Moving Beyond Weight-Neutral to Body Affirming

NEDAwarenessI was recently named an official Ambassador for NEDA (the National Eating Disorders Association) It puts me in absolutely incredible company and I’m truly honored. It’s NEDA’s National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, and this year the theme is “Come As You Are.”

As part of that, I contributed a piece to NEDA’s blog about making the move from being Weight-Neutral to being fiercely body affirming – a move that is mandatory if we truly want to prevent eating disorders and allow for full recovery:

Diet culture and fatphobia perpetuate eating disorders and can make full recovery impossible. They create an environment in which we, as the brilliant Deb Burgard has said, prescribe and encourage the same behaviors for fat people that we diagnose and treat as eating disordered in thin people (which also results in missing or even encouraging eating disorders in people of higher weight). The popularity of dangerous weight-loss medications and surgeries make it seem perfectly acceptable to risk a fat person’s life and quality of life in pursuit of thinness–which is not only dangerous for fat people, but also a dangerous message to send to those of any size who may have or may develop an eating disorder.

It’s difficult to believe your recovery is the most important thing when diet culture and a fatphobic world are telling you that the most important thing, by far, is being thin by any means necessary. And it’s difficult–if not impossible—to let go of your fear of being fat/gaining weight/having an “imperfect” body if you can plainly see you live in a culture where your fear is absolutely justified.

That is why we know that the Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size paradigms are the only option that makes sense if we truly wish to prevent eating disorders and allow for full recovery.

This often takes the form of creating “weight-neutral” spaces, which includes no diet or weight loss talk, no negative body talk, no fashion magazines, no recommendations of weight loss as a cure for physical health issues or for stigma, etc. These are all important things that are critical in creating spaces that don’t perpetuate oppression or eating disorders. A weight-neutral space is a good start, but if we truly want to prevent eating disorders and create an environment that allows for full recovery, we need to move from weight-neutral to fiercely fat affirming.

Read the full piece here! 

To check out all of the ways to participate in Eating Disorders Awareness Week, check out this post.

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4 thoughts on “Moving Beyond Weight-Neutral to Body Affirming

  1. Excellent Ragen! Way to GO! Keep Up The Good Work!

    Some moment it will click, for some “advocates” at least, the biggest ‘but’, in the history of buts, is the one employed by bigots to excuse bigotry via their uber helpful and “well-meaning” bias. ALL these eating disordered behaviors/plans suggestions are DISORDERED, EVEN when they happen to, are used by, or foisted on people who have Fatter Bodies.

  2. I just wonder what it would be like to be able to seek medical care without feeling defensive. I end up ready for a fight even when the practitioner has treated me respectfully because of health care being so weight focused.
    For instance, I was feeling traumatized by having to have this blasted trans-vaginal ultrasound because of post-menopausal bleeding and the first thing that happened after I exited the room to go meet with the doctor in the consultation room was the medical assistant trying to guide me onto the scale. I said bluntly: “No, I have already been traumatized enough today.”
    She was actually nice about it, but damn it all, I would like my medical care to be about the actual condition, not about my fucking weight!

    1. Just had that procedure myself, performed by two semi-giggly twenty somethings, who together weighed less than I do. I think they were surprised I could get into the positions at all. Throw in my trauma history and I knew it was gonna be a banner day! And people wonder why fat people don’t want to get medical tests?! Or do they?

  3. I understand body affirming in terms of accepting yourself at whatever size. I still haven’t figured out how it works for people with illnesses whose bodies are constantly failing them and/or causing pain.

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