I just read almost all of your blog posts and I notice that you constantly say that health is not entirely in someone’s control, that people’s health isn’t anybody else’s business, that they can make health whatever they want it to be, and that health isn’t obligatory. If you feel that way, why do you bother to talk about health at all?
I’ll start by clarifying what this person paraphrased. Health is multi-dimensional and includes things within and outside of our control including genetics, environment, access, and behaviors. Health is not an obligation, nor is it a barometer of worthiness. Nobody owes anybody else “health” or “healthy behavior,” and those who aren’t interested in health are not better or worse people than those who are interested in health. Prioritization of health and the path that someone chooses to get there are intensely personal and not anybody else’s business. The rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are not health or healthy habit dependent. People who have health issues should be given options for care and accommodation as they wish, not judged or asked to prove that their health issues are not their fault.
When I talk about health, it’s not because I am trying to tell people how to live. I’m not attempting to make a persuasive argument at all. I talk about health because there are people who are interested in being healthy, there is nothing wrong with that, and there is an unbelievably successful misinformation campaign happening that is harming people, and the way to stop that and honor those people’s interest in health is by talking about it.
Despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary, the misinformation campaign tells people that the only way to be healthy is to be thin, and that trying to be thin by any means necessary is healthier than being fat. This does a disservice to thin people who are misinformed that they are healthy simply because of their weight, and it does a disservice to fat people who are told all manner of nonsense.
Fat people are told to participate in behaviors that, viewed outside of our current obesity hysteria, would seem preposterous… Everyone else is told to eat whole foods, farm to table, slow foods etc. – except fat people who are told to consume reconstituted soy protein shakes 5 times a day, or eat a diet comprised entirely of highly processed food that comes frozen in a plastic bag and is microwaved, or eat 500 calories a day while getting urine-derived injections, or amputating our stomachs. When it comes to movement, fat people are told that if moving our bodies doesn’t make us thinner then it doesn’t make us healthier despite the massive amount of evidence that tells us that exercise is great at making people healthier and horrible at making people thinner.
I talk about health because I believe that people deserve an opportunity to make choices knowing all the options, including those grounded in evidence, reality, and logic. All I care about is that people have access to the information they need to evaluate all of their options. “To increase your chance for good health, drink reconstituted soy protein shakes all day and workout 2 hours a day whether you like it or now- unless you don’t lose weight then you should drink less shakes and exercise more” is a very different option than “To increase your chance for good health move your body 3o minutes a day, 5 days a week in ways that you enjoy and try to get 5 servings of fruits and vegetables.” Of course I have no problem with those who have heard about Health at Every Size/Behavior Centered Health, had access to evaluate the evidence, and decided it wasn’t for them. My concern is for all of the people hating their bodies and trying to lose weight by any means necessary because they want to increase their chance for good health and they don’t know that there is any other option.
I completely reject the idea that nobody should talk about health as an option just because it’s not an obligation, a barometer of worthiness, or an option that everyone is required to be interested in. I believe that we should absolutely attack and destroy the social constructs that suggest that health is an obligation, a barometer of worthiness, or an option that everyone is required to pursue – but not at the expense of conversations about health for those who are interested.
Happy HAES Holidays Teleconference Workshop – Registration is Name Your Own Price – Nov 13 and 15
During the holiday season I get a ton of e-mail from people asking about everything from how to set resolutions that aren’t about weight loss to how to deal with the family food police or their partner’s office party. I’ve put together a group of speakers to give you information to support you through the holiday season and into the new year. Details and registration are here, registration is name your own price.
Like the blog? Check this stuff out (and you can help support my work which I would really appreciate):
The Book: Fat: The Owner’s Manual The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here to order
The Dance Class DVDs: Buy the Dance Class DVDs (hint: Free shipping was supposed to end on Monday but I haven’t had a chance to make the changes to the pricing so there’s still free shipping until I get it done)! Click here for the details
Become a Member and Get Special Deals from Size Positive Businesses
I do size acceptance activism full time. A lot what I do, like answering over 4,000 e-mails from readers each month, giving talks to groups who can’t afford to pay, and running projects like the Georgia Billboard Campaign etc. is unpaid, so I created a membership program so that people who read the blog and feel they get value out of it and want to support the work I do can become members for ten bucks a month To make that even cooler, I’ve now added a component called “DancesWithFat Deals” which are special deals to my members from size positive merchants. Once you are a member I send out an e-mail once a month with the various deals and how to redeem them – your contact info always stays completely private.