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FAQs from Ragen Chastain about Health At Every Size

Someone yesterday was a little put off that I asked them not to compliment me (or anyone) on weight loss when I (or they) haven’t said that I am (or they are) trying to lose weight. Unwanted encouragement to lose weight under the guise of concern is called concern trolling. It is a form of bullying. I didn’t say this to my friend, I just politely asked them what I stated above.

My friend then started rapid firing back at me so-called facts about weight loss being good for the heart.That may be true for some, but since I haven’t been examined by this person, I’m going to ignore this diagnosis. And they’re not a doctor. And doctors often get it wrong, especially when it comes to Black women (look it up.)

I’m not trying to shame my friend, I’m just trying to point out how prevalent the faulty weight shaming and concern trolling is, even amongst those of us who otherwise live healthy, large, and in charge!

Bottom line is, I can be big and still be healthy. I don’t have to be healthy if I don’t want to. I don’t have to accept unwanted concern. As Ragen Chastain has said so well, I am the boss of my own underpants! Click here to read the FAQs.


The Fat Bitches Club

As usual Ragen is speaking my language! I have been fat bitched online far too many times recently.

Dances With Fat

Fat Bitches ClubMy Facebook friend Julie posted today that someone had called her a fat bitch to her face in public.  She said “I think that’s the first time I have been called that to my face… does this qualify me for the Fat Bitches Club?”  Yes it does, and your official club jacket is in the mail!

The Fat Bitches Club is for those who’ve been victims of the sizeism and sexism that occur when people lash out at us with a phrase meant to let us know that we don’t look or act like they want us to. If you’re wondering if you qualify for the FBC, check out the qualifying events below, though please note that this is not an exhaustive list.

Just Because

This is how Julie qualified. She was talking to someone about something completely unrelated to her size. He didn’t like what she said, so he…

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Fat Isn’t An Insult Unless I Let It Be

Fat Isn’t An Insult Unless I Let It Be.

Fat Isn’t An Insult Unless I Let It Be

LeadershipOver the last week I’ve told lots of people about the Plus Size Belly Dance Convention and the Facebook group that started it.  Many were supportive.  These are the people who make it fun to do what we do.  Thanks y’all!

A few people tried to talk me out of saying that I’m plus sized.  As if saying that meant that I was accepting some kind of defeat.  For the record, plus sized and fat are not bad words in my vocabulary.  It’s like – tall or short, big or little, skinny or fat.  It’s just a descriptor to me, not a judgement of my character.

I do understand though that there are people who think that it IS representative of a weak character for anyone to be fat or call themselves fat. Our convention has had someone convey that they felt offended by our invitation, because they had tried very hard at weight loss and didn’t want to be associated with a plus size convention.  That makes me sad, because I wouldn’t want anyone singled out.

I’m not going to pass judgement or say anything about what the person might be thinking.  Most of us have body issues to deal with, if that’s their perspective, OK.

I just want people to know that the intent of the Dangerous Curves Plus Size Belly Dance Convention has always been to be inclusive of EVERY body.  Tall or short, fat or skinny, young or old, beginner or professional.  Or, somewhere in between which is where most of us are.

Love and Light,


Underpants Rule Limitations

Ragen Chastain is keynote speaker at the 2nd Annual Dangerous Curves Plus Size Belly Dance Convention!

Dances With Fat

Underpants RuleRegular readers of this blog will be familiar with The Underpants Rule. The Underpants Rule states that you are the boss of your underpants, other people are the boss of their underpants, and nobody is the Underpants Overlord – a full description can be found here.  It’s a shorthand that I use to discuss that fact that our personal choices should not be up for public debate.

Sometimes people get confused or conflicted about the extent of the Underpants Rule.  Reader Becky sent me the following question:

“I work in a bookstore and I’m conflicted every time someone wants a weight loss book. On the one hand: underpants rule. On the other: I just want to go Mr. Rogers on them (“I like you just the way you are!”) but without sounding like a creepy stranger or sticking my nose where it doesn’t belong. What are your thoughts…

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Thin People Only Clubs

“They tell us that being an athlete isn’t just about athletics – but you also have to be thin; being stylish isn’t just about style, you also have to be thin; you have to be thin to be beautiful; you have to be thin to be sexy; you have to be thin to like your body and on and on and on.

At its base, this is about creating definitions that exclude people based on how they look – whether the club is athletes, fashionistas, or just confident people who are happy with their bodies. I think a lot of it stems from people who have built their self-esteem on a foundation of weight bullying and fat shame. Their self-esteem is predicated upon the idea that they are automatically better than a fat person because they are thin. Since they can only feel good about themselves by convincing themselves that they are better than someone else, they have to protect this at all costs.” ~ Ragen Chastain

I said to a woman: “I’m fit and healthy, I like my large body!”
She said “Well at least you’re doing something about it.”


Dances With Fat

What a Load of CrapI got an e-mail that said “I don’t care how athletic you are, there is no such thing as a fat athlete.”  Why would someone use their limited time on Earth to send me this is anybody’s guess.

It is definitely some extra special hater logic and it got me thinking about the way that so many people try to maintain their sense of superiority/maintain their stereotypes/oppress fat people by creating “thin people only clubs.”  They tell us that being an athlete isn’t just about athletics – but you also have to be thin; being stylish isn’t just about style, you also have to be thin; you have to be thin to be beautiful; you have to be thin to be sexy; you have to be thin to like your body and on and on and on.

At its base, this is about creating definitions that exclude people based on…

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“Never put your wishbone where your backbone ought to be”. As a curvy, voluptuous woman I have had to employ the following tactics in my life. As a belly dancer it is also relevant. Just because a performer is in the public eye doesn’t mean they are willing to be scrutinized. The only who can stop people from mistreating you is You.

Dances With Fat

I recently heard the phrase “Never put your wishbone where your backbone ought to be”.  The same day I read that, I got an e-mail from a woman telling me about how she doesn’t know what to do because her friends and family are so mean to her about her weight.  She said that they treat her horribly, always say nasty things to her etc.

A lot of us have been there – with families, friends, strangers –  we can be subjected to all kinds of poor treatment because of how we look.  This is a situation that requires backbone, not wishbone.  As people of size, hell as people at all, if we want to be treated well we can’t wish for it, we have to demand it.  Here’s one way I’ve found to do that:

Step 1: Decide what your boundaries and standards are

You get to decide how…

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Let me state first that this is not written in sympathy of the recent shooter in Aurora, Colorado. He is a murderer and should be treated as such. This is also not meant to embarass my family, but it is Truth and on my heart to say.

My younger brother lives in an assisted living mental facility in Denver. He receives treatment for severe bipolar disorder and schizo-affective tendencies. That is just a long way of saying that when he doesn’t take meds and psychiatric treatment he experiences voices, visual hallucinations, and mood disruptions that can potentially put him and others in danger. At the home where he lives he has the freedom to come and go, as long as he complies with house and doctor rules, but it has taken him years of treatment to get to the point where this is possible.

My brother is highly intelligent and creative. He is a musician and in his teens was the leader of a band. He writes music and plays bass guitar, his band starred in HIV/AIDS public service announcement videos that aired in the ’80’s featuring songs he wrote urging teens to practice safe sex. He also began showing signs of mental illness in his mid teens. Understandably, my parents were in denial and hoped it was a rebellious phase that he would grow out of. If either of my parents had realized and acknowledged there was a problem brewing while he was still under 18, they might have been able to force him to receive treatment. Once he was 18 and no longer a minor, Colorado law (police/hospital workers/social workers) said he could not be forced to seek treatment, it had to be voluntary unless it could be proven he was an imminent danger to himself or others. I feel like once he realized there was a loophole to exploit, his condition worsened quicker. In my estimation he was dangerous but also tricky, and he fooled many people including my parents for a time.

Once my brother did start doing things that were dangerous he ended up in jail more often than the mental hospital. And when he was hospitalized, the state would treat his mental illness until he was “stable” and then release him to his own voluntary recognizance. Meaning that even though my parents and I wanted him to still continue to get meds and psychiatric treatment, it would start all over with the whole cycle of having to be voluntary or to have something dangerous happen first. Without going into painful details I’ll just say there were many times he was a threat to himself and others. Even still I would occasionally let him live with me, trying to help keep him safe and on track. He often made threats that didn’t come to pass, but I had no way of really knowing for sure what he would do. On more than one occasion I called the police on him, told them he threatened me, and had him jailed so that he would be in a safe place and/or get the help he needed. It hurt me a lot to do it.

It wasn’t until after he burned his apartment down that the lawyer my father hired was able to get my brother committed for care instead of charged with arson. No one was injured in the fire Thank GOD!!! If there had been no one who cared about him to show up and stand by him he probably would be in prison.

I hate to think what might have happened had my brother been able to afford assault weapons and such. As it is he did shoot me in the thigh with a blow dart once. I can laugh about that one now. But mental illness is nothing funny. As a society we really need to do better at protecting the mentally ill AND ALSO at protecting the public. I don’t have the answers about how to do that, I wish I did.

Big Sister