Published by BenBella Books on 2014-09-02
Genres: Diet & Nutrition, Disease & Health Issues, Health & Fitness, Healthy Living, Medical, Public Health, SOCIAL SCIENCE, Weight Loss
Buy on Amazon, Buy on Barnes & Noble
Body insecurity is rampant, and it doesn’t have to be. Think for a moment about your attitudes toward weight: Do you believe that people who are thinner are more healthy and attractive? Do you think dieting is an effective health strategy? Do you judge yourself or others because of weight? If you answered yes to any of those questions, you’re not alone. It’s much more common for people to feel bad about their bodies than to appreciate them—and to judge others by those standards as well. But people don’t have to be packaged in a small size to be valuable and attractive—or healthy for that matter. Saying that they do causes more harm than good, and judgments based on size tell us more about our own prejudice than someone else’s health or value. It’s time to show every body respect. With the latest findings from the Health at Every Size© (HAES) movement, Body Respect debunks obesity myths, demonstrates the damage of focusing on weight, and explores how social factors impact health: the world is not a level playing field, and that affects one’s opportunities as well as one’s size, health and sense of self. Using peer-reviewed evidence and common sense, scientists and nutritionists Linda Bacon and Lucy Aphramor explain the fall-out of a health agenda based on the concept that thinness is the goal and that one’s weight is simply a matter of personal choices. They explore why diets don’t work and provide alternative paths to better health and well-being for people of all shapes. Body Respect is indispensable reading for anyone concerned about widespread body insecurity and size stigma and their many implications.
The most controversial post I have ever published on this blog was about the song All About that Bass. I can’t link to the post because I made it private. I grew tired of the daily onslaught of aggressive, intolerant comments. The comments from those who are here regularly were fine. Even those who disagreed did so thoughtfully and respectfully, as always. The ones from strangers were what moved me to delete comments, something I had never before done in almost 7 years of blogging. Had they been from regular readers, I would have kept them and rolled my eyes at the delivery. But when a stranger looking for a fight Googles the song and then stumbles upon this blog, I won’t keep comments that say I should be ashamed of myself for being fat or that skinny “bitches” have no right to complain about their bodies.
Thank you for your opinions, Collective Haters of the Internet, LLC. Excuse me while I search for a filament of interest to devote to your ramblings. Look at that! I’ve got nothing.
Of the people who comment here regularly, two really stuck out. Naomi’s was one of them.
The second every single woman stops saying sh!#*y things about other women to their friends, their husbands, and their children THEN there will be no more of this. As a happy fat person (yep, HAPPY FAT PERSON), I am sick to death of hearing about women feeling berated, put down, and crucified because of a number on a clothing label.
We are all beautiful. We have come through our journeys and our heartaches and our achievements with dignity and grace. We have men and women that love us for who we truly are. We have children who think we hung the moon. If it’s hard to love yourself right now, I understand. Begin loving yourself by embracing all of the women you see around you. Lift them up, and you’ll lift yourself up, too.
Tell me how you got to be a happy fat person. I’m fat, but I can’t say I’m happy about it.
Naomi emailed me back with some resources for body acceptance, one of them being the work of Linda Bacon and Lucy Aphromor. I had heard of Health At Every Size (HAES) via The Fat Nutritionist. The idea that one can be healthy at any size goes against everything I grew up believing, and probably still believe subconsciously. My library doesn’t carry Healthy at Every Size, but on a hunch I went to NetGalley to see if they had the new book, Body Respect, available for review. They did, which I took as a nudge from God.
I read the book and found myself highlighting every other page. I enjoyed it so much that I’m buying myself a copy to keep on my nightstand. I should buy several copies for work, home, traveling, and meeting new people so that I can place them in my environment strategically, like emergency exits and fire extinguishers.
HAES does not claim that everyone is at a healthy weight. What it does do is ask for respect and help people shift their focus away from changing their size to enhancing their self-care behaviors–so they let weight fall where it may naturally. It also keeps the role of lifestyle as a risk factor for disease in perspective.
The Health at Every Size Manifesto
Refuse to fight in an unjust war. Join the new peace movement:
“Health at Every Size” (HAES). HAES acknowledges that well-being and healthy habits are more important than any number on the scale. Participating is simple:
1. Accept your size.
Love and appreciate the body you have. Self-acceptance empowers you to move on and make positive changes.
2. Trust yourself.
We all have internal systems designed to keep us healthy—and at a healthy weight. Support your body in naturally finding its appropriate weight by honoring its signals of hunger, fullness, and appetite.
3. Adopt healthy lifestyle habits.
Develop and nurture connections with others and look for purpose and meaning in your life. Fulfilling your social, emotional, and spiritual needs restores food to its rightful place as a source of nourishment and pleasure.
- Find the joy in moving your body and becoming more physically vital in your everyday life.
- Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full, and seek out pleasurable and satisfying foods.
- Tailor your tastes so that you enjoy more nutritious foods, staying mindful that there is plenty of room for less nutritious choices in the context of an overall healthy diet and
4. Embrace size diversity.
Humans come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Open to the beauty found across the spectrum and support others in recognizing their unique attractiveness.
It’s what I’ve been working at for years, but I still can’t seem to get it together. It amazes me that I can achieve so much in so many areas of my life but still completely and utter fail when it comes to my weight and my body.
We cannot emphasize enough the value in lightening up around the judgment you may feel about your body and your weight. The judgment evokes despair as you believe there is something wrong with you, meaning you are not entitled to the food that you want, and you need to deprive yourself as punishment or remedy for your “overweight.”
I have gained 10 pounds since I stopped dieting. It feels like a million. I’m short, so I’m convinced it looks like a million, too. I sometimes feel so uncomfortable in my own skin, ugly and undesirable. I hate taking pictures of myself or meeting people on a good day. Now, the idea makes me short of breath. We take school pictures on the 14th of October (see how I have the date memorized?) and I can’t stop thinking about how I will look in the picture.
Letting go of dieting often feels like the worst mistake I ever made until I read books like this one and am offered hope and validation. It’s enough to keep trying, even when I’d rather give up, and to remind me that I am more than the size of my clothing.
It can be hard to accept your body and build a coherent sense of identity when you are bombarded with messages that you need to change, so remember to show yourself compassion. The more you differ–and permit yourself to differ–from the social ideal, the more alone you may feel, at least at first. Conforming to media-imposed beauty standards and socially imposed gender norms is a path of least resistance and may seem easier than challenging them. But is it really easier? In the long run, you will more likely find peace in your body and contentment by throwing over those outwardly determined values and setting up your own yardsticks for attractiveness and value.