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Fat Rights Coalition to Take Over Big Fat Blog!

Dear Big Fat Blog readers,

Hello! My name is Carrie Padian and I am the president of The Fat Rights Coalition. I'm getting all up in Paul's space today to talk to you about something that affects all of us: the future of Big Fat Blog.

I'm sure many of you freaked out as I did when you read that BFB would cease to exist in its current form on April 1st. The site has become a touchstone for many of us, a way to plug in and reconnect with the movement on a regular basis. BFB and its archives represent an incredible amount of work on Paul's part and I think it would be a real setback for the fat rights movement if that information was no longer available.

That's why I'm so pleased to announce that, come April, The Fat Rights Coalition will be taking on the day-to-day operations at BFB! We will be dividing the blogging and admin responsibilities among coalition members (and anyone else who wants to pitch in) and our hope is to provide the same level of quality and balanced coverage of the world of fat that Paul has given us over the years. With that said, I am interested to hear any comments or suggestions you may have as we begin this project. Please write me at carrie at fatrights dot org and tell me what you think. We're going to be looking for some more bloggers to work with the site on a rotating basis, so also email me if you are interested in writing for BFB.

It will be an interesting transition. I'm sure you'll notice some small changes, some you may love and some you may hate. The important thing is that we keep the lines of communication open. No one website can be all things to all people, but if we're getting something really wrong, I want to know about it.

Thanks for being a part of BFB and the fat rights movement. Keep the feedback coming!

Carrie Padian
President, The Fat Rights Coalition
http://www.fatrights.org

CNN: Obama talked with Sanjay Gupta for Surgeon General role

Ooof:

The Obama transition team approached Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent, about becoming U.S. surgeon general, according to sources inside the transition and at CNN.

Via the LA Times through the Chicago Tribune:

More recently, Gupta -- the son of immigrants from India and Pakistan -- launched a nationwide campaign on CNN titled "Fit Nation" to highlight the dangers of obesity in children.

"We are told that the pitch to him has been that healthcare reform will be a top priority," [CNN's John] King said, "that wellness, fitness, obesity, the issues he has focused on often here at CNN, will be a top priority.

This seems like a really, really bad choice.

Big Fat Blog Bids Adieu: April 1, 2009

To the community:

After much consideration, I've decided to cease writing at Big Fat Blog as of April 1, 2009.

It's been a long and incredible journey. A little 5-page website I put up to support my college lecture on sizism back in 2000 ended up being - for a long while - the largest fat acceptance blog on the web; the site lived on to see a community of nearly 3,000 people sign up to join in the fight for fat acceptance and fat rights. I've always, always been impressed with the level of discourse and incredible intelligence of our members.

2008 was a big year of change for me professionally and personally. As has always been the case, BFB isn't my day job. I was able to devote a lot more time to it in the past than I am now, and rather than allow the quality of the site to decrease any further I'd rather simply stop.

The struggle for fat equality is, in a word, hard. But I've been encouraged by things such as the BFB and Fat Rights Coalition (nee COFRA) Think Tanks, the formation of the Fat Rights Coalition, and the number of blogs that have sprouted up. It's pretty amazing to think that just about 9 years ago it was BFB and a bunch of nothin'; now it's hundreds of great resources, written by smart, sharp folks. I hope people are willing to take that activism offline and make some positive change in the world.

Thank you, everyone, for your support over the past 8 1/2 years.

Paul

Now, some questions:

So what's going to happen from here?

Effective immediately, no new member registrations will be processed. (As there are a fair number of unprocessed registrations, this is essentially retroactive to early December, 2008.)

As I said at the outset, I'll still be publishing articles to the blog until April 1st. The frequency may pick up a bit. After that point the site will remain up until October 1, 2009, at which point it will go dark; this will allow the Forums to continue on - they've generally seen more activity than the blog itself in the past few months.

What about Big Fat Index and Big Fat Facts?

Both sites will also go offline on October 1, 2009.

What about my data?

I will destroy all personal data (databases) and backups that I have the ability to delete after the site shuts down. I will not sell the data at any price.

What about...

Feel free to ask in the comments below, and I'll do my best to answer.

Thanks again, everyone.

Chicago: Help Save a Plus-Size Business

If you're in the Chicago area, there's a store that could use your help to stay afloat.

Oak Park's Sew Particular - an alteration shop specializing in plus sizes - and its companion consignment shop It's Sew You are holding a 'Help Me Stay in Business' sale. Shop owner Vivian Colette is behind on rent by several months and could be out of business altogether soon.

Colette, 56, is single, and says the business is her only source of income. If her last-ditch effort fails, she's uncertain of her next step. Working out of home isn't ideal. She started out with an at-home venture and knows that many of her customers who are handicapped would have difficulty climbing stairs to her home.

When my wife needed a dress altered last year, Vivian was nothing but professional, helpful, and welcoming.

Here's a map of the store and the website. Please check it out.

Solid TV Report on Fat Health Care

DebraSY pointed me to a great report from the Kansas City Fox affiliate on fat health care. The story is surprisingly good, and it's available in video form - definitely worth a look.

The narrative here comes from Ann Pei, whose sister Joyce was denied proper care due to her size.

Studies have found health professionals spend less time with obese patients and view them as less likable and more emotional. Young doctors claim medical school are addressing the issue.

"They always taught us to confront our own biases, not just about obesity, but all chronic health conditions. Confront your biases. That helps you meet the patients where they are," says Dr. Veronica Anwuri with Saint Luke's Medical Group.

Debra also notes that Laurie Todd, the first person interviewed in the piece, has started a group called Stay the Course KC "dedicated to bringing out fat people who have isolated themselves, and getting them reinvolved in the community and with one another."

This is a really straightforward piece overall and I'm most impressed at the lack of negativity here. It's handled with careful consideration and yet drives the point home nicely. Good stuff.

Big Win in Canada: Two Seats for Fat People

As you've seen over the past few days, the biggest news in the fat community is that Canada's Supreme Court has ruled that fat people are entitled to two seats for the price of one. Air Canada and WestJet had sought to overturn the "one person, one fare" policy enacted by the Canadian Transportation Agency that we covered back in January.

The agency ordered the companies last January to adopt a policy of “one person, one fare.”

That would mean, for example, that a disabled person who needs additional room for a wheelchair, or an obese person who needs an additional seat, could not be charged extra.

It would also mean that, if a disabled person has to be accompanied by an attendant, the attendant would ride free.

Naturally this has brought thousands of truly brave (cough), anonymous (cough) internet trolls out of the woodwork on myriad newspaper sites, citing how terrible this is and how we're all just fat and need to lose weight, how not-fat people are "subsidizing the lifestyle choice of the obese", and all the usual crap. Glad they're being constructive.

The CBC has a more contextual article on this ruling. A WestJet official wondered how his company would implement this policy in a non-discriminatory fashion. Here's an idea: at the airport, include two actual, real seats from your planes. If a person can not sit with the armrest down, that person needs two seats. Seems simple. Is simple. And go the extra mile by making this a private area, too.

All in all, this is a superb ruling and the Canadian Transportation Agency should be applauded for upholding our rights, enforcing their ruling, and allowing fat people to fly with dignity - something that the loudmouthed "thin" people on the internet are taking for granted. [links via DeeLeigh, CarrieP, and roughly 40 others!]

Fat Fatigue

Hey there - it's been a while, hasn't it?

I wanted to check in and let everyone know that yes, I'm still here and yes, I'm still reading the forums and keeping up with registrations. But I confess that offline life has gotten in the way - and really, taken precedence - for a little while now.

On top of that I've hit a personal fatigue point with blogging and thus, the time away.

If you're itching for more news, though, I will gladly point you over to the forums, as they've been pretty active lately. There are a lot of solid topics and a lot of new faces, too!

Quick thoughts, though:

  • Ruby, the new Style TV show, certainly looks like exploitative junk. Has anyone seen it?
  • Is it possible for anyone to run a food blog and not have it turn into some sort of diet blog? If so, please link up an example. (I'm looking at you, Serious Eats.)
  • Truly positive fat news has been hard to come by as of late.

Lessons from the Fat-o-sphere [sic] Available for Pre-Order

The new book from Kate Harding and Marianne Kirby (aka The Rotund), Lessons from the Fat-o-sphere: Quit Dieting and Declare a Truce with Your Body, is now available for pre-order from Amazon.com! Woot!

Time to Vote

To all BFB readers in the US:

Vote.

This is it. No excuses.

Great Idea: A Fat Athletes' Resource

Wellroundedtype2 is calling for a safe space for fat athletes. Here's a quote (within a quote!) from an exchange she had with another blogger, spacedcowgirl:

You pose a great question about a safe space for fat athletes. I don't know of one but that would be a seriously awesome resource. (Imagine being able to discuss issues general to fitness, but also fat-specific stuff like chafing or adjusting yoga positions to accommodate one's body, without having to hear about how you should just lose weight.) Maybe you could do a post asking about this so that the Fatosphere feed readers would see it and hopefully offer suggestions.

I think it's a fantastic idea.

BFB's Long National Nightmare is Over

I am finally caught up on registrations.

I'd like to take a moment to apologize to everyone for not remedying the situation sooner; the registrations simply stacked up and my lack of free time meant a huge backlog. But now, there's no backlog - so if you received the welcome email, you're all set!

Thanks for your patience!

As a footnote, out of the pending registrations about 20% were spammers, people thinking this was a dating site (real people, not spambots) and an interesting new segment - alleged doctors looking to "help" members. Riiiight.

Acomplia Shot Down in EU

The European Medicines Agency has recommended that Acomplia, a dangerous diet drug with serious side effects, be pulled from the market.

Obese or overweight people using Acomplia have twice the risk of mental disorders than those taking a placebo, the London- based European Medicines Agency, which regulates treatments in the 27-nation European Union, said today in a statement.

This is characterized as a "death knell" for the drug in the EU. In the US, it's been shot down three times by the FDA so Sanofi-Aventis, the drug's maker, will try for a fourth time by promoting it as an anti-diabetes drug. Hey, that's great.

Also of note from this Bloomberg piece is that Alli, the heavily-marketed poop-your-pants diet drug, got the nod to be sold over the counter in the EU. Stock up on dark pants, friends.

Fat Rights Coalition Logo Contest

I'm pleased to spread the word on the Fat Rights Coalition's logo contest. You might remember the Fat Rights Coalition under its previous name of COFRA.) The deadline for the contest is next Friday, so get crackin'!

Here are the details from the FRC's President, Carrie Padian:

We are calling on all graphically inclined members! We are still desperately in need of a fantastic logo for The Fat Rights Coalition, so we are holding a contest*. We can't wait to see what you can come up with! Here's the scoop:

1. Any member of The Fat Rights Coalition (formerly COFRA) who is interested in submitting a logo may do so by emailing it as an attachment to carrie@fatrights.org.
2. Submission deadline is October 31st, 2008 at midnight PST.
3. We will review submissions and post our three favorites by November 7th.
4. All members of The Fat Rights Coalition will have the opportunity to vote on the final logo.
5. Voting will be open for one week afterward and will conclude on November 14th, 2008 at midnight PST.
6. We will post the winner on fatrights.org.

*The winning logo will become property of The Fat Rights Coalition, but we will absolutely give you credit.

For designers out there, this is a prime opportunity to use your skills and talents toward a great cause. The Coalition is ready to move forward towards its goals, and you can help. I strongly encourage everyone to participate!

Surprisingly Insightful Piece on Jossip

Nice critique of the use of fat kids on TV shows over at Jossip, focusing on Desperate Housewives' Juanita Solis; she's been the brunt of blatant fat jokes on the show.

"Also, Madison [De La Garza, the actress who portrays Juanita] is never present during scenes featuring the adult characters talking about her weight."

That is entirely off the mark. Seven years old is still a child, and at that age you're old enough to realize that you're being made fun of. But what's the solution, only hire skinny child actors and put them in fat suits, like Ryan Reynolds in Just Friends?

As I said, this was great to see and surprisingly sympathetic to our cause. Unfortunately there aren't any good solutions here, but again, good on Jossip for calling this crap out.

McCain on Fat Kids: "One of the Most Alarming Statistics"

If you watched last night's final US Presidential Debate, you probably noticed that Senator John McCain was the first of the two candidates to call out fat publicly in some fashion. Here's a complete transcript. He said:

The rise of obesity amongst young Americans is one of the most alarming statistics that there is. We should have physical fitness programs and nutrition programs in schools. Every parent should know what's going on there.

Yeah, not so much, McCain. From a Junkfood Science post back in May:

The latest statistics on childhood overweight from the National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were just published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. They show that since the childhood growth charts were redesigned nearly a decade ago, there have been no statistically significant change in the percentages of young people at or above the 95th percentile (labeled as “overweight” and some are now calling “obese”).

Redesigning charts'll do that for ya!

McCain also called for "rewarding" people who joined wellness programs and health clubs. Wellness, as regular readers know, is just the new codeword for "not fat." This is a horrible, horrible idea.

To be totally fair, though, "prevention" of fat is covered explicitly in Senator Barack Obama's health care plan:

The nation faces epidemics of obesity and chronic diseases as well as new threats of pandemic flu and bioterrorism.

An increasing number of Americans are suffering and dying needlessly from diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, asthma and HIV/AIDS, all of which can be delayed in onset if not prevented entirely.

On fat kids, the Obama-Biden plan says:

Childhood obesity is nearly epidemic, particularly among minority populations, and school systems can play an important role in tackling this issue.

Nearly epidemic is notable here; there's a difference. But it's still wrong. It references this 5-year-old NIH piece, geared towards "preventing" fat versus actually backing it up with facts. (In addition, the NIH is the organization that redefined the BMI ten years ago; disappointing because they do some good work.)

The plan also references a 2006 CDC report on fat. Too bad it, too, was debunked by the CDC itself:

As JFS has posted repeatedly, back in 2004, in the June issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, the CDC had reported that there had been no significant increases in the numbers of U.S. adults or children considered “overweight” or “obese” from 1999-2000 through 2001-2002.

Sorry, Barack. While I give you points for not calling it an epidemic outright, and not namechecking it in order to scare the crap out of people, the argument is still a house of cards.

(Cross-posted to Open Salon.)

Must Read: The Fat Monologue

You may have already seen this; even if you have, you should probably read it again.

Amp (who writes at the underrated, excellent Alas, a Blog) has created The Fat Monologue:

This is a comic I did many months ago (or was it over a year ago?), for a gallery show. Because it was designed to be viewed on a wall, it’s kind of hard to look at online — the panels kind of spiral around rather than going in straight, easy-to-scroll through rows.

It's marvelous stuff - easily one of the best fat-related pieces I've seen ever.

Embed Weight Loss Messages in Books?

This is clever, albeit... evil. BFBer Viola discovered that a Duke University study looked at whether fat kids reading a book with a weight-loss story line ended up losing weight. And:

In the study, the researchers assigned 31 severely overweight girls in a weight-management program to read a book called Lake Rescue, part of a series called Beacon Street Girls. The girls were all aged 9 to 13.

The researchers then compared the body mass indexes of girls in the three groups up to six months later. On average, the girls who read Lake Rescue gained better control of their weight, moving from the 98th to the 97th percentile in a range of weights, [Study Author Alexandra C.] Russell said.

(Above from the WaPo version of the article.) The book itself is described best in the LA Times article:

The book in question is "Lake Rescue," part of the Beacon Street Girls series of books, aimed at tween girls, that tackles issues such as cyber bullying and divorce. In this book, an overweight girl goes to an outdoor adventure camp with her class. Although worried about being picked on for being heavy, she finds a role model who teaches her about becoming healthier through eating right and trying new activities.

Interestingly, the HealthDay version of the article that I quoted has a more ambiguous take than the LA Times Blogs one. The LA Times reports on the exact weight lost:

The "Lake Rescue" group decreased its BMI scores 0.71%, the group that read another book decreased its BMI scores .33%, and the group that had no intervention increased its BMI scores .05%.

So the girls who read a non-weight-loss-related book lost weight, too. Maybe the fact that all of the participants were already enrolled in Duke's weight loss program had a little something to do with that?

All told, it's interesting stuff. Correlation does not equal causation, of course, so it remains to be seen if this is just a big coincidence (and, you know, all of the participants were already in a weight loss environment - no small thing, this.) It'd be even better to see books embed HAES and pro-size messages though, wouldn't it?

Hotel Charging Fat Kids More for Meals

Oulton Hall plans to weigh kids and change their Sunday lunch cost based on their weight:

Youngsters will be asked to step on the scales to see how much their restaurant meal should cost.
A child weighing five stone will pay £5 while a youngster who tips the scales at 10 stone will have to fork out £10. Bosses at five-star Oulton Hall near Leeds claim the idea is "just a bit of fun".

Fun. Yep. Loads. Oh, but it's voluntary - that makes it all okay, right?

Spokesman Nigel Massey said: "There will no doubt be people who say it's not politically correct. Well, frankly, they should get a life and stop being so miserable."

Nigel Massey's contact information through Massey Partnership Ltd.:

Address:
4 Wimpole Street
London W1G 9SH
England
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7637 3220
Fax: +44 (0) 20 7637 3226
Registered Office:
56, Brunswick Gardens
Kensington
London W8 4AN

Thanks, Richie.

UK 'Expert' Calls for Removing Fat Kids from Homes

Even though he realizes his opinion is unpopular (never mind "wrong", "bullheaded", "ignorant", "stupid", et al), Tam Fry of the National Obesity Forum's board in the UK has decided that fat kids should be removed from their homes against their will and in some cases be forced to have their stomachs stapled.

Mr Fry said: "My point will be that we regard malnourished children as being abused and so with those children who are so overweight, either consciously or by neglect because their parents allow it, there should be a case for them being removed from their parents to a paediatric ward and put under weight management by doctors."

Again, Fry feels he'll be defeated when the issue comes up for debate at the Forum's annual conference tomorrow. But the fact that he can float this idea at all in any context and be taken seriously should serve as a wake-up call for people who feel that this issue is overblown or exaggerated by us "angry" fat people.

To show Fry's ignorance, I offer this quote from the article regarding parents of the children who would be in these "correction" camps:

"The parents will be permitted access but they will be frisked for chocolate and fizzy drinks when they enter the ward."

Clearly, all parents do is give their kids chocolate (sugar!) and soda (more sugar!) in order for them to be fat. Why, it's so simple really: instead of ensuring that these kids might actually feel good about their bodies and well-being, let's instead ship them off to camps where they'll be subject to "treatment" and having permanent, doctor-approved damage done to their internal organs. All in the name of trying to avoid fat.

Part of the problem here, as with any argument that falls into this court, is that there's simply no convincing evidence provided by Fry that this is really necessary. The burden of proof has been totally removed from people who are anti-fat and has been shifted to those of us who are for fat rights and equality. Did you ever wonder why that is? Why Fry can get away with these statements without even citing a study? I mean, that would at least give us something to pick apart and consider on its own merits.

Instead we have an ignorant, ignorant opinion that is out there in the public sphere and doing nothing but damage. I mean, fat kids in the UK are already placed on an "at risk" (for what?) list and already could and have been removed from homes. Fry just wants to up the ante and make fat = abuse.

"For the sake of the children it does need to be done because we have got children who are horrendously fat."

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome our latest modifier for fat... "horrendously!" And of course it's FOR THE SAKE OF THE CHILDREN! We have to do it for the children! Now! Urgent! Kids! Stuff! Things! Staple their stomachs! Fixed! Children!

"I fully expect to be defeated in the debate. I go into it knowing that the prospect of removing children from their parents is something that the medical profession will shy away from."

You want to talk about abuse, Mr. Fry? Taking kids from their homes - that's abuse. [Thanks, Beanietude.]

Toronto Star Advice Columnist Ellie Preaches Acceptance

Not perfect, but a step. vidyapriya noted that the latest Toronto Star advice column tackles fat in its second question this edition. The response, while not perfect in the acceptance realm, is pretty good - surprising!

The question comes from a woman whose sister is fat; she brings up the usual concerns about it and even notes that the family went to therapy. The bottom line?

Back off. Do not discuss weight, healthy eating, dieting or working out with your sister, and advise your parents to also stop all pressure on this front. Acceptance is what your sister needs most of all.

She may always be a plus-size woman, so stop trying to remake her. Your unconditional acceptance is the boost she needs to her self-image, whether or not she decides to improve her nutrition.

Nice.

Funny thing is, earlier this morning I was reading Amy Dickenson's advice column in the Chicago Tribune from Sunday and she actually trotted out a mild HAES approach. Again, not perfect in part because Dickenson brings up The Biggest Loser as a positive example of a show for the question's author (gah.) But look at this message to the question's author in regards to a fat 12-year-old she's "concerned" for:

Her self-esteem is partially influenced by how she thinks others view her—if you think she's terrific, regardless of her size, then she will like the way she feels when she's around you. This can have a positive impact on her.

That's some pretty great stuff to be seeing in the papers, I must admit.

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