HAES letter

Nov. 9th, 2010 01:40 pm
sarahmichigan: (Default)

x-posted to [livejournal.com profile] haes and a couple other places

Locally, there's a "wellness foundation" that provides grants to communities and school districts to make nutritious food and exercise more accessible to all, especially kids. That's all and good, but I've been really irked by the level of "Obesity Crisis OMG!" rhetoric in their press releases and on their Facebook page.

For instance, they started off a press release about giving funds to schools to make communities more walkable with "our kids are getting more obeses every day!' bullshit, and their facebook page had a link to an article suggesting fat kids should be fitted with activity monitors that force them to move if they sit still for more than 30 minutes (I shit you not).

So, I wrote them this letter and thought I'd share:

I think the work that CWF does is great. However, I'd like to note that I really wish that your organization would include less "obesity OMG!" talk in press releases and the Facebook page. 

Exercise is of benefit to ALL people, fat or skinny. Making posts or sending out press releases that talk about the so-called obesity epidemic and talking about getting fat kids to move more perpetuates the myth that children and adults with ideal BMIs do not need to exercise and only fatties need to exercise.
You might also be surprised at how active many fat kids already are; it's pretty hard to fight genetics in many cases. I was very active as a kid and an adult, biking and rollerskating all over town as a kid and hitting the gym regularly as an adult. Activity has made me healthy but never made me skinny.
I think the message that activity always and necessarily leads to weight loss may actually *discourage* fat people from exercising; if they don't see the scale go down, they may wonder, "Why bother?" Well, they should bother because exercise brings benefits *regardless* of weight loss!
Please consider using more "Health at Every Size"-friendly language in your press releases, Facebook and blog posts, etc.
If you're not familiar with HAES, please check these links out:


sarahmichigan: (Default)
There's lots of good posts in the fat-o-sphere today about No Diet Day, but I particularly liked this one, as it was brief, got to the point quickly and has good links:


A few other good ones here, here and here.
sarahmichigan: (Default)
About Michelle Obama picking childhood obesity as her Big Issue: Encouraging people of ALL sizes to move and get active and eat their fruits & veggies is good. Making it a war against childhood obesity - not so great.

Here is a great essay that explains why. Honestly, I didn't read the whole thing because it was too painful. I, too, have diaries from when I was young and also thought I was a huge cow. I know for sure I was dieting by age 11 (if not earlier) because I wrote about it in my journals.

Also, despite what you may have heard, childhood obesity rates have been standing still for many years, and in an overview study, there was no major change in child obesity rates between 2001 and 2006. But that doesn't make for a very compelling story or cause.
sarahmichigan: (Default)
I gave a kick-ass speech about size acceptance in my dreams last night. I was with a group of former co-workers having a drink. I mentioned in passing that I'd given up talking smack about my body and had pretty much learned to accept and even love myself and my fat. One of my co-workers asked, "But how?"

And I went off on a rant, and hit all the highlights pretty well:

-I stopped trying to suck in my stomach and pretend it wasn't there and started really looking myself in the mirror without criticizing.

-I learned to buy and wear clothes that weren't too tight (because many fatties refuse to buy clothing in bigger sizes when they put on weight) or too loose so that I had no shape, but rather sharp, tailored clothing.

-I realized that this was the size I was meant to be, and that all the women in my family are around my size, or bigger.You can chalk this up to similar eating habits, but multiple scientific studies with twins show that genetics is the hugest influence on ultimate adult body size.

-I've learned not to care if people think that I've just "given up" or have "taken the easy way out"; my mental health is just as important as my physical health, and constantly striving to be a size I'm not meant to be isn't any good for my mental health.
sarahmichigan: (Default)
I've been posting a lot about fitness and a lot less posts that would fit under my size acceptance or obesity propaganda tags, but I'm still thinking about these things. Mainly, I'm posting any thoughts I have on the comments of the Fat Acceptance/Size Acceptance blogs I read regularly, because it feels like a safer space to do that.

I just have to mention, though, one thing that infuriated me deeply when I was reading, "Pretty Good for a Girl," by Leslie Heywood. To recap, in high school, she was a track star who had to really fight to be taken seriously, as this was just barely post Title IX. In college, she developed an eating disorder to keep her weight down, and over trained to the point of collapse. She had to give up her track career, but couldn't give up athletics and competing altogether so she became an amateur body-builder later in life.

She mentions, just casually in passing, that her doctor looked at her weight as recorded on her medical records (she was 5 foot 2-ish inches and 148 pounds at the time) and said, "You weight too much for your height." Then she looked at Leslie's biceps and said, "Oh, you're a bodybuilder. These charts don't apply to you."

Do we need any more proof that too many people-- including medical professionals-- look at their patients as numbers instead of as individuals? I think most people are coming to the conclusion that BMI is limited in its usefulness, but then you get an incredibly insensitive (hello, history of eating disorders!?!) and one-size-fits-all kind of comment like this, and it makes me despair. 

In the rush to solve the so-called "Obesity Epidemic" in this country, we have turned EVERYONE into a number instead of into an individual, and this is a mania that is really bad for our health, collectively, even if it's just stress about worrying about those "five extra pounds" we're carrying. 

This also makes it really damn hard to practics Health at Every Size as well. If I was caught up in obesity hysteria and was obsessed with BMI, I would be despairing that after three months of dedicated gym-going, I had barely budged my BMI and my body weight at all, instead of being happy that I improved my hip-to-waist ratio, cardio fitness, upper body strength, and upper and lower body flexibility noticeably in that time. I could conclude that exercise was worthless instead of seeing all the positive benefits I've gained in just over 3 months.

Despite the CDC's own recent report that BMIs have barely budged in the last few years, I still heard a lead in about how we're all getting fatter every year as a promo for an NPR segment just this morning. WTF?! The promoters of the War on Obesity seriously need to calm the fuck down and get a grip.

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