There are many issues here but the first and most important is that body acceptance and health are two very separate things. The idea that health should be linked to Size Acceptance or self-worth is incredibly dangerous and completely fucked up. Health is not an obligation, barometer of worthiness, or completely within our control. Often issues around this happen when people confuse the concepts of Health at Every Size with Size Acceptance.
I talk about that in detail here but the bottom line is that Health at Every Size is a paradigm from which to approach health and healthcare, but Size Acceptance is a Civil Rights Movement. There is absolutely NO health or behavior requirement Size Acceptance. Nobody owes anybody else “health” or “healthy habits” by any definition. You do deserve, and have the right to demand, respect and the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in the body you have right this minute – whatever your size, health, habits and dis/ability. This is a civil rights issue, plain and simple, it is vitally important that we not confuse Size Acceptance with health or dis/ability in any way.
There are more issues with this idea of “striking a balance between Size Acceptance and Health”. The logic-defying idea here is that liking and appreciating our bodies will somehow preclude health. That idea is precisely as ludicrous as it sounds. Of course when people are talking about “health” in this context they typically mean thinness, which is absolutely not the same thing. What they are often saying is that if you allow yourself to completely like your body, you won’t hate it enough to try dieting again and again when, like almost everyone, you fail repeatedly at long term weight loss. Or perhaps they think that in the multi-dimensionality, no guarantees, concept of health, self-loathing is a positive force.
Often if you scratch just below the surface you’ll find that this “strike a balance” idea is just diet industry manipulation for profit – it’s a way to give lip service to the myriad health professionals, experts, evidence, and heaping helping of common sense that points out that liking and appreciating our bodies is a good thing. By “striking a balance” they mean that it’s ok to like our bodies as long as we’re actively working to change them, preferably buying their product to do it. People like this see Size Acceptance as something for fat people to do until we become thin. This idea then gets repeated by people who either didn’t think it through, or who actually believe that the key to “health” [thinness] is juuuust enough self-hatred.
I have consciously opted out of this system. I do not think that hating myself does any good at all – and trust me when I tell you that I gave it the old college try. Hating myself never inspired me to take care of my body or led to a single positive outcome. In fact, I got so caught up in hating my body for how it looked that I forgot to have even a second’s appreciation for what it did and that was no way for me to live. Like everyone’s experience, mine is just for me – it can’t be extrapolated to anybody else so I’m neither trying to tell you what to do or trying to tell you that your experience will be the same as mine. I’m just trying to give an option.
So one option is to say “Screw striking a balance” and fully appreciate the body you have now – total, 100% body acceptance. Not because your body is “perfect” (as if there is such a thing) but because it’s your body, the only one you have. You get to decide for you, but for me, my body is amazing and deserves nothing less than my love, respect, and full-throated support, and anything less than that is way out of balance.
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