HAES- How I found new heroes in the body acceptance movement

Monday, April 06, 2015
Before I even get started here I want to talk about me as the 13 year old I was. At age 12 my mom had put me on what was the first of hundreds of 'diet's, a formal one that still exists today in the billion dollar diet market. I was 5'7" tall and weighed 175 pounds at age 12. After dieting I was down to 135 and remember buying a pair of boys jeans from Montgomery Ward that were a size 30 waist. It was at this very brief size that a dreamy blond California surfer looking guy I had a major crush on told my bf at the time he would date me but I was 'too fat'. I knew then like some internal reality clicked into place that I would never be anything but 'too fat' to everyone- and the size 30's were thrown into the corner replaced by larger sizes within weeks.

And so it goes- before I ever really reached an age where I should have cared about finding a mate in the world- I knew I would forever be the 'fat friend' who would struggle to attract someone who wanted me for just being me. The only thing that really made this harder to accept was that I seemed to always have an easier time with boyfriends than my much thinner, blonder friends. I had no explanation for this but I chalked it up to luck.

There were no women promoting body acceptance when I was young. No one told me I could be anything, wear anything, do anything I wanted. I remember having another fat friend in college who never let anything stop her from living the life she wanted- she would get in boats and wear shorts and do whatever she wanted and all I could think was 'well clearly you don't want anyone to love you'.  If I was going to attract someone I felt I had to up-play my good qualities and down-play the bad one.  The diets continued- the weight went up and down and then just up. The self-loathing became larger than life.

Your perceptions about who you are and what value you can offer life changes as you age. I've been with the love of my life for over 30 years and he has never once made me feel anything but beautiful and amazing. But I read some of these young women today who are standing up and saying "I refuse to be who you think I am!" and I wish, oh how I wish, that I had known them when I was 13. I could have saved myself a lot of pain.

I think we may be losing the war here- the level of fat acceptance I see around me is not any better than it was when I was a kid. I see 13 year old grand daughters of friends now who are feeling this body shame. I see them hiding behind their clothing- their hair- I see them making puffy faces in the camera to mimic what they believe everyone is already seeing- I see them cutting and already falling into a shame spiral because their bodies are not what they think the world wants to see. And I think if they only knew how really beautiful they were- if they only had these amazing women to look up to....

I am not going to debate the issue of HAES "Health At Every Size". The name has had more debate swirling around it because people do two things: 1. Think "Health" means a current state of 'healthiness' and 2. Think what they think about someone else's body is important for some reason.

What this means to me is- you should be a healthy and happy person: physically, spiritually and mentally- and you live in the body you have. It means you accept who you are at all times as an amazing and wonderful person who has love and caring to share with the world. It means you don't judge someone for the way they look- no matter how that is- and you actually make an attempt to accept people based on what spirit they have to share with you. It means people have their own levels of health or un-health and it's their business. It means you have no idea what is happening in their home, in their body, or around their dining table- and you focus instead on their humanity and not their appearance.

If you're interested in reading more- I can offer only the words of some of these amazing women:

1.  Jes Baker with links to a good article below:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jes-baker/6-things-that-i-understand-fat-acceptance-movement_b_5200650.html

2. Shaunta Grimes

3. Lesley


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