Cake Walking with Lia Schapendonk

One of my all time favorite Taj Mahal songs is Cake Walk into Town.  I first heard the song in my mid teenage years when I was learning how to play guitar and loved EVERYTHING Taj!  But the line in the song, “Throw your big leg over me Mama I might not  feel this good again,” was one of the first times I heard a lyric with romantic…okay…sexual intentions associated with a big woman’s body.  It gave me hope that some day my big legs could be loved under the covers as well.

Love Your Body: Lia Schapendonk

Love Your Body: Lia Schapendonk

If you have been reading my blog lately, you know that I have been writng about Love Your Body Day  (October 14, 2014) through the lens of body positive Dutch artists.  We have already met Susan Ruiter and Julia Woning and today I am sure you will be tickled by the positive and lovely artwork of Lia Schapendonk.  When I was reviewing the answers that Ms Schapendonk so generously shared with me, I couldn’t help but think of Taj Mahal’s song, Cake Walk into Town.  I thought it would be a fun multi-media body positive experience to play the song while you read my interview with Lia so I embedded the Taj track above.  (Embedding stuff in blogs is a MAJOR technical accomplishment for me…so I hope you take advantage of it!)

I asked the same questions I asked Susan and Julia, and here is what Lia had to say:  (Thank you to Chiel Weverling for translating from Dutch to English)

Meet Dutch Artist Lia Schapendonk!

Meet Dutch Artist Lia Schapendonk!

Dr. Deah:  When did you realize that art was important to you as a means of expression?  Was there a specific aha moment; or was it a gradual process?

Lia Schapendonk:  When I was a child growing up in  ‘the fifty’s’, I was always busy with ‘making stuff’. For instance I would make a woven painting with thread and a bicycle rim. It wasn’t until I was around thirty, that I went to The Academy. I qualified myself in a number of disciplines two of which are ceramics and textile arts; but essentially I see a challenge in working with many materials. And thus, for the last couple of years, next to painting, I’ve been working with felt (see www.troostenlief.nl) and mosaic.

DD:  The art work you do is so beautiful, who were some artists who influenced your style?

LS:  There is no direct example of an artist that inspired me in terms of style. What you see in my paintings comes from my own fantasy. I did go through an evolution since my first canvas of which I will explain further in the next question. My works, totalling about 500 now, fill themselves with more richness and detail every time. The only thing that’s been standing firm from the beginning is the colorful character that emanates from my art; sort of an extension of my personality.

DD:  The shapes and sizes of the women you paint are big and beautiful and feel very positive. Has the subject of body acceptance or size acceptance been a part of your work intentionally? Why do you choose to do paintings of big curvy women?

Hips Kissed

Hips Kissed

LS:  This came about by accident. About 10 years ago my good friend and I were at a beautiful old house in Ardêche, France, for a week.  When I suggested that we go to a patisserie and enjoy something… She, like myself, has a bigger appearance, and didn’t feel like going.  She was fearful that the ambiance would react negatively to seeing two bigger ladies, in full view, enjoying something nice. This horrific image was enough for her to blow off the idea. In reaction to that I took to the brush, the only medium available there, and sketched the two of us in an imaginary pose showing us at the patisserie with cake and all. To me this was a “joke”, a way to make the situation humorous,  but it was the start of a successful series that seems to make more and more galleries and buyers happy.

DD:  With the media being so obsessed with only showing thin women as beautiful and bigger women as undesirable, what made you choose to defy the media mandate and draw big women as beautiful, sexy, and competent?

LS:  Because of my own ‘self esteem’ with regard to my appearance, and knowing that the opposite is what most of my fellow sufferers experience, you could call my approach provocative with an ironic character; robust ladies with a shapely bosom that enjoy life to the fullest and show that to the world without embarrassment. My mentality is surely fed by the Burgundian character of the area where I grew up: the South of Holland, Noord Braband, and specifically close to the Belgian border.

DD:  Do you have any opinions about how the media depicts women’s bodies?

LS:  In my vision, the image of the proposed ideal woman with the emphasis on the slim posture is too dominant. It appears as if Twiggy, (super model from the 60′s) as the ideal image is so frozen that different shapes are unimaginable. The result is that many women, and men also by the way, feel terrible in and with their body.

Taartmadamem

Taartmadamem-Cake Ladies

DD:  Do you think that Holland has a more accepting attitude towards diversity of body size for women than The United States?

LS:  This is a hard question for me to answer. In many TV images of the American people you may conclude that obese shapes are very accepted, they are depicted many times without a sense of shame. When talking about Dutch people,  the example of my friend in the pastry shop, is no exception when it comes to train of thought of the average Dutch person. Holland’s reputation as a very liberal place made up predominantly of free-thinking individuals can best be taken with a grain of salt.

DD:  Where can people find out more about your work?

LS:  Of course my website but also through the galleries that represent my work. (Their contact information is also found on the site). Additional information can be found at http://www.troostenlief.nl/as well.  Other than that I’m pretty active on Facebook, There I have many followers who enjoy my almost daily updates. My posts are of course laced with the creative concoctions that flow  from my mind and hands…unstoppable.

And unstoppable Lia seems to be!!!  I hope you enjoyed reading about Lia. I love how she used art to express her feelings about how a proposed trip to a pastry shop was thwarted because of potential weight bias. What started out as a “joke”, perhaps to cheer up her friend, resulted in a series of paintings showing big beautiful women (Dikke Dames) happily enjoying their cakes free of guilt or shame.  What do you think?  Do you know of any artists writers, musicians who use their creative expression to depict diversity in body positive images?  Please share!!!

Til Next Time!

Dr. Deah

**OTHER NEWS!!!  ON OCTOBER 25TH IN OAKLAND CALIFORNIA***  PLEASE JOIN US FOR THIS ONE DAY EVENT:   NEW TOOLS OLD OPPRESSION   I will be presenting along with: Sonya Renee Taylor, Performance Poet – Keynote on Weight Stigma by Dr. Deb Burgard – Diverse Experiences of Weight Stigma: A Panel moderated by Jessica Wilson – Expressive Arts Activities led by Dr. Deah Schwartz – Embodiment Explorations facilitated by Fall Ferguson – A Fat Flash Mob Experience with Juicy D. Light   Location: James C. Irvine Foundation Conference Center, 353 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, Oakland, CA 94612  *Registration deadline: Monday, Oct. 20, 2014*
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16. October 2014 by Dr. Deah
Categories: art therapy, Blogging, Body Acceptance, Body Image, Body Positivity, Dr. Deah, HAES®, Love Your Body Day, Size Acceptance, Social Media and Weight Stigma | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 comment

Dikke Dames Through the Brush of Julia Woning

Meet Dutch Artist, Julia Woning
150_liefde

Julia Woning: Love

If you have been following my blog lately, you know that in honor of Love Your Body Day, October 14th, I have been focusing on the fat/size acceptance movement in Europe and introducing you to some Dutch artists that I learned about when I was in Holland over the summer.  I have a good friend in Amsterdam who graciously offered to help me with translation. During one of our email exchanges I asked Chiel why he thought there were so many Dutch painters who created such beautiful big women in their artwork?  His response was,

 

“Probably because every Dutch person around my age grew up with a children’s show called, De Drie Dikke Dames (The Three Big Ladies)  A Sunday morning children’s show hosted by three big ladies.”

 

Dutch TV Show:  3 Big Ladies

Dutch TV Show: 3 Big Ladies

I trepidatiously checked it out and although i was only able to watch a few of the shows, it was clear that my fears were NOT validated!  This was not a show lampooning 3 fat ladies or putting them in humiliating fat shaming situations.  Now we know that Correlation is NOT Causation so there is no way to know if the 3 Fat Ladies impacted young artists (perhaps a follow up question for Susan Ruiter, etal) but I loved Chiel’s hypothesis and wanted to share it with you.  I would also like to share the artwork of Julia Woning who is a painter and a sculptor with a collection entitled Dikke Dames (Big Girls).  I asked Ms Woning the same questions that I asked Susan Ruiter and here is what Julia had to say.

 

 

Meet Dutch Artist, Julia Woning

Meet Dutch Artist, Julia Woning

Dr. Deah:  When did you realize that art was important to you as a means of expression.  Was there a specific “aha” moment; or was it a gradual process?

Julia Woning:  It was a gradual process. When I was 17 I had to choose a school. I chose a school to become a nurse. After a year i figured it wasn’t the school for me. After that I decided to go to the Willem de Kooning Academie in Rotterdam to become an illustrator.

DD:  The art work you do is so beautiful, who were some artists who influenced your style?

JW:  I am a great fan of Picasso but Rubens is the master in painting bigger sized women.

DD:  The shapes and sizes of the women you paint are big and beautiful and feel very positive. Has the subject of body acceptance or size acceptance been a part of your work intentionally?

JW:  Yes, but not intentionally. I love the round forms of the body and the bigger shapes give me more space to paint patterns and give the paintings more texture, I like it when my paintings have a lot of texture.

DD:  Why do you choose to do paintings of big curvy women?

JW:  Because of the space i have when I paint bigger women, also because i really like the look of the figures, the idea behind them is that they are always happy and joyful.

Music by Julia Woning

Music by Julia Woning

DD:  Do you have any opinions about how the media depicts women’s bodies?

JW:  Yes, In the media there has to be more variation than a size 0.  In magazines, advertisements, television shows, and movies diversity is a must. Everybody is beautiful in their own way ( in their own size).

DD:  Do you think that Holland has a more accepting attitude towards diversity of body size for women than The United States?

JW:  No, I think that some people, wherever they live, will always have a rude opinion about bigger sized people. The people that do have a negative opinion are the ones that have to change their attitude. But nobody has a problem with big women in art, at all.

DD:  Where can people find out more about your work?

JW:  My English website www.juliawoning.com

DD:  Do you have any questions for me or anything else you would like to add?

JW:  My big women don’t have any faces.  This is because i want them to be anonymous. Its about the atmosphrere and the impression they make, they’re not cartoon figures.

chocolatecake100x100juliawoning400_resized

Chocolate Cake

I hope you enjoyed meeting Julia Woning!  I find her paintings whimsical and joyful and am hoping to visit her gallery next year!! Do you have any artists, musicians, or writers that embody size positivity in their work?  Please let us know! In the upcoming weeks I will be sharing the works of several other Dutch artists and two activists from the UK!

 

 

 

Til next time,

 

Dr. Deah

 

***OTHER NEWS!!!  ON OCTOBER 25TH IN OAKLAND CALIFORNIA***  PLEASE JOIN US FOR THIS ONE DAY EVENT:

 

NEW TOOLS OLD OPPRESSION

 

I will be presenting along with: Sonya Renee Taylor, Performance Poet
- Keynote on Weight Stigma by Dr. Deb Burgard
- Diverse Experiences of Weight Stigma: A Panel moderated by Jessica Wilson
- Expressive Arts Activities led by Dr. Deah Schwartz
- Embodiment Explorations facilitated by Fall Ferguson
- A Fat Flash Mob Experience with Juicy D. Light

 

Location: James C. Irvine Foundation Conference Center, 353 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, Oakland, CA 94612  *Registration deadline: Monday, Oct. 20, 2014*

 

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14. October 2014 by Dr. Deah
Categories: art therapy, Body Acceptance, Body Image, Body Positivity, Dr. Deah, End Fat Talk, HAES®, Love Your Body Day, Social Media and Weight Stigma, Weight Stigma | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dutch Treats for Love Your Body Day & Breast Cancer Awareness Month

The Art of Susan Ruiter
One of Susan Ruiter's Paintings

One of Susan Ruiter’s Paintings

Each year I take great pleasure in helping to spread the word about the National Organization for Women’s (NOW) Love Your Body Day campaign.  (This year it is on October 14).  Of course in “Dr. Deah’s Hollywood” every day is Love Your Body Day !  Women and men, girls and boys can live their lives in harmony with their bodies and appreciate them for all of the marvels they accomplish for us each and every day!  In “Dr. Deah’s Hollywood” the norm is accepting that variety in our bodies is as magical as the variety we find in the natural shapes and sizes of other creations of Mother Earth.   But sadly, that is not yet the reality for most people for a variety of reasons.  One of NOW’s primary reason for the toxic body hate that infects so many of us is the media and the visual images they use that dictate not only the importance of physical beauty but a narrow definition for what is considered beautiful.  This definition typically does not include people who are “too fat” with the criteria for “too fat” being an impossible standard to attain without engaging in dangerous and unhealthy lifestyle choices regarding food and exercise.  And lest we think this is just an American obsession, we don’t have to look very far to find that this mandate of thinness has crossed the borders into other continents as well.  But along with the oppression comes the rebellion and in my opinion there appears to be a wonderful trend of size acceptance activism also crossing into other parts of the world.

In my recent post, Oceans Aweigh, for the Fierce Freethinking Fatties website I wrote about the Fat Acceptance Movement in Europe and had the pleasure of introducing the readers to Gisela Enders, founder of the fat acceptance group Dicke e.V. in Germany.  Gisela reminded me that although Europe is a single continent each country within Europe is a unique, separate entity and she couldn’t speak for all European organizations that are challenging the cultural pressure on women to be thin.  And so, with that in mind I began a project to seek out and interview people throughout the world (starting with Europe) who are involved in promoting a diverse representation of body types as positive whether it be through their artistic expression or political activism.  Needless to say what started off as a summer trip to Europe and a speck of curiosity has now snowballed into a treasure hunt for me as I find more and more people who are working at changing paradigms and helping people feel better about themselves.  So over the course of the next few weeks, in honor of Love Your Body Day, I will be introducing you to some inspirational women doing wonderful work in the UK and in Holland.  Today I would like you to meet Susan Ruiter, an artist in Holland.

Displaying  .jpg

Susan Ruiter with one of her Big Beautiful Women

Dr. Deah: Hello! I saw your wonderful work in the Galerie van Eijck over the summer. I am fortunate to be able to visit Holland in the summers for the North Sea Jazz Festival but the rest of the year I live in California and write a blog about body image and size and fat acceptance.  I was wondering if I could do a short interview with you about your work for my blog?  I look forward to hearing from you and hope you say YES! Thanks for your time!

Susan Ruiter:  How nice that you come to Holland every year and enjoy it so much! Maybe next year you can visit my studio (near Rotterdam).

Dr. Deah:  I appreciate your invitation and would love to!  And thank you so much for taking the time and participating in this interview.  If you don’t feel like answering all of the questions, I understand.  Time is a precious commodity for all of us these days so please feel free to choose which of these questions you would like to answer or if you have something else you would like to say/share with us about your path as an artist please feel free to add it.

Q1:  One of the hats I wear is as an Art Therapist.  When did you realize that art was important to you as a means of expression.  Was there a specific aha moment; or was it a gradual process?

A1:  It was a gradual process. I was, from an early age, engaged with creating clothing and art. The style that I am making now was gradually formed. I have been painting these ladies now for 14 years.

Q2:  The art work you do is so beautiful, who were some artists who influenced your style?

A2:  Thank you! I am most inspired by the world famous artist Ferdinando Botero from Colombia. Only I use round shapes for the colorful ladies and my paintings are always cheerful.

Q3:  The shapes and sizes of the women you paint are big and beautiful and feel very positive. Has the subject of body acceptance or size acceptance been a part of your work intentionally? Why do you choose to do paintings of big curvy women?

A3:  Why curvy women? My whole life I love to draw and paint people. The preference for women is because they have beautiful curves. A lot of women have beautiful curves somewhere. I like to emphasize them, In a positive way. The women in my paintings are cheerful and positive in life. It is very important to be happy with yourself.

Q4:  Do you have any opinions about how the media depicts women’s bodies?

A4:  I think it would be good to show more, well-dressed, fuller women in the media.

Q4a:  When you wrote that you think it is good for people to be happy with themselves and that the media should draw fuller well dressed women, Do you see yourself as defiant or radical because you are challenging the images that are usually shown of women?

A4a:  No, I absolutely do not see myself as a radical, but I think that a more realistic picture of society should be displayed. Whether you’re big, small, slim or full.

Q5:  Do you think that Holland has a more accepting attitude towards diversity of body size for women than The United States?

A5:  I can not really give my opinion on that. I think that it is becoming more accepted in Holland. There is more attention for it, even in the clothing industry. There is a difference between beautiful shapes and obesity. It is very important to pay attention to your health.

Q6:  There is some research that shows that sometimes an obese person can be healthier than a thin person.  Have you heard of anything that supports that theory at all?

A6:  Of course, heavier persons are not necessarily unhealthy and there are many unhealthy thin people. Think about smoking, alcohol, etc.. For all these risk groups, special attention is important. It is important that in every person, any size whatsoever, there is something beautiful and does not need to be distracted by the image that the media (often) displays. Self-confidence is one of the best things someone can have.

Q7:   Where can people find out more about your work?

A7:  People can find information about me, my work and exhibitions on my website www.susanruiter.nl or my Facebook Page  

Q8:  Is there anything else you would like to add?

A8:  Almost all of my work consists of original paintings and are constructed with high quality acrylic paints and mediums on heavy linen. There are a few screen prints for sale. This makes my paintings quite scarce and is each painting unique.  Three weeks ago I opened my own gallery with new studio space!  To celebrate this new beginning I created a number of works that acknowledge Breast Cancer Awareness month, my Pink Ribbon Collection!   These will be auctioned off through my website.

Thank you so much Susan.  Your work is important and adds some much needed joy to the world!  I look forward to visiting your new gallery this summer!

 

 I hope you enjoyed my “chat” with Susan Ruiter.  I find her paintings absolutely delightful, what do you think?  In the upcoming weeks I will be sharing the works of several other Dutch artists and two activists from the UK!

If you know of anyone you would like to let us know about please share!!!

Til next time,

Dr. Deah

***OTHER NEWS!!!  ON OCTOBER 25TH IN OAKLAND CALIFORNIA***  PLEASE JOIN US FOR THIS ONE DAY EVENT:

NEW TOOLS OLD OPPRESSION

I will be presenting along with: Sonya Renee Taylor, Performance Poet
- Keynote on Weight Stigma by Dr. Deb Burgard
- Diverse Experiences of Weight Stigma: A Panel moderated by Jessica Wilson
- Expressive Arts Activities led by Dr. Deah Schwartz
- Embodiment Explorations facilitated by Fall Ferguson
- A Fat Flash Mob Experience with Juicy D. Light

Location: James C. Irvine Foundation Conference Center, 353 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, Oakland, CA 94612  *Registration deadline: Monday, Oct. 20, 2014*

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09. October 2014 by Dr. Deah
Categories: art therapy, Body Acceptance, Body Image, Body Positivity, Dr. Deah, HAES®, Love Your Body Day, Obesity, Size Acceptance, Weight, Weight Stigma | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 comments

Oceans Aweigh (This is a cross post of my FFFinal Blog for the FFF website)

gisela enders

This is my FFFinal blog post for FFF, and needless to say it isn’t easy for me to say goodbye. So you may notice a bit of rambling in this post because I want to try and squeeeeeeeze in as much as possible!

My reasons for leaving are entirely due to time constraints. There are just not enough hours in the day/week/month for me to sustain my private practice, my own blog, monthly schmooze-letter, family obligations, and the volunteer work that comes from my involvement in several professional organizations. This is not a new dilemma for me … I have had a refrigerator magnet in my kitchen for years begging for someone to please,

stop me

Continue Reading →

30. September 2014 by Dr. Deah
Categories: ASDAH, Blogging, Body Acceptance, Body Image, Body Positivity, Dr. Deah, Dr. Deah's Calmanac, HAES®, Love Your Body Day, Size Acceptance, Social Media and Weight Stigma | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Body Respect: An interview with Drs. Linda Bacon and Lucy Aphramor

Blog Tour BadgeAnyone interested in health, weight, and wellness will find value in Lucy Aphramor and Linda Bacon’s new book: Body Respect:  What Conventional Health Books Get Wrong, Leave Out, and Just Plain Fail to Understand about Weight. Whether you are already a proponent of the Health at Every Size® approach, on the fence, or convinced it lacks merit, you are doing yourself a disservice not to read this book from cover to cover. The authors manage to combine their separate voices into one as they deliver the latest most up to date research on the efficacy of HAES®, the importance of a weight neutral approach to wellness, and why we need to give up ineffective fad diets in order to change our natural body types. Bacon and Aphramor resist the temptation of weighing their points of view down in too much rhetoric or “preachy” diatribes and opt to share their research and insights in a casual conversational style. After reading the book, I was delighted to be able to pose some questions to Lucy and Linda about Body Respect and I would like to share their responses with you!

Interview with Lucy Aphramor, with support from co-author Linda Bacon

Q: What would you tell someone who knows nothing about what Body Respect is about, and what would you tell someone who is already familiar with HAES and are wondering why they should read this if they already read Linda’s first book, Health at Every Size?

A: People come to HAES through different routes. Those who have come across HAES as an answer to a lifetime of failed dieting often know HAES through the personal rewards of being at peace with food and our bodies. These readers may be familiar with Linda’s first book and the self-care aspects of HAES covered in detail there. Her fan mail attests to this being life-changing and it offers HAES as a turning point to the emotional havoc wreaked by body shame. It’s an invaluable “how to” for people wanting out from the misery of dieting, teaching mindful eating, enjoyable movement and self-acceptance robustly supported with science.
For others, the appeal of HAES is that it offers a way to bridge this compassionate self-care with attention to social justice. This framing of HAES puts our relationships – with self, other, society and environment – to the forefront when talking health. Now we can help people make sense of how life circumstances influence health outcomes. These readers may be familiar with Lucy’s Well Now course that constructs HAES as a deep movement and will recognize concepts such as allostasis, relational nutrition, active embodiment and binary thinking.  In short, Body Respect embraces the three pillars of HAES that support personal change around food, fitness and size acceptance and shows how these apply within a framework that has equity and respect as cornerstones.
Another key difference between the books is their length. Body Respect is intended to be a short, accessible guide, great for quickly getting people on board with HAES. Turn to Linda’s first book for more background storytelling.

Q: Do you have a favorite part of the book?

A: Skip right through to the end section and the story of Janet going to see her HAES nurse practitioner, Billie. You really get a sense for the combined power of compassion and good science in action. The capacity of compassion to move people towards self-care speaks for itself in this vignette. Moreover, we get a feel for how the ethos of non-judgment is fostered by Billie’s approach. First, she helps Janet take her emotional knowing and her other embodied, and everyday life experiences seriously. Second, she draws on the science to arrive at a more accurate, and holistic, explanation of high blood pressure which allows her to offer a response that is more relevant. This response surfaces oppression as a health variable, leading Janet to new insights that help her make sense of her condition and potentially impact her friends and family. This is empowering in the true sense of the word; it offers hope and vision for political action to address inequity. By contrast, the nurse practitioner who treats Janet from a weight-centric view, while just as committed to patient welfare and professional integrity, ends up along a trajectory of blame and shame as the only explanation she can imagine for Janet’s continued raised blood pressure is non-compliance with lifestyle change recommendations. The frustration on both sides is palpable, and the harm occurs directly, through missed opportunity and in the terrible sequelae of silencing and disempowerment that maintain the status quo.

Q: Are you working on any other publications that you would like to let people know about?

A.  We’re glad you asked and yes, we’re excited to be working on two further collaborations. One is a revised version of Linda’s first book, updated with new data and behind-the-scenes stories, and presented more as a step-by-step how-to. The book will be easily adaptable for therapy or support groups.
The second is tentatively called, Eat Well: For Yourself and for the World, which delves deeply into nutritional science with chapter headings much along the lines of a typical undergraduate dietetic textbook. No prizes for guessing for some of the things that make it different from comparable mainstream books are a weight science chapter from a HAES perspective, plus attention to sustainability. We’re also concerned with how oppression directly affects individual metabolism and therefore contributes to avoidable discrepancies in health outcomes from conditions misleadingly referred to as “lifestyle” diseases. And it also moves more consciously to use a relational and embodied framework to talk about nutrients and bodies and how we make food choices rather than the reductionist and prescriptive framework commonly adopted in nutrition and dietetic books.

Q: Where and when can people purchase Body Respect?

A.  First try your independent local book seller … Failing that, it’s now available in all the “usual places” including Amazon. Our website provides links to the various vendors. There’s also a link for educators considering it as a textbook supplement for adoption.  The link for ordering a review copy can be found on Lucy and Linda’s website.

If anyone would like to share their impressions of Body Respect, please feel free to do so in the comments section.

Weight Stigma Awareness Week is coming up on September 22nd.  To find out more about it CLICK HERE.  In honor of WSAW, anyone who orders Dr. Deah’s Calmanac during that week from my website will receive a free refrigerator magnet with the Sassy Size Acceptance Slogan:  “My only weight problem is YOUR problem with my weight!  My only weight problem

Til next time,

Dr Deah

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17. September 2014 by Dr. Deah
Categories: Aphramor & Bacon, Body Acceptance, Body Image, Dr. Deah's Calmanac, HAES®, Obesity, Size Acceptance, Weight, Weight Stigma, Weight Stigma Awareness Week | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SIZE SIGHS

In case you missed the news, on August 19th a new Scooby Doo video came out that has created quite a stir in the arenas of body acceptance and media messages about beauty.   It should come as no surprise that a cartoon can be a vehicle for sending messages about fat shaming, and body image. In fact, they have an illustrious history of  fat jokes and reinforcing negative stereotypes of fat people by endowing lazy, gluttonous, stupid, and pathetic personalities to the fat toons. (Wimpy, Fred Flintstone, Homer Simpson, etc.) With the exception of Bouncing Boy, super heroes were all predominantly “perfect” physical specimens and the thinner cartoon females were presented as superior and prettier.  I still vividly remember how envious I was of Wilma Flintstone’s body when I was a kid. Can you believe that???  My body hate was so enormous that I was jealous of a cartoon!!!! And had I been younger when the Scooby Doo cartoons hit the screen, I

Jealous of a Cartoon!

Jealous of a Cartoon!

probably would have been jealous of Daphne, the thin, popular, sexy, redheaded member of the Mystery Gang whose beauty overshadowed the more brilliant but stockier spectacled nerd-chick, Velma. But things have changed a bit since my childhood.  When Disney’s Epcot Center’s exhibit Healthy Habits attempted to fat shame kids via the new digital technology; it was protested so vehemently that the opening of the exhibit was postponed until they made some major changes. And now the appearance of Scooby Doo:  Frankencreepy has been met with more Scooby Boos than Scooby Yays and not just from the size acceptance community or fat-o-sphere, but in the mainstream media as well. The cartoon in question is based on the storyline that  Velma has inherited a castle from her great-great-uncle Dr. Von Dinkenstein. The gang gets cursed by the bad guy and each one loses their most valuable possession. In Daphne’s case, she loses her “vixenesque” figure by going from a size 2 to a size 8. The sighs over her size are heart wrenching wails of despair…what could possibly be worse in her life than this??? But as you can see in this clip, the size 8 is portrayed as something closer to a size 28.  Not that the number per se matters. The point is clear that she is horrified that she is no longer thin and equates her fat body with losing “her looks.” Ragen Chastain author of the blog, Dances with Fat, describes this brilliantly in her blog post, Scooby Dooby Don’t where she points out that this mind set of Daphne’s reinforces the notion that if you are fat, you can not possibly be attractive in any way. And this lack of beauty is tantamount to apocalyptic horror! For Daphne, the fat and the fat alone is enough to be the WMD of her universe. And here is where people have divided into two camps of reactions to the flick. The Scooby Booers are questioning why the writer, whose intentions may have been completely admirable, chose to use a fat body as a symbol for the curse of ugliness and superficiality.  One quote that has been making the rounds about this aspect of the story is by Tom Burns who writes the blog, The Good Men Project,

“It’s sad to think that my daughter can’t even watch a cartoon about a dog solving mysteries without negative body stereotypes being thrown in her face.”

The Scooby Doers at Warner Bros. explain that because Daphne learns that her appearance isn’t the most important thing in her life and her attachment to her looks is really superficial, then viewers will walk away with that message.  Other supporters who are not affiliated with Warner Bros., are asking the naysayers to

Velma's "babe bod"

Velma’s “babe bod”

lighten up because at the end of the day it is just a cartoon. And I really want to agree with them. But I can’t. What I can say is that the stereotyping of bodies isn’t confined to just fat bodies.  Why isn’t anyone making a big deal about Velma’s new bod? When she loses her logical sane brain and becomes a mad villainess, her body morphs into a stereotypical “hot babe”.  Isn’t that an inappropriate body image message to be sending? Yes it is and in the Scooby spirit of full disclosure, I haven’t yet watched the whole movie, so I can’t weigh in with complete validity…I did watch several clips of the movie including this trailer which triggered another reaction from me re: body stereotypes.  Here is the clip, see if you can guess what I found troubling. Did you catch it?  In the trailer it seems absolutely fine for Scooby and Shaggy to binge eat on cookies and talk about how hungry they are because they haven’t eaten in twenty minutes. I know it is out of context, it’s just a trailer…but the feeling I got was that it was cute, adorable, and funny that they have such insatiable appetites.   It’s fine for them to constantly eat and be obsessed with food because it doesn’t show up on their bodies as fat. They can celebrate their natural size and honor their natural appetites because there is no weight gain.  How different would those food scenes be if the characters were drawn as fat? In the end, I would like to take an optimistic view and hang my hat on the hook of progress. The mere fact that The Daily News, The Examiner, Yahoo Health, Today Health, Entertainment Weekly, Common Sense Media, Huffington Post, and several other mainstream media sources are questioning the presence of fat shaming in Frankencreepy is a step in the correct direction. I would love to hear some of your thoughts about this.  Do you notice more of a mainstream awareness and/or distress about the body shaming messages in our entertainment media?  Do you think a big deal is being made out of nothing? Do you think that this may be a good vehicle to teach the concept that over attachment to superficial appearance is not a great choice? Til Next Time! Dr. Deah:  Author of Dr. Deah’s Calmanac HWW-fitwoman-badge-largeWEGO_Health_GuestPin_Badge_png_2014wego badge 2illuminating-blogger-awardblogging-badge

23. August 2014 by Dr. Deah
Categories: Dr. Deah, HAES®, Size Acceptance, Social Media and Weight Stigma, Weight, Weight Stigma | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 comment

Managing the August Effect…Again

I originally wrote this post in 2012 and have decided to post it again for two reasons.  The first is that I have recently been managing a series of difficult and time consuming family challenges and have not had time to devote to blogging.  The second is I am about to have a book reading/ book signing event at A Great Good Place for Books in Oakland, California on July 31st and thought I would give some of my more recent blog subscribers a sample of what I may be reading from the August chapter of  The Calmanac.  So if you are experiencing a Deah ja Vu fear not…you may have read this post before!

The August Effect 

For a month that starts off with National Clown Week, followed by National Smile Week and culminating with American Dance Week (I am not making this up!) one may think the August Effect would be one of laughter, grins, and celebration.  And for many it is. But August is also a month of transition. Depending on chronological age and developmental stage, some of us are finally feeling that summer has taken root and are allowing ourselves to relax and embrace the different pace that summer brings.  For others, the clock indicating summer’s end is ticking louder and louder.  In the past, Labor Day marked the end of summer and the return to school predictably occurred after that final holiday weekend.  But now many schools re-open the second or third week of August. Depending on the individual, this may elicit a range of reactions including:  excitement, anxiety, relief and or loss.  One thing is true for most everyone…at some point in August, for you or someone you know, change is in the air!  And change, is not easy for everyone.  Whether it entails moving off to college for the first time, starting a new grade, or re-negotiating your daily schedule back to non-summer mode, it can create challenges for those with body image issues and/or eating disorders.  Insecurities about fitting in to a new environment may trigger feelings of being out of control.  And  it is not uncommon that some people feel anxious when confronted with transitions.  One way some of us attempt to manage this disequilibrium is to focus more on body dissatisfaction and/or use food as a way to self-soothe and gain a sense of control.

A TIP FROM TURTLES AND SNAILS

 

Turtles and snails are just two creatures that carry their homes with them where ever they go.  They don’t change who they are, based on where they are or what others expect of them. They are symbols of moving slowly and methodically. One helpful strategy to successfully negotiate the August Effect is predicting the feelings associated with the upcoming changes by asking the following questions:  What stays the same no matter where you go?  What can remind you what your strengths are? What proactive steps will help you manage your anxiety?

In my opinion, let’s take some advice from the turtles and the snails…we are NEVER too old for a transitional object.

In my latest book, Dr. Deah’s Calmanac, I offer a step by step description for creating your own “grown-up” transitional object for times when we feel we are losing our center or our “home” due to changes in our environment or routine.   But you may already have something that you just haven’t identified.  Is there a word or a phrase that keeps you centered when you feel you are losing your sense of self?  Is there a photo, figurine, or piece of jewelry that reminds you to breathe, focus on the positive, and stay present when you are in stressful or unfamiliar situations?  Of course human support systems are invaluable and having someone you can call or write to is a great way to manage overwhelming feelings; but having something that is not impacted by cell phone reception or internet connection is much more reliable and helps to build self-sufficiency.

The upcoming changes that late summer and early fall often bring does not have to mean an inevitable relapse, resorting to old habits, or re-introducing negative thought processes especially if you have a strategy to address the situation.  One plan that can be helpful is when you are making your check list for school supplies, or returning to work task list etc., is to take a moment and add these two items:

  •   Predict potential challenges that may be triggered by upcoming transitions.
  • Identify your personal transitional object and channel your inner turtle snail…Not to avoid the situations by retreating into your shell, but by knowing you are home where ever you are.

Til next time,

Dr. Deah

Please SAVE THE DATE!!!  On July 31 at 7:00 p.m. I will be doing a reading and book-signing at A Great Good Place for Books, 1620 La Salle Ave. Oakland, CA. Please come join me for laughter, refreshments, and support independent bookstores!  Seats are limited so email me at drdeah@drdeah.com and I’ll reserve a space for you!

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26. July 2014 by Dr. Deah
Categories: Binge Eating, Body Acceptance, Body Image, Body Positivity, Dr. Deah's Calmanac, Eating disorders, Size Acceptance, Weight | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

FATigued: Finding a second wind in body acceptance.

I am tired. The endless intrusion of diet mandates and body hating messages that wheedle their way into my world via billboards, television, radio, movies, magazines, books, blogs, trolls, and the insidious drive by shoutings has left me fatigued.  Considering we are in beach-body-season, this is to be expected…and I know that because this is my area of personal and professional concern I am perhaps exposed more than most…but I just have to admit that sometimes I hit the wall and feel depleted and hopeless.

The last time this happened, the final straw was when I picked up a financial magazine to read on an airplane.  I specifically rejected the fashion mag rags that were there and thought I was making a safer choice.  My deflector shields down, I opened to the table of contents and saw a feature article about weight loss.  It wasn’t even a metaphor about financial excess or money health, it was about dieting and fat hate…in a financial magazine…
I hit the wall.
But I bounced back!bouncing-boy

 

Until now.

This time it was an ad for toe fungus.  Yes toe fungus.  Toe fungus and yoga to be exact.  No joke…toe fungus and yoga.  Those of you who have been reading my blog for a few years now, know that I have written about my history as a yoga gal living on an ashram, playing tablas at the Satsangs and how much I enjoyed it.  I have also written about my frustration with how competitive yoga has become; and how it has gone from a personal practice to a way to improve your sex life by bringing your flexible Asana poses into the bedroom.  I have a list of fat-friendly yoga teachers in the resource section of my website because I still believe that yoga can be wonderful despite it’s downward dog spiral in the media that is touting it as the best weight loss method EVER!!! And the publicity hasn’t hurt the yoga industry.  There is now a yoga studio on every corner everywhere I go these days.  Yoga is omnipresent.   So when a commercial came on while I was watching a ball game on TV with people in a yoga class, that didn’t surprise me.  I figured it was an ad for weight loss via yoga and sighed.  I almost wish it had been.  Instead, the ad shows one of the young, thin, white women (the most publicized prevalent demographic of yoga students) in the class decides that everyone else in the room is focusing on her fungal phalanges.  In a class where everyone is supposed to be facing front and/or paying attention

to their breathing, this poor woman is completely obsessed with her toe fungus. Talk about your wandering mind!  Her self-consciousness about her toes was so intense that the very tuned-in yoga teacher senses her exasperation and goes over to her and solves her problem with a bottle of anti-toe fungus serum. Big stretch…bigger than the Ardha Matsyendrasana or Half Lord of the Fishes Pose!  From meditation to medication…everything is now back to order.  And then the tag line,

“Notice the pose not the toes.”

I cracked.  Yup…that was my last straw.  Is everything in our world about looking perfect?  Okay, even if I gave the ad the benefit of the doubt that there is an important connection between yoga and toe nail fungus, wouldn’t it be about the concern of spreading it to the other people in the class?  After-all, being barefoot is common at yoga studios.  Wouldn’t she have seen a doctor?  From Yoga-esque self-less-ness to Fungus Spreading selfishness, she should have at least been wearing shoes!  GAAAAHHH!!!!!  (I told you I cracked!)

But I am better now.  Because today I read four wonderful body positive articles that gave me hope and infused me with just enough energy to rally, write this blog, and head off to my son’s college graduation.  My hope is that by sharing these links with others who need a second wind, we can continue to generate positive conversations out in the world and lessen our combat fatigue.

The first is about tennis player, Taylor Townsend and her coach Zina Garrison and how Townsend, with Garrison’s help, learned to accept her body and appreciate her skills.  My favorite quote from the article is,

“Garrison, who also struggled with her weight, said that she did not want Townsend to suffer the way she did. ‘The biggest thing was just getting her to understand that she’s fine, Garrison said. ‘Everybody doesn’t have the same shape of our bodies. She’s very clear on that now.  I challenge over half of these girls out here to do some of the stuff that she does,’ Garrison said.”

Tennis Player, Taylor Townsend

CLICK HERE to read the entire article.

The next piece is by Patrick Mustain in Scientific American and its title is, “What if We All Just Stopped Trying to Lose Weight?”  My favorite excerpt from this article is,

“’I’ve heard it rightly argued that we should refrain from judging someone’s health based on appearance. For all we know, that overweight woman we see on the street might be exercising every day, eating better and may have already lost a lot of weight, and just “isn’t there yet.” I would take it further and argue that if those habits are now a part of her life, she’s already made it.  If we were to shift the conversation towards a culture of health–one that values healthy eating and regular physical activity as ends unto themselves, we may be happily surprised to find that not only are we living longer, happier lives, with less disease and fewer health costs, but also, we may need to drop a collective pant size or two. Or not. Either way, we’re better off.  Post Script by the Author:  This reads as if health outcomes were entirely dependent upon what individuals consciously choose or choose not to do. Most of the literature indicates that a vast number of complex environmental factors have far more to do with our health outcomes than our personal choices. However, the choices we make certainly come into play, and this post explores a new way to approach those choices and how we talk about them.” 

CLICK HERE to read the full article.

It’s not quite a love-hate relationship, it’s more like a love-and-sometimes-not-so-crazy-about relationship I have with Frank Bruni.  I grew up in New Yawk and Bruni was a household name.  A restaurant critic for the New York Times, we did not go out to dinner without checking in to see what Bruni thought. If they had existed back then, my whole family would have worn plastic bracelets imprinted with the letters, WWBD? Then he wrote a book about his struggles with bulimia, and in May 2011, he became the first openly gay op-ed columnist of the New York Times. All reasons for me to respect and adore Frank Bruni. But every once in a while, his fat prejudice, self-loathing, and thin worship leaks out.  One example of many is an op ed he wrote titled, Hard Truths about Our Soft Bodies.  His bias is apparent throughout the article including this excerpt,

“… Costco as much as anything else is why the land of the free and the home of the brave is also the trough of the tub o’ lard, our exceptionalism measurable by not only our G.D.P. but also our B.M.I. That’s body mass index, and our bodies are indeed massive.”

But the man has a massive reach so when his article, Diet Lures and Diet Lies calling out Dr. Oz’s obsessive promotion of weight loss scams came into my inbox, it fell into the good news category.  It worries me that Bruni, a person recovering from an eating disorder, is still as obsessed about weight loss and fat as the article indicates, but it was good to know that maybe a few people will heed his advice and reject Dr. Oz’s products.  CLICK HERE to read the full article.

Last but not least is this wonderful piece from Australia by Mike Clay and Nick McDougall titled:  Fat Pride:  The growing movement of people looking for fat acceptance.  This video featuring Kath Reid talking about her passionate involvement in the Fat Acceptance movement also includes appearances by Dr. Linda Bacon, Nick and Natalie Perkins, a cameo photo of Marilyn Wann’s book, Fatso?, and ironically comes full circle (in my world) with a wonderful testimony by Yoga Instructor, Sarah Harry.  No toe fungus amungus to be found, Sarah hits the HAES® nail on the head when she explainsthat one of the problems with linking exercise to weight loss is forgetting all of the other benefits of exercise.  The video’s closing quote by Kath Reid was just what the “doctor ordered” and snapped me out of my fungus funkus and left me free and clear with no wall in sight.

“I’m not a disease and I’m not diseased.  This is the body that I come in.  Fat acceptance led me to a place where I could be who I wanted to be…. and that was positive, and bright, and colourful, and fun. It’s a really good feeling to not hate myself.”

CLICK HERE to see the full video.  beachbody

Til next time,

Dr. Deah

Please SAVE THE DATE!!!  On July 31 at 7:30 p.m. I will be doing a reading and book-signing at A Great Good Place for Books, 1620 La Salle Ave. Oakland, CA. Please come join me for laughter, refreshments, and support independent bookstores!  Seats are limited so email me at drdeah@drdeah.com and I’ll reserve a space for you!

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28. May 2014 by Dr. Deah
Categories: Aphramor & Bacon, Body Acceptance, Body Image, Body Positivity, diets, Dr. Deah, Eating disorders, Fat Athletes, HAES®, Obesity, Size Acceptance, Social Media and Weight Stigma, Weight, Weight Stigma, Yoga | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 comments

The F Factor

My only weight problem

I recently received an email from my niece.  Some of you may remember the piece I wrote several years ago about my niece’s graduation entitled, Body of Knowledge. In the piece I wrote about how delightful the tradition of caps and gowns are in the graduation ceremony because they take away any emphasis on the student’s body and appearance and instead focus on their accomplishments.  My niece makes no secret of the fact that she thinks her Auntie Deah is a bit idiosyncratic but I know she loves me despite my wackiness and strident political views.  I also know that she continues to struggle with her own conflictual relationship with her body and learning how to feel positive about herself despite her father’s continual toxic messages that she is too fat to be loved or successful.  She holds on to her body hate like it is her job, her duty, to keep trying to be thinner even though she is a runner and physically fit and active.  She listens patiently as I go on my occasional rant about body diversity and self-acceptance and readily admits that while she agrees with the premise intellectually, she just doesn’t believe it could ever apply to her.  So after clicking on the ink to a recent Huffington Post article that she sent me, I felt a surge of hope that perhaps some of what I am doing and saying is seeping its way into her awareness; and that she can see that I am not the only one out here who is passionate about helping people, especially women, join the radical movement of loving our bodies.

Taryn Brumfitt made a splash in the social media world when she posted this atypical before and after photo.

Not Your Typical Before and After Photo
Not Your Typical Before and After Photo

 And no, the photo is not atypical because the before photo shows that she has three legs while the after photo has her sporting the more conventional two legged pose, it is unusual because the after photo shows a woman whose body is not sculpted or tanned.  The article, written by Jessica Samakow,  discusses Tarynn’s campaign to help women learn to embrace their bodies and includes this video that tells us more about the process she went through to arrive at this place.  And yes, it is a fundraiser because Ms Brumfitt is now on a mission to create a documentary about improving our body image, one woman at a time.  But I’m not blogging about Ms Brumfitt’s Kickstarter campaign to recruit donations.  That is entirely up to you. I’m blogging about this because I noticed something that really disturbed me….O.K. here is some background information first.

Recently I contributed to a fundraising campaign for another body image documentary in the making. I first became aware of Lindsey Averil’s and Viridiana Lieberman’s  film, Fatitude, on a listserv that I belong to and was asked if I was interested in being interviewed for the film about my part in the size acceptance movement.  I expressed my interest and even though my appearance in the film was thwarted by a malfunctioning camera on the day we were supposed to shoot my clip, I continued to follow the film’s progress and donated money to the project.  Similar to Brumfitt’s campaign, Averil also had a promotional trailer. 

The trailer for the film, Fatitude, was greeted with an outpouring of hate mail and vicious bigoted comments and threats directed at the filmmakers and people seen in the trailer.  (To read the specifics of the attacks check out this piece on FFF by Atchka.)  Now, I rarely get involved in responding to trolls. I don’t like giving them any attention because I feel it fans their flames of narcissism and escalates their behavior.   And this time was no different.  But then almost immediately following that incident, I participated in a Flash Mob in San Francisco. It was a joyful, body positive event organized by Juicy D. Light (my interview with Juicy can be read HERE) and was an uplifting experience for all of us.  Julie Wyman, the woman behind the documentary, Strong, is working on a documentary of the event, but in the meantime a shorter video of the Mob posted by Tigress Osborn of Full Figure Entertainment and then a longer version with interviews of the dancers, filmed by Ian Carruthers of Foolish Tree Films, was posted on You Tube.

Once again, like sharks to chummed waters, the hate comments appeared and they were horrific!

(Trigger Warning for horrific comments!)seahorse in a jar

 ”I once watched a special on national geographic about humpback whales. I think this was it actually.”

“If they keep the dancing up they might actually loose some fucking weight”

“The children were shivering, hiding in their beds, While visions of doughy single mothers danced in their heads.”

“Did they disguise the quakes by dancing on the San Andreas fault or something?”

“Disgusting. can’t wait for the smokers’ pride rally. then the paint huffers’ pride rally.”

This time I broke my rule and engaged with the trolls with a piece of my HAES® mind. But, as I imagined, it didn’t change anything and just riled them up for more discourse. I turned my energy to spreading the word about helping to fund Fatitude via my social media networking and felt a bit of satisfaction when I heard that the original fundraising goal had been reached.  But here’s the thing…I went back to the Embrace video and did a Google Search and found that Taryn Brumfitt had gotten enormous amounts of positive media attention for her brazen act of defiance and postive body image message. I was thrilled to see that she was on numerous television shows and written up in newspaper articles, all of which were quite supportive of her stance!  Not a single trollish barb to be found!  Not even one joke about how her name sounds like bum fit and or that the writer of the HuffPo article was probably sympathetic because her last name, Samakow, could be construed as bovinian in nature.  Nope, free as a bird!  So I looked at the comment section on her video. I loaded them ten at a time. Do you know what I found? Silence.  The absence of fat bashing remarks and challenges, that her video promotes the end of the world by supporting the terrifying notion that women can love their bodies, was deafening.  The most fat shaming comment of the bunch was:

  “She doesn’t look bad, seeing as how she’d just had a baby. She’s a slender woman with some sagging. Good underwear would fix that. I’m thinking this whole article is a tad inflated…but not the subject of it.”

So…why the discrepancy between the videos? The ONLY factor I can “narrow” it down to is the “fatness factor.”  Taryn is a beautiful woman in both of her photos, and granted the after photo is not a body that is typically touted as coveted in our culture. It is only in comparison to the fatter women in the other videos with the exact same message, that we can see how even in the body image movement, thinner gets the inner track to positive attention, compassion, empathy, and perhaps most important, permission to love her body.  I wish I could build a bridge connecting the creative minds behind Fatitude, Flash Mob, and Embrace.  Can you imagine how powerful that triangle would be in battling the societal belief that loving your body is good but ONLY if you still weigh in at an “acceptable” weight?

Til next time,

Dr. Deah

P.S.

Please join me for a book signing event at Great Good Place for Books 6120 La Salle Ave. in Oakland on July 31st!

Only five more days left to receive your free gift in honor of International No Diet Day when you purchase a copy of the body positive book, Dr. Deah’s Calmanac on my website !

Or, if you purchase your copy of the Calmanac from Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, FFF, or MOMTL just send me your order confirmation and I will send you your free gift.

In California, if you purchase a copy of the Calmanac, send me a selfie of you and the book with your mailing address, I will send you your free gift right away!  Offer is good until May 20th! (drdeah@drdeah.com)

Available at:  Laurel Bookstore- Oakland 4100 MacArthur Blvd., A Great Good Place for Books-Oakland 6120 La Salle Avenue, Skylight books- Los Angeles 1818 North Vermont Street, Books Inc- San Francisco 3515 California Street, Books Inc- Alameda 1344 Park Street, Books Inc.-Berkeley 1760 4th Street, Book Passage- Corte Madera 51 Tamal Vista, Lewins Books-Berkeley 2644 Ashby Ave. -

And at In Full Swing:  A plus size clothing store:  5937 College Avenue near Claremont Ave. in Oakland’s Rockridge District.

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15. May 2014 by Dr. Deah
Categories: Body Acceptance, Body Image, Body Positivity, Dr. Deah, Dr. Deah's Calmanac, HAES®, Obesity, Size Acceptance, Social Media and Weight Stigma, Weight, Weight Stigma | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trigger Theory: Dedicated to Mattie and all of our beloved pets that have passed

Trigger warning!  Talk about Trigger Warnings!

redhead girl at beachI was seven years old and playing in the Atlantic Ocean.  It was one of those perfect New York summer days, not too humid, not too hot and with the entire summer stretching out in front of me.  My mom and sister were on the beach and I was reveling in my newly earned independence having proven that I could be trusted in the waves up to waist.  I was so happy that even my goofy sun hat and white zinc Noxema™ covered nose wasn’t making me feel like being a redhead was the worst thing that could have happened to a person EVER!  I was watching the waves billowing up the skirt of my bathing suit.  Yes I was wearing one of those bathing suits with a skirt that covered my thighs but it was because it was frilly and twirly.  Years later I would choose to wear the grown up version of the skirted suit because I was taught it was my job to protect the world from being subjected to my “unsightly” body parts.  But that day in 1963 everything was perfect.  And then it got better!  I looked down and just under the surface of the water I saw a seahorse!  I couldn’t believe it! The only other place I had ever seen one was on Jacques Cousteau TV shows or maybe Captain Kangaroo or Diver Dan!  I scooped it up in the skirt of my suit with plenty of water and seaweed and ran to our blanket on the beach!

My mom was very supportive, she emptied out a jar of her “iced cawfee” filled it with ocean water and put the seahorse inside with a sprig or two of seaweed.  I promptly named it Trigger after Roy Rogers’ horse and Trigger came home with me.seahorse in a jar

For two days I fed Trigger goldfish food (our goldfish had recently been eaten by our cat…it was an interesting house to grow up in) and then I had to go to the hospital.

It was nothing serious, just a tonsillectomy.  But when I came home, my mom had great news and awful news for me.  On the upside, I could eat ice cream for breakfast, lunch and dinner!  The bad news was Trigger had died.  We buried him next to Cleo (named after Pinocchio’s goldfish…I watched a lot of TV back then) and life went on.  I didn’t think about Trigger very often over the years but when I did, it was fondly.   One day, however, in my late 30’s, I was at a family gathering.  For some reason we were reminiscing about all of the pets we had while I was growing up.  We talked about Bootsie, Cleo, Choo Choo, and Shirley Roiter’s boxer that we took care of for a summer whose name escaped all of us.  Then I blurted out,

“Do you guys remember Trigger?”

There was a moment of silence and then as if rehearsed, everyone burst into simultaneous laughter.  I was a bit confused.  I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why Trigger was so funny?

When my sister finally composed herself, she patted my shoulder and said,

“Trigger was dead when you found him.”

I allowed the news to sink in…I had taken care of a dead seahorse for two days!  Everyone else knew and they allowed me to still have my fun despite the reality that the only reason Trigger appeared to be alive and joyfully bobbing around his cawfee jar was because of the saline buoyancy in the water and the narrowness of the jar!!!

The sweetness and hilarity ignited my giggle reflex and howling with laughter I thanked them for letting me have my fun.  I glanced over towards my two year old son playing with his cousins oblivious to the commotion and said,

“Wow, we spend the first half of our lives hiding things from our kids, and the second half hiding things from our parents!”

Wine was poured and we toasted all of our pets we had loved so dearly that had brought us so much laughter and love over the years.

But why am I reminiscing about Trigger in a body positive self acceptance blog?  Because I just read a book that I wanted to review and recommend to people.  I really enjoyed the book, but when I thought about what I would write, the whole topic of triggers came up.  I grew up in a time when the only trigger I knew abouttriggerthe seahorse was either on a gun, Roy’s stallion, or my floating dead seahorse…but times have changed and now we live in a culture of trigger warnings.  I am a bit conflicted about trigger Trigger the horsewarnings.  I always thought that if something I was reading was upsetting to me I would put it down and find something else to look at.  If I happened to be in therapy at the time, I would talk to my therapist about why it upset me so…and use my reaction as material to process to gain insight.  I  never would have thought it was the author’s job to warn me that their book or article may be triggering.  They wrote, I read, I decided to keep reading or not.

On the other hand, I really like the idea of trigger warnings because they feel so caring!  Look at how the author wants to protect and take care of the reader!  It makes for a real two way communication between writer and reader and provides a safety net that may result in a reader returning to the author’s work knowing that they are protected.    But how do i know what to label as triggering?  Is there a manual out there?  Are there formulas for writers, like film ratings, with criteria for labeling something PG-13 or X rated?  Is there an online class in Trigger Theory?

All jokes aside, I am really struggling about how to write this book review.  Will I do more harm than good if I write about the book and let people know it may be triggering?  After all, I loved the book, triggers and all, and don’t want to hinder sales by writing a review that may deter folks from reading something that I found so relate-able.  On the other hand, am I shirking my Trigger Patrol responsibility if I don’t let folks know that the book contains very detailed descriptions of binges and restrictive dieting behaviors as the author shares her journey to recovery from an eating disorder?  My mind is going around in circles on this one and I could really use some advice!  In the meantime, I am opting to follow the Noodle Theory and “noodle” on this a little longer before writing the review.  I am hoping that some of you will share your thoughts about the practice of trigger warnings and any advice you have would be greatly appreciated!

Noodle on this

Noodle on this

And I am also bracing myself for any comments that come my way about having had a dead pet seahorse for two days and being absolutely clueless.  I can handle it!!

Til next time,

Dr. Deah

Remember that May 6th is International No Diet Day!  If you order a copy of the Calmanac from my website I will send you a free refrigerator magnet with the sassy slogan:  My only weight problem is YOUR problem with MY weight!  If you purchase your copy of the Calmanac from Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, FFF, or MOMTL just send me your order confirmation and I will send you a magnet as well!

If you visit any of the following California Bookstores and purchase a copy of the Calmanac, send me a selfie of you and the book with your mailing address and I will send you a magnet right away!  Offer is good until May 20th! (drdeah@drdeah.com)

Laurel Bookstore- Oakland 4100 MacArthur Blvd., A Great Good Place for Books-Oakland 6120 La Salle Avenue, Skylight books- Los Angeles 1818 North Vermont Street, Books Inc- San Francisco 3515 California Street, Books Inc- Alameda 1344 Park Street, Books Inc.-Berkeley 1760 4th Street, Book Passage- Corte Madera 51 Tamal Vista, Lewins Books-Berkeley 2644 Ashby Ave. -
And at In Full Swing:  A plus size clothing store:  5937 College Avenue near Claremont Ave. in Oakland’s Rockridge District.
lso I am proud to announce that I was selected by Sandy Ross of Body Bliss Central as one of the top positive body image blogs! Check out Sandy’s post and see the other wonderful blogs you can be reading!!

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09. May 2014 by Dr. Deah
Categories: Blogging, Body Acceptance, Body Image, Body Positivity, Dr. Deah, Dr. Deah's Calmanac, Eating disorders, Size Acceptance, Weight | Tags: , , , , | 4 comments

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