Is Ragen wrong about everything?

Ragen frames any kind of criticism of her as an attack on the core concepts of fat acceptance, or even a misogynistic attack on all women in general. For example, in her recent “stalkers” post, she claimed all her “trolls” disagree with her radical idea that “fat people should be treated like human beings”.

Is Ragen actually wrong about everything? The answer is no, of course not. Anyone with common sense and empathy understands the core concepts of fat acceptance are perfectly reasonable. Fat people are human beings and entitled to as much (or as little) respect as anyone else. Fat people shouldn’t be afraid to get out and live their lives (from personal experience, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of “I’ll do ____ when I’m thin”). And losing weight and keeping it off is hard, even though CICO (calories in, calories out) is a very simple concept. On this blog there is no criticism of overweight or obese individuals simply for living their lives or wanting the same standard of respect as others. The idea there is a misogynistic conspiracy against Ragen is also particularly galling, considering the founder of this blog is a woman, and the two main online communities critical of Ragen (Reddit’s /r/fatlogic and GOMI) are majority female and almost exclusively female, respectively.

The problem is Ragen intersperses the good with liberal doses of pseudoscience and shockingly poor medical advice, and constantly misleads or tells flat out lies about her credentials, achievements, and experiences. She has built a career around denying the health effects of obesity while pretending to be an elite professional athlete, through speaking engagements and assorted moneymaking schemes. That’s what this blog is about, and discussing it shouldn’t detract from the message that fat people are human beings, despite what Ragen claims.


25 thoughts on “Is Ragen wrong about everything?

  1. One of the things which frustrates me so much about Ragen is I actually agree with a great deal. Absolutely people should be treated with respect and dignity, regardless of their weight. Public health measures focusing of healthy behaviours are likely to have positive outcomes for everyone. Everyone is in charge of their own body. Athletic endeavours should be accessible to anyone willing to do the hard work to train for them, whether or not they fit the image of an athlete.

    And there’s the rub. Anyone who’s prepared to do the hard work. Not faking it. Not whining and blaming everyone else if it goes wrong. Ragen: stop being on my side, because you’re discrediting the message.

  2. I disagree to a point. I don’t think that people deserve to be treated with respect and dignity based alone on the fact that they are people. We give people our respect based off their actions, the way they treat others, they way they treat themselves, and a host of other things. Does overweight = bad? Not at all. I have been overweight and I have been thin, I have been and am friends with overweight people, dated overweight people, thin people, muscular people. Because at the end of the day, the thing that attracts me to people (male or female, friends or romantic partner) are their qualities as a person. While of course looks play a part in the men I date, it was never an end all for me. You could be the best looking guy on the planet, but if you’re an asshole, I’m not interested.

    But if you’re a person who demands respect and dignity without giving any (be it to others or yourself), then don’t expect me to show you any. If you want me to respect you as a larger person, then don’t give me shit because I’m smaller, which I’m really not. At 5’3″, 140 lbs, I’m a BMI of 24.8. Just under overweight. Don’t tell me that “real women have curves” (because I do) or that I only lost weight to look good for a man (because I didn’t) or any of the other BS she spews constantly. Don’t try and tell me that I’m wrong for teaching my daughter healthy body positive messages. Don’t be mad at me because I can shop in any store.

    And, if you’re a person who throws their hat in with someone like Ragen….well, prepare to be judged by the company you keep. And at the end of the day, I don’t judge these people, who seem to be mostly women, for being overweight. I am judging them for listening to Ragen.

    • I think we’re in agreement, and I edited the wording in the post a bit to clarify. I also don’t believe anyone deserves unconditional respect, but the message is that fat people are human beings and entitled to as much (or as little) respect as anyone else; calling Ragen on being a liar and spreading misinformation doesn’t mean you hate fat people, despite her best efforts to imply all her critics are fat haters.

    • Well said, I absolutely agree.

      I have fat friends and I love them to death. They are good, kind people. I don’t treat them badly because they are fat, and they don’t call me ugly or a skeleton because I’m thin. If the fat acceptance movement wants to be treated with respect, then maybe they should stop dragging and putting other people down first.

  3. Her weight is the least offensive thing about her. Her fabricated “achievements”, anecdotes and abilities make it impossible for anyone with a lick of sense to pay attention to her message.
    If she just told the truth, I think very few people would disagree.

  4. I really appreciate that you write this blog. Every time I try to explain Ragen and her antics, nobody really gets it. I lost about 95 pounds last year. I discovered HAES and Ragen’s BS about half way through the process. I have a masters in chemistry and I teach chemistry to high school students. There is no way I could take any of the pseudoscience crap that Ragen and her minions share seriously. It infuriates me that she spreads such BS and dresses it up as science. Ragen would not know real science if it bit her in her ass.

    • I think that’s part of the problem. We stopped teaching science in schools. I really didn’t learn anything past Pundint squares (I’m sure I’m spelling that wrong) and I bsed my way thru HS chem, barely passing. Everything I know about metabolism, cellular respiration, reactions within the body, anabolism and catabolism, I was pretty much self taught through hours upon hours of looking for credible fitness people who put it in term I could understand. And I’m not an idiot by any means. The human body and how it processes everything we put in it can get so complex, that it is easier to just listen to someone else blather on. When I was researching, if there was a link to a paper, you better believe I clicked that link to read that study. Made sure it was recent, relevant, had a decent sample size, so on. I feel as if the average Joe just isn’t going to invest that time and effort. And from what I’ve seen from a lot of the HAES and FA stuff, the studies they love to cite are from as far back as the 1930’s!

      Side note, I love Mike Matthews for his research based approach. Sometimes his stuff contradicts itself, but there are always links to the original studies.

  5. Good post, thank you!

    I think some of us reading this blog come at it from the perspective that the core idea of athletics for fat people is valuable. And we’re disappointed that this movement has a fake spokesperson instead of a real one.

    • I agree. I don’t even understand how she got to be the “spokesperson”. Was she just the loudest?

      What disappoints me the most is that colleges and universities pay this women to come spread the BS to students. Do you have any idea how furious I would be if the school my child was attending had her (or anyone with the same BS message) as a guest speaker? Especially if I’m paying 15-30K a year for my kid to go there?

      I’m down with the love yourself and your body message. It was something I had to learn and relearn after my body changed with each child. As well as the don’t change yourself to please anyone but yourself deal. Those are important, powerful messages! They just need to stop being delivered along side the “don’t try to lose weight cause it is impossible and you are just as healthy fat as that 135 lb person over there” message.

  6. Body Image should not be intermingled with health…. And that is what Ragen does. My major issue with her is taking “her research” to back up her claims. She has no science background, and NO she is not a trained researcher. THERE IS NO SUCH THING. Even if there was, maybe this would apply to doctorates, who actually devote their career to research and actually write papers. Ragen is a fraud and I wish her minions would realize it….

  7. So she did a radio interview. Were you aware that in addition to blogging about her every day (I want to see the hidden updates!!) you guys also email her personally at least 150 times a day saying “fatties gonna fat”?

    That is some dedication right there. She really needs to be institutionalized.

    • Our secret is out!

      The most shocking thing about that interview is that the host’s producer gave him a packet of information about Ragen that included links to Reddit and this blog. He visited and said he “couldn’t read past the first few paragraphs” so he let Ragen control the interview and made no attempt to push her on any of her claims. Nobody from the radio station contacted Dances with Facts for comment.

      • That’s what you find most shocking?? Wow, you are seriously desensitized!!!

        Nah, I saw all that. Insane. I dunno man. Part of me *hopes* she comes to my neck of the woods. I’d go have a field day. Asking research based questions, asking her to cite her information, all sorts of stuff. Just make her stumble over her words and be found out.

        Or is that my thin privilege talking?

    • GOMI is a web site and community dedicated to snarking terrible bloggers. There is a 136 page running thread dedicated to Ragen in the “Healthy Living Bloggers” section. Aside from /r/fatlogic and /r/RagenChastain on Reddit, it’s the only other major community to show any regular interest in Ragen. 4chan and others obviously send the odd bit of trolling her way, but Ragen is hardly unique in that respect.

      • GOMI snarks on good bloggers as well. I have seen more than a few successful former fatties whose blogs were informative, interesting, and well-written be driven offline because of GOMI attacks, myself included. Not trying to pull a Ragen here, but I had to shut my blog down and minimize my online presence over two years ago because I (former fatty turned fitness freak who’s now maintained a 70 lb weight loss for nearly eight years) wrote openly about walking the walk and calling BS on HAES…I,like Ragen, used my real name/location, etc. in my blog and was not difficult to find. Someone started a thread, within a few days my home address was posted, my children’s school was posted, people stated that they were going to report me to the state for child abuse (?), my Linked In page was bombarded with about 800 views overnight and had to be deleted, an ancient Twitter and MySpace (!) that I hadn’t used in five years were located and picked apart.

        You can’t win with GOMI, unless you’re maybe 25 lbs overweight and yo-yo the same 10 pounds on and off for years and lament your “struggle” of “really wanting” to be healthy but just loving your wine nights at book club (tee hee! girls’ night!) a bit too much…then they think you’re real and genuine and relatable. If you’ve lost a lot of weight, become fit, work out hard on a daily basis, and are strict with your diet….they hate you. If you lose/regain, or are obese and have a blog which is ostensibly about weight loss but every post is about how you couldn’t help but fall face first into a pizza but you just found this great pill at GNC which is sure to have you looking like a bikini model in 90 days, they hate you. They tear down success stories and kick failures when they’re down.

  8. The only issue I take with this is that you seem to be dismissing the possibility of misogyny directed towards her. I found your blog through GOMI, but originally ran into Ragen through 4chan’s /fit/ board (I know, I know, I was a teenage edgelord…). They, at least a couple of years ago, had a massive hateboner for her, specifically. Like, 200+ post threads, several times a week, of which she was the primary focus. I think it’s totally plausible that for at least some period of time, she was getting hateful crap from that quarter.

      • But it was, is what I’m saying. In my experience, she’s a well-known target of hate in that one, largely male and fairly hateful community. I don’t think it’s at all accurate to say that most of the criticism directed towards her comes from largely female groups with fairly respectful attitudes, because I’ve seen a lot of the “lol what a fat bitch, why are women like this” type of stuff. Not that I think she’s not generally blowing the level of trolling she gets way out of proportion, but in my experience, there is a distinct quantity of misogyny mixed in with the general criticism.

  9. what you say here makes a lot of sense. But you know, when you walk down the street and someone feels free to walk up to you and tell you (a person they have never met) that you have such a pretty face, it’s too bad you are so fat (and yes, it happened)…well, it almost seems like she understands. There are people in this world who will walk up to a fat woman in a restaurant and say “Should you be eating that?” like it’s any of their business what anyone else is eating. That’s why her words resonate…sometimes…I’m not saying that she is correct, but that there are only so many times you can be kicked before you want to fight back. That’s all.

  10. Fat people deserve the same respect we would accord a stranger. The ones I dislike are those who spread lies about healthy eating and prevent others from giving it a try.

    Ragen Chastain and her kind seem perpetually angry at the world. Even something neutral is interpreted as nasty. What a miserable existence…

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