Study Shows Self-Hatred Not the Key to Health

Study finds Fat Acceptance Blogs Can Improve Health Outcomes, or so says the headline.  The study looked at a sample of 44 fatosphere bloggers and sought to determine how their involvement in the FA movement had affected them. (Just to clarify – I was not one of the bloggers studied. But the very awesome Fat Heffalump was and her beautiful picture is on the article – double awesome!)

This study has its limitations –  44 people do not a statistically significant sample size make, there doesn’t appear to have been a control group etc.  Still, I’m quite happy that people are studying this, as one of the researchers pointed out that “We saw there was a lot of opinion about the movement but very few people had actually studied it.”

I think that’s a significant thing to realize, that the backlash against the FA movement is not based in research or science. So what is it based on?

Why is there so much push back against a movement that simply says we won’t hate ourselves?  Is it that people have been inundated by the message of the diet industry that they have to be thin to be healthy; so they are starving themselves, restricting food and working their asses off trying to be thin and most of them are failing and blaming themselves and trying again repeatedly. Thus when a community that says “we won’t buy into this cycle”, there is a backlash?

Maybe it’s because people have allowed themselves to be fooled by marketing that says that fat is the same is lazy, unhealthy, unattractive, unloveable etc. and so they think that fat people should believe that drivel about ourselves?

I don’t know what the answer is, but I’m not surprised that the study found that people who took part in a movement that supports them overcoming stigma and liking themselves had better health.  Among all of the ridiculous diet headlines I’ve never seen a single headline that reads “Self-loathing Proven to be Key to Health” or “Five Quick ways to Hate Yourself Healthy” or “Study Shows That Constant Stigmatization Leads to Better Health Outcomes”.  Not to put too fine a point on it, but I’m believe the word that we’re looking for here is DUH.  I’m incredibly glad that people are studying this because somehow we’ve lost whatever bit of common sense would tell us that people have better health outcomes when they don’t hate themselves.  My guess would also be that people take better care of things that they like, so liking our bodies probably gives us a better chance of taking care of them at any size.

So, Dr. Danceswithfat says “take two blog posts and call me in the morning”!

Published in: on August 29, 2011 at 7:18 am  Comments (9)  

9 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I’m glad someone is studying these blogs! Even though I know the media will somehow twist the positive message of such research and end up skewing it all to hell!

  2. I can’t speak for others, but my guess is that they don’t see fat acceptance as just a pledge to say “We won’t hate ourselves.” There’s a possibility in my mind they they see it as more than that.

    I confess that when I first found out about fat acceptance, this is what first came to mind: “Oh boy, here we have a group of fat women who are proud of being fat and and they see thin people as an enemy. They are in denial of how much they really eat in comparison to how much the body needs for fuel. They are pushing their views on people and delete and ban any criticism. Oh and look, they are giving health and medical advice when they have no doctorate degrees, and wow, they actually say their doctors don’t know shit, yet they still keep going back to them. Why don’t they prescribe their own medications and solutions if they are so all knowing?”

    Ok, harsh I know, and that’s not the way I feel now. But I just think a lot of people who haven’t really followed fat acceptance for a certain amount of time, they just don’t “get it” as of yet. The good news is, like me, they can be well informed and educated over some time by good bloggers such as yourself and feel welcomed into fat acceptance so they might feel inclined to stick around and find out why fat acceptance has such the following that it does, and they might learn to understand it afterall.

  3. I’m a huge fan of you and your work – I was struck with the the similarities of the emotional mischief that is connected to the weight loss roller coaster and stress as a cause of heart disease. I am 6 months along in the recovery from double bypass surgery and one of my best friends recently observed that I was very hard on myself but I did it in a quiet way. Recognizing, like you do so well, that self esteem is an inside job is very important for all of us. Thanks for shining a light on this lesson.

  4. Zen teacher Cheri Huber’s best-known book is called (Regardless of What You Were Taught to Believe) There Is Nothing Wrong with You: Going Beyond Self-Hate, and touches on the same themes as all her other books: self-hatred doesn’t work, self-beating and self-berating don’t work, and it’s impossible to stop suffering as long as you’re still buying into the hateful voices telling you how horrible you are.

    She says it’s amazing just HOW STRONG people’s resistance is to a message like “you could stop hating yourself and see what happens”. (She even says in one book, “Look, just try it for a day, and if you find it’s worse than before you can beat yourself up TWICE as much the next day!”)

    The phrase “radical self-acceptance” might sound like a joke, but I find that the more I unpack it and ponder it, the more radical it seems.

  5. I plan to use and practice the phrase “radical self acceptance”, thanks!

  6. Ragan–Okay a couple of things: 1) I love the caption on the Stewie picture! 2) Seth Godin’s most recent blog post was about why people resist change, and did a nice job of illuminating the mindset of people who cleave to the status quo. 3) It is so exciting to finally have the research community start to use scientific questioning instead of buying into the diet assumptions.

    That’s it for me. :)

  7. ta da!

  8. hmm well i confess i’m a huge follower of feminist blogs and women’s studies, so i tend to see gender bias everywhere, but i wonder if some of the vitriol in the anti-HAES camp has something to do with misogyny? not that life is by any means easy for fat men, but it seems like fat women are the target of the majority of the abuse that gets thrown at overweight people (even Ashley’s comment specifies her previous contempt was aimed specifically at fat WOMEN). women of size are being punished not just for not fitting into society’s mould of attractiveness, but also for not complying with the specifically feminine code of beauty that so often is used to keep women preoccupied, self-obsessed, and in their place. there is a lot more to say about that mould, but it’d be a bit of a threadjack so i won’t go there. but i do think that whatever venom is spat at overweight people is amplified for women, because of our culture’s expectation that women should work hard to be sexy for men.

    now it turns out turning yourself inside out to be thought sexy by a man isn’t healthy. shocking, truly.

  9. Yes! Thank God this study exists! Seriously so happy right now.


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