Tag Archives: Fat Acceptance

Study Proves “Not all Fat People are Unhappy”–Follow up to indicate Papal Affiliation With Catholicism

PopeCatholicSo I got a notice in my inbox this week that a study has been announced that indicates “Not All Fat People are Unhappy.”  And honestly, my first thought was, “Duh.”  I mean it seems quite obvious to me that not all Fat people are miserable, much as it seems obvious that the Pope is Catholic.  But apparently the notion that not all fat people are sick, miserable, about to die and ready to throw in the towel is something we need to prove again and again.

But you know, before I cast to many aspersions on the study, I think maybe we really just need to look at the headline drawn from the study results.  Because there are actually quite a few interesting things indicated by this piece of research.  Let’s look at a few:

1.  Your happiness seems to have a lot more to do with homogeneity than body size.  If you are a fat person who lives in a town with lots of other fat people, you tend to be more happy than if you live somewhere with no other fatties.

2.  The study creators speculate that being fat does not in itself make people unhappy.  In the accompanying press release, study co-author Philip M. Pendergast states:

“In that light, obesity in and of itself, does not appear to be the main reason obese individuals tend to be less satisfied with their lives than their non-obese peers. Instead, it appears to be society’s response to or stigmatization of those that are different from what is seen as ‘normal’ that drives this relationship.”

3.  Women tend to pay a higher emotional price for being fat than men do.  The study creators speculate that this is because women face more social stigma based on body size then men do.  In the press release Pendergast also says,

“Think about the advertising we see on television or in magazines—we are bombarded by images of thin women, and we are told that is the ideal,”

So here is yet another study that seems to indicate that how we feel about our size may have a lot more to do with our actual health and wellness outcomes than what we weigh.  It follows on the heels of many other studies we’ve talked about on this blog regarding stigma and health outcomes like this one or this one.  And all of these studies lead me to ask one very important question.

Even if we knew how to make people permanently thin (which we do not) should we ask them to change their body size to fit in?  If being different leads to social stigma, and social stigma leads to poor health outcomes, should we encourage everybody to be the same for the sake of their health?

Even if we knew how to make people all be the same size (which we categorically do not) it seems to me that the answer is to deal with stigma rather than to make a completely homogeneous society to reduce stress on everyone involved.  What if we actively worked to fight stigma based on body size?  What if we actively worked to help people accept their own differences?  What if we could feel better about our bodies?  Might we be singing a song like this magnificent lady right here?

I mean just check these fabulous lyrics:

I looked in the mirror
What did I see a brand new image
Of the same old me ohhhh
But now I wonder why should I be surprised
I like the things about me that I once despised

There was a time
When I wished my hair was fine
And I can remember when
I wished my lips were thin

Makes no difference now y’all
How you may feel
I’ve done reached the point
Where I wanna be real
I’m tired of living living in disguise
I like the things about me that I once despised

Let’s face it, Mavis Staples has got it going ON!  But she leads me back to my original question.  Why can’t we take some of this time, money and energy that we are currently spending on stigma-inducing ineffective advertising that convinces people that they not only must be thin, but may easily obtain this state of grace by eating yogurt, and spend it on something that might actually help people feel better?  It will help them feel better emotionally, and it will help them feel better physically.  Why can’t we take some of the time, energy and money we are spending driving wedges into our society, by creating classes of otherness which we can blame for all our problems from the high cost of airplane tickets to soaring healthcare prices and spend it on something that teaches us to celebrate our differences.  It will bring us together.  It will help us live and breathe as a community rather than a simple pile of competitors in a winner-take-all, Victoria’s Secret model competition.  When will we reach the obvious conclusions?  Bears poo in the woods, stigma doesn’t help people, and yes, the Pope is indeed Catholic.

Call me captain obvious if you like.  I’ve stopped spending on diets and weight loss schemes and self hatred because I like the things about me that I once despised.

Love, Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

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A Different Sort of Tennis Star

You’d think since being rated the top Junior player in the United States, tennis phenom Taylor Townsend would be best known for her prowess on the court.  However, aside from Townsend’s legendary on-court tennis battles, are plenty of battles of a different sort.  Two years ago, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) asked Taylor to sit out of the 2012 Open Junior Tournament due to concerns about her “conditioning”.   And by conditioning, they meant body shape.  And by body shape they meant how Townsend looked in a dress.  According to Tom Perotta of the Wall St. Journal:

Her coaches declined to pay her travel expenses to attend the Open and told her this summer that they wouldn’t finance any tournament appearances until she makes sufficient progress in one area: slimming down and getting into better shape.

“Our concern is her long-term health, number one, and her long-term development as a player,” said Patrick McEnroe, the general manager of the USTA’s player development program. “We have one goal in mind: For her to be playing in [Arthur Ashe Stadium] in the main draw and competing for major titles when it’s time. That’s how we make every decision, based on that.”

But it doesn’t just stop at funding. According to Perrotta, the USTA actually requested that Townsend skip the U.S. Open, denying both her petitions for wild cards into either the U.S. Open main draw or the qualifying tournament. In the end, Townsend’s family decided to pay out of their own pockets for Taylor to compete in the U.S. Open Junior Tournament.  She was ultimately defeated in the quarterfinals by Anett Kontaveit of Estonia.

It’s clear that Taylor knows on which side her baguette is buttered.  In 2012 Townsend said:  “I’ve gotten a lot of great opportunities, great fitness, great coaching,” she said. “I’m doing everything that they ask me to do and being professional about everything.”

Nevertheless, Townsend has to be feeling more than a little gratified over Tuesday’s French Open results.  The match had some moments that seemed straight out of a movie script.  In the first set of her first match, Taylor got behind 1-5.  She then won12 of the following 13 games to win over her U.S. opponent Vania King 7-5, 6-1. Today (Wednesday, May 28) Townsend (ranked 205th) is scheduled to battle top-ranked Frenchwoman Alize Cornet (ranked 21st) at the 10,000-seat Suzanne Lenglen Court. So surely at this point we’re focusing on her playing prowess, right?  Right?

Well, today’s New York Times article on Townsend is titled “Questioned About Body, Townsend Rises and Inspires”.  Now the article goes on to say that Taylor is playing amazing tennis, and that Wednesday’s matchup promises to be very exciting.  The article contains quotes from Taylor’s new coach (Zina Garrison) talking about how Townsend is “fine”, and how she doesn’t wish her young tennis protege to suffer over criticism or worry about her weight.  So I’ll offer some slight props to the Times for inserting some body positivity into the article.  But let’s not forget that the first three words of the headline are not “Powerful Tennis Star” or “Young Tennis Phenom”.  The first three words of this headline are “Questioned About Body”.

I guess it’s not surprising.  As I’ve reported before, even winning Wimbledon does not protect you from the need to be attractive to men.  The top title in tennis does not forgive you for being less than supermodel gorgeous.

I hope that Taylor kicks some serious butt on the court tomorrow.  I hope she plays really well and ultimately triumphs.  I have to admit that I don’t hold out a lot of hope however, that Taylor Townsend will ever win victory over a public that is most interested in how she looks in her little tennis skirt.

Le sigh.

Love,

Jeanette (AKA The Fat Chick)

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Tutus, Wonder Women and Haters

Look at that fabulous picture up there.  Does it make you smile?  Think it’s a story about motivation and joy and taking back your own power?

Sorry.  It’s a story about a “self help” magazine asking a woman if they could use her photo in their magazine and then pulling a total hater move and making fun of her in the captions.

Apparently Self magazine contacted San Diego runner Monika Allen seeking permission to use her photo in the April issue of the magazine.  Monika said yes, and was understandably excited to see her picture in the magazine.  The  online version of the magazine is already out.  And she’s excited all right, but not in a good way.

The  photo appeared in a section of the magazine called the BS Meter.  Next to the photo was this copy:

“A racing tutu epidemic has struck New York’s Central Park, and it’s all because people think these froufrou skirts make you run faster.  Now if you told us they made people run from you faster maybe we would believe it.”

Cue rimshot.  Slow hand clap.  You see what they did there?  Run from you faster.  Makes you wonder why magazine circulation numbers are crashing, right?

Now I’m sure the writer from Self was feeling pretty proud for their little moment, except maybe there’s a little research this writer failed to do.  Like the research that indicated this was Monika’s first run since being diagnosed with brain cancer.  And she was wearing this costume to help her feel motivated to keep running while she was undergoing chemotherapy.  And she makes and sells the skirts to raise money for Girls on the Run, a charity that sponsors exercise and confidence-building programs for young girls.

Whoops.

Not surprisingly the backlash online has been sort of epic.  This is what we in the biz refer to as a public relations nightmare of epic proportions.  This is a “hey kid, you’re fired” kind of maneuver.  Monika sent an email to Self saying how upset she was for the way the picture was used.  And she took to traditional and social media to tell the world how upset she was as well.

Since the story originally aired and went viral, the Editor in Chief of Self magazine “apologized” on her twitter account and sent an email apology to the local news station with this little gem:

“in our attempt to be humorous, we were inadvertently insensitive.”

“I have sincerely apologized both directly to Monika and her supporters online. At SELF we support women such as Monika; she is an inspiration and embodies the qualities we admire. We have donated to her charity and would like to cover her good work in a future issue,” the statement reads. “We wish her all the best in her road to good health.”

Let’s deconstruct, shall we?  “We thought we were being funny but we didn’t know that she would have a disease that people don’t think is funny.  Had we known that this woman had the “Big C” we would have written a tear-jerker style exploitative piece instead of a snark piece.  I mean come on!  How were we supposed to know she had cancer.  If we had known, that would have meant we were overtly insensitive, but since we didn’t know, we were inadvertently sensitive.  We have sincerely apologized in public because the public is mad and it hurts when people write mean things online.  (Although when people are mad they do comment more and our engagement numbers are up, but you can’t have everything.)  At our publication we support women like Monika when it suits us and humiliate women like Monika when we feel like it.  We have donated to her charity because hey money makes everything better and we’re kinda terrified that we will get sued.  We’d like to cover her in a future issue because usually promising “exposure” to people gets them to accept just about anything.  We wish her all the best in her recovery, because frankly, if this broad kicks the bucket, a few of us are going back to copy editing at Pennysaver.”

Speaking of being sued, please note that the above paragraph is not actually quoted from anybody at Self magazine.  I made it up.  And if it’s insensitive, I did it very much on purpose.

I wish Monika the best.  I think she is frankly going to sell a LOT more tutus after this.  And I think she is a woman we can all admire.  But I think this is an indicator.  It is really, really bad out there.  When a newsstand publication thinks that they can get permission to use a photo depicting a conventionally beautiful woman and shame her in front of the world, it’s pretty bad out there.  And for those of us who don’t meet the conventional standards of beauty, it’s a field day.  If you are a fat, gorgeous, tattooed woman who dares to post a picture of yourself in a fabulous polka dot bikini, you just might find your picture used without your permission to sell diet ads.  And when you go after the company, they will just make some excuse about how it’s the fault of their affiliates.  Because they feel pretty confident that they can do whatever they want to you.  Because if you are not conventionally beautiful, you are fair game.

 

Weak!

In fact, no one is safe from being abused online.  Nobody.  Don’t believe me?  Check out this amazing Ted Talk from the gorgeous and talented Maysoon Zayid, “I have 99 Problems…Palsy is Just One.”  When you have a minute, I encourage you to watch the whole thing.  It is well worth your time. It was especially touching to me to hear her say, at about 12 minutes in to her presentation:

“The doctor said I would never walk.  Yet here I am in front of you.  But I grew up with social media, I don’t think I would be.  I hope that together, we can create more positive images of disability in the media and in every day life. Perhaps if there were more positive images, it would foster less hate on the internet.  Or maybe not.  Maybe it still takes a village to teach our children well.”

I wonder.  I wonder how many powerful and world-changing people are being crushed under the need for some hater to get their three seconds of fame in the comments section.  I wonder how the search for snark is helping to foster the utter disregard for people’s lives and their well-being.  I wonder how many of our generation’s revolutionary leaders are smashed when their photos are misappropriated and tagged in an amusing meme.  I wonder how much more I could accomplish if I didn’t get nasty comments and hate mail every freaking day of my life.

Here’s hoping we can be part of the village that helps to lift one another out of the battle ground of the comments section and fight the good fight of making the world a better place.

Love, Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

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Want to learn to face the spring holidays with more joy and less trauma?  My dear friend and colleague Golda Poretsky is offering a HAES for the Holidays course just for spring.  I am an affiliate, so if you join her class, you can support me at the same time.  Win, win WIN!

 

Skin

Well a few weeks back, I issued a nudity challenge to y’all and I thought I’d check back with you to see the results.  As promised, I spent 15 minutes per day in the buff, and I’d have to say, after getting over the initial discomfort, I enjoyed it!  It proved a challenge at times.  I had to really do some careful scheduling when we headed out for the Church Choir summit for 2 days.  I also had to learn to keep a robe near by as my nakee time was when the front doorbell inevitably rang.  Mailmen, neighbors, telephone book delivery people–you name it, they knocked.  I was starting to suspect a conspiracy y’all.

Initially this was a challenge for me as I am still learning to love my body and also come from a Catholic, Midwestern upbringing which tends to discourage nudity for any reason.  But after a while, I learned to enjoy the experience of feeling the air conditioning on my skin as my body dried from the bath.  And for the last two weeks with temperatures soaring well over 100 degrees, it was a time of welcome relief.  I got to think of my body not as a sex object or a reason to be shamed, but simply a part of what made me, well, me.  How about you?  Did you try it?  What did you learn about yourself?

You know, if you are in any way interested in skin, I would like to invite you to the More Cabaret Gimme More! Show this Sunday.   Ragen Chastain and the More Cabaret girls will be showing some skin and performing a whole lot of hip shaking, toe tapping fun!  They will be accompanied by a whole host of other performers.  I’ll be singing a few songs.   And guess what?!  You can see it all online with our live streamed version.  We’ll be live right HERE starting at about 6 PM PST tomorrow night.

Can’t wait to see you!

Love,

The Fat Chick

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Why BMI stands for “Blatantly Meaningless Information”

Yup, higher shoe size means higher BMI. Maybe we should re-institute foot binding for better health?

The LA Times has published another awesome article, this time taking aim at BMI.  The article headline states “For nearly 1 in 5 Americans, BMI may tell the wrong story”.  Although one of the main studies actually places the misdiagnosis statistic closer to 2 in 5 Americans, I have to give the LA Times credit for posting this story which goes on to detail something that many of us in the HAES (R) universe already know: BMI is not a good predictor of individual health.  In short:

Having a high BMI does not mean you have poor metabolic health.  Having a low BMI does not mean you have good metabolic health.

So why is this important?  Well for a lot of reasons.  First off, if your doctor is using BMI to determine whether or not you should get further screenings or tests, he or she is using an extremely unreliable metric to make this determination.  This means as a fat person you may be exposed to a lot of tests you really don’t need.  This means as a thin person, your doctor may miss some stuff that is really important or even life-threatening.  I often wonder if a significant proportion of the medical costs associated with fat people are because we have so many more tests done.  Or even if higher percentages of certain diagnoses among fat people are in part because we look so much harder for these diagnoses among fat people.

Another reason that BMI bias is such a big problem is that the workplace wellness gurus are using it to coerce or even force us into interventions that may be entirely inappropriate for us.  For example, I’ve been talking a lot about this Michigan “walking program” for fatties.  BMI was used as the sole determinant as to who had to participate.  Those with higher BMIs were told they either had to wear a pedometer that reported their steps to the “home office” or they had to go to Weight Watchers.  There was no initial fitness assessment done.  There was no assessment of eating behaviors.  The program simply assumes that people with higher BMIs don’t engage in fitness and eat very poorly.  It’s entirely possible that people in the program had to reduce other, more strenuous and more enjoyable exercise programs in order to comply with the stupid walking rules.  It’s entirely possible that people in the program with well-balanced healthy eating habits were encouraged towards more disordered eating habits after their new stint with Weight Watchers.  It’s almost certain that people with low BMIs who are also sedentary and eat nothing but junk food were patted on the head and told to “keep up the good work”.

But we’ll never know because they never tested this stuff.

You know what?  When company money and government money and my money gets spent on stupid health programs that are just as likely to make people less healthy than before, and nobody bothers to test the hypotheses because “fatties” I get pretty annoyed.  In fact I’m crossing right over the line towards enraged.

It’s not like this research is all new.  It’s not like the problems inherent in the BMI as a measurement of individual health haven’t been known for decades.  But as long as entire industries are set on putting their fingers in their ears and chanting, “La, la, la, I can’t HEAR you!” I’m just gonna have to keep on saying the same things over and over and over.  As long as people walk around with misdiagnosed brain injuries because doctors simply think they need to lose weight, as long as thin people miss out on important medical screenings because they are assumed well, and as long as some insurance programs think it’s okay to strap a piece of hardware to my a@@ to track whether I’m moving enough just because of my dress size, I’m gonna keep on talking.

You hear that universe?  I’ll keep shaking my chubby fist and you and shouting that your BS. Measuring. Instrument. is not a valid way to understand anything about who I am.

Love,

The Fat Chick

 

 

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Stuff That Weighs More Than Me: Ship Loaded with Containers

sailing2This weekend some awesome friends of ours asked us to go out sailing with them.  And while we were having a wonderful time, I didn’t forget about YOU my dear readers.  As we passed a large ship carrying many, many containers, I was heard to say, “Quick get out your camera; I am SURE that thing weighs more than me!”

Shipping3

It’s difficult to make out exactly how many containers are on that ship.  But I’m sure there are at least 100.  Container ships can apparently carry up to 16,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units).  And it’s difficult to say how heavy each container is exactly, but if we do a little “back of the envelope figuring we come up with the following stats:

20′ Container weight empty: 5,290 lb (2,400 kg)

20′ Container maximum weight full: 67,200 lb (30,480 kg)

Considering an average weight of 50,000 lb per container and a minimum of 100 containers on the ship, the container weight alone would be:

5,000,000 lbs.

Conclusion: Empty or full, that container ship weighs more than me.  Oh and sailing totally rocks!

Love,

The Fat Chick

Like my posts?  You’ll love my stuff!

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Right Now Show 017: Setting Exercise Expectations

speaking1Hey everybody!  Here’s episode 17 of the Right Now Show.  This episode is drawn from a speech I gave at the Wellness Beyond Weight Seminar at the ASDAH conference.  It was a wonderful opportunity to teach people about exercise and expectations:

And this is also an opportunity to remind you that I love my work as a public speaker!  If you’d like me to come to your business, university, special event or town, please consider booking me or recommending me to speak.  You can learn more about my speaking HERE.

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

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

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