The Pros and Cons of Professional Conferences

PROS and CONS of PROfessional CONferences

pros_consAs I mentioned in my last blog post, I just returned from presenting at The Renfrew Foundation Conference.

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with Renfrew, it is the oldest residential program providing women treatment for Eating Disorders in the United States.  Over the years, it has expanded to include an extensive continuum of care as well as offering professional trainings and webinars.  It was a fantastic weekend filled with humor, hard work, networking, and learning opportunities.

For those of us in private practice, professional conferences can be a mixed bag requiring us to assess whether the benefits outweigh the sacrifices.  I single out private practitioners because when I was a student I was eligible for subsidies or received financial aid to attend professional conferences.  If I volunteered, I could attend for free and the rewards were enormous.  I became part of a supportive community that ultimately provided job opportunities after I graduated.  When I was employed as a professor at a university or working in psychiatric facilities I had financial support to attend a prescribed amount of conferences each year.  It was a win win for my employers and me as I increased my knowledge that I could bring back to my students and or patients, earned CEU’s, added professional contacts, and beefed up my C.V. (VERY important in academia) if I was also presenting at the conference.

The pros of going to professional conference as a clinician in private practice continue to be earning CEU’s, networking, learning new tools, and perhaps some exposure if you have a book or other products for sale.  There is also a lovely feeling reminiscent of a camp reunion if you are able to attend the same organization’s conference year after year.  Remember the movie, Same Time Next Year?  It is rather like that only, at least in my case, without the sex.

But one of the cons that is rarely discussed is the cost.  Yes the expenses are tax deductible, but even for the most successful private practitioner, the cost of attending a pro. con. can be prohibitive.  First on the list is the airfare followed by the hotel, and the meals.  Then membership dues which may be required but sometimes give you a discount on the registration fee, and of course the registration fees themselves.   One little know fact is that in most situations presenters are required to be a member in good standing which means paying annual membership dues to  be eligible to conduct a session.  Unless you are a keynote speaker, it is an anomaly to be paid for your time.  In plain old dollar and cents language this means having to cancel sessions with clients and then paying to present.

The reasoning behind this is not unreasonable.  Many of the orgs. are non-profit and many of the conferences are fundraisers.  The speaker or presenter is also reminded that if the conference is well attended, it can be a marketing opportunity.  (Although there are strict rules about not over publicizing your book or product by turning your session into an infomercial.)  Some conferences allow presenters to sell their products without having to pay for table space which is a wonderful perk, but practically all conferences take a percentage of sales made at the conference even if you pay for a vendor’s table.

It is rare to be reimbursed for the materials you provide for your participants and, hold on to your hats, it is common for presenters to have to pay the registration fees in order to gain access to the conference. Renfrew, by the way, is one of the rare exceptions that offers to copy the speakers’ handouts and waives the registration fees; some other orgs. give presenters a discount for attending the conference. (This paradigm is not common in all pro. cons btw…most tech industry conferences and other for profit companies compensate their speakers and even provide airfare and accommodations!) But in our neck of the woods, it can be a labor of love and sacrifice for speakers and attendees without a large amount of funding to take advantage of these fantastic opportunities and a challenge to decide which one of the many annual conferences to go to!!

But before you think this post is just an opportunity for me to kvetch about the negatives of the conference culture, I would like to underscore that one of the motivations that keeps me saying yes to attending at least one pro. con. each year are the professionals you get to meet in person and really interact with.  And as wonderful as Facebook and other social media outlets are, they don’t compare to joining old friends and new acquaintances on the dance floor letting off some steam after a day of attending sessions, filming an impromptu video, and hugging and high fiving in the hallways. LinkedIn serves a wonderful purpose by connecting people that may not have met any other way, but nothing replaces flesh and blood, in person, energy exchanging, brainstorming sessions that take place at conferences whether it be in the elevator, in line for the restroom, at the bar, or in the actual sessions themselves.  Those experiences are priceless and continue to enrich my life long after I have paid off my credit card conference expenses.


Angela Meadows and Dr. Deah in the UK

One example of this is Angela Meadows.  Similar to Fatima Parker, featured in my last blog post, Angela is also from the UK  and works intensely on spreading the word about Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size® via her company Never Diet Again and her involvement in an annual weight stigma awareness conference.  Angela also has a blog, writes for the Huffington Post in the UK AND, I may add, is doing all of this while working on her doctorate.  Angela is smart, dedicated, honest, tenacious, and has that dry wry sense of humor that just totally cracks me up.  I asked Angela to share some of her thoughts about the work she does, how she “found” FA and HAES®, and the Fat/Size Acceptance movement in the UK in general. Here is what Angela had to say.

Angela Meadows:  I think in the UK we’re lacking a coherent  FA ‘organisation’. We’re just a bunch of people of varying ideologies who think fat stigma is bad. Sometimes we accidentally meet each other on Facebook. But the major stumbling stone for making progress is the lack of an actual unifying movement. Any interaction with US-based FA tends to be on an individual level (e.g. me). On a personal level, I first stumbled across Health at Every Size  (HAES) while researching an assignment on exercise for weight loss for my MA degree in Weight Management!!!  It was a paper by Steven Blair’s group and totally blew me away. I started looking to see if anybody had done any follow-up work and that led me to HAES, and from there, Fat Acceptance. I can’t remember what books I read at the time but Ragen’s (Chastain) blog was the biggest influence I think. But my fat acceptance journey didn’t really start to become reality until my first in real life (IRL) meeting with other Size Activist campaigners, which was at my first Binge Eating Disorders Association (BEDA) conference in Philadelphia. That was the first time non-judgment became a reality to me and I realised what it could be like. From that point on, it’s just bits and pieces with the internet really being my lifeline. That’s where I become normed to happy self-accepting accomplished fat people. Not in books.

Dr. Deah:  I also asked Angela about how the FA message is received by the UK media and what she feels can be done to improve collaboration between the US and UK/European efforts in these areas?

Angela:  I don’t think we struggle too much getting heard because there are so few of us doing this here, that researchers do tend to find us via our websites and Facebook pages. But we face the same problem as you do in the U.S., we are up against a juggernaut.  As for collaboration – we can’t stop arguing among ourselves long enough to form a coherent unit, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I think a lot of people coming at it from slightly different angles in slightly different domains may well do more to create a sufficient groundswell to make a real difference. But we need to be able to come together when it’s important, rather than all this petty infighting. What was achieved re:  The Biggest Loser and the White House was a case in point. Superb activism there.

Dr. Deah: Please tell us a bit about your weight stigma conference and ways that people can contact you and keep tabs on what your are doing?

Angela:  One of the things that came about as feedback from this year’s stigma conference was, “Ok, we know there’s a problem, what can we DO about it?”  My dream would be for us all to get together and mount a proper campaign to get ‘weight’ added to the protected categories in the anti-discrimination legislation.  The stigma conference is aimed predominantly at academics and health care professionals (but mostly academics). I’d like to see more activism come out of it though. If you want more info about next year’s conference, email me at  If people want to learn more about my blog and other work that I am doing via Never Diet Again (although it isn’t particularly active at the moment while I’m studying) my website address is: I’m also on Facebook, Twitter @NeverDietAgnUK, and I blog about stigma under my own name for The Huffington Post UK.

Dr. Deah:  Is there anything else you would like to say to the readers?

Angela:  My ultimate message – fight your own fight first of all – in your own circle. Then find support from others in real life or online to help you. Form anti-stigma clusters and safe places. Keep communication channels open between your’s and other’s clusters. Perhaps we don’t need to be one big movement. We can chip away at what’s wrong from all sides. But don’t let it pass. You will never be happy and well in a world where you let others debase you. Tell people that their joke isn’t funny, that their remark isn’t appropriate. Stand up for yourself. That’s huge.Yes it is Angela, and thank you so much for taking the time, which clearly is a precious commodity in your world, to have this PROductive CONversation with us.
And some conference news to share with you:  ASDAH is accepting proposals right now for their July conference that will be in Boston, I will be presenting at the EDRS conference in California in February, and I will be the keynote speaker at the NYSTRA conference in Saratoga Springs in New York in April.  For an ongoing list of conferences check my Schmooze-letter or let me know about some that I may be unaware of by posting them on one of  my Facebook Pages or honor of Thanksgiving, I am so grateful for all of you for reading and supporting my blog!  hiddenturkeyTil next time…Dr. Deah
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25. November 2014 by Dr. Deah
Categories: ASDAH, BEDA, Body Acceptance, Body Image, Dr. Deah, Dr. Deah's Calmanac, Eating disorders, Fat Acceptance Europe, HAES®, Renfrew, Size Acceptance, Social Media and Weight Stigma, Weight, Weight Stigma | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fatima Parker: Activist Extraordinaire!

Fatima Parker

fatimaFor those of you who have been following my blog you may recall that I wrote about my summer visit to the UK and Holland. It was a delightful experience learning more about the Fat Acceptance movement that is alive and thriving in Europe.  (If you would like to get up to speed on those, I have included the links at the end of this post).  Today I would like to continue my series of interviews by introducing you to one of the most prominent activists who works tirelessly and passionately to speak out against size bigotry and promote the concept that people can be happy, healthy, successful, and vital members of society even if they are fat.  I asked Fatima Parker several questions about the work she is doing and she graciously agreed despite her amazingly busy schedule! (See Done Done Post!) I have no doubt that as you read her words you will be able to feel her devotion to the importance of promoting size acceptance on a global level.  Here is some of what I learned from Ms Parker, an inspirational/motivational public speaker; who promotes self-esteem, healthy living, fat acceptance, positive body image, and beauty diversity.

Dr. Deah:   Could you give us a brief timeline of the FA movement in Europe?  For example when did it first arrive?  Were there people associated with starting the FA in Europe?  What were the goals of the movement, etc.?

Fatima Parker:  The FA movement in Europe has been active since about 1989, on a narrower scale (no pun intended) than it is now. It started with just a few small associations by individuals, who had personally experienced the pain of fat stigma.  They wanted to support fat people and fight against all aspects of size discrimination in society, in different parts of Europe, such as  Allegro Fortissimo in France.  Thanks to the internet, the FA movement has spread far and wide today, and is much bigger and more active internationally, especially on line, because of FA sites, Facebook pages, Twitter, Instagram, Tumbler, Pinterest, and You Tube.  There are also hundreds of E-zines and blogs, on fat fashion, fat beauty pageants, fat health, fat art, anti-fat discrimination activism, and fat talk Radio and TV shows.  Because of these opportunities for outreach I have accumulated a great variety of international followers, in all areas of the plus size movement, especially plus size beauty, fashion, activism, health and art.  Some of the places that are now part of my international community include:  the USA, Brazil, South America, Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Russia, Estonia, Holland, Poland, Hungry, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Greece, Turkey, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Africa, the Caribbean, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China, Iran, and of course the 22 nations of the Arab world, where 15 years ago I founded the first and only voice of the Fat Acceptance movement in that region.  Fatima Parker

DD:  How much influence or interaction do you think there is between the FA movement in  Europe and the American FA movement? How can we build more collaboration between them?

FP:  The internet, especially Facebook and Twitter, play a big role in connecting both movements, but the obstacle of the language barrier remains a major issue; not only for Europe but all over the world.  This definitely is slowing the spread of the FA movement and cross Atlantic collaboration on a larger scale.
That is why I have many pages on Facebook in different languages to spread the FA message and reach more people.

DD:  What are the major obstacles you face in having your point of view publicized or understood?

FP- Fat is “unhealthy”is an idea ingrained as “truth” in the minds of people everywhere, which makes any discussion about FA an uphill struggle.
Still, I manage to spread the message of FA against all the odds, and shed the light on the harm of fat phobia, stigma and the thinness hysteria on the nation’s psyche regardless of shape or size.  My You Tube channel has over a 110 videos, of some of my international Radio and TV interviews about fat, health, and fashion.

DD:  I have to say that I am a huge fan of Fatima’s You Tube channel.  Her interviews are always compelling. It takes a great deal of bravery to go into the proverbial belly of the beast with a message that the world is determined to reject and Fatima consistently emerges with great poise and frequently victorious in getting her message across.  If you haven’t seen her in action you are really missing something wonderful!!

DD:  Are there any books that are/were influential in the FA movement in Europe?

FP:  The language barrier yet again, stops American FA books from reaching many readers in Europe and elsewhere.  There is a new positive move by some writers in France, who are working on fat positive books and magazines, they are still not sure how their works will be received by the public, given the negative reputation being fat, still has in France.

DD:  How did you first become aware and interested in the issue of FA?  People, Books, Movies, etc?

FP:  I have always had the idea that the stereotypes about fat people were not entirely true; I did not see them in myself.  My health was fine and I did not fit many of the ‘FAT’ labels.  I also discovered likeminded people on line in 1999/ 2000.  People like Dr. Deb Burgard, Marilyn Wann, Dr. Linda Bacon, Kelly Bliss, Susie Gillis, Susan Huddis Koppelman, Pat Ballard, Peggy Elam and many more Fat Acceptance activists, therapists, researchers, and writers, who confirmed my ideas, supported me and invited me to join their FA groups.  I learnt a great deal about the FA movement from these people and was inspired to dedicate the last 15 years of my life, self-financing and single-handedly working hard, on spreading the message of FA, in many parts of the world.  I am happy to say that this included the Middle East and North Africa, where I founded the first and only FA movement community that has lead to great changes, and noticeable improvement in thousands of people’s lives.

DD:  You have several Facebook pages.  Do you see each page as fulfilling a specific niche in spreading the message of FA?  And other than Facebook, are there other ways people can find out more about what you are doing?

FP:  I have Facebook pages in different languages, one in French, one in (Italian, Portuguese and Spanish) and one in Arabic, plus my beauty diversity and positive healthy body image page and group, and a self-esteem and healthy life style group.  They all have their own followers that “like” and share what I post.  There is also my wall and fan page, both of which have many followers and their own FA pages from all over the world, who “like”, translate and share my posts with their readers.  Many describe my pages as a sanctuary from the fat hating world, a place where they find inspiration and support.  Many get uplifted by the fat positive articles and messages I share; or get inspired by the beautiful plus size fashion on my pages.  I receive many messages from women everywhere thanking me for inspiring them to be more confident, and helping them discover ways to and transform their fat shamed and buried beauty and self-worth.  For a complete list of Fatima’s Facebook pages CLICK HERE.  Giving fat women a place on the map of beauty in the Arab world, was amongst my achievements in the Middle East, a major Lebanese TV Network was so inspired by my message  “Fat women are beautiful too,” that they organized and produced the first Arabian Fat Queen beauty pageant, on live TV, and invited me to be a judge!  The show went viral, the international press was surprised to see fat women honored and glamorized on a major TV channel.  The idea that “Fat women are beautiful too.”  Is now being slowly taken up, by many in the region.

DD:  Anything else you would like to say about the importance of building an international Fat Acceptance community?

I stand ParkerFP:  Fat hate is globally felt; we all suffer in different languages, from the same pains of fat shame, stigma and discrimination.
We still have a long way to go, but thanks to social media, the international fat acceptance community is growing slowly and steadily closer together.
We must unite, persevere, and continue the fight for fat acceptance, the lifesaving movement that was started by brave pioneers in the USA many decades ago.
Without their courageous and visionary work, we would not be where we are today.

This is where our interview ended, but I have a feeling that hearing Fatima’s answers may inspire questions of your own or the urge to answer some of the questions yourself! If you have any books, inspirations, people, organizations, or personal stories about your introduction into the fat/size acceptance movement either in Europe or in the US, please feel free to share them with me and your fellow readers.  Still to come I will be sharing answers from another activist from the UK, Angela Meadows, and Dutch artist Ada Breedveld.  ada breedveld

Til next time!

Dr. Deah

Links to other posts about FA in Europe:

***Do you know someone who is already talking about their New Year’s Resolution as a magical moment to begin unhealthy restricting dieting regimes?  Take a proactive approach and pick up a copy of Dr. Deah’s Calmanac before the end of the year!

The Calmanac is available at my website:

Amazon:  Dr. Deah’s Calmanac, Barnes & Nobles online, More of Me To Love

And at these California independent bookstores:  A Great Good Place for Books, Oakland, (Montclair Village) Books Inc. Alameda, Books Inc., San Francisco, Lewins Books, Berkeley, Diesel Books, Oakland, and Skylight Books, Los Angeles!

And if you are shopping for sizes over 14 visit In Full Swing on College Ave. in Oakland!!  Great Clothes and they carry The Calmanac!


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17. November 2014 by Dr. Deah
Categories: Beauty Diversity, Blogging, Body Acceptance, Body Image, Body Positivity, Dr. Deah, Fashion, HAES®, Self Esteem, Size Acceptance, Social Media and Weight Stigma, Weight, Weight Stigma | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 comment

Mind the Gap

Fall into The Gap.  If you read those words and in your mind you heard a baritone singing them then you remember the old commercial jingle for The Gap.  And for years I did my share of falling into The Gap and Old Navy with relatively little trauma.  But things are different now.  For what ever reason the powers that be have decided that I am too short and too fat to “fall into” The Gap and Old Navy in my neighborhood (or any other hood) and purchase jeans in my size.  I have to purchase them on line which means i can’t try them on with other items and piece together an outfit.  Now before I continue any further, I have to acknowledge that I know this is a first world problem.  I am lucky to have access to clothing and to a computer so I can at least work my way around the sizeist speed bumps between me and my denim dreams; but it doesn’t change the fact that my size is considered an outlier in the world of The Gap jean sizing.  If I were taller it wouldn’t be a problem.  If I we’re thinner but still short it wouldn’t be a problem.  But this specific combination of height and weight banishes me from shopping at The Gap. So I mind the gap…I mind the gap big time.

For those of you who have spent time in the UK, you will recognize the phrase, mind the gap from the metro or the underground.  It is a cautionary message written on the platform calling your attention to the space, aka gap, between the platform and the train doors.  This is a gap that no one wants you to fall into and so you are reminded of its existence visually and via frequent announcements. It is very sweet of the transit system to care so much about their customers and so NOT New York! In New York if you are stupid (or drunk) enough to step into the space between the platform and the subway door, then you deserve to pay the consequences; whether it be a twisted ankle or dealing with the now inconvenienced and disgruntled commuters behind you.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not dissing New York, I grew up there.  It’s just a different milieu and they save their underground signage for yelling commands like, “NO SPITTING” leaving it completely up to you to remember to mind the freaking gap or you are an idiot.

But I digress, I was talking about the size discrimination issues I have with The Gap and it doesn’t end with my not being able to shop at their brick and mortar stores.  You see even if I choose to shop for my size on line I have to pay a penalty for being too short, too fat, and too female.  Yes you read that correctly.  I am not only “wrong” for being a short fat person, but I am even “more wrong” for being a short fat woman!  And this is where being an activist is important.  It is one thing to work on body acceptance in terms of my own personal feelings about my body.  But when I go out into the world, feeling grand about my bod and collide with rampant discrimination and unequal treatment it becomes evident that things also need to change in the world around me.   I have the responsibility to get

Mind the Gap

Mind the Gap

politically active in what ever way  possible.  So here is a shout out to Renee Posey who wrote a petition on that I just signed and want to share with all of you.  The opening of the petition is as follows:

“Every woman knows how hard it is to find a good pair of jeans:  a pair that is the right fit at the right price. That’s why I was shocked when, during a recent visit to Old Navy’s website, I noticed that they were charging $12-$15 more for plus-sized womens jeans — but not up-charging jeans for “big” men. If they are charging plus-sized women more to cover the cost of the fabric being used, then why aren’t they doing the same for men?”

The letter to The Gap that we are being asked to sign is:

“To:  Gap Inc.  I respectfully ask that you stop charging plus-sized women more for clothing than you do straight-sized women and men and “big” sized men. This overtly discriminatory pricing policy indicates sexism and sizeism on the part of Old Navy that is unfair to women of size and unacceptable to me as a consumer of Old Navy’s products. Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.”

Click on this link   if you feel like adding your name.

And while you are at it, here are two other recent articles about sizing for women that have been making the headlines lately.  One is Calvin Klein’s recent foray into the world of plus sizes…and yes, size 10 is a plus size and the photo you are looking at  below is a plus sized Calvin Klein model. CLICK HERE to read more about this.


Plus Size?

Plus Size?

And Victoria’s Secret perfect body campaign is also riling people up.
So please take the time and advocate for a saner more accepting world in whatever way you can.  A world where size diversity is celebrated and not penalized. A more inclusive world where it is the norm to help some of us remember to “mind the gap.

Til next time,

Dr. Deah

P.S. I am so honored to be presenting at The Renfrew Foundation Conference on November 15, 2014 in Philly.  Click here for more information about the conference.

PPS.  Next post I will be writing (finally) about the incredible work being done in the UK (other than the kindness shown in the underground) by Fatima Parker and Angela Meadows!

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11. November 2014 by Dr. Deah
Categories: Body Acceptance, Body Image, Body Positivity, Dr. Deah, Fashion, Size Acceptance, Social Media and Weight Stigma, Weight, Weight Stigma | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Done Done

I love the show Law & Order…I’m old school though, I like the original more than the spin offs.  But even the spin offs kept the Done Done sound effect. You know the one…the Done Done sound as scenes change? What is it about that Done Done sound that is so…resonant?  It is recognizable by so many people.  Odds are pretty good that if you say, “Done Done” to someone and use the same tonal quality that you hear on the show, he or she will get the association.

Recently there have been many folks on the Listserves that I am subscribed to sharing the unthinkable with each other.  I will not mention their names at the risk of breaking any confidentiality codes; but these are brave, powerful, competent women, accomplishing massive amounts of tasks, admitting that they are, Goddess forbid, tired.  Our To Do lists continually grow and occasionally they will be checked off to zero; but by morning (what happens during the night that adds things to the To Do list?) we arise to a whole new list of things that need to be Done Done. i am womanIn previous posts I have kvetched about my FATigue and shared some of my own concerns regarding my tendency to over-commit to pro bono activities and you, my devoted readers, have been supportive every step of the way.   But I don’t like to complain…venting and expressing feelings is one thing.  I am a firm believer in EXPRESSION over REPRESSION; but griping without problem solving is just not my style, so THIS week I found a way to “turn my frown upside down!”

THIS week I found a whole new use for the idea of Done Done.

THIS week I experimented with a new tracking system and transformed my To Do List into my Done Done List.
I realized that by constantly focusing on what I haven’t done yet resulted in feelings of stress and anxiety. Even worse it tapped into an old belief system of not being or not doing enough.  Does that sound familiar to anyone?  The quest for perfection is behind so many of our struggles with body image and was often planted in our psyches during childhood.  And sometimes those feelings can re-emerge despite the amount of therapy and mindfulness we have used (or use) to maintain a healthy sense of self. But noticing what I have gotten Done Done reinforces a healthier Retiredaspect of my self-esteem.  The part of me that knows that I am working hard, doing my best, and am enough the way I am right now.  It helps me remember that each day has been filled with accomplishments and self care. (Yes I even mark down when I have taken breaks, soaked in the tub, or watched an episode (or two) of Law & Order. Of course I still write things down that I need to remember on my palm pilot because I don’t want to forget an important deadline or appointment and my memory just isn’t what it used to be.  

My Palm Pilot

My Palm Pilot

In looking back over the past week, I think the experiment was a success. It was helpful for me to focus on what I got Done Done and savor my accomplishments as opposed to my lack of enoughness. So stay tuned for Dr. Deah’s personalized Done Done note pads soon to be available on my website!  (I can’t wait to write that one down on my Done Done list!

And keep your eyes open for upcoming posts about the wonderful artwork of Ada Breedveld and activism work of Fatima Parker and Angela Meadows.  No need to put it on your To Do List though, you can just put it on your Done Done List after you have read your latest copy of Tasty Morsels.

Til Next Time,

Dr. Deah

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24. October 2014 by Dr. Deah
Categories: Blogging, Body Acceptance, Body Image, Dr. Deah, Dr. Deah's Calmanac, Self Esteem, Size Acceptance | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 12 comments

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 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-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 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: , , , , , , , , , | 3 comments

Dikke Dames Through the Brush of Julia Woning

Meet Dutch Artist, Julia Woning

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

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.


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






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 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



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


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

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