Saturday, December 12, 2009

Morality of my Fat Acceptance

I have been painfully introspective the past few weeks. I think that my quest for self awareness may have taken on a life of its own. In my looking within, I think I have been overlooking some obvious things going on around me that are very important in my Fat Acceptance Journey.

If you have read through my blog, or seen the type of comments I leave on other blogs, (with the exception of Shapely prose who moderate my comments for some reason unknown to me) you will see that my journey through Fat Acceptance has been an emotional one, with little spotlights here and there about my health.

One of the things that happened for me when I started blogging, is that I fond myself involved in community. This is a good thing. The good emotions I experienced as I jumped in feet first were cathartic. As many of us can understand, having been rejected, admonished, stigmatized, and discriminated against from almost any community I was involved with throughout my life, having people smile at me, acknowledge the validity of my thoughts, encourage me, seemed like a nirvana manifested.

I was lucky enough to meet an hang out with Marylyn Wann at the ASDAH convention who invited me to join her list-serve and has been very generous with her comments and support there. Linda Bacon was kind enough to comment on a blog post I did from a very frightened place, others in the community who would respond to my postings were also very kind. As I was learning about the lay of the land of the fat-o-sphere, making new friends, and working through the sppedbumps and potholes with my family, I became encouraged that I could actually figure out a way to a happy life and let go of the self hatred and shame that was at the core or my psyche.

So now I am more aware of the politics of the movement, I have a better understanding of (not complete) privilege, I understand what set point theory is, and I have dabbled in improving my nutrition and my movement.

So here is where I go into the "good fatty/bad fatty" introspection. But before that, there is another aspect that has captured my attention lately about this wonderful community.

And it is a wonderful community. It is not perfect. But I find for the most part, it is filled with well intentioned, principled folks with whom I have a lot in common.

Here is the rub. Being in the community had become more important to me than actually moving forward with what this community promotes around my nutrition and movement. I haven't found (and I have been looking) for a voice or a segment of the community that says just eat whatever you want and only move if you are motivated to, otherwise just stay at home, motionless and eat anything you want to. You are accepted Ivan! We accept you. It is not your fault. You are not responsible. The nasty fat hating world has wronged you and now your "Peeps" in the fat o sphere will let you know that everything you are doing (actually everything I am not doing) is okay.

Well, is it? I am not feeling good about the type of stuff I eat, the amount of stuff I eat, or the way I eat it. I am ashamed of my lack of movement. I do not want to talk about this or write about this.

I was feeling good about the walking I was doing, and that I have added a few vegetables to my food, I was taking some time to check in with what my body was hungry for, etc. One of my mantra's was as long as I am moving in the right direction, I am good. Another mantra was; I am working on my health because my mental health is a big part of it, so coming to terms with all the stuff that Fat Hatred, Stigma, etc etc did to me is working on my health.

However, lately, my attention has been on what I am eating and how much movement I am getting. I would not want to post what I eat and the amount of movement I get ( basically enough to get my to and from the bathroom and to and from the kitchen) Some of the lack of movement is legitimate pain from my big medical drama 2.5 years ago, and some of it is just plain slothfulness. The food is a story in and of itself.

Yet, I am hesitant to reach out for help with my food or my movement because an alarm goes off in my head saying I am not accepting myself, if I look at my food like a problem that needs to be fixed. It is too important that I accept myself. fail fail fail….

Yet I have to be honest and say that my food is not healthy. I cannot deny it. Which is what it seems to me I have been doing.

This laziness manifests itself in the low quality of the food I eat, (fast foodish, processed, sugary, cake and cookieish eating) and in the very limited amount of movement I get. Part of it is that the pain meds I take from the "medical drama" take away my mental sharpness and I sleep a lot. I can get some movement in when I take them though. So I am doing this juggling act between, pain meds, sleep, wanting to be able to read and pay attention, wanting to get more movement, and the idiot box that doesn't demand anything from me other that sitting in front of it and looking in its direction.

I am not depressed, although I did consider that. I am just tired. And a voice in my head is also telling me I am just lazy and don't want to work that hard.

Ya know, if there was some research out there that was endorsed by the likes of Wann and Bacon, that said and individual like me, in circumstances like mine, has as his best bet at a happy life is to just accept that very little movement and eating large quantities of food and spending most of your day watching tv.

I know in my heart of hearts that this is not okay.

I am still a card carrying member of FA. I definitely understand that trying to loose weight is a loosing proposition for someone like me. I am just feeling a little suffocated from all the moral judgement I am buying into about what by most standards could be considered Sloth.

I can play my medical condition card here. My blog details all the medical trauma and drama that has been part of my life. I am disabled from the last episode. Yet, there is room for more movement, I think, if I push myself through the pain so I don't have to take more pain meds. There is room for healthier choices about what I eat, about how much I eat.

I just do not want to go back to a life a shame, self hatred, and walking around my life apologizing for taking up two seats everywhere I go.

I want to feel good about the decisions I make around nutrition and movement while taking into account that the meds are a hurdle to the movement, and all the delicious goodies I like to keep stocked in the house are a hurdle to better nutrition.

I am very interested in hearing what folks have to say about this.



Sunday, November 22, 2009

Zaftig Honors - Thanks Sylvia and Bianca

Thank you to Sylvia and Bianca for this most prestigious honor. Usually I hot delete the moment I see something like this on my computer, but this is the Fat-O-Sphere and I gots mad love for all my peeps within it...

So I have to get back to you on the fellow bloggers, however, here is my 10 honest things for anyone who hasn't hit delete yet...

1. I once was forced out of someone's house at gunpoint.

2. I spent my 17th birthday in a psychiatric ward.

3. I have a 7 pound dog named mush

4. I crashed a car while REM's "Losing My Religion" was playing on the radio.

5. I crush hard for Jennifer Connelly

6. I do not have belly button

7. One day, I aspire to be as clever as Shannon

8. I haven't farted in 20 years

9. My brother and sister were literally born nine months apart - she 1/21/70 he-10/22/70

10. I see dead people

Friday, November 20, 2009


I have been thinking a lot about my own Fat Acceptance and my own health. I have written a lot here about my journey from the self hatred endorsed by everyone around me to a gentle, accepting stance that is promoted by the Fat Acceptance concept. Yet, there does not seen to be one fat acceptance movement but many. The variety of opinions and schools of thought is a bit overwhelming. I would prefer that there was one central organization overseeing the movement and declaring what is correct and what is taboo.

As you all know, that is not the case. I have to figure out what Fat Acceptance means to me. I have to find peace with all the aspects of food, body image, stigma, prejudice, feminism, virility, health, exercise... I could go on and on.

I know that I have never ever been able to reign in my eating for any length of time, The only long term experience I had was eating pound and pounds of meat and little else for three years. The moment I started eating complex carbs, I gained all my weight back and more.

I like the way not berating myself for what I eat feels. Yet, I do experience many uncomfortable realities being the weight I am. I am working with my doctors to mitigate them, however, from where I stand, it is clear that losing weight would help almost all of them. I do not even pursue this option, because at this point, I do believe that any weight I would lose would be back on plus more in short order.

I have had a few nights now of waking up gasping for air, even with my CPAP breathing machine. I am going to call my doctor and talk about this, yet I know the best solution will be to lose weight. I also believe that trying to lose weight is a waste of time for me. I have a lifetime of evidence towards that.

Everyone I talk to about this (if I talk to anyone about this) would say something different to me about this because there is no one authority or agreed on Fat Acceptance Movement.

If there was one FA authority, I could go there and figure out what the FA appropriate next steps for the apnea should be.

I am still not sure what to so next. I cannot discuss this with my family, because their heads explode when I tell them that losing weight is not an option for me. I have a sweet therapist that does her best to understand FA but not sure where that is going. I have a few friends in FA, but I do not want to burden them.

I'll go over to the Fat Studies list and ask the brains over there about treatment options for the sleep apnea. They always have good info and are very kind to me.

I wonder, a lot, if walking the Fat Acceptance path is the right one for me. I believe it is. It is just that I am not sure which one of the many versions of the Fat Acceptance movement is going to wind up being mine. I know I like the community and the suspension of the self hatred, yet I still find myself wondering if subscribing to what I understand is set point theory, and not trying to lose weight is the right thing for me. Again, there is no one "right" course of action. The different opinions within the Fat Acceptance Community confuse me instead of help me figure out what is right for me.

I am still learning and investigating the movement. Heck, I still am only half way through Linda Bacon's book.

I am just a little scared and shell shocked about waking up gasping for breath. It's very scary.

Okay that's all for now.

below is an unrelated thread about the trauma kids are exposed to via Fat stigma... I was going to post it separately and decided to just put it at the end. They are the blog exchanges from another blog, but I wanted in here on my blog.

I commented

I am aware of my fatness as well.
One thing I find fascinating though is that I was aware of my fatness back when I was a teen as well – and was certainly made aware of it by teachers, doctors, members of my peer group, etc. Yet, looking at old photos of myself, I wasn’t anything like as fat as I thought I was – indeed I find it difficult even recognizing the person in the picture.

someone responded to my comment
Maybe – just maybe – if people weren’t so obsessed with labeling people as “fat”, “obese” etc. we’d have a lot more people around who are both happier and healthier. Regardless of their body type.

I responded:

i have said this exact thing as I develop my foundation in the FA movement. I am 43 years old 390. When I look at photos of myself I see a cute kid that has a few extra pounds. As a child I was taught that I was inappropriately fat and teased as XX described. forget school, and kids, just from my parents alone, who took my fat as their failure, I was bribed, weight watchered, diet doctored, fat camped, punished and have one particular painful memory of my father dragging a 11 year old me out of bed at 6am to force me to do jumping jacks and because my effort wasn’t enthusiastic enough, he viciously called me a fat horse, walked away and didn’t speak to me for 2 days.
Today I wonder, (and hope for todays fat kids) that if I was nurtured to be the best, healthiest, me I could be as a boy if I would weigh less than I do today.
Even if it would not have made a difference in my body, I sure would have loved to take a pass on the three decades of self hate and sense of unworthiness that was my inner life until I found the FA/HAES community.

Someone replied -- I’m so sorry these things happened to you, and even sorrier that your experiences are not unusual.

I responded....

“and even sorrier that your experiences are not unusual” 
sniper, when i first got here i was like, wow these FA activist are an angry bunch, but now I feel compelled to contribute & to do what I can to help bring on the change that will make experiences like these unusual. I know I am still a zygote in the FA world, but this is the world I am moving to… it beats the crap out of the world I grew up in.

Awww, crap,

Someone replied,

Ivan, I’m sorry. I’ll tell you, FA is good for me now – but more importantly, I don’t want to participate in a world that continues to do that sort of harm to kids.

I responded

• ivan
Posted November 20, 2009 at 8:55 am | Permalink
“I don’t want to participate in a world that continues to do that sort of harm to kids.” 
XXXXX, I think that although painful, participation in the world that does this sort of harm to kids in necessary if I am going to effect any change in that world.
It is difficult to consider participating (let alone moving around easily) in that world as a 390 lb man, however, if I believe that our culture’s hatred of fat people is wrong, I need to stand up against it even if it hurts my knees to stand up for a long time.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009



Well we had our first size acceptance salon conference call last Sunday night featuring an interview of Kira N the independent filmmaker and creator of FAT GIRLS FLOAT. Then there was a start of a discussion of how post WLS fat folks fit into the Fat Acceptance Movement. There was a lot there and we only scratched the surface on this topic. I look forward to more discussion about important issues like these being discussed amongst us. I hope that these salon's will serve in creating space for such discussions. The next salon is on Sunday 12/6 at 4pm in New York City and the Conference Line. (more info below)

Thanks to everyone who has helped so fat with pledging support to the film FAT GIRLS FLOAT, via kickstarter, As of this writing we have 50 backers and $3,862 pledged. There are 25 days left to raise the additional $1,138. We need your help to do it because if we don't help Kira to the $5,000 mark, then none of the money is collected. Please pass on the word about FAT GIRLS FLOAT, to everyone you know in the Fat Acceptance Community. Also please consider pledging any amount, as low as $1.00 because every pledge helps, no matter what the size! (sound familiar?) You can see a one minute trailer of the movie here and you can become a backer of this film by pledging here.

The next Size Acceptance Salon will be held live in New York City and 12/4/2009. We haven't picked a topic yet, however, if one occurs to me I will let you know. I think people are hungry (punny?) for this kind of space and I hope that if you are in the NYC area, you can make it. I might try to jump onto the conference call line to see if folks can dial in.. Not sure about the sound quality using the speaker phone, but we can give it a shot.

So please go to and check out the calendar which also has a tab for suggested topics, let me know what you want to talk about there.

Below is a copy of what I blogged last week about the Salon, but the best way to get a feel for it is the go to the meetup link and check it out.



I have been in "observe" mode on the fat-0-sphere lately. I have been doing the equivalent of Channel Surfing. There are the usual stuff, fashion, some recipes, personal stories, and some conflict and discussions of responsibility, civility, protocol and puppies.

At this point on my journey into the Size Acceptance/Fat Acceptance community I have identified many aspects of this community I like, and many aspects of this community that could use improvement.

There has been talk of what is the mission of the Fat Acceptance movement. What are its rules of engagement or what should they be. All very important discussions to have.

Apparently, discussions that have been had, a lot. In, fact I get the sense that some of the more established folks on the Fat-o-Sphere are a little tired of having the same discussions over and over again. Other's, like myself, are eager to have these discussions.

Right now the big buzz is around the Fat Studies Reader. It is very exciting to have watched the pre release buzz and to now see readings being organized. With the energy of all these voices coming together I have initiated the creation of a Size Acceptance Salon, which will assemble both virtually (conference calls and internet) and live, in person, Salons in New York City and hopefully other cities around our nation, heck, even in other countries. ( telling myself dreaming big is totally cool)

My goal is to create safe spaces to have the conversations around the issues of Fat/Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size. I hope to enlist the more experienced members of this community to be part of these discussion for the purposes of exchanging ideas, facilitating commutation, respectfully debating our differences, and most importantly, creating a supportive sense of community.

I believe if we take the time to understand what others belief, and what others want, and what is important to each of us, we can partner on moving forward with agreed upon goals, whether individual or as a group.

So with that please consider joining The Size Acceptance Salon - Chewing the Fat, at

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Chick Flic Teaches Fat Man a lesson

When I ask myself the question, what is the greatest thing about Fat Acceptance, without hesitation, I can tell you that the FA movement has transformed a lifelong belief in my unworthiness of the good things life has to offer into a strong (and getting stronger) connection to not only my worthiness, but my sweetness, my beauty, and even my humanity.

This experience has been a life changer for me. So I am now moving beyond just blogging into the next actions that make sense for me. Not quite activism… Perhaps, with as much humility as I can muster, I want to do community organizing work. I want to join with others that want to look at these issues with an intent to help move things toward the better.

With that in mind I want to tell you about the movie, Fat Girls Float. What I like most about this project is that it is touching on the core of self acceptance, the essence of worthiness. This movie in in sync with what I am experiencing with my own personal sense of Fat Acceptance.

So along the lines of community organizing, I have asked some Fat-o-Sphere bloggers I know personally to send out a message about this film and it's efforts to raise funds for the next six wednesdays. I know you will enjoy the trailer, and I hope you are moved to donate and to ask your friends to donate. I also hope you will consider joining me and the handful of bloggers in our community who are "organizing" to support this project.

Below are two messages. the first is the templated message I am asking folks to post or to paraphrase or to even plagiarize with our permission. The message after that is about the Size Acceptance Salon which is my community organizing effort to bring smart people together to have inspired and thoughtful exchanging of ideas. Thanks for taking the time to read this and let me know if you want to be a list of folks we are sending the "cut and paste" blog copy for the next several Wednesdays.

FAT GIRLS FLOAT is the provocative, engaging and moving new documentary from Kira Nerusskaya, a 300 pound filmmaker with a message to share. The film showcases heartfelt interviews with fat women from around the world who discuss size discrimination, political activism, fat and size acceptance, and their experiences as fat women under attack in a thin-centric world. Please be a part of making this film by pledging HERE. Any donation in any amount is appreciated. We only have until December 13th to raise the rest of the funds we need for this next step of post production, so please help us spread the word about this amazing project by tweeting, reposting this paragraph in your blog every Wednesday or on your site and telling your friends. Donate Now. Join us this Sunday, 11/15/09 at 7:00p.m. EST for a "meet the film maker" conference call and Fat Acceptance discussion. Check out the Fat Acceptance Salon for more details at


I have been in "observe" mode on the fat-0-sphere lately. I have been doing the equivalent of Channel Surfing. There are the usual stuff, fashion, some recipes, personal stories, and some conflict and discussions of responsibility, civility, protocol and puppies.

At this point on my journey into the Size Acceptance/Fat Acceptance community I have identified many aspects of this community I like, and many aspects of this community that could use improvement.

There has been talk of what is the mission of the Fat Acceptance movement. What are its rules of engagement or what should they be. All very important discussions to have.

Apparently, discussions that have been had, a lot. In, fact I get the sense that some of the more established folks on the Fat-o-Sphere are a little tired of having the same discussions over and over again. Other's, like myself, are eager to have these discussions.

Right now the big buzz is around the Fat Studies Reader. It is very exciting to have watched the pre release buzz and to now see readings being organized. With the energy of all these voices coming together I have initiated the creation of a Size Acceptance Salon, which will assemble both virtually (conference calls and internet) and live, in person, Salons in New York City and hopefully other cities around our nation, heck, even in other countries. ( telling myself dreaming big is totally cool)

My goal is to create safe spaces to have the conversations around the issues of Fat/Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size. I hope to enlist the more experienced members of this community to be part of these discussion for the purposes of exchanging ideas, facilitating commutation, respectfully debating our differences, and most importantly, creating a supportive sense of community.

I believe if we take the time to understand what others belief, and what others want, and what is important to each of us, we can partner on moving forward with agreed upon goals, whether individual or as a group.

So with that please consider joining The Size Acceptance Salon - Chewing the Fat, at Our first conference call is scheduled for this Sunday, 11/15/09 at 7pm.



Friday, October 23, 2009

Wouldn't it be nice to be thin?

Wouldn't it be nice to be rich, to win the lotto. I'd finally get my dream car, the Mercedes Maybach. I'd make a you tube video taking my $400,000 car through the McDonnell's drive through. I'd travel to all sorts of fancy places, I'd do lots a great charity work.

Wouldn't it be nice to meet my soulmate?

Wouldn't it be nice to be famous. I would have a brilliant movie career and the paparazzi would follow me around. I'd go to all the cool LA night clubs and rub elbows with other famous people.

Wouldn't it be nice to find the dream job, doing what I love to do. Helping people, kids, animals. Getting paid well and enjoying going to work everyday.

Wouldn't it be nice to be taller? Would't it be nice to have a fuller head of hair?

Wouldn't it be nice to be a popular hollywood heartthrob and be dating beautiful hollywood starlets?

Wouldn't it be nice to be thin..….. (sound of record scratching and the background music stops) "Did he actually just type that?" "Uh Oh, he just went taboo on us." "Nice guy, but how dare he talk about losing weight on the Fat-o-Sphere." "I'm gonna comment his wanting to be skinny ass off the internet"

Don't worry, this is just an intellectual exercise. I may not even post this, well if you are reading this then I did post this.

Before finding the Fat Acceptance Community, I had spent my life pursuing being thin, or even just less fat. While I have lost major amounts of weight a few times in my life, a few of those times due to very serious illness, I have always gained it back. I can remember buckling my seatbelt on an airplane as a thin man thinking I will never go back to being fat again. I remember on summer days on the new york city subway system with my bicycle, getting off the train and trotting up the stairs with my bike on my shoulder thinking I was King of the World. I also remember everyone in my life applauding me for my accomplishment. I remember loving being able to buy clothes at old navy. Crossing my legs. Having to slow down because the person I was hanging with wasn't as fit as I was.

There are, in fact, some positive qualities to being thin (or thinner I am 390 right now). Is it a sin to acknowledge that there are some aspects of not being fat that are appealing? More importantly, is it harmful to me and my new found peace with myself to think about those things?

If I lost a little weight wouldn't that make walking easier? Wouldn't losing weight help me with my recovery from being paralyzed and immobile for 7 months where most of the muscle mass I did have de-conditioned to the point where I can't walk more than a few blocks without needing to take a break?

Am I hurting myself by even considering these thoughts.

I am hoping that the folks on the sphere whom I appreciate can share some of their thoughts here with me.

My only goal with food and exercise right now is to increase my mobility and enhance my health by increasing the level of nutrition in what I do eat. I would like to get into a pool and do some movement there to increase my lung capacity which has also suffered from the medical trauma of two and a half years ago.

I am not going to go into the issues of the horrific, chronic, awful, pain I have from the surgery or all the trials and obstacles that managing that pain daily with meds adds to my struggle. It is part of my struggle and I am grateful that I can ambulate (although with major limitations). It does make exercising and movement more challenging. I will not let it keep me from doing it. Maybe I can cut myself some slack here, but that is probably another post… maybe even another blog.

While I am a card carrying member of the Fat Acceptance Community, and I understand that there is a no-diet talk policy amongst most of us, I am musing here because these thoughts about being thin are in my head and I want to chew on them with fellow fatties who may have some insight to share with me about how they processed through them.

I don't think about them in the " maybe someday I will lose weight " kind of way. I just wonder if by completely giving myself to Fat Acceptance, am I keeping myself from, perhaps, loosing some of my 400 pounds, which would make building up my strength and stamina easier?

My hunch is that since I have never been able to maintain any kind of weight loss before, that any attempts and limiting my food in or deliberating burning more calories out for the purpose of losing weight is a waste of my time.

Still, in all honesty, and this is not to stir up any drama on the sphere, which seems like an easy thing to do… this is just to acknowledge that there is still a small part of me that thinks… Wouldn't it be nice if I could lose the weight? or "Why not give it another try?"

Sometimes when I come up on some of the limitations at this size, I have a thought flash through my head about losing weight. for example, tying my shoe laces. This takes time, I have to be strategic with my breathing as I bend to reach the laces. Sometimes I have to come up for air and start over again. Most of the time I wear the crocs which do not require this. However, when I do put on my sneakers and tie them, I sometimes think, it would be nice to not have to deal with this.

I, for the most part, recognize that I am always going to be fat. I recognize that focusing all my efforts on improvement within the weight neutral, HAES framework is the right, and the sane, and the path to peace and self acceptance for me.

When I get into my "spiritual head" I can go to a place of gratitude for everything in my life, including my sturdy, strong, resilient body. Saying "Thank you for my fat" is not a thought I can easily connect to. I get glimpses of what it would be like to say that and it does seem within reach for me. I am just not there yet.

There is also the whole good fattie vs bad fattie issue which I will leave for another post.

I have blogged about how wonderful it has been for me and my sense of worthiness to connect with the fat acceptance movement. I am growing in new ways and I am enjoying all the great folks I have met along the way.

I just feel like my thinking is still tainted when it comes to thoughts about being thin. I feel like they are injurious to me.

Another big part of it is the virility and the sexual attractiveness stuff, again a topic in and of itself for another post.

I guess it might be about the difference between accepting my fat and embracing it?

I know I can not maintain weight loss. I know this. I accept this. I know it is about living a rich and full life within this framework of acceptance. An I a horrible person because I sometimes still think it would be nice to be thin even though I know that it is just not possible for me.

Somehow when I think it would be nice to be taller, I do not feel like I am betraying my 5'7 self. But when I think it would be nice to be thin, I feel like I am a traitor, a Fat Acceptance Fraud?

I get the wisdom of no weight loss talk. I have boundaries with several folks about it. But what about my own inner thoughts, sometimes they just pop in my head. What do I do then?

I am wondering if this is just part of the journey through Fat Acceptance.

What works for you? Do you love being fat? How did you get there? Do you have fleeting thoughts about being thin? How do you deal with them when they surface? Do you have your own set of rules around thoughts of being thin? What other thoughts do you have about these musings?



Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Debating Society Inside my Head

I am trying to figure out how much of the judgement and fat hating is coming at me from the world at large and how much of it is coming from inside me.

For most of my life being fat was unacceptable. I was always in a state of wrongness. I was constantly assaulted with messages of why I was not enough and why I was not doing enough to correct my wrongness. I went to therapists, commercial weight loss programs, fat camp, 12 step programs all in pursuit of finding a way to be an acceptable person, which, by all accounts around me, I was not because I was fat.

Now I find myself as an adult navigating my way through the fat acceptance community. Taking on my own internalized beliefs about myself not being enough is revolutionary to me and everyone in my life.

Could I really be fat and acceptable?

The complexity of that question has been overwhelming. I have been examining my ass off looking at all sides of the argument for and against accepting myself fat.

I have been told by my nearest and dearest people in my life that I don't have the right to accept myself. I MUST do something about my weight. They plead with me to stop killing myself. The fact that there is a possibility that I am not going to die from my fatness is one that they refuse to acknowledge. In fact, because I am fat, some of the medical data, as best as I can decipher, indicates that I may actually live longer in the face of some of the possible health issues I may face as I age.

Medical data aside for a moment. When I consider my own personal history it is clear to me that maintaining any loss of weight is something that I am unable to do. Even with this fact, I still struggle with the thought that I should at least try. Some of the smart folks in the Fat Acceptance community say things to the effect of losing and gaining back the weight in and of itself has a negative impact on my health.

I have been making myself crazy trying to understand all the different positions, arguments, and issues related to fat acceptance.

The most challenging and emotionally charged interactions are with family and my best friend. My family is angry at me for choosing to accept my fatness. With my parents, I have set a boundary of no discussion about my health, weight, food, or exercise. This course of action with them allows for us to have a relationship as I have made it clear I will not be around them when they attempt to discuss these things with me. My sister recently told me to not come to her house if I am going to pig out like I did the last time she invited me over. That one is simple, I will just not be accepting any invitations to her house anymore. In no uncertain terms she has made it clear to me that she thinks my association with the FA community is toxic for me. I got a "concerned" email from my best friend last week explaining to me why being fat is okay but being super fat like me is not. WTF?

Ya know, I am not sure where I am going with all of this. I think what I am trying to get to is a place where I just stop letting what other's think of me affect me so much. For a guy like me, that seems like asking me to give up an arm. I can get by with one arm, but it will be very uncomfortable. I work very hard at creating situations and exposing myself to folks who think highly of me. Maybe because in my heart of hearts, I believe that living a fat life is in fact a tragedy. What could be more tragic than believing I am living a tragic life when in fact I can live a wonderful life?… a wonderful fat life. I guess the question to myself is, do I belive I can have a wonderful life, fat.

Today I met friends for lunch. The waiter asked if i wanted chips or carrots with my meal, I said out loud to my eating companions, I'll be good and have the carrots…. WTF Ivan?

Maybe being gentle with myself is called for here. I just want to be happy. Constantly trying to figure out how I can explain to others why the FA path is right for me doesn't feel good.

Do you think you are somehow living less of a life because your life is a fat life?

What does it say about my beliefs about myself if this is a question that is on my mind?

Not sure where the next step is for me, however, I do know that it is a step within the FA community.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Measure of a Man

I am between 5'7" and 5'8" depending on who is measuring. The last weigh in a few months ago was 380.

I am involved in the Fat Acceptance Community because I had lead a miserable, unhappy life which I believed stemmed from me being fat. In a pursuit of family, society and sadly my own approval I felt unworthy of romantic love because I bought into the norm that fat is bad and evil, hence by extension so was I.

My male privilege, which I didn't know about until pointed out for me at Shapely Prose made my fat life easier than my fat sisters. I allow that I may not fully understand the harder time that fat woman have in our culture. I can speak personally to the stigma I have felt primarily from the opposite sex. Maybe it was all just a confidence thing. But my lack of confidence and self esteem when it came to the opposite sex was all about my weight. I do now see that probably it was my lack of confidence, not my actual weight that was in my way with the ladies. That being said, there is a lot of anti fat bias out there in the dating world and women are not the only victims of it. check out the comments here

I was quite an unhappy puppy. When I came into the FA community the first thing that was apparent to me was that there are not a lot of fat guys around talking about the struggles of being a fat guy. In fact, I couldn't find any. I did get the message very early that fat women have it harder than men. Honestly, it seemed a little dismissive of my experience as a fat man. I respect women and I do not want to offend the feminist fat women, but I probably do and am grateful to those willing to point out when I trespass and perhaps offend. Honestly, am I allowed to plead ignorance? I always get a little nervous about being misunderstood when talking about this. But is seems that there are only women to talk to in FA (and males that admire fat women)

I think there are many fat guys around that have a lot in common and can add a lot to the community and I am not sure why they are so hard to find. I went to the Naffa convention and as far as I could tell I was one of three guys there that Identified as a fat man. Three ???? WTF?

Could it be that guys don't want to be vulnerable? Could it be that they have transcended the limiting beliefs that society has about fat and I am the only fat guy feeling the heat? Could I be one of the only guys that wonders about the stigma that fat boys face growing up? Having been the target of so much fat hate growing up (oh by the way, I wasn't that fat, not that the way I was treated by family and society would have me believe) But I was always "trying" to lose weight.

I am finally connecting with my own sense of worthiness. I am finally seeing that the only opinion that matters is mine.

This is the gift that the FA community has given me. I will always be grateful for that.

So any other FAT Guys out there that wanna stop lurking? Imagine what the combined voices of several Fat men speaking to fat acceptance and health at any size could do for each other and the new guys investigating what our community has to offer.

I am not looking to move any mountains. I would just like to have one or two guys that understand the nuances of reclaiming a sense of worthiness after leading a life apologetically for being what I am…. Fat.

No More Apologies!!!

Fat FAt fat fat fat fat fat fat fat fat fat fat fat fat..

I am fat!!!!!!!!!!!! I am fat!!!!!!!

I am a man!!!

and I need to say to any and all who think there is something wrong with me..….


that felt good.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Reality Check - My Sister and Me

I could use some supportive, loving words from the community. If you can find the time, please read my blog post and send me your thoughts and comments, your related stories, anything to help me feel the sense of community and support. I crave these feelings right now.

I could never understand when folks would tell me that they don't speak to a sibling. My brother and sister and I went through a very dysfunctional, emotionally challenging environment growing up together. We all dealt with this is different ways. We were always like soldiers in the same troop, we went through the war together. We had a love and a connection with each other that was the envy of many of my friends. I could never imagine, being in a set of circumstances where I would be able to say to someone, "I don't speak to my sister."

Until today…

My sister and I had an argument about a very personal issue. During the argument, she brought up my eating, which was unrelated to the argument. As far as the argument about the very personal issue, I came to a recognition that no good can come from discussing it, so I put up a boundary of no discussion about it and then I addressed her comments about my eating, and my "killing myself".

In an email, I asked her…. "Are you even the least bit curious about the Fat Acceptance Movement and the Health at any size movement? Have you looked into it at all?  You haven't asked me about it.  Why haven't you asked me about it?" I don't run away from everyone when they discuss my weight, just the hysterical folks, like you, who can't have a calm, respectful conversation about it.  I demand to be treated with respect, even if I or my decisions are not respected.   I have the right to live my life any way I want.  I have found a way that makes me happy.  I will not discuss it with you unless you stay calm. don't raise your voice, and express your thoughts with the understanding that I get to choose to do anything I want.

I'd be happy to talk to you if you can stay calm, not raise your voice and try to understand what I am thinking, even if you disagree with it.  Do not try to get me to think your right. I am clear that you think my decisions are wrong for me.   If you want to talk about it, then, we will.. if you don't raise your voice or yell.  You have to acknowledge my right to make my own decisions.

She wrote me….

I'll admit I am not particularly curious about the Fat Acceptance Movement or the Health at any size movement.  I haven't looked into either of them.  I haven't asked you about them because I honestly think they are toxic for you.  I don't say that to be cruel, I only say it because you asked.  I know that it is not fair to form an opinion about something I don't know much about.  It isn't even in my character to do that.  But I do know what you've told me about them and what you've sent to read.  I agree with their stand on acceptance and tolerance.  I also firmly believe that you do not have to be "skinny" to be healthy.  However, I honestly feel (and am only saying this because you asked) that you have taken it to the next level by using these "movements" as an excuse to continue unhealthy habits like over eating and avoiding exercise.  I know you may feel my choice of words by saying "killing yourself" might have been harsh, but it is truly how I see it.  When you bring up the scientific research argument, it makes sense to you, but you don't consider the research on both sides.  If you are going to feed into a belief and truly take it on as a tool to leading a lifestyle, you need to consider its opposition as well.  When you consider your vote for president, do you only research one candidate?  An analogy Dxxxx gave to me was, "Some people live long healthy lives into old age and are smokers, but does that make smoking any less risky?"  I feel like that analogy could be applied here and to really any risky decisions we make in our lives. 

Are you fellow Fat-o-sphere folks seeing the hypocrisy in her argument here…

I wrote her this…

"As far as the fat acceptance movement goes I need to point out to you the hypocrisy of your argument.  You tell me that I am not considering all sides of the health issues (which I am) in the same paragraph that you say you are not interested is learning about this because you have already judged it without investigation.

In fact, after I tell you I have found something that I am happy about, you write in an email that you are not interested in learning about it.

Would you want to have a relationship with someone that did those things to you?

I am truly shocked at your hypocrisy here.  I am saddened and hurt by your judgement.

Unless you can see, and amend your hypocrisy and judgement here, and you can express to me a commitment to have an open mind in order to get an understanding of Fat Acceptance, I guess that leaves us with cordial exchanges at family functions because under the current circumstances I have no interest in what you think or feel anymore.

I hope you decide to make a commitment to learn about FA and communicate it to me, because, for all intensive purposes, we are done if you don't.

My Love for you doesn't stop because my willingness to associate with you does.

Well folks, I am sitting here and I am surprisingly not extremely sad, although I am sad about this, not angry although I think connecting with some anger might help me, I am actually feeling proud. I am proud to be so clear on what is not acceptable behavior to me. I am proud that I am so clear on my convictions about Fat Acceptance, that I am willing to let go of something that I thought I would never let go of, my relationship with my beautiful, sister. I am happy that she has a husband that loves her so very dearly because I actually feel sad for her and want her to be supported as she clearly sees that I am willing to walk away over this.

I know nothing is forever. Maybe i will soften about my boundaries with her, even if she doesn't compromise on learning about FA, maybe not.

I have spent my life second guessing myself, always buying into other's judgement of me and turning it inward as self hatred and shame. All the years in therapy couldn't help me see what the Fat Acceptance Community has shown me in a few months.

I can stand up to family members who judge what I do, listen to them, disagree with them, and be certain about where I stand.

Yay Me!!



Friday, October 2, 2009


this is a repost of something very important... go here for the original post which is copied below... think about supporting this effort... here is the link to the original

Fat Girls Float – The Movie!
My very dear friend Kira Nerusskaya has been filming a documentary about the lives of women of size for as long as I have known her, at least four years. Kira is a size activist, she testified at the Massachusetts state senate against anti-discrimination in the work place for height and weight in 2008.
FAT GIRLS FLOAT is an independent documentary in which a 300lb. filmmaker Kira Nerusskaya, takes the audience on a journey through international fat subculture, giving fat women from four counties an opportunity to have their say. Despite many glares, glances, and gloating from media, family members, medical communities and the public-at-large; fat women from four countries (England, France, Russia, and the United States) tell their tales of sorrow and success, wow and woe; discussing size discrimination, political activism (fat and size acceptance), and social networking communities. These fat women show how they need to rise above what the world thinks of them and point out their ability to overcome society’s condemnation through compassionate perseverance. In essence, fat girls float because they do not let their weight ‘weigh’ them down.
Kira is dedicated and courageous in attempting to produce a film on her own with no corporate or foundation grants. She has spent her own money, while still holding down a full time job, to travel to four different countries all to humanize and lovingly give voice to large women.
Please take the time to read her message below, watch the trailer and consider making a donation. And yes, I am absolutely honored to be in the trailer for what is sure to be an amazing film.
Hello Superstars–
I wanted to ask you if you blog–please blog about this– link it, and send it out to every one you know!
I have just began a fund raising campaign–so I am asking your help– please send this around, post it on forums,blog it , link it, send out to your friends on Facebook, etc. I have less than 90 days to raise $5,000 USD with the help of Kickstarter.
I was invited through a friend to become part of Kickstarter. It’s basically a social networking site for art projects. They let you post your project and fund raise. I am asking for the big 5g’s, and like some fat admirer’s opinions—the more the better! The site is not public yet and it required an invite from the creators, or from someone who has a project on the site. As of September 15th any project launched will have to give 5% of their amount raised to the website. NOT me. I was invited and am launching before the due date, so I feel doubly lucky and honored.
This is my first attempt at fundraising. Yet as we all know, time and money are necessary for the completion of any project. I have been working on my own time and my own dime, with about a year of down time due to lack of special equipment. Now that that’s been changed, I need some special features, animation, and help to get to the next stage of post-production, and to complete what I set out to do in 2006—let the world hear what we are like, and who we are from our own voices. And there are a few more voices I would like to add to the chorus of floaters.
This project was conceived by my being in the many communities of the fat/BBW world. I am one of you! I hope you feel I represent you well, and I hope you will embrace this endeavor. So many political and social movements throughout history have started as grassroots projects—and have gone on to change the law, social constructs within society, and the world. I can’t imagine Dr. King or Gandhi giving up-as this is all about perseverance! I know and believe in my heart that we are more powerful together than any one of us is alone. And it’s lonely trying to keep momentum; finally having some footage and trailers moves the project in a new direction.
I would feel really honored if you can join me in a $5.00 pledge, especially those whom I have supported over the years; I really need you now. I have 90 days to raise this amount. If I raise the set goal amount—I get funded and get to keep the money and keep working! If I do not meet the mark, everyone keeps their pledge and nothing happens. So I really need to make the goal! Every dollar counts! If everyone from the various bbw/fat communities gave a dollar—well, we’d have it done in a day!
Knowing that unless you can show you have a built-in audience as well have some serious experience, first time film makers have it rough in trying to get funding, especially in this economy. I have applied for funding through NYSCA, IFP, UK’s CHANNEL 4, The GOOD PITCH, and my Sheffield Doc Fest Meet the Funders submission is pending.
I was full of trepidations to ignite fundraising at the moment, as I wanted to lay low and find out the Sheffield outcome before setting off to reload a new website and look for additional funding and grant writing—which is what I have spent the better part of this year doing. But, this opportunity literally fell in my lap—and I am choosing to CARPE DIEM! It is better to move ahead slowly than stand still!
I also want to take the opportunity to once-again thank everyone who let me come in and film at their event, and to those who sat down to speak with me on film. You were and are brave! On my first shoot, one of my first interviews was with Brie Brown and she stated, “Kira, this is like a love letter to all of your fat sisters.” And then we both started to cry. Then I yelled and laughed at her for making me cry and she pointed and laughed at me for doing the same.
It’s that sense of community and love that I have enjoyed for the last 15 years as part of this community—that despite our ups and downs with media, with each other, and with ourselves—that give me courage to forge ahead and fight the good fight. I know the tides might be changing and in some way the shackles may be loosened, but I think there is a long journey still ahead to change the thoughts of people and to lift the negative connotations of fat and fat people. I want to do that, I know you want to do that, and I need your help to do that. I wanted to contribute to our community, and I thought this was a good avenue to pursue—not really knowing just how tough it would be.
Each amount donated has a special gift that comes along with it (now I really sound like I’m fundraising for public television). All the details are on the website page which I am linking below. So, find me on Kickstarter: Kickstarter: Get in the pool with Fat Girls Float.
In closing I ask if you can send this to everyone you know, link it, post it, and blog it, or shout it from the rooftop, I’d be very grateful and then some.
Hit me up on You Tube at
I hope you enjoy the trailer (s) and its message, and I hope you join me in showing the world that FAT GIRLS FLOAT.
Warm regards from my bikini,
ps. please subscribe/add/favorite/comment on the trailers, and add me on facebook!

Imagine there's no Fat Hate....

My Fiend Eszter posted this on the MoreofME to love site and for whatever reason it inspired me to write this...

sing it in your head to the tune of John Lennon's "Imagine"

Imagine there's no Fat Hate
every body's fine
No hateful comments
none of us do cry
Imagine all the people
loving everyone

Imagine all the doctors
Being fair and true
No greedy agendas
All they see is You
Imagine all the patients
getting what they need

You may say I'm a dreamer
But you all know the truth
I hope someday the world get's "it"
And Health with be number one

Imagine no Fat Hatred
I wonder if we can
No need to shame children
to think that they are bad
Imagine all the bodies
Sharing all the World

You may think we are dreamers
But we're not the only ones
I hope someday everyone gets it
And we all can live as one.



Monday, September 28, 2009


Before I knew that there was a fat acceptance movement I stopped dieting. I decided that I was going to live as happy a life as I could as a fat man. At the time I though to myself, well if the risks of me dying sooner are going to increase, then that is a consequence of my decision that I am going to have to live with. I din;t know then that there was perhaps a chance that not dieting could do more to improve my health than I thought.

I gained my way up to about 300 and started doing things that I love. I started riding my bike, which is one of my favorite things to do. I started salsa dance classes and found a love for movement that did something to me on levels of my being that i didn't even know I had.

I joined e harmony and put full length photos of my fat body dressed in clothing that I purchased with the help of a fancy New York City Stylist (had a lot of fun working with her and she had a lot of fun working with me!! Hey NYC fatties.. she is awesome ) I started going out on dates with a few nice girls.

I was living my life.

I have Crohn's disease (in remission for a long time, THANK GOD!!) and over the course of the last 15 years I have had about 8 surgeries to cut out the diseased parts of my intestines. The geometry of my digestive tract was amended for an ostomy and all the various complications from Crohn's and multiple surgeries.

At the end of June 2007, at 330 pounds I had an awful weekend of stomach cramps and fever. On Friday night I went on a first date with a nice girl but had to cut the date short due t my fever and chills. I went home and tried to sweat it out but at 4 am on a Sunday I called 911 and was on an operating table a few hours later. My intestines had strangulated and ruptured, sepsis had set in, and all the mesh inside from prior surgeries was riddles with the yucky stuff that infections create.

The short version of my odyssey is 12 weeks in ICU, the first five in a coma on a ventilator. Paralyzed from the chest down when I woke up. 16 more weeks in a rehab being nursed back to the point where I could get in and out of a wheel chair so I could go home with a health aid. I weighed in at 217 when I entered the nursing home from the nasal feeding and the loss of muscle mass. The moment I was allowed to eat I gained all the weight back.

One of the thoughts that I held onto was going back to dance class. I would imagine myself twirling some beautiful girl around the dance floor of a salsa club, flirting, perhaps meeting someone, perhaps, (Dare I Hope?) find someone to be in relationship with.

The fat stigma, fat hatred, and pressure from most of my family was so intense that I had to set boundaries that made talking about my weight, health, diet, and moment off limits.

I knew I wasn't going to try to start to lose weight. I knew that wouldn't work. I was too weak to walk, let alone ride the bike or go to dance class. I wasn't moving much at all so the weight creeped up to 380.

But I held onto my vision of dancing again. I am not sure how I am going to get there. Most recently I have severe breathing problems that makes the slightest exertion cause me to lose my breath. I want to get back to dance class but I am in the chair gasping for air after 20 or 30 seconds of dancing. No matter. I believe in the thought system called the Law of Attraction and the how isn't anywhere near as important as my believing in the possibility.

I found my way to HAES and FA and knew that the movement that made my heart sing was dancing. However, while my heart was saying yes yes yes, my lungs were saying not yet.

Well…. I found a dance class here in NYC that was a mix of spirituality, expressive movement, emotional therapy and it was open to all levels. I showed up with my 380 pound body, my leg braces, my walker and I must confess a tremendous amount of excitement. At the door we were asked to remove our shoes, which is not an option for me anywhere other than my apartment. The gyrations, and the struggle with the leg braces and just reaching my laces is a big deal with the way my giant pearish apple shaped body. Long story short I couldn't participate in the class because of my street shoes.

The lung thing got worse after this class and I skipped the next two classes because there weren't any chairs for me to take a break on.

While this was disappointing it didn't detract from my knowing that I will dance again. I love dancing and I have no idea when or how, but I am certain that it will happen.

I went to this dance class on Saturday night. When the email came announcing it a few weeks ago, the teacher added something called a Drum Circle. After a few emails, and a search on Craig's list, I showed up for the class. When I got out of the cab, I could hear the drumming three flights up. I rolled my walker and my drum up the elevator, slipped off my crocks ( which I vowed never to buy ) and I took a chair with the drummers.

There was no music. Only drummers. About 15 of them. The dance studio was filled with about 40 dancers or all ages. I sat in my chair and I started drumming. And I started Dancing in my chair while I was drumming. And the tears of joy overcame me because I was dancing. I knew I would. There was never any doubt I would. It looked a little different from Salsa, but every molecule of my being rejoiced, celebrated, sang, and cried out in joy as I pounded my drum, and danced my dance in the chair.

And ya know what, I never lost my breath!!! I drummed for two hours straight. It was about the sitting.

On the cab ride home, I felt that endorphin rush that I hadn't felt since before the surgery.

I found my dance!



Friday, September 25, 2009

Repost: Things to consider about Fat "Studies" and "Research"

I wanted to repost this from another blogger here because it makes some very good points about how "Obesity Research and Studies" can contribute to misinformation and stigma. You can see the actual post and her blog at

22 September 2009
A Beginner's Guide to Reading Obesity Research

I've been reading quite a bit of obesity research recently and I want to share some of my thoughts about how fat people might read such research with a critical eye.

I know the idea of reading material that is intensely fatphobic is not everyone's idea of fun, but I think it is important that we dip in to this stuff from time to time so that we can: keep up with what they are saying about us; develop better research models for fat; develop a critical eye in order to distinguish between research that provides useful information, and research that makes things a lot worse for fat people.

You don't have to read heavy research reports to get a flavour of current obesity research. This is the stuff that also crops up in news report after news report. You know the type of thing, it starts with a sensationalist headline making some kind of preposterous claim about fatness, there's invariably a picture of a headless fatty, some quote from an obesity expert, and the reiteration that being fat is a very bad thing. What I'm going to say below applies to this kind of report as much as it does to the more formal scholarly publication.

Think of what follows as a mental check-list to help you read material that claims to be obesity science, it's like reading a food label to check for dodgy ingredients. Maybe approach this kind of material in the same way that you might do if you were lifting a rock to have a look at the worms and insects wriggling away underneath, all that stuff is interesting to look at but you're really glad that you don't have to live down there.

1. Check the date, is it silly season? This is the time of year when people are likely to be away on holiday and the media is increasingly desperate to find material to fill its dead air. More stories, especially salacious fat panic reports, get through that would otherwise flounder under quality control guidance.

2. Google any experts that are quoted. Find out their interests, especially how they make a living. It is common for such experts to be paid employees or directors of weight loss companies, or organisations directly sponsored by the weight loss industry, such as the International Obesity Task Force, the Association for the Study of Obesity, the National Obesity Forum, and others. Decide for yourself how neutral or trustworthy an expert you think they are. Also, anyone who refers to themselves as an obesity expert is likely to be a bit of a dick, especially if they are not at all fat.

3. Think about how the news story came to be made. Journalists and editors may twist research findings for the sake of an exciting story (I have done this!). Think of the media as a distorting mirror for research, bear in mind that it has its own vernacular and pressures, that it is likely to simplify, reduce and mis-quote complex research findings, or that stories are often cobbled together quickly from a press release without much quality control.

4. Think about why the research is being done. What kind of starting out assumptions does it make about fat people? Does it begin with a paragraph or two about the perils of the obesity epidemic? Does it appear to question such an epidemic? What is it supporting? Do the researchers use Body Mass Index as a measure of health without any critical understanding of it? Do you think BMI is an accurate representation of heath? What does this tell you about the values implicit in the research? Do the research findings support these values?

5. Where are they coming from? Try and imagine how the researchers might answer if you asked them: do you think being fat is a problem? This can help you work out what kind of perspective they are bringing to their research, which is important but not always stated clearly. You could also ask: do you think fatphobia is a problem?

6. Think about what claims are being made by the research in terms of its scientific purity. Is it claiming to present truth or facts? If so, go back and reconsider the perspectives being put forward by the authors. Remember that 'truth' and 'facts' depend on what people think and believe; 'facts' made by the weight loss industry about fatness vary a great deal from 'facts' that I know about my own fat body, for example. Looking at the research findings, what other versions of the truth could be made?

7. Try and find out who is funding the research. Don Kulick writes in Fat Studies in the UK that all research about pet obesity is produced by pet food companies, for example. I know pets are different to humans, but it illustrates how funding can affect the scope of the research and its findings, which then get reported as facts. Sometimes you may have to dig a little for this information.

8. Think about the process by which the researchers got their hands on the funding. Try to imagine what they might have had to say in order to get the money. Might they have had to downplay any interest in fat politics, for example, or play up their support for the treatment and prevention of obesity? You can't know the answer to this for sure, but who gets the funding and why they get it, and what gets left out, is part of the context for obesity research. Also, what happens to researchers who have no funding?

9. How big is the research sample? By sample I mean the people who are being studied. One of the National Health Service Care Pathways for dieticians in the UK is based on research on a group of nine people. Do you think a study of nine people can make conclusive claims about all fat people? No! So size makes a difference in the outcome of the study.

10. What does the sample look like? If it's a sample of fat people, are they suffering from any prior ailments? This affects research claims made about fat people and health. Is there any acknowledgement or accommodation in the research of social influences on health, for example discrimination? How might discrimination or stigma impact on the sample or affect the findings? How representative is the sample of all the rad fatties you know?

11. How are variables defined and interpreted? Variables are the things that the research is studying, for example weight loss, ethnicity, activity. The way the research is set up means that although variables appear to be neutral, the way they are defined and interpreted is not neutral at all. Here's an example: Jane Ogden, a well-respected obesity expert, presented a paper about weight loss surgery at the Size Matters? conference earlier this year. She defined 'success' as someone who had lost weight after surgery. This means that cases could be defined as 'successful' where the person who had had surgery was suffering terrible surgery-induced health problems, as long as they had lost weight. That doesn't sound like a 'successful' surgery to me, quite the opposite.

12. Have a look at the source material cited in meta-studies about obesity. Such big studies are basically studies of studies, and they sometimes make pompous claims about being very reliable. But if they are based on source material that is not particularly reliable, for any of the reasons I've mentioned here, then their reliability too is questionable. It's also a good idea to see what meta-studies include and exclude, for example do they include material that is critical of taken-for-granted claims about fat? If they don't then they're missing out a lot of important stuff.

13. Ask to see the original data and report, if you can.

14. Think about where the research has been published. Peer-reviewed publications are seen as the gold standard for reliable research, but there have been reports recently about fake journals, people being paid to put their names to dodgy research, and in-house publishers owned by the businesses benefiting from the research. Do some homework and decide on the reliability for yourself.

15. Become a fan of Bad Science.

16. Make time for self care after immersing yourself in the strange world of obesity research. Blog or share your findings, do something fun to get any residual fatphobia out of your system. Keep breathing.

Edited to add: I forgot to mention a few more things...

Health. Most obesity research is about fat and health because this is the agenda that most interests upholders of fat panic. Much of my comments here refer to health research. The fact that, aside from researching weight loss, other kinds of obesity research are sidelined also says a lot about what gets funded and what does not, and what is deemed important. If I was the boss of all research funds I would fund a far broader range of stuff, it would be interesting and useful, for example, to know more about the effects of fatphobia on people of all sizes.

Sampling strategies. How researchers find samples also affects the research outcomes. There are books about this, go and have a look at one if you can tolerate this level of geekiness. What I will also say, however, is that the sample is really important, so check for possible bias in it. For example, a study about people's attitudes to fatness based on a sample of fat women who go to Weight Watchers is going to have a different outcome to a study of fat women who go to NOLOSE.

Stats. There's some stuff I could say about statistical maths too, which I won't because I barely understand it myself. Suffice to say that there are different ways of manipulating statistical/quantitative data to provide different research outcomes.

One final thing, a really important thing. Studies may find a correlation, or a relationship, between a number of variables. So a study could find that there's a relationship between fatness and unhappiness, for example. But this doesn't mean that being fat necessarily makes you unhappy. A statistical relationship is just that, not a cause or an explanation.

Posted by Charlotte Cooper at 14:53
Labels: activism, fat panic, fat studies, obesity research, weight loss industry

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Exceptions to Fat Acceptance

So often I hear the talk around the fat acceptance community proclaim it is possible to be obese and healthy or some sort of personal report in some sort of form like I am in better shape at 230 lbs and 5'4 than my spouse.

I think this is the area that I am trying to find my own personal peace with. I am trying a weight neutral approach to my various health issues. My trouble with it is that so much of the data and the "press" about the size acceptance movement is about the erroneous correlation of health issues with fat. So I think to myself, where does that leave me, with my asthma, my nerve damage, my difficulty moving around. I am accepting myself, however, I can't seem to find my own consistent logic in being size neutral and working on my health issues.

I get that I am working on my own fitness ( walking more, going to a drum circle in place of the dance class I do not have the lung capacity to handle. I am considering buying an adult tricycle so I can go biking which I love but don't have the lung capacity to handle a two wheeler.)

I think I understand that the weight cycling and the resulting set point changes are more damaging than any benefits from losing the weight,

Yet, when it comes to all the fat hate, I feel like I have to do like I used to do in photos.. I would hide in the back so all that would appear in the photos was my head. I feel that way with the FA movement, like I have to hide in the back out of site when all the fat and fit, fat and healthy talk dominates the battling of the fat hate.

I sound a little whiney here and I do not want to... I am grateful, happy and glad to be a part of this. I would like to find a little more certainty of where I stand... I'd like to feel a little more included and a little less excluded when the community talks about the erroneous studies linking this or that health issue to my fat.

When I spoke of my health challenges at the conference, I spoke to some amazing people who use scooters to zip around. I can get around with my walker, (with a cane on a good day) but I don't zip. I get winded if I move any faster than a snail. But I do move. So now, with the safety of the conference all but gone, I am back to thoughts of what I look like with my walker and what people think of me. I feel awkward if I run into someone who hasn't seen me with a walker and I anticipate feeling ashamed because I am fat with a walker... the truth is that two years ago, my intestines became "strangulated", and ruptured, sepsis started, a brilliant surgeon saved my life, but I spent 5 weeks in a coma and I woke up paralyzed from the neck down, Seven months in a rehab nursing home got me to the point where I cold use a wheelchair and now two years after that emergency I can use a walker and don't have to wear the leg braces when I do... So I am a winner, a strong survivor,

Yet, sometimes, as I wait here in NYC for the bus driver to lower the chairlift so I can get on the bus... I see the folks looking at my size and I spend too much time thinking about what they might be thinking about me. I know that I have come so far.

When I hear you can be fat and healthy, I wonder to myself how much farther I might be in my recovery if I wasn't Fat...

I'd really like to find a place to stand in my beliefs about myself that I feel certain about when it comes to my own personal Fat Acceptance.

Most of FA/ HAES I can do that with, I get shaky only when I think about the arguments based on Fat can Be Healthy. I do believe that there are a lot of fat and healthy folks out there.

I am a fat guy with some serious health and mobility problems. Sometimes I think that I am not worthy of fat acceptance because I have all these health problems.

Has anyone else found their way through this type of concern and if so how?



Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Stop the Soul Smashing and Spirit Stomping of our KIDS!

Having just read this excellent post I am wondering what I can do to help reduce/eliminate the soul and spirit bashing of fat youth. As the study said, all the political and economic engines that support policies and procedures that DON'T WORK are absolutely illogical. Sadly, it seems, that only a minority of heath professionals, and policy makers have any concept of the harm they are doing to these kids by asking them to do what seems to not be possible, at the very least impractical.

I feel so much passion for this issue and I am not sure how to channel it. These kids are being taught that there is something wrong with them when what is actually wrong is the reasoning that the influential figures in their life are using to tell them there is something wrong with them.

Please Please Please post the links to good people like the blogger above, to other coalitions of folks who can see the injustice and misguided morality that is telling kids that there is something BAD or something WRONG with them, when there seems to be no scientific evidence that supports it.

I am just a Fat guy trying to find my way to a happy life which sadly still involves battling with the soul stomping and the spirit smashing that I have been subject to (and still am in a lot of circumstances). I am not credentialed so my voice will be harder for many in power to hear. I do want to herald folks, or find the folks who have already marshaled the forces to help the kids.

I am open to suggestions. Who wants to save some kids with me? Who wants my help to save some kids!!s

Sunday, September 6, 2009

You Can't Fast Forward through the Grieving Process

I have been feeling a little overwhelmed the past few weeks. There have been many things I wanted to post about, yet, I couldn't find the focus to sit down and write.

I have been feeling regret and sadness. These are not feelings I usually do well with. My usual reaction is to sleep and isolate (along with eating) and sort of disassociate from the unpleasant feelings.

I have been keeping up with the blogs. Frankly, I am a little exhausted with all the politics, the fat hat, and mostly the disappointment that my family cannot understand and appreciate me and my journey here.

I arranged with my sister in law to surprise the family at her beach house on the jersey shore. A lot of the family was visiting and she and I colluded that I would come down to spend some time with the family. I don't particularly like taking the train, however, it is bearable during off peak hours. I expected to take a ride back with my parents the next day as they planned to return to the city. There was a little confusion about my arrival time, which we worked out via a few text messages and I had an uneventful two hour train ride to the lovely upscale beach town where they built the " Dream House" I don't visit them during the summer there because they do not use the air conditioning and I am extra sensitive to the heat and humidity. Luckily this last week of summer was mild and I felt up to spending some time down there.

When I arrived there was a very weird energy, a strange dynamic. Everyone seemed distant and no one made eye contact with me except my delicious nephews. At some point shortly after we greeted each other with polite kisses on the cheeks, (usually we hug each other when we haven't seen each other for some time) my Father apologized that he wouldn't be able to give me a ride home because he was taking my two nephews back to the city with them. I questioned why the three of us could sit in the back seat. In my mind these are two tiny boys and my dad has the giant lexus sedan (a late model one before they made the back seat smaller) My sister in law sort of chimed in that the boys have grown a lot. My father sort of disappeared from the room and the way the exchange went down made me uncomfortable, suspicious, and a little angry. I didn't push on the issue because I wasn't in the mood for a confrontation but I was ready to get back on a train and go home.

Later on while playing cards with my nephews, (the loving, fun part of the visit) I asked the boys if they still used the booster seats. I was going to ask them if they were uncomfortable sitting in the back seat with me but i decided against it as I didn't want to involve them in whatever it was that was going on.

A little later on my dad said something about he was sorry he couldn't fit my walker into the trunk and take me home. I thought to myself, hey, wait a minute, my sister in law said it was because my nephews have grown. Now my father is saying it is about space in the trunk for my walker. My bullshit meter was topping out. I didn't feel like getting into it so I just kept quite.

When dinner was announced, we were summoned to the patio table in the back yard. The patio chairs were uncomfortable for me 60 pounds ago. I quietly went outside and asked my sister in law if there was a chair without arms that i could bring outside. She said there wasn't one. The dining room chairs were all without arms but again, I didn't want to get into it with them. So I positioned a picnic bench perpendicular to the round table and went inside to wash my hands. When I got back outside the bench was placed parallel to the table. They asked me if that was okay and I told them yes. I was very upset at this point. The weirdness around the car ride home. My sister in law not offering to allow me to bring out a chair and asking me to use an entire picnic bench. Now I couldn't make eye contact with any of them as I was just disgusted with their disgust of me.

Then the migraine hit me. It has been years since I had one. I started seeing the white spots and got very sensitive to the light very fast. I jumped up and made myself two shots of expresso ( my remedy for a migraine - only works if you get the caffeine in your system as soon as the spots come) and I withdrew to my bedroom to be in the dark. I now see this was my body getting me out of the vicinity of the family who seemed to be deceiving me in some way about the ride back into the city the next morning and my sister in laws ungraciousness towards me about the chair. The migraine was my excuse to get away from all of them.

My brother in law was able to get out early from his job and he came down to the beach which enabled me to catch a ride back to the city with him in the morning. When I got in the car, he said, your much larger than the last time I saw you. I didn't respond, but I thought, there are a lot worse things in life than being larger and for the first time in my life I am finding a little dignity, community, and happiness thanks to my involvement in the Fat Acceptance Community. Again, I just didn't want to get into it.

My sleep that night, next to an open window, with the cool ocean breeze comforting me as I rested was really nice. The ocean views were beautiful. My brother's beach house is very beautiful.

So I guess I will not be going back to any family functions at the beach house, or to my parents house in the Berkshires. If I do go, I am going to make sure that I have my own transportation, as I am not interested in comments about my size as I accept a ride back from anyone. I guess if I do go I should bring my own folding chair so I can sit comfortably when the family wants to eat outside. Who am I kidding. I don't think I am going to be visiting anyone at their summer homes anymore. I just don't have the emotional strength right now to deal with what appears to be drama for them and for me.

I wonder, is this all my shit? Is all this emotional stuff on my side of the street? Should I have specifically asked my sister in law about the dining room chair? Should I have asked her what she was talking about when she said her boys had gotten bigger and needed the entire Lexus back seat to themselves? Should I have asked my father why he was telling me about an overloaded trunk when my sister in law was telling me that the boys needed the room in the back seat to themselves as the reason why they couldn't give me a ride home? Should I have told my stepbrother that I'd prefer for him to not make comments to me about my size anymore when he was nice enough to offer me a ride home?

This morning, my other sister just invited the family to her home for a brunch. Do I ask her to make sure there is a comfortable chair without arms for me to sit at when we eat? Do I decline the invitation?

I have been involved with a spiritual teacher over the last four years who says there is nothing more important than that I feel good. Thinking about this family get together and the ones that are coming up does not make me feel good. It makes me feel bad. I put the boundaries in place about discussions of my weight or my food or my health. They are honoring them. I know that when there is a family dinner at my parents house, there give me a chair without arms for my comfort.

I love them and I feel badly that they are so convinced that I am killing myself with fat that I can feel them holding themselves back from saying stuff when we are together.

So much of whatever little positive personal identity I had was linked to being a part of this loving family. Now, with my Fat line drawn in the sand with everyone, I am not feeling drawn to spending time with a lot of them. This is very sad for me.

The song, "You Lost that Loving Feeling" sort of sums up how I am feeling about most of my family right now. I guess claiming my own personal right to be, via Fat Acceptance, might also mean letting go of some of my identity as a member of a fun loving family and accepting that things are changing as I move on in my life which they see as a self justification for staying fat and I see as my first authentic chance at a happy life.

I just wish I could fast forward through the grieving process.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Boundaries with Family; The Sister Chronicle

So My sister and I got into it a little about my health tonight. I haven't set up a boundary with her about health and weight discussions before as I didn't think they were necessary. Tonight's experience with her made it clear to me that while we have been able to talk about my health and weight in the past that setting a boundry with her is going to be necessary. She, like my stepmother is blinded by her concern for me. Unlike my stepmother, she has better self management.

Here is how it went down.

We had a dinner plan near my apartment which at the last minute my sister and our friend changed to a more trendy place two blocks away. The place is usually crowded and the only chairs without arms are in back room. I told her that I'd go there, but we would have to wait for a table in this room. She said no problem we could have a drink at the bar while we waited. I am not comfortable sitting on bar stools nor was I comfortable with the idea of standing. Normally, I'd have no problem standing in a bar for a table, but I have had two difficult days with the asthma and the humidity has been intense so standing in a crowded bar seemed difficult to me.

When I told her I'd have to wait outside on my walker, she got very upset and in a tone that is hard to describe.... a cross between her yelling at me in an angry way and a very frightened outburst... she said, "What walker, Your using a walker, oh Ivan." To which I said, Marjorie, I am gonna pass on dinner, you go out with Shawn. She then said, That's not fair, just because I am upset about you using a walker doesn't mean you get to keep me from seeing you. I told her to let me get off the phone for 10 minutes while I decide what to do. She sent me a text saying, " I won't deny my sadness about your physical state, but I miss u & want 2 C U. I'm on my way. Please come.

In hindsight, standing at the bar would have been doable, but the last minute change of venue threw me.

I went there without my walker, just a cane. I planned to take a cab for the three blocks, but when I got outside it wasn't humid so I walked there. When my sister arrived, she didn't bring it up, and we just visited and enjoyed each other. ( see her ability to self manage in play here )

As I sit here and write this, I am feeling sadness as I realize I am going to have to set a similar boundary with her. She and I have always said the we were the closest to each other. We are the were the two black sheep in the family. I am still the big fat sheep while she has married, bought a beautiful home and is making a nice life with a super guy I really like. I realize tonight that I have to move my sister out of the "closest person in my life" to the column with my stepmother in it. This makes me very very sad (as I tear up typing this last sentence) It feels very scary and very lonely to symbolically send her off on her way to a place where there are limits to what we can talk about. (more tears, throat tightening up)

It is sad, but it is necessary. I do not want to hear that she is sad about my physical condition. I do not want drama when we decide where to go to eat ( if we ever do this again ) I want to be able to tell my sister anything, anytime, just like we could when we were growing up.

The truth is that my growing up in my new space of Fat Acceptnence is sending her into the column with my stepmother. It is much harder giving her these marching orders that it was to give them to my stepmother.

I said that I would divorce myself from relationship with my parents if they wouldn't honor my boundaries, and I just can't, in this moment, with these tears, and this choked up throat, say that I could do that with my sister.

I love her too much.

Wow this really, really hurts.

What about the kids?

Some very smart folks from Canada put together a website to teach kids about size acceptance and HAES. It is called "The Student Body" and this description appears on the "about" page: "The Student Body training modules are designed for elementary school teachers who work with children in grades 4, 5, and 6. This is a primary prevention resource designed to help children develop positive body image and reduce their risk for developing unhealthy eating behaviors."

As I looked through the site (it is amazing) I thought of myself in grades 4, 5, and 6. It was an awful time for me. I was the fattest kid in school. I was ashamed of my body. I loathed gym class where I would have to change in the locker room with the other boys, who would tease me about my size. I was the slowest kid. The gym teacher, Mr. Engman, a short, stocky, typical ex military type would bark at us to do this or that. To this day I can remember the start of one gym class where he sent the entire class out to run around the field behind the school. I remember as the last of the kids left my line of sight and I was alone out there, huffing and puffing, making my way back to the gym. As I walked passed the windows of the classroom I wondered who was looking out at me, seeing my utter inferiority and dreading the fact that my tormentors, the kids, would use this embarrassment against me for days. As I made my way inside, the teacher had all 50 or so kids sitting in the center of the gymnasium giving them some sort of lecture. As I sat down I scanned at light speed all the kids eyes looking at me, seeing my fatness and my slowness and my not good enoughness. As I sat down in the back, the teacher told the class that we have the fastest kid in the school (pointing out Billy McCarry) and he paused and then he said "but we also have the slowest" and the kids burst out in laughter. It was my bucket of blood over my head from the movie "Carrie" moment. I can see in my minds eye all the kids now laughing at me in slow motion. I feel such love and sadness for that little me.

As I looked through this amazing Canadian website I thought about all the little fat boys in elementary schools all over this nation walking around in shame of their bodies and their physical abilities. I feel awful for these young boys as many of them are not only ashamed of their size and abilities but, like I was, ashamed of who they are. This shame is reinforced by all the Fat Hating stuff that if you are reading this blog you are all too familiar with.

I always thought that I might find myself back in those schools as a teacher or a therapist or a public speaker sharing with kids about the evils of Fat Hatred. Training teachers to be sensitive to the special needs of kids who were suffering from the same stuff I suffered from. (not that anyone would want a fat guy in the schools as an example of anything other that what you do not want to become)

At the convention I was chatting up a flight attendant who was at the hotel bar the same time I was ordering something and she told me that her son was upset because the teacher he was assigned to for second grade was fat and none of the kids wanted to be in her class because she didn't take care of herself. If our fat hating culture has captured the minds of first graders, I wonder if grades 4 5 and 6 which the program targets might be too late.

If the war on obesity has positive effects at the expense of crushing the self concept, self esteem and sense of worthiness of (being conservative) 1000 young boys, would not that be considered institutionalized child abuse?

What is wrong with us that we can let this happen?