Prescribing Exercise

Earlier today I saw an article on Facebook about doctors prescribing exercise to treat various conditions. While I’m not exactly opposed to the idea of discussing exercise as a way to maintain long term health, I’m concerned about what implications the idea of prescription could have. 

I’m wondering about the classism, ableism, and sizeism that could emerge in this. If someone has a chronic condition (mental or physical) that makes it hard to move, prescribed exercise might not be possible. And I know a doctor SHOULD be able to adjust for a patient’s specific needs, but there are too many misunderstood conditions and too many doctors that don’t want to put forth the effort or time to figure that out.

Even if someone is physically and mentally healthy, if they are living in poverty that can throw up more barriers. Someone working three jobs doesn’t exactly have time to go for an evening jog. Low-pay jobs are already more often physically taxing, will physicians count that as exercise or still demand more, which someone might be too busy and exhausted to do?

And of course, this could have horrific implications for fat people. There’s no control on applying this prescription equally. I would be unsurprised if doctors “prescribed” exercise at higher levels and frequencies in fat patients, or even accused them of lying regardless of hard data to back it up. I’m not saying exercise can’t be helpful in maintaining health for people of all sizes, but I don’t trust doctors to not be discriminatory in the application. 

For example, I had a doctor ask me about my exercise, which, fine, that’s something she could be asking everyone. But then the second I started explaining it she interrupted me to tell me how exercise works and how you can’t just stop when you get tired and how you have to gradually increase the amount. All basic stuff that she assumed I wouldn’t know, AFTER she hassled me about not wanting to be weighed. It was clear from her words and demeanor that she was reacting to my being fat. If a thin patient had said the same things she probably would have listened and believed them. 

(The kicker is that I grew up with a certified aerobics instructor/personal trainer for a mother so I probably learned more about exercise just sitting in the back of a class after school than she could imagine.)

So I’m not convinced that this is a workable thing. There’s nothing wrong with recommending exercise for long-term health, but there are too many variables for unequal application and discriminatory behavior to make prescribing it a good idea. 


Snakeskin Pants at Any Size

When I was in high school, during one of the many diet scamsprograms I tried, someone asked for little goals, no matter how silly. I had seen a pair of faux snakeskin pants at Hot Topic, that only went up to a junior’s size 13 or so, so I said I wanted to be able to buy those. 

I never got those pants, which is fine because they probably would have fit for all of an hour before I put weight back on. Such is the cycle for 97% of us. 

Recently, I popped into an Ashley Stewart (there’s one right across from my gym, which is very dangerous) and guess what they had on the racks? 

Faux snakeskin pants!

Very similar to the ones I had wanted as a teenager, but in the full AS size range. If I wanted them now, I could have them without torturing myself dieting!

I opted not to try them on this time. But now my lack of snakeskin pants is based on my OWN choices, not someone else’s decision to stop making something at an arbitrary size point. 

It was a nice reminder: you don’t have to be a certain size to have fun, to wear what you like, or to just live your life. Wear (faux!) snakeskin or (real) sparkles or mini skirts or whatever if you want to. You don’t have to put everything on hold until you starve yourself down to be temporarily smaller. Live NOW. 

Bullies Gonna Bully on Project Runway


By now you’ve probably seen the news that Ashley Nell Tipton won season 14 of Project Runway. Yay! 

Her collection was absolutely gorgeous, full of looks that I would love to wear, and I hope she goes far as a designer. But that’s not what I want to talk about right now.

What I want to discuss is the horror show that was the Project Runway reunion episode. (Note: if you haven’t read Melissa McEwan’s piece about the episode over at Shakesville, please do so.)

Awhile back, I talked about the way other designers were treating Ashley, and how I felt that was rooted in fatphobia. 

And during the reunion, these same people doubled down and acted like awful bullies. 

First, there were the not-so-subtle assertions that Ashley only won because she did a plus collection (because plus designers have it so easy in the sizeist fashion world?). Obviously this is ridiculous. If you look at all four collections, hers was the most beautiful and innovative regardless of size. She could have made it for straight size models and it still would have been head and shoulders above the others. Ashley won because she produced the best collection. Full stop. 

Then they brought up the horrific paintball episode and the bullying that Ashley endured. This is where things got really, really bad. The designers who had been so mistreating Ashley showed no self-awareness or remorse for their actions. They didn’t even seem to realize that there was anything to feel remorse for. That’s how out of touch and self-centered they were. What’s worse, beyond just doubling down on their mistreatment, they gaslit Ashley and turned the blame onto her. Suddenly, they made t out like Ashley had done something wrong by not coming to their defense when they were (rightly) called out on their behavior. 

This is so often what happens to fat people when we call out bullying. (To be honest, it probably happens to any marginalized group, but I’m not going to speak for experiences I don’t have.) The onus is on the fat person to somehow prove the bullying was weight-based, which means unless someone explicitly mentions fat the victim won’t be believed. Thin people will search for any possible reason other than fatphobia for the reason someone was mistreated, even if it means blaming the victim. Instances of “should” abound — the fat person should have done this or that to mitigate the bullying. 

This is not ok. 

If you are not fat, when someone who is fat says they were abused in a sizeist or fatphobic way, it’s your duty to believe them (same goes for race, sexuality, or gender based harassment). They know their experience better than you. People know the difference between rudeness and weight-based bullying. We’ve lived it. Contrary to popular stereotypes, we are smart and savvy and can read what is happening around us. 

And Tim Gunn: I am disappointed in you. You are unafraid to let people know in the workroom when they aren’t performing up to standards, but you let these women run all over the season’s winner? You could have, should have, done a lot more to call them out. They needed someone to step in and put them in their place, and you failed. 

But you know what? Ashley won, and those sanctimonious bullies did not. 

Real Life and the Good/Bad Dichotomy

I’m not a good fatty. I’m also not a bad fatty. I’m just a fatty. 

Like anyone of any size, my habits vary. I’ve written about this before: some days I live off veggies, other days it’s pizza. 

Sometimes I talk about exercise. Because it’s part of my life. The issue that comes up a lot when a fat person talks about exercise is that they’re promoting the dichotomy between good and bad fatties. 

I don’t want to do that, because the idea of being a “good” fatty is extremely damaging. No one should have to exhibit specific behaviors to be given respect. However, what I eat and what I do are both important parts of my life. 

So just know that when I post about exercise, it’s not promoting weight loss, nor is it implying that doing the same thing I do is some sort of requirement to be worthy of decency. But I’m also not going to stop talking about my own life. 

For good measure, here’s my lunch. It’s probably not “good” by some people’s standards.