What is Body Acceptance?
So what is body acceptance and why do I care or advocate for it? Body acceptance is, in simplest terms, accepting your body as it is- trading the hate, loathing, and contempt that you may hold for your body and the bodies of others for love, understanding, and appreciation of the uniqueness and specialness of each body. Many people take it only so far as fat acceptance, but I take it a little further- to accept the amount of fat you have whether that makes you smaller or larger than average, to accept your nose, your hair, your ski, your boobs, your everything. In fact I'd like to go a little further and extend it to accepting the limitations of your body- whether it be illness, injury, or just something you were born with.

Body acceptance means that I will never look at a thin person and think badly about them and assume they under eat just as I will never look at a fat person and think badly about them and assume they over eat- it's about throwing all of your assumptions out of the window because, just like classism, racism, sexism, homophobia, etc, those assumptions are very likely to be very wrong.

This does not mean that you must be attracted to every body type, but it does mean that if you're not, you should shut your mouth and not treat them as if they're not human. Remember- not everyone is attracted to you either.

What is HAES?

HAES- Health at every size. It's a revolutionary notion that you can be healthy and happy regardless of your weight.

The major components of HAES, as described by Jon Robison, are:
  1. Self-Acceptance: Affirmation and reinforcement of human beauty and worth irrespective of differences in weight, physical size and shape.
  2. Physical Activity: Support for increasing social, pleasure-based movement for enjoyment and enhanced quality of life.
  3. Normalized Eating: Support for discarding externally-imposed rules and regimens for eating and attaining a more peaceful relationship with food by relearning to eat in response to physiological hunger and fullness cues
The basic, and very simple, idea is that you should eat healthfully and exercise because you care about your health and you enjoy it and not in response to a number on a scale.  95% of people who try to lose weight gain it back in 1-5 years. The constant routine of dieting, losing, gaining and dieting is called weight cycling and is incredibly bad for your health. Of the 5% who manage to maintain weight loss it's usually only partial weight loss and is done mainly through starvation diets and diets are nothing but socially acceptable eating disorders. HAES focuses specifically on health and not on weight and reminds us that the two are not automatically linked and that obsessing over weight itself may actually be harmful in and of itself. You know all those fat people you run into who are health nuts? Yeah, they're probably practicing HAES and I'm definitely one of them. So eat your fresh organic spinach kiddos!

But... isn't fat bad?

Well someone certainly wants us to think it is- perhaps a multi billion dollar dieting industry. Despite massive numbers of studies which show dieting and especially pills, fads, shakes and bars are ineffective and oftentimes harmful to overall health rather than beneficial. The health risks we usually hear that are associated with being fat are actually associated with lack of exercise, stress, poor diet and poor sleeping  habits and all can be found in thin people with similar lifestyles.

For example, a study conducted by the University of California in Davis found that women who participated in HAES were more likely to maintain positive health benefits compared to women who simply dieted. Neither group maintained a significant amount of weight loss, but the health benefits associated with weight loss stuck with the HAES group and faded when the dieting group gained the weight back (even though the HAES group was just as fat).

A new study just found that income level is a far greater predictor of diabetes than weight finding that low income women were more than 3 times more likely to develop diabetes than higher income women even when accounting for other factors like weight. Men were twice as likely to develop diabetes if they were low income.

And don't forget all of the great new studies coming out which show that one can be fit and fat and hat being in the "overweight" category actually seems to be the healthiest. So shouldn't we be encouraging thin people to gain weight? Of course not, because in the end it's not about health, it's about the social beauty ideal (and what it should be about is respecting people's individual lifestyle choices).

The bottom line is that weight is actually far more complicated than most people realize and that correlation does not equal causation (statistics 101 people), but even past that, even if it were unhealthy, it's also none of your business- just like it's none of my business if a thin person wants to enter a cupcake eating contest. Before you say something to a fat person about their assumed health with no facts stop and ask yourself- would I say this to a thin person? If the answer is no, then your assumptions are sizist- based on the person's size instead of actual evidence. I personally will start in on health to anyone, fat or thin, if I know they're doing something unhealthy (I recently got my mom to stop smoking again-  yay!), but this is based on actual knowledge and not unscientific, non factual guesses. But then, shaming someone for something that they can't really change isn't going to do any good. So talk to someone about HFCS? Check. Tell them that they must lose weight or will die 30 years too soon even if trying to lose the weight makes them miserable and is 95% impossible? Big red NO.

Sizist: "wah, but I don't like how it looks! wah!" My answer? Get the fuck over it. Not everyone finds you drop dead sexy either. I don't care if everyone in the world doesn't want to sleep with me- I probably  don't want to sleep with them either. We're allowed to have preferences for who and what we find attractive, but that doesn't give you free reign to degrade someone who doesn't meet your standards.

What Do You Eat?  

Could you list everything that you eat? Like everyone else, I eat a variety of foods that change from day to day depending on my mood, what's available, where I am, and what I'm craving. This morning I had grapes and cherries for breakfast. I'll probably have veggie burgers for lunch and I'm craving some BBQ Tofu for dinner. Typically I skip breakfast because I don't have much of an appetite and I'm busy with my young son (he usually eats oatmeal or cereal and some kind of fruit although occasionally he wants something else). Lunch could be a lot of things- vegan grilled cheese (which I had yesterday), or a salad, or veggie dogs, or rice and veggies.. sometimes I have to cram in extra food at the end of the day if I realize I didn't eat enough that day since I don't want to damage my health through accidental semi starvation. The food I eat the most tends to be tofu though because it's one of my all time favorite foods although a very close second is veggies and hummus (preferably garlic hummus- wanna smell my breath? *evil grin*) If you want to see what I eat all day every day visit my food blog: WTF Do You Eat? (Diary of a Fat Vegan)

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