.  On the good news front, Dr. Oz got a very public spanking in Congress for continually touting snake oil “miracle cures” for weight loss.  Claire McCaskill, Chairman of the Senate’s consumer protection panel, brought Dr. Oz to task for presenting a variety of supplements, potions and cures as effective methods of weight loss without having any,  you know, science to back it up.  When grilled by McCaskill, Dr. Oz admitted that some of the “miracle” weight loss cures (like green coffee beans) do not pass scientific muster to be presented as fact.  But he insists that he has studied them himself and recommended them to his own family.  He says he recommends stuff to his audience that he would give his own family.  Which is cool, except he is not described on TV as “Papa Oz” or “Uncle Oz”.  He’s touted on TV as “Dr. Oz”.  And TV watching people are gullible.  If a TV doctor tells them that green coffee supplements will make them miraculously thin, many people believe it is so.  And they think that if a doctor recommends something, there’s a little more scientific proof that it works than “my cousin tried this and it was awesome”.

The fact that Dr. Oz underwent this very public spanking is in some ways very encouraging.  It is in line with many other efforts by the FTC to bring “miracle weight loss” companies to task for making a whole lot of money from lying to people about the effectiveness of their products.  But if Dr. Oz behaves in a way remotely similar to these other weight loss companies (including Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers) we should be prepared for some “bobbin’ and weavin'” in the boxing ring.  After huge fines were levied by the FTC, Weight Watchers and many other competitors have started to put a tiny asterisk after weight loss claims and the teeny-tiny mousetype on the bottom of their ads says “results not typical”.  Which is a start.  But let’s face it.  When you have three glorious examples of anecdata with startling before and after pictures, that little asterisk has to work pretty darn hard.  The FTC said as much in “Gut Check” their new spotters guide to weight loss fraud.  Dr.  Oz will have to begin including his own “asterisk” regarding his “miracle” weight loss cures.  But the guy has his own TV show.  He has writers and editors that are extremely talented.  I have no doubt that he will find a way to appear to follow the letter of the law regarding truth and weight loss, while leaving the spirit of the law firmly behind.

And in this same week, I came across this piece by budding scientist Rachel Fox.  In the piece she describes why she has decided she can no longer pursue a career in science.  She has been told in no uncertain terms that she cannot be a scientist because she is fat.  And being a scientist and being fat just don’t mix.  In the piece, Fox describes the discrimination, both subtle and overt she has experienced as a budding scientist.  At one job interview for an exciting student researcher position at  a prestigious lab, Fox was told that the work was “collaborative” and that the lab didn’t want anybody on board who “was going to eat more than their fair share of the pizza”.  Fox describes other incidents where fellow researchers are appalled that she doesn’t seem to understand the “calories in, calories out” rules of nutrition.  And as we’ve seen with Dr. Terrible earlier this year, scientists and academics seem think they are free to draw whatever conclusions they like about fat and self-discipline because you know, science.

It’s important to understand that science is subject to prejudice and politics just like any other field.  Scientists expressed beliefs about the flatness of the earth and geocentric nature of the universe long past the sell by date of these notions  not because they had evidence, but rather because it was politically prudent to do so.  Modern scientists may not find themselves in an actual dungeon.  But I’m sure many other scientists like Ms. Fox can attest to the notion that doing science while fat can lead to “The Inquisition”.

So, as much as I wish I could jump up and down with glee over Dr. Oz’s trip to the Congressional Woodshed for “making stuff up” to give us fatties “some hope”, I am simply saying let’s wait and see.  When you’ve got a guy with an audience with millions of adoring fans, his own TV show, his own writers, editors, makeup people, lawyers and PR firms, we can expect a whole lot of fancy dancing, and very little scientific fact.  In fact, make it up and make it look good on TV might just be the 21st century scientific method.

 

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

Professor Terrible Learns about Consequences

Millerslide2.001-001I was oh so VERY happy today to read that the University of New Mexico has decided to Censure Professor Terrible, (AKA Professor Geoffrey Miller) about his now infamous tweet.  For those of you who have been on a media fast or have been living under a rock, Geoffrey Miller Tweeted:

professorterribleAs I predicted, a media “sharknado” of epic proportions ensued.  Geoffrey issued a few half-hearted apologies and then, when that didn’t work, he claimed the tweet was part of a “social experiment” in some “research” he was conducting.

Except, um, no.  Both universities where Geoffrey teaches, UNM and New York University determined that this tweet does not meet the requirements for university “research” which among other things, would have required pre-approval by an institutional review board.

So, after several months of review, the University of New Mexico has decided to officially censure Professor Terrible and have demanded that Miller:

  • Not serve on any committee involving the admission of graduate students to the psychology department for the duration of his time as a faculty member at the university.
  • Work with the faculty co-advisers of the psychology department’s diversity organization to develop a plan for sensitivity training on obesity (for himself to undergo, said a university spokeswoman). The plan must be approved by a co-adviser or by the chair of the department.
  • Be assigned a faculty mentor for three years with whom he will meet on a regular basis to discuss potential problems.
  • Have his work monitored by the chair of the department.
  • Apologize to the department and his colleagues for his behavior.

All of which seems completely reasonable and on the right track to me.  Now if you read the comments section (which you should probably never, ever do by the way) in the publications where this is being reported, you’ll see a lot of people jumping up and down and screaming that academics have gotten out of hand and that political correctness has taken over the country.  You’ll also read a lot of comments screaming about First Amendment rights and censorship.

To which (after breathing in a paper bag to calm myself down) I offer this response.  Even though censure sounds like censor, they are not the same thing.  The University of New Mexico found that Miller’s tweet violated three different UNM Faculty Handbook policies.  Presuming Miller read the handbook when he became a professor at UNM, he knew what he was and was not allowed to say in a public forum.  He chose to ignore those rules.  The fact that the University subsequently chose to discipline him for violating those rules is perfectly reasonable and appropriate.  It is not censorship.

His behavior brought shame upon his employer, caused students to call into question whether they had been discriminated against based on appearance, and called into question whether the admissions process at this university was fair.  I’m not sure whether or not this opened the University up to a lawsuit, but I’m fairly sure that legal dollars were spent assessing a potential threat.

And I’d like to point out, that Dr. Miller got a relatively light sentence.  He didn’t lose his job.  They didn’t dock his pay.  They simply have to make sure that it’s clear that Miller’s prejudice can’t be connected with the University’s admissions process.

I would argue that the many, many graduate students who are denied access to higher education because of the way they look are paying a much higher cost than Professor Terrible.  Recent research has offered further evidence of this discrimination and the lasting economic effects experienced by those who are subject to this discrimination.  These students do not get “censured” they simply don’t get accepted to University–and I consider that a much more serious consequence than the slap on the wrist “poor Geoffrey” has to endure.

I suppose in a way, I need to thank “poor, downtrodden, Professor Terrible”.  He brought this issue to light in a very public way, he caused a university to further examine their own bias around size and weight, and got a lot of people to open their minds to the effect that weight stigma has on higher education–well at least those people who are not writing in the comment section.  Well except for you of course.  I am confident that you can write stuff in the comment section below that is insightful and intelligent, because you are the best readers ever.

Love,

The Fat Chick

 

Like my posts?  You’ll love my stuff!

Buy my book: The Fat Chick Works Out! (Fitness that is Fun and Feasible for Folks of All Ages, Shapes Sizes and Abilities)–available in softcover and e-book versions

Buy my DVD: The Fat Chick Works Out! (A Safe, Easy and Fun Workout for Klutzes, Wimps and Absolute Beginners!)

Buy a book or a DVD for a friend and save $5!  Just enter FRIENDBLFT in the discount code box!

Check out my Training Programs–both in person and via Skype (Starting at just $25!)

or

Book me to speak at your special event!

Big Fat Yoga Pants

Yesterday a brouhaha was begun when former Lululemon employee Elizabeth Licorish told reporters that her former employers routinely discriminated against larger customers.  In other news, water is wet.

I mean come on.  The store only stocks clothes up to size 10 or 12.  And they label their size 12 as XL.  Clearly this is a company who has never catered to a plus-sized clientele.

Licorish claims that while she worked at Lululemon, the company only stocked a few items in sizes 10 and 12.  She also asserts that these lonely larger sizes were not displayed prominently in the front, folded neatly on shelves or hanging from display racks, but rather, were crumpled up in the back.

Which leads me to ask a question.  How exactly is this different from nearly every other retailer on the planet?  Aside from the few stores like Lane Bryant and Torrid and Christines that cater specifically to plus-sized customers, most stores have pitiful, tiny poorly managed sections for their larger clothing.  Even if you look at the major, high-end department stores, the plus-sized section is much smaller, has much less inventory and is less well-staffed than virtually any other clothing department in the store.  Given the fact that about half of American women are plus-sized, I have a hard time understanding the reason why plus-sized clothing gets less than 10 percent of the floor space devoted to clothing in the local neighborhood mall.

Lululemon is not so different than most clothing companies, in that they fail to see the amazing market afforded by plus-sized customers and they are letting their brand arrogance lead them into leaving millions of dollars on the table.

But they know this already.

So instead of yelling at Lululemon for improperly displaying the “ginormous” size-12 yoga pants retailing for over $100,  I’m going to take this moment to remind the world that there are now some truly fabulous resources for budding plus-sized yogis out there.

On our Fit Fatties Forum we have the super amazing Abby Lentz moderating our Yoga group.  Aside from being an awesome yoga teacher, Abby also has her Heavyweight Yoga DVD and an especially cool feature on her website called “Change the Image of Yoga” where she features lots of beautiful, smiling yogis who don’t look anything like the ads or the saleswomen you’ll find at Lululemon.

Another wonderful Yoga Teacher that I know and love is Anna Guest-Jelley.  Anna is founder of Curvy Yoga and also offers certification for other teachers who are interested in learning the Curvy Yoga method of instruction.  She also offers her world-famous 30 Days of Curvy Yoga program.

And if Lululemon pants fit neither your butt nor your budget, you might want to check out the yoga wear at Junonia.com.  They have some lovely, high-quality pieces of yoga wear available up to a size 6x.

So may  I make a suggestion?  Rather than be upset that one hoity-toity “yoga wear” company doesn’t want to take your money, how about supporting one of these amazing businesses?  Help them to help you and many, many others to spread the word that yoga is for every BODY.

Love,

The Fat Chick

Like my posts?  You’ll love my stuff!

Buy my book: The Fat Chick Works Out! (Fitness that is Fun and Feasible for Folks of All Ages, Shapes Sizes and Abilities)–available in softcover and e-book versions

Buy my DVD: The Fat Chick Works Out! (A Safe, Easy and Fun Workout for Klutzes, Wimps and Absolute Beginners!)

Buy a book or a DVD for a friend and save $5!  Just enter FRIENDBLFT in the discount code box!

Check out my Training Programs–both in person and via Skype (Starting at just $25!)

or

Book me to speak at your special event!

New Zealand Tells South African Chef, “You’re Too Fat to Live Here!”

I know I am not the first and I certainly hope I’m not to write about this story.  Because you know what?  This scares me right out of my sparkly, yet sensible shoes.  Last week, New Zealand immigration officials told South African chef Albert Buitenhuis that due to his weight of 286 pounds he has an “unacceptable standard of health” and faces expulsion from the country.  Despite the fact that Buitenhuis has actually lost weight since he was originally admitted to the country in 2007, he has lost his work visa because he failed to lose weight.

He needed to stop working immediately.  And because Albert was the primary applicant on the original work visa, his wife needed to stop working as well.

An immigration spokesperson has stated that Mr Buitenhuis’s application had been rejected because his obesity put him at “significant risk” of complications including diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.  The spokesman reportedly said:

“Unless it is in the extreme, obesity will not in itself cause an applicant to fail health screening requirements, but INZ’s medical assessors have to consider to what extent there might be indications of future high-cost and high-need demand for health services,”

It should be noted that Albert may also need a knee replacement which could cost the health system over $20,000.  However, it has also been reported that the fact that Mr. Buitenhuis’ BMI was over 35, originally triggered the rejection of his work visa renewal.

This story has hit international news outlets including the Daily Mail and the BBC.  So I am hopeful this won’t just slip into obscurity in the next day or two, and I am eager to hear how Albert’s appeal process proceeds.  Because I have to admit, I find this story terrifying and frustrating in the extreme.

Here are just a few points:

1.  Immigration officials arbitrarily choose to apply or not apply BMI statistics in regards to work visa renewal.  If the irrational or irregular application of body size regulations are enough to leave people traveling on a jet plane in the lurch, think of the effect it can have on people moving their entire lives from one country to another.  And as we’ve seen in regards to flying on airplanes, if fat people are unable to ascertain exactly how these regulations will apply to them they are more likely to avoid the situation altogether.

2.  It appears that the rules changed after Albert moved to New Zealand.  Albert and his wife set down roots, made friends, built a career and a life, and then the rug got pulled out from under them.  This should be a chilling tale for everyone interested in ever immigrating anywhere.

3.  It appears the New Zealand Immigration ministry are using BMI and health interchangeably.  There is ample evidence that as a health metric BMI is extremely problematic and unreliable.  There is significant evidence that people who have a BMI in the “ideal range” actually live shorter lives than those in the “overweight” range.  Furthermore, I have heard no indication that New Zealand’s Immigration ministry are using other, far more reliable health metrics in determining visa renewal status.  Are they taking into account issues like: stress level, sedentary lifestyle, tobacco use, levels of discrimination, lack of sleep, working third shift or driving a motorcycle, being older, or being male?  There’s also evidence that bald men are more likely to have heart disease and taller women are more likely to get cancer.  Why are they taking this one extremely unreliable metric (BMI) out of context and using it to determine immigration status?

4.  Is BMI used because it is a “cheap shot” both figuratively and literally?  Despite the many, many questions about the effectiveness of BMI as a health metric, there is no question that it is extremely easy to measure and verify.  And I wonder whether discrimination based on body size is cheap politically as well?  Immigration necessarily needs to limit the number of people who can enter and stay in a country.  And they need to make sure the limitations that are used are politically tenable.  Are fat people singled out and discriminated against simply because politically, they are easy targets?

I admit that I can’t claim to know everything that is going on in this case.  I will be watching with interest to see how it plays out.  But, in any case, I think this is further proof that we need to be ever vigilant of new ways that discrimination is heaped upon people of size.

Love,

The Fat Chick

UPDATE: Don’t miss this amazing post by Angela Meadows in Huff Po!  And don’t forget to like the story and comment if you have the sanity points to spare!

Like my posts?  You’ll love my stuff!

Buy my book: The Fat Chick Works Out! (Fitness that is Fun and Feasible for Folks of All Ages, Shapes Sizes and Abilities)–available in softcover and e-book versions

Buy my DVD: The Fat Chick Works Out! (A Safe, Easy and Fun Workout for Klutzes, Wimps and Absolute Beginners!)

Buy a book or a DVD for a friend and save $5!  Just enter FRIENDBLFT in the discount code box!

Check out my Training Programs–both in person and via Skype (Starting at just $25!)

or

Book me to speak at your special event!

New Study Finds Shaming People Doesn’t Help Them Lose Weight: Confirms Ursine Creatures Poo in Forest

Bear poops in woods.  News at eleven!

Bear poops in woods. News at eleven!

Yet another study came out this week confirming that perceived weight stigma does not help overweight get thinner people.  In fact, weight discrimination is more likely to make them gain weight. 

Participants who experienced weight discrimination were approximately 2.5 times more likely to become obese by follow-up (OR = 2.54, 95% CI = 1.58–4.08) and participants who were obese at baseline were three times more likely to remain obese at follow up (OR = 3.20, 95% CI = 2.06–4.97) than those who had not experienced such discrimination.

In other news, a study confirms the pope is Catholic.

It’s possible by now you are well and truly sick of hearing me say that fat shaming people does not help them lose weight.  I know I’m a little sick of saying it.  But as long as the world takes this “fat shaming doesn’t work but let’s try it again” approach, I’ll feel honor-bound to keep repeating it.

On the same day that I came across this new research, I came across this gem (warning, serious asshattery) touting some new “hard-hitting childhood obesity ads” out of the UK.  While the article on Buzz Feed praises the ad for not showing pictures of fat kids looking miserable (as in the Georgia Billboard campaign), the author clearly needs a delivery from the clue department.  Because, even if you use kindergarten level graphics or an image of an overflowing urn, shaming people is shaming.  And shaming people doesn’t work. Shaming people doesn’t work.  SHAMING PEOPLE DOESN’T WORK.  *Grabs paper bag and starts breathing into it…*

Despite all the evidence mounting from all the studies about shame and obesity, the anti-fat people regularly demonstrate the qualities of insanity by trying the same things over and over again and expecting different results.  I think the reasoning goes something like, “Even though it didn’t work last time, fat-shaming gets government and organizational funding like nobody’s business.  Let’s get a grant to do it a little bit differently than we did it before and spin the results like a Maytag washer.”

So it seems that folks are going to continue to spend money on ineffective and dangerous fat shaming.  And I’ll continue to write about it.  It’s the circle of blog life I guess.

Love,

The Fat Chick

Like my posts?  You’ll love my stuff!

Buy my book: The Fat Chick Works Out! (Fitness that is Fun and Feasible for Folks of All Ages, Shapes Sizes and Abilities)–available in softcover and e-book versions

Buy my DVD: The Fat Chick Works Out! (A Safe, Easy and Fun Workout for Klutzes, Wimps and Absolute Beginners!)

Buy a book or a DVD for a friend and save $5!  Just enter FRIENDBLFT in the discount code box!

Check out my Training Programs–both in person and via Skype (Starting at just $25!)

or

Book me to speak at your special event!

Big Fat Ripoff: Too Heavy to Tan

tan

This week a story is surfacing about a woman in Akron who was told after she signed up for a month of tanning that she could not use the lay down tanning beds if she was over 230 lbs.  Kelly McGrevey was allowed to use Aloha tanning salon’s one stand up tanning booth, but when it was broken, she was told she simply couldn’t tan.  When Kelly asked for her money back, Aloha refused.  Kelly had never been told that she could only use the stand up booth, and the salon was unable to give her any information about when the stand up booth would be fixed.

Now look.  While there are some awesome facilities for bronzing, tanning salons are notorious for creating crazy policies and never, ever offering refunds.  The tanning salon had an F rating with the Better Business Bureau and had Kelly done her homework, she might have been less surprised by the shady business practices.  But I think the real surprise was probably with the employees of Aloha.  I doubt they expected that Kelly would have the guts to make much of a fuss about the new policy.  I’ve no doubt they were shocked when Kelly went public and they found themselves being interviewed by a local investigative reporter.  Because I suspect that they felt they would be protected from any negative repercussions for their bad behavior by the shame the fat girl felt about her body.

Except that’s not what happened at all.  And I think this should serve as a wake up call for businesses everywhere who are count on fat people’s willing compliance with their bogus policies.  Fat people are fed up.  And we’re rising up.  Whether it’s shaming at a fitness center or the requirement to submit to tests and pay more for company sponsored health insurance, people of size seem less likely to stand idly by these days.  So companies who shame fat folks should take note, that big girl you shame might just walk away crying, or she might be your ticket to a not so comfortable spot on the evening news.  And I for one, am cheering.

Love,

The Fat Chick