Tag Archives: Dances with Fat

[Never Say Diet] Body Image Baggage and the Holidays


I actually wrote this Never Say Diet post back before Thanksgiving, but I somehow missed posting about it here (maybe this was why). (Un)Fortunately, it’s what we in the news biz call an “evergreen” because, well, mountains of holiday food + family members who press all of your body image buttons can = mayhem at Christmas or Chanukah just as easily as at Thanksgiving. I could probably also make a note to repost this at the 4th of July. See also: Arbor Day.

So I brainstormed some helpful responses to the variety of well-meaning (or, um… not so much) comments you might get about your weight/body/food choices/etc as you gather round the yule log this weekend. Oh, and since this post first went up, Ragen on Dances With Fat has written about avoiding holiday weight shame and wading through weight loss compliments, which are both fantastic reads if you’re anxious about facing either/or.

I mean, hopefully it won’t even be a thing. Your loved ones will gather, merrying will be made, and food will be enjoyed as the nourishing, community-building, comfort-providing, joyful experience that it should be.

But just in case, please remember: You look great. Your health is your business. And you can eat (or not eat) whatever you want. 

Wishing you all everything that’s merry and bright! xo

[Photo: Adorable and tasty chocolate-covered marshmallow reindeer — with pretzel antlers, gah! — via Pinterest, originally from here.]


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[Never Say Diet] America The Beautiful 2: The Thin Commandments

iVillage Never Say Diet America The Beautiful 2: The Thin Commandments Virginia Sole-Smith

Quick disclaimer: It’s iVillage (not VA) style to turn headlines into rhetorical questions. Of course you all know that my answer to that question is “a thousand times, yes, good Lord, stop asking me that!”

So the critical tone of my review of America The Beautiful 2: The Thin Commandments isn’t about finding fault with its premise. Director Darryl Roberts and I are five by five on all of that. So much so that I was a little hesitant to be critical out here in blogland — I want to unabashedly support such a big, bold step for body positivity in general and not get caught up in semantic debates. I hate when activists waste time arguing with each other that could be better spent working for the common good.

So, common good: Go see this movie! Let’s show the diet industry that we aren’t going to be bought and sold anymore! Define beauty and health on your own terms and don’t let anyone reduce either of those ideas to a number on the scale.

But also: I have some concerns about Roberts’ execution. Namely, the way he treats women with eating disorders as if they are fragile, endangered birds who have been caged and tortured by a ruthless media/beauty/diet industry.

As Autumn over at The Beheld can explain so much better than I, hating your body may be a symptom of an eating disorder but it does not inevitably lead to an eating disorder, and neither do skinny models in magazines or fad diets or any other manifestations of our thin-obsessed culture, which is just one part of a pretty complicated story. Plus, when you portray eating disorder patients as victims — as Roberts does with plenty of slow pans on what they are or aren’t eating and how much their ribs stick out — you take away their power to overcome. And from what I could tell, the women interviewed for this film were fighting damn hard, even if they weren’t on the path to health that Roberts’ would have chosen for them.

But the main reason I objected to the movie’s focus on ED is that it makes the whole thing revolve around extreme weight loss and extreme weight gain as if those are the only stories to tell about our culture’s Thin Commandments. In fact, most of the 75 percent of women with disordered eating habits* fall somewhere along the spectrum between those extremes. And if we think the worst case scenarios are all we have to worry about, we might not pay attention to the more subtle and nuanced ways the Thin Commandments mess with our lives every day. I’d love to see a documentary that delves into that.

For more, check out my full review on Never Say Diet.
PS. You know who totally rocks — in an empowered, not-even-close-to-a-victim way — in ATB2? Our girl Ragen Chastein of Dances With Fat! Seriously, go see it for her dancing and smartness, if for no other reason. Then go read her fantastic post on why obesity is not the problem — stigma is the problem. 


*Okay, this stat is from a survey by Self Magazine, so take it with a grain of salt — but I have to say, from where I’m sitting, it doesn’t sound too high. (And they did partner with researchers at UNC Chapel Hill.)

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Pretty Price Check: Enough With the Fat Hate (05.13.11)

The Pretty Price Check: Your Friday round-up of how much we paid for beauty this week.

Ragen Chastein Dances With Fat Photo by Richard Sabel

It seems like everywhere I turn this week, the news is about how much our culture hates fat people. So this a special theme edition of the Price Check. Because people, this has got to stop.

  • My beautiful friend (and amazing blogger and dancer — that’s her above!) Ragen Chastain received over 260 hate-filled comments on her blog this week from evil Internet Trolls who think she should die in appalling and violent ways. (And if you think she must be some strange, isolated example, check out #thingsfatpeoplearetoldon Twitter — and prepare to lose your mind.)
  • Kirstie Alley, the formerly Fat Actress, won “Dancing With the Stars” this week despite admitting she was eating just 150 calories while dancing for hours per day. Naturally, the world is celebrating her dancing-fueled weight loss instead of worrying about her health. (Via ABOUT-FACE)
  • Psychologists found that 72 percent of overweight and obese individuals depicted in the media are stigmatized, often appearing shirtless or headless, according to a study (PDF) published in the Journal of Health Communication. (Via Good)
  • As I reported yesterday on Never Say Diet, when new research showed that only 69 percent of Americans are trying to lose weight (down from 77 percent last year), nutritionists threw up their hands in a state of panic that we might just be accepting our fat selves and preparing to die. (Note that 69 percent means that more than half the population is on a diet.)

This is on top of a major, multi-country study published in the journal Current Anthropology in March, which found that fat stigma is increasing around the world, even in countries where larger bodies have previously been celebrated. (See Tara Parker-Pope’s column and Michelle Segar’s blog post for great analysis on why increasing fat stigma will do nothing to actually “fight obesity.”)

And the Seattle Times is reporting that Georgia just launched a new “Stop Childhood Obesity” campaign featuring fat kids saying things like “Chubby kids may not outlive their parents,” and “Big bones didn’t make me this way. Big meals did” and generally ensuring that they’ll be teased on the playground for the rest of their days.

So. What the f*ck is going on? Continue reading


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[Never Say Diet] Be Nice to Your Before Body

Never Say Diet Be Nice to Your Before Body Virginia Sole-Smith

I’m talking about how Before & After Photos mess with your head — and disconnect you from your Always Body today on Never Say Diet.

One quick note. [And a warning! This might be triggering for some folk. Skip it and go read today’s post if that’s the case for you.] Otherwise, keep on reading… Continue reading

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Pretty Price Check (04.22.11)

U by Kotex Tween Line Pretty Price Check Virginia Sole-Smith

  • 33: The number of women on Time’s 100 Most Influential People List — up from 31 last year, still nowhere near to a nationally representative sample. And though I do enjoy the implied gender equality of letting Prince William and Kate Middleton share a spot, I question this definition of “influence.” (Time via Jezebel, who is all “whatevs as long as the Tiger Mom gets her due.”)
  • 26 to 39: The age group of women who were most likely to appreciate their bodies for what they could do, not just how they looked in a recent study. Women over the age of 39 were most likely to worry that others wouldn’t accept their bodies if they weighed more. Sad. (Via Ohio State University)
  • 30 percent: How much using talc-based powder cosmetics could increase your overall risk for ovarian cancer. So… maybe less of that, then. (Via MedPageToday)
  • 63 percent of women carry a lip gloss in their purse. And yet I can never find mine when I actually want it. Why? (Via American Spa)
  • $28: The price of a lip gloss that claims to help you lose weight. Yes really. Except it wouldn’t work for me because I still can’t find my g-d lip gloss. (Via Dances With Fat)


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Pretty Price Check (01.28.11)

The Pretty Price Check: Your Friday round-up of what we paid for beauty last week.

  • $180: The price of this bird poop facial, available only in New York and London. Or anywhere else with a healthy pigeon population, for you DIY lovers. For more on wacky facial ingredients, check out what I wrote here. Also this. (Via TheHairpin)
  • 1152: The number of times Self Magazine has told you how to get skinny, according to Dances With Fat’s latest count. Jeez, you’d think it would have worked by now.
  • 6: The number of boob jobs performed on German porn star Carolin Berger, who died during her last augmentation surgery a few weeks ago. She was 23. This is really, really not okay. (Via Jezebel)
  • 1: The number of meals you eat per day on the SlimFast Diet. New tagline: “Who has time to slim slowly?” Um… maybe anyone who wants to lose weight while also eating at appropriate intervals? (Via About-Face)

But what’s with the crazy infographic up top? Find out at Bundle.com where they’ve dug up price check stats galore in order to rank the fitness of American cities based on their personal care spending. Spoiler alert: Austin, TX takes top billing, with a whopping $143 per month on cosmetic stores, spas, gyms, salons, and drugstores. Detroit, MI comes in last, with a paltry $18 per month. Fascinating. (More great analysis over at TheHairpin.)



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Pretty Price Check (10.22.10)

The Pretty Price Check: Your Friday round-up of how much we paid for beauty this week.

NOW Love Your Body Day winning poster

  • 10 million American women and girls suffer from anorexia and bulimia.
  • 25 million more suffer from binge-eating disorder.
  • Over 80 percent of 4th grade girls have been on a fad diet.
  • 35 percent of dieters will progress to pathological dieting or eating disorders.
  • Oh, and also: 95 percent of diets fail. (All via NOW’S Love Your Body Campaign.)

Those numbers aren’t new. You’ve heard them before, here and in a million other places, and I’m even betting your eyes glazed over a bit as you read that list. But I thought we’d kick Friday off with that price reality check precisely because of how very not new those numbers are. Continue reading


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