Tag Archives: joy

Sorry, RogerEbert.com, It’s Not Okay that Sadness is Fat

Guess which one is Sadness. Go on. Guess.

Recently I saw a piece by columnist Olivia Collette Roger Ebert. com called “Why Can’t Sad Be Fat?”  The piece was written in response to the recent backlash regarding Pixar’s recent release “Inside Out”.  In the film, which takes place primarily inside the head of an 11 year old girl, there are characters embodying various emotions including anger, disgust, joy, fear and sadness.  In particular, the article skewers Joni Edelman, editor-in-chief at Ravishly.com, feminist and body-positive activist, about a piece she recently wrote for The Huffington Post.

Let’s first address the fact that Joni admits she wrote the article without having seen the movie first.  In retrospect, this was probably a bad idea.  I don’t believe it invalidates Joni’s argument.  It just makes it awfully easy for the opposing side to take cheap pot shots at her.  And they did.  Yes indeedy.

I did see the movie.  And in many ways, I liked it.  But immediately afterwards, I asked my hubby, why did they have to make Sadness fat?  You see, the character called Sadness is blue, wears a frumpy sweater and glasses and is, well, fat.  This is in contrast to the character called “Joy” who is thin, yellow, tall, twirly and wears a gorgeous green Doris Day dress.

I was frustrated.  Because I liked the movie quite a lot.  The movie featured a female lead who loved to play hockey, came from the Midwest, also loved unicorns, and was all around cool.  I loved the fact that sadness was recognized as an important human emotion, and that when the main character Riley is told to put on a brave face regarding a cross-country move to San Francisco, and tries to squash her feelings of sadness, all heck breaks loose.  It’s important to acknowledge that we need to feel sad sometimes.

In many ways the movie is great.

But why did they have to make “Sadness” short, frumpy, bespectacled and fat?  Why did they feel the need to pair fat with lazy?  In the movie, Joy actually picks up Sadness’ leg and drags her around because she’s “too sad to walk”.  Check it out (if you want) in the clip below:

And I can’t help but shake my head at Olivette’s critique of Joni.  In the article on RogerEbert.com, she suggests that Joni is the one equating fat with bad.  Olivette suggests that since Joni hasn’t seen the film, SHE’S the one projecting negative stereotypes onto the fat character and therefore missed the nuances of the film.

Firstly, if she’s a body-positive activist, I wonder what led her to assume that the fat character is a bad one. Not in an evil way, of course, but at least in a way that’s not as uplifting as Joy.

To which I reply:

right animated GIF

Look.  I love the fact that Sadness is important and that Joy misjudges her.  But (and this is a big but) you are still portraying sadness as a character who is fat, and lazy and frumpy.  There is a very, VERY strong notion in our country that being fat is an outward manifestation of being emotionally unbalanced.  That we are fat because we are sad and then we are sad because we are fat.  If I had a dollar for every time I came across an ad or a program or a person in my life who insisted that once I learned how to be happy, once I learned to be emotionally fulfilled, I would stop eating and the pounds would just melt away.  “Fat people shouldn’t be hated.  They should be pitied.  Because they are sad which makes them eat, which makes them more fat, which makes them more sad, bless their hearts.”  Grrrrr.

I understand fully that the Joy character initially misunderstands the Sadness character in the movie.  And I am really clear about the transformation that happens as Joy understands the importance of Sadness to Riley.  But it still doesn’t do anything to take away from the Fat=Sadness=Fat trope in the movie and in the world.

And I don’t buy the argument that if we made Joy fat, the movie would be criticized for furthering the Fat=Jolly stereotype either.  (I.E. you just can’t make those fat people happy no matter what you do, so why try?)  I am glad that this film gets so many things so right.  But it doesn’t take a away a little feeling of Sadness that they had to do it by showing very young girls that the fat girl and the thin girl can be friends, but the fat girl can’t ever really be happy.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Want to hear me speak about body positivity at YOUR school?  Check out my speaking page HERE.

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PADS Saturday

Okay y’all.  I’m not gonna lie.  It was an awesome week and a tough week all rolled up in one.  So I felt that I needed to have a PADS Saturday and share it with you.  If you’re new, or missed the previous posts, PADS stands for Public Acts of Dancing Spontaneously and it  is something that never fails to make me feel better.  And this Saturday’s clip is a doozy.

So you never know what’s gonna happen in NYC.  On this particular day, Coyote of Coyote & Crow decided to perform Grateful Dead’s Version of “Me & My Uncle” at Bedford Ave. Williamsburg NYC.  The song is awesome and naturally it got some toes tappin’.  And then this little girl decided to take it to 11.

I love that she feels free to dance her little heart out.  I love that she doesn’t feel like she needs to be Beyonce or Lady Gaga.  She just boogies down in her hat and little pink coat.  And that’s my wish for all little girls everywhere.  That they can love themselves and love their bodies and live outside of self consciousness long enough to bust a move in the subway if the feeling takes them.

Here’s to lifting your heart and dancing through your day.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

A Joyous Sufficiency

I’ve been adding more meditation time to my life and this has been a wonderful decision.  I was deeply encouraged by a dear friend (Thanks Gina!) to pursue this and it has helped me in so many ways.  I am feeling less stressed.  I am feeling more grounded.  My dreams at night are rich and vivid!  There are so many good things.

In my work with a coach last year and in my meditation this year, I have come across many tools and phrases that I use to help keep me centered and feeling whole.  But in all those tools and phrases, for me one has stood head and shoulders above the rest.  I simply tell myself, “Jeanette, you are enough.”

I often need to tell myself this phrase over and over.  Because throughout my life, I have often felt I wasn’t enough.  I wasn’t tall enough or thin enough or smart enough or rich enough.  I wasn’t sexy enough or talented enough or kind enough or a good enough friend, daughter, sister or wife.

And in my life when I have felt the deepest despair, I wonder if I am even under there.  Under the awards and the press clippings and the degrees and the friends  list and the family ties and the wardrobe and the public smile.  Under the niceness and the smile I share even when I feel like crying am I under all that?  Is there a me there somewhere?

But through my meditation work, I am starting to understand that I am a joyous sufficiency.  I am enough.  Not my money or my work or my friends lists or my accomplishments.  Not my friends lists or my awards or my photographs or my resume or my portfolio.  I am enough.  Just me.  Whatever I bring, or do, or desire or act upon. I AM just fine.  I AM.

I share this because I hear you.  I hear you when you are frustrated and sad and feel like you will never live up to what you think the world wants you to be.  I hear you when you fail yet again to capture the perfect selfie that will convince you that you have convinced the entire world you are okay.  And for those moments, whenever they come up, I want to say something.

Breathe.  You are okay.  You are enough.  You ARE.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Want me to come talk to your group about the importance of understanding “joyous sufficiency”?  Email me at jeanette at the fat chick dot com.  Learn more here.

Radical Self Care

RASCAL

I am so excited to announce our new challenge on the Fit Fatties Forum called the RASCAL challenge.  This stands for Radical Activist for Self Care and Love.  In this challenge, we encourage you to think outside the box about what self-care means and we challenge you to prioritize self care in your life.  Given my current focus on healing, this challenge just could not have come at a better time.

One of the reasons I’m so excited about this challenge is that it helps us broaden our definition of what is included in the definition for “health”.  Some of us believe that being healthy means being thin.  If we are thin, we are healthy.  If we are not thin, we can’t be healthy.  I’ve talked quite a bit about this in the past.  There are lots of studies that indicate that simply isn’t true.  In particular, this study shows that healthy behavior is a better predictor of future health than BMI.  But this begs the question, what is healthy behavior?

Of course joyfully moving your body is a wonderful healthy behavior.  Of course eating in a way that is in tune with your body’s needs as well as your spiritual and emotional needs is a healthy behavior.  But is that all there is to wellness?  Eat an apple and go for a walk and you’ve got it covered?  I don’t think so.  To me health is nuanced and multidimensional.  And health involves self-care.  (Insert deep sigh here…) Why is it that so many of us are so good at taking care of other people and so lousy at taking care of ourselves?  Are we conditioned that way from birth?  I don’t know.  But I DO know that self care gives us the strength to help others.  Think about what the flight attendant says before you take off.  “First secure your own oxygen mask, then you can help small children and those around you.”  In other words, breathe.  Take a moment to care for yourself.

And that moment may involve eating something wonderful or going for a walk.  Or it may involve simply breathing.  Maybe your self-care moment is spending just a few seconds of your day simply being.  Maybe it means getting a little extra sleep.  Maybe it involves asking for help.  Maybe it involves doing a booty-shaking victory dance.  Maybe it means calling a friend and reconnecting.  Maybe it means writing a letter to someone who wronged you.  Maybe it just requires 5 minutes of quiet and a cup of tea.

Self-care is different for each of us.  But it is absolutely critical to our well being.  That’s why I’m so excited about the RASCAL challenge.  We’ve come up with over 100 official Radical Acts of Self Care and Love, and we’re challenging folks to do one of those acts every single day.  Aside from the intrinsic rewards that come from self love, we are ACTUALLY rewarding you with badges and encouragement and prizes for taking care of yourself.  Seriously.  How cool is that?

I hope you’ll join me in spending some time to take care of yourself this month, either by taking the challenge or simply choosing to do it on your own.  Because the world needs you to take care of you.

Love, Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

Want to book me to speak to your group about radical self care?  Click here!

Want to join my mailing list and get free stuff?  Click here!

80 Odd Years of Happy

The title of this post might refer to the notion that you’ve been hearing that infernal song for 80 years.  But in this case it does not.  It refers to a whole bunch of folks, some well into their 80’s dancing around to that infernal song.  Which is happy-making indeed.  And I feel like sharing this video with you because I feel like we could all use a little happy in our lives today.

It’s been kinda a rough week.  Many of us have been deeply saddened by the passing of Robin Williams, a deeply talented movie icon who brought joy to so many of us.  And many of us have been deeply angered by George Takei’s need to not only present a deeply troubling meme bashing disabled people on his feed, but also his ridiculous need to defend his actions using the tired “people are just too sensitive trope”.  I’m not going to post the awful meme here on my blog.  In case you’re curious, I am going to post a link here to Lisa Egan’s article about it which explains the whole thing so much better than I ever could.

Nope, today, I am going to simply post this video and share a little of the love I feel about it:

I am aware that there are some problems with this video.  I think it’s pretty likely that this is a branded entertainment piece for the retirement community.  And the super high production values lead me to believe that the retirement community spent a whole lot of money on this thing.  That said, I love the fact that there are so many people of all ages, shapes, sizes and abilities doing their thing in here.  See that George Takei?  Old  people dancing!  People with walkers boogying down.  Put that in your meme and stuff it, George.

I also love the way the video depicts old people as being powerful and vibrant and fun.  I think as a society, we are so quick to dismiss older people.  We see them as a problem or an expense.  We see them as a throwaway society.  But all people in our society have value.  Everyone has something to give.  I was reminded of this yet again with another amazing video I came across in my Facebook feed today.

As a person who works as a producer this is something that I think about constantly.  How can we get everybody involved?  How can everybody contribute?  How can we help everybody not only feel valued but also be valued?

If you’ll forgive me for feeling all the feels in this very public way, I just want to tell you this.  We are a deeply troubled world.  We can make things better, but we need all the help we can get.  So let’s begin with a deep commitment to not exclude or throw away a significant percentage of the population who don’t meet some arbitrary standard of age, ability, weight, sex or beauty, OK?  Every BODY has value.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. We are only 10 days away from the Fat Activism Conference.  Join us in making the world a better and more inclusive place for people of all sizes.  Register today at www.fatactivismconference.com.

Because I’m Happy…

I think one of the most difficult barriers I’ve encountered on my journey towards self acceptance is the constant barrage of input telling me that people in larger bodies can’t really be “happy”.  In stark contrast to the “fat and jolly” stereotype is the notion that all fat people are unhappy deep down.  And this information is everywhere.  From our television and magazine advertising to barroom pop psychology to well meaning friends and relatives, it seems like a lot of people are pretty sure I would be a lot happier if I would just lose weight.

“But I am pretty happy,” I tell folks. Their reply, “Not really.  If you were really happy you wouldn’t be fat.”  Sigh…  One of the pieces of prejudice I find most daunting is the notion that all people who are fat are eating to compensate for some life deficiency.  Either we were sexually abused as children, or didn’t get enough love at some stage or are facing some buried psychological trauma.  “It’s not your fault you’re fat,” they state, while patting you on the head.  “We just need to fix what is broken with you emotionally, and the weight will just flow off your body.”

Think I’m making this up?  No lie, when I was getting one of my fitness certifications, one of the teachers pulled out a magic marker and headed towards the big paper pad she was using to sketch out the “fitness wisdom” she had to impart.  She drew a picture of a fat person (small oval over big round body–it was no Monet).  Then she drew another circle inside the fat tummy circle.  “Fat people have a hole in their lives,” she stated.  “There is something missing inside them that they attempt to stuff full with food.”

hollowfatpersonI was mortified.  And I was pissed.  This clearly wasn’t in any of the written materials that she or we had received with the course.  This teacher was just making this stuff up and stating it as fact in a training course that is designed to train people to teach exercise to other people.

But most of the extremely thin people in the room simply nodded their heads knowingly and accepted it as fat fact.  Along with this notion is the notion that if we lose weight, if we become visibly and socially acceptably skinny, all our problems will melt away and we will finally be happy.  This idea is so pervasive that people spend billions of dollars in pursuit of the happiness level of thinness.  I believed it.  I got thin.  For a little while after a ridiculous diet that made me very sick, I was thin.  And I waited for the happy.  And waited.  And waited…

There was some euphoria over increased clothes shopping opportunities.  There was some afterglow from the constant validation and encouragement I got about how much better I looked.  (Although there was also frankly a lot of pissed off wondering what people thought about how I looked before.)  But did I experience magical, mystical happy–smiling while eating a salad, orgasmic swooning over eating yogurt happy?  I’d have to say that never arrived.

Oh God, I think I’m… AHHHHHHH!

And now that I’ve lived and loved in a fat body for a while, I can say I’ve found a modicum of relatively reliable happy.  Am I happy all the time?  Nope.  Do I swoon over yogurt?  What, are you kidding?  But I’m pretty happy most of the time.

That is why I was so very, VERY excited to see this music video by Pharrell Williams and what seems to be half the population of Los Angeles.  Take a look. I’ll wait…

Honestly, this music video is what got me on this whole subject with you in the first place.  First of all, I have to apologize.  This great song is likely to leave you with an earworm that lasts for days.  Sorry about that.  But on the upside here we have a video with lots and lots of people who are boogying down and singing about being happy.  And remarkably none of these people look the same.  There are kids, young people, middle aged people and old people.  There are men and women.  There are single people and families.  There are people who are extremely mobile and some who are less mobile.  There are people of all different colors.  There are thin people, fat people and in-betweenies.  They all look happy as hell, and there is not one single carton of yogurt or salad in the entire music video!

Happy2

The video is actually compiled from a much bigger project called 24 Hours of Happy.  Go check out the website.  It’s the coolest!  I’ll wait.  The website contains a 24-hour long music video to this song compiled by Pharrell and his team. I have absolutely no idea how much raw footage they shot, but I imagine it must have been epic.  The net result is a web-based clock.  At any given moment, you can click in and watch Angelinos of all stripes shaking their thing.

Aside from being a super cool project, the thing I love about this is that it helps demonstrate an idea.  Happy doesn’t look the same on everybody.  You don’t have to be a particular color or size or shape to be happy.  You don’t have to be young.  You don’t have to be thin.  You don’t have to eat dairy products of any kind.  But it is still possible for you to be happy.

Now don’t get me wrong.  Privilege and wealth and security and a lot of other things can certainly make happy easier.  And there is absolutely no doubt that the rampant discrimination that accompany fat stigma can make it much harder to find happy.  But I do know that I found it extremely helpful on my journey to learn that happy was at least possible at any size.  It made it much easier for me to fight for happy for myself and for all my fat brothers and sisters.

So I will continue to blog, because, I’m happy…

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. If you like, you can join in the happy RIGHT HERE.

Taking Your Spirit for a Walk

We’ve been talking a lot about pedometers and counting steps and walking towards physical fitness in the last few weeks.  But walking does a lot more than strengthen your body and mind.  Walking can also have a profound effect on calming and lifting your spirit.  There are many approaches to using walking to speak to your soul.  So take a deep breath, and let’s explore some of them together:

Love walking: Going for a walk with somebody you love deeply can be a great balm and help for both of your souls.  If you walk with one of your children, this can be a time for you to really listen to them and focus on what is happening in their life.  In order for this to work however, you really have to focus.  That may mean muting your cell phone or turning it off altogether.  (But don’t leave your phone at home.  A fully-charged cell phone is one of  your most important pieces of fitness safety gear.)  This can also be a time for you to observe nature together.  If your child is young,  you may want to be prepared with some games that you can play as you walk like iSpy or simply naming the colors, animals, plants and shapes you encounter along the way.  Love walking with your significant other can be a time for you to share the details of your day, or even just to hold hands and enjoy some silence together.

Social Walking: Walking can be a great time to catch up with friends and share thoughts and feelings about what is happening in your lives.  And walking regularly with a good friend can help you keep your walking program on track.  Having a great jaw session can help bring the fun into fitness and help you forget that you’re exercising.  And don’t forget, laughing while walking also engages your abdominal muscles!

Prayer Walking:  I’ve known some people who have found a lot of joy in using their walking time for prayer.  You can take time during your stroll to pray for friends and family.  You can even take time, as you walk the sidewalks in your neighborhood to pray for the people who live near you.  Aside from allowing you to really focus on prayer a few times per week, I’ve talked to some prayer walkers who find that turning focus away from the physical benefits and towards caring for other people helps them to prioritize their walking program and be sure to carve time out for it.  And spending time sending love out to the universe is sure to have benefits for you and for everyone you touch.

Walking Meditation: Walking is a rhythmic, repetitive process that can really lend itself towards meditation.  Some people find it easier to meditate while they are sitting very still.  Some others find that the physical action of walking really helps them with their body awareness and aids their meditation practice.  There are many forms of walking meditation–from quite simple to more complex versions.  However, here’s a few tips for engaging in a walking meditation:

1.  Silence is golden.  Bring your fully-charged cell phone with you, but mute or turn it off during your walk.  Unless you are using music or spoken word specifically tailored to your meditation, you may want to leave your MP3 player and earbuds at home.

2.  Take some time before you start to become centered in your body.  Take a few deep breaths.  Feel the breaths move your tummy in and out.  Check in with your hands and feet, and sense how your body feels before you start out.

3.  Take the easy path.  Try to walk somewhere that will not require you to dodge a lot of people or obstacles.  Some gurus suggest that you pick a relatively short, straight path.  When you come to the end of the path, stop, reconnect with your body, turn around, and walk again.

4.  Spend time as you are walking checking in with your body.  How does your breath feel going in and out?  How do the soles of your feet feel where they are touching your shoes or socks, and how does each footfall ground with the earth? How do your arms feel?  Does your body feel light or heavy?  How does the air feel as it touches your skin?

5.  Send yourself some body love.  A walking meditation is a wonderful time to send positive messages to your body.  You can even choose a mantra–a brief phrase that you repeat to yourself over and over as you walk.  The best mantras are rhythmic in nature and allow you to put a syllable on each step as you walk.  Here are a few of my favorites:

I am worthy.

I am enough.

I am grateful.

Thank you body.

So what do you think?  Are  you interested in taking your spirit for a walk?  I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences as you give some of these techniques a try.  Don’t forget to share in the comments section!

And yet another one of our faithful readers will be receiving a jump start to his fitness program!  Rob Gokee, you’ve won a free pedometer!  Don’t forget to send me an email at jeanette at thefatchick dot com with your mailing address so I can get your pedometer out to you!

Love,

Jeanette DePatie

AKA The Fat Chick

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