Say it ain’t so Momma O!: Oprah has now become apart of the billion dollar diet and weight loss industry…

Amber Riley

I’m so disappointed in Oprah investing in Weight Watchers.
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Another money hungry, scamming weight loss program, designed to manipulate people into their bullshit. I enjoyed looking at her instagram seeing her harvesting vegetables and fresh produce in all of her plus size glory, killing all types of ignorant myths about healthy eating, health and body size or weight. But now she’s become a money hungry Westernized society obsessed celebrity trying to fit in, like the rest of them.

This is just the current identity of our American culture. The continuous anti-fat propaganda for profit taking place here that even former proud and plus size celebrities have thrown in the white flag and jumped aboard the no fat train.

Weight Watchers strikes again and this time with one of the richest people and the world. How they continue to manipulate and profit from inaccurate information about diet and weight loss? That’s easy, lie and tell women their life doesn’t start until they’re skinny like everyone other billion dollar generating weight loss program centered around destroying the self esteems of women.

Oprah you’ve lost a fan permanently.

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Talking About Size Acceptance with Kids

simpsons
I’ve had several questions about how to talk to kids about the fatphobic world that they live in. I wrote this post a few years ago and updated it for today. I got a comment from reader Kest about the struggle to help kids deal with living in a fat phobic environment.  It provides a great framework for talking to kids about Size Acceptance and weight stigma.

My kidlet just finished kindergarten… recently the Kidlet has started making comments about how he doesn’t want to be fat…the Kidlet claimed that he was getting these ideas from commercials…I can certainly attribute this to a combination of commercials and the messages the school is sending, but I don’t know how to counter it…How do we address size acceptance with a generation coming up with all these messages bombarding them?

I think it’s an utter shame that the government has decided to focus on the weight of children, putting a “middle man” between kids and their health that doesn’t need to be there and encouraging appearance-based bullying.  It’s particularly disturbing because there is no evidence that it will work, and lots of evidence that it is dangerous.  Kids are also barraged with the exact same 386,170 negative messages about fat bodies that adults are assaulted with every year.  They are also encouraged by the media, schools, even the government to stereotype people based on how they look. That can cause a lot of difficulty for kids who are fat, and for kids who have people close to them who are fat.  It can also be heartbreaking for fat parents.

There is an added difficulty with kids because no parent wants their kid to suffer, so I do want to point out that when people say that they don’t want a fat kid, what they may really be saying is that they don’t want their fat kid to grow up in a fatphobic society.  I suggest that focusing on the weight of the kid is working the wrong end of the problem.

I have neither kids nor qualifications to tell people how to raise kids (though my dogs seem pretty body positive) so, with that caveat, I’m just going to tell you what I think I would do, and also request that you use the comments to add your advice.  If I had a kid, I think I would be having two ongoing conversations.

The first would be about why we don’t stereotype people or treat them differently based on their size, health or anything else. The second would be an age appropriate conversation about how weight and health are two different things and that, as has happened before in science, medicine and society, some well intentioned people are making a big mistake and that we are among the first group of people to realize it, and how that poses its own difficulties.

 

You’ll need to decide if you want to encourage your kid(s) to challenge authority on this or perhaps have a mantra that they say in their heads when they hear things that they now know are problematic.  There’s also the issue of talking to them about sticking up for the fat kids who are being harmed by all of this (and other people who are being oppressed.)

I would continue to have these conversations, and work to find teachable moments.  I hope that it would be a continuation of my work to instill critical thinking in my kid, and that I could encourage them to look at the evidence about this, ask if they thought it sounded like what happened to Galileo etc.  If the kid has already been, or is being, fat-shamed, here are some things that you can try.

I think that some of the most important things that kids can be taught are critical thinking, questioning authority, the difference between opinion and fact, and the underpants rule. Again I want to encourage you to add your thoughts to the comments!

Exotic Dancers in 1890 and the Plump Body Ideal

I recently had the pleasure of reading Peter Stearns’ Fat History: Bodies and Beauty in the Modern West.  The book chronicles the shift in American history from a plump to a thin ideal.  The beauty of Stearns’ book is his resistance to reducing the shift in norms to a simple cause. Instead, he traces the changes to conflicts between capitalism and religion, the backlash against women’s equality, industrialization and the devaluation of maternal roles, fashion trends, the professionalization of medicine, our cultural relationship to food, and more.

Stearns is quite specific in timing the change, however, pointing to the years between 1890 and 1910.  In these 20 years, he writes:

…middle-class America began its ongoing battle aginst body fat.  Never previously an item of systemic public concern, dieting or guilt about not dieting became an increasing staple of private life, along with a surprisingly strong current of disgust directed against people labeled obese.

 

I thought of Stearns’ book when I came across a delightful collection of photographs of exotic dancers taken in 1890, the year he pinpoints as the beginning of the shift to thinness.  From a contemporary perspective, they would likely be judged as “too fat,” but their plumpness was exactly what made these dancers so desirable at the time.
http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2012/03/07/exotic-dancers-in-1890-and-the-plump-body-ideal/

Normalizing Obesity

 

Actual SizeDepartment store Debenhams decided to use size 16 mannequins to both reflect the average size woman and give her a shot at seeing what clothes might actually look like on her.  Queue hand-wringing and wailing.

Britain’s chief medical director, Dame Sally Davies, is concerned that the use of mannequins in a wide variety of sizes that reflect the sizes of women may normalize obesity. First of all let’s remember that obesity is a made up thing whose definition has been changed in the past by clever lobbying by the weight loss industry. Then let’s remember that, while there are no guarantees or obligations, behaviors are a much better determinant of future health than is body size. Finally, let’s remember that Dame Davies has not a single evidence-based way to make fat women smaller,whether there are fat mannequins or not . (see the bottom of this post for evidence about this.)

The hypothesis that Dame Davies seems to be working under, of course without a shred of evidence, is that fat people will all get thin if we never see anyone (including a mannequin)  who looks like us shown in a positive light.  I hate to have a Dr. Phil moment here, but we’ve been doing that for quite a while now – how’s that workin for ya? Junot Diaz said:  “If you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves.” That is exactly what Dame Davies is engaged in doing.

It turns out that most people aren’t motivated to take care of themselves by seeing only negative portrayals of people who look like them.  The message that fat people should hate our bodies and ourselves is phenomenally effective at convincing fat people to hate our bodies and ourselves.  The problem is that, in what I would call a stunning flash of the obvious, neither health nor thinness (two different things let’s remember) follow.  But heavens forfend we have a fat person shown in a positive (or even neutral) light – we’ll soon find ourselves accused of that most heinous (and completely ridiculous) of crimes:  “promoting obesity  a gateway crime to  “normalizing obesity”.

Again, the idea being that we must keep fat people in constant misery by only showing fat people in constant misery – or not showing them at all…and why?

Maybe it’s because people are actually so misguided as to believe that all fat people will become thin if the world simply refuses to allow us to see ourselves in it as anything but “abnormal” (of course being normal is the most important thing.) Or maybe it’s because if we stop shaming fat people then they might stop pouring money into the diet industry for a solution that almost never works, and they really like getting our sixty billion dollars a year.

I don’t buy the idea that showing fat people in a positive light will make other people want to be fat (because I don’t think this is a V8 commercial where people see a happy fatty, slap their forehead and say “I coulda been fat”), and I don’t think that a ceaseless stream of shame is doing anything good for fat people.  So let’s try a new experiment. Let’s normalize bodies of all sizes – let’s acknowledge that bodies come in lots of different sizes for lots of different reasons and move on to focus on other things based on people’s own prioritization and goals.  Can you imagine if size was not an issue?  Movies with fat leading men and  ladies, magazines filled with people of all sizes, billboards with fat people selling dishsoap, a world without fat jokes, a world without articles about how Santa Claus promotes an unhealthy body image.

Take a minute to realize that everything fat people accomplish today is done in spite of the fact that we live under the under the crushing weight of constant social stigma. Imagine what fat people could do if we didn’t have to live with a ceaseless stream of societal oppression.

Peter Muennig’s research from Columbia found that most of the health problems that are correlated with obesity are also correlated with being under a high degree of stress for a long period of time (for example, the stress of constant shaming and stigma). Therefore, public health messages that add to the shame and stigma that fat people face may actually decrease health in fat people.

Muennig also found that women who were concerned about their size experienced more physical and mental illness than those who were ok with their size, regardless of their size. So public health messages that make fat people concerned about their body size may also have the opposite of the intended effect.

Imagine a world where there was no body shame and stigma.  Hey wait, we don’t have to imagine… we could  just stop shaming and stigmatizing bodies right frickin’ now!

Of course society isn’t coming along with my plan at the moment, but we can do something about it right now. I think that the best thing that I ever did for loving my body was looking daily at bodies that were outside the beauty stereotype  -I found that I had no problem with their bodies and I was eventually able to transfer those feelings to my own body.  I think you will do yourself a world of good if you seek out images of happy people who are outside the beauty norm every single day.

Here are a couple of places to start:

Fit Fatties Forum Phot and Video Galleries

The Adipositivity Project (NSFW unless your W is super cool)

(If you know of other places feel free to put them in the comments!)

You can also take pictures of yourself and get them out there for other fatties to see- post them on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram your blog,  post them in the comments of this blog – whatever.  Remember that bodies aren’t better or worse- just different.  The constant stream of thin bodies that we see can subconsciously condition us to believe that our bodies are wrong, but that’s just cultural conditioning, and that can be changed, and we can change it. Let’s be our own heroes and our own role models.

http://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/2014/03/28/normalizing-obesity-2/

While Loving Lupita, Don’t Forget Gabourey

 

12919511684_468d93bc53_oLike most people who have souls, I teared up listening to Lupita Nyong’o’s acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actress during Sunday night’s Oscar telecast. I admire Lupita not only for her obvious talent, but for her honesty and willingness to defend black beauty. Her inspirational speech on the intersection of race and beauty at Essence‘s Black Women in Hollywood luncheon reminded me of a time when schoolyard taunts made me insecure about my own complexion, and I had to smile at the thought of Nyong’o emboldening young girls just as dark-skinned supermodel Alek Wek had emboldened her.

As elated as I was for Nyong’o’s Oscar win for 12 Years a Slave and her democratization of beauty, I was unable to ignore the stark contrast between her and another actor who, despite her talent, receives only a fraction of Nyong’o’s fanfare.

When Gabourey Sibide first gained acclaim (and an Oscar nomination) for her role in Precious, she generated buzz in Hollywood for her acting chops, but never became the woman that paparazzi were angling for on the red carpet. Nyong’o, on the other hand, instantly became a media darling. It seemed like I couldn’t go a day without seeing her, draped in designer gowns, and it wasn’t long before Vogue—which never invited Sidibe to grace its pages—named Nyong’o to its 10 Rising Style Stars of 2014. The media was quick to bestow on Nyong’o the story of the underdog, the dreamer who made it despite all the odds, and though these compliments ring true, they were also true for Sidibe.

 

4102704009_ddfd07804dBut obviously there’s a marked difference between who is allowed to represent “black beauty” and who isn’t. It’s apparently become okay to have black features like Nyong’o, but you still have to come in the right shape. You still have to be able to squeeze into sample sizes and look at home in a magazine photo shoot. You need to be dainty and petite, soft and feminine. Though Nyong’o’s ubiquity will do much for elevating the acceptance of black women, it’s difficult to imagine Sidibe would ever have been put in the same position.

A vicious undertone of fat phobia shadows pop culture conversations about Sidibe. Whenever she appears at an awards ceremony, the emphasis seems to be on her weight and rarely on the acting accomplishments that got her there. While she looked radiant in a magenta gown at the Oscars Sunday, the vast majority of tweets and comments were jokes about her size, and the same thing happened after her Golden Globes appearance a few weeks ago. Not that any of that seems to slow down Sidibe, though. She constantly brims with self-confidence and should have been given a Golden Globe for her Twitter retort alone:

https://i0.wp.com/msmagazine.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Screen-shot-2014-03-03-at-8.24.55-PM.png

It’s also possible that the disparity in Sidibe’s and Nyong’o’s reception was partially due to the roles they played. Nyong’o was essentially rewarded by the Academy for playing a long-ago slave, which Hollywood always recognizes. America seems to be galvanized by slave narratives, since they portray racism as something unfortunate that happened centuries ago, while narratives of present-day oppression, like the one in Precious, are deemed too unsettling to watch. I can’t count how many friends balked at seeing Precious a few years ago, but then practically sprinted to the theater to see 12 Years a Slave.

Celebrating black women who are only a certain size and only portray a certain narrative is problematic. Though I’m glad that there are black women and girls who now will walk a little bit taller because of what Nyong’o’s talent has done for them, Sidibe has been doing the same thing and is still deserving of her own pedestal.

http://msmagazine.com/blog/2014/03/04/while-loving-lupita-dont-forget-gabourey/?utm_content=buffer1b9e0&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Things Thin People Say

daniellemertina:

 

…that they think are proof of oppression but are really proof of our privilege: 

#1) “People think I’m anorexic!”

This one is close to home. Even my doctors think I’m anorexic because technically speaking (based on the pseudo scientific BMI system) I am. In fact, once I was given a questionnaire when I had a check up about if I am depressed and if I feel like I have friends and how school is going and if I’m bullied. I thought that was routine and then I found out that it’s because they think I have an ED.

Soooo I know what I’m talking about when I say that this is not proof of a two way street when it comes to body image.

How can a thin person talk about being assumed to have an ED when really thin people are the least likely to suffer from ED’s because we already have the body that is considered ideal? Doctors don’t even recognize ED’s if the person does not have a thin body. In fact, ED’s are ***encouraged*** in non-thin people.

So a person thinks your anorexic and you’re not? Be thankful that they actually care about your health. Because they ascribe humanity to thin people. If you actually had an ED and were not thin, people would be less likely to care and in fact might even think it’s a good idea in order to lose weight. 

#2) “People tell me to eat something!”

How can thin people complain about being told to eat something when eating is normal and healthy… meanwhile fat people are told NOT to eat when eating is NORMAL and HEALTHY.

I am supposed to sit around complaining about how people will give me whatever I want to eat because I need some “meat on my bones” (when the truth is I probably do) meanwhile if you’re fat people will look at you side ways every time you eat. Like you no longer need or deserve food.

The average person holds such pseudo scientific ideas about food and nutrition and there is the idea that you eat too much if you are fat and you eat too little if you are skinny. Which is not factual at all. But it’s not thin people who lose out by these commonly held myths. 

#3) “People ask me probing questions!” 

Welcome to the world. Where everybody is asked probing questions. Particularly, women! Thin people will be asked things such as “what do you do to stay so skinny?” “How do you exercise?” Even sort of weird questions like “How often do you poop?”

Most of the questions thin people will be asked will be by someone who wants that body so they want to know how you have yours. 

The probing questions for a fat person will be very similar ***except*** they will be said with the intention to allude to the fact that they need to change their body type. “Are you sure you should be eating that?” & “How often do you exercise?”

I am often asked a lot of questions about my weight. It’s usually followed up with, “I’m so jealous! I wish I was your size!” 

Not to mention that if I say I have a fast metabolism and it’s genetics because everybody in my family is thin the conversation ends there. But saying you have a slow metabolism is not considered an “excuse” if you’re fat. That’s called being “lazy.” 

So how can you complain about probing questions when they’re round-a-bout compliments for the most part? 

#4) “Men don’t like that I have no ass or boobs!”

This is my favorite one. Especially as a black girl, because many thin black girls like to pretend like the black community is anti-thin women and therefore we don’t have any privilege.

Besides the real fact that using men (who tend to be very confusing, oppressive, and fickle… for example: “I want to have sex with you but after I do you’re a ho lol”) to determine whether or not we as women have privilege is completely giving into the male gaze and problematic there are still more things wrong with this statement. 

I am sure there are some men who don’t like women who are stick thin. Since men are not a monolith! And not all men are brainwashed by the media which tells them they should like thin women! If they were, as a dark skinned woman I would never get any male attention.

However, when I have come across men (and honestly this has been very rare for me) who actually say that they do not like thin women it is in terms of some objectifying, misogynist sense like “I need something I grab onto!” “I need a girl with an ass I can really feel up!” **but** it’s not like they look at me with disgust. It’s always said like it’s a preference. But that there’s nothing necessarily wrong with me. 

Whereas, the idea of a fat woman is not even entertained. A lot of these men want thin-ish women who also have boobs and an ass. They want the hour glass figure. 

That being said, I’ve had my fair share of male attention. And when I am with a man one of the TOP physical compliments I receive is my thinness. I’d like to think men like me because I’m pretty lol but honestly I think it’s because I’m short and thin. My thinness is often viewed as a commodity. 

#5) “People make fun of me for being skinny!”

I’m sure people do. People are mean-spirited in general. And if you’re a woman, it’s common that people will always find something to make fun of you about. I’ve been made fun for being bony and having a collar bone that shows and things like that. 

But I’ve also been complimented for the same things. Way more than I’ve been “made fun of” about them. 

This would lead me to believe (as I look at magazine covers, TV, etc) that my body type is viewed as something deserving of compliments. And that yes, not every individual person I come across will automatically worship my body type but it’s still fair to say this is a general rule.

I literally hear thin people complaining about being made fun of and it’s like they expect every person they meet to be absolutely in love with their bodies which is already showing abuse of privilege. Why do you even have that expectation? 

This is a really basic post and in no way comprehensive. Feel free to add/ correct anything. 

 

Why fat shaming has not stopped…

Misinformation about fat bodies and obesity…

Despite there being tons of articles proving you can be fat and healthy, proving health has no body size, proving the distinctive difference health and body size down to the anatomy of the human body, people still don’t care, including doctors. As much as these articles exist, there have been articles to debate them and try to dismiss their authenticity.

Association of thinness to femininity and largeness to masculinity…

As long as beauty standards exists, fat shaming will rear it’s ugly head. Everywhere we turn, there’s articles, commercials, magazines, celebrity beach photos advertising thin bodies to women as much as they can. The latest craze in thinspo regarding the bikini bridge and thigh gap pretty much proves this. No matter how many love your body campaigns we have women have psychologically made it up in their minds that their bodies are wrong and what’s advertised to them is right.

Women are far more subjected to conformity than men are because we have been told our entire lives that our value and worth is based off of whether we’re attractive or not to both sexes. Being ignored is like a death sentence to women so we do our best to make sure we keep people happy and pleased with us.

Thin bodies on women is a symbolization of class, innocence, excellence, great health, youthfulness, and purity even if the women do not adhere to any of these characteristics at all. The smaller the woman the more feminine we assume she is because it’s been psychologically trained in our minds to attach femininity to thiness. If you look at most professional successful men of any profession their wives and the women on their arms are always thin. Women who don’t fit the image often feel obligated to settle and view themselves and worthless in value, even if they too are successful.

Thin bodies on women are associated with everything positive, and as long as women are taught this, fat shaming will always exist.

Michelle Obama…

Sure president Obama has one more year in office but it’s no secret she made a big impact with her “Let’s Move” campaign, in the world of fat shaming. I know she meant well, as healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle is very important for a functioning body, however her war on obesity is the thorn in the tiger’s paw. Declaring war on obesity also declared war on fat bodies. This has allowed people to view fat people as enemies and a detriment to society and even other people.

Her program doesn’t promote Health to all, it only promotes the bullying and eradication of fat bodies, which gives our thinner counterparts the idea that fat shaming is okay whether it’s done out of so called concern or pure hatred and ignorance.

I think Michelle Obama is aware of the negative stigma her “Let’s Move” campaign has caused, but lets be honest here, she doesn’t care.

Our government has made a mission to take overweight/obese kids from their home deeming them abused because of the idea that their parents are making them gorge on food. No matter if the child is visually active and healthy their fat bodies are enough to take them from their loving parents.

Forcing BMI charts in Elementary schools. Now children as young as 5 have to be subjected to body shaming and fat shaming. Programs telling them the way they exist in their bodies is wrong and harmful to others. Being subjected to bullying and no one doing anything about it because they’re being given the impression that they deserve it because they’re fat.

Eating disorders are on the rise in children as young as 6, and if that doesn’t bother people I don’t know what does.

When CDC declared obesity a “disease” it was another obstacle to fat activism around the world. It sparked a response from fat positive bloggers and people who made signs saying “I AM NOT A DISEASE”. Many people were very upset with CDC who went against being told not to declare obesity as a disease, but they did it anyway. This proves how much fat people are ignored and not seen as real people.

And last but not least, dysfunction within the fat acceptance movement..

The discussion aboout intersection and the lack of representation of POC and trans persons within fat acceptance spaces. The war between former fatties and pro fatties. Healthist fatties vs. My body my choice fatties, it’s just so much drama and confusion within the movement which is why it can fully take flight like it should. There needs to a common ground and place of unity if we want to end fat discrimination, fat shaming, and promote positivity for fat bodies.