Tag Archives: size acceptance

New Video and a New Plan

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There’s no question, I’ve been away for a while.  As this video demonstrates, I’m still spending plenty of time talking about Health At Every Size and loving the skin you’re in.  And now I am BACK baby, and I am super excited to tell you what my dear friend and business partner Ragen Chastain and I have been cooking up while I’ve been gone.  It’s called the Body Love Obstacle Course or BLOC.  We’ve been working on it for a while now, and I think you’re going to love it.  It’s designed to help you over around and through the body love obstacles that keep you from the life of your dreams.

And we’re super excited to be kicking it off with a brand spanking new FREE video. I think this might be the best video we’ve ever shot….

BLOC VIDEO

It’s about how the way we feel about our bodies affects every area of our lives, and about how we can use that fact to create our best careers, relationships, and life.

BLOC VIDEO

(There’s only one catch – you *might* have to renew your email subscription in order to see this video.)

Ragen and I had a blast shooting this one – even though we live less than an hour apart, we don’t get to see each as often as we’d like, so before we shot the video we rehearsed over
a delicious dumpling lunch, and got super psyched to shoot the video!  So we got to eat fabulous dumplings AND we get to share some of our most powerful ideas about overcoming body hatred, kicking butt and taking names.  Talk about a WIN/WIN situation.  I hope you’ll take a moment to hop on over to look at our first free BLOC video.  And looking forward to talking to you soon!

Love,

Jeanette DePatie

(AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. This video will only be up for a few days…
go check it out right now:

 

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)

 

Stuff That Weighs More Than Me: Russian MiG

Jeanette rocks out in a Russian Mig

Jeanette rocks out in a Russian MiG

I haven’t done one of these in a while, but I just CAN’T resist.  I am speaking at the National Association of Broadcasters Event in Las Vegas this week, and while there I got a chance to sit my rump into a genuine Russian MiG.  How cool is that!?  I spotted this beautiful blue baby from across the lot and thought?  How much does that plane weigh?  I’ll bet it weighs more than me!  The lady was kind enough to take my picture.  And I got back to the convention center and did a leetle bit o’ research.  Here’s the stats:

MiG 15 bis

  • Crew: 1 or 2
  • Length: 10.08 m (33 ft 1 in)
  • Wingspan: 10.08 m (33 ft 1 in)
  • Height: 3.7 m (12 ft 2 in)
  • Wing area: 20.6 m2 (222 sq ft)
  • Airfoil: TsAGI S-10 / TsAGI SR-3
  • Empty weight: 3,630 kg (8,003 lb)
  • Gross weight: 5,000 kg (11,023 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 6,105 kg (13,459 lb)

And even though the cockpit was teeny tiny, any way you measure it–full, empty or at maximum takeoff weight, this Russian MiG weighs more than me.

mig2Love,

Jeanette DePatie AKA The Fat Chick

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)

P.S. Want to join my list, get free stuff and be sure not to miss out on a single bit of the awesomeness?  Click here to join.

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!

 

The Red Handle, The Hot Button and Other Hair Triggers

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Recently I came across this article about Chris Christie and pulling the “red handle”.  I remember clicking on it because I didn’t know what the “red handle” was.  As I read the article, I immediately understood, in a very visceral way about the red handle and connected it to a number of recent conversations I have had with friends, family and coaching clients.

The article describes the “red handle” this way:

A lot of people have a red handle installed deep in their person, where if somebody yanks on it, it hurts.  For some people, it’s some terrible mistake they regret, and for some people, it’s something they’re always trying to get better at that hasn’t worked, or a relationship they can’t repair, or a weakness that makes them self-conscious, or a memory that’s sort of awful. I’m not any better or worse off than anybody else in having something like this in my nature/history; the only difference between mine and anybody else’s is that mine is on the outside.

I get the concept of the red handle.  Oh yes.  In my life, I always referred to it as my hot button, but I understand the idea.  The notion that, regardless of how well somebody does or doesn’t know you, they may freely assume that there is this one thing about you that is “up for grabs”.  They see a target at which they can aim.  And regardless of whether or not this is a deeply sensitive subject for you, they feel a sense of glee at being able to push your hot button or pull your red handle.

In a society that constantly hounds, harasses, embarrasses, traumatizes, cajoles and bullies people who don’t conform to an extremely narrow vision of acceptably attractive, it’s not hard to imagine body size as the red handle or hot button for many, many people.  I’m sure that’s what was behind the “attack at the Mexican restaurant” I told you about, or the many, many hateful email messages and comments I filter out of my blog, YouTube channel, website, and facebook profiles on a daily basis.  Because people are pretty sure this is my hot button/red handle.  And even though I’ve become much tougher and it doesn’t affect me nearly as much as it once did, for much of my life their guess about my hot button, my red handle would have been pretty much true.

And that sucks.  Because most of us have the ability to choose when we share our hot button with other people.  Feel insecure about your education level?  You don’t necessarily have a sign on you that says ,”I flunked calculus” that everybody in the world, including complete strangers can see.  People actually need to get to know you, get to know a little bit about you before they discover that hot button.  Your “I have abandonment issues” might not become apparent to even your closest friends or lover until your relationship deepens and becomes more meaningful.  I have often reflected on the power inherent in exposing our hot buttons, our red handles, our soft underbellies to those who love us the most.  The power that knowledge gives our loved ones to strengthen or destroy us.  To build us up and gird our loins or to wound us deeply and permanently.

But fat people don’t always get this chance.  Many of us have been bullied our entire lives about the size of our bodies and for many of us this is our hot button/red handle/soft underbelly issue.  And that means that complete strangers, can yell at us across a crowded room and wound us deeply and even permanently without having to know anything about us or even give it a second thought.

Add to this, the notion that lots and lots of people still suffer under the delusion that wounding us this way will somehow help us.  That it will shame us into “doing something about our bodies” as if we didn’t have piles and piles of proof that shaming people does not make them healthier, happier or thinner.  And what you get is fat marathoners getting eggs thrown at them, cowardly people offering unsolicited advice before they scoot off subway trains, and a whole lot of nasty aimed at our soft underbellies from people we don’t even know.

I can say that this is no longer a primary hot button or red handle for me.  And I’m not super eager to tell everybody in the world what the newer versions of those hot buttons are.  I think I’ll ask you to know me a little better before I tell you–or at least buy me a drink first.  I feel very privileged to have come to the point in my life that somebody calling me a fat cow is more likely to leave me annoyed, angry or even amused than devastated.

But it has made me more dedicated than ever to work with my amazing colleagues like Ragen Chastain and Golda Poretsky to help fat folks understand that they do not deserve to have their hot buttons pushed and their red levers pulled–and to help the world at large to understand that pushing this hot button, that pulling this red lever without permission in a complete stranger or even a friend is a form of psychological rape.   It is not justified under any circumstances, and it is never, ever okay.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie AKA The Fat Chick

P.S. Want to join my list, get free stuff and be sure not to miss out on a single bit of the awesomeness?  Click here to join.

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!

 

Why self esteem isn’t just about you.

I talk a lot about self esteem and self efficacy in this blog, because I think both of those things are very, very important. I think the way we see ourselves and the way we approach the world helps to shape our world.  On the other hand, I think it’s important to recognize that the world we live in shapes us in turn.  Both self esteem and self efficacy involve more than just self.  Because as John Donne said all those years ago:

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main…

John Donne

We all function as part of the world.  Our self esteem is deeply influenced by the opinions of those around us.  And frankly, right now, the world is none too kind to people of size.  Feeling good about yourself is really tough in an world containing people who after one look at you consider themselves justified in considering you less than human.  Even when you approach the world in your best dress and your prettiest smile and your very most positive of positive thoughts, it’s tough going when what the world reflects back to you is pity, disgust, shame, disdain and yes, even fear.

And it’s also important to recognize that the tremendous amount of prejudice experienced by people of size in our culture is constantly reenforced by various factors.  The diet and weight loss industry is worth more than 60 Billion dollars in the U.S. alone.  And desire for a piece of the grant/research money pie has fueled a desperate fight against fat people also known as the “War on Obesity”.  A need to find a scapegoat in our difficult economic times and even more difficult health care landscape has led to the fat person as social pariah–blamed for everything from the high costs of health insurance to global warming.

I’m not telling you this because I want you to be depressed.  Far from it.  But I also want to pay homage to the fact that feeling good as a less than skinny person in our culture can be really, really difficult.  This is reality.  And any work that we try to do to feel good about ourselves needs to be seen in the context of this reality.

This is why I think it is so very important to build community to support one another.  I am by no means perfect in my self esteem.  But a great deal of any of the strength I do possess in this regard comes directly from my participation in the size acceptance community.  I am deeply indebted to those who have come before.  That’s why I think it is so important to honor others who are building a better and safer world for people of all sizes.  This year, we honored some of those trail blazers this year in the Shadow on a Tightrope anniversary.  And my dear friend and business collaborator Ragen Chastain is doing very important work in her documentary film project honoring the history of the heroes and heroines of the size acceptance movement.

And beyond just recognizing those who have gone before, there is a veritable army of people out there right now, working to make the world better for people of all shapes and sizes.  People like Marilyn Wann and Ragen Chastain.  Organizations like the Size Diversity Task Force and ASDAH and NAAFA.

So in your look to bolster your self-esteem, I’d like to encourage you to think beyond yourself.  First, I’d like to suggest that you take a look at some of the forces outside of yourself that may be dragging on you.  Learning to recognize these voices that send you negative and shaming messages is an important first step towards choosing what to take on board and what to throw away.

Next, I’d like to suggest that you find community.  Get together in the real world or the virtual one, with like-minded people who allow you to feel supported and safe at any size.  I can’t emphasize enough how much community has helped me and supported me and strengthened me.

Finally, I’d like to ask you to consider how you might help others feel good about themselves.  It’s not enough to simply take.  Community implies a sharing of talents and resources and our very selves.  That’s not to say that we all need to help in the same way.  Some of us will march in protests.  Some of us will send scathing letters.  Some of us will simply support one another with a quick hug or a kind word in the comments section.

None of us is an island.  We are all a piece of the continent, a citizen of the world, a member of the universe.  It’s up to all of us to make that universe a better place for ALL of us.

Love, Jeanette (AKA The Fat Chick)