Saturday, 31 January 2009

The HAES conundrum

Health at any size is admirable in many ways.

I love the story I heard of it's origins from a comment made by Marylin Wann; the efforts of fat people (and their supporters)taking it upon themselves to restore or increase their mobility, mainly through exercise.


It made me realise again, that I could actually relate to that in a more personal way. In the sense that I'm still restoring my own mobility-it's more of a mental than physical thing- after my damaging stint as a 'obesity' stooge.

I do however, avoid it mainly: Why?

Because it now replicates and reflects the attitudes of mainstream 'healthy living' to an extent I cannot tolerate. I don't know if it's more the language or the attitudes that irk most, suffice to say, it's rarely a pleasure to encounter it's various forms.

I discovered this purely by accident. It is not because I feel like a 'bad fatty', or because I feel judged. I was a healthy living follower. I was one of those who believed that it was a sure and logical route to slimness; it wasn't.

Even after rejecting the pursuit of thin, I didn't feel this would affect what I felt was my positive adherence to healthy eating/living. To my astonishment, it did.

Slowly, I jettisoned bits of it, until it became clear to me that maybe none of it was worth saving. Apart from casting my net a bit wider on things that might appeal, not being put off by a healthy tag.

As for the physical side, I've little to no interest in 'exercise', whatever it is, it's rules are too mysterious for me. I can't relate. I'll stick to just moving about as and when I feel. The fact that this requires some kind of systematic and somewhat profound change in my thought process, tells part of the real story, of what it can do to condemn yourself by your weight- any weight

So HAES I'll recommend happily, where apt.

But whilst it is what it has become, I am most definitely, not a part of it.


  1. I'll stick to just moving about as and when I feel.

    You know, that's kinda how I interpret HAES. Not forcing one's self to exercise, just doing what your body and emotional state tells you, i.e. exercising when you feel like it and eating what you feel like. I'm actually thinking we need a new term since so many people have the impression that HAES is just a new set of 'be good' rules. Or am I misinterpreting what you are saying?

  2. I've decided to look at it as Health At My Size, which is what is healthy for me, what I can reasonably do to be healthy for me, and if it's not what the mainstream thinks of as "healthy", too bad. I'm as healthy as I'm gonna get and I'm not going to worry about it anymore. "Health", or lack of it, has no moral value. I don't "owe" it to anyone to do anything to "improve" my health beyond what it currently is, especially if it means I'm going to be in pain, going to be hungry 24 hours a day, or be bored out of my skull doing exercise I hate.
    I do what I can to make me feel better, and if that doesn't meet with the world's approval, "too bad so sad, sucks to be them" is my opinion of it.

  3. I have similar feelings about it, although mine come from a very different life experience. Not going into the details now because that would be a little off topic.

    I don't like exercise. The only "exercise" I currently do is stretching my neck/shoulder muscles when they hurt because it helps. Hah. I'm told more exercise would make me feel better in general, so I try sometimes ... but to be honest, I've never been able to keep it up yet. Don't get me started on dietary changes, the mere thought makes me want to run away. (Me, at the supermarket: "NO! Don't buy that! It's DIET FOOD!!")

  4. What fatadelic said.

    Also I feel that the main problem is the tendency to ignore the problems with HAES--what does "health" really mean, especially for someone like me who has a chronic health condition? what about people who don't have the time or money to eat a balanced diet? where does mental health fit into this?--and to act like HAES and FA are equivalent when they're really not.

  5. Fatadelic,

    I agree with you that we could do with some new terms that move toward a different view of physical movement, since 'exercise' now belongs to the health people, and they decide what it is.

    It's not working your tail off in some physically demanding menial job or whatever because too many people who do that are still fat. It's whatever they say it is, after the fact-that is, when they find out that fat people follow their dictates and are still fat, they they change the rules.

    I'm past caring what exercise this week.

    What I do know, is that I want to feel like my body is my own again, I still don't, not completely.


    I agree with your attitude, empowering isn't it?

    I now feel like I'd no more allow the mainstream health industry to tell me how to move, than I would allow them to tell me how to think.


    That's how I feel emotionally, it's like there's some kind of force field around the terms they use to sell us health that bounces me off. Sometimes the whole health thng actually makes me want to gag!


    You've pointed up something I'd not really considered, the meaning of 'health'. That's a really good point, what does it mean?

    I do have to say that I think there are different rules for people who have chronic conditions and/or disabilities.

    I'm going to think some more about that point.