Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Creating an HAES model

Here we go again with another HAES critique, this coming from FWD.

If I was looking to the sources of disquiet people have with HAES, I'd start with healthism-the belief that you can control your health via what you eat and/or don't eat plus your level of activity. As weight is seen as an indicator of health, this has translated into, healthy eating can achieve slimness as that is deemed healthy. This was picked up by the weight loss dieting industry and joined to their premise that you can (and should) control your weight through what you eat and through your level of activity.

The latter wished to align itself with healthiness as it was in danger of being fatally wounded due to its actual effects. Its useless inefficacy combined its commercial imperative helped it to spread the idea of the 'morality' of calorie restriction.

All this means healthism has become mixed up with weight control rather than being something to practice for its own sake. This has developed in it the same untrammelled elitism of the calorie restriction model. It is beyond ableism, it doesn't recognise the potential needs of people with disabilities at all.

But then why would it? It recognizes the existence of fat people only to use us as folk devils. If you are fat you are repeatedly told you cannot possibly be eating healthily or exercising. Your fatness disqualifies you.

This finds a happy resonance with the obesity crusade itself which is not interested in the fattest people and hardly recognises their existence either. When they break into someones house to free them from their bed, do you see any obesity professionals there supervising giving the paramedics etc., instructions such as cover up their genitals this time, remember they are human, that sort of thing?

You must be kidding.

The only use the crusading forces have for them is as the fatties in the woodpile style threat to the middle class middleweights (which is the crusades real cultural impulse, heartbeat and target) as their fate if they do not heed the cult of shifting a focus of their moral universe from sex to food.

HAES was an initiative by the most marginalized fat people and those interested in helping them to assist with their physical mobility and mental health needs precisely because the obesity script didn't give a flying fig about them and would be happy if they sank swiftly to their end. Hey, at least it will 'prove' fatness is bad and that's to the greater good, right?

The dissemination of healthism, the way it has come to dominate everyone's thought landscape around health means it has gone mostly unquestioned, pushed as it is by the kind that dominate the administration of society.

Fat people as much as anyone else have been taught a healthist assumptions and (on the whole) less marginalized fatties, who've been included as being in sin fat, have invested HAES with that healthism as the feeling has been to counter the fat =ill health message more than the needs of fat people.

This has been somewhat of a wasted opportunity as there are many people who've become alienated from their physical instincts and impulses, disturbed, guilt ridden and confused about eating by ideologies of calorie and dietary restriction. Many would love to find some positive resolution for themselves but don't know how if they can conceive or fathom another way. They like us are struggling to find a way that suits actual needs.

If HAES had continued to be dominated by its original drive with fat peoples (therefore peoples) needs at its heart it could be helping to make a better contribution to the well being of everyone, showing what FA has to give everyone.

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