What is Fat Acceptance? (sticky post!)

I’ve loaded this post with links to blogs, studies, research, and other valuable links to inform anyone who’s interested in learning the truth behind the so-called ‘obesity crisis.’

What is Fat Acceptance?: According to the Wikipedia page, Fat Acceptance is: ‘a grassroots effort to change societal attitudes towards fat, obese, and overweight people.’ That’s a good start, but of course there’s more. Fat Acceptance means different things to people but the common thread is more or less that EVERY body type is worthy of respect and basic human dignity. Fat activists fight for the normalization of fat bodies into mainstream society. It’s not saying that fat is better, it’s not demonizing being thing, it’s just the simple acknowledgment that fat bodies are here and they’re never going away, and that people in fat bodies are just that–people.

But isn’t that glorifying/encouraging obesity?: The entire concept of ‘glorifying obesity’ is utter crap. This is usually said when a picture of a happy fat person is seen. No one is glorifying or encouraging anything but refusing to hate your body no matter what it looks like. Even the parts that don’t work, even the parts you’d like to change. It’s being allowed to love and appreciate your body RIGHT NOW.

But being fat is unhealthy!: No. It’s not. Being unhealthy is unhealthy. But if you’re going to judge someone’s health by their BMI (which is a completely invalid measure of health) or how much space they take up on the subway, you’re completely missing the point. There’s a stigma in today’s society that all fat people lack self-control, don’t care about themselves, only eat fatty foods, and a bevy of other stereotypes. My blog serves to remind us all that these stereotypes do not encompass all fat bodies, and even if they did, that doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with fat people.

That’s bullshit. Don’t you watch the news? Obesity is linked to high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, (etc., etc., etc.): Well, the entire world believed the sun revolved around the earth for how many thousands of years? Just because you’ve heard something your entire life, or it seems like common sense, doesn’t make it true. Common sense is easy (and often wrong). Backing up common sense with valid research isn’t so easy.

What I celebrate more than anything is body autonomy. The importance of making people aware that it’s not okay to judge other people’s bodies. You cannot assume simply from looking at a person how healthy they are. Even if you could, it’s not your job, your place, or your right to comment or judge them on it. Every person owns a body, and they are completely entitled to do whatever they want with it. Unless they’re asking for your help, there is no need to comment.

Speaking of health, there are so many facets to healthy living, and physical health is only one part of the equation. Mental health, emotional health, spiritual health, those are just a few of the many parts of wellness that anyone needs. And it is up to every individual person to decide what that means for themselves!

Do you have to be fat to be involved in Fat Acceptance?: No! I think it’s important that people who aren’t fat include themselves in fat acceptance. I highly stress intersectionality, and fat bodies are a marginalized population. I think that ALL bodies are good bodies. Fat, skinny, tall, short, disabled, scars, cellulite, you name it. There’s no size requirements you have to be to agree that all bodies deserve respect. That being said, the quickest way to invalidate the struggle of one body type is to put down another body type. You will never see any of the ‘real women have curves’ or ‘she looks anorexic, she should eat a sandwich’ comments on this blog. ALL bodies are good bodies, ALL bodies deserve respect. There is NO WRONG WAY to have a body.

Are there any other resources you recommend for more information on Fat Acceptance?: Absolutely. Here are some of my favorites:

Cheers!

Amber

Posted in fat acceptance, size acceptance | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Fat Man Dancing and Misogyny.

I feel like I start each new blog post I write with ‘sorry it’s been so long!’ But. . .well. . .sorry it’s been so long.😛 Let’s jump right in!

In case you haven’t heard the story of the Fat Man Dancing, a fat man was spotted recently at a show, dancing his heart out and having a good time. That is, until people decided to start taking his picture and laugh at him, shaming him into stopping.

Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 1.17.32 AM

That second picture. My heart breaks for him so much. The photos were uploaded to a site notorious for fat shaming folks. In case you can’t read the text, it says “Spotted this specimen trying to dance the other week. He stopped when he saw us laughing.”

In a stunning display of internet activism, the photo went viral on reddit, and then a writer named Cassandra Fairbanks put out a call to her followers to find this man and throw him a dance party. In an effort headed almost entirely by women, he was located, a GoFundMe account was set up to finance the party, and even celebrities like Pharrell Williams, Moby, and Ellie Goulding wanted to join in on the fun. The dance party hasn’t happened yet, but it sounds like it’ll be a blast!

But watching this story unfold as it happened, I became curious. And I wasn’t the only one. A friend of mine posted a facebook status and asked, if the situation had been reversed, would the results have been the same? What do you think?

Let’s say a very fat woman was at a concert, alone, dancing her heart out. Let’s say a group of people laughed at her until she stopped, took photos of her, and posted them on the same site with the same caption. Would a man start a call to his followers to try to find her? Would a bunch of men throw her a dance party to celebrate #fatwomandancing?

I’m sad to say it, but I don’t think so. We live in a time where there are multiple threads on multiple websites dedicated to the shaming and humiliation of fat people (mostly from pictures they find through trolling the body positive tags on sites like Tumblr and Instagram), and the majority of the fat people they find are women. (And while this certainly isn’t a fact, my hypothesis is that most of the people who submit these photos are men.) And when it comes to fat women, we get a double dose of hatred, for being fat, and for being female.

Like it or not, sexism is rampant in our society. While we’ve surely made progress, women are still not given the same opportunities as men. And when it comes to physical appearance? Well, it doesn’t matter if you’re talented, smart, or kind; whatever positive traits you possess are completely overshadowed if you happen to be fat or otherwise not conventionally attractive. A perfect example: a couple months ago, a very famous fantasy author by the name of Colleen McCullough died in Australia. In addition to being an author, she was also an accomplished neuroscientist.

This was her obituary:

B8kwT7uCYAAPiOs

If I’d had so many accomplishments under my belt over the years and yet the second sentence of my obituary talked about how I was fat and homely, I’d be spinning in my grave. And you see this very often–the most important part about a woman is her appearance. You can see it:

  • From this male news reporter who wore the same suit for an entire year to see if anyone would notice (they didn’t) after he saw his female co-anchor get criticized multiple times for what she wore.
  • From the multiple celebrities who call out interviewers who care more about their fashion choices than their accomplishments.
  • From Hillary Clinton herself (love her or hate her!)
  • These aren’t so much looks based, but check out the abuse folks like Anita Sarkeesian and Ashley Judd suffer simply for being women having interests in male-dominated fields.

More or less, a woman’s most important ‘job’ is to be attractive for men. So if a dancing fat woman (in this culture, fat = ‘fails at the job of being attractive for men’) was posted online and publicly shamed, would thousands of men come to her rescue and throw her a dance party?

I hate to say it, but my money is on ‘No.’ And this is due to the toxic combination of fatphobia and sexism suffered by most fat women. And it reminds me that we as a society have to do better.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

The Battle of the Binge.

I want to talk about my eating disorder. So, you know, trigger warning for all that stuff.

I try to keep my blog more general and have avoided personal anecdotes in the past couple years. But talking about my struggle with Binge Eating Disorder over the past 20 years is as personal as it gets. So buckle up.

I remember the exact moment that triggered my disorder. Rationally I know that if it wasn’t this event, it almost certainly would have been another, but I’m still resentful of the day I, at eight years old, went to my friend Jen’s sleepover. After her parents had gone to bed, she told me to sneak out with her to the kitchen to ‘grab a snack.’ I was horrified. Taking food without permission was not something ever allowed at my house. It was night time, what did we need to eat for? But I was in an unfamiliar place and I wanted Jen to like me, so I did it. And it felt great!

Unfortunately, it meant that when I went back home, I wanted to do the same thing. And so I did. After my parents went to bed I would get up and raid the fridge, the cabinets, the counters. Whatever was around, I would snack on. (I suppose it would be important to mention that up until this point, I was a very thin child. Perhaps even bordering on medically underweight.) It didn’t take long for my parents to catch on to the fact that food was missing. They told me to stop. They thought that would be that. But unfortunately, almost immediately it was a compulsion for me. I couldn’t sleep without it.

My mother would hide the good snacks. She would set traps so that if I tried to open the fridge or the cabinet it would make a lot of noise and wake them up. But I was always one step ahead. I swear I developed ninja-like skills—I was expert at sneaking out and back to my room almost silently. I remember one night binging on a package of chocolate ice cream cones. Didn’t care that there was no ice cream, I ate every single cone (and then got violently ill.) Another night, my parents caught me red handed eating a jar of Fluff with my bare hands. I didn’t discriminate. If it was there, I would eat it.

Things started happening in my life. Fighting, the divorce of my parents, and the beginning of constant bullying for my newly chubby frame. The food became a combination of compulsion and comfort. My mother took me to a nutritionist in an effort to help me learn how to eat. It did absolutely nothing to help. In sixth grade she made me join Weight Watchers. There I was, 12 years old in a room full of people 30 and older. I felt so out of place it was destined to fail from the get go. My doctor lectured me, and it just made me feel bad. My mother locked the cabinets, she stopped buying ‘tempting’ food, she punished me–absolutely none of it stopped me. I will say though, during my preteen years and all the way up to about age 14, I was very active. I walked or rode my bike everywhere, I was out with the neighborhood kids from sunup ‘til sundown, I even went to a local gym. I was chubby, but I was strong.

With high school came depression. I was severely socially awkward and had very few friends, and I loathed myself with such a complete passion. In health class we learned about anorexia and bulimia. One meant you starved, one meant you binged and purged. I hated myself because I couldn’t even do an eating disorder right. I binged but I couldn’t bring myself to purge, and I wished desperately that I could. I thought that I was such a disgusting gluttonous pig that I was even a failure at eating disorders. I thought I was the only person in the world with habits like I had. I can’t begin to describe the shame I felt, thinking I was the only one in the world that was like this. No one ever mentioned that things like Binge Eating Disorder and Compulsive Overeating existed. I thought I was broken, a massive fuckup. Between this, being bullied, and watching all my peers begin dating and going out to social events while I remained both invisible and with a giant spotlight that said FAT GIRL on me, and my classmates mooing at me or pretending the ground was shaking as I walked by, and the burden of all of this causing me to fail nearly every class, adolescence was nothing short of misery.

I attempted suicide twice. I hated myself more for failing. Since my grades were so bad, my mother didn’t allow me to go out with the few friends I had. Any time I wasn’t at school, I was in my room. And there wasn’t much to do but eat. Eating brought me comfort that my lack of a support system didn’t. I ended up dropping out of high school and getting my GED instead

At 18, I got my license and a car and suddenly EVERY FAST FOOD joint was available to me whenever I felt like it. At 19, in January 2006, I moved into a one bedroom apartment with my best friend at the time. To say it didn’t work out would be a massive understatement. Our friendship imploded and one day at the end of May, I came home from work, and she was gone. Moved out without a hint or a sign. She left me feeling alone, depressed, and completely inadequate. I started binging more. I would hit three different fast food joints, buy a huge meal from each of them, and go home and systematically down ALL of them. I would eat until I was stuffed. There was no such thing as leftovers with me. I soon ballooned to the larger side of a size 30/32. I continued hating myself. That was the one thing I could always count on—extremely low self-worth. I truly hated myself.

Finally my life began to come together a bit. I started working full time, I started dating, and later I discovered body positivity. I began to surround myself with people who had bodies who looked like mine. I saw that they were happy. They were loved. They liked their bodies. They didn’t let anything hold them back. If it was possible for them, could it be possible for me too? It took a lot of work and a lot of soul searching, but slowly I started to stop hating myself so much.

And then, through the wonder of the internet and hearing other people’s stories, I discovered that Binge Eating Disorder existed. It was real! It was in the DSM! Other people had it too! I wasn’t just a failed bulimic! I read the symptoms and cried, because I finally realized that I wasn’t failing at having an eating disorder, it’s just that no one told me about this one.

  • Eating unusually large amounts of food
  • Eating even when you’re full or not hungry
  • Eating rapidly during binge episodes
  • Eating until you’re uncomfortably full
  • Frequently eating alone
  • Feeling that your eating behavior is out of control
  • Feeling depressed, disgusted, ashamed, guilty or upset about your eating
  • Experiencing depression and anxiety
  • Feeling isolated and having difficulty talking about your feelings
  • Frequently dieting, possibly without weight loss
  • Losing and gaining weight repeatedly, also called yo-yo dieting

With the exception of yo-yo dieting, I fit every symptom perfectly. The relief I felt at being able to put a name to my disorder was indescribable. And it worries me so much that as school age girl, I was educated over and over about anorexia and bulimia, but BED was never mentioned, nor was anything else on the spectrum of eating disorders.

I wish I could say that there was a happy ending here. Sadly, however, BED is still something I struggle with daily. Due to the fact that I live in extreme poverty, I am unable to eat well. I only eat once a day, which has destroyed my metabolism. My behaviors when it comes to food are really disordered—I actually enjoy starving myself all day because it makes the one meal I get to eat that much better. Luckily my weight has remained stable for the past few years. 

Last year, I went on an unsupervised diet. And when I say diet, I mean crash diet. I allowed myself 500 calories a day, and that was it. I signed up for myfitnesspal and became obsessed with logging every little thing I put in my body and every physical activity I did. I was heavily into body positivity at that time, and I kept it a secret from almost everyone I knew. The few people I did tell, I claimed it was a ‘cleanse’ to kind of ‘reset’ my body. But I knew it was no such thing. I thought that I could ‘fix’ my binge eating disorder by doing the exact opposite thing instead. I lasted a month. The worst part was, during that month, I felt great. You would think that on 500 calories a day I would be sickly, completely lack energy, and be altogether unwell, but that was not the case. I felt great, physically and mentally. And that I think is what scared me the most, because in truth, I miss it. But I know that’s not something I can sustain (and especially not now that I’m much poorer and unable to obtain wholesome healthy foods.) And I know that my obsessive behaviors are unhealthy whether I’m binging or starving.

(I’d like to pause here and say that I chuckle whenever naysayers of body positivity or of me in particular assume that I claim that I’m healthy. I have never, EVER, made any such claim. My eating behaviors are anything but healthy, even if my blood pressure/blood sugar/heart rate is just fine. I do not personally practice Health at Every Size, although I do support it.)

I have to say though, I’m lucky to have found body positivity. At the end of the day, my current body is due to my disorder. Not genetics, not my thyroid. It’s all the BED. And for too long, I resented my body for being such an obvious physical marker of my illness. Body positivity taught me to make peace with my body. More than that, it taught me to love my body. I honestly don’t know what the future holds. I might lose weight, I might gain weight. But the body that I’m in right now is the only one I have, and I’m so lucky to have discovered the tools to learn to love it. Truly I believe that’s the first step to recovery in the case of any eating disorder. And that’s why I do what I do, which is to promote body positivity for others. I spent, more or less, from age 9 to age 25 completely disgusted with my physical self, and you know what? Feeling that way affects every other part of a person’s life. Your body image, your self esteem, it affects SO much about you, from your willingness to wear certain things to being willing to date to even being willing to leave the house. Loving my body is an open act of rebellion. And I love that!

No amount of dieting will fix BED. The only thing that will help, and something I hope I’m able to have access to once I’m finished with university and have a job, is a psychologist or psychiatrist who specializes in eating disorders. It’s a disorder and needs to be treated as such. The fact that I personally also have comorbid disorders such as depression, anxiety, and Borderline Personality Disorder doesn’t help, but I think the best treatment for me personally would be some sort of CBT or DBT to really focus on modifying the behaviors that I exhibit. For now that’s just a pipe dream, and I have to do what I can to survive and put my health on hold for now. Recovery is a full time job, especially when it comes to such extensive behavioral changes, and for me I have to prioritize school and work and getting my life together before I can focus on my disorder. But for those with the means, there are many resources out there (check out BEDA for some!)

The purpose of this post is to, in addition to tell my story, to be a resource. BED research  is severely underfunded and under-represented. In fact, eating disorder research as a whole is very underfunded.

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 7.11.21 AM
(source)

I encourage everyone reading this to get involved. In America alone, over 30 million people suffer from eating disorders. I recommend checking out the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) which organizes walks, fundraisers, has internships, and even a media watchdog program. Simple awareness and advocacy can go a long way!

Posted in binge eating disorder, compulsive overeating, dieting, diets, food addiction | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Man Vs. Food Vs. Social Media

 

(trigger warning for eating disorders and misogynistic language)

Hey all. I’ve really let this blog fall by the wayside, what with school and work and general inability to focus long enough to write a real post, but here I am!

 

So, most of you are probably familiar with Adam Richman, the dude from Man Vs. Food, a show on the Travel Channel. (the general gist is he goes on ~eating challenges~ across the country and eats vomit-inducing portions at local restaurants. That’s it. There’s no real redeeming factor here.) I’ve never liked Adam, he’s always given off a super entitled vibe and I’ve heard many stories about people going to meet him and him locking himself in his production van or ignoring fans.

Image

 

He was a chubby dude the whole time the show was going on, but recently he’s lost a bunch of weight. D-list celebrities losing a lot of weight isn’t really a big story–being famous means there’s a lot of pressure to look a certain way. If that’s what he wanted, if it makes him feel better, good for him. I’m all for body autonomy and what another person chooses to do with their body isn’t any of my business. However, it was brought to my attention that he posted this photo:

Image
(caption of Adam Richman taking a mirror selfie in too big pants to show off his weight loss with the caption: “Had ordered this suit from a Saville Row tailor over a year ago. Think I’m gonna need to take it in a little…. #Victory #EyesOnThePrize #AnythingIsPossible #fitness #transformation #thinspiration”)

Just seems like another boring self-congratulatory weight loss photo. . .until we get to the last tag. Thinspiration? Oh really? Now for those of you not hip to the lingo, thinspiration is very popular in pro-anorexia and pro-bulimia circles, generally consisting of pictures of emaciated bodies, mantras like ‘what’s more important, that slice of pizza or a thigh gap?’ and suggestions, tips, and motivation to either starve or purge. (Regardless of whether or not you agree with dieting, starving or purging are things that should never be encouraged.) Without context, thinspiration may not seem like a bad word, but a simple google search proves that it was created by a community of people with eating disorders to inspire each other to continue and celebrate their illnesses. 

Image
(for the record. . .you kind of are a slave to your body. Whether you’re 80lbs or 400lbs, your body NEEDS food in order to, you know, function. This picture is pretty tame, google will bring up much worse photos.)

I want to stop and add that if you look up the ‘thinspiration’ tag on instagram, this user warning comes up, which means that even instagram knows that it’s a problematic term:

Image

 

A friend of mine who followed Adam saw his post, and figured that maybe he was not aware of the negative connotations of the word ‘thinspiration.’ So she decided to explain it to him politely (which sadly I don’t have a screenshot of.) This was his response:

Image
(DILLIGAF, aka, ‘do i look like I give a fuck?’)

Now look, we’ve all used words by mistake, we’ve all stumbled and said something offensive and didn’t realize it. It happens to the best of us, and it’s totally understandable. But when you’re called out for saying something that does active harm, especially if you’re somewhat of a public figure, you listen, you apologize, and you don’t do it again. A perfect example would be when Jonah Hill was recently demonized for throwing a homophobic slur at a paparazzo. His apology was perfect. As a public figure, even if you have a personal instagram (Adam has 92k followers) you need to understand that the things you say will be scrutinized, and the words you use have meaning. (here’s a great blog post about intent vs. impact.) You need to be extra careful to think about not how what you mean when you say things, but how other people will interpret them. And in a society where eating disorders are at an all time high, thinspiration is a loaded word.

I also posted a comment on Adam’s instagram about how the term was problematic, but it was ignored, so I made a post about Adam’s ‘DILLIGAF’ comment on my personal instagram, and asked my followers to ‘tell him that eating disorders are not a joke and nothing to take lightly.‘ My followers did just that, but I didn’t for one second predict the vitriol that followed.

Image

Image

There was apparently a point where he referred to me specifically as a ‘cunt’, but he ended up deleting it before anyone got a screenshot. But yes. He told a friend of mine to kill herself, told another to eat a bag of shit, and completely went on the attack, lacking any modicum of class or decorum. He then blocked anyone who called him out (myself included) regardless of whether their comment was rude or polite.

You know what? It doesn’t feel good to be called out publicly when you do something wrong, especially by multiple people. It’s uncomfortable. But these responses are completely unacceptable. 

He then went on to ‘apologize.’ But this apology was completely invalidated in the comment section, where he waxed poetic about people being oversensitive and pandered to his fans instead. I for one am extremely disappointed by the fact that he’s obviously not learned anything from this incident.

I wonder how the Travel Channel, who employs Richman, feels about him going around calling girls cunts and telling them to kill themselves?

If you would like to report Richman’s behavior, you can do so at http://www.travelchannel.com/about/viewer-relations

ETA 6/25/14: There has been a question that has been asked over and over, which is a valid question that I will answer here. Why didn’t I post my own original comment to him? (the insinuation is that it was rude and that somehow that validates the response I got.)

Adam blocked me on instagram. While creating this blog post, I could still access his instagram via my laptop, as long as I was logged out. I could not, however, access the comments. It gave me the most recent comments without giving me an option to ‘show older’ or scroll up. By that point, my comment had been buried under three hundred or so other comments. I did not expect this post to go as viral as it has, and once it started gaining momentum I would have asked someone to scroll through the comments, find mine, and screenshot it so I could add it to this post, but by that point Adam deleted that particular picture and all the comments that went with it. I am a fan of having the whole story and it frustrates me that there are pieces missing in this post. People assume that means that my comment to him was inflammatory, but I can assure you it wasn’t. Whether people want to believe that is their own prerogative, but unfortunately at this point there’s nothing I can do about it.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 58 Comments

#fatshamingweek

Trigger warning for this post, *extreme* fat hate.

So, not sure where it originated from, but someone with too much time on their hands decided it would be funny/relevant to start the hashtag #fatshamingweek on twitter. So, being somewhat of a glutton for punishment, I took a few seconds to check out some of the tweets. These tweets that I’ve screenshot were all written within 3 hours. I didn’t even have to seach very hard, because there were dozens more like these in the few minutes that I looked. 

They ranged from your typical fat jokes:

Image

Image

 

To faux ‘concern’ and ‘tips’ for and about fat people:

ImageImageImageImageImage

Image

 

Actual instructions encouraging violating the privacy of a fat person to make them feel badly about themselves:

Image

 

 

To the actual suggestion that if you’re fat, you might be better off dead.

Image

 

Multiply that by an entire week, and you start to get an idea of how pervasive this has been on twitter. Of course, there doesn’t need to be a week dedicated to shaming people, because if you live in a fat body, you are made to feel ashamed of it every single day. You are made into the butt of jokes and the subject of hatred (mostly from men, you’ll notice) simply for the way your body looks.

I guess this is how people like Ray Starke, Aura Angeles, Jacques LeActeur, and company spend their days. I wish they’d use their names so this blog post would pop up when potential employers google them, but c’est la vie.

I’ve heard people talking about how they’re “conflicted” about fat-shaming week, how they don’t think obesity is healthy or “ok” but they don’t agree with the bullying. Lets be very clear here: this is not about being fat. This is not about being healthy. This is about hating a group of people SO MUCH that you think it’s okay to publicly shame them to the point of insinuating that they should kill themselves. There is NOTHING okay with that, no excuse, and nothing to be “conflicted” about.

Let’s look at some truth, here.

Fun fact: ‘fat shaming week’ directly coincides with National Bullying Prevention Month.

You might also like to know that being bullied and shamed about your weight is proven to make you more likely to gain weight. And I quote: “Participants who experienced weight discrimination were approximately 2.5 times more likely to become obese by follow-up and participants who were obese at baseline were three times more likely to remain obese at follow up than those who had not experienced such discrimination.”

Of course this just goes to show that the people who condone and approve of something such as ‘fat shaming week’ have absolutely no vested interest in the health, well being, or happiness of any fat person, but really they just love to hear themselves talk. 

I’m not going to lie. This subject really hits close to home for me. As someone who was bullied out of high school mostly due to weight, as someone who hated their body until just a couple of years ago, seeing how widely accepted fat hate is, all of this hurts. I thought about not writing this blog, because in a way, doesn’t that mean the bad guys win? But I had to, because I still pretty often get comments that discrimination against fat people isn’t a real thing, and if it is and you don’t like it, duh, just lose weight.

But instead, I want to counteract this with some positivity. So here’s a list of links to help if you, like me, lost faith in humanity after finding out about Fat Shaming Week.

I Know Girls by Mary Lambert

Broken by Fat Heffalump

A great post about body image.

And to round this off, yesterday I discovered silkie chickens. And if this guy doesn’t make you smile, well, I don’t know what will.

Image

Image | Posted on by | Tagged , , , , | 25 Comments

True Life?

While checking my email a few days ago, I stumbled across this one from Helena.

Hey!

 
My name is Helena and just came across your awesome blog…
 
The reason I’m writing you is because I am currently casting an episode of True Life “I’m in a Mixed Weight Relationship”… I was wondering if perhaps you, or anyone you know that’s in a “mixed weight” relationship would possibly be interested in being on the show.
 
Hope this email finds you well. Please let me know if you have any questions. 
 
Hope to hear from you soon, 
 
Helena
 
p.s. if you cant think of anyone off hand, would it be possible to post something about the casting on your blog?
 
thanks again!”
 
Now, I’ve had some interesting offers via my blog, because my How To Date A Fat Girl post has always had a fair amount of traction over the months. But this one took the cake. Me? On True Life? I’ll admit that for a moment the prospect sounded pretty awesome–it’s not every day you get asked to be on MTV, even if MTV isn’t what it used to be. For those who aren’t familiar with True Life, it’s a show put out by MTV, where they center on a certain topic each episode (for example, people in wheelchairs or on steroids) and follow around two or three people who fit the topic of the episode to see what their lives are really like. I’ve seen some really good episodes of True Life–a couple have even made me cry. But then I remembered–hello, reality tv? Nothing you see is actually reality. I’d be edited within an inch of my life, made to seem like I hated myself and that my boyfriend was the only good thing in my life, my boyfriend would be made to sound like he’s only dating me because no one better has come along, the friends MTV would interview would be edited to sound like they don’t approve–I mean, I know how this works.
 
Not to mention, my boyfriend would never, EVER be caught dead on a show like that.
 
So, I took a few days to think out what I really wanted to say upon replying, and I think I like what I came up with.
 
Helena,
 
I find myself confused. A ‘mixed weight relationship’? Surely all relationships are mixed weight. A better topic for a True Life episode would surely be ‘I Only Date People Who Are The Same Exact Weight As Me.’ Now THAT’S something I’ve never heard of before.
 
Is the insinuation here that it’s somehow strange or abnormal for an average sized man to date a fat woman? If so, I’d like to ask why, when it’s perfectly acceptable for a fat man to date a thin woman. I mean, haven’t you ever seen The Honeymooners, or Family Guy? How about The Sopranos or The Flinstones? The King of Queens? Fresh Prince of Bel Air? Every single one of these shows features a fat husband with a conventionally attractive wife. Now, would you be able to name me a show in which there’s a dumpy plus size woman married to man who could pass for a male model? Think about that for a while, and while you’re doing that, maybe think about how a show about the misogyny in mainstream media or the objectification of fat people would be a much more hard hitting topic.
 
True Life has had some very hard-hitting episodes in the past. From the tribulations of meth addicts and alcoholics to people dealing with Tourette’s or coming out to their families, True Life has had the opportunity to deal with life-altering events in an informative and realistic way. And I’ll confess: I just don’t see how the show you’re casting for does anything but further alienate people who are treated differently based on their weight.
 
Now if you really read my blog and loved it as much as you say you do, you’d realize that I am, above all else, an intersectional, body positive activist. If ever you wanted to do an episode on body positivity, or on the intersectionalities of being fat while non-white, disabled, or queer, or even on the way fat people are routinely told to kill themselves and otherwise bullied and fetishized on the internet, I would definitely participate in that, and could offer many suggestions of other people I know who would as well. But for this particular show, I fear you’ve asked the wrong person.
 
I wish you the best of luck in your search,
Amber
 
I think I got my point across–and hey, she did ask me to mention the show on my blog, so maybe it’s a win for both of us!
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

An Open Letter to Old Navy.

Below is the transcript of an email I’ve just sent off to Old Navy after finding out they have a one-day-only sale ($5 each!) on swim separates. Which of course, doesn’t extend to their plus size line. Old Navy: I and many others have had it with your shit.

‘To whom it may concern, 

 
To say I’ve had enough of your discriminatory sales practices is an understatement of astronomical proportions. This $5 swim separate sale today is the last straw for me.
 
Take a look at your straight size collection: 
Image
And now look at the same section (‘mix and match’) on your plus size section:
 Image
Not only are the plus size clothes SIGNIFICANTLY more frumpy/less stylish, but do you not see the MASSIVE price discrepancy? Even WITHOUT today’s sale, a straight size bikini top in a cute pattern goes for $15, while a plain, boring, black bikini top in plus sizes sells for nearly THREE TIMES as much. You can say what you want about plus size clothes needing more fabric, but there is no way you can possibly excuse charging THREE TIMES as much for an inferior product just because it’s made for fat people. That is nothing except poor sales practice.
 
 
Not including your plus size customers in today’s sale goes beyond oversight into straight up discrimination. Which shouldn’t surprise me. Your company refuses to sell plus size clothes in store, forcing your larger customers to have to buy online without any way to try on the product or judge the quality without spending money first. Even with a free return policy, it doesn’t make up for the convenience of being able to walk into a brick and mortar store and try on clothes the way everyone else can. Your practice sends a very clear message: ‘If you’re fat, we will take your money, but we don’t want to see you in our stores.’ That is a horrendous way to treat your fat customers. If you don’t want fat people in your stores, don’t sell plus size clothes at all. Treating us like second class citizens is rude and pernicious.
 
In addition: your plus size sizing is AWFUL. It’s inconsistent, and you can buy two products in the same size and have one be far too big and one far too small. This would be an issue even if you did sell in store, but since you only sell online a customer literally has NO idea what to expect when they order your pieces.
 
Please be aware that there is a MASSIVE market for plus size clothing. There is no shortage of fat people these days, and contrary to what you might think, most of us actually do enjoy wearing stylish, on-trend, good quality clothing. There are more and more independent and small businesses who cater to the plus size community, and they actually listen to their customers, treat them well, and give them what they want. Don’t believe me? Check out sites like Domino Dollhouse or ASOS Curve. You are quickly losing ground.
 
Please also be aware that there is a large plus size community online, and we talk. We have a very powerful voice. As of the time I’m writing this email, news of your sale has been posted in facebook groups with over 8,000 members, on multiple blogging sites and on social media networks including facebook, tumblr, and instagram. In this day of age, word travels quickly, and social networking is an extremely powerful tool. Your practices do not go unnoticed.
 
It’s time to start listening to your plus size customers. There are certainly enough of us. With some actual effort, your plus size line could be a huge hit, not to mention a money maker. And let’s be honest, it’s all about the bottom line in the end, isn’t it?
 
You have the opportunity here to make a real difference. I sincerely hope you take it. Until then, I will remain disappointed, and I will no longer shop at Old Navy, and encourage everyone I know, plus size or not, to avoid your store as well.
 
 
Regards,
 
Amber (last name)’

I also included a link to this blog post in the email. If and when they respond I will either update this post, or create a new one with their response!

UPDATE: 24 HOURS LATER.

Via Old Navy’s facebook page, over a dozen people have commented and made posts concerning Old Navy’s practices regarding their plus size line. An admin for their facebook page has responded to EVERY comment on their page EXCEPT the ones from or about their plus size line or customers. Don’t believe me? Check out the comments on this post. Despite an overwhelming number of comments from people concerned about the plus size line, Old Navy has nothing to say.

Screen Shot 2013-07-28 at 1.45.20 PM

Janssen’s comment is spot on.

UPDATE: Got a response from Old Navy. As excepted, it’s a bullshit fill-in-the-blanks form letter in which they give me a 20% off coupon. Lol, no thanks. Here, for your reading pleasure!

Dear Amber,

Thank you for sharing your comments about our recent in-store swim wear promotion. Our marketing and promotions departments try to create contests and promotions that add fun to the Old Navy shopping experience, and we regret disappointing you.

It is never our intent to frustrate or make our customers feel excluded in any way and we apologize if you were made to feel this way due to our recent promotion. Please know that Oldnavy.com will honor in-store promotions for sizes offered exclusively online, including plus sizes. All you have to do is call 1-800-OLD-NAVY to place your order and we’ll be happy to honor any current in-store promotions!
Please be assured that we have shared your feedback with the appropriate individuals within our company so they can keep your feedback in mind when they plan the next promotion.

Regarding your concern with the pricing of our plus size items, we pride ourselves on our ability to balance great quality and style with fair prices. We appreciate you sharing your concerns and will share your concerns for further review.

Additionally, we apologize for any disappointment with the assortment and style of our current plus size selection. As a fashion retailer, we continually strive to create new designs and, as a result, our collections are constantly changing. As we learn more about what our customers want, we often expand or adjust our product selection. Your feedback will also be shared with our merchandising team for review and consideration of upcoming plus size collections.

Amber, the feedback we receive is crucial in understanding the wants and needs of our customers. Thank you, again, for sharing your feedback and allowing us the opportunity to improve upon your shopping experience. We invite you to shop with us again and take 20% off of your next online order with Old Navy. Please note that this offer can be used along with any current promotions, discounts, or rewards! You will receive an email at randomlancila@gmail.com with additional details and instructions on redeeming the offer.

We hope you find this information to be helpful. We appreciate your business and look forward to shopping with you again soon.
If we may be of further assistance, please contact us at custserv@oldnavy.com or by calling 1-800-OLD-NAVY (1-800-653-6289).

Sincerely,

Kimberly
Gap Inc. Customer Relations

Any ideas how to respond?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

The Many Problems with BMI.

BMI is bullshit.

There. I said it. Let’s face it, this blog’s lifeblood is mainly disproving common myths and so-called ‘facts’ about obesity. Even I’ll admit that some of what I talk about can be a bit on the abstract side. But there’s nothing abstract or deniable about the fact that BMI simply doesn’t work. Keep reading to find out why!

BMI was created by a man with no medical background.

BMI was created by a Belgian man named Adolphe Quetelet. This fellow was many things. He was a mathematician, he was an astronomer, he was a sociologist. One thing he wasn’t? A doctor. He studied all sorts of things, however medicine was never one of them. And in fact, he said himself that BMI was only meant as a tool to used for large-scale diagnostic studies. It was never meant for individuals, nor was it meant to gauge health.

BMI tells you literally NOTHING about health.

BMI is an equation based on your height and weight. That’s it. That’s the whole shebang. Does it care about how much you exercise? Nope. Does it care whether you have a large/small frame? Nope. Does it take into account what percentage of your weight is muscle vs. fat? Nah, who needs that? I’ve heard story after story after story, people who go to the doctor and have perfect blood pressure, perfect cholesterol, are in otherwise great shape, but since their BMI is over a certain number, their doctor told them that they ‘need’ to lose weight.

BMI charts used to take things such as gender, frame size, and age into account. But no longer. Metropolitan Life insurance Company was the first to do away with this in the early 1900s, in order to be able to charge people higher premiums, a practice which is still very much alive today.

More and more medical experts are trying to take the focus off BMI and put it back onto things that actually contribute to the health of a person. But the fact remains that BMI dictates so much these days. It determines how much you’ll pay for insurance, whether you can take certain medications or are eligible for certain medical procedures, it’s a determining factor in whether you’re eligible for certain perks at more and more places of business, whether you can get into/stay in the military–the list goes on and on.

BMI definitions can be changed on a whim.

Have you guys ever seen this chart, or one similar?

Image

These charts are often used as a scare tactic to shock people into understanding how much FATTER America has gotten in recent years.

What these charts don’t tell you is that the definition of what constitues overweight/obese changed in 1998. That’s right. One night in June 1998, millions of Americans went to bed at a ‘normal’ weight, and woke up ‘overweight’ or ‘obese’ even though they hadn’t gained a single ounce. Of course, the rationale for this change was “because of studies linking extra weight to health problems.” Fascinating, however, considering people who are slightly ‘overweight’ are proven to live longer.

News outlets love to cry about how 2/3 of America is overweight! and how EVERYONE is fat these days! But this is all judged by BMI. And by BMI, this girl is ‘overweight’. So is this one. And this one. And this one is considered ‘obese’. And this one. And this one. Millions of Americans look like these people. (I didn’t even post any of the ones that are ‘morbidly obese’!) We’re led to believe that America is simply a sea of people who are 400lbs. It’s completely, totally inaccurate. The majority of the ‘obesity epidemic’ that America has are people who look like those pictures. Because BMI is so wildly inaccurate, so many people are considered above ‘normal’ weight and, quite simply, they’re not.

BMI is racist.

You may think this one is a stretch. Nope. BMI was created by a white guy to be used on white people. Never was it taken into account that people of different races and ethnicities are built differently, or that this could contribute negatively, labeling people as ‘underweight’ or ‘obese’ who, quite simply, aren’t. This article states that “because they also tend to have larger bones and denser muscles, some African Americans’ weight may inaccurately push them into the “obese” BMI category. The reverse appears true for certain other groups, whose overall weight may remain within normal range despite having a relatively high body fat percentage.”

Here’s another study about that!

BMI is cheap, and quite simply, too simple.

All BMI does is rely on a mathematical equation (which, by the way, doesn’t even make any logical sense. The equation is [height in inches X height in inches] X 703. What relevance does that have to anything? It doesn’t take bone mass, fat vs. muscle, diet, activity level, or anything else into count. And it’s free, which is an added bonus for medical and insurance companies. All you need is height, weight, and a BMI chart. It saves the money it would take to test factors such as cholesterol, blood sugar, triglyceride count, and so on and so forth. It’s lazy medicine.

I’ve said again and again. Whether a person is healthy or not is of no concern to me. A person’s health is private, and their own prerogative. But if health is your schtick, that’s super awesome–don’t judge your health by BMI! There’s a bazillion health and fitness tests out there that’ll tell you more about your physical health than BMI will. This is especially important the next time you go to your medical professional (doctor, gynecologist, whomever) and they pressure you to gain or lose weight just so you’ll fit better into their chart. Please advocate for yourself! Ask your doctor what else besides your BMI makes them think you need to gain/lose. Do not be afraid to ask for more tests. I feel the need to end this post with a reminder that it doesn’t matter how much you weigh or what your health is–everyone, EVERY body is entitled to thorough, respectful, judgment free healthcare.

Hopefully I’ve shed a little light on the fallacy that is BMI. Now go and spread the good word!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 11 Comments