EDIT: I’m lumping HAES in with Fat Acceptance in this post. Many of the same people preach both. Deal with it.
I’ve been reading a lot about the HAES (health at every size) movement lately, and quite frankly, I’m sick of it. So here are some very rambly opinions on it.
1. No one is out to get fat people. Yes, fat people are bullied. So are all sorts of other people. Fat people even bully other people regularly, calling thin people “skinny bitches” and saying things like “real men want meat, not bones”. Just because you’re being bullied doesn’t mean you need to start an entire movement to combat it. Also, how can you say Health at EVERY Size if that doesn’t include skinny people? You can’t have it both ways. Just be honest and say “Health at MY Size” or “Health as a Fatass”.
2. Yes, most of society finds thin people more attractive. So what? First of all, being attractive is not the most important thing in the world. You should not base all of your self worth into what other people think of you. Second of all, just because you’re thin doesn’t mean people find you attractive. You could have a really terrible face or terrible hair or any number of things that people won’t find attractive. Again, it’s not a big deal. People who love you will love you for you, and if they don’t, you probably don’t want to associate with them anyway. You should not need the entire earth to find you sexy in order to have self esteem.
3. FAT IS NOT HEALTHY. Yes, some studies were done that say overweight people often fare better with illness than thinner people. First off, that’s OVERWEIGHT people, not OBESE people. Most of the HAES supporters (at least that I’ve seen) are obese or morbidly obese. There is absolutely no situation in which being obese is healthy. Never. Just because your “numbers” are good does not mean you’re healthy. Just because you feel okay now does not mean you won’t die of a heart attack or blow out your knees when you’re 50. And quite frankly, I don’t give a shit if you’re unhealthy. Just stop preaching to vulnerable people that they’re just fine being fat.
4. HAES preys on people’s insecurities. This is fucking douchey and wrong. HAES seeks out fat girls and tells them that society’s wrong, they’re beautiful, and they’re healthy. This is harmful. They’re not healthy. They should be looking to find fulfillment in their lives outside of their appearance, and they should be working to be actually healthy. HAES people regularly ignore doctors, saying that any time a doctor mentions that they might be doing harm to themselves, that the doctor is shaming them. No, the doctor is not shaming you, the doctor is trying to help you. That’s his job. He gets paid to make you healthy.
5. HAES is exactly the same as Pro Anorexia. Exactly. It preys on people with insecurities, it says everyone else is wrong, it shames you if you try to get out and get healthier, and the people base most of their self worth on their appearance. The entire movement is about being prettier and being in control of your own body. The only difference is that Pro Ana is quieter about it because it’s conventionally recognized as unhealthy and unsafe.
6. I don’t give a shit what you do with your own body, and most other people don’t either. If you want to be fat, that’s fine. Yes, it’s hard to be fat when you think that everyone is ridiculing you, but when you take a step back and realize that no one else in the world gives a single shit about you, it’s easier to get by. I wrote a blog post a while ago about how hard it is to lose weight and be fat. It’s still really hard to lose weight. I’m still trying because I want to be healthy and I want to feel good about my body. But I’ve since realized that no one else cares if I’m fat, and if they do, then fuck them. Why should I care what they think?
7. HAES people just don’t want to try. They say it’s impossible to lose weight because they’ve failed every time they tried. You know why they failed? It’s not because of the diet or the diet industry or the patriarchy, it’s because they did something wrong and failed to fix it. For me, I fail at staying within my calories because I have no willpower. Willpower is something that comes slowly, but they don’t realize this, and they don’t want to try. If you want to stay fat, that’s fine, but stop acting like it’s out of your control. It’s not.
8. Body positivity is a good thing. HAES does it wrong. It’s a good thing to love your body. But HAES believes that a. everyone else should love their body right along with them and b. that it’s impossible to simultaneously love your body and realize it needs improvement. You can love yourself and still work to improve yourself. You can be fat and have self esteem. Everyone deserves respect and no one deserves to be judged on their appearance alone. They also preach body positivity but then go and attack anyone smaller than them. You can’t call people skinny bitches or anorexic assholes and preach body positivity at the same time. Either you love all bodies or you only love your own. You cannot have it both ways.
9. HAES lashes out constantly as a means of defense. Here’s my armchair psychologist coming out, but I think that the reason FAs (fat activists) go at this with full force is a defense measure. They think that everyone is out to get them and so they lash out first in order to defend themselves. If they’d just realize that no one cares about them but themselves, and that they can find worth in themselves outside of their appearance, they’d be a lot happier and lash out a lot less. They’d be a lot less crass and abrasive in everything they do. They’d feel a lot less compelled to bring their appearance into everything, aka “Yes I’m fat, get over it” when no one even mentioned their weight.
10. The This is Thin Privilege section of HAES believes that skinny people have it good no matter what and could never have any problems ever, and especially could never have possibly earned their bodies or worked for it in any way. Thin people are thin because of genetics and even if their life is in tatters, they should be happy because they’re thin and that’s the only thing to be happy about, right? There are plenty of posts on the TiTP blog that tell thin people that they can’t possibly have any problems or be unhappy with themselves because society finds them attractive. Yet another example of them putting too much stock in personal appearance, thinking that it’s the only thing that matters.
In conclusion, the Health At Every Size movement is harmful because it preys on people’s insecurities in order to further itself. It spreads misinformation at every turn about diets and health. It puts way too much stock in someone’s appearance and not enough in other places. It’s abrasive, its followers are mean, it’s always on the defensive. How about instead of worrying what society thinks of you, you worry about yourself? How about instead of insisting that everyone find you sexy, you get over yourself and realize that there is not a single person on this earth that everyone finds sexy? How about you realize that most people have insecurities, even the thin ones? I have so much more to say on this but this is already way too long and incoherent as it is so I’ll end it here.