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Archive for March, 2011

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Monday Morning With The Mirror: Article and Class in the Open Exchange

by anne on Mar.31, 2011, under Events

Monday Morning With The Mirror

By Anne C. Wilford

Anne C Wilford, MA, MFT, has been leading workshops for over 30 years. She is a licensed Psychotherapist (MFT#32496) with 19 years in practice.  She works with individuals, couples and groups. She is a co partner of Education Through Therapeutic Arts and co-author with Dr. Deah Schwartz of the Leftovers Workbook/DVD SET  and is currently offering this workshop series. Please see Leftovers’s announcement on the Women’s Pages and Weight.

It is Monday morning and in a variety of bathrooms, bedrooms and hallway mirrors the week starts out with sighs and recriminations as people do the “check”. What is the “check”? It is the “body check.” With the scrutiny of a scientist, people, especially women, check out the perceived imperfections of their bellies, legs, hips, and chests. Every woman has that particular part that pulls her attention immediately and, for many, how that body part adds up may impact her mood for the whole day or longer.

The obsession with how we look has not gotten easier over the years…. it has gotten worse. When I first started exploring the issue of body dissatisfaction and disordered eating years ago I thought it was a matter of discovery and self-esteem. I was wrong. It is a matter of changing how we as a collective think about bodies and body image. What we are up against is discrimination from a very early age. For instance a group of Yale University psychologists visited three kindergarten classes each from different socioeconomic backgrounds. They offered the children a chance to win a doll. The choices given were, however, limited to dolls missing a limb, afflicted with a disfiguring skin condition, or dolls that were fat. So which dolls were the last to be selected? That’s right. The fat dolls were perceived to be both “ugly and lazy.”

This uphill battle leaves us with a constant case of the “diets.” One out of three women and one out of four men are on a diet any given time. What is stunning is that it has been proven that diets don’t work and that 95% of people who go on diets gain back what they have lost along with more weight than they had before. In other words, diets that claim to be proactive toward “healthy” weight are actually the catalyst for the “dieter” to start a cycle of “yo-yo dieting” which moves the dieter into a self defeating cycle of shame and failure.

This has been especially destructive for girls who started dieting in their early adolescence. For girls who started dieting before the age of 14 the result of their diets has been the beginning of disordered eating. This could be binge eating, bulimia, or even anorexia. These young girls become women who do not recognize hunger in their own bodies. And because the description of healthy weight is so overwhelmed by the media images, many women who are perfectly healthy see themselves as unhealthy. For instance, the average U.S. woman is 5’4″ and weighs 140 lbs. In contrast, the average U.S. model is 5’11″ and weighs 117 lbs. Some of these models meet the criteria for anorexia and this is what is being presented to us as “good.”

So, how do we work with these issues that are so imbedded in a culture that relies on a 60-billion-dollar per-year diet industry that keeps selling us perfection but results in women feeling like a failure? My co-authors and I wrote an original theater piece entitled “Leftovers….the ups and downs of a compulsive eater” in response to this issue. We wanted to get beyond food as the problem and explore from the inside what our relationship to food and our bodies was really about.

We took an entirely different approach. We were all performers so we utilized improvisation, writing, art, and music to explore all aspects of the compulsive eating cycle. The strongest part of the process was the sharing with each other what we were thinking, feeling, and experiencing. We toured with the show for many years winning an award from the National Association to Aid Fat Americans because we were a voice promoting self-acceptance instead of judgment.

One very special part of the show was that after we performed the show we would have an audience participation session where people could share their experience and reactions to what they saw us go through in the show. We were humbled by the outpouring of honesty and emotion from these people. They talked about gasping at certain parts of the show because we were, “saying exactly what they thought” and they thought they were the only ones.

It was in response to these women who identified with “Leftovers” and the professionals who work with them that prompted Dr Deah Schwartz and I to create our business Education through Therapeutic Arts. We were inspired to write the Leftovers Workbook/DVD which offers a workshop series that utilizes many of the same exercises we used to develop the original theater piece coupled with other techniques we had developed in our therapeutic practices.

We feel strongly that one of the most effective ways to help women explore disordered eating, and their own body dissatisfaction is to see that they are not alone in their struggle. We have found that the power of group work when it is approached with sincerity, humor, and trust paves the way to the very difficult and joyful journey to self-acceptance.

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Fat Stigma written about in the New York Times

by Dr. Deah on Mar.31, 2011, under Events

The letter I sent to the N.Y. Times in response to the article by Tara Parker Pope about Fat Stigma

KUDOS for Tara Parker-Pope for screaming out, “The Emperor Has No Clothes!” What a relief to finally read an article that unveils the damage inflicted on people under the auspices of a “HEALTH CAMPAIGN.” It would be wonderful for Ms Parker-Pope to feature an article on this topic at least once a week to remind people that there is more than one point of view in the world about fat and health and body image.  Along with Marianne Kirby, who is mentioned in the article, there are numerous others blogging on how to decrease the fat stigma:  Dances with Fat, Free Thinking Fatties, and my blog, Tasty Morsels. There are also doctors, nutritionists and registered dietitians working tirelessly to educate the public that diets don’t work and people can be Healthy at Every Size (HAES sm): Linda Bacon, Joanne Ikeda, Deb Lemire and the Association of Size Divesity and Health (ASDAH), Bill Fabrey at NAAFA and so many others.

Of course the sexier story is usually about watching the humiliation of people on the Big Loser TV Shows or Madonna’s new gym.  What Madonna is doing is cruel, ineffective and unnecessary.  It is similar to the gym poster I wrote about recently that reminds people that summer is coming and would they rather be a whale or a mermaid? https://leftoverstogo.com/2011/03/06/fish-tales/

Look, if these anti-obesity campaigns are really about health then the people behind them should also care about the MENTAL health of our citizens.  Shame and humiliation never made a human being healthier in any way SHAPE or form.  It only adds on layers and layers of self-hate and self-destructive behavior. Let’s see Madonna come up with a program that fixes that!!


Dr. Deah Schwartz, leftoverstogo.com

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Connect The Dots

by Dr. Deah on Mar.30, 2011, under Tasty Morsels: by Dr. Deah Schwartz

As our “readership” increases, it’s been DRAWN to my attention that perhaps introductions are in order.  One minute I was blog-less.   Then my partner Anne and I wrote a book and that all changed. Making this an opportune time to respond to the inquiries of, “Who are you?”

Remember Connect the Dots?  When I was little, C.T.D. opportunities were rare.  If you were lucky enough to be eating at a diner that had kids’ meals, sometimes there were Connect the Dots pictures on your place mat. They gave you a tiny box of four very waxy crayons and while waiting EONS for your chocolate chip pancakes to arrive, you could happily Connect the Dots; eager to see the picture that emerged when you finished.

Coloring books also had C.T.D. opportunities interspersed throughout the pages.  They were rare treasures for me because I hated coloring books.  I was one of those kids that despite my best efforts NEVER stayed inside the lines.  I dutifully sharpened my Crayolas ™ in the sharpener provided.  I tried starting from the inside of the picture and drawing outwardly, and vice versa, but to no avail.  Without exception, I strayed outside of the lines and my picture was ruined!  Coloring books (like dieting) are all or nothing propositions.  One line crossed, one smudge, one wrong move…an entire piece…ruined. If I was coloring with other kids, it was even worse. They teased, taunted and flaunted their perfect pages. I was not only outside the lines in the coloring book picture, but outside of the group who were “Good Colorers.”

But Connect the Dots?  There was an oasis of competency.  I could count from 1-50 consecutively easily enough.  The connecting lines didn’t need to be straight.  There was a huuuuuuge margin of error, and coloring in the finished picture was optional.  In fact you didn’t even know what the finished picture was until you had connected the last two dots on the page.  Failure Free; My kind of art activity!

Whenever I am asked to introduce myself or reflect on how I became the person I am today I think of  Connect the Dots.  The fact that I would choose a game/playful activity as a metaphor for life is not a surprise.  I am, amongst many labels, a Certified Recreation Therapist.  For those of you that don’t know, a Recreation Therapist is a clinician who uses play, games, and artistic modalities in conjunction with verbal processing to help clients regain and discover (or re-discover) their quality of life and improve functioning in social, emotional, physical and cognitive domains.  Of course when I first stumbled across Recreation Therapy as a field, I giggled at the thought that she must be someone who helps people drink, get high, and goof around.  My parents were not thrilled either. They warned me that no one would take me seriously, and strongly suggested that I become a “real” therapist.  Once again I was being asked to stay inside the lines when in fact I was playing Connect the Dots.  No one in the field of Recreation Therapy wakes up one morning in their youth and announces, I want to be an R.T.  It is typically a circuitous route that brings most of us to the field.  I was no exception.

When I was 17, I was hired for my first job at a summer camp for “Special Needs” children.  They needed a Music and Drama Counselor.  I had been studying theater at The Neighborhood Playhouse in New York City and I played guitar.  It was the early 1970’s and although I knew I was too fat to be taken seriously as a folk singer, I sat in my room for hours, learning chords and fantasizing that I was Joni Mitchell. I was hired and spent the next seven summers working/playing with kids of every size, shape and disability using theater and music as a way of helping them navigate through their worlds.  Worlds inhabited by bullies and barriers that forced them to identify themselves based on their disabilities rather than feeling good about what their abilities were.  Sadly, what was clear to me, even there, in this “Emerald City” for kids that did not fit inside the lines, was that the kids that were “too” fat or “too” skinny, were penalized more than anyone else.  It was a discrimination that was never addressed in any staff trainings and was so subconsciously interwoven in the fabric of the cultural norm that it was never questioned by anyone.

Without turning this post into an autobiography, let me summarize a bit. From my camp job, as I followed one dot to the next, I managed to accumulate two years of training as an Art Therapist at College of Notre Dame, a BA in Theater (Special Education minor) from University of New Hampshire, two Masters Degrees in Creative Arts and Recreation Therapy from San Francisco State University and a Doctorate in Education from University of San Francisco.  I also co-wrote and performed in an Off-Broadway Play about fat women and self-acceptance and became a member of Actors Equity  But what my list of “credentials” doesn’t illustrate is how my life as a fat kid, teen, and young adult consistently influenced my life.  It was excruciating growing up as a person who didn’t stay within the lines in an environment where the media and culture I lived in demanded that I effortlessly squeeze into an impossibly narrow definition of beauty. The discrimination and criticism that bombarded me throughout my life wound up shaping my life.  It became part of the line that connected me from dot to dot.  It made me an activist, author, therapist, teacher and actress. And while I may be credentialed to teach a wide variety of subjects and use a full palette of therapeutic modalities, I never pass up an opportunity to educate people about the detrimental outcomes of size discrimination and the deleterious effects of dieting on a person’s physical health and emotional well being.  I suppose someone reading this might say, “See what didn’t kill you made you stronger.”

But honestly, I don’t believe that one needs to be abused to find their calling or to have a positive sense of self inside and out.  There are healthier ways to achieve personal and career goals.  And there is enough room in this world for people that can color inside the lines, people that prefer connecting the dots and everyone in between.  I have no idea what my finished picture will look like, and of course I have no clue how many dots I have left to connect.  But for me the fun is in the finding and connecting. 

If you would like to introduce yourself and how you stumbled upon this “dot” in your life, please do!  Either way, it’s a pleasure to meet all of you.

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by Dr. Deah on Mar.30, 2011, under Events

Speaking Out About ED:   a film by Robyn Hussa, Founder and President of NORMAL In Schools (a national nonprofit organization dedicated to education about eating disorders, self-esteem, and the
therapeutic impact of the arts).

The film shares discussions from 12 of the nation’s leading mental health
researchers and is the result of 5 years of the filmmaker’s research in
schools, eating disorder treatment facilities and communities nationwide.

After the 40-minute film, Ms. Hussa will lead a discussion with a panel of
experts, including Dr. Barbara Tener, Ph.D., Stephanie Brooks, MS, RD,
and Janice Bremis (Executive Director of EDRC).
WHERE:  Historic Hoover Theatre
1635 Park Avenue, San Jose, 95126
WHEN:  Friday, April 15th, 7 pm
Contact Barb Galiotto at: 408-497-9983
Suggested donation of $5 will benefit NIS

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Teaching Students, Interns, and Paraprofessionals Non-Diet Approaches to Weight Management

by Dr. Deah on Mar.29, 2011, under Events

Don’t miss this wonderful Webinar being held on April 1st, at 2 p.m. EDT The Society for Nutrition Education is offering this Webinar with presenters:  Dawn Clifford, Phd, RD, Michelle Neyman Morris, PhD, RD, both at CSU Chico, and Eunice Bassler (Iowa State).

Webinar Registration
Despite the recent findings that diets don’t work, weight loss is still promoted in nutrition and dietetics curriculum and textbooks. New and exciting research is available on both the physiologic and psychologic benefits of non-diet approaches. However, many nutrition faculty, preceptors, and health educators may feel unequipped to teach these concepts to their diet-focused students, interns, and paraprofessionals.

This webinar will give participants new teaching ideas for presenting non-diet approaches in the classroom. Participants will be exposed to a variety of non-diet books that have been used to enhance course curriculum. New research will be presented on the influence of such non-diet curriculum on the attitudes of dietetic students. Finally, participants will learn of new strategies for incorporating non-diet concepts into curriculum as well as challenges and opportunities to presenting this paradigm shift in community and academic classrooms.

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What I Bet You Didn’t Know about Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, and More!

by Dr. Deah on Mar.24, 2011, under Events

This article written by, Liz Snyder, was brought to my attention by Linda Bacon, author of Health at Every Size. This excerpt alone was enough to grab my attention:

“Recently, nutrition researcher Linda Bacon was accused of being “in denial” on a major food-focused listserv for proposing the radical notion that both thin AND fat kids are harmed by a diet of nutritionally devoid, industrial food. Well, wipe my jaw off the floor. Are we so stuck in this rhetoric that we can’t see how manipulated we are by the food and diet industries? As long as we keep raising our kids with a need to ‘diet’ to be ‘perfect’ the food & diet industry will have a firm foothold in this country. Our yo-yo diets (and soon, our children’s)  translate to a better first quarter. Jenny Craig is owned by Nestle, and Weight Watchers is owned by the same multinational conglomerate that owns Keebler Foods. So who is really in denial here?”

Please take a moment and read the entire article it is truly enlightening and full of information that makes sense both intuitively AND scientifically.

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Chutes and Ladders

by Dr. Deah on Mar.23, 2011, under Tasty Morsels: by Dr. Deah Schwartz

I recently got stuck on an airplane for three hours, on the tarmac.

It was infuriating for many reasons. One, the cause for the delay was not weather related even though we were flying during the week of earthquakes, tsunamis and tornadoes.  Nor was it mechanical failures, which as far as I am concerned I’m more than willing to forgo my on time departure to make sure all of the parts of the airplane are working.

We were delayed because the catering company had not yet arrived to deliver the food and beverage for the plane.  (The food and beverage that the airline would then generously sell to the captives on the plane at five dollars per bag of Doritos).  And the bag of course is the mini bag….the one where you can count exactly how many Doritos are in the bag.  As far as I am concerned when you can count the number of Doritos in the bag and divide it with the amount you pay for the bag and come out knowing how much each Dorito costs….there are not enough Doritos in the bag.

But you probably think I’m writing to complain about the Doritos and the delay.  And you would be correct to think that because that is how I started off the blog post.  And for my loyal readers you know that I tend to digress and eventually make a connection so I am writing a little bit about the Doritos and the delay…and of course more…

Because we were kept captive on the plane for three hours before finally taking off, and the battery for my lap top was dead as a doornail, I was forced to read every piece of reading material in my seat back pocket.  (Although from where I was sitting it was really my seat front pocket…never mind about that…)

After I finished the crosswords, the ken kens, and the sudokus, (in ink) read and fantasized about purchasing items in the Sky Mall Catalog, and memorized every escape route and safety precaution procedure, there was only one thing left to read….mocking me….grinning at me with a “come-hither I dare you” look….an issue of Shape Magazine.

I rang the attendant bell and asked if there was any power supply for my lap top?  I was desperate. She was impatient. I don’t blame her, she wanted to leave as much as the rest of us.

I'm Going In!

With a sigh I opened the “Mag Rag” and crossed into the enemy lines.

The front of the issue was predictable.  A scantily clad pre-pubescent looking young female surrounded by the headlines for tightening your tush, toning your thighs, blasting your cellulite, slimming with gymming, guilt free sweet tooth satisfaction and then in smaller print…a glimmer of hope… three easy steps to boost your body image.  I gathered what was “leftover” of my sense of humor and thought,

“Step one, put down this magazine!”  I kept reading.

In the middle of the magazine, as promised in between 20 advertisements for weight loss products and fat cutting diets to bikini heaven was a page and a half devoted to helping girls and women not hate their bodies.

The accompanying illustration was…I kid you not, a young cheerleader calling for us to appreciate our bodies.  By the time I got to this article having been force fed (thanks to the lack of food and beverage on the plane) picture after picture and article after article telling me how to look like a cheerleader; there was something just plain cruel about that same cheerleader being used to tell me to love my non-cheerleader body just the way it is…Fat Chance!

Life is like a game of Chutes and Ladders….Working on body image issues and self acceptance is the Deluxe Version of Chutes and Ladders.  Women are very vulnerable… and for all of the arduous, determined steps we take to climb the ladder to self-acceptance; it often takes the smallest of triggers to push us down the chute into self-loathing.  I was teetering on the edge of the chute…and then I read the three steps.

I am not making this up.

1. Identify your strengths and find the things about you come naturally e.g. being a fast runner or having beautiful eyes.

2.  Redo your wardrobe. (That’s really easy for people over a size 10! Not)

3. Exercise.

In the spirit of full disclosure the author does mention that saying affirmative things like “I am strong and beautiful,” help dispel the negative thoughts about your thighs and your butt… and I’m sure that the cheerleader is strong from the squat thrusts and workouts in cheer-leading practice and hence can easily muster that up as a positive attribute.  Then the  author warns us of  the tenacity of our inner critics. The inner critic will try to make you feel badly about yourself.

The rest of the magazine however was clearly paid for by Inner Critic Associates campaigning vehemently against any improvement of a girl or woman’s body image.

Any knowledge that someone may have garnered from the author’s attempt to promote self -acceptance was obliterated by every other page in this magazine.

I came away from the magazine feeling assaulted, despite how much experience I have in the field of eating disorders and body dissatisfaction professionally and personally.  It was a token article on feeling o.k. A thin piece of cheese nestled in between thick slabs of, “If you are fat you are a loser” messages…Like some perverted sandwich.

Size and Self Acceptance are processes neither of which are supported by most of our cultural and media messages.  In the play, Leftovers, the Ups and Downs of a Compulsive Eater, the actors recite, “Hit by the Mag Rag, Hit by the Tube, Hit by the Billboards, and Defenseless by two,”  when addressing the constant brainwashing by the media to conform to their standard of beauty.

I didn’t go down the chute. In the past I would have. But I did find myself a few rungs down the ladder; mustering up my internal strength yet again to start the climb.  It gets easier and I’m fortunate because I too am in possession of several steps for improving body image. The first one of which is; don’t read the magazine no matter how desperate you are for distraction.

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BEDA Conference

by Dr. Deah on Mar.21, 2011, under Events

The Binge Eating Disorders Association (BEDA) conference is coming up!  March 31-April 2 in Scottsdale Arizona.  Gurze Books will have a table at the conference offering a variety of valuable resources in the fields of Eating Disorders and Body Image.  We are proud to announce that our Workbook/DVD Set, Leftovers, will be on display!  Place an order for Leftovers at the conference and receive a special Conference Only price!

Binge eating is when a person eats a much larger amount of food in a shorter period of time than he or she normally would and that this happens frequently enough to establish a pattern of behavior. During binge eating, the person also feels a loss of control followed by feelings of failure and depression.  It is now recognized as an eating disorder in its own right by professionals in the field and is included in the DSM V as a separate diagnostic category.

Leftovers, the Ups and Downs of a Compulsive Eater and its companion workbook explores etiology, triggers and treatment options for this painful pattern.  Binge Eating and other Eating Disorders are often reinforced by the incessant message from the media that being thin means being beautiful and being beautiful means being successful.  We believe that the cycle can be broken and the line-up of brilliant presenters at the upcoming BEDA conference makes this a conference NOT to be missed.

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Just Say, “NON!”

by Dr. Deah on Mar.19, 2011, under Tasty Morsels: by Dr. Deah Schwartz

I’m a pacifist. I know nothing about military tactics or strategies. But I think a “pre-emptive” strike against the new Diet Book that is about to HIT THE GROUND RUNNING in America, may be in order.  Of course I’m being metaphorical, and I am not really suggesting a smear campaign of any kind…but I was moved by the article in The N.Y. Times by Elaine Sciolino where she discusses a new Diet Book from France that is about to explode into the American bookstores.

The article clearly spells out obvious flaws in the French doctor’s plan, and it was refreshing to read Ms Sciolino’s insightful questioning  about the claims of this diet’s efficacy, for example:

“This is just another one of those diets invented by a charismatic individual who makes a lot of promises and has loads of testimonials but is not based on any scientific data whatsoever.” Frank Sacks.
“France’s governmental National Agency for Food, Environmental and Work Health Safety has identified it as one of the 15 most imbalanced and potentially risky diets.”
“British Dietetic Association branded it one of the five worst diets of 2011, and are calling it the Do-Can’t Diet.”

The article also questions the doctor’s training in the field of nutrition and how he  found his way there from neurology by helping a patient lose weight by eating meat

A healthy diet of all meat!

only.  And VOILA the patient lost a gob of weight and a NOUVEAU Diet Doctor Phenom. was born in France and will soon be arriving in The States.

Drowning in Diet Books

Now I know we are all veterans of Diet Crazes by now, and can hopefully hold our own and remember this is just another fad diet that won’t work.  But what concerns me is the underlying reason why people feel so desperate to lose weight that they will inevitably try this diet on for size… just like the Pritikin, Atkin, Grapefruit, and South Dakota Nebraska Diets.  (O.K., I made that last one up.)

The big beautiful body of research in nutrition and health indisputably supports the fact that Diets Don’t Work, and yet Ms Sciolino was able to cite examples of people that tried and loved this new diet.  Here is one example mentioned in the article:

A woman gained some weight on a trip. When she returned, her mother commented on her having gained weight. The woman was sad and angry that her mom commented on her body instead of asking her how she was, or telling her she had missed her. The woman’s response was to get rid of the awful extra weight by embarking on this diet and TA DA she took off 14 pounds in three weeks.

Er-Um- she gained some of it back….big surprise…but is thinking of doing another round of it despite the fact that she has kidney problems.

Quite frankly, I wish the woman would have looked at her mother, arms akimbo and  said, ” I haven’t seen you in how long?   And all you can say is I’ve gained weight???  Au Revoir Maman…Taxi!!!”

Au Revoir Maman!

But that is a scene in Dr. Deah’s Hollywood, and unfortunately, more of us than not will take the criticism about our bodies to heart and do something drastic to alter ourselves for other’s approval.  (Although perhaps after the first ten days of the diet this woman would be so grumpy from self-deprivation that she will confront her mom!)

Returning to reality, it was a welcome change to read about a diet in the newspaper where the author does not tout the diet as a good way to go. She does forewarn us of the sad, inevitable truth that the PR machine will shift into full gear and soon… narwhals anyone?  (Reference to older blog about the Narwhal Factor). Everywhere we go we will be bombarded with come hither requests to try this new diet.

Some of us will be able to ignore the hype, having been down that road so many times already, others will be focusing on health and fighting size discrimination as proactive approaches to thwart future DDI’s  (Desperate Diet Interventions) from infecting our popular culture and our kitchens…and well… my hope is that those most susceptible  will not take the bait, choose to examine their motivation for why they are so desperate  for a quick fix to their supposed “weight problem”  and just say, “NON!”  

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Dear Michelle,

by Dr. Deah on Mar.16, 2011, under Tasty Morsels: by Dr. Deah Schwartz

It has been quite a week of turmoil in the world; the continuing horror in Japan, the tumult in Libya, the political gridlock in the Midwest…just a few of the headlines and real life atrocities affecting real life people.

It makes the battle of size discrimination, body image, and eating disorders seem pale in comparison.

However one issue that managed to catch my attention reminded me that as a person living in such an enormous cultural society I must be able to “multi-cause-task.”

It has been fascinating to see the back lash that is surrounding Michele Obama’s Let’s Move Campaign.  Paul Campos’ article, in the Daily Beast, in my opinion, does a brilliant job of explaining the reasons why what may seem like a valiant cause beyond reproach has a rather large Achilles’ heel attached to it. (And, I urge all of you to read Paul Campos‘ article and post your comments).

Achilles' Heel

I am not going to delve into the political field day that is developing around Ms. Obama’s campaign. Frankly, I think hating our bodies and eating disorders are bi-partisan issues and I fault the media on “both sides of the aisle” for perpetuating the problem.  But for the purpose of this blog I want to focus on one point that Campos makes. He states,

“The first lady would, no doubt, be horrified by the suggestion that her Let’s Move campaign, which is dedicated to trying to create an America without any fat kids, is itself a particularly invidious form of bullying. But practically speaking, that’s exactly what it is. The campaign is in effect arguing that the way to stop the bullying of fat kids is to get rid of fat kids.”

Fat People Not Allowed

Exclusion does not promote health

And no invidious is NOT a typo, it is a real word that means:

1. Of an action or situation likely to arouse or incur resentment or anger in others.

2.  Unfairly discriminating; unjust.

For my faithful blog readers, you know I am a crossword puzzle/scrabble fanatic so I felt compelled to mention this…I thought for sure, Paul meant insidious.  Thanks Paul, I LOVE learning new words.

Back to my original point…. I am 100% in agreement with Campos on this observation.  Concisely put, I see this as a clear case of blaming the victim.  The bullies go scot free…

(ok, anyone know where the term scot free came from and who or what scot they were referring to?)

…and are reinforced for their disdain and superiority towards fat children. Meanwhile the fat kids are left fighting for their lives both physically and emotionally;  joining a real life cast of a real life reality show of America’s Educational System’s Biggest Losers.  That being said, I am  not one of those people to just complain and not offer a suggestion for a solution, how about this?

Dear First Lady,

You are obviously in the position where you have clout to initiate school based health programs.  You are also considered a fairly progressive, outside of the box thinker.  Instead of just targeting the Let’s Exercise, Get Moving, and Healthy Food Aspects of decreasing childhood obesity, why don’t you take a more cross-curriculum approach based on: Scientific Facts, Self-acceptance, and Inclusion of Diversity?


Erase your meta-message of: Fat is shameful and wrong and all a kid has to do is exercise and eat correctly and they will be thin which equates with healthy and better and Replace it with a model that starts with the premise of: We can all be healthier and healthy bodies do not all look the same.

Erase and Replace…Erase and Replace…Erase and Replace…

Here’s an example:

Science Class:  A lesson on genetics, metabolism, and that scientific evidence that different kids who embark on the same food/exercise regime will NOT have the same outcome in health and appearance benchmarks.  Focus on individuality and health milestones and not conformity and unattainable expectations. Kids from the inside

Math Class:  A lesson on reading nutrition labels and figuring out what a healthy amount of sodium, sugars, fats, fibers are…for health, not for weight loss.  Do you have any idea how much math is involved in that? Math Class for Health Class

The focus is NOT on the complete elimination or restriction of any one food or food group which inevitably leads to feelings of deprivation and development of eating disorders.

English/Lit Class:  When I wrote my dissertation on Body Image of Girls in Required Reading Materials in School, it was amazing how the stereotypes of fat girls, women, boys, and men as ugly, stupid, unpopular, and pathetic were pervasive.  How about making sure that the reading assignments include a more diverse representation of size and shapes and personality traits associated with those sizes and shapes?

Social Studies Class:  Let’s look at the history of women and how the infliction of a tyrannical expectation by the media to fit in to a narrow definition of beauty has impacted womens’ self-esteem and effectiveness in the world.  After all if women were not totally obsessed with how they looked all the time, imagine how much more they could contribute to the world?  Then there’s economics and how the diet industry and pharmaceutical companies are dependent on the constant quest to be the right size.

Women hate how they look

Women, we have a lot of Work to Do

I could go on and offer lesson plans and academic goals, objectives and standards, but I know how precious your time is.  My point is, helping kids feel better is a valuable goal.  Helping kids live healthy lives is an objective equally as worthy as solving the problem of disposing of nuclear waste.  How you attain those goals is a challenge. But one thing I know for certain, ostracizing kids for being fat and adding to the stigma and self-loathing they are already living with is NOT the way to go about making change.  Let’s look at a more innovative and inclusive solution.

Kids come in different shapes and sizes

Celebrate Health and Diversity

Hey, I’m here to help…I have this DVD and book called Leftovers….. ;D


Dr. Deah Schwartz

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