Tag Archives: fat activism conference

More Evidence that Fat Stigma is Killing Us

Today, I got an email pointing me towards some new research on fat stigma.  There has been an ever increasing pile of evidence indicating that weight stigma is making us miserable and sick.  We know that weight stigma makes us fatter,  increases inflammation, increases disease burden and decreases quality of life, increases the chances that we will engage in risky behaviors and may contribute significantly to diseases like diabetes and heart disease. We know that weight-based discrimination increases blood pressure and reduces our ability to think clearly. Now we have further proof that weight stigma is shortening our lives.

It has always been supremely frustrating to me that concern trolls are so ready to tell us that they beat us up about our weight because they are concerned for our health.  But as a person who has been on the end of concern trolling, I can tell  you that it doesn’t feel anything at all like genuine concern.  It feels like people relishing the fact they have an excuse to be a bully.  It feels like having a license that allows some people to spew hate under the micron-thick veneer of caring.  It feels like complete B.S.

And this new study indicates that the results of this hate can be profound and life-threatening.  The study states:

The ultimate cumulative effect of these hostile social interactions may be lower life expectancy. The present research examined whether the harmful effect of weight discrimination reached beyond morbidity to mortality and whether common comorbidities and health-risk behaviors accounted for this association. We also compared weight discrimination with other forms of discrimination (e.g., age, race, sex) to examine whether they share weight discrimination’s association with mortality risk. Finally, we examined whether the association between discrimination and mortality varied by sex, ethnicity, age, or body mass index (BMI). We tested these associations using data from two large longitudinal studies, the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) and Midlife in the United States (MIDUS).

After reviewing the data from both the HRS and the MIDUS, the study group came to some rather startling conclusions.  It appears that weight stigma can increase risk of mortality by a significant amount:

Weight discrimination was associated with an increase in mortality risk of nearly 60% in both HRS participants (hazard ratio = 1.57, 95% confidence interval = [1.34, 1.84]) and MIDUS participants (hazard ratio = 1.59, 95% confidence interval = [1.09, 2.31]). This increased risk was not accounted for by common physical and psychological risk factors. The association between mortality and weight discrimination was generally stronger than that between mortality and other attributions for discrimination. In addition to its association with poor health outcomes, weight discrimination may shorten life expectancy.

If people are truly worried about the health of fat people, they are going to have to give up on concern trolling.  Outside of the fact that you can’t hate someone for their own good (thank you Marilyn Wann), there is hard statistical evidence that it just may be your hate that is making fat people sick and giving them a shorter life.  Not to mention the horrible effect you have on their quality of life.  The study goes so far as to suggest that the harm of weight discrimination may be more harmful than any other effects of being overweight:

The present findings indicate that the harmful effect of unfair treatment that is attributable to body weight is not limited to psychological distress and morbidity: It also extends to risk of mortality. This association was apparent in two independent samples that covered different periods of the life span, and the association persisted after we accounted for behavioral and clinical risk factors. The effect of weight discrimination on mortality was generally stronger than that of other forms of discrimination but was comparable with that of other established risk factors, such as smoking history and disease burden. Moreover, the association between weight discrimination and mortality risk was in sharp contrast to the protective relation between some of the BMI categories and mortality risk. These findings suggest the possibility that the stigma associated with being overweight is more harmful than actually being overweight.

This type of research can have a profound effect on the lives of fat people around the world.  But just because it can doesn’t mean in necessarily will.  The media doesn’t jump to report these stories.  For many reasons, these articles aren’t popular with media outlets and are especially unpopular with advertisers.  If we want these studies to have an impact, we have to make sure that people in the world at large know about them.  We need activists.

That’s why I’m so excited that the Fat Activism Conference is starting tomorrow.  It’s not too late to get your tickets.  We have dozens of amazing speakers lined up ready to share ways that you can be an activist and an advocate for people of all sizes.  We’ve got speakers talking about activism and medicine and activism and art and activism and sex and many other topics.  I hope you’ll consider joining us for the conference.  This study indicates that activism against weight stigma may do more than just make us feel better and feel better about ourselves.  It just might help to save our lives.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

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Not Jolly and Not Sorry (Letting go my need to make everybody laugh…)

EnvironmentalAw1

I recently spoke at the Environmental Awards in Irwindale.  My speech was called No BODY Left Behind–Workplace Wellness for All. I talked about workplace wellness in terms of four “i-opening” words–information, incentive, invitation and inspiration.  I must give credit where it is due.  Jon Robison and Rosie Ward and their fabulous new book “How to Build a Thriving Culture at Work” helped to transform my thinking.

I shared a lot about what I thought was working and wasn’t working in workplace wellness.  I talked about how many wellness programs feel unfair because they ARE unfair.  They reward the already privileged in a way that is subsidized by the less privileged.  They only accommodate the needs of the folks that are in least need of the program.  They use shame and peer pressure to try to shove employees into a single vision of “health” which is largely driven by media-fueled unrealistic expectations and the personal bias of the program creators and managers.  They could be inviting.  They could be inclusive.  They could make every BODY feel welcome.  But they usually don’t.  And they often end up causing more problems than they solve.

I think I did a good job at the talk.  But it was weird.  As a speaker, I mostly give upbeat, Rah-Rah, body positive and funny speeches.  And this kind of speech is instantly rewarded.  People watching and hearing the speech cheer and laugh and clap.  People smile and have a good time.  It’s a pretty strong, emotionally positive feedback loop.  And I usually leave the stage feeling awesome.

This talk was different.  People were paying attention.  But people were thoughtful.  Listening carefully.  Letting my words sink in.  This talk was serious.  I had a positive takeaway.  There are ways we can do this better.  But this speech was not fun and it was not funny.

And as I walked off the stage, I wondered.  “Did I do okay?  Did I get through.  Did people hate it.  Did they learn something?”  I felt very insecure.  Sure, there was applause at the end, but no positive, laughing, feel-good feedback loop.

I always feel a little unsure when I release my need to entertain–to be funny–to be jolly.  But I’m always kind of amazed at the response when I do.  As I sat back at my table a woman immediately asked for my card.  Not because she wanted me to do a fun and jolly speech at her workplace (a local college).  But because her school has implemented a wellness program modeled after The Biggest Loser television show.  And my talk made her think that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea.  I’m hoping to speak with her soon.  So I could see a very positive result from straying outside of my comfort zone.

And this was a good reminder.  Being upbeat and positive and funny are great tools.  They are some of the colors with which I can paint.  But when communicating with others about size acceptance and body positivity and social justice for people of all sizes, it behooves me to use ALL the tools at my disposal and all the crayons in the box–even those that aren’t my normal favorites or the most comfortable ones to use.

Which leads me to this point.  I’d like to straight up invite you to attend the Fat Activism Conference.  Some of the people there will be taking a “fun and funny” approach to fat activism.  Some will be serious.  Some of the testimony may be full of pain and not so much fun to hear.  Some of it will be LOLROTF funny.  But what the conference allows you to do is hear a variety of voices coming from a wide range of perspectives all speaking on the topic of making the world better, safer and more inclusive for people of all sizes.  And frankly, today is the last day you’ll be able to get the lowest possible price to attend the conference.  Our super earlybird pricing ends tonight.  So if you’re up for hearing all different kinds of voices sharing using all the tools at their disposal and all the crayons in the box, while sharing ways to make the world better for Every BODY why not register now?

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)
Register for the Fat Activism Conferenece!

Half in the Data Dark, We’ve More Work to Do!

Today, I read a horrifying statistic about the state of statistics.  A group called All Trials has flatly stated that of all the clinical trials, encompassing hundreds of thousands of patients, 50% have never reported the results.  They state this, and offer this research to back it up.

One can speculate many reasons why various research results have not been reported.  But I keep coming back to one, solitary reason, which I suspect is the main reason, why results weren’t reported.  They probably weren’t reported because the results were either contrary to previous results in a way that was uncomfortable or the results were likely to be unpopular with whoever asked for the study, financed the study or might be interested in reporting on the study.

If, to take a fictitious example, the green been growers association finances a study on the health effects of green beans, and the study fails to show any positive effect, it is  unlikely that those results will ever see the light of day.

One wonders what effect this data dumping has on the massive amounts of research funded by or managed by either organizations pledged to fight obesity or companies that offer products and services to “cure” obesity or both.  I, for one, would love to know what’s in that data dump.

If you are also interested in getting those results and fighting for greater transparency in clinical research, you can engage in a little very easy activism by going to the AllTrials website and clicking to join the petition.

And if you’re interested in doing even more to help fight bad research, stigmatizing policies and outright abuse of people of size, I am so very excited to announce our 2nd Annual Fat Activism Conference!  We have such an amazing roster of speakers lined up.  Once again, we have 2.5 days of online speeches and panels with loads of opportunities for you to ask questions, share your thoughts and get involved!  And this year we will also be offering access to our brand new Fat Activism E-Book!

And in the name of full transparency, I want to let you know that everybody who is involved in putting on the conference will share in the profits.  The conference organizers (me and Ragen Chastain), the organizing committee, all the speakers and all the sales affiliates will share in the profits of the conference.  So not only will you be learning from and reading about some amazing fat activists, you will be helping to support those who do this important work.  The conference runs October 9-11 and we are looking forward to seeing you there!  Click here to get your tickets at the super early bird price!

I can’t wait to see you there!

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

Thankful for my Online Sisters

At this time of year it’s natural for us to be thankful.  And there are so many things to be thankful for.  I have a wonderful husband and family who are all doing pretty well (including my geriatric doggy who is still begging for walks and treats.) I have a roof over my head and good food to eat.  I have access to medical care and a car to drive.  And by and large, I have my health.

But at this moment, I would also like to say a special thank you to my online sisters.  Some of whom I know well in real life (like Ragen Chastain and Marilyn Wann) and others that I know mostly from my internet connection like Golda Poretsky, and Virgie Tovar and the militant baker and Hanne Blank.  Some of these women, like Marilyn Wann, I’ve known for decades.  Other online friends are brand new.  For example, I just met Elly Kellner online last night.  She wrote in to More Of Me To Love last night to tell us about an incident where some folks confronted her after a musical performance to let them know that they loved her music but were deeply concerned and distracted by the clothes she chose to wear.

Two strangers told me they were very distracted by my dress, was the back of the dress longer than the front!? And what sort of a legging was that!? And those shoes!? They assured me they only bothered to tell me all this because they thought my music was really good. But if only I wore a small heel, spike heels weren’t necessary, but a small heel and a sleeve then I would have been so much bigger in music already. The way I was dressed now distracted them too much from my music. I could take Ella Fitzgerald as an example. She was a big lady too and she wore beautiful garments!

In the finest tradition of concern trolling, these strangers assured Elly that they had her best interest at heart, and they just wanted others to not be distracted from her music.  Well Elly’s response was simply EPIC.  She created this music video to document her reaction:

I am continually encouraged and inspired by so, so, so many people who are doing amazing work to help make acceptance of body diversity more real in our culture.  From all of the powerful and wonderful speakers we had in our Fat Activism Conference, to the thousands of people who support each other daily on the Fit Fatties Forum, to the thousands of people who read this blog, I am thankful for you.  I am thankful for ALL OF YOU.  I am thankful for the way you make the world a better place for EVERY body.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

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Time for a Little Self Care

Coming off a very busy week after an incredibly busy weekend hosting the first annual Fat Activism Conference.  Over 30 hours of content with over 40 speakers in 3 days!  Followed by two days this week of meetings and proposals and general running around regarding the next projects to come down the pike.  I’m so excited!  But…

But I’m continually surprised by how long I really need to recover from some of these things.  Sure, I took a day off after a very intense weekend like I had.  I knew I’d be tired for at least a day.  But after age 40 after going like crazy for a week and not really getting any good sleep, I kinda have to remember that one day of resting up just might not do the trick.

At the end of yesterday’s meetings and running around, I found myself spent.  Like eat a PB&J for supper and sleep in my clothes spent.  And I’ve decided that today, I would finally listen to the messages my body is screaming at me and take a little break.

Maybe I will get a massage.  Maybe I’ll fit in some time for meditation or maybe just a nap.  For sure I’m going to take time to find myself something wonderful to eat–something that nourishes my body and my soul.  Because helping to change the world, even a little tiny bit, is a whole lot of work.  And we have to remember that caring for others requires that we have energy.  And having energy means that we have to have time and space for self care.

It’s like the old adage about the airplane oxygen mask.  Make sure your mask is secure before you start helping other people with them.  It’s not about being selfish.  It’s about understanding that your effectiveness to help may be severely diminished if you are flopped over on the seat, gasping for air like a fish.

I am incredibly inspired by the speakers I heard this past weekend.  I feel more motivated than ever to do the work that needs to be done to make the world a safer and better place for people of all races, ages, shapes, sizes, types and abilities.  But this work will not be done in a day or a week.  It won’t even be done in a year or a decade.  So I’m going to stare at puppies and take a long nap.  I’m going to eat something fabulous and listen to awesome music and dance in my undies.  I am going to do what I need to do to rebuild my energy and gird my loins.  So I am once again ready to fight the good fight.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Wanna keep up with all I’m doing and get free stuff?  Join my list HERE:

P.S.S.  I speak all over the world on the topics of HAES, body acceptance, health, fitness, fit and fat, producing your best life and exercise for kids.  Click here to BOOK ME!

Dance Break at the Ball Park!

We just finished the First Annual Fat Activism Conference and I am still a bit giddy. Of course there’s plenty of stuff we can do better next time. And of course it was far from perfect. But WE. DID. IT. I’m talking about 3 days, over 40 speakers and over 30 hours of live content.

And while I am proud of the accomplishments of myself and the very best producing partner in the whole entire world Ragen Chastain, I am even more proud of our movement. Of the over 40 men and women of many sizes, races, sexual orientations, abilities, ages and attitudes who so generously shared the wisdom they have accrued over years and decades. Of the people who texted and tweeted and prodded and questioned and asked for more. Of those people new to the movement taking their very first fledgling steps by sending in a comment or asking a question. Of the many people who shared their thoughts for making this conference better next year and volunteered to help make it so!

And when I feel this level of happy, I have to dance. Well today at least I can dance again. Yesterday I mostly slept. And I mean like A LOT. But today I am dancing and sharing a happy video of other folks dancing as well. I mean how cool are the Durham Diamond cutters. They certainly don’t look like stereotypical dancers. But there they are, running the bases and tearing up the field with their fun moves!

And if you are feeling sad. If you are not dancing because you fear that you missed out on all the awesomeness of the Fat Activism Conference this past weekend, I have some news that will just get you right on up outa your seat. You can still register for the conference and listen to the recordings, but you have to hurry.

Tomorrow is absolutely the LAST DAY to register for the conference and get access to the recordings. So get up offa that thing and run to register today. Seriously, you don’t want to miss this:
Fat Activsm Conference Registration Page

Love, Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Want to stay in touch and get access to FREE STUFF?  Click here to join my list!

P.S.S.  I speak all around the world on the topics of Fit and Fat, Health At Every Size, Body Acceptance, Fat Activism and more!  CLICK HERE to book me!

Exercise, Fattie! (But Don’t Make Me Watch)

Warning: Fit Fatty Crossing!

It is one of the great hypocrisies of the fat hating concern troll.  They tell us to put down the cheeseburger, and go for a walk.  They tell us to get off our fat butts.  They tell us to exercise, but just not where they have to see us.

Honestly this whole issue makes me more than a little stabby.  We don’t exercise because concern trolls tell us to.  Because, let’s be clear about this, concern trolls probably don’t have our best interests at heart.  But we do exercise.  Lots of us at all sizes exercise.  We put on our shorts, and we go outside.  We go to the gym.  We exercise because it’s fun.  We exercise because it feels good and then, we get an anonymous letter like the following piece of garbage (trigger warning–extreme asshattery):

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The letter says:

Dear Neighbor,

I have noticed you working out in your backyard I can see you from my window.  I also see you running or trying to run around the block.  PLEASE STOP SUCH ACTIVITIES. Nobody wants to see your fat bouncing up and down in your shirt.  Thank God you wear a shirt so we do not have to see what’s under.  I am not the only one in the neighborhood who is getting tired of seeing you struggle running up and down the block everyday.  I personally do not wish to subject my kids to having to see somebody so obese outside when they are just trying to play in the front yard.  If you feel you must work out, outside please move elsewhere where you will not bother people.

Sincerely,

A concerned neighbor.

Seriously folks, I barely know where to start with this thing.  Well, let’s start at the top, shall we?  1.  There is nothing dear about this neighbor.  That gentle opening line is in such ridiculous opposition to the rest of this hatefest, that we will just ignore it okay?

2.  Why in heaven’s name is Snooping Sally watching this poor guy work out in his back yard?  It’s his back yard?  It’s his personal space.  Don’t like what you see in the neighbor’s back yard, don’t look!  There, problem solved.  Oh, wait.  There’s more?

3.  Your copious use of run on sentences and complete lack of commas makes me believe you are typing without breathing.  Please calm the heck down.  It’s a fat guy running, not a national emergency.

4.  “Running or trying to run”: ahhhh I see what you did there.  Nope, not even remotely funny.  Let’s move along.

5.  PLEASE STOP SUCH ACTIVITIES.  The writer doesn’t like it.  And clearly, the fact that she doesn’t like it trumps your freedom to do anything.

6.  “Nobody wants to see…” Our letter writer knows this because she is a little bit psychic.  I bet you didn’t know that was going on in your neighborhood.  Here you are, going for a jog and minding your own business, and you’ve got neighbors experimenting with the occult.

7.  “I am not the only one in this neighborhood…”  There is also the writer’s good friend who meets to share malicious neighborhood gossip with her every day.  Also, she’s psychic.  (See above).

8.  “I personally don’t want to subject my kids to…”  Well it’s clear the writer’s children are special, special snowflakes and can’t be subjected to anything other than Baywatch level beauty running down the street.  And clearly the writer doesn’t want to have anything like a meaningful conversation with them about how people are diverse, and it’s not right to stare, and that the entire freaking universe doesn’t revolve around what makes them comfortable.  Nope.  It’s easier if the exerciser doesn’t burden the poor children’s brains with stuff to think about.  It triggers them to ask questions that give the writer a headache.

9.  “Elsewhere where you won’t bother people”.  The writer doesn’t like the way the jogger looks, therefore he should hide himself at all times.  Better yet, he should probably just move.  To Mars.  Clearly he’s not her kind of people.

10.  “Sincerely, A concerned neighbor”  Who is clearly and deeply concerned about what everybody else is doing and how it might impact her feels and the exposure of her delicate offspring to stuff she doesn’t like.  If somebody ELSE (who fails to look, act, think and be EXACTLY what she thinks they should) doesn’t like it, well TOUGH.

It’s easy to see this letter as an isolated incident, or perhaps even a hoax.  (Although the letter was supposedly sent to the friend of somebody I know online, and I tend to believe it is real.)  But clearly this notion of not wanting to look at fat exercisers is fairly pervasive.  In fact it’s enough of a universal idea that a company that sells blinds used it to create a highly offensive ad with a fat, hairy, male yogi.

yogaguy

ZOMG! Fat Yoga Guy! It’s the apocalypse!

Hot urban couple walks by the window and sees hairy yoga guy.  Everybody looks shocked!  Yoga guy goes out and gets new blinds.  Ah, no more unsightly yoga practice.  NamasFREAKIN’te!

(Ragen Chastain does an excellent job breaking down this ad and giving you special activism opportunities in her blog here and here.)

Look, I make no secret of the fact that I believe exercise is for every BODY.  Whatever your weight, I believe that exercise should be a safe, positive and accessible option for you.  That means you should be able to exercise in public–even (gasp) outside.  That means people who don’t like looking at it are welcome to take the extremely simple and cost free option of not looking.  And if those people don’t like it, they are cordially invited to keep their opinions to themselves.  We don’t yell nasty things at fat people exercising.  We don’t throw eggs at them.  We are grown up adults who can learn to act like it.

That’s how a sincerely concerned neighbor really acts.

In the meantime, all y’all keep gettin on with your bad selves.  And if you want to see some fabulous fatties getting into their fitness groove (with fabulous Flying Rhino shirts no less) trot on over to the Fit Fatties Forum and take a look.

And if you’d like to make the world a better and safer place for exercisers of ALL sizes,  Click here to register for the Fat Activism Conference!  I promise it will be excellent.

And as always, if you want to get free stuff including a fabulous newsletter from me, join the clique here.

Love, Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)