The HAES Movement Pisses Me Off

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.

8 thoughts on “The HAES Movement Pisses Me Off

  1. You are pissed about HAES… yet don’t seem to actually know what HAES is.

    1. You say HAES doesn’t include thin people. Where are you getting that from? HAES means Health At Every Size- it is applicable to people of all sizes. There is no weight or BMI requirement to practice HAES.

    2. HAES has nothing to do with what other people find attractive. Pursuing health at any size isn’t about other people finding you attractive.

    3. Citations. Especially interested in your “never” claim, because that’s a pretty huge one. Find me a scientific, peer reviewed study that actually claims to speak for every single obese person in existence- not just statistical correlations.

    4. HAES doesn’t seek out fat people to tell them they are healthy, it seeks to teach people that they are capable of being healthy/as healthy as they can be regardless of their weight. It seek to teach people that pursuing health doesn’t mean you have to lose weight. This means teaching fat people who have tried and failed to lose weight who think “why bother?” that there is still value in eating well, exercise, and practicing other healthy behaviors is still valuable to people of all sizes regardless of weight loss. Practicing HAES means making an effort to improve healthy behaviors without focusing on weight.
    Also doctors don’t actually get paid to make people healthy. My doctor gets paid whether I get healthier or not. If they get paid per visit, they actually get paid more if their patients are healthy. (The pay is not actually based on visits for the healthcare system I go to though.) Now, don’t believe doctors are conspiring to keep people sick for financial gain, or that doctors don’t care about the well being of their patients, but they do not get paid based on improved health of patients.

    5. No. Pro Ana encourages unhealthy behaviors in the name of achieving or maintaining a particular weight. HAES encourages healthy behaviors regardless of weight.

    6. By practicing HAES I am not asking you to care about what I do with my body.

    7. HAES people don’t want to try what? Losing weight? Ok, you caught me on that! I don’t want to try losing weight again! That seems to be the only thing here that is an accurate representation of HAES.
    Doesn’t mean I don’t “try” anything though. I try a lot with HAES. I try to workout as often as I am able. I try to run further and fastest than I could before. I try to lift heavier and heavier weights. I try to improve my flexibility. I try to eat healthier and make better choices in my diet. I try to push myself to try new things even if it scares me. I try to find new and fun activities to give a try and see if they are good for me. I try not to let fears about what people will think of me being fat keep me from doing activities. et cetera.

    8. HAES does not demand that other people love anyone else’s body- treat with respect, yes, but love is not necessary. HAES does not set self-improvement and self-love as mutually exclusive. HAES encourages self-improvement, and is absolutely in line with self-love.

    As for HAES individuals who call anyone “skinny bitches” or “anorexic assholes”, you have a valid issue with those individuals. Those individuals do not define the entire HAES movement. They also do not represent the majority of HAES advocates and supporters.

    9. Stop playing armchair psychologist. Just stop. Are you a trained mental health professional? If not, stop thinking you can diagnose mental health issues. If you are one, you should know better than to thnk you can diagnose mental heath issues of strangers on the internet.

    10. Where are you getting this “section of HAES” from? Citing what you are referencing would help throughout this.
    HAES has nothing to do with saying that thin people have it good no matter what. That is not part of HAES. It’s also not even what “privilege” means. It’s certainly not a tenet of HAES.

    Overall I’m left very, very curious where exactly you have been “reading a lot about the HAES (health at every size)”?

    1. 1. Of course there isn’t. But many people seem to think there is, as evidenced by their “if you’re skinny you must be anorexic” remarks.

      2. I suppose I’m conflating HAES with FA, but many people speaking for HAES hate skinny people.

      3. Such a thing does not exist and you know this. Current science proves over and over again that obesity is related to diseases that are not as prevalent in non-obese people. Here is a link stating the health risks with obesity. Healthy is defined as “the state of being free of illness or injury”. If you have heart disease, bad knees, diabetes, thyroid issues, high blood pressure, or any other myriad of issues related to obesity, then you are NOT healthy. Healthy is not just “I’m not sick right this second”.

      4. The problem is that these think they’re being healthy when they’re not. If you’re actually eating right and exercising, you WILL lose weight. Should you seek to lose weight? Maybe not, but if you are actually practicing actual healthy behaviors, you will not remain obese. You might still be overweight but you will not remain obese. It’s not possible.

      No, a doctor does not get paid based on results, but their entire job is focused on making people healthy.

      5. HAES encourages unhealthy behaviors by disguising them as healthy behaviors. Eating whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it is not a healthy behavior.

      6. Again, conflating with FA.

      7. I was just claiming that they don’t want to try losing weight, not that they don’t want to try anything at all. Losing weight is hard fucking work and if you didn’t have success at it, you didn’t try hard enough or you did something wrong.

      8. Again conflating with FA, I should have been more specific I suppose.

      9. I do not have to be a trained mental health professional in order to make observations about people.

      10. There is a blog on tumblr called This is Thin Privelege. I am not going to link to it and give them page views. Google it. It’s like the first result.

      HAES is extremely scientifically flawed at its core and that’s why it pisses me off so much. It tells unhealthy people that they’re healthy after all which is harmful and a blatant LIE.

      Most of what I read on HAES is from angry fat women writing blog posts about it and posts from the TiTP blog.

      Here is some further reading for you if you care to actually be proven wrong:
      Causes and Consequences of Adult Obesity

      Morbid Obesity and Related Health Risks

      1. A tumblr blog called This Is Thin Privilege is not part of HAES. That is not a section of HAES.

        Again, you are ranting about something you don’t seem to actually know anything about or have done real research to learn about.

        Instead of reading This Is Thin Privilege, which is not even explicitly about HAES, and then ranting about HAES, suggest actually learning what HAES is. Some places you can do that:
        Unlike This Is Thin Privilege, those sites actually are about HAES. If you are going to rant about something and how terrible it is, you should actually know what that thing is.

        1. I know exactly what HAES is, and it’s wrong. But I was lumping everything in with this post (Fat acceptance, fat logic, health at every size) so I’m sorry I wasn’t being more specific. TiTP is more about FA than HAES, but they still practice HAES (or at least preach about it).

  2. Your post does not seem to indicate that you know what it is. You made a list of 10 things about the HAES movement that pissed you off and only one really relates to what HAES actually is at all (that it’s about not trying to lose weight).
    And you yourself say that where you were “reading a lot about” HAES is not actually from true HAES resources. Can you provide a citation from a true HAES resource for each of your points here?

    1. I have edited my post to indicate that I’m lumping in several things with this post. Arguing with you at this point about it is pointless.

  3. So I really like this rambly blog post. It is interesting. I really like that you pint out that no body give a shit about you. Very good point. It is also the best point that people who love you don’t care how you look. =)

  4. Thank you for this sensible article. Too often, the HAES/fat or size acceptance/body positive activists are too quick to be defensive and lash out blindly.

    By doing so, they’re just making people dislike them more. Good luck towards your healthy journey!

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