This is not a blog about whether you can love your body and still want to lose weight, the brilliant Deb Burgard already tackled that one in The Health at Every Size Blog. This is about how these groups interact with each other.
First, I take great pains never to tell anybody else how to live, but I make an exception when it comes to civil rights. I think that everyone should be for Size Acceptance, regardless of their size, the path to health that they’ve chosen, or the path to health they think is best for others. Civil rights are not up for debate or determined by a majority vote, or by how important those rights are to you individually.
Bodies are not barometers for health, intelligence, value, work ability, or anything else. We have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and that doesn’t start 50 pounds from now for me, even if you decide that it starts 50 pounds from now for you. I would not personally recommend it or choose it, but I support people’s right to choose dieting. I can’t argue to limit their choices while simultaneously arguing that my choices should not be limited. By the same token I think that even fat people who don’t want to be fat and are actively trying to be thin should be for Size Acceptance. True power is in having the right and choosing whether to exercise it – it’s not about taking rights away from others because you don’t want them for yourself.
So let’s talk about how HAES and Size Acceptance people interact with dieters. I know that there are SA and HAES advocates who tell dieters, online or in person, that what they are doing is unhealthy and that they should stop dieting and do what HAES says is right, and they say that they tell people this for their own good. I’m asking those people to consider stopping that behavior. If the message sounds familiar to you, it’s because it’s the exact same thing that fat people who practice Health at Every Size get from those who think we should try to lose weight; and we RAIL against these messages and their messengers, flatly stating that they have no right to tell us what to do with our bodies. So how about we avoid looking like, or actually being, hypocrites? I hate it when people come to my blog and preach dieting, so I would never, ever go to someone’s blog about dieting and preach HAES.
Please understand, I believe that weight centered health and Health at Every Size are two completely separate paradigms and I’m not suggesting that they “kiss and make up“, I’m working for a paradigm shift here. I’m just suggesting that we stop attacking individuals who make different choices than us, using tactics that we don’t like having used on us.
We don’t need to resort to that because we are not a Potemkin movement. We have evidence, experts, and success stories on our side. So let’s keep getting our information out there. Let’s comment on news stories and get our experts in the media and create our own news. Let’s create our own spaces on the internet and in the world to present our beliefs, explain them, and support them with evidence. (While I wouldn’t go to someone else’s site and talk about the dangers of dieting I sure as hell do it on this blog.) Let’s get into debates and mix it up and let people hear what we have to say. Let’s make sure that if people choose dieting it’s not just because they never heard of Health at Every Size or Size Acceptance. And let’s make changes at an institutional level – get the medical community and the media on our side. Let’s work to end the constant stream of body hate that so many people try to change their bodies to avoid. But let’s commit to never bullying people the way that we’ve been, and continue to be, bullied.
While we’re talking about this – bashing thin people: Not ok, not ever, not for any reason. It’s wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. Let’s just put an end to all the body snarking and make room for everyone on the Size Acceptance Ark.
There are so many choices when it comes to prioritizing health, paths to health, food and movement etc. I am not interested in convincing everyone do what I think is right. I am interested in all of us having the right to make our own choices about our bodies and health, and in our ability live in our bodies and with those choices without losing civil rights, job opportunities, access to good healthcare or life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as a consequence. I’m also interested in working to make sure that everyone has access to all of the information, foods and movement options that they require to implement and support their choices, which I will respect as I want my choices respected.
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