The letters HAES® officially stand for “Health at Every Size,” but I think I may prefer “Happy at Every Size.” The word “health” is such a loaded word. It’s a word that is used to justify fat shaming, in that many think it’s impossible to be “healthy” if you are carrying more than an “acceptable” amount of weight. In fact, though, there are many, many “overweight” and “obese” people (according to BMI classifications) who are totally free of health problems. Also, there are many who fall within the “optimal” BMI category that DO have health problems. The bottom line is that weight and size do not determine health, and the social stigma attached to fatness may actually cause more health problems than the fat itself. For a more detailed discussion of this subject, you might want to read the book Body Respect, by Linda Bacon and Lucy Aphramor.
Just because your body is larger than what is considered culturally desirable doesn’t mean you can’t be happy and at peace with your body. The key is to learn the REAL facts about fat, dieting, and health, and to stop blaming yourself for not living up to our impossible cultural standards with regard to weight and appearance. Once we are able to see more clearly how such impossible and harmful standards influence our self-talk and self-respect, we can gain a new perspective on what is truly the healthiest way to treat ourselves and our bodies. HINT: Dieting and other forms of food restriction are NOT healthy. Getting enough rest, enjoying a variety of tasty foods, finding enjoyable ways of moving your body regularly, and treating yourself with kindness are a few of the things that are more important to health than how you look or what you weigh.
I’m here to help if you want support in moving toward more peace with your body, more freedom to enjoy food without guilt or worry, and better ways to take care of yourself and your well-being.
Photo Credit: Vivienne McMaster