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Archive for May, 2011

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Knowledge is Power!

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

With campaigns like the one being launched in Colorado that is planting small seeds of paranoia in people that they may unknowingly be….omg….FAT!!! And Arizona charging people 50 dollars for their Medicaid coverage if they are overweight, we need to be up to date with the research and counter arguments. Remember…Knowledge is Power!

For those of you looking for opportunities for CEU’s (continuing education units) or to increase your knowledge and expand your contacts in the fields of size acceptance, eating disorders, and expressive arts therapies there are some really exciting conferences coming up and most of them are open for registration right now!

  • ON FEAR of FAT:  Clinical & Social Implications

Date: Saturday, June 11, 2011, 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Location: Samuel Merritt University, Health Education Center, Bechtel Room (HEC-102) 400 Hawthorn Avenue, Oakland,CA 94609

  • NAAFA is the world’s oldest, largest civil rights organization working to improve the lives of people of size.              

Dates: August 4 – August 8, 2011

Location: The Westin:  Washington Dulles Airport Hotel

  • ASDAH Educational Conference: No BODY Left Behind – The HAES℠ Model:
    Ensuring an Inclusive Approach to Health & Wellness

Dates: August 12 – August 14, 2011

Location: Sofitel San Francisco Bay: 223 Twin Dolphin Drive, Redwood City CA

Leftovers To Go has been invited to present at the following two conferences:

  • American Therapeutic Recreation Association Annual Conference

Dates: September 18-September 21, 2011

Location: Indianapolis, Indiana

  • Expressive Therapies Summit A variety of approaches, including multimodal collaborations, is featured.  A distinguished faculty of clinicians, educators, researchers, and others offer an inspiring program of papers, panels, half-day workshops, and full-day classes; many emphasize hands-on, active participation.

Dates: November 10 – November 13, 2011

Location: New York, New York

Leftovers To Go is on the waiting list to present at:

  • National Association of Drama Therapy

Dates: November 3-November 6, 2011

Location: San Francisco, CA

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by Dr. Deah on May.25, 2011, under Tasty Morsels: by Dr. Deah Schwartz

Back in “the day” we didn’t have graduations from pre-school, elementary school or junior high school.  The first official graduation ceremony was high school and for some of us that was followed by the completion of college. I’m not certain if the increased number of graduation ceremonies for kids today dilutes the importance or impact of the upper class ceremonies or not.  That is a topic for another time. I do know that, at least for me, waiting twelve years to participate in the ritual added to the poignancy of my accomplishment.

I recently attended my niece’s graduation from the University of Maryland.  Sitting in the arena that is usually home to the famous U of M “Terps” basketball team, I was struck by the enormity of the occasion.  Thousands of people were there to witness over a thousand young women and men accept their diplomas.  The crowd noise was deafening. At first the atmosphere felt more like a sporting event than a graduation with people doing THE WAVE, passing beach balls to each other, and cameras flashing like strobe lights all around the stands.

Suddenly, it all changed.  The opening strains of the familiar melody, Pomp and Circumstance,

more effective than any coaches’ whistle, quieted the entire gymnasium in an instant. Tissues appeared like clouds, dabbing at tears of joy and pride as the grads began to enter the room.  One by one they marched sporting caps and gowns and found their seats on the polished hardwood floor of the center court. It soon became clear that the pomp and circumstance surrounding the ritual was not limited to the “sound track” that melody recognizable to all of us from every Bugs Bunny cartoon and Donna Reed episode we had watched since childhood. The pomp was interwoven throughout every aspect of the ceremony.  It was present in the grandeur of the procession, the solemnity of the handshake, the presenting of the scroll and of course the tradition and uniformity of the caps and gowns.

As I watched the proceedings and listened to the key note speakers eloquently congratulate the students, I scoured the sea of fabric and tassels beneath me looking for a sign of my niece. Then I remembered what makes graduations different from many other societal rituals and rites of passage. There is a duality inherent in a graduation ceremony.  We come together to formalize the completion of absorbing and demonstrating a grasp of a required body of knowledge. The graduation symbolizes our abilities to accomplish a set of uniform standards.  This thrusts us into a club that is made up entirely of members who have attained the same goal.  And yet, at the same time we are celebrating uniformity we are also acknowledging each student’s individuality and unique accomplishments. 

I caught a glimpse of Stephanie and my “Auntie heart” jumped.  I grabbed my tissues as the tears started rolling down my face.  There she was part of a community that was celebrating everything they had in common AND everything that made them unique.  As each name was called people cheered and I welcomed the feeling of good fortune that had me there witnessing this moment.  I felt peaceful and calm and suddenly realized that I also felt relief…not that my niece had passed through all of the academic hoops and challenges…I never doubted that. No, I was relieved that for a brief moment in the world the focus of a ceremony was on the absorption of a body of knowledge instead of on the bodies of the students.

True, there were lovely attempts made by some of the grads to assert their individuality via decorating their caps or wearing flashy footwear, making them easier to spot in the crowd for their relatives and friends.  But more delicious was that the emphasis was on the student’s accomplishments and NOT their appearance.  I felt a deep appreciation for tradition and ritual in that moment.  It was as if all of the students were clad in an academic burqa. There was no temptation to scan, judge or criticize these soon to be college graduates.  And as they flipped their tassels, in unison from right to left, people were actually commenting on WHAT the student did and not how fat or thin they looked in their regalia.  It was a beautiful thing.  Now if only we could take that perspective off the court and out into the world, then we could have a graduation ceremony for all of the cultural undergrads.

Tissues anyone?

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by Dr. Deah on May.15, 2011, under Tasty Morsels: by Dr. Deah Schwartz

One of the challenges I face as a writer/activist is how to alert people about an atrocity without giving P.R. to the company perpetrating the atrocity?  When I wrote my, “Just Say NON!” piece where I fantasized about a pre-emptive strike against the: soon to be hitting America latest Diet Craze from France, I was thanked for my efforts but also reminded that by giving it “air time” I was unintentionally helping to publicize the diet.  I took the words to heart, especially knowing that there is some truth to the tenet that any publicity is good publicity.

So…here I am bursting to spread the word about a company that I feel is acting with complete destructive delusional disregard for girls and yet I don’t want to promote them…so…let’s just say the company I have my latest BEEF with rhymes with WRETCHERS! 

There is a relatively new ad campaign selling sneakers to girls claiming they will tone up their butts and legs while carrying on their everyday little girl activities.  Although the president of the shoe company (hint: it is NOT the one named in the title of this piece)  insists there is nothing sexist or exploitative about the product, the glittery shoes which come in sizes as small as 2′s, are NOT being marketed for boys. The grown up versions of these shoes have already been challenged to prove the validity of  these miraculous shaping toning benefits that the ads claim, but that hasn’t stopped the company from marketing a little girl version.  Proving once again that according to the world of mass media, marketing and the almighty dollar, it is never too soon to start selling Body Hate to girls.

Another of the company’s claims that is “sketchy” at best is how emphatic they are that their intention is to promote exercise and healthy life styles.  They self-righteously proclaim to be piggy backing on the shoulders of Michele Obama’s, “Let’s Move” campaign.  Good try…but I think they may be SKETCHING ooops I mean stretching this rationalization a little too far.  Why?  Why would I think that?  Exercise is important, fitness is vital, why am I so rigid in my stance?  Because let’s consider that one of the shoe’s claims to fame in the ads is that these shoes do the toning, shaping and exercise for you…how does that promote healthy lifestyle changes in anyone?

Except perhaps a healthy bankroll for the company that unfortunately is seeing a terrific response to the product.


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Strange Bedfellows

by Dr. Deah on May.14, 2011, under Events

It is not often that I find myself feeling a kinship with Meghan McCain, but Good “on her” for calling Glenn Beck on his BIGotry!!!  And thank you Cindy for sending Leftovers this article link from the Daily Beast

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Very Good News!

by Dr. Deah on May.13, 2011, under Tasty Morsels: by Dr. Deah Schwartz

It’s unusual to find “good news” these days.  Each day typically brings news of suffering, injustice and disappointment.  I used to keep a “good news” folder.  I thought that if I made room for the good news I would find it…or better yet, it would find me.  I experimented with the concept of, “creating my own reality” and visualizing positive events.  After a year or so, when I looked at my “good news” folder, and saw how cavernously empty it was despite my vigilance in seeking and opening up to the possibilities of other realities, I felt discouraged and stopped clipping the occasional article that came my way.

Today, however, brought a lovely piece of wonderful “good news.”  I did have to wait until late evening to experience the good news.  The day didn’t offer any harbingers that good news was heading my way.

For those of you that have ever read the kid’s book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, by Judith Viorst, I won’t even have to elaborate.  For a more adult reference, if anyone saw the recent Cohn Brother’s movie, A Serious Man, you too won’t have to stretch your imagination very far to “grok” that today was a day when one thing after another just kept going WRONG.  Never mind that it was Friday the 13th.  That typically holds no negative connotations for me. I was born on the 13th of a month and always felt that it gave me a free pass to uneventful Fridays that happened to land on the 13th day of the month. But what can I say, today was just a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

Until I received the link to this news broadcast from Australia.  I am a member of several “listservs” that share data, research and personal stories about fat acceptance, size acceptance and Health at Every Size (sm).  It is wonderful to be connected with such a passionate, inclusive and intelligent group of women and men.  The “good news” story came from Darliene and totally made my day!

Without much further ado, I will pass on this link to, “Very Good News” (as I imagine Winnie the Pooh would label it).  And spread the joy.  My only other comment is that if I were the kind of person that was inclined to say, “I told you so,” this would be an occasion for me to shout the taunt from the rooftops.  But because I am not that person, I will just share it with EVERYONE I KNOW!!! 

Enjoy this!!!  I know I did!


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Happy Mama’s Day!!!

by Dr. Deah on May.08, 2011, under Tasty Morsels: by Dr. Deah Schwartz

My mom hated her body. I knew it at a very young age. I didn’t understand it.

I loved my mom’s body. Not just for all of the reasons that so many of us write about e.g. the enveloping arms, and squishy soft pillows of comfort offered for snuggles and consoling. I loved my mom’s body because I saw it as constant, immortal, forever there and always accessible. Her size and shape had nothing to do with my love for her body. My love was about attachment. My love was about unconditional availability. My love was without eyes or judgment.

So when I heard my mom complaining about her butt and thighs I was bothered.

When I heard my mom crying in the bathroom and I’d peek in and see her looking in the mirror I was bewildered.

When I saw her picking out the combination of blue and red capsules from the little white boxes that Dr. Newman and Dr. Wortman used to give her, I was…

(Ooh, this is beginning to sound like a Rogers and Hart Song…Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered was I!)

Actually, I was scared. I didn’t understand the pills, the tears, the self-directed hatred. It was incongruent with my experience of loving her so much. Like a puzzle missing a piece.

My mom wore army boots.  Literally…she wore army boots. She wore overalls, army boots, and she was years before her time. She sent my sister and me to school with backpacks way before they were popular. We hated her for it. We wanted pretty little book bags, we got army surplus back packs. We were the coolest, later on, in the sixties, but by then we were used to feeling just a tad ashamed of Mom’s eccentricities.

My mom died when I was 13. She had Leukemia. She got sick in October, 1969 and died two months later. By then I had adopted her body hate as my own. I had incorporated her habits of crying over the bathroom scale, wearing big cover up clothing and being embarrassed about my body. I too was taking pills, albeit, they were illegally obtained and had little crosses on them. I had inherited some wonderful qualities from my mother but they were totally eclipsed by the negative genetic legacy she passed on to me.

I hated my Mom’s body by the age of 15 because it became my body. I inherited her shortness, her roundness and sturdiness. I had not been given any examples of how to love my body. I grew up surrounded by the message that this was a body to despise. I was TAUGHT to hate my body and my mom’s body. But what I came to realize years later is that what I really hated was the abandonment of that precious body when she died. The betrayal, and the reality that this wonderful Mommy Body was gone forever…well, it was  easier to hate my thighs and butt than to really grieve the loss. 

My mom died when she was 52.  When I turned 52, I opened up a box of MOMOIRS…trinkets, cards and clothing that I had saved from my mom…Mom-ories.  In the box were the overalls that she used to wear. They had embroidered flowers on the bib, and white lace stitched on to the legs. They were kind of girly-girl in a way. They were, I realized for the first time, a size 12.  My mom suffered a life time of self-loathing as a size twelve. I put them on, they fit just right.

I looked in the mirror and grinned, I looked adorable! Like a 52 year old Pippi Longstocking! I stood there and cry-ulled, (you know that crying and smiling at the same time thing that we do when both emotions are equally as powerful and you have to call it a tie?)

I allowed myself to love my mom’s and my body, for the two of us, as fervently as I could. I wore those overalls most of the day until I went out for my birthday dinner. (My mom would have worn them into Chez Panisse, or French Laundry, but I wasn’t that brave!) Still I carried my mom to dinner with me that night, in my thighs, my butt, my belly and my heart.

It’s Mother’s Day. It’s my first Mother’s Day without my child at home. He is a college freshman 3,000 miles away yet dutifully “CAWLED HIS MUTHUH.”  Our conversation meandered effortlessly from topic to topic, giggles, tears, politics, and school. We are very close, very chatty and unashamed to acknowledge how much we love each other.

I inherited that quality from my mom. My son knows that I am constant, forever there, and always accessible. My size and shape have nothing to do with our relationship.  He loves me without eyes or judgment.

Mom and Son

And more importantly, I feel the same way about him. I will light a Mom-orial candle today and hope that we can all embrace ourselves with love and acceptance.

Happy Mama’s Day and here is a delicious video clip from Dances With Fat to celebrate with a smile!

When You’re Good to Mama…Mama’s Good to YOU!!!

(Fat Bottom is Austin’s Premier Plus-Sized Cabaret. This is from the recording session for our application to the New Orleans Burlesque Fest. Fat Bottom dancers include Annalacia, Tyreena, Nikki and Ragen. Fat Bottom is directed by Nikki McCullough and choreographed by Ragen Chastain. Video by Brian Hamburg, sound by Melvin Maas.)

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by Dr. Deah on May.05, 2011, under Events, Tasty Morsels: by Dr. Deah Schwartz

It is an honor to help spread the word about a new book written by, Kim Brittingham, READ MY HIPS: HOW I LEARNED TO LOVE MY BODY, DITCH DIETING, AND LIVE LARGE, published by Three Rivers Press.

With all of the negative press these days about the “truthiness” and lax fact checking of memoirs, the authenticity of, Read My Hips, is refreshing and satisfying. Anyone who has spent their life dieting, been teased about their weight, or longed to be loved for WHO they are and not WHAT they look like, will know from page one that THIS book is the real deal. Written with humor, poignancy, and indisputable accuracy, Ms. Brittingham gives the reader permission and valid reasons for ditching dieting and learning to love their bodies HIPS and ALL!!
With International No Diet Day being celebrated on May 6th, this is THE perfect time to be inspired by Ms Brittingham’s work.  Once you have read this voluptuous collection of auto-biographical stories that invites the reader to,
“see her fat, accept it as a part of her striking whole, and acknowledge she’d be remarkable with or without it”

it will be difficult not taking a step on the road that Kim maps out for her audience. 

Clearly those of us who resonate with Ms Brittingham’s experiences will savor the flavors of familiarity, giggle and cry in recognition of ourselves and cheer for each victory achieved by the author for attaining,
“radical self acceptance, believing myself attractive and worthy of love and respect.”

More importantly perhaps, is the possibility that this book will find its way into the hands, eyes, and minds of people currently unaware of Ms. Brittingham’s point of view. Read My Hips is so engaging that these newcomers will begin to embrace the concepts of size diversity, futility of dieting, and ultimately eliminate fat bias from their personal menus of social interaction.

Our Minds are Open!

As the size of Kim Brittingham’s audience increases (pun intended) let’s hope that International No Diet Day can be Every Day.


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Someone may be Listening??

by Dr. Deah on May.01, 2011, under Events


Remember the Dear Michele letters we were sending re: the negative backlash from the Let’s Move Campaign resulting in shaming kids for being fat?  Maybe someone heard us!!  Here is the comment we posted on the ABC News site where the article was also published:

It has been a month of turmoil in the world; Libya, tornadoes, and floods, just a few of the real life atrocities affecting real life people.  It makes the battle of size discrimination and eating disorders seem pale in comparison.  However as a person living in a tumultuous and diverse society I must be able to “multi-cause-task.”

David Crary’s article does a brilliant job of explaining why the Let’s Move campaign has an Achilles’ heel that’s impossible to ignore.

Crary deftly presents the rarely publicized opposing viewpoints in an accessible and logical framework. I am hoping this raises the awareness of the campaign’s unintentional but negative side effects.  Unfortunately, because of the way Let’s Move is being promoted, bullying is a tangible outcome. Rather than helping fat kids “FIT in” the campaign is creating an environment where bullies are reinforced for their disdainful and superior attitudes and actions towards fat children. Meanwhile the fat kids are left fighting for their lives physically and emotionally; unwillingly joining a real life cast of a real life reality show that could be called, “America’s Educational System’s Biggest Losers.” It is imperative that if we are serious about children’s health, we shift the focus away from weight and adopt a systemic/holistic approach that takes a person’s individual make-up into consideration. One size does NOT fit all definitions of health; whereas shaming and finger pointing frequently result in poor mental health. I am certain Mrs. Obama does not believe in a lack of parity between physical and mental health issues and can continue to promote health in a kinder way.

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