30th June 2008


by Rachel

There are those who come to this site and don’t seem to quite *get* why it is an eating disorders awareness and education site rails against issues of weight-based discrimination and promotes fat rights. A story on articulates one of my primary reasons for doing so nicely.

The thrust of the story is that some Canadian doctors and researchers are frustrated at the inattention given to eating disorders, even though they say up to 38 percent of Canadian children suffer from some degree of an eating disorder and that 1 in 10 sufferers will ultimately die from them. Here’s Dr. Leora Pinhas, a psychiatric director for the eating disorders program at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto:

Pinhas dismissed the attention being given to childhood obesity rates – which she says have not increased since 2003 and have not increased in any clinically significant way since the late 1990s. The most disturbing thing about the constant news about obesity rates is it’s likely fueling eating disorders, Pinhas said.

“Dieting is the gateway to eating disorders. If you have people encouraged to diet because being fat is so bad, you’re only giving them an intervention that will make them fat, or give them an eating disorder or make them feel bad about themselves.”

Still not convinced? Chew on this… Read the rest of this entry »

posted in Diets, Eating Disorders, Health, Nutrition & Fitness | 11 Comments

30th June 2008

“Stop making excuses. Start making memories”

by Rachel

Via the DTWSIMB discussion list comes this touching video tribute to Rosie O’Donnell. One of her fans created it for her after hearing Rosie say she dreads going out in a bathing suit in public with her kids because she knows how the tabloids will react to the way she looks.

Video Link

posted in Body Image, Pop Culture | 8 Comments

27th June 2008

Quick Body-Positive Hits

by Rachel

A big fat apology to those who have sent me emails recently. My professional email account is regularly deluged with some 700-something emails, a couple hundred of which I haven’t even read yet, so the last thing I want to do when I get home is check my three personal email accounts. If I haven’t responded to your email, it’s not because I’m ignoring you, but because I literally have a million gazillion things on my summer to-do list in the three oh-so-brief months I have off from academic tyranny. I promise to read through my personal inbox and respond like a decent human being this week. In the meantime, here’s a few quick hits I’ve been meaning to post.

Calling all area Illinois residents! Remember the awesome Lou Herout, who was featured here in an April interview? She’s the graduate student who replicated advertisements from Cosmopolitan, Elle and other popular women’s fashion magazines with “realistic” women. Herout will show off some of her work at a July 9 viewing at The House Cafe in DeKalb Ill. Here’s the details:

Location: The House Cafe
Lincoln Highway (Rt. 38), DeKalb, IL 60115 US
When: Wednesday, July 9, 7:00PM

I finally have the opportunity to show off my voluptuous women project, and I would be delighted if you would come to check it out. The work will be up for two weeks, but feel free to come to the opening night for some appetizers and a reunion before I run off to San Francisco.

We all know the classic fat girl photo shot, right? It’s usually a head-shot or shot from the chest up. Well, COFRA member CarrieP has started a new Flickr project called Love My Parts that spotlights those parts of our bodies we’re usually too ashamed to show off. Here’s Carrie:

The idea is for everyone out there to pick a part of your body that you’re not entirely familiar with or that maybe you don’t like so well and take its portrait. Be creative. Get several shots from different angles or with different lighting. Show your whole body with this one part highlighted or just show the part by itself. My hope is that in the course of this portrait-taking and evaluation we will all become more familiar with and more able to recognize the beauty in these parts of ourselves.

Click here to join the group and start posting your own photos today.

The fabulous Stacy Bias has done it again, this time with her new The Fat Experience Project. As she explains:

The Fat Experience Project is an oral, visual and written history project which seeks to be a humanizing force in body image activism. By collecting and sharing the many and varied stories of individuals of size, the Fat Experience Project seeks to engage with, educate, empower and enrich the lives of people of size, our allies and the world at large. …It is my hope that the project will be a community tool to combat prejudice/stereotype/discrimination as well as to help externalize shame
so it can discussed and dissipated. The things we keep silent about are the things that do us the most harm. Shared burden is lighter.

The project hopes to include first-person, non-fiction narratives in a variety of media formats, including text, video and mp3. Stacy will include some of the interviews she’s already collected on her two-month road trip, but most content will be reader-submitted through the website. She hopes the project may eventually be used as a resource in the academic areas of fat studies and social anthropology.

Our discussion on the new Wii Fit from Nintendo generated a lot of overall disgust across the board for the way in which the game presents the issue of BMI and weight to kids. Big Fat Blog member DebraSY took the discussion further and publicly with an editorial here in The Kansas City-Star. Concludes Debra:

The Wii Fit needs to encourage people to work with doctors and other wellness experts. Goals should be more about flexibility, endurance, muscle development, blood flow and chemistry than weight. The machine should provide its games of balance, coordination, strength and aerobics to serve those goals, not its own ignorant, inflexible weight-loss goals.

Enjoy Wii Fit at your own risk.

The National Eating Disorder Association has opened registration for its annual conference to be held Sept. 18 – 20 in Austin, Tex. Here’s an event description:

The annual NEDA Conference is the only event of its kind designed to address the needs of families, those affected by eating disorders including anorexia, bulimia or binge eating. The agenda also includes sessions for families, treatment providers and health and educational professionals. Perhaps most importantly, it’s a chance to come together to meet others, share stories and foster connections in a warm, welcoming environment.

The conference has great deals available on hotel stays at the Renaissance Austin Hotel, but the registration itself is a little pricey (standard rate is $395; one-day rate is $215). For more information on the conference or registration fees, go here.

Comments/questions on any of the above? Post ‘em below.

posted in Arts and Music, Body Image, Body-Affirming, Fat Acceptance, Pop Culture | 3 Comments

26th June 2008

Mmmm… cake

by Rachel

I mentioned before that I like to decorate cakes. I’m not terribly skilled at it, but its an artistic outlet for me that bonus, tastes great, too. I don’t make cakes that often because when I’m through, my kitchen looks like a baby powder factory exploded, but I do make them on special occasions for friends and family. Here’s a couple I’ve made recently:

My mom’s 50th birthday

50th Over the Hill Cake

Coworker’s 30th birthday celebrated today

Travel suitcase cake

(I won’t even begin to tell you how many comments I heard from female coworkers about “how I really shouldn’t take a piece, but will anyway;” “please, only a little slice!;” “This is going straight to my butt;” and the old familiar standby, “I’m being sooo bad!”)

You can see more of my creations here.

posted in Personal | 21 Comments

25th June 2008

Bulimia TV

by Rachel

A copy of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 sits collecting dust on my bookshelf. His dystopic account of a society where books are banned and people are brainwashed by wall-to-wall television screens serves as a cautionary tale in which he forecasts that we are all destined to become mindless automatons from an overdose of senseless television. At the time I read it, I felt it was an alarmist position.

Today’s television lineup however, proves the maxim that truth is often stranger than fiction. From Maury’s “Who’s my Daddy?” to Fear Factor’s cockroach cuisine, perhaps Bradbury’s fictionalized tale about hordes of network addicted zombies isn’t so contrived, after all. Case in point: G4′s new reality show Hurl!, which premieres July 15 on the cable channel.

ABC News reporter Sheila Marikar’s title nails the entire gist of the show: “Has reality TV hit rock bottom?” Marikar answers her own question:

Take, for instance, “Hurl,” an eating-and-regurgitating competition in which contestants gorge themselves on everything from chicken pot pies to peanut butter sandwiches, then get strapped into spinning contraptions — whoever vomits last wins.

Here’s more on how the show will work according to the G4 website:

[F]ive warriors must each eat large amounts of a specific staple American food like Chicken Pot Pie or Mac and Cheese or Chili Dogs in a short period of time. The contestants that ate the most food and didn’t regurgitate will then move on to a physical challenge. …After that round, anyone who hasn’t lost their lunch will then be forced to eat MORE, different food–Ambrosia salad, pumpkin pie, etc,– while still keeping it all in. Then, the final elimination round steps the physical challenge up a notch, tossing in a rogue element of danger. One can only imagine

So, contestants gorge themselves on high-carbohydrate foods beyond the point of ridiculously full and then vomit it all back up. Chuck in an unnatural fear of fatness and an obsession with calories, weight and food and you’ve got a ready-made eating disorder. Have we really devolved so low we find this kind of material entertaining?

Your thoughts?

posted in Eating Disorders, Pop Culture | 29 Comments

24th June 2008

The Digest: Health insurance, Brittany Snow and resources for ED caregivers

by Rachel
The Digest: A roundup of related topics in the news.

Carrying on the conversation of eating disorders and mental health parity from yesterday, Illinois is poised to become the 17th state to mandate insurance companies to pay for the treatment of anorexia and bulimia. The bill, which has gone to Gov. Rod Blagojevich to sign into law and is currently “under review,” would require coverage for 45 days as an inpatient and 60 outpatient visits each calendar year. The coverage still not enough for the most severe cases, experts say, but it does represent a start in parity of coverage for issues of mental health. Send a note to Gov Blagojevich’s office encouraging him to sign the bill into law.

Actress and recovering eating disorder sufferer Brittany Snow told People magazine that’s she’s shelved her trainer and sworn off dieting. The 22-year-old starlet said she’s focusing more on her own mental health. “I refuse to do the whole diet, fitness, style thing anymore,” said Snow. “I just kind of go and have fun. I know what I like, I know what makes me feel good, and that’s just what I do.”

Caring for an individual with an eating disorder can be an exhausting, mentally-draining and arduous ordeal, as shared by moms Harriet Brown and Laura Collins. Now the King’s College at London offers a free course to give carers the necessary skills to help their loved ones battle an eating disorder. Interested in participating in the web-based program? Go here for more information and to sign up.

posted in Eating Disorders, Legal Issues, Pop Culture | 7 Comments

23rd June 2008

Eating disorders and mental health parity

by Rachel

CBS has a report on some sad news to come out of San Diego. Twenty-six year old Janell Smith was hospitalized in January this year for anorexia. A feeding tube kept the severely underweight woman alive. But three weeks later just as Janell seemed to be improving, her father said he got a call from Janell’s health insurance provider, Magellan Health Services. Brian Smith tells CBS News,

“The counselor said, ‘Nobody’s talked to us about next-step strategies. In fact, we don’t support this. The insurance company is pulling the plug.’ That was her words.” Janell was released from treatment. Days later, her family says, guilt-ridden in the wake of an eating binge, Janell ingested a toxic combination of Tylenol, vodka, and cocaine. She overdosed and died.

“Had she been able to get the care she needed,” says her sister, “and had the doctors said, ‘You know, she’s at a good place, and she can go into an outpatient program,’ I believe she’d be with us today. I really do.”

Magellan denies that, countering that Janell discharged herself and that her doctors didn’t request extended hospitalization for a woman who weighed just 70 pounds and required the use of a feeding tube. The company adds that it was the family’s responsibility to ask for more coverage (shouldn’t this responsibility fall on doctors?), that Janell’s coverage had simply expired and that, had the family asked for more, Magellan would have granted it. Anyone who’s ever battled both an eating disorder and health insurance rules and regulations would know the latter part is simply not true. It’s often as large of a battle to get an insurance company to pay for treatment as it is to recover from the disorder itself. Shame on you, Magellan. Shame on you.

This is why the Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act (H.R. 1424) is so, so important. People are literally dying while insurance companies continue to discriminate against mental health just to save a few bucks on their bottom lines. I urge you to help support this bill and others that help promote eating disorders for what they are: a serious, mental illness that can be as deadly as cancer and therefore deserving of equal coverage under law.

posted in Eating Disorders, Legal Issues, Mental Health | 15 Comments

20th June 2008

“You’ve got such a pretty face… but”

by Rachel

I love Jeopardy but I could never be a contestant. I’m not exactly quick on the draw and I often think of the answer five minutes later. It’s the same thing with insults. I think of the most fabulously clever and brilliant retort to jerks who think it their personal obligation to let me know how much space I take up or how sexually unattractive I am to them — after the fact.

My one moment of reflexive shining glory came about two years ago. I needed to make a return at a home store so my shopping-weary husband opted to wait in the car. I was nearing the store entrance when I crossed two jock kind of guys in their young 20s. I haven’t had strangers issue weight-based insults in a long time, but I had a feeling these idiots would say something and sure enough, after I passed them they called out some kind of fat sexual innuendo. Without missing a beat, I replied “Right, and I’m sure you both have dicks the size of peanuts.” Victory! I can’t take credit for the retort; it’s a line said by Julia Roberts in Notting Hill (one of my absolute favorite movies). My husband says I’m the worst Buddhist ever, but while sometimes it’s better to rise above ignorant people and not stoop to their level, other times it feels oh-so-good and empowering to show them that you aren’t cowed by them and that their behavior is unacceptable.

Now Joy Nash has come to rescue of those of us with slow mental reflexes with her new Fat Rant: Staircase Wit.

I especially love this line: “Fat hate is one of the only forms of prejudice in which the people who are subjected to it feel they are getting exactly what they deserve.” (Meowser said nearly the same thing here, too. Great minds and all…)

You can check out Joy’s previous Fat Rant installments here, here and here.

Can you think of some other good replies to weight-based insults? Post your best ones here and maybe we can start a repository for us all to draw on so that we have just the right thing to say to those idiots in the future.

posted in Body Image, Body-Affirming, Fat Bias | 35 Comments

18th June 2008

Deconstructing our crowning glories

by Rachel

There’s a great post up at Shapely Prose by guest blogger Heather Bailey, whose stylist insinuated for 12 years that she was too fat to pull off a short haircut. After going to a different stylist who gave her an awesome and very flattering pixie cut, Heather realized:

I believed that hair can magically make you look fatter/thinner and I was afraid of that. We are what we are, and if our culture wants us to “blend in” and feel that we have to hide the fat bits on our hips, thighs, faces – well, it’s up to us to tell them we’re not obligated to make them feel better by feeling bad about ourselves, and we aren’t going to disappear anything about ourselves.

Emphasis mine, because this needs to be heralded about with trumpeting fanfare. Read the rest of this entry »

posted in Body Image, Pop Culture | 55 Comments

17th June 2008

Have you tossed out your thinspiration?

by Rachel

I miss the Fab Five, but luckily many have gone on to host their own shows, including stylish host Carson Kressley of the body-affirming Lifetime reality show “How to Look Good Naked.” Kressley’s “perception revolution” transforms women from self-loathing to self-accepting, all without losing a pound or undergoing a nip or tuck. Now he speaks with InStyle to give women tips on how they give themselves an entire makeover, both inside and out. Here are a few of his tips:

Don’t be ruled by your insecurities
If you’ve been avoiding the beach or missing out on parties because you’re afraid of being the largest person there, grab a friend and go to the very place that incites terror–just be sure you’re wearing an amazing outfit.

Write yourself a love note
Some women are so obsessed with their hips that they fail to notice their flat tummy. Remind yourself of your virtues by writing a note that says something like “Hey, you have a great chest!” Tack it to the bathroom mirror so you’ll see it in the morning and before bedtime. “We’re so trained to look for the negative that we need a physical reminder of the positive,” explains Kressley.

If all else fails, fake it
One of Kressley’s favorite mantras is “looking cute is feeling cute.” So if you’re having a low day, force yourself to go through the motions. Put on your makeup, do your hair, wear a great outfit. Sometimes faking it can give you enough of a boost to lift you out of the doldrums. “Feeling pretty,” Kressley says, “changes your whole outlook because you feel good about yourself.”

All great tips, but the tip that most struck me?

Clean out your closet
Whether you’re holding on to clothes that are too small because you hope you’ll fit into them someday, or clothes that are too big for fear you’ll grow back into them, you’re keeping past wounds open. “Old clothes stop you from living in the present,” says Kressley. “They reinforce what you used to look like.” Get rid of anything you haven’t worn in two years and replace it with something new that makes you feel pretty. And while you’re out shopping, have a house-cleaner swing by for good measure.

Throughout my diet, which would later develop into an eating disorder, I lost 175-pounds. Because I went from a size 26 down to a size 4, I accumulated lots of clothing in a variety of sizes, mostly from thrift and consignment stores because I lost weight so rapidly. And each time I went down a size, I threw out the higher sizes as a way of weight-loss validation and reinforcement that I would never, ever be that size again. Shame… I had some really cute clothes that I miss now that I have regained some of the weight.

I still have boxes upon boxes of clothes in sizes 4 – 10, clothing that I will most likely never wear again, but still cannot bring myself to throw out or donate. Because they’re stored away in our basement, I don’t really think of them that often or go through them, which is good because it’s not healthy or constructive for me. I went on a big full-house cleaning spree a couple years ago in which I also organized the basement. I looked through some of my cuter skinny clothes – they don’t make these kinds of cute clothes in plus-sizes – and first felt awe that I was once able to fit in them, and then a kind of sadness, both for the dream of thinness I had finally achieved for one brief period of my life and then just as quickly lost, and for all the sacrifice and effort and torment involved in reaching that size.

I used to buy thinspirational clothing in smaller sizes as “encouragement” to continue losing weight, but now, I look for clothes that flatter my current body and shape and try to resist even the cutest of cute pieces in just one size smaller like the totally cute pink retro jacket I just saw at a local consignment shop for just $14. I don’t need that kind of temptation hanging in my closet, whispering “If you only lost 10 pounds, you could wear me.” But I’m also not quite ready to throw out all my boxed-up skinny clothes, although I will leave them in the basement where they continue to gather dust and act as cardboard Legos for the cats to climb and play on. It’s not that they act as thinspiration for me, although I’d be lying if I said I didn’t wish I had that body again. But at the same time, they also remind me of where I’ve been and where I don’t want to return.

How about you? Have you managed to throw away your skinny clothes or other thinspiration? How did it make you feel? If not, why do you still hang onto them?

posted in Personal | 47 Comments

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