I got a question today from reader Kimmie “I have a lot of friends and even some family members who I think could be helped by Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size, but I don’t how to bring it up without acting like they do when they tell me that they think I should diet.” This is a question that I get a lot. When it comes to introducing people to Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size (which are, it is important to note, two different things) it can be a sensitive subject.
To start with they may be a entirely new concepts for the person to whom you are introducing them, and they may go completely against what they’ve been told. If you read this blog very often, you already know that I’m not into telling people what to do when it comes to their personal choices (Underpants Rule!) My approach (and recommendation) is always to couch it as something that I do and/or an option, rather than something that someone else “should” do. Here are some techniques that have worked for me:
We live in the age of Facebook and Twitter, and along with 400 comments you don’t care about on the post that you accidentally “liked”, it also allows us to offer our list of followers exposure to a new topic with relatively low risk. Start posting blogs that you like about SA/HAES, or updates talking about how you are practicing it in your life or the how much you like it etc.
Work It In
When other people are talking about their diets, or participating in a rousing game of body hate, you can bring up your SA/HAES practice. Remember that your choice is just as valid as anyone else’s choice – telling people what you are doing does not obligate you to seek their approval. I recommend having a quick definition like “I’m committed to having a healthy relationship with my body and for me that means no negative body talk.” or ”I practice Health at Every Size – so I focus on behaviors rather than body size.” You can answer questions if you want but remember that you aren’t required to “defend” your choices.
Bring it Up
You can also bring it up in conversation. I’ve found that this works especially well if I am setting boundaries/asking for support. For example “I’ve decided to practice Body Positivity. For me that means that I’m not going to engage in negative body talk about my body or anybody else’s. I would love your support in this but if you aren’t willing to support me then it is important for our relationship that you respect my choice”. Of course you can modify the words for yourself but that’s the idea.
I really can’t stress enough how much more comfortable I’ve found it to be if I don’t try to convince, persuade, defend, or seek approval in these personal conversations. In addition to avoiding doing the same things to others that we ask not be done to us, it also means that we don’t get bogged down in a big debate. We can be clear that we respect other people’s personal choices, and that we require that they either respect our personal choices or keep it to themselves. If they want education and we feel up to educating then we can do that, and if we don’t feel up to educating that that time then we don’t have to, but regardless we can be grounded in our choices.
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