Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Solstice Cycle

Long stems lie in the grass as dead soldiers in battle. Tiny moths flutter gamely away from my roaring machine of whirling death while toads scramble madly in too tall grass.

Too tall for whom? And why?

The clover huddles low, sweet clumps of flowers shorn away and when the bees come they will go hungry. Smiling daisies are slaughtered before they can bring their light to the world and unacceptable weeds are ripped from the earth.

Bright paintbrushes that dot the forest floor are safe from me behind a wall of slender birches but the closer I get the more I am warned away by slender sisters with probing mouths. They will take my blood as I take theirs.

It is right, if not completely fair for I am far larger than they. Still, I am driven off by their persistence and am secretly grateful. Later, after rain and sun and moon, I will return. And so will they.

via Fat and Not Afraid

Friday, 16 June 2017

the HAES® files: History of the Health At Every Size® Movement – Early 21st Century (Part 6)

by Barbara Altman Bruno, PhD, LCSW

In response to requests from our readers, the Health At Every Size Blog is honored to print Barbara Altman Bruno’s history of the HAES movement. Most of the installments of this history have been previously published in ASDAH member newsletters. This post is Part Six in a series.

The HAES movement and the war against obesity responded increasingly to each other by the 21st century. The war against obesity ramped up to what sociologist Abigail Saguy referred to as a moral panic, from the late 1990s on. It was abetted by biased research, which influenced publications and guidelines from the U.S. government, largely fueled by Morgan Downey. Downey, former Executive Vice President of the Obesity Society and Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the American Obesity Association, “dedicated more than 10 years to driving awareness, support and actionable change to policies affecting obesity in America.”

Among Downey’s many accomplishments were his successful efforts to have the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Social Security Administration recognize obesity as a disease, and his work to have obesity elevated in both Democratic and Republican Party platforms. This ultimately resulted in both political parties holding forums on future obesity policy, at their respective 2008 national conventions.

Other accomplishments include Downey’s success in changing Internal Revenue Service policies to allow taxpayers to deduct costs of obesity treatments as a medical deduction and in expanding National Institutes of Health research funding on obesity. He created the first series of conferences on obesity and public policy, collaborated with the Federal Trade Commission Partnership for Healthy Weight Management on efforts to control weight-loss fraud, and led efforts to create ‘The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent and Decrease Overweight and Obesity, 2001’.

According to, “Mr. Downey also served as the director of the Washington office of the American Society for Bariatric Surgery, where he organized major expansions of Medicare coverage of bariatric surgery in National Coverage Determination…

“He consults with several organizations on obesity issues including Allergan Inc., Amylin Pharmaeuticals Inc., Arena Pharmaceuticals, Orexigen Therapeutics.”

Psychologist Bonnie Bernell published Bountiful Women in 2000. In her review of the book, psychologist Deb Burgard said, “Bernell’s gift is to make visible the everyday heroines all around us, the large women who prove through their courage, humor, and sheer heart that you do not have to be rich and thin to have a satisfying life.”

Fatima Parker, Activism Vice President of the International Size Acceptance Association, began appearing in British, French, and Middle Eastern/North African media in 2000, promoting size acceptance and the Health at Every Size paradigm.

Deb Burgard started the Showmethedata (SMTD) listserv in 2001. SMTD is a private association of research-oriented consumers and professionals who are working within the Health at Every Size model. The purpose of the listserv is to “promote responsible and accurately-reported research on weight-related issues, and ‘scientific literacy’ and critical thinking skills for the public.” Burgard started “Body Positive,” a website aiming to help boost body image at any weight. She had worked with the healthiest fat women and the sickest thin women, and found it impossible to prescribe for fat people, behaviors and intentions that harmed people with eating disorders.

Investigative reporter Alicia Mundy’s book, Dispensing with the Truth, appeared in 2001. It revealed the workings of drug companies, the diet drugs Redux and fen-phen, and some of their victims. It also named the new industry—combining drug companies, researchers, and obesity experts–”Obesity, Inc.”

In 2002, Dr. William Klish told the Houston Chronicle: “If we don’t get this epidemic [of childhood obesity] in check, for the first time in a century children will be looking forward to a shorter life expectancy than their parents.” The journalist of the Chronicle went on to explain the effect. “Since then, Klish’s statement has entered the lexicon of obesity scaremongers…without so much as a shred of credible research to back it up. Klish himself told the Center for Consumer Freedom that while he is the originator of this pessimistic prognostication, his claim does not come from ‘evidence-based research.’ Rather, he explained, ‘It’s based on intuition.’

Inspired by a Bruno activism workshop in AHELP, psychologist Claudia Clark of Bowling Green State University began participating in health fairs and observing No Diet Day at the university. She then created a size acceptance group on campus, and organized women’s body image retreats. Her college hosted an organizational meeting of the Association for Size Diversity and Health (ASDAH) on May 16, 2003. Cheri Erdman and Paul Ernsberger presented at that one-day meeting to about 30 attendees. Approximately 14 people continued on later that afternoon to brainstorm potential organizational structure, mission and goals, membership criteria and fees, etc. Clark headed up ASDAH, Miriam Berg was the Newsletter Editor, Roki Abakoui was membership chair (followed by Anne Kaplan) and Dana Schuster took on Conference planning. The original group working as a ‘steering committee’ included: Donna Pittman, Roki Abakoui, Dana Schuster, Paul Ernsberger, Catherine Shufelt, Veronica Cook-Euell, Judy Miller, Lisa Breisch, Francie Astrom, Miriam Berg, Renee Schultz, Darshana Pandya, Judy Borcherdt, Joanne Ikeda, and Ellen Shuman. Miriam Berg and Dana Schuster were charged with the task to take all of the discussion and ideas and draft a mission statement and goals for ASDAH. It is an all-volunteer, not-for-profit organization, whose members and leaders are committed to Health at Every Size principles. LynnEllen Marcus started the ASDAH Yahoo listserv group in 2006.

Psychologist Peggy Elam started Pearlsong Press in the autumn of 2003. According to their website, “Pearlsong Press endorses Health At Every Size®, and promises that every book and product we publish or offer for sale…celebrates size diversity or at least does not contradict it.”

Dr. Jerome Kassirer, former Editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), noted in 2004: “On the question of obesity, physicians have been extensively involved with the pharmaceutical industry, especially opinion leaders and in the high ranks of academia. The involvement was in many instances quite deep. It involved consulting, service on speakers’ bureaus, and service on advisory boards. And at the same time some of these financially conflicted individuals were producing biased obesity materials, biased obesity lectures, and biased obesity articles in major journals.”

Colorado law professor Paul Campos wrote The Obesity Myth in 2004, which was subsequently republished as The Diet Myth. He continued exposing anti-obesity public health messages in newspaper and magazine columns, blogs, and debates, and recommended giving up the war on obesity.

Fat activist Marilyn Wann, author of Fat!So?, began the fat studies listserv in 2004, having been inspired by an exhibit on the fat body by Columbia University graduate student Lori Don Levan. Wann shares, “It was a weekend conference and a fat-positive art show at the school’s art gallery in the end of February 2004…I was a keynote speaker and so were Laurie Toby Edison and Debbie Notkin from Women En Large. Kate LeBesco gave a great talk. During Lori’s conference, I stayed with a friend, Anahid Kassabian…Anahid suggested that, ‘Someone needs to start the field of fat studies and it should be you.’”

Wann “realized I could invite every academic person I knew to join an email list and see what happened. I invited 50 or 60 people and many of them joined. I knew academic people with interest in weight-related topics because I had been going around giving talks on college campuses for 7 or 8 years.”

Julie Gerberding, Director of the Centers for Disease Control, entangled herself in politicized fat-fear mongering. “If you looked at any epidemic—whether it’s influenza or plague from the Middle Ages—they are not as serious as the epidemic of obesity in the terms of the health impact on our country and our society,” said Gerberding in 2004. Gerberding requested $6.9 billion for the CDC’s 2005 budget by claiming 400,000 deaths per year due to obesity.

A study by CDC researchers and others was published in Obesity Research, claiming that obesity-related medical expenditures in 2003 cost $75 billion, half financed by taxpayers through Medicare and Medicaid. In January 2005, the CDC published an erratum in JAMA, lowering the estimate of deaths attributable to excess weight to 365,000/year. (See Center for Consumer Freedom.)

Social workers and sisters Judith Matz and Ellen Frankel published Beyond a Shadow of a Diet: The Therapist’s Guide to Treating Compulsive Eating, in 2004. It was followed in 2006 by The Diet Survivor’s Handbook: 60 Lessons in Eating, Acceptance and Self-Care. Their website is Matz published “Recipe for Life” in Psychotherapy Networker, Jan.-Feb. 2011.

In their 2004 book, The Spirit and Science of Holistic Health, health educators Karen Carrier and Jon Robison contrast traditional, Cartesian views about weight with holism, including Health at Every Size. Says David Sobel, MD, author of Healthy Pleasures, “Holistic health promotion replaces disease with joy, fear with meaning, and external control with inner trust.”

Published to the HAES Blog with permission from Barbara Altman Bruno. Copyright © 2017 Barbara Bruno. All rights reserved.

Readers can access previous installments of this history here:
Part 1   Part 2   Part 3   Part 4   Part 5

Barbara Altman Bruno, Ph.D., DCSW has been a clinical social worker, size acceptance activist, and HAES pioneer.  She has presented at clinical conferences, appeared in television, radio, magazines, newspapers, and demonstrations, and has written many articles, including well-being columns for larger people, guidelines for therapists who treat fat clients, a brief history of HAES, and a book, Worth Your Weight (what you CAN do about a weight problem).  She is former co-chair of education for ASDAH and is on the Advisory Boards of NAAFA and The Fat Studies Journal.

via healthateverysizeblog

Hashtag Highlights Early Body Shaming Experiences

ShamelessA heartbreaking new hashtag is trending. People are using #TheySaid to tell their stories of experiencing body shaming. The hashtag was started on May 25th by Sally Bergesen, who kicked things off by talking about her own memory of body shaming.

This kind of crap needs to stop, like, yesterday. If you tell kids they should hate their bodies — they’ll believe you. If you tell them it’s OK to hate kids who are bigger than they are, then they’ll believe you and they’ll create the next generation of stories for #TheySaid.

Sally Bergesen, the woman who started the hashtag, is also the CEO of Oiselle, a sports apparel brand. As an athlete who wants to support people who are doing the right thing when it comes to Size Acceptance, I immediately headed to her website. Sadly, what I found was pretty disappointing.

You can read my entire piece about this here!

Want to make sure that we live in a world where “Body Positivity” includes all bodies?

Click Here to Register!   

If you enjoy this blog, consider becoming a member or making a contribution.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support fat activism and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you.  Click here for details

Book and Dance Class Sale!  I’m on a journey to complete an IRONMAN triathlon, and I’m having a sale on all my books, DVDs, and digital downloads to help pay for it. You get books and dance classes, I get spandex clothes and bike parts. Everybody wins! If you want, you can check it out here!

Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

via Dances With Fat

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Fatshion: Living that Crop Top Life

Hi friends! I’m so excited to share these amazing photos that one of my partners, Mayra Cortez, took of me. She’s this great photographer living in Los Angeles. She’s self-taught...

Read more here!

via Skinned Knees

#TBT Meeting Your Idols, Finding Body Acceptance

Golda and Joan Osborne Back in 2007, I went to a now-defunct Barnes & Noble to meet one of my favorite artists and songwriters of all time, Joan Osborne. Her music had meant so much to me for so many years, and I was so excited to get to meet her.

I remember that moment really vividly, both because I got to meet someone I idolized and because it was one of those moments that made me reevaluate my endless quest for thinness.

Those if you who have seen my TEDx talk may remember me talking about “diet shakes that gave me the shakes” and back in 2007 I was using those as a dinner substitute when weight watchers stopped working for me. They were recommended by a fitness instructor I was working with to help get my weight loss “back on track.” I can’t remember if they did anything for me other than make me feel horrible, shaky, and sweaty. It was likely low blood sugar but I don’t actually know.

I waited in line for what seems like ages to meet Joan. I had had my dinner shake back at the office and as I waited I felt woozy and agitated. I tried to think of what I would say to pretty much my favorite artist of all time, whose songs had meant so much to me for so many years and whose singing voice I always seemed to emulate.

Finally I get to meet her and I felt like I sounded incoherent. I said something to her about her being a goddess, which sounded great in my mind but was mildly weird when actually said aloud. She signed my CD and I quickly asked the guy in line behind me to snap this picture.

I felt dejected as I walked down to the subway. My interaction with Joan was weird, and I was hungry but knew that when I got home I “couldn’t” have dinner. In my mind, the two were connected. Like, if I could have just had a normal meal that day I would have felt less all over the place and could have had a reasonable interaction with this person whose music meant so much to me. This wasn’t the nail in the coffin on my dieting life, but perhaps it was the moment when I considered buying the coffin in the first place.

Golda’s debut album, “A Little Luck” is available everywhere now. For more info, go to

#TBT Meeting Your Idols, Finding Body Acceptance originally appeared on Body Love Wellness ( on June 15, 2017.

via Body Love Wellness

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Exactly How Not To Fight nazis

This meme is making the rounds and we need to talk about it:

How not to protest Nazis

As activists one of the things that we always have to be careful about is that we don’t add to the marginalization of other groups with our activism.  In this case, the person who created this meme is trying to fight nazis through the use of fat shaming.  And that’s just crap.

Even if you are someone who purposefully engages in fatshaming (aka: an asshole) this is still a terrible idea – nazis are legitimately horrible, dangerous, and need to be stopped, and making this about how he looks massively minimizes the issue.  What would the makers and sharers of this meme do when presented with someone who did fit the current stereotype of attractiveness – say “Well, I guess he has a point”?

In order to fight nazis and white supremacists we must reject the entire ridiculous premise of their argument.  Making it about whether or not each individual meets some definition of “genetically superior” accepts the premise which means that the argument has already been lost. Fat shaming is wrong no matter how horrible the subject is, because the subject’s body size has nothing to do with it.

So let’s take another stab at this:

Fight nazis without fat shaming by learning more about Intersectional Fat Activism! Register for the Fat Activism Conference and get tools, skills, and community:

Click Here to Register!   Earlybird registration ends June 15th!

If you enjoy this blog, consider becoming a member or making a contribution.

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support fat activism and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you.  Click here for details

Book and Dance Class Sale!  I’m on a journey to complete an IRONMAN triathlon, and I’m having a sale on all my books, DVDs, and digital downloads to help pay for it. You get books and dance classes, I get spandex clothes and bike parts. Everybody wins! If you want, you can check it out here!

Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

In training for an IRONMAN triathlon.  If you’re interested, you can find my training blog here

If you are uncomfortable with my selling things on this site, you are invited to check out this post.

via Dances With Fat

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Engaging with the fundies at Pride?

Last year’s Baltimore Pride was my first Pride event.  As I’ve mentioned before, it was *awesome.* Also as I’ve mentioned before, I was, shall we say, emotionally unprepared for the fundamentalist jerk-weasels with the bullhorns, and may have overreacted a small bit to their presence. (That is, I got into a shouting match about how God is love and they’re the ones who need to go read their Bibles.)  This was less than helpful, both because it stressed me right the hell out and because it kept them lingering at our part of the parade, rather than moving on to bother someone else.

It occurred to me afterwards that an absolutely wonderful thing allies could do to show their support would be to divert and distract these folks. Not by yelling at them or making a big scene, but just by quietly asking them some questions. Basically play the role of someone who’s interested in what they have to say, and see if you can get them to engage with you, one on one, quietly.  Because every minute they spend looking up some passage in Leviticus for you and answering your oh-so-sincere questions is a minute they’re not yelling hellfire and damnation at someone who’s hurt by it.

The giant downside of course, is that you’ve taught them that yelling hate gets them the kind of attention they want. And they will, of course, spin the story such that you were a person suffering from same-sex attraction, conned by the liberal media, who they rescued from the flames of hell. But, then, lying liars who lie will claim that they used to be gay and God fixed them, or whatever they need to claim to try to convince people that their hate is a holy cause. So, I’d be wary of saying things that agree with them or sound like you’re convinced by their cherry-picked passages.

This is just an idea I’m tossing around in my head.  It seems like it might be worth attempting, to make Pride events a little safer for people who’ve come out of (or are still in) oppressive religious environments and just need one day to be who they are. I’m not sure if giving the haters even that much validation is a good thing, though.

via Kelly Thinks Too Much