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HAES is a concept that’s become popular in the last few years and it stands for Health at Every Size.

I’m now going to explain this to you using very pedagogical pictures that I’ve drawn. And while I have many, many talents (including speed reading, Trivial Pursuit and putting together IKEA furniture) I can’t draw.

thin person

This is a person. This person has a body and it looks a certain way. In fact, this person happens to be thin. That is the one thing you can tell from this picture. (or if you saw this person in real life.)

fat personThis is also a person. With a body. This body is fat or perhaps obese. Maybe even morbidly obese. That is also the only thing we observe here. A fact.

Middle person

Here’s a third person with a body. This body is somewhere in the middle.

We don’t know anything about the habits or the lifestyles of these people. We don’t know how they eat, if they ever exercise, if they smoke or their medical history. Nada.

That is, we have NO WAY of knowing if they are “healthy” or not.

What I’m trying to say here: Weight is not a way to determine if anyone’s health or not. It’s also not a determinant of their habits.

It’s impossible to look at a fat person and say that he or she is going to get diabetes and die early and has never set foot in a gym.

It’s impossible to look at a thin person and say that they probably eat a lot of vegetables.
Think about it. You probably know a thin person who never ever exercises and brags about how he/she can eat anything without gaining weight. Is that person living a healthy life?

BMI and such measures are rubbish.

Health at Every Size is about healthy habits rather than weight. Moving your body, eating a well-rounded diet, instead of staring manically at a scale.
That people are more than what they weigh and that looking at someone is not a way to see if they’re healthy or not.

Links:
Haes Commnity
Kate Harding
Linda Bacon
Body Positive
Dances with fat

I’m really meant to be writing my thesis and nothing even resembling blogging, or fiction or fanfiction, but I wanted to link to this excellent post by a high school friend of mine (unfortunately in Swedish, but I’ll link to a google translate version as well.)

Excerpt (my translation:)

The Health Zombies have taken heatlh and exercise one step further. They wake up at 5.30 to fit in a power walk before breakfast (“quark, nuts and protein powder – so good!”), de exchange pretty much all carbs (“unnecessary”) for three slices of cucumber, five pieces of rocket salad and 5 red pepper wedges and they make sure to track each and every jogging round with RunKeeper so that they can copy that map that shows exactly how you’re run (preferably 5-6k on weekdays, to be celebrate with 10k on the weekend).

Read, read, read. It’s funny, spot on and so so important. I agree with every word in there.

(Google translated English version.)

An image showed up in my Facebook feed about a woman who’d lost a large amount of weight, and that what she had done was “simply” to cut down her calorie intake to 1300 kcals/day and “not restricting herself on anything.” (I’d say eating so few calories is restrictive, but what do I know?)

Now, as you may know, I’m sceptical to weight loss in general and to dieting in particular, so I did some googling.
My recommendation: don’t google.

One of the first links I found was this, from the Livestrong Foundation (that is, a reputable source) and this quote:

The lowest recommended caloric intake for women and men is 1,200 and 1,500 calories, respectively. According to the National Institutes of Health’s Medline Plus, a diet of 500 to 800 calories a day is dangerously too low and should not be done unless its a medically supervised diet.

So it’s really, really dangerous to be on a diet of 500 to 800 calories, but y’know, it’s ok if you’re fat. Let’s ignore the dangers and how that is not enough for the body to survive on. The dangers of starvation is outlined in the next paragraph:

Starving yourself has serious health consequences such as dehydration, constipation, malnutrition and electrolyte imbalances that can cause heart arrhythmias and death, according to Health Tree.

But apparently it’s ok to ignore that if you’re on “a medically supervised diet.”

I also found this nugget:

Image

Please tell me I’m not the only one who sees that there is a problem in telling people that eating under 800 calories is starvation, as in people DYING of it, and in the next sentence it’s ok if you’re doing it to lose weight.

 

 

 

 

I read a great blog post (in Swedish) by Elisabeth Björk and I just had to interrupt my studying to blog.

You see, all my life, since i was very little. I’ve known that I’m fat. And that this was a BAD THING. And while not as fat as many others, still, it’s noticable and different.

And that was, in a way, what defined me. When I was teased in school, that was the one thing they focused on. When I bought clothes, same thing. When I started exercising, it was all about becoming thin(ner). When I got to puberty, it wasn’t about growing up, but that I might lose weight.

If I would only lose some weight…
If I just lost some weight…
I could…
I would…!

If only…

This is what I’ve heard, all my life, from magazines, school, my parents, my relatives…
If you just lose weight, everything will be fine. If you’re thin, you won’t be different anymore.

Got any problems? Headache, stomach ache, depression? I’m sure it’s just because you’re fat.

Any wonder that I thought this was the only thing worth noticing about me. Fat. As in something negative, a burden on me. A Swedish journalist once wrote: “In every fat girl, there’s a thin woman longing to get out.”

My very existance, my entire life, was defined by the fact that I’m not as thin as someone else.

23 years on this earth, and that was it. My eulogy: “She wasn’t as thin as the others.”

My life was, I felt, essentially on hold because I was fat. I won’t get a boyfriend as long as I’m fat. There’s no point in even trying. I can’t dance, because I’m fat. I can’t wear short skirts because I’m fat. I will though, once I’m thin. Later. Some other time. Just not now, because I don’t deserve to right now.

It is insane. Insane, do you hear me? How much time did I waste waiting for that one day where it would be OK for me to live my life? How insane is it that I’ve been taught my entire life that that is just something I have to accept. Second-rate citizen. 

And it’s my fault, because I’m fat and that’s because I have no self-control and I’m disgusting. Read any magazine, that is the bottom line.

In a way, this is what I’m most grateful to feminism about. The realization that I can life my life and I’m about so much more than just being fat.

That being fat is OK. I don’t have to wait.

I’m so many things worth noticing. I’m so much more than just fat.