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

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 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 HWW-fitwoman-badge-largewego badge 2blogging-badgeilluminating-blogger-awardWEGO award112-dr-deah-s-tasty-morsels

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 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: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 comments

The 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!  Til next time...Dr. Deah HWW-fitwoman-badge-largewego badge 2blogging-badgeWEGO awardilluminating-blogger-awardWEGO_Health_GuestPin_Badge_png_2014 ThankS 112-dr-deah-s-tasty-morsels

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!

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!   HWW-fitwoman-badge-largeWEGO_Health_GuestPin_Badge_png_2014wego badge 2illuminating-blogger-awardblogging-badge

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! HWW-fitwoman-badge-largewego badge 2WEGO_Health_GuestPin_Badge_png_2014blogging-badgeilluminating-blogger-awardWEGO award112-dr-deah-s-tasty-morsels  

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 HWW-fitwoman-badge-largeWEGO_Health_GuestPin_Badge_png_2014wego badge 2WEGO awardblogging badge112-dr-deah-s-tasty-morsels        

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 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* HWW-fitwoman-badge-largeblogging badgewego badge 2WEGO_Health_GuestPin_Badge_png_2014illuminating-blogger-award112-dr-deah-s-tasty-morsels

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


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*   HWW-fitwoman-badge-largeblogging badgewego badge 2WEGO_Health_GuestPin_Badge_png_2014illuminating-blogger-award112-dr-deah-s-tasty-morsels      

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

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* HWW-fitwoman-badge-largeblogging badgewego badge 2WEGO_Health_GuestPin_Badge_png_2014illuminating-blogger-award  

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)

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

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