BUZZ OFF: Part Two of Tackling the Buzz Kill!

busybrainThis is the second part of a three part series on one approach to treating the clinical diagnosis of Beeinurbonnettopathy (soon to be included in the DSMXXXV).  If you didn’t read part one you may want to do so by clicking here.
We last left our protagonist Cora (not her real name) learning how to vocalize the chatter in her head about how she compares herself to others and how much energy that takes. We also saw that the persistent act of this “measuring” herself against others keeps her from noticing things in her world that may NOT be worth missing. Here is another video example of how many of us use comparisons to establish our self-worth (or lack of).

One of the focuses of the Calmanac Approach™ is CALMing and replacing the buzzing in our minds.  It isn’t easy. It takes practice. Calculating our self-worth based on comparing ourselves to others is something we were taught to do from a very early age.  Here is what Cora’s next session was all about:

For last week’s “homework” I asked Cora to draw or collage a timeline of when she started noticing that she was feeling “less than” others in terms of her body, appearance, or any other skill or personality trait.  I asked her to be as specific as possible and to also include what she remembered about her thoughts and actions before the comparative thinking kicked in.  I also explained that these were most likely very early memories and may present themselves in smells, sounds, and quick images and not to worry about whether they made sense or not.  Just find a way to express them on paper and bring the timeline or a summary of it to our next session.

The focus of doing this exercise was primarily to point out what was replaced by these new learned behaviors.  Typically, and Cora was no exception, we start off living our lives in concert with our bodies and what we do.  We are playing, we are spontaneous, we are mastering skills, and learning what we like and what we don’t like. We are seekers, explorers, and for the most part integrated people.  There isn’t a sense of a mind body split. We are one.

Once the comparisons are introduced and we feel we have to be as good as or better than another person or standard; THAT is when a separation begins to happen. We no longer set our own goals or standards for feeling competent and happy.  Learning becomes more competitive instead of about growth. And negative feelings about our bodies and sometimes food begin to grow like weeds in our self-image and the buzzing in our bonnets gets louder and louder.

As we walked around the lake for our Walkie Talkie Session, Cora spoke about her memories before the comparisons took over. Her affect fluctuated as she rediscovered the sense of excitement about what she could do now if she didn’t compare herself to others and anger at how she had lost track of herself in the process.  As Cora continued, she realized that she appreciated so much more about her body than she knew; and as we walked, she vocalized gratitude for what was uniquely her.  She remembered some of things she enjoyed doing as a child that she stopped doing because she was told that only thin girls could do that.  She talked about how there was no middle ground in her family for accomplishing something. For example, she loved to dance. But if she wasn’t going to be able to be in a professional dance company there was no reason for her to take lessons just to enjoy herself.  The same was true for gymnastics.

As we finished our walk, Cora noticed how much less than last week she had compared herself to the other “lakewalkers”and that she felt better about her body and herself as a whole person.  This active practice of gratitude had replaced the buzzing even if it was only temporary.  (Remember, it takes practice to change old ingrained habits.)  For homework I suggested she try to find a way to to engage in one of the things that she had loved as a child but stopped doing because of the intrusion of competitive and comparative thinking.  We parted ways both of us feeling excited about what was to be discovered next.

So what was the next step with Cora?  Find out in my next post of this series…The Bee’s Knees.

Bee Here Now!

Bee Here Now!

Til next time!

Dr. Deah



This week is Healthy Weight Week. It is not a week about losing weight to find the healthy weight for you. It doesn’t even really focus on weight per se.  In fact, it needs a new name.  But until that happens, here is the mission of HWW and each day there is a focus for participation that you can find HERE.  Today’s focus (January 20, 2015) is learning about the Slim Chance Awards. These are symbolic awards presented to the worst weight loss ideas of 2014.  It is infuriating to see the desperate measures that companies promote in order to boost their profits and eradicate the horror of having a single fat person living joyously on the planet.  I know it takes sanity points to read about some of these procedures and products, but what I do is transform my feelings about them into an opportunity for activism. I write letters to the companies, or programs. I blog about them. I do what I can to expose them for what they are…fraudulent and bigoted.  So perhaps you can do the same, it feels very empowering!

January: 28th:  8 am Eastern / 9 am Central / 10 am Mountain / 11am Pacific HAES® University: Bringing a Weight-Neutral Message to Campus with Dawn Clifford, PhD, RD, Patti Watkins, PhD, Rebecca Concepcion, PhD CLICK HERE for more info.

February 5-7:  Please join me as I present with an outstanding line up of professionals in the fields of Eating Disorders and Expressive Arts Therapies at the EDRS Conference. This year’s theme is: Creative Methods Get Spotlight on Treating Eating Disorders:  New tools bridge art and science in eating disorders treatment. Creative Methods–from ancient wisdom traditions to modern expressive therapies.

February 13th is Natural Day.  Sanah Jivani started this campaign when she was 16 years old as a way for all people to celebrate themselves without feeling the need to change something about their bodies or appearance in order to fit in or be considered “beautiful.” Watch this moving video to find out more about Sanah’s project. It is worth your time and it is NOT a coincidence that it is  happening the day BEFORE Valentine’s Day!

And speaking of body acceptance, redefining beauty, and moving on to a different attitude about body types, check out this fantastic article by Clarissa Sebag Montefiore about dancing. Imagine the CHUTZPAH!!!  A fat woman dancing?????  “The Horror The Horror!”  Here is the link: 

Toby Burrows

Toby Burrows

February 14-28th:  I will be one of 32 speakers participating in a two week webinar series called, Brave Body Love organized by Michelle Hess.  Bringing Women from All Over the Globe Together in an Epic Online Event to Awaken Our Collective Feminine Power and discuss body image.  CLICK HERE

Feb 22-28th: National Eating Disorders Awareness Week:  CLICK HERE for more info.

Two Conferences are calling for proposals!

The Association of Size Diversity and Health (ASDAH) is having its conference in Boston, MA from July 17-19, 2015. Call for proposals ends on January 31, 2015.  This year’s theme is:  Difficult Conversations: Building Relationships in the HAES® Community and Beyond.  CLICK HERE for more information.

The Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA) is calling for speaker proposals for their 2015 Conference to be held in Hollywood FL, Nov 5-7.  The full RFP can be found at Annual Conference | Binge Eating Disorder Association.  The call is open between now (1/19) and February 28.HWW-fitwoman-badge-largeWEGO_Health_GuestPin_Badge_png_2014wego badge 2blogging-badgeilluminating-blogger-award

21. January 2015 by Dr. Deah
Categories: art therapy, ASDAH, BEDA, Body Acceptance, Body Image, Body Positivity, dance therapy, Dr. Deah, Dr. Deah's Calmanac, drama therapy, Eating disorders, EDRC, EDRS, Guilt Free, HAES®, Healthy Weight Week, Men and Eating Disorders, movement therapy, NAAFA, NEDA, recreation therapy, Self Esteem, Size Acceptance, Weight, Weight Stigma | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Bee in my Bonnet!

fighting-beeIt’s like a bee hive out here in the world of body image and eating disorders right now!  Not a happy hive where all the critters are humming along doing their apian choreography.  More like one that has just, out of the blue, been rammed into by a chain saw and now all of the occupants are trying to regain their equilibrium.

You see the New Year brings with it all of the body shaming associated with resolutions that are disguised as “good for my health” but are in fact rooted in misconceptions about health and body size.  In addition, the number of ads bombarding us seem unavoidable if you happen to be a sports fan, or a cop show fan, or a cartoon fan, or well, a fan of  watching any TV at all.  And to make matters worse, some of the ads for weight loss corporations are becoming more confusing as they opportunistically “plagiarize” the language of body acceptance and body love; but if you read the fine print it is so you can lose weight and finally “be yourself and be happy.” Adding to the chaos are the articles about new ways to attain your New Year’s Resolution weight loss goals.  These siren like calls to the cult seem to be materializing at an exponential rate in newspapers, magazines, E-zines, and radio news broadcasts. And there is no limit to what interventions are being proposed!

In the NAAFA newsletter, Peggy Howell, writes,

“They” are at it again, or should I say still? “They?” Take your pick: the pharmaceutical industry, the diet industry, the FDA, the federal government and the list goes on. All these entities appear to have devoted themselves and their resources to finding a way to wipe out fat; whatever it takes. No matter how ridiculous the procedure or device may be…”

And I couldn’t agree with her more.  Just this week alone I read and or heard of about seven new gyms and diet programs available, a new FDA approved weight loss drug, and a new Bariatric surgery called POSE that is designed for folks who just want to lose 25-75 pounds because, as one person says,

“I’m just tired of wearing a size 14 bathing suit. I want to wear a 6 or 7 like everybody else….”

I’m not sure where this woman lives, but in my world the average bathing suit size is 14 and up.  But if we look more closely at her comment,  we see that one of the culprits is the habit of comparing our bodies to other people’s bodies.  We are coached to do this from a very young age until it becomes a persistent buzzing bee in our bonnets, distracting and seemingly unstoppable.

“Comparison is the source of all unhappiness.”
~Soren Kierkegaard

When I meet with a new client on one of my Walkie Talkie Sessions* (for those of you unfamiliar with Dr. Deah’s Walkie Talkies scroll down for a description) one of the first things we address are the comparisons.  As we walk around Oakland’s Lake Merritt, I have them say out loud what their inner voice is saying each time we pass someone walking in the opposite direction.  People are a bit hesitant at first because these inner voices can be cruel, catty, mean, judgmental, etc.  Rarely are they shared out loud…they are secret bees in our bonnets.  But I remind the client that I am not there to judge; and this is just data for us to comb through over the course of therapy. What soon becomes clear, however, is that almost all of the comments are based on comparisons.  A typical scenario is as follows:

Cora (not her real name) on her first Walkie Talkie session verbalized her inner voice’s comments about the people walking or running around the lake.  “I wish I looked like her.  Her butt is nicer than mine. I’m not as fat as her, thank god! I wonder if I could ever look like her.”  Even her comments about children were, “I wasn’t that fat when I was a kid, That poor kid is so fat, no one will love her.”  After a while Cora said, “Oh my god, I haven’t even looked once at where I am walking! I am completely obsessed with the comparing!”  We went on to discuss how dismissive the voices are of who she is now and the lack of appreciation for her body.  And then as she reviewed each statement she was struck with how toxic the train of thought was.

As we finished our walk, I assured her that she could work on changing the voices in her head. That the negative messages are fertilizer for growing body hate.  Then the hate becomes fertilizer for the voices, and before you know it you’re brain is a buzzing hive  that has lost its equilibrium and it feels as if your body image is in the hands of those around you.

Before I end this post, part one in a three part series, I want to be clear that I am NOT here to judge anyone’s decisions about what they want to do with their weight loss goals.  If people want to lose weight so be it.  But I would like them to be certain that their choice isn’t based on the concept that being thinner makes anyone a better person than someone of any other size. I would like them to know that their choice should not be contingent on adopting dangerous exercise regimes or extreme restricted dieting, taking new UN-researched diet pills, or undergoing the latest fad in gas-trick bypass surgery that has no longitudinal studies re: side effects and efficacy.  I would like to see the practice of negative comparisons replaced with positive self-affirmations no matter what they weigh at any given time.

So what is the next step with Cora once we vocalize the inner voices?  More about this in my next blog post, BUZZ OFF!

*For those of you unfamiliar with my Walkie Talkie Sessions, the short version is: instead of sitting in an office and talking about body image I walk with my clients so there are more opportunities to integrate the mind and body.  The walks are not aerobic, they are weight neutral meaning that they are not part of any weight loss program.  They are to introduce the concept of pleasurable physical movement in a safe accepting situation.

Til next time!

Dr. Deah

P.S. Here are some upcoming dates in January and February that you may be interested in!  They are also posted on the calendar on my website and on my Pintrest Board, “Upcoming appearances”.

Here is the link to an article I wrote for the magazine Happier Healthier Women. It is a short monthly guide with tips to manage body image challenges throughout the year.

January 11th:  HAES(r)ed and Confused:  On going group led by Jessica Wilson, MS, RD,  in Oakland, CA.  CLICK HERE for more information

January 13th:  I will be presenting on a panel discussing Ragen Chastain’s new book, The Politics of Size (I wrote one chapter in this two volume book that is filled with amazing author’s contributions). The panel is at Santa Clara University. CLICK HERE for more info.

January: 28th:  8 am Eastern / 9 am Central / 10 am Mountain / 11am Pacific HAES® University: Bringing a Weight-Neutral Message to Campus with Dawn Clifford, PhD, RD, Patti Watkins, PhD, Rebecca Concepcion, PhD CLICK HERE for more info.

The third week of January in the U.S. and the fourth week of January in Australia is Healthy Weight Week

And the Slim Chance Awards were just announced (the worst weight loss ideas of 2014)!

February 5-7th:  Eating Disorders Recovery Support Inc. (EDRS) is having their annual fundraising conference. I will be presenting on Friday. CLICK HERE for more info.

February 13th: Created by Sanah Jivani,  Natural Day is just what it sounds like. A day to celebrate ourselves as we are and to promote self love and eradicate bullying!   CLICK HERE to see a video of Sanah explaining more about ND or CLICK HERE for the website.

February 14-28th:  I will be part of a two week webinar series called, Brave Body Love organized by Michelle Hess.  More information on this event will be included in my next blog post.  CLICK HERE for info about Ms. Hess.

Feb 22-28th: National Eating Disorders Awareness Week:  CLICK HERE for more info.

BEE here now!

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09. January 2015 by Dr. Deah
Categories: ASDAH, Body Image, Body Positivity, diets, Dr. Deah, Dr. Deah's Calmanac, EDRS, HAES®, Healthy Weight Week, NAAFA, NEDA, Size Acceptance, Weight, Weight Stigma | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 comment

Lose Wait Now! Ask me How?

My only weight problem of us have heard it.  Many of us have said it.  And sadly, the majority of Americans are still doing itIt is waiting.  Waiting to live our lives until our scale hits the magic number.  Waiting to live our lives until we finally wriggle into the coveted dress size or effortlessly slip into (or out of) the “perfect” pair of jeans.

I’ve written about it several times, my favorite renditions being Please Hold which gives a glimpse into my experience with learning to manage my wait.  And again in  Spare Change where I discuss a former a patient’s “aha” moment of leaving the waiting room and moving forward with her life.

But as a baby boomer, I have become acutely aware of my aging process.  This has been a slow revelation because there seems to be a glitch in the time space continuum.  I can’t explain it, but I know it is there.  For some inexplicable reason, (where is Carl Sagan when you need him?) the generation ahead of me and the one behind me are all getting older.  In my son’s case, like some real life version of the song Circle Game, the years have indeed flown by and now MY boy is firmly planted in his mid-twenties. My dad is 90, and I haven’t aged a day since college.  Unfortunately my body doesn’t always agree with my perception and has ways of telling me that I am not getting or staying any younger.  It whispers to me through my knees, wrinkles, and cynicism that, “Time, indeed, waits for no one.”

Well, if time isn’t waiting for me, then I am no longer willing to squander this opportunity to live my life fully and without apology.

Clearly, I need to lose some wait.

I know I am not writing about anything ground breaking or especially profound but I feel compelled to remind people that it is time to take your wait problem seriously.

Why now?

Frequently we establish these waiting patterns early in our lives when we are more impressionable to other people’s feedback and more invested in pleasing those around us.  If we get the message that we don’t look good enough or are too fat to go swimming, scuba dive, dance, date, travel, or express our sexuality, then frequently we begin our “bucket” list of what we will do when we are acceptable and permitted to dive into new experiences.  Even if we were daring non-conformists in our youth, we may have been chastised for our audacity! We were shamed and embarrassed and this may have squelched any future attempts to try new things unless we had a guarantee that no one would laugh at or admonish us for crossing the line.

But as we grow older we tend to let go of some of our concerns about how others see us and gain some insight that even if we manage to attain that perfect size or number on the scale we will never look like the models in the magazines; who by now are half our age.  There is a freedom in aging that many people write about and that I didn’t believe until I turned 50 and adopted the motto,“f*#k you I’m 50!”  Honestly after half of a century of living, does someone have the power to dictate what I can or cannot do because of what I look like? More importantly, why do I give others that much power over what I do and how I feel about my body? I know this sounds easy, and it isn’t.  It takes practice, it takes courage, and it takes WILL power.

Why now?

Why not now?  Seriously, when was the last time you took an inventory of your belief system?  How much of the waiting is habitual at this point?  What would happen if you took a quiet moment to reflect on the things you have wanted to do in your life that you wouldn’t let yourself do because of your negative body image and see if they still interest you?  Some may be old and no longer seductive, others may be newer additions that just fell into the instinctual knee- (or no) jerk reaction.  As you review your waiting list, consider whose voice it is telling you that those things are off-limits?  Look at the situation from the present moment; in the here and now.  Are the risks still as scary as they once were?  Are you still willing to deprive yourself? I found that the voice telling me to wait had no real power over whether or not I chose to listen to the other voice that was beseeching me to stop waiting for a time that may never present itself.

It’s too bad in some ways that it took me as long as it did and I’m certainly not going to beat myself up for not having done this sooner.  I wish things in our culture were less stigmatizing and shaming towards those who do not fit into the narrow definition of beauty.  Even more, I wish that beauty was not such a valuable currency in our world. There would be so many juicier lives being led and fewer people obsessing about their weight and dieting.  But whatever age you may be, I ask you to consider walking out of the waiting room and making arrangements to fulfill some of your dreams, wishes, and goals.  If it’s too scary to go it alone, there may be someone who has been waiting to find someone else who was ready to stop waiting!  You never know…the important point is that you get moving…now.  Small mindful steps are better than no steps. And remember that you, not Jenny Craig or Nutri-Anyone are in charge of your Wait Management Program.

Kiss my Ass…I’m just fine the weigh I am!

So…what are you waiting for?

Til next time,

Dr. Deah

The Calmanac just turned 1 ! If you missed it for 2014, great news!  It works for 2015 also!!!

Happy Birthday Dr. Deah's Calmanac!

Happy Birthday Dr. Deah’s Calmanac!

Dr. Deah’s Calmanac: Your interactive monthly guide for cultivating a positive body image.  (FOR A PEEK AT THE BOOK CLICK HERE)

For signed copies order on my website: Dr. Deah’s Calmanac
You can get unsigned copies online at:
In San Francisco:  Books Inc.
In Alameda:  Books Inc.
In Berkeley:  Lewins Books, Berkeley
In Los Angeles:  Skylight Books
If you are shopping for sizes over 14 visit In Full Swing on College Ave. in Oakland!!  Great Clothes and they carry The Calmanac!

23. December 2014 by Dr. Deah
Categories: Body Acceptance, Body Image, Body Positivity, diets, Dr. Deah's Calmanac, End Fat Talk, Self Esteem, Size Acceptance, Social Media and Weight Stigma, Weight | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 comment

Eating Disorders Recovery Support: It’s Not sELFish to Ask for Help

Elf Promotion
Elf Promotion

Elf Promotion

I am reluctant to use my blog for sELF-promotion.  Sure, I always include links to where to buy my book, it is an author’s obligation these days to market their books in any way possible.  But rarely do I use my contacts to ask for money.

But before you click off the page, I am NOT asking you for money…

I’m asking you to share information about the the upcoming EDRS conference.  I am now a board member, for Eating Disorders Recovery Support (EDRS) a non-profit organization that provides treatment scholarships to Californians with eating disorders, while promoting community awareness and professional education and collaboration. Being elected to sit on the board is a huge honor but it is a volunteer position (see my previous blog about how I am trying to learn to say, “no” and feel free to be my sponsor in Volunteeranon). But in the meantime I am working tirelessly to let people know about the EDRS conference in February in the Bay Area.  You see, this annual conference is where EDRS raises most of the money it uses to provide treatment to folks who desperately need help with Eating Disorders.  The myth is that only upper middle class white girls suffer from eating disorders with unlimited insurance and deep family pockets to cover the costs. But eating disorders knows no socio-economic boundaries and now impacts males and females at a younger and younger age; AND, often re-emerges in women who may have been in recovery for years, when they go through menopause. So the need is there and the money is needed!


Remember in my blog post about the Pros and Cons of Professional Conferences I wrote about reasons to attend or not attend conferences as either a speaker or participant?  Well this is one of those PROfessional CONferences where the PROs outweight the CONs and I’m asking you to let any therapists, doctors, clinicians, nurses, expressive arts therapists, nutritionists, dieticians, HAES(R) professionals, or anyone that may benefit by attending and who may not know that this conference is coming up, to REGISTER NOW. They will gain valuable knowledge, CEU’s, resources, contacts, and warm fuzzies knowing that just by attending, EDRS will be able to continue its vital work.  Seriously, without a successful conference this year, there is a good chance that EDRS will not be able to continue next year.  And that would be a huge loss.

If you are interested in volunteering to help or contribute in any other way CLICK HERE and explore their website.


Get out your pens or computers!

Spread the Word!!!

The Intersection of Art and Science in Eating Disorders Treatment

Exceptional Opportunity for Northern California’s Mental Health Community

From the United Kingdom, Hawaii, and points in between, leaders in eating disorders treatment will share their expertise with professionals and families for three days in Santa Rosa. More than a million Californians struggle with eating disorders, according to conservative estimates.

The conference—The Intersection of Art & Science: Integrating Creative Methods into the Treatment of Eating Disorders—explores the recovery role of dance, movement, art, writing, yoga, visual arts, expressive arts, and other modalities.  There will be at least one session on Health at Every Size (r).  Hundreds of mental health providers and family members are expected to attend and learn effective ways to address eating disorders, among the most complex and misunderstood mental illnesses.

Top Speakers include:
Lucy Aphramor R.D. Ph.D. Pioneer of HAES® in the UK National Health Service
Ovidio Bermudez, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Eating Recovery Center in Denver
Carolyn Costin, MA, MEd, MFT, Founder of Monte Nido Treatment Center in Malibu
Anita Johnston, Ph.D., Director of the Anorexia & Bulimia Center of Hawaii
Ann Kearney-Cooke, PhD, director of the Cincinnati Psychotherapy Institute
Adrienne Ressler, LMSW, V.P., The Renfrew Center Foundation in Philadelphia

There will be more than 20 additional in-depth presentations—many by leading Bay Area eating disorders experts. (INCLUDING Dr. Deah!)  :-)   I added that, I didn’t make the flyer.)

This annual conference is the largest fundraiser for Eating Disorder Recovery Support, Inc.’s scholarship fund. The nonprofit EDRS provides treatment scholarships to Californians with eating disorders, while promoting community awareness and professional education and collaboration.

What: 9th Annual EDRS Conference. The Intersection of Art & Science: Integrating Creative Methods into the Treatment of Eating Disorders
When: February 5 – 7, 2015
Where: Hyatt Vineyard Creek Hotel and Spa, Santa Rosa, CA
Register at:

EDRS President Dr. Barbara Birsinger emphasizes the dual role of the Conference—education and fundraising: “We have increased our scholarship funds more than forty-fold since our first conference in 2005. Over the last few years, we’ve provided nearly 100 grants to help individual Californians get professional eating disorders treatment. For more information, contact Dr. Birsinger at


Til next time!

Dr. Deah Schwartz

The Calmanac just turned 1 ! If you missed it for 2014, great news!  It works for 2015 also!!!

Happy Birthday Dr. Deah's Calmanac!

Happy Birthday Dr. Deah’s Calmanac!


Check out my BOOK!, Dr. Deah’s Calmanac: Your interactive monthly guide for cultivating a positive body image.  (FOR A PEEK AT THE BOOK CLICK HERE)

Available at my website: Dr. Deah’s Calmanac

Amazon online

Barnes & Nobles online

Laurel Bookstore, 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!

About Dr. Deah

Dr. Deah Schwartz, clinician, educator, and author specializes in Expressive Arts Therapies, Eating Disorders, and Body Image. Deah is the author of Dr. Deah’s Calmanac: Your Interactive Monthly Guide for Cultivating a Positive Body Image and co-author of the NAAFA award winning Off-Broadway Play, Leftovers, and its companion DVD/Workbook Set. An outspoken “New Yawker,” Dr. Deah believes that it is everyone’s responsibility to point out and eliminate size discrimination even when it means battling the mainstream media, and even more challenging…family members! To find out more about Dr. Deah’s work or to book a session visit her website at

Categories: Aphramor & Bacon, art therapy, ASDAH, BEDA, Binge Eating, Body Image, Dr. Deah, Dr. Deah’s Calmanac, Eating disorders, EDRC, HAES®, Men and Eating Disorders, NEDA, Renfrew, Self Esteem | Leave a comment | Edit →

– See more at:

20. December 2014 by Dr. Deah
Categories: art therapy, ASDAH, BEDA, Body Image, dance therapy, Dr. Deah, Dr. Deah's Calmanac, drama therapy, Eating disorders, EDRC, EDRS, HAES®, Men and Eating Disorders, Mindful Eating, movement therapy, NEDA, recreation therapy, Renfrew, Self Esteem, Yoga | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Curtain Up! Female Bodies on the American Stage: Enter Fat Actress

Jennifer Scott Mobley's New Book
My favorite professor at UNH! Carol Lucha Burns, author of Georgia, A New York Story

My favorite professor at UNH! Carol Lucha Burns, author of Georgia, A New York Story

I was a theater major at the University of New Hampshire for my B. A., a creative arts education major for my M. A. and a therapeutic recreation/expressive arts therapy major for my M.S. at SFSU.  It wasn’t until I sank my teeth into my doctoral program at USF, that the gig was up. Despite the years of rigorous academic studies that I completed, most of my classes were experiential and textbooks just an occasional irritation.

     “Why read books on ‘how to act’ when we could just be on stage learning by doing,”

I would whisper to my friend Meg in the library.  Props (pun intended) to actors and authors Uta Hagen, Brian Way, and of course Viola Spolin for their genius, but when I was obligated to read their books for class assignments…well…let us just say…it was the early 70’s and I found more experiential ways to occupy my time.

Academic writing is an entirely different language.  You can make it through K-12 + 4 years of undergraduate school and never have to use the words epistemology and zeitgeist in a sentence. Once you are in graduate school, however, not knowing that “data” is a plural noun is embarrassing, and using the word “since” in any context other than temporal is, as John Cleese from Monty Python would say, “right out”.  Due to an inherent interest in language and blessed with a propensity for learning other languages I was up for the task.  It’s a genetic thing. My sister is fluent in several languages and my son seems to have that “super power” as well.  So (despite popular belief you can start a sentence with a conjunction) I was able to learn the language. I didn’t love it.  It wasn’t nearly as sexy as speaking French in Paris or Creole on a Haitian beach…but I got by, aced my classes, and have avoided academic papers and textbooks ever since.

I don’t want to give the impression that I don’t keep up with the latest in research findings and I do subscribe to several journals in my field.  It’s important to have THOSE data at your fingertips when you are trying to educate people about the fat phobic, anti-obesity zeitgeist of our times. My preference, however, is to sit down with Dr. Deb Burgard with a glass of…anything really…the beverage is inconsequential, and have her translate things for me.  It is like having those United Nations earphones on…effortless understanding of what is being said about outcomes, correlations, and methodological flaws.  Clearly, however, the universe has other plans. This became apparent when two textbooks came across my desk for me to review. The one I am writing about today is titled Female Bodies on the

Jennifer Scott Mobley's New Book

Jennifer Scott Mobley’s New Book

American Stage:  Enter Fat Actress, by Jennifer-Scott Mobley, published by Palgrave Macmillian 2014.  (No that isn’t APA style…sue me) but all joking aside, I LOVED IT!  Here’s what  happened.

Before opening the book I took a quick inventory of what made me an appropriate candidate to write a review in the first place?  I think I was trying to talk myself out of it so I wouldn’t have to slog through a tedious text about theater and suffer flashbacks to Dr. Bach’s class at UNH.  My list included:

  • I am an actress and a member of Actor’s Equity
  • I have a degree in theater
  • I have taught theater, improvisation, and creative dramatics to children and adults
  • I have been passed over for roles entirely based on my body type
  • I am on the board of the Fat Studies Journal

Okay, why not me?  Confidence bolstered, I opened the book and was immediately hooked by the dedication,

“For all of my beautiful students, especially those friends of ED, you are perfect.”

Many actors (the preferred word for any person who acts) suffer from Eating Disorders and it’s not frequently discussed openly.  Because we know that correlation is not causation I am not saying that the pressure in the industry to be thin is the cause of an Eating Disorder.  It’s more complicated than that.  But disordered eating behaviors and restrictive dieting are the norm for actors trying to land a lead part.  The majority of the “good roles” are written with a thin actor in mind and someone’s talents often take a back seat if they don’t “look the part.”  Looking the part is typically based on stereotypes, and the cycle continues.

I turned the page and read the Table of Contents…okay…Dramaturgies, Subjectivities…uh oh…here it comes…this is a text book after all…must keep going…and I did.  And that was a good thing!  Jennifer Scott-Mobley has written a book so relate-able, so read-able, and comprehensive that it should be required reading for every theater professor and student.  It would also be a great addition to syllabi in Women’s Studies, Fat Studies, and Popular Culture tracks.  She covers difficult territory including Queering Fat, Fat Black Miscegenation, and Fat Phobia vis a vis the difference between an audience’s experience with fat actors on stage as opposed to in the movies or on television.

“Unlike film or television, spectators are in the presence of the performers full body. There is no directing the spectator’s gaze or disguising a performer’s shape through camera angle or artful cropping of the frame.”

We get a history lesson about the evolution of cultural attitudes toward fat women on stage including the impact of the “obesity epidemic” and the relationship between health and fat.  Stereotyping and typecasting are discussed at length, and we learn about fat dramaturgy and are provided with examples of plays written specifically to show a fat woman dieting as the core plot of the script.  I am not saying that Female Bodies is void of academic jargon.  The author most definitely struts her stuff with observations such as:

“…Fat prejudice is a culturally constructed subjugation produced discursively and through various social practices and institutional hierarchies in American culture.”

I agree with that statement completely by the way, after reading it a few times (I told you I was rusty!) Truthfully, however, if the entire book had been written in that style, let’s just say I may not have finished it.  But Female Bodies on the American Stage is written with a perfect balance of “Academicese”, English, and excerpts from an extensive collection of pertinent scripts that provide historical and current cultural examples from movies and television that allow this book to

Where is Frannie Zellman?

Where is Frannie Zellman?

be not just eye-opening and educational, but a damn good read!!  (Oooh, that last sentence was bit long…does anyone feel like editing it?  A gerund, a comma, or semicolon perhaps?  Frannie Zellman?) But I digress, Jennifer Scott Mobley’s wonderful book, is really a treat for anyone in or out of Academia with an interest in the theater, popular culture, and size diversity.  To find out more, CLICK HERE.

Til next time!
Dr. Deah

*I was honored to be invited to sit on the board of Fat Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Body Weight and Society and my first assignment is to review Body Studies, the basics by Niall Richardson and Adam Locks. I suppose this means I am about to re-enter the belly of the Academia Beast, but after reading Ms Scott-Mobley’s book, I’m feeling much LESS (cue fat actor John Goodman, “out of my element Donnie.”

P.S.  The Calmanac turns one year old on December 13th!  Thanks to all of you who have been a part of helping me spread the message of  cultivating a positive body image.  I look forward to continuing the trend in 2015!!  Remember, unlike a traditional almanac, The Calmanac is not tied in to any specific calendar year.  To arrange a reading or book signing event email me at

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12. December 2014 by Dr. Deah
Categories: Body Acceptance, Body Image, Dr. Deah, Obesity, Size Acceptance, Social Media and Weight Stigma, Weight | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 comment

“Bird by Bird”

ada bird

Art by Ada Breedveld

One of my favorite authors is Anne Lamott and one of the many Anne Lamott words of wisdom that I live by was in her book, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life.  I read the book about 20 years ago and I am paraphrasing so if some of the details aren’t exactly correct, feel free to let me know in the comment section.  Here is what I remember.

Little Annie, a self-proclaimed procrastinator is up late at night writing a report on the birds of North America.  The paper is due the next day and she is just getting started on what she had been expected to be working on for several weeks.  She is distraught and asks her father how she is possibly going to get through this project?  It’s so huge, it’s un-doable, it’s impossible!  Her father reassuringly tells her,

“You will do it bird by bird.”

I love this.  I find it calming, loving, and perhaps most importantly, I find it non-judgmental.  The lesson to not procrastinate is already being processed by Annie because she is experiencing the repercussions of not having made the best choice about managing her time. Kudos to Dad Lamott for resisting the parental temptation to rub it in her face.  Instead he chooses to advise her to take small steps, one at a time, until she reaches her destination.  Quitting is not an option; managing the circumstance as best as she can is the prime directive.

I am not a procrastinator by nature.  I am not certain how I learned this approach to life, but for me being on time for a meeting is arriving 15 minutes early; and meeting a deadline is having something finished a week before the due date.  I don’t think this is a trait that is to be admired or makes me any more functional or superior to those who are more last minute types.  Like Charlie Brown who sings emphatically about his book report in You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown.

I think it is a coping strategy that I adopted for managing my anxiety and my need to please other people. Arriving early for an appointment means no disappointment by keeping them waiting.  Handing work in early removes any chance that the recipient will think that I am not reliable.  So my affinity for the bird by bird philosophy is not associated with learning about time management, it is more akin to learning the lesson of how to assess and honor my own self-worth.  In other words it is about choosing how many birds to write about.  You see, if I had been told to write about the birds of North America I would have felt compelled to write about EVERY bird in North America.  I would have worried about hurting a bird’s feelings if I left it out of the paper or omitting the one most important bird that the teacher really wanted me to include.  My anxiety about not being perfect and unable to please everyone would have compelled me to over compensate.  True, I may have gotten a good grade on the paper, but in reality it was no less stressful than Annie’s having waited until the last minute.


I am blogging about birds and Anne Lamott for two reasons.

1.  If you read the final Issue of Dr. Deah’s Schmooze-Letter that came out on December 1, 2014, this theme may sound familiar.  In the Therapeutic Tidbit of the month, I discussed the tendency some of us have, especially during the holiday season, to over-commit and conflate how much we are doing (e.g. saying YES TO EVERYTHING) with perfectionism and self-worth.  Over the years I have learned that it is a time that calls for finding a balance of setting realistic standards of what is enough; and practicing self-care first in order to be there for others.  Getting through the holidays becomes so much more manageable when we take things bird by bird and, if necessary, leave some birds off the list completely.

2.  My second reason is to introduce you to the last “bird” in my blog series that I started in the summer of 2014.  I had the good fortune of traveling to Holland and the UK last July and was inspired by the work of Fat/Size Activists in Europe (Gisela Enders, Fatima Parker, and Angela Meadows) and Dutch Artists who paint positive images of dikke dames. Today I would like to introduce you to Ada Breedveld.  I asked Ada the same questions I asked Julia Woning, Susan Ruiter, and Lia Schapendonk,  and here is what she had to say.  (Thank you to Chiel Weverling for helping me translate Ms Breedveld’s answers from Dutch to English).

Ada Breedveld Jumping in Field

Bird by Bird

Dr. Deah:  Thank you so much for taking the time and participating in this interview. 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?

Ada Breedveld:  All my life I’ve been drawing and painting, but about the age of 20 I read something about surrealism.  I didn’t know the word so I went looking for the meaning and found that it gave me the room…mindspace…to paint whatever i could think of, even if it wasn’t accurate.  It opened up a whole new world.  In the beginning I expressed a lot of feelings through my art.  Feelings that began as a shapeless goo inside me, but then took form and developed their shape.

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

AB:  Artists that I admired at that time were Dali, Magritte, Delvaux, Max Ernst, etc. Also the Symbolists: Toorop, Khnopff, Klimt, Schielle.

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

images_ada_breedveld_roler_scate_lady_80_x_110_cm_kleinAB:  The women I paint stand for the female properties and values.  Often woman are judged on their appearance and have to meet the ideal image:  Young, slim, and too strong (muscular).  Even if these are stereotypes, people are expected to meet them, also by the women themselves.  The girl.  She, the woman, fulfills a very important role in every society that may not be visible but is very important. That is why and how I want to show her, paint her and make her visible.
She is the utopia, the mother and the Madonna but also the fertile and the sensual being that comes from and generates her warmth and compassion.  Her roundness and curves are synonyms for motherliness, warmth, security.  She naturally knows, like no other, how to draw from the source of life.  So my paintings are meant to communicate a plea to be who you are regardless of your appearance, color etc.
Her closed eyes are a reference to her inner self, being complete! I show her on the canvas, big and present so you can’t ignore her, and so you can be aware of her values, and those same values in and of yourself.  Filling the canvas and proud!

DD:  (Wow, THAT is a powerful response!)  Do you think that Holland has a more accepting attitude towards diversity of body size for women than The United States?

AB:  I really have no idea what the United States’ opinion is on this but I think that often the opinions are more extreme there.

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

ada breedveld

Ada Breedveld’s art

AB:  Often I have exhibitions in The Netherlands and abroad.  Information on that can be found on my website:

I hope you have enjoyed learning about some of the inspiring work that is being done around the world in the areas of body image, size/fat acceptance, and redefining standards of beauty for women.  For those of you who are in the shopping mode, click on the links I’ve provided on each of the artist’s names.  They all have exquisite selections from paintings, to calendars and postcards if you are looking for some holiday gifts.  In fact Nomi Dekel, owner of VoluptuArt and ASDAH member has several of Ada Breedveld’s works on her website.  (By the way, I do not receive any financial compensation for spreading the word about these artists or for any sales made via my blog posts.) And please feel free to share other artists in the comment section!  I would love to learn more about them, bird by bird.

Til next time,

Dr. Deah

P.S.  Someone recently shared this video with me and because it is by a Dutch woman sending a body acceptance message I had to share!  Elly Kellner – Decent – Deugdelijk (2014) English subs – Ellybellyrep

PPSS:  The Calmanac turns one year old on December 13th!  Thanks to all of you who have been a part of helping me spread the message of  cultivating a positive body image bird by bird. I look forward to continuing the trend in 2015!!  Remember, unlike a traditional almanac, The Calmanac is not tied in to any specific calendar year.

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04. December 2014 by Dr. Deah
Categories: Beauty Diversity, Body Acceptance, Body Image, Body Positivity, Dr. Deah, Dr. Deah's Calmanac, Fat Acceptance Europe, Self Esteem, Size Acceptance | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 comments

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, visit 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: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 comments

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: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 comments

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

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