It’s been a quiet couple of months on the blog here as summer has ended and fall has begun. I’m at the AAMFT Annual Conference in Charlotte, NC where I’m presenting with Dr. Michael Loewy of Alliant International University on our research about one of his doctoral electives.
Dr. Loewy has offered a “Fat Acceptance and Health at Every Size” class for the Alliant psychology students about half a dozen times over the past few years, and as far as we know, this is one of the only classes on FA/HAES being taught in graduate mental health training. So we’ve started interviewing students who’ve been through the class, asking them “what effects has this class had on you?”
This year we’re fortunate to have the chance to present our research, along with a dose of “FA/HAES 101,” at the AAMFT conference, a place where the only talk about weight and body size is usually centered on eating disorders or the “obesity epidemic” and how therapists can help fat children or adults get thin (free hint: They can’t.) We were excited to get the opportunity to bring the FA/HAES perspective to AAMFT, and to talk about what our students have told us about how the class affected their lives and work.
You can access the PowerPoint of our presentation here, and if you attended the presentation, give special attention to the “Do No Harm” slides toward the end – PowerPoint skipped them, and we think they’re especially important!
Our handout for the presentation is available for download.
We’d love to hear any thoughts and comments people have.
Our presentation wasn’t comfortable for everyone. Which we understand: there’s a tremendous personal investment in the weight-loss paradigm, both for ourselves (and our fantasies of being thin) and for our clients who desperately want (themselves, their children, their partners) to be “normal.” But that’s OK. Radical paradigm shifts like a weight-neutral approach to health are challenging. Rejecting the hard sell of the diet and bariatric industries is difficult when we’re inundated with hundreds of messages a day about “willpower” and “fat = death.”
We agree with Dr. Linda Bacon, who writes:
“The toughest challenge in adopting HAES is to recognize that change has got to come from inside you. You are trying to define your own beauty and value in an environment that doesn’t want you to get away with it. No industry profits from your self-love or from the very simple notion that you’ve already got the tools for fulfillment right there inside you.”
The “war on obesity” is a war on PEOPLE, on fat children and fat adults. We don’t take care of our bodies if we learn to hate and blame them, and we can’t support people of all sizes if we’re trying to eradicate some of them.