Tag Archives: Health At Every Size

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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Friday Dance Break

It’s been a tough week for me and in many ways a tough week for our country.  So I thought for today’s blog I would post a FRIDAY DANCE BREAK!

Whatever else you may have to say about this week, it has been a great week for dancing.  Here’s just a few of the things that have popped on my feed this week.

First, I ran across this wonderful piece of a plus-sized pole dancer on Britain’s Got Talent.  I braced myself for Simon to be a total tool, but (spoiler alert) aside from some eye rolling, he managed to keep it together and be a gentleman.  And perhaps the best news is that the comments are disabled on this YouTube clip so I don’t even have to tell you not to go there!  Sweet!

And then there was this fabulous clip.  This is a group called Company and they took SECOND place in the Vibe Dance competition.  Props for the fabulous dancing and at least a teeny, tiny bit of body diversity.  There were definitely some khaki’s above a size 00 out there.  And this group is tight.  And SO much fun to watch.  Check it out!

There’s another version of the video with more closeups available here.  This gives you a better chance to see the different bodies that are rocking it out.

And last but not least, this week, I ran across this adorable dancing kid on my Facebook feed.  I mean how cool is she?  Seriously?

Werk it girl.  WERK IT!  And it just goes to show, that when you get on our there and shake your thing, other people will want to join the fun.  It takes the little guy a while to get with the program, but he does eventually get to steppin.

So there you have it.  Not a lot of thought or philosophy.  Just chock full of wiggling, jiggling bodies of all ages, shapes and sizes.  You’re welcome!

Love, Jeanette (AKA The Fat Chick)

 

In EPIC Wardrobe Malfunction, Target Creates Thigh Gap by Removing Young Woman’s Lady Bits

Close up of gruesome wardrobe malfunction. EEEK!

In it’s quest to ensure that all its models are sporting an appropriate thigh-gap,  Target PhotoShop artists appear to have removed a junior model’s vagina altogether.  The image was pointed out by several watchdog groups and blogs not only for it’s garish wardrobe malfunction, but also for the fact that it appears the junior model in question may have also been mutated into an alien creature with a very long torso and very long arms, best seen in the larger version of the photo here:

The photographic evidence of Target’s tampering have since gone viral and Target has issued an “apology” stating:

“In response to your query about the swimsuit image on Target.com, this was an unfortunate error on our part and we apologize. We have removed the image from our Web site,” a company spokesman said. Asked how the mistake occurred, “It was the result of a photo editing error on our part.”

Which leaves me with a few things to say to our friends at Target.  First of all, in your “apology” I have to say that I don’t think that word means what you think it means.  Sure, your PhotoShop guy or gal messed up.  I can certainly understand how that happened.  I doubt that it’s some sort of malicious protest on the part of the graphic designer as some have suggested.  I really don’t imagine that some designer wanted to point out the brutality inherent in the system of PhotoShopping images by blatantly messing up and releasing a picture.  I’ve produced websites and games and DVDs.  I understand that stuff slips through the cracks.  That poor graphic artist is probably not being paid less per hour than your minimum wage checkers and is probably working 80 hours per week on “salary” in a web sweat shop somewhere.  And the junior manager or producer doing Quality Control on those images is probably working just as hard and not getting paid very well either.  And if anybody gets fired over this whole mess, it will probably be them.

Apology? Hmmm. Maybe not.

But I’m sorry to say Target, that you apologized for the wrong thing.  Don’t apologize to me that a graphic artist messed up and released a photo that makes it blatantly obvious that you drastically altered a young woman’s body to convince 12-year old girls that they need to be seven feet-tall, size 00 and have a thigh gap that could hold a soccer ball.  Don’t apologize to me that you got caught.  Apologize to me for feeling the need to PhotoShop these images this way in the first place.  Apologize to me for altering photos to create impossible beauty ideals to products aimed at 12-year-old girls in an environment where hospitalizations for eating disorders in kids under 12 are up 119% (see Pinhas et. al.)  Apologize to me for being so certain that your model needs to sport a thigh gap, a trendy body trait that is nearly impossible to maintain for all but a microscopic percentage of the human race, that you were willing to graphically stretch her on the rack and excise critical bits of her anatomy to accomplish it.  (You could consider the techniques shown in the video below.  These are kinda cool actually.)

Target, you make me sad.  I adore your wide, bright aisles and fun POP displays.  I love your colorful and fun, yet generally affordable housewares, camping gear and sporting goods.  But this has GOT to stop.  It’s time for you to retract your fake apology and give us a real one.  Then tell us how you are going to stop digitally dissecting the already beautiful bodies of your models to sell us a dose of unreality we just shouldn’t have to swallow.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

Don’t miss out on another day of body loving, booty shaking fun!  Join me here.

Resolve to have More Creative Resolutions

Diet_NoIt’s the time of year when all of us size acceptance and HAES (R) folks start talking about why you shouldn’t diet as your New Year’s Resolution.  And I’m sure you’ll hear plenty of good reasons like: it doesn’t work, it makes you crabby, it messes up your metabolism, it will probably make you fatter, it fills your life with shame, it messes up your self esteem and it doesn’t work.  (I know I said “it doesn’t work” twice, but I think it’s important enough to bear repeating, um, again apparently.)  But you know what?  I’d like to add another reason for not making dieting your New Year’s Resolution to the pile.  And that reason is: it’s a really boring resolution.  I mean, is that seriously the best resolution you can come up with?  “I’m going to go on a diet,” is just not original and it’s not fun.

I strongly believe that if you can inject a little more fun into the New Year’s Resolution process, you’ve got a much better chance for success.  I’ve often said the same about exercise in general.  Fun makes everything better.  And into every person’s life comes the moment where you need to decide if you are going to put time and energy into your resolution or if you’re going to sit on the sofa, eat some cheesy poofs and watch that Saturday marathon of Project Runway reruns.  If your resolution doesn’t have any fun in it, if it’s not sort of enjoyable in some way, which do you think you’re gonna pick?  Let’s get real here.

Bored kitteh finds New Year’s Resolutions boring…

That is why I am SUPER excited about a few things we’ve got coming down the pike here!  For one, I’m still collecting photos and videos for our New New Years Resolution project.  I’d like to make a new video like the one last year, but this time, I’d like to feature YOU.  But in order for this to work, I need your photos by midnight on January 31st.  So PLEASE send your photos to projects@thefatchick.com ASAP!

Next I want to tell you about a little debauchery that Ragen and I are cooking up on the Fit Fatties Forum.  This year we are hosting a Fit Fatty Decathlon as part of our Fit Fatty  Virtual Events series.  What is that?  So glad you asked!  The Fit Fatty Decathlon is a series of lots of events that you can choose and complete on your own or with friends.  Register for the events, complete 10 of them, submit photographic evidence, post on Facebook (‘cuz otherwise it never happened) and you my friend are a Fit Fatty Decathlon Finisher!  Some of the events are pretty typical (walk/run/roll a 5K).  But some of these events include sustained temper tantrums, playing with dogs, hula hooping and running after toddlers!  (Extra points if you do all of these at the same time.)  You can learn all about it HERE.

custom_tote_bagBy the way, I should mention that prices for the Fit Fatty Decathlon are scheduled to go up significantly (like I mean a lot) after January 1.  There’s even a contest for submitting the wackiest idea for your own event.  I mean come on.  How much fun is that?  So stop your darn procrastinating and SIGN UP RIGHT NOW!  Here for your clicking convenience is that LINK AGAIN.

Whatever your new year brings to you, I hope you find a way to approach it with fun.  Life is full of challenges.  And sometimes life just sucks!  Having a little fun can help get you through.  Here’s to a year full of love and light and laughing until your belly hurts!

Love, Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Want a gift to help you learn how to feel good about your body?  This month I’m giving away “5 Things That can Help You Love Your Body Right Now! for free to members of my clique.  Just opt in RIGHT HERE!

5 Reasons Santa is a Healthy Role Model

Three Santa's for one.  Perfect for animating.

Yep, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.  All the weight loss companies that sell all the things are lining up at the door and chomping at the bit to hop on the New Years Resolution gravy train.  And in the great tradition of American holidays being celebrated earlier and earlier (with the Christmas season now starting around Labor Day) some folks are determined to start celebrating the annual fat bashing holiday during Christmas.  And one way they are doing this, I’m sad to say, is bashing Santa for being fat.

Every year now, as sure as ugly holiday sweaters and crabby Christmas relatives we are getting media reports that Santa is a bad role model for our children because he is (cue dramatic music) morbidly obese.  And every year now, this makes me CRAZY.  Now if you’re wanting links to these horrible articles, I ain’t gonna post ’em.  You can just google that nonsense if you want to know.  No, this year, I’m going to focus on why Santa is a good role model for health, and I’m gonna post it right here.  So here I go:

Five Reasons Santa is a Good Role Model for Health

Santa-Exercising1.  That Boy is Fit!  Talk about cardio.  The guy delivers presents to every kid in the world in one night!  He delivers to over 2 billion kids in one evening which must make it close to a billion chimneys that he’s going up and down.  And the whole time he’s carrying a massive sack of toys.  I mean his naughty nice book alone weighs over 3 Tons!  That’s gotta count as resistance training, right?  I would argue that in order to pull this off, Santa’s functional fitness must be truly impressive.

2.  He gets plenty of rest.  Sure, he’s got his workshop to manage, but outside of that, the guy essentially gets over 360 days per year off from work.  That’s a lot of time to read, do a little yoga and check out some progressive relaxation CDs, right? Most of us are deeply stressed either from long work hours or insufficient funds or both.  Santa is modeling that plenty of rest helps lead to a long productive life.

3.  He is vibrant in his later years.  Many accounts put good ‘ol St. Nick at over 1,000 years old, yet he’s still not retired.  Santa has a full life including regular television appearances, marching in annual parades and showing up at malls all around the world.  Can you show me one other health and fitness guru today who is rocking it out after living for a millennium?  Yeah, that’s what I thought.

4.  He has a strong social network.  As possibly one of the most popular guys in human history, Mr. Claus has a lot of friends.  He’s got his maximum 5,000 friends on facebook (stupid friends limit).  And when it comes to correspondence, Santa still kicks it old school.  The guy gets over 500,000 letters per year.  (Again there is some serious resistance training involved with simply emptying his north pole mailbox each day).  Plus he’s got the elves, and a marriage that has endured for over 150 years (possibly because they have never appeared on a talk show together).


5.  Santa has a positive outlook on life and healthy self esteem.  As a worldwide celebrity, Santa seems confident enough to rock his signature look year after year without a stylist or even shopping for new clothes.  He also seems to be genuinely happy with himself and with his lot in life.  He is well known for his hearty laugh and can often be seen literally shaking with mirth.  Despite a few truly misguided rumors, Santa has never advocated for a diet or weight loss plan.  He eats a lot and exercises a lot and loves a lot.  And all of that seems to be working out pretty well for him, all things considered.

So what lessons can we take home from this jolly old elf?  I would say the lessons are these:

1.  Do what you love to do and do it well.

2.  Exercise regularly.

3. Work hard, but get plenty of rest.

4. A life focused on giving is filled with joy.

5. When you find your signature look, just rock it out!

6. You’re never too old to have fun.

7.  Take time for your friends.

8. Love yourself just the way you are.

9. Diets don’t work.  And besides, nobody likes  a skinny Santa.

10.  Just relax and enjoy the holiday season!

Love, Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. If you’d like some more hints about loving your body, I’m giving away a free present “5 Things You Can do To Love Your Body Right Now” to everybody on my “list”.  If you’re not already a member, you can join my list right here.  And in case you missed it, I talked all about body image on the Katie Couric show yesterday.  Here’s a link, and here’s another one.  Oh and don’t forget to send your photos and new year’s resolutions to me by December 30 so you can be a part of the 2014 New Year’s video!

Do I owe it to anybody to lose weight?

Ahhh, the holidays!  It’s a time for sharing food, family, friendship and GUILT.  I recently shared some thoughts about setting boundaries for the holidays here.  (And of course, there’s always this video.)  For the most part, I find people can learn to respect the boundaries we set about talking about (or choosing not to talk about) our weight.  After all, our bodies are our business, and not anyone else’s.  But there are always those few people who find it their “moral obligation” to police our bodies.  And those people will usually use one of the following arguments to keep talking about our weight and our bodies even when we ask them to desist:

1.  What about your children?  Don’t you want to be around to see them grow up, get married, have children of their own, and retire?  First of all, let me remind you that you won’t be there to care for your children if you spend the rest of your life in prison.  So, put down the butter knife and back away slowly.  Seriously, this is like DEFCON 5 in the guilt wars over your body, so I can see how it might make you very upset to hear this, but let’s talk it through, okay?  First of all, please remember that weight and health are not the same thing.  Most people only have a limited amount of control over how much they weigh.  And while there are some things we can do to help increase our odds of having a healthy life, none of us knows how many days we have left on this earth.  One of the things that you can do to increase your odds for a long, healthy life is to manage stress.  So as much as you want to strangle Aunt Thelma for asking this question over the holiday ham, please remember to take a moment and just breathe. Some other things you may be able to do to increase your odds are to exercise regularly, sleep well, eat a wide variety of healthy foods (especially fruits and vegetables), and engage in some regular activity to help manage stress.  Note I said that these are things you may be able to do.  Obviously, if you’re working two full-time jobs and taking care of a few children, stuff like stress management classes, regular exercise, or getting any sleep may not be possible for you right now.  Not everybody has access to the same opportunities for healthy stuff (more on that in a minute).  And maybe if Aunt Thelma is so concerned about your health, maybe she can babysit your little darlings three times per week while you take an exercise class, meditate, or just have fifteen minutes to go to the bathroom all by yourself.

2.  But my health insurance rates are higher because of fat people like you.  Oh dear.  First of all, I strongly recommend assiduously avoiding any discussion of health insurance during holiday gatherings this year.  Put it on the list with climate change and which direction the toilet paper roll should go into the holder as points not to be discussed during the holidays.  But if your gentle attempts to deflect a discussion about how the size of your hips affects your Cousin Tony’s insurance premiums fall on deaf ears, here’s a few things you should know.  First and foremost, there is only a narrow window of things that we have any control over when it comes to health.  Fall Ferguson discusses this in a great post on the ASDAH blog here.  In particular, she mentions the CDC’s discussion of Social Determinants of Health and references this diagram:

As you can see, health behaviors only account for a relatively small section of the overall determinants regarding whether or not a person is healthy.  And notice it says health behaviors.  To be very, very clear here, body weight is not a behavior.  You cannot tell how healthy somebody is or whether or not they engage in healthy behaviors by looking at them.

Now, back to your Cousin Tony.  He seems to think that if you would just lose weight, you would suddenly cost the health insurance companies less and somehow his premiums would magically go down.  Well to start with, as a fat person you may be denied access to health insurance altogether.  I have a number of fat friends for whom this is the case.  So you may not be affecting his premiums at all.  Also, if Tony wants to keep his insurance premiums down, then perhaps he can help raise your “social/societal” characteristics or socioeconomic status.  After all, that has nearly twice as much effect as the whole healthy behaviors category.  All he has to do is, pay you enough money to move you into a different economic bracket.  No?  Well maybe Tony can pay for child care so you can go to the gym more often, or pay you enough so you can quit your day job and get eight full hours of sleep for once?  What’s that you say?  Tony isn’t interested in paying for any of this stuff?  Well maybe at least Tony can commit to fighting for social justice.  Tony can take his pick.  He could find for bias free healthcare or reasonable working hours or access to healthy foods or good preventative medicine.  No?  Well then maybe Tony just needs to shut up.  Oh and let me remind you just one more time; Tony cannot tell whether you engage in healthy behaviors just by looking at you.  Speaking of which:

3.  I don’t like having to look at you because your fat body hurts my delicate aesthetic sensibilities.  Most of the time, the answer to this statement is simple.  Just. Don’t. Look.  If your Dad’s friend Jim finds it uncomfortable to look at your fabulously fleshy frame, he can just look the heck away.  You are under no obligation whatsoever to be attractive to anybody’s gaze or be considered as an object of lust. This situation is far less simple however, when you are talking about your spouse or your kids.  I am unbelievably privileged to have a husband who thinks my fat body absolutely rocks his stripy socks.  But I understand that not all women (or men) have a spouse that thinks this way.  I have seen marriages get hopelessly tangled around one spouse helping another to lose weight “for their health” all the while not discussing the real issues around body size and sexual attraction.  I have seen kids use weight as a tool to hurt their parents (and vice versa).  I have seen kids who ask that the “thin parent” be the one to appear at school functions and do public things with the child in order to “escape embarrassment”.  First, let me say that if this is happening to you, I’m sorry.  You absolutely do not deserve this, and my heart hurts for you.  Second, let me tell you that this situation is far beyond what I can cover in my humble little blog.  There are no funny or glib comments that I can make here that will make this problem just go away.  Let me suggest that you do whatever is in your power to find help.  Maybe you can get some family counseling.  A lot of counseling is available on a sliding fee scale based on your income.  Perhaps a clergy person can help.  If your family is not willing to go to counseling with you, maybe you can at  least find some counseling for just yourself.  And let me also offer some hope here.  I have known people in this situation that were able to find help.  And I have known marriages and families that have come through this with relationships intact and stronger than ever.  Find some help, and hang in there.

Summary  There is so much more I could say about this topic.  In terms of my own health practice, I’d really like to get a little bit more sleep.  So let me wrap this thing up.  Regardless of what you decide to say to your Cousin Tony and your Aunt Thelma, please remember this: you do not owe it to anybody to lose weight.  You don’t owe it to yourself, and you certainly don’t owe it to anybody else.  Your body is your business.  If Aunt Thelma and Cousin Tony are actually concerned about the state of your life and the state of your health, I’ve already suggested some things you can request.  They can pay for your meditation classes or do a little free child care (as long as they aren’t expecting weight loss, or any other specific outcome in return).  However if Tony and Thelma are just trying to pass a little holiday guilt and judgement along with the gravy boat, they can just step the heck off.

Ho, ho, freaking, ho.

Here’s wishing you a holiday that is peaceful–or at least calm enough to avoid homicide.

Love, Jeanette (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Looking for a little help?  How about joining my personal training program?  Prices are going to go up in January, so why not lock into some holiday savings right now?

P.P.S. Want to get access to FREE STUFF?  Just opt in RIGHT HERE!

What are the odds?

Hey there!  Sorry I haven’t blogged in a few days.  I’ve been on the roller coaster and hanging on for dear life.  Seems like that’s the way of it, doesn’t it?  First you’re on top of the world, and then BOOM, sick in bed with a terrible, nasty, icky head cold.

It’s not like I haven’t taken prophylactic measures.  I’ve been taking lots of vitamin C, drinking lots of water, washing my hands raw and all of that good stuff.  I’ve been doing my very best to get good sleep and trying my best to manage stress.

Ever since I felt a sniffle, I’ve been rubbing menthol on my feet and sucking a zinc lozenge every few hours and drinking massive quantities of tea.

I’m doing everything that statistics suggest I should to prevent and minimize colds.  So why am I still sick?

I got sick because I got sick. No matter how many steps you take, you can stick get sick at any time.  Does that mean I shouldn’t have taken those steps to try to minimize my risk and minimize my symptoms?  Well no.  The steps didn’t have many potentially negative side effects and weren’t too difficult.  And they might have worked.  And who knows, things might have been worse had I not taken those steps.

But this is the thing about statistics and health.  If there’s a 1% chance of getting sick, that means that out of every 100 people, about 1 will get sick.  And no matter how many remedies you try, no matter how strong your immune system may be, that one person might be you.  And as tempting as it might be to believe you didn’t get sick because of the mouthwash you used, or the special ritual you followed, you might not have gotten sick because of dumb luck.

So as much as we may wish to believe that we are “healthy” because we are virtuous people who eat whole grain cereal and do yoga, I think we need to give at least a passing nod to all the other stuff that goes into it.  As Fall Ferguson writes in her post on the ASDAH blog: there are many, many factors that go into whether or not a person is healthy.  Doing healthy stuff is just one of those things.  So where does this leave us?

We may wish to do stuff that increases our odds of being healthy.  How much stuff we are able to do may well be decided by our socioeconomic status or access to good healthcare.  How effective those healthy behaviors are may well be decided by our genetic makeup.  How much stuff we choose to do is up to each and every one of us.  It’s time we give up the notion that being healthy is “virtuous” and being sick is a sign that we are “weak, lazy, undisciplined or unconcerned”.  Sometimes we just got sneezed on by the wrong person at the wrong time.  There are no guarantees.

So even though I feel tired, and cranky and stuffed up and sneezy and sick, I choose not to bother feeling guilty.

Love,

The Fat Chick

P.S. Still waiting to hear when our Katie Couric episode will air.  Will keep you posted!  oxoxoxoxox