Tag Archives: Size Diversity Task Force

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)

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Six Year Old Girl Dies–Diagnosed as Fat?

dibetesSlides.002-001Sorry to start your week out with such a sad story, but I think it needs to be told.  Late last week I became aware of the story of Claudialee, a six-year-old girl who passed away after being misdiagnosed with type 2 diabetes, when she actually had type 1 diabetes.  There is a very detailed account of the story here.

I’m not going to go into every detail of this story, but I did want to point out a few things that stand out for me.  One is that Claudialee has a family history of diabetes.  Another is that the doctor diagnosed Claudialee as obese.  It is clear that the doctor was deeply concerned about the young child’s weight–prescribing diet and exercise in an effort to get her to lose weight.  It is also clear that the mother closely followed the doctor’s recommendations–carefully monitoring what Claudialee ate and making sure she got plenty of exercise.

What is not clear is why the doctor felt so strongly that this child had Type 2 Diabetes as opposed to Type 1.  According to a source cited in the article (The National Institute of Health) at that age group, Type 1 Diabetes has an incidence of about 20 in every 100,000 kids, whereas Type 2 Diabetes has an incidence of .4 in every 100,000 kids or 1 in every 250,000 kids.  What’s more, at that age, Type 1 Diabetes is a far more urgent problem than Type 2 Diabetes.  So what led to the doctor’s misdiagnosis?

We may never know for sure.  But it does invite one to speculate whether the child’s weight was a factor.  Clearly, getting Claudialee’s weight down was a prime part of the prescription to the parent.  And as the child’s weight went down, the doctor neglected to do some of the critical follow-up blood tests that would have indicated that something was drastically wrong.

The article states:

Because Mercado [the doctor] had locked in on type 2, she did not monitor her patient’s blood. She did not tell Irma [the child’s mother] to purchase a $20 blood sugar meter from the drugstore. She did not ask Irma about the frequency with which her daughter drank and urinated. And neither she nor Cabatic [another doctor] described to Irma the danger signs to look out for.

When asked in court, why the doctor seemed so certain that the child had type 2 diabetes when type 1 diabetes was so much more prevalent among children that age, she stood by her original diagnosis:

“How many type 2 infant diabetics have you treated?” a lawyer asked her.

“A lot,” she replied. “Maybe it’s geographical, because I work at Brooklyn as an assistant professor and also in wellness program where there are a lot of obese children, so we diagnose a lot of children with type 2 diabetes.”

Clearly there may have been other issues at play here.  Claudialee was on Medicaid and doctors are paid significantly less for treating patients on Medicaid than they are for those with private insurance.  The doctor was not board-certified, and the article points out that finding board certified physicians willing to work in clinics that take Medicaid can be difficult.  And this is a single case where a single doctor has been convicted of malpractice.  We will never know exactly what was in the doctor’s mind.

I but I personally found myself wondering if this doctor had ever previously considered that she may have a bias against fat patients–and maybe even fat children with low SES in particular.  I wonder, had this doctor considered the potential for her own bias in this arena, would that child still be alive?  Would Claudialee still be running around and playing today?

We certainly have plenty of evidence for a seeming “hysteria” around the issue of childhood Type 2 diabetes.    A simple google search of “childhood diabetes epidemic” yields hundreds and hundreds of articles.  This hysteria has spawned a number of shaming techniques aimed at children despite the fact that shame has been proven over and over again to be ineffective at treating obesity at any age, that shame is more likely to make kids engage in unhealthy behaviors, and that eating disorders are much, MUCH more prevalent among children than diabetes of any kind.

dibetesSlides.001-001All I know for sure, is that stories like that of Claudialee get me even more fired up to fight against weight stigma in medicine.  And that passion leads me to come to you with a plea.  The Association for Size Diversity And Health and the Size Diversity Task force have embarked on a documentary film project to help doctors see and understand weight stigma and weight bias in medicine.  This project is called the Resolved project.  But this project needs a little bit of help from you.  We are raising funds to finish the documentary on Go Fund Me here.  Any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated.  Even if  you can only give a few dollars, that will help.  And if  you don’t have a few dollars to spend, would you consider sharing this with your friends and asking them to help?  Let’s see if we can end weight stigma and weight bias in the healthcare industry for good.  And maybe, just maybe we won’t have stories like Claudialee’s any more.

Love,

Jeanette (The Fat Chick)

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Stuff That Weighs More than Me: World’s Largest Caravan

globecaravan

It was actually THIS picture, sent to me by a friend, that got me on the whole “retreat” theme for this week in the first place.  The Globe Caravan (pictured above) is owned by Sheikh Hamad bin Hamdan Al Nahyan (The Rainbow Sheikh).  It is just one of the more outstanding examples in his car collection estimated to contain somewhere between 200 and 400 cars and trucks.  Oh and just to clarify a few things, A)The Rainbow Sheikh loves cars and trucks and B)this member of the Abu Dhabi ruling Royal Family is rich.  In fact he not only owns his own island (Futaisi Island) but reportedly had the word HAMAD carved so deeply into the soil that waterways could flow into the channels and the word could be read from space.

The Globe Caravan is usually on display at the Emirates National Auto Museum.  And heeeere’s the stats:

Number of stories: 3

Number of bedrooms: 9

Number of bathrooms: 9

Scale: Reportedly exactly 1,000,000:1 the real Earth

Weight: I dunno.  If we calculate based on the earth calculation:

Weight of Earth: (Approximately)6,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000 Kilograms

Divide that by 1,000,000, you get 6,000,000,000,000,000,000 which is like 6 Trillion tons, so maybe the scale model thing is slightly exaggerated.  

CONCLUSION: As you can see from the picture above, the thing is pretty darn big.  And even though I don’t know the exact weight, I’m fairly confident, it Weighs More Than Me.

Oh and by the way, if you’d like to contribute to another (slightly smaller) model of the world, consider donating to the World’s Largest Paper Mache Project by the Size Diversity Task Force.

Love,

The Fat Chick

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Retreat

It’s August, and a lot of us are thinking about getting in those last summer vacations before school starts.  Last week was awesome but had a hellaceous  schedule that has left me feeling kinda flat.  FYI, 20+ hour days after age 40=falling asleep standing up.

So I’m thankful that this weekend I’ll be attending a 2-day retreat up in Big Bear with the church choir.  I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to integrate this with my recent “nudity challenge“.  All I can say is, “stay tuned!”

It’s so very important to schedule down time and find little ways to recharge and get your mojo back.   It’s so important to spend time with friends who understand you and love you as you are.  And I’m really looking forward of two days of sleeping in a tent, eating breakfast outside at a picnic table and eating smores until I bust.

I think retreats are especially important for those of us who daily do battle with weight stigma and size discrimination.  Whether you’re out on the front lines fighting very public battles in the media, or quietly and gently helping your 7-year-old son cope with teasing, the war on obesity can be extremely exhausting.  That’s why I think it’s sooooo important to sound “RETREAT! RETREAT!” and retire from the battle for a few hours or a few days.

Your retreat can take many forms.  It can be as simple as a long, hot bubble bath complete with music and a trashy novel.  It can be as complex as traveling to a monastery and not speaking for several weeks.  Or you can get together with a lot of other like-minded folks for a weekend of fun and frolic.

That’s why I want to take this opportunity to tell you about a very special retreat coming up with the Size Diversity Task Force.  The retreat will be held at the 4 Queens Hotel in Las Vegas on October 11-13.  This is not a conference, it’s a retreat.  That means there are a few optional structured activities planned for Saturday, but there is also loads of unscheduled time for giggles, snacks and hanging with your friends. The earlybird price is only $35, but you have to register before 8/11 to get that price.   We’ve even got some financial assistance available for those who truly need it, but you must apply before 8/11.  Now I hope I’m not stressing you out talking about deadlines and money and stuff.  But seriously, if you wait until 8/12 you’re gonna be sad you didn’t get registered for the super low price!

Whether or not you choose to do the Size Diversity Task Force Retreat, I hope you can take a little bit of time to step back from the front lines and share some fun and relaxation with your friends.  Take care of you!

Love,

The Fat Chick

Like my posts?  You’ll love my stuff!

Buy my book: The Fat Chick Works Out! (Fitness that is Fun and Feasible for Folks of All Ages, Shapes Sizes and Abilities)–available in softcover and e-book versions

Buy my DVD: The Fat Chick Works Out! (A Safe, Easy and Fun Workout for Klutzes, Wimps and Absolute Beginners!)

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

Check out my Training Programs–both in person and via Skype (Starting at just $25!)

or

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Like my posts?  You’ll love my stuff!

Buy my book: The Fat Chick Works Out! (Fitness that is Fun and Feasible for Folks of All Ages, Shapes Sizes and Abilities)–available in softcover and e-book versions

Buy my DVD: The Fat Chick Works Out! (A Safe, Easy and Fun Workout for Klutzes, Wimps and Absolute Beginners!)

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

Check out my Training Programs–both in person and via Skype (Starting at just $25!)

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Stuff that Weighs More than Me: Mirrors on the Hubble Telescope

Well, all the selfies on the Fat and Proud project has got me thinking about how cell phones are modern mirrors, so naturally I thought more about mirrors and which ones might weigh more than me.  I’m also working on a space-themed project for a client and so naturally, the Hubble Telescope popped into my mind.  (Yup, my scary brain process, let me show you it…) Anywho, besides being one incredibly bad @ssed piece of scientific equipment, the Hubble Telescope is one big mama jamma.  Named the first space-based telescope, the Hubble helped confirm that the universe is expanding–a key tenet of the Big Bang Theory.  (FYI Megan and Sarah, this is not just an awesome television show!)

The Hubble Telescope was launched into space from the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1990.  It circles the earth once every 97 minutes at a low-earth orbit of 307 nautical miles.  And it has taken some gorgeous pictures like these:

saturn jupiter

Besides being incredibly huge and powerful, the giant mirrors in the Hubble are incredibly accurate. In fact, Hubble’s two mirrors were ground so that they do not deviate from a perfect curve by more than 1/800,000th of an inch. To give you as sense of what that means, If Hubble’s primary mirror were scaled up to the diameter of the Earth, the biggest bump would be only six inches tall. Here’s some additional stats:

Mirrors:

Primary Mirror Diameter: 94.5 in (2.4 m)
Primary Mirror Weight: 1,825 lb (828 kg)
Secondary Mirror Diameter: 12 in (0.3 m)
Secondary Mirror Weight: 27.4 lb (12.3 kg)

Telescope:

Length: 43.5 ft (13.2 m)
Weight: 24,500 lb (11,110 kg)
Maximum Diameter: 14 ft (4.2 m)

Conclusion: The Hubble Telescope mirrors weigh more than me!

Love,

The Fat Chick

Like my posts?  You’ll love my stuff!

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Right Now Show Episode 16: The Fat and Proud Project

fatandproudJLDIn episode 16 of the Right Now Show we discuss the Size Diversity Task Force’s New “Fat and Proud” project.  We also talk about why The Fat Chick has chosen to reclaim the word “fat” and how we can use that word to describe but not to define us as people.  Enjoy!

You can learn more about why Jeanette calls herself The Fat Chick on her website here:

You can learn more about the Fat and Proud project and download the page templates on the Size Diversity Task Force Web page here:

Learn more about the Size Diversity Task Force here:

Read a fascinating discussion about how one organization is coping with the word “fat” on Ragen Chastain’s awesome blog right here:

Subscribe to the Right Now Show here:

Become my friend on facebook here:

And join my mailing list here:

Love,

The Fat Chick

First Interplanetary “Photobomb”–Geeks Celebrate Globally

Mr and Ms. Geek Wave at Saturn during NASA's World's Largest Photobomb

Mr and Ms. Geek Celebrate NASA’s World’s Largest Photobomb

Last week Friday, my hubby and I confirmed our card-carrying geek status by participating in the first interplanetary photobomb.  On Friday, July 19 between 14:27 and 14:42 PST, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft took aim from its perch in the Saturn system and started taking pictures of our fair planet.  Earthlings were given fair warning that the photos were to take place.  We were encouraged to go outside during that magic fifteen minutes, look east and “wave at Saturn”.  And when NASA calls, my husband and I are not about to shirk our duties.  I put on some lipstick, we went outside, and we waved like mad people.  We participated in the event that NASA has dubbed, the first interplanetary photobomb and “the day the earth smiled”.

Yup, I went and got the certificate...

Yup, I went and got the certificate…

Now given the fact the photo was taken from over 900 million miles away, I’m not sure the lipstick was strictly necessary.  It will take a little bit longer for NASA to process the photos, but we’re told the Earth will likely only appear as small blue dot–probably one or two pixels wide.  All of this got me to thinking about you my dear readers and how the world’s first interplanetary photobomb might be relevant to the size acceptance movement.

Simulated view of NASA photo. As you can see, I probably didn’t need to get a manicure first…

1. It’s more fun to do crazy things with other people Yes, my neighbors thought we were crazy.  But at least with my husband by my side I felt less likely to get hauled away to a rubber room.  Heck at JPL hundreds of people gathered to wave at the ringed planet.  (I think those with hula hoops were particularly inspired.)  But I think that’s an important lesson for our size acceptance community.  Whether it’s doing a flesh mob in bikinis at the beach, staging a “kiss-in” on the steps of a major New York publication, or exercising on the street to protest a 24-Hour Fitness billboard we can do amazing, powerful, fun and crazy things as long as we do them together.

Hundreds of folks gathered at the JPL mall to “wave at Saturn”

2.  There’s a lot of perspective to be had out there.  Of course we all have problems.  And of course they seem like the biggest thing in the world out there.  But it pays to look at the bigger picture.  (And as big pictures go, the “Wave at Saturn” one is likely to be pretty darn huge.)  It’s easier to cope with the next stupid pseudo-science death fat article and the next Joan Rivers celebrity fat bashing gaffe if we can take it into perspective.

3. Framing is important.  It is unclear at this point how many people participated in the first “interplanetary photo bomb”.  However, I think it’s fair to say that more people participated in “Wave at Saturn” or “The World’s Largest Photo Bomb” than would have participated in the “wave at the sky and look like an idiot” project.  That’s not to say that every aspect of what we do needs to be reduced to a sound byte or a photo opp or a social networking stunt.  But I do think it’s important to use all of those tools from time to time to create connection points for our community.  I think it is important to think about how we can be welcoming, how we can create on-ramps for people to find size acceptance and how we can create opportunities for people to feel how great it is to be part of our group.  And I think what we name these things and how we present them are important as well.

So what do you think?  I’m looking forward to seeing our “solar system group portrait” when it comes out.  But in the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas about some other fun things we can do to connect our size diversity community to the wider universe.  Just hit me in the comments section below.

Love,

The Fat Chick

UPDATE: Somebody has created a RAD FATTY MAP.  Go here to enter your deets!

Like my posts?  You’ll love my stuff!

Buy my book: The Fat Chick Works Out! (Fitness that is Fun and Feasible for Folks of All Ages, Shapes Sizes and Abilities)–available in softcover and e-book versions

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

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