Having blogged on the topic of Health at Every Size for a while and reading all the comments I get back, I think that I can safely say that suggesting that people love themselves and be grateful for their bodies at whatever size they are now, and that one option for those seeking greater health is to focus on healthy habits instead of body size, is extremely controversial. It seems crazy to me that this would be controversial but according to most of the people I talk to, it’s a big flaming sack of duh.
I see a lot of people who blog about self-esteem and body image and body positivity take on the people who want to argue about this. I greatly appreciate that they do that kind of arguing, I think it’s an important thing to do. I rarely do it- at least not here. It’s hard for me to walk away from those fights because this issue is important to me and I’m armed with a ton of research and sky-high self-esteem.
The reason I don’t fight here is simple. This blog is not for them and I will not let it get hijacked for their purpose. There are more than enough places for people to argue that I should hate myself, live in guilt, shame and fear, and be treated without respect until my picture of health fits their frame. If those people read this blog and it makes them think, that’s great, but I’m not writing for them.
I’m writing for all of the people out there who have lost hours, days, weeks, months, and years of their lives (not to mention thousands of dollars) that they will never get back feeling bad about themselves and their bodies. I’m writing to give an option to people who have been sold the idea that they should do unhealthy things to get thin under the guise that they’ll be magically healthy once they get there. I’m writing for people who have bought into the idea that their size makes them unworthy of respect and dignity.
I am much less concerned with whether the world thinks that people of size deserve respect than I am that people of size know that they deserve respect and that they can demand it. I’m writing for the 8 out of 10 women who don’t like their bodies. For the third grade girls who told a researcher that they would rather get cancer or lose a parent than get fat. I’m writing for people who are looking for a way to scrape together enough self-esteem to just stop hating themselves for a minute.
I must have written a hundred times that the diet industry makes 60 BILLION dollars a year convincing us to hate ourselves and buy their stuff, even though they have a success rate of less than 5%.
But they aren’t stealing that money from us – we’re giving it to them. They only make 60 Billion dollars a year because we choose to believe what they say – however improbably, or at least give them our money however dubious we might be.
So I am writing for people who want another perspective – who look around at our culture of failed intentional weight loss, unrealistic expectations, negative body image, low self-esteem and say ENOUGH.
The school bully doesn’t steal your lunch money – you give it to him because he seems big and powerful and you feel small and scared.
I write to show people that you have the option to scrape together all the courage and self-esteem you can muster, stand up (on shaking legs if necessary), look the school bully in the eye, and tell him that you don’t care how big and powerful he is, he cannot have your lunch money any more.
A friend of mine who is a recovering alcoholic once told me that one of the tenets of Alcoholics Anonymous is that you can’t keep what you have unless you give it away. I lead a charmed life – I have friends, health, success, high self-esteem and everything that I desire. I write because I know that to keep it, I have to give it away. If you want some it’s all yours.