Ragen Chastain, Martyr for Fat Acceptance

On Thursday, Ragen mentioned a mysterious photo shoot with her bike on Facebook. Today the photos were published on the front page of the largest newspaper in Iceland under the headline “Fat and Healthy”, in preparation for the upcoming Weight Stigma Conference in Reykjavik next week.

Credit: user Frikki79, reddit.com.

The online edition of the article with more photos is available with Google Translate.


The online sub-headline is, of course, “Receives Death Threats for Being Fat”. The article runs through Ragen’s usual collection of stories: her elite childhood athletics, her “eating disorder” and subsequent weight gain, her “trained research” about the impossibility of weight loss, the famous spaghetti straps judge story. There is a jumbled timeline of her “fat activism” that doesn’t match her own Livejournal posts. A large section is devoted to “death threats” she receives. She claims she watches the clock at 6:45 at every speaking engagement because of a standing threat against her life at that specific time. She even mentions the ridiculously impractical IRONMAN drowning death threats.

Ragen goes on to talk about harassment, prejudice against fat people, the war on obesity, then back to more death threats. Then she takes it to the next level. She “would not use the word ‘martyr'”, but implies there is a very real possibility she will become a literal martyr for fat acceptance when someone actually kills her. This translation is from a native Icelandic speaker.

If someone follows through with their threat and kills me, I hope it will be a wake-up call that we have to stop treating fat people like we do today. I hope it will inspire other fat people to step forward and say “enough”. I would not use the word “martyr”, it’s just something I think about if someone would go through with the threats.

We want to reiterate: if someone has made a legitimate threat against Ms. Chastain’s life, she needs to contact the police immediately. This is not something you post on your Facebook wall or casually mention in an interview. Ragen is trying to imply there is a very real chance someone is going to murder her simply because of her views on fat acceptance.

There are a few minor conclusions we can make from this article. We note Ragen claims she is training to “run” a marathon at some point. Based on the photos, we can probably safely put to rest any speculation about whether she lost any weight during her 16 months of intense marathon and IRONMAN training. It’s also worth noting Ragen appears to suffer from a progressive case of genu valgum (knock-knees) which one would assume is caused by her super obesity. For some reason, this is yet another relevant condition never mentioned by either Ragen or the fat-shaming knee doctor when she has knee pain.

Ragen continues to portray herself as a heroic activist who receives almost 75,000 abusive messages every year, and credible death threats “almost daily“. Any time there is the barest hint of evidence for her claims, it clearly demonstrates they are wildly exaggerated beyond all belief, totally misleading, or even pure fiction. She has compared herself to prominent assassinated rights activists like Harvey Milk and Martin Luther King, Jr. Now she is bringing up the possibility of becoming a martyr for fat acceptance herself. Is there any line Ragen will not cross for self-promotion and the pursuit of her own narcissism?

44 thoughts on “Ragen Chastain, Martyr for Fat Acceptance

  1. Her ability to delude others and herself is remarkable. LOOK AT HER; she is DEFORMED and doing severe damage to all her body systems with the awkward gait that having her knees turned in and feet splayed out creates. How can anyone (journalists, in particular) take her seriously/not question or investigate her claims? Her only death threat comes from herself and her chosen behavior. She’s a hell of a lot more likely to drop dead of heart attack than be assassinated.

    • “Her only death threat comes from herself and her chosen behavior.”

      EXACTLY. And the way she counsels fat people to reach their ‘set weight’ and ‘eat until satisfied’ and ignore the risks of obesity related disease… she’s basically MURDERING them too.

      Most of the people who are Anti Fat Acceptance are horrified that people are being swallowed up by the fat logic echo chamber. We don’t want these people to die. We don’t want Ragen to die. No one wants to see someone willingly kill themselves AND encourage others to do the same. Ragen will deflect this as “concern trolling” but it’s not, Most of us actually have compassion for people and respect for life, but it is also undeniable that the impact of obesity affects ALL of us.

      I would LOVE to see Ragen attempt the IM (even though I feel she shouldn’t have tackled that until she did some honest 5k or 10k). I have a feeling, after all the bullshit and grifting, she’s going to bail on the 70.3 claiming injury or threat but convincing her sponsors that she will finish AZ 2016. That would give her, what, another year of grifting?

      • I used to be involved in FA/HAES stuff, and as I’ve mentioned here before, Ragen’s domination of the conversation and communities drove me out. The problem is how the culture has coalesced in the last five years or so.

        The article that I have to revisit every few years is Kate Harding’s The Fantasy of Being Thin, which you can get to by clicking on my name in this comment. This classic piece is aimed at the women who are 20-30 pounds overweight and who put their lives off until they lose that weight. Somehow this culture of “no, it’s fine to join a sports team or go on a date while you’re still chunky” has settled into “fuck portion control, eat until you’re sated when your body’s concept of ‘satiety’ has clearly been fucked up beyond all recognition since 1994.”

      • > EXACTLY. And the way she counsels fat people to reach their ‘set weight’ and ‘eat until satisfied’ and ignore the risks of obesity related disease… she’s basically MURDERING them too.

        If you’re taking actual medical and lifestyle advice that you live by from some random idiot on the Internet who has no medical, dietary, or even fitness training, you’re accountable for what happens to you. This applies for paleo gurus and ana/mia forums as much as it does for Ragen.

        The problem is that people gather and all tell each other what they want to hear in a validation circle-jerk, and then you end up with threads about how cuuuuute it is when your cat is so fat that it can’t clean itself properly and how vets fat-shame pets, which was an actual thing that happened on a Ragen-affiliated forum.

    • She’s savvy enough to have packaged herself and her story in a way that is easy for lazy journalists to do a story on. If they start poking into her stories or asking for more information, she can simply shut down and stop answering their calls, leaving them to use the information they’ve got or kill the story. For TV and news appearances, you need a fat person who lives in NY and LA and isn’t afraid of being a spectacle.

  2. I find it odd that she would advertise death threats against her. That gives the threateners notice that they have her attention. Also, doing this might encourage others to make –and carry out-additional threats. Dumb!
    Maybe the police in Tempe should be alerted. LOL!

    Yes, in all likelihood these threats are self-manufactured. Why? Perhaps she hopes the Iron Man authorities will request she withdraw from the event as they cannot protect her from harm should someone carry out these threats. That would fit her vision as a much maligned obese person.

    • Second paragraph nails it. I personally know a woman who has physically harmed herself, staged a crime scene, called police and blamed her boyfriend for it; sounds Lifetime-movie-esque, but it’s all just attention-getting psychopathic behavior, and Ragen displays it in spades…to be ‘forced’ out of a pubic event because of ‘threats’ would be perfect for her.

      • I think of her as Al Sharpton and Tawana Brawley wrapped in one package. And just like the Rev,mshe is doing more harm than good to her community.

    • There was a Tempe Police officer on the Reddit triathlon forum who said they have investigated the death threats and found them to be a publicity stunt.

      • Well, then there’s no reason for the IM folks to ask for her to withdraw. Guess she’ll have to participate or perhaps stage an attack (as suggested).

    • Some police departments don’t really know how to deal with online death threats. That’s no excuse to post about them on Facebook instead, but it at least creates a record if your local police department isn’t willing to file a report based on saying, “CaptainHarpoon42 says that he or she is going to drown me…no I don’t know their real name or where they live.”

      Assuming that the death threats are credible. And real.

      • Yeah, I was referring to threats in general, not the alleged ones made against Ragen or the ridiculous Tempe-specific ones. I’m sure people e-mail angry things at her, but I don’t believe her claims of credible threats.

  3. This is the first full body pic I’ve seen of her. I’m surprised she can walk with the deformity to her legs. And I’m not saying that as an insult at all. I have PFPS, so I am no stranger to knee problems. Even if a doctor were to treat her as a “thin person” as she so often requests, any sane doctor would advise against the IM for someone with such repeated knee injuries (especially if the whole knee replacement story is true).

    Why is Fat Activism a thing?? Smoking in bars, planes, just about everywhere is outlawed. Why isn’t there a Smoking Activism? I’m just as addicted to nicotine as these people are to over eating and the chemical additives in food. So…can I start a SA group so that I can smoke on planes again?

      • Good point. My father had knee replacement surgery a decade ago. You still see the scars. My grandmother had one fifteen years ago. Still see the scar. Those are invasive surgeries. I had a surgery on my ankle that was a bone surgery. TWO DECADES LATER, you can see the scars. She never had a surgery.

      • I wrote the post about her knee. It’s hard to tell what she really meant when she said she hyperextended her “plastic replacement” knee in 2003. It was one of my early posts here, and I tend to apply a higher standard of proof to everything I write now. However, she was absolutely equivocal about shattering her kneecap in high school in a 2006 Livejournal post. I don’t see any surgical scars from fixation on either knee, but it’s really hard to see much with all the excess fat and stretched skin.

      • Of course it would. I’m just saying. I’m not going to say I had uterine cancer so I had it removed but then show pictures of my ultrasound and new nursery. I mean, it just gets to a point you can’t keep your lies straight.

        But seriously. She can’t. At her weight, it is damn near physically impossible.

    • In the UK, we’ve got Forest which identifies as a ‘media and lobbying group that opposes smoking bans and discrimination against smokers’. This includes bans to protect workers from colleagues’ and customers’, denial of the massive costs to the NHS in terms of both smokers’ and their families’ associated illnesses and diseases- this includes their own children, the trauma that these conditions cause to family and friends who may end up caring for them etc. etc.

      Looking at it that way, I see the parallels with FA that you were suggesting with some incredulity. Alas, it’s already a thing.

      • But Forest (the Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco) is wholly funded by the tobacco industry, and as such is a very different beast to the FA movement (unless the FA stars are secretly salaried and travelling first class courtesy of the junk food/confectionery industries)

  4. She’s just setting up a public stage upon which to air the next chapter of manufactured drama.

    Someone finally attacks her on her training endeavors and her injuries are such that she is forced to withdraw from the race.

    The police don’t believe her and finally, even if they do, no one can ever be caught. The doctor says she shouldn’t continue to race but she assures her fans she’s such an elite athlete that she’s going to prove everyone wrong, rise above this experience and still complete the Iron Man.

    And also, more money please because doctor bills.

    • I don’t believe Ragen would go that far. She has enough common sense to limit her bullshit to things that won’t invite close scrutiny. Vague mentions of anonymous death threats to impress your followers is fine. Calling yourself a fathlete and pretending you are training for an IM to court attention from rags like Women’s Running is fine. Pretending you were attacked and the police won’t help will draw national media coverage by people who might actually dig a bit deeper and fall down the rabbit hole.

      Ragen relies on her followers and audience not caring about the details behind her message. When she’s hired to speak, she’s there to make people feel better about themselves one way or another, either by excusing their obesity, drawing inspiration from her “struggle”, or simply being happy they aren’t Ragen. There are very few elite national champion marathoner IRONMAN morbidly obese fat activists to choose from on the speaking circuit. The people who hire her tend to be morbidly obese faculty members in social sciences, fat-related organizations who admire her, feminist/female empowerment groups who mistakenly consider HAES/FA a legitimate issue or think her message is empowering to girls, and organizations looking for a token superficially impressive fat person.

      Ragen has a ton of options for how to handle the 70.3. It’s anyone’s guess what she will go with at this point and whether she’ll even show up and start the race. None of it really matters, because the whole thing is a publicity stunt to get her interviews and bolster her reputation as a speaker. No matter what happens, she will always be a morbidly obese triathlete and IRONMAN competitor from now on.

  5. To add to my comment above: This will first be staged as her not posting or having a guest blogger or posting vague, extremely short posts while she “heals enough” to post the full story of her attack. And no firm facts on when these attacks happened. In order for her and her partner to “stay safe”.

  6. I don’t want to see her fail (although I know it is very likely at least at this point), because at the end of the day, I hate to see people humiliated. In the nicest way possible, I tried to complement her on her 56 mile ride (no sarcasm) and made a polite suggestion that she travel to the Superfrog Ironman 70.3 race in two weeks (I think a two hour drive from LA based on a loose Google search) just to make sure that her bike was legal since (1) the elongated stem makes the brakes harder to reach and (2) the stem may be creating too much torque on the handlebars. I also said (and I meant it) that I would hate to see her drive all the way to Tempe just to not be allowed to race.

    I was immediately banhammered. I don’t know how long it took, but it was within a half hour.

      • Yep, the rules are pretty specific, but if you actually go through them, the dimension and equipment specifications mostly just prohibit you from riding a recumbent, tandem, fixie, unicycle, or whatever other dumb shit people might try. They can certainly kick you off the course for having generally unsafe equipment or being deemed medically unfit to participate, though.

  7. I wanted to explain a little bit about this “largest newspaper” thing. This isn’t like the New York Times of Iceland. In northern Europe these little fluff magazine newspapers are given out for free. It’s the “largest” because it’s mostly advertising – the more they give away, the more advertising they can draw in, etc.

    Where I live in northern Europe these are passed out for free at train stations (it appears they are delivered to homes in Iceland for free). In fact, they are given out so aggressively that it’s hard to get around the hawkers without just taking one. They are somewhat similar to the “Parade” section of the Sunday paper you used to get in the US (maybe still do?). It’s some fluffy pieces about what’s happening in town, some light news, which stores are having sales.

    No one reads these for actual news or takes them very seriously. It’s something to pass the time while you’re on the train. Maybe it reminds you there’s a music festival in town next week. No one would ever spend money to obtain one.

  8. I’m fairly new to this circus. What is the “spaghetti straps judge” story? I didn’t see mention of it in newspaper link & I am intrigued…thanks in advance.

    • It’s her absolute most very favouritest fat shaming story of them all. Ragen claims a dance judge cornered her in front of an elevator in 2005 and told her she couldn’t stand to look at her arms because she was wearing a spaghetti straps dress. The judge penalized her for appearance. Later the same judge apparently came around and saw the light because of Ragen’s elite dancing abilities. It’s the one story she tells in almost every interview and speaking engagement, and it’s a cornerstone of “Dances with Fat: The Movie”. She says it’s the moment she decided to become a fat activist… except she was happily yo-yo dieting for another two years and nothing in her writing shows any kind of “fat activism”.

      Ragen still has the dress and recently posed for a “concept art” photo shoot for the movie she says they are making about her life.


  9. I see that Ragen is working hard on emulating Tess whatherfce’s arms. The knock knees are the result of her weight abusing those poor joints for all these years. She’s fatter every time I see a new picture. I wish i was a nice enough person to feel sorry for her but I’m not and i don’t. I can’t wait to see how she spins the inevitable failure next month. I did enjoy the fatpeoplehate reference. They did have 150k subscribers when they were banned from reddit. Shows she’s paying very close attention.

    • fatpeoplehate were scum. A girl could have lost 300 pounds and post a photo on her instagram and they would rip her to shreds for being that fat in the first place and then call her ugly. Really, they didn’t need a reason, they were full of hate for humanity, period. I’m sick of hearing about that lame group of trolls.

      • I agree. There’s no reason to be unnecessarily cruel to anyone for any reason. fatpeoplehate was full of juvenille point-and-laugh fuckery. fatlogic is somewhat an improvement and can open up some good dialogue, but calling people hamplanets or slamwhales/landwhales etc. is disgusting. It’s worth noting that people who shred someone for their weight will do the same to ugly, attractive, poor, rich, skinny, short, disabled and so on.

  10. What is it with death threats where the person refuses to go to police? That’s the first thing I’d think of doing. Ragen – and Fat Guy Across America’s wife, Angie. Hmmm. Must be a favourite excuse.

  11. @BMI42 Thanks for linking The Fantasy of Being Thin in your profile. I hadn’t read it before…great article, and a reminder of how Ragan is taking a very truthful and good core and just taking it to a ridiculous extreme.

  12. This has been bothering me because you guys really do tout an attempt at merely giving the facts. Plus Reagan constantly complains about the treatment people get when they are obese and assumptions made as a result. This story has a prime example when you simply unilaterally imply her knock knees are “caused” by her obesity. You offered no proof for that assumption beyond the picture. A quick search yields a few reasons someone can develop knock knees. These are not related to obesity.

    I want to stress that I agree there is a high likelihood you are correct and Reagan’s knees are indeed related to her weight but you cannot “know” that unless you are a doctor who has treated her and seen her medical records.

    This is very much a case of seeing someones weight and jumping to a conclusion based on her size rather than solid evidence. It doesn’t mean your blog is wrong, merely that a rewording to indicate you understand you are making a supposition and there are other reasons someone might develop this condition might be good.

  13. […] Ragen also claims she reported the events of the day, and the perpetrators are being “monitored”. To whom or where she reported this, and whether she actually believes any crimes were committed remains a mystery. On a related note, Ragen claims the Long Beach Police Department doesn’t take credible threats against her life seriously and will only act on the death threats she receives every day if someone actually attempts to murder her. She later expanded on this point by making the totally ridiculous claim she may one day become a literal martyr for fat acceptance. […]

  14. […] This close to IRONMAN 70.3 Arizona last year, excitement was building. There was a flurry of activity as Ragen juggled speaking engagements, the Fat Activism Conference, and cross-country travel. Fake Selfie Sunday made another appearance, and our pre-race training recap shows just how much effort Ragen had put into maintaining IronFat. She had even been on an international trip to Iceland a month prior and given an absurd magazine interview about her IronMan training where she claimed she might one day be murdered for her views on fat acceptance. […]

  15. […] Ragen also claims she reported the events of the day, and the perpetrators are being “monitored”. To whom or where she reported this, and whether she actually believes any crimes were committed remains a mystery. On a related note, Ragen claims the Long Beach Police Department doesn’t take credible threats against her life seriously and will only act on the death threats she receives every day if someone actually attempts to murder her. She later expanded on this point by making the totally ridiculous claim she may one day become a literal martyr for fat acceptance. […]

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