Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Obesity! Crisis! Hits Pagan Community

One week ago, a young, well known, well liked member of the pagan community suddenly passed away. David Grega suffered cardiac arrest at the age of 27. Upon hearing this very tragic news, I thought to myself, "Surely the pagan community won't comment on his 'overweight' appearance, because they are better than that, right? Surely we won't be getting a flood of obesity crisis posts from big name pagans because they know better, right???"

This week, some big name pagans have posted about the Obesity! Crisis! (hereon called OC), and my fears were realized. (Un)Fortunately, what you hear/read is mostly the sympathetic, "help the fatties" sentiment. Questions were raised about conventions, events, activities, and speeches about health in our community, and while I think it would be a great idea to have people like Linda Bacon, Ph.D or Ragen Chastain speak at these places, I highly doubt these are the people that they were thinking about asking.

One common thread in every post can be summed up by Peter Dybing:

"One of the most valued principles within the Wicca community is that all bodies are sacred and beautiful."

I whole-heartedly agree! If he, and the others, had stopped at that, I probably wouldn't be writing this post. Dybing goes on to say, "This is so engrained in our culture that that we have developed a collective amnesia concerning the health affects of obesity." I really don't think that is true. I think that a good portion realize, consciously or subconsciously, that the mainstream belief on obesity is false, or at least that diets suck, and have ditched the body hate.

Dybing also gave a few OC data points. Let's look at them.

1) "Obesity is the #2 cause of preventable death in the United States" - It could be considered "preventable", if those who dieted/lost weight had a better chance then the current 5% success rate. No one knows how to make a naturally fat person thin, or vice versa for that matter. Diets do not work, and study after buried study is proving that. For instance, this 2007 UCLA study (pdf) looked at 31 earlier studies and determined that:

"[D]ieters were not able to maintain their weight losses in the long term, and there was not consistent evidence that the diets resulted in significant improvements in their health. In the few cases in which health benefits were shown, it could not be demonstrated that they resulted from dieting, rather than exercise, medication use, or other lifestyle changes. It appears that dieters who manage to sustain a weight loss are the rare exception, rather than the rule. Dieters who gain back more weight than they lost may very well be the norm, rather than an unlucky minority." (Emphasis mine.)
Also, this study, who were the original scientists who published the first paper on deaths by obesity, had this to say:
 "According to the [second] study, obesity and extreme obesity cause about 112,000 deaths per year, but being overweight was found to prevent about 86,000 deaths annually. Based on those figures, the net U.S. death toll from excess weight is 26,000 per year. By contrast, researchers found that being underweight results in 34,000 deaths per year." (Emphasis added.)
So, in with those actual numbers, Obesity would fall to #8, below firearms deaths and above STIs.

2) "60 million Americans, 20 years and older are obese" - Also, 40% of Americans have brown eyes, equaling to about 124 million.

3) "9 million children and teens ages 6-19 are overweight" - 16 million children live in poverty in the United States alone. If I had more time, I would draw the correlation between poverty, food deserts, and how that affects children. Also, this.

4) "Being obese increases the risk of health conditions and diseases including: Breast cancer, Coronary heart disease, Type II diabetes, Sleep apnea, Gallbladder disease, Osteoarthritis, Colon cancer, Hypertension and Stroke" - Actually, no. Obesity has: 

"been shown shown to protect against a variety of problems, including “infections, cancer, lung disease, heart disease, osteoporosis, anemia, high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis and type 2 diabetes.” Fat people also have lower rates of emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hip fracture, tuberculosis, anemia, peptic ulcer and chronic bronchitis." 
 And being overweight and obese can actually boost your survival rate after a stroke. (If you need something a bit less science-y, check out this link.) Like Margot Adler said, "The truth is that fit overweight people usually don’t have many medical problems."

Now, specifically moving to the Firefly Chronicles post, let's talk about a few things. If you remove the mention of obesity from Iris Firemoon's post in the beginning, you have an article about the Natural Food diet (diet here meaning what you eat as opposed to diets like Weight Watchers). It's about eating healthier and being in good shape to improve your life and it touches on some of the problems people face in the U.S, like insurance coverage and questionable restaurant foods. In ways, she echos threads from Health At Every Size.

But then it starts getting dicey at the end, and I get a particular rub with "Making healthier choices is not an easy start.  It hurts at first.  It doesn't taste good at first.  It doesn't bring us pleasure at first." and "How does the community, with the resources available, address obesity?" Obesity isn't the problem, people who think that obese people aren't doing X, Y, or Z and are fat because of it are the problem. People who think they can judge a person's health by the way that they look are the problem. People who think they can simply judge people are the problem. Fat shaming is the only discrimination where the victims actually believe they deserve it. They don't, no more than anyone else deserves it. No one deserves hatred of any kind. [EDIT: Isis Firemoon has since changed her article. For context, and to preserve the article, I'm leaving these two paragraphs up.]

How then should the Pagan community deal with it? Like they always do, with science as their partner and human rights Second in Command. With a posse of facts and the normal banter.

Here then, are my facts for a better alternative, the HAES alternative.

First and foremost:
 "Poor nutrition and a sedentary lifestyle do cause health problems, in people of all sizes. This is why it’s so fucking crucial to separate the concept of “obesity” from “eating crap and not exercising.” The two are simply not synonymous — not even close — and it’s not only incredibly offensive but dangerous for thin people to keep pretending that they are. There are thin people who eat crap and don’t exercise — and are thus putting their health at risk — and there are fat people who treat their bodies very well but remain fat. Really truly."
"Health at Every Size is based on the simple premise that the best way to improve health is to honor your body. It supports people in adopting good health habits for the sake of health and well-being (rather than weight control). Health at Every Size encourages:
• Accepting and respecting the natural diversity of body sizes and shapes.
• Eating in a flexible manner that values pleasure and honors internal cues of hunger, satiety and appetite.
• Finding the joy in moving one’s body and becoming more physically vital."

Third, HAES is more effective to long term health than dieting:

"Cognitive restraint decreased in the health at every size group and increased in the diet group, indicating that both groups implemented their programs. Attrition (6 months) was high in the diet group (41%), compared with 8% in the health at every size group. Fifty percent of both groups returned for 2-year evaluation. Health at every size group members maintained weight, improved in all outcome variables, and sustained improvements. Diet group participants lost weight and showed initial improvement in many variables at 1 year; weight was regained and little improvement was sustained."
This, and this and this and this and this and this. This with tears and shaking anger. This with happiness. This with gusto and fervor. This for the bookworm in me, and this with sadness.

The question then becomes, why didn't we have this lifestyle in the first place? The next question is why don't we adopt it now that we know about it?

By accident, I stumbled across an article about stereotypes (regarding immigration and work, but whateve') and it errily fits this situation somehow.
 "As Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie once pointed out, the problem with stereotypes isn’t that they’re untrue; it’s that they are incomplete. If you go to Mexico, you can find a guy in a sombrero playing mariachi music. He does exist. But he can’t represent all of Mexico."
Yeah, you will have the stereotypical fat person who is sooooo fat that they cannot move by themselves or even get out of bed. But no matter how you cut it, that person can't represent all of the fat people. Hey, isn't that just like the saying about how no one pagan can represent the whole? Hmmm.


  1. Dave had medical issues unrelated to weight that contributed to his heart attack. Dave had also lost a significant amount of weight over the past few years.

    Quite frankly, if I have one more thin person write about the obesity "epidemic" in Paganism, I will scream.

    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    2. As a close friend of Dave's I am agreeing with Star. There were a lot of health complications that both caused his weight gain and weight loss that are, quite frankly, not any of the public's business. So no...his weight didn't have anything to do with his heart attack. Thank you, move along

  2. I'm so glad to see HAES proponents within the Pagan community responding to this! Fat and Not Afraid also covered it last night.

  3. Glad to see this blog. Valuable part of the discussion

  4. I'm an out Pagan and a plus-size fashion blogger. I've been seeing this anti-fat ignorant crap from people I personally know and otherwise respect, even before the loss of Mr. Grega. Thank you for speaking on this so eloquently.

    Also, you might want to add this tidbit: - the obesity paradox, where still-obese people have a 17% higher likelihood of surviving cardiac surgery.

  5. So glad you have brought up HAES. I've been mentioning it to people lately as an alternative to the body shaming that is so prevalent.

    I've written on the topic of health and Paganism in the past, so the only thing I contributed this time was a comment on Lydia Crabtree's blog, which did not go far enough in detailing the nuances of the discussion. Here are just a few pieces, in case anyone is interested:

    On that last, regarding HFCS, still more research has come out very recently proving that it is harmful in many ways.

  6. Thank you for this blog. I think the shaming and finger pointing needs to stop in all communities. While obesity may be labeled an "Epidemic" it is also very lucrative. The more the panic spreads the more the cash flows in to the people who profit from the "epidemic." Think about the cash flow coming out of everything from the health touted "master cleanse" workshop/retreats to big Pharma medications with devastating side effects. Can obesity be harmful to your health? Yes, but so is emaciation and an "normal" BMI person who is actually dehydrated and malnourished! Human beings have different bodies with different needs, learning about how your own body works and learning what your own body needs seems to get lost in the hysteria of the "epidemic." This is one of my favorite HAES blogs:

  7. I agree with Peter that this is a valuable part of the discussion.

    I used the word "obesity" at the end and in the title to connect what I had to say with the discussion that was started, but my point was to iterate that it shouldn't be about weight, but about health. You are right that I should have ended my last sentence with the word "health" but I didn't want to appear as if I was intentionally trying to change the discussion, but I was. I have edited the post to reflect that, because that is what I wanted to write and what I meant. That was my message. I don't advocate dieting at all. I advocate overall awareness of our environment, ourselves, and the food we eat. Not for obese folks, but for every single person.

    "Making healthier choices is not an easy start. It hurts at first. It doesn't taste good at first. It doesn't bring us pleasure at first."

    I am speaking from my own experiences here to encourage all people to take the uncomfortable moments in order to make the healthy choice. That it's not uncomfortable forever. The transition from conventional to whole foods was tough. I remember how I just couldn't stand the Whole Foods brand parmesan cheese (Kraft used to taste so much better to me), whole grain pasta and bread, the cane sugar soda, the fresh squeezed OJ, etc. I have strong food emotions. I didn't recognize what I was eating. It didn't fill my cravings. I remember the taste of things and the way I feel when I eat them, and I didn't want to eat the healthier alternative in a lot of cases. But, as the years rolled on, I was able to slowly replace those food feelings. Now the more natural alternative tastes better to me. Instead of tasting what I was missing in more natural foods, I now taste the bad stuff I don't want to eat in conventional foods. I still have places where I want to make a better choice, but because of the way I feel when I eat some foods, I just don't. It's a process. A transition for all. It has nothing to do with weight. It has everything to do with awareness, time, and commitment from all persons.

    There is the uncomfortable factor along with the money factor, the availability factor, the convenience factor. No matter what someone's weight is, we all have moments when we can make a better choice, a healthier choice. To keep learning. To keep trying to understand what we're doing to our bodies. I was just trying to say that by making the choice, we take the first step towards health, even if it doesn't taste good right now. To hang in there, because your perspective will change if you want it to.

    1. You know, I've been finding ways to make the healthier choices taste just as good to me at the start as the unhealthy ones. I've researched recipes and such that work well and use natural ingredients but still taste good. That's how I've been transitioning. I also allow myself one night a week to be naughty with my choices on the understanding that it's only the one night and the rest of the week I'm back to normal. Usually it just means I get get icecream though. :) Even with these changes, I'm still considered fat by most people. However, I am able to out-move several of my skinnier "healthier" friends and have even been labelled as "freakishly strong" by many of them. Have I shrunk in size? Not really. But I'm faster, stronger and I feel better every day. That's what counts.

  8. What angers me about the whole situation going on i general, is people believing they can speak for anyone who may be pagan and large and point a finger like they are more pagan whatever because they are not fat... pisses me off to no end. Personally myself I didnt gain any extreme eight until after I became very ill, the illness wasnt caused by weight ... after becoming ill and gaining weight , I was actually out right avoided at pagan events and quickly was dropped from circle invites at all. We cannot continue the mindset that only the beautiful people can worship at the temple or circle. We cannot continue to allow supposed BNPs to lead everyone around by the nose and say say say. No one lives my life , and no one pagan in the community even bothered to ask me what happened me, they just assume, like even most people who are not pagan; that somehow Iam obese because I want to be. I watch everything I do now closer than I ever had after becoming ill, I have too.
    And dont even get me started on the whole "if you could do real magic you would be well again" wagon AAARRRGHHHHH. Theres a topic for a blog.
    However Thank you for saying what needed to be said Blessed Be

  9. Thank you for this post! My husband subscribes to the Psychotherapy Networker and there is an article in the January/February 2011 issued called "Recipe for Life" by Judith Matz. It backs up much of your research and brings out some important points. One of which is that "...people who diet are eight times as likely to develop an eating disorder, score higher on measurements of stress and depression compared to nondieters, and experience greater health risks, such as cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes as the result of weight cycling." Matz espouses "attuned eating", which you refer to above as "...honor(ing) internal cues of hunger, satiety and appetite." That path seems far more sane and respectful of our bodies as temples. Having gone thru this yo-yoing for 46 years, I'm focusing on adding activity and awareness myself.

  10. I was going to make some politically correct post and then said screw it. I have personally been on both sides of this issue. I'm 37 years old and the first half of my life I was a healthy weight,then I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and between the medications and lack of mobility on most days,the weight came on. At this point in my life I weigh around 230 pounds which on a 5'5" frame is a lot.I do eat healthy for the most part and I do exercise when I can but living in this new body has also made me really self conscious,not because I look in the mirror and judge myself but because I know damned well the minute I leave the house people who don't know me,don't know how or why I got this big are judging me. In truth i'm a beautiful woman inside and out!! What I guess i'm trying to say is that maybe instead of others passing judgement and pointing fingers,we should accept the fact that its not possible to know someone else's story and accept people for who they are.

    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  11. I would not normally post to such a post as this but as an obese person trying very hard to healthy, I feel I really need to say something here. I was not always overweight. In High School I was athletic and always trim but not skinny. In '95 I contracted lyme disease and due to improper testing , it became chronic. Over the course of a year my mobility was so limited I could not stand for more than a few minutes at a time. I became depressed and began to eat food that I had never eaten very often before. Usually I would cook fairly balanced meals and loved salads and fruits. Over the years I found things that helped me to become mobile again though I still have bad days even now. After ballooning up, I new I needed to get healthy to fight this disease. I tried everything, diets, exercise, fads and nothing seemed to work. And then I started reading about our food supply and how it has changed drastically over the last thirty years. Even wheat has been engineered in such a way to make us fat. You know it's bad when a slice of whole bread rates higher on the glycemic scale than a 12 ounce soda. And so now I have embarked on a path to get healthy - not thin, but really healthy. I would never look down on another who is struggling with their weight. I understand the battle all too well. But it's time that we realized that keeping us hungry all the time only benefits the companies that created this mess.

    1. Sunwyn, yes, yes, yes.

      In reply to a different blog, I wrote: "we have systemic hurdles to good health from agribusiness and food corporations who have conspired to load the market with cheap, non-nourishing foods that directly impact our health and our communities"

  12. I know that this isn't going to win me a lot of friends, and that is totally ok... but after reading this article there are so many things going through my mind. Obesity IS a major health crisis, not only in the Pagan community, but all over the country and the world. Also, this persons's research is questionable at best. And anyone with any sense knows that the only way to loose weight is to expend more calories that you intake. Dieting is only 1/3 of the solution, exercise is the other 2/3... I believe that we do tend to be more tolerant of a variety of body types in the Pagan community, almost to a fault. But get real people. If we are Pagans, if our goal is to live in harmony with Nature, to live by the example of the natural world, then we need to wake up to the fact that obesity doesn't exist in the Natural world... The Goddess loves you just they way you are, unconditionally, but She wants you to be healthy and love yourself enough to make the right choices for yourself. And if that means cutting the carbs and hitting the gym... that's is Her will.

    PS: don't even get me started on the problem with cigarette-smoking in the pagan community...

    also, as a young, fit, educated Pagan, who spends most of his time in mainstream society and doesn't wear earth-tones... i ALSO represent the Pagan Community.

    1. Thank you Josh - I am so glad this topic is being discussed. There seems to be a lot of knee-jerk, defensive reaction to observations of what IS. Stating what is true is not necessarily a judgement.

      I have had many people ask me, "Why are there so many obese pagans?" I'm not sure how to answer this. I have a foot in many worlds, Pagan among them. And I have noticed a disproportionate number of obese individuals in the Pagan community compared to say, New Age communities, or even other earth-loving spiritual communities.

      I see less awareness or consciousness around food choices and exercise. Among my Pagan family, I have been regarded as a freak because I don't want to eat with them at fast food places, and I actually prefer to eat vegetables - the fresher the better! Yet I'm more fit and active than any of them.

      I would like to see more consciousness in the Pagan Community in regard to food choices, and awareness of the benefits of eating organic, choosing free range meat, cutting out the processed sugars and carbs, etc. Eating what most benefits our bodies and the planet that sustains us.

    2. "obesity doesn't exist in the Natural world"

      Really? Are you sure of that?

    3. Two minutes of googling yields:

      From the NY Times article:

      "I’d long assumed that wild animals stayed effortlessly lean and healthy. I’d always thought that wild animals ate until they were full and then prudently stopped. But in fact, given the chance, many wild fish, reptiles, birds and mammals overindulge. Sometimes spectacularly so. Abundance plus access — the twin downfalls of many a human dieter — can challenge wild animals, too.

      Although we may think of food in the wild as hard to come by, at certain times of the year and under certain conditions, the supply may be unlimited. Many gorge, stopping only when their digestive tracts literally cannot take any more. Tamarin monkeys have been seen to eat so many berries in one sitting that their intestines are overwhelmed and they soon excrete the same whole fruits they recently gobbled down."

    4. Type 2 diabetes isn't one of the leading causes of death for animals

    5. That's vastly different than Type 2 diabetes being non-existent in the wild. Also, being hunted down & eaten by predators is not one of the leading causes of death for humans - I would imagine that death by predation would come long before an animal died of Type 2 diabetes complications.

    6. I would say there is a larger amount of obese folks in the pagan community for a few of reasons. Big one being that most of us are poor. Obesity is an epidemic amongst the poor because most of us can only afford to buy processed crap that is more fattening than nutritive and contains compounds that encourage weight gain. We are more accepting of it, so people don't have that peer pressure we see in other aspects of our lives to lose weight. We also tend to be more pleasure oriented and unfortunately, those foods that cause pleasure tend to also add to the waistline ;-)

    7. I TOTALLY agree with you Eric!

      Even more things to heal in the pagan-community's consciousness, lack of accountability for one's health and poverty-mentality! We are supposed to be MAGICK WORKERS! But if one's life is so out of order that they can't manage the condition of their body (food-intake+exercise=weight) and they maintain a poverty-mentality (i'm poor, i'll always be poor, people like me don't have money... money is for other people... not Pagans) then how can you possibly be an effective magick-worker...

      Ineffective Will is ineffective Will, doesn't matter if it's at the alter, or the McDonalds drive-thru.

  13. I am finding on my journey to a healthier body that Weight Watchers is, other than the goal of weightloss for those as need and choose it, it follows those HAES principles of enjoying your food and moving more.

    The mantra is that you can eat what you want. What you need to do if you're also wanting to lose weight is to account for what you eat, eat less than you burn, and get moving in some manner.

    WW is a diet, but it is a diet that also teaches a healthier lifestyle that you continue to practice after you've reached whatever your goal weight is. And the range of weight for any given height is quite broad: from "there is no way I'm going to get down to a few pounds more than my teenage daughter weighs" to "I'll still have some nice curves." By the way, those are my ways to describe the ends of the range for my height.

    Over time, the healthier choices are becoming more habit for me, which is the point, is it not?

  14. I would like to make one correction:
    Weight Watchers is not a diet. Truly, it is not. The program has changed a lot in recent years, and the emphasis is on health eating and activity as lifestyle choices. There are no "forbidden" foods. Yes, the point of the program is to lose weight, but each participant decides for him or herself how much to lose, and how quickly they lose it. (The recommended rate of loss is 1 to 2 pounds per week.) For folks who want to lose weight, WW is their best bet for losing and keeping weight off. I started WW to lose a relatively modest amount - 20 lbs - and it has worked really well for me. There are folks in my regular group who have lost as much as 130 lbs and kept it off successfully for years.

  15. This topic is truly a quagmire. I grew up in a family that placed a very high value on appearance, and weight in particular. I was the "fat" daughter who came perilously close to anorexia as a teen (got down to around 100 lbs at 5 foot 3 inches - pretty dang boney). I have seen how the medicalization of obesity give free reign to those who are fat-phobic to couch their bigotry in terms of health and healthy living. Bigotry is bigotry, and until those of us who are fat-phobic own up to it this conversation will continue to generate pain for many of us. (And yes, thanks to my family I am fat-phobic and have had to consciously work to get past it.)

    That said, I'd like to put on my scientist hat (I'm a physiologist and have some experience with "obesity" research).I am not one of those who sees an obesity epidemic. What I see is an epidemic of inactivity combined with poor nutrition, with the rise in obesity being a consequence of that. It is possible to be exceptionally physically fit and still register as "obese" on the BMI charts. Take a look at some of the world-class athletes in shot-put, discus, and power lifting for examples. BMI and/or weight is just one health indicator out of many - there are folks with normal BMI who are inactive and therefore at risk of metabolic syndrome, including diabetes and heart disease. There are folks with high BMI who run marathons.

    I think the key is to stop conflating appearance with fitness or health. The majority (i.e. white) culture in the US equates extreme thinness with the ultimate in attractiveness, and therefore pushes "normal" BMI into the "marginally attractive" range and "obesity" into the category of "repulsive and disgusting." Until we stop marginalizing people on the basis of their body shape, we can never address the true health issues of poor nutrition and inactivity that are what is really killing us.

  16. John W --- Bravo. Well-spoken.

    On dieting: there are categorical differences between dieting and changing one's diet for the better. Personal metabolism *does* vary, body types *do* vary, and quite probably, personal nutrient needs also vary --- within reason. And yes, Agrabiz has seriously modified (on physical and psychological levels) what we consider to be "staple foods," even what we consider to be "healthful foods."

    On pre-existing conditions: yes --- underlying metabolic conditions, surgeries, infectious diseases, chronic illnesses, mobility-impairing injuries, and neurotransmitter-based psychological states all affect baseline metabolism and the ability (even the motivation) to be physically active, eat well, and engage in self-care.

    On judgementalism: yes --- our fashion industry and advertising standards are biased toward thinness, and this is as manipulative as it is unrealistic and unrepresentative of "real life." As none of us are immune, we import these criteria into our most cherished institutions, even if unconsciously.

    Having said all that, I still don't believe denial serves us.

    If we focus all of our angst and attention on Agrabiz, on school menu and physical activity policies, on processed food industry lobbyists, on the lack of equal access to affordable healthcare, on cultural judgementalism --- all serious factors in overall public health --- we also surrender our personal will and responsibility to those external factors. We alleviate ourselves of the burden of figuring out how (or whether or to what extent) *we* have abdicated our own healthiness, our own basic accountability to our physical wellbeing. In the process, we perpetuate denial. I'm going to take a risk here by asserting that denial is not consistent with compassion (itself an oft-misapplied and fuzzily-definied, morphic kind of word in the Pagan community).

    I believe we need to be clear-headed and bravely honest with this issue. Blaming "the other" for morbid obesity is surrendering responsibility (if only for trying to figure out --- and yes, this can be a frustrating process and a lifetime's endeavor --- how to regain and maintain an acceptable level of health and functionality). Blaming the self is just as pernicious; it adds toxic layers of psychological insult and can be as potent a de-motivator as projecting blame outward. Blaming another on a *moral* level for their own condition is the third leg of the unholy triad of blame.

    As far as the issue of morbid obesity is concerned, there are many, many points within the middle ground between uncritical acceptance of the condition as an inalienable, consequence-free "right" (denial) and its characterization as some sort of moral or personal "failure" (condemnation). Can we navigate that zone in any meaningful way for our personal and collective wellbeing, or do we take the easy route of polarization? I think it bears honest discussion and brave inquiry, and our ability to discuss it openly and fairly would be a mark of our communal maturity.

    (For those who follow Western astrology, I can't help but notice that this discussion has emerged during a Mars-Libra/Uranus-Aries/Pluto-Capricorn T-Square. Perhaps its time has come.)


    A BTW 3D Non-BNP

  17. Part of the problem is that, when a fat person decides to get some exercise, he or she is often subject to ridicule.
    Last fall, I was with a group of co-workers watching a group of women who were walking outside for exercise. One of them was tall and heavy, and my co-workers were pointing and laughing at her. I thought to myself, if that's how they see her, they're going to point and laugh at me, too. Therefore, I have never joined in any company exercise. I refuse to subject myself to ridicule in my quest to become healthier.

    1. so you'd agree that the teenager who never learned to read should NEVER ask for help because people will make fun of her, right?


      someone with a speech-impediment shouldn't practice speaking in public because people will make fun of them...


      the young urban executive who just left a business meeting shouldn't go to the local Pagan gathering because people will make fun of the way she's dressed

    2. my point is, there is always a reason not to do something that is good for you! it tends to be because "it's hard." but one has to ask oneself the question, "do i wanna work hard and make a better life for myself, and my loved ones, or do I wanna let myself be unhealthy, potentially becoming a burden on my family, or killing myself."

    3. Hmmmm, do you let these anonymous others make all your decisions for you?

      Because that's what I see in that excuse: they'll make fun of me, so I won't do it. That's handing over control to them.

      Why should your health be neglected because they're ignorant and immature?

    4. If a group of people made fun of someone who can't read, the majority of society would find that despicable and there would be public outrage.

      If a group of people makes fun of an obese person at the gym, not only does no one see it as inherently wrong, they blame the fat person because "it's their own fault they're fat." Would you repeatedly go to a store where you are repeatedly badgered for being pagan? What if that was the only place to obtain a good or service that you need? That is a choice overweight people face.

      Trust me, self-described "young, fit, educated Pagan"...if the shoe was on the other foot, you would see the discrimination and rail against it with the rest of us. Kindly take the time to educate yourself on the other views and walks of life in this community before claiming to have the "one true solution".

    5. the shoe HAS been on the "other foot" many times! Being an ACTUAL "young, fit, educated Pagan" who believes in maintain a certain physical appearance, and appreciates the nicer things in life, and has worked hard to get them... AND has been functioning within the Pagan community for over a decade. i have experienced the same ridicule and discrimination from WITHIN THE PAGAN COMMUNITY, for being all the things i listed. So am i not supposed to go to pagan events because i wear designer clothes and spend a good about of time at the gym, because many people at these events will make fun of the way I look?

      no, i will go back to the store! Because i am a strong, confidant, determined PAGAN, and my WILL and relationship with the Great Mother reflect that!

      So, the question the over-weight and obese pagan population might ask themselves is "am i happy with my life the way it is." and if the answer is yes, which i seriously doubt it is or we wouldn't be having this conversation at all, that's fine. then I invite you to OWN your weight and potentially declining health, but if the answer is no... is you WILL as a Magick-worker strong enough to do something about it?

  18. Apologies to "John" --- make that "Josh W." ;)


  19. Hey everyone, thanks for the comments! I seem to be having issues commenting on my own stuff, so I have switched to the pop up option. I hope the issue is fixed soon.

    Peter Dybing, thank you for commenting on this article! I hope that you don't take this post as a personal attack; I wasn't attacking you, only the facts you presented. I still respect you and all that you have done. May you continue to be blessed.

    To those who nay say about "iffy data", if you cannot accept the legitimate studies that I have linked to, actual studies done by actual scientists, then I cannot persuade you with anything more powerful. If you cannot accept science, then I cannot talk to you anymore.

    Star, Thorn, thank you so much for your input! You are so awesome, words cannot even.

    For those of you who have experienced the hate, I have this quote for you:
    "My fellow fatsronauts: Maybe your parents police your body, maybe your partner comments on your eating habits, maybe your boss passes you over for promotions, maybe your coworkers make snide comments about your weight, maybe your thin friends passive-aggressively use your weight to make themselves feel better about their insecurities, maybe strangers say awful shit to you, and maybe you have days where it feels like you are truly, hopelessly, resoundingly unlovable, just because you're fat.

    It isn't so. I love the fuck out of you."

  20. One of the most comprehensive posts I've seen on the issue! Thank you so much for taking the time to put it together. I did my own take at if you're interested. Also, the quote from Shakesville? 110% WIN.

  21. There are people of all shapes and sizes and we all have to eat right and exercise. One thing for certain is that you can't tell that someone is unhealthy simply by their weight. The obesity war is especially focused on women and our bodies. As much as anyone tries to frame weight as a medical issue, its simple discrimination.

  22. So if you do a google search on Images or Statues of Goddesses, you will notice that most are very voluptuous. They are not "thin" nor are they "obese". They are women with a nice chest and big hips and have an hourglass figure. So should we say that the "skinny" people of the pagan community should shunned as well. After all they are not what a true Goddess looks like. They have no hips, no chest and quite frankly look like a young boy. People if you are happy with the way you look and feel then who cares what anyone else thinks of you. Why do so many people have concerns about how you will be judged? Be happy and if someone doesn't like you and accept you for who you are then they aren't worth the time and effort to begin with.

  23. Hey there! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and tell
    you I genuinely enjoy reading your articles. Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that go over the same subjects?
    Thanks for your time!
    Also visit my site : proactol plus

    1. Thank you! If you go up to the "Links,Links,Links!" tab, there is a big list of blogs, research, photo projects and more. I've included the links, so all you have to do is click.

      BTW, weight loss pills aren't needed here.